I PROPOSE to give you some account of a trip through Greece in a series of talks. I do not know that I have any thing very new or entertaining to offer ; I feel, however, that I may take for granted that you are interested in this journey as friends of myself. It is doubtful whether you would care much to read what I shall tell you in the book of a stranger, but a personal conversation with you may lay some additional claim to your interest. For this reason, too, I shall speak with unabashed frequency in the first person : I have gone through these experiences, and am now telling them to you. There is no disguising the fact ; it is I, and nobody else, though I would like, for the sake of modesty, to hide this I in some misty third person, or spirit him away into the roomy editorial We, if you were not sure to catch me in the act. Sometimes, indeed, I may try to free myself for a moment of this uncomfortable person ; but in general, brazen-faced I shall speak of him with little or no attempt at disguise.
It is not the information, not the statistics, not the so-called hard facts which I propose to give you, but some thing very different. Can I impress upon you this landscape, these hills and valleys with the sunlight in which they softly repose; can I call up the emotions the joy, the serenity, the exaltation in which they are forever steeped ; can I leave with you an image of this modern Greek life as it unfolds to the eye of the tourist in humble but spontaneous reality ; but, most of all, can I therein impart to you in its true mood and coloring some adumbration of that old Greek world on account of which alone modern Greece has chief interest for us to-day? Nothing must be eschewed for the sake of dignity or of conventionality, if I understand your spirit ; we are determined to see, to feel, nay, as far as possible, to live this life as it now rises before us, with the assurance that whatever exist has some right to be, and deserves by the very fact of its existing in the world, to be treated with sympathetic appreciation.
Moreover, I intend to tell you many things which are small and unimportant. But little matters, if they be chosen with some insight, are the true characters by which we may spell out a nation or an age ; small things often most vividly image the greatest deeds, the profoundest thoughts. You know that the keystone of the arch may be a pebble ; the one pithy anecdote may be the concentrated utterance of centuries. And Greece herself is small, very small compared to most countries, but what does she not stand for? Exceeding small she is ; still that is just her gift, to make herself with her smallness the abiding image of what is worthiest and most beautiful in the world’s history. Small things we shall not dispise, when our very theme, Greece herself, is so small.
Nor shall I be very particular about a rigidly consecutive narration. We all of us, I hope shall loiter along the wayside, go and pick in the fields a classical flower, ramble through the ruins, turn about often and look at the mountains and the clouds, stop and wash our faces in a clear running brook, thinking that Pericles or some other great man, or even some god may have clone the same thing in the same place. Like merry children let loose in the meadows on the first day of Spring, we shall wander around this fair Hellas itself the eternal spring of the world going pretty much any whither, without any definite purpose, wherever a flower attracts our attention ; and then we shall return home with the spoils of the journey woven into a many-colored garland. Such a garland I am going to try to weave now ; its string will be my path, stretching through Northern Greece, to Marathon where the struggle between Orient and Occident was decided ; thence to Aulis where the Greek heroes shipped for Troy to recover Helen ; thence to Thebes storied with tragic destinies ; thence to Delphi, home of the God of Light, well-head of prophecy and poesy. Perchance we shall cross the Corinthian Gulf, sweep around the Peloponesos, and return by the Isthmus of Corinth to Athens, whence all of us together at this moment are getting ready to start. But let not too much be promised beforehand, for the way is long and the thread is slender.
It is indeed a slender thread, but on it I intend to string many a gem and many a pearl, if I can find them ; smooth stones and glass beads of very different values shall not be thrown away; all are to be pierced and threaded just as I pick them up on my path. A variegated string it will doubtless be ; reflections, reminiscences, recinato ; men, women, donkeys all strung together, side by side. But on this modern garland you will see, if I dare think of success, many a shape hinting of antique beauty; nay, the whole of it will, I hope, fall into your eyes with the free and joyous undulations of a Greek outline, rounded off into harmonious unity. Kalon taxeibodion God speed you, my hearers, on your journey; as for me, I am safe, but you may have a hard time of it.
After inquiring in vain for a companion who would like to make the tour of Greece with nie on foot, 1 concluded to set out alone. Everybody whom I consulted, particularly the members of the American colony at Athens, were inclined to dissuade me. The reasons alleged against making ‘such a trip were chiefly two:, first, that it was dangerous ; secondly, that the traveler would be subject to great inconveniences. It was said that there were still brigands lurking in the mountains and in covert places ; some people intimated that the entire rural population were always on the point of turning into a temporary state of brigandage. There were even Greeks at Athens who were not free from such apprehensions, and doubtfully shook the head at the proposition of a solitary walk through the provinces. Such are the warnings to be heard at the capital; the result is that very few travelers penetrate into the more remote, yet by all means the most interesting districts of Greece. The unfortunate case of the party of foreign excursionists who were captured by brigands in the year 1870 not far from Marathon is always cited, and still works vividly upon the imagination of both tourist and citizen.
But besides the danger, the representations concerning the state of the roads and the hotels were sufficient to call up the second thought in the mind of the traveler before under-taking such a journey. It is true that there are not many carriage roads in Greece, and that these run between some of the larger towns only ; but mule paths amply plain and broad enough for the pedestrian are to be found leading everywhere. It is also true that there are no hostelries in the rural portions of Greece ; but the hospitality of the citizen takes their place ; even the humblest peasant will share with the traveler his loaf, his wine and his olives. Always I found shelter somewhere ; always too I was greeted, as I entered the rustic cabin, with the friendliest signs of welcome.
These admonitions, however, repeated to me often during a stay of nearly three months at Athens, were not without their influence. I hardly knew whether I had better under-take the trip or not. I did not like the idea of being robbed on the highway, or of being captured by brigands and held for a high ransom which, I felt certain, they would never get. The question of accommodation gave me less trouble ; the food which the peasant could plough on, I knew I could walk on, and the bed which he could sleep on, I could snore on. But I was growing dissatisfied with Athens, not because it was an unpleasant place to live in, but because it was altogether too European, too much of a repetition of the Occident, it was not Greek enough. Much and memorable had there been seen and duly noted: above all, its two glorious temples, still the most perfect remains of antiquity, and to-day the most beautiful architectural efforts of the world. Many an ancient custom had in living reality been caught from the street and the market-place, and had been treasured ; all the famous spots of the antique violet-crowned city had been visited and studiously pondered ; the serene climate, the transparent atmosphere, the happy blue skies had sunk deep within, and, I might hope, had left a lasting image upon the soul. But the chief thing was, that I had made myself sufficiently acquainted with modern Greek to converse with reasonable fluency on any topic that was likely to arise during a trip through the provinces.
Of the tongue spoken by the Greeks of to-day there are two leading dialects. The first is the language of society at Athens, of the newspapers, of the professors at the University, and of the cultivated people generally : it may be called modern Greek. The second is the language of the common people Romaic, as they themselves call it. Modern Greek has a continual tendency to approach ancient Greek, on ac-count of the influence of classical learning. Some of the newspapers the visitor will at once pick up and attempt to read ; he will laugh, for he will see old Xenophon trying to put on European frock and breeches. The effect is at first ludicrous ; the whole print seems like a modern travesty on ancient Greek. Strangely new is the tinge given to old words ; still more strangely new are the compounds made up of old words in order to express the needs and relations of modern life. Railroad, steamboat, constitution–here they all come, peeping with sly mockery out of their Greek masks. A comic masquerade of old Greek forms it seems ; this is the first impression.
But the Romaic or the popular tongue is more interesting, to me at least ; it has that spontaneity which always gushes from the hearts of the people, and which a cultivated language is apt to file away, as being too rude for polished society. It is muddied, you will soon discover, with Turkish and other foreign elements ; still it has turns which will carry you back to old Homer. Moreover, it has a vast body of popular poetry, altogether the most original product of modern Greece.
I felt, therefore, that I had not found at Athens altogether what I had come to Greece in search of. It was a feeling of disappointment, not intense, yet not satisfactory. What it was that I missed, what it was that could not be found there, I was not able to tell then, nor do I know that I am able to tell now.
What had I come to Greece for? Such was the question which now began to insist stoutly upon an answer. Manifestly with some very eager and enthusiastic purpose, yet quite indefinite, very difficult to lay down in words. It was some aspiration following down from youth, some image drawn from Greek classic lore, some dream perchance, sent from above by the gods, through the golden lips of that greatest of terrestial magicians, ancient Homer. It was something or other quite impalpable but very persistent, that is certain an airy shape, fading into indistinctness ; still it never ceased to beckon, and sometimes in unconscious moments to pluck me by the arm, whispering : “Behold, this is not the place, I dwell not here go further, and you will find me.” I could truly answer in skeptical exclamation : What, still further ! I have crossed the ocean, run through Europe with mine eye mainly fixed on that image ; still it beckons me forward after such a chase what if it be but a phantasm? Shall I again follow? Of course I shall, and at once I pack up two shirts and two books, and set out.
Now if the unrestful but happy wanderer were to give you some word or expression by which you might catch at the enticing form always floating before him, he would perchance say, it is the image of Helen. He is in pursuit of Helen; her above all human and divine personalities he desires to behold, even speak with face to face, and possibly to possess. But who is Helen? You are aware that on her ac-count the Trojan war was fought, that all Greece when she was stolen mustered a vast armament and heroically struggled ten years for her recovery, and did recover her and bring her back to her native land. Nor is the legend wanting that she is still there in her Grecian home, just the blooming bride who was once led away by the youthful Menelaos to the shining palace of Sparta. So the wanderer is going to have his Iliad too an Iliad not fought and sung, but walked and perchance dreamed, for the possession of Helen the most beautiful woman of Greece, nay, the most beautiful woman of the world. There she stands in the soft moonlight of fable, statue-like, just before the entrance to the temple of History. Thither the cloudy image, rapidly growing more distinct and more persistent, beckons and points.
It is likely that you will now be inclined to ask concerning the material equipment for such an expedition. Of external things, the less you have, the better. One change of under-wear in a water-proof knapsack I advise, since you are certain of being overtaken by showers during the winter and spring and these are the only seasons possible for traveling afoot in Greece. Your body must be thoroughly trained to the use of water in large quantities continuously applied ; rains will descend, heavy and protracted, and there are no friendly houses standing at short intervals along the roadthe peasants are collected into villages which are usually hours apart ; nor is there the hospitable tree with wide-spreading branches to shelter you, for in our American sense of the word, trees do not exist in Greece except in a few remote provinces. One india-rubber drinking-cup which you can double up and put in your pocket, do not forget ; it should have a long string attached so that you can let it down into a well or cavernous spring. Two good maps an ancient and a modern one are very necessary. Take an additional pair of shoes, if you can carry them ; for of all countries Greece is the hardest on shoes. It was with the greatest difficulty that I succeeded in keeping myself shod, as I traveled over its rocky pathways.
In regard to the inner equipment, the spiritual outfit of the man, just the opposite principle holds true the more ou bring along, the better. The more you take with you the more you will be likely to bring back ; indeed it may be said in this respect that unless you carry a good deal along, you will fetch but little back. What shall be said of the geography of Greece from the Homeric catalogue to the traveler, Pausanias? You can not afford to leave behind the mythology, history, poetry ; here along our path, under our very feet they sprang into life and took on their beautiful forms ; here is the vase, but you must furnish the wine. Every spot is full, provided you bring the fullness with you. But the chief requisite for the traveler in Greece is, in my judgment, a deep and passionate longing to see Helen already mentioned. With her image hovering before him, he leaps through the valleys and skims over the mountain tops sandal-winged ; the old poetic world rises up before his eyes, robed in its native colors and enchased in the setting of Nature in which it came into existence.
Still you must not think, from these driving fancies, that the benefits of the Greek trip are purely imaginary. Here too prevails that law which is the law of the whole spiritual world–a law which was once expressed by a very high authority in this paradoxical fashion : ” Unto him that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” From him that hath absolutely no classical knowledge or no Greek enthusiasm, shall be taken away all pleasures of travel, all comprehension of the Hellenic world ; out of his presence will flee all those joyous images which sweetly lend their company to the true-hearted traveler. In their stead the grouty tourist will notice only crops of stones on his path which will make him swear on account of their bruising his feet ; he will behold only petticoated men wearing fustanellas which will degrade his lofty notion of the dignity of his own sex ; he will see only bare-legged women washing at the fountain which will give a strong shock to his innate modesty. Alas, he will cry, where is that Greek ideal, about which somebody said to somebody else who told me that it was the highest type of beauty? What monstrous liars are these Greeks, any how, both ancient and modern ! Then he will go home and write his book. But that other person, so different, who feels no inner calling to be uncomfortable himself or to make all posterity uncomfortable with his discomforts care-fully set down in writing, who has in his soul some trace of the genuine Greek mood together with some knowledge of the old Greek world, who is filled with an undying love of its beauty and with a genuine enthusiasm in its pursuit what will he not see ?he will see Helen, or at least he will catch many a new and more distinct glimpse of her.
I felt, therefore, that I must go, notwithstanding the good-natured admonitions of friends, and I concluded to set out alone and afoot. These were the two qualifications for the journey: absence of a companion and possession of a pair of good walking legs. The lack of an associate I at first regretted, but I soon came to believe that this supposed misfortune was a special blessing sent from above against my will by the Gods. For one man will be taken in, when two men will be turned away; two men are company for each other, one man must find his company among the people. Folks are more inclined to talk to one man, whereas they will usually pass by two. Besides, there is the inestimable liberty of going and staying where and when you please, with-out having to compromise with a companion who is likely to have different tastes from yourself. As to brigands, I felt somewhat skittish, I confess ; but I resolved to proceed with reasonable precaution, and if matters began to look squally, I would put pack toward Athens with decent precipitation.
It was on a bright sunny morning Jan. 28th, 1879, is the exact date that I started, and with a brisk walk passed up the Kephissia road which leads to Mount Pentelicus, the first stopping point in my destined course. The crests of the mountain rise hooded with clouds in the distance before me, while the Monastery of Penteli lies nestled in secrecy under the summits. Recollect, it is mid winter, yet the mild and bracing air has in it nothing severe or inclement. But that sun of all countries on earth, the sun is most near and dear to Greece. When it passes under a cloud at this season, a chill, raw wind springs up, the temperature sinks rapidly, the landscape is darkened into gloom, and man falls out of the happiest mood into despondency, or is assailed with a feeling of general wretchedness. Never have I been jerked through such rapid changes of spirits by physical mutations as during my stay at Athens. But this morning Helius has risen up in full splendor, while the frosty but genial air lifts the body from the earth and bears it along on light-some wings.
It is quite impossible, I know, to transfer to the vision of a listener, scenes of detail ; but I beg you take my eyes now and look about yourselves as you pass out that Kephissia road with me slightly to the northeast. Yonder on the right lies Mount Hymettus, rounded off to a beautiful swell along the horizon ; through the transparent air that lies between, reach out your hand ; you will be surprised that you do not touch it. The top of its ridge is thrown into a wavy line against the mild blue sky ; on that line far up there, as if in the paths of the Gods, you would fain move with stately tread, to be seen of all the world below. Treacherously near does the mountain seem, distant not more than a good morning walk ; but it will take you the better part of the day to reach the summit of that ridge and return to the city. I know it, for I walked out there once before breakfast ; noon-day swept over my head in a chariot of fire and watered his steeds in the sea ere I got my supper. Of all the mountains in Attica, Hymettus will grow most dear to you ; there is a honeyed caress in its look as it lies up yonder in the sun-beams ; then it is never out of view, it is always hanging over you with its smiles. Nor will a close acquaintance lessen its charms ; whole days have I wandered over it alone, without feeling solitariness or fatigue. To-day, however, we shall not go there.
Look now to the left ; here is Mount Lycabettus, at whose foot the road winds along, and whose rather abrupt peak rises up over the city. Its summit and slopes must in antiquity have been covered with statues and colonnades, gymnasiums and temples ; now the whole mountain is almost bare, though the modern city is beginning to creep up its sides. On its top is a small Byzantine chapel inhabited by a solitary monk, who lives from the alms of the believers who toil up to the summit, nor will he refuse the pence of the unbeliever. As you saunter along the road below in full Greek mood, you will look up and behold the far-shining columns with frieze and pediment that once lay in sunny re-pose on the hillside ; a forest of glistening marble springs from the slant, and robes the entire mountain in the white folds of beauty. Nor will you fail to see in this neighborhood the Cynosarges and Lyceum, famous haunts of philosophers, for here Thought too built her most enduring temple, and from this spot went forth to conquer the world. The groves of plane-trees, the shady walks, the youths wrestling in the palestra, Aristotle walking amid a group of eager disciples and talking of the highest themes, you must bring along with you, for they are not here now. But the river Ilissus is here, just at the road-side ; yet it is no river, not even a respectable brook ; in the summer it is entirely dry, and in the rainy season, as at present, it often has no water. As I go down into its bed, and walk up its pebbly bottom, I can not find water enough in it to wash my hands. Yet the Ilissus is a far more famous river than our Mississippi, and will probably remain so ; its name has been forever preserved by beauty in the transparent amber of ancient literature. No such amber has yet been found on the banks of the turbid Father of Waters, notwithstanding his color.
A similar fact we shall notice everywhere here with deep marvel and questioning : all things seem physically small in comparison to their fame and influence. Can it be, then, that spiritual power is submerged and lost in bulk? Streams are small, mountains are not large, towns are small and were so in antiquity, Greece itself is hardly more than some American counties, Athens in her palmiest days had scarcely half the inhabitants of the city of St. Louis, even according to the last census. It is the nature of all things Grecian, that they seem to be characters in which, though small, we are able to read the Universe. Though the types be little, in them can be seen all, just as well as if they were large. Strange it is that, in the intellectual culture of the world, this small country has played the most important part: more important than Rome, more important than even Judea. Still more strange is this fact, that its influence is increasing to-day, while all other ancient influences are relatively declining. Why is it thus ?why is it thus? we ask ourselves trudging along up this famous little waterless river of Ilissus. The question will often recur in our journey; it is indeed the question for which a Greek journey may well be under-taken ; with the right answer to it, much else in this world will be answered.
But turn around now and take a final good look at the city, before we pass the spur of Lycabettus, when it will disappear behind the mountain. While we have been going on the road, often I have turned about and looked back, though I could not tell you so. The palace of King Otho lies yonder on a rising knoll ; it is a rather heavy, unwieldy thing, manifestly set down into this light climate from a Northern fog ; no genuine Greek brain could ever have conceived that edifice. It is the work of a German architect an honest work, one may truly say, but ponderously prosy. Then there are palatial residences, built in the latest French style, such as are going up at this moment in the new streets of Paris ; stucco and paint on the outside, common brick on the inside ; trying their best to look like solid marble with a sort of Parisian grace, trying to seem what they are not a sham, architectural lie.
Do you know where is all this unhappy building? Right in the presence of the Parthenon. Raise your eyes now out of the German fog and the French glitter ; on yonder summit in the background of your view stands the supreme structure of the world. It looks down upon its city with a joyous, tender glance as a mother leans over her babe and smiles. For twenty-three centuries the Parthenon has stood upon that height, raying its beauty into the world ; still it is as happy as on the day it was finished. Robbed by barbarians, battered by cannon, blown up with gunpowder, it is yet the temple of the Goddess Pallas Athena who looks out between its columns with delighted pride and majesty upon her favorite land. It is wonderful how such a shattered building gives a sense of hormony and perfection. The central columns on both sides have been blasted outwards, yet the unmatched unity of the building, even when seen from the sides, is pre-served for the eye and the feeling. As long as a single drum of a column is preserved, its beauty will remain ; for the fragment bears the image of the whole work. The emotion which this edifice calls forth can not be told, for it is an emotion ; you are caught up and absorbed, as it were, into a new sense of harmony, so that if there be any music in you, it will be-gin playing. You, life, the world turn harmonious in its glance ; strife, discord, anxiety are banished in this new attunement of the soul. I should say, if there ever was a song in stone, an architectural hymn of joy and hope, there it is ; listen to it, let us catch the note and carry it with us through the entire Greek journey.
But those old Greeks were heathens Pericles, the Statesman who caused the temple to be built and supplied the means ; Ictinus the Architect, who can make a marble column dance with the grace and gayety of a Greek maiden in the chorus at a festival; Phidias the Sculptor who, according to the Greek epigram, actually went to Olympus and brought down its deities and set them up in the pediment of the temple all these men were heathens, living in the time of the false and lying Gods. Still I confess I would like to have lived with them for a while, long enough at least to find out whether the utterance be true which speaks from all their works, that man then was the most harmonious being that he has yet been upon our planet, so far as he has left a record of himself.
Now we must pass on, unwillingly yet with hope, since there is an absolute certainly, if clouds do not thwart, that we shall see the Parthenon again from new points of view ; it is the most prominent object in Athens, in all Attica, visible, some say, at a distance of forty miles in clear weather. From every point of the landscape the look moves to it as the center of radiance, and it throws out its smiles in return, scattering them in golden profusion over the plains down to the seas and up to the tops of the mountains.
The eye drops into the road away from the Parthenon, it beholds the Albanian peasant bringing brushwood to the city. He has with him two donkeys and two women ; the bundles of twigs are strapped over the backs of the donkeys in a balance like a pair of saddle bags ; the women stoop obediently under their burden of faggots which is also strapped to their shoulders ; while the lord of creation walks alongside, proudly erect, with majestic stride, but without any burden. There is a look of wild half-civilized independence in his bearing ; his eye drops suspiciously, if you glance at him closely. His linen kilt and white leggins are deeply tinged with overmuch usage ; out of a belted pouch lashed about his waist peer forth the handle of a long knife and a horse pistol_ It is manifest that the women have the worst of the bargain of life in the case before us, their lot is worse than that of the donkeys, for these have the advantage of not being compelled to stoop in bearing their burdens.
Look and let them pass ; here comes another group, men and mules laden with green herbs. A mule brushes me with its stores, when I am greeted with a delightful fragrance. Already I had frequently experienced the same pleasurable sensation on my way to and from Hymettus. Certainly neither the man nor the mule gave forth that pleasant odor ; it must be the herb. What is it, and for what is it used? I learn that it is a plant of no less fame than the much-sung bucolic thyme which smells so sweet out of the idyls of Theocritus. It grows in abundance on the spurs of Hymettus, and is employed in the kitchen to give its aromatic virtue to cooked meats. Such is indeed the difference between then and now : anciently thyme was taken by the poet to sweeten his verses with delicious fragrance ; now it is used by the cook to flavor a beefsteak.
The city has already passed out of view, still there is on the right hand the cheerful company of Hymettus, famous for its honey, home of the Attic bee. Again note that undulating sky-line, and imagine yourself moving along it to the highest swell and standing there in solitary Olympian majesty. Every point has become familiar to the eye, I may say, friendly. For it is possible to have a deep and lasting friend-ship for the mountain ; it is not fickle, it always gives you the same joyous look, and subtle nod of the head. It lies there in the sun so calm, so gracious, with such a soft light sweep in its outline that it may truly lay claim to a plastic shape. A thin haze casts over it a slight veil of blue and gold, without hiding in the least its form, but heightening its characteristic points by mild touches of color. A few miles to the left lies its Attic companion Parties, snow-capped; but the white garment disappears about half-way down the side of the mountain ; you may say, that the old slumberer has put on his robes of repose for a good long sleep during the winter night.
I leave the road and pass into the adjoining field in search of a ruin ; an ancient aqueduct could not have been far from here. Through the field I go into a vineyard ; peasants are at work trimming the vines for the joyous nectar of the coming autumn. A group of them see me, and stop their work, looking spitefully ; one of them yells at me, saying : ” Get out of here the road was made to walk in.” The salutation I thought a little rude, though I felt myself to be a trespasser. I had already experienced in Italy how jealous the peasants were of strangers walking through their vineyards, especially when the grapes were ripe. I shall not soon forget the hearty good-will with which an Italian peasant answered me once when I was taking a tramp through the country near Frascati. I asked him about the way to the nearest village, when he said, pointing to a path through the grape vines : ” This way is nearest, but don’t take it, for the peasants will think you are a grape-thief and give you a bastonata. Go round by the public road,” and I did not hesitate to follow his advice.
In the present case, however, I turned aside from my course, and marched strait up to the group, asking, perhaps a little tartly : What are you shouting at me in this way for ? What do you want? The peasant who had called out, observing my foreign accent and dress, as well as my manner perhaps, made a lunge, without saying a word in reply, to-ward an immense wooden canteen, uncorked it and held it to my lips. It was a peace-offering of remarkable power, as well as a sign of hospitable welcome. My slightly ruffled feelings calmed in a moment ; I accepted the token with the deepest draughts of gratitude. I admired that humble peas-ant’s profound knowledge of human nature.
After the fluid had ceased its pleasant gurgle, and eternal friendship had been pledged, the peasants began to quiz me about my nationality. Are you a Frenchman? No. German? No. Englishman? No, by Jove. Thus they quite went through the catalogue of nations, I provoking them al-ways to guess again. But they were unable to classify the dubious specimen before them, and at last I told them that I was an American. At this word an old man, with a bright red fez slouched on his head, and wearing a remarkably clean shirt, who had hitherto been silent, came forward, and shook me heartily by the hand, saying : ” The Americans and the Greeks are brothers ! ” I looked at him, and was suspecting that this sudden burst of fraternal affection proceeded from the recinato ; but I answered him, affirming with warmth the same sentiment, for I felt no less brotherly than he did myself.
The old man then recounted how shiploads of clothing and provisions came from that distant America, as it were from another world, during the dark hours of the Greek Revolution ; he stated, if I understood him aright, that he was then a soldier and was saved from starvation by the timely arrival of the ship ; he added the fact, no doubt important to him, that potatoes were then for the first time introduced into Greece. Thus he spake, and with decided emotion. What could I do under the circumstances, but drink to the freedom and prosperity of Greece? It would have been ungrateful not to have done so, according to all laws of good fellowship and patriotism. Therefore a hearty bumper to fair Hellas was swallowed, when he in return drank a handsome toast to America, which of course had to be answered. After a pleasant interchange of good wishes, I prepared to start, for that image suddenly flitted before me toward Pentelicus, disappearing with a wave of the hand into the clouds. Yet not without a final bumper to the company did I break away, skipping off in happy mood, and taking the friendly conduct of these simple countrymen as a good omen of my future journey. Yes, I can truly affirm that I went in better mood than I came.
I believe that this affection for our country among the Greeks is genuine. Everywhere I received more friendly attention when I announced my native land. I know that M.
About, with his accustomed satirical scoff at all things Grecian, would have us believe that the wily Greek flatters all nationalities in the same manner, that he is thoroughly insincere and mercenary in his friendships. I can only say, such was not my experience. But it is my emphatic experience that M. About in his book on Greece is more desirous of pointing his epigrams than of telling the truth. I found a very discriminating good-will for the different European nations even among Greek peasants. Unquestionably the people have the most affection for France, because France, of all the Great Powers, has shown for Greece the most disinterested friendship. Also the Greeks and the French have not a few traits in common and those traits among the noblest of Human Nature. One may be mentioned: that aspiration after an ideal, above all a political ideal which shall bring unity to nations, and secure to man freedom and social happiness.
On the other hand there can be little doubt that the Greek has at the present time (the period of the Disraeli ministry) small affection for the English. The reason is manifest: England’s diplomacy in the East has sacrificed the Greek race on the ground of supposed English interests. Turkey is thought to be the sole bulwark against Russia, and Turkey must be sustained. So the Greek lamb has been thrown to the Turkish jackal. No person will blame the Greeks for their dislike of England ; no candid Englishman will blame them.
Threading my way through the vineyard, I came to the small village of Chalandri. The church is the most important edifice of the village ; next to the church is the wine-shop, which is the only house open to the stranger as a resort or resting-place. All the dwellings are walled in, and seem to be hermetically sealed ; there is no friendly opening of porches and of doors toward the street, as in an American town. The domestic abode turns away from the outside world which is suspected and repelled ; one walks through the lonely streets enlivened nowhere by children at play or by housewives sewing at the front door ; he feels as if shunned and rejected by his kind, condemned beforehand by some unjust suspicion. Oriental seclusion of the Family is suggested, perhaps too readily, to the mind of the traveler.
The wineshop has the only open door or window in the town ; there I enter. It has no floor ; good mother Earth takes my wearied feet upon her bare bosom. There is no ceiling overhead to hide the naked rafters which give sup-port on the outside to the boards on which the tiles are laid. The place has rather a dark, cave-like appearance, forbid-ding, I should say, were it not for the huge hogsheads which are disposed in a long row on one side of the room, and which contains infinite joys. My hearers will probably think that I had learned enough for one day about the Greek wine-god ; but the thirst for knowledge of Greek divinity was not yet stilled. At my call the youth in attendance brought a clear yellow fluid with a slight sparkle, for which he charged me at the rate of one cent a glass.
In passing, it may be remarked that this is a fixed price for many articles in Greece one cent. You pay for a cup of coffee one cent; I could not judge of its quality, for I never drink coffee ; you pay one cent for a glass of wine, often excellent, though it be recinato ; one cent for a glykisma or sweetmeat, one cent for a raki, one cent for a masticha. These last two are distilled liquors of which the traveler will frequently be called upon to partake, as they belong to good cheer and hospitality. Of course they are like alcohol the world over when taken to excess : soul-corrupting, body-destroying. Cheap, antedeluvian prices still prevail in the rural districts. I recollect that a merchant of Arachova sold me a cent’s worth of thread, required on ac-count of the secession of sundry refractory buttons ; the generous shop-keeper threw into the bargain a glykisma or fine titbit, and when I offered him an additional cent, he claimed that his profits were sufficient without it.
I must now make you more fully acquainted with a merry companion, who will accompany us throughout our Greek tour and furnish us many a happy moment : his name is Recinato. Everywhere along the road he is to be met with ; you will find him in the humblest hut of the peasant, where he takes his place at the hearth in the evening with the guests, lighting up the dark abode with unaccountable flashes. I confess that I was at first shocked by his peculiarities, but when I became used to them, I rather liked him the better for them. He is emphatically Greek, inspires the Greek mood, has within him the Greek exhilaration ; Greek subtlety he possesses too, a sly way of creeping upon you with his flattering caresses ere you be fully aware of his presence. Hardly is he to be met with outside of Greece, but here he reigns without a rival in his particular sphere ; indeed Greece would not be Greece without him. Strangers often complain of his bad taste; but why dispute about tastes? Faithful to the last degree, in an eternal flow of high spirits, always bubbling over with merriment such is our jolly rustic Greek companion, Recinato, that is Resinate or resined wine, whom we shall never fail to celebrate with many feelings of gratitude. Do not forget his name he will be often alluded to. Dropping now his personality, I may state that this wine is prepared by adding a crude resinous substance to the juice of the grape at a certain stage of fermentation. Along the road the gum can be seen issuing from the pine-trees which have been chipped for this purpose. The taste of the wine becomes like the taste of pitch, or, as some say, of sealing-wax. At the first effort to drink this wine nature revolts, sometimes revolutionizes ; only after much preliminary training and chastising does the rebellious palate suffer this fluid to pass its portal. As it was my rule to eat and drink, or learn to eat and drink what the people of the countries I visited ate and drank, I began with recinato shortly after my arrival at Athens. In two or three weeks I no longer noticed the pitchy taste in the wine, except by a special effort. Other kinds of wines are obtainable in the city, but in the country nothing else but recinato is to be found ; hence the necessity of a previous training to this drink, if one wishes to travel in the provinces, for he can not do it on water. The reasons given for treating wine in this way were two mainly : to pre-serve it from spoiling in the hot climate of Greece, and to make it more healthy. The ancients also had this method of treating wine, as appears from Pliny. Such is our friend Recinato, merrily hailing us at every village and sometimes along the road ; such too is his abode, the wineshop, called in the dialect of the people Magazi the most important house, after the church, in a Greek village.
This is an Albanian town, and the youth at the bar informs me that here within five miles of classic Athens, Albanian is eht language of the inhabitants. But let there be no further delay ; rest and refreshment have attached fresh wings to the body, the pedestrian will fly into the street, bound for Pentelicus, now rising up cloud-wrapped before him in real clouds, I mean, and not in wine-fumes, as you might suppose. Women in their white smocks not a night dress here dart shyly through the streets without looking at him, or take special pains to glance in the opposite direction while he is passing. Folded over their forehead above, and over their chin and mouth below, is a linen covering, intended to hide the grateful portion of the face from the curious eye of the male. The enlightened traveler will again curse the custom as a relic of Oriental seclusion of women. They are mostly stockingless, their bare feet are slipped into a sort of loose sandal ; over the smock is sometimes worn a white woolen cloak. On the whole they seem lightly clad for mid-winter ; but their white forms moving along in the distance through the clear mild air give a joyous Greek impression to the landscape, as if it were dotted with living statuary.
Here comes a maiden, on her shoulder bearing water to the village from the spring in a vessel like the ancient amphora. She turns out of the road, looks away from me, and adjusts more closely the wrappage around her chin and forehead; still I peer into her face. Wild irregular features I caught a glimpse of, burnt to dark brown by the sun of the plain. It is manifest from this and other glimpses that Helen is not here at Chalandri, nor is she to be found among the Albanian race. These people, usually considered of Slavic origin, are said to have come into Greece at various times during the Middle Ages, and they still preserve unmixed their blood, their language, their customs, and their physical characteristics.
Thus one trudges forward, leaving the houses behind, and passing by the spring, from which the maiden came who was carrying water to the village. Washers too are here, women with large undraped limbs, standing in the cold stream snow-fed from the mountains ; there they twist and writhe in deadly conflict with soiled garments. A momentary glance the traveler will east at them for the sake of antique, and then modestly turn away. Something else is calling which must be followed ; a good road leading directly up to Pentelicus will not permit him to stray from his goal.
Into this road let us enter, a brook with a most pleasant babble meets us, and keeps us company, having flowed all the way down from Pentelicus for this special purpose, as we may believe, for it never deviates a moment from the side of the road where we are walking. There is a Greek mood in its transparent merry flow ; one feels eager to trace it to its very source and there imbibe of the happy waters to see if he may not be able to catch the secret of its eternal joys. Two peasants one comes upon, stretched along its bank asleep on the stones, without the protection of bush or passing cloud ; their mule is turned loose in the fields. This natural way of taking repose is reposeful even to others ; their sleep is as refreshing to the beholder as to themselves.
Now I beg you, bring before the mind’s eye the pedestrian as he not very rapidly winds up the ascending road; in one hand he holds a staff, in the other a small bundle tied together by a strap ; he steps lightly through the air, though his wings be but the flaps of his mantle playing in the stiff north-west wind. Often he turns around and stands, glancing at the ranges of mountains which bound the horizon at many different distances ; at last he will stop and sit on a stone, looking with a long stare full of wonder and delight at the golden sport off yonder between the clouds, the peaks, and the sunbeams. Peer into his face; whatever else you may say about him, good and bad, you will say, that now he is happy. So I imagine, every other human being would be, were he alone and afoot, going up Pentelicus this hour.
What a harmonious day, he is continually repeating to him-self, a truly musical day in which all the elements of Nature are joined in sweet concordant strains with the soul! It is a day which the old Greek artist would set to music in a poem, in a statue, in a temple. The sun comes out warmly, but the wind from the snows of the northern mountains brings along the spurring freshness of the season and never suffers the energies to droop from their full yet easy tension. With the rays cut off by a passing cloud, Boreas has no modifier and may become a little rough but this discordant note lasts but a moment, and then heightens by contrast the out-pouring harmony of the returning sunbeams. The summits line after line swoon away in the distance into a blue etherial dream; far off to the left they sink down into the sea whose hazy purple can be dimly discerned holding in tender em-brace its azure-girdled nymphs, the islands, fairest of whom, you will say, is Salamis, with a thin blue veil over her form floating on the waters. No thought of peril from brigands introduces a jarring moment into the melodious hours but another danger has arisen worse than brigands : that plain, heavy-shod pedestrian is positively in danger of turning sentimental. Who would have expected that of the hard-headed son of Utility?
But let him run his course, there is no curbing him now upon this spot, since his and our main occupation here as elsewhere in Greece is to fill these deserted fields with the forms of the Past ; for all this nature through which we move is but a frame holding an ancient picture, now quite invisible from accumulated dust and mould ; yet if we rub it with some patience, shining faces will come to light, of divine power and beauty. You white cloud still wraps the top of Pentelicus, who refuses to uncover and salute the stranger approaching ; but below on the side of the mountain can be seen large white spots which are not clouds. They are the old quarries of Pentelic marble, some of which have again been opened in recent times ; King Otho’s palace, for instance, was built of this marble. Thus the quarries lie there, glancing afar the bright eyes of the mountain you may call them, through glistening tears begging to be made again into forms of beauty. Nay, the whole Pentelic range lies there, a thing of nature waiting for a new transformation for a regeneration out of nature into being a thing of spirit, that it may thus reach the highest end of its existence.
The wonderful works of Athenian Art-temples, public buildings, thousands of statues and monuments found their material in this mountain. About the middle of the fifth century B. C. the activity here must have been at its height, though it continued, doubtless, for ages. At that period the Athenians must: have been quarrying marble for the Parthenon, the erection of which had been resolved on. Along the this road, over these fields, what a busy throng ! The teamsters with their vehicles in a line quite extending to Athens ; the workmen of all kinds, the overseers, the architects up to their central figure, Ictinus here they all come and go with incessant din, sometimes not without conflict, and always with great outpouring of Attic volubility. Nor will the traveler, growing thirsty and hot with the long and high-strained quest, forget the wineshops, which then marked every turn of the road, with merry publicans dispensing the joyous nectar, without which, as a very foundation, the temple of Pallas Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, could not have been built.
But with the physical eye no human being is now visible along the way ; no wagons, heavy-laden with blocks of marble pass you ; all is silent, deserted, and white as the grave-yard. You have to bring your people with you, and all your objects down to the ox-cart; your winehouse, too, has to be supplied by the imagination. As you go through the fields, your foot will, perchance, stumble against a stone ; you will pick it up and nick the edge of it ; observe that it is a very old remnant of a piece of marble, in fact, a chip from a block. So you may put on this spot a workshop of Phidias where the material of his statues was dressed in the rough. As you look sympathetically at the fresh break with its crystalline grain, it sparkles and smiles right in your eyes, like a broken Greek satyr laughing in its fragments.
But after all, the most interesting figure whom you can see flitting mid these solitudes of stone is Socrates, the Attic philosopher, at the time of the building of this temple not a philosopher but a young sculptor, hunting here for good blocks of marble, out of which to make his group of the Three Graces. Long afterwards this work of his could be seen in the Acropolis ; of its artistic merit nothing can now be definitely affirmed. But behold him, the mighty, heaven-compelling ghost, for the sake of that which he is to become ! In outward appearance he seems to pay little attention to the Graces ; wrapped in the careless folds of his himation or blanket, in low sandals or possibly bare-footed the pug-nosed Greek shuffles along, scenting some far-off modern world, yet quite unconscious that he is to begin the revolution which will not only break to pieces the Three Graces, but hurl down all the Gods of Olympus. So in the very bloom of things is the germ of their decay : here with Phidias the great revealer of the Gods, moves Socrates having in his head the ripening thought which is to destroy them.
Thus the rock underfoot still glistens with graceful smiles ; the huge boulder will show its origin by its capricious seams ; the bed of the brook is marked in its zigzag course through the fields by a line of white glancing pebbles. Every stone speaks, and points up to Pentelicus, declaring that it is still full of harmony, full of Parthenons, if the man were only here to make it give forth its treasures. In its night lies the most beautiful of Goddesses, the sleeping Venus, she that once was awake in the old Greek world ;who will rouse her again? In its depths sits still the Olympian Jupiter, the God who hurled the dark brood of Titans into gloomy Tartarus, but has now in his turn been imprisoned by ancient Chaos in adamantine fetters where is the Phidias to release him and bring him forth to sunlight once more? In the olden time these rude Pentelic blocks were transported to Athens, where they found breath ; and men there were able to make them give forth the highest utterances. Of all the great deeds of Athens one is inclined to set this down as the greatest : that for a time it seemed to make this whole Pentelicus, rough chaotic mountain, leap into temples, into the forms of Great Men, Heroes, and Gods. But the man is certainly not here now who can do this ; Pentelicus, though, is here, silent, in expectancy ; but it vails its summit in a white cloud, out of shame perhaps, unwilling to look upon even that solitary pedestrian who is now loitering up its side not far from the cloud-line, into which, you doubtless think, he has already entered.
But he has not, I affirm ; he still can see and can be seen distinctly with a good pair of eyes, though it may now be necessary to strain them just a little for a moment to meet an unaccustomed demand upon them. Look upward, then, once more to those quarries ; the earth is slightly moving and has laid bare its milky bosom. They rise innumerable sculptured forms they spring out of the sides of the mountain and hurry past towards the city. One by one, in silent glimmering procession down the slope they move, or at times by groups they march ; each is wearing some mighty thought in his shape, or is filled with some mighty deed. One would like to question them as they sweep by in Olympian majesty, in Bacchantic joy, in Niobean sorrow, but thousands on thousands they hasten bent on their weighty errand. The plain below is now full of their white shapes, they line the hills, they reach to the shores of the sea; still they are moving forth from rocky beds of Pentelicus.
But listen! What sound is that? It echoes through the little vale, it creeps down the slant of the mountain, and spreads far and faintly over the plain. But with its vibrations that whole army of bright plastic shapes is swept away, and disappears into thin air, like a vast throng of sheeted ghosts. Only the empty slopes and the naked fields can now be seen, but the sound continues. There ! it smites the sides of Pentelicus again rudely, as if to drive off the demonic powers : what is it? It is the bell Monastery of Penteli ; before the edifice we are now standing, on firm ground, it may be hoped. But with the stroke of that bell we drop through 2000 years into a new world ; the beautiful Greek life, smitten by the keen sound, vanishes into a dream ; in-stead of the white folds of some sweet nymph sporting over the summits or wading in the brook, yonder in the landscape moves a dark shape it is a Greek monk, with melancholy stole swashing about his legs as he hurries to his prayers. It is indeed a new world, and we have to confess to the truth of that later medieval legend which affirmed that the ringing of the bell of church or cloister had the power of putting to flight the old Gods. But we belong to our own time, let us enter the Monastery.