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“ 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
nightly covering. In this point the oriental customs are much more simple than those of civilized Europe.
“ The separate communication of the rooms with an open gallery renders the Greek houses very cold in winter, of which I had reason to be convinced during both my residences at Ioannina. The higher class of Greeks seldom use any other means of artificial warmth than a brazier of charcoal in the middle of the apartment, trusting to their pelisses and thick clothing for the rest. Sometimes the brazier is placed under a table, covered with a thick rug cloth which falls down to the floor. The heat is thus confined, and the feet of those sitting round the table acquire an agreeable warmth, which is diffused to the rest of the body.
“ The family of Metzou generally rose before eight o'clock. Their breakfast consisted simply of one or two cups of coffee, served up with a salver of sweetmeats, but without any more substantial food. In consideration to our grosser morning appetites, bread, honey, and rice-milk, were added to the repast which was set before us. Our host, who was always addressed with the epithet of Affendi by his children and domestics, passed much of the morning in smoking, in walking up and down the gallery, or in talking with his friends who called upon him. Not being engaged in commerce, and influenced perhaps by his natural timidity, he rarely quitted the house; and I do not recollect to have seen him more than five or six times beyond the gates of the area of his dwelling. His lady, meanwhile, was engaged either in directing her household affairs, in working embroidery, or in weaving silk thread. The boys were occupied during a part of the morning in learning to read and write the Romaic with a young man who officiated as tutor, the mode of instruction not differing much from that common elsewhere.
“ The dinner hour of the family was usually between twelve and one, but from complaisance to us they delayed it till two o'clock. Summoned to the diningroom, a female domestic, in the usage of the east, presented to each person in succession a large basin with soap, and poured tepid water upon the hands from a brazen ewer. This finished, we seated ourselves at the table, which was simply a circular pewter tray, still called trapeza, placed upon a stool, and without cloth or other appendage. The dinner consisted generally of ten or twelve dishes, presented singly at the table by an Albanian servant, habited in his national costume. The dishes afforded some, though not great variety; and the enumeration of those at one dinner may suffice as a general example of the common style of this repast in a Greek family of the higher class :- First, a dish of boiled rice flavoured with lemon-juice; then a plate of mutton boiled to rags; another plate of mutton cooked with spinach or onions, and rich sauces; a Turkish dish composed of force-meat with vegetables, made into balls; another Turkish dish, which appears as a large flat cake, the outside of a rich and greasy paste, the inside composed of eggs, vegetables, with a small quantity of meat: following this, a plate of baked mutton, with raisins and almonds, boiled rice with oil, omelet balls, a dish of thin cakes made of flour, eggs, and honey; or sometimes, in lieu of these, small cakes made of four, coffee, and eggs; and the repast finished by a dessert of grapes, raisins, and chesnuts. But for the presence of strangers, the family would have ate in common from the dishes successively brought to the table; and even with separate plates before them this was frequently done. The thin wine of the country was drunk during the repast; but neither in eating or drinking is it common for the Greeks to indulge in excess.