Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/149

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THE HELLENIC FACTOR IN THE EASTERN PROBLEM.

143

versal among public men at Constantinople, hides its head in Athens, much as it did in England under Sir Robert Walpole. Recently detected in the gross transactions between certain ministers and certain bishops, it was brought to trial, and severely punished by the regular unbiassed action of the courts. In this small and almost municipal State, the independence of the judiciary appears to be placed beyond question; of itself an inestimable advantage. The higher clergy live in harmony with the State, the lower with the people; and the correspondence of our Foreign Office would show instances of their liberal feeling, such as are likely to exercise a beneficial influence upon Eastern Christendom at large. Their union with the people at large makes them an important element of strength to the social fabric. It was indeed an union cemented by suffering. On Easter Day, in April, 1821, the patriarch Gregorios[1] was arrested in his robes, after divine service, and hanged at the gate of his own palace in Constantinople. After three days he was cut down, and his body delivered to a rabble of low Jews, who dragged it through the streets, and threw it into the sea. Gordon enumerates about twenty bishops, who were massacred or executed by the Turks in the early stages of the revolution.[2] As for the priests, they suffered everywhere, and first of all.[3]

The statistical record, moreover, of the progress of Greece, drawn from public sources, is far from being wholly unsatisfactory.

The population, which stood in 1834 at 650,000, had risen in 1870 to 1,238,000; that is to say, it had nearly doubled in thirty-six years; a more rapid rate of increase than that of Great Britain, and far beyond the ordinary European rate. With the Ionian Islands, Greece must now contain a number of souls considerably beyond a million and a half.

In 1830, Greece had no schools, with 9,249 scholars. In 1860, it had 752 schools, with 52,860 scholars. The University of Athens, which in 1837 had 52 students, in 1866 could show 1,182.

The revenue, which was £275,000 in 1833, was £518,000 in 1845, and £1,283,000 in 1873; or probably about a million, after allowing for the Ionian Islands.

For the shipping and trade of Greece, the figures, though imperfect, are not unsatisfactory. The number of Greek seamen, augmented by the addition of the Ionian Islands, was in 1871 no less than 35,000. But before that annexation they were 24,000: or almost three times as many, in proportion to population, as those of the United Kingdom. The tonnage is over 400,000 for 1871. Before the union with the Ionian Islands, the imports and exports averaged for 1853-7, ;£1,546,000; but for 1858-62, £2,885,000. For 1867-71 they had risen to £4,662,000. That portion of Greek trade which is carried on with the United Kingdom, and which was in 1861 £923,000, had risen in 1871 to £2,332,000.

Neither, then, in a material, nor in a political and social view, is there any ground to regret the intervention of the powers on behalf of Greece.

I will now resume the argument on the future of the Hellenic subjects of the Porte.

The title of the Armenians, and of the Hellenic provinces of the Ottoman empire, to have their case considered at the approaching conference, is not, as I have already stated, analogous to that of the Slavonic countries. For these have exhibited their claim in the most effective form, by rising against the sultan, and by defeating, in two of them at least, his efforts to pacify them through desolation. Perhaps, in reason, the identity of grievance might be taken for granted; but the Hellenes may justly be put to the proof. Will their locus standi so far be admitted at the conference, as to allow them the opportunity of making good their case? Without prejudice to the general merits, it is plain that this admission cannot be withheld, if they are able to sustain, by adequate proof, the statements which were boldly assevered at the meeting in the Pnyx, but for which the evidence has not been disclosed to the world. Let us suppose, now, the question to stand for decision, at a meeting of the conference, whether its care is to extend to any other than the Slavonic provinces. I will proceed to state some reasons, which might well give bias to an Englishman in favor of the affirmative; and especially to an Englishman slightly tinctured with Russophobia, or the kindred, but more advanced, disease of Turcomania.

In the first place, it is the judgment of the Ottoman government that the changes it may be required to make shall extend to all the provinces of the empire. It will not be easy for that government to claim that, when the immediate and primary case

  1. Gordon, i. 187. Finlay, i. 230. Tricoupi, Hellenikè Epanastasis, vol. i., pp. 102-107, chap, vi.
  2. Gordon, i. 187, 188, 190, 194, 306.
  3. Ibid., i. 193.