Greece – First Impressions Of The Coast

A VOYAGE to Greece does not at first sight seem a great undertaking. We all go to and fro to Italy as we used to go to France. A trip to Rome, or even to Naples, is now an Easter holiday affair. And is not Greece very close to Italy on the map ? What signifies the narrow sea that divides them ? This is what a man might say who only considered geography, and did not regard the teaching of history. For the student of history cannot look upon these two peninsulas without being struck with the fact that they are, historically speaking, turned back to back ; that while the face of Italy is turned westward, and looks towards France and Spain, and across to us, the face of Greece looks eastward, towards Asia Minor and towards Egypt. Every great city in Italy, except Venice, approaches or borders the Western Sea—Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Naples. All the older history of Rome, its development, its glories, lie on the west of the Apennines. When you cross them you come to what is called the back of Italy ; and you feel that in that flat country, and that straight coast-line, you are separated from its true beauty and charm. Contrariwise, in Greece, the whole weight and dignity of its history gravitate towards the eastern coast. All its great cities—Athens, Thebes, Corinth, Argos, Sparta —are on that side. Their nearest neighbours were the coast cities of Asia Minor and of the Cyclades, while the western coasts long remained to them harbourless and strange. If you pass Cape Malea, they said, then forget your home.

So it happens that those coasts of Italy and Greece, which look so close together, are outlying and out-of-the-way parts of the countries to which they belong ; and if you want to go straight from real Italy to real Greece, the longest way is that from Brindisi to Corfu, for you must still journey across Italy to Brindisi, and from Corfu to Athens. The shortest way is to take ship at Naples, and to be carried round Italy and round Greece, from the centres of culture on the west of Italy to the centres of culture (such as they are) on the east of Greece. But this is no trifling passage. When the ship has left the coasts of Calabria, and steers into the open sea, you feel that you have at last left the west of Europe, and are setting sail for the Eastern Seas. You are, moreover, in an open sea—the furious Adriatic—in which I have seen storms which would be creditable to the Atlantic Ocean, and which at times forbid even steam navigation.

I may anticipate for a moment here, and say that even now the face of Athens is turned, as of old, to the East. Her trade and her communications are through the Levant. Her chief intercourse is with Constantinople, and Smyrna, and Syra, and Alexandria.

This curious parallel between ancient and modern geographical attitudes in Greece is, no doubt, greatly due to the now bygone Turkish rule. In addition to other contrasts, Mohammedan rule and Eastern jealousy—long unknown in Western Europe—first jarred upon the traveller when he touched the coasts of Greece ; and this dependency was once really part of a great Asiatic Empire, where all the interests and communications gravitated eastward, and away from. the Christian and better-civilised West. The revolution which expelled the Turks was unable to root out the ideas which their subjects had learned ; and so, in spite of Greek hatred of the Turk, his influence still lives through Greece in a thousand ways.

For many hours after the coasts of Calabria had faded into the night, and even after the snowy dome of Etna was lost to view, our ship steamed through the open sea, with no land in sight ; but we were told that early in the morning, at the very break of dawn, the coasts of Greece would be visible. So, while others slept, I started up at half-past three, eager to get the earliest possible sight of the land which still occupies so large a place in our thoughts. It was a soft grey morning the sky was covered with light, broken clouds, the deck was wet with a passing shower, of which the last drops were still flying in the air ; and before us, some ten miles away, the coasts and promontories of the Peloponnesus were reaching southward into the quiet sea. These long serrated ridges did not look lofty, in spite of their snow-clad peaks, nor did they look inhospitable, in spite of their rough outline, but were all toned in harmonious colour—a deep purple blue, with here and there, on the far Arcadian peaks, and on the ridge of Mount Taygetus, patches of pure snow. In contrast to the large sweeps of the Italian coast, its open seas, its long waves of mountain, all was here broken, and rugged, and varied. The sea was studded with rocky islands, and the land indented with deep, narrow bays. I can never forget the strong and peculiar impression of that first sight of Greece ; nor can I cease to wonder at the strange likeness which rose in my mind, and which made me think of, the bays and rocky coasts of the west and south-west of Ireland. There was the same cloudy, showery sky, which is so common there ; there was the same serrated outline of hills, the same richness in promontories, and rocky islands, and land-locked bays. Nowhere have I seen a like purple colour, except in the wilds of Kerry and Connemara ; and though the general height of the Greek mountains, as the snow in May testified, was far greater than that of the Irish hills, yet on that morning, and in that light, they looked low and homely, not displaying their grandeur, or commanding awe and wonder, but rather attracting the sight by their wonderful grace, and by their variety and richness of outline and of colour.

I stood there, I know not how long—without guide or map—telling myself the name of each mountain and promontory, and so filling out the idle descriptions and outlines of many books with the fresh reality itself. There was the west coast of Elis, as far north as the eye could reach—the least interesting part of the view, as it was of the history, of Greece ; then the richer and more varied outline of Messene, with its bay, thrice famous at great intervals, and yet for long ages feeding idly on that fame ; Pylos, Sphacteria, Navarino—each a foremost name in Hellenic history. Above the bay could be seen those rich slopes which the Spartans coveted of old, and which, as I saw them, were covered with golden corn. The three headlands which give to the Peloponnesus ‘its plane-leaf form,’ 1 were as yet lying parallel before us, and their outline confused ; but the great crowd of heights and intersecting chains, which told at once the Alpine character of the peninsula, called to mind the other remark of the geographer, in which he calls it the Acropolis of Greece. The words of old Herodotus, too, rise in the mind with new reality, when he talks of the poor and stony soil of the country as a rugged nurse of liberty.

For the nearer the ship approaches, the more this feature comes out ; increased, no doubt, greatly in later days by depopulation and general decay, when many arable tracts have lain desolate, but still at all times necessary, when a large proportion of the country consists of rocky peaks and precipices, where a goat may graze, but where the eagle builds secure from the hand of man. The coast, once teeming with traffic, is now lonely and deserted. A single sail in the large gulf of Koron, and a few miserable huts, discernible with a telescope, only added to the feeling of solitude. It was, indeed,` Greece, but living Greece no more.’ Even the pirates, who sheltered in these creeks and mountains, have abandoned this region, in which there is nothing now to plunder.

But as we crossed the mouth of the gulf, the eye fastened with delight on distant white houses along the high ground of the eastern side—in other words, along the mountain slopes which run out into the promontory of Tainaron ; and a telescope soon brought them into distinctness, and gave us the first opportunity of discussing modern Greek life. We stood off the coast of Maina—the home of those Mainotes whom Byron has made so famous as pirates, as heroes, as lovers, as murderers ; and even now, when the stirring days of war and of piracy have passed away, the whole district retains the aspect of a country in a state of siege or of perpetual danger. Instead of villages surrounded by peaceful homesteads, each Mainote house, though standing alone, was walled in, and in the centre was a high square tower, in which, according to trustworthy travellers, the Mainote men used to spend their day watching their enemies, while only the women and children ventured out to till the fields. For these fierce mountaineers were not only perpetually defying the Turkish power, which was never able to subdue them thoroughly, but they were all engaged at home with internecine feuds, of which the origin was often forgotten, but of which the consequences remained in the form of vengeance due for the life of a kinsman. When this was exacted on one side, the obligation changed to the other ; and so for generation after generation they spent their lives in either seeking or avoiding vengeance. This more than Corsican vendetta was, by a sort of mediæval chivalry, prohibited to the women and children, who were thus in perfect safety, while their husbands and fathers were in daily and deadly danger.

The Mainotes are considered the purest in blood of all the Greeks, though it does not appear that their dialect approaches old Greek nearer than those of their neighbours ; but for beauty of person, and independence of spirit, they rank first among the inhabitants of the Peloponnesus, and most certainly they must have among them a good deal of the old Messenian blood. Most of the country is barren, but there are orange woods, which yield the most delicious fruit—a fruit so large and rich that it makes other oranges appear small and tasteless. The country is perfectly safe for visitors, and the people extremely hospitable, though the diet is not very palatable to the northern traveller.

So with talk and anecdote about the Mainotes—for every one was now up on deck and sight-seeing—we neared the classic headland of Tainaron, almost the southern point of Europe, once the site of a great temple of Poseidon—not preserved to us, like its sister monument on Sunium—and once, too, the entry to the regions of the dead. And, as if to remind us of its most beautiful legend, the dolphins, which had befriended Arion of old, and carried him here to land, rose in the calm summer sea, and came playing round the ship, showing their quaint forms above the water, and keeping with our course, as it were an escort into the homely seas and islands of truer Greece. Strangely enough, in many other journeys through Greek waters, twice again only did we see these dolphins ; and here as elsewhere, the old legend, I suppose, based itself upon the fact that this, of all their wide domain, was the favourite resort of these creatures, with which the poets of old felt so strong a sympathy.

But, while the dolphins have been occupying our attention, we have cleared Cape Matapan, and the deep Gulf of Asine and Gythium—in fact, the Gulf of Sparta is open to our view. We strained our eyes to discover the features of `hollow Lacedæmon,’ and to take in all the outline of this famous bay, through which so many Spartans had held their course in the days of their greatness. The site of Sparta is far from the sea, probably twelve or fifteen miles, but the place is marked for every spectator, throughout all the Peloponnesus and its coasts, by the jagged top of Mount Taygetus, even in June covered with snow. Through the forests upon its slopes the young Spartans would hunt all day with their famous Laconian hounds, and after a rude supper beguile the evening with stories of their dangers and their success. But, as might be expected, of the five villages which made up the famous city, few vestiges remain. The old port of Gythium is still a port ; but here, too, the ‘ wet ways,’ and that sea once covered with boats, which a Greek comic poet has called the ‘ants of the sea,’ have been deserted.

We were a motley company on board—Russians, Greeks, Turks, French, English ; and it was not hard to find pleasant companions and diverting conversation among them all. I turned to a Turkish gentleman, who spoke French indifferently. ‘Is it not,’ said I, ‘a great pity to see this fair coast so desolate ? “A great pity, indeed,’ said he, ‘ but what can you expect from these Greeks ? They are all pirates and robbers; they are all liars and knaves. Had the Turks been allowed to hold possession of the country they would have improved it, and developed its resources ; but since the Greeks became independent, everything has gone to ruin. Roads are broken up,’ communications abandoned; the people emigrate and disappear-in fact, nothing prospers.’

Presently, I got beside a Greek gentleman, from whom I was anxiously picking up the first necessary phrases and politenesses of modern Greek, and, by way of amusement, put to him the same question. I got the answer I expected. ‘Ah !’ said he, ‘the Turks; the Turks ! When I think how these miscreants have ruined our beautiful country ! How could a land thrive or prosper under such odious tyranny ?’ I ventured to suggest that the Turks were now gone five-and-forty years, and that it was high time to see the fruits of recovered liberty in the Greeks. No, it was still too soon. The Turks had cut down all the woods, and so ruined the climate ; they had destroyed the cities, broken up the roads, encouraged the bandits —in fact, they had left the country in such a state that centuries would not cure it.

The verdict of Europe was then (1873) in favour of the Greek gentleman ; but it might have been suggested, had we been so disposed, that the greatest and the most hopeless of all these sorrows—the utter depopulation of the country—is not due to either modern Greeks or Turks, nor even to the Slav hordes of the Middle Ages. It was a calamity which, came upon Greece almost suddenly, immediately after the loss of her independence, and which historians and physiologists have as yet been only partially able to explain. Of this very coast upon which we were then gazing, the geographer Strabo, about the time of Christ, says, ‘that of old, Lacedæmon had numbered 10o cities ; in his day there were but ten remaining. So, then, the sum of the crimes of both Greeks and Turks may be diminished by one. But I, perceiving that each of them would have been extremely indignant at this historical palliation of the other’s guilt, ‘ kept silence, even from good words.’

These dialogues beguiled us till we found ourselves, almost suddenly, facing the promontory of Malea, with the island of Cythera (Cerigo) on our right. The island is little celebrated in history. The Phoenicians seem, in very old times, to have had a settlement there for the working of their purple-shell fishery, for which the coasts of Laconia were celebrated ; and they doubtless founded there the worship of the Sidonian goddess, who was transformed by the Greeks into Aphrodite (Venus). During the Peloponnesian War we hear of the Athenians using it as a station for their fleet, when they were ravaging the adjacent coasts. It was, in fact, used by their naval power as the same sort of blister on Sparta that Dekelea was when occupied by the Spartans in Attica.

Cape Malea is more famous. It was in olden days the limit of the homely Greek waters, the bar to all fair weather and regular winds—a place of storms and wrecks, and the portal to an inhospitable open sea ; and we can well imagine the delight of the adventurous trader who had dared to cross the Western Seas, to gather silver and lead in the mines of Spain, when he rounded the dreaded Cape, homeward bound in his heavy-laden ship, and looked back from the quiet Aegean. The barren and rocky Cape has its new feature now. On the very extremity there is a little platform, at some elevation over the water, and only accessible with great difficulty from the land by a steep goat-path. Here a hermit built himself a tiny hut, cultivated his little plot of corn, and lived out in the Ione seas, with no society but stray passing ships .2 When Greece was thickly peopled he might well have been compelled to seek loneliness here ; but now, when in almost any mountain chain he could find solitude and desolation enough, it seems as if that poetic instinct that so often guides the ignorant and unconscious anchorite had sent him to this spot, which combines, in a strange way, solitude and publicity, and which excites the curiosity, but forbids the intrusion, of every careless passenger to the East.

So we passed into the Aegean, the real thoroughfare of the Greeks, the mainstay of their communication—a sea, and yet not a sea, but the frame of countless headlands and islands, which are ever in view to give confidence to the sailor in the smallest boat. The most striking feature in our view was the serrated outline of the mountains of Crete, far away to the S.E. Though the day was grey and cloudy, the atmosphere was perfectly clear, and allowed us to see these very distant Alps, on which the snow still lay in great fields. The chain of Ida brought back to us the old legends of Minos and his island kingdom, nor could any safer seat of empire be imagined for a power coming from the south than this great long bar of mountains, to which half the islands of the Aegean could pass a fire signal in times of war or piracy. The legends preserved to us of Minos—the human sacrifices to the Minotaur—the hostility to Theseus—the identification of Ariadne with the legends of Bacchus, so Eastern and orgiastic in character—make us feel, with a sort of instinctive certainty, that the power of Minos was no Hellenic empire, but one of Asiatics, from which they commanded distant coasts and islands, for the purposes of trade. Phoenicians settled, as we know, at Corinth, at Thebes, and probably at Athens, in the days of their greatness, but they seem always to have been strangers and sojourners there, while in Crete they kept the stronghold of their power. Thucydides thinks that Minos’s main object was to put down piracy and protect commerce ; and this is probably the case, though we are without evidence on the point. The historian evidently regards this old Cretan empire as the older model of the Athenian, but settled in a far more advantageous place, and not liable to the dangers which proved the ruin of Athens.

The nearer islands were small, and of no reputation, but each like a mountain top reaching out of a sub-merged valley,, stony and bare. Melos was farther off, but quite distinct—the old scene of Athenian violence and cruelty, to Thucydides so impressive, that he dramatises the incidents, and passes from cold narrative and set oration to a dialogue between the oppressors and the oppressed. Melian starvation was long proverbial among the Greeks, and there the fashionable and aristocratic Alcibiades applied the arguments and carried out the very policy which the tanner Cleon could not propose without being pilloried by the great historian whom he made his foe. This and other islands, which were always looked upon by the mainland Greeks with some contempt, have of late days received special attention from archeologists. It is said that the present remains of the old Greek type are now to be found among the islanders—an observation which I found fully justified by a short sojourn at Aegina, where the very types of the Parthenon frieze can be found among the inhabitants, if the traveller will look for them diligently. One of the noblest and most perfect types of Greek beauty has, indeed, come to us from Melos, but not in real life. It is the celebrated Venus of Melos—the most pure and perfect mage we know of that goddess, and one which puts to shame the lower ideals so much admired in the museums of Italy.

Another remark should be made in justice to the islands, that the groups of Therasia and Santorin, which lie round the crater of a great active volcano, have supplied us not only with the oldest forms of the Greek alphabet in their inscriptions, but with far the oldest vestiges of inhabitants in any part of Greece. In these, beneath the lava slopes formed by a great eruption—an eruption earlier than any history, except, perhaps, Egyptian—have been found the dwellings, the implements, and the bones of men who cannot have lived there much later than 2000 B.C. The arts, as well as the implements, of these old dwellers in their Stone Age, have shown us how very ancient Greek forms, and even Greek decorations, are in the world’s history : and we may yet from them and from further researches, such as Schliemann’s, be able to reconstruct the state of things in Greece before the Greeks came from their Eastern homes. The special reason why these inquiries seem to me likely to lead to good result is this, that what is called neo-barbarism is less likely to mislead us here than elsewhere. Neobarbarism means the occurrence in later times of the manners and customs which generally mark very old and primitive times. Some few things of this kind survive everywhere; thus, in the Irish Islands of Arran, a group of famous savants mistook a stone donkey-shed of two years’ standing for the building of an extinct race in grey antiquity : as a matter of fact, the construction had not changed from the oldest type. But the spread of culture, and the fulness of population in the good days of Greece, make it certain that every spot about the thoroughfares was improved and civilised; and so, as I have said, there is less chance here that anywhere of our being deceived into mistaking rudeness for oldness, and raising a modern savage to the dignity of a primaeval man.

But we must not allow speculations to spoil our observations, nor waste the precious moments given us to take in once for all the general outline of the Greek coasts. While the long string of islands, from Melos up to the point of Attica, framed in our view to the right, to the left the great bay of Argolis opened far into the land, making a sort of vista into the Peloponnesus, so that the mountains of Arcadia could be seen far to the west standing out against the setting sun ; for the day was now clearer—the clouds began to break, and let us feel touches of the sun’s heat towards evening. As we passed Hydra, the night began to close about us, and we were obliged to make out the rest of our geography with the aid of a rich full moon.

But these Attic waters, if I may so call them, will be mentioned again and again in the course of our voyage, and need not now be described in detail. The reader will, I think, get the clearest notion of the size of Greece by reflecting upon the time required to sail round the Peloponnesus in a good steamer. The ship in which we made the journey steamed about ten miles an hour. Coming within close range of the coast or Messene, about five o’clock in the morning, we rounded all the headlands, and arrived at the Peiraeus about eleven o’clock the same night. So, then, the Peloponnesus is a small peninsula, but even to an outside view `very large for its size’ ; for the actual climbing up and down of constant mountains, in any land journey from place to place, makes the distance in miles very much greater than the line as the crow flies. If I said that every ordinary distance, as measured on the map, is doubled in the journey, I believe I should be under the mark.

But now most travellers will choose the other route into Greece, that by Brindisi and the Ionian Islands. It is fully as picturesque, in some respects more so, for there is no more beautiful bay than the long fiord leading up to Corinth, which passes Patras, Aegium, Missolonghi, and Itea, the port of Delphi. The Akrokeraunian mountains, which are the first point of the Albanian coast seen by the traveller who stops at the wild Santi Quaranta, the port for Jannina, are also very striking, and no one can forget the charms and beauties of Corfu. I think a market-day in Corfu, with those royal-looking peasant lads, who come clothed in sheepskins from the coast, and spend their day handling knives and revolvers with peculiar interest at the stalls, is among the most picturesque sights in Europe. The lofty mountains of Ithaca and its greater sisters, and then the rich belt of verdure along the east side of Zante—all these features make this journey one of surpassing beauty and interest. Yet notwithstanding all these advantages, there is not the same excitement in first approaching semi-Greek or outlying Greek settlements, and only gradually arriving at the real centres of historic interest. Such at least was the feeling (shared by other observers) which I had in approaching Greece by this more varied route. No traveller, however, is likely to miss either, as it is obviously best to enter by one route and depart by the other, in a voyage not intended to reach beyond Greece. But from what I have said, it may be seen that I prefer to enter by the direct route from Naples, and to leave by the Gulf of Corinth and the Ionian Islands. I trust that ere long arrangements may be made for permitting travellers who cross the isthmus to make an excursion on the way to the Akrokorinthus—the great citadel of Corinth—which they are now compelled to hurry past in the train.

The modern Patras, still a thriving port, is now the main point of contact between Greece and the rest of Europe. For, as a railway has now been opened from Patras to Athens, all the steamers from Brindisi, Venice, and Trieste, put in there, and from thence the stream of travellers proceeds by the new line to the capital. The old plan of steaming up the long fiord to Corinth is abandoned. Not that there is no longer confusion. The railway station at Patras, and that at Athens, are the most curious bear-gardens in which business ever was done. The traveller (I speak of the year of our Lord 1889) used to be in-formed that unless he was there an hour before the time he would not get his luggage weighed and despatched. It is nearly as bad now, for when he comes down from his comfortable hotel to find out what it all means, he finds the whole population of the town in possession of the station. Everybody who has nothing to do gets in the way of those who have; everything is full of noise and confusion.

At last the train steams out of the station, and takes its deliberate way along the coast, through lovely woods of fir-trees, bushes of arbutus and mastic, and the many flowers which stud the earth. And here already the traveller, looking out of the window, can form an idea of the delights of real Greek travel, by which he must understand mounting a mule or pony, and making his way along woody paths, or beside the quiet sea, or up the steep ascent of a rocky defile. Every half-hour the train crosses torrents coming from the mountains, which in flood times colour the sea for some distance with the brilliant brick-red of the clay they carry with them from their banks. The peacock blue of the open sea bounds this red water with a definite line, and the contrast in the bright sun is something very startling. Shallow banks of sand also reflect their pale yellow in many places, so that the brilliancy of this gulf exceeds anything I had ever seen in sea or lake. We pass the sites of Aegion, now Vostitza, once famous as the capital or centre (politically) of the Achaean League, which is surrounded by a magnificent theatre of hills to the south—a prospect to be carefully noted by the passing traveller. We pass Sicyon, the home of Aratus, the great regenerator, the mean destroyer of that League, as you can still read in Plutarch’s fascinating life of the man. But these places, like so many others in Greece, once famous, have now no trace of their greatness left above ground. The day may, however, still come when another Schliemann will unearth the records and fragments of a civilisation distinguished even in Greece for refinement. Sicyon was a famous school of art. Painting and sculpture flourished there, and there was a special school of Sicyon, whose features we can still recognise in extant copies of the famous statues they produced. There is a statue known as the Canon Statue, a model of human proportions, which was the work of the famous Polycleitus of Sicyon, and which we know from various imitations preserved at Rome and elsewhere. But we shall return in due time to Greek sculpture, and will not interrupt our journey at this moment.

All that we have passed through hitherto may be classed under the title of `first impressions.’ The wild northern coast shows us but one inlet, the Gulf of Salona, with a little port of Itea at its head. This was the old highway to ascend to the oracle of Delphi, which we shall approach better from the Boeotian side. The giant Parnassus, rivalled by the snowy Korax on the west, and the lesser Helicon on the east, form the northern bar to our view. But now we strain our eyes to behold the great rock of Corinth, and to invade this, the first great centre of Greek life, which closes the long bay at its easternmost end.

The train only stops a few minutes at New Corinth, and does not allow a glimpse of the splendours which we shall revisit at leisure. And then we pass out towards the Isthmus and its canal, which we cross at a sufficient height to let steamers pass under us, if steamers desire to do so. But when we saw this empty completion of many ancient and modern aspirations, we were only reminded of the two ancient fools who undertook such a work—Xerxes at Mount Athos, and with temporary success ; Nero here, but abortively. So we passed on to the rising country, covered with scattered pines, which leads us up to the Goranean Mountains, a great block which crosses the northern part of the Isthmus diagonally, and forms the real barrier between the Peloponnese and the rest of Greece. The east extremity juts far into the Gulf of Corinth, and the path along the sea there is both narrow and very circuitous. The way followed by the train was the old highway notorious since mythical days for robbers, owing to its being cut along a precipice over the sea, which a few people with stones in their hands could make impracticable from above. There is, indeed, one central pass, which climbs the high mountain, as Professor Grundy assures me, but I suppose he is the only modern man who has made this experience. This is the feature of the Isthmus which makes us wonder at the folly of the Greeks proposing to build a wall across the flat country near the present canal, instead of occupying the mountain, which seems an impregnable fortress, against an attack from the north by land. It was certainly not insuperable, for Epaminondas with his Thebans crossed and recrossed it repeatedly, in spite of the efforts of the Spartans to bar his way. How he accomplished this feat, the jealous Xenophon will not tell us in his Hellenica.

After running round these precipices, sometimes above, sometimes below, the modern road, we descend upon Megara, now a thriving town with a population still proud of their beauty, and where the women, dressed in dull blue and white, are peculiarly attractive. But here I pause, for we shall revisit Eleusis and Salamis again from Athens, and in a different connection. The train from Eleusis brings us with a great and tedious round to the north, through a saddle between Mounts Aegialus and Parnes, to the station at Athens, always full of noise and confusion. Before the train has even reached the outskirts of the platform, it is boarded by numbers of lads soliciting the traveller’s patronage.