« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
their Catholic brethren: 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 resume its barbarism, after reasserting 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 subjuga. tion of the rest of Europe will, probably, be attended by the de. liverance of continental Greece. The islanders look to the English for succour, as they have very lately possessed themselves of the Ionian 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 merchants, decrying the Greeks in the strongest language; others, generally travellers, turning periods 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 ingenious, will not allow them to be the allies of anybody, and denies their very descent from the ancients; a third, more ingenious than either, builds a Greek empire on a Russian foundation, and realises (on paper) all the chimeras of Catharine 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 indigenous as the bees of Hymettus, or as the grasshoppers, to which they once likened themselves ? What Englishman cares if he be of a Danish, Saxon, 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 them 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 mer. chants 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.
As to Mr. Thornton's voyages in the Black Sea with Greek vessels, they gave him the same idea of Greece as a cruise to Berwick in a Scotch smack would of Johnny Grot's house. Upon what grounds then does he arrogate the right of condemning by wholesale a body of men, of whom he can know little? It is rather a curious circumstance that Mr. Thornton, who so lavishly dispraises Pouqueville on every occasion of mentioning the Turks, has yet recourse to him as authority on the Greeks, and terms him an impartial observer. Now, Dr. Pouqueville is as little entitled to that appellation, as Mr. Thornton to confer it on him.
The fact is, we are deplorably in want of information on the subject of the Greeks, and in particular their literature ; nor is there any probability of our being better acquainted, till our intercourse becomes more intimate, or their independence confirmed : the relations of passing travellers are as little to be depended on as the invectives of angry factors ; but till something more can be attained, we must be content with the little to be acquired from similar sources. *
* A word, en passant, with Mr. Thornton and Dr. Pouqueville, who have been guilty between them of sadly
clipping the Sultan's Turkish. Dr. Pouqueville tells a long story of a Moslem who swallowed corrosive subHowever defective these may be, they are preferable to the paradoxes of men who have read superficially of the ancients, and been nothing of the moderns, such as De Pauw ; who, when he asserts that the British breed of horses is ruined by Newmarket, and that the Spartans were cowards in the field, betrays an equal knowledge of English horses and Spartan men. His “philo. sophical observations " have a much better claim to the title of “ poetical.” It could not be expected that he who so liberally condemns some of the most celebrated institutions of the ancient, should have mercy on the modern Greeks ; and it fortunately happens, that the absurdity of his hypothesis on their forefathers refutes his sentence on themselves.
Let us trust, then, that, in spite of the prophecies of De Pauw, and the doubts of Mr. Thornton, there is a reasonable hope of the redemption of a race of men, who, whatever may be the errors of their religion and policy, have been amply punished by three centuries and a half of captivity.
Athens, Franciscan Convent, March 17. 1811. " I must have some talk with this learned Theban." Some time after my return from Constantinople to this city I received the thirty-first number of the Edinburgh Review as a great favour, and certainly at this distance an acceptable one, from the captain of an English frigate off Salamis. In that number, Art. 3., containing the review of a French translation of Strabo, there are introduced some remarks on the modern Greeks and their literature, with a short account of Coray, a co-translator in the French version. On those remarks I mean to ground a few
limate in such quantities that he acquired the name of." Suleyman Yeyen;" 1. e. quoth the Doctor, “Suleyman, the eater of corrosive sublimate. "Aha," thinks Mr. Thornton, (angry with the Doctor for the fiftieth time,) "have I caught you?" --Then, in a note twice the thickness of the Doctor's anecdote, he questions the Doctor's proficiency in the Turkish tongue, and his veracity in his own. -“ For," observes Mr. Thornton (after inflicting on us the tough parti. ciple of a Turkish verb)," it means nothing more than Suleyman the cater," and quite cashiers the supplementary." sublimate." Now both are right, and both are wrong. If Mr. Thornton, when he next resides “fourteen years in the factory," will consult his Turkish dictionary, or ask any of his Stamboline acquaintance, he will discover that “Suleyma'n yeyen," put together discreetly, mean the “ Swallower of sublimate," without any “ Suleyman" in the case : “Suleyma" signifying "corrosive sublimate," and not being a proper name on this occasion, although it be an orthodox name enough with the addition of n. After Mr. Thornton's frequent hints of profound Orientalism, he might have found this out before he sang such pæans over Dr. Pouqueville.
After this, I think “ Travellers versus Factors" shall be our motto, though the above Mr. Thornton has condemned “hoc genus omne," for mistake and misrepresentation, “ Ne Sutor ultra crepidam," “No merchant beyond his bales." N.B. For the benefit of Mr. Thornton,“ Sutor” is not a proper name.
observations; and the spot where I now write will, I hope, be sufficient excuse for introducing them in a work in some degree connected with the subject. Coray, the most celebrated of living Greeks, at least among the Franks, was born at Scio (in the Review, Smyrna is stated, I have reason to think, incorrectly), and besides the translation of Beccaria and other works mentioned by the Reviewer, has published a lexicon in Romaic and French, if I may trust the assurance of some Danish travellers lately arrived from Paris ; but the latest we have seen here in French and Greek is that of Gregory Zolikogloou.* Coray has recently been involved in an unpleasant controversy with M. Gail +, a Parisian commentator and editor of some translations from the Greek poets, in consequence of the Institute having awarded him the prize for his version of Hippocrates “ Tlegi údá Toy,” &c. to the disparagement, and consequently displeasure, of the said Gail.
To his exertions, literary and patriotic, great praise is undoubtedly due ; but a part of that praise ought not to be withheld from the two brothers Zosimado (merchants settled in Leghorn), who sent him to Paris, and maintained him, for the express purpose of elucidating the ancient, and adding to the modern, researches of his countrymen. Coray, however, is not considered by his countrymen equal to some who lived in the two last centuries; more particularly Dorotheus of Mitylene, whose Hellenic writings are so much esteemed by the Greeks, that Meletius terms him "Meta τον Θουκυδίδης και Ξενοφώντα άριστος “Ελλήνων.” (P. 224. Ecclesiastical History, vol. iv.)
Panagiotes Kodrikas, the translator of Fontenelle, and Kamarases, who translated Ocellus Lucanus on the Universe into French, Christodoulus, and more particularly Psalida, whom I have con. versed with in Joannina, are also in high repute among their literati. The
last-mentioned has published in Romaic and Latin a work on “ True Happiness," dedicated to Catherine II. But Polyzois, who is stated by the Reviewer to be the only modern except Coray who has distinguished himself by a knowledge of Hellenic, if he be the Polyzois Lampanitziotes of Yanina, who has published a number of editions in Romaic, was neither more nor less than an itinerant vender of books; with the contents of which he had no concern beyond his name on the title page, placed there to secure his property in the publication; and he was, moreover, a man utterly destitute of scholastic acquirements. As the name,
* I have in my possession an excellent lexicon "puydwogov," which I received in exchange from S. G-, Esq. for a small gem: my antiquarian friends have never forgotten it, or forgiven me.
t In Gail's pamphlet against Coray, he talks of “throwing the insolent Hellenist out of the windows." On this a French critic exclaims, " Ah, my God! throw an Hellenist out of the window ! what sacrilege !” It certainly would be a serious business for those authors who dwell in the attics : but I have quoted the passage merely to prove the similarity of style among the controversialists of all polished countries; London or Edinburgh could hardly parallel this Parisian ebullition.
however, is not uncommon, some other Polyzois may have edited the Epistles of Aristænetus.
It is to be regretted that the system of continental blockade has closed the few channels through which the Greeks received their publications, particularly Venice and Trieste. Even the common grammars for children are become too dear for the lower orders. Amongst their original works the Geography of Meletius, Archbishop of Athens, and a multitude of theological quartos and poetical pamphlets, are to be met with ; their grammars and lexicons of two, three, and four languages are numerous and ex. cellent. Their poetry is in rhyme. The most singular piece I have lately seen is a satire in dialogue between a Russian, English, and French traveller, and the Waywode of Wallachia (or Black bey, as they term him), an archbishop, a merchant, and Cogia Bachi (or primate), in succession ; to all of whom under the Turks the writer attributes their present degeneracy. Their songs are sometimes pretty and pathetic, but their tunes generally unpleasing to the ear of a Frank ; the best is the famous “ Acute acides Tây 'Eanhvw," by the unfortunate Riga. But from a catalogue of more than sixty authors, now before me, only fifteen can be found who have touched on any theme except theology.
I am intrusted with a commission by a Greek of Athens named Marmarotouri to make arrangements, if possible, for printing in London a translation of Barthelemi's Anacharsis in Romaic, as he has no other opportunity, unless he despatches the MSi to Vienna by the Black Sea and Danube.
The Reviewer mentions a school established at Hecatonesi, and suppressed at the instigation of Sebastiani : he means Cidonies, or, in Turkish, Haivali; a town on the continent, where that in stitution for a hundred students and three professors still exists. It is true that this establishment was disturbed by the Porte, under the ridiculous pretext that the Greeks were constructing a fortress instead of a college : but on investigation, and the payment of some purses to the Divan, it has been permitted to continue. The principal professor, named Ueniamin (i.e. Benjamin), is stated to be a man of talent, but a freethinker. He was born in Lesbos, studied in Italy, and is master of Hellenic, Latin, and some Frank languages; besides a smattering of the sciences.
Though it is not my intention to enter farther on this topic than may allude to the article in question, I cannot but observe that the Reviewer's lamentation over the fall of the Greeks appears singular, when he closes it with these words : “ The change is to be attributed to their misfortunes rather than to any physical degradation.' It may be true that the Greeks are not physically degenerated, and that Constantinople contained on the day when it changed masters as many men of six feet and upwards as in the hour of prosperity ; but ancient history and modern politics instruct us that something more than physical perfection is necessary to preserve a state in vigour and independence; and the