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beneath glows the red-berried arbutus, and the myrtle creeps in less assuming loveliness to the shore. On the mountain sides are scattered numerous flourishing villages, whose inhabitants derive their subsistence from the product of the smiling landscape beneath them. Zante, though part of the empire of Ulysses, possesses scarcely one memorial of its ancient renown. The modern capital of the island is said to be the best town in the Ionian Republic. Situated in a kind of recess at the feet of some lofty hills which form its background, it stretches for nearly two miles round the margin of the bay; and with its houses of Italian architecture, and the glittering spires of its numerous churches, it displays a striking panorama to the spectator who views it from the sea. The streets are narrow, but their appearance is rendered lively by the activity which pervades them, and by the many shops, or rather bazaars which present themselves, adorned by the silks and other rich manufactures of Asia. The population of the town is estimated at 15,000, that of the whole island at 40,000. The staple productions of Zante are currants and oil, though the soil also yields corn, cotton, and flax.
About six miles distant from the northernmost point of Cephalonia, and separated from the coast of Acarnania by a channel not more than fifteen miles in breadth, lies the once far-famed Ithaca. Little else at its first appearance than a rugged line of lofty rocks, it presents, on more close inspection, numerous features which characterize it as the seat of the empire of Ulysses*. That this island is the scene of the Odyssey scarcely admits of doubt. To trace the many spots of interest in it, and to shew their exact correspondence with the descriptions of Homer, would far exceed our present limits. It is happy for the lover of antiquity that the poet did not confine himself to the observation of the changing works of art which the island presented to him (for we cannot but think that he must have seen that which he describes so accurately), but has recorded the beauties and peculiarities of its natural scenery, which change not with the changing world around them; and this too, in characters so striking, that it requires not the eye nor the enthusiasm of antiquarianism to identify his descriptions. As instances of the truth of the latter part of our remark we would produce the deep and spacious port †, the hill of Aito, the cave of Dexia §, and the precipice of Korax, with its fountain |, which latter is, to this day, the watering-place for cattle, and the resort of shepherds.
*The sway of Ulysses extended over Ithaca, Leucadia, Zacynthus, and part of Cephallenia.
§ Od. v. 96. sq.
Od. . 324.
Od. . 352.
Ithaca, which retains its ancient name *, is about seventeen miles in length, and of very irregular breadth, though in no part exceeding five miles. It is composed almost entirely of two masses of rock, Mounts Neritos and Stefano, connected by a third smaller one, called Mount Aetos, or Aito. Ithaca is rendered peculiar in its appearance, by the bay to which we have alluded, which runs inland, to such a depth, as almost to divide the island. The scenery is in general rugged, though occasionally rendered in a high degree picturesque, by the groves of olive which fringe the sides of the mountains, and by the evergreens and wild flowers which protrude themselves through their crevices. Vathi, or Bathi, the modern capital, is situated about two miles to the west of the supposed site of the old town, at the farther extremity of a deep inlet; it is in a great measure composed of a single street running along the shore, and contains about 2300 inhabitants. The population of the whole island is rated at 8000. The Ithacans are strongly addicted to maritime pursuits, and are daily extending the sphere of their commerce. The education of the upper ranks is better than that of most of the other islanders, and their manners, as a natural consequence, are more courteous and engaging.
To the north of Ithaca lies Santa Maura, the Leucadia of antiquity, of a figure somewhat triangular, measuring thirty miles from north to south, and about twelve from east to west, composed almost entirely of a continued mountainous chain of great height, running north and south, and which is broken on the north-west into almost perpendicular cliffs of the most dazzling whiteness; it is still frequently designated by its ancient name t. This chain, however, is traversed at several points by inferior ones, on whose sides are seen many populous villages, beautified by the presence of the vine, the olive, and the sweet-blushing almond, the smiling productions of a rugged mother. Though the present appearance of Leucadia is in many respects at variance with the accounts of ancient authors, yet no one, perhaps, of the seven islands, save Ithaca and Corcyra, possesses more interesting and less disputable memorials of its ancient greatness and importance. United originally to the continent, it was divided from it by an artificial channel, cut by the commercial and enterprising Corinthians‡. This channel, which in former times served, in all probability, as a passage for the vessels laden with the productions of the islands or the continent, or for many a
* The Vulgar call it Theaki.-Gell.
ὡς ἐντευθεν τοὔνομα· λαβεῖν.--STRAB. Χ.
gallant trireme whose purpose was less pacifie*, is now often so shallow, as to be useless for maritime purposes, and in many places is not more than one hundred yards across. The sites of the two ancient cities Leucate and Ellomenos have been discovered, though much of the ground which they occupied has become the territory of the olive. Many parts of the walls of Leucate have been traced with great precision; whilst several scattered blocks of marble and quadrangular masses of stone, remain as evidences of the havoc created by the Roman engines under Flaminiust. In the same neighbourhood a large cemetery has also been discovered, which was found to contain several pieces of bronze and articles of ancient pottery, with coins of different ages. A part of the island, and that not the least interesting, remains unaltered by the hand of time. We allude to the ancient Leucas, from which, as poets tell, the unhappy and devoted Sappho cast herself into the ocean which rolls below it, and extinguished at once her passion and her life. Love heard not her prayer-no wing was spread to break her fall, and vainly did she call on gentle gales to
The promontory of Leucas, or, as it is now called, Cape Ducato, is situated at the most southern point of the island. It is a rugged cliff, rising to the height of about 115 feet above the sea§. A few paces nearer its extreme point than the spot supposed to have been the scene of Sappho's leap, are to be seen some ruins which are conjectured to be those of Apollo's Temple; and this conjecture is strengthened by the late discovery of some broken walls which are supposed to be remains of the " parva urbs" of Virgil. The present population of the island is estimated at 22,000. The modern capital, distant about two miles from the seat of the ancient one, is called Amaxichi. Its situation is unhealthy, and the streets are narrow and ill built; they are, however, decorated by several gay shops, which are mostly kept by native Albanians. The revenue of the island arises from the olive, which is here very prolific, from grapes, and from the making of salt. There is scarcely any corn grown, and the deficiency of pasture is still greater than that of the arable land.
Liv. xxxiii. 17.
* Vide THUCYD. iv, 1.
OVID. Sapph. Phaon. v. 204 sq.
"The altitude of Leucas," says Dr. Holland, "is not great; sufficiently so, however, for the purpose to which the ancients put it." EN. III. 275, 276.
The scenery of Santa Maura is often highly striking and picturesque, while, from some of its more elevated points, the spectator is presented with views as magnificent as any on which the eye can rest. To the northward may be seen the whole land of Cephalonia; part of the rugged Ithaca; the romantic scenery of the Bay of Arta; and the "beaked" promontory of Actium: whilst, to the eastward, rise the snow-topped mountains of the ancient continent.
To the south of all the other islands, and at the very entrance of the Archipelago, lies Cerigo, formerly Cythera. Its natural history may be told in few words. Of an oval form, and measuring seventeen miles from north to south, and ten from east to west, it contains about 10,000 inhabitants. The climate is unhealthy, and the soil unproductive; hence, the natives have been led, necessarily, to maritime pursuits; for which the situation of their island, at the confluence of two seas, is admirably adapted. The manners of the people are of the same rough and uninviting nature with their soil; so that, from this cause, combined with the distance of the island from any of the others, their abode in Cerigo is not unreasonably esteemed a species of banishment by the British troops who are stationed there. Turning from Cerigo, as it now is, to the consideration of its past history, we are first met by the grateful illusions with which fable has clothed it; for it was to the shores of this island that Venus was wafted by the zephyrs, after she had arisen, in smiles and beauty, from the foam of Ocean; and here, in after times, a stately temple marked the devotion of the inhabitants, and the honour in which the goddess was held. Descending from the ages of fiction, we next find Cythera in the hands of the Lacedæmonians, with whom it remained till the eighth year of the Peloponnesian war; when Nicias, landing at the head of a body of Athenians, took the island, and, for some untold reason, put the Lacedæmonians, who had capitulated, to death. It afterwards fell, successively, under the power of the Egyptians and Romans, and was ultimately taken by Venice, from which period it followed the fate of the other islands.
MODERN FRENCH COMEDY AND ELEGY*.
IF there be any species of creative literature that could hope for a continued and living existence, it is comedy. Every other species, of poetry at least, if we except that of pure imagination, has a certain and definite stock of material which does not reproduce itself in proportion to its exhaustion. The domain of human passion is limited, and was never, perhaps, beyond the intellectual horizon of a man of feeling in any age. The period and experience of any one man's life is sufficient to represent and teach all its varieties, and two centuries of civilization could not pass without displaying it fully in all its shades and phases. Thus we find in the very earliest ages the great divisions of passion known, established, and even personified. No wonder then, that in a state of existence of some thousand years, any kind of passion has become rather a common-place theme. It may certainly be asserted in proof of the inexhaustibility, if we may be allowed the expression, of serious poetic feeling, that there never was an age in which poetry wore a more original aspect than at present. But this very original and sublime poetic feeling that marks the age, is by its nature the great proof of what we advance. It consists chiefly in a negation of all that ever went before it, in a bold heresy against the feelings and opinions of mankind. It is not a new land discovered, not a new piece added to the web of poetic feeling, but it is rather the old web reversed. It is the revulsion of genius back upon itself, after being repelled in its ambitious attempts to overleap established bounds. It was, perhaps, the sole resource left for a great poet, the sole principle of originality unoccupied; and as such, it is the copestone, the entablature of the poetic fabric, that precludes any further elevation,
In the progress of civilization the pure passions, which form the proper subjects of the epic and the tragic muse, become modified and frittered down to feelings and whims no longer worthy the name of passion; and thus modified, they become the proper subject of comedy. Society exhausts the stock of the tragic, whilst it hourly and abundantly multiplies that of the comic muse. Notwithstanding this, in all the countries of Europe, Spain perhaps excepted, the comic drama has been much less successful, much less perfectionnated than the tragic.
L'Ecole des Viellards, par M. Casimir Delavigne.