13 DECEMBER 1856, Page 13

tztttro fu tO Eititur.


Sra—The document which has been recently issued by the Greek Go- vernment, and which has, I believe, been distributed through its resident Ministers to the various Courts of Europe, appears to me to deserve at once a fuller and a fairer consideration than it is likely to meet with from most parties in this country.

The received doctrine appears to be, that everything emanating from in- dependent Greece is to be at once pooh-poohed. Nothing Russian is to be tolerated. Everything Greek is Russian. Or rather, it is worse than Rus- sian. Russia is a great power" which mast either be treated respect- fully or else be met in open conflict. But Greece is simply a young nation struggling against extraordinary difficulties. That such a nation should dare to think or act, or even to exist, certainly savours of presumption in these days of overbearing despotic Filled. At any rate, it may be insulted by gentlemen of the press, or oppressed by gentlemen of the Foreign Office, without any fear of retaliation. I have several times in your pages endeavoured to answer some of the popular fallacies with regard to the Greek kingdom. I have never set it up as a model kingdom. I have simply challenged for it that fair and candid hearing which we are always ready to give to any perjured and bloodstained usurper, to any intruding horde, whose political existence is a standing satire on the " rights and independence of nations." My views have since been briefly summed up by a writer in the Edinburgh 12evtew (April l856, p. 393). " That the Greek kingdom has in many respects failed, we fully admit ; that its failure is partly owing to the Greeks themselves, we also fully admit. But, - - - - taking the present condition of the Greek kingdom on the showing of its bitterest enemies, we still unhesitatingly maintain these two propositions-

" First, that, after all deductions, liberated Greece has greatly benefited by her liberation: Secondly, that those points in which the Greek kingdom has confessed- ly failed are not altogether to be imputed to the Greek people."

Since the appearance of that article, the case of the Greek kingdom has decidedly changed for the better. We have first the palpable fact, which the enemies of Greece may explain as they can, that the brigandage, which has so long been the curse of the country, has been put down solely by the efforts of the Greek army, without any aid from the French and English in- vaders, though one excuse for the invasion—or at least for its continuance after the peace—was the suppression of brigandage. One is half-inclined to ask whether a detachment of Greek troops might not be useful to suppress our own native murderers and garotters, or at any rate to serve against the klephtic class of our valuable mercenary allies. There are also now before the world, official or quasi-official documents giving an authoritative statement of matters from the Greek point of view, and explaining the causes of many phenomena which were before sufficiently puzzling. I allude to the state paper signed by Mr. Rangabe, the present Minister of France, which has been the subject of comment both in your own and in other papers, and to a pamphlet headed "Deux Mots sur lea Finances de la Grece," lately published at Athens, and attributed to Mr. Pericles Argyropoulos, the Minister of Finance under the Mavrokordatos Ministry. As might be expected, the outgoing and the incoming Chancellor of the Exchequer do not agree in every point ; but both give the same gene- ral picture, and both write in a spirit which, with every candid person, must raise a great presumption in their favour. In neither of them is there a trace of that spirit of empty vaunting which has been, too often I fear with justice, attributed to the Greek people. The modern Greeks are not de- scribed as the first nation in the world ; nor are the ancient Greeks lugged in to supply any deficiencies which may be found in their descendants. There is not a single retrospective flourish about Marathom and Thermo- pylae, not a single prospective one about the deliverance of Constantinople, or even the recovery of Thessaly and Epirus. More moderate, straight- forward, business-like papers, cannot be conceived. Their general purport is this—" We are conscious of many defects, the unavoidable results of ex- traordinary.difficulties ; those defects we are doing our best to overcome; in many points we have a good hope of victory, in others possibly the evil is too strong for an immediate cure. We ask for the sympathy and assist- ance of Europe in our struggle after reform, as we once asked for them in


our struggle after independence." To me it is utterly inconceivable how such an appeal can be listened to with any feelings but those of the most generous sympathy. That in some English quarters it should have been re- ceived only with coarse and brutal scoffs, shows to what lengths men may be hurried by the odious spirit of party malignity. Even in your own remarks, though conceived in a widely different spirit from those to which I allude, I think I discern a disposition to condemn Greece somewhat too hastily. " Greece, the Chancellor says, has made won- derful progress—though the bench is not yet independent, education is not yet completed, debates in Parliament are not yet free, and the Exchequer cannot get on without begging." Is it not possible that a state rather more than twenty years old may have made wonderful progress and yet have left some of these things undone ? Is it not a little unreasonable to expect Greece to do in a single generation as much or more than England has done in many centuries ? The bench in England was not independent till Wil- liam the Third at the earliest ; yet I am inclined to believe that England had made wonderful progress between the fifth and the seventeenth. cen- turies. I suppose that Lord John Russell, Sir John Pakington, and Arch- deacon Denison, would agree in telling you that in England " education is not yet completed" ; yet we hold ourselves to be a progressive people even now. The other fault is, I suppose, that Government candidates are openly

nominated at the elections. Did not Treasury boroughs flourish up to the Reform Bill ? are they utterly extinct even now? If the Greek Minister

had described Greece as ideally perfect, I should not believe him ; if he even ,proved that it had the outward appearance of being so, I should think it a bad rather than a good sign. It is the honest confession of imperfection, of struggle, of diligent labour in the cause of reform, which to me appears so honourable and hopeful a feature in the documents before me. Greece at the commencement of her war of independence had no politi- cal existence. She had nothing to fall upon like the provincial liberties of Hungary, Holland, or America. The Greek race had lost its. political liberty for two thousand years ; it had lost its political unity for six centu- ries; for four centuries it had been subjected to a grinding, corrupting, and isolating tyranny. A common faith, a common language, a few rude munici- pal institutions, were all that had lingered on from the days either of Re- publican Athens or of Imperial Byzantium. Everything had to be con- structed from the ground ; the work required the cooperation of the most opposite classes,—savage Klephts, wily Phanariots, local oligarchs, ignorant peasants, Europeanized civil and military officers, could none of them be dispensed with. They were exposed to temptations alike from irrelevant memories and from irrelevant models for imitation. They had to fight and legislate at the same moment, with little experience in either work. Under such circumstances, it is surely not wonderful that the war of independ- ence, righteous and glorious as it was, was stained with much disunion and many individual crimes. It is surely not wonderful if a state born under such adverse circumstances should retain many marks of imperfection. The real wonder is that the Greeks contrived to wage the war of independ- ence at all and that they have contrived to maintain any state whatsoever. It speaks much for the national vigour and virtue that they have succeeded in either attempt. No one denies that in two points Greece has made wonderful advances— literature and commerce. And both literature and commerce had to be created wholly anew. Before the Revolution, Greece had a mercantile ma- rine; the needs of the war converted that mercantile marine into a warlike one. On the establishment of the kingdom Greek commerce had to begin again. Its extensive and flourishing state is a palpable fact ; but it is usual to assume that every Greek merchant is a rogue and a swindler. Possibly the Greeks might retort with equally good reason on the country- men of Paul, Sadleir, and Redpath. The Gazette is not my favourite reading, but I believe it is an acknowledged fact that Greek merchants seldom find their way thither.

Agriculture has confessedly lagged behind commerce; but, according to Mr. Rangabe, improvements have taken place in many districts, and the present Government have several ameliorating measures in contemplation. Let it not be forgotten that Ibrahim Pasha left Peloponnesus a desert. Roads are still a desideratum in most parts of the kingdom. On this point again reform is active ; though, as Mr. Rangabe says, internal roads are less essential in Greece than in most countries. The sea is the true highway of Hellas.

Education may not be "completed" in Greece, any more than in Eng- land; but the advance has been immense. I believe no one denies this.

The King has the power to dismiss a judge on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. One hundred and seventy years ago, four centuries and a half after Magna Chaste, a King of England could dismiss a judge without the recommendation of anybody. The reason alleged for this defect in the constitution of 1843 is that the new University had not yet produced a sufficient "bar " to be always sure of competent persons. Yet writers not over-favourable to Greece willingly allow that her judicial system is prac- tically excellent. Public opinion controls the exercise of a power theo- retically indefensible. The only writer I know who hints anything against Greek jurisprudence is a flippant and ignorant Frenchman named About. Brigandage, the crying evil of Greece, arose from many causes. Up to 1821, the callings of brigand and patriot were identical—so they have often been both in North and South Britain, and in other parts of the world. If Scotland canonizes William Wallace; Greece may do the same by Theodore Kolokotrones. Possibly, on the establishment of order in both eases, some minds may not have been able to realize the division of labour, or to restrain themselves from practices unsuited to the new state of things. Even without this cause, brigandage is always sure to arise in any un- settled or ill-governed country. Spain, Sicily, Italy, Turkey, have their Klephts as well as Greece—we have kindred spirits among ourselves, only the evil does not take quite the same form. But the special cause is well- explained by Mr. Rangabe. The ridiculous frontier-line which Western wisdom laid down between enslaved and liberated Greece is one specially favourable to the ruffians of both countries. Along that line the scoundrels of Greece, Turkey, and Albania rejoice to congregate and to rob and murder, some for the honour of the Prophet, some for that of the Panagia. The evil is beyond the power of the parish constable or even of the county policeman. It is one of the few legitimate occupations for a standing army. Only Greek and Turkish regular troops, acting in concert on each side the frontier, can secure order. A recent treaty provides for their harmonious working. Greece has fulfilled its stipulations ; Turkey has not. The Greek army has extirpated all brigandage on the Greek side. The Sublime Porte still leaves the business to blundering or corrupt local authorities who will not—who at any rate do not, follow the good example of their neighbour. If then a few brigands should contrive a month or two hence to appear South of Othrys, let the fault be laid in the right place. It unluckily happens that the department in which reform appears to be nt once most needed and most active, is that where I am least able to ex- pound either the depth of the evil or the merits of the remedy. I do not pretend to understand the financial details of any country. I am obliged to take the merits and defects even of English budgets pretty much upon faith ; what then can I do with Greek ones ? As far as I can make out, Greece has been labouring under a bad system of taxation, which has lingered on from the old Turkish times. The evil has been always felt, but it has been found to be very difficult to remove. Both the Mavrokordatos and the Bulgares Ministries have apparently been working hard at a reform, though, as is not very wonderful, they are not perfectly agreed as to its details. Here in England too, do we not often complain of a window-tax, an income- tax, or whatever grievance may be uppermost ? Do we always make a clean sweep at once ? Does not a Chancellor of the Exchequer sometimes confess that a tax is bad, but that he cannot do without the money ? Both in financial and in other matters, it sometimes strikes me that a Greek or other foreigner who should estimate England as described by Englishmen—who should accept in its fulness every complaint of every party, from the Press to the Morning Star—might very pardonably assume England to be in as bad a way as we assume that Greece is. One thing is plain, Greece is burdened with a debt which she cannot pay. By Mr. Rangabe's statement, out of 67,000,000 dr. of loan, (between two and three millions sterling,) only about 3,000,000 were really applicable to Greek purposes. The Grand Turk got four times as much out of itfor the liberation of Plathiotis. Greece does not repudiate. She states her difficulty-, and asks for sympathy. If the King of Sardinia or the Sultan asked for it, we should in a moment have our hands in our pockets and our handkerchiefs up to our eyes. But poor Greece is only to be snubbed and called names, if not sent to prison at once. To my mind, the statement of the Greek Go-

vernment on this head is simply straightforward and honourable. To Greece the burden is simply overwhelming; but surely England, France, and Russia, between them, can act the merciful creditor in the parable with very little inconvenience.

I had intended to make some remarks upon the odious manner in which the Greek circular has been dealt with in a contemporary paper ; but I have only room to ask a question as to a single remark of your own. You say there is in Greece a "French and English army in occupation, to support its Government and keep down its King." I do not fully understand the words I have put in Italics. The only meaning it conveys to me is, that the " Government " of Greece—that is, I suppose, the Ministry, the Chambers, in a word Greece itself--both needs and deserves Western support, and that the only real evil is the foreign King, whom Greece did not choose, but ac- cepted as the choice of Europe. I very much doubt whether many Greeks would accept this statement of the evil ; I am sure that none would agree with you as to the remedy required. But surely, if such be the case, nothing can be conceived more honourable to Greece, more dishonourable to English, French, and Russian intermeddling.

One word more. Why does the occupation continue ? There was some time ago, a very sensible letter in the Times on the subject from a Greek gentle- man of Manchester. The enemies of Greece reviled the Thunderer itself for inserting "calumnious rubbish," and they had no words strong enough for the author of the letter. Yet the letter was moderate enough. It al- lowed that the occupation was a legitimate military operation during the war; it only claimed its cessation on the conclusion of peace. To me this seems reasonable enough, even from a war point of view. The troops do not remain to suppress brigandage, because brigandage has been suppressed without them. Do they remain simply because Lord Palmerston wants thoroughly to work out the " odisse quem lieseris " principle, or because the oppression of an independent state is abstractedly agreeable to the master of Rome and proprietor of the Isle du Diable ?

I am, Sir, your obedient servant. E. A. F.