1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tricoupis, Charilaos

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TRICOUPIS (or Tricoupi), CHARILAOS (1832-1896), Greek statesman, was born at Nauplia in 1832. After studying law and literature in Athens and in Paris, he was sent to London in 1852 as an attaché of the Greek legation. By 1865 he had risen to be chargé d'affaires, but he aimed rather at a political than a diplomatic career. In 1865, therefore, after he had concluded the negotiations for the cession by Great Britain to Greece of the Ionian Islands, he entered the Greek chamber of deputies, and in the following year was made foreign minister, at the early age of thirty-four. In 1875 he became prime minister for a few months, but had no opportunity even to begin carrying out the policy which he had in mind. This policy was to develop the resources of his country so as to create an army and a fleet, and thus to give Greece the power to acquire a leading place among the nations of south-eastern Europe. It was not until 1882 that he was able to take measures to this end. In that year he became prime minister for the third time (his second period of office, two years earlier, had lasted only for a few months), and at once set about the task of putting Greek finance upon a firmer basis, and of increasing the prosperity of the country by making roads, railways and harbours. He was defeated at the general election in 1885, but in the following year he resumed office, and again took up the labour of economic and financial reform. His difficulties were now increased by the large expenditure which had been incurred for military preparations while he had been out of office as the result of the union effected between Bulgaria and eastern Rumelia. The Greeks had demanded from Turkey compensation for this shifting of the balance of power, and had prepared to enforce their demand by an appeal to arms. The Great Powers, however, had interfered, and by blockading the Piraeus had compelled Greece to remain quiet. Tricoupis, nevertheless, believed that he could in a few years raise the value of Greek paper currency to par, and upon that assumption all his calculations were based. Unfortunately for himself and his country, he was not able to make his belief good. His dexterity in finance called forth general admiration, and his schemes for the construction of roads and railways met with a certain amount of success. But at last he was obliged to recognize that the warnings offered to him had been sound. Greece could not meet her obligations. Tricoupis tried to make terms with the creditors of his nation, but he failed in this also. The first taxation which he proposed aroused great hostility, and in January 1895 he resigned. At the general election, four months later, he and his party were defeated. He at once retired from public life, and soon afterwards the disease declared itself which eventually proved fatal. He died at Cannes on the 11th of April 1896. The faults of excessive ambition and of a far too sanguine optimism, which marked Tricoupis' character, could not prevent him from being regarded, even during his lifetime, as the foremost Greek statesman of his time. He was not a favourite with the populace, nor was he beloved so much as respected by his followers. By nature he was reserved—his nickname was “the Englishman”—and he had no sympathy with the arts of the demagogue. But, both in the ranks of his own party and by the nation at large, his abilities and his force of character were unquestioned. It was his misfortune that the circumstances of the time did not allow his wide schemes for the benefit of his country to be carried into effect.  (H. H. F.)