« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Ionian Islands has brought Great Britain into direct contact with the Greeks and insular possessions of the Grand Seignior. Little more than a century had elapsed since the inhabitants of Insular and Peloponnesian Greece had been under the common rule of a Christian power. The decay of the Venetian Republic, and the indifference of the great European States to its interests, had permitted the gradual encroachments of the Ottoman Empire; but the recollection of comparatively recent conquest still survived among the Greeks, and the happier condition of the Ionian Islands had not divested their inhabitants of sympathy with the sufferings of their less fortunate brethren. Actuated, therefore, by such feelings, the population of these islands, from the declaration of independence by the authorities at Patras in 1821, openly avowed and practically evinced their fixed determination to take part with the Greeks in their struggle. In all the works upon the war in Greece, whether written by Philo-Turks, or Phil-Hellenes, there is ample proof that the most vigorous exertions on the part of the Ionian Government were unable to repress this spirit. Assistance in fight, and asylum in defeat, were afforded by the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands ; and to the latter the Government itself, even while labouring to maintain neutrality, was compelled to contribute ; for example, on the authority of a manuscript account now before us, we can state that, “ As early in the contest as the summer of 1823, the Island of Calamos was assigned for the reception of those unfortunate persons whom the calamity of war compelled to fly from their country, chiefly from Arta, Livadia, and parts of Albania; their numbers fluctuated from one to three thousand
persons, chiefly women and children of all ages. In the summer of 1825, when, after the capture of Navarino, the Turks succeeded generally in the Morea, and penetrating to Navarino, occupied almost the whole of the sea-coast of Albania, the number of fugitive Greeks who sought refuge in Calamos increased to many thousands. On the 31st of March 1826, there were in the island 1816 males, 6771 females, 6938 children, in addition to the ordinary population, which did not exceed a thousand persons. A fever soon manifested itself amongst them, and orders were given (by the Ionian Government) for the immediate establishment of an hospital for the reception of a hundred and fifty of the worst cases, at a first cost of probably 1000l. Extra medical men were obtained for the whole population, at a monthly expense of 451. The subsistence of the sick at the hospital was estimated at about 1201. monthly. It was recommended that a provision of rations for about 2000 individuals, absolutely destitute, should be made at a monthly cost of nearly 8001.; so that, besides the first cost of the hospital, bedding, &c. the monthly expense to Government became 1000l. It was impossible at first to get the exact number of sick any day in Calamos ; but from the 10th to the 16th of June 1826, the total was 436 ; from the 17th to the 23d, 349; from the 24th to the 30th, 407; from the 1st to the 6th of July, 281 ; from the 7th to the 13th, 223; and from the 14th to the 20th, 237.” Here, therefore, we see a burthen practically imposed upon our Government, and upon the finances of England, (for the whole of this expenditure was defrayed by bills on the Treasury in London,) in consequence of the war in Greece, which the further and complete success of the Egyptian expedition was certain to augment. And from whom was re
imbursement of this expense, inevitable from humanity, if not from policy, towards our lonian subjects, to be obtained ? Not, certainly, from the Turks ; for to them the death of these unfortunate and helpless fugitives would have been acceptable. It may also be asked, whether security against a repetition of similar horrors, and consequent disbursements, could reasonably be expected from any other measure, except the recognised independence of the Morea and the Islands? The extermination and deportation of the inhabitants, were certainly alternatives which Mahometan cruelty might have perpetrated, and phlegmatic diplomacy might have sanctioned, but which Russia, from community of religion, would have opposed, and which England, from combined motives of humanity and local policy, could scarcely have suffered. We shall now advert to the injury inflicted upon the British commerce by the continuance of hostilities in the Mediterranean; and from that consideration alone, the enforcement of reconciliation between the belligerents, as stipulated in the Treaty of London, might, in our judgment, be amply justified. The geographical position of the theatre of war, and the participation of the islands in the insurrection, had given a maritime character to the contest ; and as that conquest began, and continued on the part of the Greeks in separate and independent armaments, the control of a regular Government over individual proceedings, was not to be expected. The employment, too, of the merchantships of the different European nations, as transports, by the Turkish Government, placed those vessels, to the exasperated feelings of the Greeks, in the situation of auxiliaries to the enemy; against whom, therefore, a prima facie case of justifiable hostility might, to such indifferent reasoners on the Law of Nations, appear to exist. To all this we must fairly add the ordinary appetite for plunder common to halfcivilized men in all times and places. The Mediterranean and Archipelago were so infested with pirates, as to inflict the most serious injury upon British commerce; and as the same Greek vessels were not unfrequently and alternately engaged in both pursuits, that of plunder, and hostility against the Turk, the difficulty of adopting any distinct course of prevention was materially increased. It must also be recollected that circumstances had forced upon the British Government, in 1823, the necessity of acknowledging a Greek flag, by admitting a right to blockade the ports and fleets of the belligerents. Redress, therefore, for the loss of British property, from piracies committed by vessels under the Greek flag, could not have been demanded from the Ottoman Porte, by whom such a flag was not recognised ; and yet the recurrence of the outrage could not effectually have been prevented, without a general and indiscriminate seizure of all the armed vessels of one, if not of both, belligerents. This would surely not bave been a less extraordinary or burthensome operation for Great Britain, than participation in the Treaty of London, which stipulates for the joint accomplishment, by Russia and France, of pacification between the contending parties,--a result by which the security of commercial intercourse with the Mediterranean Archipelago must indisputably be restored.
We have thus endeavoured to bring before our readers the principles of the Law of Nations, to which the Treaty of London may be referred. We have called their attention to the motives of feeling, policy, and necessity, by which we may presume that the contracting parties have
been more or less influenced ; and we shall conclude our observations by pointing out shortly the probable effect of the execution of the stipulations of the Treaty upon the general interests of Europe, and upon the Turkish Empire itself. As the political condition of the Morea and the Islands will approach much nearer to absolute independence than that of Wallachia and Moldavia, fewer causes of dispute between the paramount and feudatory states actually exist, and, consequently, fewer occasions of real or pretended interference on the part of the protecting authority can possibly arise. The right of protection, moreover, being vested in an union of great European powers, is less subject to the suspicion of being asserted for purposes of ambition ; and the chance of disturbance to the general tranquillity of Europe, on that account, is materially diminished. We will add, that as the political independence of the Morea and Islands (ultimately bringing with it improvement in government and municipal institutions) must ameliorate the condition, and give full developement to the industry and enterprise, of the inhabitants, the intercourse with the new state must become more valuable to this and all other commercial countries. To Europe therefore, generally, the pacification of Greece, proposed by the Allied Powers, can bring no ground of real apprehension; while its consequences are the immediate satisfaction of the demands of humanity, and the future improvement of a very interesting quarter of Christendom. In regard to the continuance of the Turkish Empire in Europe, and to its capacity of resisting any schemes of conquest which the present or future monarchs of Russia may entertain, it may fairly be doubted whether the direct separation of provinces, which it required little encouragement from Russia to place in a state of insurrection, can operate as a diminution of defensive strength: on the contrary, it may be assumed that Russia will have lost one of the modes of attack upon the Ottoman Empire, and that the establishment of a Christian government for European Turkey, under the sole protectorate of Russia (a favourite object with the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh,) has been taken from the range of probability. It is certainly to be lamented that the view taken by the Austrian Government of the right or expediency of interference between the Turks and Greeks, should have differed from that of the parties to the Treaty of London ; but neither the feelings nor interests of that power were so mixed
up with the progress or result of the contest as those of Russia and Great Britain ; and it therefore, perhaps, neither accorded with the principles of its foreign policy, nor the maxims of its domestic organisation, to co-operate with the insurgent provinces in a struggle to emancipate themselves from the jurisdiction of a nation that still ruled them with all the character of a foreign conqueror. We have endeavoured to avoid, in viewing this important subject, either the language or the prejudices that are to be found in the different authors who have written on the war in Greece; but we cannot pretend to divest ourselves of satisfaction at the prospects which the independence of Greece holds out of rescuing Christian countries, favoured by nature and hallowed by genius, from positive misery, and hitherto hopeless degradation.
Six months have elapsed since the above observations on the Treaty of London were written; and although the question at issue has been complicated by the introduction of a separate ground of war between the Emperor of Russia and the Sultan, yet, as the former monarch has
distinctly expressed his continued adherence to the engagements contracted by the three great powers under the Treaty of London, the general applicability of the argument remains unaffected. The address of the Sultan to his subjects, upon which the separate ground of war chiefly rests, must, as matter of diplomatic controversy, be admitted to bear the construction given to it by the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh ; at the same time, the equitable and operative construction of that document, as well as of the proceedings of the Sultan immediately subsequent to the Battle of Navarino, ought to be, and might have been, go. verned by a fair consideration for the peculiar and semi-barbarous character of the Turkish Government: that consideration, if allowed more weight in the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh, would have left the general question free from the complication of a war commenced on distinct and individual grounds, and therefore requiring separate arrangements for the maintenance of future tranquillity, and separate compensations for past injuries and hostilities. In justice, however, to the conduct of the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh, it must be allowed that no ordinary degree of prudence and forbearance was required to resist a sympathy with the national feelings on the issue of the Turkish
In Russia, the liberation of Greece, or rather the vindication of the wrongs of the Greek Church, excites the religious enthusiasm of all classes in the nation and the army, from the Emperor to the soldier and peasant. Ambition is thus stimulated, and even disguised by a higher motive; and it is not extraordinary that the diplomatic fetters of the Treaty of London should have been at first joyfully shaken off by the Crusaders of the Greek Cross, burning for conflict with the barbarian tyrants of Constantinople. Constantinople, the monument for centuries of Christian degradation and of Mahomedan triumph, would indeed be the spolia opima of a Russian army; and, unquestionably, Napoleon, at the head of the legions of France, could not have resisted an equivalent temptation. The
obstacles, however, to the successful issue of such an undertaking are to Russia so considerable, as to subdue the most adventurous spirit in her army and councils to more moderate pretensions. It would be idle to imagine that the Turks are, in a military point of view, equal to a contest with the courage and discipline of the Russian army, perhaps yielding in those qualities to none in Europe; but the great and almost insuperable difficulty, is the supply of the invading army through provinces upon which the misgovernment of centuries has inflicted all the evils of sterility. Travellers passing through Bulgaria and Romelia are, except in the principal towns, ill supplied with the common necessaries of life; and but little effort on the part of the Turks is required to place those scanty sources of supply beyond the reach of an enemy.
Similar difficulties existed in the military operations of the Russians in their Persian campaigns ; but the enemy was decidedly inferior in military qualities to the Turks, and the scene of war presented fewer defensible points, whether natural obstacles from mountains and rivers be considered, or towns capable of protracted resistance. In the result, however, of the Persian war, we may look for
be the ultimate pretensions of the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh — indemnification for the expenses of war provoked by the folly of a barbarian government. From the Shah of Persia, Russia re
ceived indemnification in cession of territory and payment of money; but the Russian battalions had possession of the second city in Persia, and had nearly annihilated the best and only disposable army. The effect of both these sufficiently appalling events was heightened by the want of energy in the characters of the King of Persia and of the Prince Abbas Meerza.
In the present conflict, the defiles of the Balkare have to be passed, with all the impediments of a large army; Shumla and Adrianople cannot be overlooked ; and the capability of resistance in Constantinople itself probably exceeds the whole defensible strength of the Persian Empire; but, above all, the personal qualities of Sultan Mahmood, not unworthy the best days of the House of Othman, ensure the vigorous application of his resources to the defence of his European provinces and capital. On the whole, therefore, we have a right to infer that the difficulty of the undertaking, and the slowness of the progress towards success, will induce the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh to fall back upon the Treaty of London, and the results contemplated therein, as the most probable termination of the present hostilities; while those hostilities, together with the destruction of the fleet at Navarino, must convince the Sultan that, although the Contracting Powers may still accept his consent to the proposed independence of the Morea and the Islands, any farther attempt on his part to resist that measure will not be permitted, and would be wholly unavailing. The Treaty of London will thus receive its accomplishment in the pacification of Greece and the maintenance of the integrity of European Turkey.
In Israel was many a Refuge City,
Whereto the blameless homicide might fee,
Safe from the blood-avenger's enmity,
Free from offence.
Did we ourselves a sanctuary draw,
And even criminals might brave the law;
Their rights could urge.
May mourn the change, but who bewails their case ?
Of guilt and fraud-the champions of the base ?
Our land again!
One refuge still is left for human woes.
Who seek'st a sure asylum from thy foes,
Is man's own breast !