Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

The whole of this defile is minutely and luminously described, with constant and most gratifying references of identification to the particulars of its ever memorable history; and with intermingled expressions of emotion and enthusiasm in which it will be admitted on all hands it is hardly possible to be extravagant. No other instance probably, within the compass of pagan history, combines so illustrious a fact with such precisely ascertainable localities. From our author's observations it would seem that, besides the necessary general certainty of the ground in the unchangeable narrow track in a very strait rocky defile, there are several points where some of the circumstances of the history can be connected with the spot to a rood, to a foot.

The physical character of the place, within the pass and about its outlet, is described as in the highest degree loathsome and noxious.

“We looked back towards the passage with regret, marvelling, at the same time, that we should quit with reluctance a place which, without the interest thrown over it by ancient history, would be one of the most disagreeable on earth. Unwholesome air, mephitic exhalations bursting through the rifted and rotten surface of a corrupted soil, as if all the land around were diseased; a filthy and fetid quagmire; “ a heaven fat with fogs;" stagnant but reeking pools; hot and sulphureous springs; in short, such a scene of morbid nature, as suggested to the fertile imagination of ancient poets, their ideas of a land poisoned by the “ blood of Nes848," and that calls to mind their descriptions of Tartarus; can only become delightful from the most powerful circumstances of association.'

It may be gratifying to some better principle than pride, that the mind is thus capable of feeling from a kind of moral character ideally left upon a place by a transaction of a few hours duration several thousands of years since, an impression so powerfully delightful as to set at nought and repel the force of such an assault, from real and immediate objects, on the physical part of the sentient nature. After any scene of less concentrated moral power and heroic association, it would have been ter of no ordinary interest to traverse the plain of Pharsalia, where a large sepulchral tumulus was reasonably assumed by our author, to be an indication of the exact field of another mortal strife between despotism and liberty, though with a far less simplicity of principle on the part of the champion of the better cause.

Thessaly is denominated by Dr. C. the Yorkshire of ancient Greece,' in allusion to the current pleasantries on the honesty of the people of that county: the ancient Thessalians were the subjects of similar compliments; and the country has pot forfeited,' says our author, its archaic character. The

people, however, might have the conscience to varnish their knavery towards strangers with a little complaisance, and decency of accommodation; whereas, there is not a dog-kennel in England, says Dr. C., where a traveller might not lodge more commodiously than in one of their khans; and the caravanserais are yet worse.' He cannot however much mend himself in the other parts of the Turkish empire; for the generality of its places of shelter and refreshment are fairly and even favourably represented by the alluring picture of the hotel at Pharsalus. Receptacles considerably less tolerable awaited our adventurer, at some later stages.

• A dirty square room, the floor covered with dust, and full of holes for rats, without even a vestige of furniture, is all the traveller finds as the place of his repose. If unprovided, there is not the smallest chance of his getting any thing to eat, or even straw to lie upon. In such an apartment we were permitted to pass the night;--unable even to kindle a fire; for they brought us green wood, and we were almost suffocated with smoke;—not to mention the quantity of vermin with which such places always abound, and. the chance of plague infection from their filthy walls. This subject is merely touched upon, that persons who have not visited Turkey, may know what they ought to expect before they take a journey thither. Yet, even to all this, weariness, and watchfulness, and shivering cold, and other privations, will at last fully reconcile travellers, and make them long for such a housing. In these places there is no separation of company;-masters and servants, cattledrivers and guides, and every casual passenger of the road, lie down together.'

Occasions occurred in this and several other parts of the journey, for admiring the unmatchable speed, perseverance, and hardihood of the Tartar couriers, passing between Constantinople and the distant parts of the empire.

Larissa was found to be a rich town, full of ill-disposed people. From this place the route was through the Valley of Tempe, the minute and picturesque description of which is intermingled with historical references and philosophical conjecture; and illustrated with a fine view and a most beautiful topographical chart. There is a variety of curious information concerning the industrious and comparatively free inhabitants of the mountain village of Ampelakia, and their manufacture of red cotton thread, and concerning the vast quantity of the Verde-antico marble found there, an indication which Dr. C. combines with the other local circumstances, to identify an earlier and somewhat lower site of Ampelakia with the ancient Atrakia, celebrated for its inexhaustible quarries of this beautiful stone.

But the grand predominating feature and wonder of all this region, is Olympus, with its satellites, Ossa and Pelion. This

sublime chief of the mountains of Greece, and of Grecian poetry, had commanded the attention and the reverence of our classical traveller long and often before he reached its precincts, as it is seen from each of the more southern eminences; and it continued a splendid and imposing vision during many long stages of his recession towards the north. Its utmost magnificence is displayed to the spectator contemplating it from a small town in the narrow plain between it and the sea,

and upon the very roots of the mountain,

--whose summits tower above it in the highest degree of grandeur which it is possible to conceive. There is no place where the whole outline formed by the many tops of Olympus may be seen to so much advantage as from Katarina. Perhaps they were rendered more distinct in consequence of the snows whereby the mountain was at this time invested. It appeared like one vast glacier.'-But after having left this station behind, Dr. C. says, “We then beheld Olympus, not only in undiminished glory, but seeming of greater magnitude than ever, being without a cloud to obscure any part either of its summit or sides; all its vast masses and deep chasms being displayed, so that the eye might range from its broad base upwards to its craggy tops, now radiant with bright and shining light, reflected from accumulated snows, and contrasted with the dark shadows of its awful bosom. At about half an hour's distance, ascending a hill, we had another noble prospect, but in an opposite direction: it commanded the whole of the Thermæan gulf; mount Athos appearing plainly to the east.'

Information obtained of an accumulation of marble ruins at a place on the mountain, excited an earnest wish to go and examine it; but the petty Turkish tyrant, the agha of the district, positively refused permission, in consequence of believing that some former travelling Franks, (Dr. C. surmises that Mr. Tweddell must have been one of them,) had found some treasure among those ruins;—in resentment of which envied discovery and stealth he had ordered all the marbles that tools could master, among those ruins, to be knocked in pieces. And yet, even Dr. C. is among the most indignant of the remonstrants against the measure, with respect to another part of Greece, of removing some of the precious marble remains beyond the reach of such gentry as this agha!

On the plain surrounding the extremity of the gulf of Therma, our author recognised, in an immense tumulus, an everlasting memorial of the great battle of Pydna, by which Macedon was reduced to a Roman province. He takes this occasion to remark,

that there is not a part of Greece which has been rendered illustrious as the field of any memorable battle, but a tomb of this

description now remains, as a monument of the place where it was fought. This may be proved with reference to Marathon, Ther. mopyla, Platææ, Leuctra, Chæronéa, Pydna, and Pharsalia. The Macedonians and Greeks, after their battles with the Romans, or with each other, have always done this: but the same custom does not appear to have existed among the Romans in Italy, where there are no other tumuli than the barrows of the Celts, which are common to all Europe and Asia.'

Pydna was rendered notorious by ancient massacres, as well as memorable by the finer, nobler kind of thing denominated a battle; and the unsated spirit of the first born Cain,' has received here later libations of blood.

It was at Kitros (the village now on the site of the ancient town) and along the road to Salonica, that the French prisoners, when compelled by the Turks to march from the Morea to Constantinople, suffered every cruelty that the malice of their enemies could inflict. Many of them, after seeing their drooping companions put to death by their conductors, because they were unable, through sickness and fatigue, to continue the route, were constrained to carry the heads of their comrades in sacks, that an accurate return of the whole number might be made upon their arrival in the capital.'

At Salonica (Thessalonica) the plague was found ravaging with that license of power which the terrible destroyer enjoys throughout the Turkish empire; where, if it were absolutely worshipped as a deity, it might be alleged for the consistency of the people that their god would be worthy of their prophet. Dr. C.'s passion for antiquities led him to the extreme of al. lowable daring, in examining the ruins in the most infected part of the city. When about to leave Thessalonica, he indulged one more long and ardent gaze on the splendours of Olympus; and in the way of valedictory retrospect of Greece, he makes a rapid and eloquent enumeration of its most magnificent and enchanting scenes, in the geographical order of a vast imaginary picture; and concludes,

• Thus, though not in all the freshness of its living colours, yet in all its grandeur, doth Greece actually present itself to the mind's eye;--and may the impression never be removed! In the eve of bidding it farewell for ever, as the hope of visiting this delightful country constituted the earliest and the warmest wish of his youth, the author found it to be some alleviation of the regret excited by a consciousness of never returning, that he could thus summon to his recollection the scenes over which he had passed.' Vol. IV. p. 374.

We had flattered ourselves we should have the management to accomplish, within the space fairly allowed by the limits of our work, a duly proportioned brief survey of the whole of our traveller's track, quite to the end of the fourth volume. We have failed; and must here prematurely come to a conclusion. In passing over Egypt and Greece, imagination itself is baffled in any attempt at a rapid flight; it is fascinated and brought down to the ground, as birds are said to be by the bright eyes of some serpents; and then it is surrounded, enthralled, and be-mazed, by an infinity of spectres, returned, as from Tartarus and Elysium, to haunt every region, tract, and ruin. It is no easy matter to make an expeditious progress through such an empire of captivating associations, antique solemnities, mysteries, muses, and splendours of nature, with any guide; but the difficulty is considerably increased in the company of our author. We suffer a perpetual incubus; the potencies of the Chaldean are so strong upon him, that at will, or even involuntarily, he fixes us to stones, or in caves, or in tombs, or on mountain summits, at the mercy of endless companies and flights of ideal shapes.

We shall say, in a very few lines, that the journey was pursued to Constantinople, through very great dangers from the savage robbers and rebels of Thrace; that at Constantinople, an active inquisition was made after antiquities, and every thing else worth seeing and reporting; and that the very entertaining account of the Ottoman capital, is followed by the long journal of the truly grand tour through Bulgaria, Walachia, Transylvania, and Hungary, to Vienna, concluded by a slight notice, in a page or two, of the comparatively home excursion into France in the way to the English shore.

An extended and interesting portion of the volume is employed in describing the gold mines of Hungary; and every stage of the journey is enlivened with entertaining incidents, picturesque descriptions, or sensible or learned observations. We think the last volume the most interesting of the four. The plates, of this volume especially, are excellent; the greater number of them are by Letitia Byrne, and evince great and progressive attainments in the art.

If any distinct estimate were to be made of Dr. Clarke's style, it must be acknowledged to be considerably careless and incorrect in construction; and there is an excess, amounting te affectation, in the use of some antique modes of phrase.

« AnteriorContinuar »