Ali Pacha HTML version

Chapter 9
Yet next day, May 24th, 1820, Ali addressed a circular letter to his brothers the
Christians, announcing that in future he would consider them as his most faithful
subjects, and that henceforth he remitted the taxes paid to his own family. He
wound up by asking for soldiers, but the Greeks having learnt the instability of his
promises, remained deaf to his invitations. At the same time he sent messengers
to the Montenegrins and the Servians, inciting them to revolt, and organised
insurrections in Wallachia and Moldavia to the very environs of Constantinople.
Whilst the Ottoman vassals assembled only in small numbers and very slowly
under their respective standards, every day there collected round the castle of
Janina whole companies of Toxidae, of Tapazetae, and of Chamidae; so that Ali,
knowing that Ismail Pacho Bey had boasted that he could arrive in sight of Janina
without firing a gun, said in his turn that he would not treat with the Porte until he
and his troops should be within eight leagues of Constantinople.
He had fortified and supplied with munitions of war Ochrida, Avlone, Cannia,
Berat, Cleisoura, Premiti, the port of Panormus, Santi-Quaranta, Buthrotum,
Delvino, Argyro-Castron, Tepelen, Parga, Prevesa, Sderli, Paramythia, Arta, the
post of the Five Wells, Janina and its castles. These places contained four
hundred and twenty cannons of all sizes, for the most part in bronze, mounted on
siege-carriages, and seventy mortars. Besides these, there were in the castle by
the lake, independently of the guns in position, forty field-pieces, sixty mountain
guns, a number of Congreve rockets, formerly given him by the English, and an
enormous quantity of munitions of war. Finally, he endeavoured to establish a
line of semaphores between Janina and Prevesa, in order to have prompt news
of the Turkish fleet, which was expected to appear on this coast.
Ali, whose strength seemed to increase with age, saw to everything and
appeared everywhere; sometimes in a litter borne by his Albanians, sometimes in
a carriage raised into a kind of platform, but it was more frequently on horseback
that he appeared among his labourers. Often he sat on the bastions in the midst
of the batteries, and conversed familiarly with those who surrounded him. He
narrated the successes formerly obtained against the sultan by Kara Bazaklia,
Vizier of Scodra, who, like himself, had been attained with the sentence of
deprivation and excommunication; recounting how the rebel pacha, shut up in his
citadel with seventy-two warriors, had seen collapse at his feet the united forces
of four great provinces of the Ottoman Empire, commanded by twenty-two
pachas, who were almost entirely annihilated in one day by the Guegues. He
reminded them also, of the brilliant victory gained by Passevend Oglon, Pacha of
Widdin, of quite recent memory, which is celebrated in the warlike songs of the
Klephts of Roumelia.