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Cyprus, as I Saw it in 1879 by Sir Samuel W. Baker

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F.R.G.S., &c.

Author of "Ismailia," "The Albert N'Yanza," "The Nile Tributaries of
Abyssinia," "Eight Years in Ceylon," "The Rifle and Hound in Ceylon."






I do not intend to write a history of Cyprus, as authorities already
exist that are well known, but were generally neglected until the
British occupation rescued them from secluded bookshelves. Even had I
presumed to write as a historian, the task would have been impossible,
as I am at this moment excluded from the world in the precincts of the
monastery of Trooditissa among the heights of ancient Olympus or modern
Troodos, where books of reference are unknown, and the necessary data
would be wanting. I shall recount my personal experience of this island
as an independent traveller, unprejudiced by political considerations,
and unfettered by the responsible position of an official. Having
examined Cyprus in every district, and passed not only a few days, but
winter, spring, and summer in testing the climatic and geographical
peculiarities of the country, I shall describe "Cyprus as I saw it in
1879," expressing the opinions which I formed upon the spot with the
results of my experience.

Although I have read many works upon this island, I have no books with
me except that interesting record of the discovery of antiquities by
General di Cesnola, and the invaluable compilation for the Intelligence
Branch, Quartermaster-General's Department, Horse Guards, by Captain
Savile, 18th Royal Irish Regiment. It is impossible to praise the latter
work too highly, as every authority, whether ancient or modern, has been
studied, and the information thus carefully collected has been classed
under special headings and offered to the reader in a concise and
graphic form which renders it perfect as a book of reference. I must
express my deep appreciation of the assistance that I have derived from
Captain Savile's work, as it has directed my attention to many subjects
that might have escaped my observation, and it has furnished me with
dates, consular reports, and other statistical information that would
otherwise have been difficult to obtain. The study of M. Gaudrey's able
report to the French government upon the agricultural resources and the
geological features of Cyprus, before I commenced my journey, guided me
materially in the interesting observations of the various formations and
terrestrial phenomena. The experiences of the late British Consul, Mr.
Hamilton Lang, described in his attractive volume, together with those
of Von Loher, Doctors Unger and Kotschy, have afforded me an advantage
in following upon footsteps through a well-examined field of discovery.

Before I enter upon a description of my personal examination of the
island, it will be advisable to trace a brief outline of the
geographical position of Cyprus, which caused its early importance in
the history of the human race, and which has been accepted by the
British government as sufficiently unchanged to warrant a military
occupation in 1878, as a strategical point that dominates the eastern
portion of the Mediterranean, and supplies the missing link in the chain
of fortified ports from England to the shores of Egypt.

In the world's infancy oceans were unknown seas upon which the vessels
of the ancients rarely ventured beyond the sight of land; without the
compass the interminable blue water was a terrible wilderness full of
awe and wonder. The Phoenicians, who first circumnavigated Africa by
passing through the then existing canal between Suez and the Nile,
coasted the whole voyage, as did in later years the famous Portuguese,
Vasco di Gama, and stations were formed along the shores at convenient
intervals. Hanno the Carthaginian coasted to an uncertain and contested
point upon the western shores of Africa, but no ocean commercial port
was known to have existed in the early days of maritime adventure. The
Mediterranean offered peculiar advantages of physical geography; its
great length and comparatively narrow width embraced a vast area, at the
same time that it afforded special facilities for commerce in the
numerous ports and islands that would form a refuge in stress of

The countries which surrounded this great inland sea were rich; the
climate throughout its course combined the temperate with almost
tropical, according to the changes of seasons; accordingly, the
productions of the earth varying upon the northern and southern coasts,
were all that could be required for the necessities of the human race.
In this happily situated position commerce was first cradled, and by the
interchange of ideas and natural productions, artificial wants were
mutually created among the various countries around the great sea
margin; the supply of these new requirements and exchange of commodities
established trade. With the development of commerce, wealth and
prosperity increased; nations became important through the possession of
superior harbours and geographical positions, and the entire maritime
strength and commercial activity of the ancient world was represented by
the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon were the English of
to-day; the Egyptians and the Greeks were followed as the world grew
older by the Venetians and Genoese, and throughout the world's history
no point possessed a more constant and unchangeable attraction from its
geographical position and natural advantages than the island of Cyprus,
which in turn was occupied by Phoenicians, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians,
Romans, Byzantine rulers, Saracens, Byzantine rulers again, English,
Lusignans, Venetians, Turks, and once more English in 1878.

The advantages which had thus possessed a magnetic influence in
attracting towards this island the leading nations of the world were in
ancient days undeniable. When vessels directed their course only by
well-known landmarks, or by the position of certain stars, it was highly
necessary for a maritime power to occupy a continuous chain of stations,
where, in case of danger from a superior force, a place of refuge would
be near. Cyprus from its peculiar geographical position commanded the
eastern portion of the Mediterranean. The harbour of Famagousta was only
a few hours' sail, with a favourable wind, to the coast of Asia Minor.
The bays of Larnaca and Limasol were roadsteads with a safe anchorage,
and Paphos (Baffo) was a convenient harbour upon the south-western
portion of the island, capable of protecting a considerable number of
the small vessels of the period. Thus Cyprus possessed two harbours upon
the south coast in addition to good roadsteads; while upon the north,
Cerinea (Kyrenia) and Soli, although never large, were serviceable ports
of refuge, exactly facing the coast of Caramania, plainly visible. The
lofty mountains of the Carpas range which overhang these harbours
command the sea view at an elevation of between three and four thousand
feet, from which the approach of an enemy could be quickly signalled,
while the unmistakable peaks of the rugged sky-line formed landmarks by
which vessels could steer direct to the desired ports. The same
advantage of descrying an enemy at a distance from the shore exists in
many parts of Cyprus, owing to the position of the heights; and the
rocky nature of the coast (with the exception of a few points such as
Limasol, Morphu Bay, &c.), rendered the landing of a large force
extremely difficult. As a strategical point, there was no more
formidable position than Cyprus; it formed a common centre within
immediate reach of Alexandria and all the coasts of Syria and Asia
Minor. It was not only a military place d'armes, such as Malta and
Gibraltar now are, dependent upon maritime superiority for the necessary
provisions, but it was a country of large area, comprising about 3500
square miles, with a soil of unbounded fertility in a high state of
cultivation, a population sufficiently numerous for all requirements of
the island, and forests of timber that was in great request for the
architect and ship-builder. In addition to these natural sources of
wealth, the mineral productions were celebrated from the earliest
history, and the copper of Cyprus was used by the Phoenicians in the
manufacture of their celebrated bronze.

The Chittim wood of Scripture, imported to Syria from Cyprus (the
ancient Chittim), was probably a species of cypress at that time
composing the forests which ornamented a considerable portion of the
surface. There are two varieties of cypress in the island: that which
would have been celebrated grows upon the high mountains, and attains a
girth of from seven to nine feet, the wood being highly aromatic,
emitting a perfume resembling a mixture of sandal-wood and cedar; the
other cypress is a dwarf variety that seldom exceeds twenty feet in
height, with a maximum circumference of two feet; this is a totally
different wood, and is intensely hard, while the former is easily
worked, but durable. The derivation of the name Cyprus has been sought
for from many sources; and the opinions of the authorities differ.
English people may reflect that they alone spell and pronounce the word
as "Cyprus." The name of the cypress-tree, which at one time clothed the
mountains of this formerly verdant island, is pronounced by the
inhabitants "Kypresses," which approximates closely to the various
appellations of Cyprus in different languages. The Greek name is Kypros,
and it is probable that as in ancient days the "chittim-wood" was so
called from the fact of its export from Chittim, the same link may
remain unbroken between Kypros and the tree Kypresses.

The geographical advantages which I have enumerated are sufficient to
explain the series of struggles for possession to which the island has
been exposed throughout its history; the tombs that have been examined,
have revealed the secrets of the dead, and in the relics of Phoenicians,
Persians, Assyrians, Egyptians, and the long list of foreign victors, we
discover proofs of the important past, until we at length tread upon
pre-historical vestiges, and become lost in a labyrinth of legends. From
the researches of undoubted authorities, we know that Cyprus possessed a
written character peculiarly original, and that it was occupied by a
people highly civilised according to the standard of the early world at
so primitive an era, that all records have disappeared, and we are left
in the darkness of conjecture.

The changes in the importance of certain geographical positions, owing
to the decline and fall of empires, which at one time governed the
destinies of the Eastern world, have been strikingly exhibited on the
shores of the Mediterranean; Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, Cyprus, had lost
their significance upon modern charts, even before the New Worlds
appeared, when America, Australia, and the Eastern Archipelago were
introduced upon the globe. The progress of Western Europe eclipsed the
Oriental Powers which hitherto represented the civilisation of mankind,
and two points alone remained, which, shorn of their ancient glory,
still maintained their original importance as geographical centres, that
will renew those struggles for their possession which fill the bloody
pages of their history--Egypt and Constantinople.

No country had been more completely excluded from the beaten paths of
British travellers than the island of Cyprus, and England was startled
by the sudden revelation of a mystery connected with the Treaty of
Berlin, that it was to become a strategical point for a British military

On the 4th June, 1878, a "Convention of Defensive Alliance between Great
Britain and Turkey" was signed, which agreed upon the following


"If Batoum, Ardahan, Kars, or any of them, shall be
retained by Russia, or if any attempt shall be made at
any future time by Russia to take possession of any
further territories of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan
in Asia, as fixed by the definitive treaty of peace,
England engages to join His Imperial Majesty the Sultan
in defending them by force of Arms.

"In return, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan promises to
England to introduce necessary reforms, to be agreed
upon later between the two Powers, into the government,
and for the protection of the Christian and other
subjects of the Porte in those territories; and in
order to enable England to make necessary provision for
executing her engagement, His Imperial Majesty the
Sultan further consents to assign the island of Cyprus
to be occupied and administered by England.


"The present Convention shall be ratified, and the
ratifications thereof shall be exchanged, within the
space of one month, or sooner if possible.

"In witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries
have signed the same, and have affixed thereto the seal
of their arms.

"Done at Constantinople, the fourth day of June, in the
year one thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight.



It was eventually agreed between the contracting Powers:-

"That England will pay to the Porte whatever is the
present excess of revenue over expenditure in the
island; this excess to be calculated and determined by
the average of the last five years."


"That if Russia restores to Turkey Kars and the other
conquests made by her in Armenia during the last war,
the island of Cyprus will be evacuated by England, and
the Convention of the fourth June, 1878, will be at an

I knew nothing of Cyprus, but I felt sure that the Turks had the best of
the bargain, as they would receive the usual surplus revenue from our
hands, and be saved the trouble and onus of the collection; they would
also be certain of a fixed annual sum, without any of those risks of
droughts, famine, and locusts, to which the island is exposed, and which
seriously affect the income.

Although there would only be a wildly remote chance of Russia ever
relinquishing her Asiatic prey, the bare mention of the words "will be
evacuated by England" was a possible contingency and risk, that would
effectually exclude all British capital from investment in the island. I
could not discover any possible good that could accrue to England by the
terms of the Convention. If Cyprus had been presented as a "bonus" by
the Porte to counterbalance the risk we should incur in a defensive
alliance for the protection of Asia Minor, I could have seen an addition
to our Colonial Empire of a valuable island, that would not only have
been of strategical value, but such that in a few years, money and
British settlers would have entirely changed its present aspect, and
have created for it a new era of prosperity.

If England had purchased Cyprus, I could have understood the plain,
straightforward, business-like transaction, which would have at once
established confidence, both among the inhabitants, who would have
become British subjects; and through the outer world, that would have
acknowledged the commencement of a great future.

But, if we were actually bound in defensive alliance with Turkey in case
of a war with Russia, why should we occupy Cyprus upon such one-sided
and anomalous conditions, that would frustrate all hopes of commercial
development, for the sake of obtaining a strategical position that would
have been opened to our occupation AS AN ALLY at any moment? On the
other hand, if we distrusted Turkey, and feared that she might coquet
with Russia at some future period, I could see a paramount necessity for
the occupation of Cyprus, and even Egypt; but we were supposed to be,
and I believe were, acting in absolute and mutual good faith as the
protector of Asiatic Turkey, in defensive alliance with the Sultan. In
that position, should we have entered into a war with Russia, there was
no necessity for the occupation and responsibility of any new position,
as every port of the Ottoman dominions, even to the Golden Horn of
Constantinople, would have welcomed our troops and boats with

Turkey is a suspicious Power, and the British government may have had to
contend with difficulties that are unknown to the criticising public; it
may have been impossible to have obtained her sanction for the
occupation under other conditions. The possibility of future
complications that might terminate in a close alliance between the
conquered and the victor, may have suggested the necessity for securing
this most important strategical position without delay, upon first
conditions that might subsequently receive modifications. At first sight
the political situation appeared vague, but I determined to examine the
physical geography of Cyprus, and to form my own opinion of its




On the morning of the 4th January we sighted Cyprus at about fifty miles
distance, after a smooth voyage of twenty-six hours from Alexandria. The
day was favourable for an arrival, as the atmospherical condition
afforded both intense lights and shadows. The sky was a cobalt blue, but
upon all points of the compass local rain-clouds hovered in dark patches
near the surface, and emptied themselves in heavy showers. The air was
extremely clear, and as we steamed at ten knots each hour brought out in
prominent relief the mountain peaks of Cyprus; Olympus was capped with
clouds. Passing through a rain-cloud which for a time obscured the view,
we at length emerged into bright sunshine; the mists had cleared from
the mountain range, and Troodos, 6,400 feet above the sea-level, towered
above all competitors.

We were now about ten miles from the shore, and the general appearance
of the island suggested a recent snowfall. As the sun shone upon a bare
white surface, the sterile slopes and mountain sides were utterly devoid
of vegetation, and presented a sad aspect of desolation, which reminded
me of the barren range on the shores of the Red Sea.

First impressions are seldom correct, but the view of Cyprus on arrival
from the south was depressing, and extinguished all hopes that had been
formed concerning our newly-acquired possession. This was the treasure
acquired by astute diplomacy!

For about twenty miles we skirted this miserable coast, upon which not a
green speck relieved the eye; at length we sighted the minaret which
marked the position of Larnaca, the port or roadstead to which the mail
was bound; and in the town we distinguished three or four green trees.
We cast anchor about half a mile from the shore. Nine or ten vessels,
including several steamers, were in the roadstead, and a number of
lighters were employed in landing cargoes.

Disappointment and disgust were quickly banished by the reflection that
at this season (January) there was nothing green in England: the
thermometer in that dreary land would be below freezing-point, while on
the deck where we stood it was 64 degrees Fahr. We were quickly in a
boat steering for the landing-place.

All towns look tolerably well from the sea, especially if situated
actually upon the margin of the water. The town represented a front of
about a mile, less than five feet above the level of the sea, bordered
by a masonry quay perpendicular to the surface, from which several
wooden jetties of inferior and very recent construction served as

The left flank of Larnaca was bounded by a small Turkish fort,
absolutely useless against modern artillery upon the walls the British
flag was floating. We landed upon the quay. This formed a street, the
sea upon one side, faced by a row of houses. As with all Turkish
possessions, decay had stamped the town: the masonry of the quay was in
many places broken down, the waves had undermined certain houses, and in
the holes thus washed out by the action of water were accumulations of
recent filth. Nevertheless, enormous improvements had taken place since
the English occupation. An engineer was already employed in repairing
the quay, and large blocks of carefully faced stone (a sedimentary
limestone rock of very recent formation) were being laid upon a bed of
concrete to form a permanent sea-wall. The houses which lined the quay
were for the most part stores, warehouses, and liquor-shops. Among these
the Custom House, the Club, Post Office, and Chief Commissioner's were
prominent as superior buildings. There was a peculiar character in the
interior economy of nearly all houses in Larnaca; it appeared that heavy
timber must have been scarce before the town was built, as the upper
floor was invariably supported by stone arches of considerable
magnitude, which sprang from the ground-floor level. These arches were
uniform throughout the town, and the base of the arch was the actual
ground, without any pillar or columnar support; so that in the absence
of a powerful beam of timber, the top of the one-span arch formed a
support for the joists of the floor above. In large houses numerous
arches gave an imposing appearance to the architecture of the ground
floors, which were generally used as warehouses. Even the wooden joists
were imported poles of fir, thus proving the scarcity of natural
forests. The roofs of the houses were for the most part flat, and
covered with tempered clay and chopped straw for the thickness of about
ten inches. Some buildings of greater pretensions were gaudy in bright
red tiles, but all were alike in the general waste of rain-water, which
was simply allowed to pour into the narrow streets through innumerable
wooden shoots projecting about six feet beyond the eaves. These gutters
would be a serious obstacle to wheeled conveyances, such as lofty
waggons, which would be unable in many cases to pass beneath. The
streets are paved, but being devoid of subterranean drains, a heavy
shower would convert them into pools. Foot passengers are protected from
such accidents by a stone footway about sixteen inches high upon either
side of the narrow street. Before the English occupation these hollow
lanes were merely heaps of filth, which caused great unhealthiness; they
were now tolerably clean; but in most cases the pavement was full of
holes that would have tested the springs and wheels of modern vehicles.

I had heard, prior to leaving England, that hotels, inns, &c., were
unknown in Larnaca; I was, therefore, agreeably surprised on landing, to
find a new hotel (Craddock's) which was scrupulously clean, the rooms
neatly whitewashed, and everything simple and in accordance with the
requirements of the country.

The miserable reports in England respecting the want of accommodation,
and the unhealthiness of Cyprus, had determined me to render myself
independent; I had therefore arranged a gipsy travelling-van while in
London, which would, as a hut upon wheels, enable us to select a
desirable resting-place in any portion of the island, where the route
should be practicable for wheeled conveyances. This van was furnished
with a permanent bed; shelves or wardrobe beneath; a chest of drawers;
table to fall against the wall when not in use, lockers for glass and
crockery, stove and chimney, and in fact it resembled a ship's cabin,
nine feet six inches long, by five feet eight inches wide.

I had another excellent light four-wheeled van constructed by Messrs.
Glover Brothers, of Dean Street, Soho: both these vehicles had broad and
thick iron tires to the wheels, which projected 5/8 inch upon either
side beyond the felloes, in order to afford a wide surface to deep soil
or sandy ground without necessitating a too massive wheel.

The vans with all my effects had left London by steamer direct for
Cyprus, I therefore found them, upon my arrival from Egypt, in the
charge of Mr. Z. Z. Williamson, a most active agent and perfect
polyglot; the latter gift being an extreme advantage in this country of
Babel-like confusion of tongues.

I was now prepared to investigate Cyprus thoroughly, and to form my own
opinion of its present and future value.

The day after my arrival I strolled outside the town and exercised my
three spaniels which had come out direct from England. The dogs searched
for game which they did not find, while I examined the general features
of the country. About three-quarters of a mile from the present town or
port are the remains of old Larnaca. This is a mere village, but
possesses a large Greek church. The tomb of Lazarus, who is believed to
have settled in Cyprus to avoid persecution after his miraculous
resurrection from the grave, is to be seen in the church of St. George
within the principal town.

From this point an excellent view is obtained of the adjacent country. A
plain of most fertile soil extends along the sea-coast towards the east
for six miles, and in breadth about four miles. The present town of
Larnaca stands on the sea-board of this plain, which to the west of the
port continues for about four miles, thus giving an area of some ten
miles in length, forming almost a half circle of four miles in its
semi-diameter; the whole is circumscribed by hills of low but increasing
altitudes, all utterly barren. Through the plain are two unmistakable
evidences of river-action which at some remote period had washed down
from the higher ground the fertile deposit which has formed the alluvium
of the valley. Within this apparently level plain is a vestige of a once
higher level, the borders of which have been denuded by the continual
action of running water during the rushes from the mountains in the
rainy season. This water action has long ceased to exist. There can be
little doubt that in the ancient days of forest-covered mountains, the
rainfall of Cyprus was far greater than at present, and that important
torrents swept down from the hill-sides. We see evidences of this in the
rounded blocks, all water-worn, of syenite and gneiss, which are
intermingled with the bits of broken pottery in the vale, alike relics
of the past and proving the changes both in nature and in man since
Cyprus was in the zenith of prosperity.

A level plateau about eighteen feet above the lowest level of the plain
shows the original surface. The soil of the entire valley is calcareous,
and is eminently adapted for the cultivation of the vine and cereals. As
the rain has percolated through the ground, it has become so thoroughly
impregnated with sulphate of lime that it has deposited a series of
strata some six or seven feet below the surface, which form a flaky
subterranean pavement. The ancients selected this shallow soil of a
higher level for a burial-ground, and they burrowed beneath the stratum
of stony deposit to form their tombs. One of the chief occupations of
modern Cypriotes appears to be the despoiling of the dead; thus the
entire sides of the plateau-face for a distance of about two miles are
burrowed into thousands of holes to a depth of ten and twelve feet in
search of hidden treasures. If the same amount of labour had been
expended in the tillage of the surface, the result would have been far
more profitable. A small proportion of the land upon the outskirts of
the town was cultivated, some had been recently ploughed, while in other
plots the wheat had appeared above the surface. Water is generally found
at eight or nine feet below the level, but this is of an inferior
description, and the town and environs are well supplied by an aqueduct
which conveys the water from powerful springs about seven miles to the
west of Larnaca, near Arpera. This useful work was constructed according
to the will of a former pacha, who bequeathed the sum required, for a
public benefit.

Large flocks of sheep were grazing in various portions of the
uncultivated plain. At first sight they appeared to be only searching
for food among the stones and dust, but upon close examination I found a
peculiar fleshy herb something like the stone-crop which grows upon the
old walls and rocks of England. This plant was exceedingly salt, and the
sheep devoured it with avidity, and were in fair condition. The wool was
long, but of a coarse wiry texture, and much impaired by the adherence
of thistles and other prickly plants. The musical sound of distant bells
denoted the arrival of a long string of camels, laden with immense bales
of unpressed cotton on their way to the port of Larnaca. Each animal
carried two bales, and I observed that the saddles and pads were in
excellent order, the camels well fed, and strongly contrasting with the
cruel carelessness of the camel owners of Egypt, whose beasts are galled
into terrible sores from the want of padding in their packs. The cotton
had been cleaned upon the plantation, but it would be subjected to
hydraulic pressure and packed in the usual iron-bound bales for
shipment, upon arrival in the stores of Larnaca.

It was impossible to resist a feeling of depression upon strolling
around the environs of the town and regarding the barren aspect of the
distant country. Every inch of this fertile plain should be cultivated,
and numerous villages should be dotted upon the extensive surface.
"Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth" was a curse that
appeared to have adhered to Cyprus.

It was unnecessary to seek for the chief cause of unhealthiness; this
was at once apparent in the low swamps on the immediate outskirts of the
town. In ancient days the shallow harbour of Cittium existed on the east
side of modern Larnaca; whether from a silting of the port, or from the
gradual alteration in the level of the Mediterranean, the old harbour no
longer exists, but is converted into a miserable swamp, bordered by a
raised beach of shingles upon the seaboard. The earth has been swept
down by the rains, and the sand driven in by the sea, while man stood
idly by, allowing Nature to destroy a former industry. All the original
harbours of the country have suffered from the same neglect.

There was little to be seen in the neighbourhood. The site was pointed
out where the troops were encamped in the tremendous heat of July in the
close vicinity of the swampy ground, upon pestiferous soil, and the
usual tales of commissariat blunders were recounted. Close to the
borders of this unhealthy spot, but about twenty feet above the level of
the lowest morass, stands the convent belonging to the Sisters of
Charity, which includes a school, in addition to a hospital. Great
kindness was shown by these excellent ladies to many English sufferers,
and their establishment deserves a liberal support from public

I walked through the bazaar of Larnaca; this is situated at the west end
of the town near the fort, close to which there is a public fountain
supplied by the aqueduct to which I have already alluded. Brass taps
were arranged around the covered stone reservoir, but I remarked a
distressing waste of water, as a continual flow escaped from an
uncontrolled shoot which poured in a large volume uselessly into the
street. Within a few yards of the reservoir was a solitary old banian
tree (ficus religiosa), around which a crowd of donkeys waited, laden
with panniers containing large earthen jars, which in their turn were to
be filled with the pure water of the Arpera springs.

Although the crowd was large, and all were busied in filling their jars
and loading their respective animals, there was no jostling or
quarrelling for precedence, but every individual was a pattern of
patience and good humour. Mohammedans and Cypriotes thronged together in
the same employment, and the orderly behaviour in the absence of police
supervision formed a strong contrast to the crowds in England.

The Mosque being within a few feet of them, the Mussulmans could perform
their ablutions at the threshold. Around the font, women were
intermingled with a crowd of men and boys. The girls and lads were
regular in features and good-looking, though dirt and torn clothing of
various gaudy colours gave a picturesque, but hardly an attractive,
appearance to the group. The bazaar was entered at right angles with the
quay; the streets were paved with stones of irregular size, sloping from
both sides towards the centre, which formed the gutter. Camels, mules,
bullock-carts, and the omnipresent donkeys thronged the narrow streets,
either laden with produce for the quay, or returning after having
delivered their heavy loads. The donkeys were very large and were mostly
dark brown, with considerable length of hair. In like manner with the
camels, they were carefully protected by thick and well stuffed packs,
or saddles, and were accordingly free from sores. They appeared to be
exceedingly docile and intelligent, and did not require the incessant
belabouring to which the ass of other countries is the victim. Large
droves of these animals, each laden with three heavy squared stones for
building, picked their way through the narrow streets, and seemed to
know exactly the space required for their panniers, as they never
collided with either carts or passengers.

The shops of the bazaar were all open, and contained the supplies
usually seen in Turkish markets--vegetables, meat, and a predominance of
native sweets and confectionery, in addition to stores of groceries, and
of copper and brass utensils. An absence of fish proved the general
indolence of the people; there is abundance in the sea, but there are
few fishermen.

An hour's stroll was quite sufficient for one to form an opinion of
Larnaca. A good roadstead and safe anchorage offer great advantages, but
until some protection shall be afforded that will enable boats to land
in all weathers Larnaca can never be accepted as a port. There is shoal
water for a distance of about two hundred yards from the shore, which
causes a violent surf even in a moderate breeze, and frequently prevents
all communication with the shipping. The quay was in many places
undermined by the action of the waves, and it would be necessary to
create an entirely new front by sinking a foundation for a sea-wall some
yards in advance of the present face. There would be no engineering
difficulty in the formation of a boat-harbour, to combine by extensive
pile-jetties the facility of landing in all weathers. A very cursory
view of Larnaca exhibited a true picture of its miserable financial
position. The numerous stores kept by Europeans were the result of a
spasmodic impulse. There was no wholesome trade; those who represented
the commercial element were for the most part unfortunates who had
rushed to Cyprus at the first intelligence of the British occupation,
strong in expectations of a golden harvest. The sudden withdrawal of the
large military force left Larnaca in the condition of streets full of
sellers, but denuded of buyers. The stores were supplied with the usual
amount of liquors, and tins of preserved provisions; none of the
imported articles were adapted for native requirements; an utter
stagnation of trade was the consequence, and prices fell below the cost
of home production. The preceding year had been exceptionally sickly;
many of the storekeepers were suffering from the effects of fever,
which, combined with the depression of spirits caused by ruined
prospects, produced a condition of total collapse, from which there was
only one relief--that of writing to the newspapers and abusing the
Government and the island generally.

There must always be martyrs--somebody must be sacrificed--whether burnt
at the stake for religious principles, or put in a bell-tent in the sun
with the thermometer at 110 degrees Fahr. simply because they are
British soldiers--it does not much matter--but the moment your merchants
are slain upon the altar, the boiling-point is reached.

The store-keepers sat despondingly behind their counters while the
hinges of their doors rusted from the absence of in-comers. It was
impossible to rouse them from their state of mercantile coma, except by
one word, which had a magnetic effect upon their nervous
system---"Custom House."

"I suppose you have no difficulty at the Custom House, Mr.--in this
simple island?" This was invariably the red rag to the bull.

"No difficulty, Sir!--no difficulty?--it is THE difficulty--we are
absolutely paralysed by the Custom House. Every box is broken open and
the contents strewed upon the ground. The duty is ad valorem upon all
articles, and an ignorant Turk is the valuer. This man does not know the
difference between a bootjack and a lemon-squeezer: only the other day
he valued wire dish-covers as `articles of head-dress,' (probably he had
seen wire fencing-masks). If he is perplexed, he is obliged to refer the
questionable article to the Chief Office,--this is two hundred yards
from the landing place:--thus he passes half the day in running
backwards and forwards with trifles of contested value to his superior,
while crowds are kept waiting, and the store is piled with goods most
urgently required." . . .

I immediately went to see this eccentric representative of Anglo-Turkish
political-and-mercantile-combination, and found very little
exaggeration in the description, except that the distance was 187 paces
instead of 200 which he had to perform, whenever the character of the
article was beyond the sphere of his experience. As this happened about
every quarter of an hour, he could not complain of a sedentary
employment. A few days after this, migratory birds arrived in Cyprus
upon the inhospitable shore opposite the Custom House in the shape of
two Liberal M.P's. from England,--who visited the island specially to
form an honest opinion free from all political bias. Whether these
gentlemen were undervalued by the eccentric official to whom I have
alluded, or whether he suspected Liberals as opponents to be regarded
and treated as spies, we never could determine; but utterly disregarding
their innocent exterior, he subjected them to the extreme torture of the
Custom House, and dived and plunged into the very bowels and bottoms of
their numerous small packages, rumpling clean linen, and producing a
toilettic chaos. To the honour of these members of the Opposition they
never brought the question before the House upon their return to
England, neither did they make it the foundation of an attack upon the

An excess of zeal is not uncommon among ignorant officials newly raised
to a position of authority: thus Larnaca was outdone by the Custom House
representative at Limasol in vigilance and strict attention to the
administrative tortures of his office. I have heard of cases of crockery
being unpacked upon the beach and spread out to be counted and valued
upon the loose stones of shingle!

The unfortunate European traders of Larnaca were shortly relieved of
their Custom House troubles by the total absence of imports. The native
Cypriote does not purchase at European shops; his wants are few; the
smallest piece of soap will last an indefinite period; he is frugal to
an extreme degree; and if he has desires, he curbs such temptations and
hoards his coin. Thus, as the natives did not purchase, and all
Europeans were sellers without buyers, there was no alternative but to
shut the shutters. This was a species of commercial suicide which made
Larnaca a place of departed spirits; in which unhappy state it remains
to the present hour. Even the club was closed.



My gipsy-van was not of doubtful character. I had purchased it direct
from the gipsies in England, and it had been specially arranged for the
Cyprus journey by Messrs. Glover Bros. of Dean Street, Soho, London. It
had been painted and varnished with many coats both inside and out, and
nobody, unless an experienced gipsy, would have known that it was not
newly born from the maker's yard. Originally it had been constructed for
shafts, as one horse was considered sufficient upon the roads of
England, but when it arrived in Cyprus it appeared to have grown during
the voyage about two sizes larger than when it was last seen. As the
small animals of Larnaca passed by, where my lovely van blocked up the
entire street, and forced the little creatures upon the footpath, they
looked in comparison as though they had just been disembarked upon Mount
Ararat from the original Noah's ark, represented by the gipsy-van! The
Cypriotes are polite, therefore I heard no rude remarks. The Cypriote
boys are like all other boys, therefore they climbed to the top of the
van, and endeavoured by escalade to enter the windows. On one occasion I
captured HALF A BOY (the posterior half) who was hanging with legs
dangling out of the window, his "forlorn-hope" or advance half vainly
endeavouring to obtain a resting-place upon vacuity within (as the fall
slab-table was down). I had no stick; but the toes of his boots had
imprinted first impressions upon the faultless varnish. What became of
that young Cypriote was never known.

Even in Cyprus there are municipal laws, and now that the English are
there they are enforced; therefore my huge van could not remain like a
wad in a gun-barrel, and entirely block the street. A London policeman
would have desired it to "move on" but--this was the real grievance
that I had against Larnaca--the van COULD NOT "MOVE ON," owing to its
extreme height, which interfered with the wooden water-spouts from the
low roofs of the flat-topped houses. This was a case of "real distress."
My van represented civilisation: the water-spouts represented barbarism.
If a London omnibus crowded with outside passengers had attempted to
drive through Larnaca, both driver and passengers would have been swept
into I have not the slightest notion where; and my van was two feet
higher than an omnibus!

I determined that I would avoid all inferior thoroughfares, and that the
van should pass down Wolseley Street, drawn by a number of men who would
be superior in intelligence to the Cypriote mules and be careful in
turning the corners.

I did not see the start, as a person with an "excess of zeal" had
started it with a crowd of madmen without orders, and I was only a late
spectator some hours after its arrival opposite Craddock's Hotel. It
rather resembled a ship that had been in bad weather and in collision
with a few steamers. How many water-spouts it had carried away I never
heard. The fore-axle was broken, as it appeared that in rounding a
corner it had been dragged by main force upon the curbstone about
sixteen inches high, from which it had bumped violently down. It had
then been backed against a water-spout, which had gone completely
through what sailors would term the "stern." One shutter was split in
two pieces, and one window smashed. Altogether, what with bruises,
scratches, broken axle, and other damages, my van looked ten years older
since the morning.

Fortunately among the Europeans who had flocked to Cyprus since the
British occupation was a French blacksmith, whose forge was only a few
yards from Craddock's Hotel, where my wrecked vessel blocked the way. I
had a new fore axle-tree made, and strengthened the hinder axle. I also
fitted a bullock-pole, instead of shafts, for a pair of oxen; the
springs I bound up with iron wire shrunk on while red-hot. I took out
the stove, as it was not necessary, and its absence increased the space;
and I inserted a ventilator in the roof in place of the chimney. When
repaired, the van looked as good as new, and was much stronger, and well
adapted for rough travel. The only thing it now wanted was a ROAD!

The highways of Cyprus were mere mule-tracks. The only legitimate road
in existence was of most recent construction, which represented the new
birth of British enterprise, from Larnaca to the capital, Nicosia (or
Lefkosia), about twenty-eight miles. The regrettable paucity of
stone-hammers rendered it impossible to prepare the metal, therefore
huge rounded blocks, bigger than a man's head, had been thrown down for
a foundation, upon which some roughly broken and a quantity of unbroken
smaller stones had been spread.

Of course there was only one method of travelling upon this route with
the gipsy-van: this was to avoid it altogether, but to keep upon the
natural soil on the side of the newly-made level.

My second van was most satisfactory, and was light in proportion to its
strength and capacity. This was arranged specially for luggage, and was
entirely closed by doors at either end, which were secured by bolts and
locks. Above the luggage, and about two feet six inches below the roof,
a sliding deck formed of movable planks afforded a comfortable
sleeping-berth for a servant. In the front a projecting roof sheltered
the driving seat, which was wide enough to accommodate four persons. I
had fitted a pole instead of shafts, as public opinion decided against
mules, and it was agreed that oxen were steadier and more powerful for
draught purposes. After a careful selection, I obtained two pairs of
very beautiful animals, quite equal in size to ordinary English oxen,
for which I paid twelve shillings per diem, including the drivers and
all expenses of fodder. I also engaged the necessary riding mules, as
the vans were not intended for personal travelling, but merely for
luggage and for a home at night. Our servants consisted of Amarn (my
Abyssinian, who had been with me eight years, since he was a a boy of
nine years old in Africa), a Greek cook named Christo, who had served in
a similar capacity upon numerous steamers, and a young man named Georgi,
of about twenty-one, who was to be made into a servant. This young
fellow had appeared one day suddenly, and solicited employment, while we
were staying at Craddock's Hotel; he was short, thickset, and possessed
a head of hair that would have raised the envy of Absalom: in dense
tangle it would have defied a mane-comb. Georgi had a pleasant
expression of countenance which did not harmonise with his exterior, as
his clothes were in a ragged and filthy condition, his shoes were in
tatters, and trodden down at the heel to a degree that resembled boats
in the act of capsizing; these exposed the remnants of socks, through
the gaps of which the skin of his feet was exhibited in anything but
flesh-colour. It is dangerous to pick up a "waif and stray," as such
objects of philanthropy frequently disappear at the same time as the
forks and spoons. In reply to my questions, I discovered that Georgi was
in fact the "prodigal son;" he had not been leading the fast life of
that historical character, but he had left his home in Mersine (on the
coast of Asia Minor) owing to an unfortunate disagreement with his
father. In such domestic estrangements, rightly or wrongly, the fathers
generally have the best of the situation, and Georgi, having left a
comfortable home (his father being what is called "well to do"), had
taken ship, and, like many others, had steered for Cyprus, where he
arrived unknown, and quickly experienced the desolation of an utter
stranger in a foreign town. Georgi became hungry; whether he had sold
his good clothes to provide for the coats of his stomach I cannot say,
but the rags in which he first appeared to me were utterly unsaleable,
and few people would have ventured upon an engagement with so
disreputable a person. However, I liked his face; he could speak Turkish
and Arabic fluently: Greek was his mother-tongue, and he had a
smattering of French. I sent for the tailor, and had him measured for a
suit of clothes to match those of Amarn--a tunic, waistcoat,
knickerbockers, and gaiters of navy-blue serge. In a few days Georgi was
transformed into a respectable-looking servant, with his hair cut.

We left Larnaca on the 29th of January. A native two-wheeled cart
conveyed the tents and superabundant baggage. The oxen made no
difficulty, and the gipsy-van rolled easily along. An enterprising
photographer, having posted himself in a certain position near the
highway, suddenly stopped our party, and subsequently produced a
facsimile, although my dogs, who were in movement, came out with
phantom-like shadows. These useful companions were three spaniels
--"Merry," "Wise," and "Shot;" the latter had a broken foreleg through
an accident in the previous year, but he was an excellent retriever, and
could work slowly. The others were younger dogs, whose characters were
well represented by their names; the first was an untiring, determined
animal, and Wise was a steady hunter that would face the worst thorns,
and was a good retriever.

This party was now in movement, and I intended to make a preliminary
detour from the Nicosia route to visit the springs of Arpera, about
eight miles distant, which supply the town of Larnaca.

In every country where I have travelled I have observed a human weakness
among the population on the question of "game;" there is a universal
tendency to exaggeration; but the locality of superabundance is always
distant from the narrator. As you proceed the game recedes; and you are
informed that "at about two days' march you will find even more than you
require." Upon arrival at the wished-for spot you are told that
"formerly there was a large quantity, but that times and seasons have
changed; that about three marches in your front will bring you to a
hunter's paradise," &c. As Cyprus was an island of only 140 miles in
length, there would be a limit to these boundless descriptions; but I
had already heard enough to assure me that the usual want of veracity
upon this subject was present in the accounts I had received. The
newspaper correspondents had just contributed ridiculous reports to
their several employers. Because the market of Larnaca was well supplied
with woodcocks, red-legged partridges, and hares, at low prices, these
overworked gentlemen of the pen rushed to a conclusion that the island
teemed with game: forgetful of the fact that every Cypriote has a gun,
and that numbers were shooting for the consumption of the few. Larnaca
was the common centre towards which all gravitated. As the rate of wages
was only one shilling a day, it may be imagined that sport afforded an
equally remunerative employment, and game was forwarded from all
distances to be hawked about the public thoroughfares. The fact is, that
game is very scarce throughout Cyprus, and the books that have been
written upon this country are certainly not the productions of

I had read in no mean authority that "the surface of the ground was
covered with heather"--positively there is no such plant in Cyprus as
heath or heather. As we passed the outskirts of Larnaca, we were
introduced to the misery of the plain of Messaria; the so-called heather
is a low thorny bush about twelve inches high, which at a distance has
some resemblance to the plant in question. Brown is the prevailing
colour in this portion of the island, and the aspect was not cheerful as
we slowly marched along the native track or highway towards Arpera,
carefully avoiding the new government macadamised road.

It is a melancholy neighbourhood. A few graves that had been robbed were
open, forming pitfalls for the unwary; other yawning holes had
discovered ancient tombs by the soakage of a recent heavy shower, which
had washed in the roof and exposed the cavity. We passed a small mosque
where there is the tomb of a saint many feet below the level of the
surface, and we shortly came in view of the salt lake about a mile and
three-quarters from the town of Larnaca. We halted about two miles from
the town upon the high ground to admire the aqueduct which crosses the
valley from the village of Cheflik Pacha. This is a very important work.
The masonry is about thirty-six feet above the lowest portion of the
valley, which it spans in thirty-two arches, covering a distance of
about four hundred and twenty yards from height to height. The water
flows in an open canal of cement along the surface, but upon the ground
level it is protected by a covering of stone and lime, until it reaches
the town of Larnaca. A stream of fresh water flows through the valley
beneath the arches of the aqueduct, at a right angle, and is
artificially separated from the salt lake below by means of a dyke of
earth which conducts it direct to the sea. This was rendered necessary
by the floods of the rainy seasons, which carried so large a volume of
fresh water into the lake as to resist the power of evaporation during
the summer months. The salt lakes of Larnaca are several miles in
extent, and are computed by the late British consul, Mr. Watkins, to
possess a productive power of 20,000,000 okes (2 3/4 lbs.) per annum. M.
Gaudry, in his clever work upon Cyprus, attributes the formation of salt
to the fact of the sea-water percolating through the sand, and thus
filling the lake;--this theory is disputed, and I incline to the native
belief, "that the salt lies within the soil, and is taken into solution
by the water, which deposits the same amount upon the dry surface when
exhausted by evaporation." In support of this opinion, I adduce a proof
in the fact of the small freshwater stream which flows from the higher
ground through the arches of the aqueduct, depositing salt as its
surface contracts during the dry season.

A strong efflorescence of true chloride of sodium is left upon the sides
of its bed and upon the bottom as the water becomes exhausted; this must
be the salt which the fresh water has robbed from the soil of the valley
through which it flows. In many portions of Cyprus I have observed, a
few days after a heavy shower, a considerable amount of salt upon the
surface. I know many instances of fresh-water lakes being divided from
the sea by only a few yards of sandy beach, and I do not accept as fact
that salt water percolates through the sand and forms the salt of
Larnaca lake. The salt lakes of Ceylon, in the south district of
Hambantotte, are immensely productive, and they have no communication
with the sea, but are in a similar position to those of Cyprus at
Larnaca and Limasol--near the sea, but depending for their water-supply
upon natural springs and rain. There can be no doubt that the springs
are salt, and the rain-water dissolves the salt that is naturally
contained within the soil. M. Gaudry observed a portion of the plain
near Trichomo covered with an efflorescence of soda, which by analysis
yielded about two-thirds of sulphate of soda, with a large proportion of
sulphate of magnesia and other salts. Many wells in Cyprus are salt, or
brackish. The lowest ground of the marshy plain near Famagousta contains
salt to a degree sufficient to destroy the young cereals, should rain
not be abundant; and during the drought of this year (1879), they were
the first to perish, although in a damp locality.

Salt is a government monopoly in Cyprus, and is one of the most
important sources of revenue. In the reign of the Lusignan dynasty, and
from a much earlier date, the produce of the salt lakes formed one of
the chief articles of export, and arrangements were made for regulating
the amount of water to ensure the requisite evaporation. At the present
time considerable uncertainty attends the collection of salt, as a
violent rainfall floods the lakes and weakens the solution. There can be
no doubt that a few years' experience and attention will enable the
authorities to improve upon the present arrangement, and that not only
will the annual supply be assured, but the foreign demand will be

We passed the valley beyond the aqueduct and, ascending the steep
incline upon the opposite side, followed the rutty native track parallel
with the water-course; we halted for the first night opposite the
village of Cheflik Pacha. This is an unhealthy place, as it lies in a
valley where a mill is turned by a stream from the aqueduct and the
surplus water forms a marsh after irrigating in a careless manner some
fields and gardens. Lemon and orange-trees of the largest size were
crowded with fruit, and exhibited in the midst of a treeless and
desolate country the great necessity, WATER, and the productive powers
of the soil when regularly supplied.

I was careful not to descend into the irrigated bottom, therefore we had
halted on the highest point, a quarter of a mile distant. It is
impossible to be too careful in the selection of a camping-ground; the
effect of fever-germs may be the result of one night's bivouac in an
unhealthy locality; and a new country is frequently stamped as
pestilential from the utter carelessness of the traveller or officer in
command of troops.

As a general rule the immediate neighbourhood of water should be
avoided. A clear stream is a tempting object, and the difficulty of
carrying water for the supply of troops is important; but it is less
than the necessity of carrying the sick. If once the fever of malaria
attacks an individual he becomes unfitted for his work; the blood is
poisoned, and he is the victim of renewed attacks which baffle medical
skill and lead to other serious complications. Avoid the first attack.
This may generally be effected by the careful selection of the
camping-ground. Never halt in a bottom, but always on a height.
Throughout my journey in Cyprus neither ourselves nor servants suffered
from any ailment, although we visited every portion of the country, and
I attribute this immunity from fever mainly to the care in our selection
of halting-places.

The first necessity in the evening halt was fire. This is one of the
troubles of central Cyprus--there is no fuel. The two vans and the
native cart were in a line--the bell-tent was quickly pitched for the
servants, who now for the first time experienced the comfort of an
arrangement I had made when in England. I had seven deal battens, each
seven feet long, four inches deep, by two and a half inches broad. These
were laid upon the ground twelve inches apart; seven planks, each one
foot wide, were placed across the battens to form an impromptu floor.
Upon this platform was laid a non-conductor of simply doubled hair-felt,
sewed into a thin mattress of light canvas. There was very little
trouble in this arrangement; the men were kept well off the ground, and
the hair-felt not only preserved their bodily heat from escaping, but it
prevented the damp of the earth from ascending. This mattress was ten
feet long, therefore it could be rolled up to form a bolster at one end;
and, during a hot sun, it was intended for a cover to the roof of the
gipsy van.

The first day's start is always in the afternoon, and the march is
short. We had only made three miles, and it was nearly dark when we
halted. The absence of fuel necessitates the great trouble of carrying a
supply of charcoal, and it destroys the pleasure of the cheerful
night-fires that usually enliven the bivouac in wild countries. The
plants and herbs that grow in Cyprus are all prickly; thus groping in
the dark for the first inflammable material to produce the
fire-foundation is unpleasant. There is a highly aromatic but very
prickly species of wild thyme: this is always sought for, and at all
times responds to the match.

The first night is always novel, in spite of old experiences. We pricked
our hands in raking up thorny plants, but a useful implement, which
combined the broad hoe on one side with a light pick on the other,
lessened our labour, and we produced a blaze; this was bright but
transient, as the fuel was unsubstantial. The dinner was quickly warmed,
as it consisted of tins of preserved meats; and, climbing up the ladder,
the gipsy van presented such a picture of luxury that if the world were
girded by a good road instead of a useless equator I should like to be
perpetually circum-vanning it.

On the following morning the thermometer marked 40 degrees. The natives
were early at work, ploughing land that was to remain fallow until the
following season. The oxen were sleek and in good condition, and not
inferior in weight to the well-known red animals of North Devon.
Although the native plough is of the unchanged and primitive pattern
that is illustrated on the walls of Egyptian temples, it is well adapted
for the work required in the rough and stony ground of Cyprus. I was
surprised to see the depth which these exceedingly light implements
attained, with apparent ease to the pair of oxen; this was not less than
eight inches, and the furrows were regular, but not turned completely
over. The ploughshare is not adapted for cutting the roots of weeds by
means of a flat surface and a sharp edge, but the rounded top of the
native iron passes beneath the soil and breaks it up like the wave
produced by the ram-bow of a vessel. The plough, when complete, does not
exceed forty pounds in weight, and it is conveniently carried, together
with the labourer, upon the same donkey, when travelling from a distance
to the morning's work. European settlers in Cyprus should be cautious
before superseding the native plough by the massive European pattern;
there are certain soils where the powerful iron plough, or even the
double implement, might be worked with advantage, but as a general rule
I should advise an agriculturist to wait patiently at the commencement
of his operations, and to gain practical experience of the country
before he expends capital in the purchase of European inventions. There
can be no doubt that by degrees important improvements may be introduced
that will benefit the Cypriote farmer, although it will be long before
his primitive method will be abandoned. The great difficulty in Cyprus
consists in reducing the soil to a fine surface; huge lumps of tenacious
earth are turned up by the plough, which, under the baking influence of
the sun, become as hard as sun-dried bricks. The native method of
crushing is exceedingly rude and ineffective. A heavy plank about
sixteen feet long and three inches thick, furnished with two rings, is
dragged by oxen over the surface; which generally remains in so rough a
state that walking over the field is most laborious. There are many
stone columns lying useless among the heaps of ruins so common in
Cyprus, that would form excellent rollers, but the idea of such an
implement has never entered the Cypriote head. The plough,
smoothing-plank, and the ancient threshing-harrow, composed of two broad
planks inlaid with sharp flint stones, are the only farm machinery of
the cultivator. As in the days of Abraham the oxen drew this same
pattern of harrow over the corn, and reduced the straw to a coarse chaff
mingled with the grain, so also the treatment in Cyprus remains to the
present day. The result is a mixture of dirt and sand which is only
partially rejected by the equally primitive method of winnowing.

Mr. Hamilton Lang gives an amusing description of the strictly
conservative principles of the Cyprian oxen, which have always been fed
upon the straw broken by the process described in threshing by the
harrow of sharp flints. This coarse chaff, mixed with cotton-seed,
lentils, or barley, is eaten by all animals with avidity, and the
bullocks positively refused Mr. Lang's new food, which was the same
straw passed through an English threshing-machine and cut fine by a
modern chaff-cutter. This fact is a warning to those who would introduce
too sudden reforms among men and animals in a newly-acquired country;
but if Mr. Hamilton Lang had sprinkled salt over his chaff I think the
refractory appetites of the oxen might have been overcome. A pair of
oxen are supposed to plough one "donum" daily of fifty paces square, or
about half an acre.

Having watched the various teams, and conversed with the ploughmen by
the medium of the cook Christo, who spoke English and was an intelligent
interpreter, I ordered the vans to move on while I walked over the
country with the dogs. There was no game except a wild-duck which I shot
in the thick weeds of a neighbouring swamp. Larks were in great
quantities, and for want of larger birds I shot enough for a pilaff, and
secured a breakfast. The route, which could be hardly called a road, had
been worn by the wheels of native carts. These were narrower than our
vans, and one of our wheels was generally upon a higher level,
threatening on some occasions to overturn. The country around us was
desolate in its aridity. We passed through the ruins of an ancient city
over which the plough had triumphed, and literally not one stone was
left upon another. A few stone columns of a rough description, some of
which were broken, were lying in various directions, and I noticed a
lower millstone formed of an exceedingly hard conglomerate rock; these
pieces were too heavy to move without great exertions, therefore they
had remained in situ.

After a short march of three miles we arrived at the steep banks of the
river a mile above the village of Arpera. The bed of this river was
about forty feet below the level of the country, and here our first real
difficulty commenced in descending a rugged and precipitous track, which
at first sight appeared destructive to any springs. The gipsy-van was
conducted by the owner of the fine pair of bullocks; but this fellow
(Theodoris) was an obstinate and utterly reckless character, and instead
of obeying orders to go steadily with the drag on the wheels, he put his
animals into a gallop down the steep descent, with the intention of
gaining sufficient momentum to cross the sandy bottom and to ascend the
other side. If the original gipsy proprietor could have seen his van
leaping and tossing like a ship in a heavy sea, with the frantic driver
shouting and yelling at his bullocks while he accelerated their gallop
by a sharp application of the needle-pointed driving prick, he would
have considered it the last moment of his movable home. I did the same;
but, to my astonishment, the vehicle, after bounding madly about, simply
turned the insane driver head over heels into the river's bed, and the
bullocks found themselves anchored in the sand on the opposite side.
Glover Brothers' blue van was driven by a fine fellow, Georgi, who was
of a steady disposition; and this very handy and well constructed
carriage made nothing of the difficulty. Georgi was a handsome and
exceedingly powerful man, upwards of six feet high, of a most amiable
disposition, who always tried to do his best; but the truth must be
told, he was stupid: he became a slave to the superior intellect of the
bare-brained rascal of the gipsy-van. Why amiable people should so
frequently be stupid I cannot conceive: perhaps a few are sharp; but
Georgi, poor fellow, had all in bone and muscle, and not in brain.

There is great advantage in travelling with more than one vehicle, as in
any difficulty the numerous animals can be harnessed together and their
combined power will drag a single cart or carriage through any obstacle.
Thus one by one the vans were tugged up the steep bank on the opposite
side, and after a drag across ploughed fields for nearly a mile we
halted on the edge of a cliff and camped exactly above the river.
Although the bed was dry below this point, we found a faint stream of
clear water above our position, which was subsequently absorbed by the
sand. The cliffs were not perpendicular, but were broken into steep
declivities from successive landslips: the sides were covered with the
usual prickly plants, but the edges of the stream were thickly bushed
with oleanders which afforded excellent covert for game.

In travelling through Cyprus there is a depressing aspect in the general
decay and ruin of former works. I strolled with my dogs for some miles
along the river banks, and examined the strong masonry remains of many
old water-mills. I found a well-constructed aqueduct of wonderfully hard
cement at the bottom of a cliff close to the present bed of the river:
this must at a former period have passed below the bed, and the
deepening of the stream has exposed and washed away the ancient work.
There was no game beyond a few wild red-legged partridges, although the
appearance of the country had raised my expectations.

On the following morning I rambled with the dogs for many hours over the
range of hills which bounds the plain upon the north, and from which the
river issues. These are completely denuded of soil, and present a
glaring surface of hardened chalk, in the crevices of which the usual
prickly plants can alone exist. Some of the hill-tops exposed a smooth
natural pavement where the rain had washed away all soluble portions and
left the bare foundation cracked in small divisions as though
artificially inlaid. Now and then a wretched specimen of the Pinus
Maritima, about six feet high, was to be seen vainly endeavouring to
find nourishment in the clefts of the barren rocks. I do not believe the
tales of forests having formerly existed upon the greater portion of
Cyprus: it would certainly be impossible for any species of tree to
thrive upon the extensive range of hills near Arpera, which are
absolutely valueless.

In many places the surface glistened with ice-like sheets of gypsum,
which cropped out of the cold white marls and produced a wintry
appearance that increased the desolation. I walked for some hours over
successive ranges of the same hopeless character. Great numbers of hawks
and several varieties of eagles were hunting above the hill-tops, and
sufficiently explained the scarcity of game. The red-legged partridges
found little protection in the scant cover afforded by the withered
plants, and I saw one captured and carried off by an eagle, who was
immediately chased by two others of the same species, in the vain hope
that he would give up his prize; he soared high in air with the
partridge hanging from his claws. On the same day I saw another capture,
and there can be little doubt that the partridge forms the usual food of
these large birds of prey. The British government has already protected
the game by establishing a close season and by a tax upon all guns; but
there will be little benefit from the new law unless a reward shall be
offered for the destruction of the birds of prey which swarm in every
portion of the island--eagles, falcons, kites, hawks, ravens, crows, and
last, but in cunning and destructive propensity not the least, the
"magpies." These birds exist in such numbers that unless steps are taken
to destroy them it will be hopeless to expect any increase of game. When
a magpie wakes in the early morning his first thought is mischief, and
during the breeding season there is no bird who makes egg-hunting so
especially his occupation. Upon the treeless plains of Cyprus every nest
is at his mercy.

From the base of the barren hill-range a fertile plain slopes towards
the sea for a width of about four miles, having received the soil that
has been washed from the denuded heights. This rich surface is
cultivated with cereals, but there are considerable portions which are
covered with a dense mass of thistles, as the land is allowed to rest
for a couple of years after having been exhausted by several crops
without manuring. On the lowlands of Cyprus nearly every plant or bush
is armed with thorns. I have generally observed that a thorny vegetation
is a proof of a burning climate with a slight rainfall. In the scorching
districts of the Soudan there is hardly a tree without thorns to the
tenth degree of north latitude, at which limit the rainfall is great and
the vegetation changes its character. The Cypriotes of both sexes wear
high boots to the knees as a protection from the countless thistles, and
not as an armour against snakes, as some writers have assumed. These
boots are peculiar in their construction; the soles are about an inch in
thickness, formed of several layers of leather, which are fastened
together by large-headed nails from beneath; these are directed in an
oblique line, so as to pass through the edge of the upper leather and
secure it to the sole exactly as the shoe of a horse is fitted to the
hoof. The nails are long and thin, and are riveted by turning the points
round and hammering them like a coil upon the leather; the heads of
these nails are nearly as large as a shilling, and the boots are
exceedingly clumsy; but they increase the height of the wearer by a full

My amiable driver of the blue van, Georgi, accompanied me in my walk,
and fired several useless shots at wild partridges. We now arrived at
the spot where the water is led by a subterranean aqueduct to Larnaca.
This principle is so original, and has from such remote times been
adopted in this arid island, that it merits a detailed description. The
ancient vestiges of similar works in every portion of Cyprus prove that
in all ages the rainfall must have been uncertain, and that no important
change has taken place in the meteorological condition of the country.

In a search for water-springs the Cypriote is most intelligent, and the
talent appears to be hereditary. If a well is successful at an elevation
that will enable the water to command lower levels at a distance, it may
be easily understood that the supply of one well representing a unit
must be limited. The Cypriote well-sinker works upon a principle of
simple multiplication. If one well produces a certain flow, ten wells
will multiply the volume, if connected by a subterranean tunnel, and
provided the supply of water in the spring is unlimited.

It appears that Cyprus exhibits an anomaly in the peculiarity of a small
rainfall but great subterranean water-power; some stratum that is
impervious retains the water at depths varying according to local
conditions. The well-sinker commences by boring, or rather digging, a
circular hole two feet six inches in diameter. The soil of Cyprus is so
tenacious that the walls of the shaft require no artificial support;
this much facilitates the work, and the labourer, armed with a very
short-handled pick, patiently hacks his vertical way, and sends up the
earth by means of a basket and rope, drawn by a primitive but effective
windlass above, formed of a cradle of horizontal wooden bars. The man in
charge simply turns the windlass without a handle, by clutching each
successive bar, which, acting as a revolving lever, winds up the rope
with the weight attached.

The rapidity of the well-sinking naturally depends upon the quality of
the soil; if rock is to be cut through, it is worked with a mason's axe
and the cold chisel. Fortunately the geological formation is principally
sedimentary limestone, which offers no great resistance. At length the
water is reached. The well is now left open for a few days that an
opinion may be formed of the power; if favourable, another precisely
similar well is sunk at a distance of fifteen or sixteen yards in the
direction towards the point required by the future aqueduct. The spring
being satisfactory, the work proceeds with vigour. We will accept the
first well as forty feet in depth; if the surface of the earth were an
exact level, the next well would be an equal depth; but as the water
retains its natural level, the vertical measurement of each shaft will
depend upon the formation of the upper ground. The object of the
well-sinker is to create a chain of wells united by a subterranean
tunnel, in order to multiply the power of a unit and to obtain the
entire supply of water; he therefore sinks perhaps ten or twenty wells
to the same level, and he cuts a narrow tunnel from one to the other,
thus connecting his shafts at the water-line, so as to form a canal or
aqueduct. Precisely as the mole upheaves at certain intervals the earth
that it has scraped from its gallery, the well-sinker clears his tunnel
by sending up the contents through the vertical shafts fifteen yards
apart, around the mouth of which a funnel-shaped mound is formed by the

These preliminary walls being completed and the water-volume tested, the
neighbourhood is examined with the hope of discovering other springs
that may upon the same principle be conducted towards the main line of
the proposed aqueduct. It is not uncommon to find several chains of
wells converging from different localities to the desired water-head,
and as these are at higher levels, a considerable hydraulic power is
obtained, sufficient in many instances not only to fill the tunnels, but
to force the water to a greater elevation if required.

The water-head being thoroughly established, the sinking of a chain of
wells proceeds, and the tunnels are arranged at a given inclination to
conduct the water to the destined spot. This may be many miles distant,
necessitating many hundred wells, which may comprise great superficial
changes; hills that are bored through necessitate deep shafts, and
valleys must be spanned by aqueducts of masonry. In this manner the
water is conducted from the springs of Arpera near the spot where the
river issues from the narrow valley among the hills, and supplies
Larnaca, about eight miles distant from the first head. The British
authorities propose to substitute iron pipes for the present aqueduct;
but it is to be hoped that the new scheme will be an independent and
additional work, that will in no way interfere with the important gift
of Cheflik Pacha, which has existed for nearly two centuries, and which,
if kept in repair, will supply the necessary volume.



Having proved that any further progress west was quite impracticable by
vans, I returned to the new main road from Larnaca, and carefully
avoiding it, we kept upon the natural surface by the side drain, and
travelled towards Dali, the ancient Idalium.

The thermometer at 8 A.M. showed 37 degrees, and the wind was keen. The
road lay through a most desolate country of chalk hills completely
barren, diversified occasionally by the ice-like crystals of gypsum
cropping out in huge masses. In one of the most dreary spots that can be
imagined the eye was relieved by a little flat-topped hut on the right
hand, which exhibited a sign, "The Dewdrop Inn." The name was hardly
appropriate, as the earth appeared as though neither dew nor rain had
blessed the surface; but I believe that whisky was represented by the
"Dewdrop," and that the word was intended to imply an invitation,
"Do-drop-in." Of course we dropped in, being about an hour in advance of
our vans, and I found the landlord most obliging, and a bottle of Bass's
pale ale most refreshing in this horrible-looking desert of chalk and
thistles that had become a quasi-British colony. This unfortunate man
and one or two partners were among those deluded victims who had
sacrificed themselves to the impulse of our first occupation, upon the
principle that "the early bird gets the worm." Instead of getting on,
the partners went off, and left the representative of the "Dewdrop" in a
physical state of weakness from attacks of fever, and the good
industrious man with little hope of a golden future.

Passing on after a conversation with our landlord, which did not cheer
me so much as the pale ale, we continued through the same desolate
country for about two miles, and then turned off on the left hand
towards Dali. We passed through a narrow valley of several hundred acres
planted in vineyards, and we counted four olive-trees, the first green
objects or signs of trees that we had seen since Larnaca! We then
continued through white barren hills for another two miles, and
descended a steep hill, halting for the night upon hard flat gypsum rock
opposite a village named "Lauranchina," above the dry bed of a torrent,
twelve miles from Larnaca.

On the following morning, after a slight shower, we started for Dali.
The narrow valleys were more or less cultivated with vines, and about
three miles from the halting-place we entered the fertile plain of Dali.
This is about six miles long, by one in width, highly cultivated, with
the river flowing through the midst. As far as we could see in a direct
line groves of olives, vineyards, and ploughed land, diversified by
villages, exhibited the power of water in converting sterility into

I always make a rule that the halting-place shall be at a considerable
distance from a village or town for sanitary reasons, as the environs
are generally unclean. All travellers are well aware that their servants
and general entourage delight in towns or villages, as they discover
friends, or make acquaintances, and relieve the tedium of the journey;
therefore an antagonistic influence invariably exists upon the question
of a camping-ground. It is accordingly most difficult to believe the
statements of your interpreter: he may have old friends in a town to
which you believe him to be a stranger; he may have the remains of an
old love, and a wish to meet again; or he may have a still more powerful
attraction in the remembrance of an agreeable cafe where he can refresh
himself with liquor, revel in cigarettes, and play at dominoes. It is
therefore necessary to be upon your guard when approaching a town, which
should be looked upon as the enemy's camp.

My amiable bullock-driver, the big Georgi, had always assured me that
"game abounded in the immediate neighbourhood of Dali;" of course I knew
that the happy hunting-ground contained some special interest for
himself. Upon arrival on the outskirts I ordered the vans to pass on the
outside of the town, and I would seek a camping-place up-stream. Instead
of this I was assured that we should pass through the town, and find a
lovely grove of olive-trees by the river-side, the perfection of a
halting-place. For the first time I now discovered that Georgi's wife
and family lived in Dali, and that he was not such a fool as he looked.

In a few minutes we were descending a lane so narrow that the gipsy van
only cleared the walls of the houses on either side by three or four
inches. This lane had been paved centuries ago with stones of all sizes,
from a moderate grindstone to that of a football. When people had wished
to build a new house, they had taken up a few stones to make a
foundation; the street was a series of pitfalls filled with mud and
filth, including miniature ponds of manure-coloured water. The surface
appeared impassable; the projecting water-spouts from the low roofs
stuck out like the gnarled boughs of trees. Here was a pretty mess!--all
because Georgi's wife was in town. It was impossible for anything larger
than a perambulator to turn, and as the springs yielded to the uneven
ground, the van bumped against the walls of the houses and threatened
destruction. "Halt!" was the only word, and as the drag-shoe was on the
wheel, we stopped. At this moment of difficulty a priest and some old
women appeared with earthen vessels smoking with burning olive leaves;
they immediately passed the smoke beneath the nostrils of the oxen, then
around the van, and lastly ourselves. At the same time some good young
women threw orange-flower water over my wife and myself from pretty
glass vases with narrow necks as a sign of welcome. The incense of the
priests was supposed to avert the "evil-eye" from the gipsy van and our
party. I felt much obliged for the good intention, but I did not mind
the "evil eye" so much as the water-spouts. In my experience of
travelling I never met with such kind and courteous people as the
inhabitants of Cyprus. The Dali population had already blocked the
narrow streets from curiosity at our arrival, and soon understanding the
cause of our dilemma, they mounted the housetops and tore off the
obstructing water-spouts; where these projections were too strong, they
sawed them off close to the eaves. A crowd of men pushed the van from
behind, and guided the oxen, while others assisted by digging up the
large paving-stones that would have tilted it against the house-walls.
In this manner we arrived without serious accident upon the bank of the
river which ran through the town. There was an open space here which was
crowded with women and girls, who, with feminine curiosity, had
assembled to see the English lady. Among these was the prettiest young
woman I have seen in Cyprus, with a child in her arms. Her large blue
eyes and perfect Grecian features were enhanced by a sweet gentle
expression of countenance. She seemed more than others delighted at our
arrival. This was Georgi's wife!--and I at once forgave him for
deceiving us and yielding to the natural attraction of his home.

We were not quite out of our difficulty. Several hundred people had
assembled, and all spoke at once, raising their voices in the hope that
we should understand their Greek better than if spoken in a moderate
tone: (why people will speak loud if you do not know their language I
cannot understand:) but as we were utterly ignorant of their meaning we
were not confused by their differences of opinion respecting our
direction. It ended in our crossing the stony bed of the river, through
which a reduced stream only a few inches deep flowed in the centre, and
having with difficulty gained the opposite bank a hundred yards distant,
we soon arrived in a sort of natural eel-trap formed by a narrow avenue
of gigantic olive-trees, the branches of which effectually barred our
progress and prevented the vans from turning.

A temporary loss of temper was a natural consequence, and having ridden
in advance for about half a mile, I returned and ordered a retreat. We
took the bullocks out, and by hand backed the wheels, until by shovels
and picks we could clear a space for turning. We then re-crossed the
river, and disregarding all native advice, struck into the country, and
halted near a small grove of olives close to the new English road to the
military station "Mattiati."

It was the 4th of February, and the temperature in the morning and
evening was too cold (43 degrees) for pleasant camping. In spite of a
chilly wind, crowds of women and children surrounded our vans and sat
for hours indulging their curiosity, and shivering in light clothes of
home-made cotton-stuffs. The children were generally pretty, and some of
the younger women were good-looking; but there was a total neglect of
personal appearance which is a striking characteristic of the Cypriote
females. In most countries, whether savage or civilised, the women yield
to a natural instinct, and to a certain extent adorn their persons and
endeavour to render themselves attractive; but in Cyprus there is a
distressing absence of the wholesome vanity that should induce attention
to dress and cleanliness. The inelegance of costume gives an unpleasant
peculiarity to their figures--the whole crowd of girls and women looked
as though they were about to become mothers. The coarse and
roughly-tanned, uncared-for high boots with huge hobnails were
overlapped by great baggy trousers. Above these were a considerable
number of petticoats loosely hanging and tied carelessly at the waist,
which was totally unsupported by any such assistance as stays. A sort of
short jacket that was of no particular cut, and possessed the advantage
of fitting any variety of size or figure, completed the attire. The
buttons that should have confined the dress in front were generally
absent, and the ladies were not bashful at their loss, but exposed their
bosoms without any consciousness of indelicacy. There was no peculiarity
in the arrangement of the hair, but each head was tied up in a cloth,
either white or some gaudy colour, which, once gay, had been sobered in
its hues by dirt. In spite of this neglected exterior, the women had
remarkably good manners; they seldom approached my wife without
presenting, with a graceful gesture, some wild flowers, or a little
bunch of sweet herbs, which they had purposely gathered, and we were
quickly made rich in quantities of double narcissus, marigolds, and
rosemary. Upon our arrival at a town or village the girls and boys would
frequently run to their gardens and provide themselves with either a
single flower, or rosemary, with which they would await us in the street
and offer them as we passed by. Throughout Cyprus we have received
similar well-meant attention, and the simplicity and delicacy of the
offering contrasts in an anomalous manner with the dirty habits and
appearance of the people. Even Georgi's pretty wife was untidy about the
hair, although she was in her best attire; and a close inspection of all
women and girls showed that their throats and breasts were literally
covered with ancient and modern fleabites. Their dwellings are extremely
filthy, and swarm with vermin, as the fowls, goats, or even a cow or
two, generally increase the domestic party. It is well known that Paphos
in Cyprus was the supposed birthplace of Venus, and that the island was
at one time celebrated for the beauty of women and immorality: the
change has been radical, as I believe no women are more chaste, and at
the same time less attractive, than the Cypriotes of the present time.
They are generally short and thickset; they are hardly treated by the
men, as they perform most of the rough work in cultivation of the
ground, and, from the extreme coarseness of their hands, they can seldom
be idle; the men, on the contrary, are usually good-looking, and are far
more attentive to their personal appearance.

Dali was an interesting spot to any agriculturist. The soil was
exceedingly rich, as it had been formed, like all valleys in Cyprus, by
the alluvium washed down from the surrounding hills; these were from
three to six hundred feet above the level of the plain, and were
composed of the usual hard species of chalk and gypsum; thus the deposit
from their denudation by rains supplied the chief constituents for the
growth of vines and cereals.

There is a depressing absence of all recent improvements in journeying
through Cyprus; even at Dali, where the water from the river was used
for irrigation, and large farms in the occupation of the wealthy
landowner, M. Richard Mattei, were successfully cultivated, I could not
help remarking the total neglect of tree-planting. The ancient
olive-groves still exist by the river's side, and, could they speak,
those grand old trees would be historians of the glorious days of
Cyprus; but there are no recent plantations, and the natives explained
the cause in the usual manner by attributing all wretchedness and
popular apathy to the oppression of the Turkish rule. This wholesale
accusation must be received with caution; there can be no doubt of the
pre-existing misrule, but at the same time it is impossible to travel
through Cyprus without the painful conviction that the modern Cypriote
is a reckless tree-destroyer, and that destruction is more natural to
his character than the propagation of timber. There is no reason for the
neglect of olive-planting, but I observed an absence of such cultivation
which must have prevailed during several centuries, even during the
Venetian rule. It is difficult to determine the age of an olive-tree,
which is almost imperishable; it is one of those remarkable examples of
vegetation that illustrates the eternal, and explains the first
instincts of adoration which tree-worship exhibited in the distant past.
I spent some hours with the olive trees of Dali; they were grand old
specimens of the everlasting. One healthy trunk in full vigour measured
twenty-nine feet in circumference; another, twenty-eight feet two
inches. Very many were upwards of twenty feet by my measuring-tape; and
had I accepted the hollow or split trees, there were some that would
have exceeded forty feet. There can be little doubt, that these olives
throve at the period when Idalium was the great city in Cyprus; they may
have exceeded two thousand years in age, but any surmise would be the
wildest conjecture. It may not be generally known that the olive, which
is of slow growth and a wood of exceeding hardness, remains always a
dwarf tree; a tall olive is unknown, and it somewhat resembles a pollard
ilex. When by extreme age the tree has become hollow it possesses the
peculiar power of reproduction, not by throwing up root-shoots, but by
splitting the old hollowed trunk into separate divisions, which by
degrees attain an individuality, and eventually thrive as new and
independent trees, forming a group or "family-tree," nourished by the
same root which anchored the original ancestor.

The gnarled, weird appearance of these ancient groves of such gigantic
dimensions contrasted sadly with the treeless expanse beyond, and proved
that Cyprus had for very many centuries been the victim of neglect. The
olive is indigenous to the island, and the low scrub jungles of Baffo,
the Carpas district, and other portions abound with the wild species,
which can be rendered fruitful by grafting. In selecting trees for the
extension of forests, there is a common-sense rule to guide us by
observing those varieties which are indigenous to the country; these can
be obtained at the lowest cost, and their success is almost assured, as
no time need be lost from the day of their removal to the new
plantation. Such trees as are rendered fruitful by grafting offer
peculiar advantages, as the stocks already exist upon which superior
varieties may be connected. The principal food of the Cypriotes consists
of olives, beans, bread, and onions; they seldom eat what we should call
"cooked food;" whether this is owing to the scarcity of fuel, or whether
it is natural in this climate to avoid flesh, I cannot determine: some
say the people are too poor, and cannot afford mutton at twopence a
pound, while at the same time they will not kill the oxen that are
required for purposes of draught; they refuse the milk of cows, and only
use that of sheep or goats. The fact remains that the country people
seldom eat butcher's meat, but subsist upon olives, oil, bread, cheese,
and vegetables.

Under these circumstances it would be natural to suppose that the
accepted articles of consumption would be highly cultivated and superior
in quality; but the reverse is the fact. The olive-oil is so inferior
that foreign oil is imported from France for the use of the upper
classes; the olives are of a poor description, and, as a rule, few
vegetables are cultivated except in the immediate vicinity of town
markets, the agricultural population or country people being too
careless to excel in horticulture, and depending mainly upon the wild
vegetables which the soil produces in abundance. If the people are too
inert to improve the qualities and to extend the cultivation of
vegetables, it is easy to comprehend their neglect of the tree-planting
so necessary to the climatic requirements of this island.

The oil-press is similar to the old-fashioned cider-mill of England. The
fruit, having been dried in the sun, is placed in a circular trough in
which the stone wheel revolves, driven by a mule and pole. When
sufficiently crushed, and reduced to a paste, it is divided into
basketfuls; these are subjected to pressure by the common vertical
screw, and the oil is expressed, but is not clarified. It is generally
rancid and unfit for European consumption. In travelling through Cyprus
the medicine-chest may dispense with castor-oil, as the olive-oil of the
country is a good substitute. By the government report, the yield of oil
in 1877 was estimated at 250,000 okes (of 2 3/4 lbs.) valued at about
nine piastres per oke, but during the same year foreign olive-oil to the
value of 1,706 pounds sterling was imported. There can be little doubt
that special attention should be bestowed upon the improvement of the
olive cultivation in Cyprus, and grafts of the best varieties should be
introduced from France and Spain; in a few years an important
improvement would result, and the superabundant oil of a propitious
season would form an article of export, instead of (as at present) being
converted into soap, as otherwise unsaleable.

Our crowd of female admirers was happily dispersed by a slight shower of
rain, and by clouds which threatened a downpour; the men remained, and a
swarthy-looking thoroughbred Turk promised to accompany me on the morrow
and show me the neighbourhood. I was informed in a mysterious whisper by
a Cypriote "that this man was a notorious robber, whose occupation was
gone since the arrival of the British;" he had formed one of a gang that
had infested the mountains, and his brother had murdered a friend of
Georgi (the van-driver), and was now in gaol at Rhodes for the capital
offence. The Turk was very intelligent, and thoroughly conversant with
the various methods of breech-loading firearms; he examined several
rifles and guns belonging to me, and at once comprehended the mechanism,
and explained it to the admiring crowd. When this individual left our
camp in the evening, the story that I had heard in outline was
corroborated by the driver Georgi, who asked me to exert my influence to
procure the hanging of the murderer now at Rhodes, as the Turkish
authorities would never execute a Turk for the murder of a Greek unless
influenced by foreign pressure. It appeared that the Cypriote had
informed against one of the gang for cattle-stealing, accordingly
several members of the fraternity picked a quarrel with him at a
drinking-shop one evening at Dali, and stabbed him fatally. My new
acquaintance, the Turk, was not present during the fray, and I could not
promise Georgi the intervention he desired.

On the following morning seven natives of Dali appeared--all
Greeks--accompanied by the ex-robber, whom I regarded as "a wicked man
who had turned away from his wickedness," with whose antecedents I had
no concern. They had brought their guns, which were at once submitted to
me for an opinion of their merits, with a vain expectation that I should
pronounce them to be "English." I was to be guided to a spot about an
hour's march distant, where partridges and hares were said to abound,
and it appeared that an impromptu shooting-party had been arranged
especially for my amusement.

I am not very fond of such sporting meetings, as the common guns of the
people, which are constantly missing fire when required to shoot, have
an awkward knack of going off when least expected; my mind was somewhat
relieved when the tactics were explained, that we (nine guns) were to
form a line of skirmishers about two hundred yards apart, commanding a
mile of country.

There is a great advantage in sport, as the search for game leads a
traveller into all kinds of places which he would otherwise leave
unseen. It is a great enjoyment to stroll over a new country accompanied
by good dogs, and combine at the same time sport and exploration.

Upon arrival at the summit of the hill range which we had passed on our
left when we had arrived at Dali, I was well repaid, and the necessity
of judging a country from a hill-top instead of from a highroad was well
exemplified. I looked down upon the highly-cultivated and fertile valley
of Lymbia, surpassing in extent the plain of Dali, and although the
successive ranges of hills and mountains were bleak and barren in their
whiteness, the intervening valleys were all occupied either by vineyards
or by fields in tillage. Even the ravines upon the steep hill-sides
which had been scored out by the rainfall of ages were artificially
arranged to catch the melted earth in its descent during heavy storms,
and to form terraces of rich alluvium.

A succession of rough walls composed of the large rocks which strewed
the surface, were built at convenient intervals across the ravines,
forming a series of dams or weirs. The soil of Cyprus is peculiar in
dissolving very quickly during a shower, and the water rolls down the
steep inclines carrying so much earth in solution, that, should its
course be checked, it deposits an important quantity, sufficient in a
few seasons to form a surface for a considerable area. The walls of the
dams are continually raised as the earth attains a higher level, and the
ground thus saved is a complete gain to the proprietor.

The few partridges were very wild, and saved my dogs the trouble of
hunting by showing themselves at a couple of hundred yards; the only
chance of shooting them depended upon stray birds passing within shot
when disturbed by the long line of guns. I only bagged one partridge and
a hare, and the rest of the party had the miserable total of two birds.
This was a fair example of the sport on the bare hill-sides of Messaria.

The new road to Mattiati was unfit for vans; I therefore rode over to
visit the camp of the 20th Regiment, eight miles distant, and after
luncheon with the officers of that regiment I accompanied their party to
Lithrodondo, the Colonel having kindly lent me a fresh horse. My aneroid
showed an increased elevation of 330 feet in the eight miles from Dali
to Mattiati. After leaving the Dali plain the road passes through the
usual hills of hard chalk, but about two miles from the entrance an
important change was exhibited in the geological structure. Eruptive
rocks had burst through the chalk, producing interesting metamorphic
phenomena. The hills no longer fatigued the eye by the desolate glare,
but the earth was a rich brown diversified with patches of bright
chocolate colour.

The greenstone cropped out through the surface in large masses,
accompanied by a peculiar dun-stone precisely similar to that of Knowles
Hill in South Devon. In a cutting through a hill-side by the government
new road veins of bright yellow ochre were exposed, also red ochre in
considerable quantities. I took samples of the yellow, which appeared to
be of a good quality; but I believe the commercial value is too
insignificant to support the charges of land-transport and the
subsequent freight from Larnaca.

Mattiati is about 1300 feet above the sea-level. The troops were camped
in wooden huts on low hills about forty feet above a flat valley, where
olive-trees throve in considerable numbers. I should not have selected
Mattiati as a sanitary station; the plain showed evident signs of bad
drainage, and the rich deep soil would become a swamp after heavy rains.
Upon the low hills within a mile of the station were vast quantities of
scoriae or slag from ancient smelting-furnaces, and the remains of
broken pottery, mingled with stones that had been used in building,
proved that important mining operations had been carried on in former

From Mattiati to Lithrodondo the country is broken and little
cultivated; there was no longer a sign of cretaceous rock, but the bold
range of mountains rose before us crowned by Makheras, 4730 feet,
apparently close above us, dark in plutonic rocks and sparsely covered
with myrtles and other evergreens. As we neared the base of the
mountains, the vegetation increased, and passing the dirty village of
Lithrodondo, we entered upon a succession of hills divided by numerous
small torrent-beds, the steep banks of which were thickly fringed with
oleanders, mastic, myrtles, and other shrubs, which formed an
inspiriting change from the weary treeless country we had left behind.
Beyond Lithrodondo are extensive vineyards; but it was late, and I was
obliged to turn back towards Dali, fifteen miles distant.

Wherever I had been since my departure from Larnaca the natives had
complained of the effects of fever to which they are subjected during
the summer months; but they were unanimous in declaring that "the
general sickness of the last year was exceptional, and that the fevers
were not of a dangerous nature." It is well known that upon our first
occupation of the island in July, 1878, all troops, both English and
Indian, suffered to a degree that would have rendered them unfit for
active service. It is true that the actual mortality was not excessive;
but the strength of an army must be reckoned by the EFFECTIVE force, and
not by numbers. There can be no doubt that, owing to a season declared
by the inhabitants to be exceptionally unhealthy, and the unfortunate
necessity for a military occupation during the extreme heat of July and
August, the troops being overworked, badly fed, and unprotected from the
sun, the newly-acquired island was stamped with a pestilential
character, and Cyprus became a byeword as a fever-smitten failure. I
shall give my personal experiences, untinged by any prejudice. The
natural features of the country produced a sad impression upon my first
arrival in a scene where the depressing influence of a barren aspect
must to a certain extent affect the nervous system; but a careful
examination of the entire surface of the island subsequently modified my
first impressions, with results which these pages will describe.

There was no object in prolonging my visit to Dali; the tombs of ancient
Idalium had already been ransacked by the consuls of various nations;
and had I felt disposed to disturb the repose of the dead, nominally in
the interests of science, but at the same time to turn an honest penny
by the sale of their remains, I should have been unable to follow the
example of the burrowing antiquarians who had preceded me; a prohibition
having been placed upon all such enterprises by the English government.

It is supposed that Idalium is one of the largest and richest treasuries
of the dead in Cyprus. For several centuries the tombs had been
excavated and pillaged in the hopes of discovering objects of value. The
first robbers were those who were simply influenced by the gold and
other precious ornaments which were accompaniments of the corpse; the
modern despoilers were resurrectionists who worked with the object of
supplying any museums that would purchase the funeral spoil.

It is a curious contradiction in our ideas of propriety, which are
measured apparently by uncertain intervals of time, that we regard as
felonious a man who disinters a body and steals a ring from the fingers
of the corpse a few days after burial in an English churchyard, but we
honour and admire an individual who upon a wholesale scale digs up old
cemeteries and scatters the bones of ancient kings and queens, princes,
priests, and warriors, and having collected the jewellery, arms, and
objects of vanity that were buried with them, neglects the once honoured
bones, but sells the gold and pottery to the highest bidder. Sentiment
is measured and weighed by periods, and as grief is mitigated by time,
so also is our respect for the dead, even until we barter their ashes
for gold as an honourable transaction.

The most important object of antiquity that has been recently discovered
by excavations at Dali is the statue of Sargon, king of Assyria, 707
B.C., to whom the Cypriote kings paid tribute. This was sent to the
Berlin Museum by Mr. Hamilton Lang, and is described in his interesting
work upon Cyprus during the term of several years' consulship.

The ruins of ancient cities offer no attraction to the traveller in this
island, as nothing is to be seen upon the surface except disjointed
stones and a few fallen columns of the commonest description. The
destruction has been complete, and if we wish to make discoveries, it is
necessary to excavate to a considerable depth; but as all such
explorations are prohibited, the subject remains fruitless. General di
Cesnola, whose work upon the antiquities of Cyprus must remain
unrivalled, describes the tombs as from forty to fifty-five feet beneath
the present surface, and even those great depths had not secured them
from disturbance, as many that he opened had already been ransacked by
former explorers.

On the 7th of February the thermometer at eight A.M. was only 40
degrees. The oxen were put into their yokes, and after a discussion
concerning the best route to Lefkosia, it was agreed that Georgi should
be the responsible guide, as he was a native of the country.

When travelling on horseback through the district of Messaria there is
no difficulty of roads, provided you know the country thoroughly, as you
may canter, in the absence of enclosures, in any direction you may
please; but the Cypriotes have an awkward habit of leading their
watercourses straight through any route that may exist for wheeled
conveyances, and you suddenly arrive at a deep ditch and high bank,
which block the thoroughfare. Georgi had assured us that no difficulty
would delay us between Dali and the high road from Larnaca to Lefkosia,
which we should intersect about half-way between the two termini.
Instead of this, after travelling for a couple of miles along a good
hardened track, we arrived at a series of trenches which effectually
stopped all progress. Each van had a pickaxe and shovel, therefore we
all set to work in rapid relief of each other to level the obstructions,
and by this hard exercise the thermometer appeared to rise quickly from
the low temperature of the morning. The oxen were good, and by dint of
our united exertions in heaving the wheels and pushing behind, we
dragged the vans through the soft ground that had filled the ditches,
and then slowly travelled across ploughed fields and alternate plains of
a hard surface covered with abominable thistles.

We passed on our left a large farm that exhibited a wonderful contrast
to the general barrenness of the country. The fields were green with
young wheat and barley, and numerous sakyeeahs or cattle-wheels for
raising water supplied the means of unfailing irrigation. I believe this
property belonged to Mr. Mattei, and there could be no stronger example
of the power that should be developed throughout this island to render
it independent of precarious seasons. It is a simple question of a first
outlay that is absolutely necessary to ensure the crops. Throughout the
barren plain of Messaria water exists in unfailing quantity within a few
yards of the parched surface--thus at the same time that the crops are
perishing from the want of rain, the roots are actually within a few
feet of the desired supply. The cattle-wheels of Cyprus are very
inferior to the sakyeeah of Egypt, but are arranged upon a similar
principle, by a chain of earthenware pots or jars upon a rope and wheel,
which, revolving above a deep cistern, ascend from the depth below, and
deliver the water into a trough or reservoir upon the surface. From the
general reservoir small watercourses conduct the stream to any spot
desired. This is the most ancient system of artificial irrigation by
machinery, and it is better adapted for the requirements of this country
than any expensive European inventions. As I shall devote a chapter
specially to the all-important question of irrigation, I shall postpone
further remarks upon the cattle-wheel; but the farm in question which
formed a solitary green oasis in the vast expanse of withered surface
was a sufficient example of the necessity, and of the fruitful result of
this simple and inexpensive method. It is a mere question of outlay, and
the government must assist the cultivators by loans for the special
erection of water-wheels. But of this more hereafter.

At about six miles from Dali we struck the road between Larnaca and
Lefkosia (or Nicosia). The newly-established mail-coach with four horses
passed us, with only one passenger. We met it again on the following
day, with a solitary unit; and it appeared that the four horses on many
occasions had no other weight behind them than the driver and the
letters. With this instance of inertia before their eyes, certain
lunatics (or WISE CONTRACTORS) suggested the necessity of a railway for
twenty-eight miles to connect the two capitals! The mail had an
ephemeral existence, and after running fruitlessly to and fro for a few
months, it withdrew altogether, leaving an abundant space in Cyprus for
my two vans, without the slightest chance of a collision upon the new
highway, as there were no other carriages on the roads, excepting the
few native two-wheeled carts.

We halted five miles from Lefkosia, where a new stone bridge was in
process of construction and was nearly completed. We had already passed
a long and extremely narrow Turkish bridge across the river about four
miles in our rear. By pacing I made the new bridge twenty-nine feet, the
same width as the road, and I could not help thinking that a much less
expensive commencement would have been sufficient to meet the
requirements of the country. In Cyprus the rainfall is generally slight
and the earth is tenacious, and in dry weather exceedingly hard; if half
the width of the road had been carefully metalled in the first instance,
a great expense would have been saved at a time when the island was
sadly in want of money; the natural surface of the firm soil would have
been preferred by all vehicles except during rain, when they would have
adopted the metalled parallel way. It is easy to criticise after the
event, and there can be no doubt that upon our first occupation of the
island a much greater traffic was expected, and the road between the two
capitals was arranged accordingly. We halted for the night at the new
stone bridge, which, as usual in Cyprus, spanned a channel perfectly
devoid of water. On the following morning we marched to Lefkosia, and
passing to the left of the walled town, we reached the newly-erected
Government House, about a mile and a half distant, where we received a
kind and hospitable welcome from the High Commissioner, Sir Garnet, and
Lady Wolseley.

The position of the new Government House was well chosen. The character
of the dreary plain of Messaria is the same throughout; flat
table-topped hills of sedimentary calcareous limestone, abounding with
fossil shells, represent the ancient sea-bottom, which has been
upheaved. The surface of these table-heights is hard for a depth of
about six feet, forming an upper stratum of rock which can be used for
building; beneath this are marls and friable cretaceous stone, which
during rains are washed away. The continual process of undermining by
the decay of the lower strata has caused periodical disruption of the
hard upper stratum, which has fallen off in huge blocks and rolled down
the rough inclines that form the sides. As the water during heavy rains
percolates through the crevices of the upper stratum, it dissolves the
softer material beneath, and oozing through the steep inclination,
carries large quantities in solution to the lower level and deposits
this fertilising marl upon the plain below. In this manner the low
ground of the rich but dreary Messaria has been formed through the decay
and denudation of the higher levels, and the process will continue until
the present table-topped hills shall be entirely washed away. The stone
of the upper surface, which forms a hard crust to the friable strata
beneath, is in many places merely the roof of caverns which have been
hollowed out by the action of water as described.

The Government House was erected upon one of these flat-topped hills in
a direct line about 1900 yards from the nearest portion of Lefkosia. It
was a wooden construction forming three sides of a quadrangle. The
quarters for the military staff were wooden huts, and the line of
heights thus occupied could not fail to attract the eye of a soldier as
a splendid strategical position, completely commanding Lefkosia and the
surrounding country. From this point an admirable view was presented
upon all sides. The river Pedias (the largest in Cyprus), when it
possessed water, would flow for about 270 degrees of a circle around the
base of the position, the sides of the hill rising abruptly from the
stream. The dry shingly bed was about 120 yards in width, and although
destitute of water at this point, sufficient was obtained some miles
higher up the river to irrigate a portion of the magnificent plain which
bordered either side. Sir Garnet Wolseley was endeavouring to put a new
face on the treeless surface, and had already planted several acres of
the Eucalyptus globulus and other varieties on the lower ground, while
date-palms of full growth had been conveyed bodily to the natural
terrace around the Government House and carefully transplanted into
pits. This change was a considerable relief to the eye, and the trees,
if well supplied with water, will in a few years create a grove where
all was barrenness.

The view from each portion of the terrace is exceedingly interesting, as
it commands a panorama for a distance of nearly thirty miles. On the
north is the range of mountains, about twelve miles distant, which form
the backbone of Cyprus, and run from east to west, attaining the height
of 3400 feet. This is a peculiar geological feature in the island, as it
is the only instance of compact (or jurassic) limestone. Through my
powerful astronomical telescope I could plainly distinguish every rock,
and the Castle of Buffavento upon the summit of the perpendicular crags
afforded an interesting object, although invisible to the naked eye. The
south and east presented a miserable aspect in the brown desert-like
plain of Messaria, broken by the numerous flat-topped hills to which I
have already alluded. On the west the important mountain-range which
includes Troodos bounded the view by the snow-capped heights of the
ancient Mount Olympus, between which several chains of lower hills
formed a dark base of plutonic rocks, which contrasted with the painful
glare of the immediate foreground. The highest points of this range are
Troodos, 6590 feet, Adelphe, 5380 feet, Makhera, 4730 feet. These are
the measurements as they appear upon the maps; but the recent survey by
the Royal Engineers has reduced the height of Troodos by 250 feet. A
green patch at the foot of the Carpas range denoted the position of
Kythrea, about twelve miles distant east, watered by the extraordinary
spring which has rendered it famous both in ancient and modern times;
and almost at our feet, or a mile in a direct line, the fortified
capital, Lefkosia, presented the usual picturesque appearance of a
Turkish town. A combination of date-palms, green orange-gardens,
minarets, mosques, houses quaint in their irregularity and colouring,
and the grand old Venetian Cathedral, St. Sophia, towering above all
other buildings, were enclosed within the high masonry walls and
bastions, comprising a circuit of three statute miles.

The position of Lefkosia has been badly chosen, as it lies in the flat,
and must always have been exposed to a plunging fire from an enemy
posted upon the heights. It was fortified in the time of Constantine the
Great, but in 1570 the Venetians demolished the old works and
constructed the present elaborate fortifications. Although the walls are
in several places crumbling into ruins, they are still imposing in
appearance, and present a clean front of masonry flanked by eleven
bastions, and entered by three gates, those of Baffo, Famagousta, and
Kyrenia. The original ditch can be traced in various places, but the
counterscarp and glacis have been destroyed; therefore the soil has
washed in during the rainy seasons, and to an unpractised eye has
obliterated all traces of the former important work. On the other hand,
the disappearance of the glacis renders the height of the walls still
more imposing, as they rise for thirty or forty feet abruptly from the
level base, and at a distance maintain the appearance of good condition.

It is difficult to imagine the reason which induced the Venetians to
reproduce Lefkosia after they had demolished the original
fortifications; but it is probable that they had already erected the
cathedral before the expected Turkish invasion rendered the improved
defences necessary. Although in the early days of artillery shell-fire
was unknown, both the Turks and Venetians possessed guns of heavy
calibre far exceeding any that were used in Great Britain until recent
years. The marble shot which are still to be seen in Famagousta are the
same which served in the defence of that fortress in 1571. These are
nearly eleven inches in diameter, while in the fort of Kyrenia the stone
shot are still existing, nineteen inches in diameter, composed of an
exceedingly hard and heavy metamorphic rock. The long bronze guns which
threw the smaller stone shot of from six to eleven inches, would command
a far more extensive range than the interval of the heights which
dominate Lefkosia; and even should battering have been ineffective at
that distance against walls of masonry, the plunging fire would have
destroyed the town and rendered it untenable.

Traces are still visible of the Turkish approaches when the town was
successfully carried by storm on the 9th of September, 1570, after a
siege of only forty-five days. The short duration of the attack compared
to the length of time required in the siege of Famagousta, which at
length succumbed to famine, and not to direct assaults, is a proof of
the faulty strategical position of the fortress of Lefkosia.

Most Turkish towns are supplied with water by aqueducts from a
considerable distance, which would naturally be cut by an enemy as the
first operation. The water is brought to Lefkosia from the hills at some
miles' distance, and is of excellent quality; but the wells of the town
must be contaminated by sewage, as there is no means of effective

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