Abbildungen der Seite


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

The call to prayer is heard throughout the city; the long howl, so unpleasing to one of a different creed and country, is to the Mahommedan a sacred sound, which admonished his childhood, and admonishes his ripened age, of the duties which he owes to God, to his fellow men, and to himself. The Mullah, pacing round, and calling Allah! Allah ! from every minaret, is a visible messenger of the Most High, inviting worshippers from every quarter of the wind.'- vol. i. pp. 84-86.

At length our traveller was enabled to proceed to Constantinople, the approach to which by the Bosphorus appeared to him most enchanting. Mountains rising on each bank-hanging gardens, and the ruins of ancient castles on their sides-the beautiful lines of villages at their base—the minarets of the mosques intermixed with the poplar, the cypress, the fir tree, and the vine =the costumes of the people—the caiques, or pleasure boats, skimming the water—the white sails of twenty or thirty vessels forming a fine contrast with the blue mountains, from behind which they seemed to issue at every winding of the straits.'--These and a thousand other gay objects, the Seraglio with its domes and glittering minarets, the sea of Marmora and Mount Olympus in the distance, seemed to beguile our traveller with the hope that he was about to enter the very paradise of Mahomet. Alas! how painfully must he have been disappointed, if his description of the city itself be even near the truth ! they may be so called, dirtier than the worst part of St. Ĝi if Bermondsey, or Blackwall; more winding and narrow than Crooked Lane-full of half-starved and mangy dogs: and the lower orders of Greeks and Turks, diseased, and swarming with vermin, wandering about like so many walking dunghills,—are appearances which render the interior as disgusting as the exterior is pleasing and delightful.'. The author's feelings on the Greek question are poured forth in the following angry strain. We give the passage as a curious instance of the effects of prejudice in a young and enthusiastic mind. Having already in a separate article treated one part of the subject pretty much at length, we have been amused with reading in these paragraphs a sort of suminary of the arguments on the other side.

• We cast anchor amid the remains of the Turkish fleet, and within four hundred yards of the corvette in which the luckless Pacha had returned from Navarino. A more romantic position, than that in which we were thus placed, could not be well conceived. On the one hand was Sestos, on the other Abydos, famed for the swimming feat of the ancient lover and modern poet. The point close to us was the spot whereon Xerxes had built his bridge, when invading Greece. It had witnessed the destruc, tion of that enterprize, and was now surrounded by the miserable remains of a second and similar expedition. Would to Heaven that it could with truth be affirmed, that the nation which is to benefit by the last mentioned event, is in any degree worthy of its immortal ancestors! On the contrary, their character is as abandoned as their country is desolate. The vaunted valour of their forefathers has passed away, and, ere long, the very name of « Greek" will be a by-word for all that is base and worthless. Never have the English people been so egregiously gulled, both in public feeling and political conduct, as in the instance under consideration, when they destroyed the only barrier which could be opposed to Russia in the East, and weakened the confidence reposed in them by Persia, which must needs feel mistrust at so unaccountable a proceeding. Never again, be her measures what they may, will England possess that influence which she has heretofore exercised at the Ottoman court: years must elapse before the Turks can regard her in any other light than as a faithless ally, who has forfeited all claims to confidence and for what, and for whom? For scoundrels, who, while she was shedding her blood at Navarino, were pillaging her merchants, and committing on the bodies of her captains and seamen, acts of barbarity and outrage which an Englishman would shudder to hear named. Might all the vile qualities of degraded human nature be summed up in one word, -ingratitude, lying, beastliness, piracy, and murder,--they could find no more comprehensive term than "a Greek If any Englishman still retain the enthusiastic and ridiculous notions about the Greeks, which have led to such incalculable mischief, let him proceed to the Archipelago without a convoy: no more efficient corrective needs be prescribed for his opinions. We left England full of aspirations for Grecian freedom-and painful experience has thoroughly convinced us that the establishment of Greek independence will afford a striking illustration of the proverb which deprecates the saving a thief from the gallows. It will be the opening of a second Pandora's box, fraught with more palpable and distressing evils than poetic fiction ever feigned.


On the other hand, what have the Turks done that can justify the policy pursued towards them? Have they committed any act of piracy, injustice, or hostility, towards this country? None whatever. What is the manifest answer to similar questions as regards the Greeks? Yet the Turks have their feet destroyed, and the Greeks gain political independence. The allies talk of “stopping the effusion of blood.” What has been done to effect this object? The bloody affair of Navarino has been fought. Grecian independence is to be the reward of Grecian piracy and villainy; and the Turkish maritime force is destroyed, because the proverbial coolness of the Turk was not sufficient to admit of his looking quietly on, while his dominions were filched from him.

• The measures of the ministry are only comprehensible on the supposition that they wished to make use of the Greeks as a force to balance the power of Russia, knowing that the former, being connected with the latter, both by intrigues and religious feeling, would never willingly serye under the Turks, whom they abhor. Thus it may have appeared to political speculators that, by giving the Greeks a home, and something to defend, they might be induced to fight, if not under, at least in conjunction with, their former oppressors, for the protection of their mutual interests. The Turks, it was believed, would, overawed by the alliance, yield to any terms that might be dictated to them. England and France have, however, been woefully out in their calculation : while Russia, who better knew her old antagonist, foreseeing that the latter would never relinquish her claims, gladly joined the league, and now, to use the expression of a naval Officer, “ dances to the tune that France and England are playing."

[ocr errors]

The state of popular feeling on the Greek question, may also have had its share in the encouragement of these strange measures. This feeling has, in England, been fostered by three classes of persons, in no degree connected with each other, namely the dovotees, the classicists, and the stock-jobbers. The first class regarded a war against the Turks as a sort of second crusade, and divers crusading Peters preached for the success of the Christian arms. The second class, conceiving that the soul of Leonidas had revisited his native land, that Epaminondas was directing the efforts of a chosen few in the sacred cause of liberty-came forward most readily with their pens and their purses, while the gentlemen of the alley, supposing that the paper bonds of Britain would be lighter for the Greeks than the iron chains of Turkey, came forward with their loan:

“But, in spite of their classic associations,

Good Lord ! they soon loath'd the Greek quotations." Nor should the conduct and writings of Lord Byron be left out of view, in estimating the causes which led to the senseless excitement in favour of the worthless Greeks. His lordship had travelled through the country, and had seen the Pass of Thermopylæ, a haunt for banditti; he had

“Stood upon the rocky brow

That loos o'er sea-born Salamis ;" and had seen the private vessels prowling for their unoffending prey. He had seen Pireus a port for pirates, and Egina a den of thieves. That he knew the Grecian character well, is evident, for he pourtrayed it faithfully, when telling the Greeks that they were

“ Callous, save to crime;
Stained with each evil that pollutes
Mankind, where least above the brutes;
Without even savage virtue blest,

Without one free or valiant breast." * And yet, with this knowledge, he lent the sanction of his noble name, exalted talents, and personal endeavour, to propogate the farce of Grecian freedom!

• As to the three classes of Phillellenes above mentioned, they have not been unfavoured with marks of Grecian acknowledgment. One of our most intelligent Missionaries, a Mr. Hartly, was shot at Napoli di Romania. So much for their regard for religion: people who wish to reside in this classical country, cannot do so without the certainty of being robbed, and the chance of being murdered ; and as for the patriots of Bartholomew-lane, “they have had their reward.” '-vol. i. pp. 150--155.

We have had so much lately of Egypt and the East, that it is not our intention to follow Mr. Webster in his excursions along the Nile. He discovered no new temple in the neighbourhood of Thebes, no new inscription, no new history of the Pyramids. Here and there we meet with reflections and apostrophes, which from their turgid style we strongly suspect to have been interpolated by the editor, who being naturally given to the sublime, unfortunately in most instances attains only the bombastic. His introduction is an ambitious piece of writing, and, indeed, wherever he appears he cuts a pompous figure. We do not mean to disparage

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the talents and acquirements of Mr. Webster ; but his friends have reason to regret that his papers were not put into the hands of some person, who would have contented bimself with giving them a proper arrangement, without attempting to display so obtrusively his own sentiments and affectation. There are but a few passages in the journal of Mr. Webster's journey to Mount Sinai, and in his recollections of Egypt, which appear to us to be worth transcribing. Among these the description of the Convent on Mount Horeb deserves the place of preference,

We came in sight of Mount Horeb. In front is a great plain, like a lawn. The mountain appears isolated from the others. The convent is on the left of it, in a hollow between it and another precipitous mountain. We reaclied the convent before mid-day. The monks appeared above at at opening like that of a warehouse, and sent down a rope, to which we affixed the letter we had from the convent at Cairo. It having been pulled up, read, and approved, our luggage followed it, and a great cable was at length let down for ourselves. The legs of the ascending personage are put into some small rope at the end of the great one, and, taking hold above, he gives the signal to be drawn up, whereupon he is speedily landed in safety, and welcomed with many a salaam. The method of raising is by a windlass, which is turned by four of the priests. We were shewn up into a corridor with four small rooms along it, and a place at the end for cooking. This part of the convent is reserved for strangers, and is very convenient. The first room is neatly fitted up with divans and carpets. After the usual welcomes and inquiries, the conversation turned on the state of political affairs; and neither the superior, nor he who acted as interpreter, would believe that the Greeks had obtained their liberty, and that the Sultan had yielded. They said that blood, much blood, must be spilt before such a consummation could be effected -a conviction which they would not resign, even after we had assured them that the Ambassadors were recalled, and the treaty of London accepted. The superior of the convent is a man not much beyond the middle age,-seeming from thirty to thirty-five. He has a dark quick eye, a jet black beard, aud mustachios, and hair hanging down his back in a long thick lock. He was dressed in a black

and a black

gown, but wore no stockings. He would be a handsome inan, were not his cheeks hollowed by his mode of life. The interpreter is still more ghastly; and, with his brown and white striped gown and belt, he might be taken, with his conical cap, for a Turkish derviche. His account of the convent is, that St. Helena built a chapel on the spot where Moses saw God in the burning bush, and that the budy of the church was added by Justinian.

• The first thing with wbich we were presented was a refreshment of aqua-vitæ and fruit. The water from the convent well is delicious. When drawn, it is rather warm, but, after exposure to the wind, in earthen jars, it becomes cold. After this repast, we went with the monks to the church, where we found them celebrating mass. Monks were standing at each pillar, and one in the middle, reading. We passed them in order to go to the chapel of St. Helena, which is behind the altar. Before entering we were requested to take off our shoes. It was the spot from which the voice of God came to Moses, saying, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,

[ocr errors]


for the place whereon thou standest is, holy ground.” All that could be done to testify veneration for this sacred spot has been performed. It is ornamented with many paintings and other gifts, presented by the pious; and a silver lamp is constantly burning. The service being over, we were joined by the superior, who took great pains to point out every object worthy of our attention. We returned with him to the high altar, on which are many ornaments of silver. On the roof of a semi-circular recess behind is an ancient mosaic. The tomb of St. Catherine, in marble, stands to the right of the altar. This saint suffered martyrdom at Alexandria, but her body, (as the legend relates) was carried by angels to the summit of a mountain near Mount Sinai ; and, having been found there in a perfect state three hundred years ago, was removed to its present place of interment.

The body of the church is composed of a principal and two side aisles, separated by ranges of columns, with ancient, unseemly capitals. The floor is of beautiful mosaic marbles; and from the roof is suspended a vast number of lamps and chandeliers, some of great magnificence. The screen is ornamented with gilded columns and pictures; and its richly-worked door presents figures of Christ and Moses. It is a church of much interest, containing a great variety of objects crowded together by the piety of ages.

• We next went to the garden, the communication to which is through a long, descending, and dark passage. This garden is rich in fruits of all kinds--peaches, apples, pomegranets, melons, &c. The grapes are uncommonly fine, some of the bunches weighing, we are told,

five ocks when ripe. There are various compartments to the garden, communicating with each other by means of rudely-formed stairs. It is watered throughout, and, indeed, owes its existence to the convent well. The superior, seeing that we admired the richness of the produce, said, “ What is all this without liberty? When a man has liberty, every thing goes well—he can suit his desires to his means, or seek a better fortune, by change of scene; but we are here, shut up without hope; at times we cannot even walk in this garden. The Arabs come to us as beggars, asking coffee or grain, and, if we refuse them, they besiege the place, break into the garden, and carry off the fruit.” He, at the same time, pointed out a hole in the garden wall, large enough to admit a man. The convent itself is impregnable to the Arabs, but they are ever on the watch with their

guns. The monks áre thus in a state of perpetual siege. Not long ago, one of them received a gun-shot in his leg. Letters have been written on the subject to the convent at Cairo, but without redress. At the time of our visit, the monks had just concluded a truce of thirty days with the Arabs.

• În the morning I asked one of the monks whether they had manna? O yes," was the answer ;

6 how

many ocks do you want?" He gave me a piece, which he said had been gathered five years ago. Whether genuine or not, it was excellent eating. It is very sweet, not unlike honey. It falls like dew, and is gathered in the morning. Its colour is whitish, and when exposed to the heat of mid-day, it becomes liquid. Sometimes it does not fall for two years, at others annually.--vol. ii. pp. 194--198.

We recollect to have heard or read before something of the ludicrous story respecting the false mummy of which Mr. Webster

[ocr errors]



« ZurückWeiter »