LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter VII

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
‣ Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
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Mavrocordato opens the sittings of the General Assembly—His speech—Propositions—Manner in which the propositions are treated—Address of the assembly to the government.

On the 23d of December, O. S., Mavrocordato opened the sittings of the general assembly by the following speech. I have given a translation of it, to enable the reader to judge for himself, of the sentiments that animated this most unjustly abused patriot; and of his talents as an orator.


“Unbounded as was my joy, on treading the soil of Western Greece, to learn that your patriotic efforts, your resolution and courage, had defeated all the plans of the enemy; forcing his numerous army, which threatened not only to swallow up this part of Greece, but also to invade the Peloponnesus, to abandon with loss and shame the confines of liberated Greece; no less great is that which I, this day, experience in seeing myself in the midst of so numerous an assembly. I cannot but entertain the liveliest hopes, that it will give birth to many important consequences. For I can affirm, it has spontaneously taken place; owing to the persuasion, felt by the inhabitants of this country, of the necessity of meeting, to examine the state of things in the different prefectures; to inquire into their respective wants; and to deliberate on the mode of providing for them. Led by these motives, since you have with one mind felt the ne-
cessity of consulting, in order to discover what is most advantageous and most useful to the public, I doubt not, but that the good results of your assembly will be general, and will correspond to the intention you had in view, when you proposed coming together.

“If it be often difficult for two or three individuals to agree in their opinions, this is certainly yet more so in a numerous assembly. But that harmony, which has for its basis the impartial examination of what concerns the public weal, far from being detrimental, proves on the contrary of the greatest utility. It leads to the discovery of what is most useful, the end aimed at by every one, when, as above observed, the principal object is an unprejudiced inquiry after truth. That, which gives rise to the most injurious consequences, and which not only you must avoid, but rectify, should it exist amongst you, is the spirit of discord; the exacerbation of your passions, and the concerns of civil broils. Against these you must establish, as the only safe and desirable barrier, union, impartiality, and brotherly harmony.

“I deem it superfluous to enumerate the manifold evils, to which similar discords may give birth; or to quote instances from history; when we have the examples before our eyes. May what we have hitherto suffered serve us as a lesson! I shall venture, however, to say, that fearless as I have ever been of the enemy’s forces, which experience has demonstrated we were competent to repel, and which, in future, we may yet more confidently set at defiance, I ever dreaded the consequences of our internal dissensions; because I have in reality seen, that they produce more evils than the efforts of the enemy, were they even double what they are. I am not single in holding this opinion. This apprehension has not been felt by me alone. Many wise men, all the friends of
our liberty, entertain the same fears and mode of thinking. To which of us has not the reflection occurred, that if, even when disunited, we have resisted the late and the preceding invasion; strengthened by concord, we might have attacked the enemy; and carrying desolation and terror into the very heart of his country, forced him to subscribe to our independence? Now, although victorious, since we drove back the invaders, we have yet suffered severely; our country is devastated, and many a prefecture is reduced to a desert, the revenues of which might have defrayed the expenses of the war.

“I cannot credit the excuse, alleged by many, that poverty is the cause of our dissensions, and forces us to wait for, instead of attacking the enemy. This poverty I cannot perceive. On the contrary, after an attentive investigation, I know that Greece possesses all the necessary means, and even more than is requisite, to carry on the war. It suffices, that we pay attention to the administration of these means; that they be not squandered; that government may employ them, where, and how it is necessary. But let us even suppose, that Greece cannot afford these means; that, notwithstanding the best administration, her revenues do not suffice to meet her exigencies; and that we are obliged to seek abroad for pecuniary assistance; will discord prove the best mode of obtaining our purpose? Certainly not; for who will advance money without knowing to whom he lends it; whence and how it will be repaid? A loan is made to a government; but, before a government can negotiate it, it must have it in its power to offer sufficient guarantees to the lenders. But it enjoys that faculty only when it is obeyed; and when every citizen concurs to support and strengthen its authority. The contrary of this is the source, from which
flow all our evils. Union alone can put an end to them, and as soon as harmony shall reign among all true patriots, then will the rest be remedied as soon as the necessary loan shall have been contracted.

“As for me, gentlemen, in compliance with your demand to the Chief Government, to send me here, in order to settle the affairs of this part of Greece, I now find myself before you. I am bound to confess to you, that I am not aware of what utility my presence can be, if true union and friendship do not reign amongst you. Whatever good may arise, it will not be derived from me; but from your resolution of carrying it into execution. If you are united, you are, of yourselves, competent to do it; but neither I, nor any one else, can prove useful to you, should you be disunited.

“It is perhaps necessary, I should make a few observations on a rumour, which, I see with pleasure, is void of foundation. Some persons report, that one of the chief purposes of the present assembly is, to cement an union between eastern and western Greece, and to separate it from Peloponnesus. An intention of this kind never could exist in the mind of any genuine patriot. For all such must feel the necessity of union and centralization. Separation is entirely out of the question. If the war, existing on continental Greece, cause expenses, which the limited revenues of its prefectures are not sufficient to meet, while in Peloponnesus the revenues exceed the expenditure; it is meet, we should request of the government to consecrate a portion to our wants. If we know, that the revenues are squandered, it is just, we should demand the rectification of those abuses; and in order to facilitate the attainment of this desirable end, we should strengthen the Government; but never separate or give occasion to fresh dissensions be-
tween continental Greece and Peloponnesus. Do all the inhabitants of Peloponnesus appropriate to themselves the public revenues? are they all the cause of the bad administration? Certainly not. After examining the question calmly and with impartiality, and detecting the real remedy of the evils, which this state of things engenders; duty requires us to submit to government, the result of our inquiries, and to endeavour to put an end to every abuse. Far be it from us to entangle ourselves in new quarrels, and give rise to fresh causes of enmity.

“It appears to me necessary to the maintenance of order in your assembly, that you should appoint two secretaries to keep the journals of your sittings, and to write whatever you may deem necessary.

“Although your meetings be public, yet, in order to avoid confusion, two or three individuals of every prefecture should be chosen as representatives.

“As numerous affairs will be brought before you, it is necessary, for the sake of order and despatch, to appoint commissions, which shall examine the details of affairs, and make you reports, which will be submitted to general and mature investigation, and be approved, modified, or rejected according to plurality of voices.

“As to me, gentlemen, if my opinion can prove useful in any of your deliberations, I shall explain it freely and impartially. I shall state it without reserve. You will hear and judge it. For the moment, I submit to your investigation several propositions, the solution of which appears to me to be the essential object of the actual meeting.

“Again, I trust, you will observe in its perfect integrity that union between you, which alone can lead the affairs of our country to a happy termination.


A. How can an end be put to the abuses, existing in the prefectures, and sufficient protection given to their inhabitants, to induce them to return to their occupations, in order that the country may not remain a desert?

B. How many soldiers must be maintained on full pay, and from what sources can the money and provisions, necessary to keep them, be drawn?

C. How can harmony and order be made to regulate our military operations; and thus ensure their success?

D. How can the disputes between the military chiefs, as to the division of the prefectures, be settled?

E. What measures can be adopted to consolidate national union, to terminate disputes, and to strengthen government?”

During the seven days, the assembly lasted, owing especially to the predominance of military interest, the second proposition was maturely and almost solely considered. Many violent discussions arose, before the number of troops to be kept on foot could be settled, and still more so, when they came to decide how many men each capitano should command; every one wishing to be foremost on the list. It would be superfluous to relate the various other resolutions, entered upon by the assembly; for not one of them was put afterwards into practice; those, that made them, being the first to infringe them. I shall however, by way of epilogue, submit to the reader a translation of the letter, they addressed to the government, before the meeting was dissolved.

“Venerable government;—

“It is impossible, the venerable government should be ignorant of the manifold calamities, these regions have, during the last two years, suffered, from the presence of two powerful invading armies. We judged it expedient to form an assembly, composed of the deputies of the principal prefectures of Western Greece, in order to deliberate in common, and devise some slight alleviation to our sufferings. The return of the inhabitants to their villages, ruined by the enemy; the introduction of order in the administration of public revenues; the determining the means of protecting these countries against future invasions of the enemy; the preparation of expeditions against him; the establishment of internal tranquillity;—these have been the principal subjects, we have taken into consideration during the sittings of the present assembly. We have determined, to maintain a body of 3000 soldiers; among which, we include the Suliots and all those, whose profession from their youth upwards has been that of arms; thus, to procure to them the means of existence; and, at the same time, provide for the defence of the country and good order. This corps will include the whole of our military. They are satisfied with the usual pay, fixed by government: viz. three dollars per month.

“The chiefs and officers will content themselves with receiving less than usual; for they have resolved to follow a system of the most exact public economy; and not only the military but also the other functionaries are ready to submit themselves to the severest laws, for the maintenance of good order; and are satisfied to receive only what suffices to defray their indispensable expenses. Yet with all due economy, how moderate soever may be our expenditure, our
wants far exceed the revenues from our provinces, as the venerable government will be able to judge, by examining the accounts of our expenditure and income, which we shortly propose submitting to its inspection. To keep a soldier under obedience, it is necessary to pay him with punctuality: nine months’ arrears are due to the Suliots; and during the late blockade, debts have been contracted, which hitherto remain unpaid: and yet last year’s revenue, up to the first of March next, is already altogether expended. Taking also into consideration the large sums, requisite to maintain a naval force, and to purchase the necessary provisions, which our devastated country cannot for the moment supply, the venerable government may judge, whether we possess the means of surmounting difficulties so considerable. We request it to recollect, that the safety of the rest of Greece depends on the conservation of this portion of it; and we rely on its devising ways of procuring us assistance. All our hopes centre in the provident care of the venerable senate of the nation, as it is alive to the wants of the country, and supports the present conflict in order to establish the reign of law. We flatter ourselves that our petitions will be granted; since combating, as we do, for the safety and preservation of these provinces, we fight for that of the whole nation, and for the consolidation of the constitution. Penetrated with sentiments of the most profound respect, we remain, &c.”

This letter, signed by the Capitani, Eparchs and representatives of Mesolonghi, Anatolico, &c. was presented to the senate, at a moment, when it would have been very much embarrassed to satisfy their demands. Forced precipitately to abandon Argos, as before related, this body had retired to Cranidi,
equally destitute of money and of troops. The dignified manner, however, in which the senators replied, unarmed, to the armed force, that entered the room, where they held their sittings; and the firmness, displayed by them in the midst of threats, insults and persecution, won them the public esteem and admiration. The islanders, in consequence, addressed to them a letter; in which they forcibly expressed their indignation at the conduct of those men, who, for their own sordid interests, were exposing their country to inevitable ruin; and they offered their services, at the same time, to enable the government to put an end to these acts of violence.