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

longer fearing the curse, pursued them vigorously.

At the same time, however, a very different action was proceeding at
the northern end of the besiegers' intrenchments.  Ali left his
castle of the lake, preceded by twelve torch-bearers carrying
braziers filled with lighted pitch-wood, and advanced towards the
shore of Saint-Nicolas, expecting to unite with the Suliots.  He
stopped in the middle of the ruins to wait for sunrise, and while
there heard that his troops had carried the battery of
Ibrahim-Aga-Stamboul.  Overjoyed, he ordered them to press on to the
second intrenchment, promising that in an hour, when he should have
been joined by the Suliots, he would support them, and he then pushed
forward, preceded by two field-pieces with their waggons, and
followed by fifteen hundred men, as far as a large plateau on which
he perceived at a little distance an encampment which he supposed to
be that of the Suliots.  He then ordered the Mirdite prince, Kyr
Lekos, to advance with an escort of twenty-five men, and when within
hearing distance to wave a blue flag and call out the password.  An
Imperial officer replied with the countersign "flouri," and Lekos
immediately sent back word to Ali to advance.  His orderly hastened
back, and the prince entered the camp, where he and his escort were
immediately surrounded and slain.

On receiving the message, Ali began to advance, but cautiously, being
uneasy at seeing no signs of the Mirdite troop.  Suddenly, furious
cries, and a lively fusillade, proceeding from the vineyards and
thickets, announced that he had fallen into a trap, and at the same
moment Omar Pacha fell upon his advance guard, which broke, crying

Ali sabred the fugitives mercilessly, but fear carried them away,
and, forced to follow the crowd, he perceived the Kersales and
Baltadgi Pacha descending the side of Mount Paktoras, intending to
cut off his retreat.  He attempted another route, hastening towards
the road to Dgeleva, but found it held by the Tapagetae under the
Bimbashi Aslon of Argyro-Castron.  He was surrounded, all seemed
lost, and feeling that his last hour had come, he thought only of
selling his life as dearly as possible.  Collecting his bravest
soldiers round him, he prepared for a last rush on Omar Pacha; when,
suddenly, with an inspiration born of despair, he ordered his
ammunition waggons to be blown up.  The Kersales, who were about to
seize them, vanished in the explosion, which scattered a hail of
stones and debris far and wide.  Under cover of the smoke and general
confusion, Ali succeeded in withdrawing his men to the shelter of the
guns of his castle of Litharitza, where he continued the fight in
order to give time to the fugitives to rally, and to give the support
he had promised to those fighting on the other slope; who, in the
meantime, had carried the second battery and were attacking the
fortified camp.  Here the Seraskier Ismail met them with a resistance
so well managed, that he was able to conceal the attack he was
preparing to make on their rear.  Ali, guessing that the object of
Ismail's manoeuvres was to crush those whom he had promised to help,
and unable, on account of the distance, either to support or to warn
them, endeavoured to impede Omar Pasha, hoping still that his
Skipetars might either see or hear him.  He encouraged the fugitives,
who recognised him from afar by his scarlet dolman, by the dazzling
whiteness of his horse, and by the terrible cries which he uttered;
for, in the heat of battle, this extraordinary man appeared to have
regained the vigour and audacity, of his youth.  Twenty times he led
his soldiers to the charge, and as often was forced to recoil towards
his castles.  He brought up his reserves, but in vain.  Fate had
declared against him.  His troops which were attacking the intrenched
camp found themselves taken between two fires, and he could not help
them.  Foaming with passion, he threatened to rush singly into the
midst of his enemies.  His officers besought him to calm himself,
and, receiving only refusals, at last threatened to lay hands upon
him if he persisted in exposing himself like a private soldier.
Subdued by this unaccustomed opposition, Ali allowed himself to be
forced back into the castle by the lake, while his soldiers dispersed
in various directions.

But even this defeat did not discourage the fierce pasha.  Reduced to
extremity, he yet entertained the hope of shaking the Ottoman Empire,
and from the recesses of his fortress he agitated the whole of
Greece.  The insurrection which he had stirred up, without foreseeing
what the results might be, was spreading with the rapidity of a
lighted train of powder, and the Mohammedans were beginning to
tremble, when at length Kursheed Pasha, having crossed the Pindus at
the head of an army of eighty thousand men, arrived before Janina.

His tent had hardly been pitched, when Ali caused a salute of
twenty-one guns to be fired in his honour, and sent a messenger,
bearing a letter of congratulation on his safe arrival.  This letter,
artful and insinuating, was calculated to make a deep impression on
Kursheed.  Ali wrote that, being driven by the infamous lies of a
former servant, called Pacho Bey, into resisting, not indeed the
authority of the sultan, before whom he humbly bent his head weighed
down with years and grief, but the perfidious plots of His Highness's
advisers, he considered himself happy in his misfortunes to have
dealings with a vizier noted for his lofty qualities.  He then added
that these rare merits had doubtless been very far from being
estimated at their proper value by a Divan in which men were only
classed in accordance with the sums they laid out in gratifying the
rapacity of the ministers.  Otherwise, how came it about that
Kursheed Pasha, Viceroy of Egypt--after the departure of the French,
the conqueror of the Mamelukes, was only rewarded for these services
by being recalled without a reason?  Having been twice Romili-Valicy,
why, when he should have enjoyed the reward of his labours, was he
relegated to the obscure post of Salonica?  And, when appointed Grand
Vizier and sent to pacify Servia, instead of being entrusted with the
government of this kingdom which he had reconquered for the sultan,
why was he hastily despatched to Aleppo to repress a trifling
sedition of emirs and janissaries?  Now, scarcely arrived in the
Morea, his powerful arm was to be employed against an aged man.

Ali then plunged into details, related the pillaging, avarice, and
imperious dealing of Pacho Bey, as well as of the pachas subordinate
to him; how they had alienated the public mind, how they had
succeeded in offending the Armatolis, and especially the Suliots, who
might be brought back to their duty with less trouble than these
imprudent chiefs had taken to estrange them.  He gave a mass of
special information on this subject, and explained that in advising
the Suliots to retire to their mountains he had really only put them
in a false position as long as he retained possession of the fort of
Kiapha, which is the key of the Selleide.

The Seraskier replied in a friendly manner, ordered the military
salute to be returned in Ali's honour, shot for shot, and forbade
that henceforth a person of the valour and intrepidity of the Lion of
Tepelen should be described by the epithet of "excommunicated."  He
also spoke of him by his title of "vizier," which he declared he had
never forfeited the right to use; and he also stated that he had only
entered Epirus as a peace-maker.  Kursheed's emissaries had just
seized some letters sent by Prince Alexander Ypsilanti to the Greek
captains at Epirus.  Without going into details of the events which
led to the Greek insurrection, the prince advised the Polemarchs,
chiefs of the Selleid, to aid Ali Pacha in his revolt against the
Porte, but to so arrange matters that they could easily detach
themselves again, their only aim being to seize his treasures, which
might be used to procure the freedom of Greece.

These letters a messenger from Kursheed delivered to Ali.  They
produced such an impression upon his mind that he secretly resolved
only to make use of the Greeks, and to sacrifice them to his own
designs, if he could not inflict a terrible vengeance on their
perfidy.  He heard from the messenger at the same time of the
agitation in European Turkey, the hopes of the Christians, and the
apprehension of a rupture between the Porte and Russia.  It was
necessary to lay aside vain resentment and to unite against these
threatening dangers.  Kursheed Pacha was, said his messenger, ready
to consider favourably any propositions likely to lead to a prompt
pacification, and would value such a result far more highly than the
glory of subduing by means of the imposing force at his command, a
valiant prince whom he had always regarded as one of the strongest
bulwarks of the Ottoman Empire.  This information produced a
different effect upon Ali to that intended by the Seraskier.  Passing
suddenly from the depth of despondency to the height of pride, he
imagined that these overtures of reconciliation were only a proof of
the inability of his foes to subdue him, and he sent the following
propositions to Kursheed Pacha:

"If the first duty of a prince is to do justice, that of his subjects
is to remain faithful, and obey him in all things.  From this
principle we derive that of rewards and punishments, and although my
services might sufficiently justify my conduct to all time, I
nevertheless acknowledge that I have deserved the wrath of the
sultan, since he has raised the arm of his anger against the head of
his slave.  Having humbly implored his pardon, I fear not to invoke
his severity towards those who have abused his confidence.  With this
object I offer--First, to pay the expenses of the war and the tribute
in arrears due from my Government without delay.  Secondly, as it is
important for the sake of example that the treason of an inferior
towards his superior should receive fitting chastisement, I demand
that Pacho Bey, formerly in my service, should be beheaded, he being

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: