Page images

and answering at once to them all, he perform both those blessed tasks, so drew his sword, and pointed with it to help me, Heaven! And I will live for the Hellenic flag, which had just been you till you no longer shall require my unfurled.

life, and then will I die for my dear “ It is well,” said Vasili, who under- country.” stood his meaning,“ since you are thus And faithfully did Floros keep his devoted to our country's cause, we solemn resolution from that hour ; no accept your services, Rayah Petros, lover, watching in the midst of peril and you shall share our doubtful over his new-made bride, could have fate!"

rivalled him in the unremitting care But as he spoke, an ironical smile and tenderness with which he minis. passed over his lips, as he thought tered to that old man, and all the arhow easily the last spark of life would dour at once of his youth and patriotbe extinguished in that aged breast. ism seemed to have subsided into the Floros, meanwhile, who had looked calm, holy obedience with which he almost in terror on the feeble, infirm performed the task he had appointed old man, self-doomed to speedy des- to himself. truction from that hour, now mur- It had been arranged, as it was now mured, as he yielded to his embrace- absolutely necessary that the Philel

“My mother-my poor, forsaken lenists should hurry on to Messalonghi mother!"

without delay, that they should merely There was a mild reproach in these land Lester and Cyllene at Argos, and words, which seemed to sink deep into then proceed onwards; while the Eng. the heart of the zealous patriot, for he lishman proposed to deliver up his bent down before his son almost in an young charge to her mother, and then attitude of humility, unfitting in a fa- follow them in the first Greek vessel ther. Floros, who, brave and ardent which should leave Nauplia. as he was, had as gentle a spirit as The Englishman found, to his great ever was called on to struggle through regret, on disembarking at this place this rough world, at once forbore to with the young slave, that he must seutter another word which might pain parate from Manouk, whom Vasili still him, but he mournfully exclaimed- considered as his prisoner, and would

“ And you, too-oh! my father, not consent to lose sight of. He must this be? Have we not been feed- had no reason, however, to think that ing death with all our best and dear- he should require his services. The est ? Must I now see you, too, come aged mother of Cyllene had told him to be his voluntary prey ?_must you, that she would now take up her abode in your last declining years, reap only as near as possible to the chapel of St. strife and torture from all the seeds Sophia, on Mount Chaon, in order you have sown in toil and labour that, night and day, she might supthrough your life? Let me, indeed, plicate before its altar for the success go forth to combat and to die ; but of his enterprise. The distance from surely rest and peace are your just Nauplia to this spot is by no means portion now ?”

great, and it was soon performed at The feeble old man would only an- the steady, rapid pace of the camel, swer by raising his head, and looking which was the usual mode of convey. on him with a firm and resolute coun- ance in those days, and the sun had tenance, which spoke of the most stern not yet set when Lester and Cyllene determination. Floros sighed deeply, reached the church. but attempted no further opposition. This little chapel is one of the most He stretched out his hand over his interesting in Greece. It is placed at father's bent and palsied frame- a considerable height on the mountain

“ I take heaven to witness," he said, side, and built in the interior of a looking up, " that the life which you

cavern, which formerly was dedicated have given me I now restore; till to Bacchus, so that in the ancient mine is spent, no violence shall extin- niches, where the votive offerings to guish yours; the youth and strength the Heathen deity were placed, the which time has stolen from you, shall sacred symbols of the Christian faith be replaced by mine. I gave myself are now displayed. to Greece, but a higher and holier The Englishman left the young claim is before me now; yet will I Greek kneeling on the altar steps, in

the act of uttering a fervent thanks- ble for her reason, but to all his exgiving for her deliverance, while he postulations she would only answer, hastened himself towards a few hovels by shrieking out, he perceived at some distance, in order “ My mother is dead I let her grave to obtain some tidings of the old wo- be mine!" man, whom he had confidently expect- Suddenly, as Lester stood gazing ed to find at her devotions. He had mournfully at her, the door of the parno difficulty in gaining intelligence of tition which concealed that more sacred her at the first hut where he inquired; portion of the church, which is entered but his consternation may be imagined by priests alone, was thrownopen, anda when he was informed that the poor tall, stately-looking monk passed from mother, worn out with her fasts and the sanctuary, and stood before them. constant vigils, as much as by anxiety He was a man, no longer young-his and grief, had been found dead on the dark, stern countenance nearly hid in stone-floor of the church a few days his veil; but Lester thought he had previously.

never looked on a more noble or comLester felt as though he were manding figure. Extending his hand destined to have death tracking his over the prostrate mourner, he said, in steps go where he would, but bis dis- a voice so severe and sonorous that it tress and perplexity were extreme, as seemed to roll through the silent he began to retrace his steps along the churchmountain path. It seemed as though “ Who is this, that dares to he had but rescued the poor young weep the human dead, when our own orphan from her hated slavery, to see most holy faith is dying in the hearts her cast adrift upon a world she was of Greeks-and who shall dare to all too sensitive and pure to combat mourn over a mortal grave, when the with. He knew well that she had not cross, the sacred cross itself, lies a friend on this earth but himself, buried now beneath the tyrant's and yet, willing as he would have throne?" been to care for, and protect her, it Nothing can exceed the reverence seemed impossible that he should do which the Hellenic people at all times so. Had he been less wedded in heart pay to their priests, and this stern and soul to the cherished dead, he rebuke mastered even the agony of the might have cast aside all other con. young Cyllene. Lifting up her head siderations to offer her a home with from the ground, she remained kneelhim ; but the very idea was revolting ing, and clasping the monk's robe in to him now, and as he slowly entered her trembling hands, she murmured in the church, he could but hope that a broken voicethe young girl might herself suggest “ Me sin chorite patera" (forgive some place for her future residence. me father).

The quick-eyed Greek gave but one The monk raised her, and asked in a glance to the sad countenance of the gentle tone, what was the cause of her Englishman, and springing forward, frantic sorrow. Cyllene trembled too with her hands clasped wildly, and much to answer, and would have fallen, her whole frame trembling, she ex- if the monk had not placed her on a claimed

stone seat in the outer porch-whilst My mother is dead! I know it! Lester, too glad to have found one I know it! I read it in your eyes.". likely to be so able and suitable an

Lester could only acknowledge adviser, drew him aside, and explained the truth, and then, unacustomed to him all that had occurred, not exas he was to the Greek character, he cepting even the individual feelings, stood perfectly terrified at the storm which rendered it so impossible for him of passionate lamentation to which the to give her the best claim to his protecyoung girl gave way at once. There tion. Although the impassive face is, for the children of this burning of the monk had been tutored to exclime, no medium between sorrow and hibit not a trace of the dark world of despair, nor is there any demonstra thought within, yet it was evident by tion of grief too vehement for their his manner that he was greatly inuncontrollable feelings; and Cyllene terested in the history of the young lay writhing on the ground before him, slave, as well as pleased with the with a violence which made him trem- frankness and sincerity of her English friend--the circumstances of his own They found Cyllene more composed, life, of which a record has been else- and she heard with rapture of the where given,* rendered him keenly plan they had arranged for her, as no alive to the bitterness which there was small amount of bitterness had been for Lester in the thought of any un. added to her natural grief, by the con. faithfulness to the dead; and after viction that she was now utterly desilently considering for a few minutes solate. the difficulties of his position, he at They returned into the church, last proposed an expedient, which was, where one faintly-glimmering lamp in fact, the best that could be adopted alone lit up this singular scene, as the under the circumstances.

stern monk dictated to the strangely To leave the gentle Cyllene alone assorted companions kneeling before at Argos or Nauplia, he said, was not him, the solemn oath by which they to be thought of, as she could only swore to be to one another from that there have the protection of persons hour to their life's end, brother and to whom she was bound by no tie, sister in very deed and truth, nothing and whose interests in her must be more and nothing less; and vowing, as altogether subservient to their cu- they hoped for the favour of heaven, to pidity—her fate might thus be tenfold perform to each other all the duties worse than that from which the Eng- which would have been incumbent on lishman had rescued her -- that she them, had they indeed been born of should become the wife of Lester, the same parents. When the cere. was equally impossible; but she might mony was over, and the monk had according to a very prevalent custom pronounced over them the blessing of in Greece become his sister, in the the Holy Church, he directed them sight of heaven as well as in the eyes where to find shelter for the night, and of men, by one of the most sacred rites then took his leave, promising to meet of the Greek church. Lester was them again at Messalonghi, whitber well aware of the existence of this all were now hastening to be present ancient and singular law, still in full at the final and swift-approaching force in the East, which constitutes struggle. The very next day Lester two persons, by a solemn religious succeeded in obtaining a passage ceremony, brother and sister, or thither in a Greek brig, from whose brothers as the case may be, and binds crew he learned that the Ottoman them legally to one another by this forces were rapidly advancing on the fraternal tie, in so distinct and posi- town, and that every preparation was tive a manner, that even their children making for a siege, likely to terminate, cannot intermarry, as, being considered one way or another, this long profirst cousins, they are within the for- tracted and eventful war. Cyllene of bidden degree of relationship. So course accompanied her newly-found sacred and binding is this strange brother, for it was better for her to union considered in those countries, be with him among the terrors of the that it has never been known to have strife, than exposed to the chances of been violated in any way; and al- a recapture at Argos. though Lester could not doubt that Scarcely had the brig, after a prossuch a project would have seemed

perous voyage, stood in towards the very wild and romantic in his own town of Messalonghi, when a boat put country, yet as he knew that here it off from the shore, in which Lester did actually give him a due and legal at once descried his faithful Manouk right to offer a home to this poor hastening to ascertain whether he orphan, and retain her under his own were on board. Their meeting was protection, he at once acceded to the quite that of old and tried friends, proposal, and begged the monk to al. and it was not until Manouk had relow him, without delay, to take ad- peated again and again that he was

antage of his presence in order to willing to bestow upon his dear pronounce the irrevocable vows which

Ghiaour-whom in spite of himself he constitute this indissoluble bond. loved - his eyes or the last hour of his

* The history of this monk was given in the numbers of the DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE for May and June, 1847, under the title of " Neophytus, the Monk."

life, or any other valuable property amid all her sufferings—a blow so he might possess, that he would con- sudden and so irreparable, that I mysent to inform the anxious crew as to self, true Moslem as I am, could not the existing state of matters. The rejoice at it. A few days after we position of affairs, according to his had landed here, there was a riot in account, was this: Messalonghi, a

the town. A Swiss was accidentally somewhat insignificant looking town, killed by a Souliote; and when he situated on the edge of a marshy place, was taken up, his countrymen flew to and surrounded by the high hills of arms to defend him, and would have Zygos, was at present garrisoned by a caused much bloodshed in the town. most gallant assemblage of Acarna- The troops were ordered out in vain ; nians, Etolians, and Epirotes, amount- nor would they heed the voice of their ing to nearly 5,000 combatants, whose commanders. I was with Vasili in extraordinary bravery and unflinching the midst of the confusion, and saw it endurance were destined to call forth all. The authorities at last became the admiration of all Europe_but anxious for the safety of the town, and what were these to the army of 20,000 were greatly perplexed in their wish men, who were now hastening to assail to find some means of quelling the them, under the command of one of tumult without loss of life. Suddenly the most able generals which Turkey there came one riding down the street ever knew, and who seemed to have on his jet-black horse, calm and comturned all the pertinacity and firmness posed as though the tumultuous crowd of his character into the one stern re- around him had assembled for rejoicsolution of subduing and destroying ing. He turned round his face, and utterly this long-coveted town.

those who looked upon it once never Messalonghi was, in fact, considered forgot it—his pale and beautiful faceby the sultan as the very stronghold of and stretched out his hand towards rebellion, which, could he once obtain, the rebellious troops. They paused in he believed it would be the means their strife to look on him. Then he of delivering up to him the whole spoke, in a voice like music, and comcountry. Furious at the defeat of manded them to be still, and not to the cowardly Omer Vriones during waste in vain disputings the strength the last siege, he had now appointed and life they soon must lavish on the Reshid Pasha, his prime minister, enemy. He told them, if they proved to the command of the imperial troops, thus unworthy of their country—if investing him with unlimited authority Greeks thus turned against Greeceover the western provinces of the em- he would abandon them, and return to pire, and supplying him with an ample die in his own far distant land. Then, treasure from the government stores. at these words, with one shout they In addition to this, one of his naval flung down their arms, and called out, commanders was occupied at Alexan- Zeto Byron' (long live Byron); and dria in hastening the equipment of the he smiled upon the enthusiastic solEgyptian fleet, who were to send diers with a sweet and gentle smile, troops as a reinforcement, and also to that would have won their hearts if oppose the proceedings by sea of the they had not half worshipped him Greek admiral Miaulis. In short, the already, and then rode back to his garrison of Messalonghi seemed to

house in peace. await the assault of the whole com- “ It was but one week after this, bined forces of the Ottoman empire ; when the sun rose one morning as and they well knew that from Reshid though shrouded in a thick, dark pall, Pasha they must expect no mercy, for and all things, even at the early dawn, he was as cruel and treacherous as he portended a most awful storm--clouds was intelligent and brave. Calmly, black as night hung over the city, however, they had employed them- spreading themselves out above it like selves in increasing their means of de- a mourning veil—the sea moaned and fence, and strengthening the citadel, writhed, as though some dread stern under the directions principally of spirit were making a pathway of its Lord Byron.

billows to advance upon the town, and “ And now," continued Manouk, “I the ill-omened birds which haunt the have to tell you of the heaviest blow graveyards came hovering and shriek that has befallen your country, even ing round our streets. You know wel

how unusual is a tempest at this season, that extraordinary tempest the poet. and all men said that some great evil spirit had been summoned forth, and was at hand. Still the storm delayed for many days there was weeping and its approach, though it sat brooding wailing through the land for the unin the burdened heavens as though it timely fate of the noble Frank stranger, waited for its hour to come. The day such as had never been wrung from the was that following the Anastasin (or stout Greek hearts, even when they Resurrection—Easter-Monday), but saw their own devoted dead falling no one dared rejoice as Christians are round them before the blast of war, wont, because of these portentous signs like autumn leaves driven earthward of coming ill. At length, one hour by the wind.” before the sunset, the sky so black When Manouk had given his account and lowering was rent by one tremen- of this public misfortune, he concluded dous flash of dazzling lightning, and a by informing his listeners that Reshid peal of thunder, so loud and awful Pasha and his tremendous army had that it seemed rolling up from the penetrated into Acarnania some days very depths of the unseen world, burst previous to their arrival, and might over Messalonghi with a fearful sound. therefore hourly be expected. Every Just as it died away, there rose among preparation was now complete. To its echoes one long shriek from a house the Philellenists, he said, had been round which thousands of watchers given, at their own request, the most were assembled, and the cry went difficult post of any, which was the through the city that Byron had ex- defence of the powder magazine, and pired at that terrific moment.

thither he now conducted Lester and “ And so it was. In the midst of his young adopted sister.


'Two days later, the Greeks looked for it was evident to all that there was down from their ramparts on the no possible termination to the siege countless hosts of their foe. Far as which would not involve their total their sight could reach, they saw the overthrow. Nor was it themselves standard of the Crescent waving, and alone whose utter ruin was at hand, all around them the Turkish vessels but their wives and children, their inlay thick on the sea. A skirmish firm and aged—all, in short, whom the took place immediately, during which town contained, must perish with them. the Moslems threw a number of shells Reshid Pasha had given them a means among the besieged with such good of calculating what amount of mercy aim, that they commenced at the same he was likely to bestow on them, by time as extraordinary a siege as Eu- causing a priest, two women, and serope ever witnessed, and the frightful veral children, who were caught atsufferings which it entailed on the tempting to escape from the city of Messalonghiotes, who were destined famine, to be impaled before bis camp! to see them as they burst destroy a But, with no other prospect save that number of persons, and those princi. of certain death before them, they pally helpless females.

swore, if need be, to bury themselves It were tedious and uninteresting in the ruins of their home, but never even if our space allowed, were we to to desert their post. give the details of this celebrated Three several times during this blockade during the first ten months. fearfully-protracted strife their proviWith the usual variation incident to sions had failed them entirely, and such a combat, it presents ever the three times the whole population were same aspect_displaying, on the part saved from a death of famine through of the Turks, a resolute, constant, and the unflinching bravery of the admiral, positive determination, not only to Miaulis, who remained in the most achieve the entire subjugation of the dauntless manner in the roadstead, place, but its actual destruction; and though surrounded by Turkish ships, on the side of the Greeks, a firm and and who succeeded, by exploits of sinmost devoted constancy in its defence, gular daring, in conveying grain into and that without the slightest hope ; the town.

The Moslems, however,

« PreviousContinue »