SIR RICHARD CHURCH
Guardian, 26th March 1873.
General Sir Richard Church died last week at Athens. Many English travellers in the East find their way to Athens; most of them must have heard his name repeated there as the name of one closely associated with the later fortunes of the Greek nation, and linking the present with times now distant; some of them may have seen him, and may remember the slight wiry form which seemed to bear years so lightly, the keen eye and grisled moustache and soldierly bearing, and perhaps the antique and ceremonious courtesy, stately yet cordial, recalling a type of manners long past, with which he welcomed those who had a claim on his attentions or friendly offices. Five and forty years ago his name was much in men’s mouths. He was prominent in a band of distinguished men, who represented a new enthusiasm in Europe. Less by what they were able to do than by their character and their unreserved self-devotion and sacrifice, they profoundly affected public opinion, and disarmed the jealousy of absolutist courts and governments in favour of a national movement, which, whether disappointment may have followed its success, was one of the most just and salutary of revolutions—the deliverance of a Christian nation from the hopeless tyranny of the Turks.
He was one of the few remaining survivors of the generation which had taken part in the great French war and in the great changes resulting from it—changes which have in time given way to vaster alterations, and been eclipsed by them. He began his military life as a boy-ensign in one of the regiments forming part of the expedition which, under Sir Ralph Abercromby, drove the French out of Egypt in 1801; and on the shores of the Mediterranean, where his career began, it was for the most part continued and finished. His genius led him to the more irregular and romantic forms of military service; he had the gift of personal influence, and the power of fascinating and attaching to himself, with extraordinary loyalty, the people of the South. His adventurous temper, his sympathetic nature, his chivalrous courtesy, his thorough trustworthiness and sincerity, his generosity, his high spirit of nobleness and honour, won for him, from Italians and Greeks, not only that deep respect which was no unusual tribute from them to English honesty and strength and power of command, but that love, and that affectionate and almost tender veneration, for which strong and resolute Englishmen have not always cared from races of whose characteristic faults they were impatient.