15 August 2012

The Necessitous Inhabitants of Greece: Part Two

Kaïka, or Caïque, by Karl Krazeisen.

 The first part of this entry was published in November 2010: then I forgot about it. This continues with diary entries from Jonathan Miller who brought ships with humanitarian aid to Greece in the last year of the Epanastasis. The first entry gives a list of kinds of aid donated by Americans from the small nation of the United States of America, and some of the difficulties and tragedies Miller encountered.   This entry presents other aspects of Miller's Greek experience.
  •  I delivered to Captain Stykos half a tierce of rice, one of beans, one barrel of flour, and one of bread.  He is the famous Greek chief who first entered the Pallamedi at Napoli di Romania, when the Greeks stormed that place, . . . Stykos has a large family who have nothing to eat but herbs, he having been sick for the last three months.
  • The surgeon of Grivas, from Napoli, brought me a petition from the local government of that place, requesting me to give something to their hospital . . . I had every reason to belive that this same surgeon had killed Dr. Bruno, physician to Lord Byron, a few months since, in order to possess himself of his clothes;
  • Went to see a black man [James Williams] from the United States, who had an arm and a leg broken in the engagement with the Turks in the Gulf of Lepanto.  I gave him two dollars to enable him to pay off his nurse, and promised to move him to the hospital.  . . . Took James Williams into my house.  Williams came to Greece with Lord Cochrane, was cook of the Sauvieur, and conducted himself with great coolness . . . particularly at the battle in the Gulf of Lepanto, . . . for when no Greek could be found to take the helm, Williams volunteered his services, and was there struck down . . . he had before contended with the Turks, for he had lost a finger before Algiers . . . under Decatur.
  • It is truly a novel sight in this part of the world to see the Grecian girls running around in their plaid gowns, made in the Frank fashion.  . . . The garments sent without making, with thread and tape packed up in them, do great credit to the donors in America.
  • My servant, who was with men when I was in Greece before . . . informed me to-day that he intended to marry before I left the country, that I might become, as the Greeks call it, his kombaros or sponsor.  He has fixed his affections on a girl of eighteen, from Athens, whose name is Athena, and who is as beautiful as the rose when in its full bloom.  Next Sunday week is appointed for the time of celebrating their nuptials.
  • For the last three days I have been quite unwell, with a severe cold.  The poor are daily, from morning to night, surrounding my quarters, crying out for food and clothing; . . . I had a catalogue of the poor widows, and orphans, and inform old men again made out, which amounted to three hundred and sixty three souls.  Among these, I divided equally twenty-five barrels of Indian meal.  Gave to a poor soldier who lost his leg under Kariskaki, before Athens, a barrel of Indian meal, and cloth to make him a suite of clothes.
  • Delivered four barrels of Indian meal, to be distributed among twenty-one Greeks, who escaped from the Turkish fleet, when it was destroyed at Navarino.

It is impossible to read Miller and not become angry at the "heroes" whose busts and statues litter the towns of the Morea.
  • Capt. Hamilton observed, "If you should give to Petroni Bay to-morrow bread for the poor, I know well that he would sell it."
  • Petroni Bay sent back the gift of flour I had sent him and said it was too little for him to accept.
  • Petroni Bay called to receive my final answer, whether I would send the donations intended for Maina in his brig or not. I informed him that . . . I considered it a little less than a personal insult for him to press me to confide property to him . . . after I was satisfied that he had been employed in robbing an American vessel upon the high seas.  I told him I had given information of the facts to the American squadron, and hoped to have the satisfaction of hearing in a few days that his vessel would be burnt.
  • Given to General Grivas, commander of the Pallamidi at Napoli, to prevent violence, 133 barrels flour.  Given to Fomares for the same reason, 143 barrels flour.  Given to Commandant at Bourgi, ditto, 26 barrels.  Seized by General Colocotroni, 55 barrels, Stolen by the soldiers, 11 barrels.
  • About two o'clock in the afternoon, as we were standing in towards the shore of Maina, we saw the brig of Petroni Bay . . . standing for us . . . The pirate . . . put about in chase.  We soon found that the piratical vessel was the best sailer and gained upon us . . .We kept on our course for about three hours, running before the wind directly out to see, when we had the satisfaction of seeing the pirate tack, and stand in for the land.
Miller was thirty when he left Greece to return to the United States.  He had the pleasure of recording:
  • Fourteen marriages were celebrated this day at Egina, in consequence of the news received yesterday of the destruction of the Turkish fleet.  The parties had been betrothed for two or three years, but the miseries of the country had prevented consummation until now, when the prospect brightens.

Watercolor view of the Morea from Nauplion by Karl Krazeisen.

This entry is dedicated to Ersie Burke who recently sent me a photograph of a bust in Leonidion inscribed "Looter of Tripolis."  I had not thought it was looting that was significant at Tripolis in 1821.

Jonathan Miller's book, The Condition of Greece in 1827 and 1828; Being an Exposition of the Poverty, Distress, and Misery to Which the Inhabitants Have Been Reduced by the Destruction of Their Towns and Villages, and the Ravages of their Country by a Merciless Turkish Foe, can be downloaded from Google books.

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