The Autobiography of a Journalist, Volume II
William James Stillman

Part 1 out of 5






[Illustration: W. Stillman]


























Cholera was raging all over the Levant, and there was no direct
communication with any Turkish port without passing through
quarantine. In the uncertainty as to getting to my new post by
any route, I decided to leave my wife and boy at Rome, with a
newcomer,--our Lisa, then two or three months old,--and go on an
exploring excursion. Providing myself with a photographic apparatus, I
took steamer at Civita Vecchia for Peiraeus. Arrived at Athens I found
that no regular communication with any Turkish port was possible, and
that the steamers to Crete had been withdrawn, though there had not
been, either at that or at any previous time, a case of cholera in
Crete; but such was the panic prevailing in Greece that absolute
non-intercourse with the island and the Turkish empire had been
insisted on by the population. People thought I might get a chance at
Syra to run over by a sailing-boat, so I went to Syra. But no boat
would go to Crete, because the quarantine on the return was not merely
rigorous but merciless, and exaggerate to an incredible severity. No
boat or steamer was admitted to enter the port coming from any Turkish
or Egyptian port, though with a perfectly clean bill of health, and
all ships must make their quarantine at the uninhabited island
of Delos. Such was the panic that no one would venture to carry
provisions to that island while there was a ship in quarantine, and
during the fortnight I waited at Syra an English steamer without
passengers, and with a clean bill of health, having finished her term,
was condemned to make another term of two weeks, because a steamer had
come in with refugees from Alexandria, and had anchored in the same
roadstead. Mr. Lloyd, the English consul, protested and insisted on
the steamer being released, and the people threatened to burn his
house over his head if he persisted; but, as he did persist, the ship
was finally permitted to communicate with Syra, but not to enter the
harbor, and was obliged to leave without discharging or taking cargo,
after being a month in quarantine.

At last an English gentleman named Rogers, who lived at Syra, an
ex-officer of the English army, offered to carry me over to Canea
on his yacht of twelve tons, and take the consequences. I found the
consulate, like the position in Rome, deserted, the late consul having
been a Confederate who had gone home to enlist, I suppose, for he
had been gone a long time, and the archives did not exist. There was
nothing to take over but a flag, which the vice-consul, a Smyrniote
Greek, and an honest one, as I was glad to find, but who knew nothing
of the business of a consul, had been hoisting on all fête days for
two or three years, waiting for a consul to come. I was received with
great festivity by my protégés, the family of the vice-consul, and
with great ceremony by the pasha, a renegade Greek, educated in
medicine by the Sultana Valide, and in the enjoyment of her high
protection; an unscrupulous scoundrel, who had grafted on his Greek
duplicity all the worst traits of the Turk. As, with the exception of
the Italian consul, Sig. Colucci, not one of the persons with whom I
acted or came in contact in my official residence survives, unless it
may be the commander of the Assurance, an English gunboat, of whose
subsequent career I know nothing, I shall treat them all without

The Pasha, Ismael, I at once found, considered it his policy to
provoke a conflict with any new consul, and either break him in or
buy him over; and the occasion for a trial of strength was not
long coming. The night patrol attempted to arrest the son of the
vice-consul in his house, in which I had been temporarily residing
while the house which I took was being put in order, and over which
the flag floated. I at once demanded an apology, and a punishment for
the _mulazim_ in command of the patrol. The pasha refused it, and I
appealed to Constantinople. The Porte ordered testimony to be taken
concerning the affair, and the pasha took that of the mulazim and the
policeman on oath, and then that of my witnesses without the oath,
the object being, of course, to protest against their evidence on
the ground that they would not swear to it. I immediately had their
evidence retaken on oath and sent on to Constantinople with the rest.
The Porte decided in my favor, and ordered the apology to be made by
the mulazim. As the affair went on with much detail of correspondence
between the _konak_ and the consulate for some weeks, it had attracted
the general attention of our little public, and the final defeat of
the pasha was a mortification to him which he made every effort to
conceal. He denied for several weeks having received any decision from
the Porte, in the hope, probably, that he would tire me out; but as
I had nothing to do, and the affair amused me, I stuck to him as
tenaciously as he to his denials, and he had to give in. It was a very
small affair, but the antagonism so inaugurated had a strong effect on
the Cretans, who found in me an enemy of their tyrant.

Ismael was cruel and dishonorable; he violated his given word and
pledges without the slightest regard for his influence with
the population. I have since seen a good deal of Turkish
maladministration, and I am of the opinion that more of the oppression
of the subject populations is due to the bad and thieving instincts of
the local officials than directly to the Sublime Porte, and that the
simplest way of bringing about reforms (after the drastic one of
abolishing the Turkish government) is in the Powers asserting a right
of approbation of all nominations to the governorships throughout the
whole empire. When, as at certain moments in the long struggle of
which I am now beginning the history, I came in contact with the
superior officers of the Sultan, I found a better sense of the policy
of justice than obtained with the provincial functionaries.

Ismael Pasha had only one object,--to do anything that would advance
his promotion and wealth. He regarded a foreign consul, with the right
of exterritoriality, as a hostile force in the way of his ambitions,
and, therefore, until he found that one was not to be bought or
worried into indifference to the injustice perpetrated around him, he
treated him as an enemy. I always liked a good fight in a good cause,
and I had no hesitation in taking up the glove that Ismael threw down,
and my defiance of all his petty hostile manoeuvres was immediately
observed by the acute islanders and put down to my credit and
exaltation in the popular opinion. The discontent against his measures
was profound, and the winter of my first year in the island was one of
great distress. Ismael had laid new and illegal taxes on straw,
wine, all beasts of burden, which, with oppressive collection of the
habitual tithes (levied in accordance not with the actual value of the
crops, but with their value as estimated by the officials), and short
crops for two years past, made life very hard for the Cretan. Even
this was not enough; justice was administered with scandalous venality
and disregard of the existing laws and procedure. Not long after my
arrival at Canea, the hospital physician, a humane Frenchman, informed
me that an old Sphakiot had just died in the prison, where he had been
confined for a long time in place of his son, who had been guilty of a
vendetta homicide and had escaped to the Greek islands. According to a
common Turkish custom, the pasha had ordered his nearest relative to
be arrested in his place. This was the old father, who lay in prison
till he died.

The capricious cruelty of Ismael was beyond anything I had ever heard
of. One day I was out shooting and was attacked by a dog whom I
saluted with a charge of small birdshot, on which the owner made
complaint to the pasha that I had peppered accidentally one of his
children. Ismael spread this report through the town, learning which I
made him an official visit demanding a rectification and examination
of the child, which was found without a scratch. The pasha, furious at
the humiliation of exposure, then threw the man into prison, and as
he, Adam-like, accused his wife of concocting the charge, he ordered
her also to prison for two weeks, without the slightest investigation,
leaving three small children helpless. I protested, and insisted on
the release of the man, who had only obeyed the wish of the pasha in
making the charge against me.

Having no occupation but archaeological research and photography, I
decided to make a series of expeditions into the mountain district,
and to begin with a visit to the famous strongholds of Sphakia. The
pasha protested, but as I had a right to go where I pleased, I paid no
attention to his protests, and he then went to the other extreme,
and offered to provide me with horses, which offer I unfortunately
accepted. The horse I rode and the groom the pasha sent with him were
equally vicious. The man, when we saddled up the first day out, put
the saddle on so loosely that as we mounted the first steep rocky
slope the saddle slipped over the horse's tail, carrying me with it,
and the horse walked over me, breaking a rib and bruising me severely,
and then tried to kick my brains out. I remounted and kept on, but
that night the pain of the broken rib was such, and the fever so high,
that I was obliged to give up the journey and go back to Canea. I
found that the pasha had anticipated a disaster, and heard of it with
great satisfaction.

As soon as restored, I set out on a trip to the central district of
Retimo, then perfectly tranquil, the agitation in Sphakia, which
preceded the great insurrection, having already begun, and making
my venturing there imprudent. I was anxious to see something of the
provincial government of the island, as, in Canea, where the foreign
consuls resided, there was always the slight check of publicity on the
arbitrariness of the official, though what we saw did not indicate a
very effective one. I had a dragoman in Retimo, a well-to-do merchant,
who served for the honor and protection the post gave him, and his
house was mine _pro tem_., and over it, during my stay, floated the
flag of the consulate. We made an excursion across the island to the
convent of Preveli, situated in one of the most beautiful valleys
in the island, sheltered on the north, east, and west by hills, and
lying, like a theatre, open to the south, and looking off on the
African sea. The entrance was by a narrow gorge, and here we witnessed
one of those natural phenomena that still impress an ignorant people
with the awe from which, in more ancient times, religion received its
most potent sanction. The wind passing through some orifice in the
cliff far above our heads, even when we felt none below, produced a
mysterious organ-like sound, which the people regarded as due to some
supernatural influence. As all the modern sanctuaries in that part of
the world are founded on the ruins of ancient shrines, I have no doubt
that our hospitable shelter of that night was on the site of some
temple to one of the great gods of Crete.

That journey gave me a sight of one of the remarkable Cretan women,
whose reputation for beauty I had always regarded, judging from the
women in the cities, as a classical fable. I had been making a visit
to the _mudir_ of the province through which we were passing, and,
after pipes and coffee, and the usual ceremonies, I mounted my horse,
and, at the head of my escort, rode out of the mudir's courtyard, when
my eye was caught by the flutter of the robes of a woman in a garden
across the road. Around the garden ran a high hedge of cactus, and as
I leaned forward in my saddle to look through one of the openings, a
girl's face presented itself to me at the other side of it, and we
stared each other in the eyes for several seconds before she--a
Mussulman girl--remembered that she must not be seen, when, wrapping
her veil around her head, she flew to the house. The vision was of
such a transcendent beauty as I had, and have since, never seen in
flesh and blood,--a mindless face, but of such exquisite proportion,
color, and sweetness of modeling, with eyes of such lustrous brown,
that I did not lose the vivid image of it, or the ecstatic impression
it produced, for several days; it seemed to be ineradicably impressed
on the sensorium in the same manner as the ecstatic vision I have
recorded of my wood-life. I suppose such beauty to be incompatible
with any degree of mental activity or personal character, for the
process of mental development carries with it a trace of struggle
destructive to the supreme serenity and statuesque repose of the
Cretan beauty. Pashley tells of a similar experience he had in the
mountains of Sphakia, and he was impressed as I was.

On our arrival at the city gates, returning to Retimo, we had an
experience of the mediaeval ways of the island, finding the gates
locked and no guard on duty. We called and summoned,--for a consul had
always the privilege of having the gates opened to him at any hour of
day or night,--but in vain, until I devised a summons louder than our
sticks on the gate, and, taking the hugest stone I could lift, threw
it with all my force repeatedly at the gate, and so aroused the guard,
who went to the governor and got the keys, which were kept under his
pillow. The next day we had an affair with Turkish justice which
illustrates the position of the consuls in Turkey so well that I tell
it fully. The dragoman and I had gone off to shoot rock-pigeons in
one of the caves by the seashore, leaving at home my breech-loading
hunting rifle, then a novelty in that part of the world. When we got
home at night the city was full of a report that some one in our
house had shot a Turkish boy through the body. I at once made an
investigation and found that the facts were that a boy coming to the
town, at a distance of about half a mile from the gate, had been hit
by a rifle ball which had struck him in the chest and gone out at the
back. No one had heard a shot, and the sentinel at our doors, set
nominally for honor, but really to watch the house, had not heard any
sound. The boy was in no danger, and he declared that the bullet had
struck him in the back and gone out by the chest. My Canea dragoman,
who was reading in the house all the time we were gone, had heard
nothing and knew nothing about it; but, on examining the rifle, I
found that some one had tried to wipe it out and had left a rag
sticking half way down, the barrel. This pointed to a solution, and an
investigation made the whole thing clear. The dragoman's man-servant
had taken the gun out on the balcony which looked out on the port,
and fired a shot at a white stone on the edge of the wall, in the
direction of the village where the boy was hit.

The _kaimakam_ of Retimo sent an express to Canea to ask Ismael what
he should do, and received reply to prosecute the affair with the
utmost vigor. He therefore summoned the entire household of the
dragoman, except him and myself, to the konak, to be examined. As they
were all under my protection I refused to send them, but offered to
make a strict investigation and tell him the result; but, knowing
the rigor of the Turkish law against a Christian who had wounded a
Mussulman, even unintentionally, I insisted on being the magistrate to
sit in the examination. The pasha declined my offer, and I forbade any
one in the house to go to the konak for examination. I then appeared
before the kaimakam and demanded the evidence on which my house
was accused. There was none except that of the surgeon, who was a
Catholic, and a bigoted enemy of the Greeks, and especially of the
dragoman, with whom he had had litigation. He declared that the shot
came from the direction of the town, while the boy maintained the
contrary; and as, in the direction from which the boy had come, there
was a Mussulman festival, with much firing of guns, I suggested
the possibility that the ball came, as the boy believed, from that
direction, and put the surgeon to a severe cross-examination. I asked
him if he had ever seen a gunshot wound before, and he admitted that
he had not. Thereupon I denounced him to the kaimakam, who had begun
to be frightened at the responsibility he had assumed, and the man
broke down and admitted that he might be mistaken, on which the
kaimakam withdrew the charge.

I knew perfectly well that the servant was guilty, but I knew, too,
that for accidental wounding he would have been punished by
indefinite confinement in a Turkish prison, as if he had shot the boy
intentionally. The refusal of the pasha to permit me to judge the
case, as I had a right to do, he being my protégé, left me only the
responsibility of the counsel for the prisoner, and I determined to
acquit him if possible. The bullet had, fortunately, gone through the
boy and could not be found; and, as the wound, though through the
lungs, was healing in a most satisfactory manner, and would leave no
effects, I had no scruples in preventing a conviction that would have
punished an involuntary offense by a terrible penalty, which all who
know anything of a Turkish prison can anticipate. The governor-general
was very angry, and the kaimakam was severely reprimanded, but they
could not help themselves. My position under the capitulations was
secure, but it made the hostility between the pasha and myself the
more bitter.

The accumulated oppressions of Ismael Pasha had finally the usual
effect on the Cretans, and they began to agitate for a petition to the
Sultan, a procedure which time had shown to be absolutely useless as
an appeal against the governor; and, while the agitation was in this
embryonic condition, I decided to go back to Rome and get my wife and
children. We were still in the state of siege by the cholera, and
there was still no communication with the Greek islands, so that I
accepted the offer made by my English colleague, the amiable and
gratefully remembered Charles H. Dickson, of whose qualities I shall
have to say more in the pages to come, of a passage on a Brixham
schooner to Zante. Sailing with a clean bill of health, we had to make
a fortnight's quarantine in the roadstead, and, taking passage on the
Italian postal steamer to Ancona, I was obliged, on landing, to make
another term of two weeks in the lazaretto, though we had again a
clean bill; and, on arriving on the Papal frontier by the diligence,
we had to undergo a suffocating fumigation, and all this in spite of
the fact that no one of the company I had traveled with had been at a
city where cholera had existed at any time within three months, or on
a steamer which had touched where the cholera was prevalent. At that
time there was no railway northward from Rome, and traveling was
conducted on the system of the sixteenth century, except for sea

I was not long cutting all the ties that bound me to Rome, though I
left a few sincere friends there, and, drawing a bill on my brother
for my indebtedness to the kind and helpful banker, an Englishman
named Freeborn, to whose friendship I owed the solution of most of the
difficulties and all the indulgences I had enjoyed while in Rome, I
started on my return to Crete in the problematical condition of one
who emigrates to a foreign land through an unknown way. I had money
enough to get through if nothing occurred to delay me, and no more,
for, with the high rate of exchange on America, I felt distressed at
the burthen I was laying on my brother, though I had always been told
to consider myself as to be provided for while he had the means, and
by his will when he died. His death took place at this juncture, and,
curiously enough, the draft reached him in time to be accepted, but he
died before it was paid. His will made no mention whatever of me, but
left all his property to his wife during her lifetime, and to three
Seventh-day Baptist churches after her death.

In our consular service there was no allowance for traveling expenses,
or provision of any kind for the extraordinary expenses which might
fall on the consul from contingencies like mine. The salary at Crete,
which had been $1500 during the war, was reduced to $1000 at its
close, and in future I had only that and what my pen might bring
me. Arrived at Florence on our way to Ancona, we found the Italian
government being installed there; and our minister to Italy, Mr.
Marsh, knowing my circumstances, insisted on my taking a thousand
francs, though his own salary, which was, as in my case, his only
income, was always insufficient for his official and social position
at the capital. I accepted it, and it was ten years before I paid it
all back.

Looking back on this period of my life from a later and relatively
assured, though never prosperous condition, I can see that most of my
straits in life have been owing to my having accepted the miserable
and delusive advantage of an official position under my government. I
was not indolent, and asked for an appointment not to escape work,
but to be put in the way of work which I wanted to do; and when I was
disappointed in the appointment to Venice I should have set to work at
home. But my position was a difficult one. The arts were for the
war times suspended; I could not get into the army, my mother in an
extreme old age was a pensioner at my brother Charles's house, and my
sister-in-law refused to allow me to remain in my brother's house. I
had, at an earlier date, in obedience to my brother's urgings and in
deference to the Sabbatarian scruples, refused all offers to go into
business, as he regarded me as his heir, and had formally and at more
than one juncture assured me that my future was provided for and that
I need have no anxiety as to money.

My brother had urged my acceptance of the post at Rome, and all the
disasters of my subsequent life came from that error. My temperament
and the habit of my life had always prevented me from anticipating
trouble, and I never hesitated to go ahead in what lay before me,
trusting to the chapter of accidents to get through, incessant
activity keeping anxiety away. I have never flinched from a duty, if I
saw it, have never done an injustice to man or woman, intentionally,
and at more than one moment of my career have accepted the worse horn
of a dilemma rather than permit a wrong to happen to another; and if
I have been erratic and unstable it has not been from selfish or
perverse motives. I have always been what most people would call
visionary, and material objects of endeavor have not had the value
they ought to have had in my eyes. As I look back upon a career which
has brought me into contact with many people and many interests not my
own, I can honestly say that I have not been actuated in any important
transaction by my own interest to the disadvantage of that of other
people, though I have probably often insisted too much on my own way
of seeing things in undue disregard of the views of others. Confronted
with opportunities of enriching myself illicitly, I can honestly say
that they never offered the least temptation, for I have never cared
enough about money or what it brings to do anything solely for it;
and, if I have been honest, it has not been from the excellence of my
principles, but because I was born so.

But if I could have conceived what this Cretan venture was to bring
me to, I should have taken the steamer to America rather than to the
Levant. The few days we remained in Florence, then still crowded by
the advent of the court, with its satellites and accompaniments, gave
me an opportunity to know well one of the noblest of my countrymen of
that period of our history, Mr. George P. Marsh. It is difficult even
now, after the lapse of many years since I last saw him, to do justice
to the man as I came, then and in later years, to know him and compare
him with other Americans in public life. As a representative of our
country abroad, no one, not even Lowell, has stood for it so nobly
and unselfishly; Charles Francis Adams alone rivaling him in the
seriousness with which he gave himself to the Republic. Lowell was not
less patriotic, but he loved society and England; Marsh in those days
of trial loved nothing but his country, and with an intensity that was
ill-requited as it was immeasurable. He took a great interest in our
little Russie, whom he pronounced the most remarkable child for beauty
and intelligence he had ever seen, and his interest followed us in the
tragedy of our Cretan life.

We sailed by the Austrian Lloyds' steamer to Corfu, with a bill of
health in perfect order, but on arrival at Corfu were ordered into
quarantine, because six months before cholera had made a brief
appearance at Ancona. Our consul, Mr. Woodley, came off to the steamer
to see me, for the American flag was flying from the masthead, as is
customary in the Levant when a consul is on board, and he proposed to
hire a little yacht for us to make the quarantine in, as otherwise we
should have to go to a desert island at the head of the bay, where the
only shelter was an ancient and dilapidated lazaretto overrun by rats,
and where we should have to pass two weeks dependent on the enterprise
of the Corfiotes for our subsistence. The yacht was accepted, and came
to an anchor off the marina, two or three hundred yards from the quay,
and we transshipped at once, as the steamer continued her voyage. The
putting us in quarantine was a monstrous injustice. We came from a
clean port, on a steamer which had not for several months touched at a
foul port; but the panic was such amongst the people that there was no
reasoning with them. We had not lain a day at the anchorage when the
fright of the Corfiotes at our proximity, as great as if we had the
plague on board, caused a popular demonstration against us, and the
health-officer coming off in a boat ordered us from a distance to move
off to the lazaretto island. I replied that if he was prepared to come
and weigh the anchor and navigate us there he might do so, but that no
one of the yacht's people should touch the anchor, and on that I
stood firm; and, as no one dared come in contact with the yacht in
contumacy, there we remained. The panic on shore increased to such a
point that Woodley and the health-officer had a quiet consultation,
and it was agreed to give us pratique immediately. We went that night
to the hotel, and the question was forgotten by the next day. The
Corfiotes are certainly the most cowardly people I have ever known,
and in later years we had other evidence of the fact; but, as they
disclaim Hellenic descent, and boast Phoenician blood, this does not
impeach the Greek at large.

We left Corfu by the steamer of the Hellenic Navigation Company on the
eve of the Greek Christmas, my family being the only passengers, and
without the captain of the steamer, who pretended illness, in order to
be able to enjoy the festa with his family; the command being taken
by the mate, a sailor of limited experience in those waters. The
engineers were English or Scotch, the chief being one of the Blairs.
What with the Christmas festivities and the customary dawdling, we did
not sail till 10 P.M., instead of at 10 A.M., and, to make up for the
delay, the commander _pro tem._ made a straight course for the port of
Argostoli in Cephalonia, our next stopping place. We made the island
about 10 A.M. of the next morning, and were well in towards the shore
when we were caught by one of the sudden southwesterly gales which are
the terror of the Mediterranean, and more dangerous than a full-grown
Atlantic gale. The cliffs to the north of Argostoli were in sight,
looming sheer rock above the sea line, and the wind, rapidly
increasing, blew directly on shore, bringing with it a quick, sharp
sea, and getting up before long a cross sea by the repercussion from
the cliffs, so that in the complicated tumult of waters the old, heavy
paddle steamer rolled and pitched like a log, the water pouring over
the bulwarks with every roll either way. Soon, what with the wind and
the sea, she made nothing but leeway. They put her head to the wind,
and we soon found that even to hold her own was more than she could
do, while our port lay ten miles away dead on the beam, and the cliffs
dead astern.

The plunging and rolling of the ship made it impossible to stand or
walk on deck, and I sent Laura and the children to their stateroom and
to bed, lest they break their bones. The wind, a whistling gale, cut
off the caps of the waves and filled the air with a dense spray, and
the main deck was all afloat. There were no orders heard, none given,
nothing but the monotonous beat of the paddles and the roar of the
wind, and the crew were all under shelter, for it was no longer a
question of seamanship, but of steam-power; only the commander pacing
the bridge to and fro, like a polar hear in a cage, and the engineers
changing their watch, broke the monotony of the merciless blue day,
for, except a little flying scud, the sky was as blue as on a summer

I walked aft to the engineers' mess-room, on the upper deck, and found
Blair and the two assistants off duty, seated round the table, not
eating, but mute, with their elbows on the table and their heads in
their hands, looking each other in the face in grim silence. We had
made friends on leaving Corfu, and were on easy terms, so that, as I
entered and no one spoke to me, but all looked up as if I were the
shadow of death, I began to rally them for their seamanship, but got
no word of retort from one of them. "What's the matter with you all?"
I said; "you look as if you had had bad news." "The matter is we are
going ashore," said the chief engineer. "This--fool of a mate has got
caught in shore and we can't make steam enough to hold our own against
this wind." I had not thought of this; I was chafing at the delay and
the discomfort to Laura and the children. What was the worst in the
case was still to be known. The boilers of the steamer were old and
rotten, and had been condemned, and, but for the sharp economy of
the Greek steamship company, would have been out already. The chief
engineer, when he found that the engines at ordinary pressure did not
keep the steamer from, going astern, had tied the safety valve down
and made all the steam the furnaces would make. "If we don't go ahead
we are done for just as much as if we blow up," said he; "for if we
touch those rocks not a soul of us can escape, and we shall touch them
if we drift, just as surely as if we blow up."

I went out of the mess-room with a feeling that it was a dream,--so
bright, so beautiful a day,--we so well, so late from land, and so
near to death! "Bah!" I said to myself. "They are fanciful; the cliffs
are still a couple of miles away, and something will come to avert the
wreck." I went down to the stateroom; Laura and the boy were unable
to raise their heads from extreme sea-sickness, but baby Lisa was
swinging on the edge of her berth, delighted with the motion, and
singing like a bird, in her baby way. I sat down in my berth--there
were four berths in each room--and watched her, and somehow the faith
grew in me that we were not going that way at that time, that the
hour had not come; and I went back to the mess-room to try to inspire
confidence in my friends.

The afternoon was now wearing on. Since 10 A.M. we had made no headway
towards our port, and when I looked at the cliffs it was clear that
they were getting nearer, and the wind showed no signs of lulling. Our
only hope lay in being able to drift so slowly that the wind might
fall before we struck, and if that did not take place before nightfall
it probably would not till the next morning. Rationally I understood
this perfectly, but I could not feel that there was imminent danger. I
had no presentiment of death, and nothing that I could do would enable
me to realize the real and visible danger.

The wind never lulled an instant or blew a degree less furiously; it
came still from the blue sky, and still we plunged and buried our bows
and shipped floods at every plunge; the wheels throbbed and beat as
ever, and no one moved on deck. The engineers changed their watches
and the captain unrelieved kept up his to and fro on the bridge. I am
confident that of all the men on board I was the only one who was not
persuaded that death was near. My wife never knew till long after what
the danger had been. We could already see that the water beneath
the cliff was a wild expanse of breakers, coming in and recoiling,
crossing, heaving, surging,--a white field of foam, where no human
being could catch a breath. The waves that swung in before this gale
rose in breakers against the cliff higher than our masts. We might go
up in their spray if we reached the rocks, but no anchor could check
our crawling to doom. To this day I look back with surprise at the
complete freedom, not from fright, but even from a recognition of any
real danger impending over us, which I then felt; it was not courage,
but a something stronger than myself or my own weakness; it was
not even a superstitious faith that I should be preserved from the
threatened peril, but a profound and immovable conviction that
the danger was not real; and the whole thing was to me simply a
magnificent spectacle, in which the apprehension of my shipmates
rather perplexed than unnerved me.

In half an hour more, the captain said, our margin of safety would be
passed,--drifting as we then drifted our stern would try conclusions
with the cliffs of Cephalonia. The sun was going down in a wild and
lurid sky, a few fragments of clouds still flying from the west, when,
almost as the sun touched the horizon, there came a lull; the wind
went out as it had come on, died away utterly, and as we got our bows
round for Argostoli we could hear the roar of the great waves that
broke against the cliffs, and could see in the afterglow the tall
breakers mounting up against them. In ten minutes we were going with
all the steam it was safe to carry for Argostoli, where we ran in with
the late stars coming out, and our engineers broke out into festive
exuberance of spirits as we sat down to dine together at anchor in
the tranquil waters of that magnificent port, where the Argonauts had
taken refuge long before us. Blair shook his head at my rallying him,
as he said in his broad Scotch tongue, "Ah, but no man of us expected
ever to see his wife and bairns again; that I can assure ye." We were
again indebted to private courtesy for a trip from Syra to Canea,
though the delay was long. I had made an appeal to the commander of
our man-of-war on the station to see us back to my post, but received
a curt and discourteous refusal. I am not much surprised when I
remember some of the occupants of the consulates in those days.



Returned to Canea, I found that the Cretan assembly had begun its
deliberations at Omalos. The real agitation began (ten days after my
arrival) on its coming down to Boutzounaria, a little village on the
edge of the plain of Canea, where it could negotiate with the governor
and communicate with the consuls. There was a plateau from which the
plain could be overlooked, so that no surprise was possible, and on
which was the spring from which Canea got its water, an aqueduct from
the pre-Roman times bringing it to the city. It was cut by Metellus
when he besieged Canea, and at all the crises of Cretan history had
been contested by the two parties in its wars. Long deliberation was
required to formulate the petition to the Sultan, but it was finally
completed, and a solemn deputation of gray-headed captains of villages
brought to each of the consuls a copy, and consigned the original to
the governor for transmission to Constantinople. He, in accepting it,
ordered the assembly to disperse and wait at home for the answer.
He had on a previous occasion tried the same device, and when the
assembly had dispersed he had arrested the chiefs, called a counter
assemblage of his partisans, and got up a counter petition, which he
sent to the Sultan. They, therefore, refused this time to separate.
The reverence of the Cretans for their traditional procedure was such
that when the assembly had dissolved, its authority, and that of the
persons composing it, lapsed, and the deputies had no right to hope
for obedience if they called on the population to rise. The assembly
would have to be again convened, elected, and organized in order to
exercise any authority.

As the plan of the pasha was to provoke a conflict, he ordered
the troops out, and called a meeting of the consuls, to whom he
communicated his intention of dispersing the assembly by force. As
this meant fighting, the consuls opposed it, with the exception of
Derché, the French consul, who took the lead in approving the pasha's
proposals. The English consul, Dickson, an extremely honest and humane
man, but tied by his instructions to act with his French colleague,
could only say that the assembly thus far had acted in strict
accordance with its firman rights, and he hoped that they would be
respected, but he did not join in the opposition with the rest of us.
Colucci, the Italian, the youngest of the consular body, said that he
had information that the committee of the assembly had expressed their
willingness to disperse on receiving assurance that they would not, as
in the former case, be molested for the action they had taken; and as
they had committed no illegal act, he considered this their due. His
excellency dodged the suggestion, and, rising, was about to dismiss
the meeting, when, seeing that nothing had been done to avert the
collision, I arose and formally protested against the attempt to
disperse the assembly by force, and against any implied consent of
the consular body to the programme he had announced. The Italian, the
Russian, and one or two of the other consuls followed, supporting my
protest, and the pasha, disconcerted by the unexpected demonstration
against him, sat down again, and we renewed the discussion, when
Dickson said that what he had said was implied in the position, and
that as the assembly had done nothing to deserve persecution, it could
not be supposed that they would be subjected to it, and he regarded
the assurance of immunity as uncalled for. And so the conference broke
up, leaving me in the position of the defender of Cretan liberties,
but the troops were not sent out, and the report spread through the
island that the pasha and the consuls were at loggerheads.

The real reason for the insistence on the formal promise being made to
the consuls was that a list of the agitators indicated for arrest had
been found by the daughter of the Greek secretary of the pasha, in
which, amongst the names of the persons to be arrested, was her lover,
to whom she gave the list. It was possible even then that the Cretans
would have submitted but for the influence of two Greek agents in the
camp of the assembly. These were one Dr. Ioannides and a priest called
Parthenios Kelaïdes, a patriotic Cretan, but long resident in Greece.
These urged the assembly to extreme measures, and promised support
from Greece. When, later, hostilities broke out, Parthenios went into
the ranks and fought bravely, but Dr. Ioannides disappeared from the
scene. The next device of Ismael was to call the Mussulmans of the
interior into the fortresses, and when we protested against this as
dangerous and utterly uncalled for, the pasha sent a counter order;
but the bearers of it met the unfortunate Mussulmans by the way,
having abandoned everything, thrown their silkworms to the fowls, and
left their crops ungathered, and being ready to vent their hostility
on the innocent Christian population, whom they made responsible for
the disaster. The call to come in was then renewed, and the entire
Mussulman population gathered in the three fortresses of Canea,
Candia, and Retimo. A panic on the part of the Christians followed,
and all the vessels sailing for the Greek islands were crowded with
fugitives. The pasha called for troops from Constantinople, though no
violence had been even threatened, and several battalions of Turkish
regulars with eight thousand Egyptians arrived and disembarked. With
one of the battalions was a dervish fanatic, carrying a green banner,
who spread his praying carpet in every public place in Canea,
preaching extermination of the infidels. I took a witness and went to
the general in chief, Osman Pasha, and protested against this outrage,
and the dervish was at once shipped off to Constantinople.

The military chiefs were reasonable, and the Christian population
totally unprepared and averse to hostilities, but the plan at
Constantinople was, as we soon found, to provoke an insurrection in
order to justify a transfer of the island to Egypt. Later we had from
Constantinople all the details, but for the moment we could only
conjecture the Egyptian collusion in the plan by the presence of
Schahin Pasha, the general-in-chief of the Egyptian army, and minister
of war of the viceroy, and the very important part taken by him in the
ensuing negotiations. He came in great state and pomp, and immediately
assumed the lead in the negotiations with the islanders, which were
carried on in secret and through Derché. Ismael Pasha, who was
probably not in the Egyptian secret, had another plan of his own,
equally secret, and the two conflicted. Ismael, as we later learned,
intended to raise and subdue an insurrection, which he hoped to
do easily, and then, on the strength of his Greek blood and the
protection he had at Stamboul, to be named the Prince of Crete. The
Egyptian plan was, on the contrary, conciliatory, and depended mainly
on direct bribery and the promise of concessions to the Cretans. It
had been, as I learned from Constantinople, concocted between the
Turkish government, the Marquis de Moustier, the French ambassador,
and the viceroy, and proposed to coax or hire the Cretans to ask for
the Egyptian protection, when, on the application of the plebiscite,
the island was to be transferred to the viceroy on the payment of
£400,000 down and a tribute of £80,000. The French diplomatic agent in
Egypt had arranged the details in consultation with Derché, but none
would fit. Derché thought that all the Cretan chiefs could be bought,
and the Egyptian pasha began by distributing £16,000 amongst the
churches, mosques, and schools, without forgetting handsome baksheesh
to the leading chiefs, who accepted the money, but promised nothing,
and made no responsive move. Ismael, meanwhile, was doing his best to
provoke hostilities, and finally succeeded in getting up a collision
between Cretan Christians and Mussulmans at Candanos, in the
southwestern part of the island.

As the Egyptian overtures did not seem to succeed, Schahin Pasha
consulted some of the principal merchants of Canea, and was informed
that Derché was of no weight or influence, and that if he wanted
to move the Cretans he must do so through the American or Russian
consuls; whereupon he came to me and frankly told me the whole plan,
and that the viceroy proposed to build a great arsenal and naval
station at Suda, and fortify the bay, the work being already planned
by French engineers. He promised me whatever compensation I should
ask if I could help him out. I sent the details to our minister
at Constantinople, who laid them before Lord Lyons, the English
ambassador, who, I presume, put his foot on the whole affair, as it
was never heard of more in the island; but the condition of active
hostilities which had supervened at Candanos continued.

An Egyptian division of 4000 men had been posted at Vrysis,--a very
important point in the Apokorona, near the position to which the
committee of the assembly had retreated,--under a pretext of Schahin
Pasha that it would facilitate negotiations and protect the committee.
The agitation increased, and isolated murders began to take place at
various points. The exodus of the Christians to Greece went on, and of
the poorer class, who had not the means of emigrating, great numbers
took refuge at the friendly consulates, chiefly the Italian, as my
premises were very small and offered little shelter. Multitudes also
fled to the mountain, pursued by the Mussulman rabble, and many were
killed on the plain in their flight. I had taken a little house in
Kalepa (a suburb of Canea where most of the consuls lived) adjoining
that of the Greek and near that of the Italian consul, whose wife,
being an American, strengthened the alliance which held good between
us to the end. The Mussulman populace, already supplied with arms and
ammunition _ad libitum_, chafed at being confined within the cities,
for the pasha, aware of the danger of an open outbreak at the capital,
had several times shut the gates to prevent a _sortie en masse_ of the
rabble intent on attacking the consulates, for we were now known as
divided into two parties; the Russian, the Italian, the Greek, and
myself friendly to the Cretans, and Derché and Dickson to the pasha;
the Austrian and Swedish completing the corps,--both old men, the
latter having witnessed the insurrection of 1827-30,--taking little
part in the discussions. The Russian, Dendrinos, a Greek by race and
also an old man, was of a timidity which prevented him from taking any
initiative even in discussion, while he was intensely active in the
intrigues which kept up a running accompaniment to the fight between
the pashas.

I had not long before received a present from my brother of some
samples of a new revolver and breech-loading hunting rifles, with
ammunition, some of which I had, at his request, given Schahin Pasha,
as they were novelties to him. With the rest I provided for the
defense of my house, barricaded the windows with mattresses,
took another cavass guaranteed as faithful by my old one,--Hadji
Houssein,--put a rifle and a box of cartridges at each window, besides
organizing, with Colucci, a strong patrol of Cretans from the refugees
in the consulate, to watch the roads, and waited events. We had
written urgently for the dispatch of a man-of-war of one of the
European powers, without the protection of which there was imminent
danger that an accident might precipitate a fight, and all the
friendly consuls be murdered. In this request Derché and Dickson
refused to join, on the ground that the presence of a man-of-war of a
Christian power (we had plenty of Turkish at Suda) might encourage the
Christian Cretans. These on their side gathered, with such arms as
they had, to protect the committee, sitting in the Apokorona, and face
to face with the Turkish-Egyptian troops, a movement of whom forward
would at once bring on the collision we were working to prevent and
Ismael and Derché to bring on, but which was really prevented by the
discord between Ismael and Schahin. The irregulars, proud of their new
rifles, were firing in every direction, and one heard balls whistling
through the air, falling on the roofs. On one occasion, when my wife,
with other ladies of the consular circle, was walking between Canea
and Kalepa, some of the Mussulmans amused themselves by firing as near
their heads as it was safe to do. I begged Laura to take the children
and go to Syra until the troubles were over, but she refused, saying
that the women gathered around the friendly consulates, seeing
her yielding to the panic, would lose all courage and fly to the

We were then at the end of August, 1866. My vice-consul lived in the
city and provided for our communications, and when I had to go to the
konak I went armed, and with a cavass also armed _cap-à-pie_, but I
received several warnings not to be out after nightfall, as the Turks
had decided to kill me, though my known and often ostentatiously
displayed skill with the revolver made them timid in any attempt in
broad daylight, lest if their first shot failed I might have the

Weeks passed. The nervous strain became very great. I found myself
continually going unconsciously to my balcony, which commanded a
wide range out to sea, telescope in hand, to see if the sail so long
implored was in sight, though five minutes before I had seen nothing.
Finally there came a loathing at the sight of the masts of a steamer
on the horizon, feeling that it would be only a Turkish man-of-war.
My children, for months, did not pass the threshold, though Laura
insisted on showing her indifference to the danger by walking out; and
one night when some mischievous Mussulmans started a cry of "Death to
the Christians," in the streets of Kalepa, and the entire Christian
population in a few minutes were at our doors, beating to be admitted,
the cavasses refusing to open without orders, she had flown to the
door in her night-dress and thrown it open to the crowd, who passed
the rest of the night sitting on the floor of the consulate. The
sentinel at the city gates, whose duty it was to salute as I passed,
turned his face the other way, with a muttered "Dog of a Christian,"
on which I called back Hadji Houssein, who was marching in front of
me, and, ordering him to look the soldier well in the face, so that he
might remember him, sent him directly to the governor to repeat what
had passed, and demand summary punishment for the insult. I was
informed that the man had six weeks of prison. I don't believe he had
a day, but the insults were stopped, which was what I wanted. Of those
weeks of intense, prolonged anxiety the impression remains indelible
to this day.

The relief from the tension, grown almost unendurable, came with the
arrival at Suda of the Psyche, with Admiral Lord Clarence Paget,
direct from Constantinople, to inform us that the Arethusa frigate had
been ordered to Crete. If the Psyche had been a reprieve the Arethusa
was a pardon. The hilarious blue-jackets flying over the plains of
Crete brought all the Mussulman world to its senses, and we took down
our barricades; but for the poor Cretans there was no change,--the
Turks were so fully persuaded that England was with them that the
severities towards the Christians underwent no amelioration, unless
it be that the ostentatious brutality ceased, as the chiefs knew that
they must keep up appearances. We attended service on Sunday on board
the Arethusa and stayed to luncheon, in the midst of which an orderly
came down and whispered to Captain MacDonald, on which he turned
to me, saying, "If you would like to see something pleasant, Mr.
Stillman, you may go on deck." I reached the deck just in time to see
the Ticonderoga round the point of the Suda island, entering Suda Bay.
Commodore Steedman, her commander, was an old friend, and, hearing at
Trieste of the insurrection, came on his own initiative to give me the
support my government had not thought worth its while to accord me.
He stayed a few days and sailed direct for Constantinople, which so
impressed the authorities that I was no longer annoyed. The Arethusa
was followed a few days later by the Wizard,--a small gunboat which
could lie in Canea harbor,--where, for the next few months, its
commander, Murray, was our sole and sufficient protector. In him and
his successors I learned to honor the British navy as a force in
civilization whose efficiency few not situated as we were can
understand. I have ever since been ready to take off my hat to an
English sailor.

Meanwhile the dissension between Schahin and Ismael intensified. The
Egyptian wanted a show of force with effective conciliation, hoping
still to effect his object of bringing the Cretans to him, and he
looked to the consular body for support, while Ismael was urging on
the collision, hoping to defeat the Egyptian plan. We were constantly
doing all in our power to lead the Cretans to conciliation and
submission, though the hotheads among them were indignant with us.
I found on my table one morning a message written in fair English,
saying that if I continued to oppose the Cretans, I should lose my
influence; to which I replied by a messenger, who knew the provenance
of the message, that I was indifferent to my influence if it did not
help to keep peace. The committee insisted on the withdrawal of the
Egyptian troops from Vrysis, where they offered constant danger of a
collision. This request we urged on Schahin, and he asked permission
of the governor, who replied by withdrawing the Turkish division which
had supported him.

At this juncture the pressure of Ismael had produced a serious fight
at Candanos, where the Mussulmans made a sortie and were defeated.
Ismael then called on Schahin for a battalion of his troops to support
the garrison of Selinos. Schahin sent for me to advise him. My advice
was that, as the matter was an affair between the Cretans of the two
religions, it was not advisable for him to identify himself with
either party, on which he refused the battalion. But the testiness of
the Cretans on the other side developed a collision where none need
have occurred. They insisted on the withdrawal of the Egyptians from
Vrysis, and Schahin came again to demand the good offices of Dendrinos
and myself, promising that if his men were left unmolested he would
take no part in the action of the Turkish troops. We sent messengers
to the Cretan camp, urging this course, but they were not allowed to
pass the Turkish lines; and the committee, not receiving the message,
repeated the summons to the Egyptians to leave Vrysis immediately
or take the consequences. Schahin refused to withdraw them, and the
insurgents, for such they now became, closed on them, cut off all
supplies and water, and compelled them to surrender at discretion.
They were permitted to march out with their arms and equipments and
send the next day for their artillery.

This was the end of all hopes of peace. I do not know what the real
influence of Dendrinos had been, for he was a man not to be believed,
but we,--the Italian, the Greek, and myself,--had done everything in
our power to keep the Cretans within the legal limits. In the face,
however, of such provocations as those of Ismael, and vacillation like
that of Schahin, our efforts were useless. The state of the country
on the occurrence of another defeated sortie of the Mussulmans from
Candanos was terrible. Two Christians were murdered in the streets
of Canea, and the remainder in the villages round about fled
precipitately to the mountains. Many were killed, and Mussulmans
coming in from the country reported groups of dead bodies in houses,
in chapels where they had taken refuge, and by the roadside. The new
Greek consul rode out to Galata, a village three miles from Canea,
and counted seven dead bodies naked by the roadside. The public
slaughterhouses were midway between Canea and Kalepa, and there were
always large flocks of ravens battening on the offal which was thrown
out on the ground; but for weeks the ravens abandoned the place
entirely, and the flocks were seen only hovering over certain
localities on the great plain between Canea and the nearest hills.
None of the Christians dared take the risk of a voyage of exploration
to see what they were feeding on there.

The Egyptian troops, humiliated at their surrender, attacked the
villages around their camp in the plains, killing the peaceable
inhabitants; the governor-general lost his head and gave contradictory
orders, and the confusion became anarchy. The few remaining Christians
in the cities were then forbidden to emigrate, and the Mussulmans in
the city met in their quarter and organized a sortie to massacre all
the Christians outside; the Wizard in the port protecting those in
Canea, otherwise it had gone hardly with them. The Christians in the
interior, encouraged by the victories over the Egyptians and Turks,
took such arms as they had, and raided down to the plain about Canea,
carrying off as prisoners a number of Mussulmans who were gathering
the grapes in their vineyards. There was no longer any hope of peace,
and though I still refused to offer any encouragement to the Cretans,
I was obliged to hold my peace, for I saw that there was no room
longer for negotiations. Neither was there any hope for the
insurrection, Schahin Pasha was recalled, and the great Egyptian plan
utterly collapsed.

At this moment arrived Mustapha Kiritly Pasha, the Imperial
Commissioner, appointed because he had once governed Crete and had a
great _clientèle_ there, with relatives by marriage. Had he come three
months before, he might have saved the situation, for then the blood
was cold. He was a man of merciless rigor, but with a strong sense of
justice, and was much respected in the island; but now only his
rigor was in place, for there was no room for compromise. Ismael was
dismissed in disgrace, and ordered off to Constantinople, not even
being allowed to pack up his furniture. Mustapha enrolled the Cretan
Mussulmans regularly as bashi-bazouks to the number of 5000, gave
the Christian population the choice of going into the mountains or
submitting and taking the written protections of the government,
and made vigorous preparations for a serious campaign. He found the
Egyptian army, which had increased by reinforcements to the number
of 22,000, utterly demoralized by defeat; but he had 12,000 Turkish
regulars, indifferently equipped, but disciplined, and a few hundred
Albanians. Organizing from these a force of 10,000 men, he marched to
the relief of Candanos, always closely beleaguered by the insurgent
force, which had no artillery and could not attack the fortress, but
had brought it into great straits for food.

The insurgents retired before the advance of Mustapha, who gathered
the garrison and all the Mussulman families and began his return. I
had from my balcony followed his course going out by the smoke
of burning villages, and after two weeks, during which we had no
authentic information of his progress, all messengers having been
intercepted by the Christians, I got the first intimation of his
return by the same ominous signal in the distance. At Kakopetra, a
very difficult pass in the extreme west of the island, he was beset
by the bands of the insurrection, and had they been armed adequately
there had been an end of Mustapha and his army, who managed to
struggle through only after a running fight of several days, with
losses amounting, as one of the surgeons in the hospital assured me,
to 120 killed and 800 wounded, most apparently with pistol balls, the
Cretans having only the old _tufeks_ and smooth-bored pistols of their
fathers. At that moment, there was probably not a rifle in the ranks
of the insurgents.

There was, of course, now no question of conciliation. Both sides had
their blood up, and the successes had been mainly for the insurgents.
They held the hills above Canea, whence all their movements were
visible, and the next operation of Mustapha was to clear the road to
their headquarters at Theriso, a very strong position in the foothills
of the Sphakian mountains, from which the insurgents raided the plain.
From my balcony I could see all the operations, and that the two
battalions sent out, after fighting all day over the first line of
defenses, were obliged to retire, having effected nothing. The next
day a force of 5000 men went out, before whom the Cretans made a
fighting retreat to Theriso, where they held their own during the rest
of the day, the Turks returning to the city after nightfall. The next
movement was a turning one, taking the position of Theriso on the
flank, by Lakus, a strong position, but at which no defenses had been
prepared. The insurgents moved their depot and hospital across the
valley to Zurba, a village high on the mountain-side and impregnable
to direct attack, but which Mustapha proceeded to bombard with
mountain guns for two days. I could hear every gun-fire, Zurba being
only nine miles in a direct line from my house, and I counted fifteen
shots a minute during a part of the time.

Three attempts at assault were repelled, and then Mustapha moved on to
Theriso, now abandoned by the Cretans, who had just then received the
news of the arrival of the Panhellenion blockade-runner with arms
and ammunition, the first open aid they had received from Greece. A
considerable body of Hellenic volunteers also came, and the resistance
became more solid, and the influence of Athens assumed the direction.
Up to this time, and indeed much later, I had persistently urged
submission, considering the event as hopeless; but with the
encouragement from Athens it was wasted breath. I went to see
Mustapha, and pointed out to him that his severity was making the
position beyond conciliation, and that every village he burned only
added to the number of desperate men who had nothing more to lose by
war and nothing to hope in peace. I saw that he was prejudiced as to
my sincerity, and perhaps I only influenced him to act against my
counsels, though I was ready to do anything in my power to stop what I
considered a hopeless struggle.

To add to the confidence of the Cretans, at this juncture arrived the
Russian frigate General-Admiral, Captain Boutakoff, who took a most
important part in the subsequent development of the affair. I was
never able to see that the Russian government did anything at that
stage to stimulate the insurrection, though Boutakoff expressed in the
most unreserved manner his sympathies. Later I became convinced that
Dendrinos did secretly, and more from antagonism to Derché than
from any orders from his government, advise against concession, as
Parthenios used to come secretly by night to him for consultation. But
I am persuaded that at that time the Russian government had not
urged the movement, though a secret visit from Jonine on the Russian
dispatch boat at an early stage of affairs was evidence that the
position was being studied by Russia. With Boutakoff I was for several
years in the closest sympathy, and we subsequently acted together, but
never did I discover any indication of his taking an active part, or
being aware that Dendrinos had taken one, in the early movement. In
fact, the anxiety of the latter that I should keep secret, even from
Boutakoff, his action in the matter, indicated the contrary. What
Russia had done at Athens I had no opportunity to learn, but in Crete
I am convinced that she then did little or nothing.

Having scoured the plains and lower hilly district west of Canea,
Mustapha now organized an expedition against Sphakia, defended by the
Hellenic volunteers and the bands of the Apokorona and Sphakia at
Vafé. He obtained a decisive victory with heavy loss of the Egyptian
contingent, but his courage failed him before Askyphó, the great
natural fortress of Sphakia, and he waited a month at Prosnero in the
Apokorona, negotiating to gain time, but offering no concessions. At
this juncture arrived the only man who made any military mark in the
war, Colonel Coroneos, a Greek veteran, and competent commander of
such a force as Crete could furnish. As Zimbrakaki, who commanded the
Greek volunteers, had assumed the command of the western section,
while the chiefs of the eastern section, around and beyond Ida, had
their own organization, Coroneos went to Retimo and established the
headquarters of the district at the fortified convent of Arkadi, a
building of Venetian construction and of sufficient strength to resist
any attack not conducted with heavy artillery. Here he established his
depot, and here the families of the Cretans took refuge when menaced
by the Turkish bands. Coroneos himself kept the field and harassed the
Turks everywhere in the province, and so annoyed Mustapha that after
a month's indecision he suddenly marched off to the attack of Arkadi,
which Coroneos, after having harassed him on the march as much as
was possible, was obliged to leave to its fate, as neither his
organization nor his outfit, which included no artillery, permitted
him to shut himself up in the little fortress. He had provided as
garrison a small body of Greek volunteers and 150 Cretan combatants,
including the priests. Besides these there were about 1000 women and
children, whom Coroneos had tried to induce to return to their homes,
succeeding, however, owing to the opposition of the _hegumenos_ to the
departure of his own relatives, with only about 400, the rest being
shut in by the sudden investment. To prepare for resistance, the great
gate of the convent had been solidly walled up, and when Mustapha
opened fire with his mountain artillery on the walls he made no
impression on them or on the gate, and, the rifle fire from the
convent being terribly hot and effective, he made the investment
complete and sent to Retimo for heavy artillery. It came accompanied
by nearly the entire garrison of Retimo and the Mussulman population,
making his total force about 23,000 men, of whom the most zealous
combatants were the Cretan Mussulmans.

By this time I had become the recognized official protector of the
Cretans, although I had always done my best to discourage hostilities
and persuade the Cretans to leave their wrongs to diplomatic
treatment; not that I had great faith in that, but because I could
see no hope for a success for the insurrection. Around me had
spontaneously formed an efficient service for information, the runners
of the various sections coming to me at Kalepa with the earliest
information on every event of importance, and I communicated with
the legations at Athens and our own minister at Constantinople. The
exactness of my news was so well recognized that even the grand vizier
sent regularly to our minister for information, remarking that he got
nothing reliable from his own officials. Now happened one of those
curious cases of mysterious transmission of news which have often been
known in the East. Arkadi was at least forty miles, as the roads
go, from Kalepa,--a long day's journey as travel goes there; but I
received news of the fight soon after it began, and information of the
progress of the combat during the day, one of my customary informants
coming every few hours with the details. This service I subsequently
checked by the information given me by Mustapha's Cretan secretary,
who lived in the house next to mine at Kalepa, and by the accounts
given by some Italian officers of the Turkish and Egyptian regulars
engaged in the siege for the final struggle, and found to be correct.
I believe the account which I gave the world by the next post, and
which was the only complete one ever given, is as near the true
history as history is ever told.

The heavy artillery soon breached the great gate, and an assault was
ordered, but being met by a murderous fire from the convent walls, it
was repulsed with great slaughter; and the succeeding attempts on
the part of the Turkish regulars faring no better, a battalion of
Egyptians was put in the front and driven in at the point of the
bayonet by the Turkish troops behind them. The convent was a hollow
square of solidly built buildings, the inner and outer walls alike
being of a masonry which yielded only to artillery, and from the
windows and doors of these a hail of bullets at close quarters met
the entering crowd of regulars and swarms of bloodthirsty Cretan
irregulars, all furious at the resistance and wild with fanaticism.
The artillery had to be brought in to break down the divisions between
the houses and cells, and the fight was one of extermination until all
the buildings were taken except the refectory, the strongest of the
buildings. At this juncture one of the priests fired the magazine,
with an effect far greater on the outside world than on the
combatants, for it did not kill over a hundred Turks. The insurgents
in the refectory were then summoned to surrender, and, having
exhausted their ammunition, they complied, on the solemn promise of
Mustapha that their lives should be spared; but, having handed out
their rifles, they were all immediately killed.

One of the Egyptian officers--an Italian colonel--told me many
incidents of the fight, of a sufficiently horrible nature, but he
said that he saw things which were too horrible to be repeated.
Thirty-three men and sixty-one women and children were spared,
mostly through personal pleas to Mustapha of ancient friendship. The
secretary told me of a fanatic of Canea who had volunteered in the
hope of being killed in a war with the infidel, and who had been in
all the fights of the insurrection, and, escaping from Arkadi unhurt,
went home and hung up his sword, saying that Kismet was against him
and he was not permitted to die for the faith. He also told me that
all the ravines near Arkadi were filled with the dead, while Retimo
was filled with the wounded; and from the report of the hospital
surgeon at Canea, I learned that four hundred and eighty were brought
to our hospital, being unable to find shelter at Retimo.

Mustapha immediately returned to Canea, but having sworn not to enter
the city till he had conquered the island, he camped outside. He
called a council to devise some means of subduing the insurrection
before the effect of the siege of Arkadi should provoke intervention,
for he saw that that had been a mistake. The enthusiasm of the
insurgents rose, and for the first time it seemed to me that there was
a chance of the Powers taking their proper position as to Crete, and I
began to hope that the bloodshed would not have been entirely wasted.
But no effect was produced on the Powers by the horrible event, except
that Russia made some effort to provoke intervention; England and
France, who held the solution in their hands, showing the most stolid
indifference, and Russia, as afterwards became clear, only looking at
the occasion as creating more trouble for the Sultan. Greek influence
took entire control of affairs, and the Cretan committee at Athens
began to pour in volunteers, rifles, and ammunition, without any
attempt at organization or intelligent direction.

The pasha saw that the situation was critical and demanded his
greatest energy, and, with one hand offering bribes to the Sphakiot
chiefs, with the other he hurried his military preparations. Leaving
his second in command, Mehmet Pasha, at Krapi, the ravine which
approached Sphakia from the east, he marched all his remaining forces
round to the west, hoping, as he said, to sweep all the rebels and
their Greek allies into the mountains and either starve or otherwise
compel them to submission. The chiefs of the Greek bands refused to
submit to a common plan or authority, and wasted their strength in a
series of little combats, Coroneos and Zimbrakaki alone, and only for
a very brief period, coöperating for the defense of Omalos, which
was the depot and refuge of the families, and where the cold of the
approaching autumn and the want of supplies would act as Mustapha's
best allies. He moved along the coast to the west, relieving
Kissamos,--a seacoast walled town to which a band of Greek volunteers
had, in an insane effort, laid siege,--and, sweeping families
and combatants together before him, drove them all into the high
mountains, where the snow had already begun to fall. In the rapidity
of his movements he carried no tents or superfluous baggage, and the
poor Egyptians, clad still in the linen of their summer uniforms,
perished in hundreds by cold alone, and even the beasts of burden left
their bodies in quantities by the way, forage and shelter for man and
beast alike failing. The volunteers held the pass of St. Irene, by
which alone from the west the approach to Omalos was practicable; but,
ill provided for the rigor of the season, they grew negligent, and,
after two weeks of waiting, Mustapha made a sudden dash and took them
by surprise in a fog, and occupied Selinos, the volunteers and Cretans
retreating to the pass of Krustogherako, which lies between Omalos and

The story of Arkadi had begun to move public opinion all over Europe,
but it had no power on the governments, although the consuls friendly
to the Cretans had continually appealed to their governments with the
report of the barbarities which accompanied the march of the Turkish
army. For myself, under the advice of our minister at Constantinople,
I had thrown off all reserve within my consular rights and used all
my influence with my colleagues, especially the honest, if too
pro-Turkish, Dickson, and at the same time disseminated the truth as
to the condition of the island in every possible way. The Turkish
authorities naturally retaliated to the best of their power, and
patrols of zapties watched my house in front and rear, for the idea
had entered the mind of the governor that I was the postman of the
insurrection. But I held no direct communication with the insurgents,
and no letter ever passed through my hands, while the Greek and
Russian consuls, unwatched, kept up a regular postal service. Our
minister at Constantinople, who, in the beginning, had been in the
closest personal relations with his English colleague, the just and
humane Lord Lyons, replaced at this juncture by Sir Henry Elliott,
finding that nothing was to be expected from England, joined forces
with General Ignatieff, and thenceforward my action was directed by
the Russian embassy.

In communicating the news of the affair of Arkadi to our government,
I had fully explained my actual position and my proposed action on
behalf of the insurgents, and begged that a man-of-war might be sent
to convey from the island the refugee families who were dying of cold
and hunger in the mountains, or being murdered in the plains. In reply
I received the following dispatch (December 25, 1866):--

W.J. STILLMAN, ESQ., U.S. Consul, Canea:--

_Sir_,--Your dispatch No. 32, with regard to the Cretan
insurrection and the attitude you have assumed in the matter, has
been received.

Your action and proposed course of conduct, as set forth in said
dispatch, are approved. Mr. Morris, our minister resident at
Constantinople, will be informed of the particulars set forth
in your dispatch, and of the approval of your proceedings.
Rear-Admiral Goldsborough has been instructed to send a
ship-of-war to your port. I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


Meanwhile the Wizard gunboat had been relieved by the Assurance,--a
larger vessel,--the commander of which (Pym) had an American wife, and
perhaps had been influenced by her, and certainly shared her sympathy
with the Cretans. I showed him Seward's dispatch and fired him with
the desire of distinguishing himself by taking the initiative in
the work of humanity. I then made the strongest possible appeal to
Dickson, who had by this time come through his own informants to
recognize the atrocity of Mustapha's plan of campaign, to order Pym to
obey his good impulse; and Pym at the same time informed me that he
intended to go, with Dickson's order if possible, but in any case to
go. Meanwhile he ran down to Candia to watch events there and protect
the Christians. Dickson in the end obtained the consent of Mustapha
to the deportation of the families, and sent the order to Candia, on
which the Assurance went to Selinos and took on board three hundred
and fifteen women and children and twenty-five wounded men, menaced
by the approach of Mustapha's army, and carried them to Peiraeus.
Mustapha Pasha had given his permission for the ship to take the
refugees, and Dickson had given the order, so that Pym's action was
regularized; but he was, nevertheless, punished by his government,
being ordered to the coast of Africa, and shortly after retired. I saw
him on his return from the trip, and there was not a man or officer
who would not have given a month's pay to repeat the expedition, but
it was peremptorily disapproved by the English government.

There were at Suda at the time two Italian corvettes, an Austrian
frigate and gunboat; the Russian General Admiral, and a French
gunboat; all of which, with the exception of the Frenchman, were
anxious to follow the example of Pym. But the prompt disapproval of
Pym's expedition by the English government, and the withdrawal of the
permission given by Mustapha, prevented any of them from repeating the
feat. Ignatieff had, on hearing of Pym's exploit, obtained from the
grand vizier the permission that other ships might follow him, and
dispatched at once the embassy dispatch boat with orders to Boutakoff
to follow. But a violent storm coming on, the boat had taken refuge at
Milos, where she lay four days, and by the time she arrived another
post was due from Constantinople. Both Boutakoff and Dendrinos
hesitated to execute the order, having learned of the disapproval
of Pym and the revocation of his permission. Dendrinos was a timid,
irresolute man, always afraid of assuming responsibility, and
Boutakoff's orders were to go only on the requisition of the consul. I
was very much afraid that under the circumstances the order would be
revoked, and had in vain urged the two Russian officials to move.

At this moment came another act of the Turkish brutality, which
carried me through. A Turkish man-of-war ran in to the shore where
Pym had taken his refugees, flying the English flag, and, when the
refugees poured out from their rocky shelter, opened its broadsides on
them. One of my runners came in with the news of this atrocity, in
the morning of the day the post should arrive, and I went at once to
Dendrinos and insisted on his sending the order to Boutakoff to go to
the relief of the Cretan families at Selinos. The frigate lay at
Suda, and I dictated the letter to Boutakoff, saw it consigned to
the messenger, and never left Dendrinos alone till time had elapsed
sufficient for the delivery of the message on the frigate, being
certain that if I left the timid man to himself he would send a
counter order. Boutakoff, nothing loath, got up his anchor, and
came round to the roadstead of Canea to await the post and the last
advices, but I hurried him off without delay, apprehensive of the
counter order from Ignatieff. This did in fact arrive by the post,
but three hours too late. The General Admiral carried 1200 women and
children to the Greek ports, but the repetition was forbidden.

The insurrection flamed up anew, however, and negotiations were broken
off, though the deportations were stopped. Mustapha, finding it
impossible to force his way into Sphakia from the west, ordered the
fleet round, and transported the army entire to Franco Castelli on the
southern shore, and bribed the chief of the district to allow him to
pass to Askyphó without resistance. In this great plain, which is the
stronghold of eastern Sphakia, as Omalos of western, he encamped to
negotiate and try a last effort at conciliation. The next day one of
the captains of the section bordering on Askyphó came to me for advice
as to accepting Mustapha's propositions. I told him I could not advise
him to fight or make peace, but I translated Mr. Seward's dispatch,
and assured him that when the ship arrived I would send it at once to
the relief of the families. On his return, resistance was decided on,
and all the men of the vicinity gathered to attack the Turks. The pass
of Askyphó could have been easily blocked, and the army compelled to
surrender, being scantily provisioned, but some spy in the Cretan
councils warned the pasha, and he broke up his camp at midnight and
crowned the heights at the head of the ravine, so that his army was
able to pass, though with terrible losses.

It was the most disastrous campaign of the whole war, for the troops
were slaughtered almost without resistance, killed by rolling down
boulders on them. Bewildered in the intricacies of the defiles,
without guides or provisions, and in small parties, they were
dispatched, for days after. The army which had set out 17,850 strong,
Egyptian and Turkish regulars, according to Dickson's official
information, beside several thousand irregulars, was reported by
Mustapha, after its return and reorganization, as amounting to
6000 men. We saw them as they defiled past Suda coming in, and the
commander of one of the Italian ships took the trouble to count some
of the battalions, one of which, consisting of 900 men when it set
out, returned with only 300. The losses were certainly not less than
10,000 men, not counting the irregulars.



What had become evident, even at Constantinople, was that Mustapha
and his influence, as well as the policy of repression by cruelty and
devastation, had failed. Barbarities continued, and were met by active
resistance on a small scale wherever the Turks attempted to penetrate.
Small Turkish detachments were beaten here and there, but no general
plan of operation appeared to offer a chance of ultimate success to
either party. The Porte, therefore, sent its best diplomatic agent,
Server Effendi, with a magniloquent and mendacious proclamation and a
summons for the election of a deputation of Cretans of both
religions, to meet at Constantinople to receive the promises of
the well-intentioned Turkish government for their pacification and
contentment. Server Effendi was an intelligent and liberal man, and we
became very good friends, and if he had been permitted to treat on the
basis of accomplished facts he might have attained something. But he
was compelled to assume that the island had been subjected by arms to
the will of the Porte, and must accept as concession what they had won
a right to from an effective resistance, as yet not even partially
subdued. He was not himself deceived, but the Sultan had passed into
a condition of insane fury, and could not be induced to listen to any
concessions or entertain any proposition but complete surrender. He
had, Mr. Morris wrote me, had a model of the island made, which he
used to bombard with little cannon, to give vent to his rage. All
the powers, with the exception of England, now advised the Porte to
concede a principality. The English policy in this case has always
seemed to me mistaken, and in questionable faith, for by the protocol
of February 20, 1830, the signatory powers bound themselves to secure
for Crete a principality like that of Samos. For this defection of
England from the general accord of the powers, Greece was, probably,
mainly responsible, for at that juncture the influence of Greek
demagogues prevailed in the island to make a compromise difficult, and
the principality would certainly have been refused; still, England was
pledged to the offer of it. I find in the record I made at the time
the following passage:--

"The tactics of Greece were of a nature to make the chances of Crete
more precarious than they need have been. The policy of Crete for
Greece, rather than Crete for her own good, made confusion and
jealousy in the conduct of the war much greater than they need have
been. What the Cretans wanted was a good leader, arms, and bread.
Greece sent them rival chiefs without subordination, a rabble of
volunteers, who quarreled with the islanders, and weakened the
cause by deserting it as soon as they felt the strain of danger and
hardship; and if, after the first campaign, they were more wise in
enrolling men to go to Crete, they still allowed the jealousies and
hostilities of the leaders to go unchecked by any of those measures
which were in their power. But the radical fault of the Hellenes was
that they compromised the question by the introduction of the
question of annexation, and forced it into the field of international
interests, disguising the real causes and justification of the
movement, and making it impossible for England consistently with her
declared policy to entertain the complaints of the Cretans without
also admitting the pretensions of the Hellenes. If the latter had not
intruded their interests into the discussion, the former might have
been heard; but from the moment in which annexation to Greece became
the alternative of the reconquest of Crete, the English government
could clearly not interfere against the Porte without upsetting its
own work; and, if in some minor respects, especially the question of
the principality, it had been more kind to Crete, no one could have
found fault with a policy which was in its general tendency obligatory
on it."

This opinion, formed and expressed while all my sympathies were with
the Greek government, and in complete knowledge of all that it was
doing for the Cretans, remains as the mildest criticism I can make on
the policy of Athens. At this time, looking over the events of the
thirty years which have lapsed since the end of that unhappy affair, I
can see more clearly the matter as a whole, and that the miseries of
Crete especially, and of the Greeks in the Levant in general, have
been mainly due to the want of commonsense in the race, and the
incapacity of individuals to subordinate their personal views and
interests to the general good. The Italians have a proverb, "Six
Greeks, seven captains," which in a pithy way expresses the reason
why the Greeks have never been able to succeed in any national
movement--the necessary subordination and self-effacement needed for
civic or military solidity are, and always have been absolutely out
of the character of the people. Courage they had, but discipline they
never would submit to, nor will they now.

Server Effendi got his deputies, some by compulsion, some by bribery,
and some with good-will, and most of them he succeeded in getting to
Constantinople. One escaped and came to my house for asylum, and
there he remained six weeks, and then was smuggled on board a Russian
corvette, in sailor's costume, and carried to Greece; the rest of the
Christians when they got to Constantinople took refuge at the Russian
Embassy, declaring that they came against their own free will and that
of the Cretans. At this time a change for the better took place at
Athens, the incompetent ministry which had neither known how to do nor
how not to do giving place to that in which Comoundouros was prime
minister and Tricoupi minister of foreign affairs; and, while the
paralysis of utter failure rested on the Turkish administration
in Crete, the policy in Greece became comparatively energetic and
intelligent. Comoundouros was a demagogue, without any scruples as to
the means of success, but he was intelligent enough to understand the
position and that a positive policy was necessary. He had opposed any
encouragement to the insurrection in the beginning, seeing no hope for
its success; but public opinion all over Europe and in America had
by this time become so pronounced, and committees were beginning so
widely to form to aid the Cretans, that there seemed a chance of
intervention and a certainty of large assistance in money and moral
encouragement. He took the responsibility of openly giving aid to the
insurrection, but he still had not the clear understanding of the want
of a concentrated direction in Crete. The bands refused to coöperate,
and while Coroneos in the central districts carried on a brilliant
system of harrying and raiding the Turkish detachments, the chiefs in
the eastern and western sections remained inert, getting the principal
portion of the supplies (as the blockade runners went mostly to
the coasts of those districts) but doing the least of the work.
Comoundouros dared not risk offending the many political partisans
by imposing on the volunteers whom he sent over a competent and
concentrated command. But as a collateral means of pressure the new
ministry set to work organizing a movement on the Continent, and it
had the courage to face all the probabilities of a war with Turkey.

At this juncture came the famous blockade runner, the Arkadi, a most
successful contrabandist of the American war, and at every trip she
made she carried away a number of women and children. Meanwhile we
waited for the arrival of the American man-of-war which was to put
the machinery of relief to the non-combatants in operation. She never
came, and in reply to a telegram to Commodore Goldsborough, who was at
Nice, I received the information that he knew nothing of any orders
for Crete. Intrigues had supervened at Constantinople, chief mover in
which was the dragoman of our legation, a Philo-Turkish Levantine, and
the persistent assailant in various American journals of Mr. Morris
and myself. As the result of these intrigues the order to the admiral
was recalled. In March a corvette, the Canandaigua, came for a short
stay, but the manner of the officers towards me, and the observations
of most of the officers on what they considered a sort of "slave
trade," i.e. the carrying of women and children, made me very glad to
see her sail again. I made a little use of her, however, by persuading
the captain to run down to Retimo with me to inspect the condition of
the refugees in that town, and to distribute the money, etc., with
which I had been furnished by the committee at Athens for that
purpose. I also induced the captain to run over to Peiraeus to
reorganize the consulate there, the consul having run away, leaving
the office in the hands of his creditors, from whom I rescued the
archives, the only property on the place, and not liable to seizure
for his debts. I took the same opportunity to exchange views with the
Greek ministers, and began a friendship with Tricoupi which lasted as
long as he lived. The captain sympathized with me, but he had had his
orders, and the officers in general (two of the younger ones took an
opportunity to tell me how glad they would have been to aid the Cretan
families) were pro-Turkish. But the Turks did not know all the facts,
and the visit of the Canandaigua was a moral support to me.

The hostility between Mustapha Pasha and myself had now become so
open that all intercourse ceased. For months my children had not
gone beyond the threshold, and I myself was openly threatened with
assassination; the butchers in the market were forbidden to serve
me with meat, and I got supplies only indirectly. Canea was so well
beleaguered by land by the insurgents that we had scanty provision
of produce at the best, nothing being obtainable from the territory
beyond the Turkish outposts. The Austrian steamer brought weekly a
few vegetables, but the cattle within the lines were famished and
diseased, and there was no good meat and little fish, the fishermen,
who were Italians, all going home. I finally sent to Corfu for the
little yacht on which I had made quarantine, and, pending her arrival,
sent Laura and the children to Syra. When the Kestrel arrived, we
spent most of our time on board, running between the ports of Crete
and between Crete and the Greek Islands, generally followed by a
Turkish gunboat, for Mustapha persisted in regarding me as the
go-between in Greco-Cretan affairs, and while the zapties watched my
door, the Cretan post went to and fro through the gates of the city

I was no longer of any importance except as a witness of events and
was disposed to resign and go to Greece, for the expense of living had
become greater than I could bear, with my income of $1000. The Porte
threatened to revoke my exequatur, than which nothing could have
pleased me more, for the support of my government had become merely
nominal, though I had never varied from my instructions. The grand
vizier seemed to understand that, and the threat was withdrawn, while
pressure was applied at Washington to induce the government to recall
me, a minister _ad hoc_ being appointed to the United States. Mr.
Seward at first consented, being probably by that time thoroughly
tired of the Cretan, question, but, the Russian legation applying
pressure on the other side, the consent was revoked and I remained.
The Turkish demand included the recall of Morris, but as his
operations were carried on through me my removal was the principal
object. I had now the satisfaction of seeing the disgrace of Mustapha
Kiritly, who was recalled as a failure, and Hussein Avni came out as
_locum tenens_ for the Sirdar, Omar Pasha, the Croat. With Hussein
Avni I made another attempt to enter into conciliatory relations with
the government, and offered my services for any negotiations it might
be desirous of entering into, but the conviction of my hostility to
the Turkish government was so rooted that I saw clearly that no belief
was entertained in my good faith.

Hussein Avni took no steps against the insurgents, but an impatient
subordinate commander, with a division, made an attempt to penetrate
into Selinos, and, being beaten, ravaged the plains about Kissamos,
hitherto unmolested. Whole villages, which had submitted without
resistance, were plundered, the women violated by order of the
officers, in some cases until death ensued. All who were able to
escape hid in the caves along the shore, and made their way in small
boats, as opportunity offered, to Cerigotto. I ran over in the
Kestrel and saw two boats arrive, so freighted that it was almost
inconceivable that they should have made a sea voyage of twenty miles
even in calm weather. I saw a man of ninety who had been wrapped in
cloths saturated with oil, to which fire was set, and who was left to
burn, but whose friends came back in time to save his life, though I
saw the fresh scars of the burning over his whole breast. Meanwhile
the Arkadi came and went without interference, and the insurrection
was practically unmolested.

Omar Pasha arrived on the ninth of April, and, two days after, 2000
insurgents attacked the guard of the aqueduct which supplied Canea
with water, and were repelled, the plan of attack having been betrayed
by a miller of the vicinity; but the main object of the Cretans had
been to show a sign of virility to the new commander-in-chief, and the
object was attained with the loss of three killed. Omar landed with
great ostentation, having brought a magnificent outfit, cavalry,
staff, horse artillery, etc., etc., all in new and brilliant uniforms;
but the astute Cretans rejoiced in the change, for the cunning of
Mustapha Kiritly was more dangerous to them than Omar Pasha and his
European tactics.

I went to pay my respects and renew my offers of good services if
conciliation were to be attempted, expecting to see a civilized
general, but I found only a conceited and bombastic old man who
had not the least idea of what he had undertaken. He pooh-poohed
conciliation, and assured me that his plans were so perfect that
within two weeks after his setting out for the conquest of the island
all would be over and the insurrection at his mercy. I ventured
to suggest that he would find the country more difficult than he
supposed, and that the total want of roads would be a grave obstacle
to such rapid success. He replied that it could not be more difficult
than Montenegro, and he had conquered that, etc., and I left him
greatly relieved as to the probability of success in his operations.

He employed two weeks in his preparations, and then set out for the
conquest of Sphakia, moving in two columns, with a total force of
15,000 men, his own division taking the pass of Kallikrati, giving
access to Sphakia from the east, and held by Coroneos, and that of
Mehmet Pasha moving against Krapi, the pass on the north held by
Zimbrakaki and the Greek bands. Both divisions were driven back to
the plains. The savage excesses which followed this double defeat far
surpassed anything we had known. Villages which had long been at peace
and within the Turkish lines were put to sack, and the last outrages
of war inflicted on the unfortunate inhabitants. The cruelties which,
under Mustapha, were the occasional deeds of subordinate commanders or
the consequence of partial defeats, became, under Omar, the rule by
order to all the detachments, and Omar himself took his share of the
booty and the pick of the captive girls for his own harem.

As I had the testimony of European officers in the Turkish service
given me freely, in disgust at the proceedings of the sirdar, I did
not depend on insurgent reports of these things. While the Egyptian
troops remained I had constant and detailed information from their
European officers. A German officer, by the name of Geissler,--Omar's
chief of artillery,--died of dysentery at Canea during the campaign,
and, his effects being sent in to the consulate of France for
transmission to his family, I had the chance to see his diary, in
which were noted the incidents of the campaign. One entry which I
copied was this: "O. Pasha ordered the division to ravage and rape,"
the village being one where the inhabitants had never taken part in
the insurrection. "All villages were burned," wrote Geissler, and all
prisoners murdered or worse. The chiefs of four villages, who came in
voluntarily to make their submission, were beheaded on the spot, and
the population soon abandoned all villages in the route of the army,
which, not being able to make any impression on the insurgent force,
avenged itself on the inoffensive Christians whenever any fell into
their hands. Nothing more savage and needlessly cruel has taken place
in the history of the Ottoman empire than the deeds of the Sirdar

Two changes in the position now took place in favor of the Cretan
non-combatants. The influence of Russia at Alexandria induced the
viceroy to withdraw his troops in spite of the opposition of Omar, and
after the disastrous end of that campaign the remainder were embarked
for Egypt, 10,000 surviving out of the 24,000 who had landed under
Schahin Pasha. The other change was the removal of Derché, whose
uselessness even to his own government had finally become evident. His
successor--Tricou, a quick-witted Parisian, of a character entirely
opposed to the Turcophile Derché--asked permission to follow the army
in the next movement, which was intended to be for the subjugation of
the central provinces, and Omar bluntly refused. As Tricou had orders
from his own government to accompany the army, this impolitic refusal
threw him at once into the opposition with us.

Omar marched by Retimo towards Candia, watched by Coroneos, and, when
the army reached the valley of Margaritas, it was surrounded and
furiously attacked by Coroneos and all the bands of the immediately
surrounding country, and completely bottled up. One of the European
officers with Omar assured me that they had given up all hope of
rescue. The fire of the Cretans penetrated to their tents, and that
of Omar was several times pierced. Omar had, before setting out, sent
orders to Reschid Effendi, who commanded at Candia, to come and meet
him, and Reschid, a more competent commander, with a strong body of
irregulars, fighting day and night, succeeded in effecting a junction
and opening the way. In this affair, again, the jealousy of the Greeks
lost a most brilliant opportunity for a victory which would have
undoubtedly finished the war. Petropoulaki, a Mainote _palikari_ of
the great insurrection of 1827-30, sent over from Greece to direct
affairs about Ida, was called on by Coroneos to reinforce the
resistance to the passage of Rescind, but refused to move or even send
Coroneos a much-needed supply of ammunition, so that the latter
was obliged to retire. On this march there was a repetition of the
incident of the great insurrection, in the stifling of all the
families who had taken refuge in one of the caves which abound in
Crete, by making a huge fire in the entrance. My informant was an
Italian colonel under Omar, who was an eye-witness of the event.

Omar next announced a comprehensive movement which was to sweep the
insurgents from east to west, and surround them in Sphakia, when he
would finish with them. He began by an attack on the position of
Lasithe, where were gathered about 5000 insurgents,--sufficient if
they had had one commander; having many, they were, after temporary
successes, scattered and dispersed east and west, Omar following those
who went westward. I ran down to Candia, in the Kestrel, to get the
earliest news. Harried, and with several partial defeats, the army was
finally concentrated at Dibaki, on the south coast; but, instead of
sweeping the country as Omar had proposed doing, it was embarked on
the fleet and transported to the eastern foothills of Sphakia, and
debarked at Franco Castelli, the scene of the debarkation of Mustapha
in his Askyphó campaign. With much hard fighting, but greatly aided by
the want of coöperation amongst the insurgents and their allies, one
division penetrated to Askyphó, but was unable to get further, and,
being cut off from all communication with its base of supplies, was
obliged to retreat to Vrysis, Omar always remaining on his ironclad,
while Reschid, who was by far the most competent soldier in the
Turkish army in Crete, was obliged to retreat towards Candia, followed
by Coroneos, and, reaching that place mortally wounded in a parting
fight with the Greek chief near Melambos, died at Candia a few weeks
later. While at Candia I received most of my information from the son
of Reschid Pasha.

Omar, having ravaged and murdered along the southern coast, was
obliged to take ship and sail round with the entire army to the point
from which he had started. He landed at Canea, having lost, mostly by
disease, from 20,000 to 25,000 men in a three months' campaign, and
effected nothing except the destruction of six hundred villages and
the murder of hundreds of Cretans. The reports of Tricou had made it
necessary for the French government to recognize the real condition
of affairs, for he had set his agents in the island to collecting the
authentic cases of Turkish barbarity, a ghastly roll. His irritation
against the sirdar, on account of the discourteous manner of refusal
of the permission to accompany the army, was intensified by an
insulting remark which Omar made to Captain Murray, concerning Tricou,
and which Murray repeated to me and I to Tricou; and the war was
thereafter to the knife. Tricou crushed the Croat in the end, and
the Russian and French governments came to an accord for the
transportation of the non-combatants to Greece. In consequence, four
French ships, three Russian, two Italian, and, not to be left alone,
three Austrian and one Prussian, rapidly carried to Greece all who
wished to escape from the island. It was unnecessary, as there was no
longer any danger from the Turkish army; but it was, I suppose, in
pursuance of some political scheme which had brought France and Russia
together. The Turkish army was nowhere in force or spirit to penetrate
into the interior, and the demoralization was such that soldiers
deserted from battalions ordered for Crete. The military hospitals in
Crete were full, and the troops so mutinous that operations had become
impracticable beyond holding and keeping up communication with the
blockhouses and posts within easy reach.

Omar Pasha having failed to make any impression, A'ali Pasha, the
grand vizier, came out in October, 1867, to try conciliation. He
offered all that the Cretans could desire, short of annexation to
Greece,--an assembly of their own, freedom from taxation for a term of
years, a prince of their own election without reserve, and the half of
the customs receipts. I waited on him, as I had on the former envoys
of the Sultan, as a matter of etiquette, and was surprised by the just
and reasonable tone and substance of his propositions. They seemed
even better for the Cretans than annexation to Greece, and I so
represented them to Mr. Morris. But I received from him the orders of
General Ignatieff to urge the Cretans to reject them, as the certain
alternative was their independence and annexation to Greece. I obeyed
my orders without concealing my own sentiments in favor of the
acceptance of the offers of the grand vizier.

A'ali made on me an impression of honesty and justice such as I
had never seen in any Turkish official. He dissembled none of his
difficulties, and discussed the questions arising out of the position
without reserve. For the first time since the affair began I felt
my sympathies drawn to the Turkish aspect of the political question
involved. I had long seen that Crete could not be governed from Athens
without a course of such preparation as the Ionian Islands had had;
they would never submit to prefects from continental Greece; they
felt themselves, as they really are, a superior race, superior in
intelligence and in courage; but the men from Athens had persuaded
them that the only alternative to submission to the Sultan was
annexation, and, meanwhile, the ships of Europe were carrying their
families to Greece, where they were to remain practically as hostages
for the fulfillment of the Greek plans. The Russian influence was now
strengthened by the service rendered in the deportation of the women
and children, and the Greek influence by the maintenance of them in

The offers of A'ali Pasha were rejected without being weighed. A'ali
used no arts; he offered bribes to no one; he showed what the Sultan
was ready to offer and guarantee, and listened patiently to all that
the consuls or the friends of the Cretans said, but it was too late.
Meanwhile fighting had ceased, for the Turks dared not go into
the interior, and the Christians, having neither artillery nor
organization, could not attack the fortified posts or the walled
cities. The fighting men in the mountains were provided with food from
Greece, and had lost the habits of industry which would have made
peace profitable. Dissensions arose amongst the chiefs, and the best
of them went back to Greece to urge the carrying of the war into the
continental provinces of Turkey. The conclusion of the war by the
proffered autonomy of Crete was utterly ignored by all who had any
influence in bringing about a solution.

The Russian government now concluded to take the direction of matters.
Its minister at Athens required Comoundouros to fall in with a plan
for a general movement in all the Balkan provinces under Russian
direction, Russia beginning to fear a pan-Hellenic rising. To this
Comoundouros gave a peremptory refusal; it was a Greek movement and
should remain under Greek direction. The king of Greece had married
a Russian princess, and during his stay at St. Petersburg had given
himself up to the influence of the court. He was a weak, incapable
young man, and the absolutist atmosphere suited his temperament
perfectly, and the independence of Comoundouros did not. Under the
requisition of the Russian minister, the king dismissed the ministry
of Comoundouros. The Chamber refused its confidence to the new
ministry, and the Russian minister then made the formal proposal to
Comoundouros that if he would accept the programme of St. Petersburg
he should come back to power. This proposal was also rejected, and
the Chamber was dissolved, and in the new elections, by the most
outrageous exercise of all the expedients that could be applied,
Comoundouros and all his principal adherents were excluded, and a
subservient Chamber elected, under the shadow of a ministry of affairs
composed of men of no party and no capacity. The popular feeling ran
so high that an insurrection was imminent, and was averted only by
the formal promises of the ministry to carry on the war in Crete with
renewed energy; but, at the same time, the means were withdrawn from
the Cretan committee, who were the most capable and honest, as well as
patriotic, people to be found in Athens. Never had the condition of
affairs been so favorable for the realization of a thorough Greek
policy. The Greeks on the Continent were ready and all the Turkish
empire was in a ferment. Joseph Karam, prince of the Lebanon, was
waiting at Athens on the plans of the Greek government to give the
word for a rising in his country. The election having given the
ministry the majority it desired, it gave place to Bulgaris, the
Russian partisan, and colleagues nominated by the Russian minister for
the distinct purpose of suppressing the Cretan insurrection.

Omar Pasha went home in disgrace in November, and left in charge
Hussein Avni, who had a plan of paralyzing the insurrection by
building lines of blockhouses across the island and isolating the
bands. With much pain and expense a number of blockhouses were built
and roads made in the western provinces; but, with the exception
of another fruitless attack on Zurba, nothing really serious was
attempted on either side in the island. The Turkish hospitals were
full of fever and dysentery patients, and the insurgents harried all
the country round about with perfect impunity. Most of the houses
around us at Kalepa were occupied as hospitals, and the very air
seemed infected by the number of sick; there were 3000 in and around

In this condition the year 1867 went out and the third year of the
insurrection began. The Greek government sent supplies enough to keep
the men under arms from starving, and the Turkish could send no more
troops, so that there were only, after garrisoning the fortresses,
about 5000 troops available for any operations. One of the European
officers told me that the total force remaining out of eighty-two
battalions, of which most had come to Crete full, was 17,000 men
effective. A party of the consuls and officers of the men-of-war in
the port made a picnic at Meskla in August, and witnessed a fight
between the Cretans and Zurba and the Turks at Lakus, in the course
of watching which I had a shot fired at me from the Turkish trenches,
which came so near that the lead of the bullet striking a rock at my
side spattered me from head to foot, and as we returned to Canea we
were surrounded by the insurgents at Theriso, having lost our road
in the dark, and most of the party taken prisoners. I and my veteran
cavass, Hadji Houssein, broke through with a guest,--Colonel
Borthwick, an English officer in the Turkish service,--escaping down a
breakneck hillside in the dark to save him and his two orderlies from
capture by the insurgents, a trifling thing for us who were known as
the friends of the Cretans, but a serious matter possibly for Turkish
soldiers in fez and uniform. We made a reckless race down the
mountain, leaving our horses and my photographic apparatus under the
care of Dickson, and just succeeded in reaching the Turkish outpost
in advance of a party of Cretans who followed the road down to cut us
off. The post which we reached was under the command of a major, and
Borthwick, who outranked him, ordered out a relieving party to go up
the road and rescue the consuls, but the frightened major went up the
road, out of sight, and waited there till we were gone, and then came
back. He complained to Borthwick on receiving the order, "But you know
that is dangerous,"--a fair expression of the feeling of the army as
to their service at that time. They were too demoralized to make any
impression on the insurgents.

Laura had recently been confined with our Bella, her third child, and
our physician--a kindly and excellent Pole, attached to one of the
hospitals--ordered us all out of the island as soon as she was able to
travel, for, to use his expression, "he would not guarantee the life
of one of us if we remained in the island two weeks longer." We
had been living for over two years a life of the deprivations and
discomfort of a state of siege. At one time I had been confined to
the house for three months by a scorbutic malady which prevented my
walking, my children had been suffering from ophthalmia brought by the
Egyptians, and Laura was in a state of extreme mental depression from
her sympathy with the Cretans, while the absolute apathy prevailing in
the island made me useless to either side. It was most gratifying to
me that A'ali Pasha recognized my good faith and comprehension of the
position, for not only did he, before he left the island, give me
distinctly to understand that he considered me a friend, but told the
Turkish minister in Athens, Photiades Pasha, that the government of
Constantinople had been greatly deceived regarding me, and that if
they had taken my advice in the beginning they would have avoided
their difficulties. I left for Athens in September of 1868, convinced,
as were the intelligent chiefs of the Cretans, that the Greek
government intended to abandon the insurrection. I left the consulate
in the hands of a new vice-consul--an Englishman long resident in the
island,--my Greek vice-consul having died during the insurrection, and
I had decided not to return at the end of my leave of absence; but I
did not resign, as I knew that both the Turkish and my own government
wanted me to do so.

The agitation in America on behalf of the Cretans had been pushed
too energetically and under bad management, and had been followed by
indifference, and the government would willingly have recalled me, but
had no pretext for doing so, as I had always obeyed my orders. Nothing
was done, however, to make it more possible for me to remain in the
island. I had, in the second year of the war, determined to resign on
account of the pecuniary difficulties of my position. We were living
in a besieged town, with all necessaries of life at famine prices,
and, since my brother's death, I had no fund to draw on for my
excessive expenses. The Cretan committee in Boston, considering my
resignation probably fatal to the insurrection, had promised that they
would be responsible for any expenses above my salary, and on that
understanding a friend in New York--Mr. Le Grand Lockwood, a wealthy
banker--had offered to advance me any necessary sums. In accordance
with this offer I had drawn on him for what I needed, the amount
reaching, at the end of my residence in Crete, nearly three thousand
dollars. Arrived at Athens I took a tiny house under Lycabettus,
which was simply furnished for us by the local and principal Cretan

I found the committee convinced that the government of Bulgaris had
decided to stifle the insurrection in pursuance of the Russian plan,
and it had sent in its resignation, which the ministry had not
accepted. The minister of foreign affairs came to me at once to beg
me to persuade them to withdraw the resignation, assuring me that the
ministry had no intention of abandoning the Cretans, but was even
ready to increase the subsidy, and was preparing an expedition on a
larger scale than any previous one to revive it, and that it would, to
insure its efficiency, take direct charge of the organization of it.
On these assurances, I prevailed on the committee to withdraw its
resignation, which probably averted an insurrection in Athens. The
provisional government in Crete meanwhile appealed to Coroneos to
come back and take the general direction of the insurrection, and he
consented on condition of being furnished the means required, which he
estimated at £10,000. The ministry rejected the offer, alleging want
of means, and immediately proceeded to organize an expedition which
cost more than double the amount. This was put under the direction of
the old Petropoulaki, a partisan of Bulgaris, and the chief who had
refused to help Coroneos in the attack on Omar Pasha at Margaritas.

The volunteers were so openly enrolled and mustered, and all other
preparations made with so little disguise, that I was convinced that
the ministry intended by (what had hitherto been avoided) undisguised
violation of international law to provoke the Turkish government to
take action. The bands paraded the streets of Athens under the
Cretan flag, passing under the windows of the Turkish legation; the
government gave them two guns from the arsenal, and they were openly
embarked in two steamers, and landed in Crete without molestation by
any of the Turkish men-of-war. They sent the guns back, and, when
attacked after debarkation, separated into two divisions, neither of
which offered any resistance, the smaller being attacked and cut to
pieces at once, the larger taking refuge in Askyphó, where, without
waiting for an attack, they made immediate overtures of surrender, and
did at last surrender unconditionally the island as well as their own
force, without any communication with or authority from the recognized
Cretan provisional government, but carrying with them the insurgents
of the western provinces. There remained about five thousand
insurgents in the eastern part of the island in good condition for

In compliance with what was evidently a preconcerted plan between
the Turkish and Greek governments, the Englishman Hobart Pasha, the
admiral in command of the blockading fleet, who had not offered
to interfere with the expedition of Petropoulaki, the place of
debarkation of which was publicly known, waylaid in Greek waters the
Ennosis, the blockade runner of the committee, which had replaced the
Arkadi, captured by the Turkish ironclads, and chased her into the
port of Syra, which he then proceeded to close by anchoring across
the entrance to the harbor. On the news of this reaching Athens, the
Cretan committee sent to Syra a blockade runner, lying as a reserve at
Peiraeus, with orders to torpedo the admiral, torpedoes having been
prepared for other contingencies at the arsenal of Syra, and I
accompanied the bearers of the order. A spy in the committee gave
immediate information to the Turkish minister, and, as our steamer
went out of Peiraeus, we saw the smoke arise from the chimneys of a
French corvette, lying off the arsenal, and two or three hours after
we had entered, the corvette arrived and sent off a boat to Hobart
Pasha, who immediately weighed anchor, and went to sea. The Greek
government took no action and made no protest against this violation
of international law, first by attacking the Ennosis in Greek waters,
and then by blocking the entrance to the port. Its conduct left no
question as to its complicity with the action of Admiral Hobart.



My first leave of absence from Crete had been for two months,
afterward extended indefinitely on account of the health of the
family, the extension being accompanied with the intimation that my
salary would be suspended after a date indicated, unless I returned to
Crete. The Cretan committee of Boston, to whom I had, according to
our agreement, sent my claim for the excess of expenses over my
income,--the excess amounting after the realization of all my private
resources, sale of my curiosities, etc., to about $1500, for which I
was indebted to Mr. Lockwood,--replied that the funds of the committee
were exhausted, and there was nothing to meet my claim. As I had given
my leisure in Crete to the practice of photography and was provided
with everything necessary to correct architectural work, I set about
photographing the ruins of Athens, which I found had never been
treated intelligently by the local photographers, and from the sale of
the photographs I realized what sufficed, with a sum of 1200 francs
accorded us by the Athens Cretan committee from the remainder of the
funds in hand when the insurrection collapsed, to meet immediate
contingencies. I was in hope that the new cabinet, in which I had a
warm personal friend in Judge Hoar, General Grant's attorney-general,
would assign me another post, knowing that the Turkish government was
so bitterly opposed to my remaining in Crete; but the new Secretary
of State, Hamilton Fish, was a friend of General King, my discomfited
superior at Rome, and he had persistently urged my dismissal as
demanded by the Sultan, though, owing to Hoar's opposition in the
cabinet this had not been accorded. But I was never forgiven by the
friends of King, and one day, when Judge Hoar was absent from a
cabinet meeting, Fish succeeded in getting my successor at Crete
appointed, and though the judge made an indignant remonstrance at the
next meeting, it was too late to help us, for Fish obstinately opposed
my having any other appointment, and, as he controlled all nominations
to consular posts, it was impossible for the judge to effect anything.

My troubles came to a crisis in the sudden death of my wife. The
anxiety and mental distress of our Cretan life, and her passionate
sympathy with the suffering Cretans, even more than our privations and


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