Ali Pacha HTML version

Chapter 1
The beginning of the nineteenth century was a time of audacious enterprises and
strange vicissitudes of fortune. Whilst Western Europe in turn submitted and
struggled against a sub-lieutenant who made himself an emperor, who at his
pleasure made kings and destroyed kingdoms, the ancient eastern part of the
Continent; like mummies which preserve but the semblance of life, was gradually
tumbling to pieces, and getting parcelled out amongst bold adventurers who
skirmished over its ruins. Without mentioning local revolts which produced only
short-lived struggles and trifling changes, of administration, such as that of
Djezzar Pacha, who refused to pay tribute because he thought himself
impregnable in his citadel of Saint-Jean-d'Acre, or that of Passevend-Oglou
Pacha, who planted himself on the walls of Widdin as defender of the Janissaries
against the institution of the regular militia decreed by Sultan Selim at Stamboul,
there were wider spread rebellions which attacked the constitution of the Turkish
Empire and diminished its extent; amongst them that of Czerni-Georges, which
raised Servia to the position of a free state; of Mahomet Ali, who made his
pachalik of Egypt into a kingdom; and finally that of the man whose, history we
are about to narrate, Ali Tepeleni, Pacha of Janina, whose long resistance to the
suzerain power preceded and brought about the regeneration of Greece.
Ali's own will counted for nothing in this important movement. He foresaw it, but
without ever seeking to aid it, and was powerless to arrest it. He was not one of
those men who place their lives and services at the disposal of any cause
indiscriminately; and his sole aim was to acquire and increase a power of which
he was both the guiding influence, and the end and object. His nature contained
the seeds of every human passion, and he devoted all his long life to their
development and gratification. This explains his whole temperament; his actions
were merely the natural outcome of his character confronted with circumstances.
Few men have understood themselves better or been on better terms with the
orbit of their existence, and as the personality of an individual is all the more
striking, in proportion as it reflects the manners and ideas of the time and country
in which he has lived, so the figure of Ali Pacha stands out, if not one of the most
brilliant, at least one of the most singular in contemporary history.
From the middle of the eighteenth century Turkey had been a prey to the political
gangrene of which she is vainly trying to cure herself to-day, and which, before
long, will dismember her in the sight of all Europe. Anarchy and disorder reigned
from one end of the empire to the other. The Osmanli race, bred on conquest
alone, proved good for nothing when conquest failed. It naturally therefore came
to pass when Sobieski, who saved Christianity under the walls of Vienna, as
before his time Charles Martel had saved it on the plains of Poitiers, had set
bounds to the wave of Mussulman westward invasion, and definitely fixed a limit
which it should not pass, that the Osmanli warlike instincts recoiled upon
themselves. The haughty descendants of Ortogrul, who considered themselves