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The Porte must be treated like a spoiled child, for whom allowances should be made, and a casus belli with other nations, ought not to be made a subject of difference with her. Noble youths from all parts of Europe hastened to assist the Greeks, notwithstanding the obstacles raised by their own governments; and when the body of the martyred Greek Patriarch was brought to Odessa the Russians gave it a state funeral. In the middle of July an ultimatum arrived from Russia to the Porte. Strogonof was to require an unconditional acceptance of its terms within eight days, or else leave Constantinople with his whole suite. The terms included no cession of territory, or special advantage to Russia. The Emperor simply exercised the right to protect the Christians which his grandmother Catherine II. had bought by the restoration of Bessarabia, and the Greek islands, at the Peace of Jassy in 1792, and which was confirmed to himself in 1812. He now demanded the restoration of the Greek Churches, which the Turks had pillaged or destroyed, and of all property belonging to those Churches ; the protection of the Greeks from the barbarities of the Mahometan soldiery, and in the exercise of their religion; a proper distinction between the innocent and the guilty ; reparation for the murder of the Patriarch and the gross insults which followed it, and security for the future peace of the Greeks. In conclusion, if these demands were not complied with, he declared that “Turkey would be placed in a position of open hostility with all the Christian world; it would render the Greek defence lawful, as they would be merely fighting to resist inevitable ruin, and Russia would be compelled to offer the insurgents an asylum and protection because she could not deliver her Christian brothers to the mercy of a blind fanaticism."
When this message was received by the Porte, it required the influence of all the foreign ambassadors to prevent Strogonof from being imprisoned, like more than one of his predecessors in the dungeons of the Seven Towers. He sailed for Odessa, Aug. 9, 1821, and as soon as he was gone, the Turks sent an answer to the Czar's ultimatum, and ante-dated it July 26, the last day assigned for its reception. The Sultan tried to justify the murder of the Patriarch by the alleged discovery of letters implicating him in the disturbances in the Morea, but these letters were never produced ; and he said it was the violence of the dregs of the people, exasperated by those disturbances which had caused the indiscriminate massacres and the destruction of the churches; orders were given to rebuild them, and if the Czar would deliver up the
Greek refugees (who amounted to 4,000 at Odessa alone) all the treaties with S. Petersburg should be faithfully executed.
In the mean time Ipsilanti's band was defeated, and their leader fled to Transylvania, where he was consigned to an Austrian dungeon, and it was only on Russia's remonstrance that he was at last released. By refusing to aid him, the Czar appears to have hoped really to serve the whole body of Christians in Turkey, for he knew if Russia showed the least disposition to profit by the struggle or even temporarily occupied Moldavia and Wallachia, Austria was prepared to help the Turks with an army in Epirus and Greece, and the insurrection would at once be set down as a Russian intrigue for the destruction of the Turkish empire; but he tried to obtain a united and energetic remonstrance from all the Christian powers, so that a semi-independent government might be obtained for Greece without going to
The small Russian fleet in the Black Sea could not pass the Bosphorus, and the Russian fleet in the Baltic blocked in for half the year by ice could only be serviceable to Greece in case of England's aid, as it must pass Gibraltar and have a port to refit in, in the Mediterranean, and a fleet was essential to protect the Greek islands and the Morea if Russia entered Turkey from the north.
Lord Castlereagh, the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, wrote a long letter (July 16, 1821) to the Czar to dissuade him from any interference in the affairs of Greece ; and from that time till Alexander's death in December, 1825, an active correspondence was kept up on the subject with the British government, which in spite of the massacre of 40,000 men and women at Chios, in cold blood, and the sounds of mourning rising up from every part of Greece where the population was being decimated by the Kurds and other wild tribes brought over from Asia, at last positively declined to join in any protest or take any measure tending to release the Christian subjects of the Sultan from his control. Then Alexander resolved to act alone, and sent a final ultimatum to Turkey, when his death, and the ensuing troubles in Russia postponed the war; and the delay perhaps saved the Ottoman Empire; for while it was pending the Greeks in the Peloponnesus were reduced to half their number, and their country turned purposely into a desert by the Turks; Moldavia and Wallachia were exhausted, and the Christians in Bulgaria and Roumelia decimated, so that in 1827 Russia had not even these feeble allies.
In a memorandum (April, 1822) the Duke of Wellington enumerates the four points, “ the adoption of which by the Porte would induce his Imperial Majesty to resume the diplomatic relations of his court with the Porte.” They were those already stated, and also that the Porte should withdraw its troops from Moldavia and Wallachia, and name the hospodar for the government in conformity to the treaty with Russia. “The justice of these demands,” he adds, “ has been admitted by all the allied courts, and they have been urged upon the Porte, who neither denies their justice nor declines to carry them into execution.” However in the delay which had elapsed before carrying them into execution, Russia increased her demands, on account of the ferocity the Turks displayed towards their Christian compatriots, and placed a proposal “ under the consideration of the allied ministers at the different courts, for the adoption of a plan for the amelioration of the condition of the Greeks under the rule of the Porte. The Turks suspecting this had more than once called upon the allied ministers at Constantinople to guarantee them from ulterior demands of Russia.” If a war breaks out between Russia and Turkey, the Duke entertains no doubt as to the result. “The Turkish government in Europe will in fact be destroyed, which will probably be the smallest misfortune consequent on this state of things. This alone ought to induce us to adopt some strong measure to extricate the world from the existing difficulties. But when we consider that the serious operations in which the Emperor of Russia will be involved in the east of Europe must occupy his whole force ; that the occupation chalked out for the Austrians in Italy (then in insurrection) and which the events in the east of Europe will tend to render more onerous, will take up
their whole force; and that there is nothing which can be trusted to check the tide of revolution from the Atlantic to the Austrian frontiers; that the first step taken by the Emperor of Russia in the course of this warfare will give rise to a most important question between him and the Emperor of Austria, the difficulty of solving which will be augmented by every subsequent step ; and that these difficulties can only end by putting the Imperial Courts in positive opposition to each other, and by the dissolution of the quintuple alliance (i.e. between England, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and France,) and probably a general war in Europe, I think it will be admitted that we should allow no trifling consideration, nor no speculation upon the advantage of having our ambassador at the Porte at a particular period, nor upon the diffi
culty of getting him back again, to prevent us from taking a step which may preserve peace. It must be observed that if it is right to adopt these measures,” (recalling the English ambassador, till the Czar's first demands were complied with,)“ no time should be lost in adopting them. If the Principalities are not evacuated, I don't see how the Emperor can avoid marching early in June."
But the English Cabinet would not recall her ambassador, Lord Strangford, as he was supposed to have great influence over the Divan, and to be exerting it successfully to preserve peace and for British interests; and some members of the cabinet hardly regarded those as Christians who adorned their Churches with pictures, and kept the days of Saints. They rather preferred the "simplicity" of the Mahometan worship, and to induce the Czar to shut his eyes to the slaughter of his co-religionists, they sent the Duke of Wellington to the congress of the Allied Sovereigns who met at Vienna and Verona in October, 1822. He went with instructions to advise non-interference, and if possible to maintain the grand alliance.
But as the Russian ambassador told Napoleon in 1804, “ Behind the Czar, there were Russians,” and already the deference of the Emperor to his allies, had caused him to be very openly accused by his subjects of being at heart a Roman Catholic. Russia was at this time greatly excited on behalf of Greece, which was not lessened by the avowed sympathy of the Foreign Secretary, Capo d'Istria, a Greek by birth, or the zeal of the celebrated Protestant female missionary, Madame de Krudener.
Russia had never been a persecuting nation, but the spirit of her clergy was roused now by the barbarities inflicted on their co-religionists in Greece, and the apparent sympathy of the English Cabinet, though not of the English Liberals, with Turkey during the contest, and exasperated them to the borders of fanaticism in support of a martyr Church. The suppression of the Bible Society in S. Petersburg, and a curtailment of the privileges enjoyed by the Jews and Romanists was the result of this movement, and directed not so much against the individuals who were affected by it, as against the intolerance (so they deemed it) of the Romanist and Protestant nations and the Jewish communities, whose sympathies were alienated from a most oppressed people merely because their form of Christianity differed from that of Western Europe and was the same as that of Russia. "Where was the spirit which once brought kings and nobles from
every nation in Christendom to wrest the Holy Sepulchre from these very oppressors of Christians ?” wrote the Russian press, while the Liberal party throughout Europe hurled abuse on the Czar; for ignorant of the action of diplomacy to stay his hand, and the correspondence he had been carrying on with all his allies to induce them to join him in a protest on behalf of Greece, they imagined that he showed a criminal indifference to the sufferings of the Christian subjects of the Porte. “Metternich," wrote Capo d'Istria of the Austrian Premier, “has decided to re-establish the Sultan's authority over this unfortunate people. During four years he paralysed and deceived the noble sentiments of the Czar, abusing constantly the confidence accorded to him, and only making promises to break them.. “ Austria," wrote Canning to the Duke of Wellington, Feb. 10, 1826, “never pretended to us to look for any other result from the conferences on the subject of Greece than to gain time, although to the Emperor Alexander, Metternich held out expectations of an impression to be made on the Ottoman ministry which would bring the Porte to reason, and place the fate of Greece in the hands of the Alliance. So little pains indeed were taken by Prince Metternich to disguise the real meaning of all these promises in Paris last year, that the facility and almost dupery of the Emperor became a matter of common talk, which being faithfully reported to his Imperial Majesty by his ambassador Pozzo di Borgo contributed more perhaps than the subsequent failure of the steps taken by the several missions of the allies at Constantinople to irritate the feelings of the Emperor Alexander, to destroy altogether his confidence in his allies, and to throw him back upon himself in that temper of gloomy abstraction in which it is now known through Lord Strangford's despatch of January 17, that he had resolved on immediate war.”
Yet this step was not taken without renewed provocation on the part of Turkey and a real and genuine effort on the part of Russia to preserve peace. The Servians, by Russia's advice, had sent envoys to Constantinople, who had at once been imprisoned, and all efforts to obtain their release had failed, and Moldavia and Wallachia, as well as the Morea, were the prey of the savage Asiatic mercenaries employed by Turkey whenever she goes to war. The Czar convened another Congress on the subject at S. Petersburg in March, 1825. Austria and Prussia sent deputies, though only to avert active measures, and England refused to have anything to do with it. “Count Lieven,"