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Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.-(Received March 1.)
Canea, Crete, February 17, 1878. IT would appear that after the vote taken by the partizans of annexation to Greece, as reported in my despatch of the 11th instant, and which resulted in two-thirds of the delegates retiring to the village of Argyropolis, the minority (whose vote was necessarily invalidated), seeing that they could not carry public opinion with them, determined to follow their colleagues to Argyropolis, where they are again united. On the occasion of taking that vote, three Chiefs-two of them recently come from Greece, displayed the Greek flag, which was followed in procession by their armed retainers. I am assured that the sight of the national colours created no enthusiasm, and it is even said that the village women pelted them with stones. This I can readily believe, because throughout the present crisis the influence of the weaker sex has always been exerted to prevent the outbreak of hostilities, from which they would necessarily be the principal sufferers. This act of stone-pelting, therefore, if true, I should look upon not so much as a protest against the ideas of union with Greece, but rather as an effort to discourage any movement calculated to renew the horrors and misery which the prolonged struggle of 1866-68 brought upon them.
The Committee and Delegates thus form one body again, and their present attitude is one of expectation for the answer to be returned by the Porte to their demand for autonomy. From a knowledge of the views held by many intelligent native Christians, I gather that the Cretans would rally to any policy which held out to them a reasonable hope of deliverance from direct Turkish domination. They would exchange that domination for a British Protectorate as willingly as for Greek rule, or would be content to accept an autonomous Principality with the Sultan as their Suzerain, provided, in this latter case, that their liberties were properly guaranteed. The last vote made it evident that there is no enthusiasm for union with Greece, and it has since transpired that great pressure was exercised on some of the delegates who shared in that vote. Some, doubtless, have been bought by bribes; but in spite of the liberal use of money, which is the most powerful of arguments with those whom it reaches, the idea of union with Greece has not much hold on the people, though there is less opposition to it than there was a year ago. As I have often had occasion to point out, it numbers some formidable opponents, especially among the Sphakians, as to whom the formula of "Crete for the Cretans " best expresses their aspirations, while with many experienced old Chiefs it is an article of faith that the cry of union with Greece has always brought them ruin. This, I believe, to be at the bottom of much of the opposition to that policy, and that if there was an assurance that Europe was favourable to it, it would meet with general and hearty acquiescence, but that whatever enthusiasm would be called forth would spring from the feeling of deliverance which it brought from Turkish rule.
The Committee seems now to be in this dilemma: viz., that in refusing to listen to the exhortations of Greece, by demanding autonomy under Turkey, they are rejecting the only foreign aid held out to them; while, on the other hand, by accepting that aid, and following that advice, they may run counter to the policy of the Great Powers, who have hitherto shown themselves hostile to the annexation of the island to Greece. It is certain that, without help of some kind, the Cretans are unequal to the task of achieving their independence, as, if the gates of the maritime towns are closed against them for a single week, famine would be knocking at their doors. Three months hence, when their own harvests will begin to be gathered in, they will cease to be dependent on supplies from the towns, but at present they are living from hand to mouth and suffering great privations.
The Government is gradually withdrawing its troops and civil functionaries. from their usual stations, so that now in the western half of the island they have abandoned all the country, and nearly all the blockhouses erected at so much cost, except the garrison towns of Rethymo and Canea, and the fortresses of Izeddin, in the Bay of Suda, Grabusa, Kissamos, Kastelli, Franko Kastelli, with Vamos, in Apokorona, where two battalions are centered.
Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.-(Received March 1.)
Canea, Crete, February 18, 1878. A DOCUMENT has just been left at this Consulate, sent by the Cretan ComMEN mittee, a translation of which I have the honour to inclose. It declares that inasmuch as no answer has been returned by the Porte to their demands, they break off all negotiations with the Commissioners and appeal to the Great Powers, whom they intreat to take the Cretan question into their consideration at the approaching Conference, with a view to its final solution.
I have, &c.
(Signed) THOMAS B. SANDWITH.
Inclosure in No. 31.
Declaration of Cretan Committee breaking off Negotiations with the Commissioners, and appealing to the Great Powers for the Settlement of the Cretan Question.
L'ASSEMBLEE Générale des Crétois, prenant en considération :
A. Que la Sublime Porte n'ayant pas encore donné aucune réponse, quoique six jours déjà ont dépassé le délai convenu, aux demandes soumises à son Envoyé Extraordinaire Costaki Adossédes Pacha, par sa requête en date du
(a.) Régime de "self-government" et autonomie complète.
(c.) Payer au Gouvernement Impérial un tribut annuel de 500,000 piastres.
B. Que le silence de la Sublime Porte équivaut à un refus, et que son intention n'est autre que de remettre la solution de la question de notre patrie jusqu'à ce que les questions pendantes de l'Orient soient résolues, et que de cette manière elle devienne maîtresse de régler la question Crétoise comme bon lui semblerait.
C. Que ce but de la Sublime Porte une fois réalisé aura pour conséquence la ruine du pays, parcequ'elle a toujours montré des dispositions malveillantes contre le peuple Chrétien de la Crète, et qu'elle a toujours foulé aux pieds tous les droits et priviléges à lui accordés.
Après mûre réflexion et débat, décrète :
A. Rompre toute négociation avec le Gouvernement Impérial.
B. Fait appel aux Grandes Puissances, confiant la solution de la question Crétoise à leur justice et philanthropie.
C. Supplie les Grandes Puissances de prendre en considération dans le prochain Congrès Européen les programmes du peuple Chrétien de la Crète, conformément aux luttes sacrées de 1821, 1841, et 1866.
Fait à Argyropolis, le Février, 1878.
L'Assemblée-Générale de Crète.
THE General Assembly of Crete, taking into consideration :
A. That the Sublime Porte has not yet given any answer, although six days have already elapsed beyond the period of delay agreed upon, to the demands submitted to its Envoy Extraordinary, Costaki Adossides Pasha, by its petition of the January, 1878, namely:
(a.) A system of " self-government" and complete autonomy.
(b.) The Chief of the executive power to be elected by the people.
(c.) The payment of an annual tribute of 500,000 piastres to the Imperial Government.
(d.) The above conditions to be guaranteed by the Great Powers.
B. That the silence of the Sublime Porte amounts to a refusal, and that it has no other intention but to put off the solution of the question regarding our country until the pending questions of the East are solved, when the Porte will be thus enabled to settle the Cretan question as may seem good to it.
C. That this design of the Sublime Porte, if achieved, will cause the ruin of this country, because the Porte has always shown ill-will towards the Christian population of Crete, and has always trampled under foot the rights and privileges
accorded to them.
After mature reflection and discussion, decrees:
A. To break off all negotiation with the Imperial Government.
B. Appeals to the Great Powers, entrusting the solution of the Cretan question to their justice and philanthropy.
C. Implores the Great Powers to take into consideration in the approaching European Congress the programmes of the Christian population of Crete, conformably with the sacred struggles of 1821, 1841, and 1866.
Done at Argyropolis, the 15th February, 1878.
The General Assembly of Crete.
M. Delyanni to M. Gennadius.-(Communicated to the Earl of Derby by M. Gennadius,
Athènes, le 19 Février, 1878.
JE continue les renseignements que je vous ai donné par ma dépêche du 1 courant sur l'insurrection Crétoise.
Le mouvement insurrectionnel, d'après les dernières nouvelles, a pris de telles dimensions, la prise d'armes a été si générale dans les derniers jours, qu'il n'y a plus que quelques endroits isolés des provinces orientales de l'île, où restent encore quelque semblant d'autorités Ottomanes. Vous savez déjà que les autorités civiles et militaires du district de Sphakia ont dû quitter leurs postes et se rendre à la Canée. Le Caïmacam de Kissamo reste enfermé dans le fort Castelli. L'Eparque de Selino et deux compagnies de troupes n'occupent à l'heure qu'il est qu'un petit coin de terre du village de Paliochora. Le drapeau Hellénique flotte partout. Vendredi et Samedi dernier on le voyait de la Canée même, à une demi-heure de distance, déployé sur le camp des Chefs Spiridaki et Mavrogenni, composé de 300 insurgés. Une heure plus loin les drapeaux nationaux étaient arborés sur les auberges de Platania, où les Chefs Yannidardaki et Proïmaki avaient établi leurs quartiers.
Le Chef Hadzimichali ayant occupé le village de Fournée, à un quart-d'heure du château du Gouverneur d'Alikiano, obligea celui-ci d'en éloigner toutes les troupes régulières, et de réduire la garde du château à un petit nombre de zaptiehs seule
La conduite des insurgés à l'endroit de la population Ottomane de l'île continue d'être des plus examplaires. On ne saurait malheureusement prétendre que celle des Ottomans soit aussi digne d'éloges. Tout au contraire, les bandes de voleurs qui depuis quelques mois se sont formées dans les grandes centres de l'île poursuivent toujours leur œuvre de dévastation. L'asile sûr et facile qu'elles trouvent à toute heure dans les forteresses, après leurs équipées fructueuses, ne fait que les enhardir.
Quant à l'Assemblée Générale, après avoir en vain attendu la réponse de la Porte à ses demandes, elle vient de proclamer l'union de l'île avec le Royaume de Grèce par le Décret ci-joint en traduction.
En vous autorisant de faire des renseignements qui précèdent l'usage que vous jugerez nécessaire, je saisis, &c.
THEODORE P. DELYANNI.
Athens, February 19, 1878. I CONTINUE the particulars which I gave you in my despatch of the instant respecting the Cretan insurrection,
According to the latest intelligence, the insurrectionary movement has attained such dimensions, the rising in arms has been so general during the last few days, that there are only a few isolated places in the eastern provinces of the island where some semblance of Ottoman authority remains. You are already aware that the civil and military authorities of the district of Sphakia were obliged to leave their posts and proceed to Canea. The Kaimakam of Kissamo remains shut up in fort Castelli. The Eparch of Selino and two companies of troops occupy at the present moment but a small portion of the village of Paliochora. The Hellenic flag is displayed everywhere. On Friday and Saturday last it was seen from Canea itself at half-an-hour's distance
only, floating over the camp of the Chiefs Spiridaki and Mavroyenni, which is composed of 300 insurgents. An hour's distance further off the national flags were hoisted over the inns of Platania, where the Chiefs Yannidardaki and Proimaki had established their quarters.
The Chief Hadzimichali having occupied the village of Fournée, half-an-hour from the castle of the Governor of Alikiano, forced the latter to withdraw all the regular troops, and to reduce the guard of the castle to only a small number of zaptiehs.
The conduct of the insurgents towards the Ottoman population of the island continues to be most exemplary. Unfortunately it cannot be said that that of the Ottomans is as praiseworthy. On the contrary, the bands of robbers which for some months have been formed in the great centres of the island continue to pursue their work of devastation. The sure and easy refuge which they always find in the fortresses after their successful raids serves to embolden them.
With respect to the General Assembly, after having waited in vain for the answer of the Porte to its demands, it has, by the Decree of which a translation is inclosed, just proclaimed the union of the island with the Kingdom of Greece.
I authorize you to make what use you may consider advisable of the foregoing particulars, and I avail, &c.
THEODORE P. DELYANNI.
Inclosure in No. 32.
L'ASSEMBLEE Générale des Crétois, considérant:
Que la Sublime Porte n'a encore rien répondu à nos demandes formulées dans une requête en date du Janvier 1878 à son Commissaire Extraordinaire Costaki Adossides Pacha, lesquelles étaient les suivantes :
1. Régime d'autonomie complète et de "self-government;"
2. Un Chef du pouvoir exécutif élu par le peuple;
3. Un impôt de 500,000 piastres par an que l'île paierait à la Porte à titre de tribut de vassalité;
4. L'accomplissement de ces vœux garantis par les Grandes Puissances;
Et que six jours se sont écoulés depuis l'expiration du délai convenu pour répondre à nos demandes;
Que le silence gardé par la Sublime Porte équivaut à un refus et qu'en temporisant ainsi, elle a en vue de laisser le sort de notre patrie dans l'incertitude, jusqu'au jour où les questions relatives aux affaires générales d'Orient seront résolues, afin que le Gouvernement Ottoman soit libre alors de régler nos affaires à sa guise;
Que ce dessein de la Porte se réalise, il sera funeste à la Crète, attendu que la Porte a constamment témoigné les dispositions les moins bienveillantes à l'égard de la population Chrétienne de notre île, et qu'elle a toujours foulé aux pieds les immunités et les droits stipulés en leur faveur;
Après discussion et mûre délibération
1. Toutes négociations avec la Porte seront suspendues;
2. Appel est faite aux Grandes Puissances, à l'équité et à l'humanité desquelles nous nous en remettons pour la solution de la question Crétoise;
3. Prière est adressée à ces mêmes Puissances de prendre en considération, dans le Congrès Européen qui va se réunir, les déclarations solennelles des Chrétiens de la Crète et les luttes héroïques soutenues par eux en 1821, en 1841, et en 1866. Fait à Argyropolis, le 3 Février, 1878.
L'Assemblée-Générale des Crétois,
THE General Assembly of the Cretans, considering :
That the Sublime Porte has not as yet replied to our demands formulated in a petition to its Commissioner Extraordinary Costaki Adossides Pasha, dated January 1878, which were as follows:
1. System of complete autonomy and "self-government."
2. A Chief of the Executive Power chosen by the people;
3. An impost of 500,000 piastres a year to be paid by the island to the Porte as a tribute of vassalage;
4. The execution of these claims to be guaranteed by the Great Powers;
And whereas six days have passed since the expiration of the term allowed for an answer to our demands;
That the silence maintained by the Porte is equivalent to a refusal, and that by thus temporizing its aim is to leave the lot of our country in uncertainty until the questions relative to the general affairs of the East shall have been settled, in order that the Ottoman Government may then be free to settle our affairs in its own fashion;
That should this design of the Porte be realized it would be fatal to Crete, as the Porte has continually evinced dispositions the reverse of friendly with regard to the Christian population of our island, and has always trampled under foot the immunities and rights stipulated in their favour;
After discussion and mature deliberation
1. All negotiations with the Porte shall be suspended;
2. Appeal is made to the Great Powers, to whose sense of justice and humanity we remit the solution of the Cretan question;
3. Those same Powers are entreated to take into consideration, in the European Congress which is about to assemble, the solemn declarations of the Christians of Crete, and the heroic struggles sustained by them in 1821, in 1841, and in 1866. The General Assembly of Cretans,
(180 signatures follow.)
The Earl of Derby to Consul Sandwith.
Foreign Office, March 4, 1878.
Sir, I TRANSMIT to you herewith a copy of a despatch from the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Greek Chargé d'Affaires in this country, which has been communicated to me by M. Gennadius,* and I have to instruct you to furnish me with a report upon the statements contained therein as to the outbreak of an insurrection in Crete, and the action of the Turkish authorities and military forces.
I am, &c.
Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.-(Received March 6.)
Canea, Crete, February 20, 1878. THE Cretan General Assembly, sitting at Argyropolis, has addressed to the Consuls of the Great Powers and of Greece resident in this town a memorial, of which I have the honour, herewith, to inclose a translation.
* No. 28.