Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Until this be propitiated or satisfied, it is vain for power to talk either of triumphs or of repose. No matter what fields are desolated, what fortresses surrendered, what armies sub dued, or what provinces overrun. In the history of the year that has passed by us, and in the instance of unhappy Spain, we have seen the vanity of all triumphs in a cause which violates the general sense of justice of the civilized world. It is nothing, that the troops of France have passed from the Pyrenees to Cadiz; it is nothing that an unhappy and prostrate nation has fallen before them; it is nothing that arrests and con

; fiscation, and execution, sweep away the little remnant of national resistance. There is an enemy that still exists to check the glory of these triumphs. It follows the conqueror back to the very scene of his ovations; it calls upon him to take notice that Europe, though silent, is yet indignant; it shows him that the scepter of his victory is a barren scepter; that it shall confer neither joy nor honor, but shall moulder to dry ashes in his grasp. In the midst of his exultation, it pierces his ear with the cry of injured justice; it denounces against him the indignation of an enlightened and civilized age; it turns to bitterness the cup of his rejoicing, and wounds him with the sting which belongs to the consciousness of having outraged the opinion of mankind. In my opinion, sir, the Spanish nation is now nearer, not only in point of time, but in point of circumstance, to the acquisition of a regulated government, than at the moment of the French invasion. Nations must, no doubt, un dergo these trials in their progress to the establishment of free institutions. The very trials benefit them, and render them more capable both of obtaining and of enjoying the object which they seek.

I shall not detain the committee, sir, by laying before it any statistical, geographical, or commercial account of Greece. I have no knowledge on these subjects which is not common tu all. It is universally admitted, that, within the last thirty or forty years, the condition of Greece has been greatly improved. He: marine is at present respectable, containing the best sailors in the Mediterranean, better even, in that sea, than our own, as more accustomed to the long quarantines and other regulations which prevail in its ports. The number of her seamen has been estimated as high as 50,000, but I suppose that estimate must be much too large. She has, probably, 150,000 tons of shipping. It is not easy to state an accurate account of Grecian population. The Turkish government does not trouble itself with any of the calculations of political economy, and there has never been such a thing as an accurate census, probably, in any part of the Turkish empire. In the absence of all official information, private opinions widely differ. By the tables which have been communicated, it would seem that there are 2,400,000 Greeks in Greece proper and the islands; an amount, as I am inclined to think, somewhat overrated. There are, probably, in the whole of European Turkey, 5,000,000 Greeks, and 2,000,000 more in the Asiatic dominions of that power. The moral and intellectual progress of this numerous population, under the horrible oppression which crushes it, has been such as may well excite regard. Slaves, under barbarous masters, the Greeks have still aspired after the blessings of knowledge and civilization. Before the breaking out of the present revolution, they had established schools, and colleges, and libraries, and the press. Wherever, as in Scio, owing to particular circumstances, the weight of oppression was mitigated, the natural vivacity of the Greeks, and their aptitude for the arts, were discovered. Though certainly not on an equality with the civilized and christian states of Europe, and how is it possible, under such oppression as they endured, that they should be? they yet furnished a striking contrast with their Tartar masters. It has been well said, that it is not easy to form a just conception of the nature of the despotism exercised over them. Conquest and subjugation, as used among European states, are inadequate modes of expression by which to denote the dominion of the Turks. A conquest in the civilized world is generally no more than an acquisition of a new part to the conquering country. It does not imply a never-ending'bondage imposed upon the conquered, a perpetual mark, an opprobrious distinction between them and their masters ; a bitter and unending persecution of their religion; an habitual violation of their rights of person and property, and time unrestrained indulgence toward them of every passion which belongs to the character of a barbarous soldiery. Yet such is the state of Greece. The Ottoman power over them, obtained originally by the sword, is constantly preserved by the same means. Wherever it exists, it is a mere military power. The religious and civil code of the state being both fixed in the Alkoran, and equally the object of an ignorant and furious faith, have been found equally incapable of change. “The Turk,” it has been said,

” , " has been encamped in Europe for four centuries.” He has hardly any more participation in the European manners, knowledge, and arts, than when he crossed the Bosphorus. But this is not the worst of it. The power of the empire is fallen into anarchy, and as the principle which belongs to the head belongs also to the parts, there are as many despots as there are pachas, beys, and viziers. Wars are almost perpetual between the sultan and some rebellious governor of a province; and in the conflict of these despotisms, the people are necessarily ground between the upper and the nether millstone. In short, the christian subjects of the Sublime Porte feel daily all the miseries which flow from depotism, from anarchy, from slavery, and from religious persecution. If anything yet remains to heighten such a picture, let it be added, that every office in the government is not only actually, but professedly, venal; the pachalics, the vizierates, the cadiships, and whatsoever other denomination may denote the depositary of power. In the whole world, sir, there is no such oppression felt as by the christian Greeks. In various parts of India, to be sure, the government is bad enough ; but then it is the government of barbarians over barbarians, and the feeling of oppression is, of course, not so keen. There the oppressed are perhaps not better than their oppressors; but in the case of Greece, there are millions of christian men, not without knowledge, not without refinement, not without a strong thirst for all the pleasures of civilized life, tramped into the very earth, century after century, by a pillaging, savage, relentless soldiery. Sir, the case is unique. There exists, and has existed, nothing like it. The world has no such misery to show; there is no case in which christian communities can be called upon with such emphasis of appeal.

But I have said enough, Mr. Chairman, indeed I need have said nothing, to satisfy the house, that it must be some new combination of circumstances, or new views of policy in the cabinets of Europe, which have caused this interesting struggle not merely to be regarded with indifference, but to be marked with opprobrium. The very statement of the case, as a contest between the Turks and Greeks, sufficiently indicates what must be the feeling of every individual, and every government, that is not biased by a particular interest, or a particular feeling, to disregard the dictates of justice and humanity.

And now, sir, what has been the conduct pursued by the Allied Powers in regard to this contest? When the revolution broke out, the sovereigns were in congress at Laybach ; and the papers of that assembly sufficiently manifest their sentiments. They proclaimed their abhorrence of those " criminal combinations which had been formed in the eastern parts of Europe ;” and, although it is possible that this denunciation was aimed, more particularly, at the disturbances in the prov. inces of Wallachia and Moldavia, yet no exception is made, from its general terms, in favor of those events in Greece which were properly the commencement of her revolution, and which could not but be well known at Laybach, before the date of these declarations. Now it must be remembered, that Russia was a leading party in this denunciation of the efforts of the Greeks to achieve their liberation ; and it cannot but be expected by Russia that the world will also remember what part she herself has heretofore acted in the same concern. It is no torious, that within the last half-century, she has again and again excited the Greeks to rebellion against the Porte, and that she has constantly kept alive in them the hope that she would, one day, by her own great power, break the yoke of their oppressor. Indeed, the earnest attention with which Russia has regarded Greece, goes much farther back than to the time I have mentioned. Ivan the Third, in 1482, having espoused a Grecian princess, heiress of the last Greek emperor, discarded St. George from the Russian arms, and adopted, in its stead, the Greek two-headed black eagle, which has continued in the Russian arms to the present day. In virtue of the same mar riage, the Russian princes claim the Greek throne as their inheritance.

Under Peter the Great, the policy of Russia developed itself more fully. In 1696, he rendered himself master of Azof, and in 1698, obtained the right to pass the Dardanelles, and to maintain, by that route, commercial intercourse with the Mediterranean. He had emmissaries throughout Greece, and particularly applied himself to gain the clergy. He adopted the Labarum of Constantine, “In hoc signo vinces ;” and medals were struck, with the inscription, “ Petrus I. Russo-Græcorum Imperator.” In whatever new direction the principles of the Holy Alliance may now lead the politics of Russia, or whatever course she may suppose christianity now prescribes to her in regard to the Greek cause, the time has been when she professed to be contending for that cause, as identified with christianity. The white banner under which the soldiers of Peter I. usually fought, bore, as its inscription, “ In the name of the Prince, and for

« AnteriorContinuar »