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little? It is rather a curious circumstance that Mr. Thornton, who so avishly dispraises Pouqueville on every occasion of mentioning the Turks, nas yet recourse to him as authority of the Greeks, and terms him an 1mpartial observer. Now, Dr. Pouqueville is as little entitled to that appellation as Mr. Thornton to confer it on him. The fact is, we are deplorably in want of information on the subject of the Greeks, and in particular their literature; nor is there any probability of our being better acquainted, till our intercourse becomes more intimate, or their independence confirmed: the relations of passing travellers are as little to be depended on as the invectives of angry factors; but till something more can be attained, we must be content with the little to be acquired from similar sources.* However defective these may be, they are preferable to the paradoxes of men who have read superficially of the ancients, and seen nothing of the moderns, such as DePauw ; who, when he asserts that the British breed of horses is ruined by Newmarket, and that the Spartans were cowards in the field, betrays an equal knowledge of English horses and Spartan men. His “ philosophical observations” have a much better claim to the title of “poetical.” It could not be expected that he who so liberally condemns some of the most celebrated institutions of the ancient, should have mercy on the modern Greeks; and it fortunately happens, that the absurdity of his hypothesis on their forefathers refutes his sentence on themselves. Let us trust, then, that, in spite of the prophecies of De Pauw, and the doubts of Mr. Thornton, there is a reasonable hope of the redemption of a race of men, who, whatever may be the errors of their religion and policy, have been amply punished by three centuries and a half of captivity.
* A word, en passant, with Mr. Thornton and Dr. Pouqueville, who have been guilty between them of sadly clipping the Sultan's Turkish.
Dr. Pouqueville tells a long story of a Moslem who swallowed corrosive sublimate in such quantities that he acquired the name of “Suleyman Peyen,” i.e. quoth the Doctor, “Suleyman, the eater of corrosive sublimate.” “Aha,” thinks Mr. Thornton, (angry with the Doctor for the fiftieth time,) “have I caught you?”—Then, in a note twice the thickness of the Doctor's anecdote, he questions the Doctor's proficiency in the Turkish tongue, and his veracity in his own.—“For,” observes Mr. Thornton (after influcting on us the tough participle of a Turkish verb), “it means nothing more than Suleyman the eater,” and quite cashiers the supplementary “sublimate.” Now both are right, and both are wrong. If Mr. Thornton, when he next resides “fourteen years in the factory,” will consult his Turkish dictionary, or ask any of his Stamboline acquaintance, he will discover that “Suleyman geyrn,” put together discreetly, mean “the Swallower of sublimate,” without any “Suleyman” in the case; “Suleyma” signifying “corrosive sublimate,” and not being a proper name on this occasion, although it be anorthodox name enough with the addition of n. After Mr. Thornton's frequent hints of profound Orientalism, he might have found this out before he sang such paeans over Dr. Pou
q After this, I think “Travellers versus Factors” shall be our motto, though the above Mr. Thornton has condemned “hoc genus omne” for mistake and misrepresentation. “Ne Sutor ultra crepidam,” “No merchant beyond his bales.” N. B. For the benefit of Mr. Thornton, “Sutor” is not a proper tlanne,
also in high repute among their literati. The last-mentioned has published in Romaic and Latin a work on “True Happiness,” dedicated to Catherine II. But Polyzois, who is stated by the Reviewer to be the only modern except Coray who has distinguished himself by a knowledge of Hellenic, if he be the Polyzois Lampanitziotes of Joannina, who has published a number of editions in Romaic, was neither more nor less than an itinerant vender of books; with the contents of which he had no concern beyond his name on the title-page, placed there to secure his property in the publication; and he was, moreover, a man utterly destitute of scholastic acquirements. As the name, however, is not uncommon, some other Polyzois may have edited the Epistles of Aristaenetus. It is to be regretted that the system of continental blockade has closed the few channels through which the Greeks received their publications, particularly Venice and Trieste. Even the common grammars for children are become too dear for the lower orders. Amongst their original works the Geography of Meletius, Archbishop of Athens, and a multitude of theological quartos and poetical pamphlets, are to be met with : their grammars and lexicons of two, three, and four languages are numerous and excellent. Their poetry is in rhyme. The most singular piece I have lately seen is a satire in dialogue between a Russian, English, and French traveller, and the Waywode of Wallachia (or Blackbey, as they term him), an archbishop, a merchant, and Cogia Bachi (or primate), in succession; to all of whom under the Turks the writer attributes their present degeneracy. Their songs are sometimes pretty and pathetic, but their tunes generally unpleasing to the ear of a Frank: the best is the famous “Acúre traides róv ‘EXAïvov,” by the unfortunate Riga. But from a catalogue of more than sixty authors, now before me, only fifteen can be found who have touched on any theme except theology. I am intrusted with a commission by a Greek of Athens named Marmarotouri to make arrangements, if possible, for printing in London a translation of Barthélemi’s Anacharsis in Romaic, as he has no other opportunity, unless he despatches the MS. to Vienna by the Black Sea and Danube. The Reviewer mentions a school established at Hecatonesi, and suppressed at the instigation of Sebastiani: he means Cidonies, or, in Turkish, Haivali; a town on the continent, where that institution for a hundred students and three professors still exists. It is true that this establishment was disturbed by the Porte, under the ridiculous pretext that the Greeks were constructing a fortress instead of a college: but on investigation, and the payment of some purses to the Divan, it has been permitted to continue. The principal professor, named Uniamin (i. e. Benjamin), is stated to be a man of talent, but a freethinker. He was born in Lesbos, studied in Italy, and is master of Hellenic, Latin, and some Frank languages; besides a smattering of the sciences. Though it is not my intention to enter farther on this topic than may allude to the article in question, I cannot but observe that the Reviewer's lamentation over the fall of the Greeks appears singular, when he closes it with these words: “The change is to be attributed to their misfortunes rather than
to any “physical degradation.’” It may be true that the Greeks are not physically degenerated, and that Constantinople contained on the day when it changed masters as many men of six feet and upwards as in the hour of prosperity; but ancient history and modern politics instruct us that something more than physical perfection is necessary to preserve a state in vigour and independence; and the Greeks, in particular, are a melancholy example of the near connexion between moral degradation and national decay.
The Reviewer mentions a plan “we believe” by Potemkin for the purification of the Romaic; and I have endeavoured in vain to procure any tidings or traces of its existence. There was an academy in St. Petersburg for the Greeks; but it was suppressed by Paul, and has not been revived by his successor.
There is a slip of the pen, and it can only be a slip of the pen, in p. 58. No. 31. of the Edinburgh Review, where these words occur:-"We are told that when the capital of the East yielded to Solyman.”—It may be presumed that this last word will, in a future edition, be altered to Mahomet II* The “ladies of Constantinople,” it seems, at that period spoke a dialect “which would not have disgraced the lips of an Athenian.” I do not know how that might be, but am sorry to say the ladies in general, and the Athenians in particular, are much altered; being far from choice either in their dialect or expressions, as the whole Attic race are barbarous to a proverb:—
In Gibbon, vol.x. p. 161, is the following sentence:—“The vulgar dialect of the city was gross and barbarous, though the compositions of the church and palace sometimes affected to copy the purity of the Attic models.” Whatever may be asserted on the subject, it is difficult to conceive that the “ladies of Constantinople,” in the reign of the last Caesar, spoke a purer dialect than Anna Comnena wrote three centuries before: and those royal pages are not esteemed the best models of composition, although the princess yAórray sixty 'AKPIBQ"> ārruki;ovgav. In the Fanal, and in Yanina, the
* In a former number of the Edinburgh Review, 1808, it is observed: “Lord Byron passed some of his early years in Scotland, where he might have learned that pibroch does not mean a bagpipe, any more than duet means a fiddle.” Query,-Was it in Scotland that the young gentlemen of the Edinburgh Review learned that Solyman means Mahomet II. any more than criticism means infallibility?—but thus it is,
“Caedimus inque vicem praebemus crurasagittis.”
The mistake seemed so completely a lapse of the pen (from the great similarity of the two words, and the total absence of error from the former pages of the literary leviathan) that I should have passed it over as in the text, had I not perceived in the Edinburgh Review much facetious exultation on all such detections, particularly a recent one, where words and syllables are subjects of disquisition and transposition; and the above-mentioned parallel passage in my own case irresistibly propelled me to hint how much easier it is to be critical than correct. The gentleman, having enjoyed many a triumph on such victories, will hardly begrudge me a slight ovation for the present.
best Greek is spoken: in the latter there is a flourishing school under the direction of Psalida. There is now in Athens a pupil of Psalida’s, who is making a tour of observation through Greece: he is intelligent, and better educated than a fellow-commoner of most colleges. I mention this as a proof that the spirit of inquiry is not dormant amongst the Greeks. The Reviewer mentions Mr. Wright, the author of the beautiful poem “Horae Ionicae,” as qualified to give details of these nominal Romans and degenerate Greeks; and also of their language: but Mr. Wright, though a good poet and an able man, has made a mistake where he states the Albanian dialect of the Romaic to approximate nearest to the Hellenic ; for the Albanians speak a Romaic as motoriously corrupt as the Scotch of Aberdeenshire, or the Italian of Naples. Yanina, (where, next to the Fanal, the Greek is purest,) although the capital of Ali Pacha’s dominions, is not in Albania but Epirus; and beyond Delvinachi in Albania Proper up to Argyrocastro and Tepaleen (beyond which I did not advance) they speak worse Greek than even the Athenians. I was attended for a year and a half by two of these singular mountaineers, whose mother tongue is Illyric, and I never heard them or their countrymen (whom I have seen, not only at home, but to the amount of twenty thousand in the army of Vely Pacha) praised for their Greek, but often laughed at for their provincial barbarisms. I have in my possession about twenty-five letters, amongst which some from the Bay of Corinth, written to me by Notaras, the Cogia Bachi, and others by the dragoman of the Caimacam of the Morea (which last governs in Vely Pacha's absence) are said to be favourable specimens of their epistolary style. I also received some at Constantinople from private persons, written in a most hyperbolical style, but in the true antique character. The Reviewer proceeds, after some remarks on the tongue in its past and present state, to a paradox (page 59) on the great mischief the knowledge of his own language has done to Coray, who, it seems, is less likely to understand the ancient Greek, because he is perfect master of the modern This observation follows a paragraph, recommending, in explicit terms, the study of the Romaic, as “a powerful auxiliary,” not only to the traveller and foreign merchant, but also to the classical scholar; in short, to every body except the only person who can be thoroughly acquainted with its uses; and by a parity of reasoning, our old language is conjectured to be probably more attainable by “foreigners” than by ourselves! Now, I am inclined to think, that a Dutch Tyro in our tongue (albeit himself of Saxon blood) would be sadly perplexed with “Sir Tristrem,” or any other given “Auchinleck MS.” with or without a grammar or glossary; and to most apprehensions it seems evident, that mone but a native can acquire a competent, far less complete, knowledge of our obsolete idioms. We may give the critic credit for his ingenuity, but no more believe him than we do Smollett's Lismahago, who maintains that the purest English is spoken in Edinburgh. That Coray may err is very possible; but if he does, the fault is in