LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Journal of a Visit to Greece
Chapter II

Chapter I
‣ Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
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A sum of 40,000l. of the Loan had arrived at Zante with Mr. Blaquiere, consigned to Count Logotheti and Mr. Barff, the principal English merchant of Zante. The conditions specified were, that the joint consent of the three named Commissioners should be required previous to any disbursement of the Loan taking place. The three Commissioners named were, Lazzaro Conduriotti, a brother of the president; Lord Byron; and Mr. Gordon, of Cairness; and in the event of his not arriving, the Hon. Col. Stanhope was to act as his substitute. The Contractors had not provided for any event that might take place to invalidate these conditions, and the death of Lord Byron put a stop to all imme-
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diate proceedings; as, according to the letter of the instructions, the money must remain untouched, until such period as another Commissioner was appointed, or measures taken to authorize those remaining to act. The contract had been forwarded to the Greek Government nearly a month before, and no answer had yet arrived.

One universal cry was heard from every Greek in power,—we only want money. This talisman was instantaneously to dispel all dissension, stifle every discontent, introduce order in every branch of administration, provide every necessary, establish hospitals, provision their fortresses, equip their fleet, and rectify every abuse.

But no intelligence had yet reached Zante of the intentions of the Greek Government, in ratifying the contract, or in sending deputies to communicate with the Commissioners; and I proceeded to Argos. Col. Stanhope being officially
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recalled, sailed for England in the Florida, bearing the last remains of the lamented
Byron. On the 25th of May, on landing in the Morea, the golden accounts we had heard at Zante all disappeared, for letters and reports had been fabricated of the favourable turn of affairs in the hope of facilitating the delivery of the Loan. Colocotroni was blockading Tripolizza, Coliopulo, Niketas, and Gennao Colocotroni, his second son, had attacked the Government at Argos, and, though repulsed, had relieved Napoli di Romania. These attacks and engagements are not accompanied with much bloodshed; at the most, the loss of three or four lives, though so disastrous to the country, and retarding all improvement.

I determined to see Colocolroni and know from himself what were his views. I found the fine old chieftain quartered in a small village near Tripolizza: his hut was but partly roofed in, had no boarded floor, and one slip
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of carpet, which the poorest hamlet in Greece is seldom without, was its only furniture. He welcomed me with great warmth. He declared himself most anxious for union, but that the existing Government, under the influence of
Mavrocordato, and the faction of the Primates sought his total ruin. He said, “Let me be judged by my country, and if found guilty, let death be my punishment; but not by a faction, who seek my destruction, and that of all the ancient captains. We, who alone have ever been free; we, who alone in the hour of danger were not found wanting; after clearing our country of her invaders by our swords, when those who would lord it over all of us sought safety in flight, and only return to enjoy the security we have purchased with our blood; are they to be our sole rulers?—are they alone to have a voice and a will in the land we have won and kept with our swords? are Fanariots from the Turkish courts, are adventurers, without a
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name, to root out of its soil its ancient preservers?” There was some truth in his appeal. Colocotroni is eloquent, and to that owes much of his influence over the soldiery. The only terms on which the Government would treat with him, were his going to them with an escort of not more than fifty followers; which he considered equal to a surrender of his liberty, or his life. The leading trait in Colocotroni’s character is avarice; a vice from which few of the Greeks are exempt, and to which he justly owed his loss of power. As an able General he possessed, and deservedly, the confidence of the soldiery and people.* He was allied by marriage to the Deglianis, a powerful family; to
Coliopulo and Niketas, both distinguished Captains; his ne-

* Colocotroni is of that opinion himself. In a conversation at Prince Demetrius Ipsilanti’s, he remarked, the Duke of Wellington is decidedly the first General of the age, but he thought that if his Grace had, like himself, to do the duty at once of Commissary, Soldier, and General, he would not do it so well.

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phews and sons held high commands in different provinces, and thus the Colocotronists, as they are designated, formed a formidable and powerful clan, and with them the
Bey of Maina was in close alliance. He complained that the present Government had deposed members elected at the General Congress of the nation, and replaced them with those of their own party and interests, without the election of the people; and that they had given the rank of General to the most undeserving persons, and to their own servants as a reward for having deserted them. A Bulgarian, Hadgj Christo, the chief, Government General, had been a cheise, or head groom to Colocotroni though it was acknowledged that he owed his rise to his distinguished bravery and good conduct; but a former pipe-bearer of Niketas, then a General, had little other merit than his having deserted his master. He said, that the majority of the people of the Morea were in their favour; but
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that the Government was averse to any amicable adjustment, and was supported by foreigners, to whom they held out the prospect of large pay from the English Loan; as Bulgarians, Albanians, and many of the Roumeliots, who having no longer a home, formed themselves in small bodies as soldiers, electing a Captain, and were ready to enter any body’s service who would best pay them: and that the views of his party were misrepresented, as their adversaries, having the advantage of education, employed the power of the pen against them, while they only knew the use of arms.* The term of anti-patriots, given to his party in the Gazettes, he bitterly complained of; saying that it was a gross injustice, that he, and Niketas too, so distinguished alike for his generosity and great personal bravery in defence of his country, should be now called anti-patriots. He, said he, was accused of an intention

* Many of the principal Chiefs of the country cannot even sign their name.

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to make himself King of Greece. He asked me, if his hut and retinue bore the semblance of Royalty. I found that at night, attended only by one or two trusty followers, he took different positions in the mountains, where he slept to avoid treachery. They demanded but to have one representative of their party in the executive body, and the Bey of Maina to have the command of the troops in the Morea, and they would immediately surrender Napoli di Romania, and submit to the orders of the Government.

The advantage of possessing Napoli at this juncture being so great, it seemed an ill-judged pertinacity in the heads of the Government to refuse these conditions. Conduriotti had said to Ulysses, when proposing a mediation—“They or we shall perish.” The Colocotronists, after repulsing the formidable expedition of Courschid Pacha in 1822, had, indeed, presumed too much on their services, and expected to assume the same pre-eminence in civil administration,
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though inadequate, as they held, in military power. But as some time had elapsed in comparative security, it had given an opportunity to the Frank Greeks, men of more education and diplomatic knowledge, to gain weight in affairs, while the power of the military chiefs decreased in proportion; and they no longer offered, as before, so dangerous an opposition to order and good government, in which they began to perceive their own interests also consisted, rather than in temporary extortions, and the uncertain spoils of war: yet they still possessed far too much influence in the country, to be entirely overthrown, without causing a commotion that would be violently felt throughout its whole system. The Frank Greeks, on their side, despising the native chiefs, and priding themselves on the advantages of a polished education, kept no bounds to their pretensions. The Government was composed of the Island interests and the Frank Greeks; and was at
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their direction: with them the primates had coalesced, though the good understanding between them was not of long duration.

On leaving Colocotroni I entered Tripolizza, where the Archimandrite Pappa Flescia, a bold and intriguing priest, minister of the interior, Andreas Londo, and Zaimi commanded. Prince Demetrius Ipsilanti was leading a retired life, a spectator of the dissensions around him, which he had not the power to quell. Ipsilanti, though considered deficient in energy, possesses tried personal courage, great judgment and discrimination of character, a sincere patriotism, disinterestedness and integrity, little common in Greece; and, though by descent a Fanariot, is not addicted to intrigue. His predilections appear Russian, in which country he was brought up; but, I believe, no Greek has the welfare of his country more sincerely at heart. His shyness is much to his disadvantage in his intercourse with strangers, but to his intimates he
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shows an amiable character; and, I have observed, the officers and dependants of his suite have never left him in his retirement.

On arriving at Argos, I held my audience with the Grecian Senate—the legislative body: it is composed of sixty-two members, elected annually by the people, and has a president and vice-president. Mavrocordato had been nominated president; but now holding the command of Western Greece, the vice-president officiated in his stead. The members were sitting on the floor of a little room, one of the few that remained in the dilapidated city of Argos: they did not rise to speak, nor did they deliver their sentiments in any rotation, which occasioned great confusion. When it became too violent, the vice-president rang his bell, as a call to order, but often only added, by that means, to the din. I then went to the executive body, lying on board the gallant and patriotic Miaulis’ brig, and explained the circumstances of the Loan;
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and the only chance of obtaining the money immediately, by offering such security to the consignees, as would ensure them from incurring any personal risk by delivering the money, contrary to the letter of their instructions. Though bent on getting possession of the money, they seemed very averse to acknowledging the power invested in the three Commissioners; and hinted that their deputies in England had exceeded their powers in making these conditions. Indeed, making the Commissioners sole arbiters in the disbursement of the Loan, was placing the entire arbitration of affairs in their hands; and, as two of this triumvirate were foreigners, though English and Philhellenes, it by no means reconciled them to such dereliction of their power; nor was it to be expected, however more beneficial the arrangement might have proved to their unhappy country. To the instructions from
Colonel Stanhope, they replied, “they had sent deputies to Zante, authorized to
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make every necessary arrangement.” It was anciently remarked at the theatre at Athens—“The Athenians know what is right, but the Lacedæmonians practise it.” The moderns still, indeed, retain the attribute of the Athenians, but that given to the Lacedæmonians belongs only to former years.
Ulysses, now deputy of Livadia, was at Argos; he arrived the day Coliopulo and Niketas attacked the town, and immediately offered his mediation; of which the surrender of Napoli to the Government, was soon afterwards the result. They seemed much puzzled to determine what course to pursue with him; Coletti, as he saw Ulysses paid so much attention to the English, requested me to use my influence with him to support the Government, which, I assured him, was his purposed and determined intention. The president of the executive body, Conduriotti, of one of the richest families of Hydra, is a man of very limited talent, and very uninformed; good intentioned,
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but completely at the direction of those around him.* The vice-president,
Botazi, a Spezziote, bore an excellent character. Coletti was the chief director of affairs; he had been physician to Ali Pacha, and was an implacable enemy to Ulysses. A post in the executive, vacated by the death of one of the Londos family, had been offered to Zaimi, but was rejected by him.

Rhodios, the secretary of state, was placed there by accident. Conduriotti, on his being elected President, took him as his private secretary, the usual appendage of every Greek of any consequence, and not knowing who to fix upon, Rhodios was placed provisionally. On returning through Tripolizza to Zante, on the 5th of May, Zaimi and Londos marched to take possession of Napoli, surren-

* Since Mavrocordato has been secretary of state, the Greeks say, of Conduriotti, “If you ask the President a question, he looks to the right, if Mavrocordato is sitting on that side; and to the left, if he is sitting on the other”

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dered by
Colocotroni, and a general armistice between the parties was concluded. I found at Zante the Greek Deputies Xeno and Kalergi, who, with Kalergi’s two brothers, Greeks of family and fortune, devote their means and talents with great zeal in the cause of their country. Though security had been offered, the consignees did not consider themselves authorized to advance the Loan. The chief urgency was for the fleet; as the islanders, having no support for their families, refused to put to sea till they had received their pay for three months in advance. The Constantinopolitan fleet had left the Dardanelles; it was desirable to prevent its junction with the Egyptian; and every exertion would be necessary to oppose Mahomet Ali’s threatening preparations.

The most earnest and pressing solicitations for money arrived at Zante from Messolunghi, and on the part of Mavrocordato; who, since the death of Lord Byron, found himself in a most
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embarrassed situation; for the Suliotes now collected and united, demanded the fulfilment of his former promises to them for past services. The overbearing Suliotes were detested by the Messolunghiots; who, having got them once out of their town, had shut their gates against them. They then quartered themselves on the neighbouring town of Anatolia, which they refused to leave till they were paid, and threatened a general pillage, and Mavrocordato’s life, if their demands were not speedily complied with. In this emergency,
Mr. Blaquiere sent over 6000 dollars to Mavrocordato, on his own responsibility. Mavrocordato, then paid the Suliotes 8000 dollars, half their claims, on condition of their leaving his province.

Great complaints were made of Mavrocordato’s stewardship. A Swiss of the name of Meyer, editor of the Messolunghi Gazette, had been censured for expressing his opinion too freely, and desired to desist, or to cease writing;
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but a salary of seventy dollars a month from Mavrocordato, produced an effectual change in his sentiments, and he became the future echo of those of his patron.

After remaining at Zante till the 24th of June, we received an order to quit the Island in twenty-four hours. An absurd proclamation had been published and signed by Mavrocordato at Messolunghi, fixing on two neutral ports, Zante and Cerigo, for the future depots of the Loan. The deputies had arrived, in a Greek vessel hoisting man-of-war’s colours, in the port; and the Ionian Powers could not, without a breach of authority, extend any further indulgence.