Ali Pacha HTML version

Chapter 8
A career of successful crime had established Ali's rule over a population equal to
that of the two kingdoms of Sweden and Norway. But his ambition was not yet
satisfied. The occupation of Parga did not crown his desires, and the delight
which it caused him was much tempered by the escape of the Parganiotes, who
found in exile a safe refuge from his persecution. Scarcely had he finished the
conquest of Middle Albania before he was exciting a faction against the young
Moustai Pacha in Scodra, a new object of greed. He also kept an army of spies
in Wallachia, Moldavia, Thrace, and Macedonia, and, thanks to them, he
appeared to be everywhere present, and was mixed up in every intrigue, private
or political, throughout the empire. He had paid the English agents the price
agreed on for Parga, but he repaid himself five times over, by gifts extorted from
his vassals, and by the value of the Parga lands, now become his property. His
palace of Tepelen had been rebuilt at the public expense, and was larger and
more magnificent than before; Janina was embellished with new buildings;
elegant pavilions rose on the shores of the lake; in short, Ali's luxury was on a
level with his vast riches. His sons and grandsons were provided for by important
positions, and Ali himself was sovereign prince in everything but the name.
There was no lack of flattery, even from literary persons. At Vienna a poem was
pointed in his honour, and a French-Greek Grammar was dedicated to him, and
such titles as "Most Illustrious, "Most Powerful," and "Most Clement," were
showered upon him, as upon a man whose lofty virtues and great exploits
echoed through the world. A native of Bergamo, learned in heraldry, provided
him with a coat of arms, representing, on a field gules, a lion, embracing three
cubs, emblematic of the Tepelenian dynasty. Already he had a consul at
Leucadia accepted by the English, who, it is said, encouraged him to declare
himself hereditary Prince of Greece, under the nominal suzerainty of the sultan;
their real intention being to use him as a tool in return for their protection, and to
employ him as a political counter-balance to the hospodars of Moldavia and
Wallachia, who for the last twenty years had been simply Russian agents in
disguise, This was not all; many of the adventurers with whom the Levant
swarms, outlaws from every country, had found a refuge in Albania, and helped
not a little to excite Ali's ambition by their suggestions. Some of these men
frequently saluted him as King, a title which he affected to reject with indignation;
and he disdained to imitate other states by raising a private standard of his own,
preferring not to compromise his real power by puerile displays of dignity; and he
lamented the foolish ambition of his children, who would ruin him, he said, by
aiming, each, at becoming a vizier. Therefore he did not place his hope or
confidence in them, but in the adventurers of every sort and kind, pirates,
coiners, renegades, assassins, whom he kept in his pay and regarded as his
best support. These he sought to attach to his person as men who might some
day be found useful, for he did not allow the many favours of fortune to blind him