LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XVI

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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Grief of all parties at Lord Byron’s death—Intrigues of Odysseus—Opinions of the people respecting a form of government—Intrigues for a share of the loan—Account of Mr. Trelawney.

The most dreadful public calamity could not have spread more general consternation, or more profound and sincere grief among the Mesolonghiots, than the unexpected news of Lord Byron’s death. During the few months he had lived among them, he had given so many proofs of the sincerity and extent of his zeal for the advancement of their best interests; he had, with so much generosity, sacrificed considerable sums to that purpose; he had relieved the distress of so many unfortunate persons, that every one looked upon him as a father and public benefactor. These titles were not, as they mostly are, the incense of adulation, but the spontaneous tribute of overflowing gratitude. He had succeeded in inspiring the soldiers with the brightest and most sanguine expectations. Full of confidence in a chief they loved, they would have followed him in the boldest enterprises. To-day they must follow the corpse of him, whom they received but yesterday with the liveliest acclamations. The inhabitants of the surrounding country had flocked to Mesolonghi to celebrate the feasts of Easter; but these days of rejoicing were changed into days of unaffected mourning. On the 22d the burial ceremony was performed with all possible pomp. But the heartfelt tears of an entire population were its finest ornament. Tricoupi pronounced on the occasion a funeral oration, which did
him credit as a patriot and orator. On the 2d of May, the body was embarked for Zante.
Hatajè and her mother left Mesolonghi by the same vessel. When in the lazaret, it was explained to them, that they might choose to go either to Patras where Hussein Aga was, or to England. They naturally accepted the former proposal. “I thought you slaves,” said the father in embracing them, “and lo! you return to me decked like brides.”

On the 23d of April Mr. E. Trelawney arrived at Mesolonghi. Scarcely had he been informed by Mr. Finlay of Lord Byron’s indisposition, than he left Salona, and hastened to visit his friend. But he arrived only to imprint a last kiss on his pallid lips. He was bearer of several despatches from his hero and friend Odysseus; by which his lordship was entreated not to disappoint the hopes of the capitani and primates, assembled at Salona, but to come immediately to assist them by his counsels. So great indeed was his impatience to have an interview with him, that he had, for some weeks previous, used every means to induce him to quit Mesolonghi: and notwithstanding Mavrocordato’s endeavours to dissuade him, he would assuredly have undertaken the journey, had he not been prevented by the inclemency of the season, the affair of Caraiscachi, and lastly by his illness.

Negris and Sophanopoulo, the most intriguing and unprincipled men in existence, had imagined this assembly. It required no more to place Mavrocordato on his guard. He could easily foresee, that the man, who, once secretary of state, was, on account of his utter unworthiness, turned out of his situation, and had embraced Colocotrone’s and afterwards Odysseus’ party, teaching them the means of subverting the constitution, which he himself had been instrumental
in forming, could mean no good in convoking to a congress capitani, who were the professed enemies of the established government. The taking into consideration the existing states of things, cementing a more intimate union between Eastern and Western Greece, and devising a general plan of defence for the ensuing campaign—these were the ostensible motives of the congress. But the real aim of Negris and Odysseus was to draw
Lord Byron over to their side. They had construed the momentary coolness between Lord Byron and Mavrocordato into enmity:—forgetting that, even if an enmity had arisen between them, it would be only personal, and therefore in no way influence their political principles, which were unalterably devoted to the support of government. Trusting to his lordship’s dislike to Mesolonghi and the governor-general, they hoped they could easily prevail upon him to remove to Athens; a spot which, compared to the former, is a paradise; and which former recollections could not but render peculiarly attractive to Lord Byron. In order to mislead his judgment, Odysseus had been taught to perform a liberal part; and with such a prompter as Negris, played it so well, that he completely imposed on Lord Byron, and every Englishman then at Athens.

Among the many erroneous observations, made by various writers, none is more palpable, than that the mass of the Greek population was averse to a king. As to their pretended attachment to a republican form of government, the assumption is not only gratuitous, but absurd. Throwing off the Turkish yoke was the only object, the common people had in view in taking up arms. Their ignorance and depravity did not permit them to see an inch further. How could they then appreciate the blessings of civil
liberty? and admire a form of government unknown to them? Thanks to the abuses of their military chiefs! it never existed but on paper.

Weary of the numberless vexations of an undisciplined soldiery, and of the complete anarchy, in which they lived, the common people sighed after a deliverer, who they thought could only be a king. So great indeed was their misery, that to better their condition they would gladly have submitted not only to the monarchical, but to any other form of government, except that of their own countrymen or the Turkish. How often has the question been put to me—“Will not the European powers send us a king to govern us? will not the English take us under their protection? Slaves we were under the Turks, but are we not equally so under our capitani and primates? We may change them; but will not their successors practise the same extortions, and endeavour to enrich themselves at our expense? Who but a foreigner can terminate the evils, arising from our discords?”

The only persons to whom the idea of a king was obnoxious were those petty tyrants and their followers, who felt that their destruction would be the first step taken towards the establishment of good order. These hoped to perpetuate the reign of confusion; that, undisturbed, they might continue to suck the blood and substance of the country.

The motive, which rendered Odysseus so very anxious to engage Lord Byron’s friendship, was the information which had reached him, that the Greek Loan, which had been negotiated in London, would shortly be in Greece, and that his lordship had been appointed chief commissioner for its partition and employment. He readily foresaw, that were Lord Byron to place it entirely in the hands of the government,
it would be instantly employed to crush the rebellious capitani, and consequently it would be employed in the first instance against himself. Before that decisive moment arrived, he flattered himself, that he might succeed in detaching Lord Byron from the government party to which he had hitherto adhered, and avert the impending storm. If he failed in obtaining so complete a triumph, he was still confident that he could at least so far impose upon Lord Byron, as to find in him a mediator to reconcile him with a government he dared no longer oppose, and thus be admitted to a share in the golden fleece.

Lord Byron was a man not to be imposed upon by appearances. He judged the tree by the fruit it bore; he estimated Odysseus therefore at his just value. But had Odysseus been of a less objectionable character, nothing could have induced Lord Byron to deviate from the line of conduct, which he had traced out to himself; for it was the result of mature consideration. To gain the esteem and confidence of all parties as much as possible, appeared to him necessary for the execution of his plans. Accordingly, he accepted the invitation of Odysseus, persuaded, that, during an interview, he should be able to bring him over to the government, by virtue of the omnipotent golden talisman, intrusted to his hands. He thought it necessary to weaken, but not to destroy the power of the capitani; for he considered them essential to the defence of Greece; more especially in that desultory warfare which its topography favours so highly. The most lamentable consequence of his death, for this country, was, perhaps, in the circumstance that the Loan, which, placed under his direction, might have operated wonders, fell into the hands of narrow-minded men, who dedicated it to carrying on the civil war, rather to satisfy their petty
ambition, and favour their selfish views, than to the benefit of the country. Thus was turned into poison that remedy, which, skillfully administered, might have cured the complicated evils under which the country laboured.

No sooner did the news of Lord Byron’s death reach Salona, than letters were despatched by Colonel Stanhope to Mr. Trelawney; who when he had perused them, sailed instantly for Zante (May 6th), where he was directed to apprise those, to whom the Loan had been addressed, not to deliver any portion of it to the Greek government, before it had given a statement of the most pressing wants of the state and the actual force of the army, with guarantees to ensure the payment. Odysseus wrote to them in the same sense, and indeed no measure could be more conformable to the wishes of the factions.

Colocotrone, Petrobey, &c. sent also agents to Zante, who protested against the delivery of the Loan to the existing government. Had they not been so powerfully operated upon by avarice, the capitani might, by dedicating only a small portion of their wealth to the payment of their soldiers, have commanded the majority of the population, capable of bearing arms, and in a few days completely destroyed the government. But not one of them would make the slightest sacrifice! This narrow-minded policy, which had hitherto proved so great an obstacle to the establishment of the constitution, became, in this instance, its only safeguard; for no sooner was the money remitted into the hands of the authorities in administration, than its attraction proved so powerful that the chiefs were abandoned even by their most zealous followers; and several of the capitani themselves rallied around the standard of government.

Mr. Trelawney occupies so romantic a place in
the annals of Modern Greece, his adventures in the Cavern of
Odysseus, the black assassination, attempted by Fenton and Whitcombe, whom he had admitted to his friendship, the generous manner in which he spared the life of the latter and set him at liberty, having made some noise in England, the reader will not be sorry to see a slight sketch of this gentleman’s person and character. Though somewhat below the full-grown stature, he was altogether a very handsome man, possessed of great strength and surprising agility. Nature had given him a highly romantic countenance; his wild, haughty, unquiet, scintillating dark eye denoted his disposition to bold and extraordinary undertakings. In his manners and opinions he seemed to have taken Anastasius for his model; and, to judge from his lofty language, he had a mint of phrases as rich as Don Adriano de Armado; and he entertained for his heroes a veneration as deep as that of Don Quixote himself for all the giant-killers and liberators of imprisoned virgins who had preceded him. Born of a respectable Cornish family, he embarked when young as a midshipman; but finding that the strictness of naval discipline did not allow much room for indulging romantic dispositions, he quitted the ship on its arrival in the East Indies, and soon after joined the buccaneers, who then infested those seas. Among them he passed his happiest days, meeting continually with the most extraordinary adventures, and hair-breadth escapes. He might have yet continued to enjoy a life so congenial to his disposition, had not his companions sought to kill him during a dispute about prize-money. He satisfied his vengeance; but seeing himself closely pursued, the terror he felt was so great that, he did not stop in his flight till he found himself in the country of the Wachabees. The exploits, which followed, though
not new were marvellous; the quality atoning for the quantity.

At length, in a fit of nostalgia, he determined on returning home, the place of his birth appearing to him then dearer than the three Arabias. His native air soon cured him of this intermittent paroxysm, for he found Cornishmen a tame set of persons. Growing weary of home, he passed over to Italy, where more room was afforded to indulge his oriental habits. He formed there an acquaintance with Lord Byron, who derived no little pleasure from the company of so singular a character. He invited him to accompany him into Spain; but hearing of the disasters, the constitutional party had sustained, he proposed going to Greece. Arrived at Cephalonia, Trelawney discovered that Lord Byron was not romantic enough to be his companion; and he started in consequence for Peloponnesus; where having roamed in vain in quest of a hero, he passed over to Athens. There he met with Odysseus; and so powerful is the invisible force of sympathy, that, although they could not understand each other’s language, they became in an instant, intimate friends.

According to Trelawney, Odysseus was the personification of the beau ideal of every manly perfection, mental and bodily. He swore by him, and imitated him in the minutest actions. His dress, gait, air and address were not only perfectly similar, but he piqued himself even in being as dirty; having as much vermin, and letting them loose from his fingers in the same dignified manner as if sparing a conquered enemy. This ridiculous spirit of imitation was in other respects very useful to him; for it enabled him to endure the privations and hardships, inseparable from the Greek mode of warfare, with as much apparent indifference as his prototype; sleeping on
the bare earth with a stone for a pillow, and, in one word, sustaining a total want of every bodily comfort. All this, however, was only when distant from Athens. On his return thither he found ample compensation for the toils of war, in the enjoyments of a numerous harem. The courage which distinguished him in Negropont acquired him the esteem of his friend, and of the palichari. He so rapidly and completely moulded himself to their manners, as to be generally taken for a Roumeliot. This, with his generosity, gained him their affection; and his severity ensured him their obedience. With similar qualities Trelawney would, most certainly, have risen into notice, had not fortune turned against the friend, to whose destinies he had linked his own. Whatever his faults, however, and the blame, which his conduct in embracing the party of a rebel and traitor to his country, may draw upon him, every European, who knew him in Greece, cannot but praise the generous qualities of his heart, and acknowledge him to have been a most entertaining companion: and though owing, no doubt, to his prolonged stay in oriental countries, his imagination got the better of his veracity; or, as
Lord Byron observed of him, “he could not, even to save his life, tell the truth;” his narrations were so interesting, that whether true or untrue one could not but listen to them, with as much pleasure as to the wonders of an Arabian tale.