Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Ali Pacha, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

the real rebel, and the cause of the public calamities which are
afflicting the faithful of Islam.  Thirdly, I require that for the
rest of my life I shall retain, without annual re-investiture, my
pachalik of Janina, the coast of Epirus, Acarnania and its
dependencies, subject to the rights, charges and tribute due now and
hereafter to the sultan.  Fourthly, I demand amnesty and oblivion of
the past for all those who have served me until now.  And if these
conditions are not accepted without modifications, I am prepared to
defend myself to the last.

"Given at the castle of Janina, March 7, 1821."




CHAPTER X

This mixture of arrogance and submission only merited indignation,
but it suited Kursheed to dissemble.  He replied that, assenting to
such propositions being beyond his powers, he would transmit them to
Constantinople, and that hostilities might be suspended, if Ali
wished, until the courier, could return.

Being quite as cunning as Ali himself, Kursheed profited by the truce
to carry on intrigues against him.  He corrupted one of the chiefs of
the garrison, Metzo-Abbas by name, who obtained pardon for himself
and fifty followers, with permission to return to their homes.  But
this clemency appeared to have seduced also four hundred Skipetars
who made use of the amnesty and the money with which Ali provided
them, to raise Toxis and the Tapygetae in the latter's favour.  Thus
the Seraskier's scheme turned against himself, and he perceived he
had been deceived by Ali's seeming apathy, which certainly did not
mean dread of defection.  In fact, no man worth anything could have
abandoned him, supported as he seemed to be by almost supernatural
courage.  Suffering from a violent attack of gout, a malady he had
never before experienced, the pacha, at the age of eighty-one, was
daily carried to the most exposed place on the ramparts of his
castle.  There, facing the hostile batteries, he gave audience to
whoever wished to see him.  On this exposed platform he held his
councils, despatched orders, and indicated to what points his guns
should be directed.  Illumined by the flashes of fire, his figure
assumed fantastic and weird shapes.  The balls sung in the air, the
bullets hailed around him, the noise drew blood from the ears of
those with him.  Calm and immovable, he gave signals to the soldiers
who were still occupying part of the ruins of Janina, and encouraged
them by voice and gesture.  Observing the enemy's movements by the
help of a telescope, he improvised means of counteracting them.
Sometimes he amused himself by, greeting curious persons and
new-comers after a fashion of his own.  Thus the chancellor of the
French Consul at Prevesa, sent as an envoy to Kursheed Pacha, had
scarcely entered the lodging assigned to him, when he was visited by
a bomb which caused him to leave it again with all haste.  This
greeting was due to Ali's chief engineer, Caretto, who next day sent
a whole shower of balls and shells into the midst of a group of
Frenchmen, whose curiosity had brought them to Tika, where Kursheed
was forming a battery.  "It is time," said Ali, "that these
contemptible gossip-mongers should find listening at doors may become
uncomfortable.  I have furnished matter enough for them to talk
about.  Frangistan (Christendom) shall henceforth hear only of my
triumph or my fall, which will leave it considerable trouble to
pacify."  Then, after a moment's silence, he ordered the public
criers to inform his soldiers of the insurrections in Wallachia and
the Morea, which news, proclaimed from the ramparts, and spreading
immediately in the Imperial camp, caused there much dejection.

The Greeks were now everywhere proclaiming their independence, and
Kursheed found himself unexpectedly surrounded by enemies.  His
position threatened to become worse if the siege of Janina dragged on
much longer.  He seized the island in the middle of the lake, and
threw up redoubts upon it, whence he kept up an incessant fire on the
southern front of the castle of Litharitza, and a practicable trench
of nearly forty feet having been made, an assault was decided on.
The troops marched out boldly, and performed prodigies of valour; but
at the end of an hour, Ali, carried on a litter because of his gout,
having led a sortie, the besiegers were compelled to give way and
retire to their intrenchments, leaving three hundred dead at the foot
of the rampart.  "The Pindian bear is yet alive," said Ali in a
message to Kursheed; "thou mayest take thy dead and bury them; I give
them up without ransom, and as I shall always do when thou attackest
me as a brave man ought."  Then, having entered his fortress amid the
acclamations of his soldiers, he remarked on hearing of the general
rising of Greece and the Archipelago, "It is enough! two men have
ruined Turkey!  "He then remained silent, and vouchsafed no
explanation of this prophetic sentence.

Ali did not on this occasion manifest his usual delight on having
gained a success.  As soon as he was alone with Basilissa, he
informed her with tears of the death of Chainitza.  A sudden apoplexy
had stricken this beloved sister, the life of his councils, in her
palace of Libokovo, where she remained undisturbed until her death.
She owed this special favour to her riches and to the intercession of
her nephew, Djiladin Pacha of Ochcrida, who was reserved by fate to
perform the funeral obsequies of the guilty race of Tepelen.

A few months afterwards, Ibrahim Pacha of Berat died of poison, being
the last victim whom Chainitza had demanded from her brother.

Ali's position was becoming daily more difficult, when the time of
Ramadan arrived, during which the Turks relax hostilities, and a
species of truce ensued.  Ali himself appeared to respect the old
popular customs, and allowed his Mohammedan soldiers to visit the
enemy's outposts and confer on the subject of various religious
ceremonies.  Discipline was relaxed in Kursheed's camp, and Ali
profited thereby to ascertain the smallest details of all that
passed.

He learned from his spies that the general's staff, counting on the
"Truce of God," a tacit suspension of all hostilities during the
feast of Bairam, the Mohammedan Easter, intended to repair to the
chief mosque, in the quarter of Loutcha.  This building, spared by
the bombs, had until now been respected by both sides.  Ali,
according to reports spread by himself, was supposed to be ill,
weakened by fasting, and terrified into a renewal of devotion, and
not likely to give trouble on so sacred a day.  Nevertheless he
ordered Caretto to turn thirty guns against the mosque, cannon,
mortars and howitzers, intending, he said, to solemnise Bairam by
discharges of artillery.  As soon as he was sure that the whole of
the staff had entered the mosque, he gave the signal.

Instantly, from the assembled thirty pieces, there issued a storm of
shells, grenades and cannon-balls.  With a terrific noise, the mosque
crumbled together, amid the cries of pain and rage of the crowd
inside crushed in the ruins.  At the end of a quarter of an hour the
wind dispersed the smoke, and disclosed a burning crater, with the
large cypresses which surrounded the building blazing as if they had
been torches lighted for the funeral ceremonies of sixty captains and
two hundred soldiers.

"Ali Pacha is yet alive! "cried the old Homeric hero of Janina,
leaping with joy; and his words, passing from mouth to mouth, spread
yet more terror amid Kursheed's soldiers, already overwhelmed by the
horrible spectacle passing before their eyes.

Almost on the same day, Ali from the height of his keep beheld the
standard of the Cross waving in the distance.  The rebellious Greeks
were bent on attacking Kursheed.  The insurrection promoted by the
Vizier of Janina had passed far beyond the point he intended, and the
rising had become a revolution.  The delight which Ali first evinced
cooled rapidly before this consideration, and was extinguished in
grief when he found that a conflagration, caused by the besiegers'
fire, had consumed part of his store in the castle by the lake.
Kursheed, thinking that this event must have shaken the old lion's
resolution, recommenced negotiations, choosing the Kiaia of Moustai
Pacha: as an envoy, who gave Ali a remarkable warning.  "Reflect,"
said he, "that these rebels bear the sign of the Cross on their
standards.  You are now only an instrument in their hands.  Beware
lest you become the victim of their policy."  Ali understood the
danger, and had the sultan been better advised, he would have
pardoned Ali on condition of again bringing Hellos under his iron
yoke.  It is possible that the Greeks might not have prevailed
against an enemy so formidable and a brain so fertile in intrigue.
But so simple an idea was far beyond the united intellect of the
Divan, which never rose above idle display.  As soon as these
negotiations, had commenced, Kursheed filled the roads with his
couriers, sending often two in a day to Constantinople, from whence
as many were sent to him.  This state of things lasted mare than
three weeks, when it became known that Ali, who had made good use of
his time in replacing the stores lost in the conflagration, buying
actually from the Kiaia himself a part of the provisions brought by
him for the Imperial camp, refused to accept the Ottoman ultimatum.
Troubles which broke, out at the moment of the rupture of the
negotiations proved that he foresaw the probable result.

Kursheed was recompensed for the deception by which he had been duped
by the reduction of the fortress of Litharitza.  The Guegue
Skipetars, who composed the garrison, badly paid, wearied out by the
long siege, and won by the Seraskier's bribes, took advantage of the
fact that the time of their engagement with Ali had elapsed same
months previously, and delivering up the fortress they defended,
passed over to the enemy.  Henceforth Ali's force consisted of only
six hundred men.

It was to be feared that this handful of men might also become a prey
to discouragement, and might surrender their chief to an enemy who

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com