Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/226

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192
[CANTO II.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

II.

Franciscan Convent, Athens, January 23, 1811.[1]

Amongst the remnants of the barbarous policy of the earlier ages, are the traces of bondage which yet exist in different countries; whose inhabitants, however divided in religion and manners, almost all agree in oppression.

The English have at last compassionated their negroes, and under a less bigoted government, may probably one day release their Catholic brethren; but the interposition of foreigners alone can emancipate the Greeks, who, otherwise, appear to have as small a chance of redemption from the Turks, as the Jews have from mankind in general.

Of the ancient Greeks we know more than enough; at least the younger men of Europe devote much of their time to the study of the Greek writers and history, which would be more usefully spent in mastering their own. Of the moderns, we are perhaps more neglectful than they deserve; and while every man of any pretensions to learning is tiring out his youth, and often his age, in the study of the language and of the harangues of the Athenian demagogues in favour of freedom, the real or supposed descendants of these sturdy republicans are left to the actual tyranny of their masters, although a very slight effort is required to strike off their chains.

To talk, as the Greeks themselves do, of their rising again to their pristine superiority, would be ridiculous: as the rest of the world must resume its barbarism, after reasserting the sovereignty of Greece: but there seems to be no very great obstacle, except in the apathy of the Franks, to their becoming an useful dependency, or even a free state, with a proper guarantee;—under correction, however, be it spoken, for many and well-informed men doubt the practicability even of this.

The Greeks have never lost their hope, though they are now more divided in opinion on the subject of their probable

  1. [The MSS. of Hints from Horace and The Curse of Minerva are dated, "Athens, Capuchin Convent, March 12 and March 17, 1811." Proof B of Hints from Horace is dated, "Athens, Franciscan Convent, March 12, 1811." Writing to Hodgson, November 14, 1810, he says, "I am living alone in the Franciscan monastery with one 'friar' (a Capuchin of course) and one 'frier' (a bandy-legged Turkish cook)" (Letters, 1898, i. 307).]