Images de page

As a proof of the salubrity of the climate, longevity is common. Among other instances, Dallaway mentions his being accosted at a fountain, by a venerable old man, who said that he was 120 years old, and that he had a son now living who was eighty, at which age he again became a father. He acknowledged that there were many older men in Scio; but none like himself who had been preferred, as he could boast to have lately been, by a girl of twenty to a rival of her own age!

At noon, we were opposite to Cheshmé, the antient Cyssus, in which port the fleet of Antiochus was defeated by the Romans. The town covers a shelving ridge to the sea, with the fortress in the centre, of an oblong shape, consisting of double walls and a deep fosse, and enclosing several houses, and a mosque. Its apparent antiquity is not higher than when the port was in possession of the Genoese. Since 1770, memorable for the destruction of the Turkish fleet by the Russians, the greater part of the town has been rebuilt, having at that time suffered from the conflagration occasioned by the burning of the Turkish ships of war.

Erythræ, famous for a sybil, and Mount Mimas, on the summit of which Anaxagoras built an observatory, were a few miles to the north. The Erythræan sybil, and the sybil of Cuma in Italy, were the same. Her oracular communications were placed by Tarquin in the capitol, and burnt by accident, during the war of Marius and Sylla; and it is said that the Emperor Augustus deputed three ambassadors to Erythræ, to procure a genuine transcription, but they collected only mysterious verses, known universally by oral tradition.

Towards evening the wind increased considerably, and during the night it blew in heavy squalls, obliging us to close reef the topsails, notwithstanding which we sprung our foretopmast, split several sails, and carried away some of our rigging. The whole night was indeed a scene of great bustle and anxiety, the narrowness of the passage obliging all hands to be on deck, to work the vessel through its difficulties.

The morning of the 14th was boisterous, but the weather moderated, and the wind became more favourable towards noon, enabling us to clear the Straits of Scio and approach the island of Mytelene, which lies opposite to the western entrance of the great Bay of Smyrna, into which we were bound. The appearance of the mountains in the distance was imposing, and the varied scenery of the coast, as we approached nearer to the shore, full of interest and beauty.

It is uncertain when the name of this island was changed from Lesbos to Mytelene. Eustathius mentions that there were five cities existing in his time, and that the island had been lately called Mytelene, as it had antiently been Lesbos.

The climate of this island has obtained from the antients no common degree of praise. Its effect on the productions of nature are peculiarly genial. Hippocrates, the great father of physic, commends it as very superior, and Gillies, in his History of Greece,' observes,


that Demetrius of Phalera accounts for the singular degree of poetic fame Mytelene has enjoyed, from its invigorating influence on the imagination.

Terpander, Alcæus, and Sappho, the former by his mechanic improvement of the Grecian lyre, by the addition of three strings to four, and the others by inventing new rythms and improving the melody of former versifications, have immortalized their names. The spirited rhapsodies of Alcæus are lost to us. The exquisite poems of Sappho, her Hymn to Venus,' and that of Sixteen Lines to Erinna,' were rescued from oblivion by Longinus and Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Terpander flourished about a century after Homer, and Sappho lived about 610 years before Christ.


Pinkerton mentions that the Lesbians excelled in female portraits on their coins, especially of Sappho.

Dallaway observes, that Horace was the first who adapted the measures they had invented to the Roman muse. It is a matter of curiosity, not easy to be ascertained, how far Horace translated, paraphrased, or only imitated, the works of Alcæus and Sappho, certainly existing at Rome in his time. It is to be wished he had given us either a paraphrase or translation of the celebrated morceau of Sappho-Catullus has failed-Philips has been more happy-and perhaps since equalled by the poet, Mason.

The soil of Mytelene is extremely congenial to the cultivation of the vine. That which was so much esteemed by the Romans would preserve its quality, if the inhabitants were more industrious in cultivation, and more careful in making and keeping it. This defect is owing to the residence of the Turks, who are scandalized by the quantity taken to excess by the Greeks; for, in this island, there are more resident Turks than in any other island of the Archipelago, (Candia excepted,) and their manners have long since pervaded the whole of the inhabitants.

Several travellers have dwelt with much pleasure on the luxuriant scenery and delightful views of the island; and Polwhele, in allusion to it, says:

Rich in the brilliance of the balmiest light,

These scenes repose. I saw the myrtle glow,
The arbutus in bloom and fruitage bright,

The glittering bay, the mulberry's silky flow!
I felt but erst-delicious from below

The sea breeze, as it curl'd the crystal springs;

But shrubs may blush, and noon-tide zephyrs blow,
In vain voluptuous while no Sappho sings,
Nor, by the landscape moved, Alcæus fires the strings!-

a description that appears warranted by the testimonies of all who have visited this delightful island.

Lesbos has been the asylum of the unfortunate. The wife of Pompey, flying from Cæsar, was, according to Lucian, there hospitably received and protected. Irene, the Empress of Leo IV., in 802,

banished by the ungrateful Nicephorus, who supplanted her, and denied her a suitable maintenance, fled to this island, and for some years earned the support of the day by the labours of her distaff.


In 1452, the Greeks, thinking the loss of the city of Constantinople inevitable, escaped, with more prudence than bravery, in great numbers to Mytelene, and afterwards dispersed themselves in the Morea and the islands of the Archipelago. When all was lost, Leonardus Chiensis, the familiar priest of the ill-fated but valiant Constantine Paleologus, availed himself of this place of general refuge, and was made Bishop of the See. Gibbon, in his Roman History,' alludes to a curious account of the siege, given as a journal, and written on the occurrences of each day, by this Bishop. It was first printed at Nuremburg in 1544, in twenty quarto leaves, (though composed August 15, 1453,) under the title Leonardi Chiensis Historia Constantinopoleos expugnata a Turco,' and is said to be an interesting work.


Very antiently the Lesbian women had a singular contest, that for beauty, which was publicly adjudged, and the prize given in the Temple of Juno. Young men of the island were chosen to decide.

Pittacus, who was one of the seven whom Greece acknowledged as sages, and humanity as benefactors, was the legislator of Lesbos, and the founder of its republic, which soon yielded to more powerful


According to Thucydides, in the fourth year of the Peloponnesian war, Lesbos revolted from the alliance of the Athenians, but it was completely reduced in 427 before Christ, or the following year. Xenophon, and Diodorus Siculus, both mention that in the 26th year of that war, Callicratides, the Spartan, besieged Mytelene, but was totally defeated in a naval engagement near the islands Arginusæ, where he lost his life; and we have the authority of Gibbon that for some time it continued tributary to the Athenians, but afterwards, by choice, to the Lacedemonians.

When it became subject to Rome, history is silent as to any memorable transaction. As a part of the empire divided between the French and Venetians, it was taken from the latter by John Ducas Vataces in 1230, and in 1332 by Andronicus Paleologus, after a second conquest by them. Having been ceded by the Emperor Kalo Johannes to Domenico Catalusi, a Genoese, for services against his father-in-law, John Catacuzene, the Turks, under Solyman I., took it from Francis Catalusi, his descendant. Mytelene, the metropolis, was besieged by Ursato, a Venetian General, who was forced to raise the siege with the loss of 5000 men; and the French and Venetians in 1502 invested it without effect. It was the first island of the Archipelago of which the Turks had gained the certain and secure pos


Beside being celebrated as the birth-place of Terpander, Alcæus, and Sappho, Mytelene produced also, in more modern times, the celebrated Khair'-ed-Deen, or Barbarossa, the notorious corsair, after

wards Capudan Pasha of Solyman I., in the sixteenth century. He took the city of Tunis, and expelled the Venetians from the Morea. His great antagonist, Andrea Doria, the Genoese Admiral, after various success, was at length totally defeated by him. He died in the city of Constantinople in 1544, and was buried in the village of Beshù-tash, on the Bosphorus, where his turbèh, or sepulchral chapel, is still shown with great veneration by the Turks. The British drama founded on his history is well known.

It is almost impossible to describe correctly the pleasing sensations excited by a view of classic ground, when every circumstance of time and place is favourable to contemplation, and a recurrence to the scenes and events which have rendered it renowned in history. Yet, in sailing through the Archipelago, one's heart almost bleeds to witness the contrasted state of poverty, oppression, and wretchedness, which now reigns where liberty and plenty once flourished. The maritime poet, Falconer, with all that warmth of feeling which pervades his poem, could not avoid a digression to lament the wretched change:

What pale distress afflicts those wretched isles!
There Hope ne'er dawns, and Pleasure never smiles;
The vassal wretch obsequious drags his chain,
And hears his famish'd babes lament in vain—
These eyes have seen the dull reluctant soil
A seventh year scorn the weary labourer's toil.
No blooming Venus, on the desert shore,
Now views with triumph captive gods adore;
No lovely Helens now, with fatal charms,
Call forth th' avenging chiefs of Greece to arms.
No fair Penelopes enchant the eye,

For whom contending kings are proud to die.
Here sullen Beauty sheds a twilight ray,
While Sorrow bids her vernal bloom decay!
Those charms, so long renowned in classic strains,
Had dimly shone on Albion's happier plains!


I ardently wished, however, to turn from this sombre view of the picture, and to indulge the train of pleasing ideas which its classic recollections had excited: deeming it unwise to dwell on painful emotions, unless their indulgence could be considered conducive to some evidently beneficial purpose. On the present occasion, however, the calm that prevailed, and the brilliancy of the Grecian heavens, were favourable to the highest degree of imaginative enjoyment:

My heart was full of Fancy's dream,
And, as I watch'd the playful stream,
Entangling in its net of smiles
So fair a group of elfin isles,
I thought the midnight scenery there
Was lighted by a Lesbian sky,
And that I breathed the balmy air

Yet warm with Sappho's amorous sigh,

Until the downy hand of rest
Her signet on my eyes imprest,
Yet even then the blissful spell,
Like star-dew, o'er my fancy fell!

At noon of the 15th we were becalmed off Cape Carabourna, which forms the southern entrance to the Gulf of Smyrna, when a light breeze springing up in the afternoon, we crowded all sail, and saw Long Island at sun-set. Our pilot, however, steering too far southerly entangled himself between Long Island and the southwestern main, where we beat about the whole of the night, in a passage not more than a mile in width, and that obstructed by many dangerous rocks.

Successive intervals of calms and squalls, and those too from an unfavourable quarter, prevented our making any progress throughout the whole of the 16th, though all hands were employed tacking every hour, and attending the sails.

At day-light on the 17th, we embraced the favourable breeze that blew, and weathering the south-point of Long Island, bore away for Smyrna, where we anchored about noon in nine fathoms water, close to this magnificent and imposing maritime city of Turkey, surrounded by ships of every flag and nation in Europe, Africa, and America.


To the Editor of the Oriental Herald.

SIR,-The operation of officering the six new extra regiments of the line, ordered in General Orders, of 13th May 1825, has necessarily promoted many officers to the regimental rank of captain, years junior to those now entitled to the brevet rank in the army, continuing (as it should have done) 27th April 1825 with the first class of the year 1809; and unless the Honourable Court of Directors are graciously pleased to grant this boon to very many of their older officers in the several Memorials of the year 1824 before the Court, praying for favourable consideration, the army-list of the Bengal Presidency will exhibit cadets of the seasons of 1813, 1817, and 1818, promoted to regimental captains long before those of the standing of the year 1809; consequently, those not promoted by this increase will lose their entire rank in the army for ever and ever; and dismissal from the service could not be more ruinous to those unfortunate individuals, both in future prospect in the service, and retirement in old age.

The brevet rank was always understood to prevent supercession as much as possible. The brevet rank would save many of these officers, and give them their standing in future augmentations.-I am, Sir, yours,

ONE OF 1809.

« PrécédentContinuer »