LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XIII

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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A Turkish brig runs on a sand-bank—Conduct of Parry—Conduct and trial of Caraiscachi.

Two days after the unfortunate accident, I have described, an event took place, which contributed in no small degree to destroy the illusion under which Lord Byron had laboured in respect to the major of artillery. A Turkish brig, returning to Patras, ran foul of the bank of sand which extends from the mouth of the Phidari several miles out to sea. Remembering the immense booty, which, but a year before, they had made on taking possession of a Turkish ship, which adverse winds and the pilot’s ignorance had brought to the same spot, the Mesolonghiots thanked fortune for thus supplying them with a new occasion of satisfying their avidity and cruelty. The whole population embarked in an instant; the smallest monoxylo was at sea; but, on their approaching the vessel, the enemy offered so lively a resistance, that they despaired of succeeding without the assistance of artillery. The spark of enthusiasm had equally fired the young soldier and the elderly primate. Every one wished to have a share in the golden fleece. Mavrocordato ordered the major to proceed in all haste, with three guns, to assist in the attack of the brig; but this could not of course take place without a previous visit to Lord Byron, who still found himself so weak, as to be unable to rise from his sofa; but on Parry’s entering
the room, he reassumed his former liveliness, and accosted him in the following manner: “‘Now’s the day and now’s the hour;’ now for your rockets, your fire-kites, and red-hot shots; now, Parry, for your Grecian fires. ‘Onward, death or victory!’” But in the meantime all the necessary preparations were neglected, and the whole alarm ended in the most absolute disappointment. The Mesolonghiots returned the next day, after a fruitless attempt, and the Turks, after embarking in a boat, during the night, the most precious part of their effects, sailed to Patras, having previously set fire to their ship.

On the first of April, the whole town of Mesolonghi was thrown into the liveliest alarm by the following events. Caraiscachi’s nephew had been seriously wounded in a quarrel with some Mesolonghiot boatmen, whom he wished to oblige to convey him, gratis, to Anatolico. Incensed at the affront offered to his nephew, and resolved on obtaining satisfaction, Caraiscachi despatched a hundred and fifty of his soldiers more effectually to solicit it. Finding, that the men, who had inflicted the wound, had absconded, the soldiers apprehended, during the night, two of the Mesolonghi primates, and immediately sent them to their capitano at Anatolico. Thinking that guarantee insufficient, Caraiscachi ordered fifty of his men to take possession of Vasiladi. This they easily did, as the whole garrison of this important point consisted of only half a dozen fishermen: and those asleep. Next morning they sent these men to Mesolonghi, to inform the townsmen, that Caraiscachi declared, he would neither give up the island nor the primates, till the men, who had wounded his nephew, were delivered into his hands.


The very same day seven Turkish vessels were seen sailing out of the gulf; and, shortly after, anchoring off Vasiladi; and information arrived, that the garrison of the castle of Roumelia had had a sharp engagement with the Greeks at the pass of Kaki Scala, a little further than Galata. Mavrocordato, who suspected a correspondence between Caraiscachi and the enemy, gave orders for the apprehension of Costa Vulpiotti; a Greek, who, on his arrival from Janina, had instantly repaired to the house of Caraiscachi, and had since, almost daily, had secret conferences with him. Several letters were found on his person, that had been addressed by Mavrocordato and other patriots to Caraiscachi, reproaching him for his treachery and connivance with the enemy. These Vulpiotti was to show to Omer Pasha, as certificates to prove how faithful Caraiscachi had ever been to his engagements with him. It resulted from the interrogation, Vulpiotti underwent, that he had been charged to ask Omer Pasha for a Bouyourtè, appointing him capitano of the province of Agrapha. Caraiscachi engaged, in return, to co-operate with Vernakiotti in the reduction of Western Greece, and to draw over to his party several of the chiefs, that had hitherto most faithfully adhered to the interests of the Greek government.

Although no evidence existed, that he had carried on a similar correspondence with Youssouf Pasha; yet as every thing tended to prove him capable of so doing, Mavrocordato participated in the general apprehensions; and saw, in the movements of the enemy and the taking of Vasiladi, the denouement of a conspiracy against Western Greece. He expected, every moment, to hear, that the Turks had taken possession of the above-mentioned island, and asserted that
the soldiers, which
Caraiscachi had sent to Mesolonghi, came with no other intention but to open the gates of the town to the enemy, who fortunately met a sufficient resistance at Kaki Scala. He felt the more alarmed, as he knew not how to act, at one and the same time, against an interior and an exterior enemy. All the disposable troops were in the provinces; the Suliots under the Bozzaris were on their way to Arta; those, that had remained at Anatolico with the Zavellas, had attached themselves to the interests of Caraiscachi. Mavrocordato recollected, also, how much this capitano’s resentment against the government had been exasperated by the conduct of the late general assembly towards him; and that, regardless of its decision prohibiting him to command more than one hundred men, upwards of five hundred chosen soldiers were at this moment at Carpenisi, waiting for his orders; while at Anatolico he had enlisted three hundred more.

Lord Byron endeavoured to conceal the indignation, which this treacherous action could not but excite. He urged Mavrocordato not to fear, but instantly to display all possible energy to defeat the designs of the rebel chief. He offered his own personal assistance, that of the artillery brigade, and of the three hundred Suliots on this service, and trusted that the severest martial laws would inflict the punishment due to such crimes. Gun-boats were sent against Vasiladi in order to dislodge the rebels. Their approach so much intimidated them, that they precipitately abandoned the island; where, even if more resolute, they could not long have defended themselves, as it was totally unprovided with water. The batteries of Mesolonghi were secured by the brigade and inhabitants, and several of their guns were pointed towards the town to prevent Caraiscachi’s
soldiers attempting to possess themselves of it. The latter were so terrified by the imposing attitude, assumed by the Mesolonghiots, that they hastened to give up the primates, and esteemed themselves fortunate in being allowed to embark, unmolested, for Anatolico.

As soon as Mavrocordato was informed of the arrival of the troops, he repaired to the town and appointed a military commission to judge Caraiscachi. It consisted of Nothi Bozzari, Stornari, Zonga, Dimo Scalza, Vlachopoulo, Demetri Macri, Coldari, Liacatà, Carajani, and Catzaro. These judges declared him an enemy to his country and a traitor; yet the only punishment, they awarded, was,—leaving Anatolico.

Although Caraiscachi was found guilty, yet many of the accusations, laid to his charge, subsequent reflection has demonstrated to be unfounded. That he proposed delivering up Vasiladi and Mesolonghi to the enemy was a mere supposition; unwarranted by any positive proof. The coincidence of the Turkish vessels sailing out of the gulf could be attributed only to chance, for they were accustomed to do so almost every fortnight. Besides, had they attempted to communicate with Vasiladi, or made signals, &c.? The garrison of Epacto and the castle made daily sorties, having no other object in view than obtaining sheep, cattle, &c. The two hundred Turks, who were repulsed at the Scala, formed too inconsiderable a force ever to venture on such an undertaking. Besides, I afterwards learned from Dr. Sibbert (who, during four years after the beginning of the Greek revolution, was Youssouf Pasha’s physician), that this Osmanlee never corresponded either with Caraiscachi or any other Greek. I think it a duty to state these circumstances, in order to remove the stain, with which
many persons have disfigured the noble character of
Citzo Zavella and the Suliots who, at first, sided with Caraiscachi. Incapable of treason, if they embraced his party, they were led to do so, from the opinion, that it was proper he should obtain satisfaction for the conduct of the Mesolonghiots towards his nephew. They were besides happy, no doubt, to embrace an opportunity of revenging themselves on those individuals, since they had but too much reason to complain of their inhospitality and insolence.

The volcanic mind of Lord Byron, as before observed, was thrown by these events into a violent state of commotion. He had come to Greece prepared to devote his wealth, talents, and even life itself to the consolidation of her liberties. Aware, how wofully the character of the nation had been corrupted; first, by the most profligate, and afterwards, by the most barbarous of governments, he expected, as a natural and inevitable result, that their proceedings would bear the stamp of their moral degradation. But he was not prepared to meet with black-hearted treachery; or to see Greeks themselves conspiring against their own country; courting the chains of their former masters; and bargaining the liberties and very existence of their own brethren. Ignorant, at first, how far the ramifications of this conspiracy might extend, he trembled while thinking of the consequences. Personal fear did not, however, occupy his mind; although most of the Suliots who composed his guard, being friends with the Zavellas, had, as soon as they heard, that they sided with Caraiscachi, declared openly that they would not act against their countrymen. The hopes, he had formed, for the prosperity of Greece were for a moment obscured; he feared lest the news of a civil war in the Peloponnesus, and of a con-
spiracy to introduce the Turks into Western Greece, would, on reaching England, ruin the Greek credit, and preclude all hopes of obtaining a loan, which to him appeared indispensable to the salvation of her liberty. But what incensed him most, was the weakness and irresolution, exhibited on this occasion by
Mavrocordato in respect to Caraiscachi. If he considered the infliction of capital punishment, incurred by Caraiscachi, as unadvisable, and impolitic in the actual state of the country, could he not at least have placed under confinement a person, who, it was easy to anticipate, would profit by his liberty to execute his sinister intentions, and be the more inexorable in his revenge, when he recollected, that his escape was to be attributed to the pusillanimity rather than to the generosity of his enemies? The consequences were soon observable; for as soon as Caraiscachi recovered sufficient strength, to be able to bear the fatigue of a litter, he placed himself at the head of his followers, and assisted by Andrea Isco, of Macrinoro, he again made Agrapha and its adjoining provinces the scene of his depredations and daily bloody encounters. The removal of his friend, Omer Pasha, from Janina to Salonica, however, fortunately proved the ruin of his evil designs.