LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Julius Millingen:
Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece


Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV

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William Julius Millingen (1800-78) arrived in Cephallonia in November 1823, sent out as a physician on behalf of the London Greek Committee and the Society of Friends. He carried a letter of recommendation to Byron who, taken with the young man, appointed him physician to the brigade he was to assemble in Missolonghi. Millingen proceeded immediately to the mainland, where he witnessed all the fraught events concerned with Byron's last days.
Upon the receipt of the first Greek loan in 1824 Alexander Mavrocordatos made Millingen physician to the Greek forces and took him to Athens. As the nation slipped into civil war Millingen, now a government official, observed the political chaos that ensued when the various chieftains converged on Athens in pursuit of the new-found wealth. In January of 1825 Millingen accompanied Mavrocordatos and a disunited band of Greek fighters to Navarino in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the landing of Ibrahim Pasha's forces.
When the Greek forces were routed Millingen was taken prisoner and offered the position of personal physician to the Egyptian pasha, a consideration he was in no position to refuse. Several unsuccessful diplomatic appeals were made to secure his liberty before he was finally released in November 1826 at the behest of Stratford Canning, British ambassador to the Porte. The Greek Revolution was then at its nadir. For reasons which are unclear but which presumably involved professional advancement, Millingen then settled in Constantinople where he became court physician to five successive sultans, an archaeologist, and something of a public figure.
Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece (1831) is one of the better accounts of the war: Millingen was on personal terms not only with the Missolonghi philhellenes but with leading figures in the Greek government and, during his stint with Ibrahim, with the Ottoman leadership as well. While he had been a partisan of Byron and Mavrocordatos, Millingen the memoirist could look on the affairs of 1823-26 from the perspectives of all concerned in the Revolution. Indeed he is critical of all concerned, lending his narrative a credibility lacking in the more ideologically driven accounts. His awareness of the complex political context and particularized descriptions of persons, places, and manners render his narrative the more plausible.
Aware that his censorious remarks about the Greeks would prejudice their cause, Millingen refrained from publication until the war for independence had been won. His graphic descriptions of the self-interested and often vicious behavior of the warring parties, and of attitudes and customs repulsive to liberal sensibilities, were not calculated to win friends in either the East or the West. Byron alone emerges as a disinterested promoter of civic virtue. Millingen reports that it was through Byron's unblinking eyes that he first came to see affairs in Greece for what they were.
Like Byron, Millingen was a thoroughgoing cosmopolitan: his family background was Anglo-Dutch-French and prior to his medical training in Edinburgh he lived mostly on the Continent. His fluency in languages is apparent from his biography. Like his father (a friend and correspondent of Samuel Rogers) he was an connoisseur of classical antiquities and a highly cultured man. He had friends in high places, as appears both from his letters of recommendation mentioned at the beginning of the narrative and from his letters of appeal printed at the end. That Greeks, Egyptians, and Turks would all vie for his services suggests something of his skills at diplomacy as well as medicine.
Millingen did not publish his memoirs to turn a profit; his motives, as stated in his preface, were to add his personal observations to the historical record and to defend his reputation from the charge of political apostasy. The Memoirs is carelessly printed and suffers from the remote author's inability to correct proofs. It appeared in December 1830—poor timing since this corresponded with the publication of the second volume of Thomas Moore's biography of Byron. The Literary Gazette and Monthly Review offered excerpts with little critical comment, while other reviews merely reprinted anecdotes from Millingen in their reviews of Moore.
The Literary Gazette did, however, follow up with a vitriolic attack on Millingen written by Edward John Trelawny, then resident in Florence. Trelawny, like Sir Leicester Stanhope, had supported Odysseas Androutsos in his conflict with the Greek government. When Odysseas went over to the Turks Mavrocordatos or his allies tried to have him and Trelawny assassinated. The source of Trelawny's animosity is thus apparent. In the Literary Gazette he serves up unflattering anecdotes of Millingen and Mavrocordatos drawn from an account of Byron “written on his coffin by me ... Mesolonghi, April 29, 1824.” Despite this close proximity to his subject, scholars have been inclined to regard Millingen as the more reliable witness.

David Hill Radcliffe

“Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece” in The Literary Gazette No. 726 (18 December 1830) 814-15
Edward John Trelawny, “Trelawny’s Journal” in The Literary Gazette No. 734 (12 February 1831) 97-98