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by A. W. Kinglake
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Transcribed from the 1898 George Newnes edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



EOTHENA. W. KINGSLAKE

CHAPTER IOVER THE BORDER

At Semlin I still was encompassed by the scenes and the sounds of familiar life; the din of a busy world still vexed and cheered me; the unveiled faces of women still shone in the light of day. Yet, whenever I chose to look southward, I saw the Ottomans fortressaustere, and darkly impending high over the vale of the Danubehistoric Belgrade. I had come, as it were, to the end of this wheel-going Europe, and now my eyes would see the splendour and havoc of the East.

The two frontier towns are less than a cannon-shot distant, and yet their people hold no communion. The Hungarian on the north, and the Turk and Servian on the southern side of the Save are as much asunder as though there were fifty broad provinces that lay in the path between them. Of the men that bustled around me in the streets of Semlin there was not, perhaps, one who had ever gone down to look upon the stranger race dwelling under the walls of that opposite castle. It is the plague, and the dread of the plague, that divide the one people from the other. All coming and going stands forbidden by the terrors of the yellow flag. If you dare to break the laws of the quarantine, you will be tried with military haste; the court will scream out your sentence to you from a tribunal some fifty yards off; the priest, instead of gently whispering to you the sweet hopes of religion, will console you at duelling distance; and after that you will find yourself carefully shot, and carelessly buried in the ground of the lazaretto.

When all was in order for our departure we walked down to the precincts of the quarantine establishment, and here awaited us a compromised {1} officer of the Austrian Government, who lives in a state of perpetual excommunication. The boats, with their compromised rowers, were also in readiness.

After coming in contact with any creature or thing belonging to the Ottoman Empire it would be impossible for us to return to the Austrian territory without undergoing an imprisonment of fourteen days in the odious lazaretto. We felt, therefore, that before we committed ourselves it was important to take care that none of the arrangements necessary for the journey had been forgotten; and in our anxiety to avoid such a misfortune, we managed the work of departure from Semlin with nearly as much solemnity as if we had been departing this life. Some obliging persons, from whom we had received civilities during our short stay in the place, came down to say their farewell at the rivers side; and now, as we stood with them at the distance of three or four yards from the compromised officer, they asked if we were perfectly certain that we had wound up all our affairs in Christendom, and whether we had no parting requests to make. We repeated the caution to our servants, and took anxious thought lest by any possibility we might be cut off from some cherished object of affection:were they quite sure that nothing had been forgottenthat there was no fragrant dressing-case with its gold-compelling letters of credit from which we might be parting for ever?No; all our treasures lay safely stowed in the boat, and we were ready to follow them to the ends of the earth. Now, therefore, we shook hands with our Semlin friends, who immediately retreated for three or four paces, so as to leave us in the centre of a space between them and the compromised officer. The latter then advanced, and asking once more if we had done with the civilised world, held forth his hand. I met it with mine, and there was an end to Christendom for many a day to come.

We soon neared the southern bank of the river, but no sounds came down from the blank walls above, and there was no living thing that we could yet see, except one great hovering bird of the vulture race, flying low, and intent, and wheeling round and round over the pest-accursed city.

But presently there issued from the postern a group of human beingsbeings with immortal souls, and possibly some reasoning faculties; but to me the grand point was this, that they had real, substantial, and incontrovertible turbans. They made for the point towards which we were steering, and when at last I sprang upon the shore, I heard, and saw myself now first surrounded by men of Asiatic blood. I have since ridden through the land of the Osmanlees, from the Servian border to the Golden Hornfrom the Gulf of Satalieh to the tomb of Achilles; but never have I seen such ultra-Turkish looking fellows as those who received me on the banks of the Save. They were men in the humblest order of life, having come to meet our boat in the hope of earning something by carrying our luggage up to the city; but poor though they were, it was plain that they were Turks of the proud old school, and had not yet forgotten the fierce, careless bearing of their once victorious race.

Though the province of Servia generally has obtained a kind of independence, yet Belgrade, as being a place of strength on the frontier, is still garrisoned by Turkish troops under the command of a Pasha. Whether the fellows who now surrounded us were soldiers, or peaceful inhabitants, I did not understand: they wore the old Turkish costume; vests and jackets of many and brilliant colours, divided from the loose petticoat-trousers by heavy volumes of shawl, so thickly folded around their waists as to give the meagre wearers something of the dignity of true corpulence. This cincture enclosed a whole bundle of weapons; no man bore less than one brace of immensely long pistols, and a yataghan (or cutlass), with a dagger or two of various shapes and sizes; most of these arms were inlaid with silver, and highly burnished, so that they contrasted shiningly with the decayed grandeur of the garments to which they were attached (this carefulness of his arms is a point of honour with the Osmanlee, who never allows his bright yataghan to suffer from his own adversity); then the long drooping mustachios, and the ample folds of the once white turbans, that lowered over the piercing eyes, and the haggard features of the men, gave them an air of gloomy pride, and that appearance of trying to be disdainful under difficulties, which I have since seen so often in those of the Ottoman people who live, and remember old times; they seemed as if they were thinking that they would have been more usefully, more honourably, and more piously employed in cutting our throats than in carrying our portmanteaus. The faithful Steel (Methleys Yorkshire servant) stood aghast for a moment at the sight of his masters luggage upon the shoulders of these warlike porters, and when at last we began to move up he could scarcely avoid turning round to cast one affectionate look towards Christendom, but quickly again he marched on with steps of a man, not frightened exactly, but sternly prepared for death, or the Koran, or even for plural wives.

The Moslem quarter of a city is lonely and desolate. You go up and down, and on over shelving and hillocky paths through the narrow lanes walled in by blank, windowless dwellings; you come out upon an open space strewed with the black ruins that some late fire has left; you pass by a mountain of castaway things, the rubbish of centuries, and on it you see numbers of big, wolf-like dogs lying torpid under the sun, with limbs outstretched to the full, as if they were dead; storks, or cranes, sitting fearless upon the low roofs, look gravely down upon you; the still air that you breathe is loaded with the scent of citron, and pomegranate rinds scorched by the sun, or (as you approach the bazaar) with the dry, dead perfume of strange spices. You long for some signs of life, and tread the ground more heavily, as though you would wake the sleepers with the heel of your boot; but the foot falls noiseless upon the crumbling soil of an Eastern city, and silence follows you still. Again and again you meet turbans, and faces of men, but they have nothing for youno welcomeno wonderno wrathno scornthey look upon you as we do upon a Decembers fall of snowas a seasonable, unaccountable, uncomfortable work of God, that may have been sent for some good purpose, to be revealed hereafter.

Some people had come down to meet us with an invitation from the Pasha, and we wound our way up to the castle. At the gates there were groups of soldiers, some smoking, and some lying flat like corpses upon the cool stones. We went through courts, ascended steps, passed along a corridor, and walked into an airy, whitewashed room, with an European clock at one end of it, and Moostapha Pasha at the other; the fine, old, bearded potentate looked very like Jovelike Jove, too, in the midst of his clouds, for the silvery fumes of the narghile {2} hung lightly circling round him.

The Pasha received us with the smooth, kind, gentle manner that belongs to well-bred Osmanlees; then he lightly clapped his hands, and instantly the sound filled all the lower end of the room with slaves; a syllable dropped from his lips which bowed all heads, and conjured away the attendants like ghosts (their coming and their going was thus swift and quiet, because their feet were bare, and they passed through no door, but only by the yielding folds of a purder). Soon the coffee-bearers appeared, every man carrying separately his tiny cup in a small metal stand; and presently to each of us there came a pipe-bearer, who first rested the bowl of the tchibouque at a measured distance on the floor, and then, on this axis, wheeled round the long cheery stick, and gracefully presented it on half-bended knee; already the well-kindled fire was glowing secure in the bowl, and so, when I pressed the amber up to mine, there was no coyness to conquer; the willing fume came up, and answered my slightest sigh, and followed softly every breath inspired, till it touched me with some faint sense and understanding of Asiatic contentment.

Asiatic contentment! Yet scarcely, perhaps, one hour before I had been wanting my bill, and ringing for waiters, in a shrill and busy hotel.

In the Ottoman dominions there is scarcely any hereditary influence except that which belongs to the family of the Sultan, and wealth, too, is a highly volatile blessing, not easily transmitted to the descendant of the owner. From these causes it results that the people standing in the place of nobles and gentry are official personages, and though many (indeed the greater number) of these potentates are humbly born and bred, you will seldom, I think, find them wanting in that polished smoothness of manner, and those well-undulating tones which belong to the best Osmanlees. The truth is, that most of the men in authority have risen from their humble station by the arts of the courtier, and they preserve in their high estate those gentle powers of fascination to which they owe their success. Yet unless you can contrive to learn a little of the language, you will be rather bored by your visits of ceremony; the intervention of the interpreter, or dragoman as he is called, is fatal to the spirit of conversation. I think I should mislead you if I were to attempt to give the substance of any particular conversation with Orientals. A traveller may write and say that the Pasha of So-and-so was particularly interested in the vast progress which has been made in the application of steam, and appeared to understand the structure of our machinerythat he remarked upon the gigantic results of our manufacturing industryshowed that he possessed considerable knowledge of our Indian affairs, and of the constitution of the Company, and expressed a lively admiration of the many sterling qualities for which the people of England are distinguished. But the heap of commonplaces thus quietly attributed to the Pasha will have been founded perhaps on some such talking as this:

Pasha.The Englishman is welcome; most blessed among hours is this, the hour of his coming.

Dragoman (to the traveller).The Pasha pays you his compliments.

Traveller.Give him my best compliments in return, and say Im delighted to have the honour of seeing him.

Dragoman (to the Pasha).His lordship, this Englishman, Lord of London, Scorner of Ireland, Suppressor of France, has quitted his governments, and left his enemies to breathe for a moment, and has crossed the broad waters in strict disguise, with a small but eternally faithful retinue of followers, in order that he might look upon the bright countenance of the Pasha among Pashasthe Pasha of the everlasting Pashalik of Karagholookoldour.

Traveller (to his dragoman).What on earth have you been saying about London? The Pasha will be taking me for a mere cockney. Have not I told you always to say that I am from a branch of the family of Mudcombe Park, and that I am to be a magistrate for the county of Bedfordshire, only Ive not qualified, and that I should have been a deputy-lieutenant if it had not been for the extraordinary conduct of Lord Mountpromise, and that I was a candidate for Goldborough at the last election, and that I should have won easy if my committee had not been bought. I wish to Heaven that if you do say anything about me, youd tell the simple truth.

Dragoman [is silent].

Pasha.What says the friendly Lord of London? is there aught that I can grant him within the Pashalik of Karagholookoldour?

Dragoman (growing, sulky and literal).This friendly Englishmanthis branch of Mudcombethis head-purveyor of Goldboroughthis possible policeman of Bedfordshire, is recounting his achievements, and the number of his titles.

Pasha.The end of his honours is more distant than the ends of the earth, and the catalogue of his glorious deeds is brighter than the firmament of heaven!

Dragoman (to the traveller).The Pasha congratulates your Excellency.

Traveller.About Goldborough? The deuce he does!but I want to get at his views in relation to the present state of the Ottoman Empire. Tell him the Houses of Parliament have met, and that there has been a speech from the throne, pledging England to preserve the integrity of the Sultans dominions.

Dragoman (to the Pasha).This branch of Mudcombe, this possible policeman of Bedfordshire, informs your Highness that in England the talking houses have met, and that the integrity of the Sultans dominions has been assured for ever and ever by a speech from the velvet chair.

Pasha.Wonderful chair! Wonderful houses!whirr! whirr! all by wheels!whiz! whiz! all by steam!wonderful chair! wonderful houses! wonderful people!whirr! whirr! all by wheels!whiz! whiz! all by steam!

Traveller (to the dragoman).What does the Pasha mean by that whizzing? he does not mean to say, does he, that our Government will ever abandon their pledges to the Sultan?

Dragoman.No, your Excellency; but he says the English talk by wheels, and by steam.

Traveller.Thats an exaggeration; but say that the English really have carried machinery to great perfection; tell the Pasha (hell be struck with that) that whenever we have any disturbances to put down, even at two or three hundred miles from London, we can send troops by the thousand to the scene of action in a few hours.

Dragoman (recovering his temper and freedom of speech).His Excellency, this Lord of Mudcombe, observes to your Highness, that whenever the Irish, or the French, or the Indians rebel against the English, whole armies of soldiers, and brigades of artillery, are dropped into a mighty chasm called Euston Square, and in the biting of a cartridge they arise up again in Manchester, or Dublin, or Paris, or Delhi, and utterly exterminate the enemies of England from the face of the earth.

Pasha.I know itI know allthe particulars have been faithfully related to me, and my mind comprehends locomotives. The armies of the English ride upon the vapours of boiling caldrons, and their horses are flaming coals!whirr! whirr! all by wheels!whiz! whiz! all by steam!

Traveller (to his dragoman).I wish to have the opinion of an unprejudiced Ottoman gentleman as to the prospects of our English commerce and manufactures; just ask the Pasha to give me his views on the subject.

Pasha (after having received the communication of the dragoman).The ships of the English swarm like flies; their printed calicoes cover the whole earth; and by the side of their swords the blades of Damascus are blades of grass. All India is but an item in the ledger-books of the merchants, whose lumber-rooms are filled with ancient thrones!whirr! whirr! all by wheels!whiz! whiz! all by steam.

Dragoman.The Pasha compliments the cutlery of England, and also the East India Company.

Traveller.The Pashas right about the cutlery (I tried my scimitar with the common officers swords belonging to our fellows at Malta, and they cut it like the leaf of a novel). Well (to the dragoman), tell the Pasha I am exceedingly gratified to find that he entertains such a high opinion of our manufacturing energy, but I should like him to know, though, that we have got something in England besides that. These foreigners are always fancying that we have nothing but ships, and railways, and East India Companies; do just tell the Pasha that our rural districts deserve his attention, and that even within the last two hundred years there has been an evident improvement in the culture of the turnip, and if he does not take any interest about that, at all events you can explain that we have our virtues in the countrythat we are a truth-telling people, and, like the Osmanlees, are faithful in the performance of our promises. Oh! and, by-the-bye, whilst you are about it, you may as well just say at the end that the British yeoman is still, thank God! the British yeoman.

Pasha (after hearing the dragoman).It is true, it is true:through all Feringhistan the English are foremost and best; for the Russians are drilled swine, and the Germans are sleeping babes, and the Italians are the servants of songs, and the French are the sons of newspapers, and the Greeks they are weavers of lies, but the English and the Osmanlees are brothers together in righteousness; for the Osmanlees believe in one only God, and cleave to the Koran, and destroy idols, so do the English worship one God, and abominate graven images, and tell the truth, and believe in a book, and though they drink the juice of the grape, yet to say that they worship their prophet as God, or to say that they are eaters of pork, these are lieslies born of Greeks, and nursed by Jews!

Dragoman.The Pasha compliments the English.

Traveller (rising).Well, Ive had enough of this. Tell the Pasha I am greatly obliged to him for his hospitality, and still more for his kindness in furnishing me with horses, and say that now I must be off.

Pasha (after hearing the dragoman, and standing up on his divan). {3}Proud are the sires, and blessed are the dams of the horses that shall carry his Excellency to the end of his prosperous journey. May the saddle beneath him glide down to the gates of the happy city, like a boat swimming on the third river of Paradise. May he sleep the sleep of a child, when his friends are around him; and the while that his enemies are abroad, may his eyes flame red through the darknessmore red than the eyes of ten tigers! Farewell!

Dragoman.The Pasha wishes your Excellency a pleasant journey.

So ends the visit.



CHAPTER IITURKISH TRAVELLING

In two or three hours our party was ready; the servants, the Tatar, the mounted Suridgees, and the baggage-horses, altogether made up a strong cavalcade. The accomplished Mysseri, of whom you have heard me speak so often, and who served me so faithfully throughout my Oriental journeys, acted as our interpreter, and was, in fact, the brain of our corps. The Tatar, you know, is a government courier properly employed in carrying despatches, but also sent with travellers to speed them on their way, and answer with his head for their safety. The man whose head was thus pledged for our precious lives was a glorious-looking fellow, with the regular and handsome cast of countenance which is now characteristic of the Ottoman race. {4} His features displayed a good deal of serene pride, self-respect, fortitude, a kind of ingenuous sensuality, and something of instinctive wisdom, without any sharpness of intellect. He had been a Janissary (as I afterwards found), and kept up the odd strut of his old corps, which used to affright the Christians in former timesthat rolling gait so comically pompous, that a close imitation of it, even in the broadest farce, would be looked upon as a very rough over-acting of the character. It is occasioned in part by dress and accoutrements. The weighty bundle of weapons carried upon the chest throws back the body so as to give it a wonderful portliness, and moreover, the immense masses of clothes that swathe his limbs force the wearer in walking to swing himself heavily round from left to right, and from right to left. In truth, this great edifice of woollen, and cotton, and silk, and silver, and brass, and steel is not at all fitted for moving on foot; it cannot even walk without frightfully discomposing its fair proportions; and as to runningour Tatar ran once (it was in order to pick up a partridge that Methley had winged with a pistol-shot), and really the attempt was one of the funniest misdirections of human energy that wondering man ever saw. But put him in his stirrups, and then is the Tatar himself again: there he lives at his pleasure, reposing in the tranquillity of that true home (the home of his ancestors) which the saddle seems to afford him, and drawing from his pipe the calm pleasures of his own fireside, or else dashing sudden over the earth, as though for a moment he felt the mouth of a Turcoman steed, and saw his own Scythian plains lying boundless and open before him.

It was not till his subordinates had nearly completed their preparations for their march that our Tatar, commanding the forces, arrived; he came sleek and fresh from the bath (for so is the custom of the Ottomans when they start upon a journey), and was carefully accoutred at every point. From his thigh to his throat he was loaded with arms and other implements of a campaigning life. There is no scarcity of water along the whole road from Belgrade to Stamboul, but the habits of our Tatar were formed by his ancestors and not by himself, so he took good care to see that his leathern water-flask was amply charged and properly strapped to the saddle, along with his blessed tchibouque. And now at last he has cursed the Suridgees in all proper figures of speech, and is ready for a ride of a thousand miles; but before he comforts his soul in the marble baths of Stamboul he will be another and a lesser man; his sense of responsibility, his too strict abstemiousness, and his restless energy, disdainful of sleep, will have worn him down to a fraction of the sleek Moostapha that now leads out our party from the gates of Belgrade.

The Suridgees are the men employed to lead the baggage-horses. They are most of them gipsies. Their lot is a sad one: they are the last of the human race, and all the sins of their superiors (including the horses) can safely be visited on them. But the wretched look often more picturesque than their betters; and though all the world despise these poor Suridgees, their tawny skins and their grisly beards will gain them honourable standing in the foreground of a landscape. We had a couple of these fellows with us, each leading a baggage-horse, to the tail of which last another baggage-horse was attached. There was a world of trouble in persuading the stiff angular portmanteaus of Europe to adapt themselves to their new condition and sit quietly on pack-saddles, but all was right at last, and it gladdened my eyes to see our little troop file off through the winding lanes of the city, and show down brightly in the plain beneath. The one of our party that seemed to be most out of keeping with the rest of the scene was Methleys Yorkshire servant, who always rode doggedly on in his pantry jacket, looking out for gentlemens seats.

Methley and I had English saddles, but I think we should have done just as well (I should certainly have seen more of the country) if we had adopted saddles like that of our Tatar, who towered so loftily over the scraggy little beast that carried him. In taking thought for the East, whilst in England, I had made one capital hit which you must not forgetI had brought with me a pair of common spurs. These were a great comfort to me throughout my horseback travels, by keeping up the cheerfulness of the many unhappy nags that I had to bestride; the angle of the Oriental stirrup is a very poor substitute for spurs.

The Ottoman horseman, raised by his saddle to a great height above the humble level of the back that he bestrides, and using an awfully sharp bit, is able to lift the crest of his nag, and force him into a strangely fast shuffling walk, the orthodox pace for the journey. My comrade and I, using English saddles, could not easily keep our beasts up to this peculiar amble; besides, we thought it a bore to be followed by our attendants for a thousand miles, and we generally, therefore, did duty as the rearguard of our grand army; we used to walk our horses till the party in front had got into the distance, and then retrieve the lost ground by a gallop.

We had ridden on for some two or three hours; the stir and bustle of our commencing journey had ceased, the liveliness of our little troop had worn off with the declining day, and the night closed in as we entered the great Servian forest. Through this our road was to last for more than a hundred miles. Endless, and endless now on either side, the tall oaks closed in their ranks and stood gloomily lowering over us, as grim as an army of giants with a thousand years pay in arrear. One strived with listening ear to catch some tidings of that forest world withinsome stirring of beasts, some night-birds scream, but all was quite hushed, except the voice of the cicalas that peopled every bough, and filled the depths of the forest through and through, with one same hum everlastingmore stifling than very silence.

At first our way was in darkness, but after a while the moon got up, and touched the glittering arms and tawny faces of our men with light so pale and mystic, that the watchful Tatar felt bound to look out for demons, and take proper means for keeping them off: forthwith he determined that the duty of frightening away our ghostly enemies (like every other troublesome work) should fall upon the poor Suridgees, who accordingly lifted up their voices, and burst upon the dreadful stillness of the forest with shrieks and dismal howls. These precautions were kept up incessantly, and were followed by the most complete success, for not one demon came near us.

Long before midnight we reached the hamlet in which we were to rest for the night; it was made up of about a dozen clay huts, standing upon a small tract of ground hardly won from the forest. The peasants that lived there spoke a Slavonic dialect, and Mysseris knowledge of the Russian tongue enabled him to talk with them freely. We took up our quarters in a square room with white walls and an earthen floor, quite bare of furniture, and utterly void of women. They told us, however, that these Servian villagers lived in happy abundance, but that they were careful to conceal their riches, as well as their wives.

The burthens unstrapped from the pack-saddles very quickly furnished our den: a couple of quilts spread upon the floor, with a carpet-bag at the head of each, became capital sofasportmanteaus, and hat-boxes, and writing-cases, and books, and maps, and gleaming arms soon lay strewed around us in pleasant confusion. Mysseris canteen too began to yield up its treasures, but we relied upon finding some provisions in the village. At first the natives declared that their hens were mere old maids and all their cows unmarried, but our Tatar swore such a grand sonorous oath, and fingered the hilt of his yataghan with such persuasive touch, that the land soon flowed with milk, and mountains of eggs arose.

And soon there was tea before us, with all its unspeakable fragrance, and as we reclined on the floor, we found that a portmanteau was just the right height for a table; the duty of candlesticks was ably performed by a couple of intelligent natives; the rest of the villagers stood by the open doorway at the lower end of the room, and watched our banqueting with grave and devout attention.

The first night of your first campaign (though you be but a mere peaceful campaigner) is a glorious time in your life. It is so sweet to find ones self free from the stale civilisation of Europe! Oh my dear ally, when first you spread your carpet in the midst of these Eastern scenes, do think for a moment of those your fellow-creatures, that dwell in squares, and streets, and even (for such is the fate of many!) in actual country houses; think of the people that are presenting their compliments, and requesting the honour, and much regretting,of those that are pinioned at dinner-tables; or stuck up in ballrooms, or cruelly planted in pewsay, think of these, and so remembering how many poor devils are living in a state of utter respectability, you will glory the more in your own delightful escape.

I am bound to confess, however, that with all its charms a mud floor (like a mercenary match) does certainly promote early rising. Long before daybreak we were up, and had breakfasted; after this there was nearly a whole tedious hour to endure whilst the horses were laden by torch-light; but this had an end, and at last we went on once more. Cloaked, and sombre, at first we made our sullen way through the darkness, with scarcely one barter of words, but soon the genial morn burst down from heaven, and stirred the blood so gladly through our veins, that the very Suridgees, with all their troubles, could now look up for an instant, and almost seem to believe in the temporary goodness of God.

The actual movement from one place to another, in Europeanised countries, is a process so temporaryit occupies, I mean, so small a proportion of the travellers entire timethat his mind remains unsettled, so long as the wheels are going; he may be alive enough to external objects of interest, and to the crowding ideas which are often invited by the excitement of a changing scene, but he is still conscious of being in a provisional state, and his mind is constantly recurring to the expected end of his journey; his ordinary ways of thought have been interrupted, and before any new mental habits can be formed he is quietly fixed in his hotel. It will be otherwise with you when you journey in the East. Day after day, perhaps week after week and month after month, your foot is in the stirrup. To taste the cold breath of the earliest morn, and to lead, or follow, your bright cavalcade till sunset through forests and mountain passes, through valleys and desolate plains, all this becomes your MODE OF LIFE, and you ride, eat, drink, and curse the mosquitoes as systematically as your friends in England eat, drink, and sleep. If you are wise, you will not look upon the long period of time thus occupied in actual movement as the mere gulf dividing you from the end of your journey, but rather as one of those rare and plastic seasons of your life from which, perhaps, in after times you may love to date the moulding of your characterthat is, your very identity. Once feel this, and you will soon grow happy and contented in your saddle-home. As for me and my comrade, however, in this part of our journey we often forgot Stamboul, forgot all the Ottoman Empire, and only remembered old times. We went back, loitering on the banks of Thamesnot grim old Thames of after life, that washes the Parliament Houses, and drowns despairing girlsbut Thames, the old Eton fellow, that wrestled with us in our boyhood till he taught us to be stronger than he. We bullied Keate, and scoffed at Larrey Miller, and Okes; we rode along loudly laughing, and talked to the grave Servian forest as though it were the Brocas clump.

Our pace was commonly very slow, for the baggage-horses served us for a drag, and kept us to a rate of little more than five miles in the hour, but now and then, and chiefly at night, a spirit of movement would suddenly animate the whole party; the baggage-horses would be teased into a gallop, and when once this was done, there would be such a banging of portmanteaus, and such convulsions of carpet-bags upon their panting sides, and the Suridgees would follow them up with such a hurricane of blows, and screams, and curses, that stopping or relaxing was scarcely possible; then the rest of us would put our horses into a gallop, and so all shouting cheerily, would hunt, and drive the sumpter beasts like a flock of goats, up hill and down dale, right on to the end of their journey.

The distances at which we got relays of horses varied greatly; some were not more than fifteen or twenty miles, but twice, I think, we performed a whole days journey of more than sixty miles with the same beasts.

When at last we came out from the forest our road lay through scenes like those of an English park. The green sward unfenced, and left to the free pasture of cattle, was dotted with groups of stately trees, and here and there darkened over with larger masses of wood, that seemed gathered together for bounding the domain, and shutting out some infernal fellow-creature in the shape of a newly made squire; in one or two spots the hanging copses looked down upon a lawn below with such sheltering mien, that seeing the like in England you would have been tempted almost to ask the name of the spend-thrift, or the madman who had dared to pull down the old hall.

There are few countries less infested by lions than the provinces on this part of your route. You are not called upon to drop a tear over the tomb of the once brilliant anybody, or to pay your tribute of respect to anything dead or alive. There are no Servian or Bulgarian litterateurs with whom it would be positively disgraceful not to form an acquaintance; you have no staring, no praising to get through; the only public building of any interest that lies on the road is of modern date, but is said to be a good specimen of Oriental architecture; it is of a pyramidical shape, and is made up of thirty thousand skulls, contributed by the rebellious Servians in the early part (I believe) of this century: I am not at all sure of my date, but I fancy it was in the year 1806 that the first skull was laid. I am ashamed to say that in the darkness of the early morning we unknowingly went by the neighbourhood of this triumph of art, and so basely got off from admiring the simple grandeur of the architects conception, and the exquisite beauty of the fretwork.

There being no lions, we ought at least to have met with a few perils, but the only robbers we saw anything of had been long since dead and gone. The poor fellows had been impaled upon high poles, and so propped up by the transverse spokes beneath them, that their skeletons, clothed with some white, wax-like remains of flesh, still sat up lolling in the sunshine, and listlessly stared without eyes.

One day it seemed to me that our path was a little more rugged than usual, and I found that I was deserving for myself the title of Sabalkansky, or Transcender of the Balcan. The truth is, that, as a military barrier, the Balcan is a fabulous mountain. Such seems to be the view of Major Keppell, who looked on it towards the east with the eye of a soldier, and certainly in the Sophia Pass, which I followed, there is no narrow defile, and no ascent sufficiently difficult to stop, or delay for long time, a train of siege artillery.

Before we reached Adrianople, Methley had been seized with we knew not what ailment, and when we had taken up our quarters in the city he was cast to the very earth by sickness. Adrianople enjoyed an English consul, and I felt sure that, in Eastern phrase, his house would cease to be his house, and would become the house of my sick comrade. I should have judged rightly under ordinary circumstances, but the levelling plague was abroad, and the dread of it had dominion over the consular mind. So now (whether dying or not, one could hardly tell), upon a quilt stretched out along the floor, there lay the best hope of an ancient line, without the material aids to comfort of even the humblest sort, and (sad to say) without the consolation of a friend, or even a comrade worth having. I have a notion that tenderness and pity are affections occasioned in some measure by living within doors; certainly, at the time I speak of, the open-air life which I have been leading, or the wayfaring hardships of the journey, had so strangely blunted me, that I felt intolerant of illness, and looked down upon my companion as if the poor fellow in falling ill had betrayed a want of spirit. I entertained too a most absurd ideaan idea that his illness was partly affected. You see that I have made a confession: this I hopethat I may always hereafter look charitably upon the hard, savage acts of peasants, and the cruelties of a brutal soldiery. God knows that I strived to melt myself into common charity, and to put on a gentleness which I could not feel, but this attempt did not cheat the keenness of the sufferer; he could not have felt the less deserted because that I was with him.

We called to aid a solemn Armenian (I think he was) half soothsayer, half hakim, or doctor, who, all the while counting his beads, fixed his eyes steadily upon the patient, and then suddenly dealt him a violent blow on the chest. Methley bravely dissembled his pain, for he fancied that the blow was meant to try whether or not the plague were on him.

Here was really a sad embarrassmentno bed; nothing to offer the invalid in the shape of food save a piece of thin, tough, flexible, drab-coloured cloth, made of flour and mill-stones in equal proportions, and called by the name of bread; then the patient, of course, had no confidence in his medical man, and on the whole, the best chance of saving my comrade seemed to lie in taking him out of the reach of his doctor, and bearing him away to the neighbourhood of some more genial consul. But how was this to be done? Methley was much too ill to be kept in his saddle, and wheel carriages, as means of travelling, were unknown. There is, however, such a thing as an araba, a vehicle drawn by oxen, in which the wives of a rich man are sometimes dragged four or five miles over the grass by way of recreation. The carriage is rudely framed, but you recognise in the simple grandeur of its design a likeness to things majestic; in short, if your carpenters son were to make a Lord Mayors coach for little Amy, he would build a carriage very much in the style of a Turkish araba. No one had ever heard of horses being used for drawing a carriage in this part of the world, but necessity is the mother of innovation as well as of invention. I was fully justified, I think, in arguing that there were numerous instances of horses being used for that purpose in our own countrythat the laws of nature are uniform in their operation over all the world (except Ireland)that that which was true in Piccadilly, must be true in Adrianoplethat the matter could not fairly be treated as an ecclesiastical question, for that the circumstance of Methleys going on to Stamboul in an araba drawn by horses, when calmly and dispassionately considered, would appear to be perfectly consistent with the maintenance of the Mahometan religion as by law established. Thus poor, dear, patient Reason would have fought her slow battle against Asiatic prejudice, and I am convinced that she would have established the possibility (and perhaps even the propriety) of harnessing horses in a hundred and fifty years; but in the meantime Mysseri, well seconded by our Tatar, put a very quick end to the controversy by having the horses put to.

It was a sore thing for me to see my poor comrade brought to this, for young though he was, he was a veteran in travel. When scarcely yet of age he had invaded India from the frontiers of Russia, and that so swiftly, that measuring by the time of his flight the broad dominions of the king of kings were shrivelled up to a dukedom and now, poor fellow, he was to be poked into an araba: like a Georgian girl! He suffered greatly, for there were no springs for the carriage, and no road for the wheels; and so the concern jolted on over the open country with such twists, and jerks, and jumps, as might almost dislocate the supple tongue of Satan.

All day the patient kept himself shut up within the lattice-work of the araba, and I could hardly know how he was faring until the end of the days journey, when I found that he was not worse, and was buoyed up with the hope of some day reaching Constantinople.

I was always conning over my maps, and fancied that I knew pretty well my line, but after Adrianople I had made more southing than I knew for, and it was with unbelieving wonder, and delight, that I came suddenly upon the shore of the sea. A little while, and its gentle billows were flowing beneath the hoofs of my beast, but the hearing of the ripple was not enough communion, and the seeing of the blue Propontis was not to know and possess itI must needs plunge into its depth and quench my longing love in the palpable waves; and so when old Moostapha (defender against demons) looked round for his charge, he saw with horror and dismay that he for whose life his own life stood pledged was possessed of some devil who had driven him down into the seathat the rider and the steed had vanished from earth, and that out among the waves was the gasping crest of a post-horse, and the ghostly head of the Englishman moving upon the face of the waters.

We started very early indeed on the last day of our journey, and from the moment of being off until we gained the shelter of the imperial walls we were struggling face to face with an icy storm that swept right down from the steppes of Tartary, keen, fierce, and steady as a northern conqueror. Methleys servant, who was the greatest sufferer, kept his saddle until we reached Stamboul, but was then found to be quite benumbed in limbs, and his brain was so much affected, that when he was lifted from his horse he fell away in a state of unconsciousness, the first stage of a dangerous fever.

Our Tatar, worn down by care and toil, and carrying seven heavens full of water in his manifold jackets and shawls, was a mere weak and vapid dilution of the sleek Moostapha, who scarce more than one fortnight before came out like a bridegroom from his chamber to take the command of our party.

Mysseri seemed somewhat over-wearied, but he had lost none of his strangely quiet energy. He wore a grave look, however, for he now had learnt that the plague was prevailing at Constantinople, and he was fearing that our two sick men, and the miserable looks of our whole party, might make us unwelcome at Pera.

We crossed the Golden Horn in a caïque. As soon as we had landed, some woebegone looking fellows were got together and laden with our baggage. Then on we went, dripping, and sloshing, and looking very like men that had been turned back by the Royal Humane Society as being incurably drowned. Supporting our sick, we climbed up shelving steps and threaded many windings, and at last came up into the main street of Pera, humbly hoping that we might not be judged guilty of plague, and so be cast back with horror from the doors of the shuddering Christians.

Such was the condition of our party, which fifteen days before had filed away so gaily from the gates of Belgrade. A couple of fevers and a north-easterly storm had thoroughly spoiled our looks.

The interest of Mysseri with the house of Giuseppini was too powerful to be denied, and at once, though not without fear and trembling, we were admitted as guests.



CHAPTER IIICONSTANTINOPLE

Even if we dont take a part in the chant about mosques and minarets, we can still yield praises to Stamboul. We can chant about the harbour; we can say, and sing, that nowhere else does the sea come so home to a city; there are no pebbly shoresno sand barsno slimy river-bedsno black canalsno locks nor docks to divide the very heart of the place from the deep waters. If being in the noisiest mart of Stamboul you would stroll to the quiet side of the way amidst those cypresses opposite, you will cross the fathomless Bosphorus; if you would go from your hotel to the bazaars, you must go by the bright, blue pathway of the Golden Horn, that can carry a thousand sail of the line. You are accustomed to the gondolas that glide among the palaces of St. Mark, but here at Stamboul it is a 120 gun ship that meets you in the street. Venice strains out from the steadfast land, and in old times would send forth the chief of the State to woo and wed the reluctant sea; but the stormy bride of the Doge is the bowing slave of the Sultan. She comes to his feet with the treasures of the worldshe bears him from palace to palaceby some unfailing witchcraft she entices the breezes to follow her {5} and fan the pale cheek of her lordshe lifts his armed navies to the very gates of his gardenshe watches the walls of his seraishe stifles the intrigues of his ministersshe quiets the scandals of his courtsshe extinguishes his rivals, and hushes his naughty wives all one by one. So vast are the wonders of the deep!

All the while that I stayed at Constantinople the plague was prevailing, but not with any degree of violence. Its presence, however, lent a mysterious and exciting, though not very pleasant, interest to my first knowledge of a great Oriental city; it gave tone and colour to all I saw, and all I felta tone and a colour sombre enough, but true, and well befitting the dreary monuments of past power and splendour. With all that is most truly Oriental in its character the plague is associated; it dwells with the faithful in the holiest quarters of their city. The coats and the hats of Pera are held to be nearly as innocent of infection as they are ugly in shape and fashion; but the rich furs and the costly shawls, the broidered slippers and the gold-laden saddle-cloths, the fragrance of burning aloes and the rich aroma of patchoulithese are the signs that mark the familiar home of plague. You go out from your queenly Londonthe centre of the greatest and strongest amongst all earthly dominionsyou go out thence, and travel on to the capital of an Eastern Prince, you find but a waning power, and a faded splendour, that inclines you to laugh and mock; but let the infernal Angel of Plague be at hand, and he, more mighty than armies, more terrible than Suleyman in his glory, can restore such pomp and majesty to the weakness of the Imperial city, that if, when HE is there, you must still go prying amongst the shades of this dead empire, at least you will tread the path with seemly reverence and awe.

It is the firm faith of almost all the Europeans living in the East that Plague is conveyed by the touch of infected substances, and that the deadly atoms especially lurk in all kinds of clothes and furs. It is held safer to breathe the same air with a man sick of the plague, and even to come in contact with his skin, than to be touched by the smallest particle of woollen or of thread which may have been within the reach of possible infection. If this be a right notion, the spread of the malady must be materially aided by the observance of a custom prevailing amongst the people of Stamboul. It is this; when an Osmanlee dies, one of his dresses is cut up, and a small piece of it is sent to each of his friends as a memorial of the departeda fatal present, according to the opinion of the Franks, for it too often forces the living not merely to remember the dead man, but to follow and bear him company.

The Europeans during the prevalence of the plague, if they are forced to venture into the streets, will carefully avoid the touch of every human being whom they pass. Their conduct in this respect shows them strongly in contrast with the true believers: the Moslem stalks on serenely, as though he were under the eye of his God, and were equal to either fate; the Franks go crouching and slinking from death, and some (those chiefly of French extraction) will fondly strive to fence out destiny with shining capes of oilskin!

For some time you may manage by great care to thread your way through the streets of Stamboul without incurring contact, for the Turks, though scornful of the terrors felt by the Franks, are generally very courteous in yielding to that which they hold to be a useless and impious precaution, and will let you pass safe if they can. It is impossible, however, that your immunity can last for any length of time if you move about much through the narrow streets and lanes of a crowded city.

As for me, I soon got compromised. After one day of rest, the prayers of my hostess began to lose their power of keeping me from the pestilent side of the Golden Horn. Faithfully promising to shun the touch of all imaginable substances, however enticing, I set off very cautiously, and held my way uncompromised till I reached the waters edge; but before my caïque was quite ready some rueful-looking fellows came rapidly shambling down the steps with a plague-stricken corpse, which they were going to bury amongst the faithful on the other side of the water. I contrived to be so much in the way of this brisk funeral, that I was not only touched by the men bearing the body, but also, I believe, by the foot of the dead man, as it hung lolling out of the bier. This accident gave me such a strong interest in denying the soundness of the contagion theory, that I did in fact deny and repudiate it altogether; and from that time, acting upon my own convenient view of the matter, I went wherever I chose, without taking any serious pains to avoid a touch. It seems to me now very likely that the Europeans are right, and that the plague may be really conveyed by contagion; but during the whole time of my remaining in the East, my views on this subject more nearly approached to those of the fatalists; and so, when afterwards the plague of Egypt came dealing his blows around me, I was able to live amongst the dying without that alarm and anxiety which would inevitably have pressed upon my mind if I had allowed myself to believe that every passing touch was really a probable death-stroke.

And perhaps as you make your difficult way through a steep and narrow alley, shut in between blank walls, and little frequented by passers, you meet one of those coffin-shaped bundles of white linen that implies an Ottoman lady. Painfully struggling against the obstacles to progression interposed by the many folds of her clumsy drapery, by her big mud-boots, and especially by her two pairs of slippers, she works her way on full awkwardly enough, but yet there is something of womanly consciousness in the very labour and effort with which she tugs and lifts the burthen of her charms. She is closely followed by her women slaves. Of her very self you see nothing except the dark, luminous eyes that stare against your face, and the tips of the painted fingers depending like rose-buds from out of the blank bastions of the fortress. She turns, and turns again, and carefully glances around her on all sides, to see that she is safe from the eyes of Mussulmans, and then suddenly withdrawing the yashmak, {6} she shines upon your heart and soul with all the pomp and might of her beauty. And this, it is not the light, changeful grace that leaves you to doubt whether you have fallen in love with a body, or only a soul; it is the beauty that dwells secure in the perfectness of hard, downright outlines, and in the glow of generous colour. There is fire, though, toohigh courage and fire enough in the untamed mind, or spirit, or whatever it is, which drives the breath of pride through those scarcely parted lips.

You smile at pretty womenyou turn pale before the beauty that is great enough to have dominion over you. She sees, and exults in your giddiness; she sees and smiles; then presently, with a sudden movement, she lays her blushing fingers upon your arm, and cries out, Yumourdjak! (Plague! meaning, there is a present of the plague for you!) This is her notion of a witticism. It is a very old piece of fun, no doubtquite an Oriental Joe Miller; but the Turks are fondly attached, not only to the institutions, but also to the jokes of their ancestors; so the ladys silvery laugh rings joyously in your ears, and the mirth of her women is boisterous and fresh, as though the bright idea of giving the plague to a Christian had newly lit upon the earth.

Methley began to rally very soon after we had reached Constantinople; but there seemed at first to be no chance of his regaining strength enough for travelling during the winter, and I determined to stay with my comrade until he had quite recovered; so I bought me a horse, and a pipe of tranquillity, {7} and took a Turkish phrase-master. I troubled myself a great deal with the Turkish tongue, and gained at last some knowledge of its structure. It is enriched, perhaps overladen, with Persian and Arabic words, imported into the language chiefly for the purpose of representing sentiments and religious dogmas, and terms of art and luxury, entirely unknown to the Tartar ancestors of the present Osmanlees; but the body and the spirit of the old tongue are yet alive, and the smooth words of the shopkeeper at Constantinople can still carry understanding to the ears of the untamed millions who rove over the plains of Northern Asia. The structure of the language, especially in its more lengthy sentences, is very like to the Latin: the subject matters are slowly and patiently enumerated, without disclosing the purpose of the speaker until he reaches the end of his sentence, and then at last there comes the clenching word, which gives a meaning and connection to all that has gone before. If you listen at all to speaking of this kind your attention, rather than be suffered to flag, must grow more and more lively as the phrase marches on.

The Osmanlees speak well. In countries civilised according to the European plan the work of trying to persuade tribunals is almost all performed by a set of men, the great body of whom very seldom do anything else; but in Turkey this division of labour has never taken place, and every man is his own advocate. The importance of the rhetorical art is immense, for a bad speech may endanger the property of the speaker, as well as the soles of his feet and the free enjoyment of his throat. So it results that most of the Turks whom one sees have a lawyer-like habit of speaking connectedly, and at length. Even the treaties continually going on at the bazaar for the buying and selling of the merest trifles are carried on by speechifying rather than by mere colloquies, and the eternal uncertainty as to the market value of things in constant sale gives room enough for discussion. The seller is for ever demanding a price immensely beyond that for which he sells at last, and so occasions unspeakable disgust in many Englishmen, who cannot see why an honest dealer should ask more for his goods than he will really take! The truth is, however, that an ordinary tradesman of Constantinople has no other way of finding out the fair market value of his property. The difficulty under which he labours is easily shown by comparing the mechanism of the commercial system in Turkey with that of our own country. In England, or in any other great mercantile country, the bulk of the things bought and sold goes through the hands of a wholesale dealer, and it is he who higgles and bargains with an entire nation of purchasers by entering into treaty with retail sellers. The labour of making a few large contracts is sufficient to give a clue for finding the fair market value of the goods sold throughout the country; but in Turkey, from the primitive habits of the people, and partly from the absence of great capital and great credit, the importing merchant, the warehouseman, the wholesale dealer, the retail dealer, and the shopman, are all one person. Old Moostapha, or Abdallah, or Hadgi Mohamed waddles up from the waters edge with a small packet of merchandise, which he has bought out of a Greek brigantine, and when at last he has reached his nook in the bazaar he puts his goods before the counter, and himself upon it; then laying fire to his tchibouque he sits in permanence, and patiently waits to obtain the best price that can be got in an open market. This is his fair right as a seller, but he has no means of finding out what that best price is except by actual experiment. He cannot know the intensity of the demand, or the abundance of the supply, otherwise than by the offers which may be made for his little bundle of goods; so he begins by asking a perfectly hopeless price, and then descends the ladder until he meets a purchaser, for ever

Striving to attain By shadowing out the unattainable.

This is the struggle which creates the continual occasion for debate. The vendor, perceiving that the unfolded merchandise has caught the eye of a possible purchaser, commences his opening speech. He covers his bristling broadcloths and his meagre silks with the golden broidery of Oriental praises, and as he talks, along with the slow and graceful waving of his arms, he lifts his undulating periods, upholds and poises them well, till they have gathered their weight and their strength, and then hurls them bodily forward with grave, momentous swing. The possible purchaser listens to the whole speech with deep and serious attention; but when it is over his turn arrives. He elaborately endeavours to show why he ought not to buy the things at a price twenty times larger than their value. Bystanders attracted to the debate take a part in it as independent members; the vendor is heard in reply, and coming down with his price, furnishes the materials for a new debate. Sometimes, however, the dealer, if he is a very pious Mussulman, and sufficiently rich to hold back his ware, will take a more dignified part, maintaining a kind of judicial gravity, and receiving the applicants who come to his stall as if they were rather suitors than customers. He will quietly hear to the end some long speech that concludes with an offer, and will answer it all with the one monosyllable Yok, which means distinctly No.

I caught one glimpse of the old heathen world. My habits for studying military subjects had been hardening my heart against poetry; for ever staring at the flames of battle, I had blinded myself to the lesser and finer lights that are shed from the imaginations of men. In my reading at this time I delighted to follow from out of Arabian sands the feet of the armed believers, and to stand in the broad, manifest storm-track of Tartar devastation; and thus, though surrounded at Constantinople by scenes of much interest to the classical scholar, I had cast aside their associations like an old Greek grammar, and turned my face to the shining Orient, forgetful of old Greece and all the pure wealth she left to this matter-of-fact-ridden world. But it happened to me one day to mount the high grounds overhanging the streets of Pera. I sated my eyes with the pomps of the city and its crowded waters, and then I looked over where Scutari lay half veiled in her mournful cypresses. I looked yet farther and higher, and saw in the heavens a silvery cloud that stood fast and still against the breeze: it was pure and dazzling white, as might be the veil of Cytherea, yet touched with such fire, as though from beneath the loving eyes of an immortal were shining through and through. I knew the bearing, but had enormously misjudged its distance and underrated its height, and so it was as a sign and a testimony, almost as a call from the neglected gods, and now I saw and acknowledged the snowy crown of the Mysian Olympus!



CHAPTER IVTHE TROAD

Methley recovered almost suddenly, and we determined to go through the Troad together.

My comrade was a capital Grecian. It is true that his singular mind so ordered and disposed his classic lore as to impress it with something of an original and barbarous characterwith an almost Gothic quaintness, more properly belonging to a rich native ballad than to the poetry of Hellas. There was a certain impropriety in his knowing so much Greekan unfitness in the idea of marble fauns, and satyrs, and even Olympian gods, lugged in under the oaken roof and the painted light of an odd, old Norman hall. But Methley, abounding in Homer, really loved him (as I believe) in all truth, without whim or fancy; moreover, he had a good deal of the practical sagacity

Of a Yorkshireman hippodamoio,

and this enabled him to apply his knowledge with much more tact than is usually shown by people so learned as he.

I, too, loved Homer, but not with a scholars love. The most humble and pious among women was yet so proud a mother that she could teach her firstborn son no Watts hymns, no collects for the day; she could teach him in earliest childhood no less than this, to find a home in his saddle, and to love old Homer, and all that old Homer sung. True it is, that the Greek was ingeniously rendered into English, the English of Pope even, but not even a mesh like that can screen an earnest child from the fire of Homers battles.

I pored over the Odyssey as over a story-book, hoping and fearing for the hero whom yet I partly scorned. But the Iliadline by line I clasped it to my brain with reverence as well as with love. As an old woman deeply trustful sits reading her Bible because of the world to come, so, as though it would fit me for the coming strife of this temporal world, I read and read the Iliad. Even outwardly, it was not like other books; it was throned in towering folios. There was a preface or dissertation printed in type still more majestic than the rest of the book; this I read, but not till my enthusiasm for the Iliad had already run high. The writer compiling the opinions of many men, and chiefly of the ancients, set forth, I know not how quaintly, that the Iliad was all in all to the human racethat it was history, poetry, revelation; that the works of mens hands were folly and vanity, and would pass away like the dreams of a child, but that the kingdom of Homer would endure for ever and ever.

I assented with all my soul. I read, and still read; I came to know Homer. A learned commentator knows something of the Greeks, in the same sense as an oil-and-colour man may be said to know something of painting; but take an untamed child, and leave him alone for twelve months with any translation of Homer, and he will be nearer by twenty centuries to the spirit of old Greece; he does not stop in the ninth year of the siege to admire this or that group of words; he has no books in his tent, but he shares in vital counsels with the king of men, and knows the inmost souls of the impending gods; how profanely he exults over the powers divine when they are taught to dread the prowess of mortals! and most of all, how he rejoices when the God of War flies howling from the spear of Diomed, and mounts into heaven for safety! Then the beautiful episode of the Sixth Book: the way to feel this is not to go casting about, and learning from pastors and masters how best to admire it. The impatient child is not grubbing for beauties, but pushing the siege; the women vex him with their delays, and their talking; the mention of the nurse is personal, and little sympathy has he for the child that is young enough to be frightened at the nodding plume of a helmet; but all the while that he thus chafes at the pausing of the action, the strong vertical light of Homers poetry is blazing so full upon the people and things of the Iliad, that soon to the eyes of the child they grow familiar as his mothers shawl; yet of this great gain he is unconscious, and on he goes, vengefully thirsting for the best blood of Troy, and never remitting his fierceness till almost suddenly it is changed for sorrowthe new and generous sorrow that he learns to feel when the noblest of all his foes lies sadly dying at the Scæan gate.

Heroic days are these, but the dark ages of schoolboy life come closing over them. I suppose it is all right in the end, yet, by Jove, at first sight it does seem a sad intellectual fall from your mothers dressing-room to a buzzing school. You feel so keenly the delights of early knowledge; you form strange mystic friendships with the mere names of mountains, and seas, and continents, and mighty rivers; you learn the ways of the planets, and transcend their narrow limits, and ask for the end of space; you vex the electric cylinder till it yields you, for your toy to play with, that subtle fire in which our earth was forged; you know of the nations that have towered high in the world, and the lives of the men who have saved whole empires from oblivion. What more will you ever learn? Yet the dismal change is ordained, and then, thin meagre Latin (the same for everybody), with small shreds and patches of Greek, is thrown like a paupers pall over all your early lore. Instead of sweet knowledge, vile, monkish, doggerel grammars and graduses, dictionaries and lexicons, and horrible odds and ends of dead languages, are given you for your portion, and down you fall, from Roman story to a three-inch scrap of Scriptores Romani,from Greek poetry down, down to the cold rations of Poetæ Græci, cut up by commentators, and served out by schoolmasters!

It was not the recollection of school nor college learning, but the rapturous and earnest reading of my childhood, which made me bend forward so longingly to the plains of Troy.

Away from our people and our horses, Methley and I went loitering along by the willow banks of a stream that crept in quietness through the low, even plain. There was no stir of weather overhead, no sound of rural labour, no sign of life in the land; but all the earth was dead and still, as though it had lain for thrice a thousand years under the leaden gloom of one unbroken Sabbath.

Softly and sadly the poor, dumb, patient stream went winding and winding along through its shifting pathway; in some places its waters were parted, and then again, lower down, they would meet once more. I could see that the stream from year to year was finding itself new channels, and flowed no longer in its ancient track, but I knew that the springs which fed it were high on Idathe springs of Simois and Scamander!

It was coldly and thanklessly, and with vacant, unsatisfied eyes that I watched the slow coming and the gliding away of the waters. I tell myself now, as a profane fact, that I did stand by that river (Methley gathered some seeds from the bushes that grew there), but since that I am away from his banks, divine Scamander has recovered the proper mystery belonging to him as an unseen deity; a kind of indistinctness, like that which belongs to far antiquity, has spread itself over my memory, of the winding stream that I saw with these very eyes. Ones mind regains in absence that dominion over earthly things which has been shaken by their rude contact. You force yourself hardily into the material presence of a mountain, or a river, whose name belongs to poetry and ancient religion, rather than to the external world; your feelings wound up and kept ready for some sort of half-expected rapture are chilled, and borne down for the time under all this load of real earth and water; but let these once pass out of sight, and then again the old fanciful notions are restored, and the mere realities which you have just been looking at are thrown back so far into distance, that the very event of your intrusion upon such scenes begins to look dim and uncertain, as though it belonged to mythology.

It is not over the plain before Troy that the river now flows; its waters have edged away far towards the north, since the day that divine Scamander (whom the gods call Xanthus) went down to do battle for Ilion, with Mars, and Phoebus, and Latona, and Diana glorying in her arrows, and Venus the lover of smiles.

And now, when I was vexed at the migration of Scamander, and the total loss or absorption of poor dear Simois, how happily Methley reminded me that Homer himself had warned us of some such changes! The Greeks in beginning their wall had neglected the hecatombs due to the gods, and so after the fall of Troy Apollo turned the paths of the rivers that flow from Ida and sent them flooding over the wall, till all the beach was smooth and free from the unhallowed works of the Greeks. It is true I see now, on looking to the passage, that Neptune, when the work of destruction was done, turned back the rivers to their ancient ways:

. . . ,

but their old channels passing through that light pervious soil would have been lost in the nine days flood, and perhaps the god, when he willed to bring back the rivers to their ancient beds, may have done his work but ill: it is easier, they say, to destroy than it is to restore.

We took to our horses again, and went southward towards the very plain between Troy and the tents of the Greeks, but we rode by a line at some distance from the shore. Whether it was that the lay of the ground hindered my view towards the sea, or that I was all intent upon Ida, or whether my mind was in vacancy, or whether, as is most like, I had strayed from the Dardan plains all back to gentle England, there is now no knowing, nor caring, but it was not quite suddenly indeed, but rather, as it were, in the swelling and falling of a single wave, that the reality of that very sea-view, which had bounded the sight of the Greeks, now visibly acceded to me, and rolled full in upon my brain. Conceive how deeply that eternal coast-line, that fixed horizon, those island rocks, must have graven their images upon the minds of the Grecian warriors by the time that they had reached the ninth year of the siege! conceive the strength, and the fanciful beauty, of the speeches with which a whole army of imagining men must have told their weariness, and how the sauntering chiefs must have whelmed that daily, daily scene with their deep Ionian curses!

And now it was that my eyes were greeted with a delightful surprise. Whilst we were at Constantinople, Methley and I had pored over the map together. We agreed that whatever may have been the exact site of Troy, the Grecian camp must have been nearly opposite to the space betwixt the islands of Imbros and Tenedos,

y ,

but Methley reminded me of a passage in the Iliad in which Neptune is represented as looking at the scene of action before Ilion from above the island of Samothrace. Now Samothrace, according to the map, appeared to be not only out of all seeing distance from the Troad, but to be entirely shut out from it by the intervening Imbros, which is a larger island, stretching its length right athwart the line of sight from Samothrace to Troy. Piously allowing that the dread Commoter of our globe might have seen all mortal doings, even from the depth of his own cerulean kingdom, I still felt that if a station were to be chosen from which to see the fight, old Homer, so material in his ways of thought, so averse from all haziness and overreaching, would have meant to give the god for his station some spot within reach of mens eyes from the plains of Troy. I think that this testing of the poets words by map and compass may have shaken a little of my faith in the completeness of his knowledge. Well, now I had come; there to the south was Tenedos, and here at my side was Imbros, all right, and according to the map, but aloft over Imbros, aloft in a far-away heaven, was Samothrace, the watch-tower of Neptune!

So Homer had appointed it, and so it was; the map was correct enough, but could not, like Homer, convey the whole truth. Thus vain and false are the mere human surmises and doubts which clash with Homeric writ!

Nobody whose mind had not been reduced to the most deplorable logical condition could look upon this beautiful congruity betwixt the Iliad and the material world and yet bear to suppose that the poet may have learned the features of the coast from mere hearsay; now then, I believed; now I knew that Homer had passed along here, that this vision of Samothrace over-towering the nearer island was common to him and to me.

After a journey of some few days by the route of Adramiti and Pergamo we reached Smyrna. The letters which Methley here received obliged him to return to England.



CHAPTER VINFIDEL SMYRNA

Smyrna, or Giaour Izmir, Infidel Smyrna, as the Mussulmans call it, is the main point of commercial contact betwixt Europe and Asia. You are there surrounded by the people, and the confused customs of many and various nations; you see the fussy European adopting the East, and calming his restlessness with the long Turkish pipe of tranquillity; you see Jews offering services, and receiving blows; {8} on one side you have a fellow whose dress and beard would give you a good idea of the true Oriental, if it were not for the gobe-mouche expression of countenance with which he is swallowing an article in the National; and there, just by, is a genuine Osmanlee, smoking away with all the majesty of a sultan, but before you have time to admire sufficiently his tranquil dignity, and his soft Asiatic repose, the poor old fellow is ruthlessly run down by an English midshipman, who has set sail on a Smyrna hack. Such are the incongruities of the infidel city at ordinary times; but when I was there, our friend Carrigaholt had imported himself and his oddities as an accession to the other and inferior wonders of Smyrna.

I was sitting alone in my room one day at Constantinople, when I heard Methley approaching my door with shouts of laughter and welcome, and presently I recognised that peculiar cry by which our friend Carrigaholt expresses his emotions; he soon explained to us the final causes by which the fates had worked out their wonderful purpose of bringing him to Constantinople. He was always, you know, very fond of sailing, but he had got into such sad scrapes (including, I think, a lawsuit) on account of his last yacht, that he took it into his head to have a cruise in a merchant vessel, so he went to Liverpool, and looked through the craft lying ready to sail, till he found a smart schooner that perfectly suited his taste. The destination of the vessel was the last thing he thought of; and when he was told that she was bound for Constantinople, he merely assented to that as a part of the arrangement to which he had no objection. As soon as the vessel had sailed, the hapless passenger discovered that his skipper carried on board an enormous wife, with an inquiring mind and an irresistible tendency to impart her opinions. She looked upon her guest as upon a piece of waste intellect that ought to be carefully tilled. She tilled him accordingly. If the dons at Oxford could have seen poor Carrigaholt thus absolutely attending lectures in the Bay of Biscay, they would surely have thought him sufficiently punished for all the wrongs he did them whilst he was preparing himself under their care for the other and more boisterous University. The voyage did not last more than six or eight weeks, and the philosophy inflicted on Carrigaholt was not entirely fatal to him; certainly he was somewhat emaciated, and for aught I know, he may have subscribed somewhat too largely to the Feminine-right-of-reason Society; but it did not appear that his health had been seriously affected. There was a scheme on foot, it would seem, for taking the passenger back to England in the same schoonera scheme, in fact, for keeping him perpetually afloat, and perpetually saturated with arguments; but when Carrigaholt found himself ashore, and remembered that the skipperina (who had imprudently remained on board) was not there to enforce her suggestions, he was open to the hints of his servant (a very sharp fellow), who arranged a plan for escaping, and finally brought off his master to Giuseppinis Hotel.

Our friend afterwards went by sea to Smyrna, and there he now was in his glory. He had a good, or at all events a gentleman-like, judgment in matters of taste, and as his great object was to surround himself with all that his fancy could dictate, he lived in a state of perpetual negotiation. He was for ever on the point of purchasing, not only the material productions of the place, but all sorts of such fine ware as intelligence, fidelity, and so on. He was most curious, however, as the purchaser of the affections. Sometimes he would imagine that he had a marital aptitude, and his fancy would sketch a graceful picture, in which he appeared reclining on a divan, with a beautiful Greek woman fondly couched at his feet, and soothing him with the witchery of her guitar. Having satisfied himself with the ideal picture thus created, he would pass into action; the guitar he would buy instantly, and would give such intimations of his wish to be wedded to a Greek, as could not fail to produce great excitement in the families, of the beautiful Smyrniotes. Then again (and just in time perhaps to save him from the yoke) his dream would pass away, and another would come in its stead; he would suddenly feel the yearnings of a fathers love, and willing by force of gold to transcend all natural preliminaries, he would issue instructions for the purchase of some dutiful child that could be warranted to love him as a parent. Then at another time he would be convinced that the attachment of menials might satisfy the longings of his affectionate heart, and thereupon he would give orders to his slave-merchant for something in the way of eternal fidelity. You may well imagine that this anxiety of Carrigaholt to purchase not only the scenery, but the many dramatis personæ belonging to his dreams, with all their goodness and graces complete, necessarily gave an immense stimulus to the trade and intrigue of Smyrna, and created a demand for human virtues which the moral resources of the place were totally inadequate to supply. Every day after breakfast this lover of the good and the beautiful held a levee, which was often exceedingly amusing. In his anteroom there would be not only the sellers of pipes and slippers and shawls, and such like Oriental merchandise, not only embroiderers and cunning workmen patiently striving to realise his visions of Albanian dresses, not only the servants offering for places, and the slave-dealer tendering his sable ware, but there would be the Greek master, waiting to teach his pupil the grammar of the soft Ionian tongue, in which he was to delight the wife of his imagination, and the music-master, who was to teach him some sweet replies to the anticipated sounds of the fancied guitar; and then, above all, and proudly eminent with undisputed preference of entrée, and fraught with the mysterious tidings on which the realisation of the whole dream might depend, was the mysterious match-maker, {9} enticing and postponing the suitor, yet ever keeping alive in his soul the love of that pictured virtue, whose beauty (unseen by eyes) was half revealed to the imagination.

You would have thought that this practical dreaming must have soon brought Carrigaholt to a bad end, but he was in much less danger than you would suppose; for besides that the new visions of happiness almost always came in time to counteract the fatal completion of the preceding scheme, his high breeding and his delicately sensitive taste almost always came to his aid at times when he was left without any other protection; and the efficacy of these qualities in keeping a man out of harms way is really immense. In all baseness and imposture there is a coarse, vulgar spirit, which, however artfully concealed for a time, must sooner or later show itself in some little circumstance sufficiently plain to occasion an instant jar upon the minds of those whose taste is lively and true. To such men a shock of this kind, disclosing the ugliness of a cheat, is more effectively convincing than any mere proofs could be.

Thus guarded from isle to isle, and through Greece, and through Albania, this practical Plato with a purse in his hand, carried on his mad chase after the good and the beautiful, and yet returned in safety to his home. But now, poor fellow! the lowly grave, that is the end of mens romantic hopes, has closed over all his rich fancies, and all his high aspirations; he is utterly married! No more hope, no more change for himno more relayshe must go on Vetturini-wise to the appointed end of his journey!

Smyrna, I think, may be called the chief town and capital of the Grecian race, against which you will be cautioned so carefully as soon as you touch the Levant. You will say that I ought not to confound as one people the Greeks living under a constitutional government with the unfortunate Rayahs who groan under the Turkish yoke, but I cant see that political events have hitherto produced any strongly marked difference of character. If I could venture to rely (which I feel that I cannot at all do) upon my own observation, I should tell you that there was more heartiness and strength in the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire than in those of the new kingdom. The truth is, that there is a greater field for commercial enterprise, and even for Greek ambition, under the Ottoman sceptre, than is to be found in the dominions of Otho. Indeed the people, by their frequent migrations from the limits of the constitutional kingdom to the territories of the Porte, seem to show that, on the whole, they prefer groaning under the Turkish yoke to the honour of being the only true source of legitimate power in their own land.

For myself, I love the race; in spite of all their vices, and even in spite of all their meannesses, I remember the blood that is in them, and still love the Greeks. The Osmanlees are, of course, by nature, by religion, and by politics, the strong foes of the Hellenic people, and as the Greeks, poor fellows! happen to be a little deficient in some of the virtues which facilitate the transaction of commercial business (such as veracity, fidelity, &c.), it naturally follows that they are highly unpopular with the European merchants. Now these are the persons through whom, either directly or indirectly, is derived the greater part of the information which you gather in the Levant, and therefore you must make up your mind to hear an almost universal and unbroken testimony against the character of the people whose ancestors invented virtue. And strange to say, the Greeks themselves do not attempt to disturb this general unanimity of opinion by an dissent on their part. Question a Greek on the subject, and he will tell you at once that the people are traditori, and will then, perhaps, endeavour to shake off his fair share of the imputation by asserting that his father had been dragoman to some foreign embassy, and that he (the son), therefore, by the law of nations, had ceased to be Greek.

E dunque no siete traditore?

Possibile, signor, ma almeno Io no sono Greco.

Not even the diplomatic representatives of the Hellenic kingdom are free from the habit of depreciating their brethren. I recollect that at one of the ports in Syria a Greek vessel was rather unfairly kept in quarantine by order of the Board of Health, which consisted entirely of Europeans. A consular agent from the kingdom of Greece had lately hoisted his flag in the town, and the captain of the vessel drew up a remonstrance, which he requested his consul to present to the Board.

Now, is this reasonable? said the consul; is it reasonable that I should place myself in collision with all the principal European gentlemen of the place for the sake of you, a Greek? The skipper was greatly vexed at the failure of his application, but he scarcely even questioned the justice of the ground which his consul had taken. Well, it happened some time afterwards that I found myself at the same port, having gone thither with the view of embarking for the port of Syra. I was anxious, of course, to elude as carefully as possible the quarantine detentions which threatened me on my arrival, and hearing that the Greek consul had a brother who was a man in authority at Syra, I got myself presented to the former, and took the liberty of asking him to give me such a letter of introduction to his relative at Syra as might possibly have the effect of shortening the term of my quarantine. He acceded to this request with the utmost kindness and courtesy; but when he replied to my thanks by saying that in serving an Englishman he was doing no more than his strict duty commanded, not even my gratitude could prevent me from calling to mind his treatment of the poor captain who had the misfortune of not being an alien in blood to his consul and appointed protector.

I think that the change which has taken place in the character of the Greeks has been occasioned, in great measure, by the doctrines and practice of their religion. The Greek Church has animated the Muscovite peasant, and inspired him with hopes and ideas which, however humble, are still better than none at all; but the faith, and the forms, and the strange ecclesiastical literature which act so advantageously upon the mere clay of the Russian serf, seem to hang like lead upon the ethereal spirit of the Greek. Never in any part of the world have I seen religious performances so painful to witness as those of the Greeks. The horror, however, with which one shudders at their worship is attributable, in some measure, to the mere effect of costume. In all the Ottoman dominions, and very frequently too in the kingdom of Otho, the Greeks wear turbans or other head-dresses, and shave their heads, leaving only a rats-tail at the crown of the head; they of course keep themselves covered within doors as well as abroad, and they never remove their head-gear merely on account of being in a church; but when the Greek stops to worship at his proper shrine, then, and then only, he always uncovers; and as you see him thus with shaven skull and savage tail depending from his crown, kissing a thing of wood and glass, and cringing with base prostrations and apparent terror before a miserable picture, you see superstition in a shape which, outwardly at least, is sadly abject and repulsive.

The fasts, too, of the Greek Church produce an ill effect upon the character of the people, for they are not a mere farce, but are carried to such an extent as to bring about a real mortification of the flesh; the febrile irritation of the frame operating in conjunction with the depression of the spirits occasioned by abstinence, will so far answer the objects of the rite, as to engender some religious excitement, but this is of a morbid and gloomy character, and it seems to be certain, that along with the increase of sanctity, there comes a fiercer desire for the perpetration of dark crimes. The number of murders committed during Lent is greater, I am told, than at any other time of the year. A man under the influence of a bean dietary (for this is the principal food of the Greeks during their fasts) will be in an apt humour for enriching the shrine of his saint, and passing a knife through his next-door neighbour. The moneys deposited upon the shrines are appropriated by priests; the priests are married men, and have families to provide for; they take the good with the bad, and continue to recommend fasts.

Then, too, the Greek Church enjoins her followers to keep holy such a vast number of saints days as practically to shorten the lives of the people very materially. I believe that one-third out of the number of days in the year are kept holy, or rather, kept stupid, in honour of the saints; no great portion of the time thus set apart is spent in religious exercises, and the people dont betake themselves to any such animating pastimes as might serve to strengthen the frame, or invigorate the mind, or exalt the taste. On the contrary, the saints days of the Greeks in Smyrna are passed in the same manner as the Sabbaths of well-behaved Protestant housemaids in Londonthat is to say, in a steady and serious contemplation of street scenery. The men perform this duty at the doors of their houses, the women at the windows, which the custom of Greek towns has so decidedly appropriated to them as the proper station of their sex, that a man would be looked upon as utterly effeminate if he ventured to choose that situation for the keeping of the saints days. I was present one day at a treaty for the hire of some apartments at Smyrna, which was carried on between Carrigaholt and the Greek woman to whom the rooms belonged. Carrigaholt objected that the windows commanded no view of the street. Immediately the brow of the majestic matron was clouded, and with all the scorn of a Spartan mother she coolly asked Carrigaholt, and said, Art thou a tender damsel that thou wouldst sit and gaze from windows? The man whom she addressed, however, had not gone to Greece with any intention of placing himself under the laws of Lycurgus, and was not to be diverted from his views by a Spartan rebuke, so he took care to find himself windows after his own heart, and there, I believe, for many a month, he kept the saints days, and all the days intervening, after the fashion of Grecian women.

Oh! let me be charitable to all who write, and to all who lecture, and to all who preach, since even I, a layman not forced to write at all, can hardly avoid chiming in with some tuneful cant! I have had the heart to talk about the pernicious effects of the Greek holidays, to which I owe some of my most beautiful visions! I will let the words stand, as a humbling proof that I am subject to that immutable law which compels a man with a pen in his hand to be uttering every now and then some sentiment not his own. It seems as though the power of expressing regrets and desires by written symbols were coupled with a condition that the writer should from time to time express the regrets and desires of other people; as though, like a French peasant under the old régime, one were bound to perform a certain amount of work upon the public highways. I rebel as stoutly as I can against this horrible, corvée. I try not to deceive youI try to set down the thoughts which are fresh within me, and not to pretend any wishes, or griefs, which I do not really feel; but no sooner do I cease from watchfulness in this regard, than my right hand is, as it were, seized by some false angel, and even now, you see, I have been forced to put down such words and sentences as I ought to have written if really and truly I had wished to disturb the saints days of the beautiful Smyrniotes!

Which, Heaven forbid! for as you move through the narrow streets of the city at these times of festival, the transom-shaped windows suspended over your head on either side are filled with the beautiful descendants of the old Ionian race; all (even yonder empress that sits throned at the window of that humblest mud cottage) are attired with seeming magnificence; their classic heads are crowned with scarlet, and loaded with jewels or coins of gold, the whole wealth of the wearers; {10} their features are touched with a savage pencil, which hardens the outline of eyes and eyebrows, and lends an unnatural fire to the stern, grave looks with which they pierce your brain. Endure their fiery eyes as best you may, and ride on slowly and reverently, for facing you from the side of the transom, that looks long-wise through the street, you see the one glorious shape transcendant in its beauty; you see the massive braid of hair as it catches a touch of light on its jetty surface, and the broad, calm, angry brow; the large black eyes, deep set, and self-relying like the eyes of a conqueror, with their rich shadows of thought lying darkly around them; you see the thin fiery nostril, and the bold line of the chin and throat disclosing all the fierceness, and all the pride, passion, and power that can live along with the rare womanly beauty of those sweetly turned lips. But then there is a terrible stillness in this breathing image; it seems like the stillness of a savage that sits intent and brooding, day by day, upon some one fearful scheme of vengeance, but yet more like it seems to the stillness of an Immortal, whose will must be known, and obeyed without sign or speech. Bow down!Bow down and adore the young Persephonie, transcendent Queen of Shades!



CHAPTER VIGREEK MARINERS

I sailed from Smyrna in the Amphitrite, a Greek brigantine, which was confidently said to be bound for the coast of Syria; but I knew that this announcement was not to be relied upon with positive certainty, for the Greek mariners are practically free from the stringency of ships papers, and where they will, there they go. However, I had the whole of the cabin for myself and my attendant, Mysseri, subject only to the society of the captain at the hour of dinner. Being at ease in this respect, being furnished too with plenty of books, and finding an unfailing source of interest in the thorough Greekness of my captain and my crew, I felt less anxious than most people would have been about the probable length of the cruise. I knew enough of Greek navigation to be sure that our vessel would cling to earth like a child to its mothers knee, and that I should touch at many an isle before I set foot upon the Syrian coast; but I had no invidious preference for Europe, Asia, or Africa, and I felt that I could defy the winds to blow me upon a coast that was blank and void of interest. My patience was extremely useful to me, for the cruise altogether endured some forty days, and that in the midst of winter.

According to me, the most interesting of all the Greeks (male Greeks) are the mariners, because their pursuits and their social condition are so nearly the same as those of their famous ancestors. You will say, that the occupation of commerce must have smoothed down the salience of their minds; and this would be so perhaps if their mercantile affairs were conducted according to the fixed businesslike routine of Europeans; but the ventures of the Greeks are surrounded by such a multitude of imagined dangers (and from the absence of regular marts, in which the true value of merchandise can be ascertained), are so entirely speculative, and besides, are conducted in a manner so wholly determined upon by the wayward fancies and wishes of the crew, that they belong to enterprise rather than to industry, and are very far indeed from tending to deaden any freshness of character.

The vessels in which war and piracy were carried on during the years of the Greek Revolution became merchantmen at the end of the war; but the tactics of the Greeks, as naval warriors, were so exceedingly cautious, and their habits as commercial mariners are so wild, that the change has been more slight than you might imagine. The first care of Greeks (Greek Rayahs) when they undertake a shipping enterprise is to procure for their vessel the protection of some European power. This is easily managed by a little intriguing with the dragoman of one of the embassies at Constantinople, and the craft soon glories in the ensign of Russia, or the dazzling Tricolor, or the Union Jack. Thus, to the great delight of her crew, she enters upon the ocean world with a flaring lie at her peak, but the appearance of the vessel does no discredit to the borrowed flag; she is frail indeed, but is gracefully built, and smartly rigged; she always carries guns, and in short, gives good promise of mischief and speed.

The privileges attached to the vessel and her crew by virtue of the borrowed flag are so great, as to imply a liberty wider even than that which is often enjoyed in our more strictly civilised countries, so that there is no pretence for saying that the development of the true character belonging to Greek mariners is prevented by the dominion of the Ottoman. These men are free, too, from the power of the great capitalist, whose sway is more withering than despotism itself to the enterprises of humble venturers. The capital employed is supplied by those whose labour is to render it productive. The crew receive no wages, but have all a share in the venture, and in general, I believe, they are the owners of the whole freight. They choose a captain, to whom they entrust just power enough to keep the vessel on her course in fine weather, but not quite enough for a gale of wind; they also elect a cook and a mate. The cook whom we had on board was particularly careful about the ships reckoning, and when under the influence of the keen sea-breezes we grew fondly expectant of an instant dinner, the great author of pilafs would be standing on deck with an ancient quadrant in his hands, calmly affecting to take an observation. But then to make up for this the captain would be exercising a controlling influence over the soup, so that all in the end went well. Our mate was a Hydriot, a native of that island rock which grows nothing but mariners and mariners wives. His character seemed to be exactly that which is generally attributed to the Hydriot race; he was fierce, and gloomy, and lonely in his ways. One of his principal duties seemed to be that of acting as counter-captain, or leader of the opposition, denouncing the first symptoms of tyranny, and protecting even the cabin-boy from oppression. Besides this, when things went smoothly he would begin to prognosticate evil, in order that his more light-hearted comrades might not be puffed up with the seeming good fortune of the moment.

It seemed to me that the personal freedom of these sailors, who own no superiors except those of their own choice, is as like as may be to that of their seafaring ancestors. And even in their mode of navigation they have admitted no such an entire change as you would suppose probable. It is true that they have so far availed themselves of modern discoveries as to look to the compass instead of the stars, and that they have superseded the immortal gods of their forefathers by St. Nicholas in his glass case, {11} but they are not yet so confident either in their needle, or their saint, as to love an open sea, and they still hug their shores as fondly as the Argonauts of old. Indeed, they have a most unsailor-like love for the land, and I really believe that in a gale of wind they would rather have a rock-bound coast on their lee than no coast at all. According to the notions of an English seaman, this kind of navigation would soon bring the vessel on which it might be practised to an evil end. The Greek, however, is unaccountably successful in escaping the consequences of being jammed in, as it is called, upon a lee-shore.

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