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to show the ignorance and frivolity of the modern Greeks; pursuing the arguments through a string of extracts from M. Koraes and rejoinders from himself, to a degree of prolixity which, we apprehend, has put the patience of all his readers to a severe test. We decline to enter on this controversy; which indeed, may be cut short in M. BARTholdy’s favour, by the obvious remark that it is impossible for any nation, so long subjected as the Greeks have been to despotick government, to be in the state of improvement that is described by M. Aoraes, We conclude our extracts from these travels with the author’s observations on the pernicious influence of the ecclesiasticks in Greece,
and on the consequent degradation
of literature in that country, which was so long the fountain of knowledge to the rest of the world: “After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, a great number of Greeks moved westward to Italy, and established them. selves, some as grammarians, and others as translators of their classicks; but the whole number did not afford a single eminent genius or artist, in the true sense of the word. The same may be said of the Greeks of the present day, whose great misfortune is their subjection to an ignorant and superstitious clergy. The influence of this clergy is employed to excite a general hatred against other religions, especially the Roman Catholick; and they are always ready to grant absolution to those of their flocks who either have deceived or mean to deceive the members of that communion. In other cases, when they are disposed to make their hearers pay more dearly for indulgences, the penance imposed is generally the building or the repair of a church. Accordingly, the number of religious edifices in several of the islands is prodigious A general belief prevails that severe fasts constitute the chief part of our duties, and the Greeks, therefore, accustom their children to these absurd cerentonies, from their tenderest years. Simony is currently practised in Greece, and, as the bishops and archbishops have generally paid heavily for their several dignities, they indemnify themselves by aii kinds of extortion. The mutual hatred of the two sects, the Greeks
and Romanists, is extreme; and M. de Pauw has said with truth, that the first use which the Greeks would make of their recovered freedom, if left to themselves, would be a religious war. The Turks are most vigilant in turning these dissensions to their own advantage, by extorting money from both parties.—The monks of the Greek church practise every sort of imposition; they are the blood-suckers of the people, and find means at all times to appropriate to themselves whatever is best of its kind. They have been compared to the Franciscans and other mendicant orders of the Catholick church, but with great injustice to the latter. “Although the literature of the modern Greeks has been enriched by translations of the most useful foreign works, yet the number of books in Greece itself is very small Such as there are, they are generally theological, and the principal sale is in the islands. No booksellers existin Greece; nor is there a good printing office in the Levant, not even in Constantinople. The medical men in Greece make a mere traffick of their profession, and act the part of quacks. “Much ridiculous family pride prevails among the Greeks. Exclusively of their claims to distinction from descent, they make a pretension to consequence on the score of employment in the service of European nations; and to be a consul, or vice consul, in a port however insignificant, is a magnificent distinction. A flag is displayed before the house of the person in question, and renders it inviolable. Monsieur Paul, at Patras, is consul or vice consul to eight different nations; and, as he wears a European dress, he appears to day in one uniform and to morrow in another. He gives, however, a preference to the Spanish dress, on account of its scarlet lace. Nothing is of such importance in the Levant as to meet with complaisant and active men in the capacity of consuls, and nothing so unpleasant as to be concerned with foolish, proud, or selfish men in this situation. The French and Russian consuls are generally well chosen. The French government makes it a rule to appoint native Frenchmen in all seaports of any consequence. The Russian government sometimes appoints foreigners, but seldom Greeks, and always men who have a vigilant eye to its interest, and are approved both by character and by services. The English exercise less precaution in the choice of their consuls, and in consequence are sometimes very. ill served. “Among the Greek primates, with whom travellers find it necessary to lodge, only a very small proportion possess cultivated minds. I have always met with most kindness and good sense among the poorer ecclesiasticks, and have consequently preferred to take up my quarters with them. One of the most remarkable traits of the Greek character is their superstition; they are perpetually thinking of the power of witchcraft; and Europeans travelling in Greece are incessantly annoyed by people asking directions for the discovery of hidden treasures, or offering their own services to aid in effecting those discoveries, which they believe to be the sole object of such distant journies. The Greeks are habituated to walk in the shadow of those whom they wish to injure; and they drive nails into their shoes, and bury them under a heap of stones, after having pronounced the words of the curse which they wish to inflict on their enemies. The women at Athens are accustomed to slide down a certain rock, as a remedy for barrenness. To cure sick or ill shaped children, they are in the habit of dragging them by moon light across a kind of cavern, in the neighbourhood of what is called the prison of the Areopagus; and in Arcadia, it is customary to kill kids and lambs on particular days, for the sake of drawing inferences from the state of their bones and entrails, particularly from the shoulder bone. “The passionate fondness of the ancient Greeks for the exercise of dancing has not disappeared among their posterity, who onlit no opportunity of gratifying their predilection for this exercise. Subjugated nations in general adopt the fashions of their conquerors, but Greek vivacity has never been able to imbibe the aversions which the Turks entertain for all measured movements, or rather for all movements which are quicker than the necessity of the case requires. The national dance of the Greeks is regarded as an imitation of that of the Labyrinth introduced by Theseus, and is extremely simple. The dancers move uniformly in a circle,in cadenced steps, holding each other by the hand, but never quitting the ring; and the only change consists in the leader (who is relieved from time to time) quickening or slackening the step, and extending or narrowing the circle. The Greeks dance at all hours and in all places, whether in a tavern, in a street, or on ship board.”
Were the whole, or even the greater part, of this work equal in merit to the extracts which we have made from it, it would deserve to
occupy a considerable rank among books of travels: but, unfortunately, we discern several symptoms of passages being introduced for no other purpose than that of swelling the book beyond its legitimate size. The war of Ali Pacha against the inhabitants of the mountainous district of Souly, and the extracts from Koraes and from Eton, appear to us to come under this description. In these, as well as in several other parts, the information is of very subordinate interest, and might have been compressed into much smaller space. These transgressions are to be found chiefly in the second volume: but throughout the book various instances of insignificant detail occur; and the translator’s preface is expressed in that style of hackneyed puff, which cannot fail to excite the suspicion of persons who are conversant with the artifices of the Parisian booksellers. All these expedients to augment the size of the work form so many deductions from its value as a literary performance, and reduce it to a kind of middle rank among the publications of the day.—It contains several small engravings, which are chiefly representations of the persons and dresses of the inhabitants of different parts of Greece. They are plain, and without pretensions to elegance of execution: but they are, notwithstanding, very useful in conveying a clearer idea of the objects delineated, than could have been furnished by any description. The original designs were sketched by M. Grosius, the traveller's companion in his tour through Greece. He may be a very worthy man; but his imagination does not seem to soar any higher than that of M. BARTHoldy His designs embrace no landscape, and indeed no ornamental subjects whatever; and his taste appears to be of the domestick kind, and to confine itself to the familiar and homely objects of common life.
Woyages dans l’.1mérique. Méridionale, &c. i. e. Travels in South America, by Don Felix de Azara.
THIS intelligent author's remarks on the principal rivers, which he had occasion to survey, are extremely interesting. The Paraguay, at Assumption, when at its lowest level, is 1332 Parisian feet in breadth, and, at its ordinary height, discharges 196,618 cubick toises of water per hour. Its periodical rise commences about the end of February, and gradually and equally continues till the end of June, when it again begins to fall, and decreases by the same gentle gradations. The Parana, at its junction with the Paraguay, is estimated as equivalent to a hundred of the largest rivers in Europe. Having united with the Uruguay, it forms the Plata, which is reckoned the largest river in the world, and which is probably equal to the aggregate of all those of Europe. The falls of the Parana are described in a manner which will not bear abridgement, but which imparts animation and grandeur to the general picture. From the short account which is here exhibited of the ports on the
Plata, we may infer that Maldonado
is at once the most capacious and the most secure, though it is sheltered only to the lecward of the island of Gorriti. Scarcely seven pages of text are allotted to the fishes, among which the traveller, strangely enough, includes land-crabs and turtles. The former he very unphilosophically supposes to have been originally created in the various districts which the race at present occupies, as he ascribes the production of a particular eel to equivocal generation. Of the few species of fishes to which he alludes, not one is so defined as to be recognised by scientifickna
turalists; and he will not, we believe, have many European readers who will reckon themselves the wiser for being told that the Plata produces manguruyás, surubys, facios, flatys, flexes reyes, and mojarritas. If this nomenclature be hard of interpretation, the following case of two beheaded turtles is not less hard to believe: “ I observed,” says the author, “with astonishment that they escaped, and leapt into the river, without reappearing on the surface, and with as much rapidity, regularity, and address, as if they had never lost their heads. This fact may supply matter of reflection to the learned; and some, perhaps, may be inclined to explain it on the principles of galvanism: but we should recollect that the procedure of these turtles was not limited to a muscular movement of the limbs, like that of frogs and other animals subjected to experiment, but that they acted with method and even with reason; for I observed, also, that they turned towards the water, as if they still retained the reasoning faculty, though deprived of their heads.” The wild and the cultivated vegetables of these countries are discussed in two separate chapters, but in such a vague and rambling manner, that the botanist finds himself constantly tantalized by general and provincial names, which the editor is either unable or unwilling to refer to their proper synonyms. The character of the prevailing vegetation in the plains appears to be nearly uniform, and even of a somewhat monotonous aspect; consisting, if we rightly comprehend the author's meaning, of gramineous plants, two or three feet high, which completely conceal the soil: while, on the Brasilian frontier, where the country is checkered by elevations, a different race of plants, of a singularly, hoary appearance, diversifies the scene. Different species of Agave abound in low and humid situations; and, beyond the 40th degree of latitude, the whole vegetable kingdom seems to partake of the saltness of the soil. When the herbage has become rank and dry, it is often purposely burned, to give birth to a more tender and delicate pasture; and the conflagration, which is propagated by the wind, is arrested only by green woods, rivulets, or roads. The author travelled over an extent of plain of upwards of two hundred leagues, to the south of Buenos Ayres, which had been previously subjected to a 'single act of combustion, and over which the new herbage began to spring. Multitudes of insects, reptiles, and small quadrupeds perish in these extensive burnings; and even horses are often involved in the general destruction, because they want courage to pass over the flames. Not satisfied with noting the change of vegetable produce which takes place, in consequence of the regular depasturing of herds and flocks, or of the settlement of families on tracts which were formerly uninhabited, the author recurs, in a triumphant tone, to his favourite hypothesis of local, multiplied, and recentacts of creation. Yet, surely, the least violent mode of solving the phenomenon is to suppose that the ‘seed lay imbedded in the soil, but did not germinate, till placed in circumstances requisite for its development; such as exposure to the influences of the atmosphere; contact with a particular modification of soil; the presence of certain kinds of manure; a change in the depth of its position, &c. We are not furnished with sufficient data to warrant the inference that the suspension of vegetable life, in situations debarred. from the essential stimuli of growth,
determines in any assignable period. In the whole tract of country which extends from the Plata to the straits of Magellan, scarcely a tree or a shrub exists. Near the Spanish frontier are found viznagas, a species of large, wild carrot, and thistles; which, with the bones and fat of cows and mares, constitute the only fuel. At Buenos Ayres and Monte Video, peach trees are purposely planted for firing, and used: as such with bones and fat. Chaco, on the contrary, contains extensive woods and orange groves. In the native forests, the species are so diversified, that a person may sometimes traverse a considerable quantity of surface before he meets with twelve individuals belonging to the same kind. Several of the trees, which are indigenous to Paraguay, furnish a more compact, solid, and desirable timber than any that is produced in the forests of Europe. Various qualities, either of an uncommon or a useful description, are here attributed to different species: but the constant recurrence of Indian or Spanish names, and the total absence of scientifick characters, renders these notices of very little benefit to the publick. The leaf called the Paraguay herb is the produce of a tree, or rather large shrub, which grows wild in the woods; and which, according to Molina, is the Psoralea glandulosa of Linné. To render it fit for the purposes to which it is destined, the leaves are slightly heated, by drawing the branches through the flame of a common fire. They are then toasted, and afterward bruised, so as to keep, when closely pressed; for they have no very pleasant flavour in the first stage of preparation. In 1726, the quantity prepared was only twelve thousand five hundred quintals, and it now amounts to fifty thousand. A handful of the leaves being put into a cup, or a small pipkin, it is filled with very hot water;
which is immediately drawn into the mouth by suction, through a small tube, pierced at the lower end with small holes, which retain the leaves, and allow only the liquor to pass. Some persons sweeten the infusion with sugar. The people drink it at all hours; and the daily consumption of each inhabitant is averaged at an ounce. A workman can gather and prepare one, and sometimes even three, quintals (or hundred weights) in a day. With regard to cultivated vegetables, the produce of wheat, wine and tobacco, which formerly was very considerable in Paraguay, has been nearly annihilated by the naturai indolence of the inhabitants, and the injudicious interference of government. The cotton and sugar crops are also of very inconsiderable amount, and they are liable to be injured by the first approaches of cold; the Jatroftha manishot is successfully cultivated, and yields both farinaceous food and excellent starch. Varieties of maize and battatas likewise prosper. Aimond and plumtrees grow rapidly, and display a great profusion of blossoms, but produce no fruit. The pears are indifferent, and the cherries scarcely eatable; but oranges, figs, pomegranates, bananas, &c. are excellent and abundant. Under the seventh chapter, which treats of insects, the number of spe
which each foot is placed in an earthen vessel, filled with water. Yet, says the writer, “I have seen these ants, by clinging to one another, form a bridge, of an inch in breadth, and a palm in length, along which the others passed. If you suspend the table, or the board, the ants climb up the wall to the ceiling, till they reach the cord, which enables them to descend to the sugar, &c. I have myself attempted to keep them off by wrapping the feet of the table round with wool or horse-hair, without success. Nothing but soft tar prevents their passing. The sweetmeats must also be placed in a remote apartment; for these ants will not, in that case, soon discover them: but if one ant be inadvertently left in the room, it immediately informs the rest, which follow it in a body.” A still more destructive species is distinguished by its offensive odour, and by suddenly issuing from its retreat during the night, and overrunning the floors, walls, and cieling of an apartment, two days previously to any remarkable change of weather. Their ordinary food is unknown; but, in these formidable sorties, which take place at the distance of months, and sometimes of years, they indiscriminately devour every spider, cricket, or beetle, that falls in their way. A mouse, on seeing them crawling out, runs off in dismay; or, if it cannot escape, it is assailed by numbers, and eaten up in an instant; even men have been known to make their retreat in their shirts; but the whole band may be dispersed by throwing among them a bit of lighted paper, or by spitting on them. The introductory remarks on toads, snakes, and lizards, are extremely desultory, and chiefly rest on the unauthenticated reports of the natives; while the descriptions of the different species, from the uniform adoption of the provincial names, and the absence of proper, discriminating characters, are nearly unintelligible.