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De Sismondi on the Extermination of the Greeks.



and undisciplined. If the Turks succeed in exterminating the Greek population, they will at the same time lose their whole navy, which is now entirely formed of the Greek islanders: they will lose the tribute of a rich province; they will sacrifice the industry of the men who possess the most activity throughout their empire, and they will never replace the subjects whom they shall destroy. For oppression is so wasting in Turkey that its population falls off every year; and it must diminish in a still greater proportion, when a decreased number of persons paying taxes is called upon to pay the same contributions: it follows that every year the extortions will become more intolerable. If a new race of people is introduced into Greece, they must infallibly become the enemies of the Porte, because the Turks know only that kind of government which is founded on slavery and oppression, and they will always urge those whom they despoil and persecute to revolt against them. While the population is diminishing in Turkey, while it remains stationary in Austria, it is doubling in Russia in less than every half-century.

This disproportion of strength between the Russians and Turks is therefore increasing yearly, and it must become speedily irresistible. If the peace which foreign powers are now exerting themselves to maintain in the Levant, and to which they are making the sacrifice of a whole nation, lasts half a century longer, the Russian provinces on the borders of the Black Sea, which one hundred years ago were almost deserts, will contain a population so numerous and so warlike, that all the armed force of Europe will not avail to prevent it from seizing upon the vast plains of European Turkey, which the atrocious government of the Porte will have during that time altogether depopulated. There is certainly no need of a recurrence to subtle principles in politics to enable us to comprehend, that if we wish to prevent a country from being conquered by powerful neighbours, we should augment the ratio of its strength, not its weakness; we should know, that by maintaining over it a detestable government, we weaken it daily; that if this government is at war with its subjects, and has no other policy than to exterminate them, every one of its successes renders its fall more inevitable. There is no want of facts to confirm a theory so simple. Wallachia, Moldavia, Bulgaria, and Servia, have been carefully kept under the yoke of the Porte, which has been aggravated by the tributary, ruinous, and venal government of the Hospodars. These provinces, which are always ripe for revolt against the Turks, weaken their power, and open the gates of their empire to the Russians; whereas, had they allowed the inhabitants of these provinces to choose for themselves an equitable and protecting government, the number and riches of the population of those countries-perhaps the most fertile in the world, and the best fitted for commerce-would have increased rapidly; the borders of the Dniester and the Pruth, and the Danube, would have been covered with fortresses; the militia of the country would have been all eager to defend it, and the provinces which must now necessarily fall without resistance into the power of the Russians, if they had been left to themselves, and permitted to become powerful by means of their own exertions, could never have been conquered.

It is still time to renounce a policy as erroneous as it is cruel, and as dangerous as it is impious: it is time to save the independence of the Levant, not by allowing its inhabitants to be massacred, but by endeavouring, on the contrary, to augment their numbers, their resources, their energies, their happiness, and their desire to defend that happiness. It is time to detach all the subjects of Turkey from a Russian alliance, by giving them a country to fight for, and an interest in it parallel to Europe. The question is in fact now become interesting to all Europe, and all Christendom is called upon to decide it in favour of its honour, outraged by the Turks; of its repose, which a criminal policy compromises; of the balance of power, which the emancipation of the Greeks can alone confirm.

The Turks, in fact, in determining upon the extermination of the Greek nation, proposed not only the destruction of the allies of the Franks living

among them, but wished thus to testify their contempt for the Franks themselves. Humiliated as they have recently been by the Christian powers, they take their revenge upon them by committing what they regard as a mortal -insult; for they have always distinguished nations by their religion, and not by their government. They have always confounded all Christians in one common mass. As they could never believe that Christians would voluntarily give up to destruction a nation of Christian men, they persuade themselves that they make all Europe tremble, and that each Greek who is delivered to slaughter adds at once to their triumph, and to the abasement of the powers of Christendom.

In the same proportion as the Turks propose to outrage the English, the French, the Germans, and the Russians, by slaying under their eyes their brothers in Christ Jesus, in that proportion must the nations of Europe feel themselves insulted by the cruelties of the Mussulmans. The land the most dear to our recollections-the descendants of our instructors in all the arts and in all the sciences-are given up to calamities unparalleled in history. The number of victims, the atrocity of their sufferings, the heroism they have displayed in their last moments, are all calculated to excite in the highest degree our horror, our pity, and our admiration. Champions from Germany, England, France, and Italy, combat in the Greek armies, and thus represent in some measure their nations, involved in these horrible tragedies; the journals, which are daily printed in every language, and which circulate even through the remotest village, announce to astonished Europe all the details of these terrible sacrifices. Every where committees are formed in behalf of the Greeks -everywhere subscriptions are received-and every citizen, in devoting to their cause his offering, may be said in some measure to vote for the regeneration of Greece.

Can it be believed, that when opinion is so strongly pronounced as it has been on the Continent, and when it is at the same time in accordance with every principle both of morals and policy,-can it be believed that there is no danger in neglecting or despising it? Nations will learn that England, while she boasts of the missions which she sends forth to the extremities of the globe to convert the Heathen to Christianity, actually subscribes to the massacre of many millions of Christians in Turkey, and to the expulsion of the religion of Christ from all the States of the Grand Signor; they will learn that France, while she abolishes the liberty of the Gallican Church, while she recalls the Jesuits, while she demands tokens of the confessional from her public functionaries, furnishes the arsenals, the fleets, and the armies of the Pacha of Egypt, that he may massacre more martyrs than ever perished in the four first centuries of the Church; they will fearn that all the governments of Europe in concert, propose to accomplish an object the most contrary possible to the wishes of the people of Europe; that they trample under foot pity, honour, and the interests of Christianity, with the single intention of confirming their power; that no credit can be given to their promises; and that the religion of which they pretend to be the defenders, is with them only a criminal hypocrisy. Certainly, however strong governments may be, they are not yet strong enough thus to reveal all their baseness without danger. They will be yet weaker if the crime which they meditate is accomplished. They count on establishing in the Levant the peace of the grave; but to succeed in this there must be at least two years of massacre, and scenes of horror. During this time Europe will be gradually filling with fugitives, who will repeat these terrible details even in the most obscure and remote cottages: these details will constantly augment the hatred of the people against all existing governments, and that hatred will at length produce a terribleexplosion, which will wrap them in its blaze and avenge their crimes. The preservation of social order in Europe requires the independence of Greece; for the extermination of the Greeks will be closely followed by the extermination of those governments which have favoured the crime. The balance of power demands the independence of Greece, because the Greeks

in slavery invite the Russians; but free, they would repel them. The safety of the Turkish Empire requires the independence of Greece, because Greece revolted weakens the Ottoman armies; emancipated, she would strengthen them. The prosperity of commerce and industry requires the independence of Greece; for the same country, of which all the riches are at present destroyed by robbery, when it begins to prosper under a protecting government, will attract to itself, by rich exchanges, the produce of all the universe. If you wish nations to be tranquil, make them happy. This maxim, which policy ought to borrow from morals, is so easily comprehended, that it makes a writer blush to have to develope it. Cease to render life insupportable to the Greeks, as it has been for two centuries, aud they will no longer call upon other nations to be their deliverers. Cease to favour their extermination, as you have done for five years. and their cries will no longer disturb your repose. Cease to outrage humanity, religion, and the wishes of your subjects, and public opinion will no longer invoke avengers to deliver the world from your tyranny. But be assured, on the contrary, that the longer you pursue your execrable policy, the more will you be heaping burning coals upon your heads. If you consent to the extermination of the Greeks, you must very speedily consent to the extermination of the Macedonians, the Bulgarians, the Servians, and the people of Monte Negro: but each of these crimes will prolong the fury of the Levant, and augment the fermentation in the minds of your own people: every new crime will enfeeble the Turkish power, increase the preponderance of the Russians, and render more inevitable the catastrophe which you seek to avoid. You will perish then, but you will perish with shame and with guilt; whereas, by now listening to the voice of religion and humanity, you will save yourselves in saving Greece, and you will confirm, as far as it depends on you, the peace of all Europe, and the balance of power in the West.

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WEBER.-On occasion of the death of this composer, the proprietors of Covent Garden issued a notice that, "anxious to give his survivors, (that is to say, all the rest of this breathing world) the advantage of the benefit intended for Weber, his last Opera of Oberon should be performed on Saturday June 17." This notice is abundantly absurd-but we quote it less for the sake of amusing our readers, than of expressing our regret, that the house was not by any means full; so that Weber's wife and family, who are evidently meant by the singular phrase of "his survivors," we fear will have gained nothing by the exhibition. The fact is, that Weber was greatly overrated before his arrival in this country, and he was as undeservedly greatly under-rated before his death in it: people, however unreasonably, always expect a man of talent in all cases to surpass his last work, and if he falls below the level of his first, the disappointment is proportionate, and the recoil certain and powerful. The Oberon of Weber turned out a signal failure, and was, after a few unsuccessful repetitions, withdrawn from the stage. The music was found to be common-place in the extreme-as insufferable as Bishop's worst, or Braham's best. Even the Freischütz was a secondary opera, and utterly unworthy to be ranked in the same class with even the middling operas of Rossini, to say nothing of the loftier efforts of his muse. As to Oberon, it is just as much beneath even Weber's secondary operas, as they are inferior to the Freischütz. This gradation of failures has given rise to numerous stories, and among the rest, to a report that Weber did not compose, but bought that great musical work of the real author. We merely allude to this story as one of the on dits of the day, or rather of the month: for the supposition is preposterous. If the Freischütz had really been the first work of some unknown master, we should soon have had another from

his pen; or even, to speak musically, a score. Such a genius must have been speedily déterré, by means of new works, or else he must have been, what it is as easy to suppose of Weber, a man of one opera. Why should there not be men of one opera as well as men of one book? a class, by the way, on whose singular performances Mr. D'Israeli has written an amusing essay. [See his Curiosities. Another story connected with the Freischütz is, that Weber disposed of the copy-right of that fine opera in discharge of an inconsiderable debt. If the fact be so, it is a lamentable one: and it may fairly be said, that if Weber gained credit with an individual by his first opera, he has lost it with the public by his last. There must have been soine suspicions about the merits of Oberon in the mind of the Covent Garden proprietors, for they are said to have refused to allow the music to be seen or heard by the music-sellers, who have purchased it for eight hundred pounds! While we are on the subject of operas, we may quote a caustic saying which is now going about town, and ascribed to a high musical authority. Bishop's Aladdin was produced to rival Oberon, and fairly rivalled it, in its failure. Some one asked Sir- if he had seen Bishop's last opera? "No," said Sir -;" "but if you can assure me that it is his last, I shall

see it with pleasure." DRAMATIC AUTO-BIOGRAPHY.-This kind of writing seems to be coming into fashion. We have lately had "Kelly's Reminiscences," Reynolds's Memoirs are published this month, and the newspaper advertisement, "show us many more" in perspective. The autobiography of dramatic authors is, generally speaking, the most amusing of all kinds of autobiography, on account of the variety of anecdote which it gives room to introduce. A dramatic author is almost necessarily connected with all the three classes who compose, as it were, the kingdom of anecdote-fashionable people, literary men, and players. Perhaps there never was a more delightful book written than Goldoni's life of himself, though the reader has scarcely heard of half-adozen of the persons named in the book. Marmontel and Cumberland are charming auto-biographers; Goethe and Alfieri less so, because the one professes to trace the springs of his own genius, and to give a philosophical analysis of his works, and the memoirs of the other present us only with a bold picture of terrible misanthropy, and the anatomy of one proud and ardent heart. If we were to compare Reynolds's Memoirs to any others that have yet appeared, it should certainly be to Colley Cibber's; to whose adventures, especially in the early part of his life, Mr. Reynolds's bear a singular resemblance,-with this deference, that the latter became a play-writer, while Colley Cibber was attracted to the stage, and wore alternately the sock and the buskin, till "reduced," as he himself pathetically and emphatically tells us "to become an author."

It is curious, in the auto-biography of drainatic writers, to find them involuntarily giving a ton de théâtre to their narrative, and heightening the drollery of their stories by all the exaggeration they have been accustomed to think necessary for the stage. Thus Reynolds tells us that "his mother and aunt were like the compass, bent on a still farther variation to the westward," a blunder which would have told very well in a farce; and he makes Lord Effingham prove his loyalty, by giving away "the portrait of his Majesty," as he styles a guinea.

PASTA AND PUFFS.-Some charitable concert had been announced for the evening previous to this great singer's benefit; and the Post told us, "that a night-rehearsal of the scenery being indispensable, Madame Pasta had professed herself ready to sit up till midnight, rather than interfere with the cause of charity." This was of course intended as a puff for Pasta's benefit; but, as the scenery only was concerned, we should think the presence of one or two scene-shifters much more likely to be useful than that of the prima donna.

Kelly was only, to be sure, a composer of music; but when we recollect how much in modern operas depends on the music, he may fairly be allowed the honours, such as they are, of dramatic authorship.




I PROCEED to the other dramas of Sophocles. The story of his "Philoctetes" has been told by Fenelon in his Telemachus, and by Thomson in his Agamemnon. Yet after we read it in those authors, and until we peruse the Greek play itself, it will hardly appear to be credible that a poet could have framed an interesting drama out of such simple materials; for its subject, in fact, is only the adventure of Ulysses and the son of Achilles bringing back to the siege of Troy a solitary exile from a desert island.

Philoctetes was the friend to whom Hercules had bequeathed his arrows; but, having been stung in the foot by a serpent, during the siege of Troy, his cries disturbed the Grecian camp; and its rulers caused him to be treacherously abandoned on the shores of the Lemnian desert. A prophecy, however, that Troy could not be taken without his arrows, induces the Greeks at the end of nine years to send for him; and the knot of difficulty in the plot of the drama, is to persuade the insulted and injured man to rejoin his countrymen.

A dramatic hero can scarcely be imagined less imposing in his outward circumstances, than the lame and wounded and lonely Philoctetes. At the outset it is difficult to foresee how his situation can be rendered more tragic. It is true that his cave is described as welcoming the summer breeze and the winter sunshine; that he could drag his foot after the quarry which he brought down with his bow, repose on his bed of leaves, quench his thirst at the spring, and find medicinal herbs that somewhat alleviated the pangs of his wound; and that habit had given him a feeling of fellowship with his dismal home. Yet still his condition is the most forlorn in which the heart can be conceived clinging to existence; and we wonder what he has to dread beyond his present sojourn, or why his release from it should be unwelcome or retarded.

But here, as elsewhere, our poet's characters are so spiritedly conceived, and so skilfully opposed in their motives and interests, that out of simple circumstances, and with a very few agents, he easily and naturally winds up a problem of most interesting complexity. Philoctetes is too proud to exchange even famine and a desert for the protection of his foes: Ulysses is too crafty to face the indignant archer till he has disarmed him by fraud: Neoptolemus is too young and ambitious, and too much smitten with the glorious prospect of conquering Troy by the arrows in question, to resist being ensnared into the Ithacan's device for obtaining them, and yet too ingenuous and compassionate to persevere in the cruel treachery. His penitence, therefore, makes the artifice of his wily helpmate overshoot its mark; whilst at the same time the detected perfidy of Ulysses, by confirming Philoctetes's hatred and reluctance to return to Troy, threatens to involve the repentant and compassionate son of Achilles in a forfeiture of glory and fortune, from which we ardently long to see him delivered.

It has been absurdly alleged by some critics, that this drama interests us merely in the physical sufferings of its hero. A glance at its August 1826.-VOL. XVII. NO. LXVIII.


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