Imágenes de páginas

accomplishment, composed works of Themistocles. This vanity, joined to controversy well fitted to keep up the the difference of religion and of manhatred subsisting between the Greek ners, and to the unworthy and unpolis and the Roman churches, but utterly tic treatment which they received from hostile to that spirit of conciliation their conquerors, was sufficient to make and forbearance, which is the true & great part of the nation look upon character of the religion of the Bible. themselves as prisoners of war, rather

The information of the more culti- than as slaves; and, on the whole, it yared was, in general, limited to these was not difficult, as we have already studies. The rest were scarcely able said, to observe, that the concurrence to read and write; and this part of of a few favourable circumstances was the nation, without all doubt the all that was necessary to bring about most ignorant, was, nevertheless, by a new order of affairs. no means, either the most supersti It is sufficiently remarkable that tious or the most depraved. This one of these circumstances was preciseadvantage was probably the fruit of ly the arrival of that ever memorable their ignorance itself, which, at least, epoch, when the spirit of the more prevented them from reading, bad enlightened part of Europe, weary of books. They derived all their books systems and that scholastic method of from Venice, and, with the exception teaching, the sciences, which had not of these necessary for the performance yet been entirely abandoned, began, of religious service, and the few grame at last, to feel the necessity, of openmars and lexicons used in the semina- ing to itself a new path, and of ries where the ancient Greek language following therein no other guide than was taught, these books were, in ge- the faithful and scrupulous examneral, the most stupid of all produc- įnation of facts. That happy distions, much better fitted to deepen covery soon conducted the Europeans than to dispel the shade of igno. to another no less important,-viz. to rance. It was only to a happy acci- that of regarding all departments of dent that the Greeks owed the pos- human knowledge, not as things isosession of a translation of Telemachus, lated from each other, but as different and another of Rollin's Ancient His. branches of the same tree, different atory, two books, which, as we shall partments of the same edifice, no observe in the sequel, have been far one of which, therefore, could be from being useless to the Greeks. thoroughly understood, unless it was The nation continued plunged in viewed

in its connexion with the rest. this deplorable condition down till The light which sprung from this after the middle of the last century; great literary revolution failed not, but in spite of the thickness of their like physical light, to penetrate and darkness, the attentive observer could illuminate wherever it was not opnot fail to discern, now and then, posed. That it had many obstacles passing gleams of light, which indicat- to encounter in Greece we have aled the approach of a dawn. On the ready seen, but we have also seen that one hand, the few colleges where the the effect of these was considerably ancient language was taught, in spite weakened by the sentiments cherished of the discouraging imperfection of in secret among a great proportion of the methods of instruction—in spite the nation. The Greeks, so vain of of the ignorance and conceit of the their origin, instead of shutting their professors and the consequently small eyes against the light of Europe, were advantage derived by the pupils, proud to regard these western peoples were yet sufficient to keep alive, in as creditors about to repay, with large the midst of the nation, some know- accumulation of interest, a capital borledge of the language of their an- rowed originally from their own ancestors, like a sacred spark one day cestors of old. destined to be blown into a flame. In the year 1766 there appeared, for On the other hand, a national vanity, the first time in Greece, a system of ridiculous enough in itself, but salu- experimental physics, accompanied tary in its effects, rendered the Greeks, with plates, and a logic. These works, in general, as proud of their descent, written in ancient Greek, and puba as if each man could have traced him- lished at Leipsig by two respectable self, in a right line, to Miltiades or Greek ecclesiasties, were as well exe

cuted as the abilities and learning of exactness the influence which each of their authors might permit. The au- them may have had on the moral rethor of the logic published shortly af- volution which is at present going on ter a translation of the mathematics among the Greeks. Perhaps the ata of Segnert, and a version in modern tempt to do so would, at the best, be Greek of a little book, attributed to an useless and unphilosophical one, Voltaire, and entitled, Essai historique since, among no people of the world, sur les dissentions des Eglises de Po was any revolution, either moral or pologne. This was the same ecclesiastic litical, brought about in a regular man. who gave us afterwards in 1786 and ner by the operation of insolated causes. 1791, his translations in Greek verse It is sufficient, if we indicate in their of the Georgics and the Æneid of Vir- natural order, the most considerable gil. This last production, the notes of those occurrences which we regard to which attest abundantly the indus- as having brought about the present try, zeal, and erudition of the translator, state of things in Greece. might have had great success as a mere In the colleges of Greece, attached literary work, had it been at all possible for ages to the philosophy of Aristotle, to transpose the beauties of one dead (or rather, we should say, to the dreams language into another ; but it, at all of his commentators) with the same deevents, should be saved from oblivion voted superstition which had changed by the impartial observer, because it among them the nature of the most forms one of the most characteristic simple of religions,-in these colleges symptoms of the present fermentation a very great proportion of the profesin the spirit of Greece, and because it sors regarded the appearance of the announces, that the happy revolution new books above mentioned as an use which is in its progress in that coun- less and absurd innovation. The stutry, has taken such a direction as no- dents, on the contrary, considered it thing can any longer impede. And as a curious circumstance, concerning yet, it was only in the year 1788, that which one ought at least to be preis to say exactly two years after the pared to say something. This curie puhlication of the Georgics, that De osity of the young men, although sufPauw, in his recherches philosophiques ficiently rewarded by the acquisition sur les Grecs, declared, in the face of all of the new logic, would perhaps have Europe, with the tone and confidence of remained useless to the nation, had an inspired seer, that ignorance and the Greeks continued to be still as superstition had infixed themselves so poor as formerly, and to vegetate in deeply and so firmly in the minds of the same discouraging condition which the Greeks, that no human force or had been the deplorable fruit of their power ever could extirpate them. Had oppression. The first concern of man he taken the trouble to inform himself is, at all times, to make sure of his of the actual state of the Greeks, and means of subsistence; and as these to reason like a philosopher, (as he had means are curtailed in proportion to been pleased to promise in the pomp- the political oppression under which ous title of his book,) this man would we live, to overcome the difficulties have seen and concluded, that when of his situation, is, in general, a sufa translation of Virgil appears among ficient occupation of intellect for one a people almost in a state of barbarism, existing under a brutal despotism. It it is a sure evidence that the spirits of is only after having provided for the that people are in a state of fermenta- necessities of nature, by rendering the tion.

means of subsistence less precarious, But let us come back to the epoch that men begin to cast their eyes about when Greece first received treatises on them, and seek to enlarge the sphere of natural philosophy and logic, written their intelligence. Such, in all ages and after the manner of the enlightened countries, has been the march of the nations of Europe. Here we are pre- human spirit, and such it has been sented with such a connected chain of and is among the Greeks. At the causes and effects, such a concurrence epoch of which we speak, the Greeks of varied and yet co-operating circums were not indeed free, nor by any stances, that it is altogether impossible means so rich as the inhabitants of 3 to assign to each its due rank in the country so remarkable for the variety order of events, or to appreciate with and abundance of its productions

should have been. They are far, very tries where they are spoken. The desire far indeed, from being so, even at pre- of knowledge and of travelling, thus sent; but two remarkable occurrences began to occupy the minds of our have contributed to render them less youth, and their ambition was seconded poor than heretofore, and to inspire their by the wish, wherewith the possession minds, so long sunk in consternation, of great riches naturally filled the posif not with the courage of ease and li- sessors, of extending their own comberty, at least with that of hope. They merce by foreign establishments on have learned, in a word, to perceive the one hand, and on the other, of both the true cause of their misfor- multiplying the means of information, tunes, and the possibility of putting if it were only for the sake of their an end to their unhappy effects. own Children. In a short time the

In consequence of a new direction capitalists have formed new commergiven by many concurring circum- cial houses on the coasts of Italy, in stances to the channels of commerce, Holland, and in different parts of a few Greek houses found themselves Germany. It was thus, that comalmost of a sudden in possession of merce, by diffusing ease of circumextraordinary riches; and we heard for stances amongst the nation, rescued a the first time the name of a man of multitude of young Greeks from sloth millions among a people who had been and indolence, and scattered them accustomed to consider the few of their over the face of Europe, while at the number who possessed a capital of a same time, those who remained at hundred purses,

as the chosen fa- home were furnished with better vourites of fortune. These new made means of instruction by the multiplirich people, although as yet, unfortu- cation of colleges and schools. The nately, riches were their only possesion, emulation which necessarily sprung soon began to feel that if fortune scat- out of the new state of things, deterters her bounty blindly, one must mined many young men, after comhave eyes, and piercing eyes too, in pleting their course in some Greek order to preserve and increase her college, to go and seek the opportunity gifts. Accustomed beretofore to make of completing their education in the use of European clerks in the manage- western states of Europe. Not a few, ment of their concerns, they began to even of those destined originally for think that they could do without commerce, have been known to desert these, and they have in fact in a great their counters for the purpose of shutmeasure replaced them by youths of ting themselves up in some university. their own nation, forced and bribed to Such have been the results of the ineducate themselves by the temptation crease of wealth amongst the Greeks ; of considerable salaries.

but nothing contributed at that epoch The study of the languages of the to excite emulation, to augment the countries with which they had com- fermentation of spirits, and to inspire mercial transactions, gave these per- with resolution the minds of the sons some tincture of learning and Greeks, as one remarkable event of the belles-letters ; and without being which we are now about to speak. aware of it, they went through a It was in the year 1769 that Russia course of logic in learning arithmetic, declared war against Turkey. This and that beautiful art of book-keeping, last power, although for a long time which furnishes the mind with the much declined from that ferocious enmeans of discovering truth, by en ergy, which had once rendered her as abling it at all times to trace error to formidable to the European states, as its source. But in learning the lan- terrible to her own dependencies, still guage of strangers, our young Greeks preserved an appearance of grandeur very soon perceived how much they which caused her to be viewed with might facilitate their labour by an ac respeet. By means of a kind of prescurate study of their own language in tige, the existence of which it is not the first place, and then by going to easy to reconcile with the progress of learn the foreign dialects in the coun- intelligence, above all, with the won

derful improvements in the tactics of

Europe, the European nations still im* Somewhat about four thousand pounds

agined Turkey to be the same mighty Sterling.

power whose heroes had chased the


Venetians from Candia and the Pelo- Turks became humble and discouraged ponnesus, and penetrating into the exactly in proportion as the Greeks heart of Germany, dared to besiege, plucked up spirit, in so much, that and almost succeeded in taking, the they felt themselves absolutely com. capital of the Empire. Russia has for pelled to treat, with an appearance of ever dissipated this superstition, and respect, those whom hitherto they had demonstrated to all Europe that that regarded as mere beasts of burden. immense volume of power which she Other circumstances combined to sink regarded as the muscular bulk of a vi• their spirits. The Russian, consuls, gorous constitution, is, in truth, only under the influence of the most gloria an unwieldy dropsy, which must, ous peace which the empress had just sooner or later, conduct the Otto- concluded with the Porte, exerted a man empire to its destruction. But species of dictatorial authority alloyer the effects of this glorious war were the Levant. More than once they res. by no means confined to undeceiving cued Greeks from the vengeance of the the European nations. Russia, anxi- government, on pretence that they had ous at that time to gain the favour of become Russian subjects, or had serv, a nation which she hoped one day to ed with the armies of Catharine. reckon among her subjects, employed, the other hand, the bashaws and gov. a few Greeks in her war with the ernors of provinces, who, under the Porte, and attached them to herself sway of religious fanaticism, had by honours and rewards of every kind. hitherto been accustomed to receive These new auxiliaries embraced, with the edicts of the Porte as so many dea youthful ardour, the cause of the crees of Heaven, began to perceive, in court of St Petersburgh, and the suc- consequence of the very war in which cess of its armies was indeed, on dif- they had been engaged, that the statue ferent grounds, the object of the wishes which they adored rested only upon feet and prayers of their whole nation. of clay. They now began to receive the Some thought of nothing but revenging orders of their emperor with haughtithemselves on their oppressors; to ness, and with the air of being partothers the cause of Russia appeared to be ners, rather than subjects, of his throne, the same with that of religion, and in Not a few of these bashaws even hfted the Russians they saw with pious sa the standard of rebellion, and there tisfaction, the future restorers of their are several, at this moment, over whom ruined or polluted temples. A third the Porte retains no more than a shaparty (and these were those men of true dowy and precarious species of superi good sense of whom so few can be found ority. This disobedience, another re in any country, or indeed in any age) sult of the same cause which had inlooked upon the Russians in no other spired the Greeks with courage and light than that of a nation destined to confidence, has contributed, in a collaprepare the Greeks for liberty. In the teral manner, to fortify.and perpetuate meantime, in consequence of the peace these sentiments in their bosoms. concluded between the belligerent The inhabitants of the Archipelago powers, the Greeks were again obliged carried on all their commerce, previous to submit themselves to their ancient to this time, in vessels of very inconyoke ; but they did so with sentiments siderable size; chiefly accustomed to very different from those which they had the petty traffic between one island entertained before quitting it. Per- and another, the utmost extent of their suaded thenceforth that their oppressors voyages never went beyond the Black were men who could be beaten, nay, Sea or Egypt. But at this epoch, the knowing that they themselves had beate new direction of commerce, of which en them by the side of the Muscovites, we have already spoken, the new riches and thinking it by no means impossible diffused among the nation, and not that, under the guidance of able con- improbably the diminution in the aumanders, they might beat them alone-- thority of the government, suggested they felt within them, for the first time, to some persons of superior consethe sparks of a pride, which has been quence the idea of building large merprevented from some fearful explosion chant ships, in imitation of the western only, by the unexampled moderation Europeans. The first vessels of the with which, from this time, the Turks new construction produced a striking began to conduct theinselves. For the effect on all eyes, excepting those of

[ocr errors]

the government. Whether from ig- ner at once solid and elegant, and norance, or from disdain, or, in fine, manned in general by mariners who from the necessity and the convenience have among themselves ties of union of seeking, among the Greeks, those arising from blood or marriage ; these sailors for the Turkish ships of war, men, upon the slightest suspicion of which it could not find among its own any extraordinary oppression,

can emnation, thé Porte, although by nature bark the rest of their families, and abundantly suspicious, paid no atten- place themselves under the protection tion whatever to this infant marine of of the first nation wise enough to apo the Greeks. Nay more, it is said that preciate their value. this marine was in some measure fa The revolution which is at this movoured by the government at its com ment in the course of its operation ama mencement--one of those unintelli- mong the Greeks, has necessarily progible blunders which we should never duced effects diversified and modified be astonished to meet with in the an- according as it has had to encounter, nals of despotism. Most certainly, had in particular instances, more or less the Turkish rulers been able to foresee of barbarism, of resources, or of pas that the Greeks would one day come sions,—in a word, according to the to possess a mercantile fleet of several different circumstances in which it has hundred vessels, the greater part of found the different towns or commua them furnished with ordinance, they nities of the country. In the more would have stifled this dangerous ma- considerable towns, which,. even ben rine at its birth. At present they are fore the revolution, possessed some prevented from checking its ultimate wealthy individuals, some colleges, progress by the very assistance which and consequently some individuals they have derived from it in their own who could at least read and underfleets; for the ignorance of their na stand the ancient writers,—the revolution in regard to all marine affairs, is tion has, as might have been expected, quite as profound, as if their seat were operated the earliest and the most effect still in the heart of Asia, many hun- tually. Already, in some of these dred leagues distant from the coast. towns, the buildings of the colleges be

It is impossible to calculate all the gin to be enlarged, and instruction in effects which the establishment of this the modern languages, and even in marine may produce in the sequel, or the sciences taught in Europe, is addto foresee what influence it may here- ed to the ancient language of the counafter exert over the destinies, either of try. The rich have books printed, the oppressed or of the oppressing na translated from the Italian, the French, tion. It is more easy to observe what the German, and the English ; they it has already effected. In the first send, at their own expense, young place, by favouring the commerce of men of superior acquirements and zeal the Greeks, and increasing their pecu- to study in Europe; they give a much niary resources, this marine powerful- better education to their own children, ly assisted in the increase of the means without excepting those of that sex of instruction. The islanders, who which had been hitherto excluded were formerly, in common, the most from all education whatever. They ignorant part of the whole nation, be wait only for the return of those many gin to feel the necessity and the ad- young persons who are at this moment vantage of education, and rival each scattered over Germany, France, Itaother in the devotion of their means ly, and England, in order to establish for the erection of schools and colleges. new colleges wherever local situation On the other hand, by the happy in- and other circumstances may permit. fluence which this marine has had on The love of instruction has been prothe mind of the government, whose pagated and diffused with all the radespotism it has in a certain degree mi- pid symptoms of a contagion, if we tigated, the islanders have acquired and may make use of such an expression ; communicated to the rest of the nation and what affords of all other things an energy of soul unknown among the best augury for the future, this Greeks since the time when their infection has reached the Greek clercountry lost its freedom. Masters of gy. Philosophy has forced the gates a great number of excellent vessels, of the sanctuary, or rather she has dem framed by their own hands, in a man« scended thither, and now she comes VOL. IV.

3 U

« AnteriorContinuar »