« PreviousContinue »
COLONEL VAUDONCOURT'S OPINION OF THE VIZIR. the siege of which was now meditated by the French who were in great force at Ragusa. At the commencement of 1807 his wishes were gratified; he received both artillery-men and stores, conveyed in a gunboat and a corvette from the kingdom of Naples, whilst Colonel Vaudoncourt, a skilful engineer, who had been dispatched upon a mission by Marmont to the beys and pashas of Erzegovina, Albania and Epirus, remained in his dominions to superintend operations. This officer in a dispatch to Marshal Marmont, which I have seen, affirms that he had no difficulty in developing the motives and estimating the probable services of all the other chieftains whom he visited, but he describes Ali Pasha as a man arrived at the head of an independent state by a complicated series of the most enormous crimes, during which he had by forty years practice acquired a dissimulation perfectly impenetrable: falsity had become his habitual character and his hardened soul never betrayed by the least external agitation the passion lurking within : accustomed to sacrifice without mercy all the agents in those transactions which he was not willing to avow, a bloody and impervious veil covered all his ma
In the commencement of his residence at Ioannina this officer proceeds to say that he was deceived by the vizir's apparent symptoms of good faith, by the frankness of his protestations and the calm physiognomy of his open countenance; but he soon began to entertain suspicions of his character and designs by the solicitude shewn to mislead him with regard to his military resources, by the discrepancy observable between his discourse and actions, by the constant fears. expressed lest the French Emperor should demand the restoration of the ex-Venetian towns, by the merit he made of the fortress which he was constructing at Prevesa, and the fluctuation of his projects regarding Parga and Santa Maura: all which things proved that Ali had views and interests perfectly distinct from his allies, and he soon found that these centred in his own occupation of the septinsular republic at the conclusion of the war. Every subtile art was put in practice to dis
cover whether Mons. Vaudoncourt possessed any secret order respecting such an arrangement; in the mean time Ali was constantly making a display of his services, agitating his presumed rights over the islands which he affects to say constitute an integral part of the Epirotic territory, expressing his expectations of a recompence, or endeavouring at any rate to elicit a promise of reimbursement in case the cession of any place should be required. The colonel did not think proper to destroy these hopes lest he should detach him at once from the French interests, and though he longed to send a statement of his surmises to Marshal Marmont, he was restrained by knowing that his dispatches would be opened, and he was not in possession of a cipher. A single intercepted dispatch might have caused Ali to take measures injurious to the welfare of the Dalmatian army, whilst his ulterior views could do no harm, and the very belief felt throughout Europe that he was attached to the French cause might in reality prove beneficial to it.
In the mean time Ali continued his exertions with extraordinary activity: he endeavoured to intrigue with the Tzamouriots and Paramithians, for the purpose of carrying Parga by a coup de main, but in this he failed. Under the direction of Colonel Vaudoncourt he threw up works round loannina, strengthened his serai of Litaritza, and constructed those forts and lines at Prevesa which have been already described, and which are formidable when compared with Turkish fortifications in general: but his unconquerable avarice, and his insecurity with regard to indemnification, upon the restoration of the place being demanded, caused him to thwart his engineer in every plan: however as the object of this latter was only to keep the Russians in check, he submitted quietly to all the vizir's caprices, and left him a work which is but partially constructed according to the rules of art. Having thus secured Prevesa, he prosecuted the siege of Santa Maura with all possible activity, hoping to gain possession of that island before any general cession should be made, as no one knows better the value of previous occupation. His army encamped
INSURRECTION OF TZAMOURIA, DELVINO, AND BERAT.
on the beach of Playa, where the channel of the Dioryctos is narrowest; it consisted of 8000 Albanians under command of his old general Usuf Araps, and to this were opposed on the side of the Russians about 2000 troops of the line, with a multitude of the Suliots, Ali's inveterate enemies, augmented by numerous deserters who fled from his injustice or his tyranny.
It is doubtful whether he would not have attained this object of his most ardent wishes, had it not been for a well-timed diversion promoted by the Russians, which menaced the internal tranquillity of his states. This arose from a general insurrection of the Tzamouriots and Paramithians, in league with the pashas of Delvino and Berat, and if this latter had been a man of more decided character, Ali, instead of gaining Santa Maura, might have been driven out of Epirus. But he soon found means to divert Ibrahim from the alliance, sowed dissensions ainongst the others, or checked them by his arms.
About this time our celebrated naval expedition sailed against Constantinople, the motives and conduct of which have been so mistaken and misrepresented by politicians on this side the water, that I think it right to state what opinions were entertained respecting it by those nearer to the scene of action.
Russia, in all her enterprises and political schemes, ever keeps her eye fixed upon the possessions of Turkey: she is also aware that she never can gain her point unless England be willing to assist or unable to oppose her. In the year 1806 that great northern power saw a favourable opening in affairs of which she endeavoured eagerly to take advantage. Knowing that England was alarmed at the preponderating influence of Bonaparte, she entered into an alliance with her offensive and defensive, and then succeeded in foreing Turkey into a contest by demands which she never would have made bad she not been sure of the assistance of her new ally. At the very conmencement of this war a powerful Russian army took military possession of the important provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia, and
BRITISH EXPEDITION AGAINST CONSTANTINOPLE.
the very existence of the Turkish empire in Europe was threatened It was not long before England saw the ultimate aim of Russia, but she could not refuse her co-operation without a risk of throwing Alexander into the arms of Bonaparte; accordingly Admiral Duckworth received orders to advance with his feet against the Dardanelles. That officer sent a frigate to Corfu, with an intimation to Admiral Siniavin that he expected his contingent, which was supposed to consist of about six ships of the line: instead of this however the Russian admiral immediately bent the sails of nearly thirty; which when our resident in that island observed, he instantly dispatched a confidential messenger overland, in the disguise of a Turkish dervish, to inform the British admiral of the fact, who, upon this intelligence, made all possible expedition, whilst his Russian ally delayed his course at the isles of Hydra, Spezie, and Poros, to procure additional vessels and to man
Admiral Siniavin was quite astounded when he met our fleet at the mouth of the Dardanelles, on its return from Constantinople, against which it had not fired a shot: by this circumstance, whether it may be styled a lucky incident or a masterly maneuvre, the Turkish capital was saved from that destruction to which it had been devoted by the cabinet of St. Petersburgh. Had the Russian fleet once been permitted to anchor before Constantinople, an immense force was prepared in the Black Sea to co-operate from that quarter, and the armies on the Moldavian and Wallachian frontiers were ready to pour down upon their prey. At no time before was the Crescent ever in such danger, and it may be long ere Russia shall again be able to drive her adversary so far into the toils. The treaty of Tilsit took place soon after these events.
Ali deserted by his French Allies-Sends an Envoy to the Conference at
Tilsit-Seven Islands conceded to the French-Ali endeavours to gain Parga, but fails-His impolitic Revenge-Admits an English Agent to a Conference-Assists the English in making Peace with Turkey, and publicly espouses the British Interests—Expulsion of the French from five of the seven Islands-Ali takes Berat-Endeavours to gain possession of Santa Maura and Parga, but fails-Makes a Gain both of the English and the French-Conquers the Tzamouriot Beys-Subdues Kimarra— Mission of Mr. G. Foresti as English Envoy to IoanninaAli
escapes the Danger of a powerful Invasion by the French Troops from Dalmatia and Corfu— Avlona taken and Ibrahim Pasha made Prisoner-Ali attacks Gardiki, conquers it, and massacres the Inhabitants-Murders the Pasha of Delvino—Takes Measures preparatory to putting Ibrahim to death—The Porte sends an Officer to inquire into his Conduct—Ali's Cunning—His Treatment of the French ConsulAlarmed at the Conduct of the Porte-Averts the Storm—Endeavours to bribe General Denzelot and Mr. Pouqueville to surrender up Parga to his Arms—Failing in this Attempt he attacks it with his Troops, Defeated before the City-Parga surrenders itself to English Protection—Subsequent Transactions relative to its History and final Delivery into the Hands of its inveterate Foe-Summary of Ali's CharacterViews regarding his Successor, fc. fc.
WHEN the armistice was concluded between Russia and France, Ali was still occupied in prosecuting the siege of Santa Maura and