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Even from this elevated point of view Morphu looked a long way off. The sleepy Iiani was sufficiently wide awake to steer for his wife, and we had made a long march already. I doubted the possibility of the loaded camels ascending the steep slope, which had severely tried our mules, and I felt sure that liani’s old camel would either knock up or tumble down with his load, should he attempt the ascent. It was of no use to reflect, and as Morphu lay before us in the now barren and sun-smitten plain, we touched our animals with the spur and pressed on. Descending for some miles, we passed a garden of olives, that must have been upwards of a thousand years old, upon our right; and still inclining downwards, through ground cultivated with cereals completely withered by the drought, we at length arrived at the broad but perfectly dry bed of the river. Crossing this, we steered for a grove of ancient olive-trees, which I at once selected for a camping-place, on the outskirts of the town. We were now twenty-three miles from Lapithus, and I felt sure that our baggage animals would not arrive till nightfall.

As we sat beneath one of these grand old olive-trees alone, Iiani having taken his mules to his home, and probably at the same time having advertised our arrival, throngs of women and children approached to salaam and to stare. I always travelled with binocular glasses slung across my back, and these were admirable stare-repellers; it was only necessary to direct them upon the curious crowd, and the most prominent individuals acknowledged their power by first looking shy and conscious, and then confusedly laughing and retreating to the rear.

We had arrived at 2.20 P.M., and we waited beneath the olive-trees until 8 P.M., when the advance camels at length came in after dark. It was 9.30 before the tents were pitched and the camp arranged. The great delay had been occasioned by Iiani’s old camel, which had, as I had expected, rolled down the steep bill with its load, and having nearly killed itself, had mortally wounded the sacred copper kettle, which every traveller knows is one of his Penates, or household gods, to which he clings with reverence and affection. This beautiful object had lost its plump and well-rounded figure, and had been crushed into a museum-shaped antiquity that would have puzzled the most experienced archaeologist. Metal water-jugs upon which the camel had rolled had been reduced to the shape of soup-plates, and a general destruction of indispensable utensils had inflicted a loss more than equal to the value of Iiani’s animal.

The following morning (12th April) exhibited the extraordinary change of climate between the northern and southern sides of the Carpas mountain-range. The average temperature of the week had been at 7 A.M. 57.5 degrees F, 3 P.M. 66.5 degrees. At Morphu the thermometer at 7 A.M. showed 62 degrees, and at 3 P.M. 83 degrees! It was precisely the same on the following day.

It was a distressing contrast to the beautiful Kyrenia and the interesting north coast to have exchanged the green trees and rippling streams for the arid and desolate aspect of the Messaria. The town of Morphu has no special interest; like all others, it consists of houses constructed of sun-baked bricks of clay and broken straw, with flat-topped roofs of the same materials. There are fruitful gardens irrigated by water-wheels, and formerly the extremely rich sandy loam of the valley produced madder-roots of excellent quality, which added materially to the value of the land. This industry having been completely eclipsed by the alizarine dye, Morphu has to depend upon silk and cereals for its agricultural wealth. The population is composed almost entirely of Greeks. There is a monastery and a large school.

I rode to the bay, about four miles and a half distant, passing many villages, which, as we neared the sea, were in the midst of magnificent crops of barley and wheat, resulting from artificial irrigation by the water that percolates beneath the sandy bed of the dry river at a certain level, which has been led into numerous channels before it can reach the natural exit at its mouth. It must be exceedingly unhealthy, as, for several square miles upon the sea margin, the country is an expanse of marsh and bulrushes, abounding with snipe during the winter months. On 13th April I walked over the greater portion of this locality with my three spaniels, but the snipe had departed, and we did not move a bird.

On the right side of Morphu Bay to the east, by Kormachiti, there are extensive sand-dunes, forming deep drifts, which extend for several miles inland at the foot of the hill-range that we had descended. These exhibit the prevailing wind (north). Many people upon observing sand-dunes attribute the most distant limit of the sand to the extreme violence of the wind; but this is not the case. It is the steady prevalence of moderately strong winds that causes the extension of sand-drifts. The wind of to-day deposits the sand at a certain distance from the shore. The wind to-morrow starts the accumulated sand from that depot to form a new deposit about equidistant; and thus by slow degrees the dunes are formed by a succession of mounds, conveyed onwards by an unchanging force; but the maximum power of a gale would be unable to carry thousands of tons of heavy sand to form a hill-range at the extreme distance from the original base of the material. At Hambantotte, in the southern district of Ceylon, there is an extraordinary example of this action, where during one monsoon a range of mounds is formed which might be termed hills; when the monsoon changes, these by degrees disappear, and, according to the alteration in the wind, a range of hills is formed in an exactly opposite direction.

I was glad to escape from Morphu; the wind from the dry plain was hot, and brought clouds of dust. We were surrounded by throngs of people during the day, many of whom were blind, including young children. The 13th April was the Greek Easter Sunday, and we could not start, as Iiani declared that the mules had run away during the night, and could not be found; we knew this was only an excuse for remaining at Morphu, and he at length confessed that the mules were caught, and we could start in the afternoon if I would allow him to wait until he should have received the sacrament together with his wife. Having thus brought the theological and the domestic guns to concentrate their fire upon me, I was obliged to yield, and liani appeared in such a jovial frame of mind in the afternoon, and smelt so strongly of spirits, that I suspected his devotions had been made at the raki-shop instead of the altar.

On 14th April we started, and were thankful to leave Morphu. The route lay across the plain westward, and in some parts we rode along the sea margin, eagerly hurrying our animals to turn the corner of the hills and escape from the hot and dreary plain. The breeze was northerly, and a heavy surf broke upon the coast, exhibiting the exposed position of Morphu Bay from north to west. On the eastern side the beach is sandy and the water deepens rapidly, affording good and safe anchorage near the shore; but should the wind change suddenly to west or north, the position would be dangerous. The bay is the most striking of all the numerous indentations on the shores of Cyprus. The bold points of Cape Kormachiti and Cape Kokkino form the chord of an arc twenty-one miles in length, from the centre of which the bay enters the land about eleven miles. It would be impossible to land from boats even during a moderate breeze from the west to north without considerable danger; but I can see no difficulty in arranging a floating breakwater that would afford shelter for small vessels and add materially to the importance of the roadstead. These are the necessary improvements which require an outlay, and unfortunately under the existing conditions of our occupation the revenue that would be available for public works is transferred to the treasury of Constantinople; thus the Turk still hampers progress, as he governs Cyprus in the uniform of the British official. We rounded the base of the hills, which rose rapidly from the shore, and crossed several small streams thickly fringed with tamarisk, that would be impassable during sudden storms of the rainy season. Several villages were distinguished by their bright green appearance among the hills, which denoted the existence of springs or rivulets, and as we proceeded we observed that all crops in the low ground had benefited by artificial irrigation.

After a ride of two hours and a half we arrived at Caravastasi, and halted in a very stony field at the back of the village, beneath an old caroub-tree that had grown thick and shady by the merciless hacking of its taller boughs, which had reduced it to a pollard. The village of Caravastasi consists only of eight or ten houses, but is rendered important by a Custom-house. It is situated on the most inland point of Morphu Bay, and is slightly sheltered on the west by a promontory, which forms a neat little cove for the protection of small vessels; but it is completely open due north. Nothing would be easier than to construct a small harbour, by extending a pier or breakwater from the end of the promontory in the required direction; and the present unimportant village would become only second in importance to Kyrenia.

The positions of ancient sea-port ruins attest the value that attached to certain geographical points in former days, and although the vessels of those periods may have been much inferior to ships of modern times, they were sufficiently large for the commerce of the country and for the capabilities of the harbours. The trade of Cyprus will always be carried by vessels from twenty to one hundred and fifty tons, and there should be no difficulty in providing shelter for ships of this small draught of water. The ruins of Soli, on the west of the present village of Caravastasi, prove that the Athenians, who founded the original city, were thoroughly cognizant of the value of a position which is the only spot upon the whole northern coast of Cyprus that will afford shelter or a landing-place, excepting the harbour of Kyrenia. In the early period of Cyprian history Soli represented one of the independent kingdoms when the island was divided into ten, Amathus, Cerinea (Kyrenia), Citium, Chytri, Curium, Lapithas, Marium, Nea-Paphos, Salamis, and Soli. The Phoenicians, from their own southern position, naturally selected the ports most convenient for their trade, and accordingly settled on the south coast of Cyprus, their chief towns being Amathus, Citium, and Paphos; these were important commercial ports at a time when Cyprus was in its zenith of prosperity, and were sufficient for the requirements of the period. If the British occupation is intended to be permanent it will be highly necessary to determine the classes of harbours that should be provided, as it would be a useless extravagance to expend large sums upon the construction of ports beyond the necessities of the trade. As I have already expressed an opinion that the commerce of Cyprus will be represented by vessels of moderate tonnage, the necessary protection for such vessels may be obtained at an equally moderate outlay, and both Soli and Kyrenia may be made available as safe harbours for all traders upon the northern coast. Famagousta would become the arsenal and dockyard for ships of war; Larnaca and Limasol would be safe roadsteads for all classes, and could easily be arranged to protect small trading-vessels; while Baffo would, like Kyrenia and Soli, be restored to its original position. All rudimentary harbour-works would be planned with a view to future extension, as might be rendered necessary by the development of trade.

Colonel White, 1st Royal Scots, who had been appointed chief commissioner of the Lefkosia district from his former similar position at Larnaca, arrived at Caravastasi upon the same day as ourselves. This very painstaking and energetic officer was exploring his district and investigating all the nooks and corners of the mountainous frontier which bounded his authority; he was accordingly assailed with complaints and lamentations concerning the endless water disputes among the villages; those of the lower ground declaring that the streams to which they were entitled by the rights of centuries had been diverted to other channels, that the Turkish authorities had been bribed by the opposing litigants; with the usual long list of grievances, the discussion of which I shall defer to a special chapter upon “Irrigation.”

CHAPTER VIII.

ROUTE TO BAFFO.

Our tent was pitched upon rising ground, which formed the direct slope from the sea, a quarter of a mile distant, to the mountain-top about 1500 or 2000 feet above us; the insignificant village of Caravastasi was upon the sea-beach in our immediate front.

From our commanding position I had observed a peculiar mound with a cliff-face half a mile to the west, which exhibited the unusual colour of a bright lemon yellow in close conjunction with red of various shades. Upon crossing numerous fields of barley, which the reapers had just attacked (14th April), I descended a ravine at the foot of this peculiar formation, which I carefully examined.

Since we had crossed the plain of Morphu and quitted the compact limestone of the Carpas range we had entered upon an interesting geological change. Eruptive rocks had burst through the marls and calcareous sedimentary limestone of the coast and had produced very curious examples of metamorphous rocks, where the marls and limestone had been in immediate contact with the plutonic. The cliff above me was about fifty feet high, as I stood at its base within a shallow gorge that formed a brook during the rainy season.

The bottom upon which I stood was a mass of debris of bright colours, varying from pure white to different shades of yellow and red. This material appeared to have fallen recently, as the blocks did not exhibit the dull exterior that would have resulted from atmospherical exposure. I climbed up the steep face of crumbled matter with some difficulty, as the sharply inclined surface descended with me, emitting a peculiar metallic clink like masses of broken porcelain. On arrival at the top I remarked that only a few inches of vegetable mould covered a stratum of white marl about a foot thick, and this had been pierced in many places by the heat that had fused the marl and converted it into a clinker or sharply-edged white slag, mixed with an ochreous yellow and bright red. I had never met with anything like this singular example of igneous action upon marls. In the neighbourhood there were considerable masses of the same clinker-like material exhibiting a honeycombed appearance, that would have been well adapted for millstones. The natives informed me that all the millstones of the northern coast were imported from Athens. I had heard while at Kythrea that the stones for the very numerous mills of that neighbourhood were supplied from Alexandretta, and that none of native origin were employed. There can be no doubt that some of the specimens I examined of this material combined the requirements of extreme hardness, porosity, and sharpness of interior edges around the honeycombed cavities. I walked over the mountain, and quickly lost the marl in masses of plutonic rocks that had been upheaved and entirely occupied the surface. Although vast blocks lay heaped in the wildest confusion, they exhibited the peculiar characteristics of all Cyprian rocks (excepting the calcareous limestone) in their utter want of compactness. I have never seen in Cyprus any hard rock (except jurassic limestone), whether gneiss, syenite, or others, that would yield an unblemished stone to the mason’s chisel of ten feet in length by a square of two feet. This peculiarity is not the result of decay, but the entire mass has been fractured by volcanic disturbance and by the rapid cooling of molten matter upheaved from beneath the sea.

Red jasper is abundant in this locality, and is generally found in small pieces embedded in the marls. I discovered a very compact specimen weighing about 200 lbs., which I left at a house in Caravastasi until I might have an opportunity of conveying it to Larnaca. Upon crossing the mountain I arrived at a charming valley among the hills at an elevation of about 1200 feet above the sea, at the narrow entrance of which, between the sides of the gorge, was a Turkish village. I was quickly observed, and being quite alone, with the exception of my dogs, a Turkish woman, to whom I made a salaam, ran into a neighbouring house and sent her husband with a chair, that I might sit beneath an almond-tree. A few Turks gathered round me and insisted with much politeness that I should enter the house of the owner of the chair. It was a rough dwelling, but I was kindly welcomed, and cheese, bread, and curds were quickly arranged before me, together with a gourd-shell of clear cold water, from the spring which issued from the rocks in the gorge about fifty feet below the house. To the disappointment of my host I was obliged to decline all his offerings, except a draught of cold water, as I had breakfasted before leaving the camp. The Turk now showed me his gun, which he explained was of little use, as he could not afford a game licence, but he offered to show me a spot where hares were abundant. The shooting-season was long since closed, therefore partridges and francolins were sacred, but I should have had no scruples in bagging a hare for a stew. My guide conducted me over very likely ground down into ravines with bush-covered sides, then upon the hill-tops, and among patches of cultivation where the hares had played sad havoc in nibbling the wheat and barley; but we found none. My dogs hunted every bush in vain, and the burning sun had dried out every vestige of scent. I believe the hares escape the sun by taking refuge beneath the rocks, otherwise we must have moved at least one or two. My guide was much disappointed, but as game was absent he hunted for wild asparagus, which grew in considerable quantities beneath the thick clumps of bushes upon the hill-sides. By the time that we arrived in camp he had collected sufficient for a good dish. This variety is not quite so thick as good cultivated asparagus, but it is superior in flavour, although slightly bitter.

We rode to Lefka, about three miles distant. This is one of those happy lands of Cyprus which is watered with unfailing streams from the Troodos range, that have enforced prosperity. The town is important, and is situated upon the sides of the hills, which form a valley, through which, in rainy weather, a river flows; at other seasons, like all Cyprian torrents, the bed is dry. The houses of Lefka are almost concealed by the luxuriant foliage of the gardens and orangeries. We rode through narrow lanes streaming with water, and shaded with the elm, ash, maple, and innumerable fruit-trees. Mills, turned by water, the masonry of the aqueducts being ornamented with the graceful maiden-hair ferns, enlivened the otherwise dull lanes by an exhibition of industry. The orange-trees and lemons were literally overweighted with fruit, which in some instances overpowered the foliage by a preponderance of yellow. Lefka supplies the whole western district with lemons, in addition to the market of the capital, Lefkosia. As usual, I observed that the fruit-trees were ridiculously crowded, thus preventing the admission of the necessary air and light. I forbear at present to describe the fruit, as none existed at this season, excepting oranges and lemons, and I wish to introduce my readers to every scene and object precisely as they met my eye in travelling through the country. The lemons are some of the best I have ever tasted, but the oranges are full of seeds, with thick skins, and although juicy and refreshing in this hot climate, they would be rejected in the English market.

A very cursory view of Lefka was sufficient to explain its agricultural importance, and to (for the hundredth time) awaken the reflection that most portions of the island might equal such exceptional prosperity, if special attention were bestowed upon the development of artificial irrigation.

On 16th April we left Caravastasi, and rode over almost the worst road, but one of the most picturesque in Cyprus. It was a succession of the steepest ups and downs through and over mountain spurs, to cut off the promontories which projected into the sea at right angles with our route. It seemed impossible that loaded animals should be able to traverse such steep and dangerous defiles, and I made up my mind that Iiani’s ancient camel would terminate its career, together with that of our possessions upon its back, by rolling several hundred feet into the dark angle of some precipitous ravine. Even Iiani kept awake, and presently I heard a faint exclamation from behind, and upon turning round I discovered Lady Baker upon the ground, the saddle having twisted beneath her mule in descending a steep and rocky gulley; fortunately she fell upon the wall-side of the path, instead of upon the edge of the precipice; and she was unhurt.

Although the route was abominable it was most interesting. As the drainage of the mountains was at right angles, we crossed a succession of heights which afforded short glimpses of the sea some 600 feet beneath, with the perpendicular rock-bound coast below us, and then alternately descended into the depths of the intervening gullies. This peculiarity exhibited to perfection the geological formation. We had entered upon trap rocks and the greenstone, all of which showed traces of copper. Notwithstanding the wild and dangerous route, every available plot of ground was cultivated, although no villages were perceptible. The peasants carried their light ploughs upon donkeys from considerable distances, and with these exceedingly useful implements they ploughed inclines that would have been impossible to cultivate with any European implement except the hoe. At length we descended to the sea-beach, and marching through heavy sand for about a mile, we arrived at Pyrgos, our halting-place, twelve miles from Caravastasi.

This is one of the wildest portions of Cyprus. There is no village, but the position is simply marked by the presence of one building above the sea-beach, which has been a depot for the spars and poles of pine that have periodically been delivered from the mountains by the torrents, when heavy rains have swollen them sufficiently to enable them to force the timber towards the sea. As the mountains upon this portion of the coast descend in many places actually to the shore, while in no places are they more than half a mile distant, the rivulets are numerous, as there is no time, or area, sufficient for their absorption by the soil. Within a hundred and fifty paces of the timber store beautiful streams of clear water issued from the ground in three different places, which converged into a brook abounding with water-cresses, and this, after passing through a small and thick jungle of tamarisk-bushes, formed a pool above the sea-beach which overflowed upon the shingle, and met the waves. We ascended the stream for a short distance, until, tempted by two or three large plane-trees, we halted for luncheon beneath their shade. The river, which occasionally flooded sufficiently to bring down heavy timber when felled among the mountains, flowed through an extremely rich but narrow valley, which extended into a glen between their precipitous slopes until it became a mere ravine. The mass of mountains in this district, which form a succession of wild and impassable steeps, is marked upon Kiepert’s map as “unexplored.” They were originally pine-forests, but the destruction of timber has been carried to such an excess that comparatively few trees remain. With my glass I could distinguish large trunks that lay rotting upon the ground, where they had pitched among the stems, and roots of trees that had been already felled; these had been rolled from the steep heights above, but having been caught in their descent to the torrent below by the opposing stumps, they had been abandoned, and other trees had been felled in their stead, where the inclination was more favourable for their transport.

This portion of the coast should be thoroughly explored by practical miners, as it is rich in minerals. I procured some fine specimens of pyrites of copper, which the natives mistook for silver; and should a mineralogical investigation be made by the authorities, I feel sure that the metallic wealth of Cyprus will be discovered between Caravastasi and Poli-ton-Krysokhus.

It was late before our baggage animals appeared, and when they at length arrived, Iiani’s venerable camel was missing. It appeared that this worn-out old creature had been performing acrobatic feats in tumbling throughout the difficult journey, and had rolled, together with its load, down several places that had threatened its destruction. It had delayed the march several hours, as it had been many times released from difficulties by unloading, reloading, and dividing the heavier portions of baggage among the other camels which received a smaller pay. At length, upon arriving upon the deep sand of the beach, about a mile distant, it had fallen down, and given up everything except the ghost.

It was a natural annoyance to the owners of the other camels that Iiani should be paid highly for a useless animal, while they had to carry its load divided among them assisted by a division of the smaller weights among the servants’ riding mules. The evening was passed in grumbling: everybody was in a bad humour. It was declared impossible to pitch the tent upon the sandy beach by the pool of fresh water, as there was no holding-ground for the tent-pegs. I quickly instructed them in making faggots of tamarisk-boughs which, tied to the ropes and buried in the sand, were much more secure than pegs in the hardest soil; and the tent was at length arranged. A small species of curlew tempted its fate by visiting the fresh-water margin just before our dinner-hour; I bagged it; and as the cook was in a bad humour, I made a fire of driftwood, with which the beach was strewed, and when the glowing embers had succeeded to the flame and formed a red-hot heap, I cut two forked sticks, which, placed on either side upright in the sand, supported my bird upon a long skewer of green tamarisk-wood. A little salt, pepper, and a smear of butter occasionally, produced a result that would have beaten Christo’s best attempts.

On the following morning we were all once more in good humour; the old camel had not died, but had been brought into camp late at night. It now formed the object for everybody’s joke, and its owner liani was recommended to “try and sell it,” or “to make it a present to a friend,” or “to ride it himself;” the latter course would have been a deserved punishment. Iiani escaped further remarks by jumping upon his mule and riding ahead, and we followed our guide without delay along the deep sandy beach.

We rode for fourteen miles along cliffs bordering the sea, with the deep hollows occasioned by the natural drainage causing a continual series of ups and downs, which reminded me forcibly of the coast of South Devon between Torquay and Dawlish. The difference lay in the rocks, which were all plutonic, and in the scenery upon our left, which was a wild and confused mass of mountains, scarred by deep and dark ravines, while the more distant summits exhibited the still-existing pine-forests; these had disappeared from the slopes which faced the coast, and had afforded facilities for exportation. We halted in a deep glen between exceedingly steep hills, through which a torrent-bed had cut its course directly to the sea. In this secluded spot, far from all villages or inhabitants, we arranged to encamp upon a flat and inviting plot of turf, which in Cyprus is rarely met with. Some tolerable elms and other trees formed a dense shade in a deep and narrow portion of the glen beneath the over-hanging cliffs, and a beautiful spring of water issued from the rock, received in a stone cistern beneath. An arch of masonry inclosed the spring, which some kind person had thus carefully arranged for the public good; this was richly clothed with maiden-hair ferns. The surplus water, after overflowing the stone basin, formed a faint stream, which trickled over the rocks between cliffs only a few feet apart, until it emerged from this narrow cleft and joined the sea. I walked down this natural alley to the beach and bathed, to the astonishment of my guide Iiani and another Cypriote, who rushed to the top of the cliff as though they thought I contemplated suicide; these people having a natural horror of cold water. The name of this secluded glen was Symboli.

On the following morning we started for Polis, fourteen miles by an easy route along the coast. The mountains upon our left were very precipitous, and exhibited the same character of complete wilderness which had marked them for the last two marches; the only difference apparent was an increase in the remaining pines, which fairly clothed their summits and ravines. The sea was perfectly calm, and for the first time during our stay in Cyprus we observed many shoals of fish playing upon the surface close to the beach. Two cormorants were in the bay, and I made some fortunate shots, killing one with the rifle at upwards of 200 yards, and disabling the other at about 250. There appeared to be more signs of game in this part of the country, as the cock francolins were crowing in many directions throughout our route, until we arrived at Polis, or, in full, “Poli-ton-Krysokhus.”

This place was formerly important as one of the principal mineral centres of the island, and the large accumulations of scoriae in several mounds near the coast prove that mining operations were conducted upon an extensive scale. A concession had recently been granted to a small private company for the working of copper in this neighbourhood, and should the existence of metallic wealth be proved there can be no doubt that capital will be embarked in mining enterprises, and the locality will recover its former importance. On the other hand, all mining adventures should be conducted with the greatest caution. A common error is committed by sanguine speculators in following the footsteps of the ancients, upon the supposition that because in former ages a locality was productive, it should remain in the same profitable condition. Nothing can be more erroneous; it is generally poor gleaning after the Phoenicians. The bronze of those extraordinary miners and metallurgists was renowned above all other qualities; they worked the copper-mines of Cyprus and the tin-mines of Cornwall, but the expenses of working a mine in those days bore no comparison with the outlay of modern times. Slaves were employed as a general rule: forced labour was obtainable; and the general conditions of the labour-market were utterly at variance with those of the present day. The ancient miners would seldom have abandoned their veins of ore until they were completely exhausted, and the vast heaps of scoriae which now mark the sites of their operations may be the remains of works that were deserted as worn out and unproductive. It is true that traces of copper are visible in many places throughout the metamorphous rocks, and the greenstone from Soli to Poli-ton-Krysokhus, but it remains to be proved whether the metal exists in sufficient quantities to be profitably worked. It is generally believed that zinc was formerly produced at Soli, where vestiges of ancient mining operations are to be seen upon the surface, but for many centuries the works have been abandoned.

A very careful scientific examination of the island has been made by various explorers–M. Gaudry, Unger, and Kotschy: their reports are not encouraging, but at the same time it must be allowed that they were not practical miners. The work of M. Gaudry must always be accepted as a most valuable authority upon the geology, mineralogy, and general agricultural resources of Cyprus, but it will be remarked by all practical men that the explorations of the country have been superficial; no money has been expended; and is it to be supposed that the surface of the earth will spontaneously reveal the secrets of the interior?

Under the present administration it is quite impossible to say too much in praise of the energy and painstaking devotion to the interests of Great Britain and to those of this island by the High Commissioner and every officer, from the commissioners of districts to the subordinate officials; but according to the terms of the Convention with the Porte the island is as completely denuded of money as the summits of the cretaceous hills have been denuded of soil by the destructive agency of weather. It is painful to an English traveller, whose life may have been passed in practical development, to survey the country as it now is, to reflect upon what it has been, and to see that even under the auspicious reputation of an English occupation nothing can be done to awaken resources that have so long lain dormant. Money is wanted–money must be had. Without an expenditure of capital, riches may exist, but they will remain buried in obscurity.

A responsible official would reply–“We will give you a concession, we will give you every possible encouragement.” The capitalist will ask one simple question, “Is Cyprus a portion of the British Empire upon which I can depend, or is it a swallow’s nest of a political season, to be abandoned when the party-schemes have flown?”

Any number of questions may be asked at the present moment, but in the absence of all definite information no capitalist will embark in any enterprise in Cyprus, which may be ultimately abandoned like Corfu; and the value of all property would be reduced to a ruinous degree.

The mining interests of Cyprus must remain for the most part undeveloped until some satisfactory change shall be effected in the tenure of the island that will establish confidence.

Polis was a straggling place situated upon either side of a river, through the bed of which a very reduced stream was flowing about three inches in depth. A flat valley lay between the heights, both of which were occupied by numerous houses and narrow lanes, while the rich soil of the low ground, irrigated by the water of the river withdrawn by artificial channels, exhibited splendid crops of wheat and barley. Groves of very ancient olive-trees existed in the valley, and we halted beneath the first oak-trees that I had seen in Cyprus. These were wide- spreading, although not high, and I measured the girth of one solid stem–eighteen feet.

We had hardly off-saddled, when crowds of women and children collected from all quarters, with a few men, to stare at the new-comers; not at ME personally, but at my wife. They were, if possible, more filthy than the average of Cyprian women, and a great proportion of the children were marked with recent attacks of small-pox. I regretted that I had not a supply of crackers to throw amongst and disperse the crowd that daily pestered us; any lady that in future may travel through Cyprus should have a portmanteau full of such simple fireworks. It was in vain to explain that the people were a nuisance if too near: when driven to a moderate distance, they would advance shyly, by degrees; two or three children would come forward and sit down a few paces in front of the main body; after a few minutes several others would overstep this frontier and sit down five or six yards in advance of the last comers, and by this silent system of skirmishing we were always surrounded in twenty minutes after the original crowd had been dispersed. I did not mind them so long as they were not in personal contact, and were free from recent small-pox; but some of the red-pitted faces were full of warning.

There was nothing of interest to detain us at Polis, and we started early upon the 19th April towards Baffo. The valley through which the river Aspropotamo had deposited a layer of fertile alluvium divided the mountain range, leaving the plutonic rocks to the east; and on the western side we ascended a steep path over cretaceous limestone, broken and disturbed at intervals by the protrusion of eruptive rocks. As we increased our altitude we looked down upon a picturesque view of the bay of Krysokhus, with two sails upon its blue waters beneath the dark cliffs of the western shore. The ancient Marium or Arsinoe showed no vestiges except in the modern village of Polis, which, from the distance, looked better than the reality, as the foliage of numerous trees shadowing the terrace-built houses upon either side the rich green valley, backed by the lofty range of pine-covered mountains, completed a lovely landscape.

An hour had passed, but still we ascended; the path was as usual rugged, and we already looked down upon the sea and valley at least 2000 feet beneath. I had serious misgivings concerning the camels and their loads. General di Cesnola had examined the whole of this country in his search for antiquities, but the neighbourhood of the ancient Arsinoe, where much had been expected, was almost unproductive.

The path still rose; until at length we arrived upon an extensive plateau about 2400 feet above the sea. The soil was chocolate-colour, and the surface was covered with large stones of the sedimentary limestone that surrounds the coast, and which forms the flat-topped hills of the Messaria. In many places the natives had built these into walls around their fields, in order to clear the ground required for cultivation. We passed several villages, all squalid and miserable, although the rich soil exhibited green crops far superior to anything we had met with in the lower country. Extensive gardens of mulberry explained the silk-producing power of this neighbourhood, and almonds, figs, apricots, &c., throve in great numbers and luxuriance. This peculiarly fruitful plateau occupies an area of about eight miles from north to south, and four from east to west. We halted at the large Turkish village of Arodes, from which we looked down upon the sea and the small rocky island opposite Cape Drepano, on the western coast, almost beneath our feet. This portion of Cyprus is eminently adapted for the cultivation of fruit-trees, as the climate and soil combine many advantages. The elevation and peculiar geographical position attract moisture, while the lower ground upon the east is parched with drought. The evaporation from the sea below condenses upon the cooler heights immediately above and creates refreshing mists and light rain, which accounted for the superiority of the crops compared with any that I had seen elsewhere. Shortly after halting at Arodes we experienced these atmospherical changes. The thermometer at Polis had been 57 degrees at 7 A. M., and it was only 56 degrees at 3 P.M. at this altitude of 2400 feet. Although the sky had been clear, mists began to ascend from the chasms and gullies along the abrupt face of the mountain which overhung the sea; these curled upwards and thickened, until a dense fog rolled along the surface from the west and condensed into a light shower of rain. The Turkish inhabitants of the village were extremely civil, and made no complaints of scarcity from drought, as they fully appreciated the advantages of their locality. The hawthorn-trees were only just budding into bloom, while those in the low country had shed their flowers, and had already formed the berries. In future an extensive growth of fruit may supply the market of Alexandria, but at present the total absence of roads would render the transport of so perishable a material upon the backs of mules impossible. I had sent back our three riding mules to meet and to relieve the camels, and by this precaution the baggage animals arrived at a convenient hour.

The route to Baffo or Ktima, which is now the principal town, lay across the plateau for about five miles to the verge which formed the table-land, from which margin we looked down upon the deep vale below, bounded by the sea at a few miles distance.

We dismounted and walked down the long and steep pass, the mules being led behind. The entire face of the perpendicular cliffs was cretaceous limestone, but the scaly slopes of a hill upon our left, about a mile and a half distant, formed a loose heap of shale, which had slipped, either during earthquakes or heavy rains, in great masses to the bottom.

After a long and tedious descent we reached the base of the pass, and halted in a broad river-bed full of rocks and stones of all sizes, which had been rounded by the torrent of the rainy season. There was no water except in small pools that had been scraped in the sand for the benefit of the travelling animals. Having watered our mules and remounted, we ascended the steep banks of the stream and continued towards the sea, feeling a sensible difference in the temperature since we had descended from the heights.

The country was exceedingly pretty, as it sloped gently downwards for three or four miles, the surface ornamented with caroub-trees, until we at length reached the sea-beach and crossed the sandy mouth of the river’s bed. The crops of cereals were perished by drought in the absence of irrigation; but upon continuing our route parallel with the beach we observed an immediate improvement, as the water was conducted by artificial channels to the various fields. This arrangement had been effected by erecting a temporary dam in the river’s bed far among the mountains, and thus leading the stream into the conduit for many miles. Small brooks intersected our path along the coast, and in several places I remarked the ruins of ancient aqueducts. . . . There was nothing of peculiar interest upon this route; the land inclined upwards from the sea for six or seven miles to the foot of the mountain range, all of which was either cultivated with cereals or was covered with caroub- trees and olives. Many villages were dotted over the surface; these were green with mulberry and various fruit-trees. With the sea upon our right, and the waves dashing briskly upon the rocky shore, the scene was agreeable; but the sun was hot, and we were not sorry to see the distant minarets of Ktima after a ride of seventeen miles from Arodes.

We passed the ruins of ancient Paphos upon our right, and shortly afterwards ascended the rocky slope upon which the capital of the district, Ktima, is situated. It is a large town, and as we rode through the bazaar the narrow street was almost blocked with huge piles of oranges that had been imported from Jaffa, the season for the Cyprus fruit being nearly over.

Iiani was exceedingly stupid in selecting camping-ground, therefore upon arrival at a new place we invariably had to explore the neighbourhood, like migratory birds landed upon strange shores. We accordingly rode through the considerable town of Ktima amidst the barking and snapping of innumerable dogs, who attacked our British spaniels, keeping up a running fight throughout the way, until we emerged upon open country beyond the outskirts.

We were now once more upon a flat table-top, about a hundred feet above the plain between us and the sea, a mile and a half distant. The edge of the table-land formed a cliff, choked from its base with huge fallen blocks of sedimentary limestone, from the crevices of which trees grew in great profusion, reminding one of hanging coverts upon hill-sides in England. Descending a steep but well-trodden path between these cottage-like masses of disjointed rock, we arrived at the prettiest camping-ground that I had seen in Cyprus. This had formed the camp of the Indian troops when the occupation had taken place in July, 1878, and unfortunately in this charming spot they had suffered severely from fever.

The sea and the town and port of Baffo lay before us, but immediately in front of the rocky and tree-covered heights that we had descended were great numbers of park-like trees which I had never before met with. These were of large size, many exceeding fourteen feet in girth, with a beautiful foliage that threw a dense shade beneath. The name of this tree is Tremithia, and it bears a small fruit in clusters of berries which produce oil: this is used by the inhabitants for the same purposes as that obtained from olives. I had met with the bush in a wild state for the first time at Lapithus, and had been attracted by the aromatic scent of the young leaves, but I was not aware that it grew to the size of a forest-tree. Springs of pure water issued from the rocks in the cliff-side within a few yards of our position; these were caught in large reservoirs of masonry from twenty to thirty feet square and six feet deep, from the bottom of which the water could be liberated for the purposes of irrigation. We selected a position upon a terrace beneath a number of these splendid tremithias, which afforded a shade during all hours of the day. The little stream rippled just below, passing by the roots of the trees that sheltered us, and watered a rich and dark green plot of about two acres of–neither roses, nor violets, but something far better, which at once delighted our cook Christo–onions! According to his practical ideas the Garden of Eden would have been a mere wilderness in the absence of a bed of onions; but at length we had entered upon Paradise; this WAS a charming place! For some distance beyond this captivating plot the tremithias (which at a distance resembled fine-headed oaks) ornamented the surface and gave a park-like appearance to the country; but beyond them the plain was a gentle slope, highly cultivated towards the sea. Long before the arrival of our baggage animals we had visitors; Captain Wauchope, the chief commissioner of the district, and several officers in official positions, were kind enough to call. An old man and his wife, the proprietors of the onions, who lived close by, brought us some rush-bottomed chairs with much civility; and as the day wore on a long string of visitors appeared, including the Bishop and some of the native officials; and we were of course surrounded with the usual throng of women and children: these were cleaner and better looking than those we had hitherto encountered.

The camels did not appear until late in the evening, as they had descended the steep pass from the table-land of Arodes with much difficulty, and liani’s “antique” had again fallen, repeatedly, and necessitated a division of his load, which already had been reduced to that of a donkey.

When the sun rose on the following morning I walked into Ktima by a good path, that led through the rocks along the base of the cliff until it ascended gradually to the town. Although the cyclamens were past their bloom, their variegated leaves ornamented the white stones as they emerged like bouquets from the crevices of fallen rock. There was little of interest in the town, which hardly repaid a walk: it left the same depressing feeling that I had so often experienced in our journey through Cyprus: “The past had been great, and the present was nothing.”

The little insignificant harbour exhibited a few small craft of about twenty tons. There was a small fort and a British flag; there were also the ruins of ancient Paphos; but there was nothing to denote progress or commercial activity. In the afternoon Captain Wauchope was kind enough to accompany us over the ruins. As I have before explained, there is nothing of interest upon the surface of ancient cities throughout Cyprus. Anything worth having has been appropriated many ages since by those who understood its value, and beyond a few fallen columns and blocks of squared stone there is literally nothing to attract attention. Even General di Cesnola excavated in vain upon the site of ancient Paphos, which from its great antiquity promised an abundant harvest. There were two fine monoliths, the bases of which, resting upon a foundation of squared stones, appeared as though they had formed the entrance to a temple; these were pillars of grey granite (foreign to Cyprus) about twenty-seven feet high and three feet two inches in diameter.

There were stony mounds in many directions, and fallen pillars and columns of granite and of coarse grey and whitish marble; but beyond these ordinary vestiges there was nothing of peculiar interest. As there is no authority equal to General di Cesnola upon the antiquities of Cyprus, I trust he will excuse me for inserting the following interesting extract from his work, upon The Great Centre of the Worship of Venus:–

“Although this spot [Paphos] was the scene of great religious events, and was otherwise important in the island, yet neither are there more than a very few ruins existing above ground, nor have the explorations I have directed there at different times succeeded in bringing to light anything of interest. I believe that this absence of ruins can be accounted for in the following manner. Paphos was several times overthrown by earthquakes. The last time the temple was rebuilt was by Vespasian, on whose coins it is represented; but as nothing is said of the rebuilding of the city it is supposed that it was left in ruins; probably therefore during the long period that Cyprus was under the Roman and the Byzantine rule a great deal of the decorative and architectural material of Paphos was transported to the other city called Nea-Paphos, and used for its embellishment. In the Acts of the Apostles it is spoken of as the official residence of the Roman proconsul Paulus Sergius, and was therefore the capital of the island. By the time of the Lusignan kings Palaeo-Paphos had disappeared, and its ruins under their reign were extensively explored in search of statuary and other objects of art, with which to decorate the royal castle built in its vicinity. There is scarcely any ancient tomb to be found of a date previous to the Roman period which had not been opened centuries ago.”

In page 207 General di Cesnola gives an illustration of “stone feet with a Cypriote inscription, from the temple of Paphos,” which would suggest from their appearance that gout was not uncommon even within the temple of Venus. In continuation he writes, page 210:–

“The great temple of Venus was situated on an eminence, which at present is at a distance of about twenty-five minutes’ walk from the sea. Some parts of its colossal walls are still standing, defying time and the stone-cutter, though badly chipped by the latter. One of the wall-stones measured fifteen feet ten inches in length, by seven feet eleven inches in width and two feet five inches in thickness. The stone is not from Cyprus, but being a kind of blue granite, must have been imported either from Cilicia or from Egypt.

“The temple as rebuilt by Vespasian seems to have occupied the same area as the former temple, and was surrounded by a peribolos, or outer wall. Of this a few huge blocks only are now extant. On the west side of this outer wall there was a doorway still plainly visible. Its width was seventeen feet nine inches. The two sockets for the bolts upon which the door swung are of the following dimensions: length six inches, width four and a half inches, depth three and a half inches. The south-east wall, I ascertained, by excavating its whole length, was690 feet long. The length of the west side I could only trace as far as 272 feet, its continuance being hiddenbeneath the houses of Kouklia. The length of the other two sides I was unable to ascertain for similarreasons. The walls of the temple itself, made of the kind of stone previously mentioned, but not in such huge blocks, I was able to trace correctly, bydint of patience; and though very little is seen above ground, yet, strange to say, the four corner-stonesare still standing. The north-east corner-stone iscased in a house in Kouklia, forming part of its wall; that of the north-west stands in a cross-street of the village by itself. Some European travellers have mistaken it from its present shape for the emblematic cone of Venus. The south-east corner stands also by itself in an open field, where the Christian population of Kouklia burn lamps and little wax-candles, but in honour of whom, or for what purpose, I did not inquire. The fourth corner-stone likewise forms part of a modern dwelling-house.

“The temple was oblong and of the following dimensions: the eastern and western walls measure 221 feet, and the two other sides 167 feet. I cannot vouch for the exact measurement on account of the difficulties I had to encounter, nevertheless the difference can be of some inches only. The corner-stone of the north-west side has a hole in it thirteen inches in diameter; a similar hole also exists in the south-west corner of the outer wall. As the temple at Paphos possessed an oracle, these strange holes, which go through the entire stone, may have been connected with it. This at least was the opinion of Dr. Friederichs when he came to pay me a visit at Paphos.

“From this spot, if a person stand upon this huge perforated stone, he can produce a clear and fine echo of a phrase of three or four words, pronounced in a hollow tone of voice.”

It is quite possible that the tricks of acoustics may have been practised by the priests who officiated at oracular shrines, which would have awed the ignorant multitude; as in sacred groves a tree might have been made to speak by the simple contrivance of a man concealed within the hollow stem, which to outward appearance would have been considered solid. The devices of priestcraft to bring grist to their mill are not yet obsolete, as will be seen in many of the monasteries of Cyprus.

All the grandeur of ancient days was now represented by the heaps of stones and the rock caverns which mark the site of Paphos. What became of Venus after her appearance upon this shore may be left to the imagination; why she is represented by the exceedingly plain women of modern Cyprus surpasses the imagination. Perhaps the immorality connected with the ancient worship of the goddess of beauty and of love invoked a curse upon the descendants in the shape of “baggy trousers, high boots, and ugliness:” to which dirt has been a painful addition.

CHAPTER IX.

FROM BAFFO TO LIMASOL.

We left Ktima on 23rd April for Limasol. The weather was now perfect for out-door life, the thermometer 52 degrees at 7 A.M., and 70 degrees at 3 P.M. The route was agreeable, the crops were well irrigated by numerous streams led from the mountains, and the country generally was green and well wooded. After a march of fourteen miles, during which we had passed the ruins of several ancient aqueducts, we arrived at a running stream which issued from a narrow valley between cliffs and hills and emptied itself upon the sea-beach. A number of tamarisks formed a jungle near the mouth, and the banks were a bright rose-colour, owing to the full bloom of thickets of oleanders. This was a charming halting-place, and as the beach was strewn with dry timber that had been brought down from the mountains during the season when the stream was powerful, we should have a good supply of fuel in addition to fresh water. The route had been along the flat parallel with the sea from Ktima, and I noticed a wonderful change in the pace of the camels, as I had summoned Iiani when at the capital of the district before the Cadi at the Konak, and the chief commissioner had added his voice to the threat and monitions he had received concerning his future conduct regarding early starting and attention to my orders. Captain Wauchope had kindly furnished me with an excellent Turkish zaphtieh, or mounted policeman, whose red jacket and fez commanded a certain respect. This man was mounted upon a strong, well-built, and exceedingly active pony, or small horse, which led the way, as our new guide thoroughly knew the country.

While all hands were pitching the tent upon a sandy turf within a few yards of the sea-beach I took the dogs for a ramble up the thickly-wooded valley along the banks of the stream, as I had observed a number of blue-rock pigeons among the white cliffs, and I thought I might perhaps find a hare for the evening stew. I killed some pigeons, but did not move a hare, although the dogs worked through most promising ground, where green crops upon the flat bottom surrounded by thick coverts afford both food and shelter. We were returning to camp when I suddenly heard Merry and Shot barking savagely in some thick bushes upon the steep bank of the stream. At first I thought they had found a hedgehog, which was always Shot’s amusement, as he constantly brought them into camp after he had managed to obtain a hold of their prickly bodies. The barking continued, and as I could not penetrate the bush, I called the dogs off. They joined me almost immediately, looking rather scared. It now occurred to me that they might have found a snake, as a few days ago I had heard Merry barking in a similar manner, and upon joining him I had discovered a snake coiled up with head erect in an attitude of defence. I had killed the snake and scolded the dog, as I feared he would come to an untimely end, should he commence snake- hunting in so prolific a field as Cyprus. Since that time all the dogs hunted the countless lizards which ran across the path during the march, and Shot was most determined in his endeavours to scratch them out of their holes.

I had called my three dogs together, and we were walking across a field of green wheat, when I suddenly missed Shot, and he was discovered lying down about fifty paces in our rear. Merry, who usually was pluck and energy itself, was following at my heels and looking stupid and subdued. This dog was indomitable, and his fault was wildness at the commencement of the day; I could not now induce him to hunt, and his eyes had a peculiar expression, as though his system had suffered some severe shock. Shot came slowly when I called him, but he walked with difficulty, and his jaws were swollen. I now felt sure that the dogs were bitten by a snake, which they had been baying when I heard them in the bush about five minutes before. We were very near the camp, and the dog crept home slowly at my heels. Upon examination there was no doubt of the cause; Shot had wounds of a snake’s fangs upon his lip, under the eye, and upon one ear; he must have been the first bitten, as he had evidently received the greatest discharge of poison. Merry was bitten in the mouth and in one ear, both of which were already swollen, but not to the same degree as Shot, who, within an hour, had a head as large as a small calf’s, and his eyes were completely closed. I had not the slightest hope of his recovery, as his throat had swollen to an enormous size, which threatened suffocation. I could do nothing for the poor dogs but oil their mouths, although knew that the poison would assuredly spread throughout the system. The dogs had been bitten at about 3.40 P.M. At 8 P.M. (our dinner-hour) Shot was a shapeless mass, and his limbs were stiff; the skin of his throat and fore-part of his body beneath his curly white and liver-coloured hair was perfectly black; his jowl, which now hung three inches below his jaws, was also inky black, as were his swollen tongue and palate. Merry’s head and throat were swollen badly, and he lay by the blazing fire of logs half stupefied and devoid of observation.

On the following morning Shot was evidently dying; he did not appear to suffer pain, but was in a state of coma and swelled to such a degree that he resembled the skin of an animal that had been badly stuffed with hay. Merry was worse than on the preceding night, and lay in a state of stupor. I carried him to the sea and dipped him several times beneath the water; this appeared slightly to revive him, and he was placed in a large saddle-bag to be carried on a mule for the day’s march. Shot had been quite unconscious, and when the men prepared an animal to carry him, it was found that he was already dead. This was a little after 8 A.M., and he had been bitten at about 3.40 P. M.: about 16 and a half hours had elapsed. My men dug a grave and buried the poor animal, who had been a faithful dog and an excellent retriever. From Merry’s appearance I expected that we should have to attend to his remains in the same manner before the evening.

Snakes are very numerous in Cyprus, but I cannot believe in any great danger if these generally hated creatures should be avoided. If dogs will insist upon hunting and attacking them, they must be bitten as a natural consequence; in this fatal case there can be no doubt that the dog Shot was the first to discover and attack the snake, and Merry, upon hearing him bark, joined in the fight. It is quite unnatural for any of the serpent tribe to attack, except for the purpose of devouring their natural prey. As a general rule, the food of snakes consists of rats, mice, frogs, or toads, beetles, and other insects; the pythons and larger serpents feed upon such animals as hares, birds, and the young of either antelopes, deer, pigs, &c. Although a snake if trodden upon might by a spasmodic impulse inflict a bite, it would nine times out of ten endeavour to escape. The idea of any snake wilfully and maliciously premeditating an attack upon a man is quite out of the question, unless it has been either teased or excited by a dog when hunting. The same principle will hold good in the case of animals. No snake that feeds only upon rats, mice, and such small animals would seek to attack a dog, or any creature that was not its natural prey, and the actual danger from such reptiles is quite insignificant. The stories that are circulated of accidents are mostly exaggerated, or are perpetuated by constant repetition. I have been in snake countries such as Ceylon and Africa during many years, the greater portion of which has been passed in practical explorations, and I can safely say that I never thought of snakes until they met my eye, and no person that I ever knew was killed by a poisonous bite. In Cyprus there are several varieties. I have only seen three, a black species which is harmless, a mottled variety also non-poisonous, and a grey snake that is supposed to be deadly; there may be more, but I have never met with them. The stony nature of the country, and the bush-covered surface of the hills, together with the dryness of the climate, are all favourable to the development of snakes and lizards. The latter are exceedingly numerous, and are most valuable destroyers of insects; there are several varieties, but the most common is the bright copper-coloured species with a smooth skin. The chameleon also exists.

Although we had never taken the presence of snakes into serious consideration, the horrible effect of the bite upon the dogs made every one on the alert during the march over the rocky and bushy country from our camp to Evdimu. Our guide scorned a beaten track, and after having kept the regular path along the sea-coast for a mile, he struck directly up the mountain, which descended in a steep cliff to the shore, against which the waves dashed with violence. The country was exceedingly wild for some miles as we ascended through bush of young pines, dwarf-cypress, and mastic, occasionally passing pines of larger growth, which had, as usual, been mutilated. We moved partridges in several places, but these were old birds packed in considerable numbers: a bad sign at this season, when they should have been sitting upon eggs. At an elevation of about 1000 feet above the sea we came upon a park of caroub-trees, in which was a spring of water; large flocks of goats and cattle, together with many mules and horses, were roaming through this verdant district, which afforded abundant pasturage in the shape of wild artichokes, a variety of succulent thistles, and many plants suitable to the native animals in the absence of actual grasses. This is a distressing want throughout Cyprus; when the country is green, the verdure is produced by cultivated crops of cereals, which quickly change to yellow as they ripen; all the natural productions of the earth are what in England we should term “weeds “–there is no real grass, except in some rare localities where a species of “couch-grass” (the British farmer’s enemy) crawls along the surface, being nourished by its knotty roots, which, penetrating into the deep soil, are enabled to escape the burning sun.

Upon reaching the summit, about 1200 feet above the sea, we looked over the richest landscape that I had seen in Cyprus. A succession of broad valleys and undulating hills gradually ascended, until in the far distance they terminated in elevated plateaux upwards of 2000 feet above the sea. The whole of this district, as far and no doubt much farther than the eye could reach, was richly wooded with caroub-trees and occasional olive-groves, while the distant villages were marked by the peculiar light-green of mulberry-clumps and other fruit-trees. The bottoms of the numerous valleys were dark with well-irrigated crops of cereals, and contrasted strongly with those of the higher ground, which had depended solely upon the uncertain rainfall.

There were beautiful sites for country residences throughout this scene, and it appeared strange that no house was visible except the ordinary mud-built dwellings in the native villages. The route over this country was abominable, as it was a succession of the steepest ups-and-downs into valleys many hundred feet in depth, which necessitated a scramble up a rocky zigzag for a similar height above, to be repeated after we had crossed each shoulder that formed a spur from the distant mountains, the drainage being at right angles to our path. Every plateau exhibited the same lovely view of the sea, cliffs of snow-white cretaceous rock, green hills, and deep vales, through which a stream of water had given birth to a thick growth of foliage. After a march of fourteen miles we halted in a deep dell beneath shady caroubs, a few yards from a brook of clear water which irrigated some of the richest crops I had seen in Cyprus. When the camels arrived Merry was very bad, and his skin beneath the hair had turned black; he lapped water with difficulty, as his tongue and mouth were swollen to a great size and were also black. As the dog could not eat I poured a quantity of olive-oil down his throat.

The large village of Evdimu was about a mile above us, and was distinguishable from the heights. A new and important church was in process of construction, upon which some Italian workmen were employed, and an air of prosperity in this neighbourhood contrasted favourably with most portions of the island. The cock-birds of francolins were crowing in all directions, and when rambling with Wise, my now solitary dog, vainly searching for a hare, I found several pairs of red-legged partridges, which of course at this season I respected.

The march on the following day was a continuation of the same beautiful country, until we at length reached the table-top of a stupendous cliff perpendicular to the sea, which washed its base. The path was in many places only a few feet from the edge, and afforded a magnificent view. The table-land upon which we rode was covered with evergreen shrubs and young pines, and the same rich landscape that we had admired on the previous day extended towards the mountains of the interior. The road had been as rough as could be imagined, and we now descended the last steep incline from the heights, which led into the plain below. The salt lake, which adds an important amount to the revenue of Cyprus, lay beneath us upon the right, in the heart of the peninsula of Akrotiri; immediately below were the ruins of ancient Curium, but to us invisible. . . .

We arrived at the town of Episkopi. Captain Savile thus describes it:–

“A pleasantly situated village, standing on the Episkopi or Lycos river, and very abundantly supplied with water. The houses are surrounded with fruitful gardens, and there are fields of grain and cotton in the vicinity. The inhabitants have however very small holdings, and are, as a rule, miserably poor. In former days Episkopi was a rich city, and contained in the Venetian times large manufactories; of its ancient greatness now remain the ruins of an aqueduct, immense storehouses or vaults, and several ruined Greek churches. The spurs from Mount Troodos extend nearly down to the shore, and the road follows the coast-line, traversing a very beautiful country; the ground in spring is covered with flowers and aromatic herbs, and the ravines are filled with a luxuriant growth of cypresses, wild-olives, and flowering shrubs.”

There was nothing to induce a delay in Episkopi, but an addition may be made to the above description in stating that the river which has fertilised the spot and made it famous originates in the Troodos range. Later on, during the summer months, I often rested at the faintly dripping source of its first mountain affluent near the top of Troodos, which by degrees acquires strength from the Olympus drainage to form an important stream.

We passed quickly through Episkopi with its fruitful gardens, narrow streets, and yelling curs. Poor Wise was now alone, and we could no longer exhibit a combined front of three British lions to the snapping curs of Cyprus, therefore the dog Wise-ly kept close to the heels of our guide’s pony and just before me, which, without the ignominy of retreat, secured his position from all assailants. We passed below the ancient aqueduct, which conveyed a powerful volume of water to the turbine-wheel upon our right; and at length emerging from the town, we entered once more upon the plain, and steering for a large square tower which we had remarked when at the summit of the heights, we shortly arrived at the thriving village of Kolossi, about a mile and three-quarters distant.

This large village was a waving sea of barley, some of the finest that I had seen, and due to artificial irrigation. An ancient aqueduct of masonry turned a mill close to the large square tower that we had previously observed. We halted for luncheon beneath an olive-tree a few yards distant from the aqueduct, in a garden of fruit-trees which were in the brightness of a spring foliage.

The square tower of masonry must have formed a portion of defensive works that have disappeared, as there is no flanking protection, but the tower rises above the plain to a height of about sixty feet like a huge block of stone. It is said to have been erected by the Knights Templars, and is of great solidity; but such experienced soldiers would hardly have constructed so important a work without due regard to the first rules of fortification.

After luncheon, the camels having arrived, I would not allow them to unload, but directed them straight to Limasol. Of course their owners declared the distance to be a long day’s march, but as the map showed it to be six miles, I insisted.

From Kolossi the country was perfectly open and cultivated; the peasantry were engaged in reaping barley, which was carried away upon donkeys’ backs instead of being conveyed by carts. The usual caroub-trees, although plentiful upon the rising ground in the distance, were few and far between, and from this to Limasol, which was now in view, the beauty of the landscape had departed . . . . . I dislike the approach to a large town in a semi-wild country; the charming simplicity and independence of travelling is destroyed, and the servants become more or less demoralised by a love of new associations which produces a neglect of duty. Iiani was with us in addition to our guide the zaphtieh, therefore, as an utter stranger to the locality, I ordered them to lead us to a convenient camping-ground. As we approached the town there were the usual minarets and date-palms, and several vessels, including steamers, were lying in the roadstead. We halted near the entrance in a forsaken garden, where the walls were broken down and the unwatered orange-trees, although in faint blossom, were parched and faded. Two very large apricot-trees promised a shade for the tent, but the sakyeeah, or water-wheel, together with two powerful English lifting-pumps that were connected with a large reservoir and aqueduct of masonry, were in the last stage of rust and rottenness. I was not prepossessed with the aspect of the spot, as it reminded me strongly of an English property in charge of the Court of Chancery. The baggage animals with the tents arrived while our people were employed in clearing a space beneath the trees from the innumerable stones, which, as usual throughout Cyprus, covered the surface. The servants were busily engaged in erecting the tent, when a long, lanky individual, with a repulsive countenance, marched through the little crowd and haughtily inquired “who we were, and what business we had there?”

This was the first instance of incivility that I had met with in our journey through the island. The man was a Turk, and was not the proprietor, but only the agent for this wretchedly-neglected property. The unfortunate owner was sleeping with his fathers, or he would, I feel sure, have welcomed us with true Turkish politeness and hospitality but having departed this life, some legal difficulties had occasioned trouble, and the estate was in the hands of the uncivil agent, who, of course, being nobody, assumed the airs of somebody, and endeavoured by rudeness to exhibit his importance. We were travel-stained and dusty as millers, therefore our personal appearance had not impressed him favourably; he was in a thread-bare long black cloth habit that combined the cloak, dressing-gown, and frock-coat in a manner inexplicable, and known only to Turks. This garment was trimmed in the front edges with rather mangy-looking fox-skin: loose pegtop trousers of greasy-looking cloth, dirty and threadbare, completed the costume of the great curiosity of Cyprus, “a rude person.”

I was not at the time aware that he understood Arabic, and happily I addressed Amarn in that language, expressing my surprise that in this country, where we had travelled so widely and found civility upon all sides, we should be subjected to such rudeness. My servants, who were more annoyed than myself, spoke rather loudly, and assured him that if he was a Turk, their master was a pasha of his Sultan, and we would at once quit his miserable neglected ground and mention his inhospitality to the chief commissioner. By this time the rear baggage animals had appeared, and the imposing array of luggage and people seemed to impress him with the fact that we were neither gipsies nor vagabonds. I explained to him that we should not have presumed to intrude within a walled garden, but as the old walls had disappeared and the place was in an open and ruinous condition, we had trespassed innocently. He disappeared with an apology, but upon the first opportunity after we had examined the neighbourhood of Limasol we changed our camp to a good position on the eastern outskirts of the town. This side was rich in caroub-trees, and had grass existed it would have formed a park: the ground sloped from the mountains, about six miles distant, gradually to the sea, the surface was richly wooded by caroubs throughout, and the soil was cultivated with barley, which was already in the hands of reapers. There were six caroub-trees in a line which connected their shade, and we soon cleared the cultivated, but withered, surface of the large clods of earth, which, having been turned up by the plough, had baked beneath the sun into the hardness of bricks; these were arranged in a square to mark the limits of the camp, while the interior area was pounded to produce an even floor; from this position we looked upon the sea, about a quarter of a mile distant, and upon the town of Limasol upon our right.

No town in Cyprus exhibited the results of a British occupation to the same extent as Limasol. The chief commissioner, Colonel Warren, R.A., was an officer of great energy and ability, and he had grappled vigorously with every difficulty and cleansed the Augean stables thoroughly. The town is about a mile and a half in length, and faces the sea in a position somewhat similar to that of Larnaca. The quay is washed by the waves, which in stormy weather dash against the houses, at which times it is impossible to land from boats, and crews must remain on board their vessels safely anchored in the roadstead. Although not so extensive as Larnaca, Limasol is more compact, and the houses and gardens are superior. Owing to the active authority of the chief commissioner, the streets were scrupulously clean, and all the refuse of the town was conveyed to a safe distance. A public market had been recently arranged, covered with corrugated galvanised iron, in which the departments for meat, vegetables, &c., were kept separate, and the appearance and organisation resembled a market-place in England. The various open places within the town, instead of being receptacles for filth, as is usual throughout the East, had been carefully planted with young trees, most of which were exhibiting their first spring shoots and leaves. The quay which faced the sea, although exposed to the undermining action of the waves, had been repaired and was in fair condition; from this a tolerable pier projected, upon which piles of goods were being disembarked from the steamer that had just arrived from Larnaca. Two small tugs ran upon alternate days, thus affording facilities for passengers and goods between Limasol and Larnaca, which was a great convenience recently established to avoid the difficulty of the roadless land journey. H.M.S. Torch was in the roadstead, together with about twenty vessels of various flags and tonnage. Some of these were loading wine for Trieste, and it was interesting to watch the system adopted to save the difficulty of embarking the heavy casks in lighters, in the absence of cranes or winches. The barrels when full were slightly inferior in weight to their displacement of sea-water; they accordingly floated almost level with the surface, and were formed into a chain of two casks abreast and about fifty yards in length. Thus arranged, they were towed by boats until alongside the vessel, when they were easily hoisted up on board. As boats could not lie against the perpendicular wall of the quay except during a perfect calm, there was considerable trouble in carrying on the commerce of the port according to modern requirements; but the inventions of necessity had simplified many difficulties at the expense of increased manual labour. Boats lay a few yards off the shore, and were loaded by men who walked shoulder- deep with the packages upon their heads. I saw lighters discharging planks and baulks of timber, by shooting them into the sea with sufficient force to follow the direction given towards the shore, while the receivers stood in the water to capture them upon arrival.

The shops and stores along the quay-face closely resemble those of Larnaca, but there was more activity among the people. The streets of the bazaar were thronged with mules and donkeys bringing the produce of the interior to the shipping centre, and the crush of animals had been carefully modified by the arrangements instituted by Colonel Warren, who had established a large walled court, or stable-yard, into which all empty mules and asses were driven, instead of being allowed to block the thoroughfare; each beast paid some trifle for this accommodation, which added to the fund for municipal improvements.

The public offices were very inferior, that of the chief commissioner himself being a small white-washed room, which exhibited an utter disregard of personal comfort in the interests of government economy. There is a curious old fort within the town which has been altered and added to until it has become an absurdity; this would be utterly useless as a defence, and the Turkish guns having been removed, it is now converted into a prison; beneath the ground there are dungeons which are no longer used.

The roadstead of Limasol is formed by the projection of the Akrotiri peninsula, which affords protection from the west and south-west, but it is directly exposed from the east to the south. The anchorage is safe, with good holding-ground in ten fathoms. The peculiar shaped peninsula of Akrotiri is about seven miles wide, and the lake in its centre, when full, has a width of about four miles; but during the exhaustive heat of summer it evaporates to the dimensions of a mere pool, and leaves its deserted bed encrusted with a deposit of salt. This lake has no connection with the sea, and its maximum depth is under three feet; the salt is formed upon the same principle as that of the Lake of Larnaca, and certainly not by the percolation of sea-water through the sand, as the Limasol lake is considerably above the sea-level. There is a lighthouse at Cape Gatta, which can be seen at a distance of fifteen miles, as from its elevated position the lamp is 190 feet above the sea. From this point to Limasol the beach is low and sandy, and has always been accepted as the most favourable point for a disembarkation of troops. With historical facts before us there is small excuse for the blunder committed in landing our army of occupation, during the extreme heat of July, at Larnaca instead of Limasol. At the former port there is not a tree to throw a shade, and the miserable aspect of the surrounding country must have had a most depressing effect upon the nervous system of officers and men, while at Limasol the country is agreeable and the shady caroubs exist almost to the sea-shore, in numbers that would have sheltered an army of three times the force represented. I cannot conceive of more deliberate cruelty inflicted upon all grades than an unnecessary exposure to the burning summer sun of Cyprus in bell-tents, when shady trees existed in so convenient a locality as Limasol. If the root of the offence could be traced it would probably be discovered that the advice had been given by some persons interested in the possession of property at Larnaca, where rents of houses rose from nil to a fabulous amount upon the disembarkation of the troops. Altogether this military enterprise of occupation was effected with the usual British confusion and lack of arrangement.

The commissariat of course broke down, although special pains had been taken to supply the troops with luxuries that to a simple mind are inconceivable; thus COPPER WARMING-PANS in great numbers were sent out! As the thermometer was above 100 degrees Fahr., these fiery furnaces were hardly appreciated. It is a reflection upon the want of resource exhibited by the authorities that these peculiar utensils were not sent out as regimental stew-pans, as there was a dearth of cooking-pots, and the warming-pans might have added materially to the comforts of the insides, instead of the outsides of the men, by reducing the gutta-percha-like texture of Cyprian bullocks into a savoury stew. Another comfort thoughtfully supplied by some more than usually insane authority, who no doubt had passed a severe competitive examination, was exhibited in countless coal-boxes of cast-iron! These curious devices were about three feet six inches long by two feet and a half deep, and the same in width. To my ideas they were only suitable for gigantic foot-pans or hip-baths, or as an aquarium for a young seal; but their real object was to contain coal for the supply of the various tents! What is to become of our country, exclaims the British taxpayer, if this frightful waste is to continue? What traveller or explorer ever carried with him a copper warming-pan and a gigantic coal-box, weighing nearly two hundred pounds? And these useless abominations are to hamper the operations of our troops, and to wear out our sailors in the labour of the disembarkment of such disgraceful lumber! Should we unhappily in some future political annexation send a military force to Spitzbergen, we shall probably omit the warming-pans and fuel, but supply a shipload of refrigerators and “Family Ice Machines.”

A number of these cast-iron coal-boxes had been converted into cisterns by Sir Garnet Wolseley, which surrounded the wooden Government House at Lefkosia, and were kept full of water in case of fire. So practical a general would have been the first to condemn the palpable absurdity of coal-boxes, even had coals been required; surely they could have been laid upon the bare ground by the tent side, instead of causing the inconvenience, labour, and ridicule of importing such outrageous nonsense.

When the famous military invasions of Cyprus took place in historical times there were certainly neither warming-pans nor coal-boxes, either with Richard Coeur de Lion of England in 1191, or with the Turks under Lala Mustafa in 1570.

Both these experienced warriors selected Limasol for the point of disembarkation, and landed their troops and horses upon the sandy beach in Akrotiri Bay. Richard I. was on his way to the third crusade; but his fleet having been dispersed by a storm, several vessels had been driven on the south coast of Cyprus, where, instead of receiving the hospitality usually exhibited to shipwrecked mariners, his people were robbed and thrown into prison at Limasol by the king, Isaac Comnenus. One of the principal vessels of the fleet which conveyed Berengaria, daughter of the King of Navarre, who was the betrothed of Richard and was accompanied by his sister the Queen Dowager of Sicily, took shelter in Akrotiri Bay and anchored. It appears that the wily Isaac Comnenus endeavoured to persuade the ladies to land, in the hope of effecting their capture, and probably extorting a heavy ransom; but suspicion being aroused, the ship set sail and was shortly met by Richard’s own vessel.

Upon hearing that his shipwrecked crews had been detained and imprisoned Richard immediately steered for Limasol, and, with his well-known impetuosity of character, lost no time in disembarking his troops, and shortly brought the Greek army to action under Isaac Comnenus and utterly defeated them. The Latin inhabitants of Limasol had already thrown open their gates, and Richard, after his victory, returned laden with spoils, including the imperial standard, which was eventually hung in St. Edmund’s Chapel, Suffolk.

This first battle took place at Kolossi, near to Limasol. After the flush of victory an additional warlike impulse was given to his forces by the arrival of the chivalrous Guy de Lusignan, ex-king of Jerusalem, accompanied by the Princes of Antioch and Tripoli. The marriage of Richard with Berengaria took place at Limasol; she was there crowned Queen of England by the Bishops of York and Evreux. Richard, who did not prolong his honeymoon when an opportunity of fighting was at hand, immediately collected his forces, and, together with Guy de Lusignan, marched for the interior, where Isaac Comnenus had re-organised his army. Guy de Lusignan with a division of the troops marched upon Famagousta, which surrendered without resistance, while Richard attacked the Greek army under Isaac Comnenus in the plain of Messaria. Owing to the disparity of force the battle was for some time doubtful, and at length the two leaders engaged in personal encounter, resulting in the capture of Isaac Comnenus and the total discomfiture of his army. The city of Lefkosia at once threw open its gates to the victorious Richard.

The next disembarkation of troops at Limasol, on 1st July, 1570, under the Turkish general Lala Mustafa, was upon a much larger scale, as the expedition comprised 70,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 200 cannon. With this force Lefkosia was assaulted, and taken after a few weeks’ siege; and the inhabitants were subjected to inconceivable atrocities, 20,000 of both sexes being mercilessly butchered during the sack which followed the capture of the town. The Turkish forces then marched upon the great stronghold of Cyprus, Famagousta. This powerful fortress was invested by land and sea, and although defended by only 7000 Venetian troops, under their gallant commandant, General Bragadino, it sustained a vigorous siege for more than ten months, until the heroic garrison was reduced by sickness and starvation. During this time an extraordinary apathy was exhibited by Venice, which should at all hazards have determined upon the relief of this important position. On 23rd January, 1571, the only effective expedition entered Famagousta with 1600 men, provisions and ammunition, with a squadron commanded by the Venetian Marc Antonius Quirini; but on the 1st August following, the provisions and ammunition having been completely expended, it became absolutely necessary to negotiate the terms of capitulation. A detailed description of this interesting siege is given in the work of Richard Knolles, The General History of the Turks, published in London in 1638.

The conditions of surrender stipulated that “The garrison should march out with five guns and the horses of the commanders, and should be conveyed to Candia in the ships and at the expense of the Turks; that the inhabitants should be free to quit the town and take their property, and that those who preferred to remain should be unmolested both as regards their persons and their goods.”* (*Captain Savile’s Cyprus, p. 22.)

General di Cesnola writes, page 39:–

“These conditions were eagerly accepted by the treacherous Mustafa; hostages were exchanged; Turkish vessels, as stipulated, entered the port of Famagousta, and took on board all those who wished to leave the island; nothing remained but the formality of delivering the keys of the city to the victor.

“On 5th August General Bragadino, accompanied by his lieutenants Baglioni, Martinengo, and Quirini, went to the Turkish camp, and was politely received by Mustafa. After the delivery of the keys, and when General Bragadino had risen to take leave, the vile Turk asked him for special hostages for the safe return from Candia of the Turkish vessels which were to convey him and his men thither; Bragadino refused this, as not having been stipulated in the accepted conditions of his surrender. Then Mustafa accused him of bad faith, and of having put to death fifty Turkish pilgrims after he had surrendered, which was indignantly denied by Bragadino. The pasha, becoming enraged, ordered the four Venetians to be put to death, and in a few minutes Generals Baglioni, Martinengo, and Quirini were executed in the presence of Bragadino, for whom a more terrible death was reserved. The executioner cut off his nose and ears; three times he was made to lay his head upon the block, as if to be beheaded, then, heavily chained, was thrown into a dark dungeon, and left for nine days in that miserable condition.

“On the tenth day, by order of Mustafa, Bragadino was brought out of prison and made to carry earth for the repair of the fortifications during several hours, after which, more dead than alive, the heroic soldier was tied to a stake, and, in the presence of the ferocious Mustafa, was flayed alive. His skin, stuffed with hay, was sent with the heads of the other three Venetians as presents to the Sultan.”

The two most important conquests of Cyprus have thus commenced from the port of Limasol, which is destined to become of primary importance as the great commercial representative town of this now poor island.

We remained sixteen days at Limasol, during which time we had the pleasure of the society of Colonel and Mrs. Warren and their young family, which we thoroughly appreciated after the exile from civilised life and ladies since we had quitted Kyrenia and Lefkosia. The leading officials and some Greek merchants of the town were good enough to call frequently, and kindly afforded much information; at the same time they did not conceal their disappointment at the terms of the occupation, which, by draining the island of its revenue, completely paralysed the good intentions of the English government; the best resolutions being valueless unless supported by the necessary capital.

Although I received every politeness from the inhabitants, who appeared to think I had some official mission, it was not difficult to trace a general tone of complaint and dissatisfaction, which was perfectly natural under the existing regime. Although nothing could exceed the pains taken by Sir Garnet Wolseley and all his officials to introduce reforms for the general welfare of the people, the task was simply impossible where various interests were conflicting, and no HYBRID government could at once destroy existing abuses and at the same time establish laws suitable to all classes. This general reform required an independent administration, untrammelled by mongrel relations with the Turk, and equally free from the vexatious labyrinths of English jurisprudence. I do not wish to catalogue the long list of grievances which have been entrusted to my unwilling ears, but there are some which are so utterly destructive to the interests of the country and the government, that I have no hesitation in describing them.

The great trade of Limasol is wine, as the district exhibits the industry first encouraged by the Venetians; this, as the great money-producing cultivation, opposed to Mussulman prejudices, has been burdened with extortionate taxation and restrictions, which have not yet been relieved by the British administration.

CHAPTER X.

THE WINE DISTRICT OF LIMASOL.

In the fifteenth century the Cyprian vines were selected for the now celebrated vineyards of Madeira; nothing can better exemplify the standard of industry and consequent prosperity than the vine, when we regard the identical plant in the hands of the Portuguese and in its original home in Cyprus under the Turkish administration. The first historical notice of the vine occurs when Noah, stranded upon Mount Ararat, took advantage, upon the first subsidence of the waters, to plant a vineyard; and, according to the curt biblical description, it grew, produced, and the wine intoxicated the proprietor, all within a few days. It may not have occurred to the wine trade that this biblical fact proves that the consumption of wine had been among the first assumed necessities of the human race; if Noah’s first impulse upon landing suggested the cultivation of the vine, he was restoring to the world a plant that had been considered so absolutely important that he must have provided himself with either buds or cuttings in great quantities when he selected his animals for the Ark BEFORE the Deluge. If this is true, the use of wine must have been pre-historical, and its abuse historical; the two purposes having continued to the present day. It may therefore be acknowledged that no custom has been so universal and continuous as the drinking of wine from the earliest period of human existence. The vine is a mysterious plant; it is so peculiarly sensitive that, like a musical instrument which produces harmony or discord at the hands of different performers, the produce of the same variety is affected by the soil upon which the plants are grown. Thus ten thousand young vines may be planted upon one mountain, all of the same stock; but various qualities of wine will be produced, each with a special peculiarity of flavour, according to the peculiarities of soil. The same estate, planted with the same vines, may produce high class wines and others that would hardly command a market, if the soil varies according to the degrees of certain localities. It would now be impossible to produce Madeira wine in Cyprus, although the plants might be imported and cultivated with the greatest attention. When the vines were shipped from Cyprus and planted in Madeira during the rule of the Venetians, it must not be supposed that those vines had ever produced wine of the well-known Madeira flavour and quality; that flavour was the result of some peculiarity in the soil of the new country to which the vines had been transplanted, and there can be little doubt that the rich and extremely luscious variety known in Cyprus as “Commanderia” was the parent vine of the Madeira vineyards.

It is well known that the costly experiments of a century at the Cape of Good Hope have verified the fact that the vine is the slave of certain conditions of soil, which impart to this extremely delicate and sensitive plant a special flavour that is incorporated with the wine, and can never be eradicated. The vines of the Cape, although of infinite variety, produce wines with a family taint which is a flavour absorbed from the soil. Any person who knows Constantia, the luscious wine of the Cape of Good Hope, will at once detect the soupcon of that flavour in every quality of wine produced in the colony. It may therefore be accepted that the flavour of wines depends upon the soil; thus it would be impossible for a vine-grower to succeed simply by planting well- known superior varieties of vines, unless he has had practical experience of the locality to be converted into vineyards.

This fact is thoroughly exhibited in Cyprus, where the peculiarities of soils are exceedingly remarkable, and cannot fail to attract attention, each of these qualities of earth producing a special wine.

If a planter establishes a vineyard he will naturally select a certain variety of vine, and a corresponding situation that will ensure a marketable quantity of wine; thus in Cyprus a comparatively small area of the island is devoted to the cultivation of the grape, which is comprised chiefly within the district of Limasol. No wine is made in the Carpas district, nor to the north of the Carpasian range of jurassic limestone; there are no vineyards of importance in the western district; or yet in the plain of Messaria, except upon the western border, in the neighbourhood of Dali, towards the Makhaeras mountain.

Although there are many varieties of Cyprus wines, there is one prevailing rule: the white commanderia, a luscious high-flavoured wine, is grown upon the reddish chocolate-coloured soil of metamorphous rocks. The dark red, or black astringent wines, are produced upon the white marls and cretaceous limestone. The quantity produced is large, and the dark wines can be purchased retail in the villages for one penny the quart bottle!–and in my opinion are very dear at the money.

According to the official returns kindly supplied to me by Mr. Robson, the chief of customs, the following list represents the declared duty-paid production from 1877 to 1879.

Spirits– Commanderia– Black Wines– Okes 2.75 lbs. Okes 2.75 lbs. Okes 2.75 lbs. 1877-1878. . 155,451 117,000 2,500,000 1878-1879. . 430,000 300,000 6,000,000

Spirit is valued at about 2.5 Piastres the Oke Commanderia ” ” 2 ” ” “
Black Wines ” ” 1.25 ” ” ” The rate of exchange: 9 Piastres to 1 shilling = 180 per pound sterling.

It will be observed that an immense difference is represented in the yield of the two years. This is to be accounted for by the superabundance of rains in 1878-1879, which caused a great quantity, but bad quality, of juice, and the wine of this vintage is so inferior that a large proportion is turning to vinegar, and can be used for no other purpose.

The habit of calculating by low quantities, as “okes,” as the French reckon in “francs,” is at first sight perplexing to the English mind, and conveys an erroneous impression of the actual results. If the population of Cyprus is about 200,000, the maximum wine-crop of 6,000,000 okes would only yield 30 okes, or 60 ordinary wine-bottles, to each person during the year. The local consumption is exceedingly small, which can only be accounted for by the general poverty of the population.

The exports are directed principally to the various ports of the Levant, Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, in addition to Trieste, and parts of Southern Italy. Some of the dark wines are shipped to Marseilles, for the well-known establishment at Cette, where they are used for mixing with other wines. It should at once be understood that no quality of Cyprus wines is suitable to the English market, as they are generally shunned even by the English residing in the island, where their extreme cheapness might tempt people into the bad taste of consuming them. At the same time, these wines are well appreciated by the native population, especially the dark astringent qualities.

The difficulty of introducing a new wine is well known to English wine-merchants, and the mysteries of the trade would somewhat astonish the innocent would-be connoisseur. There can be no doubt that the palate must be educated to enjoy fine dry wines, precisely as the ear must be instructed before it can appreciate classical music. There is a harmony in the senses of hearing, smell, and taste which is the result of civilised life; this may be right or wrong physically, as the nerves become more delicate and sensitive, which may affect the brain more or less directly. There can be no doubt that it affects the stomach. Certain civilised persons prefer game in a state approaching to decomposition; I have seen savages who enjoy flesh when actually putrid, and above all horrors, fish when stinking! Such food would disgust the civilised man who prefers his game “high,” and would perhaps kill other civilised people whose palates and stomachs have been educated to avoid impurities. In the same manner the palate must be educated for wines or other drinks. I gave an old priest a bottle of Bass’s pale India ale; he could not drink half a glassful but rejected it as picro (bitter); the same old man enjoyed his penny-a-bottle black Cyprus wine, reeking of tar and half-rotten goat-skins, in which it had been brought to market–a stuff that I could not have swallowed! It must therefore be borne in mind when judging of Cyprian wines, that “English taste does not govern the world.” Although the British market would be closed to the coarse and ill-made wines of Cyprus, there are other markets which accept them gladly, and would absorb them to a high degree, were they improved by superior cultivation and manufacture.

At the same time that the produce of Cyprus is now a unsuitable to the English market, there is no reason why it should be excluded at a future time, when scientific culture shall have enhanced the quality. It should be remembered that the poorer classes of Great Britain would be immensely benefited by a beverage that should be within their reach in price, and at the same time be sufficiently invigorating without the direct intoxicating properties of spirits or the sleepy, heavy, and thirst-increasing qualities of beer. If Cyprus is at some future time to become a British colony, the wine trade will be the principal source of industry, and should be developed by the government with every possible encouragement to the proprietors of vineyards. An improved quality of wine will not necessitate an additional price, but, on the contrary, the wine-growing resources of the island are so irrepressible that they have withstood the oppression of the past and present, and when relieved of this incubus, not only should the quality improve, but the price should be reduced. In this case, should the Cyprian produce be favoured by a nominal import duty in England, the wine will be within the reach of the poorer classes, and may ameliorate that crying evil of our country, “intoxication,” by weaning the spirit-drinker to a more wholesome drink.

It must never be supposed by the most sanguine that Cyprian wines will be fashionable among the upper classes in England. I do not think they will ever surpass Marsala or many of the Cape wines. English people, as a rule, object to cheap wines, or at least they are reserved concerning the price, should cheap wine be upon their table. It is a dangerous thing to mention the cost of any wine, even to your nearest friend; although he might have enjoyed it when he thought it must have cost you 72 shillings the dozen, he will detect some unpleasant peculiarity when you may foolishly have confided to him that it only cost you 36 shillings, or, worse still, 24 shillings. He will possibly suggest to you on the following morning that “something disagreed with him during the night, but he does NOT think it was the 24 shilling wine.” Here is the fault of HALF-EDUCATED palates; they expect too much, and are guided by fancies. The same person might be beguiled into the belief that the 24 shilling wine was very superior if he had been deceived by an assurance that it cost 72 shillings. There are really very few amateurs who could value unknown wines by the test of their own palates; but the chilly climate of England is adverse to light wines, and necessitates a full body, with considerable strength.

The sherries are always fortified by an addition of between 30 to 40 per cent. of alcohol before they are shipped to England, without which they would be unsaleable; as to our taste, they would be empty and vapid. We must therefore make a considerable allowance when judging of Cyprus wines in their present extremely rude and uncultivated position.

Nothing is added, and the following concise description will account for their disagreeable peculiarities.

There are no roads in Cyprus in the mountainous wine-producing districts, therefore all agricultural products must be conveyed upon the backs of mules up and down the steepest and most dangerous rocky tracks, apparently more fitted for goats than other animals. A mule will travel in this rough country with a load of 250 lbs. This serious difficulty of transport will account for the rude and ancient method of conveying wine in goat-skins. “No man will put new wine into old bottles,” referred to this system of employing skins instead of casks, or other receptacles that could be cleaned and rendered tasteless. The goat-skin would quickly rot, unless it was prepared by a species of tar; thus not only is the naturally unpleasant flavour of the skin imparted to the wine, but the mixture of tar renders it completely abominable to any palate that has not been educated to receive it. Let any person conceive the result of pouring ten or twelve gallons of Chateau Lafitte into an old and dirty goat-skin thoroughly impregnated with tar, and carrying this burden upon one side of a mule, balanced by a similar skin on the other side filled with the choicest Johannisberger. This load, worth at least 70 or 80 pounds at starting, would travel for two days exposed to a broiling sun, and would lie for several days before it would be turned into the vat of the merchant at Limasol. By that time, according to civilised taste, it would be perfectly valueless and undrinkable; if the best wines in the world can be thus destroyed by a savage means of transport, what must the effect be upon such inferior qualities as the crude produce of Cyprus? Common sense will suggest that the first step towards improvement will be the completion of roads throughout the wine districts, that will enable the two-wheeled native carts to convey the wine in barrels direct from the growers to the merchants’ stores at Limasol.

We will now commence at the beginning, “the cultivation of the vine,” and trace its progress until the wine is ready for the consumer.

As I have already described, the commanderia and the black wines are produced by the two different qualities of soils, but there is no difference in the altitudes. The new British road from Limasol to Platraes, thirty miles, cuts directly through the principal vine districts of the country. From the deep valley and roaring torrent, up to the mountain-tops exceeding 4000 feet above the sea-level, the country is green with vineyards in the middle or latter end of May; not a yard of available land is lost. When the shoots are about three feet long and have shown the embryo bunches, a number of men enter the vineyard with switches and knock off the tender ends of the runners, which in a gentler method of cultivation would be picked off with the finger and thumb-nail. Sometimes goats are turned in to nibble off the shoots in order to save labour, and at the same time to feed the animals; they of course damage the vines, but the Cypriote thinks the system pays. The young vines are never staked and tied as in Europe, but are allowed to take their chance, and the heavy bunches in many instances rest upon the dusty ground.

There is seldom rain after May, but a few showers are favourable at this particular season when the young bunches are in blossom. In the best vineyards attention is given to clearing away the weeds after rain, but usually the vines are left to nature after the grapes have formed, as the hot sun and drying wind are sufficient to keep down adverse vegetation.

The grapes ripen towards the middle or end of August. The commanderia grapes are collected and spread upon the flat mud-plastered roofs of the native houses, and are exposed for several days, until they show symptoms of shrivelling in the skin, and the stalks have partially dried: they are then pressed. By this time many of the grapes that have been bruised by this rough treatment have fermented, and the dust and dirt of the house-top, together with flies and other insects, have adhered to the impure heap. It has been imagined by some travellers that the grapes are purposely dried before pressing; on the other hand, I have been assured by the inhabitants that their only reason for heaping and exposing their crop upon the house-tops is the danger of leaving it to ripen in the vineyard. None of the plots are fenced, and before the grapes are sufficiently ripe for pressing they are stolen in large quantities, or destroyed by cattle, goats, mules, and every stray animal that is attracted to the fields. The owner of the vineyard accordingly gathers his crop by degrees, a little before the proper time, and the grapes are exposed upon the house-tops to ripen artificially in the sun. In this manner the quality is seriously damaged; but the natives will not acknowledge it any more than the Devonshire farmers, who leave their apples in heaps upon the ground for many weeks, rotting and wasp-eaten, before they are carried to the pound for the grinding of cider. The grapes, having been trodden by men with large boots, are pressed, and the juice of the commanderia is placed in jars capable of holding from seventy to one hundred gallons. The refuse of skins and stalks is laid upon one side to ferment for the manufacture of raki, or spirit, by distillation. The fermentation of the juice proceeds in the earthen jars, and is guided according to the ideas of the proprietor; when he considers that it has continued to a degree sufficient for the strength and quality of the wine, it is checked by the addition of powdered gypsum. Here is one of the patent errors of the manufacture of commanderia as a wine suitable to English tastes. The grape-juice is naturally so rich in saccharine, that it is luscious and vapid to an excess; this superabundant amount of sugar would be converted into alcohol in the natural process of fermentation if unchecked, and by the chemical change the wine would gain in strength and lose in sweetness. Should this process be adopted, the result would no longer represent the wine now accepted as commanderia, which finds a ready market in the Levant, owing to its peculiar sweetness and rich flavour, although disagreeable to Europeans; there would accordingly be a risk attending such experiments, which the grower would consider unnecessary, as he already commands the sale.

The large jars in which the wine ferments are porous and unglazed; the usual waterproofing is adopted, in the shape of tar, with which the inside is thickly coated. There are many jars of a century old, which have lost the flavour by extreme age, and have become liquid-proof by the choking of the pores with the crust deposited by the wine; these are highly prized, and the wine after fermentation is left upon its own lees to ripen; or, according to our ideas, it is entirely neglected. It is never racked into other vessels.

There is an unusual peculiarity in commanderia; instead of the colour becoming paler by great age, it deepens to an extraordinary degree. The new wine is the ordinary tint of sherry, but it gradually becomes darker, until after forty or fifty years it is almost black, with the syrup-like consistence of new honey. Wine of this age and quality is much esteemed, and is worth a fancy price. I was presented with several bottles of the famous old Cyprus growths of commanderia, morocanella, and muscadine, by the kindness of Mr. Lanites, who is largely interested in the trade at Limasol. The old commanderia was sufficiently sweet to occasion a roughness in the throat, and each quality was far too luscious for English taste, but might have been agreeable to sip like Tokay, by soaking a sponge biscuit. The utterly rude method of producing native wines, which can scarcely be dignified by the term “manufacture,” is a sufficient explanation of their inferior quality, but at the same time it is a proof of the great wine-producing power of Cyprus, where, in spite of ignorance and neglect, an extensive commerce has been established, which adds materially to the revenue of the island. If these badly-made wines have founded an important trade, there is every reason to expect a corresponding extension when scientific principles shall have resulted in a superior quality.

The black wines receive even less care than the commanderia; the grapes are trodden, and are thrown into receptacles to ferment, together with the skins and stalks. This bruised mass, after lying a certain time exposed to fermentation, is pressed, and the muddy juice is stowed in the large tarred jars to ripen for a few months, which, according to Cyprian taste, are sufficient to prepare it for consumption. The stalks and black skins, being extremely rich in tannin, have imparted to the wine a powerful astringency and the exceedingly dark colour which so disagreeably distinguish this common quality. The growers imagine that the extra amount of tannin is preservative, without which, their wine might deteriorate during the rough treatment to which it is subjected by transport and exposure; and to their specially-educated palates this astringency is agreeable, combined with the strong flavour of tar, which completely excludes it from the consumption of Englishmen. Neither the commanderia nor any other quality of wine is subjected to the process of “fining;” when issued from the stores of the merchant, therefore, a really bright clear wine is never met with. The black wines could be considerably improved by allowing them to settle in large vats, and by a series of rackings into other vessels, as they become clearer by depositing their impurities. I have tried this experiment upon a small scale with success, and there can be no doubt that the simple manual labour of drawing off the clear wine to enable it to fine itself by precipitating the albuminous matter that has been fixed by the superabundant tannin, would render the “mavro,” or black wine, drinkable; always excepting the presence of tar, which can at once be avoided by the substitution of casks for the earthen jars and goat-skins.

At the expiration of the vintage the vines remain uncared-for throughout the autumn and winter, cattle and goats invade them ad libitum so long as their leaves are attractive, and no operation is performed until the month of March. At this time they are pruned close to the stocks, which are generally about one foot above the ground, and two eyes are supposed to be left upon each spur. But I have watched the cultivators during the process, and observed the usual neglect; sometimes the spurs were shaved off completely, without a bud for next year’s shoot, and at others too many buds were left, that would weaken and disfigure the parent stem. The instrument for pruning was similar to a very small reaping-hook, with a handle about a foot in length, and the delicate operation was conducted with a rapidity that rendered the necessary care impossible. After the clearing of the refuse the land is carefully ploughed and cleaned.

I visited some large wine-stores in Larnaca, where casks of about 300 gallons each were arranged in long parallel rows, all filled with commanderia of various ages and corresponding prices.

Having now traced the liquor from the original vineyard into the merchant’s store, it will be interesting to examine the network of obstructions and extortions to which the unfortunate wine-grower is exposed before he can deliver his produce into the hands of the merchant, either at Limasol or elsewhere.

Consul Riddell reported officially in 1875 as follows:–

“The wine trade of Cyprus was last year exceptionally large, owing to the abundant produce of the vineyards in 1874. The outcome of grapes and wines in 1875 did not exceed an ordinary average, and growers still complain loudly that the imposts upon wines, reckoning from the grape to the vat, are so heavy–amounting to about 35 or 40 per cent.–and their imposition and collection so very arbitrary and unequal, that many vineyards are being abandoned.

“The government, it is said, have under consideration the anomalous state of the wine trade in Cyprus, with a view to relieve and redress the many grievances of which consumers complain, and in the meanwhile the collection of the imposts is suspended. Should the result prove to be the elaboration of a fair, reasonable, and consistent scale of duties, the revival of the wine trade may be reasonably looked forward to, and under sound regulations and intelligent fostering the trade would undoubtedly become a large and profitable one to this island.”

In 1876, the year following the promised reform, Consul Pierides reports:–

“The quantity of all sorts of wine produced was much below that of 1875. The principal shipments were made to Trieste and Venice. The collection of the imposts, which was for a short time suspended, has recommenced, and the manner in which it is conducted is still arbitrary and vexatious, while remonstrances have hitherto been of no avail. It is time for the government to put an end to these grievances, which indeed threaten to destroy one of the best resources of the island.”

In 1877 Consul Watkins reports:–

“The manufacture of wine here is greatly on the decrease; for, owing to all sorts of unreasonable regulations, and to the vexatious mode of their application, cultivators now prefer making their grapes into raisins.”

Here we have consecutive official reports from three different British consuls during 1875-1877. The British occupation took place in 1878–I am writing in 1879–and although the grievances of the Cyprian wine-growers were sufficiently aggravated to call for the vigorous reports and protests of three different British consuls during the Turkish administration, no amelioration of their condition has been effected during twelve months of British rule.

Captain Savile, in his excellent digest of all that concerns this island, writes:–

“The grievances connected with the culture of the vines and the manufacture of wine which are alluded to in the consular reports, existed as long ago as 1863, and were then mentioned by Consul White, who says that the peasants were even then beginning to find it more profitable to sell their grapes, or to make them into raisins, rather than, by turning them into wine, to subject themselves to the duty lately imposed over and above the tithe and export duties, which were collected in a very harassing manner. The growers have had to pay, under the tax called `dimes,’ an eighth part of the produce of grapes to the treasury; but this could not be taken in kind, so a money value was fixed yearly by the local medjlis, or fixed tribunal; but as the assessment was based on the market-price at the chief town of the district, instead of the value at the place of growth, this tax, instead of being about 12.5 per cent., in reality amounted to over 20 per cent. Then again when the wine was made, an excise duty of 10 per cent. was levied, and on export, a tax of 8 per cent. had to be paid. The natural consequence of these excessive impositions has been the diminution of a culture for which the island is particularly adapted. Consul Lang suggests that it might be wise to free this production from all tax, except a proper export duty.”

How easy it is to be generous at the expense of others!–here are