28 DECEMBER 1861, Page 18


ACCURA.TE, laborious, and thoughtful, Mr. Finlay wants only imagi- nation to become the historian of the modern Greeks, of the race that is, which, with all its defects and crimes, is still the hope of the great region which, lying all round the eastern Mediterranean, must one day be reclaimed by civilization. He has devoted years to a language and literature with which Western Europe is still strangely unfamiliar : his mind is essentially fair, and though without any taint of Philhellenism he still does not despair of Greece. He understands, too, the sources of political strength and vigour, and his description of Greek society at the outbreak of the revolution clears up many points hitherto obscured by the determination of most writers to regard all inhabitants of Greece as an united and homogeneous people. His style, though occasionally deformed by such phrases as "Oriental fiscality," is usually clear and simple, and the narrative impresses the reader with a sense of the author's fulness of know- ledge. So valuable are such qualities devoted to such a subject that we can only regret the want of picturesqueness, and of the sense of literary perspective which will always restrict Mr. Finlay's audi- ence to the few who really seek knowledge and are patient of Blue- book literature. The writer who at one time gives details under the im- pression that plenty of colour is equivalent to a picture, and at another describes the uprising of a nation as he would the schedules of a new law, and again devotes one little paragraph to the massacre of the whole Mussulman population of the Mona, cannot hope, whatever his merits, for the popular attention which the efforts of the modern Greeks for independence and empire ought to secure. Style is not essential to a historian any more than eloquence to a speaker, but without it a dry or obscure subject will never secure a wide or enthusiastic audience.

In the beginning and at the end of his work, Mr. Finlay has given a sketch of the distribution and position of the Greek people, though intended to elucidate the revolutionary struggle, which has a curiously important bearing on the present state of our politics in the Levant, and which will he far more interesting to our readers than the carefully drawn but somewhat tedious account of the revo-, lution. Mr. Finlay has been, we think, the first to place in a distinct. light the position and influence of the Albanians. They are habitually reckoned among the Greeks, from whom they differ an race, social habits, language, and courage, and many of the highest achieve- ments claimed for the descendants of the ancient stock were really I performed by this tribe. Byron, for instance, san,a, how

"On Suli's rock's and Parga's shore Exist the remnants ef a line, Such as the Dorian mother bore, And there perhaps, some seed is sown, The Heralleidan blood might own."

But Sidi was occupied by a colony of Albanians, who are an original people in Europe. They call themselves Shkipetar, and their guage is an early offshoot from the Sanscrit. They are divided into t wo great tribes—the Gaeghs, who dwell north of the Via Egnatia, mid the Tosks, who live southward of it, and each of the great tribes, is subdivided into three smaller septs, and these again into many separate clans. Dwelling in isolated villages through the Epirus, and spreading in numerous colonies into Greece proper, the tendency of the Albanians was to a life like that of the Scottish Highlands a century ago. Every proprietor was a chief, and his tenantry stood ready armed to follow him, each man considering that his primary business was war. The chiefs of clans made alliances, and waged private wars, and defied the Sultan with impunity, carrying their 'habits of disorder even into the towns : "Most of the towns were divided into clusters of houses called mak- halcis, generally separated from one another by ravines. Each makhali 'was inhabited by a phara, which was a social division resembling a clan, but usually smaller. The warlike habits of the Albanians were displayed even in their town life. Large houses stood apart, surrounded by walled enclosures flanked by small towers. Within these feeble imitations of feudal castles there was always a well-stocked magazine of provisions. Richly caparisoned steeds occupied the' court during the day ; lean, mus- cular, and greedy-eyed soldiers, covered with embroidered dresses and orna- mented arms, lounged at the gate ; and from an open gallery the proprietor watched the movements of his neighbours, smoking his long tchibouk amidst his select friends. The wealthy chieftain lived hie his warlike fol- lowers. His only luxuries were more splendid arms, finer horses, and a longer pipe. His pride was In a numerous band of well-armed at- tendants."

Such a state of society is usually considered by no means favourable to development, but it suited Turkey. The fierce free race whom no pasha could tame made admirable servants to the Porte, and every pasha began to enlist Albanian guards. So high did their reputation rise that the proudest Osmanlees adopted the Albanian dress, which was also worn by the armatali or old national guards of the Greek districts : "It is in consequence of this admiration of Albanianism that the court of King Otho assumes its melodramatic aspect, and glitters in tawdry tinsel mimicry of the rich and splendid garb which arrested the attention of Childe Harold in the galleries of the palace of Tepelin ; but the calico fustinello hangs round the legs of the Greeks like a paper petticoat, while the white kilt of the Tosk, formed of a strong product of native looms, fell in the graceful folds of antique drapery.

The Ifistory of the Greek Rerolution. By G. Finley. Blackwood and Sons. Most of the Albanians in their own country embraced Islam, the stronger political faith, but they held the bond of nationality to be stronger than that of creed, and Christian and Mussulman dwelt in amity together. Into Greece the Task tribe had from time to time sent off swarms, generally Christians, to assist various pashas, and they occupied, at the time of the revolution, the important positions throughout the kingdom, which they still possess.

" Albanian colonists now occupy all Attica and Megaris, with the excep. tion-of the towns of Athens and Megara, where they form only a portion of the population. They possess the greatest part of Bceotia and a small portion of Locris, near Talents. The southern part of Eubcea and the northern part of Andros, the whole of Salamis, and a part of Egina, are peopled by Albanians. In the Peloponnesus they are still more numeraw. They occupy the whole of Corinthia and Argolis, extending themselves into the northern part of Arcadia and the eastern part of Achaia. In La- conia they inhabit the slopes of Taygetus, called Bardunia, which extend to the plains of Halos, and crossing the Eurotas, they occupy a large dis- trict around Monemvasia to the south of the Tzakonians, and to the north of a small Greek population which dwells near Cape Males, in the district called Vatika. In the western part of the peninsula they occupied a con- siderable part of the mountains which extend from Leila to the north. eastern corner of Messenia, south of the Neda. Besides these large settle- ments, there are some smaller clusters of Albanian villages to the north of Karitena, and in the mountains between the Bay of Navarin and the Gulf of Coron. The islands of Hydra and Spetzas were entirely peopled by Albanians.

"The extent of country occupied by the Albanian race is more clearly displayed in a coloured map than by the most minute description. Mara- thon, Platma, Leuctra, Salamis, Mantinea, Ira, and Olympia, are now inha- bited by Albanians, and, not by Greeks. Even in the streets of Athens, though it has been for more than a quarter of a century the capital of a Greek kingdom, the Albanian langnage is still heard among the children playing in the streets near the temple of Theseus and the arch of Hadrian."

The island of Hydra alone contains 20,000 pure Albanians who live, as it were, on the sea, assisted Greece greatly in the war of the revolu- tion, and supply excellent material for a navy. Everywhere the Albanians seem to be brave and independent but terribly jealous of each other, and with a persistent tendency towards government by an oligarchy. Their special quality is thirst for gold, a quality which induces them to become in one place bravos, and in another thrifty and thriving merchants. Should they ever become absorbed into the Greek nationality, and they are already loyal to Greece, they will pour a new and much fiercer blood into the ancient race. That race, the true Helene, is not so numerous as some writers imagine. The mistake arises from an inveterate confusion between the Greek race and the Greek creed :

"When the Greeks took up arms, the numbers of the Greek and Turkish races in Europe -were in all probability nearly equal, and neither is sup- posed to have greatly exceeded two millions. The population of continental Greece, from Cape Tcenaron to the northernmost limits of the Greek language, was supposed to be not much greater than a million. Another million may be added for the population of Crete, the Cyclades, the Ionian Islands, Constantinople, and the Greek maritime towns. If we add to this the Greek population of Asia Minor, the islands on the Asiatic coast, Cyprus, the trans-Danubian provinces, Russia, and other countries, the whole number of the Greek race cannot e estimated at more than three millions and a half.

"Two Christian races in the Sultan's European dominions were more numerous: the Vallachian or Roman race was not less than four millions : the Sclavonian, including the Bulgarian, which speaks the Sclavonic language, exceeded five millions.".

' The Greeks, who are a subtle race, with high talents for educa- tion and intrigue, have almost monopolized ecclesiastical offices, and as the Turks have governed all their Christian subjects in Europe through ecclesiastics, the Greek has been in a sense the domi- nant class, bearing rule, for example, up to a very late period in both the Principalities. They form, too, the majority of the middle class, carry on trade, and are almost the only transmitters of intelligence. Outside Greece, however, they have no direct power, even in Con- stantinople :

"It is not uncommon to find Constantinople spoken of as the capital of the Greek nation because it is the seat of the head of the orthodox church. That is a great error. The Greeks do not form one quarter of the population, and the agricultural population of the surrounding country consists chiefly of Bulgarians. The Turkish and Bulgarian languages are more extensively spoken than the Greek. The ancient Byzantium was a Greek colony, but the Constantinople founded by the great Constantine was a Roman city, in which Latin long continued to be the language of the government and the principal families. Since the conquest of the city by Mahommed II., the Greek population has formed a foreign colony in a Mussulman city. Its numbers have been recruited by emigrants from every part of the Othoman empire. The phanariot families in the services of the Sultan emi- grated from different provinces. The merchants were generally Chiots, the shopkeepers hloreots, and the domestic servants natives of the islands of the Archipelago. The lower orders of the Christian population were recruited more extensively from the Sclavonians and Bulgarians in the northern provinces than from the Greeks. There was no permanent nucleus of a native Greek population in Constantinople as there was of a Turkish."

This population was thus divided into Fauariots, ecclesiastics, citi- zens, and peasantry, and among them the peasantry are incomparably the best. Education of a sort was pretty widely diffused, they were strongly attached to their creed, which stood them in the place of a fatherland, and they owed, and still owe to the Turks one inestimable boon. There were no serfs in Greece. The Turkish despotism does that one service, it levels every other, and if it extinguishes aristo- cracy, destroys also feudalism. It was this sense of freedom which enabled the peasantry, without worthy leaders, with no well-defined object, except to be rid of the Turks, and with very little help during

the struggle, perpetually- to recruit the insurrection, and keep off the far superior power of the Turks till Europe was compelled to in- terfere. Mr. Finlay does not consider the Greek revolution to have failed. It has established the independence of Greece on a firm basis, and created a free government in regions where civil liberty was unknown for two thousand years. It has secured popular institutions to a considerable portion of the Greek nation, and given to the people the power of infusing national life and national feelings into the administration of King Otho's kingdom. These may be justly considered by the Greeks as glorious achievements for one generation.

The true mistake, in Greece as in Turkey, has been the disregard for law, to which Mr. Finlay points in a hundred passages of his book as one secret of Oriental decay. No matter how bad the Executive, if the law is but rigidly and sternly administered there is room for the population to obtain physical prosperity and develop what of good or evil capacity it may have. Hitherto the efforts of all lead- ing men in Greece have been directed to the attainment of power, no one has compelled the judges to do their duty, or rooted out brigandage, or secured to every man the peaceable enjoyment of his property. Till this is effected the Greek race cannot manifest its capabilities for advance, and without advance the Greeks cannot hope to secure that supremacy in the Turkish empire which is their passion and their undying hope.

The Greeks can henceforth only repose their hopes of power on an admission of their intellectual and moral superiority. The Albanians are more warlike ; the Selavonians are more laborious ; the Roumans dwell in a more fertile land; and the Terks may become again a powerful nation, by being delivered from the lethargic influence of the Othman Sultans."

The Hetaria, the Greek secret society, which proposed to assassinate the whole of the Sultan's family, knew its business, we fear, better than Mr. Finlay. With the House of Othman the Turkish empire must end, but the Greeks may rule their Mediterranean provinces ages after the Turks have retired to reinvigorate their blood in the desert.