I. Aspects of American Philhellenism:
Edward Everett, Thomas Jefferson and Adamantios Korais; Albert Gallatin and The Marquis de Lafayette
B. Edward Everett, "Coray's Aristotle."
(section split up into three parts: Everett's analysis of the war in Greece, a translation of the Greece Provisional Constitution 1822, and translation of letter by Mavromichalis)
North American Review. Vol. XVII, pp. 389-424. October, 1823
ART. XX. —’ Αριστοτέλους ' Ηθικα Νικομαχεια, έκδίδοντοσ καί δίορθουντοσ
Α.Κ. Δαπάνη των δυσ πραγησάντων Χίων. Εν Παρισίοις. ΑΩΚΒ.
The Ethics of Aristotle to Nicomachus, revised and edited by A. Coray, at the expense of the injured and oppressed Sciotes. Paris, 8vo. 1822.
SCHOLARS are too well acquainted with the reputation of Coray, to need, on our part, any prolix remarks upon his character. This venerable Greek, if now living, is in his seventy-sixth year, and must have published the work before us when passed the age of seventy-five. The preface, of which we shall presently give an account, is written with a vigor not too common at any age, and truly remarkable at the advanced period of life, which Dr. Coray has attained; while the ample notes in ancient Greek, are as conspicuous for the rare learning which they display, as for the command which they exhibit of the pure dialect of the old classical writers. We are not acquainted with a specimen of ancient Greek, from the pen of any European scholar of the present day, that can compare with the writings in the ancient dialect of Mr Coray, writing which, instead of being confined to short occasional productions, amount to several volumes of annotations on ancient authors. The course of education, which has been pursued in Greece since the revival of letters, notwithstanding the unavoidable imperfec tion of their schools, has been more favorable to the acquisition of fluency in the use of the ancient tongue, than the methods of studying adopted in the several European nations. The Grammar of Gaza, written in ancient Greek, has been long the first book put into the hands of learners; and the greater part of this grammar is committed to memory. Besides this, it does not appear that the traditionary acquaintance with Greek, as a living tongue, has ever ceased among persons of education in Greece. The fugitives from Greece, in the fifteenth century, certainly brought with them to Italy this traditionary acquaintance with the language of their country; and the ritual of their worship alone and the use of the Greek Testament must have kept it up in the church.
The volume before us is dedicated to "newly constituted government of all the Greeks.” [Τή νεοσυντάκτω Πανελλήνων πολιτεία τά' Αριστοτελους Ήθικα, ό Εκδότης.] It forms the fourteenth volume of the Ελληνική βιβλιοθήκη, which Mr. Coray has edited. The ten first volumes were published at the expense of the brothers Zosimades, whose name and munificence are known to all acquainted with the literature of the modern Greeks. Of these ten volumes, two contained the works of Isocrates, six the works of Plutarch, and two the Various Histories of Ælian, the Fables of Æsop, the Stratagems of Polyænus, and some smaller works. Form the tenth volume onward the work has been continued, at the expense of the funds of the school at Scio. They contain tracts of Galen and Xenocrates, the Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, the first volume of Strabo, and the Politics and the Ethics of Aristotle. Most of the latter volumes, besides the critical and explanatory notes in ancient Greek, contain prefaces or introductions in the modern dialect, which Dr Coray has made the vehicle of various prudential and hortatory addresses to his countrymen. We propose, at the present time, to call the attention of our readers to the introduction of this work; and as few opportunities present themselves to most scholars in this country of comparing the present dialect of the Greeks with their ancient tongue; and as Dr Coray is allowed to write a purer dialect than any of his learned countrymen (though, as one party among them alleges, a dialect, for this very reason, less genuine), we shall accompany most of our extracts with the original in a parallel column.
In the edition of the Ethics, I have ventured some correction of the text, as I did also in the edition of the Politics of Aristotle, which I publi shed last year. I hope that they will not all be condemned by those competent to judge of these matters. I wished to write longer notes, on account of the difficulty of the original. But the heaviness of age, rendered still more grievous by the unlooked fo r disasters of Scio, has not permitted me such efforts. I find but one consolation, which is this, that I see those of my countrymen, who have escaped the sword of the lawless tyrant, cheered by the hope of the entire deliverance of Greece, and with the noble purpose of rendering the land of their birth more glorious than before.
The Grecian Library has of late been printed and is so now at the expense of the Sciotes. Their name was omitted at the head of Politics of Aristotle, through fear of the stern tyrant. But now, that there is nothing left for them to fear from him, their name resumes its place, and they themselves, with all their Grecian brethren, may scornfully cry in the ears of the tyrant, what, twenty two years ago, incensed at the calamities of Greece, I denounced against him, “although thou gnawest my roots, O goat, I shall yet bear fruit, that shall yield a libation for thy sacrifice.” It is not just, nevertheless, that I should conceal the liberal contribution toward the publication of the Politics of one of our countrymen, (whose name it grieves me that circumstances permit me not to disclose). This excellent citizen took 150 copies of the Politics, and sent them to Greece, in order to lighten the burden of the Sciotes, then charged with the daily support of those who were soon to repay the costs of their support, with the destruction of Scio.
We have made this extract to satisfy our readers, if any needed the information, as to the character of the two parties in the murderous conflict, which is waging in Greece. They perceive that it is not, what some would represent it, a bloody struggle between barbarous masters and not less barbarous slaves, in which it is difficult to take a lively interest. It is, on the contrary, a struggle between cruel and barbarous masters, and a people whose hard earned wealth is devoted to the collection of libraries, to the printing and circulation of books, and to the improvement of the means of education. At the very moment when blood was flowing in the streets of Scio, beneath the Turkish sword, when its wives and daughters were sold by tens of thousands into a heart-rending slavery, and its sick and aged burning alive in the houses, the funds of the college, which flourished in this devoted island, were employed at Paris in the publication of the choicest remains of ancient literature; employed beneath the eyes of a Christian government, and in the face of Europe.
The introduction or preface to the work we are considering, taking occasion from the successive publication of the Politics and Morals of Aristotle, treats, in a practical way, and with application to the present state of Greece, the all important thesis maintained by Cicero, that morals and politics are one. To their separation, or in other words, to the administration of government on any other than the principles of morality, Dr Coray traces the vices of all states. The following is one of his illustrations: By the separation of morals and politics the Seven Ionian Islands are now governed, not as they hoped, by a nation who long since broke the iron rod of its own despots. By this separation, the miserable inhabitants of Parga were not only exiled from their country, but are denounced as unjustly execrating those guilty of their exile. This same separation of politics and morals now condemns the race of Greeks as rebels. And why? because they have no longer the patience to be degraded to the level of beasts... But why need I enumerate the many and great evils of the separation of morals and politics, now especially, that their correction is meditated and desired by the wise rulers of the enlightened nations?
The gravity of the occasion dies not allow us to doubt of the sincerity of the compliment of the holy alliance, in the close of this extract; it might else seem like bitter irony. In the progress of his introduction, Dr Coray discusses the questions, whether it be possible to effect an entire union of morals and politics, that is, to administer a state purely on moral principles; and, secondly, whether it would be practicable for a state thus administered to prolong its political existence to perpetuity. These questions give occasion to examine the rise and progress of civilization and of moral science in Greece, and to compare the doctrines of the Academic, Peripatetic, and Stoical philosophy, with respect to morals. Dr Coray acknowledges that the union between morals and politics was scarcely understood and no where successfully applied, in the ancient states, and attributes the great superiority of modern Europe in this respect to the art of printing. As the ultimate design of the whole essay is to address a seasonable word to those now engaged in modern Greece, in laying the foundations of a new independent state, Dr Coray passes to the application of his thesis to several points of legislation, affecting this important union of morals and politics. In mentioning the causes, by which the citizen is defrauded of the fruits of his labors, he alludes to the multiplication of religious festivals, in a somewhat amusing manner: Again, the citizen is defrauded of the fruits of his labors, when he is compelled to keep frequent festivals. Festivals were designed as a recreation from labor, a recreation necessary for the laborer, that he may not exhau st his corporeal powers. But it is not only unjust, but even ridiculous, to compel him to relax, when he himself feels no need of relaxation. If it was a proverb of tyrants, that there is no leisure for slaves, it is not less tyrannical, that the citizen should be compelled to be at leisure, when it is for his interest to be employed. This constraint is not only an unjust encroachment on the liberty of the citizen, not only deprives him and the whole community of the value of his labor, but excites him to vice, from the inability of being virtuously occupied. It is on the festivals that places of vicious resort are most crowded.
In speaking of the obstacles to the union of morals and politics, Dr Coray attributes much to the influence of the monks and the nobles in defeating it. So insignificant is the monastic institution, in any political respect, in Europe, that we presume this part of his remarks is exclusively designed for the meridian of Greece. The monastic establishments, in that country, have enjoy ed a greater share of protection, under the Turkish government, than individual rights of any kind. Meteora in Thessaly, Megaspelia in Arcadia, Mount Athos, and numerous other extensive and wealthy monastic establishments, having been able to purchase from time to time the confirmation of their privileges, have afforded an asylum to a large class of monks, and their influence has of course been in proportion to their numbers and wealth. Dr Coray informs us in a note, that, notwithstanding the base and mercenary conduct of this class on some occasions, during the pre sent war in Greece, they have generally distinguished themselves for their readiness to sympathise [sic] and act with their countrymen.
With respect to the other privileged class, namely, the nobility, Dr Coray enters more into detail, referring to the provisional constitution, which has been adopted in Greece, in two articles of which it is made the duty of the executive branch (νομοτελεστική έξουσία) to propose some law to the assembly, relative to badges of honor and rewards for distinguished citizens. Dr Coray considers this as a proposal, in disguise, for an order of nobility, and, as such, he treats it justly with alternate contempt and ridicule. If it be true that, in an old country, it would be an act of violent injustice to disfranchise a privileged hereditary class, it is not less true, that to attempt to create one where it does not exist, would infallibly result in exposing the unhappy persons selected for this object to the ridicule and hatred of their fellow citizens. The most powerful prince that ever ruled, declared it impossible to make a word, by law; to make an institution which must rest on the habits and prejudices of the people, must be surely harder. In the next place, these material and sensible insignia draw after them naturally titles wholly insignificant, and for us also ridiculous, when attached to those ancestral names, such as Themistocles, Aristides, and others, which many of our citizens are accustomed to adopt, either changing their own names or in naming their children. What conjunction of names, for instance, can be imagined more ridiculous than that of the Count Themistocles, the Baron Aristides, the Marquis Demosthenes, the Duke Phocion, or the Prince Socrates; especially if these Grecian Counts, Barons, Marquesses, Dukes, and Princes, are to sit as judges of the Areopagus. (note: See also the name Areopagus attached to the judicial power. The imitation of what was good in our ancestors is praiseworthy; but let it be in things, not in names. Let us endeavor to obtain a judiciary as incorrupt as the renowned Areopagus, and give up a name which is no longer applicable to it] Such titles, so foreign to Greece, ought neither to be uttered by a Grecian tongue, nor endured by a Grecian ear.
This very passage is succeeded by a very judicious course of remark, on the folly of attempting to found a nobility in Greece. It appears from the observations of Dr Coray, whose testimony to the matter of fact will be allowed to be de cisive, that all the traces of the nobility of the Greek empire have been effaced, in the indiscriminate subjection of the nation to the Turkish yoke, commencing after so many ages of degeneracy, as must themselves have produced the extinction of most of the ancient families. The barbarity of many of the family names of the soi-disant Greek nobles, are sufficient to convince us that they can be neither of Greek, Roman, nor even Venetian descent, but the growth of the ignorant ages which have succeeded the conquest of the Turks. The only source of any thing like nobility among the Greeks, since the Turkish domination, has been the government of the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia. The unfortunate aspirants to these offices, the almost infallible passport to the bowstring, have assumed the name of Vlachbey (βλαχμπει) or prince of Wallachia, and of this quality are the Murusis, Ypsylantis, Soutzos, and others, some of whose names appear in the contemporary accounts from Greece. Of the feeling likely to be excited by any attempt on their part, to set themselves up, as an order of Grecian nobility, we may judge by the following remarks of Dr Coray. If in the time of the Byzantine emperors, privileges of this kind existed, the tyranny of the Turks has abolished them all, or limited and engrossed them, in the sole detested person of the tyrant; unless one should account as privileges the two governments of Dacia, which he has entrusted to the Greeks, in order that the governors and their satellites may grow fat from the fruits of the bloody sweat of the miserable Dacians, only to be butchered themselves more promptly than others. Of such privileges received but from the blood thirsty sultan, and to be exercised, not towards their fellow - slaves the Grecians, but alien tribes, it must be the wish of all who enjoyed them, if any perchance have escaped the sword of the tyrant, that the recollection may perish, as the only mode in which they themselves will be recognised [sic] and loved as brethren by their fellow - citizens of Greece. If any one of them should be so unfortunate (which I do not believe) as now to think of such privileges, to hope for honors or expect precedence from the Greeks, on account of them, he would fall into a truly ridiculous error. The Greeks were never governed by them, but the Dacians.
Considering the weight and authority, which the opinions of Dr Coray possess in Greece, it may not be wholly discreet, thus to draw invidious distinctions between the inhabitants of Wallachia and Moldavia, and the inhabitants of Greece proper. The government of the former by Grecian Hospodars, has never been regarded in the light in which Dr Coray represents it, as an aggravated slavery. On the contrary, no part of Greece, out of Constantinople, possesses so numerous and wealthy a class as the Boyars of Wallachia; and Dr Coray's ταλαίπωροι Δακοί set an earlier example of zeal for improvement in the schools of Bucharest than was set by Greeks, properly so called, in most parts of the Turkish empire. In fact as the Wallachians and Moldavians, whatever be their historical origin, are now Greeks in religion, many of them in language, all in ignominious subjection to the Turks, and in manful resistance to it, we should esteem it unwise to throw out any taunting comparisons of the degree not of liberty but of slavery, which they may have experienced. We presume, however, that Dr Coray's remarks had some judicious personal reference, and alluded to the absurd claims of the Wallachian princes to preferment of prerogative in the newly constituted state. Such a pretension at the present day, would be indeed, as our author calls it, ridiculous; and equalled [sic] only by the pompous infamy of the nobles of the Greeks of the last days of the empire, who were not ashamed, amidst the insults they received from the Turks, to preserve such titles as Πανυπερπρωτοσεβαστουπέρτατος (note: Ducange vouches for this title. We should not better know how to translate Πανυπερπρωτοσεβαστουπέρτατος, than by Honorificatilitudinitatibusque.] Well does Dr Coray, in repeating this difficult title of dignity, exclaim, "Wretched tribe! these noble polysyllables submitted to the Turks!”
As means of improving the state of his native land, and hastening its progress to independence, Dr Coray justly recommends an attention to the business of education, and directs the notice of his countrymen to the teaching of the elementary branches on the System of mutual instruction (διά της αλληλοδιδακτικής μεθόδου), and the study of the ancient Greek. As more immediate means of pursuing the present contest with success, he enforces the necessity of husbanding the resources of the country, consisting in taxes to be equally levied on all, and on the voluntary contributions of the wealthy friends of Grecian liberty. In a note is mentioned, with deserved commendation, the generosity of a citizen of the name of Varvaces, whose donations to the public have amounted to six hundred thousand roubles. In the conclusion of this essay the Greek s are exhorted to strengthen their naval power, as the surest means of prosecuting the war to final success; and the essay closes with and injunction to conduct the contest with humanity. “Our warfare is with Turks,” says he, “but let us not contend like Turks."
Such is a naked outline of this interesting treatise. It has suggested some ideas to us, relative to the present state of Greece, to which we still further ask the attention of our readers. It is the preface to a learned edition of an ancient Greek classic, published by a Greek citizen, at the expense of the unfortunate Sciotes, and designed for use in the schools of that country. Even these few facts may serve us as a standard, whereby to measure the state of civilization of modern Greece. The contradictory and often splenetic accounts of travellers [sic], and the unfavorable pictures which they have given us of those parts of the Grecian character, with which travellers [sic] and factors become acquainted, have done much to weaken the public sympathy for the Greeks. We have been told that they are barbarous, superstitious, fraudulent; and, in all moral qualities, no better than their Turkish tyrants. We in this country, however, at least ought to be careful how we adopt the representations of travellers [sic] as to a people's character. If our national character were to be ascertained in this way, we must not only be proclaimed to the world as possessing most of the very vices charged to the Greeks, but other base qualities not yet laid to their charge. Not a year passes, in which the English press does not send forth the attestation of some worthy tourist to all that is odious, contemptible, and flagitious, as existing in America. From these accounts we naturally appeal to facts, which are in the face of the world. To public facts then we appeal, in behalf of the Greeks. They are, in their religion, christians of a most ancient and venerable communion, and in their church alone, of all the churches in christendom, the New Testament is read in the original tongue. When we are told of the ignorance and superstition of the common people and of the inferior clergy, we would ask whether any one [sic] supposes for a moment, that these are greater in Greece than in Russia, in Italy, and in Spain. Moreover, in this fact, that the Greeks are christians, no small testimony is paid to their character. Every thing [sic] said in commendation of the boldness and courage of the primitive church, applies, in no small degree, to the faithful remnant in Greece, at the present day. Do we commemorate the pious constancy of those, who, either against the domestic tyranny of the Jewish hierarchy, or the haughty persecution of the Roman paganism, held fast their faith; and do we deny all commendation to those who hold it fast in like manner against the merciless domination of mahometanism? Conscious of the little effort which is costs us to maintain the public profession of christianity, we do not render justice to those, who frequent their churches amidst the insults and outrages of unbelieving and barbarous taskmasters. In the next place, the state of education in Greece is a fact before the world, which entitles them to our sympathy as a civilized people. It is well known that several of their high schools compare advantageously with those in Europe. That of Scio, before its late destruction, was perhaps equal to any seminary of learning in the United States of America. Four hundred pupils resorted to it, from various parts of Greece. Instruction in the highest branches was given by twenty teachers, most of whom had been educated at Paris, in Italy, and in Germany. The most popular text - books in the exact sciences, in morals, and metaphysics, were translated from English, French, German, and Italian, and made the basis of the instruction. A library of ten thousand volumes had already been collected, and a considerable sum was annually appropriated to its increase by the liberal Sciotes; at whose expence [sic] also the six last volumes of the Grecian classics were published in Paris. In addition to all these means of education at home, a large number of young men were annually sent to the German, Italian, and French universities, to receive the best education which those seminaries could furnish. These are all facts, of many of which we have personal knowledge; and they prove, we think, an attention to education which justly entitles the Greeks to our sympathy as a civilized people. It is another fact, that they are an enterprising and industrious people. The Greek marine, considering the disadvantages under which it necessarily labors, is a proof of astonishing perseverance and enterprize [sic]. Six hundred sail of vessels, great and small, belong to the Hydriotes, inhabitants of a little island, scarce known in ancient geography; and from Tricheri, a small town in the gulf of Volo, where, within the memory of man, a few fishing boats only existed, eighty vessels navigate the Mediterranean. The Grecian vessels are many of them built with great beauty. Their skill in navigation is attested by the most competent witnesses, and we have heard one of the most accomplished officers in our own service, speak with admiration of the success, with which he saw a Turkish quadron, in a squall, brought into port at Constantinople, by the dexterity of the Greek sailors on board it. We are accustomed to appeal to our marine as a proof of an enterprising character, of industry, and of progress in the arts of life. Do the facts we now mention existing in spite of the most galling oppression on earth-prove less in favor of the Greeks: But it is not in this alone that the Greeks have made some progress in the arts. The ordinary branches of industry are pursued in Greece. Extensive cotton factories exist in Thessaly, conducted with such skill in the art of dying, that workmen have been sent for to introduce their processes into France. If all these facts, and many more like them, which may be gleaned even from the travellers who speak most unfavorably of the Greeks, are put together, and the obvious conclusions deduced from them, it will result that the Greeks are christian, civilized, enterprising, industrious people, and entitled to the sympathy of the civilized world, in their present contest against the Turks.
This contest is of a peculiar character, one to which the history of modern Europe affords no parallel. The Turkish power was once great and formidable; and while it was so, the neighboring states of Russia and Austria were constantly at war with it, and every body [sic] prayed for their success . A horror of Turks, at least as old as the crusades, and older than the destruction of the lower empire, possessed the christian world; and in virtue of this horror, a war against them was like a war against pirates; all were allies against these hostes humani generis. The Turks are now weak. Their government, the worst constituted in the world, has not been administered for a century by a prince of those commanding military qualities, which formerly gave energy to the ill compacted mass. Their institutions, originating in a wandering and Nomadic life, and calculated only for it, have become more and more inadequate to their settled state. The nature of the Turkish institutions is such, that, as Burke says of the French king at his restoration, the people must be always on horseback. A stationary nation living in towns, cities, and villages, requires a permanent tenure of property, the art of printing, and, we think, we may add the christian religion, if in contact with christendom. The Turks have neither; the Sultan is every man's heir, the art of printing is proscribed, and the profession of a strange and barbarous faith cuts off that bond of sympathy, which in so many ways unites christians, both as communities and as individuals. Such a state of things is very compatible with a Tartarian existence, and with the acquisition of great power and the achievement of extensive conquests, by dint of an overwhelming troop of men and horses. But it is incompatible with stationary national existence, and it is a notorious fact that at the present day the Turkish empire is disorganized. It is this circumstance, which adds the darkest shade to the picture of Greece. The garrisons and armies of this enervated and disorganized empire, are still maintained, in their various encampments in the Grecian cities, by the possession of arms which the unfortunate Greeks too often stand in need of; by the want of concert among their victims; and by the desperation of having every thing [sic] to lose in the struggle. With these principles of self-preservation in themselves - none of which, it is plain, furnishes the means of final permanent success in the contest with an exasperated and outraged people - it is a melancholy, an odious truth, that the Turks derive their great strength from the jealousy of the principal European powers. Whoever reflects a moment on the conduct of Mr Pitt, in dispatching [sic] a courier to Catharine II, to denounce war against that empress, if she occupied the single Turk-ish town of Oczakoff, is possessed, in this disgraceful step, of a key to the whole Euro-pean policy with respect to the Greeks and Turks. A moment's cooler deliberation enabled Mr Pitt, by dispatching [sic] a second messenger, to recall the fist and to prevent England, and probably Europe, being plunged into a war on this point, at that time. But the shrewd Turk knows, and the unhappy Greek knows, that England had rather have the Sultan at Constantinople than the Czar; and that Russia, standing at the head of the holy alliance the most solemn covenant ever formed by man, and of which the only avowed object is to secure the administration of Europe, on the principles of christianity-would yet, a thousand times, prefer the dominion of the Turks to that of the English. In this, perhaps, they do not exceed the ordinary limits of selfishness. But cannot all the skill of so many profound politicians contrive some league - is there no sketch or prospectus of a covenant in the “pigeon-holes of the bureau” of Prince Metternich, of Count Nesselrode, by which aid and countenance shall be offered to the Greeks; and their independence guarantied, not only against the Turks but against the allied powers: We think well enough of the princes and ministers of the present day, who, in the words of the author of “Europe,” are “not a group of Neros or Sejani, but, in general, persons of accomplished minds and amiable dispositions,” to believe that there is not an individual among them, who had not rather see the Greeks possessed of and independent political existence, than subjected to the present afflictive and heart-rending despotism of the Turks. We can think only of three considerations which stand in the way of such a league as we have mentioned, by which aid and assistance should be given the Greeks, and their independence guarantied against all persons whatsoever. The first reason may-be, that if made independent, they might nevertheless in the sequel be seized up on by the neighboring powers, by Russia, by Austria, or by England. Against such a seizure, however, we would have the covenant forever to run. Not only for the moment, but as long as the danger or the possibility should exist of the event provided against. This is a very practicable measure. It has been acted upon more or less for three centuries. Every small state in Europe exists by virtue of it. It would contain nothing new, visionary, or enthusiastic, in favor of the Greeks. It would be doing no more for them, than is daily done for Holland, Portugal, and Rome; for every state of Europe but poor Poland, where the guardians were able to agree on the plunder. What would be the effect, if England should seize on Holland, by a coup de main? The Russian peace establishment of 800,000 men would receive marching orders, and the Cossacks of the Don would travel on a hair line down to the Hague. What would be the consequence if the Austrian eagle should pounce on the long coveted lands of the ecclesiastical dove? A hot press would sweep the Thames; prince Esterhazy would receive a note from Downing-street, expressive [sic] of the great interest which his Britannic majesty takes in the preservation of the integrity of the ecclesiastical state,' and the somewhat rusty sword of 'the defender of the faith' would leap again from the scabbard. The guarantee we mention would amount to no more than the admission of the Greeks as a nation into the pale of christendom, and an extension to them of those privileges, which the balance of power in Europe secures to its states. Another reason against assisting the Greeks to become an independent nation may be, that their natural advantages are so great, their geographical position, their range of continental coast, their islands, and their climate, would so favor their growth, that they would themselves soon become formidable as a rival in commerce, or a competitor for power, to the great states of Europe. We have no idea of the possibility of such an event, though the question is too large for present discussion. We are inclined to also think that such a fear is too remote and contingent, to operate on the minds of the kings and ministers of the present day, and we have only adverted to it as a possibility. It cannot, we trust, be thought probable, that enlightened and christian princes and rulers would deliberately condemn the ir fellow men and fellow christians to the continuance of a cruel and barbarous tyranny, merely for fear that, as an independent power, they might come in for a share of the world's commerce. The third and only remaining conceivable reason which suggests itself to our minds is, that the Greeks are not held capable of governing themselves. The mode in which the Ionian islands have been dealt with favors this idea. A despotism more humane, but not less absolute, than that of the Turks, is maintained in those islands by the English; and it is only by a strong military power, that the government of the lord high commissioner is kept up. This, we suppose, is defended on the ground that the Greeks of the Ionian Islands are unfit for their freedom. We know not what Count Capo d'Istria, a native of Corfu, and one of the emperor of Russia's ministers, may think of this; of how the suggestion might sound to Ugo Foscolo, one of the first poets and scholars of the age, a native of Zante. But granting the unfitness of the Greeks of the Ionian islands for independence, (a slippery reason at least for not allowing them to make the trial of it,) every one [sic] knows that precisely these islands are the worst part of Greece. Their position as a frontier between Greece and Italy, and the detestable corruption of the Venetian government, under which they were so long held, may have unfitted them for independence. It is quite uncertain whether the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Sark, Alderney, and the Isle of Man, if constituted into a separate state, independent of England, would prosper much in governing themselves. We know of no rules of political chemistry, by which the islands on the borders of a country can be selected as a test, and the capacity or incapacity of a people argued from that of the islands. Whether Greece, in its wide sense, consisting of all those parts, continental and insular, where the great majority of the people are Greeks, be prepared for independence, is a question wholly distinct from the character of the Ionian islands. If there be any correctness in what we have alleged in the commencement of these remarks, with regard to the present state of Greece, no doubt can remain on this point.
At any rate the Greeks, themselves, feel no doubt. They have taken the liberty, as we did in 1776, of declaring themselves free; they have raised armies and navies; they have defeated the Turks in several engagements, both at sea and on land; they have taken some of the most important fortresses, particularly Napoli di Romania, by its position and strength the most important of all; they have organized a system of government, which, though far from being faultless, is upon the whole a judicious system; and finally they have made such progress in the war, that a writer in the last number of the Quarterly Review, a journal not friendly to insurrection against masters, civilized or barbarous, has ventured to say, 'that it now appears extremely probable (we might indeed, we believe, use a still stronger expression) the Greeks will be able to establish their independence.'
As we do not remember to have seen the provisional constitution of the Greeks given at length in any of our journals or newspapers, and as it is a document of very considerable interest, we subjoin a translation of it, as we find it in French, in the Courrier des Pays Bas of the 11th and 12th of May, 1822, published at Brussels. The original Greek, with French and English translations, and preliminary historical notices, has been published both at Paris and London, but it has not been in our power to procure a copy of either of these works.
Provisional Constitution, published at Epidaurus,
January 12, 1822.
CHAPTER I. — Of Religion.
ART. 1. The religion of the state is the orthodox religion of the Eastern (Greek] Church. At the same time all religions are tolerated, and their ceremonies permitted to be freely exercised.
CHAPTER II. — Public Law of the Greeks.
Art. 2. All natives of Greece professing the christian religion, are Greeks, and enjoy all political rights.
Art. 3. The Greeks are equal in the eye of the law, without distinction of rank or dignity.
ART. 4. Every stranger established or residing in Greece enjoys the same civil rights as the Greeks.
Art. 5. A law on naturalization shall immediately be published by the government.
Art. 6. All Greeks are eligible to any office-merit only determines their preference.
ART. 7. The property, honor, and security of every citizen, are placed under the safeguard of the law.
ART. 8. Contributions for the expenses of the state are to be apportioned according to the fortune of each person. No impost shall be established but by virtue of a law.
CHAPTER III. - Form of Government.
ART. 9. The Government is composed of two bodies; the Legislative Senate, and the Executive Council.
ART. 10. The two bodies must concur in the enactment of laws. Either may negate a law proposed by the other.
ART. 11. The legislative Senate is composed of members elected by the different provinces.
ART. 12. The number of Senators is to be determined by the law of elections.
ART. 13. The law of elections, which shall be published by the government, must require that the representatives shall be Greeks, and that they be thirty years of age.
Art. 14. The deputies of all the free provinces and islands of Greece, are admitted as soon as their powers are acknowledged valid by the Senate.
ART. 15. The Senate appoints its President and Vice-President annually, by a majority of votes, and
ART. 16. At the same time a First and Second Secretary, and Under-Secretaries.
ART. 17. The Senate is renewed every year.
ART. 18. The Executive Council is composed of five members, chosen from the Senate, and according to rules established by a special law concerning the formation of the Council.
ART. 19. The Council appoints annually its President and Vice-President, by a majority of votes.
ART. 20. It appoints eight ministers, namely, an Arch-Chancellor of State, entrusted with foreign relations; Ministers of the interior, of the finances, of justice, of war, of the marine, of worship, and of the police.
Art. 21. It appoints also to all the offices of the government.
ART. 22. The functions of the Senate continue for but a year.
CHAPTER IV. – Of the Legislative Senate.
Section 1. — The Legislative Power of the Senate.
ART. 23. Considering the urgent occasions of the State, the Legislative Senate continues its functions this year without interruption.
Art. 24. The President fixes the time of opening and determines the duration the session.
ART. 25. In case of need, he may convoke an extraordinary meeting of the Senate.
ART. 26. In case of the absence of the President, the Vice-President shall perform his duties.
ART. 27. Two thirds of the members form a quorum of the Senate.
ART. 28. The decisions of the Senate are made by a majority of voices.
ART. 29. If equally divided, the President has a casting vote.
ART. 30. All the acts of the Senate are signed by the President and countersigned by the First Secretary.
ART. 31. The President transmits the doings of Senate to the Council for their approbation.
Art. 32. If the council refuse its sanction, or propose amendments, the bill is returned to the Senate, with the grounds of refusal or the amendments proposed, to be discussed anew; after which, it is sent back to the council, to be definitively rejected or adopted.
Art. 33. The Senate receives and examines all petitions which are addressed to it, on whatever subject.
ART. 34. Every three months the Senate appoints as many committees as there are departments in the ministry.
ART. 35. One of these committees, according to the designation of the President, is attached to each branch of the public service, to propose laws relevent [sic] to that branch.
ART. 36. Every member of Senate may bring in a written project of a law, which the President refers to the proper committee.
ART. 37. The Senate receives the projects of law transmitted to it by the Executive Council, and approves, modifies, or rejects them.
ART. 38. Every declaration of war, and every treaty of peace, shall be submitted to the approbation of the Senate; and in general no treaty, which the Executive council shall make with a foreign power, whatever be the subject, shall be binding, until approved by the Senate. Truces and armistices of a few days duration, are not included in this provision.
ART. 39. At the beginning of each year, the Council submits to the approbation of the Senate an estimation of the expenses of the year, and of the means of meeting them. At the end of every year, also, it submits to the Senate an exact statement of receipts and expenditures. Nevertheless, as circumstances render it impossible to prepare such a statement for the first year, the council shall supply the requistions [sic] of the war and the other departments of the service, and submit to the Senate, at the end of the year, an exact account of receipts and expenditures.
ART. 40. The Senate approves or rejects the nominations to advanced military rank made by the council.
ART. 41. It approves or rejects also the propositions made by the Council for the reward of distinguished civil and military services.
ART. 42. The Senate shall regulate the new monetary system, and the Council shall cause the coinage to be struck, in the name of the nation.
Art. 43. The Senate is expressly forbidden to approve any treaty, which is inconsistent with the political independence of the nation; and if it should come to its knowledge, that the Council has engaged in any criminal negotiation of this kind, it shall impeach the President thereof, and if found guilty, discharge him from his functions.
ART. 44. Journalists shall be permitted to attend all the meetings of the Senate, except those of the secret committee, which may take place whenever the five members require it. Section 2. — Secretaries of the Senate.
Art. 45. The First Secretary of the Senate, is charged with engrossing all the acts of this body, and with keeping an exact record of them.
ART. 46. He receives from the President the resolutions of the Senate, and transmits them to the council.
ART. 47. In the absence of the First Secretary the Second takes his place.
Section 3. — Judicial Power of the Senate.
ART. 48. If one or more of the members of the Senate be accused of political delinquency, a commission of several members, named for this purpose by t he Senate, will take cognizance of the accusation, and make report of it in writing. If the commission judge the accusation to be sustained, the Senate shall take up the affair. If the accused be condemned by a majority of two thirds of the voices, he shall be declared to have forfeited his dignity, and shall be remanded to the supreme court of Greece, to be judged as a simple citizen.
ART. 49. No Senator can be arrested, till after having been found guilty of an offence or of a crime.
Art. 50. When a member of the Executive Council shall be accused of a political offence or crime, the Senate shall appoint from its number a commission composed of nine members, who shall report comformably [sic] to the 48th article. If this commission sustain the accusat ion, and if the Senate, which in this case remains in possession of the affair, condemn the accused by a majority of four fifths of the voices, the President shall declare the accused to have forfeited his seat in council, and shall remand him to the supreme court of Greece as in article 48.
Art. 51. If a minister be accused of any offence or crime, he shall be judged according to the provisions of article 48.
CHAPTER V. — Of the Executive Council.
Section 1. - Power of the Executive Counciling to the provisio ns of article so.
ART. 54. The Council sees that the Ministers put the law in force.
Art. 55. It sanctions or rejects the projects of law adopted by the Legislative Senate.
Art. 56. It proposes projects of law to the Senate for discussion. The Ministers have a right to be present at this discussion; and the Minister of the department, to which the subject of the law proposed belongs, shall always attend the discussion.
ART. 57. All acts and decrees of the Council are signed by the President, countersigned by the First Secretary, and sealed with the seal of state.
ART. 58. The Council disposes of the public forces by sea and land.
ART. 59. It shall have power to publish such instructions as it shall think proper, and to cause the laws, which concern the public order, to be enforced.
Art. 60. It shall have power, also, to take measures necessary to the public tranquillity [sic], in all the matters of police, provided it make report thereof in the senate.
ART. 61. It shall have power, with the consent of the senate, to make wars as well at home as abroad, and to pledge the public domain, for their payment.
ART. 62. It shall have power in like manner, with the consent of the senate, to alienate portions of the said public domains.
Art. 63. It shall appoint the ministers, and fix their powers.
ART. 64. The ministers are responsible for all the acts of their departments; consequently they cannot execute any act or decree contrary to the rights and duties proclaimed by the present act.
ART. 65. The council appoints all the agents of the government to foreign powers.
ART. 66. It must make report to the senate of its relations with foreign states and of the interior state of Greece.
Art. 67. It has the right of changing the ministers and all agents of whom it has the nomination.
ART. 68. In case of urgency, it may convoke an extraordinary session of senate.
ART. 69. Whenever a crime of high treason shall have been committed, the council shall have the power to take such extraordinary measures as it shall judge necessary, whatever be the rank of the person accused.
Art. 70. The council shall have the power also, in this same case and if circumstances exact it, to make provisional nominations and promotions in military rank, which shall be submitted to the approbation of the senate, when tranquillity [sic] shall be restored.
ART. 71. In this case the council shall present to the senate, within two days, an exact and written report of the motives which have reduced it to the necessity of taking these extraordinary measures.
Art. 72. As it disposes of the forces by land and sea, the council shall have the power in time of war to take extraordinary measures to provide quarters, provisions, clothing, and munitions, and every thing [sic] necessary to armaments by sea or land.
ART. 73. It shall present to the senate the project of a law with respect to the decorations to be given in recompense of services rendered to the country.
Art. 74. It is the duty of the executive council to keep up relations with foreign powers, and to undertake and pursue every species of negociation [sic]. But declarations of war and treaties of peace and others must be subjected to the approbation of the senate.
ART. 75. Nevertheless it can make all conventions of truce, of short duration, conformably to the 38th article, to be reported to the senate.
ART. 76. At the beginning of every year, it shall present to the senate an estimate, and at the end of every year an exact and detailed account of the revenues and expenses of the current year. These two accounts are prepared by the minister of finance, and accompanied by all the vouchers. Nevertheless, for this year, the accounts will be made up, as is provided for in the 39th article.
ART. 77. The resolutions of the council are made by the majority of the voices.
ART. 78. In no case, and under no pretext, shall the council have power to enter into any negociation [sic], nor to conclude any treaty, inconsistent with the political independence of the nation. In case of such a crime, the president is proceeded against, displaced, and punished, as is provided in the 53rd article.
Art. 79. The council shall propose a project of law, with respect to the uniform of the troops by sea and by land.
ART. 80. It shall present another project of a law to regulate the pay of the troops by sea and by land, and to fix the salaries of all the officers of the government.
Section 2. - Mode of Procedure Against the Members of the Council.
ART. 81. As soon as the accusation of a political offense, brought against a member of the co uncil, has been admitted by the senate, the accused is deprived of his functions; the trial and judgment are conducted, as is provided in the 50th article.
ART. 82. No members of the council can be arrested, but in virtue of a condemnation; in case of the dismissal or absence of a councellor [sic], if the voices are divided in the deliberation, the voice of the president determines the majority.
Art. 83. An accusation against one or more ministers, admitted by the senate, involves their dismissal; and they shall be brought to trial conformably to the sist article.
ART. 84. In case of crimes of high treason, the council shall have power to form, at the seat of the government, a central and extraordinary commission, charged to take cognizance of those crimes, till the formation of the supreme tribunal of Greece.
CHAPTER VI. — Of the Judiciary.
ART. 85. The judiciary power is independent of the legislative and executive powers.
ART. 86. It is composed of eleven members elected by the Government, and who choose their president
ART. 87. A law on the organization of the courts shall be published without delay.
ART. 88. This law shall fix the extent of their jurisdiction, and the general forms of procedure which are to be followed, in the conduct of trials.
ART. 89. This law shall be founded on the five following principles.
1st. A supreme tribunal shall be formed and established in the capital. This tribunal shall take cognizance, without appeal, of crimes of high treason and of offences against the safety of the state.
2nd. Several tribunals shall be established in the capitals of the provisional governments. There shall be an appeal from the judgements of these tribunals to the supreme tribunal.
3rd. There shall be established an inferior tribunal in every department. There shall be an appeal from their judgments to the general tribunal of the provincial capital. Inferior tribunals cannot cake cognizance of the political offences.
4th. There shall be established in every parish or village a justice of the peace, who shall take cognizance of every affair not exceeding the sum of a hundred piastres, and of all family differences.
5th. The justices of the peace can be accused before the tribunals of the department; those of the department before the tribunals of the capital; and those of the capital before the supreme tribunal.
ART. 90. The executive council is directed to form a commission composed of men distinguished alike by their understanding and their virtues, which commission shall be charged with the compilation of the laws that are to form the codes, civil, criminal, commercial, etc. These laws shall be submitted to the discussion and to the approbation of the senate and the council.
ART. 91. Till the publication of these laws, judgment shall be rendered according to the laws of our ancestors, promulgated by the Greek Emperors of Byzantium, and according to the laws published by the present government. As to commercial affairs, the French code of commerce shall have the force of law in Greece.
ART. 92. The torture is abolished. Confiscation is in like manner abolished for all citizens.
ART. 93. After the entire organization of the judiciary, no person can be arrested without the special order of the competent tribunal, except in flagrante delicto.
CHAPTER VII. — Supplementary Articles.
ART. 94. The provisional governments, established before the convocation of the national congress, are subjected to the authority of the supreme government.
Art. 95. Corinth is declared the seat of the provisional government. In case of a change made necessary by particular circumstances, this change is decided by the senate and the council.
ART. 96. The seal of the state bears for an emblem Minerva ornamented with the symbols of wisdom.
ART. 97. The national colors, as well as for the standards by land and for the flags by sea, are white and blue.
Art. 98. The arrangement of the colors in the formation of the standards and of the flags shall be determined by the council.
ART. 99. The government will take all measures for making a provision for the widows and orphans of the citizens who have died for their country.
Art. 100. It will also bestow honors and rewards on all brilliant actions, and on all distinguished services rendered to the country.
ART. 101. At the end of the war, it will likewise grant rewards to those, who shall have contributed to the regeneration of Greece by pecuniary sacrifices, and grant recompenses to those whose generous efforts for this noble object may have reduced them to misfortune.
ART. 102. The present constitution shall be printed and distributed throughout Greece. The original shall be deposited in the archives of the legislative senate. Given at Epidaurus the 1st (13th) of January, 1822, in the first year of Independence.
Such is the constitution which has been established in Greece. It immediately went into operation by the choice of Prince Mavrocordato as President, and Prince Mavro, michalis, whom we shall again have occasion to mention, as Vice-President of the executive council. The present year the latter distinguished individual has been raised to the presidency of the council, and the seat of government has been fixed at Tripolizza, the residence under the Turks of the Pacha of the Morea. That the change in the person of the president of the council has not been the consequence of any dissension, is apparent form the honorable manner in which the venerable Mavromichalis is mentioned, in the circular letter of Prince Mavrocordato, his predecessor, addressed to the Philhellenic Societies of Germany and Switzerland. The same letter, being of the date of April 22, 1823, gives an encouraging view of the state of things in Greece, and shows the independent government of that country to be in a state of entire organization. In this state of things, and in consideration of the circumstances mentioned above, what course of conduct ought to be pursued by the nations of the earth: On this question we beg leave to add a few words. We have already expressed our opinions, as to what we think an enlightened policy demands of the states of Europe. We will not enlarge upon this part of the subject; though we cannot but think that a more general opinion never existed in the civilized world, than that the Greeks ought to be aided in this conflict. Such a measure would do not a little toward reconciling the minds of men to the unprincipled policy, which has been pursued towards Naples and Spain; and it is not yet perhaps too late, by a work of imperial magnanimity towards Greece, to purchase the world's forgiveness of the partition of Poland. As to our own country, we think, the course our government should adopt, sufficiently indicated by its own conduct towards South America. If more accurate information of the state of Greece is wanted, let the president do as he did in 1817, when he dispatched a public vessel with a respectable commission to enquire into the progress of the revolution in that country. We have always a fleet in the Mediterranean; let a similar commission be directed to repair to it, and on board of one of its vessels visit the principal ports of Greece, ascertain the progress of the war, and the degree of organization of the government. Should they report, as they must, for they are well known facts, the circumstances which we have enumerated, then let the independence of Greece be acknowledged by the United States, and a minister sent to their government.
Such a measure will be peculiarly in character for this country. The case is far clearer than that, to say the least, of Mexico; and we ha ve no treaties with the Turk to impose restraint upon us. America has already been called on by the Greeks to adopt such a course. More than two years have elapsed since a proclamation of the senate of Calamata signed by its president, the same individual who has since been elected chief of the Grecian confederacy, addressed to the American nation, was enclosed to the editor of this journal, accompanied by a private letter to him. The proclamation and the letter were both in the handwriting of Dr Coray, the former being a copy from the original published at Calamata, and the latter subscribed by a venenrable [sic] individual, P. Epites, who had been sent, at that time, to Paris, to endeavor to awaken a sympathy in civilized nations in the affairs of Greece, and by three other respectable Greeks, among whom is Dr Coray. A translation of this proclamation was published in the newspapers of the day. But we thought it would not be improper to insert it again, in this connection, with the original, which has never before been published.
[The Greek text appears here, followed by Everett's translation.
This edition reproduces the translation only]
To the citizens of the United States of America. - Having formed the resolution to live or die for freedom, we are drawn toward you by a just sympathy; since it is in your land that Liberty has fixed her abode, and by you that she is prized as by our fathers. Hence, in invoking her name, we invoke yours at the same time, trusting that in imitating you, we shall imitate our ancestors, and be thought worthy of them if we succeed in resembling you.
Though separated from you by mighty oceans, your character brings you near us. We esteem you nearer than the nations on our frontiers; and we possess, in you, friends, fellow-citizens, and brethren, because you are just, humane and generous; -- just because free, generous and liberal because christian. Your liberty is not propped on the slavery of other nations, nor your prosperity on their calamities and sufferings. But, on the contrary, free and prosperous yourselves, you are desirous that all men should share the same blessings; that all should enjoy these rights, to which all are by nature equally entitled. It is you, who first proclaimed these rights; it is you who have been the first again to recognise [sic] them, in rendering the rank of men to the Africans degraded to the level of brutes. It is by your example, that Europe has abolished the shameful and cruel trade in human flesh, from you that she receives lessons injustice, and learns to renounce her absurd and sanguinary customs. This glory, Americans is yours alone, and raises you above all the nations which have gained a name for liberty and laws. It is for you, citizens of America, to crown this glory, in aiding us to purge Greece from the barbarians, who for four hundred years have polluted the soil. It is surely worthy of you to repay the obligations of the civilized nations, and to banish ignorance and barbarism from the country of freedom and the arts. You will not as suredly imitate the culpable indifference or rather the long ingratitude of some of the Europeans. No, the fellow-citizens of Penn, of Washington, and of Franklin, will not refuse their aid to the descendants of Phocion, and Thrasybulus, of Aratus, and of Philopoemen. You have already shown them esteem and confidence in sending your children to their schools. You know with what pleasure they were welcomed, and the steady kindness and attention which they received. If such has been their conduct when enslaved; what friendship and zeal will they not manifest to you, when through your aid they shall have broken their chains. Greece will then furnish you advantages, which you can in vain seek from her ignorant and cruel tyrants; and the bonds of gratitude and fraternity will forever unite the Greeks and the Americans. Our interests are of a nature more and more to cement an alliance founded on freedom and virtue.
At Kalamata, May 25, 1821.
Signed, the Messenian Senate at Calamata.
Peter Mavromichalis, commander in chief.
Our readers will observe that this proclamation is the act of the Senate of Calamata, one of those local assemblies which were organized in Greece, at the commencement of the present struggle, and before the establishment of the general government. Calamata is in that part of the Peloponessus which is inhabited by the Mainotes, and till the late revolution was governed by princes of its own, under a merely nominal subjection to the Porte. Peter Mavromichalis (Black Michael) president of this local senate is one of the most distinguished individuals of Greece, and has long, as Bey of Maina, been the ruler of his countrymen, the Mainotes. His age, his integrity, his wealth and public spirit, have given him the greatest influence in the new government of Greece, and as we have already had occasion to mention, he is now the president of the executive council. Though we do not consider the foregoing address to be in very good taste, nor in every part perfectly intelligible, it shows at least how soon and how spontaneously the eyes of Greece were turned to this country as the great exemplar of states in the agonies of contest for independence. Such an appeal from the anxious conclave of self-devoted patriots, in the inaccessible cliffs of the Morea, must bring home to the mind of the least reflecting American, the great and glorious part, which this country is to act, in the political regeneration of the world. It must convince us that what Burke originally said in eulogy of his own land, is going into its literal fulfillment here; and in a wider sense than he dared to speak it. Wheresoever the chosen race, the sons of liberty, shall worship freedom, they will turn their faces to us. We have seen, in our own days, the oldest and most splendid monarchy in Europe, casting off its yoke, under the contagion of liberty caught from us; and why should the excesses of that awful crisis be ascribed to the new found remedy rather than to the inveterate disease? Through France, the influence of our example has been transmitted to the other European states, and in the most enslaved and corrupted of them, the leaven of freedom is at work. Meantime, at one and the same moment, we perceive in either hemisphere the glorious work of emancipation going on; and the name and the example of the United States alike invoked by both. From the earliest abodes of Euro-pean civilization, the venerated plains of Greece, and from the scarcely explored range of the Cordilleras, a voice of salutation and a cry for sympathy are resounding in our ears. While the great states of Europe, which for centuries have taken the lead in the affairs of the world, stand aghast at this spectacle, and know not if they shall dare to sanction what they cannot oppose, our envoys have already climbed the Andes and reached the Pacific, with the message of gratulation. We devoutly trust that another season will find them on their way to Greece. The recognition of South American Independence, in many respects of national policy a dubious measure, was adopted with the cheering unanimity of old revolutionary times; and the man who was not in his seat in Congress that day, felt that he had done himself and his constituents a wrong, in losing the opportunity to record his voice among those of his brethren. Not less popular, we venture to say, would be the recognition of the Independence of Greece. We feel none of the scruples, which perplex the cabinets of Europe. We see nothing but an enterprising, intelligent, christian population struggling against a ghastly despotism, that has so long oppressed and wasted the land; and if an animating word of ours could cheer them in the hard conflict, we should feel that not to speak it, were to partake the guilt of their oppressors. Meantime there is something for the people of this country in their private capacity, to do for Greece. In Germany, and in France, large numbers of enthusiastic young men have devoted themselves personally to the cause, and flocked to Greece, as the same class of generous spirits did to this country, in the revolutionary war. Considerable sums of money have also been raised in those countries, and supplies of arms and ammunition sent to the Grecian armies. In England a benevolent association has been formed under the presidency of Lord Milton, a nobleman of one of the wealthiest and most powerful British families; and this association has entered into a correspondence with the Grecian authorities. Local political dissensions have unfortunately mingled themselves with the counsels adopted in England for the relief of the Grecians. Still, however, large subscriptions have been made and forwarded to that country. We are sorry for the fact, that America did not set this example also. The experience of our won revolutionary war is so recent, that we ought to have felt, how precious would be any aid form a distant land, however insignificant in amount. Who does not know that there were times in our own revolutionary war, when a few barrels of gunpowder, the large guns of a privateer, a cargo of flour, a supply of clothing, yea, a few hundred pairs of shoes, for feet that left in blood the tracks of their march, would have done essential service to the cause of suffering liberty. We perceive that the writer of an article, already quoted, in the Quarterly Review, observes “that £200,000 would hardly afford a week's relief to the numerous applicants, and if laid out in the purchase of military stores, might be lost in the course of a single siege or battle.” – True, and what may not be gained in a single siege or battle: The surprize [sic] of nine hundred Hessians, by Gen. Washington, traced in all its consequences upon the public feeling, at a time when despondency was curdling the blood of the people, did as much for the revolutionary cause, as could have been done by the most brilliant campaign, between will appointed armies. Besides, it is not merely the amount of physical aid, derived from foreign contributions, that serves the cause. There is an animation produced in these perilous struggles of a resolute few against a barbarous host, at feeling that their efforts are observed with sympathy by others; that they are not toiling and bleeding without an eye to witness or a heart to feel for them. We have no doubt in the world, that many small and gallant bands in the mountain passes of Greece; in the heights of Pindus, the narrow defiles in Parnassus, between Thessaly and Phocis, and at the isthmus of Corinth, who are holding out against all the difficulties of an ill appointed and scarcely organized force, wou ld endure the longer and dare the more, and each in its sphere help on the struggle to a happy issue, could they cherish with them in their perilous holds, the hope that the prayers of the distant friends of liberty were offered up in their behalf, and that their contributions, however small, would not be withheld in an extreme hour. He does not know the human heart, that cannot do justice to these considerations.
America has done something for Greece. Our missionary societies have their envoys to the Grecian church, with supplies of bibles and religious tracts for their benighted flocks. But in the present state of this unhappy people, this is not the only succor they require. They are laying the foundations of civil freedom, without which even the blessings of the Gospel will be extended to them in vain; and while they are cementing with their blood this costly edifice, they are in the condition of the returning Jews, of whom "every one [sic] with one of his hands wrought at the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.” We would respectfully suggest to the enlarged and pious minds of those, who direct the great work of missionary charity, that at this moment, the cause of the Grecian church, can in no way be so effectually served, as by contributions directed to the field of the great struggle. The war is emphatically a war of the crescent against the cross. The venerable patriarch of the Greek faith, torn from his altar and hanged at the portals of his church, gave the signal of the unholy outrages which were to waste his flock. And now wherever the armies of the Sultan prevail, the village churches are levelled with the dust or polluted with the abominations of mahometanism, and the religious houses of the Greeks, the oldest abodes of christianity in the world, are wasted with fire, and the sacred volume thrown out to be trampled under foot by barbarians. At this crisis the messenger of the gospel fraternity should come in other guise than the contributer [sic] of the word; and could the broad and deep current of religious bounty be turned into a channel to reach the seat of the principal distress, it is not going too far to say, that it might be the means of giving another independent country to the church of Christ; and do more to effect the banishment of the crescent to the deserts of Tartary, than all that has yet been achieved by the counsels of christendom.
The same considerations call upon our wealthy citizens to extend their aid to the citizens of country possessed of more than one bond of community with ours. The common council of London have voted £1000 for relief of the sufferers in Greece. Let Boston appropriate ten thousand dollars for the same object; New York, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and the cities of the South in proportion to their means, will heartily unite in the cause; and a sum of money may be transmitted to Greece, either directly or through the English committee, which will teach those who are now toiling and bleeding for freedom, that we prize the blessing too highly, not to aid them in attaining it. We have seen on the wharfs of Boston, the household utensils of brass and copper, gathered up from the desolate hearths of the butchered Sciotes, bought as old copper in Smyrna, and as such sent to this country. Does not his bring home to our minds a picture of distress to awaken our deepest sympathy? To see reduced to old copper in our stalls, the furniture of the firesides of men and christians, who have themselves wearied the Turkish scimitar [sic] in their slaughter, and whose wives and daughters have been sold into an accursed slavery, to the number of thirty thousand? We know not whether the sight of these humble wrecks of household existence be romantic enough for the sentimentalist; but we ask our readers by an effort of imagination, to make the case their own; to fancy an overwhelming force of barbarians, speaking another language, following a strange faith, let loose upon one of our largest cities, (for Scio, now a desert, had a population of 100,000), to put its men to the sword, and sell its matrons and virgins in the open market, into the most revolting and hopeless slavery. We would ask our readers but to conceive of a fate like this, as in reserve for one of the cities of our own country, and then say what claim the Greeks have on our sympathy.
In the few remarks, which we have taken the liberty to make on this occasion, we have not insisted on the topic of the glorious descent of the Greeks; of the duty of hastening to the succor of those whose fathers were the masters of the world, in the school of civilization. It is not because we are not sensible of the power of this appeal also; but because we think a much stronger appeal may be made. To take an interest in the fate of a people, whose ancestors fill so important a place in the history of the world and of the human mind, is certainly natural. The geographical names, which fill the accounts from Greece, excite an interest of themselves; and we feel a double eagerness to hear that the Turks have not only been beaten, but beaten out of the Acropolis of Athens; and that Odysseus is still successful on the sides of Æta. While, however, this kind of sympathy is perfectly natural, and nothing ought to be neglected, which helps the cause of a suffering people, we believe the Greeks have stronger and more imperious claims upon us, than any that grow out of these associations. We may differ as to the degree of respect, to which their ancestors are entitled. We may differ as to the degree, in which the modern Greeks are really the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the soil; and more than one traveller [sic] thinks he has settled the question, whether the Turks have a right to hold the inhabitants of Greece in bondage, by maintaining that the Greeks are a mingled race, descended from the barbarians who in different ages have overrun the land. The allusion to antiquity, moreover, often borders on the ridiculous, and we entirely agree with Dr Coray, in condemning the name of Aeropagus, as given to the judiciary of the new state. This revival of classical names, in an application totally different, was one of the practices in bad taste which prevailed in the French revolution, and though more excusable in Greece, is better avoided there. There is enough without these names to awaken our sympathy. They derive their power from book learning, they belong to scholars and to dilettanti; but there is that in the cause of the Greeks, which ought to speak to the heart of every freeman, in Europe and America. It is not merely the countrymen of Aristides, the fellow-citizens of Phocion, the descendants of Aratus, that are calling upon us. These glorious names are a dead letter to two thirds of the community of christendom. But it is christians bowed beneath the yoke of barbarous infidels; it is fathers and mothers condemned to see their children torn from them and doomed to the most cruel slavery; it is men like ourselves bereft of all the bounties which providence has lavished on their land, obliged to steal through life, as through the passes of a mountain before the blood-hounds of the pursuer. No exhilarating prospect of public honor; nor cheering hope of private success in life; no thrill at the name of country; no protection at the fireside; but all one blank of leaden, dreary despotism which turns the very virtues and excellencies of character into a crime. It is the great curse of a despotism like that of the Turks, that it inverts the laws of conduct for its subjects, and connects suffering and death with those principles and actions, to which providence attaches the rewards of life in a healthy society. We are able to pity individuals among us, so unfortunately born and bred, as to be surrounded with corrupting examples, and taught to find occupation and pleasure in vice. What a spectacle do not the Greeks present in this connection, to the practical philanthropist! Are they zealous in the profession of their religion and in the observance of its rights, they jeopardize the continuance of the jealous and contemptuous toleration be neath which they live. Do they love and serve the land of their birth, they are guilty of treason against its barbarous master. Do they with industry and enterprize [sic] acquire wealth, it is necessary to conceal it from unprincipled extortion, and to invest it in foreign countries. Do they found schools and make provisions for education, they expose themselves to exaction and their children to outrage, and are obliged to proceed with the greatest possible secrecy and circumspection. What a monstrous complication of calamity, to have the best, the worthiest, the purest designs and actions, loaded with all the consequences of vice and crime; to be deprived not only of all that makes life joyous, but to be punished for doing well, and to be forced to go privately about those good deeds, to which men, in other countries, are exhorted as to a source of praise and honor. These things ought to be considered; and a reprehensible apathy prevails as to their reality. If liberty, virtue, and religion, were not words on our lips, without a substance in our hearts, it would be hardly possible to pursue our little local interests with such jealousy; to be all on fire in one state, for fear Congress should claim the power of internal improvements, and up in arms in an other against a change of the tariff, and carried away in all, with a controversy between rival candidates for an office, which all would administer in much the same way; if a narrow selfishness did not lie at the bottom of our conduct, we could not do all this, while men, christians as good as we, who have nerves to smart, minds to think, hearts to feel, like ourselves, are waging unaided, single-handed, at perilous odds, a war of extermination against tyrants, who deny them not only the blessings of liberty, but the mercies of slavery.
But we hope better things of our country. In the great Lancastrian school of the nations, liberty is the lesson, which we are appointed to teach. Masters we claim not, we wish not, to be, but the Monitors we are of this noble doctrine. It is taught in our settlement, taught in our revolution, taught in our government; and the nations of the world are resolved to learn. It may be written in sand and effaced, but it will be written again and again, till hands now fettered in slavery shall boldly and fairly trace it, and lips, that now stammer at the noble word, shall sound it out in the ears of their despots, with an emphasis to waken the dead. Some will comprehend it and practice it at the first; others must wrestle long with the old slavish doctrines; and others may abuse it to excess, and cause it to be blasphemed awhile in the world. But it will still be taught and still be repeated, and must be learned by all; by old and degenerate communities to revive their youth; by springing colonies to hasten their progress. With the example before them of a free representative government-of a people governed by themselves, - it is no more possible that the nations will long bear any other, than that they should voluntarily dispense with the art of printing or the mariner's compass. It is therefore plainly no age for Turks to be stirring. It is as much as men can do, to put up with christian, with civilized, yea, with legitimate masters. The Grand Seignior is a half-century too late in the world. It requires all people's patience to be oppressed and ground to the dust, by the parental sway of most faithful, most catholic, most christian princes. Fatigued as they are with the Holy Alliance, it were preposterous to suppose they can long submit to a horde of Tartarian infidels. The idea that the most honorable, the most responsible, the most powerful office in the state, can, like a vile heirloom, follow the chance of descent, is quite enough to task the forbearance of this bold and busy time. What them shall become of viziers and sultans, when ministers are bewildered in their cabinets, and kings are shaken on their thrones: Instead of arming their misbelieving hosts against a people, who have taken hold of liberty, and who will be free, let them rejoice that great and little Bucharia are still vacant, and take up their march for the desert.
Source: Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou, Founded on Freedom and Virtue: Documents Illustrating the Impact in the United States of the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1829 (New Rochelle, New York: Aristide D. Caratzas, 2002).