Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

TO

THE GREEK COMMITTEE,

THIS VOLUME

IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

BY

THE EDITOR.

1

PREFACE.

(BY THE EDITOR.)

AMIDST the various struggles for liberty which have recently agitated the South of Europe, none has excited so strong and permanent an interest as that of the people of Greece. Doomed for ages to endure the iron yoke of a barbarous nation, alien from their feelings alike in origin, in habits, and in religion, the tyranny under which they groaned was rendered yet more insupportable by the galling recollection that their fathers had been free; and that at a time when all the other inhabitants of the globe were in a state of slavery, Greece alone stood pre-eminent in the enjoyment of those republican institutions, which have continued to excite a higher degree of admiration, in proportion as the mind of man has become more enlightened, and, consequently, more capable of appreciating their merits.

The name of Greece is calculated to awaken and revive in every bosom feelings of the most pleasurable and improving kind. With our earliest years we are taught to admire the energy and pathos of her poets ; and, as we advance towards manhood, the genius of her historians, no less than the heroic actions which they have commemorated, become the favourite theme of our study. In the yet higher concerns of man, the culture of the mind and the administration of the state, the writers of Ancient Greece rise still higher, and approach, in many points, to that sublime system of ethics which characterizes the religion professed by their descendants. That such a Nation, descended from the warriors, the poets, the historians, and the philosophers, who present to us the noblest types of their respective classes, should have sunk so low in the scale of moral energy as to have become the unmurmuring slaves of a race of uncivilized infidels, was a phenomenon too remarkable to be overlooked, and too humiliating not to be universally deplored. From the school-boy to the statesman, all who had imbibed the slightest taste for literature, joined in the lamentation, and could only account for this apparent deviation from the usual course of things by the supposition that the modern Greek had degenerated from the talents and magnanimity of his forefathers; that the owl of Minerva had dwindled into a beetle, and that the sword of Achilles had been again exchanged for the needle and distaff of the effeminate attendant on the court of Lycomedes.

In this state of apparent moral degradation, the virtues of the Greek people did but slumber, their mental and physical powers were not annihilated, and the fortunate moment at length arrived which enabled them to prove to the admiring world that they yet inherited a portion of those sublime energies which had ennobled their renowned progenitors. Roused from the apathy of their long-borne suffering, they at once burst asunder the massy chains with which their tyrants had loaded them, and, strong in the majesty of regenerated freedom, Greece once more lifted up her head. Her infidel oppressors fled before her newly-awakened and irresistible energies, and in the course of a single campaign, the surface of Greece was almost entirely freed from the locusts who had so long devastated her plains. The tranquillity which they had purchased was not, however, of long duration ; with the ensuing spring the oppressor returned, determined to inflict a tenfold vengeance upon those who had dared to emancipate themselves from his barbarous yoke; but he came but to be de

« ZurückWeiter »