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Among the various foreigners resident in Athens, French, Italians, Germans, Ragusans, &c. there was never a differenee of opinion in their estimate of the Greek character, though on all other topics they disputed with great acrimony.
Mr Fauvel, the Freneh 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 de. serve to be emancipated; reasoning on the grounds of their "national and individual depravity," while he forgot that such depra. vity 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 Eng. lishmen, Germans, Danes, &c. 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 lacqney, 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 differences, 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 de. based 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 independent, but they are free and industrious, and such may Greece be hereafter.
At present, like the Catholics of Ireland and the Jews through out the world, and such 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 unnsed 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 you attempt to caress him. “They are ungrateful, notoriously, abominably ungrateful!"- this is the general cry. Now in th 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 rains, and to the antiquary who carries them away: to the traveller whose janissary flogs them, and to the serib.
- bler whose journal abuses them! This is the amount of their obli
gations 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 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 man. kind 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 dema. gogues in favour of freedom, the real or supposed descendants of ihese sturdy republicans, are left to the actual tyranny of their masters, although a very slight effort is required to strike off their ebains.
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 re-asserting 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 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
practicaGreeks have nieve on the subject but they have adful lesson
Englishmen: another, no less ingenious, will not allow them to be the allies of any body, and denies their very descent from the ancien's: a third, more ingenious than either, builds a Greek em. pire on a Russian foundation, and realizes (on paper) all the chimeras of Catharine II. As to the question of their descent, what can it inaport whether the Mainnotes are the lineal Laconians or not? or the present Athenians as indigenous as the bt es of Hymet. tus, or as the grasshoppers, to which they once likened themselves? What Englisbman cares if he be of a Danish, Saxon, Norman, or Trojan blood ? or who,' except a Welchman, is afflicted with a de sire of being descended from Caraetacus?
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 cencves himself to have claims to public confidence from a four. teen years resident 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 bro her mer. chants are accustomed to do, I should place no great reliance on his information. I actually beard one of these gentlemen boast of their little general intercourse with he city, and assert of himselt with au air of triumph, that he had been but four times at Con. stantinople 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 Ber. wick in a Scorch smack would of Johnny Grot's house. Upon what grounds then does he arrogate the right of condemning by whole. sale 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 conter it on him.
The fact is, we are deplorably in want of information on the sub. ject 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 tonfirmed; the relations of passing travellers are as little to be depended on as the invectives of angry factors; but tiil someihing moore 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 sublimate in such quantities that he acquired the name of · Suleyman Yeyen," i, e. quoth the doctor, “Suleyman, the eater of corrosive sublimate." " Aba," thinks Mr. Thornton (angry with the
Athens, Franciscan Convent, March 17, 1811. “ I must have some calk 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 observations, and the spot where I now write will I hope be suf ficient excuse for introducing them in a work in some degree con.
e introe, with on
participlebserves the Turkishtor's anechat you pa
nd quite and both are in the factorine
Doctor for the fiftieth time) “have I caught you ?"- Then, in a note twice the thickness of the Doctor's anecdote, he qnestions the Doctor's proficiency in the Turkish congue, and his veracity in his own.- For," observes Mr. Thornton (after inflicting on us the tough participle of a Turkish verb) “it means nothing more than “ Suleymun ihe cater," and quite cashiers the supplementary - sublimate." Now both are right, and both are wrong. If Mr. Thornton when he next resides" fouricen years in the factory," will consult his Turkish dictionary, or ask any of his Stamboline acquaintance, he will discover that "Sulcyma'n yeyen," put together discreetly, mean the “ Swallower of sublimaie,' 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. Thorn. ton's frequent hints of profound Orientalism, he might have found this out before he sang such pæans over Dr. Pouqueville.
Afrer this, I think “ Travellers versus factors shall be our motto, though the above Mr. Thorton has condemned hoc genus omne," for mistake and misrepresentation. "Ne Sutor ultra crepidam," "No merchant beyond his bales." N. B. For the benefit of Thornton,“ Sutor," is not a proper name.
stations from the carsian commen
of the Institute
nected with the snbject. Coray, the most celebrated of living Greeks, at least among the Franks, was born at Scio in the Re. view 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.t 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 “Ileps'ud etwv," &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 Miletius terms him “ Meta Tov Orxudadov x26 EEVOParts aplolos 'Earnivwv." (P. 224. Ecclesiastical History, vol. siv.)
Panagiotes Kodrikas, the translator of Fontenelle, and Kamarases, who translated Ocellos 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 lite rati. The last-mentioned has published in Romaic and Latin a work on - True happiness,” dedicated to Catharine II. Bot Polyzois, who is stated by the reviewer to be the only modern ex cept Coray who has distinguished himself by a knowledge of Hellenie, 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 utierly destitute of scholastic acquirements. As the name, however, is not uncommon, some other Polyzois may have edited the Episties 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.
ledicated in Romamong the con
* have in my possession an excellent Lexicon " tpozartov,"? which I received in exchange from S. G-, Esq. for a small gen: my antiquarian friends have never forgotten it, or forgiven me.
+ In Gail's pamphlet against Coray he talks of " throwing the insolent Helleniste out of the windows." On this a Frencb critic exclaims. " Ah, my God! throw an Helleniste out of the window ! What sacrilege!" It certainly would be a serious business for those authors who dwell in the atties: but I have quoted the pas. sage merely to prove the similarity of style among the controver sialists of all polished countries; London or Edinburgh could hardly parallel this Parisian ebullition.