LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Journal of a Visit to Greece
Chapter IX

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
‣ Chapter IX
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
322 GREECE IN 1825.  

The aspect of affairs, after five years’ struggle with her powerful foe, was now becoming threatening to the existence of Greece as a free nation. Colocotroni, though joined by almost all the chiefs of the Morea, had not assembled above 5000 men. The Moreots remained in their territory, and the inhabitants of the Morea seemed resolved on no further exertion. The President, Conduriotti, was absent from Napoli, at Hydra. Prince Demetrius Ipsilanti, as he had before done when Courschid Pacha’s formidable army entered the Morea, now took the field with 300 men, and received the authority, but not the means, from the Government to raise 2000.

GREECE IN 1825. 323

Ibrahim Pacha’s force, including the garrisons of Navarino, Modon, and Coron, amounted to about 15,000 men. He extended his operations on either side of Navarino along the coast as far as Calamata and Arcadia; and, at the head of 6000 infantry and 300 cavalry, advanced in person on Tripolizza. The Egyptians having now penetrated into the heart of the mountainous passes and defiles of the Morea, an important blow was expected to be struck by Colocotroni; but no defence was attempted. On their approach the Greeks evacuated Tripolizza, setting fire to such goods as might be useful to the enemy; and the Egyptians entered the town three days after. On the 23d of June, Ibrahim Pacha’s Mamelukes were seen under the walls of Napoli di Romania, capturing some camels, within gun-shot of the garrison, and his troops were at Argos, having traversed the Morea undisturbed and unimpeded, as if marching through the sandy plains of his own dominions.

324 GREECE IN 1825.  

The crisis of Greece seemed decisive. All Roumelia, save Athens, a few mountain-tops, and Messolunghi, was in the power of the enemy. Messolunghi, if not relieved, could not long hold out. In the Morea all resistance seemed at an end: the Greek fleet was dispersing, and the Hydriots spoke of abandoning their country, and seeking refuge with their families in America. The consternation was universal. The Government now thought of preparations, for which there was no longer time; of forming cavalry, and the few horses that were in Napoli were put in requisition. The command of the garrison was offered to Colonel Favrier, who had been absent from Greece, but had lately returned, accompanied by several officers, and proposed to the Government to organize 1000 regulars, for one year, with his own resources; but a crowded and unprovisioned fortified town, wanting in every thing needful for its defence, was a charge no one would accept at a moment
GREECE IN 1825. 325
when it was too late, by any effort, to remedy past neglect. The command of the regulars was ceded to Colonel Favrier, and in this emergency every attention was shown to foreign officers. Those who embark in the cause of the Greeks must prepare for much suffering, to witness many scenes of wanton cruelty, encounter endless obstacles, arm themselves with inexhaustible patience, and seek their reward in the satisfaction of having added their mite to a good cause.

Ipsilanti had, with 500 men, taken up a position at the Mulos on the sea-side opposite Napoli, near Argos, and flanking the road from Tripolizza. Ibrahim Pacha, making, it was reported, a reconnoissance in person, was here wounded in the arm; and in consequence ordered the last battalion of his Moors, who were marching on Argos, to deploy on a hill which commanded the position, and make an attack; which Ipsilanti repulsed with great bravery, the
326 GREECE IN 1825.  
Moors filling the garden of the house, which he occupied, and a French officer, Mons. Graglia, was slightly wounded by his side. An officer of
Colonel Favrier’s, M. Le Croix, with two or three gun-boats, conducted a well-directed fire on the Turks, who retired, after losing 100 men.* An American officer, of the name of Muller, a young man of bravery and conduct, with ten Bulgarians, cleared the garden of the Moors, sword in hand, and their main body being already at Argos, they did not repeat the assault. Our small body of cavalry had

* The Prince, in his despatch to the Government, of the affair of the Mulos, stated the loss of the enemy at 400, which he mentioned to Le Croix; and that he did not do so with any view to magnify his own exploits, as he had no other desire but to devote his life to his country, but he wished to make the most of the affair to raise the spirits of the people and soldiers in this moment of consternation; and Le Croix made a corresponding statement in his report: but the real loss amounted to 100 men, which does not argue much in favour of the intrepidity of Ibrahim Pacha’s Moors; for the Mulos was by no means an advantageous or a strong position.

GREECE IN 1825. 327
some unimportant skirmishes, which, however, made an imposing appearance, under the walls of the town. Through
Coletti, and by the instances of my friend Emanuel Kalergi, with whom I now staid, liberty was allowed me, he being responsible for my appearance. We fell in near Napoli, with a party not exceeding our own force; but, though we were well mounted on fine Arabians, and the Greeks were the elite of the garrison of Napoli, they would not make or stand a charge, and after skirmishing with pistol shots, and having three horses wounded, (no men) the Mamelukes forming, drove us within range of the guns of the fortress.

Though reiterated proclamations were issued for levée en masse, to march and join Colocotroni and Ipsilanti, and all shops and coffeehouses were closed, the streets of Napoli continued crowded with thousands of soldiers and armed men.

After remaining two days at Argos, burning
328 GREECE IN 1825.  
the villages and devastating the plain,
Ibrahim Pacha returned to Tripolizza, and a second time passed the long and perilous defile on that route unattacked. Ipsilanti could not assemble troops to harass his march, as they dispersed to finish the plunder of the deserted villages around.*

Ibrahim Pacha had neither artillery nor provisions, and unless he expected the co-ope-

* Our horsemen, on the Turks withdrawing, had scoured the country as far as Argos; but, uncertain whether a detachment of the enemy might not have remained, only four of our party of thirty at first entered the town, which was still partly burning. The town and the surrounding plain presented a dismal scene of the ravages of war. The wind passing raised clouds of smoke from the different villages, and the sunk fire of the houses; while the dreary stillness that reigned in Argos was only broken by the clattering of our horses’ hoofs on the broken tiles that strewed the streets, or the falling in of another building adding to the work of devastation and ruin. A small bird or two flying from one scorched branch to another of the once flourishing trees, as if seeking their place of wonted rest, and the domestic cat, still haunting the spot of its former threshold, were the only living objects that met the eye.

GREECE IN 1825. 329
ration of his fleet or treachery at Napoli, it seemed an extraordinary movement. Napoli was a scene of uproar and confusion, and a general pillage was expected to take place. The populace began a massacre of the few Turks who were living among them, but the Government being informed of it, they immediately put a stop to it, and the Turks were collected together, and a guard placed over them. A massacre of 150 Turkish prisoners took place at Hydra, owing to a Turkish slave on board an Hydriot vessel having set fire to her.

Circumstances now obliged me to leave Napoli. Not being very solicitous of the imputation of having left the Greeks in the hour of danger, without entering into particulars, I sent two letters relative to the circumstance which determined me to do so; one, in bad French, to Mavrocordato, the other to Capt. Hamilton. I have already mentioned that I was imprisoned, on the pretext of having left the camp without leave.

330 GREECE IN 1825.  
A Monsieur Mavrocordato.
Napoli di Romania, 9th Juin (G. style) 1825.

Vous n’avez pas l’excuse des autres barbares de votre pays. Vous n’ignorez ni les usages du pays dont je prends ma naissance, ni ce que doit attendre un étranger qui vient ici, d’un Gouvernement qui professe des principes libres, mais qui au contraire s’obstine à pratiquer les actes les plus tyranniques et plus injustes; mais je n’entrerai pas dans une discussion politique. Vous connoissez bien les raisons que j’avois de ne me pas presenter à ces authorités qui sont sous vos ordres. Et vous savez bien aussi que dans des pareilles circonstances même chez nous, où règne la discipline militaire la plus sévère on en dépense en faveur de quelque malheur particulier. Mais pourquoi m’adresser à vous, commençant par l’injustice et prédéterminé de ne me rendre aucune. L’accusation est une prétexte si frivole qu’elle ne demande pas presque une réponse, et qui ne fera que vous rendre méprisable aussi en Europe, si j’ai le bonheur d’échapper aux coups de vos assassins.


To further justify my opinion that Mavrocordato, if he dared, was capable of any villany, I will state one anecdote of him:—Three or
GREECE IN 1825. 331
four Frenchmen, whom enthusiasm for the Greeks had induced to desert from their ship at Smyrna, had come to Napoli in an open boat, and were received in the regulars, as common soldiers. On their vessel coming to Napoli, they were demanded by their captain; and they, fearing they might be given up, attempted to leave the town, which might easily and ought to have been, connived at by the Greeks. Two of them had succeeded in escaping. Mavrocordato had one called, assured him of his protection, and that they should not be given up if they remained in the regiment, and desired him to find his comrades and bring them back, which the man, trusting to his professions, did; on which they were all seized and delivered up to be shot. This shows that the appellation by which Mavrocordato is known among the Suliotes of Mamroscotato, black-hearted (literally, black livered) is well merited. He is not so ready to comply with demands, when his own interests
332 GREECE IN 1825.  
are at stake. On the approach of an English brig of war the Weasel, off Messolunghi, to demand restitution for piracies committed by Messolunghi privateers, he mounted his horse, and left the town, to avoid the explanation.

To Captain Hamilton, R. Ar. Cambrian Frigate.
Napoli, G. Style, June 17th, 1825.

It appears the Greek Government have already mentioned to you the affair of the cave of Ulysses. How they have stated the affair I know not; but Captain Hamilton, who has been so long on the Mediterranean station, must be well aware, not every word from a Greek merits belief. I am now under an arrest on that account. The plea they state is groundless. They arrest me because I left the camp without leave. I did not do so. I had the permission of my general to go to the cave, when I was first informed of the atrocious attempt to assassinate Trelawney. I found him in imminent danger, from want of medical assistance. I came instantly to Napoli to procure it, without returning to the camp it is true, as going and returning would have occupied two days. I ask you, as a military man, whether, in our service, I should not have been perfectly justified in so doing: and here, where military regulations and
GREECE IN 1825. 333
discipline have not an existence, it is absurd to a degree, and in the case of a native captain, would never have been thought of. The villain
Fenton, the perpetrator of the act, was, some months ago, engaged by Mavrocordato to murder both Ulysses and Trelawney. I was then with Ulysses, before he joined the Turks, and Fenton at that time carried on the intrigue, under the pretence, to us (true or false) of entrapping Mavrocordato. A Mr. Jarvis, an American, now here, was Mavrocordato’s chief agent in that affair: it passed over: but the other day, Trelawney was attempted to be assassinated by this same Fenton, and immediately after, Ulysses was killed (how, Heaven knows) at Athens. I am arrested and imprisoned, among thieves and assassins, because I came for a surgeon for Trelawney. What I now demand, is either to be set at liberty, or, if they have any charge against me, to be tried. I am vexed to find myself obliged to occupy your attention on my affairs, but I should feel obliged if you would exercise your influence in my favour.

I have the honour to be, &c.

Captain Hamilton, whose active benevolence on the Mediterranean station had given him great influence with both Greek and Turk, being with his squadron, at Napoli, removed any difficulty I might otherwise have found in leaving it. Had that not been the case, Captain
334 GREECE IN 1825.  
Derine, of the French frigate lying there, had politely offered me his protection. I received a passage from the
Hon. Captain Abbot, on board the Rose sloop, and sailed for Zante; not sorry to find myself again in the society of my countrymen, and experiencing their kindness, both on board and afterwards on shore, from the first authorities, and the very gentlemanly officers of the 90th, at that Island. We met forty sail of the Egyptian fleet, sailing towards Alexandria, and arrived at Zante, as the Constantinopolitan fleet, fifty-three sail, including eight frigates, passed and blockaded Messolunghi, a squadron of twelve sail only being detached to Patras; but this overwhelming force remained nearly a month off Messolunghi, making but a few ill-directed attacks with gun-boats, which were completely repulsed by the garrison; and the Greek fleet, under Admiral Miaulis, of twenty-two sail, attended by six fire-ships, arriving, he made good his entrance, and sinking
GREECE IN 1825. 335
one Turkish brig, and burning another, relieved and provisioned Messolunghi; on which the Turks sailed away for the Levant, and Messolunghi will most probably hold out, till the winter coming on breaks up the Turkish camp.

The ultimate result of this contest considered, putting the interference or support of foreign powers out of the question, appearances incline against the probability of the Greeks being able to maintain their independence. Opposed to the Porte alone, the Greeks might hope to struggle on for some time; all the Sultan’s operations being carried on with such inactivity and want of enterprize. But the better conducted plans and policy of the Pacha of Egypt seems to exceed their strength; and there is only a chance for them, in the event of the Pacha being embroiled with the Porte. But, independent of external foes, the internal state of the country affords no prospect of consolidation; no end to factions and dissensions; no possibility of their
336 GREECE IN 1825.  
lands being cultivated, or any commerce carried on, and consequently no improvement of their revenues. However the revolution may end, if left to themselves, a long state of misery, and a protracted, barbarous, and cruel warfare, cannot fail to ensue, debarring the Greeks from all chance of present improvement.

After witnessing the tumultuous state of the Morea, the aspect of Zante formed a pleasing contrast. The Ionian Greeks were increasing in wealth and prosperity under a firm and just administration; enjoying tranquillity, and made happy, in despite of themselves, by a Government, which placed in an embarrassing situation by its vicinity and immediate connexion with the belligerent powers, had undeviatingly pursued an enlightened policy, influenced by the dictates of humanity.

Captain Hamilton had arranged the affair concerning Trelawney with the Greek Government, and a brig of war was appointed for his
GREECE IN 1825. 337
conveyance from the country; when I embraced an offer made me to go to England with
Captain Demetrius Miaulis, and in August 1825, bade farewell to Greece.

It is a truth, the Greeks are in a state of the lowest moral degradation. Self-interest is the sole guide of all their actions: but what they once were, we know; and, if freed from a state of debasing slavery, that they will improve is certain. With all their faults, they are highly gifted; hence an interesting people. They possess a fine genius, and an acuteness in intellect, a tact, and a natural grace in manner, unequalled by any other nation: they can well assume the semblance of an amiable character, and in time the reality may also be added. But in the interior, should future circumstances permit, let them send their youth for education to those countries where honour and true patriotism are yet something more than a name; and then only may Modern Greece hope to see such talents as Mavrocor-
338 GREECE IN 1825.  
dato’s, unperverted by a Fanariot education, and such characters as the
Ipsilantis, Marco Botzari, Maiulis, and Canaris, multiplied among her sons; then may she hope to have good Statesmen and Patriots, good Generals and good Admirals, able to guide their country to prosperity and power!