« 前へ次へ »
cuse for his superstition, which was caused by an over-excitement of that faculty; but that I, not being blessed by the camera lucida of imagination, could have no excuse for the camera oscura, which I looked on superstition to be. This did not, however, content him, and I am sure he left me with a lower opinion of my faculties than before. To deprecate his anger, I observed that nature was so wise and good that she gave compensations to all her offspring : that as to him she had given the brightest gift, genius; so to those whom she had not so distinguished, she gave the less brilliant, but perhaps as useful, gift of plain and unsophisticated reason. This did not satisfy his amour pro. pre, and he left me, evidently displeased at my want of superstition. Byron is, I believe, sincere in his belief in supernatural appearances ; he assumes a grave and mysterious air when he talks on the subject, which he is fond of doing, and has told me some extraordinary stories relative to Mr. Shelley, who, he assures me, had an implicit belief in ghosts. He also told me that Mr. Shelley's spectre had appeared to a lady, walking in a garden, and he seemed to lay great stress on this. Though some of the wisest of mankind, as witness Johnson, shared this weakness in common with Byron ; still there is something so unusual in our matter-of-fact days in giving way to it, that I was at first doubtful that Byron was serious in his belief. He is also superstitious about days, and other trifling things,-believes in lucky and unlucky days, dislikes undertaking anything on a Friday, helping or being helped to salt at table, spilling salt or oil, letting bread fall, and breaking mirrors ; in short, he gives way to a thousand fantastical notions, that prove that even l'esprit le plus fort has its weak side. Having declined riding with Byron one day, on the plea of going to visit some of the Genoese palaces and pictures, it furnished him with a subject of attack at our next interview; he declared that he never believed people serious in their admiration of pictures, statues, &c. and that those who expressed the most admiration were · Amatori senza Amore, and Conoscitori senza Cognizione.' I replied, that as I had never talked to him of pictures, I hoped he would give me credit for being sincere in my admiration of them: but he was in no humor to give one credit for anything on this occasion, as he felt that our giving a preference to seeing sights, when we might have passed the hours with him, was not flattering to his varity. I should say that Byron was not either skilled in, or an admirer of works of art; he confessed to me that very few had excited his attention, and that to admire these he had been forced to draw on his imagination. Of objects of taste or virtù he was equally regardless, and antiquities had no interest for him ; nay, he carried this so far, that he disbelieved the possibility of their exciting interest in any one, and said that they merely served as excuses for indulging the vanity and ostentation of those who had no other means of exciting attention. Music he liked, though he was no judge of it: he often dwelt on the power of association it possessed, and declared that the notes of a well known air could transport him to distant scenes and events, presenting objects before him with a vividness that quite ban
ished the present. Perfumes, he said, produced the same effect, though less forcibly, and, added he with his mocking smile, often make me quite sentimental.
Byron is of a very suspicious nature ; he dreads imposition on all points, declares that he foregoes many things, from the fear of being cheated in the purchase, and is afraid to give way to the natural impulses of his character, lest he should be duped or mocked. This does not interfere with his charities, which are frequent and liberal; but he has got into the habit of calculating even his most trilling personal expenses, that is often ludicrous, and would in England expose him to ridicule. He indulges in a self-complacency when talking of his own defects, that is amusing; and he is rather fond than reluctant of bringing them into observation. He says that money is wisdom, knowledge, and power, all combined; and that this conviction is the only one he has in common with all his countrymen. He dwells with great asperity on an acquaintance to whom he lent some money, and who has not repaid him.
Byron seems to take a peculiar pleasure in ridiculing sentiment and romantic feelings; and yet the day after will betray both, to an extent that appears impossible to be sincere, to those who had heard his previous sarcasms; that he is sincere, is evident, as his eyes fill with tears, his voice becomes tremulous, and his whole manner evinces that he feels what he says. All this appears so inconsistent that it destroys sympathy, or if it does not quite do that, it makes one angry with oneself for giving way to it for one who is never two days of the same way of thinking, or at least expressing himself. Ile talks for effect, likes to excite astonishment, and certainly destroys in the minds of his auditors all confidence in his stability of character. This must, I am certain, be felt by all who have lived much in his society; and the impression is not satisfactory.
Talking one day of his domestic misfortunes, as he always called his separation from Lady Byron, he dwelt in a sort of unmanly strain of lamentation on it, that all present felt to be unworthy of him; and as the evening before I had heard this habitude of his commented on by persons indifferent about his feelings, who even ridiculed his making it a topic of conversation with mere acquaintances, I wrote a few lines in verse, expressive of my sentiments, and handed it across the table round which we were seated, as he was sitting for his portrait. He read them, became red and pale, by turns, with anger, and threw them down on the table, with an expression of countenance that is not to be forgotten. The following are the lines, which had nothing to offend, but they did offend him deeply, and he did not recover his temper during the rest of his stay.
And canst thou bare thy breast to vulgar eyes ?
The wounds inflicted by the hand we love,
If friendship's pity quells not real grief,
And if thy tears must fall-in secret weep. He never appeared to so little advantage as when he talked sentiment: this did not at all strike me at first; on the contrary, it excited a powerful interest for him ; but when he had vented his spleen, sarcasm, and pointed ridicule on sentiment, reducing all that is noblest in our natures to the level of common every-day life, the charm was broken, and it was impossible to sympathise with him again. He observed something of this, and seemed dissatisfied and restless when he perceived that he could no longer excite either strong sympathy or astonishment. Notwithstanding all these contradictions in this wayward, spoilt child of genius, the impression left on my mind was, that he had both sentiment and romance in his nature; but that, from the love of display and astonishing, he affected to despise and ridicule then.
(To be continued.)
THE HEIGTHS OF PHALERE.
In the early part of the year 1827, the Greek government deemed it advisable to take some measures for the relief of Athens. The Acropolis had been for some months strictly invested by the Turks, and although the gallant Colonel Fabvier had succeeded in reinforcing the garrison with 500 men ; yet there was little hope of their holding out much longer, against the privations and incessant fatigue they had to endure.
The allowance of water had for some time been limited to half an occa (little better than a pint) to each individual daily, eggs were sold at two dollars a piece, and though barley was abundant, yet fuel there was none. All buildings containing wood, had long since been pulled down for the sake of that, then precious material. Frequent sorties had been made, and many lives lost in the attempt to procure a few faggots from the olive trees in the plain; and the garrison were now reduced to the necessity of contributing a portion of their barley rations, to burn in the ovens, in order that the rest might be partially baked. Added to this the endemic disease of the country was amongst them, to perfect the work that famine and fatigue had hegun. At this crisis, letters were received by the government, stating that the fortress would be surrendered to Kioutahi Pacha, the commander-in-chief of the besieging army, at the end of three weeks, if nothing could be done for its relief.
An army of six or seven thousand men was immediately recruited, and the command entrusted to an European officer well known for his generous advocacy of the Greek cause. The head-quarters were established at Metochi, a small farm near Megara, opposite the convent of Faneromeni, in the Island of Salamis.
Having come to a determination to join the expedition, I left Napoli for Piadi, beginning my journey with the sun, having a ride of eight hours to perform. The road from Napoli to Piadi winds between a double range of hills, whose gray and barren summits are beautifully contrasted with the luxuriant productions of the valleys. The oleander, the arbutus, the myrtle and the rhododendron, are here indigenous, and the air is richly impregnated with the odors of wild thyme, and other aromatic herbs, which form the pasturage on the slopes of the hills. As the war has never penetrated into this part of the Argolide, the mountains are still covered with numerous flocks of sheep and goats; cultivation there is none, except in the vicinity of Ligurio, the only village on the road. As there are no inns, the traveller is under the necessity of carrying his larder with him. After a four hours' ride, under a burning sun, I alighted at a spot inviting at once to rest and refection-a few trees capable of giving shade, and a cold crystal mountain rivulet were the attractions. Bread, clives, and a skin of wine were spread before me by the hands of my trusty palikar, who set me an example, by commencing an attack upon thein in the patriarchal style; knives, forks, cups, and other the like varieties being held in uiter contempt by the unsophisticated Greeks, After a short siesta, to allow the mid-day heat to pass away, I resumed my journey, and about an hour before sunset reached Piadi, now a miserable vil. lage, aboui a mile and a half from the sea-shore. My palikar, who prided hime sell upon his English, assured me that Piadi was a place • as is vas before (his invariable mode of expressing the past) call Epidaurus.' This ingenious torturer of tongues-for he served French and Italian in the same way-had been taken to England by Captain Blaquiere,* on his return from his first visit, and had passed two years in an English seminary, where he had been placed by a society of Philellene quakers, in order to qualify him,' to teach the young idea how to shoot,' in his native country. Being furnished with proper credentials, on his landing in Napoli, he attired himself in his best Frank suit, and waited upon the Greek governinent to request their co-operation in the establishment of an academy; but as they were in no lack of devices for frittering away money, his very reasonable demand was not acceded to, and the next step was to offer his services to me in !he mixed capacity of body servant and interpreter, . God help the mark,' for a stipend of two dollars monthly, a proposition with which I immediately closed; and it is impossible to conceive a being who would have made a worse schoolmaster, or a better or more amusing servant. He would sometimes describe to me his early conflicts with the Turks, in some such language as the following :-Dat taime when as is vas beefore come Tark, I'se go faive times in de baattles. De Tarks is go down stairs, pick it up plenty stones make him de howse. I take plenty Greeks, go up stairs, bang! bang! Ah, yes, Sar, you please! dat taime is kill too much Turks ;' all which means that the Turks having entered a defile, were fired down upon from the hills and killed, while vainly attempting to construct a tambouri for their defence--but something too inuch of this,'-I immediately left Piada, “as is vas before call Epidaurus,' and descended to the sea in search of a barque, to transport me across the Saronic Gulph to Salamis, • as is bye and bye call Colouri.'
The path lay through a quadrangular glen, inclosed on three sides by stupendous rocks, the fourth open to the sea and terminated by a firm and beautiful sand. In this spot flourished the olive, the almond, the fig-tree, and the vine, cotton, and an infinite variety of esculents.
By the time I reached the shore the sun had gone down, and the young moon was shedding her mild radiance 'o'er hill and dale, and dark blue water.' On the beach were a party of boatmen assembled round a blazing fire, preparing their evening repast. Their hall.naked muscular forms, their dark mustachioed faces, their uncouth, though picturesque, garments, their long knires, which they never lay aside, their independent, not to say uncivil carriage, the solitude of the place, all conspired to give them the appearance of a lawless banditti rather than peaceful mariners; and as one of them approached, 1 involuntarily loosened my pistols in my belt, nor was it without some misgivings, that I agreed to pass the evening in their company, upon learning that the wind would not be favorable till midnight. I concluded a bargain with one of the men, and went on board his barque to sleep, and was only disturbed on the following morning by the grating of the keel on the shores of Salamis. At Colouri I learned that the army was already on its march; one division under the command of Bourbaki-a Greek who had obtained the rank of colonel in France-being destined to attack the Turks from the land side, while the other, then at Ambelachi, on the other side of the island, were to embark the same evening, in order to take possession of the Heights of Phalere, which command the Piraus, and are only separated from it by the port and peninsula of Munichium. I lost no time in crossing to Ambelachi; and hav. ing visited the traditionary tomb of Ajax Telamon, I einbarked with the regulars on board the Karterea, a steam-boat, or as the Greeks call it, a pompori,' under the coinmand of the brave Captain Hastings, who afterwards died in consequence of a wound received while storming Vasiladi, one of the defences of Missilonghi. At night we weighed anchor, in company with seven or eight other vessels, freighted with soldiers, peasants and pick-axes, gabions, fascines, and all the material of war.
* This worthy and disinterested man was the bearer of that portion of the Greek loan, which the knaves connected with that affair permitted to be applied to the purpose for which it was raised. His remuneration was the hare payment of his expenses. Captain Blaquiere left Falimouth about two years hack, in the cause of Dona Maria, in the Fin, which has never since been heard of: and as she was pronounced not sea-worthy, there is every reason to believe that all hand, have perished.
We reached our destination about midnight, and after an exchange of some fifty or sixty shots, with two or three dozen Turks, :up stairs,' as Nicolaki would have it, we effected our landing at the expense of a few broken shins owing to the rugoedness of the place and the bustle of debarkation. A few minutes toil put us in possession of the heights of Phalère, and then, forming a circle, we fired a few rounds of musquetry, to inform our comrades in the Acropolis, about a league and a half distant, that the succor was at hand. This was followed up by a loud yuriah, the charging cry of the Greeks, and in a few seconds the answering guns of the Acropolis showed us that our signal had been heard and understood. The Greeks immediately set to work to fortity the place, which was done by surrounding the position with a wall breast high, hastily constructed of loose stones of which there are abundance on every hill in Greece. The Turks, who seemed to have been stunned into apathy by our arrival, now thought proper to make a demonstration of their numerical strength, perhaps with a view of giving us a panic at once. On a sudden, the whole plain, from the hills of Caritzena and the Piræus, to the town of Athens itself, seemed filled with millions of .ignes fatui,' nor is it possible to imagine a more beautiful sight. This fusillade pour nous encourager,' was followed by a sortie from the Acropolis; and never shall I forget the deep feel. ing of interest which absorbed my every faculty as I watched the progress of our friends. We could tiace their fire down the side of the hill till it was partially concealed from us by the thick olive groves into which they had penetrated, and then again on their re!urn to their strong hold, when driven back by the overwhelming numbers of the Turks. All this while, the hill of Philopapas, upon which the Turks had established a mortar battery, was belching forth its destructive fires against the devoted citadel. Altogether, the sight was cne of great beauty and intense interest, and when quiet was restored, a deep gasp from the breasts of all present, told of the compressed feeling which had engrossed them. The night passed without further interruption, and the two or three following days were taken up with disembarking and dragging up the guns-iron twenty-fours-and when it is considered that they had to be hauled up the face of a rugged steep seven or eight hundred feet high, it will be seen that the task was one of severe toil. The Turks, in the mean time, amused themselves by watching our operations, and occasionally throwing at us a few shells from the convent on the Piræus, of which they still kept possession in spite of some attempts made to dislodge them.
On the third day, a heavy cannonade was heard from Menethi, and large bodies of the Turks were marched off in that direction. This was the attack of the gallant but ill-fated Bourbaki. A' feu de joie' from the Turkish host at night announced to us the failure of his expedition, and our melancholy anticipations were confirmed on the following day by the arrival of one of the fugitives. Bourbaki was