Page images

might escape death. Every means had been taken to prevent this, and the Turks made no attempt to escape. Having reached the sand-hills to the south-west of Jaffa, they were halted near a pool of stagnant water. Then the officer who commanded the troops had the mass divided into small bodies; and these being led to many different parts, were there fusilladed. This horrible operation required much time, notwithstanding the number of troops employed in this dreadful sacrifice: I owe it to these troops to declare, that they did not without extreme repugnance submit to the abominable service which was required from their victorious hands. There was a group of prisoners near the pool of water, among whom were some old chiefs of a noble and resolute courage, and one young man whose courage was dreadfully shaken. At so tender an age he must have believed himself innocent, and that feeling hurried him on to an action which appeared to shock those about him. He threw himself at the feet of the horse which the chief of the French troops rode, and embraced the knees of that officer, imploring him to spare his life, and exclaiming, ‘Of what am I guilty? What evil have I done?' His tears, his affecting cries, were unavailing; they could not change the fatal sentence pronounced upon his lot. With the exception of this young man, all the other Turks made their ablutions calmly in the stagnant water of which I have spoken; then taking each other's hand, after having laid it upon the heart and the lips, according to the manner of salutation, they gave and received an eternal adieu. Their courageous spirits appeared to defy death ; you saw in their tranquillity the confidence which in these last moments was inspired by their religion, and the hope of a happy hereafter. They seemed to say, I quit this world to go and enjoy with Mahommed a lasting happiness. Thus the reward after this life which the Koran promises, sup

ported the Mussulman, conquered indeed, but still proud in his adversity.

“ I saw a respectable old man, whose tone and manners announced a superior rank. I saw him coolly order a hole to be made before him in the loose sand, deep enough to bury him alive; doubtless he did not choose to die by any other hands than those of his own people : within this protecting and dolorous grave he laid himself upon his back; and his comrades addressing their supplicatory prayers to God, covered him presently with sand, and trampled afterwards upon the soil which served him for a winding-sheet, probably with the idea of accelerating the end of his sufferings. This spectacle, which makes my heart palpitate, and which I paint but too feebly, took place during the execution of the parties distributed about the sand-hills. At length there remained no more of all the prisoners than those who were placed near the pool of water. Our soldiers had exhausted their cartridges, and it was necessary to destroy them with the bayonet and the sword. I could not support this horrible sight, but hastened away, pale and almost fainting. Some officers informed me in the evening, that these unhappy men, yielding to that irresistible impulse of nature which makes us shrink from death even when we have no longer a hope of escaping it, strove to get one behind another, and received in their limbs the blows aimed at the heart, which would at once have terminated their wretched lives. Then was there formed, since it must be related, a dreadful pyramid of the dead and of the dying streaming with blood; and it was necessary to drag away the bodies of those who had already expired, in order to finish the wretches who, under cover of this frightful and shocking rampart, had not yet been reached. This picture is exact and faithful; and the recollection makes my hand tremble, though the whole horror is not described.”



“ I THINK," said Egeria one morning, after reading some account of the Greek insurrection in a morning paper, “ that there must be a great deal of exaggeration in these stories. This war has now raged a long time, and dreadful events have taken place on both sides ; but nothing yet appears to indicate what it is that the Greeks propose to do for themselves when they shall have thrown off the Ottoman yoke. They are fighting for freedom; but there is no freedom without security, and the Greek insurgents are doing nothing to provide for the preservation of public or of private rights. By continuing the contest, an army will probably be formed among them, and the commander of that army, whoever he may be, will of course become their king—their tyrant I should rather say, for it is impossible to conceive that a modern Greek soldier, semi-barbarians as they all are, can be aught else. I should therefore like to know in what their condition will be improved, by the establishment of a despotism of their own at Athens, from what it has been under the sultans of Constantinople.”

“ I suspect,” replied the Bachelor, “ that we are not very accurately informed with respect to the condition of the Greeks under the Turks. Slavery of every kind is to the free imagination of the people of this country rightly and wisely held in dread and abhorrence; but the thraldom which the Greeks suffer under their Mahommedan masters is rather of the nature of a caste-exclusion than a servitude. They live in their own houses, they pursue their own avocations, they buy, sell, and serve on their own account, and I believe they may even purchase slaves. It is not, I think, very easy to adjust our ideas of a bondman to the description which Dr Holland gives of the condition and household of the superior classes of the Greeks at Ioannina, under the notorious Ali Pashaw, I shall read to you what he


GREEK MANNERS. The habitation of our host resembled those which are common in the country. Externally to the street nothing is seen but a high stone wall, with the summit of a small part of the inner building. Large double gates conduct you into an outer area, from which you pass through other gates into an inner square, surrounded on three sides by the buildings of the house. The basement story is constructed of stone, the upper part of the structure almost entirely of wood. A broad gallery passes along two sides of the area, open in front, and shaded overhead by the roof of the building. To this gallery you ascend by a flight of stairs, the doors of which conduct to the different living-rooms of the house, all going from it. In this country it is uncommon, except with the lower classes, to live upon the ground-floor, which is therefore generally occupied as out-buildings, the first floor being that always inhabited by the family. In the house of our host there were four or five living-rooms, furnished with couches, carpets,

and looking-glasses, which, with the decorations of the ceiling and walls, may be considered as almost the only appendages to a Grecian apartment. The principal room (or what with us would be the drawing-room) was large, lofty, and decorated with much richness. Its height was sufficient for a double row of windows along three sides of the apartment; all these windows, however, being small, and so situated as merely to admit light without allowing any external view. The ceiling was profusely ornamented with painting and gilding upon carved wood, the walls divided into panels, and decorated in the same way, with the addition of several pier-glasses. A couch or divan, like those described in the seraglio, passed along three sides of the apartment, and superseded equally the use of chairs and tables, which are but rarely found in a Greek house.

“ The dining-room was also large, but furnished with less decoration; and the same with the other livingapartments. The kitchen and servants' rooms were connected by a passage with the great gallery ; but this gallery itself formed a privileged place to all the members of the family, and it was seldom that some of the domestics might not be seen here partaking in the sports of the children, and using a familiarity with their superiors which is sufficiently common in the south of Europe, but very unusual in England. Bedchambers are not to be sought for in Greek or Turkish habitations. The sofas of their living-apartments are the place of nightly repose with the higher classes; the floor with those of inferior rank. Upon the sofas are spread their cotton or woollen mattresses, cotton sheets, sometimes with worked muslin trimmings, and ornamented quilts. Neither men nor women take off more than a small part of their dress; and the lower classes seldom make any change whatever before throwing themselves down among the coarse woollen cloaks which form their

« PreviousContinue »