From The Cornhill Magazine. the suppressed importance of their coun

try. But the Greeks, and the inbabitaots

of Corfu more especially, make little or The facilities for inland travelling in no effort to maintain even the material modern Greece are not great, nor is the advantages that have been bequeathed aim of the explorer rendered easier by them. Nothing could well have been prompt and easy access to such informa. more costly than the barracks England tion as is to be had concerning routes, erected at Corfu while the Ionian Islands methods, and safety of communication. yet belonged to us; and the solid walls At Athens, the necessary instruction is, and almost cyclopean masonry of the after a little trouble, to be picked up; but forts still remain. But what in them, and it is not everybody who approaches Greece about them, can go to wreck and ruin, from its capital. My object_was to pass are gradually tending to that consummaleisurely from Corfu to the Ægean by the tion. Not a shilling is spent to preserve Isthmus of Corinth, balting on the way buildings upon which untold sums were to visit some, at least, of the memorable originally lavished. The barracks were places that lie to right and left of that crammed with troops, for the controversy famous track. One of the sacred spots I was still going on concerning the Grecoaspired to scan was Delphi, the cradle of Turkish frontier; and the dirt and neglect Hellenic civilization, though now a mere that surrounded and stamped the place magni nominis umbra. All, however, I are indescribable. The magnificent roads could ascertain, after the most diligent made during our occupation are left to inquiry at Corfu, was that I must post. the untender mercies of time and the pone the gratification of my curiosity till seasons; and in driving from Corfu to I reached Patras. There, doubtless, I Paleocastrizza, a distance of some sixshould learn how best to wend my way to teen miles, the journey is considerably the Castalian Fountain and the ancient lengthened by the necessity to which by haunt of vanished oracles.

no means fastidious drivers must defer of But though it is not possible in the steering perpetually from one side of the chief of the Ionian Islands to ascertain road to the other, in order to avoid the anything whatever concerning the roads, ruts, holes, and pitfalls with which a once conveyances, and security of the Grecian splendid highway is now seamed. Even mainland, no one can help feeling that as it was, my companion and I had to put Corfu is thoroughly Hellenic, in the mod. up with a considerable amount of jolting; ern sense of that word. The Greek of so that, in spite of the hoary olive-woods, to-day, as far as I have observed him, is carpeted with wild flowers, through which an inferior Italian — with inferior tradi- the road for the most part passes, it was tions, inferior aspirations, and inferior with some satisfaction we descried the character, yet recalling in his tastes, hab. convent.crowned crag of Paleocastrizza its, and manners the people of Magna soaring into the blue air from the blue Græcia. Save for the picturesque dresses sea, only another half hour in front of of the fellows from the opposite Albanian us. In a little land-locked bay at the foot coast, you might fancy that Corfu was one of the hill, sitting on the myrtle and are of the small seaboard cities of the “Reg. butus that grow stuntedly out of the very no.” One observes the same familiar shingle, we ate our bread, figs, and or. talent for doing nothing inoffensively; anges, and concurred in believing that the same remarkable capacity for making here it was Nausicaa received Ulysses, a cup of coffee or a tumbler of lemonade, after washing the garments destined for supplemented by a small newspaper, con- her nuptials, and conducted him to the sisting mostly of advertisements, serve court of Alcinous. Here, too, we confor the occupation of a couple of hours; vinced ourselyes, all difficulties and authe same eager facility for talking about thorities to the contrary notwithstanding, nothing at all, and consuming as much the Phæacian galley which conveyed tobacco as a reasonable economy will Ulysses to Ithaca was on its return permit. Outside the town of Corfu you changed to stone, as described in the find yourself in a very inferior Italy in- thirteenth book of the Odyssey, by the deed; for the Italians are genuinely proud vengeance of Neptune, just as it was en: of their recovered greatness and acquired tering the port. If any one doubts it, let liberty, and have borne without a murmur him go to Paleocastrizza. There, sitting heavier_taxation than is inflicted on any where we sat, he will see a rock as strong. other European people, in order to far ly resembling a petrified galley as either figura, to cut a figure commensurate with nature or art could inake it. Let him also ascend to the convent, and learn how dull, ness to the shore. My companion, with ignorant, and abject, piety can become in our effects, was to make for the Hôtel de unworthy hands. I never visited an Ital- la Grande-Bretagne as best he could, and ian monastery, no matter how poor or I was to go straight to a certain consul, how remote, without finding abundant and learn from him, if still out of bed, intelligence and sympathy, if of a singu- | how to get to Delphi. lar kind. But the sea-gulls lazily flapping

Once face to face with this worthy perover the Adriatic seemed more human son, all my schemes for performing the than the two tonsured custodians of the journey were dissipated. There was no convent of Paleocastrizza.

earthly means of getting from Patras to On the following evening, an hour be. Scala unless one took one's chance of fore sunset, we were on board the Aus- tossing about several days in the gulf in a trian steamer, that was to convey us to sailing boat. The winds, the currents, all the Gulf of Corinth. No one had been were declared to be incalculable. I inable to say when it would start, and in all quired if there was not a little steam-tug such matters you must take your chance of some kind. Yes, there was, but it did when you sail in Grecian seas. Once not carry more coal than would take it fairly started, however, one is amply re. across the gulf, and how was it to get back warded for past uncertainty and confu- again ? Suddenly this question was put sion. No indolence of man can alter the to me, “But why did you not go on by highway of the sea. Its ruts are of its the steamer you came by? It does not own making, and these it speedily repairs. touch at Scala in going up the gulf, but it It happened to be smoother on this occa- does in coming down, and you would thus sion than macadam or asphalte, and in be at Salona shortly after noon to-morthe color of the dying day the Albanian row." coast stood out, transfigured. “Suli's Matters would have been greatly simrock and Parga's shore” were within hail, plified bad I been vouchsafed this inforwhile on the right towered the mountains mation at Corfu. We should not have of the island of Santa Maura, better quitted the steamer, and should willingly known to the stranger as Leucadia. bave resigned ourselves to another night Shortly, all these, and more, were wrapped on board to achieve our object. Had the in night. But morning brought kindred steamer already left Patras ? For it was sights, and long before we anchored off only to touch there, and then proceed on Zante we could scent the flowers for its journey, and of that we must take our which the island "Zante, Zante, Fior di chance. It was night, and pitch dark; Levante,” is celebrated. For less than a and there were no signals in the harbor to shilling I bought a huge bouquet of the tell us whether the boat had gone or not. rarest flowers, for which in Covent Gar- I rushed off to the hotel as fast as illden one would have had to disburse three paved streets would let me, to find my guineas, to find half an hour later that travelling companion comfortably en. iny travelling companion had got one still sconced in bed. I hurriedly explained larger and still more beautiful for six. the situation, and that if we did not suc. pence. It was well on into the afternoon ceed in getting aboard again before the before we lifted anchor, drawing ever steamer had started we should have to nearer to Ithaca, and seeming to pass wait another week before we could make among almost as many islands as form the for the abode of the Muses. A hand-bar. Cyclades. Long before we approached row for the reconveyance of our luggage Nesolonghi darkness again had descend. was with difficulty obtained, and away we ed. We could descry it only by its lights, went stumbling through the dark streets and it was evident that it would be late of Patras down to the equally dark quay. before we reached Patras, where we pro

" Had the boat gone ? “ No;” and posed to disembark and pass the night. away we were pulled through the still Our notion was that we should be able to water by four urchins, who at once began get across from Patras to the Scala of quarrelling about the division of the spoil Salona somehow or other; and once at we had promised them in case we were Salona, Delphi would be accessible. We not too late. Presently we saw something knew that our steamer did not stop at black and big loom out of the water, and Scala, but from Patras made for the head then we knew it was all right. It was all of the gulf. So, as soon as Patras was right, however, only in one sense. Our reached, we dropped down with our bag. berths had gone, and it was plain we gage, amid a clamor of boatmen, strongly should have to spend the night on deck. recalling Naples, and were rowed in dark. In ordinary times this is no great hard

[ocr errors]

ship in such a climate as that of Greece, smoking them, be talked to his rough even at the end of March; but the vessel competent little horses, but never handled was crowded with Albanian volunteers, the whip or the reins. Amid clouds of and as soon as steam was up they poured dust all roads in Greece are dusty into the fore part of the vessel with their the animals galloped along at about fourbeds, their rugs, and their malodorous teen miles an hour, twisting from side to selves, and made night hideous with un- side of the road, and only kept from leave savory snoring.

ing it by the charm that lurked in the It is not every night, however, that is mystic objurgations addressed to them at spent under the consciousness that with critical nioments by our Hellenic Jebu. dawn the summits of Helicon and Par. Shortly before we reached Amphissa we nassus will tower into view on one side, were overtaken by another vehicle of exand Acro-Corinth will soar into the air on actly the same pattern, and urged along the other; and that all around will be in precisely the same manner, and by mountains and shores still peopled with dint of similar incantations. Then a reg. the prehistoric fables and the human his. ular chariot race began, as to which should tory of a people who have left behind enter Amplissa first; and between rows them a matchless mass of myths and so- of olives we raised Olympian dust with cial records. We may soon expect to see axles that must indeed have glowed. We the Isthmus of Corinth disappear, and won by about two lengths, drawing up steamers will then proceed straight up the before a khan that scarcely boded either Gulf of Corinth to Athens. At present a warm welcome or goodly cheer. We they are brought up short at Lutràki; had fortified ourselves with a letter to a passengers and goods are conveyed across shopkeeper in the place, whom we found the neck of land in omnibuses and wag. doling out an intinitesimal quantity of ons to Kalamaki, and there they are put sugar to a barefooted, bareheaded maiden, upon another steamer and conveyed in a bis only customer. He seemed delighted few hours through the Gulf of Salanis to to have an excuse for leaving his store Athens. There is nothing, therefore, to and accompanying us back to the khan. detain the steamers that traffic in the Co-As, however, he spoke no known language rinthian Gulf long at Lutrà ki; and, intend. but his own, and as I found that what ing as we did to visit Corinth later, we there lingers with me of the Homeric were glad to be again descending the gulf speech of my schooldays is scant, and on our way to the Scala of Salona. was utterly unintelligible, we wandered

A big name, particularly in Greece, about in search of a pundit who the often does duty for a very small thing; worthy grocer and haberdasher had made and Scala is the “port” of Salona, the us understand could talk Italian. In the ancient Amphissa. 'Scala consists of a course of the search we made acquaintkhan, a few houses, many boatmen, and ance with several citizens of the place, half a dozen vehicles. One of these last dressed in the picturesque Albanian coswe engaged to take us to Salona, or, as I tume, who all offered us coffee and gum will call it, Amphissa, a distance of about arabic sweetened with honey. The disten miles. This journey we were assured covery of the interpreter seemed a matter we must make if we wanted to visit Del. of utter indifference as compared with phi; for at Amphissa, and from Am. this hospitable ceremonial. At last the phissa alone, was there a good road linguistic go-between was unearthed, and thither, and at Amphissa we should pro- then we were able to make known our cure horses or mules for the expedition. wishes to visit Delphi, alias Castrì, the The information was utterly incorrect; name by which it is now known to the for there is a road from Scala to Delphi natives of Greece. A bargain was soon by Chryso, though from Chryso to Del- struck, and two horses, with two guides, phi it is only a mule-track, and it was un. were to be outside the khan at six o'clock necessary to go to Amphissa at all. The the following morning. mistake, however, was immaterial, and, Partly, no doubt, from a genuine wish indeed, perhaps a fortunate one, for Am- to be polite and good-natured, but partly phissa is worth a visit. Such madcap also from a deep-seated craving for driving as our charioteer indulged in from human society, no matter how unenter. Scala to Amphissa I never elsewhere ex- taining, our newly made friends never perienced. Indeed, it cannot properly be deserted us for the rest of the day. Only designated driving at all. Sitting with one of them could really hold discourse his legs dangling over the side of the with us; but that seemed immaterial. A, and twisting cigarettes or Greek, like an Italian, cannot conceive

“ In all ques.

that any human being should wish to be but there is nothing to help the imaginaalone; and his notion of perforining the tion to confirm it in the barren, stony, all rites of hospitality is to give just as much but trackless mountain territory that sur. of his presence as possible. One would rounds the former haunt of Apollo. In gladly have exchanged this for some food going to Delphi, or, as I have said it is that could be eaten, or for some bed that called by the country folk, Castrì, we left could be slept upon. But there was Chryso below us, and so got nearer to the neither; and we managed as best we home of the eagles. It goes without saycould without them. Even had there ing that the ride abounded in charm been anything to lie down upon but floors the charm of solitude; wild flowers, of unutterable filth, and bundles of wrap: mountain outlines, blossoming scrub, and pers that seemed to have been huddled recurrent glimpses of the lake-like Gulf round the unwashed forms of many gen- of Corinth far below. But streams there erations of the descendants of the Loo are none, woods there are none, ruins crians, sleep would have been out of the there are none, roads there are none. It question. In Amphissa the day belongs is like riding through a primeval world, to the children; the night belongs to the where nothing has ever happened save dogs. Both are about equally noisy. All the periodical revolution of the unpeopled through the darkness the dogs, a huge, seasons. It is almost impossible to beshaggy breed, howled, bayed, and battled. lieve, and wholly impossible to picture to I doubt if any one could have turned on yourself, that you are journeying where bis pillow, supposing him to have poslonce tens of thousands of enthusiastic sessed such a thing, without arousing the and highly civilized pilgrims annually watchful ears and awakening the deep. journeyed to the seat of learning and relimouthed throats of that canine chorus. gion, the liome of poetry and prophecy, Amphissa was once a mighty town; it is the centre of wealth,, and nadow an unnoticeable village; all that is tional aspiration. Deiphi was the headleft of the greatness of old, mentioned by quarters of Apollo; and Apollo was, as Pausanias, being the ruins of the walls of Curtius says, the supreme Exegetes, the its Acropolis, and these had been so pulled ultimate source of legality. down and built up again for other pur- tions concerning the foundation of new poses, and again let go to ruin, that they sanctuaries, and the institution of the no longer possess any meaning or signifi- worship of gods, heroes, and the dead, he cance, beyond affording a fresh text for sate as the native maker of the law to all any one who wishes to preach upon the the world, on his throne in the centre of vanity of human life and the mutability the earth.” Once, and once only, we met of human greatness. The situation of some sheep, tended by a couple of shepAmphissa is still beautiful, and that is herd lads, with an earthenware vessel at all that can be said of it. The mountains their side. One of our guides, a young, are behind it, the Crissean plain and the good-looking chap, as lithe and supple as Gulf of Corinth below it; and its little a chamois, darted off at the top of his peddling trade is supported by the people speed, raised the vessel to his lips, and who till the olive-groves around it. drained deeply. Water is sadly scarce in

I should think the whole world presents Greece, and the very name of it inspirits do such contrast between past greatness the Greek peasant as the mention of beer and present nothingness as the site and or cider inspirits the English bucolic. So neighborhood of Delphi. The Chryso excited was be by lis pull at the cold thai has been spoken of is of course the water that he drew his pistol from his ancient Crisa, founded by the Cretans on girdle, cocked it, made believe to aim at an agreeable slope at the lower end of the an eagle that was flying overhead many gorge of the Pleistus; and Delphi orig. hundred yards beyond range, exclaimed inally was only a local Crissean sanctuary. “Turchia !”and made the mountains ring But when the Dorians settled at the foot with patriotic laughter. It was his way of Parnassus, Delphi was brought into of conveying to us that if Greece had to association with Tempe, and by degrees fight Turkey, Turkey would share the fate was placed under the protection of the of the eagle when brought within reach of Amphictyonic States, and became the the sportsman. sacred centre of the Hellenic world, being Probably so much power, temporal and withdrawn from the authority of its moth- spiritual, was never before or since coner city, though not without considerable centrated in one spot as once at Delphi. resistance on the part of Crisa. All this Here Apollo announced to man the niind one may read in many an erudite volume ; land dictates of Zeus. Even the Greek

[ocr errors]

calendar fell under the superintendence they got there. Round them are small, of Delphi. It was under the sanction of primitive dwellings, tenanted by a simple Delphi that the Olympian festivals were and unlettered people. Nor are there established. It was Delphi that taught many of these. The place scarcely de. the great Hellenic doctrine of harmonious serves the name of a village. We had development. “Know thyself” and fortified ourselves with line from our “ Moderation in all things were two of friend the grocer and haberdasher at the inscriptions to be read over the porch Amphissa to the head man of the place. of the temple. Though Apollo came to There was no difficulty in finding bim. Delphi through trackless forests, it was He was a splendid fellow to look at, siximperative that roads not only secure but foot two in his buskins, with a head like commodious should lead to his sanctuary: St. Luke, a magnificent model for any one Hence the very width of the road to Del in search of the picturesque. His general phi acquired sacred significance, and its appearance was savage enough, but bis gauge of five feet four inches prevailed eyes had an unusual mildness in them: throughout the greater part of Greece. and after reading the letter, he was eviThus Delphi, both directly and indirectly, dently disposed to do anything he could helped to maintain the sentiment of com- for us. But again the difficulty of oral mon nationality, to regulate religious wor. communication arose. Again, however, ship, to determine chronology, to deepen it was settled by the appearance of a the moral consciousness of the people, to peasant who had been a sailor, who had advance colonization, and to spread a command of perhaps fifty Italian words, many-sided culture. Its influence upon most of them pertinent to common conart was equally strong. The Temple of versation. Every male denizen of the Apollo was the germ of the noblest archi- place mustered round us as soon as they tecture of Greece; and thence music and perceived that we were under the protece poetry drew their inost powerful inspira- tion of the head man of Castrì; and we tion, just as at the same time it remained were favored with their society for the a great political centre for the entire Hel- rest of our visit. They were keenly anxo lenic world. But it was its political charious to know how much territory Greece acter that concealed the seeds of its ruin. was to get from Turkey, and with the aid The time came when, by reason of the of a small map we were able to enlighten fratricidal struggle between the States of them. They understood all about the Greece, and mainly between Athens and value of Epirus and the worth of Janina, Sparta, Delphi had to take a side. For a and shook their heads gloomily when we season it strove craftily to hold the bal. said that all present hope of obtaining ance between the two; but when that the latter must be abandoned. In the operation became impossible, its influence War of Independence Castrì was attacked declined, and its authority as a central and plundered by the Turks, and the liorumpire necessarily disappeared. Even rible traditions of the time still flourish by the time of the great Persian War it among its dwellers. had fallen into discredit. Its oracles had In order to give any lengthened de. proved cowardly and irresolute, and strove scription of Delphi, as Delphi, or Castri, to keep back some of the Amphictyonic is now, one would have to indulge in States from patriotic action. At last its some romancing. There is nothing to original aim and purport vanished, and, describe. Mountains, wild flowers, and in Hagrant violation of its fundamental silence — that is all. Our hosts — for law and meaning, sanguinary victories such they evidently considered themselves won by Hellenes over Hellenes were com- to be – trooped after us towards the memorated by tablets at Delphi.

Castalian Fountain, where their wives The village or hamlet of Castrì occupies and daughters were washing the family the site of ancient Delphi. Some few linen. Their kirtles were tucked up, and excavations have been made by German it is needless to say that the young and enthusiasts; some small sections of fallen pretty members of this classical laundry columns have been set on end; a narrow let out a reef or two as we approached, strip of marble pavement has been cleared while the old crones thought that operaof superincumbent rubbish, and on one tion superfluous. The Pythia bathes in side of the excavation Greek inscriptions the fountain and sits on her tripod no have been let into the earthen wall. They more. The oracles are dumb. We drank all seem utterly out of place; and despite of the sacred water above where it was the fact of remembering where one is muddied by the industrious vestals of tostanding, one cannot help wondering how | day, and chewed some of its cresses.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »