Comments on Greece from 1851 with a relevance today.

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Comments on Greece from 1851 with a relevance today.

Post by tony h » Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:24 pm

Panajotti Soutzo. Zante, May 27th, 1851


Mine honourable Friend,

I write to you from Zante, which I reached a week ago. My object is to give you an account of an election to the Municipal Council of Zante, which, as you are aware, administrates the local affairs ot this island, conjointly with the Regent.

There is not a citizen here but wishes the independence and union of the seven islands with Greece. Some of them, however, seeing that we have no moral or physical capability of governing ourselves ; discouraged by the banditti which desolate our country; and struck with the symptoms of dissolution and anarchy which are breaking out in all directions; are endeavouring to gain time:
the others, on the contrary, influenced rather by the desire of independence than by that of their country's welfare, and feeling persuaded that Providence will not abandon Greece, throw their whole weight into the union of the islands with the mother country. These latter denominate themselves radicals ; publicly call for the expulsion of the English ; and "for the sake of their cause" courageously dare the hatred of the authorities.

Three citizens forming part of this latter class MM. John Lisgara^ Gteorge Crenderopulo, and Demetrius Macri, lately presented themselves as candidates at the municipal election and obtained the majority of votes.

The British Government violated the law neither directly nor indirectly ; it had recourse to no kind whatsoever of corruption. If, in the independent kingdom of Greece, a candidate for the House of Assembly had declared himself opposed, not alone to the House of Bavaria, but simply against the meanest of the Ministry, what effusion of blood would have arisen ! what falsifications of bulletins ! what frauds !

And yet it is said that we have a constitutional government ! and we are proclaimed as unworthy of a representative system !

Yesterday, I made a long excursion into the country. What a delightful sight ! Everywhere
vineyards, orchards, golden harvests, cattle grazing magnificent roads, villages full of prosperity.

What security ! what inviolable respect for property, both from those governing and those governed.

When contemplating the happiness of the Zantiots and comparing it with ihe misery of us independent Greeks, I wept with grief.

Unfortunate that we are ! It is now nineteen years since royalty has been established amongst us, and we have security neither for money nor for
property. Here you can proceed, loaded with gold, from one end of the island to the other without the least fear.. At home, we cannot without the greatest danger go even from Athens to Kiphissia.

Here, what roads ! what joyous hamlets ! the children play, the women work peaceably within their dwellings, fearless of either the movable columns of official bandits, or of the bands of brigands.

Do the Zantiots purchase so great a security by heavy taxes ?

In no ways. In the Ionian Islands, no tithe, no internal taxes ; but simple duties on importations and exportations.

Such is the state of the enslaved Zantiots ! (footnote)

PanajottiSoutzo has lived to envy servitude . . . Shame! A thousand times shame on the system
which reigns in Greece.

After having spent a loan of sixty millons with four hundred millions of taxation we have neither harbour, bridge, nor road ; we are a prey to robbery, assailed by pirates, infested with a thousand diseases ; and, far from enjoying liberty, we are bowed down under the vilest slavery I

If you think it desirable, publish these lines ; perhaps they will do some good, being from a man who is no partizan either of France, England, or

We have never been in so deplorable a state. Greece is at an end, if we do not endeavour to save her. Let her be the symbol of some amongst us.

Let her become the aim of our efforts during life ! As for me I will not cease to proclaim the truths so long as I shall not see my country free and happy, under the tegis of royalty relying upon intelligence and virtue.

If the last drop of my blood could contribute to raise my native land. I would give it with pleasure.

Panajotti Soutzo.

Zante, May 27th, 1851

What a contrast is this with the state of Zante in 1790, as described by a man who had no interest in the matter : By what I could learn from the traders, and a few other people, to whom I had an opportunity of speaking, the police is really shocking. The Governors are generally needy men, but, by accepting fines as a remission for murder, they are soon enriched, perhaps by the ruin of the and such is that of us Greeks said to be free men wlio have poured torrents of their blood and piled up heaps of their bones to reconquer independence.
widow and orphan. Is your husband assassinated, your father murdered ? Dry up your tears— your Governor is three Guineas richer. Do you remonstrate? For three guineas more you may let loose all the demons of revenge. Thus one murder produces another; whole families are
involved in destruction, or at least live in perpetual alarms ; justice never interferes, and society is of course destroyed."
Tour from Gibraltar to Constantinople, by Captain Sutherland, p. 132.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

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