The Greek Revolution – Beacon Lights of History, Volume IX : European Statesmen

Beacon Lights of History, Volume IX : European Statesmen by John Lord

Beacon Lights of History, Volume IX : European Statesmen

Mirabeau : The French Revolution
Edmund Burke : Political Morality
Napoleon Bonaparte : The French Empire
Prince Metternich : Conservatism
Chateaubriand : The Restoration and Fall of the Bourbons
George IV : Toryism
The Greek Revolution
Louis Philippe : The Citizen King

Beacon Lights of History, Volume IX : European Statesmen
John Lord

Topics Covered
Universal weariness of war on the fall of Napoleon
Peace broken by the revolt of the Spanish colonies
Agitation of political ideas
Causes of the Greek Revolution
Apathy of the Great Powers
State of Greece on the outbreak of the revolution
Character of the Greeks
His successes
Atrocities of the Turks
Universal rising of the Greeks
Siege of Tripolitza
Reverses of the Greeks
Prince Mavrokordatos
Ali Pasha
The massacres at Chios
Admiral Miaulis
Marco Bozzaris
Chourchid Pasha
Deliverance of the Mona
Greeks take Napoli di Romania
Great losses of the Greeks
Renewed efforts of the Sultan
Dissensions of the Greek leaders
Arrival of Lord Byron
Interest kindled for the Greek cause in England
London loans
Siege and fall of Missolonghi
Interference of Great Powers
Ibraham Pasha
Battle of Navarino
Greek independence
Capo d’Istrias
Otho, King of Greece
Results of the Greek Revolution

The Greek Revolution


When Napoleon was sent to St. Helena, the European nations breathed more freely, and it was the general expectation and desire that there would be no more wars. The civilized world was weary of strife and battlefields, and in the reaction which followed the general peace of 1815, the various States settled down into a state of dreamy repose. Not only were they weary of war, but they hated the agitation of those ideas which led to discontent and revolution. The policy of the governments of England, France, Germany, and Russia was pacific and conservative. There was a universal desire to recover wasted energies and develop national resources. Visions of military glory passed away for a time with the enjoyment of peace. Nations reflected on their follies, and resolved to beat their swords into ploughshares.

Then began a period of philanthropy as well as of rest and reaction. Societies were organized, especially in England, to spread the Bible in all lands, to send missionaries to the heathen, and proclaim peace and good-will to all mankind, A new era seemed to dawn upon the world, marked by a desire to cultivate the arts, sciences, and literature; to develop industries, and improve social conditions. War was seen to be barbaric, demoralizing, and exhausting. Peace was hailed with an enthusiasm scarcely less than that which for twenty years had created military heroes. The Holy Alliance was not hypocritical. Although a political compact made under a religious pretext, it was formed by monarchs deeply impressed by the horrors of war, and by the necessity of establishing a new basis for the happiness of mankind on the principles of Christianity, when peace should be the law of nations; at the same time it was formed no less to suppress those ideas which it was supposed led logically to rebellions and revolutions, and to disturb the reign of law, the security of established institutions, and the peaceful pursuit of ordinary avocations. This was the view taken by the Czar Alexander, by Frederick William of Prussia, by Francis I. of Austria, by Louis XVIII. of France, as well as by leading statesmen like Talleyrand, Nesselrode, Hardenberg, Chateaubriand, Metternich, Wellington, and Castlereagh.

But these views were delusive. The world was simply weary of fighting; it was not impressed with a sense of the wickedness, but only of the inexpediency of war, except in case of great national dangers, or to gain what is dearest to enlightened people,–personal liberty and constitutional government.

Consequently, scarcely five years passed away after the fall of Napoleon before Europe was again disturbed by revolutionary passions. There were no international wars. On the whole, England, France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria put aside ambitious designs of further aggrandizement, and were disposed to keep peace with one another; and this desire lasted for a whole generation. But there were other countries in which the flames of insurrection broke out. The Spanish colonies of South America were impatient of the yoke of the mother country, and sought national independence, which they gained after a severe struggle. The disaffection in view of royal despotism reached Spain itself, and a revolution in that country dethroned the Bourbon king, and was suppressed only by the aid of France. All Italy was convulsed by revolutionary ideas and passions growing out of the cruel despotism exercised by the various potentates who ruled that fair but unhappy country. Insurrections were violent in Naples, in Piedmont, and in the papal territories, and were put down not by Italian princes, but by Austrian bayonets. As it is my design to present these in another lecture, I simply allude to them in this connection.

But the most important revolution which occurred at this period, taking into view its ultimate consequences and its various complications, was that of Greece. It was different from those of Spain and Italy in this respect, that it was a struggle not to gain political rights from oppressive rulers, but to secure national independence. As such, it is invested with great interest. Moreover, it was glorious, since it was ultimately successful, after a dreadful contest with Turkey for seven years, during which half of the population was swept away. Greece probably would have succumbed to a powerful empire but for the aid tardily rendered her by foreign Powers,–united in this instance, not to suppress rebellion, but to rescue a noble and gallant people from a cruel despotism.

Had the armed intervention of Russia, England, and France taken place at an earlier period, much suffering and bloodshed might have been averted. But Russia was fettered by the Holy Alliance to suppress all insurrection and attempts at constitutional liberty wherever they might take place, and could not, consistently with the promises given to Austria and Prussia, join in an armed intervention, even in a matter dear to the heart of Alexander, whose religion was that of Greece. The Czar was placed in an awkward position. If he gave assistance to the Greeks, whose religious faith was the same as his own and whose foe was also the traditionary enemy of Russia, he would violate his promises, which he always held sacred, and give umbrage to Austria. The intolerant hatred of Alexander for all insurrections whatever induced him to stand aloof from a contest which jeoparded the stability of thrones, and with which in a political view, as an absolute sovereign, he had no sympathy. On the other hand, if Alexander remained neutral, his faith would be trodden under foot, and that by a power which he detested both politically and religiously,–a power, too, with which Russia had often been at war. If Turkey triumphed in the contest, rebels against a long-constituted authority might indeed be put down; but a hostile power would be strengthened, dangerous to all schemes of Russian aggrandizement. Consequently Alexander was undecided in his policy; yet his indecision tore his mind with anguish, and probably shortened his days. He was, on the whole, a good man; but he was a despot, and did not really know what to do. England and France, again, were weakened by the long wars of Napoleon, and wanted repose. Their sympathies were with the Greeks; but they shielded themselves behind the principles of non-intervention, which were the public law of Europe.

So the poor Greeks were left for six years to struggle alone and unaided against the whole force of the Turkish empire before relief came, when they were on the verge of annihilation. It was the struggle of a little country about half the size of Scotland against an empire four times as large as Great Britain and France combined; of a population less than a million against twenty-five millions. It was more than this: it was, in many important respects, a war between Asia and Europe, kindred in spirit with the old Crusades. It was a war of races and religions, rather than of political principles; and hence it was marked by inhuman atrocities on both sides, reminding us of the old wars between Jews and Syrians. It was a tragedy at which the whole civilized world gazed with blended interest and horror. It was infinitely more fierce than any contest which has taken place in Europe for three hundred years. To the Greeks themselves it was, after the first successes, the most discouraging contest that I know of in human history; and yet it had all those elements of heroism which marked the insurrection of the Hollanders under William the Silent against the combined forces of Austria and Spain. It was grand in its ideas, like our own Revolutionary War; and the liberty which was finally gained was purchased by greater sacrifices than any recorded in any war, either ancient or modern. The war of Italian independence was a mere holiday demonstration in comparison with it. Even the Polish wars against Russia were nothing to it, in the sufferings which were endured and the gallant feats which were performed.

But as Greece was a small and distant country, its memorable contest was not invested with the interest felt for battles on a larger scale, and which more directly affected the interests of other nations. It was not till its complications involved Turkey and Russia in war, and affected the whole “Eastern Question,” that its historical importance was seen. It was perhaps only the beginning of a series of wars which may drive the Ottoman Turks out of Europe, and make Constantinople a great prize for future conquerors.

That is unquestionably what Russia wants and covets to-day, and what the other great Powers are determined she shall not have. Possibly Greece may yet be the renewed seat of a Greek empire, under the protection of the Western nations, as a barrier to Russian encroachments around the Black Sea. There is sympathy for the Greeks; none for the Turks. England, France, and Austria can form no lasting alliance with Mohammedans, who may be driven back into Asia,–not by Russians, but by a coalition of the Latin and Gothic races.

It is useless, however, to speculate on the future wars of the world. We only know that offences must needs come so long as nations and rulers are governed more by interests and passions than by reason or philanthropy. When will passions and interests cease to be dominant or disturbing forces? To these most of the wars which history records are to be traced. And yet, whatever may be the origin or character of wars, those who stimulate or engage in them find plausible excuses,–necessity, patriotism, expediency, self-defence, even religion and liberty. So long then as men are blinded by their passions and interests, and palliate or justify their wars by either truth or sophistry, there is but little hope that they will cease, even with the advance of civilization. When has there been a long period unmarked by war? When have wars been more destructive and terrible than within the memory of this generation? It would indeed seem that when nations shall learn that their real interests are not antagonistic, that they cannot afford to go to war with one another, peace would then prevail as a policy not less than as a principle. This is the hopeful view to take; but unfortunately it is not the lesson taught by history, nor by that philosophy which has been generally accepted by Christendom for eighteen hundred years,–which is that men will not be governed by the loftiest principles until the religion of Jesus shall have conquered and changed the heart of the world, or at least of those who rule the world.

The chapter I am about to present is one of war,–cruel, merciless, relentless war; therefore repulsive, and only interesting from the magnitude of the issues, fought out, indeed, on a narrow strip of territory. What matter, whether the battlefield is large or small? There was as much heroism in the struggles of the Dutch republic as in the wars of Napoleon; as much in our warfare for independence as in the suppression of the Southern rebellion; as much among Cromwell’s soldiers as in the Crimean war; as much at Thermopylae as at Plataea. It is the greatness of a cause which gives to war its only justification. A cause is sacred from the dignity of its principles. Men are nothing; principles are everything. Men must die. It is of comparatively little moment whether they fall like autumn leaves or perish in a storm,–they are alike forgotten; but their ideas and virtues are imperishable, –eternal lessons for successive generations. History is a record not merely of human sufferings,–these are inevitable,–but also of the stepping-stones of progress, which indicate both the permanent welfare of men and the Divine hand which mysteriously but really guides and governs.

When the Greek revolution broke out, in 1820, there were about seven hundred thousand people inhabiting a little over twenty-one thousand square miles of territory, with a revenue of about fifteen millions of dollars,–large for such a country of mountains and valleys. But the soil is fertile and the climate propitious, favorable for grapes, olives, and maize. It is a country easily defended, with its steep mountains, its deep ravines, and rugged cliffs, and when as at that time roads were almost impassable for carriages and artillery. Its people have always been celebrated for bravery, industry, and frugality (like the Swiss), but prone to jealousies and party feuds. It had in 1820 no central government, no great capital, and no regular army. It owed allegiance to the Sultan at Constantinople, the Turks having conquered Greece soon after that city was taken by them in 1453.

Amid all the severities of Turkish rule for four centuries the Greeks maintained their religion, their language, and distinctive manners. In some places they were highly prosperous from commerce, which they engrossed along the whole coast of the Levant and among the islands of the Archipelago. They had six hundred vessels, bearing six thousand guns, and manned by eighteen thousand seamen. In their beautiful islands,–

“Where burning Sappho loved and sung,”–

abodes of industry and freedom, the Turkish pashas never set their foot, satisfied with the tribute which was punctually paid to the Sultan. Moreover, these islands were nurseries of seamen for the Turkish navy; and as these seamen were indispensable to the Sultan, the country that produced them was kindly treated. The Turks were indifferent to commerce, and allowed the Greek merchants to get rich, provided they paid their tribute. The Turks cared only for war and pleasure, and spent their time in alternate excitement and lazy repose. They disdained labor, which they bought with tribute-money or secured from slaves taken in war. Like the Romans, they were warriors and conquerors, but became enervated by luxury. They were hard masters, but their conquered subjects throve by commerce and industry.

The Greeks, as to character, were not religious like the Turks, but quicker witted. What religion they had was made up of the ceremonies and pomps of a corrupted Christianity, but kept alive by traditions. Their patriarch was a great personage,–practically appointed, however, by the Sultan, and resident in Constantinople. Their clergy were married, and were more humane and liberal than the Roman Catholic priests of Italy, and about on a par with them in morals and influence. The Greeks were always inquisitive and fond of knowledge, but their love of liberty has been one of their strongest peculiarities, kept alive amid all the oppressions to which they have been subjected. Nevertheless, unarmed, at least on the mainland, and without fortresses, few in numbers, with overwhelming foes, they had not, up to 1820, dared to risk a general rebellion, for fear that they should be mercilessly slaughtered. So long as they remained at peace their condition as a conquered people was not so bad as it might have been, although the oppressions of tax-gatherers and the brutality of Turkish officials had been growing more and more intolerable. In 1770 and 1790 there had been local and unsuccessful attempts at revolt, but nothing of importance.

Amid the political agitations which threw Spain and Italy into revolution, however, the spirit of liberty revived among the hardy Greek mountaineers of the mainland. Secret societies were formed, with a view of shaking off the Turkish yoke. The aspiring and the discontented naturally cast their eyes to Russia for aid, since there was a religious bond between the Russians and the Greeks, and since the Russians and Turks were mortal enemies, and since, moreover, they were encouraged to hope for such aid by a great Russian nobleman, by birth a Greek, who was private secretary and minister, as well as an intimate, of the Emperor Alexander,–Count Capo d’Istrias. They were also exasperated by the cession of Parga (a town on the mainland opposite the Ionian Islands) to the Turks, by the treaty of 1815, which the allies carelessly overlooked.

The flame of insurrection in 1820 did not, however, first break out in the territory of Greece, but in Wallachia,–a Turkish province on the north of the Danube, governed by a Greek hospodar, the capital of which was Bucharest. This was followed by the revolt of another Turkish province, Moldavia, bordering on Russia, from which it was separated by the River Pruth. At Jassy, the capital, Prince Ypsilanti, a distinguished Russian general descended from an illustrious Greek family, raised the standard of insurrection, to which flocked the whole Christian population of the province, who fell upon the Turkish soldiers and massacred them. Ypsilanti had twenty thousand soldiers under his command, against which the six hundred armed Turks could make but feeble resistance. This apparently successful revolt produced an immense enthusiasm throughout Greece, the inhabitants of which now eagerly took up arms. The Greeks had been assured of the aid of Russia by Ypsilanti, who counted without his host, however; for the Czar, then at the Congress of Laibach, convened to put down revolutionary ideas, was extremely angry at the conduct of Ypsilanti, and, against all expectation, stood aloof. This was the time for him to attack Turkey, then weakened and dilapidated; but he was tired of war. Among the Greeks the wildest enthusiasm prevailed, especially throughout the Morea, the ancient Peloponnesus. The peasants everywhere gathered around their chieftains, and drove away the Turkish soldiers, inflicting on them the grossest barbarities. In a few days the Turks possessed nothing in the Morea but their fortresses. The Turkish garrison of Athens shut itself up in the Acropolis. Most of the islands of the Archipelago hoisted the standard of the Cross; and the strongest of them armed and sent out cruisers to prey on the commerce of the enemy.

At Constantinople the news of the insurrection excited both consternation and rage. Instant death to the Christians was the universal cry. The Mussulmans seized the Greek patriarch, an old man of eighty, while he was performing a religious service on Easter Sunday, hanged him, and delivered his body to the Jews. The Sultan Mahmoud was intensely exasperated, and ordered a levy of troops throughout his empire to suppress the insurrection and to punish the Christians. The atrocities which the Turks now inflicted have scarcely ever been equalled in horror. The Christian churches were entered and sacked. At Adrianople the Patriarch was beheaded, with eight other ecclesiastical dignitaries. In ten days thousands of Christians in that city were butchered, and their wives and daughters sold into slavery; while five archbishops and three bishops were hanged in the streets, without trial. There was scarcely a town in the empire where atrocities of the most repulsive kind were not perpetrated on innocent and helpless people. In Asia Minor the fanatical spirit raged with more ferocity than in European Turkey. At Smyrna a general massacre of the Christians took place under circumstances of peculiar atrocity, and fifteen thousand were obliged to flee to the islands of the Archipelago to save their lives. The Island of Cyprus, which once had a population of more than a million, reduced at the breaking out of the insurrection to seventy thousand, was nearly depopulated; the archbishop and five other bishops were ruthlessly murdered. The whole island, one hundred and forty-six miles long and sixty-three wide, was converted into a theatre of rapine, violation, and bloodshed.

All now saw that no hope remained for Greece but in the most determined resistance, which was nobly made. Six thousand men were soon in arms in Thessaly. The mountaineers of Macedonia gathered into armed bands. Thirty thousand rose in the peninsula of Cassandra and laid siege to Salonica, a city of eighty thousand inhabitants, but were repulsed, and fled to the mountains,–not, however, until thousands of Mussulmans were slain. It had become “war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt.” No quarter was asked or given.

All Greece was now aroused to what was universally felt to be a death struggle. The people eagerly responded to all patriotic influences, and especially to war songs, some of which had been sung for more than two thousand years. Certain of these were reproduced by the English poet Byron, who, leaving his native land, entered heart and soul into the desperate contest, and urged the Greeks to heroic action in memory of their fathers.

“Then manfully despising
The Turkish tyrant’s yoke,
Let your country see you rising,
And all her chains are broke.
Brave shades of chiefs and sages,
Behold the coming strife!
Hellenes of past ages
Oh, start again to life!
At the sound of trumpet, breaking
Your sleep, oh, join with me!
And the seven-hilled city seeking,
Fight, conquer, till we’re free!”

Success now seemed to mark the uprising in Southern Greece; but in the Danubian provinces, without the expected aid of Russia, it was far otherwise. Prince Ypsilanti, who had taken an active part in the insurrection, was dismissed from the Russian service and summoned back to Russia; but he was not discouraged, and advanced to Bucharest with ten thousand men. In the mean time ten thousand Turks entered the Principalities and regained Moldavia. Ypsilanti fled before the conquering enemy, abandoned Bucharest, and was totally defeated at Dragaschan, with the loss of all his baggage and ammunition. Only twenty-five of his hastily collected band escaped into Transylvania.

The intelligence of this disaster would have disheartened the Greeks but for their naval successes among the islands of the Archipelago. Hydra, Ipsara, and Samos equipped a flotilla which drove the Turkish fleet back to the Dardanelles with immense losses. The Greeks having now the command of the sea, made successful incursions, and hoisted their flag at Missolonghi, which they easily fortified, it being situated in the midst of lagoons, like Venice, which large ships could not penetrate. But on the mainland they suffered severe reverses. Fifteen thousand Greeks perished at Patras; but the patriots were successful at Valtezza, where five thousand men repulsed fifteen thousand Turks, and drove them to seek shelter in the strong fortress of Tripolitza. The Greeks avoiding action in the open field, succeeded in taking Navarino and Napoli di Malvasia, and rivalled their enemies in the atrocities they committed. They lost Athens, whose citadel they had besieged, but defeated the Turks in Thermopylae with great slaughter, which enabled them to reoccupy Athens and blockade the Acropolis.

Then followed the siege of Tripolitza, in the centre of the Morea, the seat of the Pasha, where the Turks were strongly intrenched. It was soon taken by Kolokotronis, who commanded the Greeks. The fall of this fortress was followed by the usual massacre, in which neither age nor sex was spared. The Greek chiefs attempted to suppress the fury and cruelty of their followers; but their efforts were in vain, and their cause was stained with blood needlessly shed. Yet when one remembers the centuries during which the Turks had been slaying the men, carrying off the women to their harems, and making slaves of the children of the Greeks, there is less to wonder at in such an access of blind fury and vengeance. Nine thousand Turks were massacred, or slain in the attack. The capture of this important fortress was of immense advantage to the Greeks, who obtained great treasures and a large amount of ammunition, with a valuable train of artillery.

But this great success was balanced by the failure of the Greeks, under Ypsilanti, to capture Napoli di Romania,–another strong fortress, defended by eight hundred guns, regarded as nearly impregnable, situated, like Gibraltar, on a great rock eight hundred feet high, the base of which was washed by the sea. It was a rash enterprise, but came near being successful on account of the negligence of the garrison, which numbered only fifteen hundred men. An escalade was attempted by Mavrokordatos, one of the heroic chieftains of the Greeks; but it was successfully repulsed, and the attacking generals with difficulty escaped to Argos. The Greeks also met with a reverse on the peninsula of Cassandra, near Salonica, which proved another massacre. Three thousand perished from Turkish scimitars, and ten thousand women and children were sold into slavery.

Thus ended the campaign of 1821, with mutual successes and losses, disgraced on both sides by treachery and massacres; but the Greeks were sufficiently emboldened to declare their independence, and form a constitution under Prince Mavrokordatos as president,–a Chian by birth, who had been physician to the Sultan. The seat of government was fixed at Corinth, whose fortress had been recovered from the Turks. Seven hundred thousand people threw down the gauntlet to twenty-five millions, and defied their power.

The following year the Greek cause indirectly suffered a great blow by the capture and death of Ali Pasha. This ambitious and daring rebel, from humble origin, had arisen, by energy, ability, and fraud, to a high command under the Sultan. He became pasha of Thessaly; and having accumulated great riches by extortion and oppression, he bought the pashalic of Jannina, in one of the richest and most beautiful valleys of Epirus. In the centre of a lake he built an impregnable fortress, collected a large body of Albanian troops, and soon became master of the whole province. He preserved an apparent neutrality between the Sultan and the rebellious Greeks, whom, however, he secretly encouraged. In his castle at Jannina he meditated extensive conquests and independence of the Porte. At one time he had eighty thousand half-disciplined Albanians under his command. The Sultan, at last suspecting his treachery, summoned him to Constantinople, and on his refusal to appear, denounced him as a rebel, and sent Chourchid Pasha, one of his ablest generals, with forty thousand troops, to subdue him. This was no easy task; and for two years, before the Greek revolution broke out, Ali had maintained his independence. At last he found himself besieged in his island castle, impregnable against assault, but short of provisions. From this retreat he was decoyed by consummate art to the mainland, to meet the Turkish general, who promised an important command and a high rank in the Turkish service. In the power now of the Turks, he was at once beheaded, and his head sent to Constantinople.

Ali’s death set free the large army of Chourchid Pasha to be employed against the Greeks. Aided too by the enthusiasm which the suppression of a dangerous enemy created, the Sultan made great preparations for a renewed attack on the Morea. The contest now assumed greater proportions, and the reconquest of Greece seemed extremely probable. Sixty thousand Turks, under the command of the ablest general of the Sultan, prepared to invade the Morea. In addition, a powerful squadron, with eight thousand troops, sailed from the Dardanelles to reinforce the Turkish fortresses and furnish provisions. In the meantime the insurrection extended to Chios, or Scio, an opulent and fertile island opposite Smyrna. It had eighty thousand inhabitants, who drove the Turks to their citadel. The Sultan, enraged at the loss of this prosperous island, sent thirty thousand fanatical Asiatic Mussulmans, and a fleet consisting of six ships-of-the-line, ten frigates, and twelve brigs, to reconquer what was regarded as the garden of the Archipelago. Resistance was impossible against such an overwhelming array of forces, who massacred nearly the whole of the male population, and sold their wives and children as slaves. The consuls of France and Austria remonstrated against this unheard-of cruelty; but nothing could appease the fanatical fury of the conquerors. The massacre has no parallel in history since the storming of Syracuse or the sack of Bagdad, Not only were the inhabitants swept away, but the churches, the fine villas, the scattered houses, and the villages were burned to the ground. When the slaughter ceased, it was found that twenty-five thousand men had been slain, and forty-five thousand women and children had become slaves to glut the markets of Constantinople and Egypt, while fifteen thousand had fled to the mainland.

This great calamity, however, was partially avenged by the sailors and chiefs of Hydra, a neighboring island, under the command of one of the greatest heroes that the war produced,–the intrepid and fearless Andreas Miaulis, who with fire-ships destroyed nearly the whole of the Turkish fleet. He was aided by Constantine Canaris and George Pepinis, equal to him in courage, who succeeded in grappling the ships of the enemy and setting them on fire. The Turks, with the remnant of their magnificent fleet, took refuge in the harbor of Mitylene, while the victors returned in triumph to Ipsara, and became the masters of the Archipelago.

The Greek operations were not so fortunate at first on the land as they were on the sea. Mavrokordatos led in person an expedition into Epirus; but he was no general, and failed disastrously. Even the brave Marco Bozzaris was unable to cut his way to the relief of his countrymen, shut up in their fortresses without an adequate supply of provisions; and all that the Greeks could do in their great discouragement was to supply Missolonghi with provisions and a few defenders, in anticipation of a siege.

Epirus was now fallen, and nothing remained but a guerilla warfare. Indeed, a striking feature of the whole revolution was “the absence of any one great leader to concentrate the Greek forces and utilize the splendid heroism of people and chieftains in permanent strategic successes. The war was a succession of sporadic fights,–successes and failures,–with small apparent mutual relations and effects.” In Macedonia, which had joined the insurrection, there were six thousand brave mountaineers in arms; but they had to contend with fifteen thousand regular troops under the command of the pashas of Salonica and Thessaly, who forced the passes of the Vale of Tempe, and slew all before them. Chourchid Pasha, having his rear provided for, with thirty thousand men now passed through the defile of Thermopylae, appeared before Corinth, took its citadel, advanced to Argos, dispersed the government which had established itself there, and then pursued his victorious career to Napoli di Romania, whose garrison he reinforced. But the summer sun dried up the surrounding plains; there was nothing left on which his cavalry could feed, or his men either, and he found himself in a perilous position in the midst of victory.

The defeated Greeks now rallied under Ypsilanti and Kolokotronis, who raised the siege of Corinth, and advanced against their foes with twelve thousand men. The Turkish army, decimated and in fear of starvation, resolved to cut their way through the guarded defiles, and succeeded only by the loss of seven thousand men, with all their baggage and military stores. The Morea was delivered from the oppressor, and the Turkish army of thirty thousand was destroyed. Chourchid Pasha was soon after seized with dysentery, brought about by fatigue and anxiety, to which he succumbed; and the ablest general yet sent against the Greeks failed disastrously, to the joy of the nation.

Marco Bozzaris, painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Marco Bozzaris, painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

This great success was followed by others. The Acropolis of Athens capitulated to the victorious Greeks, not without the usual atrocities, and Attica, was recovered. But the mountains of Epirus were still filled with Turkish troops, who advanced to lay siege to Missolonghi, defended by a small garrison of four hundred men under Marco Bozzaris. Mavrokordatos contrived to come to his relief, and the town soon had three thousand defenders. Six times did the Turks attempt an assault under Omar Vrione; but each time they were repulsed with great slaughter, and compelled to retreat. The Turkish general lost three quarters of his army, and with difficulty escaped himself in an open boat. Altogether twelve thousand Turks perished in this disastrous siege, with the loss of their artillery.

As the insurrection had now assumed formidable proportions in Cyprus and Candia, a general appeal was made to Mussulmans of those islands, whose numbers greatly exceeded the rebels. Twenty-five thousand men rallied around the standards of the Moslems; but they were driven into their fortresses, leaving both plains and mountains in the hands of the Greeks.

These brave insurgents gained still another great success in this memorable campaign. They carried the important fortress of Napoli di Romania by escalade December 12, under Kolokotronis, with ten thousand men, and the garrison, weakened by famine, capitulated. Four hundred pieces of cannon, with large stores of ammunition, were the reward of the victors. This conquest was the more remarkable since a large Turkish fleet was sent to the relief of the fortress; but fearing the fire-ships of the Greeks, the Turkish admiral sailed away without doing anything, and cast anchor in the bay of Tenedos. Here he was attacked by the Greek fire-ships, commanded by Canaris, and his fleet were obliged to cut their cables and sail back to the Dardanelles, with the loss of their largest ships. The conqueror was crowned with laurel at Ipsara by his grateful countrymen, and the campaign of 1822 closed, leaving the Greeks masters of the sea and of nearly the whole of their territory.

This campaign, considering the inequality of forces, is regarded by Alison as one of the most glorious in the annals of war. A population of seven hundred thousand souls had confronted and beaten the splendid strength of the Ottoman Empire, with twenty-five millions of Mussulmans. They had destroyed four-fifths of an army of fifty thousand men, and made themselves masters of their principal strongholds. Twice had they driven the Turkish fleets from the Aegean Sea with the loss of their finest ships. But Greece, during the two years’ warfare, had lost two hundred thousand inhabitants,–not slain in battle, but massacred, and killed by various inhumanities. It was clear that the country could not much longer bear such a strain, unless the great Powers of Europe came to its relief.

Acropolis Athens Greece as seen from Exarchion Photograph

Acropolis Athens Greece as seen from Exarchion Photograph

But no relief came. Canning, who ruled England, sympathized with the Greeks, but would not depart from his policy of non-intervention, fearing to embroil all Europe in war. It was the same with Louis XVIII., who feared the stability of his throne and dared not offend Austria, who looked on the contest with indifference as a rebellious insurrection. Prussia took the same ground; and even Russia stood aloof, unprepared for war with the Turks, which would have immediately resulted if the Czar had rendered assistance to the Greeks. Never was a nation in greater danger of annihilation, in spite of its glorious resistance, than was Greece at that time, for what could the remaining five hundred thousand people do against twenty-five millions inspired with fanatical hatred, but to sell their lives as dearly as they might? The contest was like that of the Maccabees against the overwhelming armies of Syria.

As was to be expected, the disgraceful defeat of his fleets and armies filled the Sultan with rage and renewed resolution. The whole power of his empire was now called out to suppress the rebellion. He had long meditated the destruction of that famous military corps in the Turkish service known as the Janizaries, who were not Turks, but recruited from the youth of the Greeks and other subject races captured in war. They had all become Mussulmans, and were superb fighters; but their insults and insolence, engendered by their traditional pride in the prestige of the corps and the favor shown them by successive Sultans, filled Mahmoud with wrath. The Sultan dissembled his resentment, however, in order to bring all the soldiers he could command to the utter destruction of his rebellious subjects. He deposed his grand vizier, and sent orders to all the pashas in his dominions for a general levy of all Mussulmans between fifteen and fifty, to assemble in Thessaly in May, 1823. He also made the utmost efforts to repair the disasters of his fleet.

The Greeks, too, made corresponding exertions to maintain their armies. Though weakened, they were not despondent. Their successes had filled them with new hopes and energies. Their independence seemed to them to be established. They even began to despise their foes. But as soon as success seemed to have crowned their efforts they were subject to a new danger. There were divisions, strifes, and jealousies between the chieftains. Unity, so essential in war, was seriously jeoparded. Had they remained united, and buried their resentments and jealousies in the cause of patriotism, their independence possibly might have been acknowledged. But in the absence of a central power the various generals wished to fight on their own account, like guerilla chiefs. They would not even submit to the National Assembly. The leaders were so full of discords and personal ambition that they would not unite on anything. Mavrokordatos and Ypsilanti were not on speaking terms. One is naturally astonished at such suicidal courses, but he forgets what a powerful passion jealousy is in the human soul. It was not absent from our own war of Independence, in which at one time rival generals would have supplanted, if possible, even Washington himself; indeed, it is present everywhere, not in war alone, but among all influential and ambitious people,–women of society, legislators, artists, physicians, singers, actors, even clergymen, authors, and professors in colleges. This unfortunate passion can be kept down only by the overpowering dominancy of transcendent ability, which everybody must concede, when envy is turned into admiration,–as in the case of Napoleon. There was no one chieftain among the Greeks who called out universal homage any more than there was in the camp of Agamemnon before the walls of Troy. There were men of ability and patriotism and virtue; but, as already noted, no one of them was great enough to exact universal and willing obedience. And this fact was well understood in all the cabinets of Europe, as well as in the camps of their enemies. The disunions and dissensions of the rival Greek generals were of more advantage to the Turks than a force of fifty thousand men.

These jealous chieftains, however, had reason to be startled in the spring of 1823, when they heard that eighty thousand Mussulmans were to be sent to attack the Isthmus of Corinth; that forty thousand more were to undertake the siege of Missolonghi; that fifty thousand in addition were to co-operate in Thessaly and Attica; while a grand fleet of one hundred and twenty sail was to sweep the Aegean and reduce the revolted islands. It was, however, the very magnitude of the hostile forces which saved the Greeks from impending ruin; for these forces had to be fed in dried-up and devastated plains, under scorching suns, in the defiles of mountains, where artillery was of no use, and where hardy mountaineers, behind rocks and precipices, could fire upon them unseen and without danger. There was more loss from famine and pestilence than from foes,–a lesson repeatedly taught for three thousand years, but one which governments have ever been slow to learn. Alexander the Great had learned it when he invaded Persia with a small army of veterans, rather than with a mob of undisciplined allies. Huge armies are not to be relied on, except when they form a vast mechanism directed by a master hand, when they are sure of their supplies, and when they operate in a wholesome country, with nothing to fear from malaria or inclemency of weather. Then they can crush all before them like some terrible and irresistible machine; but only then. This the old crusaders learned to their cost, as well as the invading armies of Napoleon amid the snows of Russia, and even the disciplined troops of France and England when they marched to the siege of Sebastopol.

Hence, in spite of the divisions of the Greeks, which paralyzed their best efforts, the Turkish armies effected but little, great as were their numbers, in the campaign of 1823. The intrepid Marco Bozzaris, with only five thousand men, kept the Turks at bay in Epirus, and chased a large body of Albanians to the sea; while Odysseus defended the pass of Thermopylae, and prevented the advance of the Turks into Southern Greece. The grand army destined for the invasion of the Morea gradually melted away in attacking fortresses, and under the desultory actions of guerilla bands amidst rocks and thickets. Bozzaris surprised a Turkish army near Missolonghi by a nocturnal attack, and although he himself bravely perished, the attack was successful. The Turks in renewed numbers, however, advanced to the siege of Missolonghi; but they were again repulsed with great slaughter.

The naval campaign from which so much was expected by the Sultan also proved a failure. As usual the Greeks resorted to their fire-ships, not being able openly to contend with superior forces, and drove the fleet back again to the Dardanelles. When the sea was clear, they were able to reinforce Missolonghi with three thousand men and a large supply of provisions; for it was foreseen that the siege would be renewed.

It was at this time, when the Greek cause was imperilled by the dissensions of the leading chieftains; when Greece indeed was threatened by civil war, in addition to its contest with the Turks; when the whole country was impoverished and devastated; when the population was melting away, and no revenue could be raised to pay the half-starved and half-naked troops,–that Lord Byron arrived at Missolonghi to share his fortune with the defenders of an uncertain cause. Like most scholars and poets, he had a sentimental attachment for the classic land,–the teacher of the ancient world; and in common with his countrymen he admired the noble struggles and sacrifices, worthy of ancient heroes, which the Greeks, though divided and demoralized, had put forth to recover their liberties. His money contributions were valuable; but it was his moral support which accomplished the most for Grecian independence. Though unpopular and maligned at this time in England for his immoralities and haughty disdain, he was still the greatest poet of his age, a peer, and a man of transcendent genius of whom any country would be proud. That such a man, embittered and in broken health, should throw his whole soul into the contest, with a disinterestedness which was never questioned, shows not only that he had many noble traits, but that his example would have great weight with enlightened nations, and open their eyes to the necessity of rallying to the cause of liberty. The faults of the Greeks were many; but these faults were such as would naturally be produced by four hundred years of oppression and scorn, of craft, treachery, and insensibility to suffering. As for their jealousies and quarrels, when was there ever a time, even in periods of their highest glory, when these were not their national characteristics?

Interest in the affairs of Greece now began to be awakened, especially among the English; and the result was a loan of £800,000 raised in London for the Greek government, at the rate of £59 for £100. Greece really obtained only £280,000, while it contracted a debt of £800,000. Yet this disadvantageous loan was of great service to an utterly impoverished government, about to contend with the large armies of the Turks. The Sultan had made immense preparations for the campaign of 1824, and had obtained the assistance of the celebrated Ibrahim Pasha, adopted son of Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, who with his Egyptian troops had nearly subdued Crete. Over one hundred thousand men were now directed, by sea and land, to western Greece and Missolonghi, of which twenty thousand were disciplined Egyptian troops. With this great force the Mussulmans assumed the offensive, and the condition of Greece was never more critical.

First, the islands of Spezzia and Ipsara were attacked,–the latter being little more than a barren rock, but the abode of liberty. It was poorly defended, and was unable to cope with the Turkish armada, having on board fifteen thousand disciplined troops. Canaris advised a combat on the sea, but was overruled; and the consequences were fatal. The island was taken and sacked, and all the inhabitants were put to the sword. In addition to this great calamity, the spoil made by the victors was immense, including two hundred pieces of artillery and ninety vessels. Canaris, however, contrived to escape in a boat, to pursue a victorious career with his fire-ships. The Turkish and Egyptian fleets had effected a junction, consisting of one ship-of-the-line, twenty-five frigates, twenty-five corvettes, fifty brigs and schooners, and two hundred and forty transports, carrying eighty thousand soldiers and sailors and twenty-five hundred cannon. To oppose this great armament, the Greek admiral Miaulis had only seventy sail, manned by five thousand sailors and carrying eight hundred guns. In spite however of this disproportion of forces he advanced to meet the enemy, and dispersed it with a great Turkish loss of fifteen thousand men. All that the Turks had gained was a barren island.

On the land the Turks had more successes; but these were so indecisive that they did not attempt to renew the siege of Missolonghi, and the campaign of 1824 closed with a great loss to the Mussulmans. The little army and fleet of the Greeks had repelled one hundred and twenty thousand soldiers confident of success; but the population was now reduced to less than five hundred thousand, becoming feebler every day, and the national treasury was empty, while the whole country was a scene of desolation and misery. And yet, strange to say, the Greeks continued their dissensions while on the very brink of ruin. Stranger still, their courage was unabated.

The year 1825 opened with brighter prospects. The rival chieftains, in view of the desperate state of affairs, at last united, and seemingly buried their jealousies. A new loan was contracted in London of £2,000,000, and the naval forces were increased.

But the Turks also made their preparations for a renewed conflict, and Ibrahim Pasha felt himself strong enough to undertake the siege of Navarino, which fell into his hands after a brave resistance. Tripolitza also capitulated to the Egyptian, and the Morea was occupied by his troops after several engagements. After this the Greeks never ventured to fight in the open field, but only in guerilla bands, in mountain passes, and behind fortifications.

Then began the memorable siege of Missolonghi under Reschid Pasha. It was probably the strongest town in Greece,–by reason not of its fortifications but of the surrounding marshes and lagoons which made it inaccessible. Into this town the armed peasantry threw themselves, with five thousand troops under Niketas, while Miaulis with his fleet raised the blockade by sea and supplied the town with provisions. Reschid Pasha determined on an assault, but was driven back. Thrice he advanced with his troops, only to be repulsed. His forces at the end of October were reduced to three thousand men. The Sultan, irritated by successive disasters, brought the whole disposable force of his empire to bear on the doomed city. Ibrahim, powerfully reinforced with twenty-five thousand men, by sea and land stormed battery after battery; yet the Greeks held out, contending with famine and pestilence, as well as with troops ten times their number.

At last they were unable to offer further resistance, and they resolved on a general sortie to break through the enemy’s line to a place of safety. The women of the town put on male attire, and armed themselves with pistols and daggers. The whole population,–men, women, and children,–on the night of the 22d of April, 1826, issued from their defences, crossed the moat in silence, passed the ditches and trenches, and made their way through an opening of the besiegers’ lines. For a while the sortie seemed to be successful; but mistakes were made, a panic ensued, and most of the flying crowd retreated back to the deserted town, only to be massacred by Turkish scimitars. Some made their escape. A column of nearly two thousand, after incredible hardships, succeeded in reaching Salonica in safety; but Missolonghi fell, with the loss of nearly ten thousand, killed, wounded, and prisoners.

It was a great disaster, but proved in the end the foundation of Greek independence, by creating a general burst of blended enthusiasm and indignation throughout Europe. The heroic defence of this stronghold against such overwhelming forces opened the eyes of European statesmen. Public sentiment in England in favor of the struggling nation could no longer be disregarded. Mr. Canning took up the cause, both from enthusiasm and policy. The English ambassador at Constantinople had a secret interview with Mavrokordatos on an island near Hydra, and promised him the intervention of England. The death of the Czar Alexander gave a new aspect to affairs; for his successor, Nicholas, made up his mind to raise his standard in Turkey. The national voice of Russia was now for war. The Duke of Wellington was sent to St. Petersburg, nominally to congratulate the Czar on his accession, but really to arrange for an armed intervention for the protection of Greece. The Hellenic government ordered a general conscription; for Ibrahim Pasha was organizing new forces for the subjection of the Morea and the reduction of Napoli di Romania and Hydra, while a powerful fleet put to sea from Alexandria. No sooner did this fleet appear, however, than Canaris and Miaulis attacked it with their dreaded fire-ships, and the forty ships of Egypt fled from fourteen small Greek vessels, and re-entered the Dardanelles. But the Turks, always more fortunate on land than by sea, pressed now the siege of the Acropolis, and Athens fell into their hands early in 1827.

For six or seven years the Greeks had struggled heroically; but relief was now at hand. Russia and England signed a protocol on the 6th of July, and France soon after joined, to put an end to the sanguinary contest. The terms proposed to the Sultan by the three great Powers were moderate,–that he should still retain a nominal sovereignty over the revolted provinces and receive an annual tribute; but the haughty and exasperated Sultan indignantly rejected them, and made renewed preparations to continue the contest. Ibrahim landed his forces on the Morea and renewed his depredations. Once more the ambassadors of the allied Powers presented their final note to the Turkish government, and again it was insultingly disregarded. The allied admirals then entered the port of Navarino, where the Turkish and Egyptian fleets were at anchor, with ten ships-of-the-line, ten frigates, with other vessels, altogether carrying thirteen hundred and twenty-four guns. The Ottoman force consisted of seventy-nine vessels, armed with twenty-two hundred and forty guns. Strict orders were given not to fire while negotiations were going on; but an accidental shot from a Turkish vessel brought on a general action, and the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet was literally annihilated Oct. 20, 1827. This was the greatest disaster which the Ottoman Turks had yet experienced; indeed, it practically ended the whole contest. Christendom at last had come to the rescue, when Greece unaided was incapable of further resistance.

The battle of Navarino excited, of course, the wildest enthusiasm throughout Greece, and a corresponding joy throughout Europe. Never since the battle of Lepanto was there such a general exultation among Christian nations. This single battle decided the fate of Greece. The admirals of the allied fleet were doubtless “the aggressors in the battle; but the Turks were the aggressors in the war.”

Canning of England did not live to enjoy the triumph of the cause which he had come to have so much at heart. He was the inspiring genius who induced both Russia and France (now under Charles X.) to intervene. Chateaubriand, the minister of Charles X., was in perfect accord with Canning from poetical and sentimental reasons. Politically his policy was that of Metternich, who could see no distinction between the insurrection of Naples and that of Greece. In the great Austrian’s eyes, all people alike who aspired to gain popular liberty or constitutional government were rebels to be crushed. Canning, however, sympathized in his latter days with all people striving for independence, whether in South America or Greece. But his opinion was not shared by English statesmen of the Tory school, and he had the greatest difficulty in bringing his colleagues over to his views. When he died, England again relapsed into neutrality and inaction, under the government of Wellington. Charles X. in France had no natural liking for the Greek cause, and wanted only to be undisturbed in his schemes of despotism. Russia, under Nicholas, determined to fight Turkey, unfettered by allies. She sought but a pretext for a declaration of war. Turkey furnished to Russia that pretext, right in the stress of her own military weakness, when she was exhausted by a war of seven years, and by the destruction of the Janizaries,–which the Sultan had long meditated, and concealed in his own bosom with the craft which formed one of the peculiarities of this cruel yet able sovereign, but which he finally executed with characteristic savagery. Concerning this Russian war we shall speak presently.

The battle of Navarino, although it made the restoration of the Turkish power impossible in Greece, still left Ibrahim master of the fortresses, and it was two years before the Turkish troops were finally expelled. But independence was now assured, and the Greeks set about establishing their government with some permanency. Before the end of that year Capo d’Istrias was elected president for seven years, and in January, 1828, he entered upon his office. His ideas of government were arbitrary, for he had been the minister and favorite of Alexander. He wished to rule like an absolute sovereign. His short reign was a sort of dictatorship. His council was composed entirely of his creatures, and he sought at once to destroy provincial and municipal authority. He limited the freedom of the Press and violated the secrecy of the mails. “In Plato’s home, Plato’s Gorgias could not be read because it spoke too strongly against tyrants.”

Capo d’Istrias found it hard to organize and govern amid the hostilities of rival chieftains and the general anarchy which prevailed. Local self-government lay at the root of Greek nationality; but this he ignored, and set himself to organize an administrative system modelled after that of France during the reign of Napoleon. Intellectually he stood at the head of the nation, and was a man of great integrity of character, as austere and upright as Guizot, having no toleration for freebooters and peculators. He became unpopular among the sailors and merchants, who had been so effective in the warfare with the Turks. “A dark shadow fell over his government” as it became more harsh and intolerant, and he was assassinated the 9th of October, 1831.

The allied sovereigns who had taken the Greeks under their protection now felt the need of a stronger and more stable government for them than a republic, and determined to establish an hereditary but constitutional monarchy. The crown was offered to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who at first accepted it; but when that prince began to look into the real state of the country,–curtailed in its limits by the jealousies of the English government, rent with anarchy and dissension, containing a people so long enslaved that they could not make orderly use of freedom,–he declined the proffered crown. It was then (1832) offered to and accepted by Prince Otho of Bavaria, a minor; and thirty-five hundred Bavarian soldiers maintained order during the three years of the regency, which, though it developed great activity, was divided in itself, and conspiracies took place to overthrow it. The year 1835 saw the majority of the king, who then assumed the government. In the same year the capital was transferred to Athens, which was nothing but a heap of rubbish; but the city soon after had a university, and also became an important port. In 1843, after a military revolution against the German elements of Otho’s government, which had increased from year to year, the Greeks obtained from the king a representative constitution, to which he took an oath in 1844.

But the limits of the kingdom were small, and neither Crete, Thessaly, Epirus, nor the Ionian Islands were included in it. In 1846 these islands were ceded by Great Britain to Greece, which was also strengthened by the annexation of Thessaly. Since then the progress of the country in material wealth and in education has been rapid. Otho reigned till 1862, although amid occasional outbreaks of impatience and revolt against the reactionary tendencies of his rule. In that year he fled with his queen from a formidable uprising; and in 1863 Prince William, son of Christian IX. King of Denmark, was elected monarch, under the title of George I. King of the Hellenes.

The resurrection of Greece was thus finally effected. It was added to the European kingdoms, and now bids fair to be prosperous and happy. “Thus did the Old Hellas rise from the grave of nations. Scorched by fire, riddled by shot, baptized by blood, she emerged victorious from the conflict. She achieved her independence because she proved herself worthy of it; she was trained to manhood in the only school of real improvement,–the school of suffering.”

The Greek revolution has another aspect than battles on the Morea, massacres on the islands of the Archipelago, naval enterprises under heroic seamen, guerilla conflicts amid the defiles of mountains, brave defences of fortresses, dissensions and jealousies between chieftains, treacheries and cruelties equalling those of the Turks,–another aspect than the recovery of national independence even. It is memorable for the complications which grew out of it, especially for the war between Turkey and Russia, when the Emperor Nicholas, feeling that Turkey was weakened and exhausted, sought to grasp the prize which he had long coveted, even the possessions of the “sick man.” Nicholas was the opposite of his brother Alexander, having neither his gentleness, his impulsiveness, his generosity, nor his indecision. He was a hard despot of the “blood-and-iron” stamp, ambitious for aggrandizement, indifferent to the sufferings of others, and withal a religious bigot. The Greek rebellion, as we have seen, gave him the occasion to pick a quarrel with the Sultan. The Danubian principalities were dearer to him than remote possessions on the Mediterranean.

So on the 7th of May, 1828, the Russians crossed the Pruth and invaded Moldavia and Wallachia,–provinces which had long belonged to Turkey by right of conquest, though governed by Greek hospodars. The Danube was crossed on the 7th of June. The Turks were in no condition to contend in the open field with seventy thousand Russians, and they retreated to their fortresses,–to Ibraila and Silistria on the Danube, to Varna and Shumla in the vicinity of the Balkans. The first few weeks of the war were marked by Russian successes. Ibraila capitulated on the 18th of June, and the military posts on the Dobrudscha fell rapidly one after another. But it was at Shumla that the strongest part of the Turkish army was concentrated, under Omar Brionis, bent on defensive operations; and thither the Czar directed his main attack. Before this stronghold his army wasted away by sickness in the malarial month of September. The Turks were reinforced, and moved to the relief of Varna, also invested by Russian troops. But the season was now too far advanced for military operations, and the Russians, after enormous losses, withdrew to the Danube to resume the offensive the following spring. The winter was spent in bringing up reserves. The Czar finding that he had no aptitude as a general withdrew to his capital, intrusting the direction of the following campaign to Diebitsch, a Prussian general, famous for his successes and his cruelties.

In the spring of 1829 the first movement was made to seize Silistria, toward which a great Turkish force was advancing, under Reschid Pasha, the grand vizier. His forces experienced a great defeat; and two weeks after, in the latter part of June, Silistria surrendered. Resistance to the Russians was now difficult. The passes of the Balkans were left undefended, and the invading force easily penetrated them and advanced to Adrianople, which surrendered in a great panic. The Russians could have been defeated had not the Turks lost their senses, for the troops under Diebitsch were reduced to twenty thousand men. But this fact was unknown to the Turks, who magnified the Russian forces to one hundred thousand at least. The result was the treaty of Adrianople, on the 14th of September,–apparently generous to the Turks, but really of great advantage to the Russians. Russia restored to Turkey all her conquests in Europe and Asia, except a few commercial centres on the Black Sea, while the treaty gave to the Czar the protectorate over the Danubian principalities, the exclusion of Turks from fortified posts on the left bank of the Danube, free passage through the Dardanelles to the merchant vessels of all nations at peace with the Sultan, and the free navigation of the Black Sea.

But Constantinople still remained the capital of Turkey. The “sick man” would not die. From jealousy of Russia the western Powers continued to nurse him. Without their aid he was not long to live; but his existence was deemed necessary to maintain the “balance of power,” and they came to his assistance in the Crimean War, twenty-six years later, and gave him a new lease of life.

This is the “Eastern Question,”–How long before the Turks will be driven out of Europe, and who shall possess Constantinople? That is a question upon which it would be idle for me to offer speculations. Another aspect of the question is, How far shall Russia be permitted to make conquests in the East? This is equally insoluble.


Finlay’s Greece under Ottoman Domination; Leake’s Travels in Northern Greece; Gordon’s Greek Revolution; Metternich’s Memoirs; Howe’s Greek Revolution; Mendelssohn’s Graf Capo d’Istrias; Ann. Hist. Valentini; Alison’s Europe; Fyffe’s History of Modern Europe; Müller’s Political History of Recent Times.

Louis Philippe : The Citizen King

Beacon Lights of History, Volume IX : European Statesmen