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'TWIXT GREEK AND TURK.
CHAPTER I. .
FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA.
It was in September last that I determined to carry into immediate execution my intention of visiting Thessaly, Macedonia, and Epirus. The first step to this end was naturally to obtain the permission of the Turkish authorities to travel in those provinces of the empire. And there my difficulties began. The naval demonstration was at its height, and the official world of Stamboul proportionately exasperated against foreigners in general, and Englishmen in particular, who were held to be singly and collectively responsible for this peculiar outcome of Mr Gladstone's Turcophobia. In vain I petitioned for a bouyourouldu or passport—in vain I ante-chambered day after day in the crowded offices of the Sublime Porte, cheek-by-jowl with destitute widows and orphans of soldiers fallen in the late war for their Padishah, irate contractors soured by long-deferred payments, and all the host of beggars, creditors, and sycophants who every day hover with oriental patience about the tortuous corridors and gloomy chambers of the tumble-down building where the affairs of State have for so many centuries been managed or mismanaged. The bouyourouldu was not forthcoming. Excuses were, however, as plentiful as flies in June. Brigandage was rampant in those provinces, and the Turkish Government could not allow travellers to expose themselves to dangers such as Colonel Synge had but recently experienced, and from which he had been rescued only with difficulty and at great public loss. Moreover, the popular feeling in Thessaly and Epirus had been seriously excited by the recent action of the Powers, and a foreigner might find himself exposed to unpleasantnesses from which the local authorities
could scarcely protect him. It was evident that the Porte did not wish to have busybodies roaming about the provinces and spying out the nakedness of the land. But unfortunately, I have ever been inclined to consult my own inclinations rather than my neighbours', and I certainly had no intention of deferring my plans to the convenience of the Sublime Porte. So I resolved to do without the vizierial bouyourouldu ; and having equipped myself in the lightest marching order, and being provided with a few letters of introduction to local magnates, and to one of the commanding officers in Thessaly, I embarked on the 18th of September on board the Austrian steamer Apis for Volo, trusting to my own diplomacy and the chapter of accidents to enable me to develop my programme with better success at Larissa.
It takes as long to get from Constantinople to Larissa as to London. The Austrian Lloyd's and the French Fraissinet are the only two lines which connect the capital with the province of
Thessaly; and their steamers spend six days, not altogether unpleasantly, in wending their way round the coasts of the Ægean to the Gulf of
Volo. The first morning after we lost sight of Seraglio Point, with its forest of cypress-trees and minarets, we halted at the Dardanelles, where General Blum's formidable new earthworks have usurped the name and function of Sultan Amurath's picturesque old fortress, the Key of the Seas. From the mouth of the Straits our course lay northwards between the mainland and the rugged islands of Imbros and of Samothraki. Here Neptune was wont of old to sit on the summit of Mount Saos, and survey the plain of Troy and the fleet of the Argives ; and here the old sea-god doubtless woke up of late years to watch Britannia rule the waves in Besika Bay. All along the northern shores of the Ægean from Dédéagatch to Cavalla, between the sea and the wild mountain - range of the Rhodope, there stretches one of the richest tracts of land in European Turkey—the land of Yenidjé tobacco, for the choice crops of which there is every year the same keen competition in the market as for the grands crús of Margaux and of Yquem. Both at Dédéagatch and Port Lagos we stop some hours to take in our fragrant cargo. But neither at the one nor at
the other is any trace of the natural wealth of the district to be seen in the miserable, feverstricken towns. A few warehouses and merchants' dwellings along the shore, with rows of squalid hovels, alone mark those geographical expressions which recent history has made famous by the disastrous winter retreat of Suleiman Pasha's army from Adrianople across the Rhodope. Cavalla alone escapes the curse of the malaria which infests these fertile plains ; for it lies at the western limit of this tobacco region, where an abrupt spur of the Rhodope projects into the sea : a smart, clean little town, built up against the side of a precipitous rockwhite houses interspersed with the dark-green of myrtle and orange groves, and the domes and minarets of churches and mosques rising in terraces above the sheer sea-cliff, under the shadow of a picturesque old fortress, which is certainly more adapted nowadays for ornament than for use : a wealthy town withal, where Greek traders and Turkish landowners reside in that good-fellowship which is the usual outcome of common interests and mutual usefulness, undisturbed by political intrigues and official soli