Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

sionally meet with it thoy look upon it with suspicion, as a dog often beaten snaps at your fingers if you attempt to caress himn. They aro ungrateful, notoriously, abominably ungrateful!" -- this is the general cry. Now, in the name of Nemesis! for what are they to be grateful? Where is the human being that ever confu:rred a benefit on Greck or Greeks? They are to be grateful to the Turks for their setters, and to the Franks for their broken proinises and lying counsels. They are to be grateful to tho artist who engraves their ruins, and to the antiquary who carrios thein away ; to tho travellor whose janissary floys them, and to tho scribblor whesse journal abuses them! This is the amount of their obligations to foreigners.

II,

Franciscan Convent, Athens, January 23. 1811.

Amongst the remnants of the barbarous policy of the earlier ages, are the traces of pondage which yet exist in different countries; whose inhabitants, however divided in religion and manners, almost all agree in oppression.

The English have at last compassionated their Negroes, and under a less bigoted government, may probably one day release their Catholic brethren: but the interposition of foreigners alone can emancipate the Greeks, who, otherwise, appear to have as small a chance of redemption from the Turks, as the Jews have from mankind in general.

of the ancient Greeks we know more than enough ; at least the younger men of Europe devote much of their time to the study of the Greck writers and history, which would be more usefully spent in mastering their own. Of the moderns, we are perhaps more neglectful than they deserve; and while every man of any pretensions to learning is tiring out his youth, and often his age, in the study of tho language and of the harangues of the Athenian demagogues in favour of freedom, the real or supposed descendants of these sturdy republicans are left to the actual tyranny of their masters, although a very slight effort is required to strike off their chains.

To talk, as tho Greeks themselves do, of their rising again to their pristino supcriority, would be ridiculous; as the rest of tho world must resume iis barbarism, after reasserting the sovereignty of Greece: but there seems to be no very greai obstacle, excepi in the apathy of the Franks, to their becoming an useful 'dependency, or even a free state with a proper guarantee ; - under correction, however, be it spoken, for many and well-informed mon doubt the practicability even of this.

l'ho Greeks have nover lost their hopo, though they are now moro divided in opinion on the subject of their probablo deliverers. Religion recommends the Run sians; but they have twice been deceived and abandoned by that power, ana ino dreadful lesson they received after the Muscovite desertion in the Morea has never been forgotten. T'he French they dislike ; although the subjugation of the rest of Europe will, probably, be attended by the deliverance of continental Greece. The islanders look to the English for succour, as they have very lately possessed themselves of the Ionian republic, Corfu excepted. But whoever appear with arms in their hands will be welcome ; and when that day arrives, Heaven have mercy on the Ottomans, they cannot expect it from the Giaours.

But instead of considering what they have been, and speculating on what they may be, let us look at them as they are.

And heru it is impossible to reconcile the contrariety of opinions : some, particii. .arly the merchants, decrying the Greeks in the strongest language ; others, gene. rally travellers, turning periods in their eulogy, and publishing very curious specue lations grafted on their former state, which can have no more effect on their present lot, than the existence of the Incas on the future fortunes of Peru.

One very ingenious person terms them the "natural allies of Englishınen;" another, nó less ingenious, will not allow them to be the allies of any body, and denies their very descent from the ancients ; a third, moro ingenious than either, builds a Greek empira on a Russian foundation, and realizes (on paper) all thó chimeras of Catherine II. As to the question of their descent, what can it import whether the Mainotes are the lineal Laconians or not? or the present Athenians as indigenous as the bees of Hymettus, or as the grasshoppers, to which they onco likened themselves ? What Englishman cares if he be of a Danish, Saxon, Norman,

own.

or Trojan blood ? or who, except a Welshman, is afflicted with a desire of being descended from Caractacus ?

Tho poor Greekt do not so much abound in the good things of this world, as to render even their claims to antiquity an object of envy; it is very cruel, then, in Mr. Thornton to disturb them in the possession of all that time has left them; viz. their pedigreo, of which they are the more tenacious, as it is all they can call their

It would be worth while to publish together, and compare, the works of Mossrs. Thornton and De Pauw, Eton and Sonnini ; paradox on one side, and prejudice on the other. Mr. Thornton conceives himself to have claims to public confidence from a fourteen years' residence at Pera; perhaps he may on tho subject of the Turks, but this can give him no more insight into the real state of Greece and her inhabitants, than as many years spent in Wapping into that of the Wostern Highlands.

T'he Greeks of Constantinople live in Fanal; and if Mr. Thornton did not oftener cross the Golden Horn than his brother merchants are accustomed to do, I should place no great reliance on his information. I actually heard one of these gentlemen boast of their little general intercourse with the city, and assert of himself, with an air of triumph, that he had been but four times at Constantinople in as many years.

As to Mr. Thornton's voyages in the Black Sea with Greek vessels, they gave him the same idea of Greece as a cruise to Berwick in a Scotch smack would of Johnny Grol's house. Upon what grounds then does he arrogate the right of conderning by wholesale a body of men, of whom he can know litile? It is rather a curious circumstance that Mr. Thornton, who so lavishly dispraises Pouqueville on every occasion of mentioning the Turks, has yet recourse to him as authority, on the Greeks, and terms him an impartial 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 inforınation on the subject of the Groeks, and in particular their literaturo, nor is there any probability of our boing better acquainted, till our intercourso becomes more intimate, or their independenco confirmed : ihe relations of passing travellers aro as little to be depended on as the invectives of angry factors; but iill something more can be attained, wo must be content with the little to bo 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 soon nothing of the moderns, such as Do Pauw; who, when he asserts that the British breed of horses is ruined by Newmarket, and that tho Spartans were cowards in the field, betrays an equal knowledge of English horsos and Spartan men. His “philosophical observations" have a much better claim to the title of " poetical,” li could not be expected that ho 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

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 Yeyen,", i. e. quoth the Doctor, “ Suleyman, the eater of corrosive sublimale." “Aha," thinks Mr. Thornton, (angrv with the Doctor for the fistieth timo,)“ 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 inflicting on us the tough participle of a Turkish verb.) “ jt means nothing more than Suleyman the cater," and quite cashiers the supplementary " sublimate." Now both are right, and bo'h 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 " Suleyma'n yeyen," 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 an orthodox name onough with the ad lition of n. After Mr. Thornton's freqnent hints of profound Orientalism, he might have found this out beforo ho rang such paans over Dr. Pouquevillo.

After this. I think " Travellors versus Faciors” shall be om motto, though the abovo Mr. Thornton has cond:mned " hoc genus omne," for mistake and misrepresentation. “Ne Sutor ultra crepidam." * No merchant beyond his bales." 'N. B. For tho benefit of Mr. Thornion, “ Sutor" is not a proper name.

the absurdity of his hypothosis on their forofathers rofulos his sontenco on thom selves.

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.

III.

Athens, Franciscan Convent, March 17, 1811 " I must have some talk with this learned Theban." Some time after my return from Constantinople to this city, I received the thirtyfirst number of the Edinburgh Review as a great favour, and certainly at this distance an acceptable one, from the captain of an English frigate off Salamis. In that number, Art. 3. containing the review of a French translation of Strabo, there are introduced some remarks on the modern Greeks and their literature, with a short account of Coray, a co-translator in the French version. On those remarks I mean to ground a few observations, and the spot where I now write will, I hope, be suffi. cient excuse for introducing them in a work in some degree connected with the sub

, born at Scio, (in the Review, Smyrna is stated, I have reason to think, incorrectly,) and, besides the translation of Beccaria and other works mentioned by the Reviewer, has published a Lexicon in Romaic and French, if I may trust the assurance of some Danish travellers lately arrived from Paris; but the latest we have seen here in French and Greek is that of Gregory Zolikogloou.* Coray has recently been involved in an unpleasant controversy with Mr. Gail,t a Parisian commentator and editor of some transla ions from the Greek poets, in consequence of the Institute having awarded him the prize for his version of Ilippocrates "llepl idátov," &c. to tho disparagement, and consequently displeasuro, ot tho said Guil

. To his exertions, literary and patriotic, great praise is undoubíedly due, but a part of that praise ought not to be withheld from the two brothers Zosimado, (merchants settled in Leghorn,) who sent him to Paris, and maintained him for the express purpose of elucidating the ancient, and adding to the modern, researches of his countrymen. Coroy, however, is not considered by his countrymen equal to some who lived in the two last centuries ; more particularly Dorotheus of Mitylene, whoso Hellenic writings are so much esteemned by the Greeks that Melotius terms him, " Med rdv Θουκυδίδης και Ξενοφώντα άριστος Ελλήνων.” (P. 224. Ecclesiastical History, vol. iv.)

Panagiotes Kodrikas, the translator of Fontenello, and Kamarascs, who translated Ocellus Lucanus on the Universe into French, Christodoulus, and more particularly Psalida, whom I have conversed with in Joannina, are 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 kngwledge of Hellenic, if he be the Polyzois Lámpanitziotes of Yanina, 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

* I have in iny possession an excellent Lexicon "pprylwooov," which I received ir exchange from S. G-, Esq. for a small gem : my antiquariun friends have never forgotten it, or forgiven mó.

t In Gail's pamphlet against Coray, he talks of " throwing the insolent Hellenist out of the windows." On this a French critic exclaims, " Ah, my God! throw an Hellenist out of the window! what sacrilege!" It certainly would be a serious business for those authors who dwell in the attics: but I have quoted the passagg merely to prove the similarity of style among the controversialists of all polished countries; London or Edinburgh could hardly parallel this Parisian ebulition.

name, however, is not uncommon, some other Polyzois may have edited the Epislles of Aristenetus.

It is to be regretted that tho 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 w bo met with ; their grammars and lexicons of iwo, threo, and four languagos, aro numerous and excellent. Their poetry is in rhyme. The most singular picce I have lately scen 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 tho 'Turks the writer attributes their prosont degeneracy. Their songs are sometimes pretty and pathetic, but their tunos generally unpleasing to the ear of a Frank : tho besi is the fainous" Acúre raides TWY 'Eldhwwr," by the unfortunato Riga. Bit 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 Barthelemi'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 wwn 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 Veniamin, (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 smaftering of the sciences.

Though it is not my intontion to entor 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 degpadlation." Il may be truo that the Grooks aro not physically dogenöratod, and that Constnntinoplo containod, on the day when it changod mastors, as many mon of mix foot and upwards as in the hour of prosperity; but ancient history and modern politics instruct us that something more than physical perfection is nocessary to preserve A state in vigour and independence; and tho Greeks, in particular, are a melancholy cxample of the near connoxion between moral degrarlarion 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. Petersburgh for the Greeks; but it was suppressed by Paul, and has not been revived by his successor.

There is a slip of the pon, and it can only boʻa slip of the pen, in p. 68, 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 presurned that this last word will, in a suture edition, be altered to Mahomet II.* The" ladies of Constantinople

* 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 Is, any more than criticism means infallibility ?—but thus it is.

“ Cædimus inque vicem præbemus crura sagittis.' 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 tho Edinburgh Reviow much sacotinus exultation on all such detections, particularly a rocent ono, where words and syllablos are subjocts of disquisition and transposition ; and the above-mentioned parallel passago in my own caso irresistibly propellod mo lo hint how much casior it is to be critical than correct. The gentlemen, having on

VOL. III.-G

" Horse

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 allered; being far from choico either in their dialect or expressions, as the whole Attic race are bailarous to a proverb :

«Ω Αθηνα πρωτη χώρα

Τι γαιδαρους τρεις τωρα.” In Gibbon, vol. x. p. 161, is the following sentence : “ The vulgar dialect of the city was gross end barbarous, though the compositions of the church and palace sometimes affected to copy the purity of the Atiic models." Whatever may be asserled on the subject, it is difficult to conceive that the “ladies of Constantinople," in the reign of the last Cæsar, spoke a purer dialect than Anna Comnena wrote three centuries before: and those royal pages are not esteemed the best niodels of cumposition, although the princess γλωτταν ειχεν ΑΚΡΙΒΩΣ Αττικίζουσαν. In the Fanal, and in Yanina, the 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-conmoner of most colleges. I mention this as a proof that the spirit of inquiry is not dormant among the Greeks.

The Reviewer mentions Mr. Wright, the author of the beautiful pocm Ionicæ," as qualified to give details of ihese nominal Romans and degenerate Greeks, and also of their language: but Mr. Wright, though a good poet and un able man, has made a mistake where he states the Albanian dialect of the Romaic to approximate nearest to the Hellenic: for the Albanians speuk a Romaic as notoriously, 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 Pachu's dominions, is not in Albania but Epirus ; and beyond Delvinachi in Albania Proper, up to Argyrocrastro and Tepaleen, (beyond which I did not advance,) they speak worso Greek than even the Athenians. I was attended for a year and a half by two of these singular mountaineers, whose mother tongue is lllyric, 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 olien laughed at for their provincial barbarisms.

I have in my possession about twenty-five letters, amongst which some from the Bey 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,) aro 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 truo antique character.

The Reviewer proceeds, afier 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 Coiay, 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 io the classical scholar; in short, to every body except the only person who can bo thoroughly acquainted with its uses; and by a parity of reasoning, our old language is conjeciured to be probably more attainable by foreigners," than by ourselves! Now. I am in. clined 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 none 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 Smolleit's Lismahago, who maintains that the purest English 18 spoken in Edinburgh. That Coray may err is very possible; but if he does, the fault is in the man rather than in his mother tongue, which is, as it ought to be, of the greatest aid to the native student.-Hore the Reviewer proceeds to business on Strabo's translators, and here I close my remarks.

Sir W. Drummond, Mr. Hamilton, Lord Aberdeen, Dr. Clarke, Captain Leake, Mr. Gell, Mr. Walpole, and many others now in England, have all the requisites to joyed many a triumph on such victories, will hardly begrudge me a slight ovation for the present.

« ForrigeFortsett »