Thomas Cochrane Earl of Dundonald.

The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, G.C.B., Admiral of the Red, Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, Etc., Etc. Volume 1 online

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Online LibraryThomas Cochrane Earl of DundonaldThe Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, G.C.B., Admiral of the Red, Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, Etc., Etc. Volume 1 → online text (page 17 of 25)
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de Janeiro, were the only true friends and supporters of the imperial
crown of Brazil. None but such ministers would have endeavoured to
impress your Imperial Majesty with a belief that the Brazilian people
were inimical to your person and the imperial crown, merely because
they were hostile to the system pursued by those ministers. None but
such ministers would have placed in important offices of trust the
natives of a nation with which your Imperial Majesty was at war. None
but such ministers would have endeavoured to induce your Imperial
Majesty to believe that officers who had abandoned their King and
native country for their own private interests could be depended on as
faithful servants to a hostile Government and a foreign land. None but
such ministers could have induced your Imperial Majesty to place
in the command of your fortresses, regiments, and ships of war such
individuals as these. None but such ministers would have attempted to
excite in the breast of your Imperial Majesty suspicions with respect
to the fidelity of myself and of those other officers who, by the most
zealous exertions, had proved our devotion to the best interests
of your Imperial Majesty and your Brazilian people. None but such
ministers would have endeavoured by insults and acts of the grossest
injustice, to drive us from the service of your Imperial Majesty and
to place Portuguese officers in our stead. And, above all, none but
such ministers could have suggested to your Imperial Majesty that
extraordinary proceeding which was projected to take place on the
night of the 3rd of June, 1824, a proceeding which, had it not been
averted by a timely discovery and prompt interposition on my part,
would have tarnished for ever the glory of your Imperial Majesty, and
which, if it had failed to prove fatal to myself and officers, must
inevitably have driven us from your imperial service. When placed
in competition with this plot of these ministers and the false
insinuations by which they induced your Imperial Majesty to listen to
their insidious counsel, all their previous intrigues, and those of
the whole Portuguese faction, to ruin the naval power of Brazil, sink
into insignificance. But for the advancement of Portuguese interests
there was nothing too treacherous or malignant for such ministers and
such men as these to insinuate to your Imperial Majesty, especially
when they had discovered that it was not possible by their unjust
conduct to provoke me to abandon the service of Brazil so long as my
exertions could be useful to secure its independence, which I believed
to be alike the object of your Imperial Majesty and the interest of
the Brazilian people.

"If the counsels of such persons should prove fatal to the interests
of your Imperial Majesty, no one will regret the event more sincerely
than myself. My only consolation will be the knowledge that your
Imperial Majesty cannot but be conscious that I, individually, have
discharged my duty, both in a military and in a private capacity,
towards your Majesty, whose true interest, I may venture to add, I
have held in greater regard than my own; for, had I connived at the
views of the Portuguese faction, even without dereliction of my duty
as an officer, I might have shared amply in the honours and emoluments
which such influence has enabled these persons to obtain, instead of
being deprived, by their means, of even the ordinary rewards of my
labours in the cause of independence which your Imperial Majesty had
engaged me to maintain, - which cause I neither have abandoned nor will
abandon, if ever it should be in my power successfully to renew my
exertions for the true interests of your Imperial Majesty and those of
the Brazilian people.

"Meanwhile my office as Commander-in-Chief of your Imperial Majesty's
Naval Forces having terminated by the conclusion of peace and by the
decree promulgated on the 28th of February, 1824, I have notified to
your Imperial Majesty's Envoy, the Chevalier de Gameiro, that I have
directed my flag to be struck this day. Praying that the war now
terminated abroad may be accompanied by tranquillity at home, I
respectfully take leave of your Imperial Majesty."

All Lord Cochrane's subsequent correspondence with Brazil had for its
object the recovery of the payments due to him and to his officers and
crews for the great services done by them to the empire. Lord Cochrane
had saved that empire from being brought back to the position of
a Portuguese colony, and had enabled it to enter on a career of
independence. In return for it he was subjected to more than two years
of galling insult, was deprived of his proper share of the prizes
taken by him and his squadron, was refused the estate in Maranham
which the Emperor, more grateful than his ministers, had bestowed upon
him, and was mulcted of a portion of his pay and of all the pension
to which he was entitled by imperial decree and the ordinances of the
Government. His services to Brazil, like his services to Chili, adding
much to his renown as a disinterested champion of liberty and an
unrivalled seaman and warrior, brought upon him personally little but
trouble and misfortune. Only near the end of his life, when a worthy
Emperor and honest ministers succeeded to power, was any recompence
accorded to him.




While Lord Cochrane was rendering efficient service to the cause of
freedom in South America, another war of independence was being waged
in Europe; and he had hardly been at home a week before solicitations
pressed upon him from all quarters that he should lend his great name
and great abilities to this war also. As he consented to do so, and
almost from the moment of his arrival was intimately connected with
the Greek Revolution, the previous stages of this memorable episode,
the incidents that occurred during his absence in Chili and Brazil,
need to be here reviewed and recapitulated.

The Greek Revolution began openly in 1821. But there had been long
previous forebodings of it. The dwellers in the land once peopled by
the noble race which planned and perfected the arts and graces, the
true refinements and the solid virtues that are the basis of our
modern civilization, had been for four centuries and more the slaves
of the Turks. They were hardly Greeks, if by that name is implied
descent from the inhabitants of classic Greece. With the old stock had
been blended, from generation to generation, so many foreign elements
that nearly all trace of the original blood had disappeared, and the
modern Greeks had nothing but their residence and their language to
justify them in maintaining the old title. But their slavery was only
too real. Oppressed by the Ottomans on account of their race and their
religion, the oppression was none the less in that it induced many of
them to cast off the last shreds of freedom and deck themselves in the
coarser, but, to slavish minds, the pleasanter bondage of trickery and
meanness. During the eighteenth century, many Greeks rose to eminence
in the Turkish service, and proved harder task-masters to their
brethren than the Turks themselves generally were. The hope of further
aggrandisement, however, led them to scheme the overthrow of their
Ottoman employers, and their projects were greatly aided by the truer,
albeit short-sighted, patriotism that animated the greater number of
their kinsmen. They groaned under Turkish thraldom, and yearned to
be freed from it, in the temper so well described and so worthily
denounced by Lord Byron in 1811: -

"And many dream withal the hour is nigh
That gives them back their fathers' heritage:
For foreign arms and aid they loudly sigh,
Nor solely dare encounter hostile rage.
Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?
By their right arm the conquest must be wrought.
Will Gaul or Muscovite redress ye? - No!
True, they may lay your proud despoilers low,
But not for you will Freedom's altars flame."

The Greeks, all but a few genuine patriots, thought otherwise. They
sought deliverance at the hands of Gauls and Muscovites; and, as the
Muscovites had good reason for desiring the overthrow of Turkey, they
listened to their prayers, and other ties than that of community in
religion bound the persecuted Greeks to Russia. The Philiké Hetaira,
or Friendly Society, chief representative of a very general movement,
was founded at Odessa in 1814. It was a secret society, which speedily
had ramifications among the Greek Christians in every part of Turkey,
encouraging them to prepare for insurrection as soon as the Czar
Alexander I. deemed it expedient to aid them by open invasion of
Turkey, or as soon as they themselves could take the initiative,
trusting to Russia to complete the work of revolution. The Friendly
Society increased its influence and multiplied its visionary schemes
during many years previous to 1821.

Its strength was augmented by the political condition of Turkey at the
time. The Sultan Mahmud - a true type of the Ottoman sovereign at
his worst - had attempted to perfect his power by a long train of
cruelties, of which murder was the lightest. Defeating his own purpose
thereby, he aroused the opposition of Mahometan as well as Christian
subjects, and induced the rebellious schemes of Ali Pasha of Joannina,
the boldest of his vassals. In Albania Ali ruled with a cruelty that
was hardly inferior to Mahmud's. Byron tells how his

"dread command
Is lawless law; for with a bloody hand
He sways a nation turbulent and told."

The cruelty could be tolerated; but not opposition to Mahmud's
will. Long and growing jealousy existed between the Sultan and his
tributary. At length, in 1820, there was an open rupture. Ali was
denounced as a traitor, and ordered to surrender his pashalik. Instead
of so doing, he organized his army for prompt rebellion, trusting for
success partly to the support of the Greeks. Most of the Greeks held
aloof; but the Suliots, a race of Christian marauders, the fiercest of
the fierce community of Albanians, sided with him, and for more than a
year rendered him valuable aid by reason of their hereditary skill in
lawless warfare. Not till January, 1822, was Ali forced to surrender,
and then only, perhaps, through the defection of the Suliots.

The Suliots, dissatisfied with Ali's recompense for their services,
had gone over to the Greeks, who, not caring to serve under Ali in his
rebellion, had welcomed that rebellion as a Heaven-sent opportunity
for realising their long-cherished hopes. The Turkish garrisons in
Greece being half unmanned in order that the strongest possible force
might be used in subduing Ali, and Turkish government in the peninsula
being at a standstill, the Greeks found themselves in an excellent
position for asserting their freedom. Had they been less degraded than
they were by their long centuries of slavery, or had there been some
better organization than that which the purposes and the methods of
the Friendly Society afforded for developing the latent patriotism
which was honest and wide-spread, they might have achieved a triumph
worthy of the classic name they bore and the heroic ancestry that they

Unfortunately, the Friendly Society, already degenerated from the
unworthy aim with which it started, now an elaborate machinery of
personal ambition, private greed, and local spite, the willing tool of
Russia, was master of the situation. The mastery, however, was by no
means thorough. The society had dispossessed all other organizations,
but had no organization of its own adequate to the working out of
a successful rebellion. Its machinery was tolerably perfect, but
efficient motive-power was wanting. Its exchequer was empty; its
counsels were divided; above all, it had alienated the sympathies of
the worthiest patriots of Greece. Finding itself suddenly in the
way of triumph, it was incapable of rightly progressing in that way.
Obstacles of its own raising, and obstacles raised by others, stood
in the path, and only a very wise man had the chance of successfully
removing them.

The wise man did not exist, or was not to be obtained. Perhaps the
wisest, though, as later history proved, not very wise, was Count John
Capodistrias, a native of Corfu. Born in 1777, he had gone to Italy to
study and practise medicine. There also he studied, afterwards to put
in practice, the effete Machiavellianism then in vogue. In 1803 he
entered political life as secretary to the lately-founded republic
of the Ionian Islands. Napoleon's annexation of the Ionian Islands in
1807 drove him into the service of Russia, and, as Russian agent, he
advocated, at the Vienna Conference of 1815, the reconstruction of the
Ionian republic. The partial concession of Great Britain towards that
project, by which the Ionian Islands were established as a sort of
commonwealth, dependent upon England, enabled him to live and work
in Corfu, awaiting the realization of his own patriotic schemes, and
watching the patriotic movement in Greece. Italian in his education,
and Russian in his sympathies, he was still an honest Greek, worthier
and abler than most other influential Greeks. "He had many virtues and
great abilities," says a competent critic. "His conduct was firm and
disinterested, his manners simple and dignified. His personal feelings
were warm, and, as a consequence of this virtue, they were sometimes
so strong as to warp his judgment. He wanted the equanimity and
impartiality of mind, and the elevation of soul necessary to make
a great man."[A] In spite of his defects, he might have done good
service to the Greek Revolution, had he accepted the offer of its
leadership, shrewdly tendered to him by the Friendly Society. But this
he declined, having no liking for the society, and no trust in its
methods and designs.

[Footnote A: Finlay, "History of the Greek Revolution" (1861), vol.
ii., p. 196. Mr. Finlay served as a volunteer in Greece under Captain
Abney Hastings. His work is certainly the best on the subject, though
we shall have in later pages to differ widely from its strictures on
Lord Cochrane's motives and action. But our complaints will be less
against his history than against the two other leading ones - General
Gordon's "History of the Greek Revolution" (1832), and M. Trikoupes's
"[Greek: Historia tês Hellênikês Epanastaseôs]" (1853-6), which is not
very much more than a paraphrase of Gordon's work.]

The Friendly Society then sought and found a leader, far inferior
to Count Capodistrias, in Prince Alexander Hypsilantes, the son of a
Hospodar of Wallachia who had been deposed in 1806. Hypsilantes had
been educated in Russia, and had there risen to some rank, high enough
at any rate to quicken his ambition and vanity, both as a soldier and
as a courtier. He was not without virtues; but he was utterly unfit
for the duties imposed upon him as leader of the Greek Revolution.
Not a Greek himself, his purpose in accepting the office seems to have
been to make Greece an appendage of the despotic monarchy, which, by
means of the political crisis, he hoped to establish in Wallachia,
under Russian protection. With that view, in March 1821, he led the
first crude army of Greek and other Christian rebels into Moldavia.
There and in Wallachia he stirred up a brief revolt, attended by
military blunders and lawless atrocities which soon brought vengeance
upon himself and made a false beginning of the revolutionary work.
Moldavia and Wallachia were quickly restored to Turkish rule, and
Hypsilantes had in June to fly for safety into Austria. But the bad
example that he set, and the evil influence that he and his promoters
and followers of the Friendly Society exerted, initiated a false
policy and encouraged a pernicious course of action, by which the
cause of the Greeks was injured for years.

The real Greek revolution began in the Morea. There the Friendly
Society did good work in showing the people that the hour for action
had come; but its direction of that action was for the most part
mischievous. The worst Greeks were the leaders, and, under their
guidance, the play of evil passions - inevitable in all efforts of the
oppressed to overturn their oppressors - was developed to a grievous
extent. Turkish blood was first shed on the 25th of March, 1821, and
within a week the whole of the Morea was in a ferment of rebellion. By
the 22nd of April, which was Easter Sunday, it is reckoned that from
ten to fifteen thousand Mahometans had been slaughtered in cold blood,
and about three thousand Turkish homes destroyed.

The promoters of all that wanton atrocity were the directors of the
Friendly Society, among whom the Archimandrate Gregorios Dikaios,
nicknamed Pappa Phlesas, and Petros Mavromichales, or Petro-Bey, were
the most conspicuous. Its principal agents were the klepht or brigand
chieftains, best represented by Theodore Kolokotrones.

Born about 1770, of a family devoted to the use of arms in predatory
ways, Kolokotrones had led a lawless life until 1806, when the Greek
peasantry called in the assistance of their Turkish rulers in hunting
down their persecutors of their own race, and when, several of his
family being slain, he himself had to seek refuge in Zante. There he
maintained himself, partly by piracy, partly by cattle-dealing.
In 1810 the English annexation of the Ionian Islands led to his
employment, first as captain and afterwards as major, in the Greek
contingent of the British army. He had amassed much wealth, and was
in the prime of life when, in January, 1821, he returned to his early
home, to revive his old brigand life under the name of legitimate
warfare. His thorough knowledge of the country, its passes and its
strongholds, and his familiarity with the modes of fighting proper to
them, his handsome person and agreeable deportment, his shrewd wit and
persuasive oratory, made him one of the most influential agents of
the Revolution at its commencement, and his influence grew during the
ensuing years.

The flame of rebellion, having spread through the Morea during the
early weeks of April, extended rapidly over the adjoining districts of
the mainland. By the end of June the insurgents were masters of
nearly all the country now possessed by modern Greece. Their cause
was heartily espoused by the Suliots of Albania and other
fellow-Christians in the various Turkish provinces, and their kinsmen
of the outlying islands were eager to join in the work of national
regeneration, and to contribute largely to the completion of that work
by their naval prowess.

It was naval prowess, as our later pages will abundantly show, of
a very barbarous and undeveloped sort. Besides the two principal
seaports on the mainland, Tricheri on Mount Pelion and Galaxidhi on
the Gulf of Corinth, there were famous colonies of Greek seamen in the
islands of Psara and Kasos, and similar colonies of Albanians in Hydra
and Spetzas. These and the other islands had long practised irregular
commerce, and protected that commerce by irregular fighting with the
Turks. At the first sound of revolution they threw in their lot with
the insurgents of the mainland, and thus a nondescript navy of some
four hundred brigs and schooners, of from sixty to four hundred tons'
burthen, and manned by about twelve thousand sailors, adepts alike
in trade and piracy, but very unskilled in orderly warfare, and very
feebly inspired by anything like disinterested patriotism, was ready
to use and abuse its powers during the ensuing seven years' fight for
Greek independence.

During the summer of 1821, while the continental Greeks were rushing
to arms, murdering the Turkish residents among them by thousands, and
thus bringing down upon themselves, or upon those of their own race
who, as peasants and burghers, took no important share in actual
fighting, the murderous vengeance of the Turkish troops sent to
attempt the suppression of the revolt, these sailors were pursuing an
easier and more profitable game. The Turkish ports were not warlike,
and the Turkish trading ships were not prepared for fighting. In May,
a formidable crowd of vessels left the islands on a cruise, from which
they soon returned with an immense store of booty. Early in June, the
best Turkish fleet that could be brought together, consisting of two
line-of-battle ships, three frigates, and three sloops, went out to
harass, if not to destroy, the swarm of smaller enemies. Jakomaki
Tombazes, with thirty-seven of these smaller enemies, set off to meet
them, and falling in with one of the ships, gave her chase, till, in
the roads of Eripos, she was attacked on the 8th of June, and, with
the help of a fireship, destroyed with a loss of nearly four hundred
men. That victory caused the flight of the other Turkish vessels, and
was the beginning of much cruel work at sea and with ships, which,
not often daring to meet in open fight, wrought terrible mischief to
unprotected ports and islands.

The mischief wrought upon the land was yet more terrible. A seething
tide of Greek and Moslem blood heaved to and fro, as, during the
second half of 1821, each party in turn gained temporary ascendency in
one district after another. Greeks murdered Turks, and Turks murdered
Greeks, with equal ferocity; or perhaps the ferocity of the Greeks,
stirred by bad leaders to revenge themselves for all their previous
sufferings, even surpassed that of the Turks. Of their cruelty a
glaring instance occurred in their capture of Navarino. The Turkish
inhabitants having held out as long as a mouthful of food was left
in the town, were forced to capitulate on the 19th of August. It was
promised that, upon their surrendering, the Greek vessels were to
convey them, their wearing apparel, and their household furniture,
either to Egypt or to Tunis. No sooner were the gates opened than
a wholesale plunder and slaughter ensued. A Greek ecclesiastic has
described the scene. "Women wounded with musket-balls and sabre-cuts
rushed to the sea, seeking to escape, and were deliberately shot.
Mothers robbed of their clothes, with infants in their arms, plunged
into the water to conceal themselves from shame, and they were then
made a mark for inhuman riflemen. Greeks seized infants from their
mothers' breasts and dashed them against the rocks. Children, three
and four years old, were hurled, living, into the sea, and left to
drown. When the massacre was ended, the dead bodies washed ashore, or
piled on the beach, threatened to cause a pestilence."[A] At the sack
of Tripolitza, on the 8th of October, about eight thousand Moslems
were murdered, the last two thousand, chiefly women and children,
being taken into a neighbouring ravine, there to be slaughtered at
leisure. Two years afterwards a ghastly heap of bones attested the
inhuman deed.

[Footnote A: Finlay, vol. i.; p. 263, citing Phrantzes.]

In ways like these the first stage of the Greek Revolution was
achieved. Before the close of 1821, it appeared to the Greeks
themselves, to their Moslem enemies, and to their many friends in
England, France, and other countries, that the triumph was complete.
Unfortunately, the same bad motives and the same bad methods that had
so grievously polluted the torrent of patriotism continued to poison
and disturb the stream which might otherwise have been henceforth
clear, steady, and health-giving. Greece was free, but, unless another
and a much harder revolution could be effected in the temper and
conduct of its own people, unfit to put its freedom to good use or
even to maintain it. "The rapid success of the Greeks during the first
few weeks of the revolution," says their ablest historian, "threw the
management of much civil and financial business into the hands of the
proësti and demogeronts in office. The primates, who already exercised
great official authority, instantly appropriated that which had been

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Online LibraryThomas Cochrane Earl of DundonaldThe Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, G.C.B., Admiral of the Red, Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, Etc., Etc. Volume 1 → online text (page 17 of 25)