XXVI HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
son of Abdul Hamet Khan, and is now the only survivor of fifteen male children. He
was placed on the throne on the 28th of July, 1808, and from the moment of his elevation showed symptoms of that energetic and resolute character which has since distinguished him. The Russians had advanced from the Pruth to the Danube, and, in
the disorganized state of the Turkish army, there was no force to oppose them. The
young sultan erected the standard of the Prophet at Daud Pasha, just without the walls
of Constantinople; he raised a large army, and the Russians were compelled to retire
without crossing the Balkan mountains, as all Europe expected; but they left behind
them, in the bosom of the Turkish empire, a more formidable force than their own arms—
and this was, the discontented Greeks.
The Greeks, retaining that excitability and impatience of control which ever distinguished that nation, and which centuries of slavery and oppression could not subdue,
were ever ready instruments in the hands of the Russians, to embarrass and annoy their
enemies. The identity of their religion, the Russians having early become members
of the Greek church, gave them a powerful influence, and in 1790 a deputation of Greeks
waited upon the Empress Catherine, to request her interference. One of her sons was
baptized Constantine, the favourite name of the Greek emperors, brought up by a
Greek nurse, and intended for the throne of Constantinople. Several attempts at revolt
were unsuccessful. Their allies always sacrificed the unfortunate Greeks to their own
plans of ambition: every insurrection was followed by confiscation and massacre, and at
length it was proposed, in the divan, to cut off the whole race, and extirpate the name of
Greek. From this they were preserved by the avarice of the Turks, for, were this measure
executed, there would be no one to pay the capitation tax; and this appeal to their
cupidity alone saved a whole nation.
The Greeks, however, were now become an opulent and intelligent people; availing
themselves of all the lights and advantages which the Turks neglected, they had accompanied the rest of Europe in the march of improvement, and determined to rely no longer
on Russian faith—but to attempt their own emancipation. A mysterious society, called
Hetairia, was ramified wherever a Greek community was established, who prepared for
another insurrection. In the year 1815 a secret meeting was held at Constantinople,
and it was resolved on. Six years after, the standard of revolution was raised by
Ypselantes, in Moldavia. It was responded to by a general rising in other places, and,
after a sanguinary conflict against the whole power of the vast Turkish empire, their
independence was finally established, a new nation was recognized in Europe, and
modern Greece for ever severed from their barbarian masters.
The utter impotence of the Turkish power was so clearly established by this event,
that it was obvious nothing but a change of its institutions could save it from total dissolution. Mahmoud therefore was determined to effect this change, or perish in the attempt.
His preliminary step was the extirpation of the Janissaries. This desperate militia
now turned up their kettles in the Etmeidan, and 40,000 men rushed round them.
The sultan caused the standard of. the Prophet to be displayed in the Mosque of
Achmet, and all the well-affected flocked to it. He required a fetva from the Sheik