תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

THE CLIMATE OF TELMESSUS.

341

chamber, into which, with some difficulty, I climbed. Originally the front of this was closed up, and the partition wall so artificially plastered that it appeared a continuation of the solid rock. From this it is considered that the answer of the Sybil, concealed behind it, was returned to the inquirer beneath. This recess does not occupy, as Clarke supposed, the whole of the upper third, but only one half of that space. However, from the hollow sound of the partition wall upon the right-hand side, I am inclined to think that there is a second chamber behind it also. That the lower half of the wall is solid, we can see from a large chasm recently made in it. How the oracular priests had access to this, is at present difficult to say. This I may remark, that, on examining it I found several apertures like air-holes, leading upwards, cut through the rock, exactly similiar to those that exist in the chambers of the large pyramid, where jugglery of the same character may have been enacted. The further exploration of this cave would prove highly interesting, and it is well worthy the attention of future travellers.

Several other caves, and numerous tombs, occur along the shore, besides some low buildings with groined roofs, probably minor temples. Between the theatre and the town there is a perpendicular rock, whose face has been smoothed with great care ; in it are rows of holes, like joice-holes in modern houses, as well as several apertures carved into the form of fire-places. This place I consider to be the remains of an ancient bath.

The dromedaries here are smaller than any others that I have seen, and are covered with a coat of long, shaggy hair, with black tufts under the chin, on the forehead, and at most of the joints, no doubt to protect them from the cold, which is here at some seasons intense.

We perceived a manifest difference in climate, even during the two nights we spent here, which were piercingly cold. In the mornings a noxious fog or fen-damp rose from the marshy valley, which did not clear off till ten o'clock in the day. It has been noticed that the air is generally tainted in the vicinity of ancient cities, owing, it is said, to the water becoming stagnant in the places where fountains, aqueducts, and streams have been choked up with ruins; but it is the total neglect of cultivation, and the advance of the sea, that have created this swampy plain. Besides these causes, there is at Telmessus a variability of tem

342

THE ORIGIN OF TELMESSUS.

ance.

perature, even during a single day, that is highly detrimental to health, by the keen winds blowing at certain seasons from the lofty mountains, exposing the inhabitants to sudden chills a few hours after they have been suffering under intense heat.

Telmessus was celebrated for wine and augury; but it is to be regretted that, although mentioned by many of the ancient classic writers, such as Strabo, Pliny, Lucian, Herodotus, Cicero, Livy, Arrian, and others, they merely refer to some passing event that took place there, and do not give any regular description of the city itself or of its kings. Aristander, the celebrated soothsayer of Alexander, was a native of Telmessus. Herodotus relates that, in the days of Creesus, serpents filled the land about Sardis, and the horses left their pastures to feed upon them ; on which that monarch sent to Telmessis to inquire of the priests concerning this prodigy; the interpretation of which was, that, as the serpent was produced from the earth, the horse might be considered both as a foreigner and an enemy; and that a foreign army was about to attack Cræsus;-matters turned out in accord

The origin of the city may be the following :-Telmessus was a son of Apollo, by one of the daughters of Antenor, whom he endowed with the power of interpreting prodigies. This gift descended to her son, who was buried under the altar of Apollo in the city of Telmessus, of which it is probable he was the founder.

The island of Cavaliére, which forms the break-water to the bay of Macri, is a long, irregular piece of land, lying N. E., S. W., completely covered over with ruins of building which once belonged to the Knights of Jerusalem, and the Genoese and Venetiaus. The principal of these were forts, chapels, and houses, combining both dwellings and places of defence. After visiting it we got under weigh and sailed out of the gulf, intending to proceed at once to the island of Kastelorizo.

Patera we passed next day, but though perfectly visible to us, it blew so liard that we were unable to land. The coast still decreased in beauty and fertility, the mountains became barren, and the shore in many places resembled the desert, especially about the mouth of the Xanthus. The storm increased in violence, and toward the evening of the 4th we entered the bay of Kalamaki, said to be the port of Phænicus. Nothing could be more cheerless and gloomy than this place, of which

[blocks in formation]

so very little is known. On all sides the mountains rise in perpendicular cliffs from the water, which is here of great depth. The darkness was fast closing in upon us, and our situation was any thing but enviable. We could find no anchorage; there appeared no trace of human beings; and the white line of foam that marked the entrance told too plainly of the storm that raged without. Again and again we were on the point of quitting its inhospitable shores, and seeking safety in the raging sea without: at length we found bottom at ten fathoms, and cast anchor for the night.

A few Greek peasants had settled on the rocks near where we lay; they seemed to be in a most miserable condition, and all they could afford us was a little goat's milk. The beach, at the extremity of this bay, is petrified similar to that at Rhodes.

At day-break the weather moderated, and we continued on our course, and arrived at Mais or Kastelorizo, so called from its modern appellation of Castel Rosso or Red Castle. This place is about eighteen miles to the east of Kalamaki. It is a bold, rugged, and perfectly barren rock-a block of gray limestone that has received a reddish tinge from traces of iron scattered through the crevices of its strata, and rising in perpendicular cliffs to a height of 800 feet above the sea. The day was well suited for viewing the peculiar loneliness, and extraordinary situation of this island, if such it can be called. The wind still blew fresh, accompanied with heavy showers, and a drifting mist at times softened the outline of its fantastic form, and gave it a somewhat fairy-like appearance, as it revealed its sides, rising out of the mass of boiling water that foamed and tumbled round its base. But barren and in hospitable as it looks, it has upon its northwestern side, opposite the coast, one of the most secure and valuable harbours (at least for coasting craft) in this part of Asia Minor. The entrance to it is narrow, and it is protected on the north by a high peninsula, on which the town stands, while a high mass of rock shelters it from any wind that might reach it from the open sea to southward. This harbour is so deep, that, although there is no artificial pier, the vessels are ranged close along the shore, and reached by single planks from the landing place! Two or three stunted sickly olives were the only shrubs or vegetables of any kind on this island, whose sole wealth consists in its beautiful little harbour, and its healthy, but com

[blocks in formation]

paratively cold climate. The town is, to all appearance, very miserable; the houses low, flat-roofed, and running in parterres that rise above the water. The highest point of the peninsula is surmounted by a picturesque old castle, built by the Knights of St. John after their expulsion from Rhodes.

I was taken to visit a new church built by the Greeks since the battle of Navarino. This engagement, though it may have been regarded as an “untoward event” by some statesmen, and has been considered as contrary to the laws of nations by a certain class of diplomatists, was an action that the outraged laws of God and humanity loudly demanded. It led, undoubtedly, to the establishment of the independence of Greece, and has done much towards improving the condition of the Greek people every where, and making them more respected by the Turks, even at this distance from their motherland. The roof of this church, which was just finished, is supported by some of the splendid rosecoloured granite pillars brought from the ruins of Patera; and although I regretted their removal here, as causing a great and wasteful spoliation of the ancient edifices to which they belonged, yet I could not help asking myself, who had as good a right to these remains as the descendants of the men by whom they were erected. The building is fitted up with considerable taste, and is not devoid of architectural beauty. It shows that there is an increase of wealth as well as a revival of the arts among the Greeks, and also discovers a degree of toleration on the part of their Turkish lords. The population of this island is estimated at eight thousand, who are all engaged in trade; they are mostly Greeks, there being only about ten or fifteen Turkish families in the place. The island itself produces absolutely nothing, and the most trifling necessaries of life are received from the opposite coast, but owing to its fine harbour, its trade is yearly increasing. It then possessed a navy of seventy vessels, which were in good trim ; and several new ones were on the stocks. Each inhabitant has an interest in the welfare of the place, and the sailors have a share in the vessel they navigate as well as in the cargo. The trade is principally in wood, cut on the neighbouring coast of Vathy and Sevedo, made into charcoal, and transported to Alexandria ; and also in sponges. Some vessels are in the carrying trade of this part of the Mediterranean ; and here we found the pilgrim's flag hoisted on several barks which were laden with

[blocks in formation]

cargos of devotees hastening towards the Holy City. Several of the Greek vessels were under the Russian flag! The island pays at present a tribute of about £400 a year to the Basha of Rhodes.

The people seem to be an industrious, persevering race; the women and children were pretty well clad, and had a healthy appearance—another fact confirmatory of the opinion that islands are far more favourable to the promotion of health than contitents. The inhabitants are never attacked with the fever that yearly ravages the opposite shores; and though their communication with infected places is very extensive, plague has seldom appeared in the island. A British consular agent resides here, though but few English vessels ever touch the island.

We left Kastelorizo on the 6th; and being favoured with a fair wind, we made the eastern point of the island of Cyprus next day, and continued coasting along its undulating shores, under stunsails, till the evening. The weather had improved, and now all was sunshine. Some parts of the scenery here are very beautiful ; the ground is pleasingly diversified with hill and dale; and in other places the headlands present a white, chalky appearance, not unlike Dover Cliffs; from between which we obtained occasional glimpses of the distant Mount Olympus. We brought up" in an open roadstead off the town of Limasol, which is situated upon a low bank of sand, with a surfy beach before it. It has little calculated to interest the visitor, except the minarets of its mosques, that rise into lofty spires covered with tin, and which have a pleasing effect when burnished by the beams of the setting sun. A large plain stretches to the east of the town, and behind it is a range of barren hills, which are by no means picturesque. A quarantine of three days was imposed upon us here, on account of our having touched at Macri ; and this rendered our situation very uncomfortable, as there was a heavy swell in the sea, caused by the gale that we encountered off Kalamaki, which had not yet quite subsided. The principal trade of this place is wine, of the fame of which we had heard much ; and to procure some of it was one of our reasons for visiting the island. The accounts generally given of this wine are either very much exaggerated, or those who have given these coloured statements must have acquired a vitiated taste that few Englishmen would desire to possess. Mix honey, vinegar, and tar with brandy and water, to the taste of a Cyprian, and you have this much esteemed beverage of

« הקודםהמשך »