Images de page
PDF
ePub

that the names of our nobility and gentry decorate occasionally the list of cures to which the empiric appeals as attesting the force of his remedy. Religion, in the last age, and politics in the present, have had their quacks, who substituted words for sense, and theoretical dogmata for the practice of every duty.—But whether in religion, or politics, or physic, one general mark distinguishes the empiric; the patient is to be cured without interruption of business, or pleasure—the proselyte to be saved without reformation of the future, or repentance of the past-the country to be made happy by au alteration in its political system; and all the vice and misery which luxury and poor's rales, a crouded population, and decayed morality can introduce into the community, to be removed by extending farther political rights to those who daily show that they require to be taught the purpose for which those they already enjoy were entrusted to them. That any one above the rank of an interested demagogue should teach this is wonderful--that any should believe it except the lowest of the vulgar is more so—but vanity makes as many dupes as folly.

If, bowever, these gentlemen will needs identify their own cause with that of their country's enemies, we can forgive them as losers, who have proverbial leave to pout. And when, in bitterness of spirit, they term the great, the glorious victory of Waterloo the carnage of Saint Jean,' we can forgive that too, since, trained in the school of revolutionary France, they must necessarily abhor those

whose art was of such power
It could controul their dam’s God Setebos,

And make a vassal of him. From the dismal denunciations which Lord Byron, acting more upon his feeling than his judgment, has made against our country, although

Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe, we entertain no fears—none whatever.

At home, the noble author may hear of better things than a permanent arny and a suspended Habeas Corpus'-he may liear of au improving revenue and increasing public prosperity. And while he continues abroad he may haply call to mind, that the Pilgrim, whom, eight years since, the universal domination of France compelled to wander into distant and barbarous countries, is now at liberty to travel where he pleases, certain that there is not a corner of the civilized world where his title of Englishman will not ensure him a favourable and respectful reception.

ART.

Art. X.-Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey.

Edited from Manuscript Journals, by Robert Walpole, M. X.

London. 1817. pp. xxii, 607. THE peculiar circumstances in which the Turkish empire is

placed, both with regard to its geographical features, and the economy of its civil government, are such as present the most formidable obstacles to the inquisitive traveller. Some of its most interesting portions are rugged and mountainous, intersected with few high-ways, and those few of the worst description; affording scarcely any accommodations, whether of hospitality on the part of the inhabitants, or of facility in passing from one place to another. A more serious difficulty is the unhealthiness of certain spots, and indeed, at certain seasons, of the country in general; a scourge which, in the case of Greece, does not appear to be the natural and inevitable lot of the soil or atmosphere; but the result of that sloth and neglect, which suffer the juices of the earth to putrefy, and evaporate in pestilential exhalations. Add to these obstacles, the unsettled state of all the out-lying provinces of the Ottoman empire, the animosity which subsists between the enslaved descendants of the Doric and Ionic tribes and their barbarous masters, the facilities which are afforded to robbers by the natural features of the country, and the misgovernment of the Turks, and we shall be able to form some estimate of the difficulties to be encountered by him, who should indertake to give a complete account of any extensive portion of that great empire. The fact is, that, as long as the Ottoman government subsists, we must be content to receive our information about it in driblets, a little from one traveller and a little from another, as the relaxations of Turkish insolence and inhospitality, and the intervals of the mal-aria and the plague may allow them to glean it.

Under these circumstances, we are inclined to approve of the plan which Mr. Walpole has adopted, of collecting from various intelligent and learned travellers, who have visited of late years that interesting portion of the globe, such extracts from their journals and port-folios as were calculated to throw any light upon its present condition and ancient grandeur, its geography, antiquities, and natural history, to be laid before the public in the words of the respective authors. It is true that we do not, by this method, get a well-digested and uniform book of travels, whether we regard the subjects or the style. But as travels are written in these days, we believe that this is no loss. We obtain the actual observations of each traveller, made on the spot, not amplified and dressed up with the fruits of subsequent researches in other men's writings, but a literal and correct account of the state in which things were actually found. And this is precisely what we want. As the trade of bookmaking now goes, we reckon that the contents of the present work might, with due management, have been expanded into six volumes quarto. It is true that all the papers in the compilation before us are not of the description above-mentioned. Some of them are on matters of pure speculation, and are perhaps rather out of place in the present collection. Nor do we exactly see what business a dissertation on the catacombs of Egypt, or the journal of an expedition into Nubia, can have in Memoirs on European and Asiatic Turkey.' However, valuable information we are glad to have in any shape or place; and therefore will not quarrel with Mr. Walpole for introducing us to good company, even though somewhat unexpectedly.

found.

By far the greater part of the papers which compose the volume, relate, as might be expected, to Greece, both within and without the Corinthian isthmus, and the islands of the Ægean. The principal contributors are the Earl of Aberdeen, Mr. Morritt, the late Dr. Sibthorp, Dr. Hunt, the late Professor Carlyle, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Raikes, the late Colonel Squire, Mr. Wilkins, and the editor himself. Prefixed is a very confused and dingy-looking map of ancient Greece, on so small a scale as to be of very little service to the travelled or untravelled reader. In the preliminary discourse, Mr. Walpole discusses at length the various difficulties which oppose the researches of the traveller in Greece, the chief of which we have already briefly touched upon. It appears, from some remarks of that accurate and intelligent observer, Mr. Hawkins, that in consequence of the depopulated state of Greece and Syria, there is no considerable district which is not exposed to some degree of mal-aria. The spots in Greece, be observes, where it is most noxious, are salt-works and rice-grounds. At Milo, since the beginning of the last century, four-fifths of the population have been swept away in consequence of the establishment of a small saltwork. This may, perhaps, in great measure be accounted for by supposing, that in proportion as the salt-works are profitable, the cultivation of the neighbouring country is neglected. The same lamentable effects have resulted from the introduction of rice in the fertile low grounds of the north of Italy, where the mal-aria seems to be every year extending the sphere of its baneful influence. We may, perhaps, collect, from a little piece of local history preserved by the author of the Etymologicon Magnum v. Auitis, that the αλοπήγια of Ephesus were productive of similar effects upon the health of the inhabitants. It would seem, however, from Dr. Hunt's account of the salt-springs at Tousla in the Troad, that no insalubrious influence is occasioned by the evaporation of the brine; for at one of the springs a bath has been built, the roof of which is covered with votive offerings from the patients who have used it. Pausanias (x. 17.) says of Sardinia that the air was turbid and unwholesome; the causes of which he supposes to have been the crystallization of the salt and the oppressive breezes from the south.

The first contribution is an interesting detail by Mr. Morritt of a journey, performed in 1795, through the district of Maina in the Morea. As many, perhaps most, of our readers are not very well acquainted with the Mainiots, we shall extract a short account of this interesting people from Mr. Morritt's narrative.

The Maina includes that part of the country anciently called Laconia, which lies between the gulfs of Messene and Gythium, bounded on the north by the highest ridge of Taygetus, from which a chain of rugged mountains descends to Cape Matapan, the southern termination of the country. It is watered by the Pamisus, now the Pirnatza, the broadest river of the Peloponnese. The plaius round Calamata, a town towards the N. W., are fertile and well cultivated, abounding with the cactus, or prickly-pear, the white mulberry, (on which great numbers of silk-worms are fed,) olives, and various fruit-trees.

• The town itself is built on a plan not unusual in this part of the Morea, and well adapted for the defence of the inhabitants against the attacks of the pirates that infest the coast. Each house is a separate edifice, and many of them are high square towers of brown stone, built while the Venetians had possession of the country. The lower story serves chiefly for offices or warehouses, and the walls are pierced with loop-holes for the use of musketry, while the doors are strongly barricadoed.'

This style of building we believe to have been universal in ancient times in maritime villages and lone houses.*

The government of the Maina in 1795 resembled that of the Scottish Highlands in former times. Over each district presided a capitano, whose residence was a fortified tower, answering exactly, not only to the small fortresses with which Walter Scott has made us all so familiar, but to the túgois of Asidates which Xenophon describes in the Anabasis, and which, no doubt, has been in all ages the kind of building inhabited by the chieftains of tribes in a semibarbarous state. Each chief, besides bis own domain, received a tithe of the produce from the land of bis retainers. The different chiefs were independent of one another, although nominally subordinate to the most powerful capitano of the district, who usually bore the title of Bey of the Maina, a dignity which was ratified by a ferman from the Porte. In consequence of the reluctance of the

[graphic]

Mainiots to submit to the charatch, or poll-tax, they had been repeatedly attacked by the Turks, who had invariably failed, not less from the determined resistance of this warlike tribe, than from the inaccessible nature of their country. On the arrival of an enemy by sea, the coast is immediately deserted, and the inhabitants retire to the strong holds of Taygetus. They are all expert at the use of the rifle; and while defended by an impenetrable barrier of rocks to the north, and a craggy tempestuous shore to the south, they may continue to defy the cumbrous manæuvres of an ill-appointed and worse-commanded Turkish force.

In the war which the Russians, with a cruel and defective policy, incited the Greeks to wage against their oppressors, a combined attack was made upon the Maina by the feet of the Capudan Pasha, and an army rated, by the Mainiots, at 20,000 men. A heap of bones, whitened by the sun, near the town of Cardamyle, attested the result of the attack by sea.

θες δε νεκρών και τριτοσπόρα γίνει
άφωνα σημανoύσιν όμμασιν βροτων,

ως ουχ υπίρφιυ, θνητόν όντα, χρή Φρονείν. That by land was equally disastrous to the assailants.

Some of the chiefs Mr. Morritt found to be tolerably versed in Romaic literature, and some sufficiently masters of their ancient language to read Herodotus and Xenophon; that is, we suppose, to collect the substance of those authors; for as to reading, in our acceptation of the term, we would venture any odds, tha' uo Mainiot chief could make apt sense of a chapter of Herodotus. The laws of hospitality were observed with the strictest punctiliousness; the letters of recommendation, like the ou bons of older times, ensured the travellers a friendly attention while they staid, and a safe escort when they departed, in conformity to the precept of Homer

τον ξιϊνον παρεόντα φιλιλή, ασιόντα δε σίμσεις the force of which is imperfectly expressed by Pope,

Welcome the coming, speed the going guest. The religion of the Mainiots is that of the Greek church, with all its mummery. The most pleasing feature in their character was their domestic intercourse with the other sex. The women were neither secluded nor enslaved, and consequently neither corrupted nor ignorant. They partook in the management of their families and the education of their children. Instances of conjugal infidelity were extremely rare, which, indeed, is not much to be wondered at, considering the manner in which the first advances may chance to be received. The German Phemius of a certain capitano, an accomplished lyrist, who scraped a three-stringed rebeck,

« PrécédentContinuer »