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with activity to every part of Greece; it may be interesting to hear Mr. Gordon's account of their peculiar composition and habits.
"The Turks," says he, "from the epoch of Mahommed the Second, did not (unless in Thessaly) generally settle there. Beyond Mount Eta, although they seized the best lands, the Mussulman inhabitants were chiefly composed of the garrisons of towns with their families. Finding it impossible to keep in subjection with a small force so many rugged cantons, peopled by a poor and hardy race, and to hold in check the robbers of Albania, the Sultans embraced the same policy which has induced them to court the Greek hierarchy, and respect ecclesiastical property, - by enlisting in their service the armed bands that they could not destroy. When wronged or insulted, these Armatoles threw off their allegiance, infested the roads, and pillaged the country; while such of the peasants as were driven to despair by acts of oppression joined their standard; the term Armatole was then exchanged for that of Klefthis [Kearns] or Thief, a profession esteemed highly honorable, when it was exercised sword in hand at the expense of the Moslems.* Even in their quietest mood, these soldiers curbed Turkish
*And apparently, we may add, when exercised at the expense of whomsoever at sea. The old Grecian instinct, which Thucydides states so frankly, under which all seafarers were dedicated to spoil as people who courted attack, seems never to have been fully rooted out from the little creeks and naval fastnesses of the Morea, and of some of the Egean islands. Not, perhaps, the mere spirit of wrong and aggression, but some old traditionary conceits and maxims, brought on the great crisis of piracy, which fell under no less terrors than of the triple thunders of the great allies.
tyranny; for, the captains and Christian primates of districts understanding each other, the former, by giving to some of their men a hint to desert and turn Klefts, could easily circumvent Mahometans who came on a mission disagreeable to the latter. The habits and manners of the Armatoles, living among forests and in mountain passes, were necessarily rude and simple: their magnificence consisted in adorning with silver their guns, pistols, and daggers; their amusements, in shooting at a mark, dancing, and singing the exploits of the most celebrated chiefs. Extraordinary activity, and endurance of hardships and fatigue, made them formidable light troops in their native fastnesses; wrapped in shaggy cloaks, they slept on the ground, defying the elements; and the pure mountain air gave them robust health. Such were the warriors that, in the very worst times, kept alive a remnant of Grecian spirit.”
But all these facts of history, or institutions of policy, nay, even the more violent appeals to the national pride in such memorable transactions as the expatriation of the illustrious Suliotes (as also of some eminent predatory chieftains from the Morea), were, after all, no more than indirect excitements of the insurrectionary spirit. If it were possible that any adequate occasion should arise for combining the Greeks in one great movement of resistance, such continued irritations must have the highest value, as keeping alive the national spirit, which must finally be relied on to improve it and to turn it to account; but it was not to be expected that any such local irritations could ever of themselves avail to create an occasion of sufficient magnitude for imposing
silence on petty dissensions, and for organizing into. any unity of effort a country so splintered and naturally cut into independent chambers as that of Greece. That task, transcending the strength (as might seem) of any real agencies or powers then existing in Greece, was assumed by a mysterious,* and, in some sense, a fictitious society of corresponding members, styling itself the Hetaria (Eraigia). A more astonishing case of mighty effects prepared and carried on to their accomplishment by small means, magnifying their own extent through great zeal and infinite concealment, and artifices the most subtle, is not to be found in history. The secret tribunal of the middle ages is not to be compared with it for the depth and expansion of its combinations, or for the impenetrability of its masque. Nor is there in the whole annals of man a manoeuvre so admirable as that, by which this society, silently effecting its own transfiguration, and recasting as in a crucible its own form, organs,
* Epirus and Acarnania, etc., to the north-west; Roumelia, Thebes, Attica, to the east; the Morea, or Peloponnesus, to the south-west; and the islands so widely dispersed in the Egean, had from position a separate interest over and above their common interest as members of a Christian confederacy. And in the absence of some great representative society, there was no voice commanding enough to merge the local interest in the universal one of Greece. The original (or Philomuse society), which adopted literature for its ostensible object, as a mask to its political designs, expired at Munich in 1807; but not before it had founded a successor more directly political. Hence arose a confusion, under which many of the crowned heads in Europe were judged uncharitably as dissemblers or as traitors to their engagements. They had subscribed to the first society; but they reasonably held that this did not pledge them to another, which, though inheriting the secret purposes of the first, no longer masked or disavowed them.
and most essential functions, contrived, by mere force of seasonable silence, or by the very pomp of mystery, to carry over from the first or innoxious model of the Hetaria, to its new organization, all those weighty names of kings or princes who would not have given their sanction to any association having political objects, however artfully veiled. The early history of the Heteria is shrouded in the same mystery as the whole course of its political Some suppose that Alexander Maurocordato, ex-Hospodar of Wallachia, during his long exile in Russia, founded it for the promotion of education, about the beginning of the present century. Others ascribe it originally to Riga. At all events, its purposes were purely intellectual in its earliest form. In 1815, in consequence chiefly of the disappointment which the Greeks met with in their dearest hopes from the Congress of Vienna, the Hetaria first assumed a political character under the secret influence of Count Capodistria, of Corfu, who, having entered the Russian service as mere private secretary to Admiral Tchitchagoff, in 1812, had, in a space of three years, insinuated himself into the favor of the Czar, so far as to have become his private secretary, and a cabinet minister of Russia. He, however, still masked his final objects under plans of literature and scientific improvement. In deep shades he organized a vast apparatus of agents and apostles; and then retired behind the curtain to watch or to direct the working of his blind machine. It is an evidence of some latent nobility in the Greek character, in the midst of that levity with which all Europe taxes it, that never, except once, were the secrets of the
society betrayed; nor was there the least ground for jealousy offered either to the stupid Moslems, in the very centre of whom, and round about them, the conspiracy was daily advancing, or even to the rigorous police of Moscow, where the Hetaria had its head-quarters. In the single instance of treachery which occurred, it happened that the Zantiote, who made the discovery to Ali Pacha on a motion of revenge, was himself too slenderly and too vaguely acquainted with the final purposes of the Hetaria for effectual mischief, having been fortunately admitted only to its lowest degree of initiation; so that all passed off without injury to the cause, or even personally to any of its supporters. There were, in fact, five degrees in the Hetaria. A candidate of the lowest class (styled Adelphoi, or brothers), after a minute examination of his past life and connections, and after taking a dreadful oath, under impressive circumstances, to be faithful in all respects to the society and his afflicted country, and even to assassinate his nearest and dearest relation, if detected in treachery, was instructed only in the general fact that a design was on foot to ameliorate the condition of Greece. The next degree of Systimenoi, or bachelors, who were selected with more anxious discrimination, were informed that this design was to move towards its object by means of a revolution. third class, called Priests of Eleusis, were chosen from the aristocracy; and to them it was made known that this revolution was near at hand; and, also, that there were in the society higher ranks than their own. The fourth class was that of the prelates; and to this order, which never exceeded the number of