LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XX

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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Influence of the clergy diminished—Despotism and avarice of the capitani—Their insubordination—Illness and death of Lord Charles Murray—His noble character—Sessini—Character of the Greek Logiotati.

Although the clergy had thus been chiefly instrumental in bringing about the revolution; yet as soon as the national independence was once established, they possessed but little influence in the administration of affairs. They had themselves destroyed the principal prop of their temporal power. Turkish authority had fallen; and their influence fell with it. On maturer reflection little or no gratitude was professed towards them, by the people; for necessity and fear, rather than inclination and patriotism, had forced them to contribute to the triumph of that liberty they, till now, had been the foremost to restrain. But the chief reason of the obscurity, in which the clergy remained, was deficiency of talent amongst its members. The most respectable part of the higher clergy had been strangled in the prisons of Tripolitza. A few of those, who escaped a similar fate, attempted to take a part in the government, but soon gave up the task, as far exceeding their strength. Papaflessa was the only exception. He distinguished himself by his zeal as agent of the Hetareia before the insurrection, by his courage and activity as a warrior, when the nation was in arms; by the ardour he always displayed in support of the constitution against the rebels; and by the noble manner, in which he
fell at Coufièro, after vainly attempting to oppose
Ibrahim Pasha’s victorious march. As I shall hereafter have occasion to speak more at length of his character, I shall content myself with merely observing, that, although a member of the church, far from having any attachment for it, or living according to its rules, he took the earliest opportunity of renouncing the profession. The spiritual power of the clergy, however, continued to exercise the same absolute authority over the ignorant part of the population; but instead of employing it to establish harmony, peace, and good-will, they became, on repeated occasions, firebrands of discord.

A former patient of mine, the Eparch of Vrachori, honoured me one evening with his company. He was on his way to his prefecture, where, from information received, he now hoped to return in safety. Being a prudent logiotato, he judged it expedient, however, not to venture on too rashly; and while his eclaireurs reconnoitred the real state of things, he condescended to take his place at my humble board; where he related to me the cause of his precipitate flight from Vrachori. Staino Staico and his aide-de-camp, a notoriously profligate monk, had placed themselves at the head of two hundred soldiers, in order to oppose Alexachi Vlachopoulo, whom Mavrocordato had appointed capitano of that province. The Eparch, being himself a government man, refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Staico’s pretensions, the latter resolved to revenge himself for the affront. During the night he broke into the house of the prefecture, from which Mr. Demetri, advised, as it were, by some preserving angel, had absented himself for a few moments. After destroying the seals of government, and taking every object, they could lay their hands upon, they hand-
cuffed his secretary, his servants, and a Greek of some consideration in the province, named Nicola Calchiotti, and carried them into the mountains. Owing to the cruel treatment he endured, Calchiotti died soon after; and in order to demonstrate to Mavrocordato how little they feared his authority, Staico and his aide-de-camp had the insolence and audacity to send to Mesolonghi the Eparch secretary in a complete state of nakedness to present their compliments to the governor-general.

Every village of that unfortunate province became the theatre of the crimes and extortions of these lawless depredators. The peasants sent daily complaints to Mesolonghi of the sufferings, they endured; but instead of redress, they obtained nothing but letters and proclamations*. In fact, Mavrocordato could use no other weapons; and his weakness was such, that he could not subdue even so small a band of rebels as this! Instead of healing the wound, he enlarged it, by ordering Vlachopoulo and his brethren to act against their rival. They judged it more prudent and advantageous, instead of exposing themselves to be murdered, to follow the example of the dog in the fable, who, unable to defend his master’s meat, began to eat it.

* The following letter was addressed to the governor-general, by these unfortunate people.


Nothing could be more melancholy, than the internal administration of the different prefectures. Most of them were the scenes of similar disturbances; and where no rival disputed the authority of the existing capitano, he reigned like the most absolute despot. Vain were all attempts to lessen the evil by sending Eparchs, to separate civil from military power. What amelioration could an unassisted stranger bring against an armed capitano, whom he wished to dispossess of the better half of his authority? These gentlemen, who generally dealt in very broad hints, soon gave the Eparchs to understand, that they must change opinions or quarters. Thus Phocà, Eparch of Veneticò, was forced precipitately to abandon his prefecture, to escape the resentment of Zanganà, whose rapacity he had sought in vain to oppose. Most prefects did not, however, display so much delicacy of conscience; but, mindful of the proverb, that one must howl when among wolves, he howled louder than the wolves themselves.

The most notorious among these Eparchs for extortion was, no doubt, Jani Soutzo. No one better than he possessed the talent of making hay, while the sun shone. In less than eight months, from a beggar he became a man of easy circumstances. Such were the abuses he committed, that, disregarding his Fanariot birth, Mavrocordato was obliged to dismiss him from his employment of Eparch of Anatolico; yet, shortly after his arrival at Anapli, instead of being brought to trial and punished, as he richly merited, this corrupt man was appointed Eparch of the province of Calavrita.

On the 9th of August, towards evening, an express from Mavrocordato arrived, informing me, that, having received intelligence, that Lord Charles Murray was detained by a serious illness, at Gastouni,
where there was no surgeon to attend him, he addressed himself to me, persuaded I would not hesitate to hasten to the assistance of one, who saved my life. Before daybreak I was at Mesolonghi; but the winds not favouring my impatience, we could not land at Chiarenza before ten at night. Unable at that hour to procure horses, I was obliged to wait till next morning (the 11th). On entering my friend’s apartment, I saw, alas! that all hope had fled. The hiccup of death had already begun. He was lying in a profound comatose sleep, out of which no endeavours could rouse him. He expired an hour after. Providence had only reserved me the sad satisfaction of closing his eye-lids, and shedding the tear of friendship over his lifeless clay!

Anxious to return to Mesolonghi to inform Mavrocordato of the result of his mission to Anapli,Lord Charles insisted on travelling even during the hottest part of the day. He, in consequence, received a coup de soleil, which, predisposed as he had always been to cerebral affections, gave immediate rise to a violent phrenitis. He fell, unfortunately, on arriving at Gastouni, into the hands of a Cephaloniot empiric, who, instead of bleeding him and employing the strictest antiphlogistic treatment, administered to him an emetic, which could only aggravate the complaint. So totally had this truly noble man disregarded his own comforts, that on the Eparch making out an inventory of the effects he left, nothing was found in his portmanteau, but a couple of shirts, a pantaloon, a few stockings, a bible and prayer book, one dollar, and numerous mineralogical specimens. Every one suspected, that his servants had stolen the remaining linen and clothes; but two Greek gentlemen of respectability, who made the journey with him, assured me that they were little surprised to
see this; for, on many occasions, witnessing the miserable state of several Philhellenes, he gave them his own linen and money; and that no one ever applied to him for assistance, without receiving some proof of his charity. Indeed his liberality was not in proportion to his means; for several very just motives his father had limited his annual allowance to four hundred pounds; yet during his short stay at Mesolonghi he must have spent nearly the whole of that sum. He contributed to the erection of the Lunette in front of the fortifications of that town; and requested it might bear the name of
William of Orange, to whose family he felt proud of being allied.

On my informing Sessini of the noble extraction of the deceased, of the zeal and devotedness, he had ever professed to promote the welfare of Greece, of his numerous virtues and amiable qualities, &c. he gave orders, that his funeral should be celebrated with all possible pomp; and that military honours should be paid over his grave. The archpriest Cyrillus pronounced on the occasion an impressive discourse. What an eloquent contrast might he not have instituted between the selfish, rapacious, feelings of those, that assisted at the ceremony, and those which animated this noble Philhellene! Not only had he volunteered into the service of their nation, without any other motive, than that of indulging the benevolence of his heart, and acquiring the satisfaction of having concurred to their regeneration; but he had sacrificed in this noble and disinterested pursuit, wealth, comforts, and at last his life. How could Sessini see, without blushing, this Englishman emptying his purse to relieve the necessities of Greeks, while he recalled to his mind the thousand acts of injustice, by which he had filled his coffers with the wealth of his own brethren!


Sessini, though above sixty years of age, retained all the vivacity and activity of youth, united to the garrulity of old age. Descended from a Venetian proveditore, he has inherited all the mercenary spirit and aristocratical disposition, characteristic of his forefather; and blended them with the cunning, penetration, versatility, and vices, peculiar to the Greek. Once a meagre apothecary at Gastouni, he declared himself the legitimate effendi, or lord, of that town and province, on the revolution taking place; and, deposing his professional arms, assumed the sword of vengeance. Placing himself with his two sons, at the head of a small corps of armed peasants, he drove the Turks from that part of the country, which, from that day, he declared as exclusively belonging to himself by right of conquest as well as of birth. He constantly sided with the faction of the capitani; and, during three years, collected without opposition the immense revenues of a district, the richest and most populous in the Morea.

The population of this district might be valued at twenty thousand souls. Its annual revenues under the Turks were estimated at two hundred thousand pounds. The markets of Zante and Cephalonia received from this province their chief supply in cattle, poultry, butter, cheese, honey; the larger portion of these articles being sold on Sessini’s account, who sent his wife to the former island to receive the money. He frequently sent her over large sums; but, partly fearing to excite the notice of the Ionian governments, and partly to avoid the custom-house duty, he often concealed his gold in the butter or cheese, which he sent in presents to Madame Sessini. Two of these cheeses were, by some unaccountable mistake, sold to a Zantiot, who felt as delighted in
discovering in their interior little mines of gold, as Madame Sessini was vexed on detecting her error. She in vain applied to the police for restitution. It was replied to her representations, that since they were registered at the custom-house, as cheeses, they were legally bought as such, and that the loss of the money was a just punishment for the deceit, which she had practised so long on the government.

The wealth of Sessini was thought to amount to two millions of dollars. His manners, dress, and ideas were quite Turkish. He kept a harem of Musulmen women; and he insisted on those, who were in his immediate dependence, naming his sons Beizadè, when speaking of them; and Michal-Bey, or Chrysantho-Bey, when addressing them in person. These young men, though intrusted with the defence of Elis, against the incursions of the garrisons of Patras and its castle, were so remiss in their duty, that the enemy might, at all times, advance without opposition as far as Gastouni: and a few days previous, the Turks, in consequence, were enabled to surprise the inhabitants of Lechena, a village at an hour’s distance from the town. After killing the men, they conveyed the women and children to Patras.

I met at Sessini’s Mr. Polyzoidi, a gentleman, who accompanied the Greek deputies to London, and had returned to Peloponnesus with the first instalment of the Loan. Notwithstanding his strong attachment to the government, he condescended to partake of Sessini’s antipatriotic fare; and in justice to Sessini, every one must confess, that, of all Greek capitani, he was by far the most hospitable. Mr. Polyzoidi, though a Logiotato, was very different from the generality of individuals belonging to that
class*, who may be considered as a compound of European depravity and Greek barbarism. Having exchanged the few good qualities, ignorance might give him, for the tinsel and quackery of learning and civilization, which he uses merely as a mantle, to conceal the deformity of inward corruption; he is, at bottom, as ambitious, as unjust, and as rapacious as any other; but he has become such a proficient in cant, that, if his drawling periods, in respect to virtue, were credited, even
Phocion, or Aristides himself, would be esteemed his inferior. Possessing no other acquaintances, but what he may have picked up during a stay of two or three years at some university, or counting-house in Europe, he is full of conceit and presumption; has become a freethinker, runs down every religion; and expresses himself habitually in aphorisms, paradoxes and axioms, so Hellenic in the diction, that no one can understand them. Mathematics, classics, chemistry, geography, the most elementary, or the most abstruse sciences, are equally familiar to his knowledge. Politics and political economy are his favourite topics. Positive in all his assertions, he replies to any observation, however judicious, in so supercilious a manner, as if a god were condescending to speak with a mortal. Shoals of this mixed breed of mortals came out to Greece; and their intolerable impertinence was, no doubt, the principal cause of the dislike and contempt in which the uneducated part of the nation held the civilized Greek. Hence, though there were certainly among them some men of merit, they all shared the same fate.

Philhellenes have loudly complained of the un-

* The greater part of the Greeks, employed in the civil administration, belong to the class of Logiotati.

grateful conduct of the Greeks towards them. Some of their accusations are undoubtedly true; but others bear the character of exaggeration, imparted by disappointment in views not always the wisest. The greater part of their misfortunes, however, are attributable rather to the envious disposition of the Logiotati, than to the ill disposition of the common people, against foreigners. If the common peasant disregarded the Philhellene, his ignorance hindered him from appreciating the merits of the sacrifices the other had made; while the conduct of the Greeks, who had lived in Europe, arose entirely from malignity and envy.