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I heart much of the beauty of Arcadia, bat excepting the view from the monastery of Megaspelion (which is inferior to Zitza in a command of country and the descent from the mountains on the way from Tripolitza to Argos, Arcadia has little to recommend it beyond the name. «Sternitur, et dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos... Virgil could have put this into the mouth of none but an Argive, and (with reverence be it spoken it does not deserve the epithet. And if the Polynices of Statius, ala mediis audit duo litora campis, did actually hear both shores in crossing the isthmus of Corinth, he had better ears than have ever been worn in such a journey since.
"Athens, says a celebrated topographer, "is still the most polished city of Greece. Perhaps it may of Greece, but not of the Greeks; for Jo. annina in Epirus is universally allowed, amongst themselves, to be superior in the wealth, refine ment, learning, and dialect of its inhabitants. The Athenians are not improperly characterized in that proverb, which classes them with "the Jews of Salonica, and the Turks of the Negropont. »
Among the various foreigners resident in Athens, French, Italians, Germans, Ragusans, etc. there was never a difference of opinion in their estimate of the Greek character, though on all other tepics they disputed with great acrimony.
Mr. Fauvel, the French consul, who has passed thirty years principally at Athens, and to whose talents as an artist and manners as a gentleman none who have known him can refuse their testimony, has frequently declared in my hearing, that the Greeks do not deserve to be emancipated; rea soning on the grounds of their « national and individual depravity;» while he forgot that such depravity is to be attributed to causes which can only be removed by the measure he reprobates.
Mr. Roque, a French merchant of respectability long settled in Athens, asserted with the most amusing gravity, “Sir, they are the same canaille that existed in the days of Themistocles !, an alarming remark to the «Laudator temporis acti. »
The ancients banished Themistocles: the moderns cheat Monsieur Roque : thus great men have ever been treated!
In short, all the Franks who are fixtures, and most of the Englishmen, Germans, Danes, etc. of passage, came over by degrees to their opinion, on much the same grounds that a Turk in England would condemn the nation by wholesale, because he was wronged by his lacquey, and overcharged by his washerwoman.
Certainly it was not a little staggering when the Sieurs Fauvel and Lusieri, the two greatest demagogues of the day, who' divide between them the power of Pericles and the popularity of Cleon, and puzzle the poor Waywode with perpetual dif. ferences, agreed in the utter condemnation, «nulla virtute redemptum,» of the Greeks in general, and of the Athenians in particular.
For my own humble opinion. I am loth to hazard it, knowing, as I do, that there be now in MS. no less than five tours of the first magnitude and of the most threatening aspect, all in typographical array, by persons of wit, and honour, and regular common-place books: but, if I may say this without offence, it seems to me rather hard to declare so positively and pertinaciously, as almost every body has declared, that the Greeks, because they are very bad, will never be better.
Eton and Sonnini have led us astray by their panegyrics and projects; but, on the other hand, De Pauw and Thornton have debased the Greeks beyond their demerits.
The Greeks will never be independent; they will never be sovereigns as heretofore, and God forbid they ever should ! but they may be subjects without being slaves. Our colonies are not inde. pendent, but they are free and industrious, and such may Greece be hereafter.
At present, like the Catholics of Ireland and the Jews throughout the world, and snch other cudgelled and heterodox people, they suffer all the moral and physical ills that can afflict humanity. Their life is a struggle against truth; they are vicious in their own defence. They are so unused
to kindness, that when they occasionally meet with it they look upon it with suspicion, as a dog often beaten snaps at your fingers if yon attempt to caress him. They are ungrateful, notoriously, abominably ungrateful!» — this is the general cry. Now, in the name of Nemesis ! for what are they to be grateful? Where is the human being that ever conferred a benefit on Greek or Greeks? They are to be grateful to the Turks for their fetters, and to the Franks for their broken promises and lying counsels. They are to be grateful to the artist who engraves their ruins, and to the antiquary who carries them away: to the traveller whose janissary flogs them, and to the scribbler whose journal abuses them! This is the amount of their obligations to foreigners.
Franciscan Convent, Athens, January 23, 1811. Amongst the remnants of the barbarous policy of the earlier ages, are the traces of bondage which yet exist in different countries; whose inhabitants, however divided in religion and manners, almost all agree in oppression.
The English have at last compassionated their Negroes, and under a less bigoted government, may probably one day release their Catholic bre. thren: but the interposition of foreigners alone can emancipate the Greeks, who, otherwise, appear to have as small a chance of redemption from the Turks, as the Jews have from mankind in general.
Of the ancient Greeks we know more than enough; at least the younger men of Europe devote much of their time to the study of the Greek writers and history, which would be more usefully spent in mastering their own. Of the moderns, we are perhaps more neglectful than they deserve; and while every man of any pretensions to learning is tiring out his youth, and often his age, in the
study of the language and of the harangues of the Athenian demagogues in favour of freedom, the real or supposed descendants of these sturdy republicans are left to the actual tyranny of their masters, although a very slight effort is required to strike off their chains.
To talk, as the Greeks themselves do, of their rising again to their pristine superiority, would be ridiculous; as the rest of the world must re. sume its barbarism, after reassorting the sovereignty of Greece: but there seems to be no very great obstacle, except in the apathy of the Franks, to their becoming an useful dependency, or even a free state with a proper guarantee; - under correction, however, be it spoken, for many and well - informed men doubt the practicability even of this.
The Greeks have never lost their hope, though they are now more divided in opinion on the subject of their probable deliverers. Religion recommends the Russians; but they have twice been deceived and abandoned by that power, and the dreadful lesson they received after the Muscovite desertion in the Morea has never been forgotten. The French they dislike; although the subjugation of the rest of Europe will, probably, be attended by the deliverance of continentar Greece. The islanders look to the English for succour, as they have very lately possessed themselves of the lonian republic, Corfu excepted. But whoever appear with arms in their hands will be welcome ; and when that day arrives, Heaven have mercy on the Ottomans, they cannot expect it from the Giaours.
But instead of considering what they have been, and speculating on what they may be, let us look at them as they are.
And here it is impossible to reconcile the contrariety of opinions : some, particularly the mer. chants, decrying the Greeks in the strongest language; others, generally travellers, turning pe. riods in their eulogy, and publishing very curious speculations grafted on their former state, which can have no more effect on their present lot, than
the existence of the Incas on the future fortunes of Peru.
One very ingenious person terms them the "natural allies of Englishmen;, another, no less in. genions, will not allow them to be the allies of any body, and denies their very descent from the ancients; a third, more ingenious than either, builds a Greek empire on a Russian foundation, and realizes (on paper all the chimeras of Cathe. rine II. As to the question of their descent, what can it import whether the Mainotes are the lineal Laconians or not? or the present Athenians as indigenons as the bees of Hymettus, or as the grasshoppers, to which they once likened themselves? What Englishman cares if he be of a Danish, Sa. ron, Norman, or Trojan blood? or who, except a Welshman, is afflicted with a desire of being descended from Caractacus ?
The poor Greeks do not so much abound in the good things of this world, as to render even their claims to antiquity an object of envy; it is very cruel, then, in Mr. Thornton to disturb then in the possession of all that time has left them: viz. their pedigree, of which they are the more tenacious, as it is all they can call their own. It would be worth while to publish together, and compare, the works of Messrs. Thornton and De Pauw, Eton and Sonnini; paradox on one side, and prejudice on the other. Mr. Thornton conceives himself to have claims to public confidence from a fourteen years residence at Pera; perhaps he may on the subject of the Turks, but this can give him no more insight into the real state of Greece and her inhabitants, than as many years spent in Wapping into that of the Western Highlands.
The Greeks of Constantinople live in Fanal: and if Mr. Thornton did not oftener cross the Golden Horn than his brother merchants are accustomed to do, I should place no great reliance on his information. I actually heard one of these gentlemen boast of their little general intercourse with the city, and assert of himself, with an air of triumph, that he had been but four times at Constantinople in as many years. ,