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been made ridiculous in arms, as often as they had met with French troops, who yet were so far from being the best in Christendom, that Egypt herself, and the beaten Turks, had seen them in turn uniformly routed by the British? Physically, the Turks were equal, at the very least, to the French. In what lay their inferiority? Simply in discipline, and in their artillery. And so long as their constitution and discipline continued what they had been, suited (that is) to centuries long past and gone, and to a condition of Christendom obsolete for ages, so long it seemed inevitable that the same disasters should follow the Turkish banners. And to this point, accordingly, the Sultan determined to address his earliest reforms. But caution was necessary; he waited and watched. He seized all opportunities of profiting by the calamities or the embarrassments of his potent neighbors. He put down all open revolt. He sapped the authority of all the great families in Asia Minor, whose hereditary influence could be a counterpoise to his own. Mecca and Medina, the holy cities of his religion, he brought again within the pale of his dominions. He augmented and fostered, as a counterbalancing force to the Janissaries, the corps of the Topjees or artillery-men. He amassed preparatory treasures. And, up to the year 1820, "his government," says Mr. Gordon, "was highly unpopular; but it was strong, stern, and uniform; and he had certainly removed many impediments to the execution of his ulterior projects."
Such was the situation of Turkey at the moment when her Grecian vassal prepared to trample on her
yoke. In her European territories she reckoned, at the utmost, eight millions of subjects. But these, besides being more or less in a semi-barbarous condition, and scattered over a very wide surface of country, were so much divided by origin, by language, and religion, that, without the support of her Asiatic arm, she could not, according to the general opinion, have stood at all. The rapidity of her descent, it is true, had been arrested by the energy of her Sultans during the first twenty years of the nineteenth century. But for the last thirty of the eighteenth she had made a headlong progress downwards. So utterly, also, were the tables turned, that, whereas in the fifteenth century her chief superiority over Christendom had been in the three points of artillery, discipline, and fixed revenue, precisely in these three she had sunk into utter insignificance, whilst all Christendom had been continually improving. Selim and Mahmoud indeed had made effectual reforms in the corps of gunners, as we have said, and had raised it to the amount of sixty thousand men; so that at present they have respectable field-artillery, whereas previously they had only heavy batteringtrains. But the defects in discipline cannot be remedied, so long as the want of a settled revenue obliges the Sultan to rely upon hurried levies from the provincial militias of police. Turkey, however, might be looked upon as still formidable for internal purposes, in the haughty and fanatical character of her Moslem subjects. And we may add, as a concluding circumstance of some interest, in this sketch of her modern condition, that pretty nearly the same European territories as were assigned to the castern 26
Roman empire at the time of its separation from the western,* were included within the frontier line of Turkey, on the first of January, 1821.
Precisely in this year commenced the Grecian revolution. Concurrently with the decay of her oppressor the Sultan, had been the prodigious growth of her patron the Czar. In what degree she looked up to that throne, and the intrigues which had been pursued with a view to that connection, may be seen (as we have already noticed) in Eton's Turkey · a book which attracted a great deal of notice about thirty years ago. Meantime, besides this secret reliance on Russian countenance or aid, Greece had since that era received great encouragement to revolt from the successful experiment in that direction made by the Turkish province of Servia. In 1800, Czerni George came forward as the asserter of Servian independence, and drove the Ottomans out of that province. Personally he was not finally successful. But his example outlived him; and, after fifteen years' struggle, Servia (says Mr. Gordon) offered "the unwonted spectacle of a brave and armed Christian nation living under its own laws in the heart of Turkey," and retaining no memorial of its former servitude, but the payment of a slender and precarious tribute to the Sultan, with a verbal profession of allegiance to his sceptre. Appearances were thus saved to the pride of the haughty Moslem by barren concessions which cost
"The vitals of the monarchy lay within that vast triangle circumscribed by the Danube, the Save, the Adriatic, Euxine, and Egean Seas, whose altitude may be computed at five hundred, and the length of its base at seven hundred geographical miles."- GORDON.
no real sacrifice to the substantially victorious Servian.
Examples, however, are thrown away upon a people utterly degraded by long oppression. And the Greeks were pretty nearly in that condition. "It would, no doubt," says Mr. Gordon, "be possible to cite a more cruel oppression than that of the Turks towards their Christian subjects, but none so fitted to break men's spirit." The Greeks, in fact (under which name are to be understood, not only those who speak Greek, but the Christian Albanians of Roumelia and the Morea, speaking a different language, but united with the Greeks in spiritual obedience to the same church), were, in the emphatic phrase of Mr. Gordon, "the slaves of slaves:" that is to say, not only were they liable to the universal tyranny of the despotic Divan, but "throughout the empire they were in the habitual intercourse of life subjected to vexations, affronts, and exactions, from Mahometans of every rank. Spoiled of their goods, insulted in their religion and domestic honor, they could rarely obtain justice. The slightest flash of courageous resentment brought down swift destruction on their heads; and cringing humility alone enabled them to live in ease, or even in safety." Stooping under this iron yoke of humiliation, we have reason to wonder that the Greeks preserved sufficient nobility of mind to raise so much as their wishes in the direction of independence. In a condition of abasement, from which a simple act of apostasy was at once sufficient to raise them to honor and wealth, "and from the meanest serfs gathered them to the caste of oppressors," we
ought not to wonder that some of the Greeks should be mean, perfidious, and dissembling, but rather that any (as Mr. Gordon says) "had courage to adhere to their religion, and to eat the bread of affliction." But noble aspirations are fortunately indestructible in human nature. And in Greece the lamp of independence of spirit had been partially kept alive by the existence of a native militia, to whom the Ottoman government, out of mere necessity, had committed the local defence. These were called Armatoles (or Gendarmerie); their available strength was reckoned by Pouqueville (for the year 1814) at ten thousand men; and, as they were a very effectual little host for maintaining, from age to age, the "true faith militant" of Greece, namely, that a temporary and a disturbed occupation of the best lands in the country did not constitute an absolute conquest on the part of the Moslems, most of whom flocked for security with their families into the stronger towns; and, as their own martial appearance, with arms in their hands, lent a very plausible countenance to their insinuations that they, the Christian Armatoles, were the true bonâ fide governors and possessors of the land under a Moslem Suzerain; and, as the general spirit of hatred to Turkish insolence was not merely maintained in their own local stations,* but also propagated thence
*Originally, it seems, there were fourteen companies (or capitanerias) settled by imperial diplomas in the mountains of Olympus, Othryx, Pindus, and Œta; and distinct appropriations were made by the Divan for their support. Within the Morea, the institution of the Armatoles was never tolerated; but there the same spirit was kept alive by tribes, such as the Mainatts, whose insurmountable advantages of natural position enabled them eternally to baffle the most powerful enemy.