תמונות בעמוד
[blocks in formation]

people calling themselves Christian. First came an immense crowd, carrying lighted torches; then a military band ; the ministers and officers of the royal household followed ; then came several richly dressed priests, and the aged Bishop of Attica, with his robes and crozier, preceding the hearse or bearer, on which was placed a small coffin, covered with a rich pall of black velvet, ornamented with silver, surrounded with lighted tapers, and decorated with flowers and garlands. A group of Greek and Bavarian soldiers closed the procession. Otbo and his interesting looking little queen having taken their seats in the church, the bearer was carried in and laid down in the aisle. The bishop ascended his throne, and the priests commenced a chant that carried me back to the scenes in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. This part of the service being concluded, each of the principal persons present having taken some of the flowers or candles off the holy bier, the crowd rushed in ; noise, uproar, and confusion ensued; flowers and lights were snatched from each other ; and, in their holy zeal, the pall and coffin narrowly escaped destruction; but the soldiers using their muskets with great energy, in a short time tranquillity was restored. Disgusted with this religion run mad, I did not wait for the conclusion of the proceedings, but I understood that they lasted till two o'clock in the morning. I know of nothing to equal this frightful scene, but that auspicious moment when, at the close of an election, the chair of the successful candidate is given up to the tender mercies of an Irish mob.

Easter Sunday.-We were awoke at an early hour by the firing of small arms, and the shouting of the people, rejoicing on the anniversary of the resurrection. On going into the streets, happiness beamed in every face ; and when Greek met Greek, it was not in the “tug of war," but they rushed into each other's arms, a long embrace ensued, they then kissed each other on the cheeks and forehead, saying, “Christ is risen," and answered, “Yes, Christ is risen indeed.” Not only among friends, but even slight acquaintances, did this primitive salutation take place. I cannot but think that this custom has prevailed in these countries since the days of the early Christians.

The noisy rejoicings continued all day, and towards evening the suburbs of the city reminded us of the Hebrew institution of the Passover ; for, opposite every house, all who could possibly

[blocks in formation]

afford it were roasting a lamb whole. Their meal concluded, hundreds of the inhabitants congregated round the Temple of Theseus, and kept up the Romaic dance till nightfall. I shall never forget that scene. It was a calm and lovely evening; the distant mountains of Hymettus and Pentelicus threw back the mellow beams of the declining sun; the plain of Athens, with its academic groves and sacred way, was stretched beneath us; the Acropolis held aloft the ruins of the Parthenon above our heads ; beside us rose the Areopagus, where St. Paul addressed the men of Athens, and first preached that Gospel which is again beginning to be published throughout the land ; and a little farther on, the eye turned to the Pnyx, where the eloquence of Demosthenes so often touched the hearts, and roused the dormant energies of the ancient Athenians.

There has been a large hospital established near the Theatre of Bacchus, and a Natural History Society instituted, whose museum will well repay the visit of the antiquary and the zoologist. During our stay, the maximum daily temperature was generally 64

On the 17th we sailed for the ea, and the morning of the 19th found us beating up the gulf of Nauplia, with a head wind and a drifting mist. Towards evening the weather moderated; the sun shone out, and we anchored before the walls of Napoli di Romania. The scenery around this place is truly beautiful, and the overhanging rock, with its covered way, and the neighbouring batteries, give it a very great resemblance to Gibraltar, though on a much smaller scale. From our position, the view of this fine open bay and the surrounding country was exceedingly imposing, being enclosed by a semicircular range of mountains, between which and the sea, stretches one vast level plain, not unlike that of Marathon, but far greater in extent, being ten miles in length, by three to four in breadth,—then all under cultivation. I never saw so vast and uninterrupted an extent of standing corn. At the extreme end of the bay, the Acropolis of Argos forms an object which, independent of its classic recollections, must always claim the attention of the lover of the picturesque in nature or in art. The town of Napoli di Romania has decreased in interest and importance since the removal of the court to Athens. The streets, though good, have a deserted appearance, and many of the houses which had been



commenced remain unfinished. It is not unlike a Spanish town, but the lion of St. Mark, that decorates the gates and bastions, reminds us of its Venetian origin.

Next day we drove over to Argos and Mycenæ, visiting on our way the ruins of Tyrinthus, the reputed country seat of Hercules, and beside it, the marsh of Hydra. We spent some time in examining the former, groping through its dark passages, and scrambling over its cyclopean walls, the most ancient, perhaps, in existence ; for, when in a state little better than the present, they excited the admiration of Homer and Pausanias. This memorable spot, containing the oldest remains of Hellenic architecture, and one which witnessed the gathering of the kings and warriors of Greece upon the surrounding plain, before the Trojan war, stands upon a low hill near the shore, and when viewed from a little distance, or on entering the harbour of Nauplia, looks like an immense oval tumulus.

Leaving the carriage at the foot of the rocky defile that leads up to Mycenæ, we scrambled over the hills, and followed our guide to the city of Agamemnon. The situation was lone and desolate, and just what the classic ruins of that heroic age

should be. We approached it through the narrow walled way that leads to the Gate of Lions, and sat down to rest beneath the shadow of the oldest sculptured monument in Greece. The gateway was choked up with stones and brambles ; but the slab that spans the top, and which bears in good relief the rampant lions, is still undisturbed. That portion of it, however, which contained the heads of the animals has been broken off, and, of late years, antiquarians have held learned discussions as to whether these animals were intended for wolves or lions, many inclining to the former opinion. Had those learned gentlemen combined a knowledge of zoology with their researches, they might have seen, that although the heads have been broken off, the feet, which are most exquisitely and accurately carved, are those of feline animals. The want of the mane, and the tuft at the end of the tail, leads us to look upon them as lionesses.* We climbed

Quere.- Had the Mesopotamian lion a mane like those we are now acquainted with! Ancient authors say not.



into the citadel, and read a lesson from the many beautiful specimens and orders of masonry that compose its honoured and time-worn walls, and then bent our steps to the tomb of its renowned founder-by some styled the treasury of Atreus.

This monument of the past is still in most perfect preservation. Externally it is covered with earth, and appears an immense conical mound, not unlike an ice-house; a long stone passage, open at top, leads to the huge Egyptian door-way; and here the attention of the visitor is attracted to the lintel, which is one of the largest stones I have ever seen in any country, being twenty-seven feet in length by sixteen in breadth, and four feet six inches deep. The architecture of the interior of this vast bee-hive dome, being already well known to the world, and having, in different places in this work, had occasion to point out the resemblance which it bears to some of the antique remains in our own country, particularly New Grange, the great pyramid of north-western Europe, I need not here describe it.*

From an examination of the vast plain of Argos, and a review of its geological character, I am strongly inclined to believe that, at some very remote period, the sea covered all that level surface now lying between it and the mountains—more particularly as the lower stratum of this circular range of hills is composed of a close compact conglomerate, precisely similar (though from its age more compact) to that at Rhodes, and along the coast of Asia Minor ; like them, the beach, which in all probability this once formed, may have become consolidated. A good sample of these rocks is to be seen in the stones of which the tomb of Agamemnon is built.

Having regained our carriage, we spent an hour or two in Argos. The modern town is but a poor straggling place; the houses being low, mean looking, and detached. It is situated at the foot of the Acropolis, and is far inferior to Nauplia. The only antiquity of any value now remaining is the theatre, which, like that at Telmessus, is formed out of the hollow side of the mountain, facing the sea; and like it, the prospect it commands is most

* See « The Celtic Druids,” by Godfrey Higgins, page 226.



striking in scenic effect, having stretched before it this noble arm of the Ægean, with its distant islands—the fortress of Napoli—the terraced mountains, and the verdant carpet of the luxuriant plain. An idea of the vastness of this theatre may be conceived from its dimensions. There are three tiers of seats, and each seat is twenty-nine inches broad, and thirteen high; there are thirty-six seats in the first tier, with a division, four feet nine inches in length and two feet in height, between it and the next tier, which contains sixteen seats, with a division of eight feet nine inches and a rise of four feet—from this to the top there are nineteen seats. There is a part of one of the wings or side scenes standing; but, from the bricks used in its construction, and the apparent newness of the work, I should consider it of a more modern date than the rest of the theatre-probably, it may have been built in Roman times. In the immediate vicinity of these remains is shown a cavern, which Dr. Clarke conjectured to be a soothsayer's cave. This seems doubtful—the niches cut in it for votive offerings give it more the appearance of some rude and early temple. On our return to the yacht, we encountered a sirocco, which was exceedingly oppressive, and raised the mercury to 72°.

Here one of our companions, Mr. W. Meiklam, left us to proceed to Constantinople ; and our kind friend and guide, Mr. Finlay, returned to Athens.

April 21, we hove anchor and stood out into the gulf, passing the town and island of Spezzia ; and on the 23rd rounded the Capes of St. Angelo and Matapan. A few days more brought us to Malta ; when, having received our letters, and taken in provisions and water, we sailed for Gibraltar on the 1st of May; but, from alternate calms and head winds, we did not reach it till the 17th. Our voyage, however, was not without interest; at one time we were becalmed, and employed in turtle-catching on the coast of Africa, * where we lay for several days; at another, we were running along the Sicilian coast, gazing on the snowy top of

While in this latitude a pilot-fish made its appearance, and kept a-head of us for several days, sometimes remaining for hours beneath our cutwater, then shooting off in playful gambols to either side: rising to the surface to display the beauty of its azure bands in the sunshine, then dart

« הקודםהמשך »