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RUINS OF A GREEK CONVENT.

93

were, which would not have been the case had I first visited Laconia, going by way of Calamate. Proceeding westward, at the distance of a league from Tripolizza, we stopped to examine some ruins. They proved to be those of a Greek convent, destroyed by the Albanians, at the time of the Russian expedition; but in the walls of this convent may be discerned fragments of beautiful architecture, and stones covered with inscriptions worked into them. I spent a considerable time in attempting to make out one to the left of the principal door of the church. The letters were in the best style, and the inscription appeared to me to run alternately from right to left, and from left to right: which is not always an indication of high antiquity. The characters were reversed from the position of the stone, which was split, placed very high, and partly covered with mortar. I could decypher nothing but the word ΤΕΓΕΑΤΕΣ, which rejoiced me almost as much as if I had been a member of the Academy of Inscriptions. Tegea must have stood in the vicinity of this convent. In the neighbouring fields are found great numbers of medals. I bought three of a peasant, but they afforded me no light. He sold them very dear, for the Greeks have begun to learn of travellers the value of their antiquities.

I must not forget to mention that in wandering among these ruins I discovered a much more modern inscription. This was the name of M. Fauvel, written with a lead pencil upon a wall. None but a traveller can know what pleasure is felt on meeting unexpectedly, in a remote and unknown spot, with a name that reminds

you

of

your country. We continued our route in a north-western direction. After travelling for three hours over half 94

DESERT COUNTRY.

cultivated lands, we entered a desert, which extends to the valley of Laconia. The dry bed of a torrent served us for a road : we followed its windings through a labyrinth of mountains of no great height, all resembling each other, their summits being naked, and their sides covered with a species of dwarf evergreen oak, with leaves like the holly. On the edge of this channel, and nearly in the centre of these hills, we came to a kan, overshadowed by two sycamores, and cooled by a little fountain. We allowed some rest to our beasts, for we had been ten hours on horseback. The only refreshment we could meet with was goat's milk and a few almonds. We set out again before sunset, and stopped at eleven in a narrow valley, on the bank of another channel, which retained a small quantity of water.

The road which we were pursuing passed through no place of celebrity : it might, at most, have been traversed perhaps by the troops of Sparta, when they marched to attack those of Tegea, in the early wars of Lacedæmon. There was nothing upon this road but a temple of Jupiter Scotitas, towards the passage of Hermes; and all these mountains together must have formed different branches of Parnon, Cronius, and Olympus.

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The first Kan of Laconia—Misitra— Ibrahim Bey–His sick Child

-A Turkish Breakfast-Conversation with a Minister of the Law—The Stranger's Apartment - Amyclæ-Parori-Fountains—Return to Misitra-Description of the Town-View from the Battlements of the Castle -Situation of Sparta-Inquiries on that subject-Visit to the Archbishop—His Library -The Bazar.

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On the 20th at daybreak we saddled our horses. The janissary said his prayers, washed his elbows, his beard, and his hands, turned towards the east, as if to summon the light, and we set off. As we approached Laconia, the mountains began to be more elevated, and to exhibit a few clumps of trees : the valleys were narrow and rugged; and some of them, though upon a smaller scale, reminded me of the Grande Chartreuse, and the magnificent forests in the back-ground. At noon, we discovered a kan, as wretched as that where we stopped the preceding day, though it was decorated with the Ottoman flag. These were the only two habitations we had met with in a space of twentytwo leagues : so that fatigue and hunger obliged us to make a longer stay than was agreeable, in this filthy kennel. The master of the place, an aged Turk, with a most repulsive countenance, was

96

THE FIRST KAN OF LACONIA.

sitting in a loft above the stables of the kan; the goats clambered up to him, and surrounded him with their excrements. In this sweet place he received us, and, without condescending to rise from his dunghill, to direct some refreshment to be brought for the Christian dogs, he shouted with a terrible voice, when a poor Greek boy, quite naked, and his body swollen with fever and fogging, brought us some ewe's milk in a vessel disgustingly dirty. I was obliged to go out to drink even this at my ease, for the goats and their kids crowded round me to snatch a piece of biscuit which I held in my hand. I had eaten of the bear and the sacred dog with the savages : I have since partaken of the repast of the Bedouins, but I never met with any thing to be compared with this first kan of Laconia. It was nearly on the same spot, however, that the flocks of Menelaus grazed, and that he entertained Telemachus. “ They repaired to the palace of the king; the attendants conducted the victims; they also brought generous wine, while their wives, their foreheads adorned with clean fillets, prepared the repast."*

We left the kan about three in the afternoon. At five, we reached an elevation of the mountains, whence we descried before us Mount Taygetus, which I had already seen from the opposite side, Misitra situated at its foot, and the valley of Laconia.

We descended by a kind of staircase cut in the rock, as at Mount Boreon; and perceived a light bridge of a single arch, elegantly thrown over a small river, and connecting two high hills., On reaching the river, we forded its limpid current,

Odyss. Book IV.

IBRAHIM BEY.

97 among tall reeds and beautiful rose-laurels in full flower. This river, which I thus passed without knowing its name, was the Eurotas. A tortuous valley opened before us, winding round several small hills, nearly alike in forın, and having the appearance of artificial mounts, or tumuli. We followed these windings, and at nightfall arrived at Misitra.

M. Vial had given me a letter for one of the principal Turks of Misitra, named Ibrahim Bey. We alighted in his court-yard, and his slaves ushered me into the stranger's apartment, which was full of Mussulmans, travellers like myself, and Ibrahim's guests. I took my place among them on the divan, and, like them, hung up my arms against the wall over my head. Joseph and my janissary did the same. Nobody asked me who I was, or whence I came : each continued to smoke, to sleep, or to converse with his neighbour, without taking the least notice of me.

Our host, to whom M. Vial's letter had been carried, soon entered the room. Ibrahim, about sixty years old, had a mild and open countenance. He came to me, took me 'cordially by the hand, blessed me, endeavoured to pronounce the word bon, half in French, half in Italian, and seated himself by my side. He spoke in Greek to Joseph, desiring him to tell me that he begged I would excuse him, if he did not receive me so well as he could have wished; that he had a little child ill; un figliolo, he repeated in Italian, and this almost turned his head-mi fa torna la testa, said he ;-at the same time pressing his turban with both his hands. I should certainly not have gone to Sparta to look for paternal affection in all the simplicity of nature; and yet an aged Tartar displayed this moving

VOL. 1.

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