Ali Pacha HTML version

Chapter 2
Ali thus at thirteen years of age was free to indulge in the impetuosity of his
character. From his early youth he had manifested a mettle and activity rare in
young Turks, haughty by nature and self-restrained by education. Scarcely out of
the nursery, he spent his time in climbing mountains, wandering through forests,
scaling precipices, rolling in snow, inhaling the wind, defying the tempests,
breathing out his nervous energy through every pore. Possibly he learnt in the
midst of every kind of danger to brave everything and subdue everything;
possibly in sympathy with the majesty of nature, he felt aroused in him a need of
personal grandeur which nothing could satiate. In vain his father sought to calm
his savage temper; and restrain his vagabond spirit; nothing was of, any use. As
obstinate as intractable, he set at defiance all efforts and all precautions. If they
shut him up, he broke the door or jumped out of the window; if they threatened
him, he pretended to comply, conquered by fear, and promised everything that
was required, but only to break his word the first opportunity. He had a tutor
specially attached to his person and charged to supervise all his actions. He
constantly deluded him by fresh tricks, and when he thought himself free from the
consequences, he maltreated him with gross violence. It was only in his youth,
after his father's death, that he became more manageable; he even consented to
learn to read, to please his mother, whose idol he was, and to whom in return he
gave all his affection.
If Kamco had so strong a liking for Ali, it was because she found in him, not only
her blood, but also her character. During the lifetime of her husband, whom she
feared, she seemed only an ordinary woman; but as soon as his eyes were
closed, she gave free scope to the violent passions which agitated her bosom.
Ambitious, bold, vindictive; she assiduously cultivated the germs of ambition,
hardihood, and vengeance which already strongly showed themselves in the
young Ali. "My son," she was never tired of telling him, "he who cannot defend
his patrimony richly deserves to lose it. Remember that the property of others is
only theirs so long as they are strong enough to keep it, and that when you find
yourself strong enough to take it from them, it is yours. Success justifies
everything, and everything is permissible to him who has the power to do it."
Ali, when he reached the zenith of his greatness, used to declare that his
success was entirely his mother's work. "I owe everything to my mother," he said
one day to the French Consul; "for my father, when he died, left me nothing but a
den of wild beasts and a few fields. My imagination, inflamed by the counsels of
her who has given me life twice over, since she has made me both a man and a
vizier, revealed to me the secret of my destiny. Thenceforward I saw nothing in
Tepelen but the natal air from which I was to spring on the prey which I devoured
mentally. I dreamt of nothing else but power, treasures, palaces, in short what