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CLIMATE OF GREECE.
the same evening, it was 86 degrees. In 1835 the extremes were 30 degrees and 88 degrees; this was the very unhealthy year, when the whole plain of Athens was a marsh, from the circumstance of the canals of irrigation of the Cephissus being blocked up, and the water having during the whole winter (which was a very severe one) spread itself over the plain. In 1836, which was a very cool year, the extremes were 28 degrees and 85 degrees. The weather is generally very agreeable up to the 1st of June ; but June, July, and August, are very hot ; nothing, however, can be finer than the autumn. Athens is a very healthy spot, and its unhealthiness in 1835 was purely accidental, for water in general is much too scarce to be wasted. The danger of the climate here is not from fever, but cold in winter ; as people taking violent exercise and exposing themselves to the cold winds, are apt to suffer severely. Athens is unfortunately the only place to which invalids, who intend to reside for a year, can venture to come to in Greece; as it is only at Athens they can procure good houses. In the islands it would, perhaps, be very agreeable to spend two or three months in autumn and spring. The communications with Athens are now very regular; from Trieste and Ancona, we have steamers twice a month; from Marseilles, by Leghorn and Malta, three times a month; and from this, steamers go three times a month to Alexandria; and others as often to Smyrna and Constantinople, and thence to the Danube, and on to Vienna. Houses are now to be found here at a more moderate rate than formerly. We have had sereral families spending the winter; and one English family has taken up its residence. We have a very agreeable society, and liberty to dress and do as we like.”
On the 10th, we visited Marathon. The distance from Athens is said to be about twenty miles. We passed over a wild and uncultivated district, broken into ravines and deep hollow gorges, or spreading out into irregular plains, wooded with Scotch fir and stone pine. A drifting mist rendered much of our way obscure, and in many places, the bridle-path was rugged, narrow, and precipitous. At Pikermi, about mid-way, we visited the great fossil formation recently discovered in this part of Greece. It is situated in the bed of a deep stream, and the bones, which are principally those of graminiverous and ruminant animals, and very much comminuted, are placed in a
bed of hard red ochery clay, in some parts so hard, that the specimens were, with difficulty, cut out of it. The multitude of fossil remains in this pit are almost incredible. Several horseloads have been conveyed to Athens, and in the museum of the Natural History Society there, I was afforded an opportunity of examining some most perfect specimens. Besides those animals that I have mentioned, I saw there a very fine head of the rhinoceros and also that of the palæotherium, as well as the skull of one of the simiæ of a very small size, but in excellent preservation, with the teeth quite perfect ; and I have in my possession the jaws and teeth of some small ruminants and carnivoræ from the same locality. The rain pouring in torrents during the short time that we remained at the place, prevented any very accurate or extended examination. It is a field yet open to geologists, for I am not aware of any accurate account of it having been given to the world. It was discovered by Mr. G. Finlay, and is situated on the south-eastern slope of Pentelicus, and beside the ancient road leading to Marathon.
As we could only proceed at a slow pace, we did not reach our destination till towards evening. And now we are on
“ The battle-field, where Persia's victim horde
First bow'd beneath the brunt of Hellas' sword;
We entered the plain by a narrow pass between the sea and a shoulder of the Argalike mountain, to the right of the sacred grove and temple of Hercules, and where it is supposed the Greek camp was placed. This opinion seems the most probable even to a cursory observer; for, had not this pass been occupied, the Persians might have marched on to Athens without opposition.
This vast plain, the richest and most cultivated that we witnessed in Greece, extends, in a crescentic shape, between the mountains and the sea, broken only by the memorable tumulus, near the centre, and a wood of tall stone pines that rises at its northern extremity. The sky was louring; the mountains indistinct ; the sea looked dark and moody, and rolled its moaning waves far up upon the beach, while the wind sighed and whistled through the gaps and hollows of the hills that margin this noble plain, so celebrated in story, because here liberty was at stake,
and valour was the winner. We turned our horses' heads to the little village or hamlet of Varna, and took up our quarters for the night at the miserable monastery, the only accommodation the place afforded.
Varna, which is believed by Colonel Leake and other eminent topographers to be the site of the ancient Marathon, from which the plain beneath took its name, is situated in a lonely, wild, and picturesque glen or hollow in the range of hills that rises immediately from the valley. Our domicile was any thing but comfortable or agreeable ; being a low empty room, without a fireplace, and having no less than four unglazed windows, and a tiled roof, through which the wind gained a very ready ingress. The night was piercingly cold, and the fleas terrific; but the early part of the evening was one of considerable interest, for our companion, Mr. Finlay, read for us that valuable Memoir on the Battle of Marathon, which has since been published in this country, * and in the morning we visited the tumulus, from the top of which he pointed out to us the position of the two armies, and the different places of interest that surrounded us.
The sides of this enormous barrow have now become much broken down by the excavations of antiquity hunters, and the channels worn by the rains of above two thousand three hundred years, that we rode with ease to the top. Although but thirty feet high, it commands a perfect view of the surrounding plain, which is a rich loamy soil, and was then green with the young corn crop. Having picked up some of the flint and obsidian arrow-headst that are scattered in such quantities through the
* On the Battle of Marathon, by George Finlay, Esq.-See the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, Vol. III. 1839.
† Although it is quite true that these rude and diminutive weapons are found in other parts of Greece, (and I have picked up some myself,) yet the vast quantities found in this mound are very remarkable ; but whether they are, as some assert, the arrow-heads used by the Æthiopian archers, who, Herodotus informs us, formed a part of the Persian army, it is difficult to decide. Their identity with similar weapons that have been found in other countries is, however, curious. Colonel Leake mentions their being found in Egypt and in Ireland. The one to wbich the learned antiquary refers, as found in Ireland, is that in the Museum of the Royal Dublin Society ; but since he wrote, two most beautiful and perfect speci
THE HIGHLANDS ÖP ATTICA.
earth of which this monument is composed, we bent our steps to the village of modern Marathona, a pleasantly situated spot, with some pretty country-houses, surrounded by tall waving poplars, and having the river of Marathon winding in its broken rocky channel through the neighbouring glen. Following this stream, we visited the fountain of Oinoe, and, in the overhanging crags, the subterranean cavern, by some called the cave of Pan. This is a succession of caverns, on different levels, covered with sparkling crystallizations, and the roof supported in many places by huge stalagmite pillars, which, with the arching over head, give it the appearance of rude gothic architecture. It is not unlike Mitchelstown cave, in this country ; but, from being the retreat of all the goats in the vicinity, and also the haunt of robbers, the floor of it was covered with dirt, and the roof blackened with smoke.
After this, we ascended the highland country of Attica, to visit Leoshea, the estate of our friend, Mr. Finlay. We crossed through some well-watered ravines, with corn fields, oriental plains, and groves of magnificent oaks, as a short time ago a considerable traffic was carried on in the acorns Greece; but the government having put a very high tax upon them, they are not now worth gathering. The soil is, for the most part, a rich ochery loam.
The extensive and elevated plain of Leoshea presents a scene of considerable beauty. The mountains raise their bare limestone heads to a height of nearly 'thirteen hundred feet, and the secondary range of hills that encompasses the plain, is clothed with forests of magnificent firs, oaks, and poplars, standing in a thick underwood of arbutus—both the Unedo and the Andrachne.
mens have been obtained in a cromlech lately discovered in the Phænix Park, which contained, likewise, two perfect human skeletons, a shell necklace, an antique earthen vase, and a bone pin-all of which were presented by the Marquis of Normanby to the Royal Irish Academy. These arrow-heads are not cut in the usual shape of those found in this country; but are generally about two inches long, and not quite half an inch wide ; flat on one side, and angular on the other; in fact, they are three-sided. They are, however, very rare in this country : but a few have been discovered at Elsden, in Northumberland, and there is a large collection of them among the Scandinavian antiquities at Copenhagen.
AMERICAN MISSIONARY SCHOOLS.
The Judas tree was in full blow, and the peach and apricot just putting forth their blossoms.
We passed the night at our friend's country-seat, and among the other creature-comforts we enjoyed, were regaled with a dish celebrated in Greece-a lamb roasted whole. Our second course was likewise one of the greatest delicacies among the mountaineers, called cookaratty, being the heart, lungs, and liver cut into small pieces, placed upon a ramrod, bound round with the intestines, and roasted something like the Arab kebobs; and it was most excellent. Next day we returned to Athens, by the marble quarries of Pentelicus; the country through which we passed was greatly overrun with low shrubby brushwood, but enlivened by small villages, surrounded by their olive groves and vineyards.
Of all the efforts made to regenerate this long-distracted country, none deserve such honourable mention as the labours of the American missionaries, particularly those of the Rev. Mr. Hill, who has established in Athens and Syra, schools, that will ever make the name of America dear to the people of Greece. In Athens, the missionary school contains upwards of six hundred children, and in Syra and other places, the number amounts to more than five hundred. Shortly before our visit, the Greek and Russian bishops had attempted to put down this institution, and endeavoured to make the government interfere in their behalf; but, notwithstanding the greatest opposition from the priesthood, the schools continued to flourish; for all the higher classes of well-educated Greeks had determined on supporting them. The Scriptures are translated into the modern Greek from the original Hebrew. Thousands of copies are in circulation, and the anxiety evinced by the people to possess the sacred volume is really astonishing.
One of the most interesting scenes I witnessed in this country, was that of laying the foundation stone of a Church-ofEngland place of worship, on the site of an ancient temple, near the road leading to the temple of Jupiter Olympius. All the English residents were present, and a more impressive ceremony I never beheld.
On Easter Saturday I visited the Greek chapel, to see the procession and ceremony of “burying the host;" and a scene of greater violence and confusion can scarcely be imagined among a