LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XXVI

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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Account of the police and administration of justice at Mesolonghi—Revenues—Corinth—Dreadful scene there—Author arrives at Megara.

Having made no mention of the police, or administration of justice, at Mesolonghi, it may not be amiss to dedicate a few words to these subjects. Instances having, however, more power of communicating ideas, than the minutest descriptions and definitions, I shall relate a fact which will precisely show, that in the cities as well as in the country, the most trifling, as well as the most weighty matters were decided by force, and that nothing but the shadow of judicial institutions existed in Greece. A person, not in the easiest circumstances, had sent a horse out to grass, and paid so much a month beforehand to the man who kept it. After three months, persuaded, that the animal had grown sufficiently strong, the owner sent for it; but, instead of finding it improved, as he expected, it was evident that it had been most cruelly worked. Its hoofs were almost entirely worn out, and its back covered with sores. Complaints of this being lodged before the astynomi, or police magistrates, they condemned the horse-keeper to pay for the beast, which he had ruined by employing it, as he himself confessed, in an oil-mill. Under the pretence of going to bring the money, the condemned called on a relation, who served as janissary, or armed constable, under the orders of the politarch, Mitzo Machaliotti; and having obtained the assurance of his protection, sent
word to the police-officers, that, if they chose, they might come and take the sum demanded. They went; but after repeated applications to Mitzo Machaliotti, all they could obtain was an answer, that he would never do any thing, that might serve to alienate the affection of his men. In consequence of this, the poor claimant was advised by the magistrates themselves quietly to put up with his loss; and this they did to avoid incurring any resentment from the janissaries.

During my stay in Western Greece, upwards of twenty assassinations were committed at Mesolonghi and Anatolico; yet, in no single instance, were the murderers punished. They even continued to walk about the bazaars, as if nothing had happened. And the very corps, which had been created to maintain the public peace, was the cause of the daily quarrels and riots which disturbed it.

As to the administration of the finances, with an unprincipled man, like Luriotti, at the head, it was corrupted by the same spirit of rapacity every where prevalent in Greece. Hence it was impossible precisely to estimate the revenues of Anatolico and Mesolonghi; the state of things rendering the amount of the receipts continually fluctuating; while an almost impenetrable veil kept the subject from public investigation. The following estimate, however, will be found nearly correct.

Sp. dollars.
Fisheries and salt-works
Currants, vine and olive yards, belonging to Turks
A tenth from the produce of Zugo and the province of Anatolico
Tax on sheep, &c. &c.

The revenues from the provinces were still more uncertain; being regulated by the presence or absence of the enemy. Had the administrators been honest, they might, on an average, have amounted to ten thousand dollars per annum, even under the worst circumstances, that had hitherto taken place.

In the beginning of February I left Mesolonghi in company with several Greeks, most of whom were repairing to Anapli, to solicit the payment of their arrears; and others, aware of the good opinion in which government held the Roumeliots, to obtain appointments to some of the numerous places which, by the late events, had become vacant. Two of the company were gigantic Servians, who, a few days before, had arrived in Greece, to serve under the banners of the Bulgarian Chagi Cristo.

After crossing the ford of the Evenus at Bochori, a large village, built opposite to the strikingly picturesque mountain of Galata, we followed the road to Galanidi. Our first day’s march lay through a country, which still exhibited the melancholy stamps of the invader’s presence. In some places even the traces of former habitations were no longer to be seen; so that we were compelled, notwithstanding the severity of the weather, to pass the night in the open air, near Cavro-limni, not far from the ruins of Calydon. On the following day, in order to avoid approaching too near the fortress of Epacto, the garrison of which made frequent excursions, our guides led us through roads amidst mountains covered with snow; the steepest I ever beheld. Night drew on, but no place appeared where we could repair the fatigues of this journey; we therefore went on, till about two hours after dark, when we distinguished a few lights in a hamlet, situated on a very elevated
position. It was, we were told, the first village of Cravari* named, if I am not mistaken, Visitza.

We had almost attained the summit of this ascent, and were returning thanks to Providence, for having safely led us to the end of our march, when a lively discharge of musketry and the whizzing of balls apprised us, that we had reckoned without our hosts. In vain we vociferated we were friends. It was replied, that, friends or Turks, they would not admit us into the village. After much expostulation we were at last allowed to take up our abode in a church, that stood about two hundred yards below the houses. Fatigue made its earthen floor appear softer than a bed of down. The next morning, on our reproaching the inhabitants with their inhospitable conduct, they replied, that, a few days previous, they had suffered so much from the rapacity and licentiousness of a band of palicharis; that they had formed a resolution ever after to defend by open force the entry into their village, to every armed body of men.

We did not reach Trizoni till two days after; where, finding a boat for Vostitza, we crossed the gulf and landed close to the magnificent platano which overshades its beach†. The town, which formerly consisted of about six hundred houses, was burned by the kiaja of Courshid Pasha in 1821; and the spot is

* The inhabitants of this mountainous province follow no other profession but that of beggars; a most lucrative one, if we may judge from the fine houses they possess, and the comfortable manner in which they live. A return to their country operates most miraculously on them; the blind recovering their sight; the dumb the use of their tongue; the crippled that of their limbs.

† The trunk of this tree is about forty feet in circumference; its branches are covered with the most luxuriant foliage, spread at least sixty feet on every side; and under the shade of which flows an abundant fountain of delicious water.

still shown, where that barbarous Musulman roasted two of the primates of that place alive.

Londo, the capitano of this province, had been replaced by his colonel, who passed over to the government party. I called upon him at the moment in which he was preparing to repair to the derveni beyond Lampiri, to inspect the troops, which he had placed there, to prevent the excursions of the garrison of Patras. I paid, also, a visit to the eparch, a young man who received me with a haughtiness, etiquette, and aristocratical ton, unmatched by the proudest Turkish pasha.

The apocreas of the week preceding Lent had just begun, when I landed here. During this time every Greek religiously abstains from work, and employs his time in revelry and merriment. Finding it impossible to engage my servant and guide to accompany me, I resolved to take part in their amusements; and I did it the more willingly, as such unguarded moments of joy afford the best opportunity of observing the real character of a nation.

On Ash Wednesday we set off for Corinth; distant about eighteen leagues: a description of this beautiful road, which winds along the borders of the gulf, may be seen in so many books of travels, that I shall not stop to describe it. The numerous villages, once lying along this tract of country, were destroyed by the enemy; but the bones of ten thousand Musulmen, who, after Dramali’s defeat, vainly endeavouring to make their way to Patras, expired in all the tortures of inanition, on the banks of the river Crathis, and about the khan of Acrata, sufficiently atoned for the devastations of their countrymen*.

* His fury, after all, did no great injury to the inhabitants of this part of Greece, they having taken shelter in the mountains,


Nothing can exceed the melancholy picture, exhibited by Corinth. Its streets were literally so choked up with the skeletons of men and animals, that the stranger could not avoid treading upon them at every step. The deepest silence presided over this dreadful scene. The dissonant cries of vultures and the howl of jackalls, however, served to render this silence still more impressive and affecting.

In the midst of this desolation, an object which could not fail to excite a strong sensation, and awaken a long train of sad reflections, was the temple of Neptune, the columns of which, russet-clad with age, overlooked the modern ruins. Generation has succeeded generation, nation has expelled nation, cities have repeatedly arisen on the foundations of cities, but these have stood the shock of destruction, which though it acted ail-powerfully around, appears to have stopped perpetually at its base.

Capitan Torgachi, the brother of the famous Vasiliki, concubine of Ali Pasha, commanded the Acro-Corinthis. He had lately rejected with disdain the proposal, made to him by the rebel capitani, to surrender it. The garrison amounted now to two hundred men; and the provisions in the fortress were sufficient to maintain this number of soldiers for four months; but, from the moral disposition of the

till the storm was over. The chief source of their wealth, the currant plantations, were not injured in the slightest degree; and, as I journeyed along, I hourly saw the peasantry busily employed in pruning the plants and digging the ground around their roots. The revenues, which government nominally derived from this district, were considerable; as the eparchs received three parts out of five of the produce of the currant vineyards formerly belonging to the Turks, i. e. upwards of two-thirds. Every one knows the high price, obtained for this article in the English markets. The amount of the products of this district, and that of Calavrita, is valued by Pouqueville at 1,486,000 francs.

officers, it appeared probable, that, on an invasion taking place, they would imitate the example of those Greeks, who, on the approach of
Dramali, precipitately abandoned this important fortification.

We went across the isthmus by the lower, or Scironian road, and arrived the next day at Megara. I here lodged at the house of a man, who had accompanied Goura during his campaign against the rebels in Peloponnesus; and it appeared from his relation, that the complaints of the Moriot peasantry were more than well founded; for they were treated by the Roumeliots every where as enemies. Their property, their cattle, their very wives and daughters, became daily the objects of their unrestrained licentiousness; and, authorizing, as they did, their infamous proceedings by the name of government, no wonder, that the government should incur the deepest hatred of the Moriots. Not to multiply instances, I shall relate one, of which I was a witness. A subaltern capitano arrived with ten palicharis at a house, which he entered without ceremony, and accommodated himself at once in the best apartment. He imperiously called the landlord, and told him, what he must provide for supper. He ordered the landlady to prepare the dishes he liked best; and every thing was ready: he asked to taste the wine; and, anxious to find a pretext for raising a dispute, declared it detestable, and, after throwing the glass into the affrighted man’s face, he seized a ponderous cudgel, and, running after him, swore he would kill him on the spot, should he be able to catch him. Persuaded, that after such a threat, the terrified peasant would never venture to return home, he spent the first part of the night in carousing with his companions, and the latter in the arms of the unfortunate man’s wife.

But I shall afterwards have more than one occasion to refer to this subject.