Cyprus: Historical and Descriptive by Löher, Franz von
HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.
MAP OF CYPRUS 1878.
London: Wᵐ. H. Allen & Co.
_Stanford’s Geog.ˡ Estab.ᵗ London_]
HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.
ADAPTED FROM THE GERMAN
FRANZ VON LÖHER.
MUCH ADDITIONAL MATTER
MRS. A. BATSON JOYNER.
AND TWO MAPS.
LONDON: W. H. ALLEN & CO., 13, WATERLOO PLACE. Publishers to the India Office. 1878.
The sudden interest created by recent political events in everything relating to Cyprus, an island which, from its geographical position, seems destined to play no unimportant part in modern history, has rendered the appearance of Herr von Löher’s narrative of his recent journeyings through the length and breadth of that country extremely welcome. It is therefore with much pleasure we have received permission from the Author to lay before the British Public an adaptation of his book (only published during the last few days) which seems well suited to supply information, such as is at present much needed in England.
The island of Cyprus from the first dawn of civilisation has been classic ground, extremely interesting to antiquaries, and its history throughout the Middle Ages is largely blended with tales of chivalry and romantic incidents, such as in these matter-of-fact times are scarcely cared for by speculators, whose object is to obtain reliable information on subjects of more practical importance, such as the resources of the country, the character of its soil, the capabilities of its surface, and the industry of its inhabitants. Lessons upon these points are only to be learned from a careful survey, such as that accomplished by our author, who, uninfluenced by prejudice, describes in simple narrative the actual condition of the island, the scenery of the interior, and the everyday employments and pursuits of the people, thus removing many erroneous impressions as to the condition of the Cypriotes, and leaving the reader to form his own opinion as to the status and prospects of our new acquisition. All information connected with these points we have carefully rendered, only omitting such matter as appeared irrelevant, and calculated unnecessarily to increase the size of the book. Additional information gleaned from various sources, relative to the general history and statistics of the island, is to be found in the Appendix.
That the climate of Cyprus is delightful, the soil prolific, and the landscape in some parts of the country of surpassing beauty, we have abundant testimony in the writings of classic authors, and there is no reason to suppose that in these respects its attractions have deteriorated. A late writer, J. Jasinides, who died at a good old age at Koutzovendi, in Cyprus, in 1871, at the conclusion of his work “Les Iles Mediterranée,” thus expresses himself: “For forty years I have been wandering from isle to isle, ascertaining their political, commercial, and social aspect, and this island (Cyprus) notwithstanding the barbarism of its present rulers, through which it is cut off from the rest of the world, is my favourite.... It is a little world in itself; here do I wish to die. My limited means will keep me in comparative luxury. Although old, I am strong and feel young, no wild beasts or reptiles disturb my solitude, the water is sweet and cool, the wine is nectar, and the food plain but good; above all I know that my grave will be respected, and that kind hands will close my eyes.”
M. A. J.
First View of Larnaka—Arrival—The Haven—The Town—Catholic Church—Fine Carving—Kissing Relics—Marble Sarcophagi—Tombs—Derivation of Name of Larnaka—Phœnicians—Kiti—Language—Shallow Harbour—An ancient Graveyard—Relics—Nursing Bottles—Schools—Church of St. Lazarus—A Compromise in Ecclesiastic Architecture—St. Lazarus’s Morning Walk—Ride out to curious Building—Strange Doors—Phaneromene Panagia—Female Superstitions—Salt Lake—Marshes Source of Ill-health 1
Streets of Larnaka—Game Birds—Mountain of Olympus—Negro Slaves—Natives of Athienu—Attack on Famagusta—Repulse of the Turks—Six Months’ Siege—Honourable Terms—Meeting of rival Generals—Treachery of Mustapha—Butchery of the Garrison—Bragadino flayed alive—Triumphant Return of Mustapha—Dinner with an Athenitan—Dali—Two largest Rivers—Neglected Land—Character of a Cypriote—Silkworms—Planting of Mulberry Trees—Silk Factories—Forests—Carob-tree—Cyprus a miniature India—Fruits—Sugar—Cotton—The Garden of the World—A Guard of Honour—First View of the Capital—Lepers—Visit to the Governor 9
Morning Impressions—Easter Eve—Gardens of Fruit Trees—Society—Costume of the Ladies—Beauties of Cyprus—Adoption of Turkish Customs—Language—Cathedral of St. Sophia—Church of St. Nicholas—Archbishop’s Chapel—Visit to the Lord Archbishop—A Rising Man—Greek Priests—Church of St. Katherine—Memorials of the Dead—St. Paul in Cyprus—Elymas, the Sorcerer—Prisons—Court of Justice—Wanton Destruction—Wealthy Nobles—Enormous Establishments—Great Riches of Merchants 21
CYPRUS IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
A German Kingdom—Richard Cœur de Lion—Cyprus sold to Lusignan—Knights Templars—Amalrick—Becomes a Vassal to Henry the Sixth of Germany—From A.D. 1285 to A.D. 1373—Conquest of Smyrna and Alexandria—Commerce—Wealth and Luxury—Death of James the Second—Origin of Italian Title of Kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem—Turks—Erection of Fortifications—Selim the Second—Attack on Limasol—Arsenal at Venice burnt—Nikosia besieged—Heroic Defence—Spoil and Captives—Result of Intemperance 33
DRAWING UP OF THE STATUTES.
Social Positions of the various Classes—Vassalage—Form of Government—Marriage of Lady Vassals—Law Courts—Assizes of Jerusalem—Custody of the Book of the Law—John d’Ibelin—Knightly Law-Makers—Philip of Navarre—Grand Statute Book of Cyprus 42
Cyprus, European or Asian?—Buffavento—Excursion to inspect Buffavento—Carrying Fire-arms prohibited—A quiet Morning Ride—An old Turk and his Wives—The Northern Range of Mountains—St. Chrisostomo—Monastic Economy—Maria of Molino—Precautions against Fever—Easter Decorations—A Remedy for Leprosy—Fortresses erected to command Passes and Roads—Spirit haunted—Unger and Kotschy 47
Bee-hives—The Queen’s Castle—Paradise—Take a Guide—Gradual Ruin—En Avant—The Guides suspect Treasure Hunting—The Fortress—Zaptiehs and their Masters—Plucky Guide—The Highest Tower—View from the Summit—A German Female Recluse—Peculiar People in Carpasia—The Descent—Fortresses destroyed by Venetians—Sale of Crown Lands—Decline of Old Nobility 54
Visit from the Pacha—One Hundred Years Ago—How Governors feathered their Nests—Poll-tax—Expostulation—Report to the Sultan—Arrival of the Imperial Envoy—Public Reading of the Sultan’s Commands—Fall of the Floor of the State Chamber—Explanation of the Trap—The Governor will not be governed—Attacked by the Populace—Death of the Governor—A New Governor—Intrigues and another Poll-tax—Popular Refusal—Preparations for Rebellion—The Water cut off—The Edict withdrawn—Again a Poll-tax—The Nobles head the Insurrection—Blockade of Nikosia—Again the Tax withdrawn—Arrival of a New Governor—Disappointed Hopes—Proposals—Order again restored—The Poll-tax again demanded—General Revolt—Attack on Famagusta—Siege of Nikosia—Eastern Wiles—Mediation by English Consul—Fighting continued—Arrival of Corsairs—A strong Argument—Arrival of Special Envoy to compel Order—Deserters from the Rebel Camp—Rebels retire to Keryneia—The Castle besieged—An Open-hearted Turkish Sailor!—Betrayal of Halil Aga—Capitulation—Smiles—Treacherous Execution—Two Hundred salted Heads—Order restored 62
THE PLAINS OF CYPRUS.
Expedition to ascend Olympus—No Information to be obtained—Neglected Districts—Game—Prompt Action of my Zaptieh—Faithful obedience of Mussulman Servants—Akazi—Easter—Fasting extraordinary—Abstinence of the Greeks—Heat 77
Cool Waters—Evrychu—In Church—Healthy Population—Graceful and interesting Customs—Greek Houses—Our Host and his Family—An Easter Dinner—Classic Christian Names—Absence of large Trees—Cypriote Clergy 83
A Mountain Pass—Lost our Way—Heroism of the Dragoman!—Sight of a Glacier—Absence of Large Timber at Base of Mountain—Dragoman again! who fairly bolts—Horses and Zaptieh left behind—Heavy Work in the Snow—Scene from the Summit—Alone!—No Trace of Ruins 90
CYPRUS IN ANCIENT TIMES.
Descent of Olympus—A Retrospect—The busy Phœnicians—Shipbuilders for the Euphrates—The Goddess Astarte—The New Religion—Trojan War, the first Struggle between East and West—Grecian Warrior Colonists—Evidence of Ancient Inscriptions—The Nine Kingdoms of Cyprus—Attacks by Continental Nations—Cyprus appealed to for Assistance—The Cyprian Navy—Philip of Macedon—Alexander the Great—Cyprian Shipwrights on the Indus—Artisans of Cyprus—Ptolemies—An Egyptian Ruler—Cyprus a Roman Province—Under Roman Dominion—Aphroditissa—The Idol Stone—Little Images of the Madonna—Revolution of the Jews—Great Slaughter—A Land of Saints 97
Dangerous Ground—Disappointment—Easter-Eve Festivities—An Official Menace—Hear of a Gentleman—Demons and Kobolds—Fini—Arrival—Stable Accommodation—The Dragoman again—Hunger—Cloister Rations—Wine makes the Heart Glad—A Village Congregation—After Mass—Hospitality of the Church—Beautiful Girls—Doctors required—Fasting—Precious Relic—Russian Gift—The Picture endowed with Healing Powers—Gratitude—Mountains and Trees—Heat—Shepherds 112
CYPRIAN WOODS AND FORESTS.
Neglect of Forests—Preservation by former Rulers—Gradual Destruction—Shipbuilding—Exportation of Timber—Wanton Destruction—Forest Fires—Resin and Pitch—Process of extracting Resin—Suicidal Revenge—Protection required—British Legislation—The late Governor of Cyprus—Sad Prospect for the Island—Eucalyptus 121
PLAGUES OF LOCUSTS.
Locusts in olden Times—An Egyptian Plague for Two Years—Gradual Increase—Young Locusts—Devastation—Energy of Turkish Pacha—Troops are called out—A Remedy is found—M. Mattei—The Locusts effectually stopped 127
Rivers of Southern Cyprus—Rippling Waters—View of the Monastery of Kikku—A valuable Picture—Panagia—Wild Fruits—The Monks disturbed—Fine Figure of the Saviour—Carvings—Breakfast with the Abbot—Deserted State of the Country—Robbers—Alarm of the Servants—Prisons—Execution of Criminals—An interesting Prisoner—A Cypriote Robin Hood—Dowries to a Thousand Girls—A romantic Thief—Prison Life—Stalwart Monks—Turkish Women—Miserable Huts—Approach to Paphos—Ktima—Advent of Venus 130
THE TEMPLE OF VENUS.
Bishop of Baffo—View of the Ruins—Gigantic Stones—Old Temple—Curious Holes in Stones, producing Echo—Mosaics—Sacrificial Rites—The Idol Stone—Ruins of former City—View from the Temple—An Admirer of Sappho—A Turkish Farmer—Queen’s Cave—An inscribed Stone Slab—Rock-cut Tombs—Watch-tower—Dinner: Bill-of-Fare—A Turkish Housewife—Nocturnal Reflections—Worship of Venus—Holy Cloth for the Caaba—The Cone-shaped Stones—Doves of Venus—Meteoric Stones 139
SUMMER RESIDENCE IN CYPRUS.
Donkeys and Mules—Muleteers—Starting on a Journey—Mounted!—Commissariat of Travelling Cypriote—General Cesnola—Village of Dali—Out-door Nights in Summer—A delightful Retreat 149
CHARACTER OF THE PEOPLE.
Family Affection—Female Influence—Modern Greeks—Bad Qualities—Simony—Flatterers—Luxury—Taking his Ease—Shameful Effeminacy 155
CLIMATE AND TEMPERATURE.
Syrian Heat—Cool Mountain Breezes—Fevers—Wine, a Remedy for Ague—Seasons—Excessive Heat—Hot Winds—Scarcity—Spring—September—L’Imbat—Snow 161
BAPPO AND KURLIA.
Dealer in Curiosities—Ktima—Rock-cut Tombs—Palæo Castro—Graves—Antiquities—Ossuaries—Relics of Funeral Feasts—Ruins of a Temple—St. Paul—Koloni—Asbestos—Sacred Garden—Bath of Aphrodite—Ieroskipo—Kapatah—Ancient Harbour—Ruins of Churches—Buried Treasures—A Cyprian Dinner—Tombs—Arsinœ—Loadstone Temple—Berenice—Treasures for Naturalists—Tax-gatherers 167
Coffee-house—Thistle Seeds—Snake—Game—Adimu—Apollo Hylades Guard Houses—Pirates—Lycos—Egyptian Beauties—No Accommodation 179
A Turkish Farmer—Square Tower—Oxen—Norman Architecture—An old Fortress—Knights Templars—Wine—Beccaficos 184
SOIL AND MINERAL PRODUCTS.
Mountains—Rich Soil—Alluvial Deposits—Gardens—Cooper Mines—Gold and Silver—Salt—Volcanic Eruptions—Precious Stones—Amber—Asbestos—Robes of the Priests 191
Under the Lusignans—Wine, Oil, &c.—Carob-tree—Cyprian Dyes—Grasping Policy of Venice—Olive-trees—Government of Cyprus—A valuable Farm—Sultan of Egypt—Tribute—Turks—Flowers—Tobacco—Corn—Timber—Flowers—Fertility of Soil—Jujube-tree—Distilled Oils—Cotton—Silk—Game—Wine—Taxes—Decline of Cultivation—Poor fare—Potatoes—Spiders—Beef and Mutton 194
ST. NICHOLAS AND LIMASOL.
News of Marble Relics—Off to search—Heavy Weather—Church of St. Nicholas—Ancient Temple—Monastery Garden—Salt Marsh—Building Houses—Turkish Women, Coquetry—Franciscan Convent—Monastic Graveyard—A new Church—A smart Man—Manufacture of Antiquities—A Parade round the Town—Hospitable Priests—Schools—Domestic Economy of Cyprian Family—A Cyprian Lady—Chinese Nobility—Prospects of Trade—Population—Revenue—Bribery 202
A Morning Ride—A sudden Change—The devouring Lion—Heat—Favoured Tracts—Site of Amathus—Export of Stone—A natural Fortress—Hamath—French Antiquarians—A precious Relic—Vandalism by French Officers—Gigantic Vases—Adonis—Anemones—Feasts—Pygmalion—Paphos, Son of Pygmalion—Under the Ptolemies—Remains of the City—Excavations—Amathus, the City—Mania for Destruction—Capo delle Gatte—Cats 211
KARUBIEH AND MAZOTOS.
Cape Karubieh—Deserted Village—Fruit Ships—Fruit—Carob-trees—A Cyprian Farm-house—Our worthy hostess—Light soil—Farm Labourers—Cost of living—Priests—Hospitality—Kiti—Mount of the Holy Cross—St. Helena—Sacred Relic—Game—Wine 220
LAST DAYS OF LARNAKA.
Dancing Girls—Aphrodite—St. George the Martyr—Patron Saint of England—Legend of St. George—Tenets of the Greek Church—Clergy—Churches—Servia—Panagia—Sunday Trading—Handsome Girls—Cypriote Husbands—Turkish Houses—Departure from the Island 226
EFFORTS OF THE GERMANS TO OBTAIN CYPRUS
Frederick the Second—An imperial Marriage—Cyprian Opinions—Barons—Knights—Importance of Cyprus as a Military Position—Regency—Quarrels—Promises of Amendment—Form of Government—Departure of the Emperor—The Emperor denounced—Sedition—Terms of Peace—The Emperor is crowned—State of Cyprus—Civil Wars—Rebellion—The Verse-maker—Success of Ibelin 234
Cyprus lost—A Fleet sent—Ibelin at Beyrut—Internal Disaffection—Defeat of Ibelin—Strenuous Efforts to raise Money—Bank Notes—The Genoese Rise—Defeat of the Imperialists—Death of Queen Alice—Peaceful Proposals—Renewed Hostilities—Papal Interference—The last of German Influence 256
CYPRUS AND THE EUPHRATES VALLEY RAILWAY.
The Projected Railway—Cyprus a Terminal Station—Sir F. Goldsmid—Position of Cyprus—Ports—Commerce—Harbours—Different Routes for Line—Mr. W.P. Andrew—Political Importance of Line—Fertility of adjacent Country—Re-opening a neglected Country—India nearer Home 269
[Illustration: A MAP SHOWING THE RELATION OF CYPRUS TO THE ADJACENT COASTS.]
HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.
The first approach to Larnaka, the chief sea-port of Cyprus, is well calculated to impress the traveller. The boundless expanse of blue sky and sea, the bold outline of the hills and mountains, brought out as they are into sharp relief by the clearness and brilliancy of the atmosphere, seem to throw the works of man far into the background and boldly assert the simple grandeur of nature.
Such were my involuntary reflections as we dropped anchor in the roads of Larnaka on April 21st, 1877. This entrance to the island displays an expansive bay, the yellow sands of which are bordered by an extensive plain, broken by bare and rocky hills, and in the blue distance backed by a chain of mountains. A landscape was before me, in which the towns, gardens, and buildings constituted only minor accessories. Larnaka appeared as a mere speck on the bosom of the open country. The haven contains about fifty houses, built in the centre of the curve of the bay, and above them wave the variegated flags of the different consulates, surmounted by pointed minarets and a new belfry. The town of Larnaka itself lies far behind, and is separated by wide fields from the haven. Thanks to the kindness of the German consul, a friendly welcome awaited me at the landing-place, where I found a dragoman ready to conduct me to my destination. Before leaving the haven, however, I inspected its streets, which presented an animated appearance. Artisans plied their trades in all directions, and dirt reigned supreme. The rows of houses interspersed with stately mansions, churches, and gardens, filled with waving palms, constitute its principal attractions; all else is strictly Oriental, namely, its filth, rags, and miserable huts of wood and clay.
In the Catholic church, we found a solitary monk, who showed us some fine carvings. The pictures upon the partition which separates the altar from the rest of the church are diligently kissed by the worshippers. I could not but approve this custom, if only from the fact that a law of the church required that no one should salute the sacred pictures without previously washing his face. This ceremony takes place once a week, so that, happily, the gold and silver covered panels are not distinguished by a black circle in the spots where they are kissed. With the exception of an occasional block of marble built into the walls of a house, or a sarcophagus, utilised as a receptacle for water, I saw nothing to recall the ancient power of the busy crowds that once animated this spot. Their tombs, excavated in the stratum of chalk, which lies below the surface, were once filled with marble sarcophagi, which century by century have been dragged out and employed for building purposes. Hence the revolting name given to this town, for Larnaka, literally interpreted, means simply a coffin. Others, however, assert that the name is derived from the fact that the houses were built upon the site of an ancient graveyard.
The Phœnicians are believed to have first founded a town here and called it Kiti; by the Greeks it was known as Kition, and from this source was derived the Asiatic designation of Kitier, for the inhabitants of Cyprus. At a later date Grecian settlers took possession of it; artists, weavers, and artisans in large numbers poured in, and dwelt side by side with the Syrians, but occupying their own part of the town, gradually introducing their own language to common use as in Antioch and Alexandria, and giving a Grecian tone to the education of the higher classes. The Latin tongue, on the contrary, seems never to have gained a footing in the East. Cyprus, however, formed an exception to this rule, and during the four centuries that the island was subject to the sway of the Lusignan dynasty, and Venetian rule, Latin was in general use. Not a trace of it, however, now remains. Modern Greek is spoken, even in most of the Turkish houses, and is understood in every part of the country. The consulate body in Larnaka has representatives from every state in Europe. Its haven is the best in the island, although on account of the shallowness of the water, vessels are compelled to steer clear of the sand and ride at some distance from the town.
The whole of this interesting island may be regarded as one huge graveyard, the treasures of which are disclosed at every turn of the spade. In Idalion, the Greeks, it appears, had formerly made their graves three feet below the surface, and, probably unknown to themselves, only some three or four feet above those occupied by the Phœnician colonists. In these graves, now filled up by the drifting earth of successive centuries, are found embedded small earthen articles, trinkets, coins, and a great variety of interesting trifles. Amongst other articles shown me, were elegant little figures, sucking bottles for children, and every variety of vases and cups in clay and glass. What struck me most, however, were some delicate gold chains and ear-rings, and some yellowish blue vases of Phœnician glass.
Towards evening I visited the chief part of the town, which is about a quarter of an hour’s walk from the haven, and called upon the bishop. Here I learnt many interesting facts concerning the recent improvements made in means of popular education. Until thirty years ago, schools were strictly prohibited, whereas now, every town has its training school; whilst in three of the chief towns, Larnaka, Nikosia, and Limasol, these are of three grades, and in them are taught history, geography, and Grecian literature, even to the reading of Homer and Xenophon. The prices for these classes are from 100 to 300 marks. Anything over and above this charge is covered by the bishop, and a toll upon the exports and imports of the towns.
I then visited the church of St. Lazarus, which is surrounded by fine rows of pillars, with pointed arches, which give an impressive and sacred aspect to the building. The main part of the church is built in the form of a cross, with a dome in the centre, and is evidently of great antiquity. The building comprises three long large vaults, surmounted by three small cupolas. It seems that the Pacha Kudschuk Mehemed commanded the demolition of these domes, on the ground that only a mosque should be so adorned, but after long and earnest entreaties, at last yielded so far as to consent to their being only half torn down, and the openings filled up with planks. They were afterwards restored, and fifteen years ago, a handsome clock tower was erected, surmounted by the Russian double eagle.
When I issued from the church, evening had closed in, and the priests, robed in black, with lights in their hands, lent an air of solemn mystery to this fine building. St. Lazarus is supposed to have died in Cyprus, and his marble coffin, adorned with one rose, stands in a narrow recess. The tomb is empty; the bones, in all probability, having been taken possession of by the Venetians as sacred relics. Next morning I wandered out to explore the environs of the town. The air was spring-like and balmy, flowers, amongst which I observed tulips and hyacinths, enlivened the ground, and the blue waves danced in the light of the sun. Waving palms and high hedges of Indian cactus, hid the haven from my sight, and lent an air of solitude and repose to the whole scene, whilst as far as the eye could reach, the fields were filled with fruit trees, and the landscape enlivened by flocks of goats and sheep. The whole scene formed an Oriental picture of great beauty, and I could not help exclaiming to myself, “If this is the worst part of the country what a paradise the interior must be!”
In the evening, having obtained the loan of a fine Arab horse, I rode off to investigate a curious building, at no great distance from the town. This remarkable structure, which is half embedded in the earth and rock, resembles a baker’s oven, and is high enough to permit a man to stand upright within it. The sides are formed of large blocks of stone, and the roof covered by one huge slab. This erection is divided into three parts. A small chamber is hewn in the bare rock, which forms a natural wall at the back of the structure. Formerly a similar chamber opened upon the front of the large centre portion, but this is now destroyed These apartments seem to have been closed by slabs let down from above into grooves, which are still visible. This ruin was probably first used by the Phœnicians as a burial-place, and at a later date consecrated to the virgin mother Phaneromene Panagia. This spot has a great attraction for the peasant women of the surrounding country, who believe that its sacred walls possess a peculiar virtue for those suffering from grievous sickness or for childless women. These latter often make pilgrimages hither, carrying a lamp concealed under their garments. At the entrance the lamp is kindled, and the suppliant steps barefooted into the third chamber, where she offers her prayers to Panagia, and leaves her lamp as a votive offering. Turkish women, I am informed, also practise this ceremony.
At a very short distance from this interesting relic, and almost close to the sea, lies the celebrated lake from which the Phœnicians extracted the salt they so largely exported. Its value has in this respect by no means deteriorated. During the winter rains it becomes filled with brackish water, which evaporates as in a vast cauldron, under the burning sun of July and August, and deposits a thick coat of fine salt at its bottom. Night soon closes in in these latitudes, and as I left the spot, the sun suddenly lit up sea, sky, and earth in one blaze of glowing colour, and then rapidly sank to rest. Darkness at once set in, and I rode home through a silence as complete, and a solitude as profound, as if I were traversing the open desert.
The cause of unhealthiness in most towns in Cyprus is quite local and easily removed. Thus round Larnaka and Famagusta are marshes which infect the air, and are apt to induce fever and ague in summer.
At seven o’clock the following morning I started for Athienu, and as I passed through the streets of Larnaka, the town was still quiet, and almost empty.
The better class of houses stand within a court-yard and garden, and are furnished with large verandahs, supported by light pillars. Women and girls of the lowest class were to be seen lounging about the narrow, crooked streets. As I quitted the town, the day became all that a traveller could desire. The air was bright and pure, and a balmy breeze swept over the green plains. The swallows were skimming through the air, and countless larks were trilling their sweetest notes.
Cyprus, I must here observe, is very bountifully supplied with birds. I was told that many thousand larks were offered in the market-place of Larnaka. The eggs of the partridge are still more esteemed, and I have often heard the call of these birds in the grass towards evening.
As I pursued my journey, I soon found myself between ranges of chalk hills, and then passed for miles over bleached and barren highlands. These form part of a chain of hills, connected towards the south with the western range of mountains, and extending in a long line to the sea. Very rarely, we passed a little hut, standing in a blooming garden, and forming a veritable oasis in this miniature desert. As I reached the last height, I obtained a peep of the sea near Larnaka, whilst before me, towards the northern portion of the island, towered a superb range of mountains, bristling with innumerable peaks, and tinted with various shades of brown. This chain extends north of the western mountains to the coast, where passing onwards into the sea, it forms the groundwork of the Carpasian peninsula. To my left were also broad, dark, stupendous mountains, running through the whole western portion of the island. One peak, the “Troados,” formerly the Cyprian “Olympus,” reared a snow-covered crown. At my feet lay the extensive plains of Messaria, watered by mountain streamlets, and forming one huge cornfield. A group of thirteen camels, tended by two negroes, stood in a pasture ground beneath me, and imparted a still more Eastern character to the scene. These negroes were probably paid servants, but formerly black slaves were commonly employed in this island. The Government has forbidden this traffic in human flesh; but as a negro will do a better day’s work than five Cypriotes, their introduction is winked at, and many are landed in the northern havens, and are taken by night to the neighbouring mountains.
About noon I reached the town of Athienu, the inhabitants of which are considerably above the average Cypriote in manliness and intelligence. I learnt that they trace their descent from the famous defenders of the powerful fortress, Famagusta, which, in the Middle Ages, stood upon the western part of the island. Famagusta is encumbered with _débris_, and the covered pits from which the Turks assaulted the walls in the sixteenth century, are now stagnant marshes. After the fall of Nikosia, this fortress had resisted the Turkish arms for more than a year, under the command of the brave Venetian captain, Bragadino. In vain the Turkish General Seraskier Mustapha stormed the place. Six times his men rushed on, their swords between their teeth, fascines and ladders in their hands, and six times they were driven back with great slaughter. Mustapha was furious, his best troops were gone, and he well knew his head must pay the penalty at Constantinople should he return unsuccessful. The town was invested, and six months later, when every scrap of food and ammunition was exhausted, the starving people forced their captain to surrender. Mustapha at once proposed the most honourable terms. The garrison were to retain their arms and baggage, and be sent in Turkish ships to Crete. Whoever desired to go to another part of the island might do so with all his possessions, whilst those who preferred to remain, were to be perfectly unmolested, both as regarded their religion and property.
On the 5th August, 1571, the fortress was taken possession of by the Turkish fleet, and Bragadino at once rode down to the shore, accompanied by three generals, to deliver up the keys to his captors. Over his head was a red silk umbrella, and on his shoulders a purple mantle that swept the ground, in token of his distinguished rank. Mustapha received him, at first, with all honour; but in the course of conversation, became so insolent that Bragadino replied to him in angry terms. The four generals were at once attacked, Bragadino’s nose and ears cut off, and his companions hewn to pieces. Three hundred men of his garrison were mercilessly butchered, and a scene of carnage and pillage ensued which lasted three days. Only a small remnant of the higher classes were allowed to escape, on condition that they should separate and settle in the principal towns.
Bragadino was fastened to a rope and dropped into the sea, from which he was again fished out, laded with two baskets of earth and sent to the new Turkish entrenchments. On his arrival he was seized, thrown down, and slowly tortured to death, amidst the gibes and brutal laughter of Mustapha and his followers. He died as he had lived, like a hero, but this did not protect his body from insult. His skin was stuffed with hay, placed on a cow, and led throughout the camp and town, and was finally attached to the mast of Mustapha’s ship, and taken to Constantinople, where the pitiless conqueror was received with open arms.
I dined at the table of an Athenitan, and have seldom been better entertained; the room was small, but clean, and my hostess young and charming. Our fare, which was admirably cooked, consisted of fried eggs, roast fowl and pillau. For dessert, oranges, artichokes, and some excellent dark wine, were set before me. After dinner I enjoyed a refreshing sleep, and then bidding adieu to my good hosts, proceeded on my way.
Dali, the ancient Idalion, was my next resting-place; here was formerly the Temple of Venus, now a mere heap of ruins, but I saw little worthy of note. These plains of Cyprus are watered by two streams, one of which flows east, and the other west. Both are named after the towns towards which they flow, the larger being called the Dali and the lesser the Morfu. In ancient times these rivers were known as the Pedias and Satrachos, and both much resemble the Nile in appearance. During the rainy season these streams run rapidly, spreading their yellow waters over the surrounding country, and when they retire, leave a thick deposit of slime or mud. I am told that the Pedias was formerly called the Cyprian Nile. The table-like rocks of the plain of Messaria through which I now journeyed, form a very peculiar and interesting feature of its scenery. These rocks, called τραωεζαι, from their table-like appearance, are considered by the Cypriotes to be useless for agricultural purposes; I rode over several of them to test the truth of this assertion, and found the chalk only visible in certain parts, the rest of the surface being well fitted for the growth of vines and other plants. But of what avail is it, that a few hills might be cultivated, in a country whose fruitful plains for generations have not been touched by a plough or hoe? Not a sheep or goat was to be seen in the plains, once called by the ancients μακαρια, or the blessed. Now that Cyprus again enjoys the comforts of a judicious government, she will speedily bring forth all the fruits of the earth with profusion. This, however, will not be done without much difficulty and patient perseverance.
A Cyprian ox! βοῦς χύωριος was the ancient nickname conferred upon the Cypriotes in derision of their stolid obtuseness. Dirty, but contented, they lounge through life without making the slightest effort to improve their condition. All emulation, or pride in their professions, seems to have died out under the weight of a tyrannical and unsympathetic government.
The following short sketch of the cultivation of Cyprus, under the various dynasties, will show its extraordinary natural resources, and the field for enterprise that will be opened out under British sway:
During the long centuries of Byzantine rule, many circumstances conduced to the animation of trade and proper cultivation of the fertile soil. Cyprus was long regarded as a veritable harbour of refuge, not only by those inhabiting the neighbouring Asiatic continent, but by the persecuted victims of various religious denominations, many of whom being quiet, industrious men, settled down at once in the country of their adoption as skilful tillers of the soil; whilst the Armenian and Syrian refugees taught and improved the arts of trade and commerce.
The introduction of the silkworm into Cyprus must, however, be regarded as a main cause of its long prosperity. Until that time the wearing of silk was confined entirely to the highest classes, and it could only be procured, at enormous cost, of merchants travelling from India and China. In the year 557 two monks brought a quantity of silkworms’ eggs from India to offer them to the Emperor Justinian, who, appreciating their commercial value, caused them to be distributed over different provinces. In no place did their culture succeed as in Cyprus; the warm soft air, rarely agitated by wind and storm, exactly suited their requirements, and in a very short space of time the southern coasts, and other parts, were covered with mulberry trees for their sustenance, and the celebrated silk factories established and in full work. The rule of the Arab in Cyprus brought on the contrary decadence and misfortune in its train. These sons of the desert destroyed all before them, churches and temples were laid in ruins, and books committed to the flames. Once, however, settled in the conquered dominion, they gave themselves up to the enjoyment of their new possessions. Jews and Christians were employed in building new palaces, and in translating into Arabic the poetry of Persia and works of Eastern lore. For their own share of improvement the Arabs devoted themselves to the cultivation of plants, and arranged splendid and well-irrigated gardens, which they filled with trees and shrubs brought from Egypt, Syria, and Arabia.
We learn that, as far as the island has been yet explored, it contains no less than one thousand different sorts of plants. The forest growth is more especially luxuriant. According to Herr linger, the “Pinus maritima,” in Cyprus, covers the hills and mountain regions to the height of 4000 feet, and one of the commonest trees, the “Pinus laricio,” which covers all the heights to 4000 feet above the sea, is met with on the western mountains of the island to 6000 feet, and gives them a dark appearance from the coast. The wild cypress, “Cupressus horizontalis,” is the third tree which grows commonly in the eastern part of the island, and in some places forms, by itself, whole woods. On the entire northern chain of mountains this wild cypress often grows at the height of 2000 feet to 3000 feet above the sea. Great forests of wild cypresses must have covered the whole of the south of the island, interspersed with a shrub, the “Juniperus Phœnicea.” In the north several varieties of oak are found, and throughout the island the arbutus abounds. The carob-tree, “Ceratonia siliqua,” and olive flourish on the banks of all the rivers, and up to an elevation of 1000 feet above the sea. The succulent pods of the carob-tree are exported to Egypt and Syria, while the pulp, which is called St. John’s bread, from its resemblance to manna, is used as an article of food. Orange and lemon trees, and date-palms, are also met with in great profusion.
The cultivation of Cyprus during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was carried to great perfection, and was still flourishing in the two succeeding centuries. During the chivalrous dominion of the Lusignans, inconceivable wealth and almost unprecedented luxury overspread the whole island, and in all the neighbouring countries of the Mediterranean, Cyprus was spoken of as a miniature India, overflowing with treasure. Knights, philosophers, and adventurers streamed into the island. The prosperity of Cyprus must not, however, be attributed to these new and able immigrants, but to the fact that its revenues were no longer drained by its tributes to foreign potentates, and that its princes ruled with prudence and justice. These new comers to the island at once commenced cultivating the fruit trees of their native lands. Apple, pear, plum, and medlar trees, however, did not thrive, but cherries, peaches, bananas, and apricots came to great perfection, and Cyprus is still noted for its walnuts. An attempt was next made to introduce the sugar-cane, with much success, and Cyprian sugar was soon in great request. The art of refining had, however, not been introduced, and the sugar only took the form of small blackish grains.
The cultivation of the grape, which had dated from most ancient times, acquired new vigour under these influences and was speedily recognised as the choicest vintage in the world. In no less esteem were held the silks and velvets woven in Cyprus, and the extended cultivation of the mulberry and the perfection of the art of weaving went hand in hand. Syrian industry was united with European talent, and operatives from Persia, who came to give their services, brought with them seeds of the cotton-plant. So marvellously did this new venture prosper, that cotton was commonly known as the gold-plant, on account of its great commercial success. In Nikosia, the capital of Cyprus, large weaving establishments were at once formed for the production of the fine calico, for which Cyprus was soon noted. During the whole of the Middle Ages, Cyprus must be regarded as the garden in which tropical plants of all kinds were carefully acclimatised, and from thence introduced and distributed over Greece, Italy, S. France, Spain, the Canary Islands, and America.
A short distance from Nikosia, I observed a party of soldiers standing in a court-yard on the roadside. As I approached they quietly sprang into their saddles, and rode towards me with their sabres in their hands. On reaching me they saluted, and one of the party advancing, informed me, with a graceful wave of his hand, that he had been sent by the Pacha of Cyprus to meet and conduct me to the lodging he had found for me. My new companion, who was a Catholic Armenian, speaking both French and Italian, chatted gaily to me as we rode on side by side. Our path lay through a valley between the hills which still hid the city from our eyes. As soon as we reached the rising ground, hundreds of waving palm-trees were before us, interspersed with slender minarets, whilst here and there a fine dome, towering high, announced to me that the capital of Cyprus lay before us. A veritable gem of Eastern beauty it looked in the bright sunlight, its white walls and painted minarets standing gaily out from the green, well-watered plain and graceful palms, whilst fine belfries and Gothic churches gave an air of grandeur to the view. As we approached the sun went rapidly down, gold and purple clouds rolled over our heads, and the air was filled with a soft and delicious breeze.
At the gates of the town we were met by a party of lepers begging for alms; the revolting sight seemed to throw a feeling of horror over the whole scene. Happily the unfortunates are not permitted to enter the city. We were now requested to form ourselves into a file in order to make our entrance in a becoming manner. Two soldiers went first with naked sabres in their hands, then followed the captain, then myself, and in my rear, our servants and baggage. In this wise we galloped along as rapidly as our mules would carry us, and as we passed through the bazaars and streets the people gathered about us and offered a respectful welcome. A narrow dirty street brought us to the door of my lodging, where I was received by the host and his servants with many impressive genuflections.
Here I parted with my friendly conductors, after offering them a return, in solid cash, which they evidently expected, for their civilities. The captain of the party shortly after returned to invite me to visit the governor, who belonged to a noble Bosnian family, at his residence. This gentleman had travelled much, and had visited both Paris and Vienna. He received me with all the grace of a European, and gave me much valuable information respecting this interesting town. What delighted me most, however, was the gift of an excellent map of the country, a treasure I had vainly attempted to obtain ever since my arrival, and which proved invaluable to me in all my journeyings.
As I returned home the city lay in perfect rest, not a creature was to be seen, and the streets were only enlivened by the gambols of a few wretched homeless dogs.
This city, called by the Greeks Levkosia, and by the Turks Lefkoscha, impressed me more than any other Oriental town I have visited. An indescribable blending of Eastern and Western characteristics meets the eye at every turn, and imparts a familiar appearance to the strange and interesting scene.
How shall I give an idea of the uproar that roused me from my slumbers early next morning? Trumpets were sounding, muezzins were chanting in drawling tones from the tops of all the minarets, countless crows and ravens combined with cocks and hens to outvie in their performance, the braying of asses, and groaning of camels. Whilst over all clanged the bells from every belfry in the city. The following day being Easter-eve, this music commenced at midnight, and continued without interruption till morning, varied, however, by the firing of every old gun that could be mustered for the occasion.
In passing through the streets of the town, I observed through the gates of the high-walled gardens many varieties of fruit trees, apple, pear, and figs; orange, lemon, mulberry, and pomegranate trees also lent their blossoms to give the finishing touches to the scene. The garden walls are high, but not so lofty as to exclude from view the slender white minarets, dark cypresses, and waving palms that they enclose. Half Nikosia is made up of these lovely gardens. Everywhere water-pipes are gently pouring forth their offerings to the thirsty ground, and the whole town is redolent of perfume. The Cyprian sky resembles that of the Nile valley in its cloudless, deep blue, and is equally beautiful in its clear expanse; while as for the climate, a very few days in its soft, delicious, balmy air makes one understand why, of all the Grecian islands, Cyprus should have been allotted the privilege of being regarded as the favorite residence of the Goddess of Love. At first I felt inclined to linger in this lovely spot and make myself acquainted with its literature; but a nearer view showed me my time would not be profitably spent. Society there was none, the few Europeans the city contained being entirely engaged in striving to make a little money.
Domestic life in Cyprus is generally confined within the precincts of its beautiful gardens, and in most of its relations is strictly Turkish. Women of the higher classes in Nikosia wear a delicate white veil and silken garments, instead of the bright blue, yellow, and red veil usually seen in the other towns.
Dr. Clarke, in his “Travels,” says:—“The interesting costume presented in the dress of the Cyprian ladies ought not to pass unnoticed. Their head apparel was precisely modelled after the kind of calathus represented upon the Phœnician idols of the country and Egyptian statues. This was worn by women of all ranks, from the wives of the consuls to their slaves. Their hair, dyed of a fine brown colour by means of a plant called ‘henna,’ hung behind in numerous long straight braids; and, in some ringlets disposed near the face, were fastened blossoms of the jessamine, strung together upon strips of leaves of the palm-tree in a very curious and pleasing manner. Next to the Calmuck women, the Grecians are, of all others, best versed in cosmetic arts. They possess the valuable secret of giving a brown colour to the whitest locks, and also tinge the eyebrows the same hue, an act that would be highly prized in London and Paris. The most splendid colours are displayed in their habits, and these are very becoming to the girls of the island. The upper robe is always of scarlet, crimson, or green silk, embroidered with gold. Like other Greek women, they wear long scarlet pantaloons, fastened round the ankle, and yellow boots, with slippers of the same colour. Around the neck and from the head are suspended a profusion of gold coins, chains, and other trinkets. About their waists they have a large belt, or zone, fastened in front by two large and heavily-polished brass plates. They endeavour to make the waist as long as possible, and their legs consequently short. Naturally corpulent, they take no pains to diminish the size of their bodies by lacing, but seem rather vain of their bulk, exposing their bosoms at the same time in a manner highly unbecoming. Notwithstanding the extraordinary pains they use to disfigure their natural beauty by all manner of ill-selected ornament, the women of Cyprus are handsomer than those of any other Grecian island. They have a taller and more stately figure, and the features, particularly of the women of Nikosia, are regular and dignified, exhibiting that elevated cast of countenance so universally admired in the works of Greek artists. At present this kind of beauty seems peculiar to the women of Cyprus.”
The women of Nikosia walk lightly and gracefully, instead of presenting the appearance, as do many of their country-women, of stuffed sacks rolling along, and unlike most Turkish ladies, can often boast neat and slender figures. In my own opinion the town does not contain more than 12,000 inhabitants, many, however, estimate their number as 18,000.
In former times Nikosia was some miles in circumference and was three times as large as it is now. Ruins of churches and cloisters are to be seen in all directions outside the present town. Of late years the Greek and Turkish inhabitants associate much more freely than formerly. Turkish servants are often met with in Greek houses, and intermarriages are by no means uncommon. The dress of the peasantry is almost Turkish, and pillau, essentially a Turkish dish, is commonly seen on every table in the island. Many of the professed Mussulmans are actually Christians, and have their children baptised in secret. Their forefathers were followers of the Prophet through fear and compulsion, and it would expose any one to much persecution and obloquy, who openly declared that he no longer belonged to that faith.
During the days of Venetian rule, many Italian words became grafted into the language, whilst French, on the contrary, is entirely forgotten in Cyprus. In Nikosia, the Turkish inhabitants pride themselves on the purity with which they speak their own language; indeed, I am informed that nowhere, except in Constantinople, can this be heard in greater perfection. The Grecian population speak Greek. This desire on the part of the Turks to keep their language pure and undefiled, must be regarded as a lingering attempt to preserve the ancient renown and dignity of Nikosia in a time when its homes were palaces, and their inhabitants wealthy and esteemed. Of their ancient mansions but little is now left beyond a few stately ruins. Many of the fine old walls have been broken down within some feet of the ground, and upon them wretched little huts of wood and clay erected to serve as a hasty refuge for some indigent family. If asked why they do not bestow more care upon their houses, the indolent workmen will inform you, that, “it is not worth while to build better on account of the frequent earthquakes.” On these occasions I have often felt tempted to inquire if earthquakes were only known to the modern Cypriotes? The ancient buildings of the island are readily recognised by the large blocks of brown freestone of which the walls are built.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia forms the centre of attraction in Nikosia. This fine edifice is built in the Gothic style, and richly decorated; of this ornamentation, only the carved stone-work remains. The pillared interior of the church is approached from the portico by three arched portals. The walls of this noble building are decorated by whitewash, and, to please the Turkish taste, pillars and capitals are streaked and daubed with red, green, and yellow. Happily the beautiful arched windows are still framed in rich carving. The base of the bell tower is adorned with two unusually high minarets. Close to the cathedral is the Church of St. Nicholas, with its three noble entrance gates; here all the niches are charmingly decorated with a living tracery in the shape of a great variety of stonecrop. The fine interior of this church is now used as a granary. The Archbishop’s Chapel is another interesting building, of which the walls are covered with ancient pictures. The archiepiscopal throne with its gilding and the handsome altar-screen, are but dimly seen in the mellow half light.
As I left the archiepiscopal chapel. I was met by a young priest, who brought me a friendly invitation to take a cup of coffee with the Lord Archbishop. I had so much still to see that I felt compelled to decline this courtesy. The young priest modestly urged that it was the custom for all strangers to pay their respects to his grace, and that I should not willingly be the first to decline. My time only permitted me to make a hurried call, which fact I, however, since, much regretted, as I afterwards found that the head of the Cyprian Church is a worthy and distinguished man, who well deserves his title of μακαριωτατος.
A dignitary of the Greek Church may certainly be considered as much more fortunately situated than any other official in Europe. During his entire life he can mount a perfect Jacob’s ladder of preferments and emoluments, and may don every shade of colour, in robes of black, green, yellow, and red to rich purple; he can also exhibit a variety of crosiers and mitres. The Archbishop of Cyprus, who has now obtained the highest rank, signs his name with red ink, seals with the imperial double-headed eagle, carries a shepherd’s crook, surmounted by a golden orb, and bears a title enumerating his saintly and lordly attributes. The income of this dignitary is derived from two sources—voluntary offerings and tithes, and sums paid for dispensations, marriages, and masses. The archbishop has many claims upon this revenue, and has annually to send money to Constantinople, the Archbishop of Cyprus being a vassal of the Sultan’s. The four bishops of Cyprus, though chosen from its capital, are also compelled to obtain the consent of this potentate to their election. The Greek priests are said to average two per cent. of the whole population; it may therefore be supposed that their position is a degraded one, and their incomes very small. Many of those in Nikosia can scarcely do more than read the services, and perform the various ceremonies with proper intelligence and decorum, whilst those in the village curés are so reduced that they must often resort to the mending of shoes, and tending of sheep and cattle, to earn a bare livelihood.
The church of St. Katherine, now turned into a mosque, has a fine entrance, adorned with three arches and pillars, with Corinthian capitals. Two stately marble columns lie in the court-yard; these, with their fine carved escutcheons, have been torn down by the Turks and employed as seats. The graves of the brave defenders of the city are still held in honour, and small cupolas are erected to mark their resting places. The spot where the first Turk mounted and fell when the city was stormed, is also distinguished by a small dome. The gravestone is marble, and the coffin of wood, overshadowed by the green flag of the Prophet. Nikosia can boast a very unusual number of churches and mosques, and we are told that, when the city was at the height of its glory, there were no less than two hundred and fifty chapels and churches. Cyprus is also especially remarkable for the number of graves of its saints.
In all ages the island was regarded as a harbour of refuge from persecution or tyranny, and its close proximity to Syria and Palestine attracted many suffering Christians to its shores. In the thirteenth century Cyprus possessed no less than fourteen bishoprics, each of which were founded on some memorable or sacred spot. Paul and Barnabas, we know, preached the Gospel in Cyprus, and we learn that many were turned from the error of their ways to commence a new life. Accompanied by John, the Apostles landed at Salamis, and travelled over the whole island, preaching especially in the synagogues of the Greek Jews, who were then very numerous. In Paphos they encountered the Roman consul, Sergius Paulus, who speedily became a convert, and here Elymas, the sorcerer, was struck by them with temporary blindness, as a chastisement for his endeavours to turn away their converts from the true faith. The Apostle Saul here adopted the Roman fashion and changed his name to Paulus. St. Barnabas afterwards suffered martyrdom in Salamis, where he was burnt to death. During the reign of Justinian, his grave was opened and a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew found lying on his breast. Salamis was also the birthplace of the celebrated St. Katherine.
The royal palace of Nikosia was built in the Norman-Gothic style and must have been a noble edifice. With the exception of an arched doorway, however, but little now remains beyond the outer walls, with gaps where the windows once were, and balconies with wooden latticework and wooden roofs. This palace was formerly the residence of the pacha. During my visit to the city the gaols were full of prisoners; the majority of these, I was told, were sent over from Syrian prisons to work out their terms of imprisonment. The Cypriotes themselves bore the character of being peaceable in their habits, and not easily roused to acts of violence and crime.
In the court of the palace stands a high pillar, which tradition says criminals used to be compelled to mount before receiving their sentences. I could fancy this ancient pillar, ornamented with winged lions, must resemble that in the market-place in Venice. I observed also the shattered remains of another Venetian lion, which, a few years ago, was wantonly destroyed by one of the pachas. Near the pillar above alluded to are reared three gravestones, decorated with knightly escutcheons and Latin inscriptions.
In the evening I dined with the pacha, a gentleman of great intelligence, who has had a most thorough European education. Our conversation happened to turn upon those interesting relics of past ages. My host spoke with much regret of the damage constantly and wantonly done to them by Turkish soldiers, and bitterly deplored his own inability to check their destructive propensities, which are all the more difficult of restraint, as they proceed from religious enthusiasm; followers of Mahommed being strictly prohibited, by the Koran, to make any image; this prohibition being not only confined to works of wood and stone, but including the precious works of the sculptor and the painter. Before quitting this interesting city, I cannot refrain from adding the testimony of a writer of the fourteenth century to the salubrity of the climate around this city. “Nikosia,” he tells us, “lies beneath the shelter of surrounding hills, and is noted for the healthiness of its air and the purity of its balmy breezes. For this reason it was selected as the residence of the court, nobility, bishops, and in fact all such as were free to choose where they might settle. Tournaments and hunting formed Their chief amusements; leopards and a species of mountain goat being the favourite objects of chase.” The same authority states that the nobility of Cyprus were at that period the richest in the world, an income of 3000 gulden being regarded with no more respect than a few shillings would be in other places. All these fine fortunes seem to have suffered severely from the heavy expenses attendant on their favourite pastimes. We are told of a count of Jaffa, that he kept five hundred hounds and a servant for every two dogs. Many of these nobles did not have less than two hundred men as falconers and huntsmen. During their hunting excursions it was no uncommon thing for them to camp out in the woods and mountains for a month at a time, sleeping in their tents and taking camels and mules with them, ladened with all the necessaries of life. These nobles, we are told, were men of education and experience, speaking many languages and hearing all the news of the world from the intercourse they had with the constant stream of travellers who visited this richly endowed and famous land, from all parts. The same writer tells us that the city of Famagusta was still more noted than Nikosia for its riches, and enumerates the following instances of reckless expenditure and rich possessions.
“The daughter of a citizen in this city, is stated at the time of her betrothal to have been endowed with jewels that exceeded in value those in the crown of the King of France. One of the merchants of Famagusta, we are told, sold to the Sultan, for the sum of 60,000 gulden, an imperial ball of gold set with four fine stones, an emerald, a carbuncle, a pearl, and a sapphire; some years after, desiring to repossess it, he offered the monarch 100,000 gulden if he would return it, but was refused. Of the profusion of gold cloth, rich stuffs, and jewels of all kinds, he tells us he feels sure his statements would be regarded as incredible. The wood of the aloe alone, which is elsewhere regarded as very valuable, is so common here as to be held in no esteem.”
CYPRUS IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
When standing amidst the grand relics of a past age which meet the eye at every turn in the capital of this beautiful island, or when wandering about its dirty narrow streets, I could not but reflect on the manifold changes this fine city has undergone, and picture the days when she stood in the zenith of her fame and beauty.
The career of Cyprus is without a parallel in the history of the world. Here we find established in the very heart of the East, on Phœnician Grecian foundations, a mighty kingdom distinguished by its high display of all that adorned the finest age of chivalry, and in spite of all the agitations which beset the outer world, retaining these traditions till the close of the sixteenth century, when the Turks swept down upon her, carrying ruin and destruction in their train.
It will be worth one’s while to linger for a few minutes whilst we note the history of Cyprus during these four centuries. “This sweet island,” as the poets of the country are fond of calling her, was for nine hundred years under the dominion of the Byzantine kings, until in 1191 it was seized upon in a burst of anger by our own impetuous and rash Cœur de Lion, whose indignation had been excited by a refusal to allow his queen, Berengaria, to land. He at once forced a landing at Limasol, stormed the city, overthrew the prince’s army, and overspread the whole island, compelling the people to submit to him.
A prince of the house of Comnena was at this time on the throne. Richard, for the first time aware of the value of his new possession as a gathering point and resting-place in any further attempts upon the Turks, and yet unable to take the government upon his own shoulders, resolved to make money of his lucky acquisitions, and offered the crown to Wido (Guido) Lusignan, ex-king of Jerusalem, for the sum of 100,000 ducats. During the time of Richard’s possession he conducted himself with much severity to the inhabitants. Half the land was at once appropriated to the use of himself and his followers, a certain portion was set aside for his personal expenses and the endowment of churches and monasteries, and the rest divided and allotted as feudal tenures to his followers.
Such an El Dorado was not to be regarded with indifference by the adventurous knights of Christendom, and numbers followed in the wake of Richard to receive their share of the titles and baronial fiefs that were being lavished around.
As years went on, and one place after another was wrested from Christendom, monks and priests, anxious to find a comfortable resting-place, turned their steps to Cyprus.
Wido de Lusignan had brought no less than three hundred knights and two hundred squires in his train. These Knight Templars at once erected a lodge to their order in Limasol, and twenty years afterwards their numbers had greatly increased; some were English and German, but the majority Italians and Frenchmen. A reign of chivalry now arose which drew the eyes of Europe to this small and famed island. Wido, the first king of the Lusignan dynasty, only reigned three years, but his reign was marked by strenuous efforts to complete the subjection of the Cypriotes by the building of strong castles and fortresses. Order and justice distinguished his sway.
Amalrick, his brother and successor, was no sooner installed than he summoned his followers and announced his intention of at once offering his crown as a fief to some monarch powerful enough to protect him from all enemies. An embassy was sent to offer allegiance to the Emperor Henry the Sixth, of Germany, who recognised the importance of the step, and consented to uphold Amalrick as his vassal. The Archbishop of Trami and Brindisi was despatched to bear a sceptre to the royal vassal, and desire that the coronation might take place in the emperor’s presence when he visited the Holy Land. Amalrick, however, was averse to this delay, and his royal master therefore consented that the ceremony should be performed before a deputy.
In September, 1197, Bishop Hildesheim, the Imperial Chancellor, arrived, and received the oaths of the new king. The coronation was then celebrated before him in the principal church in Nikosia. Now commenced a long career of knightly deeds and chivalrous enterprises, led under the banner of the King of Cyprus, and many notable feats were performed by sea and land.
From 1285 to 1373 must be regarded as the most glorious period of this career of enterprise, the reigns of Henry the Second, Hugo the Fourth, and Peter the First being particularly distinguished in the annals of the times; Smyrna and Alexandria were conquered, and the emirs upon the coast compelled to pay tribute.
At this epoch, Cyprus was the centre of Eastern commerce, and merchandise was brought thither from Asia and Europe, either for exchange, or to be forwarded to other hands. The towns of Limasol, Paphos, and Keryneia, were crowded with merchandise from Constantinople, Beyrout, Damascus, and Alexandria, from Venice, Pisa, Genoa, Barcelona, and Marseilles. Famagusta was regarded as the principal mart of the Mediterranean, and a constant stream of pilgrims enlivened all the havens of Cyprus.
With the improved cultivation of the land and such developed commerce large sums of money were made, and in proportion as the wealth of the island increased an equal change in its inhabitants arose, and self-indulgence and cross extravagance began to sap the strength of the upper classes. The highest prosperity of Cyprus may be said to have continued for two hundred years. In 1337 its misfortunes recommenced. The Genoese fell upon the island and met with little or no resistance from the inhabitants, who were quite unprepared for the attack. Famagusta became the head-quarters of these merciless oppressors, who at once stretched forth an iron hand upon the trade of the country. Cyprus never rallied from this blow. A feeble attempt was made to drive out the invaders, but the Genoese called in the assistance of the Egyptian Mamelukes, who compelled the Cypriotes to pay them tribute.
Now arose a scene of anarchy and rapid decline; every man’s hand was against every man, and private revenge took the place of law and order. The interposition of the Venetian rule at this time must be regarded as a decided improvement on such a state of things. Katherine, the daughter of a lofty Venetian patrician, was given in marriage to James, the now insignificant prince of the unfortunate island, and jointly shared his throne. The marriage was celebrated in 1471, and the Venetian Senate adopted the queen as a daughter of St. Mark. In 1473 James died, and the Venetian Government at once assumed charge of his son. This child, however, dying, Katherine was persuaded by the Senate to abdicate in their favour. Meanwhile Charlotte Lusignan, only daughter of John the Third, who had married her cousin Louis, son of the Duke of Savoy and Anna of Cyprus, went to reside in Rome, where she died in 1487, bequeathing her claims to Charles Duke of Savoy, in consequence of which the sovereigns of that dynasty assumed the titles of kings of Cyprus and Jerusalem. (This interesting fact will explain the feeling with which our interference with the island has been regarded in Italy). The Venetian rulers at once attempted to restore order and foster expiring commerce, but without much success.
In 1571 the last traces of Cyprian glory disappeared under the blighting shadow of the Turkish banner. The people did not surrender without a struggle, but they were much enfeebled, and their Venetian rulers had already more possessions than they could maintain by force of arms. All Europe trembled before the successful troops of Suliman the Third. In 1566 the Cypriotes were commanded to fortify their capital, the city was to be reduced to a third of its then size, and surrounded by walls, moats, and eleven bastions, all buildings beyond these limits to be destroyed. The nobility and people willingly obeyed, and consented not only to execute the order, but bear all attendant expenses. Mansions and villas were torn down to make way for the new fortresses. Even the Dominican cloister, which contained the graves of their kings, was sacrificed, and of the eleven gates that then surrounded Nikosia only three were allowed to remain standing.
Selim the Second, Suliman’s successor, had a strong taste for Cyprian wine, the companion in his carousals being a Portugese Jew called Miguez Nassy. This man had once professed Christianity, but had found it convenient to renounce his faith. He is said to have incited Selim to put his son on the throne of Cyprus. In order to accomplish this end Selim appeared before Limasol in 1570, with the Turkish fleet. The arsenal in Venice was set in flames at this time; this act is supposed to have been committed by incendiaries sent thither by Nassy for that purpose. The Venetians in Cyprus had no force to withstand the Turkish troops, and the Cypriotes were too spirit-broken to fight for the land that was only cultivated to enrich their merciless taskmasters.
The Proveditore, Nicolaus Dandolo, decided to surrender the whole of the island, with the exception of Famagusta and Nikosia. The Turks landed without further hindrance and marched at once to the capital with 100,000 men, whilst their fleet kept guard, lest assistance might be sent from Europe. For seven weeks the city sustained the siege, and the nobility, ably supported by the lower orders, bore themselves like brave but desperate men. Twice the Turks led an assault, and twice were gloriously repulsed, until they were obliged to send for a reinforcement of 10,000 men, including many sailors, to aid them in the desperate struggle. The bold defenders of the capital were at no time more than 100,000 strong.
In the night on the 9th of September began the third general storming of the doomed city. The whole army threw itself as one man against the walls, and before sunrise three bastions were in the enemy’s hands; 20,000 men fell at the first shock, but their places were soon filled by those who pressed behind. The unfortunate women, as soon as they saw that all was lost, flung themselves in numbers from the roofs of the houses, and many daughters, we are told, met their death at the hand of their father or mother to save them from a worse fate. The carnage and work of destruction lasted for eight days, and when it ceased, what had once been a fair city was a mere open space, covered with blackened ruins, with only its still towering cathedral dome looking down upon the scene. Two thousand Turks remained to keep possession, whilst the rest of the army marched on to Famagusta.
Nikosia was in the hands of the Mussulmans, and the last Christian city in the East entirely destroyed. Enormous booty, comprising an immense amount of jewels, gold cloth, and fine works of art, and nearly a thousand of the fairest and noblest maidens, were put on board three ships to be sent to Constantinople, as tribute from Cyprus to the Sultan. A Greek lady on board; preferring death to the fate that awaited her, found her way to the powder magazine, which she ignited. The ship at once exploded, setting fire to its companion vessels, which were also totally destroyed; only a few sailors saved themselves by swimming. Four years later Sultan Selim, having enjoyed the choicest Cyprian wine to his heart’s content, happened one day to take a fuller cup than usual before entering his bath, his foot slipped and his skull was fractured on its marble floor. He only survived this accident eleven days.
DRAWING UP OF THE STATUTES.
We will now give our readers a brief sketch of the position held by the various classes during these three centuries. The knights and citizens, the former principally French and Italian by birth, and the latter Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Jews, were free. The patrician families in the towns took rank with the knights, and the household slaves were under the protection of the Government. The peasantry, on the contrary, were all held in bondage, and may be divided into three classes. The first class gave their lord two days’ service in the week, paid a poll-tax, and a third of all profits. The second class only paid the poll-tax, but were compelled to remain upon the land, whilst the third class (ελευθερα) were free to change their master, but were compelled to pay the half of their earnings to the lord under whose protection they preferred to live.
The king held his crown in the character of vassal to the German Emperor, and the heir-apparent was called Prince of Antioch. The chief officials of the crown were the Seneschal, Marshal, Chamberlain, and Constable; after them came the baronial vassals (_les hommes du royaume_), and next in order their dependents (_les hommes liges_). The barons were privileged to carry a square banner, with the motto “Cour, coin, justice,” to indicate that they enjoyed the homage and tribute of their serfs, and had power to chastise the latter by right of law. The eldest son inherited the fief, and in default of male issue, the eldest daughter. Homage had to be rendered for feudal tenure, and was performed in this wise: The vassal, male and female, knelt before the king, who took their hands in his own, whilst they declared themselves his true vassals, “ready to protect and revenge him to their last breath.” To which the king replied: “In God’s name and my own I receive your homage.”
If the vassal was a lady above twelve years old, her feudal lord was obliged to give her the choice of three knights, one of whom she must marry within a given time; should she refuse, her fief was forfeited for a year and a day, and she was called upon every year to yield until she was sixty years of age. Should the feudal chief on the contrary neglect this part of his duty, the lady was privileged to demand a choice of three knights, and bestow her hand on the one she preferred. All the barons appeared at stated times at the high court, accompanied by their vassals. In these assemblies all kind of weighty business was discussed in presence of the king, disputes arranged, and sentences of death passed for heavy crimes. There was also a lower court for the decision of legal suits. One of the decrees is worthy of note: “Whoever shall appear in this court and bear false witness, be he the noblest in the land, he shall lose his head.” The court was composed of the king’s vicomte or deputy, and twelve sworn justices chosen from the free citizens. All questions of the privileges of the citizens and commercial rights, as well as of theft and falsehood, were brought before this court. The laws and statutes in force were contained in a volume called “The Assizes of Jerusalem,” the “Livres des Assises et Bons Coutumes,” a splendid memorial of painstaking wisdom and anxious thought.
It has been stated that this fine collection of statutes was compiled by Godfrey de Bouillon, with the assistance of the wisest and noblest of his followers, after the conquest of Jerusalem. This was most probably a mere fable. Certain, however, it is that a double volume of laws, one for the upper, and the other for the lower court, was compiled in Jerusalem, inscribed in large letters, and sealed by the king, patriarch, and vicomte. This work was enclosed in a chest and deposited in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was decreed that the volume should not be taken from the chest except in the presence of those who had signed it, two priests belonging to the church, and four magistrates.
This collection of statutes was also known as the “Lettres du Sépulcre.” After the loss of Jerusalem this volume disappeared, but the same statutes were enforced in the high court at Akkon or Ptolomais, and were adopted in Cyprus. From thence they were taken to Constantinople in 1204, and to the Morea in 1210.
In the schools of jurisprudence in Nikosia the statutes contained in the “Assizes of Jerusalem,” were brought to great perfection with the aid of many able and leading men in the island; of these latter a long list of names has been preserved. The founder of this famous school of law, John d’Ibelin, Baron of Beyrout, was called John the Old, to distinguish him from his nephew, who bore the same name.
This noble, and Philip of Navarre, who boasted of having been present at every siege and attack of any importance in his time, were the most celebrated of this noteworthy group of public benefactors. Amongst other names, were those of Ralph of Tiberias, Godfrey le Tort, Gerard of Montreal, and John of Ibelin, Count of Jaffa and Askalon, and nephew of John the Old. The elder Ibelin and Philip of Navarre had been leaders in the long and bloody strife in which French chivalry in the East had frustrated the plans of the Emperor Frederick the Second, who was anxious to combine the political and military strength of Cyprus under his own imperial rule.
All the other knightly law-makers above enumerated, took part in this war. This emperor, who had already overcome the unruly nobility of his Italian dominions, had attained so high a reputation for wisdom and justice during his sojourn in the East, that many of the highest in rank and intellect supported his claims either openly or secretly. Philip of Navarre, who had diligently searched through many collections of laws, set himself to obtain all possible assistance from the law courts of Nikosia, Akkon, and Beyrout, and completed his arduous labours by arranging his materials into one grand statute book. This valuable work was afterwards considerably improved and enlarged by John of Ibelin. Like the “Lettres du Sépulcre,” this work was sealed up and placed in the cathedral in Nikosia, and might only be opened in the presence of the king and four barons: In this volume we find the entire code of the Middle Ages, and might take to heart many a lesson from the careful wisdom and far-seeing acuteness with which its laws were compiled.
Cyprus, the most eastern island of the Mediterranean, must be regarded as belonging to Western Europe, if we are to class it by its architecture, its Gothic cathedrals, lordly castles, and ruined abbeys; yet its mountain ranges would seem to connect it with Syria and its open plains with Egypt. Of all the ruins of the age of chivalry, that of the castle of Buffavento, “the defier of storms,” is certainly the noblest and most interesting. Never, even in Spain or Italy, have I seen a finer combination of rugged grandeur and romantic charm than is to be found in this extensive ruin. Most ancient castles stand on an eminence of some few hundred feet, but the crest of Buffavento is reared as high as the Lion Mountain, a dark rocky pyramid 3000 feet above the level of the sea. Early on the morning of the 24th of April I rode forth followed by my dragoman, zaptieh, and other servants, to visit this interesting ruin, the foot of the mountain on which it stands being about four leagues from Nikosia. My dragoman and I carried our guns with us, and as we left the town were at once stopped by some soldiers who wished to take them from us, it not being legal, they told us, for foreigners to carry arms in Cyprus.
After a lengthened parley, and many assurances from my men that I was under the protection, and a personal friend, of the pacha’s, we were allowed to proceed, and went on our way rejoicing. Our road now lay through the broad and fruitful plain of Messaria: golden corn was waving in the breeze, and not a living creature was visible on the vast expanse; only the song of the lark was to be heard as it rose and fell in the blue sky above us.
It was still early morning, and the Cypriotes have an opinion that it is not safe to visit their fields and pastures till later in the day. The silence was so intense as to be almost painful, and the lovely landscape did not seem to coincide with the death-like quiet that reigned around.
We passed two small villages, which appeared deserted, but for the crowing of a cock which was perched on a mud wall. When we reached Manilia, we had to ride through the bed of the ancient river Pedias, the water of which, it being the end of April, was low enough to admit of our crossing in safety. As we landed on the other side, we saw, for the first time that day, some labourers in the fields. These were the four wives of an amply bearded old Turk, who calmly smoked his pipe, keeping his eye on his family meanwhile, to see they did not shirk their work, which consisted of lopping off the ears of corn with a small sickle—mere child’s play. As we approached the old man shouted out something to his better halves, and one of them, a negress, immediately threw part of her garment over her face, and turned away. With the other three, however, curiosity overcame their bashfulness, and their veils were only slowly drawn down after we had enjoyed a good look at their very ordinary faces. As we continued our way, the line of mountains that bordered the coast lay before us in an uninterrupted line, thirty leagues in length, forming a natural bulwark along the northern portion of the island, and terminating in the Carpasian peninsula. This range reminded me of the Vosges mountains, but is much more varied in form, and is far richer in its productions.
The highest peak of this range is only from 2000 to 3000 feet high, but passing as it does through an extensive open plain, the effect of its height is very deceptive, the mountains appearing very much higher than they actually are. The crests of this range display every form of rocky beauty, and its peaks, chasms, precipices, and bold bluffs are covered in some parts with tints of reddish brown, and in others with a purplish blue mist that gives them an indescribable charm which I have never seen elsewhere. As we approached these mountains, the ground rose gradually, and we perceived the rocks were quite bare, every variety of tint being produced by the play of the sunbeams on the rugged stones.
We now drew nigh the monastery of St. Chrisostomo, and very refreshing was the sight of its walls standing embowered in green trees at the base of bare and rugged mountains. Olive-trees were planted in some of its declivities, and oleanders, which had finished flowering, bordered a small rivulet. Everything around seemed to woo us to repose; the air was fresh and balmy, and from the mountain height we heard from time to time the tinkle of the bells of the sheep and goats browsing down below. Two old monks stood at the door to bid us welcome, and insist upon our dismounting and accepting their hospitality. These appeared to be the only inhabitants of the half-ruined pile. I have since learnt that the number of monks is steadily decreasing in all the monasteries of Cyprus. In the cloister garden were three lofty cypresses, and a fine palm-tree. Masses of ivy were clinging about the branches of the old apple and orange-trees. This garden is at the height of 1300 feet above the sea, backed by a wall of rock fully 2000 feet high. The eye turned with relief from this vast, lofty, and rugged expanse, and the dry parched plain beyond, to the soft green of the shady garden, and its rippling water.
The two old men appeared delighted to meet with an inhabitant of the outer world, and earnestly pressed me to remain for some days. My time was too valuable even for lingering in this delightful retreat. Our fare consisted only of vegetables. Cyprian monks would appear to be always fasting—one day they eat turnips and onions, and on the next pumpkins and beans. This fashion is none of the pleasantest in a country where the monasteries are the only houses of entertainment that are always open. As soon as my hosts learnt I was a Bavarian, they informed me that the celebrated Maria of Molino was the foundress of their monastery, and a Bavarian by birth. I think the simple-hearted creatures had a sort of vague idea that she must have been an ancestress of my own. Dinner over, I seated myself in a cool corner, but was at once entreated, with outstretched hands, to take another place, as I was still warm after my journey. This is always the way in the East. If you are tired and heated, you must not drink, you must not sleep, and above all, in Heaven’s name! never sit in a draught, without you want to have fever. The only thing you are permitted to do is to throw a covering over you and wait till you are cool.
These constant precautions are no doubt necessary in these climates, still they produce an impression that danger is always at hand. This monastery of St. Chrisostomo, which was, probably, founded at a very early date, contains an ancient picture of Panagia. Great additions have been made to the original edifice, including a fine entrance and portal. The church is formed by two chapels with cupolas. At the time of my visit the floors of the chapels were thickly strewn with branches of myrtle in celebration of the feast of Easter. It is probable that Mary of Molino only beautified this edifice and increased its revenues. Tradition says that the unfortunate saint being a leper, was advised by St. Chrisostomo to bathe in the rivulet in the monastery garden. She did so, and was healed; her gratitude being shown by munificent gifts to the brotherhood. Certain it is that two hundred years ago crowds of lepers visited this spot, in order to wash in the monastery stream, to be cured of their fearful disease. This pilgrimage is now never undertaken, either because the water is not as abundant as in days gone by, or because happily this hideous malady is comparatively rare. During my stay in Cyprus I did not see one leper except outside Nikosia. This same Mary of Molino, whose bones lie in these mountains, according to another tradition, built the castle of Buffavento, choosing this elevated situation, we may suppose, to remove herself entirely from the haunts of men. If she executed such an undertaking, she must have enjoyed the revenues of a princess. Looking up at this grand old pile one is struck by its strength and size, and when, on closer survey, one finds that two similar fortresses are situated on the same chain of mountains, at about four leagues right and left of Buffavento, called respectively Kantara and St. Hilarion, that these castles command the mountain passes and the roads to the city of Keryneia, and that this town had the best haven on the north side of the island, one is naturally led to conclude that these fortresses were in fact erected by some enterprising conqueror, in order to hold the whole island under his control. Buffavento, perched high upon the Lion Mountain, looks down upon its companion fortresses with the air of a defiant spirit gazing down upon the country that it formerly kept in check. On my inquiring of my hosts if any one ever climbed to the castle, they assured me the ascent was some thousand feet high, and that they had no guide to assist me. Their awestruck manner whilst speaking of such an attempt led me to suppose that they fancied the ruins were infested by evil spirits. They, however, informed me that ten years ago two Germans attempted the ascent, and that the younger of the two reached the top. This was no doubt the traveller Kotschy, an account of whose ascent is given by his companion Unger. Encouraged by this report, I determined to make the attempt myself.
Our road (with my servants we were a party of four) lay now for half a league along the declivity, our path appearing and disappearing at frequent intervals. As we passed along I observed many bee-hives. These were formed by earthen pots placed one upon another, with a small hole at the side. Close against a rocky flight of steps we found a small building in ruins. Here, I am told, there was formerly a garden, so lovely that it was known as “Paradise,” Buffavento was previously called “the Queen’s Castle,” Castello de Regina, from its having been a favourite resort of the island queens during the hot season. We can well imagine that whilst they held court above, their knights and squires had jovial times in the neighbouring monastery of San Chrisostomo. When we reached the house called “Paradise,” I dismounted and looked around. Certainly the spot was one on which the eye loved to linger. Formerly the mountain was covered with trees, which have now disappeared. Below lay rippling waters and fertile pastures, and in the background the beautiful capital of the island. As I looked I saw in the distance a shepherd boy, who, it occurred to me, might be willing to act as guide in our adventurous undertaking. My zaptieh galloped after him and brought him to me. The young peasant seemed to regard the matter as an excellent joke, and willingly agreed to conduct us, honestly assuring us, however, that he had never yet reached the summit himself. Our guide at once commenced mounting with the agility of a young goat, and I followed in his wake, whilst behind came my dragoman and zaptieh, groaning and panting, with drops of anguish upon their brows. My heart beat with delight when, after half an hour’s climbing, we reached the mountain’s ridge, and looked down from a precipice several thousand feet high, broken in all directions by enormous clefts and gullies, whilst beyond lay a broad expanse of blue sea. The coast from here is about a league from the foot of the mountain, and every inch of the ground is valuable. Gardens, orchards, and meadows extended formerly in all directions. Along the coast are small villages, lying, as is very unusual in Cyprus, so near, that I could see from the one to the other. In this narrow strip of country are still to be found some traces of the ancient beauty and fertility of this neglected island. This is certainly rightly regarded as the richest district in Cyprus, whilst its fine sea breezes and numerous mountain streams render it one of the healthiest. My gaze lingered long on Keryneia, whose elevated fortress formed a most striking object on the line. Directly beneath us, so close that I could have dropped a stone upon it, lay Bellapais embedded in olive-trees, the finest monastic ruin I am told in Cyprus. Cloisters, refectory, and the knight-chamber are still recognisable. The abbot was entitled to carry the spurs and dagger of a knight, and his monastery was a favourite resort of crusaders and pilgrims. As I turned towards the interior of the island, I beheld a broad expanse glowing in the sunlight. This, the extensive plain of Messaria, occupies nearly half of the island, and two centuries ago was one huge highly-cultivated field, filled with corn, vines, fruit, and vegetables. Numerous cotton and silk weaving establishments also formerly flourished here. Every year this once fruitful plain becomes more unfit for cultivation, and stones and marshes usurp what was once a scene of the highest cultivation. Nothing fills the mind of the traveller in Cyprus with sadder reflections than the sight of this general ruin and rapid decay.
I now commenced climbing the precipitous mountain before me, which towered aloft in rugged majesty, stretching its peaks and precipices to the right hand and the left. My dragoman endeavoured to follow me, but sank down in dismay at the task before him. Indistinct murmurings reached my ear, and I have no doubt that if I could have heard his words, they were not prayers for my success, but maledictions on my adventurous head. I believe he and my zaptieh were fully convinced that my ascent was made in the hope of finding concealed treasure; for when at last they reached the ruin, my slightest movement was jealously watched, and my every act evidently regarded with suspicion. We entered the ancient fortress by an arched doorway, which is still in good preservation, and mounted slowly from one ruin to another; many of the chambers in these being mere excavations in the solid rock, and resembling bakers’ ovens in appearance.
In such places as the nature of the rocks would permit, hollow basins were formed and channels cut to receive the springs that then flowed in all directions on the mountain. We came upon several of these receptacles, and saw traces of what had evidently been much more important water tanks. In the fortress itself, comparatively slight walls were interspersed with rude masses of masonry, and both were cemented to their foundations by mortar, literally as hard as stone. The ruin appeared to consist of six divisions rising one above the other, and all connected by the ramparts. Such a fortress could never have been reduced as long as its defenders had bread and wine enough to support life. Perhaps there are few stranger scenes than that of a ruin situated thus in mid-air. Danger in climbing there was none, beyond the risk of slipping, as we seized at a piece of old masonry in mounting from rock to rock and tower to tower.
One of the principal towers is still in tolerable preservation, and to this I at once ascended, and was more than rewarded for the attempt. Before me lay on the one side an awful precipice, at the foot of which stretched green plains and a broad expanse of sea, and on the other side a sunny plain extending to the lofty mountains of the western part of the island with Mount Troados showing its snow-capped head. On one side a wall or rock rose towering towards the sky and hid a portion of the coast from my view. Observing the summit of this rock attentively, I felt convinced that I could discern a building on its peak. My servants were tired and refused to assist me in any further explorations. Formerly, no doubt, this eminence had been reached by means of wooden bridges, but no trace of them was left, and a sheer and rugged wall towered above us and presented the appearance of being perfectly inaccessible. In vain I sought for anything like a foothold. At last a bright idea flashed upon me; I seized our guide by his shoulders and pointing out the building at the summit of the rock, put my arms about a block of stone, mounted upon it by this means, and then again pointed to the summit. The boy laughed and nodded, and, without a moment’s hesitation, commenced scrambling up the face of the rock, pausing as he every now and then reached a safe footing, to look down upon us after the manner of the mountain goat, whose agility he emulated. My zaptieh gazed upon me with a countenance highly expressive of the conviction that all chance of his sharing any hidden treasure I might find was now over; but I have no doubt comforted himself with the hope of getting from the boy a full account of all that was done above. I now commenced following my nimble guide, and, thanks to a steady head, found the attempt by no means as dangerous as it had appeared from below; reaching the summit considerably sooner than we anticipated. Here I found a tower and the remains of a wall with apertures where windows had once been, and chambers excavated in the rock. The view from this point amply repaid me for all my exertions. A long greenish yellow line of coast lay between the sea and the mountain, whilst the towering rocks of Asia Minor were visible on the horizon. At first they appeared like clouds, but gradually I distinctly recognised the Caramanian range and the Cilician Mount Taurus, and could distinguish their various outlines and fields of snow.
The most remarkable feature in this scene, however, was the range of mountains on which I stood, and of which the peak of Buffavento, rising some 3000 feet above the sea, appeared the highest point. Seen from this view the ranges resembled enormous furrows, extending along the coast and stretching far into the sea. The narrow neck of land, the tongue of the island, as the Greeks call it, which extends towards the opposite continent, forms the Carpasian peninsula. The inhabitants of this part of the island are of fairer complexion, and are stronger, and of more lively disposition than the rest of their countrymen; they have also, we are told, many customs peculiar to themselves. It is supposed this peninsula was formerly colonised by a band of German crusaders. In St. Andronika a fête is annually held in honour of a German lady, who came over from Syria and settled in this spot, where she lived as a recluse, and died in the odour of sanctity. Other authorities tell us that many traces of ancient Greek are to be met with in the dialects spoken by the inhabitants, which are quite unknown to the languages spoken in other parts of Cyprus. A gentleman who visited this peninsula informed me that the people are very inhospitable, dirty, and shy of strangers. Their food consists principally of barley bread; their clothes are made of sackcloth, and their dwellings formed in caves, in the rocks, and other equally wretched situations, and are without either tables or beds. The north-western declivities are covered with fig-trees. Altogether, the description did not tempt me to make my own observations in this, but rarely-explored spot. As I descended from my lofty perch I noticed that the walls and towers had been blown up with gunpowder. This was done by the Venetians, shortly after they took possession of the island. In 1489 they proceeded to destroy all the noble castles and fortresses of the interior, in the fear that they might be used as strongholds in case of rebellion against their rule. These fortresses were, therefore, thrown down as dangerous, and useless to the Venetians themselves, whose fine fleet enabled them to land men at any part of the island. Some few fortresses, however, on the coast, such as Famagusta, were kept in tolerable repair. The crown lands were put up for sale to the highest bidder, and were, in many instances, bought by the lower class of nobles, who in this manner became a power in the land, opposed to the barons of long descent, who had been the pride of Cyprus under the dynasty of Lusignan. These latter felt themselves highly injured, but what could they do? The Venetian senate gave them the title of allies, and made no attempt to interfere with the book of statutes, but left the barons no occupation beyond that of hunting and feasting. They, therefore, retired to their castles or abbeys, and commenced leaving the country. The Venetians had rendered Cyprus defenceless and taxed her so heavily that a strong desire arose among the inhabitants for a change of government. Such were the destroyers of Buffavento; as to who actually built the noble fortress in such a commanding situation opinions greatly differ.
I had scarcely reached my lodging in Nikosia when the pacha came to return my visit, accompanied by his dragoman and first secretary. He inquired with great interest what I had been doing since we met, and seemed much surprised on hearing that I had reached the summit of Buffavento, he having always been given to understand that it was quite inaccessible. In the evening I called upon him, and we talked far into the night on the history of the past.
My kind friend had travelled far and read deeply, and in all points of political history showed himself an excellent authority. As we sat chatting I could not help contrasting this highly educated gentleman with the pachas who formerly inhabited his palaces. Only 101 years ago a most curious scene was enacted under this very roof.
In July, 1764, there came to Cyprus as governor, a necessitous and avaricious man, named Izil Osman Aga. The first decree he issued was to the effect that every Christian should pay him 44-1/2 piastres (10 francs); and every Mussulman 22 piastres (about 5 francs). This impost was exactly double the usual poll-tax required from the subjects by their governors. The begs, agas, and bishops assembled shook their heads and declared the charge to be beyond the capacity of the people. Izil Osman Aga replied that the money must be forthcoming, and sent out officials in all directions to make fresh extortions. All remonstrances were met by the remark, that if the people considered he was acting illegally they were at liberty to report him at Constantinople. Deputies were, therefore, sent at once to the Bosphorus. Week after week passed but nothing was heard of these emissaries. The bishops, after some consideration, decided to follow the delegates, but were seized and prevented by the governor from executing their plan. In the mean time the unfortunate citizens secretly found a powerful advocate at Constantinople, and on October 31st an emissary from the Grand Vizier landed in Cyprus, cited the governor to appear before him in his palace, at Nikosia, to receive the commands of his prince. These commands were threefold: he was to return half the poll-tax, his other extortions were to be inquired into, and his advisers punished. Izil Osman Aga affected to apologise, and suggested that it would be more worthy the dignitary who had to reprimand him if he were to read his decrees publicly in the state-chamber of his residence, before the assembled body of his accusers. On this suggestion the Tschokodar invited begs, agas, bishops, and noble Greeks to attend. On the 5th of November these assembled, followed by a dense crowd, who filled the grand hall, and crowded the courts and staircases. At least three hundred people were in the chamber, and on every countenance commendation of the Sultan’s justice was to be read. The Tschokodar seated himself beside the governor, on the divan, which was placed at the upper end of the hall, drank his coffee, and after handing his cup to an attendant, began his announcement. The first sentence was read and the people nodded their approval, when suddenly the entire floor gave way directly in front of the divan, and the whole crowd fell pell-mell into the space below. Cries and shrieks filled the air. Shaken and bruised the frightened crowd scrambled to their feet, for the fall had not been great, and a few broken legs was all the damage done. When the three hundred victims of this strange occurrence had recovered themselves, they proceeded to investigate the cause of the accident; a very simple explanation was at once discovered—all beams and supports below the floor of the state-chamber had been sawn away, and were ready to fall the moment a cord was pulled. Cries of rage and vengeance resounded through the streets, and all agreed that the governor had contemplated nothing less than the destruction of the whole assembly; the Tschokodar also felt uneasy, for certain sharp pains felt after drinking his coffee led him to suppose that it had been poisoned. Under these circumstances a protocol was drawn up by the Tschokodar, mollahs, kadis, and other citizens of rank, containing a statement concerning the accident in the state-chamber, requiring the governor to answer for it to them. Their messenger was received with mockery and insult: a second and a third delegate were sent, but with the same result. The mollahs pronounced the governor an offender against the law and the Sultan.
Scarcely was this sentence declared than the populace rushed to the palace. The governor, however, had foreseen this. All the entrances were closed and soldiers with guns in their hands placed at the open windows, who shot down any men who ventured to approach as coolly as if they had been cocks and hens. Enraged beyond endurance the people now rushed on, and a fight ensued which raged for two hours. At last bundles of straw and brushwood were placed against the grand entrance and ignited. In a very short time the door gave way and the people crowded in, killing all they found, amongst them the governor himself. Nineteen of his attendants fell on this occasion and the rest found safety in flight; the treasury was rifled and everything of value secured. This done the crowd quietly returned home. In three hours time the town looked just as usual, and the Grecian feast of St. Demetrius was carried on next day as if nothing had occurred. Five days later the Tschokodar returned to Constantinople, leaving perfect order and discipline behind him.
So matters stood till the following year, when a new governor, Hafiz Mahommed Effendi, landed; a shrewd and prudent man, who speedily won the confidence of his people. Shortly after his arrival some of those around him, wishing to curry favour, laid before him a list of all those who had attacked the palace, and tried to convince him that these should not go unpunished, if only for the sake of his own position and dignity. After long consideration the governor at last decided to issue an edict, announcing that he had been sent to Cyprus for the preservation of order, and that any attempt to disturb the same would be punished by the loss of the offenders’ heads, and that in consideration of past events he must demand a poll-tax of fourteen piastres from all Turks and Greeks, old men, women, and children being excepted. After payment of this fine all was to be forgotten and forgiven.
The Greeks were delighted to be let off so easily, but the Turks laid their heads together and asked each other by what right the new governor interfered with what had occurred before his time. Izil Osman Aga had been declared an offender against the law and the Sultan, and in executing him they had only acted as protectors of law and justice. They therefore replied to the demand that they had only acted as faithful servants of the Sultan in revenging themselves upon his enemies, whilst the governor on his side responded that his dignity would not permit of his withdrawing the edict.
On this some hundreds of the malcontents assembled in the village of Kytherea and took possession of the mill at which corn was ground daily for all the inhabitants of Nikosia. They also cut off the water supply to the city. The greatest consternation prevailed, and the prudent governor thought it best to send a deputy to Kytherea to offer to withdraw the fine. This wise act was fully appreciated by the people, and order and peace were once more restored. The governor, however, felt deeply the contempt shown for his authority, and at once set himself seriously to bring some of the higher officials to his way of thinking. He laid in a good store of weapons and powder, and then considering himself strong enough to maintain his authority, again issued the edict.
The men of the city were less inclined than before to submit. On this occasion they chose as their rallying point the famous fortress, on the coast, called Keryneia, five leagues north of Nikosia. This castle was inhabited by a rich and respected noble named Halil Aga, who was as ambitious as he was resolute. His castle was soon bristling with arms and occupied by 2000 men, who at once announced to the governor that they purposed to do battle with him, to decide the question of the fourteen piastres. Some days later they again cut off the mill at Kytherea from the use of the city, and appeared before the walls of the capital. Hafiz Mahommed Effendi thought it best to strike a decisive blow without further delay. He therefore fell upon the attacking party, but met with a severe and bloody repulse. The rebels followed him up and endeavoured to storm the town. The walls and defences, however, proved too strong for them, and Halil Aga therefore decided to blockade the city and summon the whole island to his assistance. People flocked to him from all parts, and such as refused to join him were treated as enemies of their country, and their houses burnt about their ears. Whole villages were set in flames. The unfortunate governor of Nikosia was at his wit’s end, for the citizens were suffering severely from famine. For the second time he was compelled to announce that he would withdraw his claim. The desired effect was at once obtained, and the besiegers laid down their arms, but not before the ringleaders had bound themselves by an oath to stand by each other in case of future necessity.
Whilst these events were taking place in Cyprus the three archbishops of Nikosia, Baffo, and Keryneia, had privately sailed for Constantinople, laid their complaint before the Porte, and had so far succeeded in their mission that a new governor was to be sent out; Soliman Effendi, a very worthy old man, was appointed for this purpose, and he, they hoped, would prove a mere puppet in their hands. Acting under these advisers the new governor landed at Keryneia, and sent Halil Aga some magnificent presents, highly complimenting him on his zeal for the public good. On this Halil Aga allowed Soliman Effendi to land and proceed at once, without any opposition, to the capital. A serious complication now arose with the old and new governors of Cyprus, and the former declared he would not resign until he had quelled the insurrection. The weak but good-natured Soliman at once agreed to this view of the case, and put himself completely under the advice and influence of the man he ought to have supplanted. He sent messenger after messenger to Halil Aga with the most dazzling proposals, and assured him that if he would come to Nikosia he should be put in command of the cavalry. Halil Aga was, however, too wise to put his neck in such a noose. Further steps were taken on either side; the insurgents gradually returned to their homes, and order was again restored. This happy state of things continued until early in the following year, when the two governors, who could not let the question of the fourteen piastres rest in peace, again issued an edict commanding the immediate payment of the sum in question. Hafiz Mahommed had now a strong party, and many in the city would willingly have paid the fine for the murdered governor’s death sooner than aid and abet in fresh disturbances. The mass of the inhabitants, on the contrary, declared that the carrying out of the edict must be prevented, even at the risk of fresh bloodshed, and made the matter a question of their civil and religious liberty. The governor had his proper sources of revenue, and the Sultan his import duties and tithes, but such a thing as a fine for the death of a murdered person, could be claimed only by the relatives of the victim, and the demand, they maintained, was in direct opposition to the Koran. In these terms the mollahs had condemned the action of the governors, and the janissaries, as the ancient defenders of freedom and religion, had confirmed their judgment. An open revolt at once took place, the citizens flew to arms and hurried to Keryneia, and in a very short space of time Halil Aga had 5000 men mustered under his banner. In order to obtain possession of two out of the principal fortresses, Halil Aga suddenly appeared before Famagusta, the famous stronghold on the opposite side of the island, but was speedily repulsed. He now encamped before Nikosia, and put the capital in a state of siege, announcing that he demanded, himself, to be appointed governor of the island. Neither Mahommed nor Soliman would agree to the proposition, and Halil Aga then informed them that he had private commands from the Sultan, and requested they would visit him in his camp and hear them read. This wily message met with no response beyond such as came from the mouths of the defenders’ guns. Meanwhile disturbances arose all over the island. After many attempts to storm the capital, and many sallies on the besieging army from within her fortifications, Halil Aga also obtained some cannon, and at once commenced a merciless attempt to force a passage through the walls. Distress and alarm filled the unfortunate town. At the earnest petition of such of the inhabitants as desired peace the English consul came over from Larnaka and endeavoured to mediate between the opposing parties. Halil Aga demanded on his part that a sealed deed should be given him, offering free pardon to all who had fought under his banner, and that all the janissaries and officials who had joined his flag, should be reinstated in all their former posts. Secondly, that the people of Nikosia should accept him as their governor if he could obtain the approval of the Sultan. The besieged governors would only give way as to the free pardon, so the fighting continued as before. Meanwhile news of what was going on in the island had reached the adjacent lands and seas, and foreign powers, who had sufficient troops to carry out the undertaking began to speculate as to the advisability of taking advantage of such a tempting opportunity to appropriate the island. The Porte could be readily appeased, it was supposed, by offers of gold, and plentiful doses of flattery, and would not refuse to confirm any new government in its acts. Ibrahim Bey was the first who arrived in Cyprus, having crossed over with his men in two small galliots, but finding his forces too weak to attempt anything he at once retired. Directly after this, another corsair, Dschassar Bey, appeared upon the scene with a frigate and three small munition vessels. Having speedily landed his men, he took possession of the castle, near the salt works of Larnaka. Halil Aga having heard of this new arrival marched to remonstrate with him, and his overpowering force proved such an excellent argument that this invader also hurried from the field. The third adventurer was Giergil Oghlu, the governor of Karamania, situated on the opposite coast to Cyprus. On the 27th of June he appeared before Famagusta with a few hundred men, who overran the adjacent country, plundering and destroying with the utmost brutality. Before the very gates of the fortress, they are said to have speared seven Greeks and beheaded two Turks. Happily on this same day Kyor Mahommed Pacha, of two tails, landed at Larnaka with 2000 foot soldiers and 500 cavalry bearing orders from the Sultan to restore peace. He requested the consuls of the various European powers to meet him, and seems to have much astonished them all by permitting them to sit in his presence during the discussion that ensued. Having heard a full account of the state of things, his first step was to command Giergil Oghlu to place himself and his troops under his standard. He then requested the English consul to write a letter to the camp around Nikosia, stating that the pacha commanded all to retire quietly to their homes, promising to show justice to all, and announcing that his mission was only intended to restore peace. On the 1st of July, shortly after the despatch of this letter, the pacha marched towards Nikosia with all his men and accompanied by the Karamanian troops.
Terror and consternation went before him, for report had much exaggerated the number of his followers. Deserters streamed out of Halil Aga’s camp until only about two hundred faithful followers were left; with these he retired to his fortress of Keryneia. This castle, which is situated on the coast, is backed by steep rocks, with the sea in front, whilst the country round is so plentifully supplied with flowers and fruit as to form a veritable paradise.
Ample means of entertainment for the garrison were provided, and they thought themselves prepared to make an obstinate resistance. Should the worst come to the worst they trusted to save themselves readily by sea, as the fortress had an entrance which opened directly on the shore, and some small ships were anchored in the haven. Message after message was sent from the pacha, commanding Halil Aga to surrender in the name of the Sultan, to which he replied that he was defending the castle for that potentate. On the 28th of July, Kyor Mahommed encamped about Keryneia, and at once commenced filling up the moats and making breaches in the walls for the purpose of mounting the latter with their scaling ladders. The besieged knew how to use their guns, and behaved with so much spirit, that every attack was repulsed.
The troop ships of the pacha now arrived and opened fire on the fine old fortress, trying it most severely. Behind them were seen Dschassar Bey, with his frigate and two other ships; and last, though not least, Ibrahim Bey and his three little galliots. These new arrivals completely closed Keryneia on the sea side, and rendered escape that way utterly hopeless. The efforts of the besieged were now prompted by despair. The pacha was becoming uneasy at the long delay, fearing daily that there would be a general rising against him in the island, and had recourse to base cunning to overcome his brave antagonist.
The captain of the line ships, Meleky Bey, was desired to demand a secret interview with Halil Aga. This meeting took place on the night of the 14th of August, on which occasion Meleky forcibly urged that it would be advisable for Halil Aga to come on board the ships of the line, and trust to his friendly intervention for favourable terms. There could be no question of safety, for was it not well known that Turkish sailors would be hewn in pieces before they would betray a man who had trusted to their honour? Meleky spoke with so much apparent frankness that Halil Aga fell into the trap, and before night he had taken shelter on one of the ships. Next day he was handed over to the pacha, who, however, received him kindly, and offered him a tent for his own use.
As soon as this reception was known in the castle, the garrison surrendered at discretion. The position was at once changed. All the women were allowed to retire with bag and baggage, but the men were declared prisoners. Halil Aga’s officers were thrown into chains, and he himself closely watched.
On the 19th instant, the unfortunate captive was brought before the pacha, who received him kindly, and requested to hear from his own lips who had been implicated in the rising. This done, the pacha changed his tone, and angrily demanded whether Halil Aga supposed that the Sultan intended that his fortresses should be used for seditious purposes? As he spoke, some of his minions entered, and the unhappy victim of his treachery was strangled on the spot.
On the 21st of August, Giergil Oghlu and his wild crew were desired to set sail, without having been allowed to land. The pacha retired with his prisoners, and his myrmidons at once spread over the island. All those who had been implicated in the late revolts, and were still free, quitted Cyprus. Many, however, were captured before they reached the coast. Investigations into the recent events were set on foot in Nikosia, and at its conclusion two hundred of the accused were decapitated. Their heads, with that of Halil Aga, were salted down, and sent to Constantinople, with a full account of what had occurred in this island.
Kyor Mahommed was made a pacha of three tails and governor of the pachalik of Koniah. Hafiz Mahommed had been previously desired to leave Cyprus, and Soliman Effendi reigned in his stead. So ended a sad page in the history of this unlucky island, which during these three years of insurrection, had lost the flower of her Turkish population, and seen her castles and buildings destroyed.
These ruins were never rebuilt; successive misfortunes and the insecurity of the future prospects of the island seem to have quenched all spirit of emulation and progress in the much-tried population, and Cyprus appeared to have finally lost her proud place in the world’s history.
THE PLAINS OF CYPRUS.
Early on the morning of the 25th of April, I bade adieu to Nikosia, the capital of Cyprus—a fair city even in these days of her ruin and decay. As I look back at her, as she appeared to me, I always find myself comparing the image with that of a stately and beautiful dame over whose faded charms, faint and occasional flashes of former loveliness are now and then visible. The day was glorious as I left the dark city gates and stepped forth upon the bright and boundless plains; cornfields extended to the feet of the long chain of mountains, which glowed with deepest purple in the foreground, and towered black and shadowy in the far distance; whilst straight before me, from behind the dark, cloud-like masses, peeped the snowy head of Mount Olympus. This name “Olymp,” which is conferred in almost every Grecian island upon the noblest snow-capped mountains, has the same signification as our word “Alp.”
I had determined to ascend the Cyprian Olympus, and to this end had made many inquiries concerning it. Had I desired information about some unknown and unexplored region, the few particulars I gained could not have been more vague and trifling. I could meet with no one who had ever made the ascent of Troados, as the mountain is now called, or even learn whether the monastery of Troaditissa was situated on its summit or lay below in one of the neighbouring valleys. The Cypriotes love their ease too well to undertake these kind of excursions, and only ridicule what they consider such unnecessary exertion on the part of the traveller. Our party had not ridden more than a mile and a half before cultivation ceased, and on all sides nothing was visible but a dry and barren waste. On this occasion I travelled over about fifteen leagues of country, and did not see more than two or three small villages in the whole distance. One of these was built upon a stream which certainly must contain water enough to irrigate the neighbouring fields and gardens during the winter and spring, yet all the dwellings were in ruins, and no plough had turned the pastures for certainly ten or twenty years.
With his usual kindness, my good friend the pacha had sent a zaptieh who was to accompany me throughout the island and give an account to his master on his return. This was a great convenience to me, as it is usual to exchange the zaptieh at every successive district. The country was very plentifully stocked with game; quails, partridges, and larks rose in large quantities into the air, disturbed by our approach. In the presence of this, my body guard, the pacha had explicitly stated that I was at liberty to shoot where and as I pleased, so my dragoman, who had had some experience of sport in his leisure hours, and I were able to obtain some good shooting on our journey. Zaptieh Hussein, my man, was a fine fellow in his way, prompt and quick at expedient. Like most other Turkish soldiers, his mind was rude and shallow, but his frame strong, muscular, and enduring. Those who understand the management of these men will find them faithful and contented servants. In either mounting or dismounting, when going after these birds, I had managed to lose my tobacco pouch; this pouch and contents were a little memento of my visit to Cavalla, on the Roumelian coast, where the finest Turkish tobacco grows. In the East, where the slave smokes equally with the noble, from morning till night, to lose one’s tobacco may be regarded as a real misfortune. My dragoman pulled a long face when he heard what had happened, and my horse-boy informed me that he had only a little very bad tobacco to offer me. Hussein did not say a word, but put spurs to his horse and was out of sight in a moment.
We rode on slowly for an hour before my zaptieh overtook us, and when he reached me, he drew my pouch from his breast pocket. When a pacha or a kaimakan has half a dozen such men on his staff he will not fail to be obeyed in his district. A zaptieh will ride ten leagues to secure an offender, seize him in the midst of his own friends, fasten his prisoner to his saddle-girths, and bring him, dead or alive, to his master. These are the men whose obstinate and manly spirit has so prolonged the agonies of their country in its struggles with its enemies. Call it fanaticism if you will, but one can but admire the courage and devotion that will sacrifice life and property, if their rulers or religion are in danger. On such emergencies the scanty earnings of a life are drawn from the chest, where they have been hoarded for years, to assist in procuring what is necessary for the strife. Sabres and guns are girded on, and for weeks these devoted servants of the Prophet will fight without pay and deprived of every comfort, under the very guns of the enemies’ batteries.
We now rode directly for the foot of the mountain over ground covered with short grass, stunted shrub, and dwarf palms. Now and again we passed spots covered with a variety of red, yellow, and blue flowers, besides many tulips and bulbous plants. It was a glorious ride and the air delightful, so clear that the eye was never weary of endeavouring to penetrate farther and farther into the horizon.
About 11 o’clock, having never passed an inhabited dwelling, we reached a village that lies about five miles from Nikosia, called Akazi. I can only give its Grecian name, as, though I found the place on the map the pacha had given me, none of our party could read its Turkish designation. We breakfasted in this village, and after a two hours’ rest proceeded on our way.
It being Easter every one was taking advantage of the fête to lounge or lie about in the open air, while some stood in groups round the church where the village priest was celebrating mass. This fête lasts four days, but the people generally manage to make a whole week’s holiday of it, and give up themselves to hearing masses and perfect idleness. The population of this village looked strong and healthy, which is the more surprising when one considers the amount of fasting imposed upon them. Not only are there two fast days in every ordinary week, but on all sorts of extraordinary occasions. I am told that the number of these fast days amounts to no less than a hundred and fifty in the course of the year! I must here remark that this is no child’s playing at abstinence—only bread and green stuff are permitted, not even milk or oil may be partaken of. Wonderful indeed is it to our minds to observe on how few meals a Greek family can subsist. Even in the houses of tolerably well-to-do people they never cook more than twice or three times in the week, and fish or flesh are rare delicacies. This fact will partly explain the slight degree in which the island is now cultivated. Fruits in great variety and vegetables of many kinds grow wild and form staple articles of food. It is no uncommon thing to see the Cypriotes gathering their repast as they go along and eating it without farther ceremony.
When we once more started on our way, the sun’s rays beat down upon us with terrible power, and as I panted beneath it, I could not but compare it with that monster of the African desert, the yellow lion, prowling about with ravening jaws “seeking whom it may devour.”
I had heard much of the unbearable heat of the island during the summer season, when the air is heavy and damp, when foliage and grass are withered up, a drop of water scarcely to be obtained, and man and beast are panting for a breath of fresh air. We felt the sun oppressive, but seeing the country as we did in its pride of verdure and covered with flowers, one could scarcely picture the spot under so different an aspect.
Towards evening we came in sight of Mount Olympus. Water, as clear as crystal, was trickling down the lower rocks in all directions, and a delicious breeze blowing from Olympus cooled our weary frames and raised our drooping spirits as we lay, surveying the scene around us, upon the banks of a rivulet, completely surrounded by oleander bushes. Thus refreshed, we continued our way along the course of the stream under the shade of numerous trees which became more luxuriant and various as we advanced.
This delightfully wooded valley contrasted well with the bare naked rocks above. All day I had seen the snowy crest of Mount Olympus towering above its dark companions, and had imagined that it could only boast a snowy cap. Now, as it rose before us, clearly distinguishable from the rocks around, I found that the snowy veil extended far down its sides and slopes. All true Alpine features are entirely wanting, and to me there seemed something harsh and unattractive in the bare and unbroken character of its naked rock.
Whilst it was still light we reached Evrychu. This, the prettiest and most populous village in Cyprus, is situated in a lovely valley surrounded by fruitful and luxuriant pastures, whilst above it tower majestic groups of picturesque mountains. Evrychu lies 1700 feet above the level of the sea, and contains seven hundred inhabitants; amongst these, however, not more than a hundred families pay taxes. This luxuriant valley might readily produce enough to support ten times the number of people now dwelling there. When we arrived, evening service was being performed in the church, and it is no exaggeration to say that the whole of the inhabitants were around its walls, from the youngest child to the most infirm of its old men and women. This open-air gathering had a fine and solemn effect. The people themselves appeared to me to differ in many respects from the short, stout inhabitants of the coast and plains, who look as though heat and perspiration had baked the dust and dirt into their skins. The people of Evrychu, on the contrary, are well grown and finely made, and their complexions fresh and blooming. Amongst the women and girls I noticed a great number of pretty faces. There can be no doubt as to the fact that these people are descended from the old Greek settlers, whilst those in the open country and on the sea coast are descended from a mixed race of Italians, Syrians, and Negroes. In the more frequented parts of the island, traces of successive races were rapidly swept away, whilst here in the mountain valley the people have for generations lived comparatively unchanged and undisturbed. My opinions concerning the descent of the people were strengthened by further observations, and all along the mountain range I noticed a strong likeness to the Greeks of several islands in the Archipelago; the type, however, not being quite so pure (no doubt owing to intermarriage), nor faces and figures quite so beautiful and slender. As for manners, well would it be if our awkward English race could imitate the grace with which these villagers performed the most ordinary act. When we arrived amongst them the appearance of such an unexpected party might have been supposed to have created quite a sensation. Nothing of the kind occurred, the men and women were grouped about, and evidently eyed us with much curiosity, but no movement betrayed their feelings or ruffled their respectful politeness. The girls stood at some distance and observed us as closely, but with graceful dignity. Such natural propriety of behaviour is very striking in this population, and seems to leave the impression on the mind, of their having, as we say, “seen better days.” Their peculiar customs are numerous and interesting; no sooner is a guest lodged than a woman or girl appears and offers him an apple, with the most winning grace; this is intended as a hospitable welcome. If you are given any kind of solid food a napkin is placed over your knees. A glass of water is presented to you on the open palm of the hand, and is always accompanied by a good wish, the giver remaining standing until the glass is returned, when another wish is expressed that the water may do you good. When you are about to leave, women and girls appear and throw the leaves of the olive and other fragrant plants into the fire. The parting guest is expected to go through the form of smelling these leaves, in token of his bearing away in his mind a sweet impression of the kindness he has received.
Who could compare our parting act of raising the hat, with the picturesque obeisance of these villagers, as they laid their hands upon their hearts and gracefully inclined their bodies towards us as they wished us farewell.
Whilst I reposed, my indefatigable zaptieh had been exploring the village and inquiring for its principal inhabitant, for the purpose of securing lodgings for me at his house. This man, who proved to be a well-to-do peasant, soon appeared, accompanied by his sons-in-law, and offered to escort me to his home. The domicile consisted of three small, one-storied buildings lying close together and standing in a small court surrounded by stabling and sheds. The principal attractions of this dwelling were its strong walls and watertight roof, recommendations possessed by very few other houses in the village, these latter being generally mere flat-roofed huts, with walls formed of clay and interlaced branches. The accommodation for the cattle is, of course, equally rude and simple; everything about these dwellings is poor except in one respect, namely, their house linen. The excellent order in which this is always kept, speaks highly for the industry, housewifery, and skill of the women.
The landlord’s four daughters offered me a hearty reception, and made it evident by their sparkling eyes and their delighted manner, that they felt all the pleasure and dignity of hospitality. Everything the place could offer was at our disposal, and they seemed as if they could not do enough to make us comfortable. Various members of the family appeared in turn, in order to be introduced to me, and all, even the children, conducted themselves with the most unembarrassed courtesy. The sons-in-law of my host and a young relative, who was the village schoolmaster, sat down to table with the head of the family and myself, whilst the daughters waited upon us. Luckily for me I had chanced upon them just at Easter time, so we were allowed to partake of meat. The table was ornamented with a great variety of coloured Easter eggs, and after dinner the “egg-touching” ceremony began, each person offering the small end of an egg to his neighbour, saying as he did so, “Christ is risen.” This appeared to be a favourite amusement with the children, and many eggs were broken by their little hands. I was delighted with the charming manner in which the youngsters grouped together, and after the repast was over sang us an Easter hymn.
I cannot refrain from giving my readers the very Grecian names of my kind entertainers. My host was called Gavril, one of the sons-in-law was Kleobulas Christophagu Gavrilidis, and the other Socrates. The schoolmaster was Michel Ivanidas, and the four daughters respectively Minerva, Terpsichore, Penelope, and Zoisa; another maiden present was called Evanthia. How can we account for such classic names, if I am not correct in asserting that these people are the direct descendants of the early Greeks?
Next morning I was astir at about four o’clock, and walked out into the fresh and balmy air. A gentle wind was wandering about the mountains, stirring the waving foliage of the trees, and rippling the bright water of the streams as it passed. Thrushes and nightingales poured forth their sweetest melody on all sides, and a delicious perfume was wafted around from innumerable flowers, and the hedges of myrtle by which the fields are surrounded. Only one thing was wanting to the scene—where was the rustling sound of trees on the declivities of the mountains? As I looked up, the first glance told me the soil was in the highest degree fitted for their culture, and yet the eye could only discover a variety of shrubs and mountain plants interspersed with a few blackened stumps.
When I returned to the village I found the whole population again at their devotions. In the Eastern Church the worshippers do not attend to hear sermons and pour out their own prayers and thanksgivings; it would appear as though even the most earnest worshippers considered that their mere presence and genuflections during the masses said and sung by their priest, was all that could be required of them. For more than a thousand years, no change whatever has taken place in the creed and liturgy of the Christian Church in the East, and it may, therefore, be regarded as more closely allied to the Primitive Church than is the Catholic Church of Rome. With the exception of its bishops, Cyprus has no active and learned priesthood, and nothing can be simpler than the life and theology of its country curés. Books they have none, and for their livelihood have to depend upon the bounty of their flocks. Under British rule new life will be given to the Christian Church in Cyprus, and to the education and training of her people.
When we left Evrychu, our host and his sons-in-law, as is the custom here, accompanied us to the extremity of the village, when they took their leave.
We now pursued our way towards Olympus. At every stage fresh beauties met our view, and every object was smiling with the first fresh loveliness of spring. Oaks, plantains, olives, vines, myrtles, and laurels grew in rich profusion on the banks of the stream along which the road lay; whilst here and there we caught glimpses of sloping banks entirely covered with white lilies. Before us towered steeps and broken rocks, upon which a few scattered pines were to be seen.
Gradually we began to ascend a mountain pass, which was too rough and dangerous to admit of our riding. My dragoman therefore took the three horses, and, fastening them together, led them along. We had not gone far before we lost our way. My zaptieh at once began to reconnoitre, whilst the dragoman gave us a good specimen of his Italian origin and French manners by uttering cries of grief and distress, coupled with prayers for his wife and family, and fervent maledictions on his own folly in accompanying me; his misery was so intense that I could scarcely refrain from laughing in his face. Had we not been obliged to help our horses along, we should not have had any serious difficulty, as our way, though rugged and steep, was not more so than on many other mountain passes I had successfully climbed. A few strenuous efforts and a little cautious steering at last brought us to a safe footing, and we could look aloft at the fine scene that towered above us.
An hour’s riding brought us within view of a broad extent of glacier, whilst on one side the brown and purple mountain extended to the sea, beyond which again the Cilician range of Taurus was distinctly visible, looking like snow-covered bastions extending along the opposite shore. The whole scene was one never to be forgotten, and this ascent of Mount Olympus will ever be regarded by me as one of the most richly-rewarded experiences of my travels.
I had been led to imagine that this famous mountain was still thickly wooded, but such is not the case; only here and there we came upon a group of trees standing far apart. The sides and peaks of the mountain, exhibited a considerable growth of stunted shrubs, with an occasional fir-tree or broken stump. Flowers there were in abundance, and whole tracts were covered with hyacinths and narcissus. Not a man or a beast was to be seen either on the mountain or in the valleys beneath: it would have been easy to believe that some destroying army had devastated the mountain, and then passed on its victorious path, leaving the spot to barrenness and desolation.
As we approached the summit of this famous mountain, I observed that the trees became more numerous. On our right the path led directly to the cloister of Troaditissa, and on our left lay a valley extending to the foot of Olympus. Hussein informed me that the cloister was about two leagues distant, whilst, if I were desirous of reaching the crest, we might do it in about three hours’ time. My dragoman no sooner heard this latter suggestion, than he poured forth a volley of assurances as to the folly of the attempt, and drew a vivid picture of the various dangers that would beset our path, winding up by informing me that many travellers had already lost their lives in attempting this ascent. Night would be coming on, and then what would our position be? Why not go direct to the cloister where we could refresh ourselves, and after a good night’s rest make the attempt in the morning?
I informed my hero that it was now only two o’clock in the afternoon, and that I had neither the wish nor the time to retrace my steps next day; to this I added a strong appeal to his vanity, urging upon him the honour it would be to him and his house for ever, if by his skilful guidance I was enabled to reach the top. He wavered for a moment, but fear got the better of him, and whilst I was sending on the servant and horses to Troaditissa, he started off upon the road, shouting back to me that “there was nothing in his agreement about ascending such a mountain as that.”
I was not sorry to get rid of the cowardly rascal, and contented myself with desiring him to wait for me at the cloister. Hussein and I at once started to make the final ascent, and succeeded in riding safely over the rocks and stones until we began to reach the snow. At this point my horse refused to stir, apparently terrified by the blinding glare of the snow. Blows and persuasion alike failing to move him, I was compelled to leave Hussein behind in charge of him, and continue my way alone. It is probably many years since any one, except myself, has made the attempt. If Mount Olympus were on the European continent, hundreds would climb to its summit in the course of the year; but the Cvpriotes are indolent, and all strangers visiting the island, feel the influence of its climate, and become disinclined for active exertion before the end of six months.
The snow, which, unluckily for me, was thawing, formed frequent streams of water, which rendered my footing so insecure that I sank many times up to my knees. The higher portion of the ascent was worst of all; again and again, after hard climbing, I found myself slipping back, some twenty paces at a time. The rocks became steeper, and the snow being lightly frozen over, and very slippery, my only chance was by patiently persevering and slowly mounting step by step, digging my stick deep, and planting my feet firmly, as I passed from one spot to another, all the time following a zigzag direction, and experiencing all those various sensations of hope and despair, inseparable from this kind of exertion. Alpine travellers alone can appreciate the enthusiasm that filled my heart, as I inhaled deep draughts of ozone and gazed upon the scene beneath me. The landscape was one of the grandest upon earth, and quite peculiar in its characteristics.
Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, looked from this point of view like a green and lovely gem, washed by the blue waves of the surrounding sea, which met the horizon on every side. Towards the north-east the dazzling range of Taurus is distinctly visible, extending along the Cilician coast towards Kurdistan, and opposite on the south-east the dark purple heights of Lebanon. Upon the summit of Olympus one stands high above every other object in the island, and looks down upon miles of varied and enchanting country.
The peculiarity of this landscape, is the strong contrast offered by its principal features: the blue sea, the snowy mountains, and the island itself; whilst the latter again presents three distinct features, the dark mountains covering the western half of the country, the long chain of hills traversing the Carpasian peninsula, and between these the brown and golden tinted plains. Only once in my life could I hope to gaze upon a scene of such magnificent beauty. The highest point of the mountain which was entirely free from snow, is divided into three peaks closely resembling each other in appearance. The centre one of these, according to my own measurement, was 6160 feet (instead of 7000 feet) above the level of the sea. Unger makes this peak only 5897 feet high, according to the map contained in his work on Cyprus. It is true I had only my little aneroid to go by, but it has never to my knowledge failed me yet.
In vain I searched in all directions for any trace of ancient ruins; I found nothing save upheaved stones, and rubbish. I do not hesitate to assure my readers that as I stood at that immense height above the surrounding scenery, entirely cut off as it seemed from every living creature, an indescribable dread, that was almost fear, crept over me. Not even a bird disturbed the air; and beneath me, as far as the eye could reach, not a sign of animation was to be seen. On some of the neighbouring hills I could fancy I saw small villages; but what appeared to be houses, were probably only rocks. The sun began to set, and a chilly breeze warned me that I had better descend. I had not gone far before I saw Hussein waiting below with the horses. I waved my hat to attract his attention as I observed him looking upwards, but strong as were his eyes, he could not distinguish me at such an elevation even in that clear atmosphere. Our way to Troaditissa proved much farther than we expected, and night had long closed in before we reached our destination.
CYPRUS IN ANCIENT TIMES.
As we journeyed, in twilight and solitude around the mountain, and darkness gradually approached, I could not forget that even, to the highest peak of this very Olympus, at least 6000 feet above the level of the sea, festive bands of worshippers had in bygone times ascended, when visiting this sacred ground. Nothing, however, either of temple or worship remained. The very remembrance of them was blotted out, and even the name of the mountain is almost unknown to the present population. The changing fortunes of the country next presented themselves to my imagination. Already ten dynasties have ruled in Cyprus—first the Phœnicians, then the Greeks, to these succeeded the Persians, the Egyptian, the Roman and the Byzantine ages, next come the Arabian, the Frankish, and the Venetian rulers, and lastly, for nearly three hundred years, the whole country has been subject to the rule of the Turk; the worst period of its history. The earliest condition of Cyprus is involved in misty obscurity. On blowing away these clouds a little, we see a large well-wooded country altogether covered with waving trees. A large town next becomes apparent, situated upon the southern coast, and out of its haven, numerous small long-prowed ships are putting to sea, manned by a bold crew, who with oars and snowy sails are gradually making their way across the distant sea. The sailors are Phœnicians, the large town is called Kiti, and we descry, moreover, the abodes of numerous settlers upon the island’s southern shore. Kiti, according to the Bible, was founded by a grandson of Japhet—such is the venerable antiquity which surrounded the first history of the country.
The inhabitants of Syria next appeared upon the scene, coming over from the opposite mainland, to cultivate these delightful plains, to cut down their luxuriant woods, wherewith to build ships, and to obtain from the earth the metallic treasures there hidden. The mines were worked by the Korybantes and the Daktyles, between whom apparently a trade partnership or family connexion existed.
The industry of the inhabitants of Cyprus, even at that early period, attained such celebrity, that Semiramis obtained shipbuilders from Kiti to be employed on the banks of the Euphrates. With the Phœnicians, the worship of the Syrian goddess, Astarte, was introduced into Cyprus, to whom altars were erected at Paphos, Amathus, and Idalion. How beautiful must then have been the forests reflected in the waters, the verdure of the plains, the rich colour of the blossoms, soon however to be invaded by the scorching heat of summer, whereby the last leaf, the last blade of grass would be dried up, not inaptly symbolising the new divinity, the teeming but merciless goddess Astarte. Cyprus became her most celebrated sanctuary, and the worship of Astarte, which was imported from the banks of the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Nile, into Phœnicia and Cyprus, there took root, and put forth new branches, making its way towards the north-west, and at last reached the Greeks, a lively, imaginative, and energetic people, who readily embraced the new religion. After this came the Trojan War, the history of which never will be obliterated from the memory of mankind. All the noble warriors and chiefs who took part in the strife with their ancestry, descendants, and personal prowess, are freshly remembered even in the traditions of the present day, but the chief thing to be recollected is, that this memorable strife was the commencement of the struggle between the East and the West.
At length the princely city of Troy was overpowered. A long and bloody strife was fought out before her walls, and upon her whitened plains are still assembled the shades of her heroes, while their fame is emblazoned in the most beautiful of heroic poems. Soon after the Trojan War, the Greeks took possession of Cyprus under the leadership of Teucer, Akamas, Demophon, Agapenor and Kephas, Praxander, and numerous other petty chieftains, seized upon the quiet bays, wherever the scenery of the coast had a tempting appearance, and speedily brought their armed ships to land. They then plunged into the dense forests, hewed down the trees, and building entrenchments, awaited armed with shield and spear, to see whether the islanders who were assembled in the distance, dared to attack them. All round the coast similar inroads were continually repeated, until at length, they ventured up the rivers and there established their domiciles; the nucleus of a petty state. The Greeks occupied Cyprus for a considerable period, and mixed with the Syrians of Phœnician or of Jewish extraction, until at length becoming assimilated both in speech and manners, they formed but one people. Certain inscriptions found in the country were at first quite impossible to decipher, insomuch that they were thought to belong to some very ancient people older even than the Phœnicians; these have however been proved quite recently to be of Græco-Cyprian origin.
Under the magic touch of Grecian refinement, the goddess of luxury and wantonness, Astarte, became the most beautiful of ideal creations, the mother of the Graces, the charming Aphrodite. In the imagination of the times, Cyprus appeared rising above the blue waves, and tinted with roseate hues. There dwelt the glorious goddess in the midst of blooming gardens, and shaded by the green foliage of the woods, under the shadows of which, her worshippers were supposed to dwell in happiness, ennobled by religious fervour.
This enervating period past, we find Cyprus divided into nine petty kingdoms, whose capitals were the cities Kition, Salamis, Amathunt, Kurion, New Paphos, Kerynia, Lapithos, Soli, and Chytros. Numerous rivers and brooks, streaming down from the wood-crowned hills, and enlarging as they descended, everywhere distributed life and fertility. At the mouth of each river or stream was a town or cultivated district, industry seemed to have reached its highest point, and out of thirty havens, ships went forth to earn a reputation, which made the island dreaded throughout the Eastern seas. Meanwhile in those continents, between which Cyprus is situated, great empires had been established. The Assyrian, Egyptian, and Persian, each cast covetous eyes upon the Cyprian shores, and obstinate battles were fought for their possession in the sixth century, B.C. Partly owing to the persistent attacks from without, partly from internal dissensions, the inhabitants succumbed and submitted voluntarily to the rule of the Egyptians.
When, however, in the course of years, the Egyptian yoke became too oppressive, and the name of Cyrus outshone all others, the Cyprians appealed to him for assistance. No fewer than a hundred and fifty large Cyprian galleys assisted Xerxes in his passage over the Hellespont. Not long afterwards Cyprus took part in the great national war against Persia. The Greeks spared no money to defend the island on account of its mineral wealth, and the rich supply of wood which it afforded, wherewith to build their ships; also for its rich harvests of fruit and its manufactured wares, but principally on account of its excellent position, in case of war, with the nations inhabiting the Asiatic shores.
Great battles were fought in Cyprian waters, by fleets under the command of Kimon and Enagoras, the latter of whom had expelled the Persians from all the cities of the coast, and assisted Cyprus in a ten years’ war against the whole strength of Persia; a glorious example, which did not fail to make a deep impression, throughout the whole of Greece. At length, however, the Persians once more got the upper hand, and a courtesan in Persepolis was enabled to squander in a single night, the entire revenue derived from the tribute of nine Cyprian kings.
Next the great Macedonian conqueror appeared upon the world’s stage. Had it not been for his powerful and crafty father, Philip, the union of the Greeks would never have been accomplished; they had negotiated and fought, and fought and negotiated, but were never ready to act in concert, but now the strength of Macedon had united their forces under the conduct of Philip’s heroic son, and set out upon their great campaign in Asia.
When Alexander laid siege to Tyre, the Cyprian kings, of their own accord, sent to him their powerful fleets and warlike engines, and strove, amongst themselves, who should most richly contribute to the festive games with which they celebrated the news of his victories. Some accompanied him even as far as the Indus, where the Cyprian shipwrights had built the fleet, in which he intended to ascend that mighty river. The great conqueror himself, was presented with a dagger, made by the artisans of Kiti, that was regarded with admiration on account of its keen edge and masterly workmanship. When the chief officers of Alexander’s army, from being generals were exalted into kings; bloody battles were again fought for the possession of Cyprus. Whoever possessed this island, could command the shores of Asia! whoever possessed the shores of Asia, but not the island, was always open to attack! Ultimately, however, it became the property of the Ptolemies, and remained for two hundred years under the dominion of Egypt. Heavily was the hand of Egypt laid upon poor Cyprus; the taxes imposed upon its cities and villages were grievous to be borne; its nine kings dwindled into mere shadows, an Egyptian governor resided at Salamis, and lorded it over the land like an independent monarch. But now the Western continent for the third time prepared a great expedition against the East.
Already in Italy the heavy tread of Roman cohorts resounded, and wherever they were heard the wreaths that ornamented Greek or Asiatic palaces trembled, or fell, withered to the ground. Not a word was heard of right, or wrong, either towards the prince, or people; Egypt was taken possession of, and Cyprus became the province of a Roman proconsul, who established his residence in Paphos.
The Roman system of government in a subdued territory differed but little from that of the Turks. Unlike the Turks, however, the Romans recompensed their subjects with higher political culture, with substantial rights as citizens, with domestic peace, with excellent roads and harbours, with free trade throughout all their vast empire, and—what the Turks do not vouchsafe, and in spite of all their promises and experimental trials, only in a very limited degree can offer to their subjects—every inhabitant of Cyprus under the dominion of Rome, gifted with industry and genius, had the opportunity of raising himself even to the highest offices in the State. Throughout all the earlier periods of its history, this island was the place where important business, both in connexion with its mines and agricultural produce, was carried on. It was the abode of luxury and voluptuous enjoyment, and deeply as the Romans helped themselves from the pockets of the Cyprians, there was always much remaining.
At the end of the Roman epoch a remarkable change took place. It has long been a recognised fact, though dismal enough, that the instincts of sensuality, cruelty, and mystical superstition, are entwined together as if they grew from the same root. In Cyprus this law of nature seems to have asserted itself throughout the land. In presence of the mysteries of Astarte, in which abominable lust, bloodshed, and depravity reigned triumphant, we gladly shut our eyes. But, behold, at the magic touch of Grecian art, the gloomy Astarte becomes transformed into the fair goddess, that rising from the sea foam, assumes the beauteous shape of Venus. The lovely Aphrodite, whose worship, however, still retained enough and more than enough of the ancient rites. And now she undergoes a third transformation. How at the present day do the Cyprians name the Mother of God, simply “Aphroditissa.” She is often represented in the oldest pictures, with her dark features veiled and glittering with gold and silver; exactly as in ancient time, the great black meteoric stone—the idol of Venus—Astarte, was solemnly veiled by her priestesses.
From the very ground, upon which formerly stood the temple of the Cyprian Venus, little images of the Madonna are frequently dug up, as, for example, the five goddesses, sitting upon throne-like seats, each with a child upon its bosom, obtained from the excavations at Idalion, and now preserved in the Ambrose collection at Vienna. Here, indeed, the figures are altogether of an antique character, nevertheless, every one of the five has so completely the characters of a Christian Madonna, that the observer involuntarily thinks them counterfeits. The conversion of the Aphrodite into the “Aphroditissa” occurred during the earliest days of Christianity, when the sensual culture of Venus gave place to the pure worship of the Virgin Mother. The Jews meanwhile, long groaning under the weight of Roman taxation in Cyprus, as in Palestine, and overwhelmed with rage and despair, conspired together, and collecting into a formidable army slew, as it is stated, 250,000 men, a number which indicates how densely populated the island must have been. Since this fearful slaughter no Jew has ventured to reside in Cyprus. Christianity now made such rapid progress, that the country was divided into no less than thirty bishoprics. The island became a land of saints; Barrabas, Lazarus, Heraclides, Hilarion, Spiridion, Epiphanes, Johannes, Lampadista, Johannes the Almoner, Catherine, Acona, Maura, and a long list of holy persons stand in the calender as belonging to Cyprus.
After the Roman epoch ensued the long and tedious uniformity of Byzantine rule. The management of the island of Cyprus, was for the most part entrusted to the care of military and civil governors, although, sometimes, both these functions were united in the hands of a satrap, who bore the title of duke or kaimacan (one set above all). The supreme governor next endeavoured to make the succession hereditary in his own family, and for a time succeeded—a result which soon tempted him to aim at complete independence; for, relying on his position, and the extent of his internal resources, he deemed the island strong enough to defend itself. His independence, however, only lasted until the imperial forces could be got together.
A fleet from Constantinople soon arrived, which, putting on shore a sufficient number of troops, overthrew all his schemes and punished his temerity. In the fourth century, during which Cyprus was sinking slowly, but surely, into political and domestic ruin, great misfortunes fell upon her. Earthquakes destroyed her towns, and repeated droughts almost completed her destruction; it is said that no rain fell during thirty years, when, as the few surviving inhabitants were endeavouring to escape from the death-stricken country, there appeared among them the holy St. Helena, who carried with her wherever she went, refreshing showers; after which the towns and cloisters were once more filled by the returning inhabitants.
From the middle of the seventh to the middle of the tenth century, the hand of man caused fearful devastation. Hordes of pirates appeared upon the coast, who, landing at every available place, set fire to the towns and villages, and when the inhabitants fled to save themselves, laid hands on every thing within their reach. Money and fruit, men and cattle, all were hurried on board their ships. Swiftly as they had come they departed; in vain the fleet sent out by Government endeavoured to follow them.
Among the islands and havens of the Grecian Archipelago, concealment and shelter were easily obtained; the only resource was to place watchmen upon commanding points of the coast, from whence they could see to a distance; and to build towers and beacons, whence signals could be made by means of fires and smoke, so soon as any suspicious craft made its appearance. On seeing this signal, all the inhabitants of the coast fled into the interior, taking their children and cattle and their money and valuables, with them; and there they remained concealed, until another signal from the watchman told them that the coast was clear. Next came robbers of a still worse description; the former only sought for what could be readily carried off in their ships: these others were land robbers. The pirates only struck down or burned whatever hindered them in their proceedings; the others destroyed for destruction sake, and collecting men like sheep drove them into slavery. These were Arabs; from their sandy and rocky deserts they brought with them a savage hatred against all religious edifices, which they levelled with the ground. It was now that the ancient buildings of Cyprus suffered: the old temples were reduced to ruins, the towns were destroyed, and everything Greek or Roman, perished. The Arabs wished to establish their new Government in the island, and for this purpose they only required bare ground.
In Constantinople every endeavour was made once more to seize upon and maintain possession of the rich island. In despair a command was issued by the Sultan, that all these fierce intruders should leave Cyprus. The howl of the Arab was no longer heard in the country, and the population began again to gather itself together, first in the plains and towns upon the coast, and afterwards little by little, the hills became once more peopled. To this Arab period, succeeded a respite, during which the island was enabled in some degree to recover itself.
The rule of the Byzantine continued, however, for two hundred years. Frequently did the Cyprians endeavour to free themselves from bonds which pinioned the arms of industry, but all in vain; the island seemed to have settled down into that slow decay, which was the fate of all the Byzantine provinces. When we reflect what a system of robbery was practised throughout the western Roman empire, and the absolute poverty of the eastern states, and consider that the Grecian people for thirteen centuries had to submit to such rulers; that, in that time so many insurrections broke out among the German, Slav, Arabian, and Turanian nations; we must perforce recognise the excellent material of which they are composed. It is a wonder that after so many centuries of oppression, spoliation, and misery, so many of them survive.
We have now arrived at the end of the twelfth century, and for the fourth time the Western Continent is assembled to do battle against the East. France and Germany take the lead in the crusade, Italy and England assist. For nearly a century the coast of Asia opposite to Cyprus, from Cilicia to Egypt, had again become Christian. The centre of the group was the kingdom of Jerusalem. Its supporters were the principalities of Tripoli, Edissa, and Antioch, the dominions of Cæsarea, Beyrut, Sidon, and Tyre. Only Cyprus remained under the Byzantine yoke. Then came Richard Cœur de Lion, and in one wild attack he subdued the island and departed. Cyprus once more had her own king, and by a single stroke order and peace were restored to the island. Baronial castles, abbeys with stately halls, and beautiful Gothic cathedrals, sprang up in all directions. The slopes of the hills were covered with vineyards and orchard and the fields were sown with corn and profitable vegetables. Rich works, and a trade that extended all over the Mediterranean, gave life to the whole country. Famagusta and Limasol at once took their places as large sea-ports.
After having been for fifteen hundred years a mere dependency on either Memphis, Persepolis, Alexandria, Rome, or Constantinople, Cyprus now for three, hundred years enjoyed the blessings of self-government, and was prosperous and in high repute. She built a new capital city, and when the Holy Land was abandoned became the rendezvous of the knights, who brought with them their laws.
As in the days of Cymon and Enagoras, Cyprus became the arsenal where the fleets and armies of Greece armed themselves to invade Persia. She now shone across the blue waters of the Mediterranean as the centre of knighthood and chivalry, from whence the unbelievers were incessantly attacked, and for a long time victoriously fought against, whenever they ventured to establish themselves, upon the coast from Smyrna to Alexandria.
This glorious change in the condition of Cyprus was effected, not by the inhabitants of the island, but by the knights, monks, and citizens who came to her from foreign countries, bringing with them knowledge, activity, and industry.
When the Venetians took possession of the country, it once more sank into its former insignificance, it became merely the treasure chest and the granary of a foreign nation. The entire population soon lost its chivalrous character, and gradually sank into a sloth and stupidity, from which it again never recovered; and to add to the general misery, a fearful scourge now visited the unhappy land. In the places left desert by diminished cultivation, locusts multiplied to such an extent that vegetation disappeared from the face of the ground. A still greater misfortune was the incessant destruction of the trees and woods; the very mountains were left bare, and, as a natural consequence, the rivers and brooks were dried up, so that the parched land was no longer capable of cultivation. This state of things has now existed for nearly three hundred years. Each successive season appears worse than that which preceded it, the rulers more rapacious, and the climate more unhealthy. In our day, the inhabitants seem to be slightly roused from their apathetic slumber which is principally owing to foreign interference. This amelioration exists particularly in the vicinity of the sea coast, once so rich and beautiful, now so wretched and unfortunate.
The stumbling of my horse roused me from the foregoing reflections, on the history of the famous mountain beneath the shadow of which we now rode. Our path lay over steep and rugged rocks, and after a long course of scrambling, my horse at last refused to stir from the spot on which he stood. We dismounted in hopes of discovering his cause of alarm, and found ourselves on the very brink of a yawning precipice. By a vigorous effort we again found our path, and after some hard climbing, descended into a valley through which ran a small stream.
In the distance I observed lights, and felt convinced they must proceed from the monastery we were in search of. As we approached they turned out to be bonfires, lit to celebrate the Easter fête, and that the supposed cloister was only a small village. We plunged our horses into the midst of the rushing stream in order to gain the opposite bank, but found it far too high. We now rode up and down the bed of the stream shouting for assistance till we were hoarse, but all was useless. Almost in hopeless despair, Hussein made one more vigorous effort to rouse the indolent inhabitants, and shouted at the top of his voice for some one to come with torches and show us our way.
No one answered, and we sought in vain for some means of reaching the bank. At last, as a final effort, Hussein gathered himself together and once more exerted his powerful voice. This time the shout was a menace. In the name of the pacha, he commanded the villagers to appear and conduct a noble stranger to the cloister of Troaditissa, under the penalty of having their houses pulled about their ears should they refuse to comply. This had the desired effect; two men immediately appeared bearing torches and led us on our way. From them we learnt that a foreign gentleman who spoke good Greek, had called at the village about two hours previously with his servant, and had requested to have a guide to the cloister; this could have been no other than my courageous dragoman, and I pictured to myself his anguish when he found himself lost and belated.
When our guides heard I had ascended to the summit of Olympus they assured me I might consider myself lucky to have escaped any attack from the demons and kobolds who haunted the spot. Had I not heard, they inquired, that the temple of Aphroditissa had been removed lower down because of the machinations of these evil ones?
The village of Fini, which we now left, lay about 1000 feet below the monastery, and was separated therefrom by a steep and rocky road. My whole frame was exhausted, and had I had any idea of the distance we must still traverse before reaching our destination, I should certainly have insisted on remaining for the night in any one of the village huts, however squalid it might be. As it was, I was in the hands of my energetic zaptieh, who hurried on our guides with all possible speed. For myself I was quite past everything, except clinging on to my horse, to keep myself from falling, letting him stumble on by himself, guided only by his instinct through the pitchy darkness of the night. I thanked Heaven loudly when about eleven o’clock we reached the gate of the cloister. An Easter bonfire was also burning here, formed of two huge trees, which as they slowly burnt were pushed further into the flames in order that the fire might not die out before sunrise.
I was at once conducted to my apartments, which, though the best in the house, bore a most disgusting resemblance to a stable; and had scarcely set my foot upon the floor, when my dragoman’s head appeared out of his bedclothes, and he commenced a woeful tale of sufferings and alarms. He was starving with hunger, and the monks had only given him a piece of wretched bread that he could scarcely put his teeth into! For my supper, the worthy brethren brought me an earthen pot of the dirtiest, containing some cold turnips and a small piece of salt beef. Hungry as I was I could not have touched them. Luckily for us the superior of the cloisters appeared and ordered some wine and eggs to be brought. The wine, which was excellent, revived us, and loosened the tongues of the two monks who bore us company, and we chatted gaily far into the night. This capital wine (Mavro) is of a very deep red colour, and is made in the neighbouring village of Fini. Its effect upon my exhausted frame was marvellous. I have often found during my journey in Cyprus that a glass of Commanderia was the finest remedy for over fatigue, and I quite understood the popular idea of its being by far the best medicine in many cases of illness.
Early next morning I was roused by the bells, which were hung almost directly over my head. Mass was being celebrated in the little church; this was far too small for its village congregation, and the men were standing outside with lights in their hands, whilst the women kept farther in the background. When the celebration was over, the women and girls seated themselves upon the trunks of some trees, and began eating the food they had brought with them, whilst the men mounted to a rough balcony in front of the cloister, and sat down upon some benches. The two monks now appeared with baskets and earthen vessels, and after the men had kissed their hands, presented each with a linen cloth to spread over his knees, and then gave a plentiful supply of bread, cheese, and wine. This repast was followed by a cup of coffee.
Amongst the women I noticed many with truly classic features, but in most cases they had heavy figures. Two girls, however, were perfect types of statuesque beauty, and would have made a sculptor’s heart leap with joy.
Whilst I was enjoying this scene a third old monk appeared who was suffering terribly from a wound in his leg, which had not been properly attended. I showed the poor old soul how to make some lint, and lay it on the sore, thickly overspread with tallow from the fat of a goat. This act of charity performed, I followed the good brothers into the chapel. Like most cloister churches in Cyprus, it appeared to date from very ancient times, and was probably built when Christianity first reached the island. Near this little edifice stood two rough buildings, containing a few rude chambers which, with the chapel, formed the whole of the monastery. Should anyone wish to pass a week in this spot he must accustom himself to the pangs of hunger, as the worthy monks practise the abstinence on fast days, which they require of their flock.
This cloister can boast one most curious and valuable relic, namely, a picture of the Madonna worked in silver and gold, with the heads of mother and child painted on ivory. This curiosity is five and a half feet long, by three and a half feet wide. When I raised the veil that (as is usual in the island) hung over the face of the Mother of God, I observed two large silver plates, bearing the device of the Russian double eagle, and the date 1799, from which it would appear that this fine work had been the gift of imperial piety. This was no doubt an act of wisdom, as the whole surrounding country still seems pervaded by a host of superstitions dating from heathen times. This monastery is the constant resort of pilgrims on account of the healing powers with which this picture is supposed to be endowed, and the poor brotherhood are often hard pressed to find food for themselves and their numerous visitors.
When we were leaving, the old monk again appeared; his leg was much better, and he fell upon my neck and embraced and thanked me with much gratitude. Our road lay through the scene of our last night’s troubles, and I trembled as I saw the pitfalls we had passed in the pitchy darkness, and yet escaped with our lives.
I was now desirous of riding through the country to the monastery of Chrysorogiatissa, which I understood to be about seven or eight leagues distant; we found, however, that it took us an entire day to reach the spot.
Shortly after leaving the village of Fini we entered a magnificent valley, enclosed by reddish brown mountains, with trees scattered here and there upon the declivities. These reminded me of the trees upon the open prairies of America, which are only met with at about every 200 or 300 feet. On the prairies, however, the trees when they do appear, form pleasing objects in the landscape, whilst the stunted growth upon the Cyprian mountains only gives an impression of barrenness and decay. We saw a few firs at an elevation of 4000 feet, and in some of the upper peaks a few pines are still to be met with. A very different scene presented itself in the valley beneath us. From every stone and rock hung long grass and clumps of flowers, and in some places, these were entirely covered with brilliant mosses and a variety of creeping plants. Bushes of sage, marjoram, cistus, arbutus, laurel, and myrtle covered the ground, whilst oaks, juniper, and mastic trees spread their roots in all directions near the rippling waters of the stream that irrigated this beautiful valley. The soft foliage of the tamarisk contrasted finely with the dark branches of the pines and the silver-grey of the wild olive.
On the trees and bushes were perched a host of feathered songsters, and every cleft and fissure in the low-lying rocks streamed and rippled with sparkling water. Every here and there we came upon a spot where the moist swampy earth was covered with peonies, tulips, and a variety of bulbous plants, whilst every decaying tree stump showed a luxuriant crop of orchids and rare creepers. The whole air was so charged with heavy perfume from these multitudinous flowers, that I breathed more freely when we reached a slight eminence and were met by a refreshing breeze, which bore with it the delicious odour of some neighbouring fig-trees.
In passing through one of these valleys we found the sun intolerable. It actually seemed as if the heat were rising from the ground and would scorch our legs. I have, however, never felt in Cyprus, except on this occasion, that overpowering sultriness which is so often experienced in Sicily; still, it of course must be thoroughly understood that I travelled through the island in the freshness of early spring.
Let no one imagine that our path through these picturesque valleys was without its difficulties and annoyances. Over and over again we lost our way, and at last we were compelled to plunge into the bed of the stream and let our horses swim and struggle as best they could over the loose stones that beset them at every step. When we again landed our way lay along the edge of a steep declivity and over walls of rock, without a trace of roadway or anything to indicate the course we ought to take. A tedious ride at length usually brought us to a deep gully, beyond which lay another luxuriant and laughing valley. In this manner we journeyed all day, following the course of the stream and the goat paths, whenever it was possible, and stumbling on as best we might when these were not available.
At noon we stopped to rest upon a hill above the murmuring waters of the mountain stream, and for the first time that day heard the distant sound of sheep-bells. Gradually the tinkling became more distinct, and in a short time two shepherds with guns on their shoulders appeared upon the scene. They were fine fellows, and gave me many interesting particulars of their life on the mountains, whilst gratefully sharing the meal we were enjoying. They belonged to a nomad race, wandering during the greatest part of the year about these mountains with their flocks, and sleeping in little huts roughly made of branches for the occasion. On my asking if many shepherds lived this life they laughed, and assured me that not only men and boys, but women and girls passed whole months in this manner among the mountains, the women carrying a light spindle about with them, and plying their wool spinning, a work they much prefer to labouring with the hoe and sickle in the fields. Exactly such a life as this I have often witnessed in the Greek islands of Samothrace and Thasos, and exactly such features, build, and dress as these men exhibited. Like their Grecian brothers our Cyprian friends, imitated the shriek of the vultures and the calls of a great many birds, in the most perfect manner. I inquired of these shepherds, if they could give me any particulars concerning the mufflons, a species of wild goat, but could only learn that it was but very rarely met with. From what I could gather, I imagine that it is nearly extinct.
CYPRIAN WOODS AND FORESTS.
Cyprus, of late years, has been gradually sinking to decay through the supine indolence and indifference of her degraded population. In no particular does the whole surface of the country suffer so severely as in the utter devastation of her mountain forests. All the former rulers of this beautiful island, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, and Byzantines gave particular attention to the cultivation of the fine trees that contributed so largely to her prosperity. Oaks, firs, fig-trees, and nut-trees covered the entire island, even to the sea-shore. During the two first centuries of the Lusignan dynasty the first formidable attack was made upon the luxuriance of Cyprian forests, and timber was employed in enormous quantities for the building of merchant vessels, and the construction of the fine fleets that Cyprus sent forth to the coasts of Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.
Then came the Venetians, equally bent on shipbuilding, but their prudent foresight forbade them to hew down without planting again, and under their rule the forests flourished almost as luxuriantly as ever. A very different state of things arose under the improvidence and carelessness of Turkish rule. If a hundred trunks were wanted, a thousand were hewn down, it being easier to select the finest trees as they lay upon the ground than when towering among their companions. The best were taken and the rest left to rot where they had fallen. Every maritime disaster entailed fresh destruction to the Cyprian forests. Pachas, kaimakams, and agas, year by year increased their revenues by cutting down the trees, and leaving what they could not sell, to be appropriated by whoever chose to take them. The fine forests were under no protection from Government, and the poorer classes drew a considerable part of their livelihood from the sale of the trees they cut down. Mehemet Ali, the first Viceroy of Egypt, gave the finishing stroke to this work of folly by permitting, or rather encouraging, any one who chose, to fell the trees and send them to Egypt to assist in the construction of ships, water-wheels, and canals.
All over the island this wanton destruction of their trees by the Cypriotes is observable. Every village or occupied spot is remarkable for the spoliation of its surrounding timber; small trees are cut down at the roots, whilst the giants of the forest, whose huge trunks could only be overthrown by patience and exertion, have had all their branches and bark lopped off and hacked away.
Another powerful cause of destruction is to be traced to the constant occurrence of fires in the woods and forests. These arise principally from the carelessness of the wandering shepherds and their families, who kindle a blaze without the slightest attempt to avoid the destruction that so frequently ensues. During the course of our ride I have often passed several of these charred and blackened districts, where it was quite evident the progress of the fire had only been arrested by there being no more trees or shrubs to devour. When the value of this rich source of wealth to the island is again appreciated a very short space of time will be required before the forests are again flourishing in all their former beauty. The fertility of Cyprus is truly marvellous, and should a tract of country be left unravaged for three years, trees of every variety will again rear their heads. Even on the most arid part of the mountains, I frequently observed a fine growth of young firs and pines; these, however, would not be allowed to reach maturity, for what the hand of man does not sweep away is destroyed by the sheep and goats as they wander unrestrained about the hills.
Forests of dark pines were once numerous upon the higher ranges of mountains, but these have also fallen victims to the recklessness of the islanders. Resin and pitch are marketable articles, and to obtain these the trees have been mercilessly destroyed. Operations are commenced by stripping off the bark on one side, the finest trees being always selected, as high as the man can reach, and the resin taken. Fire is then applied to the base of the trunk, and a few hours suffice to lay it low. The branches are then lopped off, and, with portions of the trunk, are heaped into a roughly constructed oven formed of quarried stone. Fire is then applied to the wood and the resin pours forth into a little channel cut to receive it. The first-fruits of this process is called kolophonium, and the second resin, whilst the last result forms a kind of tar. Half the resin is, of course, wasted in this rough process, and when the devastators have taken of the best the hill-side affords, they climb down to another green and luxuriant spot, there to recommence their work of destruction. A sort of mania for this wanton mischief seems, actually, to possess, the Cypriotes. Quarrels are of constant occurrence between the inhabitants of different villages and communities, and no better way to avenge themselves occurs to the contending parties, than to burn down and hack each others trees under the concealment of night. To burn down a fine tree, merely for the pleasure of seeing and hearing it crackle and blaze, is an amusement constantly practised by the ignorant and unreflecting shepherds as they lounge away their day upon the mountain side. I made many attempts to open the eyes of the people to the utter folly of such a course of action, and was generally met with the answer that it was done by the wish of the Turkish Government. The Cypriotes have become so accustomed to attribute every evil of their lives to this source, that they actually appear to consider their late rulers responsible for their own reckless indolence.
In order to restore the forests of Cyprus to their pristine luxuriance only one course can be adopted: All woods and forests must be put under the immediate protection of Government, and every act of wanton destruction made punishable. The present trade in resin must be entirely put down, or only permitted under heavy restrictions. Should this course be pursued under British rule many districts will rapidly prove its wisdom. Whole tracts of country, I fear, must be entirely replanted. The land around the villages should be allotted to the inhabitants, and boundary lines permanently fixed. A little encouragement from their priests and schoolmasters would induce the vain and envious Cypriotes to vie with each other in the cultivation of their new possessions. I had a long and interesting conversation on this subject with the late governor of Cyprus, a most enlightened and high-minded gentleman. His opinions on this point were not less decided than my own as to the imperative necessity of replanting and cultivating the Cyprian woods and forests, if the island is ever again to rise from her present degraded condition. If this is not done, rivers and streamlets will year by year dwindle away, and waste ground entirely take the place of what were once well-watered plains. The pacha strongly urged the desirability of introducing the eucalyptus upon all the plains and the table rocks before alluded to. I inquired if this was likely to be done, but my only answer was a deep sigh.
PLAGUES OF LOCUSTS.
Happily for this unfortunate island, the plagues of locusts which formerly were very common, are now unknown. An old chronicle informs us that from the year 1411 to 1413 every tree in the country was perfectly leafless. During the last century, this terrible scourge—which came with the north wind from the Caramanian mountains—appeared every few years, and was principally attributable to the fact that in the neglected state of the country, these pests of the farmer were perfectly unmolested, and having once taken possession of the eastern table lands, laid their eggs there from season to season.
When locusts are first hatched, at the end of March, they are no larger than spring-tails, and congregate in innumerable myriads upon every bush and plant. A fortnight later, when they have twice changed their skins, they are fully half a finger long, and have already commenced their hopping and creeping westwards, destroying every leaf as they pass. In the next fortnight they again cast their skins twice, and have their wings fully developed. Now commences their triumphant progress, and the air is filled with the rushing sound of their destructive presence. Their rapacity is simply marvellous, fields of corn are devoured to the very roots, and within a few minutes after their appearance, fruitful gardens are entirely laid waste. Every edible thing is destroyed, and it is not at all uncommon for these hideous swarms to enter the houses and devour everything that they obtain access to. The work of devastation ended, they fall dead in thousands of thousands on the sea-shore and open country, filling the air with their pestiferous breath.
In the present day, Cyprus is mercifully entirely free from this overwhelming plague. This happy state of things was brought about, partly, by the energy of the then ruling Turkish pacha, who commanded that a certain measure of locusts should be collected by every one for the Government and then buried. The whole population were at once awakened to the urgency of the case. Trees and shrubs were set on fire whilst their devouring hosts passed over, and soldiers, horses, and oxen were called into requisition to stamp out the enemy. The districts where the eggs lay were ploughed, and no stone left unturned, to render the general purification as complete as possible. Only money and people were wanting, to make the attempt sufficiently general.
At this crisis, a large landowner, M. Mattei, residing at Larnaka, hit upon a simple plan of ridding the country of this annual pestilence. It had been observed that a locust could not ascend a smooth surface. The walls of Nikosia to a certain height were therefore made smooth and whitewashed. Mattei had also calculated that even, when fully winged, the creatures were compelled to seek the earth at short intervals, and continue their way by creeping and hopping. He caused ditches to be dug, and behind these, strips of linen and oil-cloth were stretched in such a manner as to form low walls; or slight partitions of planks or other smooth materials were erected. Behind these, other ditches and similar walls were made at given distances. The locusts came, and finding it impossible to scale these artificial walls, fell in masses into the ditches dug for their reception, where they were either covered with earth, and at once destroyed, or were shovelled out, thrown into sacks, and buried in other spots. Such as managed to rise above the first wall, rarely got over the second, and in no instance reached the third intrenchment. This simple method of freeing the country of these terrible pests, which was described to me by M. Mattei himself, was at first only tried about Larnaka and Nikosia, but so extraordinary was the success of this ingenious experiment that the example was shortly followed all over the island, with the most satisfactory results.
As we gradually emerged into the open country, I recognised our geographical position, and experienced fresh astonishment at the number of fine streams, by which, if proper justice were done to them, the island would be once more readily fertilised. From this place we observed numerous tributaries of the ancient Lycopotamos (River Kurio), which flows into the sea at Episkopi (Curium), and of the Keysoypotamos (River Diorizos), which discharges its waters near Kuklia (Palea Paphos), and a little further on passed the principal branch of the latter river. Every mountain gully and valley seemed filled with the sound of rippling water, and I could not but compare the whole range of hills, to one huge rocky spring or reservoir.
At this season, the country was saturated with the late snows and winter rains, but in summer, doubtless, these numerous sources rapidly dry up under the burning sun, and the earth again becomes scorched and arid. From the eminence upon which I stood, I could see innumerable streamlets coursing down the sides of the mountains, which extended their undulating brown-tinted declivities as far as the eye could reach. In the distance, on our right hand, we saw the monastery of Kikku (the richest and most extensive cloister in the island, and the very stronghold of Cyprian brotherhoods), towering like a pyramid into the air. This monastery is four or five leagues from Troaditissa, and is perched so high on the upper ridge of the mountains as to be very difficult of access. This does not prevent numerous pilgrims visiting her shrine, which possesses a very valuable and ancient picture of the Madonna.
Towards evening we reached the village of Panagia, and again found all the inhabitants assembled around their church; on this occasion, however, old and young were enjoying a little social intercourse. The men and women chatting and laughing, whilst the youngsters sported around under the shadow of the trees, and lent an animated charm to the scene. Again I could not fail to remark that almost every kind of fruit tree flourishes, and bears good fruit in a wild state. Mulberries, apricots, almonds, and cherries were here in great profusion.
Our arrival at the monastery of Chrysorogiatissa, which was delayed until after dark, did not appear to please the worthy brothers. Monks and servants were all in bed; but after much knocking and delay, a monk and negro appeared, who admitted us, and brought out some bread and bony goats’ flesh for our delectation. Next morning when I left my hard and comfortless bed, I found that both cloister and mountain were enveloped in a thick white mist. This monastery, which for size ranks next to Kikku, contains fifteen monks, and employs fifteen servants, who cultivate part of the land belonging to the monastery, the rest is let out on lease. All the Cyprian cloisters are richly endowed, and are required to pay but few taxes to Government; but in spite of this wealth, these religious houses can bear no comparison with the abbeys of England. The church, which reminded me of the archiepiscopal chapel at Nikosia, has a fine figure of the Saviour, with nimbus, and right arm and hand of silver (the latter is raised as though in the act of blessing). Among the representations in wood carving, I noticed Eve holding the apple, and Adam with a fine moustache.
As the mist disappeared I was able to observe the scene that lay beneath me. The cloister stands back towards the south upon the highest range, and commands a magnificent view. This monastery was formerly called Rogio.
At breakfast, which was a much more appetising repast than our supper could have led us to expect, we were honoured by the presence of the Father-Abbot, who came accompanied by the negro and another servant. From him I learnt that this place had formerly been the seat of the bishopric, until about thirty years ago, when the bishop preferred removing his residence to the more busy town of Baffo. This worthy priest also gave me some valuable information concerning the present deserted state of the surrounding districts. For seven leagues, north, south, and west, the country, he informed me, was almost uninhabited.
Whilst I was chatting with the friendly abbot, my dragoman appeared with consternation written on every feature. The whole mountains, he assured me, were infested by robber hordes; Michaili, my horse boy, substantiated the statement, and both refused to leave the monastery. On inquiry I found that three men had been making requisitions on the cloister at Troaditissa, and after other acts of violence had been lodged in the gaol at Nikosia. This prison, which is situated beneath the late governor’s palace, often contains as many as a thousand convicts, guarded by a strong force of police. In the centre of this square, is a forlorn-looking tree, from the branches of which many wretches have been hanged by order of the Governor-General of Cyprus. At the present day the governor cannot put a man to death without special orders from Constantinople; when this order arrives a policeman is summoned, whose duty it is to pass a rope round the victim’s neck, and, without more ado, to drag him to the fatal tree, where he is left hanging for several hours after life is extinct.
Whilst upon the subject of Cyprian prisoners, we must not fail to lay before our readers the great severity of punishment now being undergone by an unfortunate now in the fortress of Famagusta. To Mrs. Cesnola, the amiable wife of the well-known author from whom we quote, the unhappy man was indebted for obtaining some mitigation of his sufferings.
It is scarcely too much to hope that under British rule these terrible dungeons may be investigated, and the hands of mercy in many instances extended to their suffering occupants.
“On one occasion,” writes the general, “when visiting the armoury of the prison, the attention of the ladies of my party was attracted to some trailing crimson flowers which overhung a parapet. To their astonishment a short, broad-shouldered man who had remained near them, and who had attracted the attention of all, by his commanding figure and fine, manly face, sprang to the parapet with the agility of a cat, broke off some of the blossoms, and returning, presented a spray to each of the ladies with the utmost grace. As he did so, they observed to their horror that he was shackled with heavy iron chains from the wrist to the ankle.”
His large, sad blue eyes, and hair prematurely streaked with grey, seemed to plead in his favour, and on inquiring his crime the general learned that he was no less a personage than the celebrated Kattirdje Janni, the Robin Hood of the Levant. This robber chief, it is stated, never committed a murder, or permitted one to be perpetrated by his band. It appears, that whilst in the service of a gentleman in Smyrna he fell in love with his master’s daughter, with whom he planned an elopement, but having been betrayed, he was overtaken and thrown into prison. From thence he escaped into the mountains, near the ruins of Ephesus, and entered upon the wild career which finally brought him to Famagusta. He and his band were in the habit of lying in wait for the parties who they knew were travelling with large sums of money, and kindly relieving them of its charge. They also frequently captured persons of wealth and detained them until a ransom had been paid. Kattirdje Janni would often give this money in alms to the poor, and we are told he presented about one thousand young Greek girls with marriage portions. No one ever dreamed of informing against him, owing to a superstitious belief amongst the peasants that evil would befall the man who did so, and all attempts of the Government to take any of the band were long futile.
“At the time of the Crimean war, whilst the English army was at Smyrna, five hundred soldiers went out, assisted by the Turks, in order to secure him, but were entirely unsuccessful. The following authentic incident will testify to the boldness of this robber chief, and the terror in which he was held. One evening, when a family near Smyrna were sitting at supper, they were amazed at beholding twelve men armed to the teeth enter the apartment, headed by the bold outlaw. These uninvited guests, quietly seated themselves, remarking that they would wait until the family had finished eating, and then they would have some supper. When Kattirdje Janni had finished his repast, he told his trembling host that he and his family were henceforth free to hunt and travel where they liked, as he, Kattirdje Janni, never forgot a kindness.
“Tiring of this wild life, he gave himself up to the Turkish authorities, on the understanding that he was to be exiled to Cyprus, and not otherwise punished. The Turks would probably have been merciful to him, but, unfortunately, a young Frenchman, connected with the consulate of Smyrna, had been very badly used by his band. On this account the French ambassador insisted, that Kattirdje Janni should be imprisoned and treated in the most rigorous manner. He was immured in a dungeon, and for seven years chained like a wild beast to the walls of his cell. He was afterwards removed to the fortress of Famagusta, where he is still confined.”
The two superiors of the monastery accompanied me to the gates, where I found eight stalwart grey-bearded brothers waiting to bid me farewell. I could not refrain from commenting on their fine figures, when they laughingly assured me, there were many more of their stamp to be found in these mountains. Their faces were sunburnt and ruddy, and contrasted strangely with the white robes of their order. I may here mention that these mountaineers love their native hills with an ardour not to be surpassed by any people in the world. As we descended the steep face of the mountain the whole scene was still enveloped in a thick mist. At the bottom we saw two Turkish women tending their cows, and looking in their white veils like a couple of substantial ghosts. About a league and a half further on, we passed a deserted church, which was perched upon a rock, and completely in ruins. We also observed some sheep, with broad flat tails, grazing on the mountain side. During the whole of this journey to the coast I could readily have imagined I was travelling over one of the rocky parts of Northern Germany, whilst the scenery to the north-east, with its craggy peaks, strongly recalled to my remembrance some parts of the Vosges mountains. I must, however, admit that the Cyprian scenery is decidedly finer than that of Upper Alsace. Such human habitations as we passed were miserable in the extreme; mere mud-roofed huts with a small aperture to admit of ingress and egress. These structures closely resemble those I have seen in the north parts of Samothrace, but the latter are somewhat larger and certainly cleaner.
After four hours’ hard riding we at length descended into a narrow valley which opened upon the plains beyond, and afforded us a good view of the sea, with its yellowish green coast. Our journey through the mountains was almost over, and on the whole, I must confess to a feeling of disappointment, as I looked back over all I had seen. During the last four days the neglected state of the country and the wretched condition of its people seemed to have thrown a veil of depression and melancholy over every spot I visited, whilst even the grand and imposing mountain ranges I had traversed, would not bear comparison with those of Crete or the Canary Islands.
As we now approached the coast I saw before me the portion of country, formerly dedicated to the worship of the Goddess of Beauty. This tract, which is about one and a half leagues broad, extends for three or four leagues along the shore, and slopes gently to the sea. Directly before me lay the small town of Ktima, whilst somewhat lower down, nestled a small fort. On this spot formerly stood the city of New Paphos, and on the left, about two leagues distant, the village of Kuklia, which stands upon the site of Old Paphos. The scenery at this spot possesses much quiet beauty. In the rear tower the dark hills, looking down upon an extensive open tract of fields, whilst in front spreads the sea, the waters of which encroach upon the land in a picturesque variety of curves and tiny bays. At this spot, the ocean-born goddess was supposed to have been borne upon the waves to shore, and here, upon a slight eminence, the most famous and ancient of her numerous temples was erected. Crowds of pilgrims and eager worshippers hurried to the spot and joined in the excited processions that passed backwards and forwards between Old and New Paphos.
THE TEMPLE OF VENUS.
My journey terminated for the present at the house of the Bishop of Baffo, who resides in Ktima. The bishop, who is a young and stately man, received me with the greatest kindness and affability. He at once conducted me to a luxurious apartment, where we seated ourselves upon soft cushions placed on a costly Turkey carpet, and my host resumed the ten feet long chibouk, filled with choice tobacco, he had been smoking when I was announced, and courteously offered another to me. It was quite evident the worthy bishop was a man of substance, and thoroughly enjoyed the good things of this life. From the roof of the house I obtained a magnificent view of the sea and neighbouring coast.
The Temple of Venus, formerly the great object of interest on this coast, was situated on a small hill at a distance of about twenty minutes’ walk from the sea. Some parts of its colossal walls are still standing, defying time and the stone-cutter, although badly chipped by the latter. The stones, of which these walls are built, are most gigantic, one of them being fifteen feet ten inches in length, by seven feet eleven inches in width, and two feet five inches in thickness. Strange to say, the stone was not quarried in Cyprus, but is a kind of blue granite which must have been imported from either Cilicia, or Egypt. This temple, as rebuilt by Vespasian, seems to have occupied the same area as the former one, and was surrounded by a peribolos, or outer wall. Of this wall, a few huge blocks are now only extant. On the west of this outer wall there was a gateway, still plainly visible; its width was seventeen feet nine inches: the two sockets for the pivots on which the doors swung are of the following dimensions—length six inches, width four and a half inches, depth three and a half inches. The south-east wall was excavated, and its whole length ascertained to be 690 feet. The length of the west side was only traced as far as 272 feet, as the modern houses of Kuklia were erected above it; the length of the other two sides were also for the same reason not ascertained. The walls of the temple itself, which are constructed of the same kind of blue granite, but not in such huge blocks, were only traced with much difficulty, and although very little is to be seen above the surface, yet strange to say, the four corner-stones are still standing. The north-east corner-stone forms part of the wall of a house in Kuklia, while the north-west corner stone stands in a cross street of the village by itself; the south-east corner-stone stands also by itself in an open field, where the Christian population of Kuklia burn lamps and little wax candles, but in honour of whom, or for what purpose, is uncertain. The south-west corner-stone, likewise, forms part of a modern dwelling-house.
The temple was oblong, and of the following dimensions: the eastern and western walls measured 221 feet, and the two other sides 167 feet.
The north-west corner-stone has a hole in it thirteen inches in diameter, and a similar hole also exists in the south-west corner of the outer wall. As this temple possessed an oracle, it is more than probable that the use of these strange holes was connected with it. If a person stands upon one of these huge perforated stones, he can produce a clear and fine echo of a sentence of three or four words, if pronounced in a distinct but moderate tone of voice.
Abundant indications of mosaic pavement, both in the area of the temple and in the court-yard, exist, where can be found, many prettily designed pieces of various colours—yellow, white, red, rose-colour, and brown. About three feet beneath these mosaics, were also found several large pedestals of colossal statues, bearing Greek inscriptions, and many other pedestals were lying about, possibly having been left by former excavators; most of those, which Cesnola discovered under the mosaics, were of the same kind of stone as that of which the walls of the temple were built, but of a finer grain. The inscriptions were of the Ptolemaic period, from which it is probable that Vespasian only repaired the Temple of Paphos, or if he rebuilt it entirely, it was with the former stones. The foundations are only six and a half feet deep, but upon having other borings made another foundation was discovered beneath, but evidently of an earlier period and very massive. Singular to say, in boring no sculptured remains were found, and but few fragments of pottery.
Tacitus gives us the following representation of the sacrificial rites employed in this temple.
“The victims to be sacrificed must be carefully selected, males only being chosen. The safest auguries are obtained from the entrails of goats. It is forbidden to sprinkle blood upon the floor of the temple, and the altar must be purified with prayer and fire. The image of the goddess is not in human shape, but is a rounded stone tapering upwards like a cone. Why such a shape should be adopted is not clearly explained.” At that time, therefore, the worship of this goddess was shrouded in mysterious secrecy. The people only knew that it had been handed down to them from very ancient times. The only answer they received to their inquiries, why it was so, being, “It is a mystery.”
We learn from other sources, that this cone-shaped stone, erected in the innermost sanctuary of the temple, was black. Upon the festivals of the great goddess the stone was carefully washed by the priestesses, and wiped dry with clean towels; possibly its ugliness was set off by golden ornaments and jewels. In the darkness surrounding the Cyprian deity, other mysteries were concealed, admission to which was doubtless only obtainable at a high price. Three ruined walls and a few fragments of an ancient building; scattered here and there over great heaps of rubbish, are all that remain of what once was Paphos. The stones of which it was built, have disappeared long ages ago, used probably, as materials wherewith to build the lordly castles of the Middle Ages, or broken in pieces for the construction of humbler edifices.
During the period that the island was occupied by the Franks, a new city sprang up upon the site of ancient Paphos, which has also disappeared; but of this a ruined church, now used as a cattle-shed, is all that remains. Still, melancholy as is the present condition of the spot, so suggestive are the general features of the locality, that it is not difficult to reconstruct the beautiful landscape it once presented. The temple was situated upon a broad eminence which sloped gently towards the sea, which formed, as it were, a border to the picture. The slope was all covered with luxuriant vegetation.
Towards the interior of the country are a few outlying hills, backed by picturesque mountain scenery of a much grander character than at Baffo. As I looked upon them, the sky became overcast, and the sea overspread by long masses of rain clouds, through which at intervals streamed the rays of the western sun, which, falling on the water, covered its surface with gleams of dazzling brightness. Some portions of the lovely scene seemed bathed in gold, only made more conspicuous by the darker tints of deepest blue and purple. The play of light and shade was continually changing, forming altogether a scene of tranquil loveliness not easily to be forgotten. I should not like, however, to live here alone. Every place to which the reputation of antiquity attaches itself, has its guide and dealer in curiosities, although he knows no more about them than the crows know about Sunday. The man who accompanied me in my explorations came, as he said, from Mitylene, and was educated enough to be able to quote the poems and rhapsodies of Sappho. The owner of a neighbouring farm, here made his appearance, a stately Turk, in frock-coat and boots, with a head of hair like that of a plough-boy. We went together, about a quarter of an hour’s walk, to see the “Queen’s Cave” (σπήλαιον τῆς ῥηγίνας) which was upon his estate. This gentleman informed me, that until about ten years previously it had been almost entirely filled up, but, that when the French came to explore, he had had it opened. Nothing, however, was found in it except a great stone slab, about five feet square, which was leaning against one of the walls, and was covered with inscriptions on both sides. The Frenchmen, after a great deal of trouble, succeeded in getting it out. It was, however, so heavy that they broke it to pieces, before taking it with them in their boat. Cesnola tells us that on descending into the cave he found that it consisted of four chambers, or tombs excavated one behind the other in the solid rock. Each of the two first contained four graves; the third had fewer, and in the last and smallest, there were none. “We found,” he continues, “several other tombs upon the side of the hill, some of them open and some of them filled up. My guide told me that before his time they had been thoroughly ransacked, and their contents, which consisted of several gold chains and sundry earthenware vessels, were taken away. There were also remains of buildings upon the highest point of the hill, around the foundations of which considerable excavations had been made, revealing, that the edifice had been a square tower, one side of which had been cleared of rubbish, but the hoped-for treasures, which had been the incentive to all this labour, had not been forthcoming. The tower seems to have nothing in common with the other building, and appears to have been simply a watch-tower used in former times to give warning of the approach of pirates.”
With still increasing pleasure, I continued to gaze upon the vernal landscape in which all the great historical features of the place were distinctly traceable, and I would willingly have lingered longer upon this enchanting spot, had I not been recalled to more practical matters by my landlord, who summoned me to table, where I was soon enjoying a meal consisting of excellent soup, fresh eggs, maccaroni, and bean salad, together with some exceedingly good wine.
After dinner the landlord took a seat beside us upon the terraced roof of the house, and we enjoyed a most delightful evening. Close to us, in a neighbouring court-yard, sat a Turkish family, who laughed and joked apparently in high spirits. Our hostess was still quite a young girl, and very pretty, her large flashing eyes, white glistening teeth, and delicately-shaped limbs, formed quite a picture. At first, when spoken to, she seemed embarrassed and bashful, and only giggled, but as conversation went on she became more companionable, seated herself upon the doorstep, and chattered away merrily. It is a pity that in these Eastern climes female beauty is so evanescent; even before girlhood is passed, their charms have disappeared, leaving nothing behind but a tawny skeleton.
The night was delightful, the air balmy and soft, and each breath of wind seemed to bring with it the perfume of a thousand flowers. The silver stars so sparkled and flashed in the clearness of the atmosphere that they seemed to have descended towards the earth.
Owing to the warmth of the night the door of my apartment was open, and as I lay in bed contemplating the dark blue sky, I could fancy that my vision penetrated beyond the stars into the depths of the firmament. My mind was so filled with reflections on the worship of the Cyprian goddess that I could not sleep. Scenes that I, not long before, had witnessed in Egypt, during the feast of Machmal, presented themselves vividly to my mind. According to ancient custom, the ruler of Cairo sends every year a valuable piece of cloth, in which to wrap the holy stone, the Caaba. The setting out of the great caravan which bears this cloth to its destination is celebrated by a general festival, during the continuance of which the fanaticism of the Mohammedans fully displays itself. It was impossible to think of the great black meteoric stone and the ceremonies connected with it, without being forcibly reminded of the cone-shaped stone worshipped with similar rites by the Paphian priesthood. The Caaba stands surrounded by a wall, exactly as did the Cyprian idol: even the doves of Venus are not wanting in the temple court of the Caaba, where they are regarded as sacred birds. In the sanctuary of Jupiter Ammon, in the Lybian Desert, the idol was a stone of a conical shape, ornamented with emeralds and other jewels. In the temple at Delphos a similar stone was worshipped, was daily anointed with oil, and on high festivals was wrapped in white wool. In the same manner we find that in ancient temples, more especially in Syria and Asia Minor, Bethylia were worshipped; sacred stones, whose name, derived from Bethel (the place of God), indicates their Semitic origin; these stones were all meteoric, and it is natural enough that when such masses have fallen amid thunder and lightning, they should be believed to be of heavenly origin, and to possess extraordinary attributes.
SUMMER RESIDENCE IN CYPRUS.
In an account given by General Cesnola of a similar journey to mine, across a portion of the island, he states that travellers in Cyprus will find it much more convenient to purchase, than to hire, animals, and speaks in high terms of the well-broken mules and donkeys he found. These donkeys, of a breed peculiar to Cyprus, are glossy and sleek, with large eyes; they are very intelligent and can travel as fast as a mule.
The same authority tells us the muleteers are as a class excellent and trustworthy, even under the temptation of conveying large sums of money from one town to the other. When a native is about to proceed on a journey he goes to the khan, a kind of inn, and there selects a mule to his liking, and bargains with the owner of it for a lump sum for the entire trip, or at a rate of so much a day. The latter mode is preferable, for should the mule prove unsuitable, the traveller would be at liberty to change it on the road if he found a better. The former method, however, is generally adopted by the natives for the sake of economy. He appoints the hour at which he desires to start, and the muleteer as a rule arrives at the house an hour or two later. A kind of native saddle is placed on the back of the mule, called “stratouri,” across which are hung, in such a manner as not to incommode the traveller, two large canvas bags, which contain his private effects, and provisions for the first day’s journey. Several coloured blankets or quilts, according to the season, are then piled on the stratouri to be used as a bed at night.
The muleteer, who acts also as guide, is mounted upon a small but strong donkey in the same fashion as the traveller, and carries the extra baggage of the latter, besides food for himself, provender for both animals, and often several parcels intrusted for delivery to his care. At first it seemed to me cruel to see such little animals so overloaded, but I soon became convinced that the Cyprian donkey is stronger, and resists the fatigue of a long journey, better than a mule.
When everything is in readiness for departure, the traveller is helped to ascend to the top of his quilts, and two rusty stirrups attached to the extremities of a rope are handed him, into which he introduces his feet. By sitting upon the rope, he is enabled keep to his equilibrium; once safely perched he opens a yellow cotton umbrella, lights his cigarette, receives the blessings of his household, and starts upon his journey.
The Cypriotes are in general a frugal people, and when travelling, can accommodate themselves to almost every exigency. More than once during my excursions in the island I have found on entering a small village, some wealthy merchant of my acquaintance, seated cross-legged on the threshold of a hut, with a straw tray, resembling the lid of a basket, placed before him, on which were a few black olives, a hard piece of brown bread, and some sour milk, apparently enjoying his repast. It is no uncommon thing to find the muleteer seated opposite the merchant, eating from the same dish, and drinking from the same jug, a glass being in the interior of the island considered a useless luxury.
Whilst giving our readers the benefit of the above interesting particulars we cannot refrain from quoting General Cesnola’s own account of his summer residence in the interior of the island. The question of the possibility of enjoying life in our new possession is now so much discussed, that the testimony of a gentleman, who has recently resided in the island for ten years must carry much weight.
“On the occasion of a visit to Nikosia, the capital of the island, I had passed a night in the village of Dali, which is about half way between Nikosia and Larnaka, and had remarked on its outskirts, a grove of lemon and orange trees, amidst which nestled a small white cottage, connected with several outbuildings. This, I decided, might be converted into a pleasant retreat, and soon induced the proprietor to cede it to us for small remuneration, during the hot season. This he did the more readily, as the peasants live almost entirely out of doors from June to September, it rarely ever happening that a drop of dew, and almost never a drop of rain, falls during these months. The Cypriotes place their beds under the trees, making the branches of the latter do duty as clothes press and larder. They will frequently throw a handkerchief on the ground and lay their infants to sleep upon it, satisfied that neither moisture nor creeping thing will harm the child, for Dali is wonderfully free from noxious reptiles.
“This simple abode became our summer resort for several years. It was surrounded by about six acres of ground, laid out in alleys of lemon and orange trees, and the favourite caisha, from the blossoms of which exhaled a delightful perfume. Two noble walnut-trees overshadowed the traditional alakah, and extended their shade to our out-of-door saloon, where we sat the day long, reading, writing, and chatting with the grateful breeze, at all hours coming through the long verdant alleys, hung with luscious fruit. A small rivulet of the purest water found its way from cold sources to the feet of these walnut-trees, the broad leafy branches of which formed the ceiling of our drawing-room, and being blocked by a pile of rough stones, tumbled, cascade fashion, into a basin, scooped out to receive it, which served as our wine cooler and refrigerator. We soon adopted the housekeeping system of the peasants, and hung our plate baskets and table linen among the trees; and spreading out the thick mats of the country with a wooden settle dining-table and some rough chairs, we soon arranged a dining-hall, where our Turkish attendants served us with as much attention as if at a state dinner, though not with quite the same ceremony. A little further on a few Turkish rugs and divans formed the reception room of state for the notables of Dali, consisting of an old cadi, an illiterate Greek priest, and three wealthy Turks of Potamia, who inhabited what was once a royal palace, and the summer residence of the Lusignan queens.”
We cannot refrain from quoting a still stronger testimony borne by this gentleman, to the charms of this beautiful island as a summer residence:
“Having obtained a six months’ leave of absence, we took our last walk in the environs of Larnaka, where the Marina appears to its best advantage. Passing the Salines, and the ruins of Phaneromene on our right, we were soon in the fields, which were yet in all their vernal glory. Pink and white anemones, dark blue irises, intensely scarlet poppies, golden Marguerites, and a thousand lovely blossoms, of which I do not even know the names, embroidered the plains with the most brilliant colours imaginable. We crushed the wild thyme and mignonette beneath our feet at every step, yet they seemed to offer us their incense at parting. A torrid sun would soon leave all this a dreary waste. Mount Santa Croce seemed to follow us throughout our walk, ever changing in aspect, now cool and brown as clouds floated over it, now glowing with crimson in the setting sun. The lighted minarets of Larnaka, and the Marina, shone in the distance, and, as we neared the latter, we heard the voice of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. As we entered our own spacious garden, which had been reclaimed from the sea-shore, with its lovely roses—such as bloom only in Cyprus—and its vine-covered walls, a slight shade of regret passed over us as we thought how soon neglect might turn the spot, then the admiration of visitors, once more into an unsightly waste. An extensive terrace overlooked the garden, and as we walked on it in the moonlight, a magical charm seemed to have been thrown on the scene, and on the rippling gleaming waves of the Mediterranean, so that while gazing we almost forgot the dark side of life in Cyprus, and a sense of tenderness stole into our hearts for the land we were leaving on the morrow.”
CHARACTER OF THE PEOPLE.
In Cyprus we encounter a population which essentially resembles the modern, rather than the ancient Greek in character.
One of the most pleasing features of the island is the everyday domestic life of its inhabitants. The members of every family cling inseparably together, and share among themselves whatever good or evil fortune awaits them. To pay for the education of a son or brother, parents and children will suffer both want and hunger. Brothers will not marry until their sisters are provided for, and it is often truly touching to see how the grey-headed fathers and mothers, who seem here to be particularly numerous, are honoured and cared for by their children.
Among the ancient Greeks the men allowed themselves much freedom in love affairs and worshipped at the shrine of beauty. The women, on the contrary, were chaste and modest, and lived retired, industriously employed in their household duties. Such are the Cyprian women at the present day. The influence of the female part of the community has, moreover, of late remarkably advanced. Perhaps among no other people do women hold a more influential position. The mother is the mistress of the household, and it is principally by her that the family is held together. It is a common saying, that men make laws, but women regulate the manners of a people. The laws, however, are dependent upon the manners, and the more strictly these latter are watched over, so much the better for the well-being of the State. The modern Greeks make the best sailors, and the most discreet and prudent men of business in the world; they are good hands at fine work, are fond of horticulture, and are skilled manufacturers and money dealers. Although fond of the warm slopes and sunny climate of their native land, they are ever ready to quit it at a moment’s notice to seek their fortune elsewhere. They are remarkable among all the dwellers in the East for their activity and the elasticity of their spirits, which nothing seems to subdue, and which, when repressed, is continually breaking out more cheerfully and brightly than before, like their own sunny sky after the storm has passed away. They are fond of literature, and are delighted with a graceful expression, or a witty saying. They take an interest in everything and delight in talking and telling tales. Their understanding and imagination in short are extraordinarily powerful and active.
And now having said so much on the bright side of their character, we must turn to their vices and faults. Their laughable conceit, which displays itself in a thousand unexpected forms, might be passed over, as also the grasping avarice which is conspicuous in most of their dealings, for vanity may rise into ambition, and niggardliness be refined into praiseworthy economy, were their other vices not so numerous and so grave. In social life we may place falsehood and faithlessness, knavery and lying, at the head of the catalogue. Of insatiable covetousness, heartless robbery, and implacable revenge, examples are numberless. Justice is so totally set aside that, if a man be placed upon a jury, he is compelled to acquit the offender, because he thinks in his heart that he himself may shortly be placed in the same unfortunate predicament.
If we are asked what is the political condition of Cyprus, we can only say that it is busied with small matters, in important affairs it is all baseness and subserviency. No one can deny to the modern Greeks the possession of political cunning. Nevertheless, in the great and necessary virtue of obedience, they are altogether wanting, and officers and soldiers will discuss and quarrel over political questions, forgetting that it is the duty of the one to command and of the other to obey. No sooner is an important proclamation issued, than it becomes the subject of criticism, and mockery, but no one thinks of obeying it.
The modern Greek is one of the slyest, most active, and most persevering of rascals, but his efforts are all for the purpose of over-reaching his antagonist, and cheating the State. In like manner, barefaced simony is practised throughout the Eastern churches. The whole country is full of combinations and parties, not employed in establishing principles, but merely in endeavouring to obtain power in order to reward their partisans with places and emoluments.
These evils cast so deep a shadow over the modern Greek that the few bright points remaining—hospitality, public spirit, courage, and patriotism—almost disappear in the general gloom.
In ancient times the effeminacy and luxury of the Cypriotes had passed into a proverb. The worship of Venus assumed the character of unbridled sensuality, and the young of both sexes, brought up in the midst of these luxurious festivals, soon learnt to look upon pleasure as the end and aim of their existence.
Clearcus de Soli gives the following account of the effeminate manners of the Cyprian kings: He says, “There were women attached to the household of the ladies of the royal family who were called ‘Flatterers;’ at a later date their name was changed to ‘Clemacides,’ because they were in the habit of curving their backs into a sort of step for the use of the ladies as they got into, and came down from, their litters.” Clearcus speaks angrily of this abject and despicable practice, which tended to increase the indolence and luxuriousness of the princesses who kept these women. “But,” he adds, “these ‘Clemacides,’ after having spent the early part of their lives in the midst of luxury and refinement, are left to an old age of misery. Decency will not allow me to relate to what degree of libertinism these women brought the princesses and ladies of the court. I will only add that practising upon themselves and upon others all sorts of abominable witchcraft, they offered by their shameful conduct a spectacle of the most repulsive vice.”
Clearcus, too, has given us the following description of a young Paphian king: “This young man carried the refinement of luxury, to the extent of lying on a bed, or sofa with silver feet, overspread with a splendid carpet or rug; under his head were three pillows covered with very fine linen of a rich colour, and handsomely trimmed. His feet rested upon two purple cushions, and he was dressed in a white robe. At some distance from the bed stood slaves, and near the young king were his flatterers, men of good position.” Clearcus adds: “Each of these devoted himself in some way to add to the indolence of the prince. One seated at the foot of the bed had the young man’s feet resting upon his knees; another seated near the bed, bent over the hand which the king allowed him to caress, and gently stretched out one finger after another; the third, who was highest in rank, stood at the head leaning over the cushions and passing his left hand through the young prince’s hair, whilst with the right he gently waved a fan.”
To such a height of notorious extravagance had the princes of Cyprus attained, that Antiphanes, a comic poet of Rhodes, wrote a most amusing comedy, in which he caricatured the folly of the Cypriotes. Manners such as we have described had their origin in the luxurious example of neighbouring Persian satraps, and were brought to the utmost refinement of self-indulgence by the subtile mind of the Greek.
CLIMATE AND TEMPERATURE.
The climate of Cyprus is just now the subject of so much discussion in England, that we cannot do better than lay the following facts before our readers, only premising that we have left our readers to decide between many slight discrepancies in the various statements. In most respects the temperature and climate of Cyprus are similar to that of the neighbouring countries. The great heat of Syria is felt here, as also the violent winds and extreme dryness of Cilicia; but to compensate for this, there are most refreshing sea breezes and night dews. During the summer, as in India, those who can afford it seek the cool air of the mountains, returning to their homes in the plains and on the coast for the winter months, the cold at this season being far more severe than (judging from the situation of Cyprus) one would imagine. In the northern parts of the island, the icy winds from Taurus are keenly felt, and the summits of the Olympian range are entirely snow-capped. Old writers have said that the climate is unhealthy; in proof of this assertion, they mention the epidemic which attacked the army of St. Louis, in this island, in 1259, but many who have lived there are not of this opinion.
Abbot Mariti, in his work “Travels in Cyprus,” says, “I must own that quartan fever is very prevalent in this island, as in most parts of the Levant; but this is not altogether caused by the climate. While in Cyprus,” he continues, “I suffered ten whole months from an attack of this kind of fever, and I have since learnt, my own indiscretion was the cause of the long continuance of my ague.” The great heat of the climate occasions a continual perspiration, and if, while this lasts, one subjects oneself to the least chill the result is infallibly an attack of fever. Another cause is the immoderate use of strong liquors, and the eating of certain fruits, particularly cucumbers and melons. Natives of this country rarely escape this epidemic, more especially in summer, but they cure themselves without any other remedy than a little bleeding, thus allowing nature to act. I grant this method would not succeed in the case of Europeans, for to them the malady has its dangers, and needs rather careful treatment, but it can be cured by a rigid system of diet. The Greeks and Turks ward off an attack by continued horse exercise, and the latter adopt the not unpleasant remedy of a large glass of good Cyprian wine.
In Cyprus, as in almost all countries of the Levant, rain is periodical. It commences falling towards the middle of October, and continues until the end of January. February is a less rainy month, and the sky is sometimes cloudless. The author before quoted, remarks, that “towards the middle of March the rains commence heavily, and last till the end of April. May is a delightful month, the refreshing dews aid vegetation and temper the heat of June. After this season, the sun has quite a scorching power upon the ground, which is moistened by neither rain or dew.”
This state of things would be unbearable, were it not for the refreshing sea-breeze, which is felt on all shores of the Mediterranean. About the middle of September this wind ceases, and for six weeks the heat is excessive, until, towards the end of October, the sky becomes covered with rain clouds. Thus we see in the summer, the south wind is refreshing, because it is from the sea, and on the contrary, the north wind from Asia Minor brings all kinds of unhealthy vapours. True it is, that the northern parts of the island suffer less, because the wind has been partly cleared by its passage over the sea; but it is simply unendurable to the people of the southern districts, to whom it brings the parching heat of the hot dry countries, which it has scoured in crossing the Olympian chain. Should this wind rage for seven or eight days continuously, all vegetation is injured, every fruit-tree and plant withered, and the looked-for harvest wholly at an end. For this reason, scarcity is so often felt in Cyprus, notwithstanding its fertility and good soil. These burning winds, and scorching heat, are the scourges of the country.
The lower classes of Cypriotes wear large fig or cabbage-leaves upon their heads to protect them from the rays of the sun. Strict attention to cleanliness and careful avoidance of excess in stimulants are necessary in this island as elsewhere.
It would seem that in the climate of Cyprus there must be something entirely different from that of all the three countries between which it lies. The climate is, however, subject to great changes; during one-third of the year, rain falls abundantly, and during a second third, it is as delightfully cool, and lovely, as on the coasts of Italy, whilst the rest of the year is as hot as in the desert of Sahara.
During the winter season it rains incessantly; about the middle of October, the rain clouds begin to obscure the sky, and from that time until February the water falls down in abundance. To this succeeds an exquisite spring, bringing with it the perfumes of a thousand flowers, and a fresh and delightful atmosphere.
About the middle of March rain again begins to fall in passing showers, which, although less violent than those of winter, continue with more or less intermission until the middle of May, when they are replaced by the heavy dew which falls during the night. During this season, which lasts for about a quarter of a year, the country is a paradise, until at length comes summer with its burning heat. In June, all moisture seems to have departed from the atmosphere, and towards the end of the month, the heat is fearful, and the sky becomes a changeless expanse of glorious deep blue. Only from time to time, a fresh sea breeze finds its way to the land, to indulge the inhabitants with a fresh breath of air. The worst, however, has yet to come, for towards the end of September, even these light breezes die away. The air becomes thick and obscure, and the whole atmosphere damp and sultry. The grass and vegetation generally are dried up even to the roots, and the leaves fall from the trees, which now stretch out their naked arms like ghostly forms, scarcely visible through the surrounding fog. Not a drop of water remains in the brooks and river sources, and travelling is only possible during the night. Business is at a standstill, and the people do nothing but inquire, how long it will be before the rain will come again.
It is thought by many that the summer is hotter in Nikosia than it is in Cairo, notwithstanding that the sea and the snow-clad hills of Asia Minor are at so short a distance. I can only account for this circumstance by the fact that in the valley of the Nile, when the water of the river is rising, there is always a gentle breeze perceptible, and moreover, from the broad expanse of water which covers the country, much more moisture is given off than in the drier atmosphere of Cyprus.
Mariti tells us, that the intensity of the summer heat is often modified by a cooling wind called imbat. This wind, which generally commences blowing at two o’clock in the morning on the first day, increases till noon, then gradually falls, and towards three o’clock in the afternoon ceases entirely. The imbat, which begins early in summer, and continues until September, appears to last about an hour longer each succeeding day, for five days, when it recommences the five days’ course. If the horizon should be clear the wind will be weak, but if dark, heavy weather may be expected; occasionally a dangerous north wind succeeds the imbat, which commences at seven o’clock in the morning, increases steadily till noon, and continues blowing till evening. Should this wind last for any length of time the crops suffer severely.
The same authority mentions, that the cold is never so great as to necessitate fires in the houses, these being only kindled to obviate the effects of the excessive moisture. From this description he, however, excepts the country immediately around Olympus, where the snow often lies to midsummer.
BAFFO AND KUKLIA.
Early next morning, on leaving my sleeping apartment, I found my dragoman, in company with a young dealer in Paphian curiosities, hanging about the door, and evidently on the watch to fasten their company on me, should I attempt to visit any of the surrounding ruins. Not being desirous of their interference, or assistance, I evaded them, and quietly strolled down to the sea-shore. As I looked around, I observed, against the horizon, the small houses and slender minarets of Ktima, a little town standing upon raised stone dikes. Somewhat lower down, a huge mass of sandstone extended for some little distance along the shore, the appearance of which at first puzzled me exceedingly. On the side facing the sea, large and small chambers were hollowed out, and every here, and there, roughly hewn steps, led to the top of the rock. Cesnola has made some of his interesting excavations on this spot, and I will therefore explain these strange workings, in the solid sandstone, in his own words:
“A little to the north-east, and half-way between these ruins and Ktima, there is a rocky eminence sloping towards the sea, and called Palæo Castro, the surface of which is perforated with thousands of ancient tombs, some cut vertically, and others horizontally, in the calcareous rock. Some are made to contain only one body, while others are large enough for a score or more. These graves are all evidently pre-Roman. I had the rubbish removed from one of the largest, and found it to be an oblong building, with an atrium supported by three monolithic columns, roughly hewn out of the limestone, and with a court-yard in front. The tomb is divided into three chambers, which communicate, inside, with each other, but have separate entrances. They have a large number of niches, seven feet by two, each to contain one body. Near the wall facing the doorway of each chamber, there is a low platform hewn in the rock, on which apparently stood a sarcophagus, but nothing of it now remains. The court-yard contains also several single graves, but all have been opened long ago. This must have been the family sepulchre of a great personage, and possibly that of one of the kings of Paphos.”
The same authority gives the following particulars concerning the contents of some similar tombs he examined at Amathus, and other excavations made by him at Paphos, with, however, but little result.
“The quantity of objects in copper and bronze discovered in these tombs, though mostly destroyed by oxidisation, is much greater than that found in the extensive necropolis of Idalium. I observed that in the localities where copper mines are known to have existed, as at Amathus and Curium, more ancient utensils and figures in that metal are found. The fact that these bronze objects are roughly made, is sufficient proof that they have not been imported, but are of native manufacture. Many curious little rings in bronze and in silver were met with in these tombs, the use of which it is not easy to determine. Some cylinders of soft glazed clay, probably of Babylonian or Egyptian manufacture, also came to light, together with several rings of solid gold of very rough workmanship, and entirely without artistic merit; broken earthenware jars, bronze bowls, copper hatchets, and a few iron arrow-heads were found, but all oxidised, so as to fall into powder, and entirely without inscriptions. West of these tombs, facing the sea, are to be found nine oven-shaped caverns, which contain a great quantity of human bones, besides those of oxen, camels, and sheep. These nine caverns are far too small to have contained the amount of bodies indicated by the skeletons (I counted no less than sixty-four human heads), but were more probably simply ossuaries for bones removed from rock-cut tombs, so soon as the tomb was required for another occupant, and its tenant dried up and forgotten. The fact that no sepulchral vases or any other such relics are to be found, sufficiently bears out such a supposition. In the tombs on the sea-shore, only the bones of pigeons and egg-shells in clay dishes were to be found with the human remains, these being evidently the relics of the funeral feast.”
During the week Cesnola remained at Ktima, he made many excavations; one of these was upon the site of a temple of which three large granite columns were still standing; he also discovered the bases of nine other columns, only a few inches below the surface, and still occupying their original position, whilst all around were strewn architectural fragments which had belonged to that structure. On the other spot he investigated is a broken column, to which it is asserted St. Paul was tied and scourged when he came to preach the Gospel in this city; but the tradition is said to be only current amongst the Greeks of Ktima. In this locality there were also shafts of columns, some blocks of triglyphs and volutes lying on the ground, probably also the remains of a temple. A silver coin of Vespasian, with the Temple of Paphos upon it, and a few Roman lamps, were all the relics that were found after a week’s exploration.
Before quitting the neighbourhood of Paphos, the same authority visited the village of Koloni, which is situated upon a plain, stretching down to the sea, overshadowed by hills covered with juniper-trees. In these rocks are situated the “asbestos” quarries, of which we have already spoken, and the much lauded “Paphian diamond,” which, however, is only a superior quality of rock crystal. These hills, we are told, yield fossil shells in large quantities; and earths of different colours, green, carmine, and yellow, are occasionally met with in the surrounding district.
Ten minutes’ ride from Koloni, in a north-west direction, is Ieroskipo, now a mere group of houses. This name is evidently derived from the ancient Hieroskepi, “Sacred Garden,” the well-known garden of Venus, who was regarded by her worshippers as the goddess of gardens and flowers. Cupid was supposed to have lived with her in Cyprus.
“There is,” says Cesnola, “a large cave which seems to have been artificially scooped out of the rock through which a spring makes its way, and after filling the basin overflows and forms a rivulet sufficient to water the neighbouring fields; this is known as the ‘Bath of Aphrodite.’ I must say, he would be obdurate indeed who would not be captivated by the great beauty of the spot. The ground generally slopes gently towards the sea, but here it seems to have been cut into large plateaux or terraces, which are surrounded by a thick grove of olive-trees, many centuries old. Among the olives is a sprinkling of carob-trees, which, with their dark green and lustrous foliage, form a striking contrast to the pale hue of the olive leaf. In closer proximity to Ieroskipo, are a number of rock-cut tombs, but no vestige of buildings are visible.”
After wandering some distance farther along the sand, I reached Kapatah, a fortress built upon the shore by the Genoese, and here came upon more tombs cut in the rock, and entered by means of roughly hewn steps. Over the largest of these chambers, I observed an inscription in ancient Cyprian characters, and in the grotto itself, which is divided into two apartments, the hindermost of which has a small cupola at its top, I also noticed half effaced characters upon the walls. Near this spot was the ancient harbour, the dams of which were formed of blocks of stone; a stream now discharges itself here. I was told that the harbour had formerly extended much further inland, and had gradually fallen into ruin, and been filled up with sand. The sea was plashing against the stones in the foreground, the flowering shrubs of all kinds filled the air with fragrant perfumes, and in the distance towered the dark and lofty mountains.
Proceeding onwards, after leaving this fort, I came upon a village embowered in trees and inhabited by Greeks and Turks. The walls, as is commonly seen in the district, appeared to be constructed principally of stones taken from the surrounding ruins, and I noticed many a piece of broken column peeping out from its hiding-place, among waving palms and flowering shrubs. Near a little church I observed some small pillars, two of white marble, and two of beautifully polished granite. Of another church only a square tower and the portion of an arch remain. In the midst of the village is a roomy basin, formed of large blocks of stone, which was, no doubt, the bath of the fair Cyprians of ancient times; now it is merely a receptacle for refuse. As I proceeded farther into the village I found huge blocks of marble and granite lying in all directions. The French, we are told, in the course of their explorations here ten years ago, brought to light many valuable relics, and carried off the best of all they found. Knowing this, I was perfectly astonished at the rich treasures of antiquity that met my eye at every step, and I could only suppose the place to be the site of a former city, over the buried temples and palaces of which trees and shrubs had sprung up, and a few small houses for the present poor inhabitants been hastily erected. The people still draw their water from the ancient limpid springs. Even the higher class of Turkish houses, which were comparatively modern, showed here and there traces of walls and gateways of an early date. During the time of the Emperor Augustus a violent earthquake destroyed New Paphos, and in obedience to imperial commands the city that rose upon its ruins was named after his wife, Augusta. At a later period, a second earthquake destroyed the unfortunate town; but we have no clue as to the date of this second calamity. I could not but groan in spirit as I walked and thought of all the treasures that probably lay buried beneath my feet.
That evening I dined at the table of my worthy friend the bishop, whose liberal hospitality had made me acquainted with a great variety of strange dishes. On this occasion the repast seemed very homelike to me, for it consisted of an excellent roast leg of mutton served with some fine juicy lettuces, a dish of onions stuffed with rice, and a great variety of sweet dishes, all excellent in their way, and principally samples of Turkish cookery. This was followed by toasted bread covered with layers of rich cheese, after which came coffee, and our ten feet long chibouks.
During the evening many priests of various ranks dropped in, said a few words, and again departed. It seemed to me they had very much their own way with their good-hearted bishop. These visitors were followed by the kaimakan, or governor, who appeared followed by half a dozen attendants. This gentleman chatted with us for an hour, and then left, begging me to allow him to send an escort with me on my journey of the following day.
Early next morning I proceeded on my way, and as we approached Hierokipu, I saw many grottos hewn in the rock, and noticed again and again that the ground over which we passed sounded hollow as it was struck by our horses’ hoofs. I was informed by a gentleman we met, who owned property in the neighbourhood, that two years ago he had found a place in which were five chambers hollowed in the rock, with a kind of entrance hall in front neatly constructed of square blocks of stone; within this stood a round pillar which had no doubt served as an altar. Many of the odd little flasks and vessels were found here which have been supposed (in my opinion most absurdly) to have been receptacles for tears. These contained resin and ointment, the perfume of which filled the whole chamber. When we were only some few hours’ distance from Old Paphos or Kuklia, I rode down to the shore and took a survey of the surrounding view. The mountain gullies were now dry, but at other seasons, it was evident that the whole coast would be flooded by the streams that flowed through them during the wet season. I now ascended a slight eminence on which once was the site of a temple built by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and dedicated to his beautiful spouse Arsinœ, who was there worshipped under the name of Venus Zephyritis. Dinochaus, the architect who completed the temples of Diana Ephesus, we are told, contemplated making the temple of Arsinœ of loadstones, with a statue of the queen suspended in the air by the power of magnetism, but he died before the strange idea could be carried out. The daughter of this queen was the fair Berenice, whose beautiful locks have been so celebrated. This lady dedicated her luxuriant tresses to the goddess should her husband, Ptolemy Evergetes, whom she tenderly loved, return uninjured from the war he was then engaged on. After three years he did return, ladened with spoil. All the south part of Asia Minor had submitted to him, and he erected two temples in commemoration of his victories there, calling them Arsinœ and Berenika. On this successful issue of her petition the fair wife of the conqueror at once cut off her magnificent tresses, and had them suspended in the temple of her mother, the so-called Venus Zephyritis, Cyprus in those days being united with Egypt under the Ptolemies.
What became of this wonderful hair is unknown, but Konou of Samos, the astronomer, announced, by way of flattering the lovely queen, that “Jove himself had stolen the tresses and placed them in the sky as a constellation.”
The “Sacred Road,” which took its name from the number of worshippers carrying their offerings, who formerly passed backwards and forwards between Old and New Paphos, gradually rose slightly above the shore, and as I looked around I could not avoid noticing the great beauty of the sea foam as it rose in snowy wreaths from the stones on which it beat. At some seasons, when a south-west wind is blowing, this foam rises as high as the feet of the trees and shrubs, and presents the appearance of small tracks of snow. The shore at this point, I am told, would afford a rich field for the naturalist; I myself saw millions of crustaceans and microscopical creatures lying upon the stones. Gazing upon the scenes I could readily suppose how the vivid imagination of the Grecian temperament should have led them to describe the Goddess of Love as having first reached the shores of Cyprus mounted on the foamy crest of a wave.
Cesnola tells us, that the two Christian churches, now both in ruins, one of which was built within the area of the temple, and the other within the boundary wall, the palace of the Lusignans, and the entire village of Kuklia, have been constructed with the stone from the ruins of the ancient city. Attached to each house is a penfold, built without mortar, of loose stones. The church that stands within the temple limits has several fine marbles embedded in its walls, bearing inscriptions, which had obviously belonged to some more ancient edifice, before they were placed in their present positions.
An old ruined castle, and a few miserable dwelling-houses, are all that now remain of what was once Old Paphos, now known as Kuklia. We rested for a time in a wretched coffee-house, which was full of zaptiehs, who were quartered here, whilst they collected over-due taxes. Groups of people stood around, some looking pitiable objects with their wan, anxious countenances, whilst others again were perfect embodiments of cunning and stupidity. The chief officer of the soldiers, when I arrived, was addressing this crowd with polite dignity and a great variety of expressive gestures. It was whispered in my ear by one of the party, that rage and threaten as their rulers might, no more money could be wrung from this wretched population. In respect to their extreme poverty, these miserable beings appeared to me to be no worse off than the inhabitants of Ktima and other places we passed through. A few stalwart men were amongst the crowd, but for the most part the people appeared weakly, and to blend the Grecian, Syrian, and Italian types of countenance. After vainly endeavouring to persuade some Turkish family to give us lodging, we were glad at last to take refuge in a kind of very high shed, the mud walls of which contained but one room. In this I camped with all my three servants. A carpet and coverings were procured, and with these we made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit. After a short rest I issued forth to examine this wretched place, and standing upon the flat roof of a hut that stood below ours, I obtained a clear view of my surroundings. The whole place appeared to be a mere heap of ruins, the pillars and foundations of ancient palaces. The heights around exhibited a few yellow flowering shrubs, interspersed with green palms and other trees, whilst around and about this scene of desolation stood the dwellings of the poverty-stricken inhabitants. Below me was the court-yard of a Turkish house, in which I could see the women at their work. They wore veils, and I could not help noticing how much they seemed to inconvenience them, as they threw them first on one side and then to the other, to be out of their way.
I now descended and proceeded to explore the Aditum, the only ancient sacred edifice in Cyprus, which, thanks to the pictures of it found on gems and coins, we can reproduce before our eyes. It had, apparently, been a square building with a fine entrance, and a low wing at either end. On each side of the portal were two obelisks. This temple was surrounded by a barrier, in the centre of which stood the principal altar. In the innermost recesses of this edifice once stood the mysterious veiled stone of Astarte Aphrodite.
Next morning I could not resist taking another look at Old Paphos, and accordingly made my way to the heights behind the village, in order to impress the charming landscape as deeply as possible upon my memory. The morning air was delightfully fresh, the far-reaching coast was fringed with narrow lines of foam left by the rippling water, but the sea itself lay heavy and motionless as a sheet of metal. The mountains were partially concealed by a misty veil, only the village being clearly seen surrounded by its verdant fields.
On returning I entered the little coffee-house, which on the preceding day had afforded me by no means bad accommodation. The master sat before the door smoking his chibouk. He immediately, respectfully, made room for me, and I sat a short time conversing with him by signs. On recommencing our journey, we walked for about a mile along the sea-shore, after which we turned more inland and entered a myrtle copse. The farther we advanced the more luxurious the country became. The undergrowth of bushes was interspersed with wild roses, orchids, and many luxuriant flowers, the varied colours of which enlivened the green grass over which our course lay. Here we encountered some women engaged in cutting off the heads of thistles. Hussein begged a handful of these in order to let me taste the seeds, which he shelled out from the husks. I found them rather dry but not bad to eat; in fact, almost all the vegetables in the island afford something edible. A grey-headed old woman sold us some wild artichokes, and told us to eat them raw, but they were too coarse to be palatable. The old dame was dressed after the Turkish fashion, and kept her face closely veiled.
Our path now lay through a deep dell, and was covered with brushwood, while around us were cypresses, olives, and various fruit-trees, but all utterly neglected. A hundred thousand people might find ample sites here for most delightful residences. As I was walking along, I trod upon a snake. It was of a grey colour marked with black rings, about a foot and a half long, and as thick as my arm. A powerful scent of melons was perceptible here and there, and on seeking for the cause, I found it came from some yellow berries, which grew upon a, to me, strange plant. The underwood was full of game, and many birds whose names were unknown to me were flying about. One, I especially noticed, which closely resembled a jay, but was more brilliantly marked with blue and red.
According to my map we ought to have passed through three villages. Hussein, however, either knew a shorter way or participated in my love for solitude. Not a single village did we see; but we got a glimpse of Adimu at a great distance. Hussein, instead of taking me right over the heights of Old Kurion brought me again into the plain, assuring me most confidently that there was nothing to be seen there but a couple of large stones. Ross informs us that twenty years ago he saw there the remains of an ancient race-course, and the foundations, and some fragments of pillars belonging to the Temple of Apollo Hylades. Except these, my guide declared there is no longer the slightest trace of these structures left visible. I well believe it, for during the last few years all seem to have been bent upon removing the last remnants of antiquity left in Cyprus, as though anxious to make the work of destruction complete. Whenever a building is to be erected either in Syria or in Egypt, it is to Cyprus they come for stone, taken from her old walls and bridges.
Right under the rock of Kurion, and not far from Episkopi, we came again to the sea, which, during the day, had so often delighted us. As we wound round the rocks, it sometimes seemed as though its laughing blue waters, enclosed between the far extending capes, was contained in an enormous bowl.
Cesnola tells us, that, along the southern coast of the island are several guard-houses, built near the shore, on elevated ground, some of which, now dismantled and roofless, are of Turkish construction, and two or three hundred years old. Most of them appear to have been erected for the protection of the neighbouring villages against Algerine pirates, who, not more than sixty years ago, were daring enough to land and carry off wealthy inhabitants, and to detain them until the required ransom was paid.
From the heights above Episkopi one could see the long chain of mountains, looking as if they had been carefully folded one behind the other. The whole peninsula had the appearance of a great plank, both ends of which sloped off into the sea. In ancient times it was named Kurias, and belonged to a town of the same name, built upon the neighbouring sandstone rock.
The hills are situated at the beginning of the peninsula, just where the stream Lycos discharges itself into the sea, amid thickets of orange and other fruit trees, above which the slender stems of lofty palm-trees rear themselves gracefully into the air. Everywhere among the houses and gardens little brooks make their way through the fruitful plain. I could almost suppose the ancient Kurion, must have been situated here, and that the rock above us was merely its acropolis.
Hussein left us in this beautiful spot whilst he went into the town to seek a lodging; the inhabitants were of a much higher grade than at Paphos. The Turks find everything here that their hearts desire—quiet, green trees, and murmuring streams. Several little groups of veiled women passed us with dark brown eyes gleaming above the covering of their faces. I was informed that the Turks, who principally inhabited this beautiful place, finding a scarcity of women, had imported all these dark-faced beauties from Egypt.
After we had wasted some time, Hussein came back with the news that the Greek population of Episkopi were so poor that we could procure neither beds, food, nor wine. The Turkish houses were all full; nobody appeared willing to receive us, and to quarter ourselves upon them uninvited was out of the question. Notwithstanding the episcopal name of the town, so far from there being any bishop there, the Turks had driven all the Greek priests out of it, leaving only a few poor huts at the disposal of the Christian population, and even the occupants of these could not receive a stranger without permission of their Turkish neighbours.
On our approach to this village, I sent forward my dragoman to secure us lodgings for the night. As we followed him at the distance of about a mile we saw a huge square tower standing on a farmstead, and on advancing found that it was a building belonging to mediæval times, but whether it had been part of a castle or a fortress I was unable to determine. The owner received us at the entrance of the court-yard in the kindest manner. He was a man of substance and good deportment, holding a position similar to that of the owner of a vineyard on the Rhine, and his house very much resembled that of a small farmer in the South of France. The lower part of the house was occupied by his numerous family. He himself lived in the upper part, to which we ascended by a wooden staircase leading from a kind of entrance hall. The furniture in these comfortable apartments had something of a European aspect; in the room were some fine greyhounds of a light yellow colour. Our host informed us that there were fifteen yoke of oxen upon the farm, but there was land enough to give employment to ten times the number.
After a short rest, we went to inspect the tower, under the guidance of the owner, who had ordered the servants to light it up from top to bottom with torches. It is a massive square building, with walls so thick that benches were placed in the recesses of the windows. A very simple coat-of-arms, carved in stone upon the exterior, shows that it was erected in the thirteenth century. The whole is a fine specimen of the very few baronial castles that remain. This structure is in excellent preservation, and furnishes a good example of Anglo-Norman architecture. I do not think that in all Europe there is any building of the sort in such good condition, except perhaps the well-known castle at Hedingham.
There are two lofty stories above the ground, and a deep cellar-like excavation beneath the level of the soil. The latter is divided into three compartments, and each of the former into two roomy chambers. Over the fireplaces are carved lilies, without any ornamentation, exactly resembling those represented in the coat-of-arms upon the outer wall. The portal is narrow, and a flight of small stone steps leads from one story to another; at the top is a broad platform surrounded by battlements. In the cellar there is a deep cistern or well partially filled up. The owner talked of having it cleared out, and I wished that he might have the luck to find some treasure at the bottom, to repay him for the bad harvests of the last two years, which, owing to want of rain, had been very scanty.
Manifestly the whole building had been constructed, not so much for a residence as for defensive purposes. It is situated near the middle of the peninsula, just where on the one hand the ground slopes towards the sea, and on the other spreads a wide amphitheatre of hills; it thus at once commands the sea, the coast, and the surrounding mountain region. This colossal structure must evidently have been unassailable by fire, by ladders, or by breaching the walls, while its defenders if hard pressed could retreat from one story to another. Under the battlements were numerous loop-holes, through which arrows might be shot with deadly precision against an advancing enemy.
The prospect from the lofty platform was extensive and beautiful. Sunset was rapidly approaching, and the clouds, illuminated by the departing rays of the glorious orb, were arranged in blood red masses and streaks, whilst beneath, the deep blue of the tranquil sea was here and there lighted up by broad patches of golden splendour. The mountains, however, were shrouded in a veil of grey mist. Low beneath us was the old church, whose architecture seemed a mixture of the ancient Roman with the earliest Gothic.
I learned that these old castles were crown property and belonged to the Sultan. During the course of our conversation the origin and intention of the building became manifest to me. I found that I was in the very centre of the world-renowned Commanderia. The Knights of St. John, after they were obliged to quit the Holy Land, established the head quarters of their order at Cyprus, just as at a later period they did in Rhodes and Malta. From Cyprus they issued forth under the protection and leadership of its knightly king, to fight gloriously against the Crescent, and very frequently the victory was due to the courage and prowess of these soldiers of the Church. The Bishop of Akkon, Jacques de Vitrey, in his account of the Holy Land gives us the following sketch of the Knights Templars:
“Covered with their white mantles, which were embroidered with a red cross, with their black and white banner ‘Beauseant,’ they rush forward to battle in silence. They have no war-cry. As soon as the general’s trumpet sounds, they lay their lances at rest, and repeating from one of the Psalms of David ‘Lord give us the victory, not for us but for thy holy name,’ they throw themselves upon the strongest part of the enemies’ forces. They never give way! they must break through or die! Does one of the brotherhood lose heart, he is deprived of his mantle and all his knightly honours for a year, and must eat his meals from the ground, without a tablecloth, disturbed by the dogs, that he is forbidden to drive away.” The order already possessed a “commande” (as the possessions of the knights were called) in Cyprus, and important privileges were conferred upon them by King Hugo I., in the year 1210. They were allowed to acquire territory, wherever they wished, to import or export all sorts of produce, and to grind their corn without charge in the king’s mills, which were situated on the stream Kythrea, near Buffavento. They had residences and gardens in Nikosia and Limasol, where the head-quarters of the order were established, and in addition to this occupied Platanistia and Finika, in the district of Paphos, and Mamgrallu and Kolossin in the district of Limasol.
In Kolossin, a French proprietor had possession of considerable domains, all of which were bought by the king and presented to the knights. And now Kolossin became their head-quarters; here dwelt the general of the order, and here was built, during the first part of the thirteenth century, the strong castle, which during war was their fortress, and in peaceful times the place where the festivals and assemblies of the order were held. Towards the close of the Middle Ages, not fewer than forty-one districts belonged to them in Cyprus. Their knowledge of husbandry and business-like habits enabled the Knights of St. John to bring their estates into a very thriving condition. The cultivation of corn, oil, vines, sugar-cane, and cotton increased in a wonderful manner, and because wine was produced only in the one district, or because the wine of that district surpassed the rest in quality, it was called Commanderia wine, and Kolossin was regarded as the centre of the wine-growing region.
We thankfully remembered the brave knights as we sat at table and tasted the excellent wine still produced on these hills. From them likewise the islanders learned how to preserve the little birds called beccafices, by simply plucking them, and packing them in jars filled with wine. The wine soaks thoroughly into the flesh, which becomes slightly hardened, and of most delicious flavour. Great numbers of these delicate little birds are killed in Cyprus.
The export of wine might easily be made a source of great wealth to the inhabitants; as matters at present stand, the wine imported has to pay a duty of one-sixteenth of its value, but fifty times more than is now grown might be produced from the rich lands, which at present lie waste and useless.
It is a wonder how, seeing the rude manner in which the wine is made, that it is so good as it is. Very little trouble is taken with it. Goats and young donkeys wander at their own wicked will through the vineyards during the early part of the year, and feed upon the young grapes. The clusters are gathered without the slightest selection, and thrown upon the ground, where probably they may remain until soaked with rain. After lying for a week to rot, they are pressed in the roughest way; the must is poured into large earthen vessels, which are frequently put into a room where rancid oil, grain, dried leaves, fruit, and all sorts of bad smelling things are standing and hanging around. In this polluted atmosphere the must has to undergo two fermentations. Over the earthen pot that contains the wine a flat slate is laid, or a cover with a little hole in it, through which at intervals a straw is introduced and a mouthful sucked out, partly as a drink, but perhaps more properly to ascertain how the wine is getting on; it may have grown sour or it may not. Should the fermentation have proved successful, the merchants come, ready to bargain about the price. This wine is kept in casks, through which the air is allowed to pass, and after a year is considered to be in good condition. As in many neighbouring countries, it is the custom in Cyprus to buy wine when a child is born and keep it to be drunk at its marriage feast.
Commanderia is first the colour of a topaz, and then becomes deep red, finally attaining the hue of good curaçoa. Muscadine, the second quality of Cyprian wine, is very sweet and has a slight violet tinge when new, after some years it attains the thickness of syrup. Mavro, a dark red wine, is also much drunk in Cyprus; it is very dry and resembles Chateau Margaux.
SOIL AND MINERAL PRODUCTS.
A glance at the map shows us that the island of Cyprus is naturally divisible into three regions, all widely differing from each other. Along the entire length of its northern division there runs a long range of low hills, close to the sea, varying in height from two to three thousand feet, composed of Jura limestone, flanked on either side by Vienna sandstone.
The western and southern portions, constituting at least half of the island, are covered with mountains from two thousand to six thousand feet high. These lofty ridges and projecting peaks, as well as the whole northern half of the district, consist of greenstone, while towards the south they are principally composed of marl and tertiary limestone.
Between these two ranges of mountains there is an extensive plain covered with rich alluvial soil, which in many places is from ten to fifteen, or even twenty feet deep, through which run streams, converging into two rivers, one of which takes its course to the eastern, the other to the western, side of the island. Both of these streams during the rainy season overflow their banks, inundating the country far and wide, so that a man unprovided with a boat may be detained for weeks together, unable to pass from one place to another. When the water evaporates, or is drained off, it leaves a slimy deposit which, in its properties and chemical composition, resembles in a remarkable manner the sediment deposited from the inundations of the Nile.
All round the island extends a narrow level beach, flanked by gently rising hills, consisting of post tertiary strata mixed with gypsum, lime, and marl. Here we find a most productive soil, watered by innumerable streams and brooks, which pour down from the hills; moreover, between the hills are many fruitful valleys and stretches of fertile land, which would richly repay proper cultivation.
On account of its many capes the map of old Cyprus somewhat resembles a horned head, and the very peculiar narrow peninsula, along which the northern chain of mountains is continued may be compared to the tongue, with which it seems to be licking the corner, between Syria and Asia Minor.
The extensive plains have been celebrated from the remotest antiquity for their gardens and cornfields. On the slopes, around the coast, and in the deep valleys among the hills, may be found all the plants and trees that are met with in Europe, Western Asia and Egypt; these thrive prodigiously indeed.
In former years, the island was celebrated for its valuable copper mines, hence is supposed to be derived its ancient name χυπρος, from which we get Cyprus. The most important copper mines were formerly at Tamassus, in the centre of the island; at Soli, on the north coast; and Amathus and Cyricum on the south coast. Gold and silver were occasionally found. Salt is still made in large quantities, and coal is found occasionally. Volcanic eruptions, which were formerly not infrequent, have not occurred for many years; the island is, however, subject to earthquakes. Precious stones in great varieties, including the diamond, emerald, jasper, opal, and agate, were formerly found in this island. Yellow ochre and amber are also amongst the mineral productions. Baffo produces a very superior kind of asbestos, which is known as “stone-cotton” in Cyprus. It is quite white and as flexible as silk. The ancients made it into cloth, which was incombustible. This manufacture is still carried on in some parts of the island, where the cloth is employed to make the sacramental robes of the priests.
We will now give our readers a general sketch of the rise and decline of Cyprian agriculture under different rulers.
For nearly three hundred years the dynasty of Lusignan ruled over a flourishing and important country. Monks, knights, merchants, and priests thronged to its hospitable shores, on their way to and from adjoining countries, and many fair dames were conducted so far, and found pleasant refuge in Cyprus, whilst their chivalrous husbands journeyed farther east, to assist in the vain attempt to obtain possession of the tomb of Christ, and earn either an early grave, or return covered with wounds and glory. Towns sprang up in all directions. Wine, oil, silk, cotton, the carob-tree (Ceratonia siliqua), and the various plants used for the famous Cyprian dyes, were again largely cultivated, and in the overflowing markets of the towns upon the coast, ships in adjacent seas found the readiest means of victualling for distant voyages. Mining operations were recommenced with ardour, and Cyprian merchants again sent forth the rich products of the island into all parts.
We have still to notice what was the fate of the island, under Venetian and Turkish domination. The Venetians, anxious to derive every possible emolument from their possessions, urged the population to the most strenuous efforts, in the culture of the land, and when the weary labourers sank under the burden and heat of the day, used every incentive, and even punished them, in order to increase their exertions in bringing their fields and gardens to the required perfection. There is still a tradition in the island that the Venetians paid a zechin for every olive-tree that was planted. Generation after generation, however, the population degenerated, and became weaker and more idle.
The Venetians would appear to have considered the island in the light of a great and valuable farm, which they endeavoured to make as productive as possible. They appointed three governors, two treasurers, a superintendent with two thousand men under him, placed a captain and a company of soldiers in each of the twelve districts into which the land was divided, who kept everything in order, and took care that the fields and gardens were well cultivated, and the taxes regularly paid. After deducting all expenses, Cyprus yielded to Venice a clear yearly profit of two millions of ducats (golden dollars). The Italian revenue officers seem not to have been much trusted in their dealings with the Cypriotes, and were changed every two years.
When the Sultan of Egypt subsequently took Cyprus, the yearly tribute exacted amounted to eight hundred thousand ducats (golden dollars); it now produces only seven millions of marks, a very small sum, in comparison with what it produced to its Venetian masters.
During the fifteenth century, the blighting influence of successive wars was keenly felt, and the best energies of the Lusignans were devoted to warding off the repeated attacks of the Mussulmans. Since the New World had arisen in the West, strong and vigorous immigrants no longer lent their aid to prop a declining state. The conquest of Cyprus by the Turks cost the island the last remnant of its industrious, enterprising, and independent inhabitants, and the bloodstained and desolate country was no longer cultivated. The Turks, always passionate admirers of flowers, introduced a few tulips and hyacinths, and planted date-palms in the spots they occupied; but the soil was not congenial to them, and in Cyprus the date-palm rarely produced its sweet and highly-prized fruit.
The tobacco plant was also introduced at this period, but its cultivation was never carried on to any great extent, owing to the necessity of planting it in gardens surrounded by high walls, in order to protect the plant from the depredations of the locust. No attempt was made on the part of the Turkish Government to rouse the dying energies of the people; slowly, but surely, every art and industry declined, and the locust swarmed over the barren and neglected country.
Thus, in ancient times, we see that the island of Cyprus was celebrated for its varied vegetation, but of the plants that once grew there, many are totally lost, others are now cultivated with difficulty, and very few new ones are added to the list. The vegetation of Cyprus, like its history, seems to have undergone many changes, and from the nature of the soil, is very diversified in different parts of the island. At the present day, corn is still extensively cultivated; wheat, barley, oats, and beans flourish well. Upon the mountains grow fir and pine-trees, and in the valleys we find fine oaks, ashes, orange, fig, citron, date, walnut, and a great variety of other trees. Overhanging shrubs crowd the deep dells and precipitous cliffs, and amongst them grow the oleander, myrtle, arbutus, juniper, and mastic. Not less striking is the lovely carpet of flowers, which clothes the face of the country with ever-varying beauties. Roses and jasmine, tulips, hyacinths, narcissus, and anemones, are but a few of those that I might enumerate.
In Cyprus the use of manure is unknown, but nevertheless there is but little change in the luxuriant fertility of the soil, and wherever the earth is sufficiently supplied with moisture, a thousand plants spring up in rich profusion. One of the principal difficulties in the field is to keep the corn from being smothered by weeds. This task of weeding falls entirely to the lot of the women.
Olive-trees were formerly very numerous, as is proved by the large reservoirs for oil to be seen near Larnaka. The trade was at one time very extensive, but the island now consumes all that it produces. This decline would appear to date from the era of Venetian rule, when the trade in oil was almost ruined, and the cultivation of the olive abandoned for that of cotton. Saffron, rhubarb, and many other natural and valuable productions are also neglected.
Cyprus had once a lucrative trade with Syria, in the oil extracted from the seed of the jujube tree. Oil of glasswort was also formerly extracted. Cucumis colocynth, from the pulp of which colocynth is made, is also largely cultivated: this plant grows like the water-melon, and belongs to the same family. The cotton-plant, which was formerly so important a production, is now comparatively but little cultivated. The seeds of the cotton-plant are sown early in April, three or four being planted together, at equal distances. When the shoots appear above the ground, the strongest plant alone is allowed to remain, the rest being weeded out. The plants are hoed in June or July, and the cotton collected in October and November. The cottons of Cyprus, which are of four qualities, are much esteemed on account of their whiteness and the thickness of their texture; a fifth quality, called scovazze, is entirely consumed on the island. The total export of cotton in 1871 was 770,850 lbs.
During the time when the silk trade flourished, mulberry trees were objects of most careful attention, and still abound upon the island. The finest and whitest silk is now obtained from the neighbourhood of Famagusta, and Karpasso; the lemon, or sulphur-coloured, comes from Citereau, and most of the northern villages, whilst that made about Baffo is of a golden colour.
The Greek females of some of the towns and villages work exquisite embroidery, and make a kind of silk net, which will bear comparison with the finest European lace. On the west side of the island the peasants distil rose, orange, and lavender water, and myrtle and ladanum oil.
Amongst the birds, snipe, pheasants, partridges, quails, and thrushes are very abundant, as are also most of the birds of passage that make Africa their home during the winter.
Until the commencement of the seventeenth century 150,000 kilderkins of wine were annually produced; whilst at the beginning of the present century, only a sixth part of that quantity was made. The manufacture of wine has considerably increased in the last few years, but principally for foreign consumption. The lower order of Cypriotes find their wine too strong for their heads, and too dear for their pockets, and drink little or none. The taxes upon wine are at present very heavy.
The utilisation of the fruit of the island, as a means of profit is now never thought of; even the celebrated vegetables of Cyprus are now almost unknown, and the inhabitants content themselves with gathering wild cresses, artichokes, purslane, and asparagus. The olive-tree, however, as we have said, is still largely grown, cultivated we cannot call it, as not only the planting, but the gathering the fruit, and expressing the oil, are carried on in the most careless manner. Without the olive, however, sorry indeed would be the fare of the Cypriotes.
Potatoes flourish in the mountainous districts and kolokasia in low-lying regions. Melons, pumpkins, and gherkins are also found in great profusion. During the last forty years, Greek and French enterprise has made various efforts to bring about a better state of things. What may not now be hoped for when this luxuriant island is again under a paternal dominion and the safety of individual rights secured?
At all times, snakes, which, however, are not dangerous, tarantulas, and venomous spiders abounded in the island, and Dr. Clarke gives a forcible description of its insect pests. Speaking of the tarantula, he describes one species of about an inch long, as having “a body of bright yellow, and beset with long and prickly hairs. It runs with prodigious swiftness, and thus more easily escapes its destruction, in which mankind are interested; its bite being very dangerous, and its venom very subtle. The parts which are attacked by it swell in an instant, and occasion excessive pain, followed by death if certain remedies be not speedily applied.”
The cultivation of the sugar-cane is now quite unknown in Cyprus, and the cotton-plant is only grown in a few districts.
It has been erroneously stated that the natives will not touch the flesh of the ox, from the idea that it would be cruel to eat the companion of their labours. Numerous small, but fat cattle are fed on the plains, and their beef enjoyed as much by the Cypriote as by an Englishman. Great numbers of sheep and goats are also reared. The mutton is juicy and tender.
ST. NICHOLAS AND LIMASOL.
Whilst I was in Kolossin I learnt that some fine marble pillars, which lay outside in the court-yard, had been brought from the Abbey of St. Nicholas, which was only some few leagues off, upon the neighbouring peninsula. Everything I heard of this interesting ruin made me more desirous of inspecting it. Visions of European abbeys floated before my eyes, and I determined to start at once to view this Cyprian reality.
Next morning I sent on my dragoman and horse-boy to Limasol, with orders to try and get lodgings for me in the Franciscan cloisters, and then rode forward with Hussein on the way to St. Nicholas. After about an hour and a half’s hard riding, we reached the south portion of the peninsula. The spot was a bare, open plain, and the water by which it was surrounded, full of reeds. We had scarcely reached our destination, than torrents of rain began to fall, and we were forced to take shelter under a ruined wall, standing our horses in front of us, to prevent our being literally washed away. Happily, the storm was only of short duration, and the ground was soon dry again, and we could continue our investigations. The little church of St. Nicholas, which was evidently built in the fifteenth century, is in good condition, and stands in the midst of the ruined abbey, the rectangular walls of which surround it. On closely examining the church it was easy to trace the solid foundations of the ancient temple, on the site of which it had been built. Rows of broken pillars, some extending along the hinder walls, indicated what had once been a covered walk for the monks. Over the doorway was a huge marble tablet, on which five coats-of-arms were chiselled. The ancient temple which preceded the abbey had evidently been very extensive, and I could trace its foundations for some feet beyond the cloister walls. In one corner stood what had been an altar, and near it a very deep cistern. The old walls here, which are as hard as iron, had been taken in large masses to form, evidently, the abbey walls. Marble pillars lay in all directions, but I saw none as fine as the two that had attracted my attention in the inn yard at Kolossin. No trace of the abbey garden was left, beyond some olive-trees, the roots of which were buried quite impartially under the ancient and mediæval walls. A few goats were wandering about, and gave a touch of animation to the melancholy and deserted scene. The water about this peninsula is as rich in salt as is that near Larnaka.
I mounted a neighbouring eminence, but could see no trace of life. Not a ship, or boat, appeared upon the bosom of the sea beyond, and I could not help asking myself, as I descended, if this whole country was destined to remain desolate for ever, or if we could hope that, under a new government, it might attain fresh vitality, and again take its place as one of the animated spots of the earth.
The road from the ruins of the temple and monastery upon the southern peninsula, a distance of about three and a half hours’ ride, winds around the salt marsh, and then turns towards the sea. Limasol is more European in its appearance than any other town in Cyprus. Houses built of clay and stone predominate here, more especially in the part inhabited by the Turks.
Clay and wood seem, at the present day, to be the favourite building materials of these people, and it is the same wherever they settle. Even a small party of Turkish women that we encountered, were making a house exactly as in Smyrna or Constantinople. When these women see a stranger approaching at a distance, they cover themselves up, but as he draws nearer, the pretty ones always draw their veils a little aside, so that he may have a peep at their fresh, smiling faces. This use of the veil appears general throughout Turkey, and was practised even during the time of the Crusaders.
We rode through a long street, and as we approached a stately-looking house, Hussein called my attention to a flag emblazoned with the German eagle, which floated over the roof; with delight I recognised it, and read the familiar inscription. I then rode on to the Franciscan convent, where the little monk, who stood before the door, came forward to receive me with every demonstration of joy and fatherly welcome. Hardly had I refreshed myself with a cup of excellent coffee, than he arose and insisted upon my following him to my chamber and resting myself after my fatiguing journey. He afterwards came to fetch me, in order that he might show me over the convent. From the terrace we had a noble prospect, looking towards the mountains which, although bare, rose grandly above the surface of the plain. Behind the garden, we found a little sequestered churchyard. The small number of graves, indicated that during a long period only two or three of the brotherhood had here found their resting-place. It would seem that these monks had been placed here, more to watch over the place, than for any pastoral service. For the purposes of worship a new and very beautiful church was in course of erection; the money to build this had come from Rome, where gold is always forthcoming to build churches with, in any part of the world where Roman Catholics are to be found.
After we had returned to the dining-hall, there entered a very smart merchant from Tyre, who, like myself, was a guest in the convent. This man offered me a gem that he said he had just found, for which he asked an enormous price. He was not at all abashed when I told him the value of the article might possibly be a couple of piastres. The manufacture of these pretended antiquities is carried on in Smyrna, Beyrut, and Jerusalem on an extensive scale, and appears to be very profitable.
And now the German consular agent appeared with his cavass, dragoman, and staff of officers, to greet me on my arrival, and when they departed, Hussien marched after them, and thus they paraded about the town, and through the bazaar. People are very fond of show and parade of this description, a passion doubtless derived from the customs of the Romans and Byzantines. The German resident in Limasol seemed somewhat disappointed because we had passed his house without calling, and urgently insisted on my accompanying him home, where, he said, everything had been prepared for my reception. The little priest, however, had laid an embargo on my person, and declared that such an affront should not be offered to his convent. The Italian consul also paid me a visit, and also the master of the Greek school, and I was highly amused, knowing, as I did, that all these pressing invitations were given with the full knowledge that the next steamer for Constantinople left Larnaka in three days, and that there was no chance of my waiting a whole week for the next. I then in company with the Greek schoolmaster, took a walk through the town, and inspected the bazaar, the schools, and the church. In the higher school there were about twenty scholars, in the lower upwards of a hundred; their number increases rapidly from one half year to another. Behind the school I noticed a column, the capital of which was very handsome, and which I was told had been brought from the monastery of St. Nicholas. The interior of the town has a very European appearance; it is, indeed, principally modern, and has been built—a good augury for Cyprus—in consequence of the increased export of wines grown in the country.
Limasol at the present day contains about six thousand inhabitants, of whom one-third, and these the poorest, are Turks. Among the Greek population there are already several well-to-do merchants, who trade in flax and wool.
In the evening, a visit to our consular agent enabled me to observe the domestic economy of the Cyprians, in a Greek house of some pretensions. The agent himself is a young man of polished address and very engaging manners, the mistress of the house charmingly beautiful. There was also a lady whose bright and sparkling eyes gleamed with intelligence and persevering energy. Her family belonged to the oldest nobility of the island, and yet had not been resident there for more than a century and a half. Under Turkish rule families do not easily attain to nobility or distinction. It may also be remarked that of late years the higher Turkish officials, who came from Constantinople, were seldom people of such refined manners as their predecessors. How can it be otherwise, seeing that money is now the only key whereby admission to office can be obtained? Even the multitude of green-turbaned descendants of the Prophet, are quickly disappearing. In China they manage better. After the imperial family, ranks that of Kung-fu-tso (Confucius), and there are about ten thousand living descendants of the sage—but it is only the real lineal head of the family, the Prince Kung, who is benefited by the renown of his ancestry. In Turkey, on the contrary, the canker-worm has been long devouring the whole ancestral tree, root and branch. The curse of the country is, that dignity and work are thought to be incompatible with each other, and the descendants of the Prophet consider themselves too illustrious to do anything.
About ten o’clock we sat down to table, and our first glass was dedicated to our country’s noble flag, which waved above the roof of the house. At this time, however, there were few Germans in Limasol, and during the whole year but two or three German vessels had cast anchor in the roadstead.
I am, however, pretty well convinced that a good trade might be established here, even if the cargoes consisted entirely of wine. The conversation turned principally on the population and revenue, and I succeeded in making a few additions to my knowledge concerning the statistics of the country. As regards the population of Cyprus, I was told that the Turks numbered about 200,000, and Greeks 100,000. An European observer, who was long a resident here, reckoned 100,000 Greeks, 40,000 Turks, and 1000 Maronites and Roman Catholics; most probably, however, if we estimate the total at 150,000, of whom about a third are Turks, we should not be far from the truth.
Equally at variance with each other were the accounts that I received concerning the revenue, although my questions were only put to persons who, _ex officio_, were able at least to give approximate information. The revenue derived from the customs and taxes, was estimated by one at thirty-five millions of piastres, by another at thirty millions, and by a third at twenty-four millions; the figures set down in the following Table are, however, probably nearer the mark:
Tithes upon all income 7,000,000 ” ” land 400,000 Land tax (tolls upon product) 5,000,000 Military taxes upon Christians 550,000 Head money upon sheep 700,000 Weighing taxes upon sales 300,000 Customs upon salt 1,500,000 ” ” wines 1,000,000 ” exported silk 200,000 ” fish 20,000 —————————— Total 16,670,000
Truly, for a country so large, so luxurious, and so rich (when we consider the small value of the piastre), this is but a sorry income. From this, moreover, must be deducted the cost of the mosques, Mohammedan schools, and other similar institutions, which even in Cyprus are distributed over a considerable portion of the island. These are placed under the superintendence of the Mohammedan priesthood, and there is a proverb which says, “Sooner will the eyes of the dead shed tears, than priests give up money.” In Cyprus it is well understood that, of all these taxes, not above two or three millions of piastres find their way to Constantinople; nay, that the inhabitants have, in addition to these imposts, to pay considerable sums to the Turkish officials to keep them in a good humour. Moreover, the Turks are constantly obliged to bribe one another, in order to keep themselves in office, and to maintain the dignity of their position. The sums expended upon roads, bridges, and public buildings, are of very trifling amount. Even the cost of the military establishment is exceedingly small. The population is too weak and too lazy to require much of a garrison, and the Turks come willingly from other places, to fulfil the military duties in so quiet a spot.
Next morning we journeyed onwards towards Amathus. The day was lovely, one of the most exquisite I have ever experienced in any climate, and as we galloped along, my veins seemed to dance with every breath I drew. At such moments one readily comprehends why the inhabitants of Cyprus have never taken any high place in the fields of literature and art, and why its seductive and enervating air has always proved attractive to the Turks, as it did formerly to the ancient Romans. Our road lay through waving cornfields, the rich golden hues of which were finely contrasted with the deep blue waters of the sea, which in many places reached the very borders of the fields. Suddenly a change arose, the sun mounted high into the heavens, and beat down upon us with such fiery force and fury, as caused me fully to appreciate the appropriateness of the symbol stamped upon the ancient coins of Cyprus, namely, a devouring lion, backed, in some instances, by an image of the sun’s rays. Terrible, indeed, is the destruction worked by the ravening jaws of Phœbus Apollo, upon the fruitful gardens and flowery plains of this fertile island. At these seasons, only such fields as lie close to the sea can resist the parching blight; in these tracts on the shore, plants of all kind flourish luxuriantly, drawing the moisture which supports them from the refreshing dews borne to them from the neighbouring waves. In such of these cultivated portions of the coast as also enjoy the moisture brought by the smaller streams, as they discharge themselves into the sea, the harvests and crops are still more luxuriant. Not only the country near to Limasol, over which I was now riding, but the coast about Episkopi, Kition, Larnaka, Famagusta, besides the north coast near Morphu and Lagathos, and other places, possess many of these most valuable agricultural districts. Much land has already been reclaimed for the purposes of cultivation, and there is no reason why so successful an experiment should not be attempted upon many other parts of the coast.
After about two hours’ riding, we reached what appeared to me to be the ruins of a church, standing close to the shore, and beside these a heap of ancient hewn stones, lying ready to be shipped for Port Saïd, where they were to be employed in the construction of a new harbour. On our left rose a mountain, with fields of corn extending to a considerable distance up its slopes. My dragoman was most desirous to ride on, without my lingering to investigate the spot, and when I assured him that this mount was certainly the site of the ancient Amathus, positively asserted that not a trace of anything was to be seen. I believe the rascal was afraid he should again get more climbing than suited his indolence, for he declared in piteous accents that it would take us fully an hour to reach the summit. By this time, however, I knew the gentleman I had to deal with, and persisted in my determination to make the attempt. Our road was certainly of the steepest, but the way was short, and in about fifteen minutes we were at the top. Much did I rejoice that I had persevered in my own course, for before me lay the spot that I had sought. The mount was indeed a natural fortress of the first order, and must have afforded most secure refuse during the disturbed periods of the island’s history. On the side facing the sea, by which we had ascended, I could trace the foundations of an ancient rampart. On the other three sides, such protection had been quite unnecessary, as the rock rose sheer, and almost perpendicularly from the fruitful valley at its base. Here had once stood a large city, founded by the Phœnicians, which is still called in Hebrew, Hamath, or the fortified city. The building appears to have covered the eminence, and from thence extended to the shores of the sea. Tacitus, and other ancient writers, speak of Amathus as the oldest city in Cyprus; at the present day, it may be described as the one of which the traces have been most ruthlessly destroyed. With the exception of the shattered pieces of a gigantic vase, of which I shall speak presently, and the ruined church upon the coast, no trace is left of its former greatness. From the top of the mount to the very shores of the sea, every sign has been removed, beyond that afforded by heaps of broken stones and potsherds.
Twelve years ago, the last valuable was removed by French antiquarians. This relic was one of two gigantic vases, finely shaped in solid stone, with sides almost a foot in thickness, and ornamented with four gracefully arched handles, decorated with palm branches, and adorned upon its sides by the images of four bulls. The interior of this delicately chiselled but gigantic vase, was about ten feet in diameter, and so deep that an ordinary man standing within could just have looked over its edges. At the time this spot was visited by the French travellers we speak of, one of these two precious relics stood above ground, and was quite perfect, whilst the other was partially buried in the earth. Disgraceful as it may appear, the fact is certain, that when the French officers, who were overlooking the removal of the perfect vase, found that its companion, embedded in the earth, was somewhat in their way, they at once ordered the sailors who were with them to smash it to pieces. This fact was related to me by a gentleman of high position in Limasol, who was an eye-witness of this act of wanton destruction. My zaptieh, Hussein, it afterwards appeared, had been present with his master, my friendly pacha, whilst this monster vase was being pulled down the mountain, and spoke with enthusiasm of its enormous size and beauty. He also informed me that the French frigate, “La Perdrix,” commanded by Comte de Vögue, had a small steamship to assist in conveying the valuable relic. I found pieces of a handle of the broken vase lying strewn about the mountain.
For a thousand years, these giant mementos of a former age had stood upon these mountains, to record the grandeur of past ages, and would have remained untouched by the wear and tear of centuries to come, had it not been for the barbarous Vandalism of a handful of French officers. What may have been the use of these magnificent vessels, is quite uncertain; the oxen sculptured upon them would appear to give them a religious significance, and we know that similar vases stood without the Temple at Jerusalem. It is most probable they were in some manner connected with the numerous sacrifices that formed so large a part of the religious ceremonies to Venus.
On these heights, the feasts in honour of Adonis were held. This beautiful youth, the beloved of Venus, is said to have met his death in the Idalion forest between Larnaka and Famagusta, where, according to heathen mythology, he was killed by a wild boar he had wounded. Anemones are said to have sprung up from the ground that was moistened by his blood. These feasts to Adonis, which were first celebrated at Byblos, in Phœnicia, were afterwards introduced to Greece and Cyprus. In the latter country they lasted eight days, of which the first four were spent in howling and lamenting, and the four last in joyful clamours, as if Adonis had returned to life. The orgies, in connection with these feasts, were immoral in the extreme, and we are told that Pygmalion, the celebrated statuary of Cyprus, was so disgusted by the profligacy of the women of Amathus, that he resolved never to marry. The affection he had denied to the other sex, he, therefore, liberally poured forth upon the creation of his own hands. He became enamoured of a beautiful marble statue he had made, and at his earnest request and prayers, the Goddess of Love changed the favourite statue into a woman, whom the artist married, and by whom he had a son named Paphos, who founded the city of that name in Cyprus.
The ascent of Amathus would well repay any one who would attempt it, if only for the magnificent view presented from its summit. On one side lies a broad expanse of blue sea, and on the other a semicircle of dark heights and peaks, whilst between the two extends the gay and luxuriant valley, stretching its fruitful fields and gardens to the shore.
“Under the Ptolemies,” says Cesnola, “and in the later history of Cyprus, Amathus appears to have lost the ancient importance which it enjoyed, when ruled by its own kings, and when its natural allies, the Persians, were all-powerful.”
“On the hill on which it stood nothing is now visible but a vast amount of stones, plaster, and broken pottery. Even the hill itself is fast losing its form, while the rock of which it is composed is being cut away, to be shipped at Port Saïd, bringing to the merchants of Limasol a profitable return. From the great amount of _débris_ which covers the surrounding fields, for the most part untilled, Amathus, it would seem, though small in area, must have been a thickly populated city. Originally the upper part of the hill had been encircled by a wall, remains of which are now scarcely perceptible; portions, however, of another wall of a later period may especially be observed on the southern side looking towards the sea, and following the sinuous windings of the hill. I found imbedded in this wall pieces of terra-cotta jars and fragments of granite columns, which had been used as building materials. On the southern side, portions of it ran as far as the shore. It is probable that the square built ruin, at the southern end of the hill, formed a gateway, since, between the city and the sea-shore, there was, and still is, the high road to Paphos. On the crest of this hill I dug at several places, until I came to the solid rock, but failed to discover any sculptured remains of importance. I found, however, sufficient evidence to convince me that most of the building materials of what I call the Phœnician city, had been used for the construction of the later Greek buildings.”
“Amathus, when subsequently inhabited by a Greek population, spread itself in a more south-easterly direction, and nearer to the sea-shore, protected by the second wall, which I spoke of, and though at the time of its destruction by King Richard of England, it was still the seat of the last Duke of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenas, it had already lost most of its splendour and importance.”
“It was on the top of this hill, that M. de Vögue discovered the large stone vase which is now deposited in the museum of the Louvre. Near the same spot, there are fragments of what seems to have been a similar vase. In the immediate vicinity of the site where these vases were found, I dug up, on a former excursion, three large shafts of columns, of a hard bluish stone, resembling granite. I left them half-buried in the soil, with the intention of examining them on a future occasion; but when I returned, the columns had disappeared, having been broken up for building purposes. There are thousands of stones on the top and sides of this hill, which would equally well suit the purposes of these workmen, but it seems that they are possessed by some infatuation or evil mania for destroying whatever bears the traces of man’s handicraft. It is the more to be regretted, since among the ruins very few architectural or sculptured remains are now found.”
Far away in the distance, is the town of Limasol, washed by the waters of its beautiful and rounded bay, behind this again a long line of coast, and then the eye just discerns the promontory of Curias, stretching its length far into the sea, where it terminates in Capo delle Gatte. Cesnola gives an amusing account of the origin of this name, which is too interesting to be omitted. “On one occasion,” he says, “my mule was terrified by a sudden leap from a bush, of what appeared to me to be a cat; my guide assured me that both at this cape, and near to Acrotiri, there are wild cats, which hunt and destroy the asps abounding there. I at once recollected having read that the ‘Caloyers’ of the convent of Acrotiri raised and trained a superior breed of cats, which they imported from Constantinople, to kill the asps in their neighbourhood. That at the tolling of a particular bell in the convent, these cats would come in to be fed twice a day, and then return to their work of destruction. I suppose that it is called Capo delle Gatte in reference to these cats.”
When we had descended the mountain and were once more on the shore, I observed a number of black and half-black Egyptian sailors, all in rags, who were busily employed in carrying stones to their ships which were anchored in the roads. Their captain looked on, smoking his pipe, and shaded from the sun by a small tent. Stones from the oldest city in Cyprus, going over to Port Saïd, to help in the construction of the newest town on the opposite continent, near which a harbour is in course of construction, destined to receive the ships coming from every quarter of the globe; whilst here at my feet lay the ancient harbour of Amathus, of which nothing remains but its natural basin, formed by rocks which extend some distance into the sea.
KARUBIEH AND MAZOTOS.
When we left Amathus, our road lay over a barren mountainous tract, entirely destitute of every charm, but as we reached Cape Karubieh, a scene of great beauty opened up from the left to our view. Before us lay a little town, looking as fresh and bright as if but quite recently built, with houses that appeared much more stately and substantial than any I had yet seen in Cyprus. To our surprise these attractive-looking residences were closed and untenanted, and not a human creature was to be seen, except a solitary negro at a small inn where we got a cup of coffee. I afterwards learnt that the inhabitants of Karubieh, which number about one thousand only, return to their homes in August. At this season many ships anchor here to take in large cargoes of fruit for Trieste, Marseilles, Smyrna, Odessa, and St. Petersburg. The fields, from which all this superabundant harvest is produced, cover all the declivities of the sea-shore from Limasol to Mazotos. The once despised carob-tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is now much esteemed, and the fruit, which was formerly only used either as food for cattle, or occasionally eaten during seasons of fasting, has become of great value. Of late years it has been discovered that the fruit is highly valuable for the making of excellent brandy, and the tree is therefore cultivated throughout this district with the utmost assiduity. About April the branches are lopped off; numerous shoots from fruitful trees are grafted on the trunks, and in a very short space of time the tree is covered with succulent pods. I mention this interesting fact, to prove of what this once fertile island is capable, when its products receive the necessary attention. In this instance, as in many others, gold is literally lying on the ground in Cyprus, ready to be picked up by those who have enterprise and energy.
Our road from Cape Karubieh presented nothing of interest. The mountains gradually receded inland, and the eye found nothing to relieve the monotony of the bare expanse of coast, until at length our further progress in a direct line was stopped by a rocky promontory, which projected far into the sea. We were now obliged to turn inland, and soon reached higher ground, from whence we once more obtained a good view of the purple and deep blue mountains, and could see their tints gradually deepen under the shadow of approaching night. It was late before we reached Mazotos, and I at once endeavoured to obtain a lodging, in the house of some well-to-do farmer, from whom I might hope to learn many interesting particulars concerning the manners and customs of the people. As we entered the town, I observed a court-yard leading from a stable to a small house within. At the left-hand side was a flight of stone steps, conducting to an upper chamber, which, it being harvest time, was now filled with corn.
Opposite this was the large roomy apartment, that served for living and sleeping room to the whole family. The floor was covered with tiles, and the room divided in the centre by an arch. A stone ledge of imposing appearance projected from one of the walls, and was well garnished with household utensils, whilst upon the whitewashed walls, hung the clothes, nets, hammocks, and long baskets belonging to the family. Large pitchers of red clay, and numerous calabashes, stood about, filled with bread, eggs, fruit, maize, and vegetables. The kitchen was outside in the yard, and I could not avoid noticing the cheerful alacrity and skill displayed by our worthy hostess, whilst she prepared our evening meal. Servants she had none, everything in the interior of the house being done by the members of the family, whilst out of doors they were assisted about the farm and garden by day labourers. In Cyprus, the soil is so light that a farmer will readily plough over thirty acres of ground with one yoke of oxen, and see his land reward his labours by bringing forth its fruits thirty fold. The processes of sowing and reaping are equally carelessly performed, and when this is over, but few farmers touch the fields again. For this reason, without a farmer has really extensive property, he does not incur the expense of board and wages to regular men. During the harvest time a day labourer receives three shillings a day and three meals. Should a farmer not be inclined to comply with their demands, he will stand, as with us, a very good chance of having his corn spoilt, before he can get it into his barns. At other seasons the men cannot obtain more than from elevenpence to one shilling and threepence, and the women from about fivepence to eightpence per day. Small as is the sum, it amply suffices to provide all that the lower class Cypriotes require, sleeping as they do for nine months of the year in the open air. Food, such as they principally consume, is extremely cheap, and we have it upon the authority of a gentleman who knows the island well, Consul Lang, that a family of six persons can be maintained in perfect health and activity on an allowance of forty pounds of flour and three pounds of olives per week. In ordinary seasons the cost of this quantity of provisions would not exceed three shillings and sixpence. Cesnola mentions that he has frequently seen Greek priests in Cyprus working in the fields like common peasants.
Contrary to all my experience in Cyprus, when we quitted the farmer’s house, the worthy host at once complied with my request, that he would make some charge for our accommodation. This I accounted for by the fact, that the house standing on the highway between Limasol and Larnaka, would probably attract the attention of more strangers than could be comfortably entertained without proper remuneration. A present to the poor, if your resting-place has been a convent, or a little remembrance to the children of a family, is the most that is expected throughout all those parts of the East through which I have travelled, whilst should your entertainer be a man of position and means, you cannot, without giving offence, do more than offer a “pour boire” to the four or five men-servants who will appear at the door to see you start.
Our last day’s journey, which was short but delightful, lay over a wide tract of cornfields, in traversing which we passed the village of Kiti, with its little church, embowered in fruit trees, and not far from it another church standing on a piece of barren ground, without a shrub or tree near it. On our left towered a magnificent mountain, which rises abruptly to a height of two thousand feet, and bears upon its summit the once celebrated monastery of the Holy Cross, or Hagios Stavros. This building, which is rarely or never obscured by clouds or fog, can be seen from a considerable distance at sea, and has long been known to sailors as a landmark. St. Helena is supposed to have presented this cloister with a valuable relic, which brought many pilgrims and gifts to the brotherhood. This was a piece of wood, about as long as a finger, fashioned like a cross, mounted in silver, and had the reputation of being a veritable portion of the Saviour’s cross.
Whilst it was still light, we came in sight of Larnaka, the cornfields were crowded with labourers gathering in the harvest, and these, being principally Greeks, and therefore very conversational, we could hear a lively hum of many voices long before we reached the spot. We dined under the shadow of a large fig-tree, which grew upon the brink of a rippling stream. Numerous cranes, and whole hosts of beccaficos, came within such tempting reach of our guns, that, as soon as our repast was over, we started after them, over fields where horses and camels were grazing, and over marshy ground, until we reached the rolling, glittering sea. Our sport was excellent, for my dragoman knew every call and wile by which the birds could be allured, and it required some determination when it was time to return, to quit our delightful but peculiar shooting-ground.
On my return to Larnaka I had the luck to chance upon some dear friends, with whom I supped. Our host produced the best his cellar contained, in various sorts of wine, winding up with a bottle fifty years old, most delicious, but so strong that discretion only permitted us to taste it in thimblefuls.
Next day I paid many visits in the town, and was amused to find with what astonishment the history of my little journey across the island was received. I really believe that at that time there was not a single person in the island who had seen as much of Cyprus as myself.
LAST DAYS IN LARNAKA.
In my eagerness to obtain all possible information, concerning the manners and customs of the people, I had often to encounter much disappointment. Imagine my disgust upon one occasion, when, having heard that a very rare and charming performance was about to take place, and having hurried to the spot indicated, a little coffee-house, I found the anticipated treat was nothing more nor less than the clumsy antics of a half-naked negress, probably a new arrival from Egypt, who was performing one of the hideous dances of which I had already seen too much. A few Turks sat around, watching her contortions and tremblings with unruffled dignity, and amongst the spectators I noticed some really respectable-looking Greeks. I speedily left the assembly, and reflected as I retired, as to whether this species of dance, might not have been the very kind performed, but in more graceful fashion, by the worshippers of Aphrodite, in the sacred groves that surrounded her temples. The next day was the feast of St. George the Martyr, which is regarded as a political as well as a religious celebration by the numerous Grecians in the island. This day is chosen as being the fête of King George of Greece, who they still regard as their lawful head.
It cannot but be regarded as a most strange coincidence, that the tutelar saint of England and her new possession, should be one and the same. St. George was regarded by several Eastern nations as their patron, and ancient Byzantine historians relate accounts of many battles gained, and miracles wrought, by his intercession. Among other churches, five or six were dedicated to him at Constantinople. He was also celebrated in France in the sixth century, and is said to have been chosen as the patron saint of England under her Norman kings. St. George of Cappodocia, “Martyr and Victor,” as he is sometimes styled, one of the seven champions of Christendom, was, no doubt, brought into connection with Cyprus, under the influence of Richard and his knights.
The legend of the saint is as follows: St. George, who was born in Cappadocia, went with his mother to Palestine, of which country she was a native, and where she had considerable estates. These fell to her son, who was a soldier, and became a tribune, and was further promoted by the Emperor Diocletian, to whom, however, he resigned his commission when that emperor made war against the Christian religion. He was thrown into prison for remonstrating against bloody edicts, and was afterwards beheaded at Nicomedia. St. George became the patron of the soldiers who fought for the faith, and his apparition is said to have encouraged the Christian army in the Holy War, before the battle of Antioch, which proved fortunate under Godfrey of Bouillon, and he is also said to have appeared and inspirited Richard Cœur de Lion, in his expedition against the Saracens. St. George is usually represented in pictures as on horseback, slaying a dragon; but this is no more than an emblematical figure, purporting that by his faith and Christian fortitude, he had overcome the devil.
The great majority of the population of Larnaka, as of the rest of the island, are members of the Greek Church.
The chief points of difference between the Greek Church and that of Rome, are the following:
The Greek Church does not admit: First. The supremacy of Rome.
Secondly. The Filioque clause in the creed.
Thirdly. The enforced celibacy of the parochial clergy (the reason of this being that although the monastic system had begun before the schism, the celibacy of the regular clergy had not been enforced till a later period, and this was adopted by the Greek Church).
Fourthly. The doctrine of transubstantiation, in the Papal sense of that term, is not held by the Greek Church; (Rome itself did not adopt this strange tenet till the Council of Lateran in 1215).
Fifthly. The dogmas of purgatory and penance, as taught by Rome, are not held by the Greek Church, yet some of their views bear a close resemblance to the papal theories on these points.
Sixthly. The Greek Church disagrees with that of Rome about the use of leaven in the Eucharist. In almost all other respects there is little difference between the churches. The Greek Church is thoroughly hierarchical, holds the monastic system, worships pictures (although it rejects the worship of images), and gives to the Virgin Mary as high a degree of worship as even Rome can do; its theory of the Panagia being scarcely distinguishable from that of the Immaculate Conception.
The officiating clergy of the Greek Church are the patriarch, archbishops, and bishops; subordinate to these are the papades or parish priests. All the dignitaries are taken from among the caloyers or monastic orders, and are not allowed to marry, but the papades may be married, with these special limitations: That they are married previous to their consecration, and may not marry a second time, should they become widowers. Hence they are commonly married before taking orders, and invariably select young and healthy women for their wives. The revenues of the dignitaries are raised by a tax imposed on each family, while the parish priests are supported, chiefly by means of what they can obtain from the superstitions of the people, and perquisites of office, such as money paid for absolutions, benedictions, exorcism, ceremonial sanctifying of water, sprinklings of streets and tombs, granting divorces, and innumerable ritualistic observances. They are almost universally a base and degraded class, themselves extremely ignorant, and they keep the people in equal degradation and ignorance, partly because such is their own state, and partly that they may secure their own influence. Their places of worship are built generally in form of a cross. The choir is always placed towards the east, and the people turn their faces in that direction when they pray. Their public religious service is liturgical, and exceedingly protracted. They have four liturgies, and the service consists chiefly of prayers, hymns, recitations, chants, and frequent crossings, with such numerous repetitions that it often occupies five or six hours, without any sermon.
During this long service, the people stand, leaning on the supports of the few seats in the church, or on a kind of crutches, provided for the purpose. No images are allowed within their churches, but they are plentifully decorated with rough and glaring paintings; the more rough and glaring these are, the higher they stand in the estimation of the worshippers. Their music is without any aid from instruments, and is chiefly a kind of chanting, but it is said to be often beautiful and touchingly plaintive, although monotonous. The vestments of the clergy are very varied in form, often of fine texture, gorgeous in colour, and ornamented with jewellery of great value. Each of these vestments has its mystic meaning and virtue, to which great importance is attached. The worship of saints, angels, and the Virgin Mary, is carried to as great an excess as it can be at Rome, and it is long since the Greek Church held, that “the Mother of God” as they term her, “was without original.” It may be said, indeed, that the _Panagia_, or Holy Virgin, is the peculiar deity of the Greeks, as much as ever Pallas Athene was of the ancient Athenians. Everywhere, in church, palace, or cottage, a little coarse picture intended to represent the Holy Virgin, may be seen, often with a lamp burning before it, as the object of special adoration.
Being desirous of seeing something of the festivities of the Cypriotes on their fête day, I walked out to a church about half a league from the “Marina,” and in spite of the scenery around me, could have fancied I was again witnessing one of the annual markets, I had seen as a boy in my native land. Around and about the church, booths were ranged, and peasants were wandering around, chatting and eagerly driving bargains, under an impression very prevalent amongst them, that there will not be the usual deceit and roguery so near a house of God. Bells were pealing, and horses and asses neighing and winnying, as their owners, dressed in their Sunday best, galloped about in all directions. All those of the better class who appeared on the occasion, were also mounted, the elders looking on in stately dignity, whilst the youngsters galloped hither and thither like the wind.
In such a gathering as this in Central Europe, one would, no doubt, see many more powerful men, and more blooming girls, than are to be met with under similar circumstances in Cyprus. And as I gazed at the crowds before me, I could not help again noticing the strange blending of Syrian and Grecian types, in the faces and figures, whilst the dress of most was a curious mixture of European, Grecian, and Turkish fashions. Many of the girls were remarkably beautiful, with magnificent large flashing eyes; in most cases their eyebrows were blackened, and their hair, mixed with false, was piled high on the head. Not a few, as it appeared to me, had dipped pretty deeply into pots of cosmetics, for the use and compounding of which the fair Cypriotes have long been noted. One fashion pleased me much—namely, the common use of natural flowers for decorating the head. The very poorest in the crowd wore some kind of metal ornaments, whilst the wealthier class of women displayed ear-rings, chains, and medallions of heavy gold. The Cypriote husband takes great pride in seeing his wife thus decked, not perhaps so much from sentimental reasons, as because the extent of the show demonstrates what is the depth of his cash-box, and the chances of his family in the matter of dowries. For a Cypriote to invest his earnings in land would, under the late Government, have been an act involving the utmost risk of capital.
As I returned home on this my last day in Cyprus, I could not but feel a shade of melancholy stealing over me. The evening was lovely, the air pure and clear, and the sun as it went down, tipped the purple mountains with gold, and gave a tinge of bronze to the palms and cypress trees of Larnaka, as they stood clearly defined against the evening sky.
When I reached the town, old and young were sitting before the doors of the Grecian houses, or chatting and laughing with each other in lively groups about the streets. In the Turkish quarters, on the contrary, not a living creature was visible, and every house had the appearance of being a dungeon. Yet, as I have before said, could I have looked within the high walls, I should probably have seen the entire family enjoying the fragrant coolness of their gardens.
Next day, I bade farewell to this lovely island, which still lay bound hand and foot, in the power of her negligent and cruel masters, and entirely unconscious of the great and important change that would shortly burst her bonds.
May we not trust that under British rule, her barren wastes and plains may once more speedily become fruitful fields, and her people again reap the blessings and benefits of a pure Christian Church, and a paternal Government.
EFFORTS OF THE GERMANS TO OBTAIN CYPRUS.
So much attention has lately been called to the concluding chapters of Herr von Löher’s most interesting work, that we feel compelled to present them, in an English form, even at the risk of incurring blame in some quarters, for unnecessary repetition. Throughout the whole of his travels in the island, our author, shocked at the scenes of neglect and mismanagement presented to his eyes, was constantly indulging in reflections on what a different fate might await its inhabitants could they be annexed to the mighty empire of his fatherland. Indulging in this strain of thought, he presents us with a lengthy account of what was done there by his countrymen in former days.
In a short and rapid sketch of these pages, we will endeavour to give only such details, as may be new and interesting to our readers, and suppressing as far as possible all such matter as has already appeared in the body of the work. Long after the Crusaders had been expelled from the Holy Land, says Löher, they still retained the fortresses of Jaffa, Akkon, Tyre, Sidon, Beyrut, Cæsarea, Antioch, Tripoli, and other strongholds, the governors of which ruled over, and gave commands to, a multitude of knights and people there resident. The Christian forces, then dispersed over all Syria, should have united under the imperial leadership, and opposed their serried ranks to the forces of the Crescent. This was manifestly the plan of the second Frederick, Emperor of Germany, whose idea was, to put the Christian forces under the command of Hermann von Salza, the renowned Preceptor of the German order. This was he, who, in a conference at Ferentino, at which the Pope, the Emperor, and King John of Jerusalem were present, proposed that Frederick should marry Isabella, the daughter of the last-mentioned sovereign, and thus ally her inheritance, the kingdom of Jerusalem, with his possessions, whilst her father should merely have the honour of being nominally a king. The proposal was received joyfully by all parties. The imperial marriage took place in the year 1225, at Brindisi, where the bride’s father surrendered the sceptre of Jerusalem into the hands of his new son-in-law—not, however, without compulsion. Frederick forthwith received the homage of all present, and sent a herald with three hundred knights to the Holy Land, to ratify and complete the homage paid to the emperor—who, if he intended to bring the crusade to a successful end, must necessarily be the legitimate lord of the soil.
The Cyprians, however, thought that Frederick, after a time, would be in a position to assume the feudal sovereignty of their island, for the kingdom had in former times been an appanage of the Emperor Heinrich the Sixth, his grandfather. The late King Hugo the First had been for ten years engaged in the crusade, and when he died, his only son, the heir to the throne, was but nine months old.
The Emperor Frederick the Second at length discovered, how powerless he was to remodel the affairs of the East. The knights and merchants had ordered matters according to their own pleasure. The barons with their feudal retainers occupied their castles in perfect independence; the king was only their leader, and the feudal parliament the court in which they decided everything according to their pleasure. With these uncontrolled nobles we must rank three orders of knights, forming as many well-established and wealthy brotherhoods, in which the military and monkish characteristics were united. These ecclesiastical warriors were armed in complete steel, and claimed princely prerogatives. In the towns were guilds and corporations, combinations of merchants and men of business, who watched over their own interests, and resisted the innovations of the arrogant nobility. Among all these petty powers, who were incessantly quarrelling among themselves, Frederick found it a difficult task to introduce harmony, and harder still to bring them to acquiesce in his authority.
Frederick had already proclaimed in Ferentino, that the conquest of the Holy Land should no longer be carried on in the name of the knights, but of the king only, thus intimating, that the whole of it should belong to himself. In Cyprus, matters were arranged upon a very different basis; here the supreme authority was shared among the barons, and the power of the king jealously circumscribed.
So long as the authority of the emperor was maintained in Cyprus, he held the key of all the opposite coasts of Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt, and consequently, to possess the sovereign power in this island, was from first to last the great object of Oriental policy. In 1218 the last King of Cyprus died, having on his death-bed appointed his wife, Alice, regent. The knights, unwilling to submit to the authority of a woman, compelled her to share her rule in the island with Philip of Ibelin as co-regent. Meanwhile feuds sprang up on all sides, and every occurrence seemed to increase the discord. The Franks in the East had been vitiated by Byzantine manners, and fought each other with the bitterest hatred, quite unmindful of their original mission, which was to deliver the Holy Land from the heathen. Quarrels soon arose between the Latin and Greek Churches, and Cyprus became the arena where bloody combats took place.
Frederick now entered the capital of Cyprus, and there all the princes and barons interceded for Ibelin, who declared that he and all his followers were ready to submit to the emperor, and atone for their delinquencies. The emperor did not seek revenge, but simple justice; and was extremely desirous of securing the support of Cyprus, and the wealth obtainable from that source, and thus the affair was soon arranged; the barons, under the emperor’s command, acquiesced, and a general amnesty was proclaimed upon the following terms:
The emperor was to be the sole guardian of the young king until he completed his twenty-fifth year. The government of Cyprus and its revenues should be placed in the hands of the emperor, and all the fortified places in the kingdom delivered up to him. All the Cyprian knights who had not sworn fealty to the emperor should immediately take the oath of allegiance. Ibelin, in behalf of the ruler of Beyrut, recognised the emperor as King of Jerusalem, and did homage to him under that title, and agreed that all claims, relative to the castle of Beyrut, should be settled by the court of Jerusalem, and an account of all revenues due, since the death of King Hugo, should be laid before the court of Cyprus. The hostages demanded by the emperor were set at liberty. Ibelin and all the Cyprian barons, with their followers, were to accompany Frederick to the Holy Land, and serve him there till the end of the crusade.
All these conditions were punctually carried out, the oath of allegiance administered, and the castles, as well as the revenue, given up. The emperor had achieved a complete victory. Cyprus remained for several years under his command, and its king was formally declared a prince of the German empire. The emperor next appointed revenue officers and treasurers, in all the castles and bailiwicks of the island, and made arrangements that the money thus raised should be sent after him into Syria. To these offices, as well as in garrisoning the castles, the emperor appointed his own knights by preference, and these gladly accepted such desirable appointments.
After all these things were arranged, the emperor came to Famagusta, and the next day, the 2nd of September, seven weeks after his landing in Cyprus, embarked, taking the young king with him, and accompanied by all the chivalry of the island. Their landing was effected at Beyrut, Sidon, Sarepta, and Tyre, as Frederick was desirous of becoming more intimately acquainted with the coast of Syria; he probably likewise intended that the armies of the Crusaders, employed upon the fortifications of Sidon and of Cæsarea, should enter Akkon while he remained upon the coast. In the last-mentioned city, the most populous and the most important in the Holy Land, the emperor was received with great ceremony. The Crusaders, more especially those from Germany, were jubilant; the clergy sang hymns of praise; the Templars and the Knights of St. John did homage to their sovereign, by kneeling before him and kissing his knees, according to the custom of the times. Nevertheless Frederick was well aware that, to use the words of an old writer, he was in a land where neither God nor man had ever yet found truth or loyalty.
The truth of this he soon found out. The Cyprians formed by far the greater part of the host of Eastern warriors, led by the high marshal Felingher, but the number of these was not more than two thousand. Rome had already taken her precautions. A Papal bull was issued denouncing Frederick, and he was placed under an interdict. Messages both from the Pope and the Patriarch warned the knights not to obey the emperor’s commands, and it was promulgated amongst the soldiery, that Frederick was under the curse of God, and of the Church, and that all his acts were of no effect. Multitudes of the Crusaders, despairing of the success of their undertaking, deserted. The Knights of the Temple and of St. John fell away from the emperor’s standard, and the rest of the warriors of the Cross refused to be led to battle. The Cyprian barons began to discuss the question whether the oath they had taken to Frederick, was not overridden by the feudal allegiance they owed to their king.
The Germans who had come over with the emperor under the command of their leader, Hermann von Salza, kept their plighted faith, and were the only supporters of the imperial authority: these, however, taking them all together, knights and squires, soldiers from Germany, Sicily, and Lombardy, hardly amounted to twelve thousand men. With so feeble an army—with the Eastern knights partly at open enmity, partly vacillating, with the clergy altogether inimical—it was quite impossible for Frederick to think of giving battle to the unbelievers. He established himself in a camp near Akkon, and while he strengthened the defences of Joppa, gave all his attention to the establishment of a secret understanding with the Sultan. Overtures to this effect had in truth been already made by him from Italy, and during his stay in Cyprus had been still further advanced.
Immediately on his arrival in the Holy Land it became clear what were the necessities of his position, and what there might be a possibility of his obtaining. The possession of the holy places; a free pass for pilgrims in Syria and Palestine, who must necessarily be under Christian jurisdiction; peace secured by the strength of the fortress and the solemn oath of the Mussulmans; all these were secured. Jerusalem, which, for nearly half a century had been in their hands, was, with the surrounding country, again placed in the power of the Christians, who held, moreover, Bethlehem and the intervening land. Joppa and a strip of country between that town and Jerusalem; Nazareth and the road from thence to Akkon; the fertile plain of Sidon; and in its neighbourhood the castle Turon, commanding the entire coast; all these castles and towns were permitted to be again fortified, and on the other side the Sultan promised that he would raise no new fortifications. All Christian prisoners, some of whom had been a long while in the hands of the Mussulmans, were to be set free. This peace was to last during ten years. All these arrangements were to be confirmed by the solemn oaths of both the contracting parties.
When the terms of this peace became known in Joppa, great joy was manifested by the Christians who accompanied the emperor to Jerusalem, where, on the day of his arrival (March 18, 1229), he offered up thanks in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. After this, approaching the high altar, he placed the crown of Jerusalem upon his head, and then returned to his place. No priest was allowed to take part in the rejoicings, which included festivities of every description. Their general, Hermann von Salza, read before all the soldiers and common people a manifesto by the emperor, explaining why he had not been able to come before, and telling them that the Pope had been compelled to publish his bann by pressure of circumstances, and that everything should now be arranged to secure peace among the heads of Christendom. Next day the Patriarch of Jerusalem assailed him with the Papal interdict. Frederick, in order to give no pretence for suppressing public worship, returned to Joppa, and from thence to Akkon.
Here the emperor remained for about five weeks, doing everything which his position allowed to make peace with the adherents of the Pope, at the head of whom stood the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The patriarch, however, found him, to use his own expression, “unhealthy from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot,” and seemed rather exasperated than otherwise at all the good that Frederick had achieved in so short a time. The proud Templars and Knights of St. John, were furious because the chief control lay no longer with them, but with the Germans. Even the ecclesiastics were principally from France, very few of them from Italy. Probably at no period of the world’s history has a body of men existed so steeped in pride, so full of haughtiness, luxury, and immorality, as the Templars. Well might they think that in his heart the emperor had the intention of expelling them from the Holy Land. The governors of the towns had instructions to watch them strictly, and from his first arrival in Syria, the emperor had endeavoured to give the ascendancy to his German followers, while he scarcely concealed his design of making the huge possessions of the Templars and Knights of Jerusalem subservient to the worship of Christ, instead of ministering to their insatiable debaucheries.
No wonder, therefore, that the burning hatred of the Templars was aroused. Were it now possible to trace out all their conspiracies against the life of Frederick, we should indeed have to deal with a tangled web, while the enmity of the Pope still further increased the dangers that surrounded him. The whole land was filled with the Papal troops, whose business was to plunder and to destroy, so that all the energies of the emperor were put in requisition to govern and defend the unhappy country. Balian of Sidon, a man universally respected, a nephew of Idelin and Walter d’Allemand, who deeply reverenced the Church, were appointed chief governors, and all fortified places received efficient garrisons and abundant supplies of provisions.
Above everything else, Frederick had in his mind the kingdom of Cyprus. That rich island must now furnish him with money to pay his officials in the Holy Land, and to supply his army with provisions and warlike stores. The kingdom of Jerusalem was no longer in a condition to pay the heavy costs; it now indeed consisted only of a few straggling towns, and a narrow strip of the sea-coast of Syria. Cyprus had already been made to pay considerable sums, which had been forwarded to the emperor, and in addition to these, the Archbishop of Nikosia found himself compelled to contribute largely; and now, before taking their departure for Akkon, came Amalrich von Balas, Hugo von Giblet, Gavain von Chenichy, and Wilhelm von Rivet, all belonging to the highest nobility in Cyprus, who had all of them conspired against Ibelin, and so represented him to the emperor, that he was deprived of his lordship. Undoubtedly they had all been sent for by the emperor himself, who thought that the best way to insure the safety of the island, was to put it into the hands of his most trusty friends, under the auspices of the young king. These five noblemen were instructed to form a regency, which should continue for three years, during which time they were to protect and govern the country, and to send over year by year ten thousand marks to be paid directly into the hands of Balian and Werner in Syria.
And now, after these arrangements, the emperor thought himself secure, and hoped that at least for a few years he should be able, not only to hold Cyprus, but also to defend his little kingdom of Jerusalem. At the end of that time he trusted that the people would have become accustomed to his government, or that at least he should be able to return with a greater force and more freedom of action.
That Frederick did accomplish a great and good work in the Holy Land there can be no doubt. It is impossible to read the letters or records handed down from those times without remarking that amidst the whirl of events where ambition, hatred, avarice, and national jealousy reigned on all sides, obscuring and crippling all efforts to do good, the honest endeavours of Frederick to ameliorate the condition of the country, were not altogether unsuccessful.
On the 1st of May, after a stay of not more than eight months in the Holy Land, the emperor took ship at Akkon, accompanied by the young King of Cyprus and the Marquis of Montserrat. As the boat which put him on board left the land, Ibelin shouted after him a parting adieu, on which the emperor called out to the assembled multitude, that his mind was quite at ease, inasmuch as he knew that he left them in good hands.
The imperial fleet crossed over to Limasol, and here Frederick celebrated the marriage of his ward, the young king, with Alice, daughter of the Marquis of Montserrat. He then put in order the affairs of the island, arranging that the regency should regularly transmit to the governors of Jerusalem or Akkon money wherewith to supply the garrisons and officials in the Holy Land.
The emperor attached great importance to the possession of the Cyprian castles and fortresses. Already in the preceding year he had made every preparation for their defence, by putting each of them under the command of some distinguished officer, and had brought with him from Akkon whatever could be spared in the way of munitions of war for their safe keeping. As he was about to leave the island for the second time, he stipulated that the regents should have no power over the castles until the transmission of the money to the Holy Land had been regularly completed.
The seaboard of Cyprus at that time had no fortresses, with the exception of the capital city Nikosia; even on the south-western coast, where a mountainous district occupies nearly one-half of the island, there was no castle of importance, the hills moreover must at that time have been covered with wild-growing forests. The life and wealth of the island consisted in the rich maritime slopes and fertile plains, which extended along the shore from Famagusta and Larnaka, as far as the mountainous tract, which extends all along the northern side of the island.
Behind the chain of mountains are narrow slips of fertile soil, producing abundance of excellent fruit, in the midst of which is the principal haven Keryneia. From this town deep dells and rocky gorges run up into the mountains, leading to the fortresses St. Hilarion, Buffavento, and Cantara. These three castles are built upon the smaller chain of mountains, which, rugged and steep, rear themselves in innumerable peaks and crags to a considerable altitude.
Before the time of Frederick the Second, Buffavento is scarcely mentioned, but it then became one of the principal defences of the island, indeed it seems to have been quite impregnable, so long as food and water could be procured on the summit of the mountain upon which it stood. Victuals were, however, much more easily obtainable on the heights of St. Hilarion, a much larger place, situated a little further westward. Even Kantara, lying to the north-east, could boast of more than one wall.
The town of Keryneia, however, where the haven was situated, was most strongly fortified, inasmuch as it was well adapted to the reception of food and military stores arriving from the coasts of Syria, Asia Minor, or even Italy, which could be immediately forwarded to the fortresses above mentioned.
Had the eagle eye of Frederick at once seen how Cyprus could best be defended by a limited body of troops, he could not have been better prepared for the events which subsequently happened. A war soon broke out which, during several years, continued to rage throughout the island, the history of which gives a most variegated picture of the doings of the knights beyond the sea, _chevalerie d’outre-mer_, as they were called by the Eastern warriors.
Homeric combats upon a fair field, trials by battle, the beleaguering and defence of castles, codes laying down the nicest points of honour, or of right, biting satires and new war songs, followed each other, as incessantly as did the victories or the defeats of the combatants. That all the knights displayed wonderful bravery is undeniable. As the head of the imperial forces, we may mention the knightly Marshal Felingher, Balas, called by Navarra in his history, “the Fox,” and Hugo de Giblet, who, on account of his grimaces, was nicknamed “the Ape.” Ibelin seems to have made himself more conspicuous than the rest. His brave sons and their friend, the merry poet, Philip of Navarre, as also the wild “fighting cock” Anselm de Brie, afforded materials for innumerable anecdotes.
All this time Cyprus suffered severely, owing to the discord which existed between two parties of nobles, whose enmity at length involved Syria and Palestine, where the Templars and Knights of St. John, together with what was left of the priesthood, raged with unmeasured hatred against the emperor, whose witty jests, aimed at the silly practices of the monks, had given great offence, more especially when, after the example of the Templars, they displayed their insatiable avarice. The dissensions among the Cyprian nobles were, indeed, the cause why all the arrangements made by the wisdom and care of Frederick, in treating with the Mussulmans, fell to the ground.
Still, for a time, the treaty which had cost so much trouble continued in force, notwithstanding that one of the two governors in the Holy Land, in whom the Emperor had reposed so much trust, Walter d’Allemand, joined the party of his mortal enemies, and himself became a Templar. Frederick, meanwhile, had scarcely set foot in Italy, than he fell like a thunderstorm upon the Papal soldiers, and fairly swept them from his territories. He then began to diminish somewhat the possessions of the Templars, who had multiplied in Italy with a rapidity almost incredible. In truth, wherever a chapter of the order was established, the country around was immediately put under contribution, and so many farms, mills, castles, and woods were taken possession of, either by way of purchase or exchange, or seized upon as donations, that their power increased wonderfully. From the Templars, more especially, a cry soon rose that Frederick intended to make the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus portions of his empire, so that they would both belong exclusively to the Germans, a cry which was incessantly repeated by the Jerusalem patriarch. It was also said that, seeing that the kingdom of Jerusalem would be inherited by Frederick’s little son, Conrad, his proper guardian would be the nearest relative of the last wearer of that crown, they, therefore, wished to put him under the care of the Queen Alice, and in this way prolong the duration of the regency.
It now became evident that the rule of the emperor in the Holy Land would not be of long duration, and his enemies next resolved to endeavour to wrest from him the kingdom of Cyprus. Still, the regency of five retained supreme command in that island, and acted altogether in accordance with the emperor’s instructions. The young king wrote to his imperial guardian to say how delighted he was at the advantages obtained over his enemies, but that he was grieved to find that the emperor did not write to him more frequently concerning his views and projects, and still more so, that he could not explain matters to him _in propriâ persona_.
The Ibelins, in the meanwhile, were in want of some pretext for raising an insurrection in Cyprus. About the spring of 1230, there was a call for an extraordinary tax of about three thousand marks, which the emperor had directed to be sent to the Holy Land. The knights, who were of Ibelin’s party, declared against this, assigning as a reason that, not having been assented to by the feudal court, the imposition of a new tax was unlawful. As their stewards refused payment, their goods were seized, and the amount taken from them in corn and cattle.
And now Philip of Navarre appeared upon the island, and secretly endeavoured to raise adherents. At first his answers to the inquiries of the authorities seemed satisfactory, but as they became more and more evasive, the regency thought fit to compel him to show his true colours. All the barons were invited to attend the feudal court, and there, in the presence of the young king, were asked whether they were friends to the emperor, the king, and the regents, or whether they were to be regarded as enemies.
A New Testament was brought, and Philip of Navarre was invited to swear true allegiance upon the holy book. He wished to speak privately to each of his questioners, but this was refused. He then declared that his fealty was due to the queen-mother, and to the lord Ibelin. At this Hugo von Giblet exclaimed in a rage, “If I had my way you should be hanged, or I would have your tongue torn out,” and immediately ordered the arrest of the offender. On this Philip hastened to where the king was sitting, and, bending the knee, said, that his safety had been guaranteed by the regents, as he would prove with his sword, and immediately taking off his glove, cast it on the ground.
Several knights endeavoured to pick up the glove; but Philip cried out that he would only measure swords with the regents, as they only were his equals in rank: fetters were however, soon brought into the hall, where the contumacious noble was imprisoned until the approach of darkness. The rest all took the required oath, and it was understood that all who refused to do so would forfeit their rich domains.
In the night, while Philip’s conduct was the theme of every one’s conversation, he made his escape from the court-house, and presented himself in the cloisters of the Knights of St. John, who immediately afforded him shelter and protection. Here he assembled around his person about a hundred and fifty men, collected provisions and warlike stores, which were stored up in the strong tower of the castle, and resolved to defend himself against his pursuers. Meanwhile he sent a private message to Ibelin, informing him of all his proceedings, which he described in verse.
The regents dared not to attack the monastery of St. John, which enjoyed all the privileges of a religious house, while Ibelin at once landed with a strong force in Gatria, and marched in all haste to Nikosia. The few troops, which were hurriedly sent to oppose him, were easily dispersed, and in a very short time he presented himself before the capital. For the sake of saving his honour, he had written a letter to the young king, saying how it pained both him and his followers, to have left their allegiance in the Holy Land, but that they were unable to do otherwise, in order to defend their own possessions; should he blame them for their conduct, they relied upon their rights as established by feudal law. The regents were utterly surprised; they at once collected such forces as they could muster, and marched out through the city gates. In vain did they seek for priestly interference for the purpose of establishing peace between the conflicting parties. On the 23rd of June a furious battle took place. The regents wore golden tiaras on their helmets. One of them, Gavain von Chenichy, slew Ibelin’s father-in-law, the old constable; Walter von Cæsarea, Gerhardt von Montagu, and other friends of Ibelin, likewise lost their lives. The regents, however, were particularly anxious to get hold of Ibelin himself, and fifteen knights galloped forward in search of him. This, it would appear, caused considerable disorder amongst the imperial troops; and when Philip of Navarre, with a strong body of men, made his appearance upon the battle-field just at this critical moment, the troops of the regents were completely defeated. Ibelin in the meanwhile had sought refuge in a farm-house, where he was powerless to defend himself, but from which, after the battle, he was set at liberty by his son Balian and Anselm de Brie.
And now appeared the foresight of the emperor in fortifying the castles upon the mountains, in which the vanquished troops found a safe asylum. On the very evening of the battle, Balas, Bethsan, and Giblet, bringing with them the young king and their best troops, repaired to St. Hilarion. Rivet, with his followers, sought protection in Buffavento, and Chenichy, by dint of spurring, succeeded in reaching the still more distant castle of Kantara. From these three castles it was easy to reach the sea-coast at Keryneia. Ibelin, however, hastened to prevent their escape. While he himself surrounded Keryneia, Balian took a position before St. Hilarion, Philip of Navarre before Buffavento, and Anselm de Brie before Kantara.
Anselm had devised a new kind of battering ram with which he broke down the outer wall, and as he personally hated Chenichy, laid in ambush watching for him day and night, until at length, taking an opportunity when the regent was seen on the battlements, took deadly aim at him and shot him with an arrow. Rivet, who knew Buffavento to be impregnable, came there from Kantara, and when he saw the fortalice was in good condition and well manned, went over into Asia Minor to bring over more troops, and was there killed.
The three other regents occupied the extensive and strong fastnesses of St. Hilarion; here they not only repelled every attack, but every now and then made sallies, broke through the palisades of the besiegers, and obtained fresh supplies.
Upon one occasion Philip of Navarre was struck down and fell as though dead. On seeing this a man upon the wall exclaimed, “the verse-maker is dead, now we shall have no more of his bad songs.” Philip, however, recovered during the night, and the next day, taking up a tolerably safe position, he favoured the garrison with a new ballad.
The defenders of Keryneia became at length tired out; for a length of time they had received no pay and had suffered much from want of provisions. A day was fixed, and if by that time no help appeared, they agreed to surrender, more especially as they saw that the castles were closely invested and their occupants had no chance of escape.
Ibelin was now enabled to bring up more troops to the siege of St. Hilarion. That fortress, however, was now no longer in a condition to brave him as it had done before; the place was closely invested on all sides, and the garrison in dire want of provisions, for by this time the insurgents had taken possession of the whole island; even the young king Heinrich suffered severely; he frequently made his appearance upon the battlements and shouted to the besiegers who had brought him to such straits.
Ibelin next resolved to send Philip of Navarre, who had shown great ability in conducting negotiations, into Italy, hoping to obtain help, either from the Pope or from the King of France.
At this juncture Ibelin proposed to Balian and his associates to surrender the young king and the fortress into his power, promising that if they did so, they should be well treated and should retain in all honour whatever property they possessed. The garrison, which had long suffered the greatest privations, and saw nothing before them but a lingering death from famine, at last consented, and Ibelin attained his object. Balas, Bethsan, and Giblet made over to him the youthful Heinrich, and took a solemn oath that they would not again bear arms against the insurgents.
The emperor could no longer hide from himself that Cyprus was lost, and his affairs in the Holy Land wore a very gloomy aspect. By his command the governor of Cyprus issued a proclamation depriving the Ibelins of all their feudal tenures, and a fleet was assembled consisting of eighteen galleys and fifteen transports, in the last of which were embarked three hundred horsemen and two thousand foot soldiers. These were all placed under the command of Marshal Felingher by a manifesto, to which was appended a golden ball, appointing him Governor, Lord Chief Justice, and Generalissimo of the East, and at the same time affording him every facility for getting his troops together. Ibelin had taken the precaution to send spies into Italy, from whom he received secret information concerning everything that occurred there, and before the imperial fleet had left Brindisi, a swift sailing vessel was despatched, by which the spies returned speedily to the east, and soon reaching Akkon, where Ibelin was at that time encamped, made him acquainted with all the proceedings of the emperor.
Without loss of time Ibelin assembled as many men as he and his friends could get together, and marched upon Beyrut, the defences of which he strengthened, and then crossed over to Cyprus, where it was necessary to take care that on seeing the emperor’s fleet the Cyprians should not rouse their forces, and get the young king into their power. He therefore collected all his adherents in Cyprus, knights and squires, and a considerable number of combatants, placing part of them at Limasol, under the command of his eldest son Balian, and retaining the other part under his own control at Larnaka, thus getting possession of the only two places where a landing could be effected. He likewise took the precaution of bringing with him the young king, upon whose movements he kept a close watch.
When, therefore, the soldiers of the emperor were about to land at Limasol, they found the shore lined with troops forming an army much larger than their own, who forbad their approach. Their ships, therefore, moved on a little further, and cast anchor in the vicinity of Gavata. Soon afterwards, the Bishop of Amalfi, accompanied by two German knights, made their appearance in Limasol, and represented themselves as ambassadors from the emperor charged with a message to the young king. They were told that the king resided at Larnaka, and whilst they were conducted back again to their ship, Ibelin in great haste called together the feudal court, in which naturally his own friends and partisans were in a considerable majority.
Before this assembly, the ambassadors from the emperor delivered their message, which was to the following effect. The emperor demanded from the king, as his feudal vassal, that he should immediately banish from the country Johann von Ibelin and his whole family, and no longer afford them shelter or protection, seeing that they had broken their allegiance. To this mandate the following reply was given by Wilhelm Visconta, in the name of the infant king: “My lords, I am commanded and commissioned by the king to say to you, that it appears to him very strange that the emperor should send such an order to me. The governor of Beyrut is a relative of Ibelin, and I neither can nor will do what the emperor requires.”
After waiting many days it became evident that it would be impossible to effect a landing, and the authority of the Emperor Frederick over the island was henceforth set at defiance.
When Ibelin had marched within four leagues of Akkon, he learnt that the Patriarch of Antioch was sent as Pope’s legate to that city, and had demanded his immediate presence.
Notwithstanding the suspicions Ibelin entertained, that the legate was about to denounce him as a rebel, he felt bound, as a good servant of the Church, to obey the summons. He therefore caused his troops to encamp near Casal Imbert, and placed his trustworthy follower, Anselm von Brie, in command, whilst he proceeded to Akkon, and endeavoured by every means in his power to undermine his enemies and strengthen his own cause.
Meanwhile Marshal Felingher decided on making one decisive blow for his master’s interests. Towards dusk on the evening of May the 2nd, he left Tyre with his best troops, and marched towards the coast, where he was followed by twenty-two ships bearing the rest of his army. Towards morning they approached the unfortunate camp, and before the slightest alarm could be raised, had fallen upon it and butchered the soldiers, whilst still asleep. Here and there a slight attempt was made at resistance, and Ibelin’s three sons made a gallant but desperate effort to drive off the enemy. The attack, however, had been too sudden to allow the soldiers to recover from the shock, and all such as did not perish found safety in precipitate flight. The king narrowly escaped with his life, he having been hurried out of the camp at the first alarm of danger.
The imperial victory was complete, Ibelin’s troops were entirely scattered or destroyed, and all the valuables of the camp were taken possession of by the enemy. As soon as it was known that Marshal Felingher had left Tyre, Ibelin and his knights at once mounted their horses and rode as rapidly as possible towards the camp, but before they arrived, friends and enemies had alike quitted the ground, and nothing remained except a handful of men who had taken refuge in a small and neighbouring tower.
Had Felingher at once fallen upon Akkon, he would probably have obtained possession of the city; but he was well aware that his troops were safer in Cyprus than on the opposite continent, and therefore immediately despatched them to that island. Famagusta, Nikosia, and Keryneia were seized, and all Ibelin’s troops dispersed in a series of victorious onslaughts. The young queen, Alice, occupied Nikosia, whilst her two sisters-in-law took refuge in the convent of St. Hilarion. Frau von Ibelin escaped to Buffavento in the disguise of a monk, and by her courage and energy roused the drooping spirit of the old commandant of the fortress, who was preparing to surrender to the emperor at discretion.
The followers of Ibelin were now in the depths of distress and anxiety, their troops were annihilated, their money gone, and worst of all, many noble knights belonging to the conquered party began to lay all the blame of their unfortunate position upon their leader’s head. Some endeavoured to persuade the king, who was nearly of age, that he might be the means of restoring peace and order, whilst others endeavoured to commence an alliance with Marshal Felingher.
At this crisis, John Ibelin showed all the resources of which he was capable. He tried to sting the Syrian knights by hinting, that if Cyprus were allowed to remain under imperial rule, they would be neither more nor less than slaves to Germany, and endeavoured by bribes and every form of persuasion to induce adherents to flock to his standard. Ibelin’s sons and relations sold all their possessions in order to obtain horses and arms, and many devices were resorted to as a means of obtaining money.
Small scraps of parchment were issued, bearing the king’s seal, and setting forth that the sum named thereon must be paid to whoever presented it, and promising that the giver should be refunded as soon as the prince was firmly established in his rights.
The most important step by far taken by the astute knight at this crisis, was that of persuading the Genoese in the island to rise _en masse_ and join his cause, under the solemn promise of the king that they and their sons should enjoy extraordinary social immunities and privileges. Having fully achieved this plan, Ibelin at once made ready to sail for Cyprus at the shortest notice, backed by a numerous and well-manned fleet. No sooner did the marshal hear of the unexpected rising of the Genoese, than he at once returned to the island with a powerful army, and was soon again master of the whole country, with the exception of the fortresses of St. Hilarion and Buffavento. A portion of the imperial fleet was anchored in the harbour outside the ancient city of Paphos.
On Whitsunday, May the 30th, Ibelin set sail with his forces from Akkon, accompanied by the Genoese consul, with whom the approaching struggle now had the aspect of a political victory. Pedalion Acra, a promontory between Larnaka and Famagusta, had been pointed out as the most suitable spot for landing the soldiers, and thither all the troop-ships went. No sooner had the fleet reached the spot indicated, than intelligence was received that the marshal had made Famagusta his head-quarters. The ships at once proceeded in the direction of that fortress, where, owing to the knowledge of the shore displayed by their commanders, they were enabled, after a slight skirmish with the imperial troops, to take possession of a small island in close vicinity to the town. Felingher was prepared to make a brave and powerful defence, but unluckily for him his soldiers had treated the surrounding inhabitants with so much roughness and cruelty that treachery was rife in all quarters. In the stillness of the night a few boats left the fleet, and landed their men close to the fortress; these at once rushed upon the town with such noise and force that the defenders were struck with sudden panic. The marshal, believing that the whole force of the enemy was on the spot, and that the citizens were in revolt, at once set fire to his ships, and withdrew with all his men to Nikosia.
Ibelin remained a week in Famagusta; this time he spent in fortifying the citadel more securely, and in drawing up the deed of privileges to the Genoese, the promise of which had procured him so great an accession of friends.
The marshal now retired to the mountains behind Nikosia, and Queen Alice and her ladies sought refuge in Keryneia, the imperial troops being so stationed as to command that fortress.
Felingher now rapidly pressed on the siege of St. Hilarion, and was in daily hopes that hunger must compel her defenders to surrender; all cornfields, mills, and every available means of sustenance having been destroyed throughout the surrounding plains by the marshal’s orders.
Ibelin’s army, which was now slowly marching onwards towards Nikosia, received fresh reinforcements at every stage, not only from the outraged Cypriotes, who were anxious to avenge their wrongs, but from large numbers of the higher classes, who had taken refuge in the huts. Nearly all these soldiers were on foot, whilst the imperial army, we are told, had fully two thousand horse. On his arrival near Nikosia, Ibelin at once encamped about half a league from the city, and early next morning, June 15th, 1232, advanced rapidly with all his troops to encounter the imperial forces, some of which were gathered around the fortress they were investing, whilst some were stationed upon the high and almost inaccessible rocks that commanded the road to Keryneia.
The marshal, who appears to have been paralysed by the rapid movements of the enemy, at once sent a party of cavalry to meet the men he saw were preparing to mount the rocky steps that led to the fortress.
Count Walter von Manebel charged down upon the enemy, but with such fury and indiscretion that the ascending soldiers, being on foot, readily eluded the pursuit of their mounted adversaries, who had no alternative but to seek refuge in the plains below, and there await further orders. Meanwhile Ibelin’s troops continued to mount, and a severe struggle ensued, in which the marshal’s troops became perfectly unmanageable, and had to be withdrawn to Keryneia. Numbers sought safety in flight, or refuge in the neighbouring churches and monasteries. Keryneia now alone remained in the hands of the imperial troops, and the marshal at once proceeded to strengthen it at all points, stored up ample provisions in case of siege, and having given the command of such troops as could not be accommodated in the fortress to Walter von Aquaviva, he himself retired to Cilicia with a large body of men.
Ibelin no sooner heard that the marshal had withdrawn the greater part of his army from Keryneia, than he proceeded to invest that fortress. A long and bloody battle at once ensued outside its walls, and every means were tried, but in vain, to storm the citadel. At this crisis a short truce was concluded, in consequence of the death of the young Queen Alice. Her corpse was decked in royal robes, and a messenger was despatched to her consort requesting that she might be interred as became her rank. This truce was strictly kept on both sides, until the royal coffin had been conveyed to Nikosia, where it was placed in the cathedral with much pomp and reverence.
Marshal Felingher had meanwhile been well received in Cilicia, and at once proceeded to make preparations for a fresh campaign. Great sickness, however, now appeared in his army, and numbers died from various causes, or were so invalided as to be unfit for farther service. Felingher at once ordered his army to Tyre, whilst he himself went to Italy to have an interview with the emperor. This latter was now inclined to try what could be done by persuasion, instead of again having recourse to arms. Marshal Felingher, who had made himself much disliked, was superseded, and the Bishop of Sidon despatched, with full powers to bring matters to a peaceable conclusion by well-timed arguments and persuasions, amongst which was the promise that all past outbreaks should be forgotten on the part of the emperor, if the Cypriotes would return to their allegiance. The bishop had so much skill and diplomacy, that in an assembly of knights called by his order, to assemble in the cathedral at Akkon, all present willingly consented to renew their oath on the spot, and recognise the emperor as the guardian of his son Conrad. At this juncture the proceedings of the assembly were interrupted by the sudden appearance of the young knight, John of Cæsarea, nephew of Ibelin, who with much excitement implored the assembly to consider well what they were about to do, and not to sacrifice their country to imperial ambition.
A scene of great violence ensued, in the midst of which the bell from the citadel was rung, and at the preconcerted signal, crowds of Ibelin’s adherents in the city flocked into and around the church, uttering loud cries for vengeance on the heads of the recreant knights. The latter were now compelled to seek safety in flight, and it required all the eloquence and authority of young John of Cæsarea to restrain the violence of the crowd, and allow the bishop and his party to escape with their lives. The emperor now appealed to Ibelin’s own sense of right and honour, and assured him that if he would obey the imperial summons and appear in Tyre to renew his fealty, everything should be arranged according to his wishes. Ibelin, however, distrusted the friendly overtures of the emperor, and not only refused to comply, but at once proceeded to levy fresh forces, and prepare for an obstinate resistance. This done, his first step was to reduce the fortress of Keryneia, which, however, he found so impregnable, that after some terrible fighting about its walls, he was compelled to sit down before it, and endeavour to reduce its garrison by starvation. Month after month passed, and yet the brave band held out; until after two years of great hardship and suffering, they were at last compelled to submit, but only on the most honourable conditions. Frederick still refused to relinquish all hope, and now had recourse to imploring assistance from the Pope, to aid in bringing his refractory vassals again to their allegiance. In the same year as witnessed the fall of Keryneia, a legate from the Papal Court arrived at Akkon, bearing a decree from both emperor and Pope, commanding all knights and citizens to join the imperial cause, and submit to the authority of Marshal Felingher. Every indulgence was promised to all such as should submit.
Ibelin was now hard pressed, but he utterly refused again to acknowledge his faults to the emperor, and at once set about preparing for an attack on Tyre. The Pope sent Ibelin one more written warning, and the archbishop put Akkon under an interdict. Two envoys were now sent from the knights to Italy, in order to endeavour to make terms of peace. These conditions were hard upon the Cypriotes, and when the envoys returned to Akkon, and showed the parchment containing the required submissions, the whole city was in an uproar. The ambassadors were thrown into prison, and very narrowly escaped with their lives. Almost Ibelin’s last act was to summon all to uphold the rights of their king; very shortly after this he fell from his horse, and was so seriously injured that he did not long survive. During these occurrences in the East, great changes were also taking place in the friendly relations between the Pope and emperor, and the latter soon found himself overwhelmed with troubles and anxieties, both in Italy and Germany, which required his immediate and entire attention. Meanwhile Ibelin’s son and various members of his family had sent letters accompanied by rich gifts to the Pope and cardinals. This embassy proved entirely successful, and the envoy, Godfrey le Tort, returned triumphantly to Akkon, bearing a Papal letter commanding all to unite with the Genoese in submission to the wishes and propositions of the party led by the Ibelins. This direct decree from the Pope proved final, and Frederick was now powerless to send an army to assert his claims.
Some years later, one more endeavour was made by Marshal Felingher, and a small party in Akkon, to induce the inhabitants of the island to acknowledge their allegiance to the emperor; but in vain. Thus ended all attempts to make Cyprus an appanage of Germany, which if carried out might probably have saved that beautiful country and her population from centuries of neglect and tyranny.
CYPRUS AND THE EUPHRATES VALLEY RAILWAY.
Again must Cyprus bear a prominent position in the eyes of the world. For many years eminent statesmen, soldiers, and engineers have been proclaiming the advisability of making Cyprus the point through which that grand scheme, the Euphrates Valley Railway, soon we hope to be a reality, would receive its principal sources of traffic, and forming it into the terminal station of a line of railway and steamers destined to chain us more firmly to our Indian possessions, and to open again the long-deserted or neglected land that lies between it and the Persian Gulf.
Major-General Sir F. Goldsmid, C.B., K.C.S.I., who has devoted a considerable portion of his time to this scheme, has thrown such valuable light upon the subject that we should be wanting in our duty to our readers if we did not give some brief idea of the information his valuable paper affords us.
The geographical position of Cyprus, now under British rule, makes the island a fitting guardian of Upper Syria, Cœlo Syria, and almost of Palestine, and in the hands of Great Britain is an invaluable acquisition, and worth any amount of land which might be purchased on the neighbouring Asiatic coast.
The distance to the several ports on the mainland is not great; indeed, the island is said to be visible on a clear day from Seleucia. A railway terminus for the Persian Gulf line might be reached in a very few hours, and fair weather boats, calculated to carry over a thousand passengers, troops or civilians, might be used at certain times at inconsiderable cost.
Of Larnaka, as a port, very little information can be obtained; but fifteen years ago it received 324 vessels of 54,340 tons, and sent out 321 vessels of 53,458 tons. In 1876 there were entered 457, and cleared 483 vessels of 92,926 and 91,690 tons respectively.
At Limasol, in 1863, 493 vessels were entered of 32,980 tons. The present harbour of Famagusta has a superficial extent of nearly eighty acres, to which a depth of five and a half fathoms might be readily given; but there is only a space of about five acres which can be relied upon for the actual reception of ships.
M. Collas, a French writer, experienced in Turkey and the Turks, thinks that, with ordinary engineering skill, a harbour might be formed here of more than 148 acres in extent. The opening of this harbour would also give, in the opinion of M. Collas, an immense impetus to the export of cotton, which might be grown up to the amount not far short of 30,000 tons, a high figure of productiveness.
Having thus shown how Cyprus is capable, so far as harbours are concerned, of fulfilling her position as the terminus of the Euphrates Valley Railway, let us look to some of the various routes suggested for this line. Five different schemes were selected as the most important by the Committee which sat in 1872.
1st. A line starting from Alexandretta or Suedia, near the mouth of the Orontes, passing through Aleppo to the Euphrates, at or near Jabah Castle, and thence carried down the right bank of the river to Kuwait, on the western side of the Persian Gulf.
2nd. A line starting from one of the same points, crossing the Euphrates at Belio, passing down the left bank of the river, or the right bank of the Tigris, to a point nearly opposite Baghdad, recrossing the Euphrates, and proceeding to Kuwait.
3rd. A line starting as before, crossing the Euphrates at Bir, thence going round to Orfah and Diarbekir, and following the right bank of the Tigris as the last.
4th. A similar line, only following the left bank of the Tigris.
5th. A line starting from Tripoli, and proceeding across the desert by way of Damascus and Palmyra to the Euphrates, whence it might follow one of the preceding routes.
Which of these routes will eventually be adopted, is still the subject of much discussion.
Mr. W. P. Andrew, F.R.G.S., who for thirty years has devoted much time and attention to endeavouring to carry out this design, has furnished us with an admirable report on this project. We will give a short sketch in his own words:
“In the proposal to restore this ancient route—once the highway of the world’s commerce and the track of the heroes of early history—by the construction of a railway to connect the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, we have at hand an invaluable and perfectly efficient means at once of thwarting the designs of Russia, if they should assume a hostile character, of marching hand in hand with her if her mission be to carry civilisation to distant lands, and of competing with her in the peaceful rivalry of commerce.
“On every ground, therefore, the proposed Euphrates Valley Railway is an undertaking eminently deserving our attention, and the support and encouragement of our Government.
“The countries which our future highway to India will traverse have been, from remote antiquity, the most interesting in the world. On the once fertile plains, watered by the Euphrates and Tigris, the greatest and most glorious nations of antiquity arose, flourished, and were overthrown.
“Twice in the world’s history, mankind commenced the race of civilisation on the Mesopotamian rivers. Twice the human family diverged from their banks to the east, the west, and the north. Arts and sciences made the first feeble steps of their infancy, upon the shores of these rivers.
“Very early in history we know that Babylon was a great manufacturing city, famed for the costly fabric of its looms. At a more recent date the Chaldean kings made it a gorgeous metropolis—the fairest and the richest then on earth. Alexander of Macedon made it the port of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf; and he proposed to render it the central metropolis of his empire.
“The countries through which the Euphrates flows were formerly the most productive in the world. Throughout these regions the fruits of temperate and tropical climes, grew in bygone days in luxurious profusion; luxury and abundance were universally diffused. The soil everywhere teemed with vegetation; much of this has since passed away. Ages of despotism and misrule have rendered unavailing the bounty of nature; but the land is full of hidden riches. The natural elements of its ancient grandeur still exist in the inexhaustible fertility of the country, and in the chivalrous character and bearing of many of the tribes; and the day cannot be far distant when it is destined to resume its place amongst the fairest and most prosperous regions of the globe.
“The wondrous fertility of Mesopotamia was, in early times, carried to its utmost limit by means of irrigation canals, with which the country was everywhere intersected, and some of the largest of which were navigable. These excited the wonder and interest of Alexander the Great, who, after his return from the conquest of India, examined them personally, steering the boat with his own hand. He employed a great number of men to repair and cleanse these canals.
“Herodotus, speaking of Babylonia, says: ‘Of all the countries I know, it is without question the best and the most fertile. It produces neither figs, nor vines, nor olives; but in recompense the earth is suitable for all sorts of grain, of which it yields always two hundred per cent, and in years of extraordinary fertility as much as three hundred per cent.’
“These regions need only again to be irrigated by the life-giving waters pouring down ever cool and plentiful from Ararat—that great landmark of primæval history, now the vast natural boundary-stone of the Russian, Turkish, and Persian empires—to yield once more in abundance almost everything that is necessary or agreeable to man. Many acres now wasted, save when in early spring they are wildernesses of flowers, may be covered with cotton, tending to the employment of the million spindles of our land.
“It is not too much to say that no existing or projected railroad can compare in point of interest and importance with that of the Euphrates Valley. It will bring two quarters of the globe into juxtaposition, and three continents, Europe, Asia, and Australia, into closer relation. It will bind the vast population of Hindustan by an iron link with the people of Europe. It will inevitably entail the colonisation and civilisation of the great valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris, the resuscitation in a modern shape of Babylon and Nineveh, and the re-awakening of Ctesiphon and Bagdad of old.
“Where is there in the world any similar undertaking which can achieve results of such magnitude, fraught with so many interests to various nations? And who can foresee what ultimate effects may be produced by improved means of communication in the condition of Hindoos, Chinese, and other remote peoples?
“Although various routes have been suggested with a view of bringing Great Britain, by means of railway communication, into closer connection with India and her other dependencies in the East, and of securing at the same time the immense political and strategic desideratum of an alternative highway to our Eastern possessions, there is none which combines in itself so many advantages as the ancient route of the Euphrates; the route of the emperors Trajan and Julian, in whose steps, in more recent times, the great Napoleon intended to follow, when the Russian campaign turned his energies in another direction. The special advantages which render this route superior to all others are briefly these:
“It is the direct route to India. It is the shortest and the cheapest both for constructing and working a railway; so free from engineering difficulties, that it almost appears as though designed by the hand of nature to be the highway of nations between the east and the west; the most surely defensible by England—both of its termini being on the open seas; and the most likely to prove remunerative.
“Both in an engineering and a political point of view, the Euphrates route undoubtedly possesses great advantages over any of the others which have been proposed.
“All the routes which have been suggested from places on the Black Sea are open to the fatal objection that, while they would be of the greatest service to Russia, they would be altogether beyond the control of Great Britain, while the engineering difficulties with which they are surrounded, are of themselves sufficient to exclude them from practical consideration.
“This has been fully established by the evidence of the witnesses examined by the Select Committee of the House of Commons, which lately investigated the merits of the various proposals for connecting the Mediterranean and the Black Seas with the Persian Gulf.
“In the course of the investigation by the Committee, it was demonstrated that the proposed Euphrates Valley Railway is an eminently feasible undertaking in an engineering sense; that the route of the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf is decidedly preferable in respect of climate to that by Egypt and the Red Sea; that as regards the safety and facility of the navigation, the Persian Gulf also has by far the advantage; that the proposed undertaking would be of great commercial moment, and if not immediately profitable, at all events that it would be so at a date not far distant; and, finally, that it would be of the highest political and strategic importance to this country.
“A railway through Mesopotamia, as a route to India, would not at first be productive of much income to a company from traffic, but in a few years—certainly before the railway could be finished—the cultivation of grain would increase a hundred-fold, and would go on increasing a thousand fold, and would attain to a magnitude and extension quite impossible to calculate, because bad harvests are almost unknown in these parts, for there is always plenty of rain and a hot sun to ripen the corn. Populous villages would spring up all along the line, as there is abundance of sweet water everywhere. Cereals can be grown there so cheaply, that no country the same distance from England—say for instance Russia—could compete with it at all. And if Great Britain finds it necessary to rely more on the importation of foreign corn, where could a better field be found than the fertile plains of Mesopotamia, which has all the advantages of climate, soil, and sun in its favour?
“The establishment of steam communication by the Messageries Maritimes on the route of the Red Sea to Calcutta and other Eastern ports, shows the importance attached by the French to the extension of their commercial relations with the East. A Russian line of steamers, also, has lately been established, to run between Odessa and Bombay by the Suez Canal route. Even those who see no danger in the policy of annexation pursued by Russia, will admit that the Russian roads and railways now being pushed towards Persia and Afghanistan, if designed with pacific intentions, prove, at all events, the anxiety of the Russian Government to compete with us for the trade of Central Asia, the Punjaub, and Northern India.
“The substitution of Kurrachee for Bombay as the European port of India would, even by the Red Sea route, give us an advantage of some five hundred miles; but if the Euphrates route were once established, the adoption of Kurrachee as the European port of India would necessarily follow, and India would thus be brought upwards of a thousand miles nearer to us than at present; while during the monsoon months, the gain would be still greater, as the route between the Persian Gulf and Kurrachee is not exposed to the severity of the monsoon, which, it is well known, renders a divergence of some five hundred miles necessary during a portion of the year on the voyage from Bombay to Aden.
“When the railway system of the Indus is completed, Kurrachee will be in continuous railway communication with Calcutta and with the gates of Central Asia at the Kyber and Bolan Passes, and it will thus become the natural basis of operations in the event either of any internal commotion in India, or of aggression on our north-western frontier.
“The grand object desired, is to connect England with the north-west frontier of India by steam transit through the Euphrates and Indus valleys. The latter will render movable to either the Kyber or the Bolan—the two gates of India—the flower of the British army cantoned in the Punjaub; and the Euphrates and Indus lines being connected by means of steamers, we should be enabled to threaten the flank and rear of any force advancing through Persia towards India. So that, by this great scheme, the invasion of India would be placed beyond even speculation, and it is evident that the great army of India of three hundred thousand men being thus united to the army of England, the mutual support they would render each other, would quadruple the power and ascendancy of this country, and promote powerfully the progress, the freedom, and the peace of the world.
“The Euphrates and Indus lines together would, moreover, secure for us almost a monopoly of the trade with Central Asia, enabling us to meet Russia, our great competitor in these distant fields of commercial enterprise, on more than equal terms.
“But it is not on commercial considerations that I would urge the claims of the Euphrates Valley Railway. It is on imperial grounds that the scheme commends itself to our support.
“I believe that the establishment of the Euphrates route would add incalculably to our prestige throughout Europe and the East, and would do more to strengthen our hold on India than any other means that could be devised.
“The Euphrates Valley Railway, as proposed from the Gulf of Scanderoon to the Persian Gulf, has been specially designed with a view to its ultimately forming part of a through line from Constantinople to the head of the Persian Gulf; while it is capable also of being in due time extended eastwards to Kurrachee, the port of India nearest to Europe.
“The line from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf has been demonstrated to be eminently practicable and easy, while the other portions of the route between Constantinople and India are not. While capable of forming part of a through line, it would at the same time be complete in itself, and independent of any disturbances in Europe—the only portion, in fact, of a through line of railway which would be always, and under all circumstances, at the absolute control of this country.
“It would always be to this country the most important portion of any through line; and, indeed, I believe a through line could not be constructed, except at overwhelming cost, without the assistance of a port in Northern Syria. It would, moreover, provide us with a complete alternative route to India, and would thus at once secure to this country advantages admitted to be of the highest national moment.
“It is for these reasons that during the long period in which I have devoted myself to the advocacy of the Euphrates route to India, I have thought it expedient to urge upon our own Government and that of Turkey, the special claims of that section only which would connect the Mediterranean with the Persian Gulf.
“The objection that, although the Euphrates Valley Railway would afford us the undoubted advantage of an alternative, a shorter, and a more rapid means of communication with India, it would still leave a considerable portion of the journey to be accomplished by sea, and that consequently it would accelerate our communications with the East in a minor degree only, is sufficiently disposed of by the circumstances already pointed out; that a railway from a point on the Mediterranean, at or near Scanderoon, to the head of the Persian Gulf, would naturally form part of a through line of railway from Constantinople to India, if at a future time it should be considered necessary or desirable to construct the remaining sections.”
EXTENT AND BOUNDARIES.
Cyprus (χυπρος), called by the Turks Kibris, is a large island in the Mediterranean, lying near the coasts of Syria and Asia Minor. It is supposed to have an area of about 4500 square miles, but all the different measurements given vary considerably. Its length is about 145 miles, from the extreme north-east point, Cape St. Andreas, to Cape Arnauti, on the west coast. Its greatest breadth is about fifty miles from north to south; but it narrows towards the east, where in some parts it is not more than five miles wide, and, at the most extreme east point, Cape Andreas, it is only about sixty-five miles distant from Latakia, the nearest point of the Syrian coast. The nearest land on the coast of Karamania, or Cilicia, Cape Zephyrium, is about forty-two miles north by west of the point of land in Cyprus, which is near the ancient Carpasia.
There are two ranges of mountains in Cyprus, one extending along the northern coast, and the other stretching across the southern part of the island. The highest summit is the “Troados,” or “Olympus,” which Löher measured, and found to be 6160 feet above the sea level. The other principal peaks of this range are Mount Stavrovuni, or Sante Croce, Mount Makhaeras, and Mount Adelphi; the heights of these are uncertain. Equally uncertain are the elevations of the peaks of the northern range, the chief of which is Mount Pentedaktylo, between Kerinia and Makaria.
The most extensive plain is on the eastern part of the island, and is watered by the river Pedias. In 1330, this river was so swollen by heavy rain, that it inundated Nikosia, to the great destruction of life and property. The other plains of any size are those of Lefkosia in the centre, and Kerinia, to the west of the island.
The Pedias, or Pedæus, the principal river, rises on the range of Olympus, and waters the plains of Lefkosia and Messaria, and empties itself into the sea, on the east coast, at the ancient port of Salamis Constantia. The Morpha has its source among the same mountains as the Pedias, waters the plain of Kerinia, and falls into the sea on the north-west coast, about the centre of the Gulf of Morpha. There are no other rivers of much importance; the principal are, the Ezusa, or ancient Borgarus, the Diorizos, and the Khapotini, all of which take their source in the neighbourhood of Mount Olympus, and fall into the sea on the south-west coast; the Kurios, which empties itself into the Gulf of Piskopi, on the south coast; the Garilis, rising in the Makhaeras mountains and falling into the sea at Limasol, also on the south coast; while the Pentaskhino, a small stream, enters the sea near Dolos point, on the south-east coast.
Cape Kormaciti, the ancient Crommyon, at the extreme north-west; Cape Andreas, the ancient Dinaretum, at the extreme north-east point of the island; Cape Arnauti, or St. Epiphanio, the ancient Akamas, at the most western point; Cape Gatto, and Cape Zevgari, the ancient Kurios, are the furthest points on the south coast; Cape Greco, the ancient Pedalion, lies at the south-eastern extremity. On the north coast are Cape Plakoti; on the west, Capes Drepani, Kokino, Limmity, Baffo (Papho); on the east coast, Cape Elaea, and on the south, Capes Pyla, the ancient Throni, Bianca, and Citi.
GULFS AND BAYS.
Famagusta Bay, or Bay of Salamis, at the east; Gulf of Morpha, or Pendagia, at the north-west; Gulf of Chrysochou, at the west; and at the south, the Gulf of Piskopi, and bays of Larnaka and Akroteri.
HARBOURS AND ROADSTEADS.
Larnaka and Limasol possess good roadsteads.
The ancient harbours are destroyed and filled with sand.
TOWNS AND IMPORTANT PLACES.
The following were the towns of Cyprus (A.D. 25). On the north coast of Cape Acamas, were Arsinoe, and Sali, with a harbour founded by Phalerus and Acamas of Athens, then east of Cape Crommyon, Lapethus, built by the Lacedemonians; next Agidus, Aphrodisium, and Carpasia; east of the last, was a mountain and a cape called Olympus, with a temple to Venus upon it, which women were forbidden to enter. Facing the cape are two small islands, called Keides, or “the keys of Cyprus.” Turning thence towards the south, was Salamis, at the mouth of the Pedæus, one of the principal cities of the island, said to have been built by Teucer, an emigrant from the island of Salamis.
Proceeding south was another Arsinoe, with a port; next came Leucolia, near Cape Pedalium, a lofty table-land, called the Table of Venus; west of Pedalium was Citium (the ancient Chittim), with a harbour that could be closed. Citium was a large town, and the birthplace of Zeno the Stoic (301 B.C.) From Citium to Berytas (Bairout) in Syria, the distance was about 130 miles. West of Citium was Amathus, and inland was Palœa Limisso. Sailing round by Cape Curias to the west, was the town of Curium, with a port built by the Argivi. Here the coast turns to the north-west, looking towards Rhodes, and on it were the towns of Ireta, Boosura, and Old Paphos; then Cape Zephyrium; and next to it another Arsinoe, with a port and temple, sacred grove, and New Paphos, built by Agapenor, five miles by land from Old Paphos.
Most of the above towns, and others which Strabo has omitted, have long since disappeared.
The present capital is Nikosia, the residence of the late Turkish governor. It lies near the centre of the island, close to the site of the ancient Letra, or Leucotra, on a plain surrounded with mountains. The streets are narrow and dirty, and many of the grand old mansions falling into decay. It is a truly Oriental city, and is very prettily situated; the air is balmy, dry, and redolent of the odour of laurel and myrtle. Every court-yard has its apple and pear-tree, and in between these masses of rosemary, peeping from beneath the flourishing fig. Its population does not exceed 16,000.
Lefkosia was the residence of the kings of the Lusignan dynasty, and was then much larger than it is at present, the Venetians having destroyed part of it in order to strengthen the remainder.
The church of St. Sophia, a fine Gothic building, is converted into a mosque; the monuments it contains of the Lusignans are sadly mutilated. There is also a fine bazaar, a khan, or enclosed court, surrounded by apartments for travellers, and the palace of the governor, on the portal of which is still seen the Venetian lion in stone; there are also several other churches and mosques. The bastioned walls, erected by the Venetians, are still standing.
The Greek Archbishop of Nikosia is metropolitan of the whole island. Cesnola, informs us, that, after sundown, no person is allowed to leave or enter the town without special permission from the governor-general. When such a case occurs, the soldiers are put under arms, and the drawbridge is lowered, with as much ceremony as if we were still in mediæval times. The seraglio, where the late Turkish governor resided, is described by the same authority, as a large quadrangular building, two stories high, and in sad want of repair; it has a large court-yard, enclosed by walls twenty-five feet high.
The principal manufactures of the town are carpets, cotton prints, and morocco leather. The workmen of Nikosia pretend that they have a particular manner of dressing the leather, which they keep a profound secret; anyhow, the leather is said to be better dressed, more brilliant in colour, and more durable than that which is made in Turkey. There is also a little trade in raw cotton and wine.
Larnaka, or Larnika, on the site of old Citium, near the south coast, is the most thriving, bustling place, in the island, being the residence of the European consuls and factors, and the chief seat of trade. The port of Larnaka is at Salines, about a mile and half distant; a Greek bishop resides there, and there are also some Latin churches in the town. The houses are chiefly built of clay and only one story high, on account of the earthquakes, to which the island is subject. The interiors of the houses are comfortable; the apartments are paved with white marble, and almost every house has a garden.
This is the chief sea-port in the island, and has a fair anchorage for vessels in the roadstead. Near Larnaka is the well-known inland lake, whence in ancient days, the Phœnicians obtained the best salt. During the rainy season, this is swollen with water; in May and June it gradually evaporates, and under the fiery sun, and burning heat of July and August, the water almost boils off, and leaves behind a thick cake of nearly pure salt. This once yielded a yearly income of three hundred thousand ducats. This town is connected by telegraph with Latakia, on the Syrian coast, the wires passing through Nikosia.
Famagusta, on the south-east coast, a few miles south of old Salamis, and not far from the ancient Tamassus, occupies the site of Ammochostos, one of the ten royal cities, which paid tribute to Esarhaddon, and possesses the only harbour between Salamis and Leuculla, and was probably the city called Arsinœ under the Ptolemies.
“The city of Famagusta,” says Cesnola, “built by the Christians eight hundred years ago, from the ruins of Salamis, and destroyed by the Turks in 1571, after the terrible siege in which the Venetian soldiers so heroically defended their position, once counted its beautiful churches by hundreds and its palatial residences by thousands. Once it had been one of the principal commercial cities of the Levant, with a harbour, in which rode large fleets, but which now, through neglect, has become filled with sand, and is able only to float ships of light draught. It was just outside the mouth of this closed harbour, that the vessels containing the Venetian families and their most precious personal and household effects were sunk by the faithless Mustapha Pacha, after he had killed the Venetian generals.”
“As you approach the massive walls of the city, which are nearly seventeen feet thick, and of solid stone, all taken from the ruins of Salamis, you see how impossible it was to take such a city except by famine or treachery. The walls stand now as impregnable and intact as when raised by the Lusignans.
“The old bronze guns of the Republic of Venice are still on the bastions, in their original place, looking formidably towards the sea, and the plain of Salamis, but spiked and out of service since 1571. There are a half dozen rusty iron guns of Turkish manufacture, pretty much in the same condition.
“The ruins of Famagusta are not grand and imposing, yet they are most beautiful and touching. It is impossible to see the still existing walls of many of its fine mediæval churches, with frescoes plainly visible in the interiors—here a rectory, there evidences of elegant homes—without a feeling of intense sadness. Only two out of the three hundred churches, which are said to have existed in Famagusta, were left standing. The principal one, formerly the cathedral and now used as a mosque, is paved with mortuary marble slabs engraved with the names and arms of Italian noblemen, once buried beneath them, whose bones were exhumed, and thrown into the sea, by order of the fanatical and ferocious Mustapha Pacha, the day after he captured the city. The other church, used as a granary and a stable by the Turks, contains also a few tombstones, now all worn out by the horses’ hoofs. There I discovered an inscription, recording the day on which, by the abdication of Katharine Cornaro, the Venetians became the rulers of Cyprus.
“Within the city walls resides the caimakan of the province of Carpass, with the Cadi of Famagusta, and the usual mejilis. There is also a military governor of the fortress, and a company of artillery. This governor resides with his troops in a small fort overlooking the sea, and flanked by a large round tower called by the natives ‘Torre del Moro’ (Tower of the Moor). Tradition asserts that in this tower were the head-quarters of the Venetian Lord-Lieutenant of Cyprus, Cristoforo Moro, during the years 1506 to 1508. In the latter year, on the 22nd of October, Cristoforo Moro was recalled from Cyprus, and returned to Venice; and from documents which I have been allowed to peruse, it would appear that this man was married four times, and that his private life was not very exemplary. This Cristoforo Moro was the ‘Othello’ of Shakespeare.
“The fortress of Famagusta contained some of the worst criminals of the Turkish Empire. Many of them are condemned for life, others are sentenced to from fifteen to twenty-five years’ imprisonment, and all are heavily shackled.”
The harbour of Famagusta would be excellent, if it were cleared of the filth with which it is blocked up; but at present it can only accommodate a few small vessels.
Limasol, on the south coast, is the most European town in the island, and has a good harbour; but the old parts of the town are a heap of ruins. It is still of considerable importance, and is the chief place of export for the wines of the country, which are much in demand in the Levant. The surrounding country is rich in fruit trees, of which the carob-tree is the most conspicuous.
Near the town formerly stood the Commandery of the Knights Templars (Commandery of Kolossi), extending from Mount Olympus to Baffo and Limasol.
Baffo, or New Paphos, was under the Romans the principal town in the western part of the island, and is famous in ancient poetry as the favourite residence of Aphrodite or Venus, and here was her most celebrated temple.
During the reign of the Emperor Augustus, this town was destroyed by an earthquake, and was afterwards rebuilt.
Here St. Paul converted Sergius Paulus, the Roman deputy-governor, besides many others, preaching in the Jewish synagogues, of which there were several.
Here Elymas, the sorcerer, was struck blind for endeavouring to frustrate St. Paul’s attempts to Christianise the people.
The Church of St. Paul is the only Venetian building now standing. Baffo has a small but unsafe port, and is the see of a Greek bishop. Kerinia, Cerini, or Ghirneh, on the north coast, has a harbour, from which a limited trade is carried on with the opposite coast of Karamania. Its ruins would seem to indicate that it was formerly a fine town. It is fortified, and the second stronghold of the island, and like Lapethus (the original capital of the district of Kerinia), is traced to the Dorian colonists, under Praxander and Cepheus. This formed one of the royal cities of the island. “I passed near this town,” says Cesnola, “several times during my northern excursions, but never had the curiosity to enter it. The village itself, with the exception of the citadel, is a small dirty place, almost exclusively inhabited by Mussulmans, who, with the garrison, enjoy a very bad reputation—second only to that of their co-religionists at New Paphos. The ancient site of Kerinia is a little to the west of the present town, and more inland. For a considerable distance along the western shore, there are to be seen here and there large caverns excavated in the rock; some, though not all, seem to have been tombs. South-east of the town, about an hour’s ride from it, and midway up the mountains, stands an imposing mediæval ruin called ‘Lapais.’ It was an abbey, built by King Hugo the Third, and belonged to the Latin Church, but was destroyed by the Turks when they captured the fortress of Kerinia. It is a fact worth noticing, that all the churches belonging to the Latins were destroyed by the Turks when they took possession of the island. In this I have no doubt they were gladly assisted, or at least encouraged, by the Greeks, who detested the Franks even more than the Turks. This abbey occupied one of the most picturesque and lovely spots of the whole island; a large hall is still standing, one hundred feet long, thirty-two feet wide, and about forty feet high, which was probably the refectory of the French abbots; beneath it is another apartment of like dimensions, divided into two chambers, the vault of which is supported by massive columns.”
“In the court-yard, piled the one upon the other, are two large marble sarcophagi of late Roman work, one of which has garlands of flowers, nude figures, and large bulls’ heads in bold relief. Both bear evidence of having been used for a long time as troughs. Upon the lintel, over the door of the great hall, are engraved three shields; one represents the Jerusalem cross, another the royal arms of the Lusignans, and the third a lion rampant. The Gothic chapel of the abbey has been partly repaired with sun-dried bricks and plaster, and is now used by the Greeks, living in the neighbourhood, as their place of worship; portions of the court-yard serve as their cemetery. On two high peaks in this range of mountains stood two feudal or royal castles, one called St. Hilarion, and the other Buffavento, which served as state prisons and places of refuge to some of the Latin kings of Cyprus. They were both dismantled by order of the Venetian Admiral Prioli.”
The climate is generally healthy excepting on some parts of the coast, but this is entirely due to the neglected state of the country; if the much-needed drainage was properly carried out the most satisfactory result would ensue. As in most Eastern countries, the rain falls at stated periods, commencing about the middle of October and continuing until the end of April. After June slight showers fall from time to time, but have little power to modify the heat, which is, however, tempered occasionally by a cool wind. In September the great heat sets in, but does not continue for any length of time. At Larnaka, the mean temperature in February is about 52 deg., and in August 81 deg. The winters are milder, and the summers cooler than on the coast of Syria opposite.
The average rainfall is about fourteen inches in the year. Of late years, droughts have been of frequent occurrence, owing, no doubt, to the destruction of the woods and forests.
The north coast is liable to hot winds from the north-east, from the desert of Arabia in the south-east, and in the south and south-west from Egypt and Lybia.
Speaking of one of these winds, Dr. Clarke says, “We found it so scorching that the skin instantly peeled from our lips; a tendency to sneeze was excited, accompanied by great pains in the eyes, and chapping of the hands and face. The mercury, exposed to its full current, rose 6 deg. Fahrenheit in two minutes—from 80 deg. to 86 deg.”
Dr. Unger says, that it is so hot in summer as to make occupation irksome, and so cold in winter that the absence of spring and autumn makes the transition, from one extreme to the other, very sudden. The climate is, of course, cooler in the more mountainous portion of the west, than in the flat eastern side, where the temperature in the height of summer amounts to 90 deg. in the shade; during the winter, in the lower parts of the land, it seldom falls to freezing point. During October, November, and December the rain falls, and entirely ceases during the summer, when there is generally a blue sky over the island. The drier the summer, the damper the winter; and sometimes it then rains for forty days together. At such periods the thirsty land recovers itself. On the other hand, there are winters when no rain falls, and drought is severely felt during the summer. In the time of Constantine, we are told that no rain fell on the island for thirty-six years.
By the middle of May the harvest is over, and wherever the eye rests the grass is withered and parched. The temperature now reaches 80 deg. in the shade, and sometimes, in the middle of the day is even higher; the atmosphere grows thick, and a veil seems to fall over all surrounding objects; all rivers are dry; the dew ceases in June or July, and the hot winds, make the air more oppressive; finally come hosts of annoying insects, from which one may seek in vain to escape. At this season, all work is done in the evening and at night.
The number of inhabitants is very uncertain. It is variously estimated between 100,000 and 250,000 souls, of whom 40,000 to 60,000 are Mohammedans, including the Linopambagi or “men of linen and cotton,” as they are called in derision, who outwardly conforming to the tenets of Mohammed, are in reality Christians. The majority of the people belong to the Greek Church, and the remainder are either Armenians or Maronites, whose peculiar religion we will endeavour to describe. These number about 2800.
The Maronites are a tribe of people inhabiting the western declivity of Mount Lebanon, and figure in history as a sect of Christians. By adopting the Monothelitic doctrine soon after it had been condemned, in A. D. 680, by the Council of Constantinople, they came to be distinguished as a distinct religious party, and having as their first bishop, a certain monk, John Maro, they were called Maronites. Maro assumed the title of “Patriarch of Antioch,” and asserted the ecclesiastical independence of the tribe.
This sect defended their freedom first against the Greeks, and afterwards against the Saracens. At length, in 1182, they renounced the opinions of the Monothelites, and were re-admitted within the pale of the Romish Church; the terms of reconciliation being that the religious tenets, moral precepts, and ancient rites of the country should remain unaltered. The Maronites adopted no Popish opinion, except the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff. By this slight tie they still continue united to the Church of Rome. In return for their imperfect allegiance, the Pope is obliged to defray the expenses of their public worship and to maintain a college at Rome for the education of their priests. He has the power of sanctioning the appointment of their patriarch, after he has been selected by their bishops. This dignitary has his head-quarters in the monastery of Lebanon, and holds the title of Patriarch of Antioch, and by adopting the name of Peter, claims to be the successor of that apostle. Like the bishops who compose his synod, he is bound to remain in perpetual celibacy, a law, however, which the rest of the clergy do not observe. The Maronite monks are of the order of St. Anthony, and live in monasteries scattered among the mountain solitudes.
Slavery exists, but owing to the increasing poverty of the Turks, the number of slaves is very much diminished.
CHARACTER OF THE INHABITANTS.
Herr von Löher describes the bulk of the population as devoid all energy, of sluggish temperament, and obstinately addicted to ancient customs. They are powerful, hospitable, and exceedingly amiable in their domestic relations. The women are very good housewives and very active. The girls are full of life, especially on festive occasions, are fond of gaudy colours, and dress very fantastically.
Elementary schools are established in all the larger villages, and others of superior class in the three principal towns of the island. The Greek bishops and many of the popes have been educated in these latter, or at Athens, and are generally men of culture; but most of the village priests and monks are as ignorant as the peasants amongst whom their lives are past.
Greek is the language used throughout Cyprus, and has even found its way into many of the Turkish houses.
The cultivation of the country appears to be in a very primitive condition, and owing to the lightness and fertility of the soil but slight labour is required in producing the necessary crops. The cultivable surface of the island is estimated at 2,500,000 acres, of which not more than 130,000 acres are under tillage. The annual average yield of corn is said not to exceed 120,000 quarters, and we are told that the disposal of the whole has been a monopoly between the Turkish mulasallin and the Greek archbishop, who either export or retail it at an arbitrary price. The vegetation resembles that of the other islands of the Mediterranean. There is no meadow land, but a great deal of waste, which is either quite bare, or only covered with heather and aromatic plants.
The principal productions are cotton, hemp, silk, corn, opium, tobacco, turpentine, liquorice, madder, several dye-woods, gum-tragacinth, and colocynth. Fruits of all kind, in particular grapes, oranges, lemons, pomegranates, olives, walnuts, figs, mulberries, apricots, &c.; the carob-tree (_Ceratonia siliqua_) abounds in some districts. There were once extensive plantations of sugar-cane. Large quantities of fine vegetables are grown. Cyprus was celebrated for roses; hyacinths, anemones, ranunculuses, narcissus, poppies, &c., grow wild. Trees and shrubs of all kinds grow luxuriantly, including pines, firs, cypresses, ashes, oaks, beeches, elms, myrtles, evergreens, oleanders, &c.
One of the most important plants of the island is the Ferula Græca; of the stalks of which the Cypriotes form a great part of their household furniture, and the pith is used instead of tinder for conveying fire from one place to another.
Wines of three kinds are made, namely, Commanderia, Muscadine, and Mavro. Cotton, silk, and woollen goods of various qualities are manufactured on a small scale. Olive oil, pitch, resin, cheese, raisins, and pottery (for home consumption) are also made. Nikosia is noted for its Morocco leather. The peasantry distil rose, orange, and lavender waters, myrtle and laudanum oil.
MINERALS AND PRECIOUS STONES.
Cyprus is rich in metals and minerals, including copper, silver, malachite, lead, and quicksilver. There are also quarries of asbestos, talc, sulphur, red jasper, agate, rock crystal, and marble. Soda is also found. The salt works, near Larnaka, produce a revenue of 20,000_l._ per annum. Gold is occasionally met with in the streams. Diamonds, emeralds, opals, amethysts, and other precious stones are sometimes found.
The principal animals in the island are oxen, sheep, and goats, which thrive well and are abundant. The most common of the wild animals are the fox, hare, and wild-cat. The hare feeds on fragrant herbs, which impart a most agreeable flavour to its flesh. All the birds that winter in Africa are to be found in Cyprus. Beccaficos and ortolans are very common and remarkably plump. Water-fowl are very numerous; game, such as partridges, quails, woodcock, and snipe, very plentiful.
Serpents of various species are commonly met with; these are stated to be, we believe erroneously, poisonous.
Dr. Clarke states that tarantulas, having black bodies covered with hair and bright yellow eyes, are not uncommon. A large venomous spider is sometimes seen, called by Sonnini, the Galcode of the Levant; its body, which is about an inch long, is a bright yellow, and covered with long hairs; this creature runs with extraordinary swiftness; its bite rarely produces death, but causes acute pain. The extent to which Cyprus was formerly devastated by locusts has been spoken of in another chapter. Bees are kept in great numbers in many parts of the island. Of these Dr. Clarke gives the following interesting account:
Speaking of the village of Attién, he says, “In these little cottages we found very large establishments for bees, but all the honey thus made is demanded by the governor; so that an apiary is only considered as the cause of an additional tax. The manner, however, in which the honey is collected is curious, and worthy of imitation, and it merits a particular description: the contrivance is simple, and was doubtless suggested by the more ancient custom still existing in the Crimea, of harbouring bees in cylindrical hives made from the bark of trees. They build up a wall formed entirely of earthen cylinders, each about three feet in length, placed one above the other horizontally, and closed at their extremities with mortar. This wall is then covered with a shed, and upwards of one hundred hives may thus be maintained within a very small compass.”
Herr Löher found it difficult to obtain trustworthy information respecting the revenue of the island. The best estimate obtainable calculated it at about sixteen and a half millions of piastres. Half a million of this, being derived from a consideration paid by Christians for exemption from military service, would have to be immediately surrendered by a Christian Government. Three, at least, of the remaining imposts, yielding an estimated return of two millions of piastres, are so execrable in principle that they ought to be abandoned with the least possible delay. These are the capitation tax on sheep, and the export duties on wine and silk. It is satisfactory to learn, on the other hand, that the annual cost of administration is not supposed to exceed at present from two to three millions of piastres, the balance of the revenue being confiscated by certain high functionaries now discharged; and that the apparent receipts do not represent the amount actually collected from the population, seeing that they have to pay half as much again in bribes. These abuses will henceforth cease; the customs revenue will be largely augmented by importations on account of the occupying force, and from the stimulus given to commerce in general; and it may even be possible, by prudent diplomacy, to make the _vacouf_, or Mohammedan ecclesiastical property, contribute its fair share towards the expenses of the State.
SKETCH OF GENERAL HISTORY.
According to Josephus, Cyprus was first colonised by Cittim, a grandson of Japhet, who settled in the island, and founded Chittim, in emulation of his brother Tarshish, who had built the town of Tarsus, on the opposite coast of Cilicia. The Phœnicians, it is supposed, invaded Cyprus at a very early date, and retained possession of the whole, or a portion of the island, until the reign of Solomon. Greek colonists also settled on the coast. Herodotus states that Amasis, King of Egypt, invaded Cyprus, and took Citium (Herod., ii. 162). The island then submitted to the Persians, and afterwards surrendered to Alexander the Great, on whose death it fell, with Egypt, to the share of Ptolemy Soter, “the son of Lagus.” Having overcome Cyrene, which had revolted, Ptolemy (b.c. 313) crossed over to Cyprus to punish the kings of the various little states upon that island for having joined Antigonus, one of Alexander’s generals. Demetrius, son of Antigonus, conquered the fleet of Ptolemy near the island of Cyprus, took 1600 men prisoners and sunk 200 ships.
Now that the fate of empires was to be settled by naval battles, the friendship of Cyprus became very important to the neighbouring states. The large and safe harbours gave to this island a great value in the naval warfare between Phœnicia and Asia Minor. Alexander had given it as his opinion that the command of the Mediterranean went with the island of Cyprus, and called it the key to Egypt. Under the Ptolemies Cyprus continued sometimes united to Egypt and sometimes governed by a separate prince of that dynasty. The last of these princes, brother to Ptolemy Auletes, King of Egypt, incurred the enmity of P. Clodius Pulcher, a Roman of illustrious family, who being taken prisoner by Cilician pirates, sent to the King of Cyprus for money to pay his ransom; the king sent an insufficient sum, and Clodius having recovered his liberty obtained a decree, as soon as he became tribune, for making Cyprus a Roman province. Marcus Cato, against whom he had a bitter enmity, was sent to take possession of the new territory, and achieved this difficult undertaking with unexpected success. The king, in despair at the attempt upon his kingdom, committed suicide. Cato at once seized upon the treasury and sent a large booty home. Cyprus thus became a Roman province, and on the division of that empire was allotted to the Byzantines, and long formed one of the brightest jewels of the imperial crown. At length, after many successive changes, it again became a separate principality, under a branch of the house of Comnena, from which it was finally wrested by the adventurous hand of Richard Cœur de Lion, who sold it to the Knights Templars. The new government proved so oppressive that the people were driven to open revolt, and Richard, having resumed the sovereignty, placed the crown, in 1192, upon the head of Guy de Lusignan, ex-king of Jerusalem.
John the Third, of Lusignan, died in 1458, leaving the kingdom to Charlotte, his only legitimate child, who married her cousin Louis, Count of Geneva, second son of the Duke of Savoy and of Anna of Cyprus. She was solemnly crowned at Likosia in 1460, but was soon afterwards expelled by her natural brother James, assisted by the Mamelukes of Egypt. James married Katharine Cornaro, the daughter of a Venetian merchant, who brought him a dowry of 100,000 golden ducats. On this occasion the Venetian Senate adopted Katharine Cornaro as daughter of St. Mark, and the marriage was celebrated in 1471. In 1473 James died, and his wife, soon after, was delivered of a son, of whom the Republic of Venice assumed the guardianship, and the Venetian troops were sent to garrison the towns of the island. The child dying whilst an infant, the Senate persuaded Katharine, in 1489, to abdicate the sovereignty in favour of the Republic, and to retire to Asolo, near Treviso, where she passed the rest of her days in a princely style on a liberal pension. Meantime, Charlotte Lusignan had retired to Rome, where she died in 1487, bequeathing her claims to Charles, Duke of Savoy, in consequence of which the sovereigns of that dynasty assume to this day the title of “Kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus.”
The Venetians kept possession of Cyprus till 1470, when Selim the Second sent a powerful force to invade the island. The Turks took Likosia by storm and massacred about 20,000 people. From that time until now the Turks have remained in possession of Cyprus.
 General Cesnola gives a most interesting description of Cyprian antiquities in a work published in 1877.
 The white mulberry-tree does not thrive in Cyprus.
 Emperor of Germany.
 Unger und Kotschy. “Die Inseln Cypern.” Wien, 1865.
 The defier of storms.
 Mussulman priests.
 We are indebted to General Cesnola’s valuable work on the antiquities of Cyprus for a principal part of the above facts respecting the ruins of the Temple of Venus. Reference to his high authority was indispensable, and we have thought it best to give in a great measure his own words, instead of laying his account before the public in a garbled form.—M. A. J.
 A delicious species of nectarine.
 The Oriental or common well.
 That portion of Larnaka which lies along the sea-shore is called the “Marina,” while Larnaka proper is about three-quarters of a mile inland.
 In this play the King of Cyprus is described as reclining on a couch with doves flying over his head, and fanning him with their wings. Attendants were represented as standing around in order to keep the birds at a respectful distance from the prince. We mention this fact, as we have seen it recently stated that what was simply intended as a caricature was an actual custom in Cyprus.
 This wind has been erroneously called “limbat” from, we presume, a confusion of a French article with its noun, “l’imbat.”
 The cauliflower was introduced to Europe from Cyprus.
Alexander the Great, 102.
Amathus, 98, 101, 193, 210.
Andrew. Mr. W. P., 272.
Antiquities, 4, 23, 30, 105, 144, 169, 174, 206, 214.
Aphrodite, 100, 147.
Apollo Hylades, 181.
Arabs, 16, 108.
Baffo, 68, 167.
Baths, ancient, 171, 172.
Buffavento, 47, 54.
Byzantines, 14, 106.
Capo delle Gatte, 218.
Carob-tree, 194, 198.
Carvings, 2, 132.
Cathedral of St. Sophia, 26.
Charlotte Lusignan, 37.
Character of people, 155.
Churches, 5, 26, 81, 115, 137, 176, 205, 212, 230.
Chysorogiatissa, 117, 130.
Clarke, Dr., 23.
Clergy, 27, 88, 139, 174, 223, 229.
Commerce, 26, 220, 270.
Consulates, 2, 70, 205, 207.
Copper mines, 193.
Cotton, 194, 198.
Cultivation, 17, 56, 110, 194.
Customs, 25, 85, 89.
Dali, 13, 151.
Dancing girls, 226.
Diorizos River, 130.
Egyptians, 101, 103.
Episcopi, 131, 179, 212.
Famagusta, 11, 32, 39, 72, 212, 260.
Felingher, Marshal, 240, 256.
Flowers, 153, 180, 196.
Forests, 16, 121.
Fortresses, 11, 56, 184, 213, 246.
Frederick the Second, Emperor of Germany, 235, 242.
Game, 9, 79, 199, 225.
Gardens, 16, 22, 171.
Germans, 109, 206, 208, 234, 240.
Giergil Oghlu, 72.
Goldsmid, Sir F., 269.
Governors, 20, 30, 62, 66, 68, 125, 128, 256.
Grecian settlers, 3.
Greek Church, 228.
Greeks, 99, 217.
Hafiz Mahommed Effendi, 66.
Halil Aga, 67.
Harbours, 173, 219.
Heat, 82, 118, 131, 161, 211.
Henry Sixth, Emperor of Germany, 35.
Hildesheim, Bishop, 36.
Horticulture, 16, 22.
Ibelin, 237, 245, 260.
Ibrahim Bey, 71.
Idalion, 13, 98, 105.
Insurrections, 65, 67.
Izil Osman Aga, 63.
James the Second, 37.
John of Cæsarea, 265.
John de Ibelin, 45.
Justinian, Emperor, 15.
Katherine Cornaro, 37.
Kattirdje Janni, 134.
Kerynia, 52, 67, 101, 247.
King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, 38.
Kior Mahommed Pacha, 72.
Kiti, 3, 98, 101, 212.
Knights Templars, 17, 34, 121, 187, 239, 243, 248.
Kotschy, Dr., 53.
Ktima, 138, 167.
Kuklia, 130, 138, 167, 176.
Kurion, 101, 182.
Larnaka, 1, 9, 212.
Language, 3, 25.
Lepers, 19, 52.
Limasol, 35, 202, 207, 212, 218.
Lion Mount, 47.
Locusts, 127, 129, 187.
Manufactures, 103, 156.
Maria of Molino, 51.
Marshes, 8, 56, 204.
Mattei, M., 129.
Mehemet Ali, 122.
Meleky Bey, 74.
Messaria, 10, 37, 56.
Meteoric stones, 148.
Middle Ages, 33.
Mineral wealth, 98, 101, 191, 193.
Monasteries, 51, 78, 112, 117, 203.
Monks, 2, 15, 50, 115, 132, 136.
Morfu, 13, 212.
Mountains, 10, 49, 59, 83, 90, 117, 131, 191, 224.
Mustapha, Seraskier, 11.
Natural products, 101, 194.
New Paphos, 101, 138.
Nikosia, 21, 29, 40, 62, 77, 260.
Nobility, 31, 207.
Oils (distilled), 198, 199.
Old Paphos, 138.
Olive trees, 195, 198.
Olympus, Mount, 10, 58, 77, 83, 90.
Panagia (village), 131.
Paphos, 98, 103.
Paphos (son of Pygmalion), 216.
Pedios, 13, 48.
People, 60, 81, 84, 115, 145, 151, 155, 177, 225.
Perforated stones, 141.
Phaneromene Panagia, 7.
Philip of Macedon, 102.
Phœnicians, 2, 7, 74, 215.
Pictures, 116, 131.
Pirates, 107, 145, 182.
Plains of Cyprus, 77.
Precious stones, 193.
Prisons, 30, 133.
Ptolemies, 103, 175, 216.
Queen Alice, 237, 260, 264.
Queen’s Castle, 54.
Queen’s Cave, 144.
Rain, 152, 164, 203.
Regents, 244, 252.
Revenue, 195, 209, 239, 244, 261.
Richard Cœur de Lion, 33, 109, 218, 228.
Rivers, 13, 48, 130.
Robes of priests, 193.
Sacred road, 176.
Sacred stones, 105, 143, 147, 178.
St. Andronika, 60.
St. George, 227.
St. Hilarion, 52.
St. Helena, 224.
St. Katherine, 28.
St. Lazarus, 5.
St. Nicholas, 26.
St. Paul, 170.
St. Sophia, 26.
Salt lake, 7.
Salt, 193, 209.
San Chrisostomo, 47.
Satrachos River, 13.
Schools, 5, 207.
Shepherds, 119, 137, 209.
Shipbuilding, 98, 101, 103, 121, 195.
Silk, 15, 18, 193, 199, 209.
Snakes, 180, 200.
Soil, 191, 221.
Soli, 101, 193.
Soliman Effendi, 68.
Sugar, 7, 201.
Superstitions, 7, 113, 115.
Summer residence, 152.
Syrians, 3, 15, 18, 98, 100.
Table rocks, 13.
Taxes, 42, 62, 69, 84, 105, 209.
Temple of Venus, 13, 145.
Temples, 15, 145, 181.
Timber, 16, 88, 101, 117, 122, 171, 197.
Tombs, 3, 6, 145, 168, 174.
Troaditissa, 92, 112.
Trojan War, 99.
Turks, 8, 38, 98.
Unger, De, 53, 95.
Vases, 214, 218.
Venetians, 30, 37, 39, 111, 193.
Venus, 13, 105, 138, 139, 147, 158, 175, 215.
Wanton mischief, 124.
Watch towers, 145, 182, 184.
Wind, 166, 199.
Wine, 17, 40, 115, 189, 194, 225.
Women, 23, 48, 136, 145, 156, 178, 182, 204, 207, 232.
Woods, 166, 199.
Zaptiehs, 79, 113, 177, 214.
LONDON: PRINTED BY C. WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, DUKE STREET, LINCOLN’S-INN-FIELDS