and the markets: their heads are full of figs and raisins, and their whole hearts wrapped up in cotton and broad-cloths. They suppose man created for nothing but to buy and sell; and whoever makes not these occupations the sole business of his life, seems to them to neglect the end of his existence. I verily believe, that they marry for no other purpose but to keep up the race of merchants/'

Would that we were at Malta!

Monday, \&th Feb.—I have as yet said nothing of Greek literature; but it will hereafter form a prominent part of my observations. Notwithstanding the depressed state of the times, and the lamentable ignorance of those . who are appointed to instruct the vulgar, there are not wanting distinguished examples of learning among the ecclesiastical body, by far the least inquiring portion of the community. But superstition and prejudice chain them in almost indissoluble bonds; and never, it is to be feared, will knowledge flourish, until a more enlightened character of religion becomes prevalent,—until she is freed from the galling shackles with which bigotry and slavery have encompassed her. Decidedly, however, the


spirit of improvement is struggling against her oppressors, and will, no doubt, conquer at last. I have obtained, in Smyrna, by great good luck, several Hellenic performances of uncommon interest; and I shall now proceed to lay before the reader some account of them, and as far as I can, of their authors. But the fear of incurring the heaviest penalties, has obliged the most part to publish these works anonymously: information, therefore, can only be collected accidentally, and in detached and minute portions.

The first which I shall notice, is the translation of Moliere's " Avare," published at Vienna in 1816, by a Greek Presbyter of Smyrna, called Oiicovofiog, or Economus. There is a good deal of interest attached to this person's history. He was originally a schoolmaster at Smyrna, and greatly esteemed for his many rare and uncommon endowments. The establishment prospered under his hands; and it is owing chiefly to him, that the present reviving taste for literary pursuits has made such progress among the Greeks. He was also an eloquent and able preacher; several of his sermons have been translated into various foreign lan


guages, especially a funeral sermon upon the last patriarch of the Greeks; who having subjected himself to the suspicions of the Sultan, was strangled, and clad in his pontifical habit, tied up in a sack, and thrown into the sea. A merchant vessel, on its way to Smyrna, discovered the body, and conveyed it thither, where it was sumptuously interred.

The fame and attention which Economus attracted, excited the envy of one or two Smyrniote bishops; and his unprejudiced way of thinking drew upon him the censure of the ignorant, and the calumny of the malicious. "01 (rvfnroXiTai fiov HfivpvaToi," he has made Zoetza say, in his comedy above mentioned, "<f>v(TiKa ayairovv va KaraXaXovv." It is the same at this day: the Franks complain of it, and accuse them of propagating the most unfounded tales. But whether the Franks do not equally deserve the charge, and whether it be not the common misfortune of all places where the population have little beside their neighbours' affairs to concern them, I shall not pretend to determine. Certain it is, that Economus felt the full force of their industrious mischief. With the usual persuasion of HISTORY OF ECONOMUS. 241

superstitious and uneducated times, they construed his experiments in chemistry into magic; and he was actually forbidden by the Turkish government to instruct his pupils in mathematics, under the apprehension (how they stumbled upon it is a mystery) that it was a vehicle for training them in the art of war. This was about three years ago, nearly a twelvemonth after the breaking out of the Greek Revolution. But imputations of this nature he might probably have overcome, had he not, unhappily, during Lent, when greatly reduced by sickness, had recourse to diet more strengthening and nutritious than accords with the regulations of a Greek fast. This proved his overthrow. Aware of the prejudice so rife with those of his persuasion, under whatever circumstance, he used the forbidden food as privately as possible; but his servant discovered the abomination, and revealed it immediately to his superiors. The envious bestirred themselves in fanning the spark; and clamoured in the most outrageous fashion. The consequence was, that he retired to Constantinople, and submitted his case to the Patriarch. He judged of it so lightly, that knowing



the high talents and scientific character of the exiled priest, he sent him back, with letters to the archbishop, commanding that he should be reinstated in his former offices. The people were accordingly convoked, and the Metropolitan church fixed on as the place of meeting. The primate ascended his chair, and read to them the orders of the Patriarch; but so inflamed were the minds of the populace, so surprizingly had they been worked upon by the arts of priestcraft, that they rushed forward, snatched up the written mandate, and tore it into a thousand pieces! So violent an ebullition of popular fervour, in a country so superstitious, and enslaved as this, never perhaps was recorded in the pages of history! Economus yielded to its fury, and returned again to Constantinople, where he entered into the service of a Greek Dragoman to the Porte, whom he assisted in the discharge of his official duties.

But the disasters of the persecuted priest terminated not here. The Dragoman incurred the displeasure of the Sultan, and he, with his whole household, were put under an arrest. It seems, that in cases of this kind, the Patriarch

« ForrigeFortsett »