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White-kilted Suliot, gay and gilded Greek,
Grave, turbaned Turk, and Moor of swarthy cheek.
We cannot throw off the influence of Malta so readily. We saw so much at the famous refuge of the Knights, so much illustrative of the early struggles of the Crusaders to regain and to keep Palestine, so much illustrative of the exterminating wars between the Knights of St. John and the Templars, as well as between Christian and Turk, that it would take a long croll to write it.
This isle of Malta seems to be well governed by the British, but it is a nest of beggary. Such a group of beggars never beset poor humanity, as clung to us when we emerged from our hotel. I had to beat them off with my Vesuvius club, so impudently daring were they to our ladies as well as to ourselves. Before we left Malta harbor, a band of four fiddlers, smoking cigars, twanged all around our boat for coppers. Although the mate gave them a few splashes with the wheel occasionally to keep them off, and although his "Sacr-r-r-es" rolled deep and long, still they rowed and fiddled, and fiddled and rowed, until our noble steamer drowned their harmony in its noise, as it moved out amid the eight forts of this invincible harbor. The involutions of these stony fabrics are wondrous. They were framed by the Grand Masters, one after the other, each trying to excel his predecessor, in giving strength to this last resort of chivalry against the Moslem foe. The open sea is angry and rough. Ten ships float in the offing, looking spectral and shadowy against the evening sky. They form the English fleet, which is hourly expected at Malta.
The pitching of the vessel admonishes me to cease recording, and to retire-below.
Farewell to Malta! Athens-ATHENS-the home of the spiritually Beautiful is our promise, and thitherward we shall be wending, even though unconscious, in sleep.
HE heart throbbed wildly as the vessel approached the shores Far different is its throbbing from that caused by the distant view of Rome. One was the citadel of power, physical and temporal, even in its grandest exhibition. The other is the citadel of power, intellectual and immortal. The shores of Greece as they frown upon the sea, are instinct with a genius which men will ever venerate. The general aspect of the shores of Attica is that of extreme barrenness and asperity, unrelieved by a single tree, and rarely by a shrub. There are no level lawns or beautiful groves, with which poetry would invest the land of Homer and Plato. Cicero said truly of yon island far to our northward, and of its ruler Ulysses, that he loved Ithaca "non quia larga, sed quia sua." He might have extended the generalization so as to have included every Grecian; and have added, "they loved not their country because it had any attractive scenery, but simply because it was Greece." What Homer in his Odyssey says of Ithaca, may be truly said of all the Grecian coast. It is horrid with cliffs, with little or no herbage, allowing scarcely a mouthful to the mountain goat.
Greece is almost sea-surrounded. Morea to the main land. so great? Why do we gaze with such earnestness upon yon little neck of rocky earth between Mount Cithaeron and Cape Sunium? Why do we wander with rapture under the plane-trees, where Plato taught, or lean entranced against the Pentelic pillars of the Parthenon? Why do we listen to the subtleties of Zeno from the portico? What surrounds each statue with an auriole of light; what covers each mountain with a glory like a God? Why do nations meet here to mourn over ruins, and grow eloquent over dust? Why are millions spent here in excavating the works of the dead past? Why has an archæological society exhumed the fragmentary pillars of the temples of old? Greece was the thinking head and beating heart of the world; the first and brightest link in the genealogy of genius. The human mind here received its first great impulse, and it has ever since measured its advancement by the influence of literary men deeply read in the lore of Greece. The influence of letters over every other influence, is attested by every page of the world's annals; but the annals of Greece are a complete unity of evidence, every line of which is instinct with a salutary influence.
A small isthmus attaches
How could such a barren soil become
Can we help wondering that such a barren soil should have been so productive of great thoughts? Let it be remembered that the very difficulty to be contended with, "like a skilful wrestler, strengthened the nerves," and made the Spartans and Athenians, what they will ever remain, the soul of Antiquity.
We passed, at evening, the famous island of Cytheria, now called Cerigo. Dark clouds, with long fringes, floated gracefully over Sparta. The hills are dark, and not ungracefully pencilled against the western sky, which glows in gold, here and there dimmed by wavy cloudlets. The purple light plays upon the foam of our gallant ship. How does the spirit recur to the past, and with that active race who lived upon yon shore, people the sky and earth and sea, with shapes of dreamlike beauty and austere dignity! Even there upon that bleak island, which is
now used as the Botany Bay of Ionia, it is fabled that the beautiful goddess of love had her favorite resort. There where Helen, the " source of all the woe of Troy," was born, the genius of Greece imagined it saw the winged messengers of the goddess float in the purple light of love; and here, amidst this cerulean sea, it saw the goddess herself arise-the conqueror of conquerors the charm of Mars and the companion of Jove!
As night closes over the land of Lycurgus, it seems to lie solemn and severe in thoughtfulness. No gayety or delight, such as hovered around Naples, is present to break the spell. With what longing does the mind once accustomed to ponder the thoughts that breathed and burned in the classic pages of Eschylus and Thucydides-linger about those silent hills-the home of song and philosophy.
Saturday morning found us at the Pireus. Its houses looked low and quite oriental. The stone as well as the sandy soil, was white and dazzling-the roofs are red. The most picturesque part of the view is the people in their peculiar costume. We had a fine chance to study them. They thronged about our boat, before it had fairly stopped, in their little boats, eager for the drachmas. Dressed in their long red caps, with long purple tassels; a finely-wrought waistcoat, of red or blue, very dark, over a white boddice; and a flowing skirt around the body, snow-white and sashed; together with elegant, tasselled leggings; they formed a sculpturesque and picturesque group! Some of the meaner kind were dressed in big baggy pants, which draggled in the dirt, and looked any thing but classical.
A great contest was approaching, or was going on, as to who should be No. 1, in the forthcoming spoil of passengers. All were huddled around our gangway, when splash! went the wheel of the steamboat; and away went wet trowsers, and at high tide, darted all the boats into the bay. Then came the tug of Greek with Greek, to get to the place of fortune again. A second splash! At last, an old Frenchman, with Madame and child, descend for a boat. A rush of boats takes place, and
there follows a scene so novel in boating, to an American, that we transcribe it as a specimen of the manners of the descendants of Epaminondas and Pericles. Boat No. 1 catches Madame as she descends,—the picture of the "unprotected female" in Punch. While politely seating her, No. 2 seizes the old man, and drags him into his boat-he just escaping a cold bath. No. 1 runs up for the baggage, which Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 have seized, amidst terrific jabberings; and which they seem determined to divide piecemeal. Madame discovers her isolated state, and reaching out her arms frantically, screams," Papa !" Papa!" as no one but a Frenchwoman can. The young scion adds his treble. The guns from the Greek man-of-war thundering a reception to the French admiral, who had just left the other side of our boat for his ship, join the chorus. Amid this noise and the smoke, the din of Grecian conflict continues. No. 2 quickly joins his boat, and Madame and child tumble over into it. No. 1 returns to find his prey minus, discovers the triumph of No. 2, and makes a lurch at him for the robbery. They clinch, and over they roll, perfectly unconscious of the fickle elements below; still, they somehow manage to keep in the boats. No. 3 rushes to the rescue; knocks off Madame's hat; while the disapproving scion pummels him with his little fists. Madame screams. Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, &c., rush to the meleé, with oars, boat-hooks, and boots in air. The Laocoon was never so involuted as the twisting folds of these lithe Grecians. All is confusion. We stand above, laughing at the singular scene, while its objects, the passengers, crawl off into boat No. 9, and escape to the shore. Our officers are kicking at the heads of the Grecians as they approach within range. At last, our mate suggests the old expedient, and buckets of cold water are plenteously rained in upon the fighting mass. The Greek man-of-war sends a boat of sailors to aid the hydropathic expedient; and in peace we are permitted to land upon the shores of Greece.
These Greeks bear the reputation of lying, cheating rascals