Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.

His early promise in the regular service was brilliant; as a young staff-officer, and by a staff-officer’s qualities of sagacity, activity, and decision, he did distinguished service at Maida; and had he followed the movement which made Spain the great battle-ground for English soldiers, he had every prospect of earning a high place among those who fought under Wellington.  But he clung to the Mediterranean.  He was employed in raising and organising those foreign auxiliary corps which it was thought were necessary to eke out the comparatively scanty numbers of the English armies, and to keep up threatening demonstrations on the outskirts of the French Empire.  It was in this service that his connection with the Greek people was first formed, and his deep and increasing interest in its welfare created.  He was commissioned to form first one, and then a second, regiment of Greek irregulars; and from the Ionian Islands, from the mainland of Albania, from the Morea, chiefs and bands, accustomed to the mountain warfare, half patriotic, half predatory, carried on by the more energetic Greek highlanders against the Turks, flocked to the English standards.  The operations in which they were engaged were desultory, and of no great account in the general result of the gigantic contest; but they made Colonel Church’s name familiar to the Greek population, who were hoping, amid the general confusion, for an escape from the tyranny of the Turks.  But his connection with Greece was for some time delayed.  His peculiar qualifications pointed him out as a fit man to be a medium of communication between the English Government and the foreign armies which were operating on the outside of the circle within which the decisive struggle was carried on against Napoleon; and he was the English Military Commissioner attached to the Austrian armies in Italy in 1814 and 1815.

At the Peace, his eagerness for daring and adventurous enterprise was tempted by great offers from the Neapolitan Government.  The war had left brigandage, allied to a fierce spirit of revolutionary freemasonry, all-powerful in the south of Italy; and a stern and resolute, yet perfectly honest and just hand, was needed to put it down.  He accepted the commission; he was reckless of conspiracy and threats of assassination; he was known to be no sanguinary and merciless lover of severity, but he was known also to be fearless and inexorable against crime; and, not without some terrible examples, yet with complete success, he delivered the south of Italy from the scourge.  But his thoughts had always been turned towards Greece; at last the call came, and he threw himself with all his hopes and all his fortunes into a struggle which more than any other that history can show engaged at the time the interest of Europe.  His first efforts resulted in a disastrous defeat against overwhelming odds, for which, as is natural, he has been severely criticised; his critics have shown less quickness in perceiving the qualities

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