LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece
Chapter XXX

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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Author goes to Anapli—Conduct of Conduriotti—Disposition of the Greek force—Expenses—Constitution.

My friend, Mr. Grasset, secretary of Mavrocordato, having informed me, that my services were required, I hastened to leave Athens, and proceeded by Eleusis to Megara; whence I passed to Anapli.

On my arrival at Anapli, the reiterated reports, stating the daily increasing danger of Neocastro; the active manner in which its siege was carried on; and the courage and firmness displayed on several occasions by the Arabs, had begun to make the members of government suspect, that Ibrahim was not so despicable an enemy as he was represented. The information received from continental Greece, apprising them of the expeditions preparing against Mesolonghi* and Salona, forced them to more mature reflection, and caused them to perceive the terrible dilemma, in which their late civil broils had placed the nation, attacked in three different quarters. The only troops, government could dispose of, at this time, were the Roumeliots. Through them the rebel capitani had been brought to subjection; but this success had been too dearly bought. The portion of the loan, which had not been employed in defraying the expenses of the fleet, was entirely devoted to corrupting the chief adherents of the Moriot capitani,

* The enemy arrived before Mesolonghi on the 11th of April, without having met with the slightest opposition during their march. They amounted to 20,000, and were commanded by Ago Mouchourdar, lately appointed by the Porte serasquier, and Roumeli-Valesi.

and inducing those in continental Greece to invade Peloponnesus. But want of pecuniary means was now, comparatively speaking, a trifling difficulty. The whole population of Peloponnesus was so incensed against the government, owing to the thousand vexations and insults they had lately suffered from the Roumeliot troops, who came to establish in its name good order and the reign of justice and constitutional law, that they solemnly declared, they would not oppose the enemy; unless the chiefs, who were imprisoned, were set at liberty, and their country freed from those strangers. The latter, unwilling to risk their lives in the defence of a country, where they were so deservedly hated, while their own homes were unprotected, clamorously demanded payment of their arrears, and for liberty to return to their native mountains. No blame can with justice be laid on
Conduriotti’s conduct, it being in perfect conformity to the dictates of prudence, and the wise counsel, given by Theopompus to the Athenians;—“It is impossible you should subdue your enemies abroad, before you have rid yourselves of those at home.” Unfortunately, he could not perceive, that, owing to the depravity of his countrymen, the means, he employed to reduce, served only to increase the number of the rebels; and to justify, in some degree, the hatred of those very men, who, weary of the despotic yoke of the capitani, had hailed the soldiers of the senate at first as liberators. The zeal and energy, which formerly animated the sailors, no longer presided over their preparatives for the ensuing campaign. Fire-ships could not be got ready. Increase of pay and anticipated payment were made indispensable conditions to their departure from Hydra and Spezzia. In consequence, they did not sail before the month of April; so that, during four months,
the Turkish fleet navigated without the slightest opposition; although, on an emergency like the present, every consideration should have been laid aside, and even the smallest boat armed to prevent the enemy’s landing.

In so critical an emergency Conduriotti, president of the executive, thought, that nothing but his presence could remedy the difficulties, which now multiplied in proportion as he sought to overcome them. Wholly unacquainted with military science, and incapacitated by his age and feeble constitution, he formed the resolution of visiting the Greek camp at Fourgi, and the fortress of Neocastro, in the hope of rousing the courage of the soldiers, and inducing them to attack the enemy; to examine the real state of things at Old Navarino, on the island of Sphacteria, and inquire into the wants of the garrison. Mounted on a superb Arabian charger, the spoil of the enemy, he left Anapli on the 29th of March (l6th O. S.), in the midst of salvos of artillery, accompanied by Mavrocordato, now secretary of state, and a staff, composed chiefly of Hydriot captains, now turned colonels and generals, and a numerous train of irregular soldiers. He did not, however, arrive at Tripolitza before the 1st of April; though that town is only distant eleven leagues from Anapli. For, born and bred at Hydra, where horses are not used, the president was so little acquainted with horsemanship, that, on his arrival at Argos, only two leagues’ distance, he was so fatigued as to be obliged to halt for two days.

I remained at Argos after the president’s departure; persuaded that when I should hear of his leaving Tripolitza, having horses of my own, I could soon overtake him in his slow marches. The solemnities of Easter were at hand; and Conduriotti was too orthodox a Christian, though the safety of Greece might
depend upon this loss of time, to undertake any thing before they were over. One of the most satisfactory excuses for this extraordinary and pusillanimous conduct, at a time when so much activity was demanded, was the fruitlessness of his endeavours to rouse the Moriots to a sense of their imminent danger; and alter the resolution, they had unanimously taken, of not marching on the enemy, unless their own capitani returned to place themselves at their head. Instead of granting the Moriots this request, government preferred displaying an untimely firmness; and answered their solicitations by issuing a proclamation (April 22d) declaring
Zaimi, Londo, and even the favourite of the nation, Nicitas, who had lately returned to Peloponnesus, traitors to their country. They even proceeded so far as to order their immediate imprisonment. The petty views of private revenge actuated too powerfully to allow any of the chiefs to say, with the magnanimity of Aristides to Themistocles, “Let us leave our enmity on the frontiers; and, if we choose, take it up again on our return.”

The immense concourse of people at Anapli, now become the capital of liberated Greece, and the greatest seat of intrigue, perhaps, in the whole world; the narrowness of its filthy streets; the putrid miasmata arising from its surrounding marshes, which completely insulate the rocky point, on which the impregnable Palamidi and the town are built, rendered this town a very unwholesome residence, the constant seat of typhus, and an endemic disorder, bearing a near resemblance to the Walcheren fever. Numerous victims to its fury were daily carried off. Negris, the vice-president of the executive, Botari, were among the most conspicuous. At one moment, not only the president Conduriotti, but almost every member of the legislative and executive were confined to their beds by this complaint; and this was alleged
as an universal excuse to palliate the errors and faults, they committed.

That the administration of Conduriotti was, beyond comparison, better than the antecedent, no one can doubt; but he must be bold indeed, who should affirm that it was free from error. Instead of exercising a rigid economy, the executive, in less than eight months, squandered the money of the first loan, which, with the revenues from the different islands of the Archipelago, and the various towns and provinces, which acknowledged the authority of government, formed a sum of two millions of dollars. The president of this body was a Hydriot; the vice-president a Spezziot; and the different individuals, whom they had intrusted with the most important situations, and the others whom they had left in office, were unanimously subservient to their will, and entirely devoted to the interests of the islands. They were themselves principal owners of ships. Chiefs of a numerous party in their native countries; connected by ties of consanguinity, which, how remote soever, are in small communities objects of much consideration, with an interminable train of relations; necessity often obliged them to keep in full pay every sail, belonging to their islands. Had they neglected to employ all those, who were not absolutely wanted, they would have given rise to so much discontent and jealousy as to create serious disturbances, and exposed their properties, and those of their friends, to the lawless revenge of an infuriated mob.

According to the report generally prevalent, a hundred ships were kept on the footing of active service from June to the beginning of December. One with the other, every one received one thousand dollars per month,—a most exorbitant sum; since the
better half of these vessels were no better than small schooners and cutters; and the number of sailors on board the whole fleet did not exceed eight thousand. The pay of each man was fixed at five dollars per month; so that the allowance for other expenses was more than liberal. Half the number of these ships would, strictly speaking, have been sufficient to act against the enemy. For, according to the system, which the smallness of their vessels obliges the Greek sailors to follow, they avoid, as much as possible, coming to a close and general engagement; since the great superiority of metal on the part of their adversary would soon decide against them. But, by continually hovering about the enemy, they unremittingly watch the time, when calm, gentle, breezes and an intricate navigation, like that of the Ægean and Ionian seas, enable them to direct their light and fast-sailing fire-ships with advantage on the ponderous and ill-managed Turkish vessels. It was rare to see divisions of more than twenty-five or thirty chosen sails going in trace of the enemy, (accompanied by seven or eight fire-ships;) having found, that a greater number retarded their movements; which, to be successful, must be rapid.

The other ships, especially the Spezziot and Ipsariot, were always employed in actively cruizing about as privateers; but, not satisfied with receiving pay from government, and entirely appropriating to themselves the prizes they made, they, regardless of the laws of nations, daily made unjust captures; and when indemnization was claimed by the men-of-war of the respective nations, the Greek government constantly satisfied their demands with money from the public coffers; and in no one case could it force the depredators to refund the amount of their illegitimate booty. How often has this been the case
with the privateers, belonging to
Conduriotti! He could not, therefore, pretend to reform with others an abuse, he was the first to profit by himself.

The troops, paid by government from June to February, amounted to fifteen thousand; a number nearly inferior to the general statement, and yet conformable to truth. They were disposed of in the following manner. In Western Greece, three thousand. In Central and Eastern Greece, five thousand. In Peloponnesus, seven thousand. If the whole population, capable of bearing arms, had appeared in the field, the force of the Greeks would have amounted to not less than eighty thousand men. In case of invasion, most of these would have served gratis. The monthly pay of every soldier was three Spanish dollars. Their rations consisted only of two pounds and a half of flour, or one pound and a half of biscuit. But the prodigious number of stratighi, anti-stratighi, chiliarchs, capitani, and other officers, in the Greek service, caused an enormous increase in the army expenses. If forty-five thousand dollars were required monthly to pay the soldiers, not less than ten thousand were employed for the officers. Yet, it was not so much for its prodigal, as on account of the fruitless manner, in which government spent this large portion of the people’s money, that it incurred such general blame.

Instead of destroying, by its proper employment, the military supremacy, which had hitherto impeded the establishment of constitutional institutions, they employed it to depose the capitani of Peloponnesus; men as mercenary, as unprincipled, and equal enemies to good order; who had no sooner driven them from their seats, but they sought to occupy them in their stead. They had, after all, operated only an exchange of military despots, who would have grown more insolent, and more imperiously dictated the
law; because they felt how much government was in their power; since to them it was indebted even for the feeble preservation of its own shadowy authority. Out of the numerous proofs, which might be brought in confirmation of this statement, it will suffice to say, that when the executive appointed inspectors to examine, whether the military chiefs actually kept the number of men, for whom they received monthly pay, they first endeavoured unanimously to impose upon them by endless tricks; and when they could not succeed in deceiving them, threats, bribes, and at times even blows, obliged them to make the reports to government such as they wished. Liveri, the inspector, sent to the camp of Fourgi, sought in vain to reform this abuse. Many capitani unblushingly confessed themselves guilty; but threatened, at the same time, that unless their demands were fully satisfied, they would instantly withdraw from the camp with all their men.

The greater part of the money, thus spent to support the worst of enemies, ought to have been consecrated to the formation often thousand regular soldiers, dependent entirely on the senate, and characterized by passive obedience to its orders, and absolute devotedness to its interests. Instead of this, the establishment of regular troops had been so completely neglected, that the regiment at Anapli, although never in so flourishing a condition as at present, did not exceed one thousand five hundred men. Rodius, who from logiotato became soldier, was now colonel of this corps. Ignorant himself, by intrigue, petty vexations, and arrogance, he, at length, so completely disgusted the European officers, who by instructing the troops would have exposed his charlatanism, that most of them refused to serve under his orders.

Considering the very imperfect instruction of the
ill-formed, diminutive men, who composed the regiment, individuals, in every sense of the word, the very dregs of the Greek population; a stranger might have been tempted to suppose, that the colonel had selected them purposely, that no one should surpass himself either in mental or corporeal excellence.

The proposition of enrolling foreign mercenaries was, during my stay at Anapli, made to the senate by one of their members; but it was unanimously rejected with indignation, as a measure likely to compromise their liberties; and this decision might have merited our admiration, had it been more consonant with their habitual conduct.

The Conduriotti administration was not only taxed with prodigality, but strongly censured for the mysterious manner, in which it concealed from the public eye all accounts of expenditure. But what seemed most to justify the general suspicions was, that on making a calculation of the sums, expended according to the above statements, an overplus of eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars still remained; which was more than sufficient to draw the nation out of the inactivity, in which it was allowed to remain on pretence of the exhausted state of the government finances. The following estimate was generally looked upon as correct.

Spanish dollars.
Expenses of the army from May to the beginning of February
The fleet during six months
Fifteen fireships
Civil administration*

* The Legislative Body was composed of sixty-one members; eighteen of whom were representatives of the different provinces of continental Greece; twenty-eight of Peloponnesus; ten


It were impossible to account satisfactorily for the employment of so considerable a surplus. Certain it is, however, that, on the arrival of the second loan in April, 1825, government pretended to be in most distressed circumstances.

from the islands of the Archipelago; three from Candia; and two from Hydra and Spezzia. Each of them received a salary of forty dollars per month.

The Executive Body consisted of five members. They were at present Conduriotti, Briga, (who replaced Botari,) Asimachi, Photilla, Anagnosti, Spiliotachi, and Coletti, formerly physician of Mouchtur Pasha, eldest son of Ali Tebelen. Their salary being not fixed, they helped themselves ad libitum.

The Ministers, they appointed, were eight in number, with salaries of eighty dollars per month.

The Eparchs, who amounted to about eighty, received forty dollars per month: and there existed in every district a Police-Magistrate, who received, monthly, twenty dollars.