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That Greece Might Still Be Free

William St Clair

15 Enter the British

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1One of the surprising features of the history of philhellenism during the Greek War of Independence is the slowness of the response in Britain. English literature had a long philhellenic tradition and the British people had a long tradition of espousing causes abroad, yet in 1821 and 1822 Britain was less affected by the calls to help the Greeks than any other part of Western Europe.

  • 1 There is much about Gordon in Dakin, British and American Philhellenes.

2During the first two years there had been only a handful of British volunteers in Greece. The most important was Thomas Gordon of Cairness, a rich Scotsman who had been an officer in the British army and had travelled widely in the Near East.1 Gordon was no empty-headed romantic but a sober, determined soldier. It seems likely that he knew something of the plans for the Greek Revolution before it broke out. He was in Paris when the news arrived and immediately chartered a ship at Marseilles, bought arms and ammunition, engaged a few French officers and sailed to Greece. Gordon was at Tripolitsa shortly after it fell in the autumn of 1821 and was an eye witness to the horrors. He left Greece shortly afterwards suffering severely from the plague which was sweeping the country. Constantly surrounded by a personal entourage of secretaries and servants – one, his old Sergeant Major, fell victim to the disease – he seemed to have all the attributes of the Milord: money, title, land and influence.

  • 2 Hastings’ papers are in the Library of the British School at Athens. Finlay’s Biographical Sketch (...)
  • 3 Jarvis’ papers are published. See also Chapter 30 for Jarvis’ later activities in Greece.

3Frank Abney Hastings, a dismissed naval officer, was another of the earliest volunteers.2 He too was rich and from a well-known family, and like Gordon, was looking for a field to try his talents. He sailed for Greece with Jarvis,3 the son of the American consular agent in Hamburg in March 1822. Although he suffered the disappointments and frustrations of the 1822 generation of Philhellenes to which he belonged, Hastings was one of the few who stayed in Greece.

  • 4 Humphreys, First Journal and other works.
  • 5 Haldenby does not appear in Dakin’s list. He is described by the author of the Tagebuch of Tübinge (...)
  • 6 Hausmann from Colmar.
  • 7 E. His full name is unknown, Carne, pp. 545 ff.
  • 8 N. and S. Christian Müller, p. 6.
  • 9 Hoistin mentioned by Elster, Fahrten, ii, p. 32. I doubt whether he existed.
  • 10 Finlay, Adventure. See Note 9 to Chapter 11.

4The other British Philhellenes who went to Greece during the early period are less well known, but all the familiar types were represented. Humphreys,4 an English officer who could not find a commission in the British army after leaving his training, had set off to join the Revolution in Naples and had drifted on to Greece. He left in disgust after the fall of Tripolitsa but returned later. Haldenby,5 a rich young man from Hull, came in one of the expeditions from Marseilles sponsored by the South German and Swiss Greek Societies, dressed in a splendid uniform and carrying pistols embossed in gold. Arriving after the destruction of the Philhellene Battalion, he was obliged to join the band of one of the Peloponnesian captains. On his first expedition his feet became so badly blistered that he straggled behind with a young French companion6 and they were both cut down, killed, and stripped at the first encounter with the Turks. Another Englishman7 who arrived from Malta with a huge cavalry sword and a case full of books, including Byron’s Don Juan, prudently returned home when he discovered how useless his services were likely to be. The other British Philhellenes in Greece in 1821 and 1822 are shadowy figures, two travelling gentlemen8 who made a brief visit to the Regiment Baleste in June 1821 with the (short-lived)9 intention of enlisting, a sea captain said to have survived the battle of Peta, and a rich young man10 seeking consolation for an unsuccessful love affair, who was killed near Nauplia late in 1822. Altogether not more than a dozen British are recorded as having been in Greece in 1821 and 1822, compared with five or six hundred volunteers of other nationalities. And it is noteworthy that many of these men were living on the Continent when they took their decision to join the Greeks and should therefore to some extent, be regarded as the products of French or German philhellenism rather than of the British version.

  • 11 C. Brinsley Sheridan, Thoughts on the Greek Revolution. Pamphleteer XLVIII, 1824, p. 424 ff.

5The failure of the movement to establish itself in Britain during the early period is difficult to account for. There was no lack of news and propaganda in favour of the Greeks, and attempts were made, as on the Continent, to establish Greek societies, but with almost no success. One of the reasons suggested at the time11 was that the advocates of the Greek cause in England were extremists and fanatics that repelled rather than attracted public support, and to judge from the pamphlets, there may be something in this explanation. More probably the main reason was the attitude of the Government. While Castlereagh was at the head of affairs, no open support for rebels could be tolerable to the Government and most moderates, even if sympathetic to the Greek cause, were not inclined to oppose the official policy. At the end of 1822, after Castlereagh had committed suicide in a fit of despair, a more subtle man re-entered the Foreign Office. George Canning was one of the most successful of British statesmen. Despite his subsequent elevation into the Pantheon of Modern Greece, it would be wrong to regard Canning as a Philhellene. It was largely through Canning’s foresight, energy, and diplomatic skill, that an outcome to the Greek Revolution satisfactory to the powers was eventually arrived at. But there was never any question but that his chief concern was the advancement of British interests. It was because Canning considered that a more flexible foreign policy would be of benefit to Britain that British philhellenism was allowed to take root.

6The London Greek Committee was founded in March 1823 and for the next two years was the most important philhellenic organization in the world. The London Committee was the centre for the movement all over the British Isles and for a time Europe and the United States also. Unlike the German, Swiss, and other societies of earlier years, its activities had an important effect on the course of the war. It is difficult to disentangle the various strands of events which led to its establishment. It is even more difficult to assess the complex motives in the minds of the men who involved themselves in its activities. The simple ideals about regenerating Ancient Greece and defending Christians against Infidels which had inspired the first philhellenic efforts on the Continent were now alloyed with apparently more sophisticated considerations.

7At the same time as Count Jourdain was in Paris negotiating his treaty with the Knights of Malta, another Greek agent was in Spain. The Greeks calculated (wrongly) that the Spanish constitutionalists, as the last surviving liberal revolutionary government in Europe, might be inclined to help their fellow revolutionaries in Greece. The Spanish had no money to spare. On the contrary, their own position was now desperate. The Continental powers, having successfully quelled the revolutions in Italy, were turning their attention to the last surviving abscess of liberalism on the body of Europe and considering how best to lance it. A French army was prepared on the frontier ready to perform the surgery. The French Government only waited to be assured that the British would not interfere before sending their army across the border.

8It was in Madrid, after his failure to secure help from the Spanish, that the Greek agent met a plausible young Irishman called Edward Blaquiere who was to play a decisive role in the philhellenic movement in Britain. Blaquiere persuaded him that, if he would go to London, money for the Greeks would be found, and that he himself had enough influential friends to be able to give him a virtual promise. The Greek agent left for London almost immediately.

  • 12 * Three if one counts the anonymous pamphlet by ‘Crito’, which is almost certainly edited by him.

9Edward Blaquiere was a man of very pronounced convictions. During the war he had served in the British Navy in the Mediterranean and developed an interest in the peoples of the region, but he saw the complex political problems of Europe in the stark black and white moral terms beloved by the naive and the fanatical. Blaquiere’s strength lay in his energy and his obvious sincerity. He became a political propagandist, writing in quick succession a series of books about the political problems of various Mediterranean countries. On the whole his general sentiments would now be regarded as unexceptionable but his books are an unattractive mixture of instant history, conventional sentiment, and tired rhetoric. He was an example of the man who is so well meaning and so busy that he never has time to learn anything new, the propagandist whose mind genuinely cannot absorb information or make judgements that are at variance with his preconceptions. Energy became a substitute for thought. Throughout his short life Blaquiere continued to believe that all Mediterranean peoples were much the same and that the superficial knowledge picked up when he was a midshipman in Malta could be directly applied to Spain or Italy or Greece. In 1823 he had just finished a work of propaganda on the Spanish Revolution when the French troops were crossing the frontier. Abandoning the lost cause he now had energy to devote to the cause of the Greeks. Between 1823 when he first took it up and 1828 he published no less than three books and two pamphlets*12 on the Greek war at intervals between his frequent journeys across Europe and frenzied campaigning all over Britiain. He was also an indefatigable writer of letters and the clerks who intercepted the mail at British quarantine establishments must often have sighed with the weariness of copying out his effusions for transmission to London.

10The other man who provided the driving force behind the London Greek Committee was a more complex character. John (later Sir John) Bowring, if his talents had not been so widely diffused, might have been one of the great Victorians. His philhellenism was an episode in the earlier part of his long career as financier, journalist, scholar, linguist, politician, economist, Eastern traveller, diplomat, and colonial administrator, and an episode of which in later life he was not proud. Yet even in 1823, when he was still only thirty-one, Bowring was a well-known figure in political circles in London and far beyond. He had an unusual proficiency in languages and as a boy had quickly learned French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch and put the talent to good use by joining a London exporting company. As a young man he travelled extensively all over Europe, learning incidentally Danish, Swedish, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Polish, Czech, and Magyar. Later he was to learn Arabic and Chinese. But he was more than a successful merchant and scholar. Everywhere on his travels Bowring was introduced to the prominent men in literary and political circles and, once having made an acquaintance, he seems never to have let him go. In particular he got to know the liberals all over Europe. He must have been an affable young man and success bred success. Constantly on the move from one liberal drawing-room to another, he gave the appearance of being very well informed about the internal politics of several European countries. He was also deeply involved in complex financial transactions.

  • 13 Talma, p. 7.

11In 1821, Bowring was in Madrid trying to settle claims against the Spanish Government which dated back to the time when he was a contractor to Wellington’s army in 1813. When the news of the Greek Revolution reached Madrid Bowring is said to have been the founder of a Spanish Philhellenic Committee,13 a shadowy organization about whose activities, if any, nothing is known. It seems to have been an organization not so much of Spaniards as of dispersed unsuccessful revolutionaries from Italy and elsewhere and their well-wishers.

12By his constant toing and froing among the liberals of Europe Bowring was one of the men who gave credibility to the belief that the revolutions in Spain, Italy, and Greece were the result of an international conspiracy. To others it seemed that Bowring must be a spy of the British Government.

13In 1822 the French police in exasperation arrested him at Calais as he was about to return to England. Because of his known correspondence with opponents of the regime the French police had been secretly following him, searching his lodgings, and reading his papers. It was believed from other sources that he was implicated in a plot to spring from prison four soldiers who had been condemned to death for singing republican songs, the famous affair of the four Sergeants of La Rochelle. To add to the aura of intrigue and espionage which always surrounded Bowring, it was discovered when he was arrested that he was carrying despatches from the Portuguese Minister in Paris warning of the imminent French invasion of Spain. Bowring was fortunate to be released and expelled from France.

14It was these two men, the simplistic journalist and the insidious omniscient merchant, who were responsible for establishing the Greek Committee in London. Blaquiere and Bowring were not spies. It was simply that their political activities took them into the twilight area of diplomacy. They picked up a great deal of useful intelligence and were prepared to pass it on to the British Government, but the co-operation or acquiescence of the Government, although helpful, was not essential to them. They needed no guidance in protecting British interests. On the contrary, one of the main considerations in their plans was to forestall attempts by other countries to exploit the Greek situation. It was they who warned the Government that the scheme to revive the Knights of Malta was a cover for French interference in Greece and so persuaded the Government to prevent the Knights concluding a loan on the London money market. It was they too who frustrated the various schemes of General de Wintz by persuading the Government to intervene. Canning, who already had experience of how useful Bowring could be, connived at the establishment of a philhellenic movement in Britain. The British Government, while remaining neutral in the Greek-Turkish conflict, thus had an instrument by which to assert influence. It was an indirect instrument, by no means under the control of the Government, but one nevertheless which could be guided and influenced and (with the help of the Ionian quarantine) closely watched. In exchange, the Government turned a blind eye to the activities of the London Committee, which were of doubtful legality, despite repeated representations from the Ottoman Government. It is too much to say that the London Greek Committee was in alliance with the Government, but on the other hand, it was not the independent charitable institution that it may have appeared.

15The London Greek Committee issued its first circular signed by Bowring as secretary from the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand on 3 March 1823. The original membership was twenty-six, almost all Members of Parliament. A public meeting was held on 15 May at which a series of resolutions were passed. The Chairman’s opening address could have been culled from the dozens of philhellenic pamphlets which had circulated in Germany and France in 1821 and 1822:

  • 14 Quoted by Gordon, ii, p. 85.

The present state of Greece is highly interesting to the friends of humanity, civilization, and religion…. It is a matter of surprise and regret that hitherto they [the philhellenic feelings of the people of England] have produced so little active and beneficial result. At length, however, a numerous Committee has been formed of friends of Greece, and the time is arrived when they deem it right to make a public appeal. It is in the name of Greece. It is in behalf of a country associated with every sacred and sublime recollection: – it is for a people formerly free and enlightened, but long retained by foreign despots in the chains of ignorance and barbarism!14

  • 15 Printed prospectus among Gordon papers.

16One of the motions, in the name of the young Lord John Russell, declared: ’That the liberation of that unhappy country affords the most cheering prospects of being able to enlarge the limit of Christianity and civilization’.15

17For nearly two years afterwards the London Greek Committee showed enormous energy. Public meetings were held regularly in the Crown and Anchor at which impassioned philhellenic speeches were delivered after the audience had been suitably softened with alcohol. The Tavern was open every day to receive subscriptions. A campaign was mounted, with a good deal of success, to ’place’ news and articles about Greece in the press. Some of the old philhellenic pamphlets which had come out at the beginning of the War, were republished with appropriate revisions. Others were written for the occasion.

18Blaquiere himself made a long tour through England and Ireland to visit newspaper owners and to try to set up local committees. Gordon established a committee in Aberdeen. Gradually the programme became more ambitious. A ’sensational ascent’ of a balloon was advertised and arranged, although on the day the balloon failed to rise. Blaquiere especially had an eye for the publicity gimmick. On one of his visits to Greece he brought back some cannon balls made from the marble of the Parthenon, thus combining the appeals of the modern war with the ancient glory. On other occasions a few frightened Greek and Turkish orphans were brought to England. The purpose was to provide them with education but the publicity opportunity was exploited to the full.

19The Committee arranged for the publication of suitable books on Greece. A collection of Greek folk songs which had recently appeared in Paris was translated by way of the French into English. The resulting verses – such as this extract about the siege of Tripolitsa – made familiar reading for devotees of Sir Walter Scott:

  • 16 Charles Brinsley Sheridan, The Songs of Greece, London, 1825, p. 98.

But when he came, the Grecian guns
Were shaking every tower,
More close became the circling force
More thick the iron shower;
Until Colocotroni cried,
From Graecia’s nearest post:
’Yield freely, Ki’amil, and trust
Colocotroni’s host
’I pledge my word nor thou nor thine
Shall feel the sabre’s edge’.
’Hellenes! Chiefs! I yield at once,
And take the proffer’d pledge’
A proud Boulouk-Bashee exclaim’d,
From off a battery’s height:
’No! Rayahs! unbelieving dogs!
We still defy your might!
’Our Sultan sits in Stambol yet,
’Unshaken on his throne;
’Unnumber’d forts and countless bands
’Of Turks are still our own’.16

20The indefatigable Blaquiere, on top of all his other activities, produced a book called The Greek Revolution, its Origin and Progress, a fitting companion to his earlier Historical View of the Spanish Revolution. Blaquiere’s opportunities for discovering what actually occurred during the early months of the Greek Revolution were limited, and he certainly never understood the underlying causes. Yet, whatever allowances one may wish to make, he was guilty of every easy trick of suppression, distortion and smear that marks the unscrupulous partisan or the unshakeable fanatic. Every action of the Greeks was valorous, wise, and admirable; every action of the Turks – called throughout ’infidels’ – was cruel, cowardly, and offensive. The atrocities committed by the Turks were related in loving detail; those committed by the Greeks were prudently omitted. Even the massacre of the Turks at Tripolitsa was blandly justified.

  • 17 Henry Renton to Gordon, 22 February 1825, Gordon Papers.

21The publicity started by the London Greek Committee led to subsidiary committees being established in several provincial cities, although they seem to have been short-lived. Charities and missionary societies turned their attention to Greece in accordance with the new fashion. There even existed a ’Scottish Ladies Society for Promoting the Moral and Intellectual Improvement of Females in Greece’ – a daunting programme even for Scottish ladies.17

  • 18 Thomas Moore, Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence, London, 1853, p. 88.

22Yet, in spite of all the energy of the London Greek Committee and the publicity for the Greek cause which they generated, the impact of the British Philhellenes on public opinion was slight. They never succeeded in stirring the conscience or capturing the imagination. At one of the meetings of the Committee the Chairman reported regretfully that hardly any replies had been received to the two thousand letters which had been sent out asking for subscriptions.18 When Lord Byron’s name was added to the membership of the Committee, interest picked up a little and by the end of 1823 its membership had risen to eighty-five. But the best measure of the public’s commitment to political movements of this kind is the amount of money they are prepared to subscribe. By this measure, despite the Committee’s apparent success in promoting publicity and securing Government cooperation, they failed in their prime purpose. The total sum of money collected by the Committee was only £11,241, far less than the monies collected by the Societies on the Continent and only slightly more than the sum sent for relief of Greek refugees by the British Quakers.

23The reason why the British public were so unwilling to part with their money lay in the character of the Committee. On the face of it, the list of eighty-five men who formed membership of the London Greek Committee was representative of all that was great and good in British life. There were a few peers and numerous Members of Parliament, several lawyers including a former Lord Chancellor, two retired generals and other military men, a sprinkling of scholars, academics, and clergymen, the poets Byron, Moore, Rogers, and Campbell, and others whose names were familiar to the public for one reason or another.

24But the Committee was primarily a political organization and it was judged for its politics. It was clear from the membership lists where its sympathies lay. There was only one Tory in the whole Committee and he was the unattractive pamphleteer who advocated extermination of the Turks in the name of religion, the Reverend Thomas Hughes. All the other members, insofar as their general political views could be identified, were Whigs and Radicals. This fact by itself should not have put people off. Even without Tories the list could still be said to represent a fairly broad spectrum of opinion. But from the beginning most of the members of the Committee took no active part in its affairs – they paid their subscription, allowed their name to be used, perhaps attended the first few meetings, but did nothing more. The driving force behind the Committee was a small group of about half a dozen, Joseph Hume, Sir Francis Burdett, Edward Ellice, and John Cam Hobhouse, all Members of Parliament and, of course, Bowring and Blaquiere. These men set the tone of the Committee and were mainly responsible for the impression it made on public opinion. Their reputation was not universally attractive. They were at the extreme left of the political spectrum within which British politics was then conducted. They regarded themselves as liberals, radicals, reformers or progressives, holders of advanced ideas, opponents of the established order.

25Most of their policies have long since been implemented and have themselves entered the established traditions of British politics, but among the penalties of having ideas in advance of one’s time is the risk of being dubbed a dangerous revolutionary or at best an irresponsible and impractical eccentric. Furthermore, the man with ideas in advance of his time is constantly finding more institutions in need of reform and is obliged to criticize, warn, and attack. As public opinion catches up, or alternatively as his unheeded warnings are seen to have been well founded, he is also constantly being presented with opportunities for saying ’I told you so’. It requires unusual political skill in these circumstances to avoid being considered destructive, priggish, or contrary. The leaders of the London Greek Committee did not have that skill. Admirable though their general political principles were, their self righteousness was insufferable. Year after year, as new liberal causes were thought of, the same names would appear before the public to advocate liberal solutions and often to ask for money. Committees would be set up to promote this or that good cause and the familiar names were sure to be found. Appeals from professional protesters and do-gooders are apt to raise a yawn. More easy-going men may be repelled from supporting a good cause by an unwillingness to ally themselves with such leaders. The cause of the Greeks in Britain appeared to most people to be simply the fashionable liberal cause of the hour, enjoying a brief month or two of public attention before its champions moved on to the cause of Spain, or Italy, or Ireland, or Catholic emancipation, or slavery, or capital punishment, or some other burning topic of the day.

26The leaders of the London Greek Committee were particularly liable to provoke the wrong reactions. Not only did they believe that they were endowed with superior political wisdom (a venial fault in any politician who desires to be taken seriously) but they believed that they had discovered the key to all political questions. Liberalism to them was not merely an attitude of mind to be adopted in approaching political questions, but a complete and coherent political philosophy with its own rationale, its articles of faith, and its dogma. Among the original list of twenty-six members there was one name which seemed by its distinction to emphasize the insignificance of the others. Jeremy Bentham was now in his mid-seventies and had been pouring out his opinions on the troubles of the world for half a century. He was now a venerable old man but his mind and body were still far more active than many men half his age. He had attained the same kind of position as his liberal descendant Bertrand Russell was to occupy in the nineteen-fifties, deeply and sincerely respected for his intelligence, his courage, and his energy even by men who had no understanding of his philosophy or despised his politics.

  • 19 * Blaquiere introduced himself to Bentham by writing him a series of flattering letters. He introdu (...)

27The true greatness of Bentham is usually underestimated. His concepts of liberty and utilitarianism, as refined by John Stuart Mill, remain probably the most civilized political principles that have been devised and are in need of revival. If the weaknesses in his philosophy, once they were recognized, seemed to be fatal, this was because he claimed too much. If Bentham had been content to expound a general guide to political conduct rather than establish a total coherent system of pure philosophy, his achievement would have been more widely recognized. The fault of Bentham was a tendency to retreat into dogma and his coterie exaggerated the fault. Bowring, who was to become Bentham’s executor, was already in the habit of using the old man’s name as a spiritual invocation to support his own ideas.*19 Other prominent Benthamites who joined the London Greek Committee were fawning and uncritical in the manner of disciples, regarding the master’s chance remarks as mandatory pronouncements.

28There were two aspects of Benthamite liberalism which especially attracted exaggerated respect. One was the belief that public opinion could ensure that the best policies would be identified and adopted, and the other was the belief that a good written constitution could guarantee the liberties of the governed. The Benthamites promoted both these articles of faith with particular intensity and some of the members of the London Greek Committee sometimes seemed to regard politics as being solely concerned with constitutions and communications methods. From the beginning the London Greek Committee gave off an odour of sanctimoniousness. Outsiders suspected, with a good deal of justice, that the Committee was less concerned with promoting the Greek war against the Turks than with using the unsettled situation in Greece as a practical testing ground for their political theories.

29It is doubtful if the various representatives of the Greek Government who were sent to London from time to time to negotiate with the British Philhellenes appreciated what kind of men they had fallen in with. At first they were simply bewildered. Blaquiere, who had brought the first Greek agent from Spain, adopted a proprietorial attitude and led his guest about London exhibiting him as the attraction of the hour. The Greek agents could only look on in wonderment as Blaquiere and Bowring protected them from the blandishments of this and that counter-offer, explaining how they alone had the true interests of Greece at heart.

  • 20 Bowring to Hobhouse 24 December 1823. British Library Additional Manuscripts 36, 460 f. 178.

30But the Greek agents, for all their apparent willingness to be guided by their self-appointed friends and protectors, never lost sight of their main object. It was money that they needed most of all and they were ready to do all that was required to obtain it. The paltry sums raised by the Committee by subscription could never make any real difference to the course of the war. Their object was to use their contacts with the prominent men of the Committee to raise a loan on the London Stock Exchange. Talk about the proposed loan began as soon as the London Committee was formed – how it should be raised, whether in the name of the Committee or of the Greeks, how it should be spent. In the wildly speculative conditions of the London money market at the time the talk was almost enough, by itself, to ensure a successful flotation. By the end of the year Bowring was writing that he could raise a loan of £600,000 ’by tomorrow morning’ if it was decided to go ahead.20 The prospect of a loan which would transform the chances of the Greeks winning the war was never far from people’s minds.

31Thus, partly through ignorance and partly by design, the Greek agents decided to humour the Committee. However bizarre the Committee’s ideas seemed to be they decided to play along with them. Seldom have representatives of a supposedly independent country written such abjectly sycophantic thank-you letters as the Greek agents addressed to the members of the London Greek Committee. Anyone who might be in a position to render a service was presented with an effusive letter carefully drafted to appeal to his preconceptions. Much of the correspondence of the Greek Government and its agents overseas during this period is simply philhellenic waffle designed to ingratiate possible friends of the cause.

32In particular the Greeks entered into a long correspondence with Jeremy Bentham about the exact terms of an ideal constitution for the country. They conveniently ignored the fact that the existing much-admired constitution was completely disregarded, and that the proposed delicate balances between the various constitutional instruments were hardly likely to function satisfactorily in a backward, largely illiterate, country where the chief source of political power was the ability to maintain bands of armed men at personal expense by plunder and extortion.

33An official letter from the Greek Government thanked Bentham, ’the preceptor of the nineteenth century in the school of legislation’ for suspending his labours ’which were embracing the general happiness of Europe’ for the purpose of devoting himself to Greece. With the help of Bentham’s advice, the Greek Government declared that Greece ’will make her advances with proportionately greater speed and better fortune, in the great work of that moral regeneration upon which her present and most permanent glory resides’.

  • 21 Examples from which the quotations are taken are in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, edited by John Bo (...)

34The Greek agents took to addressing Bentham in their letters as ’Father and Protector of Greece’, ’Friend and Father of our Country’, ’Our faithful Friend and well-beloved Father’. Bentham was pleased to give his reply to ’My dear children’ and to pass on his detailed suggestions on abstruse legal points to ’my son’ Mavrocordato.21 Bentham was made an honorary member of a (largely mythical) Learned Society in Nauplia which existed mainly for the purpose of having honorary members. The more extravagant the flattery, the more the Greek Committee came to believe it. Outsiders could only marvel and despair at the success of this new form of philhellenic humbug.


1 There is much about Gordon in Dakin, British and American Philhellenes.

2 Hastings’ papers are in the Library of the British School at Athens. Finlay’s Biographical Sketch is the fullest account, see also Chapter 28.

3 Jarvis’ papers are published. See also Chapter 30 for Jarvis’ later activities in Greece.

4 Humphreys, First Journal and other works.

5 Haldenby does not appear in Dakin’s list. He is described by the author of the Tagebuch of Tübingen. It is also clearly Haldenby who is described by Came, pp. 533 ff.

6 Hausmann from Colmar.

7 E. His full name is unknown, Carne, pp. 545 ff.

8 N. and S. Christian Müller, p. 6.

9 Hoistin mentioned by Elster, Fahrten, ii, p. 32. I doubt whether he existed.

10 Finlay, Adventure. See Note 9 to Chapter 11.

11 C. Brinsley Sheridan, Thoughts on the Greek Revolution. Pamphleteer XLVIII, 1824, p. 424 ff.

12 * Three if one counts the anonymous pamphlet by ‘Crito’, which is almost certainly edited by him.

13 Talma, p. 7.

14 Quoted by Gordon, ii, p. 85.

15 Printed prospectus among Gordon papers.

16 Charles Brinsley Sheridan, The Songs of Greece, London, 1825, p. 98.

17 Henry Renton to Gordon, 22 February 1825, Gordon Papers.

18 Thomas Moore, Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence, London, 1853, p. 88.

19 * Blaquiere introduced himself to Bentham by writing him a series of flattering letters. He introduced his friend Bowring to the great man after he had established himself as a disciple.

20 Bowring to Hobhouse 24 December 1823. British Library Additional Manuscripts 36, 460 f. 178.

21 Examples from which the quotations are taken are in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, edited by John Bowring, Edinburgh, 1843, and Dalleggio.


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