Obrázky na stránke

relieved him of the weight of fifty dollars, testifying at the same time the highest indignation at being suspected of the theft, Nor was this all the gallant Signor being detected in certain acts of espionage upon the government, both he and his travelling companion were on the point of being " lynched” by the populace of Athens ; and but for the interposition of an Athenian lady to whom he brought letters, the reverend missionary might have exhibited on the furca or gibbet, which was menacingly erected in front of his abode.

In the course of his peregrinations Mr. Wilson notices many points of resemblance between the modern Greeks and their classic ancestors. They are quick, sharp, subtle, but variable, fanciful and unsteady. Their credulity is unbounded, so that the observation of Pliny, mirum est quo procedat Græca credulitas, is as applicable to the subjects of Otho the first, as it was to those of Trajan. The interpretation of dreams, which proved so gainful an occupation to the oneirologoi (oreigoroyo) of old, has lost nothing of its importance in the hands of certain old women of the present day. To the ancient Greeks, the will of the invisible rulers of the universe was revealed, in signs, and sounds ; in the palpitations of the heart of victims, or the flight of birds : their confidence in the certainty of these auguries was immovable. The penchant for auguries and divination is as rife among the moderns. They retain nearly all the interpretations made by their pagan fathers from phenomena presented to the observation from words, from actions, and from certain movements of the body. To wink, to sneeze, are omens of good or evil. The evil eye is much in vogue. counter charm against this baneful influence, the ancients suspended a knob of garlic round their children's necks; this custom is still rife, and, moreover, if a distrusted stranger kisses a child, the bystanders exclaim “garlic, garlic,” to burst the spell. The superstition of the evil eye is not unknown in England, and our term fascinate, though now of harmless import, is derived from the Greek Bæorairw the labial B, or as now pronounced in Greece, V, being changed into the labial F in its passage through the Latin tongue. Græca fides, and Grecia mendax, the reproachful sneers of the Romans, are translated into English by Sir Thomas Maitland by, “sad dogs, Sir ; sad dogs those Greeks.” The oaths and imprecations, so common in the classics, are with very slight variation frequent in the mouths of the illiterate vulgar. There are several other traits of comparison too numerous for recital ; but here is one which we must give in the author's own words :

“ The last sad obsequies paid to the dead are equally redolent of ancient usages. And since none of the mischief that sacerdotal error entails can affect them, one does not feel much regret, to find classic usages still clinging to the couch and grave of the dead. To paganize christianity

As a

is frightful: to plant a scion of antiquity by the tomb, cannot injure the departed, whose lot is already fixed and immutable for ever.

* The religion of modern Greece prescribes, that in case of sickness, a priest be called, especially at the last, who recites certain prayers for the departing spirit. The ancient Greeks had the same, with this difference ; -prayers are now made to God and the Panagia, whereas they were formerly made to Mercury, considered as the conductor of departed spirits. While what is styled the liturgia, or mass, is transpiring at the dying person's couch, relatives and others stand silent around, to catch the last word, which is held in a measure of sacred importance. This anxiety is not to hear some whisper of dying confidence in the Saviour, or hope in the approaching joys of heaven; for, while in the papal pale the cruel nostrum of purgatory stifles all ebullitions of joyful anticipation, in Greece the officious triflings of the diaßatupoor or viaticum, produce the same effect. I desire to be with Christ,' is not the language of one about to plunge into a purgatory. What the survivors wish to hear from their dying friend, is some word of counsel, but it matters little what. So Andronache, weeping the death of Hector, laments that she had not heard from the hero's lips any discreet counsel.

• Why held he not to me his dying hand ?

And why received I not his last command ?' “ The first rite after death is to close the mouth and eyes. Thus the shade of Agamemnon laments to Clytemnestra, that she had not taken the trouble to perform this obsequy for his remains. So at least says a modern Greek I am citing, who gives as his authority the eleventh book of the Odyssey, but I have in vain sought for the passage. When the mouth and eyes are closed, the corpse is washed and dressed in the best habits of the deceased. I have seen a Greek thus arrayed, and such is the custom of the country in general. In like manner was Patroclus treated by his friend Achilles, as is seen by a reference to the eighteenth book of the Iliad.

“ If the deceased is espoused but not yet wedded, or if a very young bride or bridegroom; the Greeks, at least in the lonian isles, place on the head of the departed the nuptial crown,—the crown used at the wedding : but if the departed be an infant, a youth or young danisel, the head is decorated only with a wreath of flowers. In the life of Pericles, we find such to have been the usage of the classic ages. • This famous man,' says Plutarch, 'witnessed the death by plague of the greater portion of his family. He was not seen to weep, or follow the funeral procession ; but when he proceeded to place the crown of flowers on the last of his children, he was no longer master of his grief,—he broke out in convulsive sighs, and shed a torrent of tears.'

On bringing the corpse out of the house, to convey it to its last resting place, the Greeks are careful that when it is placed upon the bier, the feet shall be turned towards the door, by which it is to pass into the street. The relatives and friends then surround the bier and mourn. Thus we find Achilles using this language, in reference to his friend Patroclus, fallen in the war :

Tranfixed by chilly steel, behold him lie,

Pale in his tent,--alas ! the bravest die; VOL. 11. (1839). No. 1.

Feet to the door, he slumbers on the ground,

And weeping heroes circle him around.-Iliad; b. xix. “In modern Greece is still prevalent the custom of hiring women to lament the dead, to sing a dirge to his memory, and to recount his virtues. These are often generously paid for their mercenary tears. Their laments are styled rà pospodégoce, or songs of destiny, and themselves mirologists. Among these females, some obtain such celebrity, as to be much in request at funerals. Their cadence, or close of each panegyric, is sometimes ! and at others, wx ww @x! At their head stands the chief mourner, when a simultaneous wailing and sobbing, often repeated, finishes with the triple interjection just given. That this was one of the classic usages, is unproblematical ; but from the scholiast in Aristophanes it appears, that the cadence of the ancient Greeks was, in pat which is not perhaps so touching and as expressive as the oŭ or åx of the present day. There appears in Homer's living pictures of gone-by ages, in the 24th book of the Iliad, a pathetic scene, exemplifying the modern practice. It is on the death of Hector, and Andromache figures as chief mourner :

The body stretched along a princely bier,
Now flowed around the mercenary tear :
The dirge repeaters 'gan the mournful song,

While women wail, the requiem to prolong. " Like the ancient Greeks, those of the present day prefer hasty interments. In Malta, the grave closes on the day following that of the death. So Achilles appears in haste to bury Patroclus. It is now deemed, by all Greeks, a repulsive thing to inter in the night, as such sepulture is superstitiously accounted ominous of ill. In the writings of Euripides one most clearly discerns a kindred feeling ; as when Cassandra pronounces an imprecation on Thalibius. The hasty interments of Palestine, too, are strikingly exemplified in the case of Lazarus ; for at verse 39 of John xi., it is stated, that this friend of Jesus' had been dead four days; while, from verse 17, it appears he had lain four days in the grave. It is hence inferable, that Lazarus was interred on the day of his death. The body of Jesus was interred the evening he expired. In all hot climates, not in Greece or Malta alone, the death-day and that of sepulture are never far a part.

Tourists in Greece, had they time or opportunity, would be much struck with the funeral ceremony called the final salute. This takes place at church, after the funeral prayers ; for now the priests, the relatives, and the friends apply their warmer lips to the cold face of the deceased, while some very touching language drops from those of the minister. This rite, prescribed by the Greek ritual, was prevalent in the classic ages; with this difference, that the ceremony was not performed at church, but at home, the moment before the corpse left for the tomb; and this indeed is even now the practice of Greek females, who are not in the habit, at the present day, of following the mournful procession to the last home. Long ago, however, prior to the classic age, we find this custom in the east; for · Joseph fell upon the neck of his dying father Jacob, and kissed him.' Yet in this case the salute is before death; in Greece it is after."

Equally interesting and felicitous is the following passage on the Greek language :

“ That the Greeks should have preserved their sweet language, through so long and so changeful a series of eventful ages, is highly honourable to their patriotism. With no nation am I at all acquainted, that has passed through equal vicissitudes, and yet has preserved in equal purity the tongue of its fathers. Though for ten centuries Greece was the plaything of tyrants, and seemed blotted from the map of Europe ; yet when we visit her magic coast, we still find, on every lip, the divine language of Plato; changed indeed, but wonderfully similar.

“And what do the present Greeks think ur intend ?—will they return entirely to ancient Greek? No. Some few have written altogether in that tongue, but were laughed at for their pedantry. In fact, the actual reformers range on two opposite sides of the house, with a juste milieu between. I have seen some products of my friend, the celebrated Psalee. thas of Yoannina, and of the worthy son of Baron Theotokys, altogether Hellenic. On the other hand, Athanasios Christopulos and those of this school, maintain that the language as spoken by the vulgar is perfectly beautiful, nay, perfectly ancient, and loudly deprecate all attempts at atticising. But Koraës Vamvas and all the editors of Greek newspapers, observe a medium, and produce a language, in my humble judgment, more elegant, more mellifluous, more simple, than that of the father of poets or the prince of historians.—Homer and Herodotus are more venerable, but not more chaste; more terse, but not more sonorous; more copious, but not more expressive, than the adventurous authors of the age of Otho the first."

Mr. Wilson's book concludes with the details of a project for evangelizing Greece. It is nothing more or less than the foundation of colony of decidedly pious Britons in Eubua, or Negropont. This colony he suggest should consists of one hundred families with the necessary appliances of capital, bibles, books, teachers and artisans :

" It might thus be hoped, devoutly depending on the blessing of God, that the third generation of these pious colonists would be Greeks in name, costume and language, yet Protestants in faith and morals. And to what extent their holy influence might be felt in the land of Basil and of Plato, is, to be sure, a question for the future, but a question to which the history of the spread of the gospel in other lands supplies a prospective and almost terrible reply."

If by other lands, he means Ireland, Malta, or India, we can understand the meaning of the expression, " terrible reply ;” and we by all means recommend a further extension of experiments which have met with such sigual success in those last named quarters : so leaving Mr. Wilson to settle the basis of his treaty between her majesty's governn.ent and that of King Otho, for the

loan of six hundred decidedly pious Britons, we take our leave of his book, devoutly hoping that the success of his colonization may equal that of his book-making speculation.

Art. XIII.- England under the Reigns of Edward VI. and Mary, with

the Contemporary History of Europe. Illustrated in a Series of Original Letters never before printed. By P. F. Tytler, Esq. 2 Vols.

8vo. London: Bentley. 1839. Mr. Tytler has for a long time been an indefatigable investigator in the State Paper Office, and among other collections of original manuscript documents, where lie buried so many valuable records, and so many authentic writings, which have come from the pens of a vast number of persons celebrated in history. The valuable character of the materials, contained in the Office specially named by us, will be best understood if described in the words of the gen. tleman who has in the present volumes interspersed many Historical Introductions and Biographical and Critical Notes, so as to aid and interest the general reader. He says, “ so important, indeed, are these stores, and yet so little are they known or appreciated, that the author believes he does not overstate the fact when he asserts that no perfect History of England, either civil, ecclesiastical, or constitutional, can be written till this collection is made accessible by catalogues to men of letters. But leaving this subject, upon which he will never cease to hope that something may at last be effected by the country, it occurred to him that an experiment might be made by printing a selection of such letters as illustrated a small portion of European history, and making an attempt to present them to the public in a more popular form than has yet been done."

True, there have appeared various “ Collections of Original Letters ;" but the manner of editing them has generally been such as to interest the antiquary and the historian, without offering attractions to the eye and the reading habits of the multitude. They presuppose," remarks Mr. Tytler, " in any one who takes up the book a full acquaintance with the history of the period which they illustrate, a familiarity with an ancient and repulsive orthography, and an intimate knowledge of the lives and characters of the personages by whom and to whom they are written. Is it too much to say that these qualifications are rarely possessed, that even the best informed reader will often find himself at fault ?” view to obviate such objections, the presint work has been divided into periods, each of them prefaced by short historical introductions, slight biographical sketches, and occasional critical discussions, where the letters are calculated to throw new light on obscure or disputed passages of English history, or supply unknown or impor

With a

« PredošláPokračovať »