Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

of Kedron. - We came to a large building which was mostly in ruins, and whose entrance was guarded by five Turkish soldiers, to whom our Janissary made a present in order to obtain permission to enter. On asking what was our guide's object in bringing us to this miserable spot, he informed us that there was no other place from which so near and so full a view could be obtained of the Temple of Solomon, that forbidden object to which no Christian is permitted to approach. The building which we entered was about fifty steps from this celebrated spot, so that we had an excellent view of the existing structure, which edifice is supposed to cover the scite where the ancient temple stood. The present building is called the Mosque of Omar, from the name of the founder, who was a rich Turk of Damascus in the seventh century. One of the Turkish soldiers told us that he had often been in the mosque, and that there are many antique pillars of red and white marble in the best state of preservation. The white wall which surrounds the buildings precludes any thing like a connected view of the proportions of the edifice; but we could not repress our admiration at the magnificence and grandeur of the dome, and the beauty of its extensive arcades. The Turks told us that it was certain death for any Christian to be found in the interior of the mosque.

We afterwards inspected the gates of the town; that by which we entered, called the Jaffa gate, is partly in ruins. It is built of free stone, and occupies the scite of the ancient temple of David, where the Turks have erected a kind of castle. We next visited the castellated walls, which are of no great thickness, and but little calculated to resist the efforts of modern warfare. We afterwards made an excursion to Mount Sion, and inspected several very curious antique tombs with Greek and Hebrew inscriptions; these are situated on the side of the mountain, where it slopes off to the Valley of Jehosaphat. From this place we proceeded to what is supposed to be the tomb of the Virgin Mary: it is in a plain near the Mount of Olives; but there is nothing to be seen except an excavation in the earth covered with two wooden planks, with no ornament round it. The Valley of Jehosaphat lay before us, and we crossed the bridge over the Kedron, which at this season was a scanty stream, but is often swelled to a torrent by the collected waters of the neighbouring mountains. After viewing what are called the remains of the sepulchres of Jehosaphat, Absalom, and Zacharias, we returned to the convent. — Historians have determined, with great probability, that modern Jerusalem occupies only a part of the site of the ancient city. The mount to the south of the modern city is marked with the remains of several extensive edifices; it is therefore most likely that this mount is the Sion of the ancients, and was included in the Jerusalem described by Josephus. We found several portions of the town uninhabited, and in ruins. Most of the streets are narrow: the houses low and miserable; and the path obstructed with filth. The main street, however, is an exception to this, as many of the houses are lofty and well built. The peculiarity of their construction is, that they are entered by

a wooden

a wooden staircase, which projects in front, and the lower stories having no windows, give the street a singular and gloomy appearance,

From this want of a free circulation of air, added to a general deficiency in cleanliness, it is not to be wondered that this, as well as the other towns we passed through, should be periodically visited by one of the greatest calamities that can afflict humanity.'

Mr. B. laments the depopulation caused in this as in other places by the miserable government of the Turks, and regrets that the prevalence of the plague in the neighbourhood prevented him from visiting Bethlehem or the Dead Sea. Returning from the holy city by way of Acre, no longer governed by the formidable Djezzar, he proceeded to the coast of Caramania, and landed on the island of Rhodes, where he closes the first volume of his narrative. The second begins with an account of his passage, or rather attempted passage, from Rhodes to the Morea; for the unskilfulness of the Italian mariners, to whom he and Mr. Maxwell had intrusted themselves, exposed them to serious danger in weather which would have had no terrors for the navigators of the Atlantic. Disappointed in the first effort at a passage, they were obliged to anchor off the coast of Candia, in a roadstead much frequented by pirates; and it was not until after considerable delay and alarm that they reached the small island of Cerigo, the antient Cythera. Here they found an English officer, intrusted, since the Ionian republic has been put under our protection, with the command of the island, and they obtained a small bark to convey them to the adjacent coast of Laconia; where, however, they encountered a danger more imminent than the preceding gales, being pursued by an armed schooner, full of pirates, from which they escaped only by gaining the harbour of Marathonisi. This is one of the towns or rather villages of the Mainote country, a rugged district extending along a part of the antient Laconia, and inhabited by a race of mountaineers; who, with all the courage of their ancestors, are miserably inferior to them in the virtues of honesty and subordination. The only way to traverse their country is by obtaining credentials to their chiefs, and proceeding from place to place with an escort; and of the serious consequences that may occur from hazarding, unprotected, a passage along their coast or their inland territory, a striking example is given in the capture and imprisonment of a man of rank in the diplomatic service of Russia.

• Baron Stachelberg, a near relation of the Russian ambassador at Vienna, and who resided in the same hotel with us at Trieste,

gave us a very interesting account of his being captured near the island of Hydra by a Mainote privateer. These robbers carried him to their retreat among the mountains, where he was kept in a cave for several days, living on nothing but oil and onions, and sleeping the whole time upon the bare ground, without ever changing his clothes. Thus deprived of every comfort and every hope, he must inevitably have perished, had it not been for the prompt and spirited exertions of Baron Haller, (who, I believe, is a Bavarian nobleman,) and Mr. Cockerell, an Englishman, of a spirit no less enterprizing than his friend. Imagining their friend to be safe in the island of Hydra, they gave themselves but little concern about his long silence. But how were those feelings of security banished, when Baron Haller received a letter from the captain of the Mainotes, informing him that his friend was their prisoner, and demanding the sum of 18,000 piastres of the country, (above 14001. sterling,) as the price of his ransom; and farther stating, that if Baron Haller would bring this sum to

tain spot among the mountains, a party of his associates should meet him and conduct him to the cave where his friend was confined. The letter concluded by observing, that if the above-mentioned sum was not produced at the time specified, it was determined that the prisoner should lose his head. This strange epistle inclosed a letter from the Baron himself, giving a melancholy account of his forlorn condition, and imploring his friends to use every effort to rescue him from his sad and perilous situation. Baron Haller's exertions to raise the sum and save his friend were unremitting: he was joined in them by Mr. Cockerell; and such was their zeal in the cause of friendship and humanity, that the very day following the receipt of the letter they had succeeded in raising the sum of 12,000 piastres, with which Baron Haller immediately set out, accompanied by a janissary, to the appointed spot.

• The same evening they reached a miserable village, which, according to the description in the letter, was the place fixed on for the rendezvous. The Baron had hardly rested an hour or two, when he heard a loud knocking announcing the arrival of a party of the banditti, who were come to conduct him to their

quarters, solemnly assuring him, that in case he could not agree with their Captain respecting the terms on which the prisoner was to receive his liberty, they would escort him back to the same spot. Urged on by the warmth of friendship, and the courage of a soldier, the Baron did not hesitate a moment, but at once agreed to accompany them. He had heard that these pirates were very scrupulous in keeping a promise, and he resolved to trust his safety to the truth of the report. After three hours' ride, they were stopped at the foot of a high mountain by a patrole of their own band, who demanded the watch-word, and then permitted them to proceed. After passing several high mountains, and being frequently stopped in the narrow defiles by these patroles, they reached the mouth of a large cave, which they entered. It was faintly lighted by a lamp. On being introduced to the Captain, who was sitting

smoking

smoking on an old mat, the first object that caught Baron Haller's eye was his captive friend lying on the ground, and already much emaciated by illness. The feeling heart will naturally imagine the affecting nature of such an interview! Baron Haller requested his friend, in German, to cheer up and hope for the best: not, however, to manifest any symptoms of vegard, but to remain as cool and unconcerned as he possibly could, till terms had been agreed upon, and the avarice of the wretches appeased.'

The Captain of the banditti received his new guest with civility; and when the latter had reposed himself from his fatigue, they proceeded to business, the former demanding the 18,000 piastres formerly mentioned : this the Baron refused, and affected great indifference about the prisoner : but he ended by offering 10,000 piastres (8ool. sterling), which the pirate declined, adding that the alternative would be to deprive the prisoner of life after a single day's grace.

· The Baron was not to be intimidated by these threats, but remained firm to his purpose; he was too well acquainted with the character of these robbers, not to know that their avarice was a passion which they would indulge, even in preference to the gratification of their cruelty; he therefore withdrew with the same escort that brought him, affecting perfect indifference, and purposely forbore bidding farewell to his friend, whose fortitude was somewhat shaken when he heard what was the issue of the conversation. The Baron, however, returned to the village, confident of the success of his plan ; it was, therefore, with no small pleasure he heard the next morning that the Mainotes had arrived again and wished to see him. On being admitted into his apartment, they informed him that the Captain had consented to take the 10,000 piastres, but on condition that another thousand should be advanced for his private purse. The Baron took the 11,000 piastres, which he had in gold, and returned with the Mainotes to the cave, where the Captain requested him to count out the sum in the presence of two of his officers, and as soon as they ascertained that the amount was correct, the prisoner was unbound and delivered to his benefactor.'

After this impressive narrative, Mr. B. makes an appeal to his readers on the accuracy of Dr. Clarke, who has not scrupled to insert in his Travels in Greece that “ the country of the Mainotes may as easily be visited as the county of Derbyshire, and that the traveller is not exposed there to half the dangers encountered every night in the neighbourhood of London."

Determined to do their utmost to guard against such a misfortune, our travellers obtained at Marathonisi a guard of sixteen armed followers, commanded by two young officers ; who, before their departure, were declared responsible with Rev, March, 1820.

U

their

their lives for the safety of the travellers. With this escort they journeyed northward to the frontier of the Mainotes, and, on entering the district inhabited by the Baniotes, a tribe equally predatory with their neighbours, were met by a fresh guard sent on from Misitra. No open attack was made on them during their passage, but enough occurred in the way of demonstration to shew the necessity of their precautions. At Misitra, they surveyed the adjacent ruins of Sparta: then proceeded to Argos, where they found few memorials of antiquity, and held their course northward by the vestiges of Mycenæ to Corinth; whence turning to the eastward, they travelled by Megora to Athens. After having passed some time in a city already described by so many travellers, they re-entered the Morea, and rode across the Arcadian mountains to Patras, a considerable but unhealthy sea-port; here they put themselves on board a small bark, sailing to the westward in sight of the coasts of Ætolia and Acarnania; touching at the once famed island of Ithaca; and closing their short voyage at Corfu, which they found in a course of visible improvement from the presence of a British garrison. Here they took their passage on board a scampa via, or large boat employed to convey the mail once in a week to Otranto, the nearest port in Italy; and, after having encountered new alarms from the elements, or rather the bad seamanship of their Italian mariners, they reached the main land, and travelled by Lecce and Bari, towns little known to our countrymen, but not of insignificant size, to Naples. That city, and subsequently Rome, are described at some length: after which they took their course homeward by Florence, Milan, and Venice, proceeding from the last into Germany, not (as usual) by Swisserland and Suabia, but by the more easterly route of the Tyrol and Bavaria. Here, also, their tour became more than usually comprehensive; embracing Stutgard, Manheim, and Heidelberg on the Rhine, with Cassel, Gottingen, Hanover, and Hamburgh in the central and northern part of Germany. Instead of embarking at Hamburgh, these indefatigable travellers began a new journey through the inhospitable wilds of Westphalia; and, passing Munster, and visiting the Hague, with some other parts of Holland, they at last embarked in the packet for Harwich.

The general character of Mr. Bramsen's composition is brevity and simplicity; and his narrative may be compared to a journal from its unaffected style, and from avoiding every thing that partakes of lengthened disquisition. He writes English with more accuracy than most foreigners: yet parsial errors have found their way into his text; and some

typo

« ZurückWeiter »