« AnteriorContinuar »
Then must I plunge again into the crowd,
Smiles form the channel of a future tear,
What is the worst of woes that wait on age ?
Since time hath reft whate'er my soul enjoy'd,
NOTES TO CANTO II.
Note 1. Stanza i.
- despite of war and wasting ArePart of the Acropolis was destroyed by the explosion of a magazine during the Venetian siege.
Note 2. Stanza i.
That thoughts of thee and thine on polish'd breasts bestow. We can all feel, or imagine, the regret with which the ruins of cities, once the capital of empires, are beheld ; the reflections suggested by such objects are too trite to require recapitulation. But never did the littleness of man, and the vanity of his very best virtues, of patriotism to exalt, aud of valour to defend his country, appear more conspicuous than in the record of what Athens was, and in the certainty of what she now is. This theatre of contention between mighty factious, of the struggles of orators, the exaltation and deposition of tyrants, the triomph and punishment of generals, is now become a scene of petty intrigue and perpetual disturbance, between the bickering agents of certain British nobility and gentry. “ The wild foxes, the owls, and serpents in the ruins of Babylon,” were surely less degrading than such inhabitants. The Turks have the plea of conquest for their tyranny, and the Greeks have only suffered the fortune of war, incidental to the bravest; but how are the mighty fallen, wben two painters contest the privilege of plundering the Parthenon, and triumph in turn according to the tenor of each succeeding firman! Sylla could but punish, Philip subdue, and Xerxes burn Athens ; bat it remained for the paltry antiquarian, and his despicable agents, to render her contemptiblo as himself and his pursuits.
The Parthenon, before its destruction in part, by fire, during the Venetian siege, had been a temple, a church, and a mosque. In each point of view it is an object of regard; it changed its worshippers ; but still it was a place of worship thrice sacred to devotion: its violation is a triple sacrilege. But
“ Man, vain man,
Note 3. Stanza v.
Far on the solitary shore he sleeps. It was not always the custom of the Greeks to burn their dead; the greater Ajax in particular was interred entire. Almost all the chiefs became gods after their decease; and he was indeed neglected who had not annual games near his tomb, or festivals in honour of his memory by his countrymen, as Achilles, Brasidas, &c., and at last even Antinoüs, whose death was as heroic as his life was infamous.
Note 4. Stanza x.
Here, son of Saturn ! was thy fav’rite throne. The temple of Jupiter Olympius, of which sixteen columns entirely of marble yet sarvive : originally there were 150. These columns er, are many supposed to have belonged to the Pantheon.
Note 5. Stanza xi.
And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine. The ship was wrecked in the Archipelago.
Note 6. Stanza xü.
To rive what Goth, and Turk, and time hath spared. At this moment (January 3, 1809), besides what has been already deposited in London, an Hydriot vessel is in the Piræus to receive every portable relic. Thus, as I heard a young Greek observe, in common with many of his countrymen - for, lost as they are, they yet feel on this occasion—thus may Lord Elgin boast of having ruined Athens. An Italian painter of the first eminence, named Lusieri, is the agent of devastation; and, like the Greek finder of Verres in Sicily, who followed the same profession, he has proved the able instrument of plunder. Between this artist and the French consul Fauvel, who wishes to rescue the remains for his own government, there is now a violent dispute concerning a car employed in their conveyance, the wheel of which–I wish they were both broken upon it, has been locked up by the consul, and Lusieri has laid his complaint before the Waywode. Lord Elgin has been extremely happy in his choice of Signor Lusieri. During a residence of ten years in Athens, he never had the curiosity to proceed as far as Sunium,* till he accompanied us in our second excursion. However, his works, as far as they go, are most beautiful: but they are almost all unfinished. While he and his patrons confine themselves to tasting medals, appreciating cameos, sketching columns, and cheapering gems, their little absurdities are as harmless as insect or fox-hunting, maiden-speechifying, barouche-driving, or any such pastime; but when they carry away three or four ship-loads of the most valuable and massy relics that time and barbarism have left to the most injured and most celebrated of cities; when they destroy, in a vain atteinpt to tear down, those works which have been the admiration of ages, I know vo motive which can excuse, no name which can designate, the perpetrators of this dastardly devastation. It was not the least of the crimes laid to the charge of Verres, that he had plundered Sicily in the manner since imitated at Athens. The most oublushing
pudence could hardly go farther than to affix the name of its plur rer to the walls of the Acropolis ; while the wanton and useless defacement of the whole range of the basso-relievos, in one compartment of the temple, will never permit that name to be pronounced, by an observer, without execration.
On this occasion I speak impartially : I am not a collector or admirer of collections, consequently no rival; but I have some early prepossessions in favour of Greece, and do not think the honour of England advanced by plunder, whether of India or Attica.
Now Cape Colonna. In all Attica, if we except Athens itself and Marathon, there is no scene more ir teresting than Cape Colonna. To the antiquary and artist sixteen columns are an inexhaustible source of observation and design; to the philosopher, the supposed scene of some of Plato's conversations will not be unwelcome; and the traveller will be struck with the beauty of the prospect over “ Isles that crown the Ægean deep;" but for an Englishma Colonna has yet additional interest, as the actual spot of Falconer's Shipwreck. Pallas and Plato are forgotten in the recollection of Falconer and Campbell:
“ Here in the dead of night, by Lonna's steep,
The seaman's cry was heard along the deep." This temple of Minerva may be seen at sea from a great distance. In two journeys which I made, and one voyage to Cape Colonna, the view from either side, by land, was less striking than the approach from the isles. In our second land excursion, we had a narrow escape from a party of Mainotes, concealed in the caverns beneath. We were told afterwards, by one of their prisoners subsequently ransomed, that they were deterred from attacking us by the appearance of my two Albanians : conjecturing very sagaciously, but faisely, that we had a complete guard of those Arnaouts at band, they remained stationary, and thus saved our party, which was too small to have opposed any effectual resistance. Colonna is no less a resort of painters than of pirates; there
“ The hireling artist plants his paltry desk,
(See Hodgson's Lady Jane Grey, &c.) But there nature, with the aid of art, has done that for herself.- I was fortunate enough to engage a very superior German artist; and hope to renew my acquaintance with this and many other Levantine scenes, by the arrival of his performances.
Another noble Lord has done better, because he has done less : bat some others, more or less noble, yet “all honourable men,” have done best, becausė, after a deal of excavation and execration, bribery to the Waywode, mining and countermining, they have done nothing at all. We had such ink-shed, and wine-shed, which almost ended in blood-shed! Lord E.'s “ prig,”—
'-see Jonathan Wylde for the definition of “ priggism,”-quarrelled with another, Gropius* by name, (a very good name too for his business), and muttered something about satisfaction, in a verbal answer to a note of the poor Prussian : this was stated at table to Gropius, who laughed, but could eat no dinner afterwards. The rivals were not reconciled when I left Greece. I have reason to remember their squabble, for they wanted to make me their arbitrator.
Note 7. Stanza xü.
Yet felt some portion of their mother's pains. I cannot resist availing myself of the permission of my friend Dr. Clarke, whose name requires no comment with the public, but whose sanction will add tenfold weight to my testimony, to insert the following extract from a very obliging letter of his to me, as a note to the above lines:
" When the last of the metopes was taken from the Parthenop, and, in moving of it, great part of the superstructure with one of the triglyphs was thrown dow by the workmen whom Lord Elgin employed ; the Disdar, who beheld the mischief done to the building, took his pipe from his mouth, dropped a tear, and, in a supplicating tone of voice, said to Lusieri, Téros !-1 was present.” The Disdar alluded to was the father of the present Disdar.
Note 8. Stanza xiv.
Stern Alaric and havoc on their way!
Note 9. Stanza xvü.
-the netted canopy. The netting to prevent blocks or splinters from falling on deck during action.
Note 10. Stanza xxix.
But not in silence pass Calypso's isles.
Note 11. Stanza xxxviü.
On thee, thou rugged nurse of savage men ! Albania comprises part of Macedonia, Illyria, Chaonia, and Epirus. Iskander is the Turkish word for Alexander; and the celebrated Scanderbeg (Lord Alexander) is alluded to in the third and fourth lines of the thirty-cighth stanza. I do not know whether I am correct in making Scanderbeg the countryman of Alexander, who was born at Pella in Macedonia, but Mr. Gibbon terms him so, and adds Pyrrhus to the list, in speaking of his exploits.
Of Albania Gibbon remarks, that a country “ within sight of Italy is less known than the interior of America." Circumstances, of little consequence to mention, led Mr. Hobhouse and myself into that country before we visited any other part of the Ottoman dominions; and with the exception of Major Leake, then officially resident at Joannina, no other Englishmen have ever advanced beyond the capital into the interior, as that gentleman very lately assured me. Ali Pacha was at that time (October, 1809) carrying on war against Ibrahim Pacha, whom he had driven to Berat, a strong fortress which he was then besieging : on our arrival at Ioannina we were invited to Tepaleni, his Highness's birth-place, and favourite serai, only one day's distance from Berat; at this juncture the Vizier had made it his head-quarters.
* This Sr Gropius was employed by a noble Lord for the sole purpose of sketching, in which he excels; but I am sorry to say, that he has, through the abused sanction of that most respectable name, been treading at a humble distance in the steps of Sr Luisieri. A shipful of his trophies was detained, and, I believe, confiscated at Constantinople in 1810. I am most happy to be now enabled to state, that “this was not in his brod;" that he was employed solely as a painter, and that his noble patron disavows all connexion with lim, except as an artist. If the error in the first and second edition of this poem has given the noble Lord a moment's pain, I am very sorry for it; Sr Gropius has assumed for years the name of his agent; and, though I cannot much condemn myself for sharing in the mistake of so many, I am happy in being one of the first to be undeceived. Indeed, I have as much pleasure in contradicting this as I felt regret in stating it.
After some stay in the capital, we accordingly followed ; but though furnished with every accommodation, and escorted by one of the Vizier's secretaries, we were nine days (on account of the rains) in accomplishing a journey which, on our return, barely occupied four.
On our route we passed two cities, Argyrocastro and Lybochabo, apparently little inferior to Yanina in size ; and no pencil or pen can ever do justice to the scenery in the vicinity of Zitza and Delvinachi, the frontier village of Epirus and Albania Proper.
On Albania and its inhabitants I am unwilling to descant, because this will be done so much better by my fellow-traveller, in a work which may probably precede this in publication, that I as little wish to follow as I would to anticipate him. But some few observations are necessary to the text.
The Arnaouts, or Albanese, struck me forcibly by their resemblance to the Highlanders of Scotland, in dress, figure, and manner of living. Their very mountains seemed Caledonian, with a kinder climate. The kilt, though white; the spare, active form; their dialect, Celtic in sound, and their hardy habits, all carried me back to Morven. 'No nation are so detested and dreaded by their neighbours as the Albanese: the Greeks hardly regard them as Christians, or the Turks as Moslems; and in fact they are a mixture of both, and sometimes neither. Their habits are predatory: all are armed; and the red-shawled Arnaouts, the Montenegrins, Chimariots, and Gegdes, are treacherous; the others differ somewhat in garb, and essentially in character. As far as my own expe
I can speak favourably. I was attended by two, an Infidel and a Mussulman, to Constantinople and every other part of Turkey which came within my observation; and more faithful in peril, or indefatigable in service, are rarely to be found. The Infidel was named Basilius, the Moslem, Dervish Tahiri ; the former a man of middle age, and the latter about my own. Basili was strictly charged by Ali Pacha in person to attend us ; and Dervish was one of fifty who accompanied us through the forests of Acarnania to the banks of Acheloüs, and onward to Messalunghi in Ætolia. There I took him into my own service, and never had occasion to repent it till the moment of my departure.
When in 1810, after the departure of my friend Mr. H. for England, I was seized with a severe fever in the Morea, these men saved my life by frightening away my physician, whose throat they threatened to cut if I was not cured within a given time. To this consolatory assurance of posthumous retribution, and a resolate refusal of Dr. Romanelli's prescriptions, I attributed my recovery. I had left my last remaining English servant at Athens ; my dragoman was as ill as myself, and my poor Arnaouts nursed me with an attention which would have done honour to civilization.
They had a variety of adventures ; for the Moslem, Dervish, being a remarkably handsome man, was always squabbling with the husbands of Athens; insomuch that four of the principal Turks paid me a visit of remonstrance at the Convent, on the subject of his having taken a woman from the bath—whom he had lawfully bought however-a thing quite contrary to etiquette.
Basili also was extremely gallant among his own persuasion, and had the greatest veneration for the Church, mixed with the highest contempt of churchmen, whom he cuffed upon occasion in a most heterodox manner.
Yet he never passed a church withont crossing himself; and I remember the risk he ran in entering St. Sophia, in Stambonl, because it had once been a place of his worship. On remonstrating with him on his inconsistent proceedings, he invariably answered, our church is holy, our priests are thieves;" and then he crossed himself as usual, and boxed the ears of the first " papas” who refused to assist in any required opera..