LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Journal of a Visit to Greece
Chapter I

‣ Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
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I first visited Greece in 1821, at the time the Greeks in the Morea were laying siege to Tripolizza, and Prince Demetrius Ipsilanti commanded in the light of representative of his brother Alexander. At that time there existed great enthusiasm, felt not only by the enfranchised peasantry, but by their capitani or military chiefs, their clergy and the Franc Greeks, as Constantinopolitans, Smyrniots, and those who had received their education in foreign parts.
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The Primates of the country, even at this early period, began to show their fears alike of military ascendancy, and of the power assumed by Demetrius Ipsilanti: for, holding high offices under the Turkish rulers, they had often been the greatest oppressors of the Greeks, and their expectancies were themselves quietly to displace those Turkish rulers from their posts, while their countrymen were to remain in the same state of subjection, with only the consolation of being slaves to Christian, instead of Mahometan oppressors. From the clash of interests arose three distinct parties;—that of the Primates, the military chiefs, and the Frank Greeks, with whom the Islanders rather coalesced; the clergy espousing that party which suited their particular interests.

The Greeks had great hopes of assistance from Russia, who then stood as high in their good graces as England now does, though at that time considered as their greatest enemy.

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I was not present at the massacre of Tripolizza; and after remaining two months, being seized with a fever, I left the country with Mr. Gordon, of Cairness, whose munificence in the cause of the Greeks is well known.

In January 1824, I landed at Messolunghi, having taken advantage, through the interest of Mr. Gordon, of a vessel coming out from the London Greek Committee, with a fire worker and artificers on board, destined for the establishment of an arsenal in Greece, and laden with military stores. At Messolunghi was Lord Byron, and there consequently was the point of attraction for all foreigners. His Lordship had remained some time in Cephalonia, corresponding with the principal Greeks, and had determined on joining Alexander Mavrocordato,* who possessed at this time an un-

* Every Englishman who arrived in Greece was greatly prepossessed in favour of Mavrocordato, and we all at

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merited reputation in other countries, facilitated by his knowledge of Europe, great tact in letter-writing and indefatigable correspondence; though he well merits celebrity, if duplicity, intriguing talents, and total want of all rectitude and principle, be sufficient claims on notice. He might be considered at the head of the party of the Franc Greeks.
Colocotroni and other military chiefs were held not only as rebels and enemies to all order and established government, but at Messolunghi their fidelity to their country’s cause was questioned. Zaimi and Andreas Londo, two powerful primates, and closely allied, took the lead in the primate interest, which was favoured by the existing Government, of which Conduriotti, an Hydriot, was president, and was also supported by all the liberated Greek Islands of the Archipelago.

first thought him a princely fellow as well as a Prince: but he is neither the one nor the other. His having no hereditary pretensions to the title is mentioned in a Work entitled, “Essaie sur les Fanariotes.

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The Honourable Colonel Leicester Stanhope was, conjointly with Lord Byron, representative and agent of the London Committee; and though unsupported by a single individual, was devoted to the establishment of a free press and the publication of newspapers, which were calculated to be of great benefit, though it was argued against them that the state of the country was not sufficiently advanced, or the minds of the people enough enlightened. But so well do they suit the taste and genius of the Greeks, who retain all the love of news, sensibility to satire, and fondness for political discussion, which characterized them of old, that they are the most likely means of exciting the minds of the people, and of operating as a check on the conduct of their leading men, were it possible for those of the present generation to be reclaimed.

Lord Byron, unfortunately, was not accompanied by any person of military knowledge or talent; and, for the most part, only a hungry
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shoal of useless adventurers, of divers nations, had flocked round him.

The English artificers were soon driven away by an unlucky disturbance with the Suliotes: the chief director, a man of the name of Parry, and two useful and well-informed men, Mr. Hodges and Mr. Gill, alone remaining. Parry unfortunately proved to be a blustering worthless character, who had found no great difficulty in imposing on the Committee in London, and had come out with strong recommendations to Lord Byron, who entrusted all his operations to him; which effectually put a stop to the chance of his being able to commence any enterprize whatever, and the badly conducted expedition of the Committee was rendered a useless expenditure.

Mavrocordato’s attention seemed chiefly divided between his fear of losing Lord Byron, and his desire to get rid of the Suliotes, whom his Lordship had in pay, and to whom Mavro-
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cordato owed considerable arrears for past services.

Lord Byron, fully sensible of the conspicuous situation in which he was placed, was eager for immediate action. An expedition against Lepanto had been for some time contemplated; but owing to the want of command over the troops, and the want of energy or inclination in Mavrocordato, who considered that the Suliotes, if established at Lepanto, would be too near neighbours, and that Lord Byron once out of Messolunghi might not return, added to the total want of conduct, nothing was attempted.

In February I left Messolunghi, in company with Colonel Stanhope, for Athens, where the wily and powerful military chieftain Ulysses commanded. Here the scene was changed: at Messolunghi, where there was no immediate want of money, the chief sinew, though not the only requisite in war, every thing went on feebly and tardily, notwithstanding the presence of
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Lord Byron, who, in the state of affairs at that time, had great weight on the minds of the people; for they considered his riches as inexhaustible, and formed the most extravagant expectations of the advantages of his assistance. In Athens, affairs were carried on with vigour: a good police was established, and great activity prevailed. On the second day of our arrival we witnessed an assembly of the people, for the purpose of choosing judges by ballot: a stone circle under an old tree served for the forum, from which the people were addressed. The debates were very animated and quite characteristic of the ancient Athenians. It was an interesting sight to behold an assembly of Greeks, and hear speeches delivered on the same spot so renowned for its orators in days of old.

Ulysses held himself aloof from the dissensions existing in the Morea. He had entered the province of Eastern Greece from the Ionian Islands, after leaving Ali Pacha, at whose
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court he was brought up; and by his policy, activity, knowledge of the country, and of the enemy he opposed, had established himself in command of Eastern Greece. His father, Andritza, a renowned kleftis chieftain, had been governor of the province of Livadia: he was beheaded or bow-strung at Constantinople; and, by the Turks, Ulysses was generally called the son of Andritza. When he was declared a rebel by the Government, the two captains who were sent to displace him in his command were killed. He had, in the commencement of the revolution, formed an alliance to co-operate with
Colocotroni, and it was stipulated that neither should take any step of importance without first communicating their intentions to each other. When it was proposed to elect the Russian minister, Capo d’Istria, King of Greece, Colocotroni gave his assent to the offer being made, without informing Ulysses, which broke off the understanding between
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them. The great talents of this chieftain were tarnished by some shades of a vindictive and suspicious disposition; nor was he wholly free from avarice, though he well knew how to reward munificently at times. But, bred as he was in the court of Ali Pacha, the wonder is not that Ulysses should have vices, but that he should possess any good qualities. In him the peasantry ever found protection. Under the other captains the soldiery behaved with un-checked licence, and plundered without restraint; under Ulysses they were restricted from pillage, and the necessary supplies for the troops were levied with order and regularity. Among the primates and the rich he was unpopular, because with him the burden of the war fell without distinction on the rich, as well as on the poor;—a thing quite contrary to established custom. His proceeding of provisioning the fortress of Athens, the only one that was provisioned in all Greece, gave great dissatisfaction; but it was justified by the exigence of the
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case. He caused an alarm to be spread that the Turks were advancing, and ordered the inhabitants to bring their stores to the fortress, and then retained a portion of each, sufficient for its defence. With what resources could be casually collected from a devastated province, subject to the constant inroads of the enemy, he gained possession of the Island of Negropont, with the exception of the fortress of that name, and Carysto, and gave sufficient proof of his great talent for command by the dread he was held in by the Turks, and the obedience he enforced among his undisciplined and unpaid soldiery. Constantly in the field, he was distinguished from his meanest soldier only by his striking personal appearance.* The state of the country

* If, as Lord Byron affirms, a fine hand is a mark of true nobility, Ulysses was truly noble. He had the most beautiful hand, for a man, I ever remarked. He was very tall. His sun-burnt face and breast, rude attire, immense bushy moustache, and bent brow, to be matched only by that of a “Redgauntlet,” made him

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demanded a vigorous sway in the guidance of affairs; and such men were indispensably requisite. He had appointed
General Goura governor of the fortress of Athens, formerly a bravo under him in the service of Ali Pacha; a man of great personal bravery, rapacious, cruel, and devoid of talent; but who, notwithstanding, has been since destined to rise on his patron’s fall. The advantage of gaining entire possession of Negropont, and the necessity of defending the country within the passes of Thermopylæ, which

a fine characteristic picture of a mountain chieftain. He was remarkable for his activity and swiftness of foot, and was an excellent horseman. He had all the tastes of a gentleman; and was fond of shooting, horses, and dogs, which few of the Greeks are. His manners were remarkably graceful. In conversation, his expressions in Italian, of which he only knew a few words, were indicative of his forcible mind. His language, in his own tongue, was very elegant. He seemed to possess the perfect military coup d’œil, which was observable in the spots he fixed on for halting at night, and in always pointing out, as we passed, the advantageous positions which the country presented.

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would then form a well-drawn line of demarcation for defence on the eastern flank of the liberated possessions of the Greeks in Roumelia, and which charge devolved wholly on Ulysses, made it highly important to render that chief every possible assistance.

I had left Messolunghi under a conviction of the improbability of any effective expedition being formed against Lepanto or Patras; and, except to operate against these two places, Messolunghi was in no way calculated as a point from which to direct offensive operations; it being closely surrounded by precipitous mountains, intersected by rivers. The whole tract of country towards Arta was likewise entirely laid waste; and an expedition so distant as on Arta, or beyond, with the present ineffectual means and resources, did not afford the slightest chance of success, or any prospect of advantage. While Athens had the advantage of a central position, it was very desirable to prevail on Lord Byron to come there. A friend
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of his Lordship,
Mr. Trelawney, had lately made a tour of observation in Greece, and had fixed on Athens and its chieftain as affording the most interesting field for action. Ulysses had the greatest friendship for Mr. Trelawney; he was also particularly partial to the English, and, like Mavrocordato, aware of the advantages of such conduct m the existing state of the country, gave the utmost encouragement in his power to all foreigners.

The aspect of the Morea at this time afforded no prospect to the termination of their unfortunate dissensions and want of union. The ex-president of the executive body, Mavromichalis, Bey of Maina, Degliani, and others, supported by the Colocotronists, pretended still to form the existing Government at Tripolizza. The fortress of Napoli di Romania was held by Captain Pauno, Colocotroni’s eldest son. Tripolizza was itself blockaded by Government troops. Andreas Londo had left the blockade of Patras, to
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march with other captains against Colocotroni,
Coliopulo, and Niketas. Sessini, governor of the rich province of Gastouni, possessed of great activity and talent, professed neutrality, but inclined to the party of the rebels—though only that party which proved successful could rely on his support. The Mainotes were divided, Mugino, a powerful Mainote chief, being at enmity with the Bey. The seat of Government was at Argos, where the legislative body held its sittings. The executive remained on board an Hydriot brig, laying at the Mulos, off Napoli.

In this situation of the Morea, the ex-secretary of state, Theodore Negris, proposed the assembly of the authorities of Eastern and Western Greece at Salona, to deliberate on the best means of promoting tranquillity in the Morea, and union in all parts of the State.

Negris was now reconciled to Ulysses, whom he had before warmly opposed; great animosity having arisen between them, chiefly through
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medium of a forged correspondence. When disgraced in the Morea, he went to him, offered his services, which were as frankly accepted, and remained with Ulysses as his adviser and counsellor. Negris, like
Mavrocordato, a Fanariot, and, almost as a natural consequence,* like Mavrocordato, addicted to intrigue, possessed great talents. He had, conjointly with Mavrocordato, drawn up the constitution of Greece. The greatest enmity subsisted between these two rival diplomatists. Mavrocordato had the advantage of a knowledge of civilized Europe, and perhaps owed not a little of his greater celebrity to his assumed title of Prince. Negris, too, possessed less duplicity, more hardihood; and good faith, and pursued with ardour whatever course he adopted; but which, in the incessant change of

* “Essaie sur les Fanariotes,” published by a Greek at Paris. He gives an excellent account of them, but mistakes the character of Mavrocordato, and, at the time he wrote, knew nothing of affairs in Greece.

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parties and interests, made him more enemies and less popular.

It was not probable Mavrocordato would willingly accede to any measure originating with Negris, but the Western authorities were to be invited, and, at the wish of Ulysses, I returned to Messolunghi, to request Lord Byron and Mavrocordato’s attendance; to which they assented, and the beginning of April was fixed for assembling at Salona.* Lord Byron had dismissed his Suliotes, and little was doing at Messolunghi. The Suliotes are individually brave, but when collected are an unruly and unmanageable body. In April we first heard of

* Lord Byron and Mavrocordato were alone when I communicated my mission: his Lordship instantly complied. Mavrocordato declined an immediate answer, and alluding to a foolish affair that had lately happened at Athens, with an English sloop of war, and which the ignorant soldiery of Ulysses construed into an attempt to carry him off, hinted the possibility of Ulysses intending to retaliate the supposed treachery on Lord Byron.

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the Loan of 800,000l. having been effected in England, which opportunely raised the spirits of the people, alarmed as they were at the formidable preparations of the
Pacha of Egypt.

Lord Byron’s arrival at Salona was retarded, till death put an end to his short career in Greece: an event deservedly causing universal sorrow. Had his impatient spirit found an immediate field for active exertion, it is most probable his career would not so quickly have terminated; and if any persons, to suit their own private interest, threw obstacles in his way, and detained him in inactivity, they may be considered instrumental to this public calamity, accelerated as it was by the vexatious and troubled state of his situation. The authorities of Eastern Greece had already assembled. Ulysses had returned from Negropont, where, as no money could be raised, the Greek troops disbanded in great numbers, and the Turks had occupied the Island in large force: they were
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also mustering strong in Larissa and Zeitouni, and directing their movements towards Salona. Ulysses had drawn out an excellent plan for the operations of the ensuing campaign, and was, perhaps, the only man in Greece possessing military skill enough to do so, and talent sufficient to put them in execution; but by temporising measures, and wavering resolves, the members of the Government afterwards sacrificed the advantages, that might have been derived from his services, to their jealousy and distrustful policy.

In the beginning of May, deputies arrived at Salona from Messolunghi, and the assembly passed over, its principal result being the declaration of the two provinces in favour of the legitimacy of the Government at Argos. Col. Stanhope had previously left Salona for Zante; I had accompanied him, and we arrived there on the 12th of May.