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upon which a vessel was immediately hired, and the whole of them, to the number of twenty-four, sent to Prevesa, provided with every requisite for their comfort during the passage. The letter which accompanied these poor people was answered by the English Consul Mr. Meyer, who thanked his Lordship in the name of Beker Aga the Turkish Governor of that place, and concluded by an assurance that he would take care equal attention should be in future shown to the Greeks who became prisoners.
Another grand object with Lord Byron, and one which he never ceased to forward with the most anxious solicitude, was to reconcile the quarrels of the native Chiefs, to make them friendly and confiding to one another, and submissive to the orders of the Government. He had neither time nor much opportunity before his decease to carry this point to any great extent ; much good was however done; and if we may judge from a few observations we find respecting the treatment of Sisseni, a fractious chief of Gastouni, we may be certain that it was done with a wise and healing hand.
“ If Sisseni is sincere, he will be treated with, and well treated : if he is not, the sin and the shame may lie at his own door. One great object is, to heal these internal dissensions for the future, without exacting a too rigorous account of the past. The Prince Mavrocordatos is of the same opinion, and whoever is disposed to act fairly will be fairly dealt with. I have heard a good deal of Sisseni, but not a deal of good. However, I never judge by report, particularly in a revolution : personally I am rather obliged to him, for he has been very hospitable to all friends of mine who have passed through his district. You may therefore answer him, that any overtures for the advantage of Greece and its internal pacification will be readily and sincerely met here. I hardly think he would have ventured a deceitful proposition to me through you, because he must be sure that in such case it would be eventually exposed. At any rate, the healing of these dissensions is so important a point, that something must be risked to obtain it.”
Sisseni is the Capitano of the rich and fertile plain of Gastouni, who at first paid but a very uncertain obedience to the Government; but now, observing its increase in power and apparent security, had begun to make overtures for a regular submission to its decrees. The manners of all these oligarchs of the Morea, like those of Sisseni, are Turkish: they live surrounded by a mixture of splendour and misery, with a sort of court like those of other petty monarchs, filled with soldiers, harlots, and buffoons.
Mavrocordatos in his invitations to Lord Byron had dwelt on the importance of his Lordship's presence at Messolonghi, and had no doubt fired his imagination by the anticipations of success, and the scenes of brilliant achievement which he laid before him. “ Soyez persuadé, Milord,” he says, among much of the same kind, “ qu'il ne dépendra que de vous, d'assurer le sort de la Grèce. Lepante et Patras, cernés par terre et par mer, ne tarderont pas de capituler ; et maîtres de ces deux places, nous pouvons former des projets de l'occupation de Thessalie !” Accordingly, Lord Byron landed at
Messolonghi, animated with military ardour, and became, as one of the letters from the place, dated soon after his landing, expresses it, soldier-mad. After paying the feet, which indeed had only come out under the expectation of receiving its arrears from the loan which he promised to make to the Provisional Government, he set about forming a brigade of Suliotes. Five hundred of these, the bravest and most resolute of the soldiers of Greece, were taken into his pay on the 1st Jan. 1824, and an object worthy of them and their leader was not difficult to be found.
The castle of Lepanto, which commands the gulf of that name, was the only fortress occupied by the Turks in Western Greece. Its position at the mouth of the gulf is one of great importance, and enables it to keep up a constant communication with Patras ; and while this was the case, it was impossible to reduce it in the ordinary mode of starvation. The garrison consisted of 500 Turks, and a considerable number of Albanians ; the soldiers were clamorous for their pay, and much confusion was said to reign in the place. It was understood that the Albanians would surrender on the approach of Lord Byron, and on being paid their arrears, which amounted to 23,000 dollars. In every point of view the place was of the highest importance, and the most sanguine hopes were entertained that a vigorous attack upon it would prove successful. Lord Byron was raised to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, and spent his whole time in preparing for the expe
dition. It was first intended that a body of 2500 menshould form the main body, and that Lord Byron should join them with his 500 Suliotes, and with a corps of artillery under Mr. Parry, which had been raised by the Greek Committee in London. At the latter end of January, however, Lord Byron was appointed by the Greek Government to the sole command of all the (3000) troops destined to act against Lepanto. He mentions this circumstance himself :
“ The expedition of about two thousand men is planned for an attack on Lepanto ; and for reasons of policy with regard to the native Capitani, who would rather be (nominally at least) under the command of a foreigner, than one of their own body, the direction, it is said, is to be given to me. There is also another reason, which is, that if a capitulation should take place, the Mussulmans might perhaps rather have Christian faith with a Frank than with a Greek, and so be inclined to concede a point or two. These appear to be the most obvious motives for such an appointment, as far as I can conjecture; unless there be one reason more, viz. that under present circumstances, no one else (not even Mavrocordatos himself) seems disposed to accept such a nomination-and though my desires are as far as my deserts upon this occasion, I do not decline it, being willing to do as I am bidden ; and as I pay a considerable part of the clans, I may as well see what they are likely to do for their money; besides, I am tired of hearing nothing but talk."
He adds in a note, that Parry, who had been delayed, and had been long eagerly expected with his artillery and stores, had not arrived; and says, “I
presume from the retardment that he is the same Parry who attempted the North Pole, and is (it may be supposed) now essaying the South.”
The expedition, however, had to experience delay and disappointment from much more important causes than the non-appearance of the engineer. The Suliotes, who conceived that they had found a patron whose wealth was inexhaustible, and whose generosity was as boundless, determined to make the most of the occasion, and proceeded to make the most extravagant demands on their leader for arrears, and under other pretences. Suliotes, untameable in the field, and equally unmanageable in a town, were at this moment peculiarly disposed to be obstinate, riotous, and mercenary. They had been chiefly instrumental in preserving Messolonghi when besieged the previous autumn by the Turks, had been driven from their abodes, and the whole of their families were at this time in the town destitute of either home or sufficient supplies. Of turbulent and reckless character, they kept the place in awe; and Mavrocordatos having, unlike the other captains, no soldiers of his own, was glad to find a body of valiant mercenaries, especially if paid for out of the funds of another; and, consequently, was not disposed to treat them with harshness. Within a fortnight after Lord Byron's arrival, a burgher refusing to quarter some Suliotes who rudely demanded entrance into his house, was killed, and a riot ensued in which some lives were lost. Lord Byron's impatient spirit could ill brook the