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(including Consuls White and Lang) no less than five British consuls who have been protesting against this instance of oppression and injustice since the year 1862, and it would naturally have been expected that one of our first acts upon assuming the government of Cyprus would have been to abolish an abuse that had excited the remonstrances of our own representatives. The fact is that we were reduced to a financial ebb of the gravest character by the absorption at Constantinople of an unfair proportion of the revenue, and our government was not in a position to risk a reduction of income by such an important change in the system of taxation. The Cypriotes have nevertheless derived a collateral advantage from the change of rulers, as the extreme grievances to which the consular reports allude were aggravated by the farmers of taxes, who no longer exist. These people were extortioners of the worst description, and the bribes and extra payments extracted from the vine-growers are represented in the gross sum mentioned as amounting to 40 per cent. upon the general produce of the vineyard. The reforms already established by the abolition of the nefarious system of tax-farming have relieved the vine-growers from the most serious oppression, but sufficient abuses remain to demand a radical change, if the industry for which Cyprus is specially adapted by nature is to be encouraged.

As I have described in outline the rude method of cultivation and the manufacture of wine from the first bursting of the young vines, I will now examine the system of arbitrary interference to which the vine- grower is exposed through the successive stages of his employment.

The first tax is perfectly fair, as it is calculated according to the rateable value of the land, which is divided into three classes. These qualities of soil vary in the valuation from

No. 1 = 500 piastres the donum (about half an acre) to No. 3 = 100 piastres the donum

The malliea, or annual tax upon these valuations per donum, is 2 per cent.

When the grapes are nearly ripe, they must be valued before the proprietor has a right to gather his crop. He is obliged to present himself at the government office at Limasol, many miles from his estate, to petition for the attendance of the official valuer, called the “mahmoor,” upon a certain day. This may or may not be granted, but at all events one or two days have been expended in the journey.

Should the mahmoor arrive, which he frequently does not, at the appointed time, the medjlis, or council of the villages, appoints a special arbitrator to represent their (the vine-growers) interests, and he accompanies the government official during his examination of the vineyards. After a certain amount of haggling and discussion, an approximate weight of grapes is agreed upon, the mahmoor declaring the ultimate amount far above the actual crop per donum: and the tax is determined according to their quality, resolved into two classes:–

No. 1, the commanderia, and other superior varieties, pay 25 paras the oke. No. 2, all other grapes pay 16 paras the oke.

But these taxes. are modified according to the abundance and quality of the grapes in each successive season, being sometimes more or less than the figures given. The crop is generally ripe towards the end of August, and the tax, having been determined, may be paid during the following January, March, or May.

The grapes having been officially valued, and the rate of taxation established, the proprietor may gather his crop, and press it for wine. The rows of enormous jars are at length filled: eventually the wine is ready for sale.

Now comes the necessity for a second journey to Limasol, perhaps thirty or forty miles distant, to petition for the government official to measure the contents of the jars; without such an examination, no wine can be removed from the stores.

This is another loss of time to the grower, and occasions an expense for himself and mule for the journey.

The jars are at length measured; but before any wine can be removed a general examination of the quality of the district produce must be completed, and, an average value having been determined, the tax of 10 per cent. must be paid ad valorem.

After these necessary forms have been gone through, with the attendant vexatious delays and expensive journeys, entailing loss of time for men and mules, the vine-grower wishes to carry his wine to market.

Before a drop can be removed he must present himself at the official quarters, either at Kilani or one other village, to obtain a teskeri, or permit, for the quantity that he wishes to convey. After this trouble and delay he returns to his home with the official permit to remove to a specified place (generally Limasol) a fixed quantity of wine, which is calculated by the load; one load equals 128 okes of 2.75 lbs. avoirdupois, and, packed in goat-skins, is carried by two mules.

The vine-grower himself weighs his wine when the skins are filled, and he starts upon his long journey over steep mountain rocky paths to Limasol, where he will sell his load to the wine-merchant, who subsequently will ship it to the various ports of the Mediteranean.

The sun is burning; and the wine, contained in tarry goat-skins, is, after a few hours’ exposure to the heat, about the temperature of the hottest bath; thus absorbing the vile smells of the primitive but secure package. The owner is well aware that the value of his wine will depend upon the flavour, therefore he hurries his mules forward, in order to deliver it as quickly as possible to the merchant, before it shall be contaminated by the skins.

Upon arrival at Limasol it may be late, and nothing can be done. His wine must be weighed by the government official at the public weighing-place, specially assigned for the wine trade; and he drives his laden and tired mules to the yard. Here he finds some hundreds of mules and their proprietors in a similar position to himself; however, there is no help for it, and they must be patient through the night while their wine is imbibing the hateful flavour of the goat-skins. In the meantime they must purchase food for their mules and seek quarters for themselves.

When the morning appears the government official has enough to do, and as a certain time must be occupied in weighing a given quantity, the day wears away. Every man has to present his teskeri, or permit, for removal from his village to Limasol of a specified quantity of wine, and his load must weigh that prescribed weight upon delivery. His scales may not have been exactly in harmony with those of the government official; but should the quantity exceed the teskeri, the owner must pay DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF TAXATION.

In the meantime, during the wrangles concerning discrepancies in weight, mules are arriving with their loads, their owners all desirous of despatch, and the hours fast wearing away. The next day is probably a Greek holiday, and all the merchants’ stores are shut (there is a Greek holiday at least once a week,–generally twice). The unfortunate vine-grower, after waiting patiently in despair, discovers that he must wait still longer. At length, after vexations and delays, he draws a sample of wine into a gourd-shell from his skins, and hands it to the merchant; who, having made a wry face and spat it out, advises him to “throw his wine into the sea, as it is undrinkable,” having remained too long in the goat-skins exposed to the sun. A most respectable informant related to me the total loss of a large quantity of first-class wine from the delay thus occasioned at Limasol. . . .

The refuse, after pressing the grapes, is calculated to yield upon distillation a proportion of 100 okes of spirit for every ten loads (1280 okes) of wine. This pays a tax of eight paras the oke, which, added to the 10 per cent. upon the wine, makes a total of 15 per cent. upon wine and spirit included.

The vine-grower, irrespective of the size of his vineyard, is allowed 200 okes duty free for his own consumption; and when his jars are measured to determine the contents for taxation an allowance is deducted for the muddy deposit at the bottom.

It will at once be seen by this enumeration of the delays and vexations occasioned by this arbitrary system, that it is barely possible for the vine-grower to calculate the actual cost of his wine, as the loss of time, expense of journeys, and uncertainty of the amount of delays are entirely beyond his control. It is therefore extremely difficult to discover the exact financial position of the cultivator, but from the data in my possession it is nearly as follows:–

One donum of land, which is supposed to measure a square of fifty yards, would be about half an English acre; and this area is calculated to yield an average of one load and a half of wine = 192 okes = 528 lbs.

The value of the ordinary wine of the country will average about 90 piastres the load, wholesale price; therefore one donum will represent a gross value of I.5 load at 90 .. = 135 piastres (Cr.)

Against this annual produce the natives calculate as follows:–

Piastres.
Per donum–Expenses of cultivating the land, i.e. ploughing, weeding, &c. . . . . . . 25 Pruning vines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Gathering crop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Feeding labourers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Carriage of wine to market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 TOTAL government dues, including malliea . . . . . . . 25 ___ ___
(Dr.) 105 135 (Cr.)

This leaves a balance in favour of the producer of only 30 piastres, about 5 shillings per donum.

But it must be remembered that in the above calculation his own personal labour has not been considered; neither the wear and tear of implements, jars, loss by accidents of seasons, when the wine turns sour, neither is any margin allowed for extraneous casualties.

At first sight the position appears impossible, as a stranger would ask the pertinent question, “Why, if vineyards do not pay, does the owner continue the occupation? Why does he not substitute some other form of cultivation?” The answer is simple. Wherever the conditions of the locality permitted, they have already done so; but vineyards are cultivated where no other crops could grow; upon the sides of inclines so steep that it is even difficult to stand; and these positions, although peculiarly adapted for the cultivation of the vine by reason of the soil, would be absolutely worthless for other uses. The vine requires little water after the young grapes have formed, and the burning sun-light which is favourable for their development would destroy all cereals upon those steep inclinations, where a casual shower, instead of soaking into the earth and nourishing the crops, rushes quickly over the surface and drains superficially into the deep vale below. The land of the vineyards is WINE land, and adapted specially by the quality of the soil and the peculiarity of climate for the production of grapes. In addition to the impossibility of converting this land to other purposes of cultivation would be the loss to the proprietor of all his plant, buildings, jars, &c., &c., which would become valueless.

This is, as well as I can describe the grievances, the real position of the vine-grower. Although since the British occupation he has escaped the extra extortion of the tax-farmer, he is still the slave of petty vexations and delays, which strangle him in red-tape and render his avocation a misery; without profit, leaving only a bare subsistence. What is to be done?

The first necessary change is a system of roads, only sufficiently wide to admit of the native two-wheeled carts, with sidings every half mile to enable them to pass when meeting. Our usual English mistake has been made, in the only two metalled highways that the engineers have constructed in Cyprus, “that everything must be English;” thus we have two costly roads of great width from Larnaca to Lefkosia, and from Limasol to Platraes, which are entirely unsuitable to the requirements of the country; and as there are no branch roads in communication, the people are hardly benefited, as they cannot reach the main artery with wheeled conveyances. The military road from Limasol might as well be a railway without any branch traffic, as it is entirely independent of other roads: thus, should carts be established to convey the wine of the district to Limasol, they must be loaded by mules that will bring the produce from the roadless vineyards in the usual manner by goat-skins, and the wine will be tainted as before. A network of cheap useful cart-tracks can be easily made throughout the wine districts, and they MUST be made before any improvement in the quality of the wines can take place. The goat-skins and the tarred jars must be thrown aside before any change can be expected: these cannot become obsolete until the necessary roads for the conveyance of casks shall be completed.

If we regard the present position of the vine-grower, we must advise him thus:–“The first necessity is to improve your QUALITY, and thus ensure a higher price. It costs no more either in labour or in plant to produce a good wine than to continue your present rude method of production. You may double the value of your wine by an improved system, without adding materially to your expenses; you will then have a large margin for profit, which will increase in the same ratio as the quality of your wine.”

The grower will reply, “We must have roads for carts if we are to substitute barrels for goat-skins. So long as the mule-paths are our only routes we must adhere to the skins, which we acknowledge are destructive to the quality of the wine and reduce our profits. Give us roads.”

This is a first necessity, and it is simply ridiculous to preach reforms of quality to the cultivators so long as the present savage country remains roadless. It is the first duty of the government to open the entire wine district by a carefully devised system of communication: for which a highway rate could be established for repairs.

If this simple work shall be accomplished the goat-skins will disappear; or should some cultivators cling to the ancient nuisance, a tax could be levied specially upon wine skins, which would ensure their immediate abolition. A new trade would at once be introduced to Cyprus in the importation of staves for casks, and the necessary coopers. The huge jars that are only suggestive of the “Forty Thieves” would be used as water-tanks, and the wine would ripen in casks of several hundred gallons, and be racked off by taps at successive intervals when clear. The first deposit of tannin and fixed albumen would remain at the bottom of No. 1 vat, the second deposit after racking in No. 2; and the wine which is now an astringent, cloudy, and muddy mixture of impurities, would leave the vine-grower’s store bright, and fit for the merchant’s vats in Limasol, and command a more than double price. This is a matter of certainty and not conjecture. Should the black wines be carefully manufactured, they will be extensively used for mixing with thin French wines, as they generally possess strength and body in large proportion to their price.

It will be universally agreed that the making of the roads is the first necessity; but if the island is in such financial misery that so important a step must be deferred, the grievances of the vine-growers should be immediately considered. The first question to the cultivator would be, “What reforms do you yourself suggest?” He replies, “Fix an annual rate per donum, and leave us free to send our wine wherever we choose, without the abominable vexations and delays caused by the present arbitrary system; let the tax per donum include every charge for which we shall be liable: we shall then know at once the limit of our liability.” I cannot see any practical difficulty in such an arrangement; a highway rate might be an extra when the roads should be completed. A small export duty at the various ports would become a material source of increase to the revenue when the wine trade became invigorated and extended by government encouragement, and although such a duty would indirectly affect the grower in the price which the merchant would pay for the new wine, it would be a collateral tax that would not be felt individually.

Unless the present oppressive system shall be abolished the wine trade of Cyprus will languish, and an industry that may be profitably extended to an important degree will share the fate of a commercial and agricultural depression which has resulted from the vague conditions of the British occupation, and from which no recovery can be expected until confidence in the future prospects of the island shall be established.

CHAPTER XI.

FROM LIMASOL TO THE MOUNTAINS.

The barley harvest was in active operation, and the fields around our camp were crowded with men, women, and children, all hard at work, but producing small results compared with an equal expenditure of European labour. Their sickles were large and good, but a great proportion of the crops were either broken off by hand or were dragged out by the roots, and the earth that adhered was carelessly dusted off by a blow against the reaper’s boots. In this dry climate there was no necessity for piling the sheaves, but the small bundles were at once laden upon donkeys and also conveyed in the two-wheeled carts to the threshing- ground, upon which it would remain until valued for taxation by the government official. In the dry atmosphere of Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, &c., the straw breaks easily, and beneath the sharp flints of the ancient threshing-harrow in present use is quickly reduced to the coarse chaff known as “tibbin,” which forms the staple article of food for horses and all cattle. Taking advantage of the numbers of people congregated in the fields, some itinerant gipsies with a monkey and performing bears were camped beneath the caroub-trees, about half a mile from our position. The bears were the Syrian variety. Throughout Cyprus the gipsies are known as tinners of pots and makers of wooden spoons, which seems to be the normal occupation of their tribe throughout the world; they have also a character for a peculiar attachment to fowls and any other small matters that belong to private individuals which may be met with during their wanderings.

The beans of the caroub-trees were already large, and promised a good crop in spite of the dry weather. The roots of these evergreens penetrate to a great depth, and obtain nourishment from beneath when the surface soil is perished by drought. I have never seen a caroub overthrown by the wind, although the extremely large head that is at all seasons covered with leaves must offer a great resistance. The fruit of this tree (Ceratonia siliqua) is already an important export from Cyprus, and if the cultivation is encouraged there can be no doubt of an enormous extension of the trade. The tree is indigenous to the island, but in its wild state is unproductive; it simply requires grafting to ensure a crop. The wild young trees are generally transplanted into the desired positions, and then grafted from the cultivated species, but there is no reason why they should not be grafted in situ. The olives, which are also indigenous, might be treated in a similar manner to render the crown-lands productive, which are now mere jungles of shrubs and trees in their natural state. I shall reserve further remarks upon this subject for a chapter specially devoted to “Woods and Forests.”

The caroub at present commands an extensive market. The fruit is usually known commercially as the “locust-bean;” the taste is a compound of treacle and Spanish liquorice, and would generally be appreciated by children, monkeys, pigs, and cattle. The Cassia fistula of Ceylon resembles it somewhat in flavour, but the Ceratonia siliqua is free from the medicinal properties of the former tree. Since the government monopoly was abolished in 1827 the trade has received an impetus, and this extension due to freedom is an example to our present government in their relations to the oppressive system connected with the wine trade.

According to the consular reports the crop of 1872 was about 10,000 tons, which sold free on board at 4 pounds 10 shillings per ton. At that time the chief purchaser was Russia, and the locust-beans were exported to various positions upon the Black Sea. In 1875 England became a large consumer, and I believe the well-known “Thorley’s Patent Food for Cattle” contains a considerable amount of this nutritive substance. The influence upon the market of a demand from England raised the exports in 1875 to 18,000 tons. A fluctuation took place in 1876, and although the crop was deficient, the prices fell to 2 pounds 13 shillings 6 pence per ton free on board. This reaction was probably due to the large stocks on hand in England, purchased at a high rate, from 4 pounds 10 shillings to 5 pounds per ton, which had driven Russian competition out of the market; therefore the 1876 gathering found but few purchasers. In 1877 the yield was 13,500 tons, and the price rose from 2 pounds 13 shillings 6 pence to 3 pounds 5 shillings and at length to 4 pounds per ton, free on board.

The average produce of a tree, taking the mean of all sizes, would be about 84 lbs. or three-quarters of a hundredweight; allowing the mean crop of five years to be 13,000 tons, this would give the number of productive trees in Cyprus as 346,666, or in round numbers 350,000, which, at eight trees to the acre = 43,750 acres of caroub-trees. I do not think as a rule that a larger number than eight trees are to be found upon an acre, as it is the custom to cultivate cereals upon the same ground, therefore the caroubs are thinly planted. This calculation cannot be accepted as exhibiting the actual position of the trees, as a very large proportion are not planted in order, but grow independently and promiscuously, and are productive simply as originally wild trees that have been grafted. Should Cyprus belong bona-fide to England, machinery for crushing and pressing the locust-beans will be established on the spot, which, by compressing the bulk, will reduce the freight and materially lessen the price when delivered in England. In travelling through Cyprus nothing strikes the observation of the traveller more forcibly than the neglect of tree-planting. The caroub is an indigenous production volunteering its services to man, and producing an important revenue; there are immense tracts of land which by their rocky nature are unfit for the general purposes of husbandry, at the same time the rich soil in the interstices is eminently adapted for the cultivation of the caroub. Such lands are at the present moment abandoned to a growth of jungle, among which this irrepressible tree dominates all other vegetation, but in its wild state remains unproductive. The neighbourhood of Limasol is for many miles richly ornamented by these welcome shade-producers, and presents an example of what other portions of the island might become.

During my stay at Limasol I was several times invaded by a crowd of people from a neighbouring village, with complaints upon an assumed injustice connected with their water-supply. It was in vain that I assured them of my unofficial capacity; they were determined to have their say, and, according to their threat, to “TELEGRAPH TO VICTORIA,” unless they could obtain redress. I referred them to Colonel Warren, R.A., the chief commissioner of their district, who had already been sufficiently perplexed with their case. It appeared that a stream flowing from the mountains had nearly two centuries ago been diverted into an artificial channel by the inhabitants of Kolossi and others for the purpose of irrigating the various lands in succession, according to the gradations of their levels. This water had become a right, and the value of all lands thus irrigated had been appraised in proportion. According to their story, some years ago a Greek who commanded capital purchased an estate at Kolossi; and having made a journey to Constantinople, where he remained for some years, he took the opportunity of bribing some high officials to obtain for him an irade from the Sultan, giving him the entire right to the water-supply, which had for so great a length of time been the acknowledged property of the neighbouring landholders. This irade was issued upon the plea that all natural waters (i.e. streams) belong to the Sultan. A wide field for litigation was thus opened, and the Greek, having more than the usual allowance of “the wisdom of the serpent,” lost no time in investing large sums in the corruption of all those who would be summoned as local witnesses whenever the case should be brought before the ordinary tribunals. The result was that after great expense in the costs of litigation, an appeal to the superior court during the British administration had been favourable to the plaintiffs, and the Greek proprietor was held to be legally in possession of all water-rights, to the exclusion of the original owners. He, however offered to supply them with water for their farms at a fixed rate; whereas they had hitherto enjoyed that free right for upwards of a century. This loss, or abstraction, of so important a supply, upon which the actual existence of the farms depended in seasons of drought, not only impoverished the cultivators during the present year of famine, but reduced the value of their land to an enormous extent, as farms with a water-supply are worth more than quadruple the price of those which are dependent upon the seasons. Of course I could not help the poor people; it appeared to my uneducated sense of equity to be the maximum of injustice. The question hung upon the Sultan’s right to the natural water-supply, which I believe has been officially declared invalid; by what other right the monopoly of the water had been conveyed away from the original proprietors I could not understand. The Greek was not enjoying his victory in absolute peace of mind, as the neighbouring farmers avenged their legal defeat by cutting holes in the embankments of his watercourses, and thereby nightly flooding their own fields, which, as the channels extended for many miles, would have required the presence of more than all the police of the district to discover the offenders. Upon one occasion upwards of forty of these people appeared mounted upon mules around my camp, to urge my intercession on their behalf, declaring their perfect faith in the honour and good intentions of the English authorities, but at the same time lamenting their ignorance of the native language, which threw the entire power into the hands of the dragomans (interpreters), of whose character they spoke in terms which it is to be hoped were highly exaggerated. The people begged me to ride over to the locality, to see with my own eyes the position of affairs; which I arranged to do sine die, and after advising them to exercise a temporary patience, I got rid of the deputation without suggesting “that under the existing agrarian dispute they should let their farms to some enterprising Irish tenants from Tipperary.”

I mention this incident, which is one of many others upon the same subject, to exhibit the complications that have always arisen from the contention upon water-rights, that will require some special legislation. . . .

The weather was becoming warm at Limasol, the thermometer ranging from 70 degrees at 7 A.M. to 83 degrees at 3 P.M. There was a trouble in the water-supply, as that for drinking purposes had to be conveyed by donkeys from a distance of three or four miles. The market in the town, although well arranged externally, was governed by peculiarly restrictive municipal regulations; the price of meat and several other articles being fixed at a common standard! According to this absurd rule inferior mutton would fetch an equal price with the best quality: the natural consequence ensued, that only inferior meat was introduced, to the exclusion of all other. The supply of fish was extremely irregular, and they were generally small and dear. Upon some occasions we purchased good red mullet, also a larger fish of the bass species; but there were only a few fishermen, who required an opposition to induce activity and moderate prices. Their nets were made of exceedingly fine twine, and the smallness of the mesh denoted a scarcity of the larger species of fish.

A number of Maltese settlers were arriving, to whom lands had been granted by the government in the neighbourhood of Limasol; this excellent arrangement will have the effect of infusing a new spirit among the people by the introduction of fresh blood, and the well-known fishermen of Malta will of themselves be a boon to the large towns, where a regular demand may be depended upon at a reasonable price.

There was nothing to induce a longer stay at Limasol, and I resolved upon Trooditissa monastery as the position for a mountain residence during the summer months. Upon Kiepert’s map, which is the best I have seen of Cyprus, this point was placed among the angles in the various crests and ridges of the Troodos mountain, and was marked by measurement as 4340 feet above the sea-level. The new government road extended from Limasol to Platraes, from which a good mule-path led to the camp prepared for the 20th Regiment and the Royal Engineers at an altitude of 5740 feet. It appeared to me that in north latitude 35 degrees this was an unnecessary elevation. My old residence at Newera Ellia in Ceylon was 6210 feet above the sea in north latitude 6 degrees 30′, and in that low latitude we had sharp frosts at night. Any heights approaching 6000 feet in north latitude 35 degrees would, I imagined, become disagreeably chilly in the morning and evening, at seasons when in the low country the heat would still be too oppressive for a return from the mountain sanatorium.

The mean temperature at Limasol from 1st May to 18th had been at 7 A.M. 65 degrees, at 3 P.M. 78.6 degrees, during which interval there had been sudden variations of temperature, ranging from a minimum of 56 degrees to 84 degrees. On the 11th May, having engaged twenty-three mules for our tents, baggage, and party, we started from Limasol for Trooditissa. The dog Merry, that had been bitten by the snake, had lain for days in a state of stupor, black and swollen; I had poured quantities of olive-oil down his throat, as he could not eat, and at length I gave him a dose of two grains of calomel, with three grains of emetic tartar. After this he slowly recovered; the ear that was bitten mortified, and was cut off, but the dog was sufficiently restored to accompany us upon the march, together with his companion Wise. We were now about to enter the great vine-growing district of Cyprus, which produces the large exportations that form the chief industry of Limasol.

At a distance of a mile from our camp we entered the new government road which connected Limasol with Platraes, thirty miles distant. The country quickly assumed an agreeable character; undulations and watercourses were more or less covered with trees, and the road scarped out of the steep sides exhibited the cretaceous formation similar to that between Larnaca and Lefkosia. Wild lavender was just blooming upon many portions of the way, while along the rocky courses of ravines the oleanders were in the richest blossom. The road was furnished with mile-posts, and the mules ambled along at a little more than five miles an hour. I found considerable fault in the low gradients (one in thirty), which had produced a road unnecessary for the vehicles of the country, at a proportionate outlay; it was altogether too good, and would have been excellent trotting-ground for a light phaeton and pair. As there was no such vehicle in the island, the beautifully traced highway exhibited a model of engineering that was scarcely appreciated by the natives, who invariably took the short and direct cuts to avoid the circuitous zigzags in descending the numerous valleys and in rounding the deep ravines. After a ride of twelve miles through a beautiful country, well wooded, and comprising a succession of wild hills and deep gorges, which formed torrents in the wet season, we arrived at a river flowing in a clear but extremely shallow and narrow stream beneath cliffs of cretaceous limestone. The banks were richly clad with rosy oleanders, myrtles, mastic shrubs; and the shade of several fine old plane-trees in full foliage invited us at once to halt immediately upon the edge of the rippling stream. This spot was known as Zigu, where an ancient stone bridge, with pointed arches, crossed the ravine about a hundred paces above the new wooden bridge erected by the Royal Engineers. This was a most charming spot for luncheon, and the dense shade of the planes was far more agreeable than the shelter of a wooden military hut that stood upon the height above and by no means improved the beauty of the view. Our dogs seemed to enjoy the change, and raced up and down the river’s bed, delighted with the cold water from the mountains, fresh from the highest springs of Troodos Some cold roast pigeons, young and fat, and some hard-boiled eggs, formed our luncheon, together with bread and cheese. These were quickly despatched and the carpets being spread beneath the trees, an hour’s nap was good for man while the mules rolled and then dozed in luxury upon the turf-like surface of the glen. I was awakened by the clatter of horse’s hoofs, and Mr. Allen, the chief officer of the police of Limasol, appeared, having most kindly ridden after us with the post just arrived from England. Unfortunately not a crumb of luncheon remained, the dogs having swallowed our leavings. We now saddled, and continued the journey upon the firm surface of the new road.

When about fourteen miles from Limasol we entered upon a grand scene, which exhibited the commencement of the wine-producing district. The road was scarped from the mountain side several hundred feet above the river, which murmured over its rocky bed in the bottom of the gorge. We were skirting a deep valley, and upon either side the mountains rose to a height of about 1400 feet, completely covered with vineyards from the base to the summit; this long vale or chasm extended to the Troodos range, which towered to upwards of 6000 feet, at a distance of about fourteen miles immediately in our front. The vines were all green with their early foliage, and the surface of the hill-sides was most cheering, contrasting with the yellow plain we had left at Limasol.

The good road rendered travelling delightful after the stony paths that we had traversed for some months in Cyprus, and the time passed so rapidly that we could hardly believe the distance marked upon the nineteenth milestone, where it was necessary to halt for the arrival of our baggage animals. After waiting till nearly dark we found they had quitted the new road and preferred a short cut across country, which had led them to the village of Menagria down in the glen nearly a mile below us. We walked down the steep hill and joined the party, pitched the tent, and made ready for the night.

On the following morning, instead of adhering to the new road, we descended to the bottom of the gorge and crossed the river near some water-mills, as the bridge was not yet completed in the distant angle of the glen. We now ascended an exceedingly steep hill from the river’s bed, which severely tried our animals, until, after passing a succession of cereal crops and vineyards, we arrived at the summit, about 1200 feet above the valley. From this point the view was magnificent. The pine-covered sides of Troodos appeared close before us, and a valley stretched away to our right richly clothed with trees below the steep vine-covered sides of the surrounding mountains. Keeping to our left and passing through several insignificant villages, we commenced a most dangerous descent, with an occasional deep precipice on the right of the extremely narrow path, until we reached a contracted but verdant glen. This was a remarkable change: we had suddenly entered one of those picturesque vales for which Devonshire is famous. The vegetation had changed to that of Europe, as we were now nearly 3000 feet above the sea. Apple and pear trees of large size were present, not in orchards, but growing independently as though wild. Dog-roses of exquisite colour were in full bloom, and reminded us of English hedges. Beautiful oak-trees scattered upon the green surface gave a park-like appearance to the scene, and numerous streams of clear water rippled though the myrtle-covered banks, over the deep brown rocks of the plutonic formation, which had now succeeded to the cretaceous limestone.

It was a curious geological division, limited by the glen: on the left, the hills and mountains were the usual white marls and cretaceous limestone; while on the right everything was plutonic or granitic, including gneiss, syenite, and metamorphous rocks of various characters. The soil of the glen was red, and the villages, built of sun-baked bricks of this colour, harmonised with the dark green of rich crops of wheat that had been irrigated by the never-failing water-power. We had now rejoined the English road, which passed along the bottom of the glen, and which was yet incomplete; several gangs of men were working at intervals, and in the scarps, where deep cuttings had been necessary, I remarked a considerable amount of ironstone.

A few miles through this interesting scenery brought us to the village of Mandria, where a strong working party was engaged in erecting a wooden bridge upon masonry piers. We now turned off to the left, over rough but richly-wooded hills, leaving the English road, which extended direct to Platraes, as our course was altered towards the large village of Phyni, situated at the foot of the Troodos mountain. There could hardly be a worse or more dangerous path over the high and precipitous hills; these were once more cretaceous, and in wet weather must be as slippery as soap. In many places the path was hardly nine inches wide, with a deep gorge beneath for at least 150 feet. At length we passed over the crest, and looked down upon Phyni, in the vine-covered dell below. As far as the eye could reach upon all directions for many miles, hill-sides, valleys, and mountains exceeding 4000 feet were entirely covered with vines; not a yard of soil was unoccupied by this important branch of cultivation. Immediately before us, on the other side of Phyni, in the dark hollow, was the base of Troodos, from which the mountain rose so steeply that it appeared impossible to ascend with mules. A narrow line was pointed out upon the thickly bush-covered sides of the mountain, and we were informed that we should reach Trooditissa monastery by that path. I thought there must be some mistake in the interpretation; however we dismounted, and preferred walking down the steep zigzags that led to Phyni, half hidden in masses of bright green foliage of various fruit-trees, now exactly at our feet.

This was a very peculiar village, as the broad flat roofs of the houses formed terraces; upon these you could at once walk from the steep hill-slope, into which the houses were inserted by scarping out a level space for a foundation. The effect was remarkable, as the house-roofs, in lines, seemed like flights of steps upon the mountain side. We halted at the first decent-looking dwelling and rested beneath the shade of an apricot-tree within a small courtyard. The people at once assembled, and the owner of the house brought us black wine and raki of his own make; the latter he was now engaged in distilling, and some pigs were revelling in the refuse that had been thrown in a heap below the window of the store. This man was proud of his wine, as it was tolerably free from the taste of tar; the jars, having been more than fifty years in constant use, had lost the objectionable flavour. We were thirsty and hot, therefore the wine was not disagreeable, and we lunched beneath the apricot.

After an hour’s rest the real up-hill work commenced. We crossed a broad channel of running water beneath groves of green trees, and entered a path on the opposite side of the village; this skirted a deep and precipitous gorge, through which the river flowed from the high and dark ravine that cleft the mountain from the ssummit to the bottom. A water-mill was at work below us on the right; and always ascending along the side of the ravine, with the rushing sound of the stream below, we arrived after half a mile at the base of the apparently impossible route. Right and left, right and left, went the short and sharp zigzags, the path covered with rolling stones and loose rocks, which clattered under the feet of the tired mules and rolled down the steep inclines. The sound of the stream below became fainter, and the narrow angle of the deep cleft grew darker, as we ascended. We looked down upon the rounded tops of various trees, including the rich verdure of planes, which skirted the banks of the hidden stream, and we entered upon pines rising from an under-growth of beautiful evergreens, including the fragrant tremithia, the light green foliage of the arbutus, with its bright red bark contrasting strongly with the dark shade of the dense and bushy ilex. The mastic was there, and as we increased our altitude the Pinus laricio and Pinus maritima varied the woods by their tall spars, beneath which a perfect garden of flowers almost covered the surface of the earth; these included the white and purple cistus, dog- roses, honeysuckle, and several varieties unknown to me. Among the ornamental dwarfs were a quantity of the Sumach, which is an article of export from Cyprus for the use of the tanner and dyer.

The view became very beautiful as we ascended, until at length, after a couple of miles of the steepest zigzags, we turned a corner of the rocks and looked down the great depth at our right, below the path, upon the long white thread of a waterfall, which for some hundred feet of a severe incline, broken by occasional plunges, issues from the rocky cleft, and forms the river in the ravine below. “There is the monastery of Trooditissa!” exclaimed our guide. About 200 feet above our level, snugly nested among splendid walnut-trees in the dark angle of the mountains, were the grey and brown gables, half concealed by the rich foliage of plane-trees, walnuts, mulberry, and other varieties.

About half a mile from this point of view the mules scrambled up one of the worst portions of the route, and we arrived at a clear and cold spring issuing suddenly from the rocks through a stone spout, protected by an arch of masonry: this was received in a rude wooden trough formed from the trunk of a hollowed pine, and overflowed across the path to water some terraced gardens immediately below. A walnut and a fig-tree intermingled their branches above the arch, and formed an agreeable shade to shelter weary travellers, who might sit by the welcome spring after toiling up the rough mountain side. About eighty yards beyond, by a level path, we reached the widest-spreading walnut-tree that I have ever seen; the new foliage was soft and uninjured by the wind, producing a dense shade over an area sufficient for numerous tents. This magnificent specimen of vegetation grew upon the edge of an abrupt descent, perpendicular to a series of gardens, all terraced out to a depth of about 150 feet, to the bottom of a narrow gorge; thus one-half of the branches overhung the steep, while the other half shaded a portion of the monastery courtyard.

We halted and dismounted beneath this grand old tree, where the picturesque but not clean old monk, with some of his ecclesiastics, were ready to meet us with a courteous welcome.

CHAPTER XII.

THE MONASTERY OF TROODITISSA.

The monastery of Trooditissa had no architectural pretensions; it looked like a family of English barns that had been crossed with a Swiss chalet. The roofs of six separate buildings of considerable dimensions were arranged to form a quadrangle, which included the chapel, a long building at right angles with the quadrangle, which had an upper balcony beneath the roof, so as to form a covered protection to a similar arrangement below, and an indescribable building which was used by the monks as their store for winter provisions. The staircases were outside, as in Switzerland, and entered upon the open-air landings or balconies; these were obscure galleries, from which doors led to each separate apartment, occupied by the monks and fleas. The obscurity may appear strange, as the balconies were on the outside, but the eaves of the roof at an angle of about 48 degrees projected some feet as a protection from the winter’s snow, and occasioned a darkness added to the gloom of blueish grey gneiss which formed the walls and the deep brownish red of the tiled roof.

The great walnut-tree overshadowed a portion of the mule stables that formed a continuation of the building, and faced the exterior courtyard, which was inclosed upon two sides of the square, in the centre of which was an arched entrance to the inner court. This doorway was beneath a covered gallery, and the ground floor formed a well-protected verandah, from which a magnificent view was commanded down the great gorge towards Phyni, overlooking the lower mountain tops to a sea horizon beyond the peninsula of Akrotiri and the salt lake of Limasol.

The covered gallery above this verandah was supported by stone pillars with exceedingly rude capitals, upon which long beams of the native pines, laid horizontally, supported the joists and floors. It was a dull and dirty abode, and at first sight I was disappointed. The angle of the mountain in which the monastery stood was formed by a ravine which intercepted the principal gorge at almost a right angle, thus a path which continued at the same level from the courtyard to the other side of the ravine, represented the letter V laid horizontally. From the walnut-tree across the broad base of the letter would be about a hundred yards, to a series of cultivated terraces upon an equal level.

This might have been made a lovely station, as no less than three springs of water issued from the mountain side in various positions: the first already mentioned; the second on the further side of the letter V, beneath another splendid walnut-tree; and the third upon the same level beyond, which fell into a trough beneath a large trellis, upon which some vines were trained to produce a shade.

The terraces formed an angular amphitheatre, the outer courtyard of the monastery being the highest level, looking down upon tree-tops of planes and pines throughout the dark gorge to Phyni. The gardens appeared much neglected; they were overcrowded with fruit-trees, including filberts, mulberry, pears, apples, figs, walnuts, plums; the only grape-vine was represented upon the trellis; the position was too high for apricots.

An Englishman’s first idea is improvement, and I believe that upon entering heaven itself he would suggest some alteration. This was not heaven, but, as a monastery, it was the first step, and a very high one for this world, being 4340 feet above the sea. We began by cleaning, and I should have liked to have engaged Hercules, at the maximum of agricultural wages, to have cleaned the long line of mule stables, a dignified employment for which the hero-god was famous; the Augean were a joke to them. Piles of manure and filth of every description concealed the pavement of the capacious outer yard of the monastery. The narrow path by which we had arrived from the spring was a mere dung-heap, from which the noxious weeds called docks, of Brobdignagian proportions, issued in such dense masses that an agricultural meeting of British farmers would have been completely hidden by their great enemy. The priests or monks had filthy habits; it would have been impossible for civilised people to have existed in this accumulation of impurities, therefore we at once set to work. I had a spade and pickaxe, and we borrowed some other tools from the monks, among which were strong grubbers (which combined the hoe and the pick). There were a number of people belonging to the monastery, including some young embryo priests, that we might accept as deacons; these I set to work with the pickaxe at one shilling a day wages. The boys who were being educated for the Church I employed in removing all the loose stones which choked the surface of the ground, and subsequently in sweeping and scraping the courtyard. I gave them sixpence a day if they worked from early morning, or threepence if they came at noon after their lessons. There was a shepherd’s family, upon the hill about 250 feet above the monastery, of seven handsome children, two boys of nineteen and seventeen, and five girls. These were hard at work, even to a pretty little child of four years old, who carried her stones, and swept with a little broom with all her heart (this was little Athena). Of course they were all paid in the evening with bright new threepenny pieces which they had never seen before. Even the priests worked after a few days, when the spirit of industry and new shillings moved them, and in the history of the monastery there could never have been such a stirring picture and such a dust as we made in cleansing and alterations. Nearly a month was occupied in this necessary work, by which time the place was entirely changed. I had made a good road as an approach from the spring, with a covered drain, dignified by the name of an “aqueduct,” which led the water when required to a little garden that I had constructed close to the tent, where a nondescript slope had become a receptacle for filth. I had cut this down from the road, and mixed the earth with the accumulated dirt and manure, which I levelled off in successive layers, so that the stream led from the spring would irrigate my beds in succession. This garden was carefully fenced against the intrusion of goats and donkeys, to say nothing of pigs, and it was already sown with tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, barmia, and beet-root. The priests had a grand bed of onions upon a terrace, which was usually occupied by the pigs, goats, and donkeys, as they had been too lazy to arrange a fence.

The docks in the monastery gardens were at least six feet high; I had these cut and collected to thatch the sides of a peculiar shed (in which I am writing at this moment), which was a great comfort and formed a very original retreat, combining a seat in an amphitheatre with a modern summer-house. This was an oblong, of fifteen feet by twelve, erected within three feet of the tent beneath the walnut-tree upon the extreme verge of the abrupt incline. I laid a foundation of stones, which I covered with pounded earth and water, to produce a level with the tent. I then placed horizontally a beam of wood, secured from slipping with stakes driven to the heads into the bank upon the edge of the incline. Upon this a row of large stones was cemented together with mud to form a margin level with the floor, from which the abrupt inclination at once leapt to the lower terraces and the deep gorge, continuing for upwards of 4000 feet to the sea; this was visible beyond the inferior mountain tops.

There was nothing pretty in the arrangement of this “rachkooba,” as it would be called in Africa; it was a simple square of upright poles, connected with canes secured across, thatched inside with ferns, and upon the outside with docks, fastened down with the peeled willow-like shoots of mulberry-trees. The mulberry-trees for silkworms are always pollarded annually, and they throw out shoots about seven or nine feet in length every season; the wood is exceedingly tough, and the bark of these wands when stripped is serviceable for tying plants or securing fences in lieu of cord. For lack of silkworms the monastery mulberry-trees had several seasons of growth, and the shoots were serviceable for our work. The ceiling of our opera-box was cloth, with a curtain of about three feet suspended along the front, which broke the morning sun as it topped the high ridge of the mountain on the other side of the gorge, about a thousand feet above us. The shed was carpeted with mats and furnished roughly with a table and chairs; hat-pegs were suspended around, made from the red-barked wood of the arbutus, simply cut so that by inverting the branch with the stem attached to a cord, the twigs, cut at proper lengths, would form convenient hooks.

From this cool hermitage we looked down upon the dense foliage of rounded mulberry-tops and the fruit-trees of the gardens within the gorge, while exactly in our front, a hundred yards across the deep ravine, was the rocky steep of the mountain side, densely clothed with ilex and arbutus, until the still higher altitudes banished all underwood, and the upper ranges of Troodos exhibited a surface of barren rocks clothed with tall pines and cypress, 2000 feet above us.

By the time we had completed our permanent camp a certain degree of improvement had taken place in the people, as well as in the actual cleanliness of the locality. Everybody washed his, or her, face and hands. The customs of the monks had so far reformed that the immediate neighbourhood was no longer offensive. When strangers with mules arrived the road was immediately swept, and upon Saturday evenings a general embellishment took place in honour of the approaching Sunday. The young clergy were remarkably good and active; they worked in my little garden at a shilling a day, went on errands to Platraes and the camp at Troodos, and made themselves generally useful for a most moderate consideration. I can strongly recommend all young curates who are waiting in vain for livings to come and work upon the holy soil of Trooditissa at one shilling per diem; and should they (as curates frequently are) be poor in this world’s goods, but nevertheless strong in amorous propensities, and accordingly desirous of matrimony, they will find a refuge within the walls of this monastery from all the temptations of the outer world, far from garden-parties, balls, picnics, church-decorations assisted by young ladies, and all those snares of the Evil One; and the wholesome diet of the monks, including a course of soaked broad-beans and barley bread, with repeated fastings upon innumerable saints’ days, will affect them sensibly, both morally and physically; under this discipline they will come to the conclusion that a wife and large family upon an income of 500 pounds a year in England would not confer the same happiness as one shilling a day with the pickaxe, broad-beans and independence, at Trooditissa, which is true “muscular Christianity.”

It was extraordinary to see the result of a life-long diet of beans and barley-bread in the persons of the monks, who very seldom indulged in flesh. The actual head of the monastery was a handsome man of seventy, perfectly erect in figure, as though fresh from military drill, and as strong and active as most men of fifty. The younger priests were all good-looking, active, healthy men, who thought nothing of a morning’s walk over the fatiguing rocky paths to Troodos and back (twelve miles), to be refreshed on their return by an afternoon’s work in their gardens. The head of the Church was an especial friend of ours, and was a dear old fellow of about seventy, with a handsome face, a pair of greasy brass spectacles bound with some substance to retain them that was long since past recognition, and swelled feet that prevented him from walking beyond the precincts of the monastery, which he had never quitted for twelve years. The feet looked uncommonly like the gout, but I can hardly believe in the co-existence of that complaint with dry beans and barley-bread, although the truth must be confessed, that the monks are fond of commanderia, or any other production of the vineyard. There was one exceedingly disagreeable monk with whom we held a most remote acquaintance, and whose name I willingly conceal; he has been seen upon several occasions to sit down upon an imaginary chair, the real article of furniture being eighteen inches distant, and the stunning effect of arriving suddenly in a sitting posture upon the hard stone of the courtyard disabled him from rising; and even when assisted his legs were evidently affected by the shock. His enemies declared (as they always do) that he was the victim to an over-indulgence in the raki and wine of Phyni. We generally knew him by the alias of “Roger,” in memory of the Ingoldsby Legends, where

“Roger the Monk
Got excessively drunk,
So they put him to bed,
And tucked him in.”

There was no friend to bestow such care upon our Roger, he therefore lay helplessly upon the bare stone until refreshing sleep restored his eyesight and his perpendicular.

Our particular friend the head of the Church was a very different character, and was a most simple-minded and really good religious man. I employed a photographer of the Royal Engineers (kindly permitted by Major Maitland, R.E.) specially to take his picture, as he sat every morning knitting stockings, with a little boy by his side reading the Greek Testament aloud, in the archway of the monastery. This was his daily occupation, varied only when he exchanged the work of knitting either for spinning cotton, or carving wooden spoons from the arbutus: these he manufactured in great numbers as return presents to those poor people who brought little offerings from the low country. Never having mixed with the world, the old man was very original and primitive in his ideas, which were limited to the monastery duties and to the extreme trouble occasioned by the numerous goats which trespassed upon the unfenced gardens, and inflicted serious damage. The chapel, which was under his control, was of the usual kind, and at the same time rough and exceedingly gaudy, the pulpit being gilded throughout its surface, and the reredos glittering with gold and tawdry pictures of the lowest style of art, representing the various saints, including a very fat St. George and the meekest possible dragon. Our old friend had never seen a British sovereign with the St. George, and was vastly pleased when he discovered that his saint and ours were the same person, only differing in symmetry of figures and in ferocity of dragons.

There was one very extraordinary effigy in bas-relief upon silver-gilt about two feet six inches high, of the Virgin Mary, to which peculiar miraculous properties were attributed. The possession of this relic formed the principal attraction of the monastery. About a quarter of a mile above the present establishment there is a small cave concealed among the ragged masses of rock that crust the mountain side; this has been formed by one rock which, leans across another, and each end has been walled up artificially, so as to form a stone chamber of about twelve feet in length by seven in width, with a small entrance. According to the account given by the old monk, this cave was the origin of the present monastery through the following accident. Among these wild mountains, where no dwelling of any kind exists, it has always been the custom after the melting of the snows in early spring to pasture the numerous flocks of goats, which are at that season driven up from the parched herbage of the low country to the fresh herbs of the cooler altitudes. Three or four hundred years ago a shepherd, having lost his goat at night, was surprised at the appearance of a light among the rocks high up on the mountain, and with superstitious awe he related his discovery to his fellows. For some time the mysterious light was observed nightly, and various conjectures were on foot as to its origin, but no one dared to venture upon an examination.

At length, the authorities of the Church having been consulted, it was resolved that a priest should accompany the party of investigation and the matter should be thoroughly cleared up.

It was a difficult climb to the pathless crags at night, but the light was glimmering like “the star that the wise men saw in the east,” and though occasionally lost at intervals, it guided the party on their way. Upon arrival at the cave, there was no inhabitant. A lamp burnt before a small effigy of the Virgin Mary suspended against the wall of rock, but no trace of human foot or hand could be discovered.

Such is the legend; and the inexplicable mystery caused much excitement and agitation in the minds of the Church authorities. At length it was determined that, as the apparition of the light was miraculous, it was incumbent upon the people to erect a monastery upon the site of the appearance, contiguous to the now sacred cave.

This was an extreme difficulty, as the inclination formed an angle of about 60 degrees; and the mountain was hard gneiss that could only have been scarped by expensive blasting. However, it was hoped that a blessing would attend the good work; therefore, in spite of all obstacles, it was commenced, and masons were engaged from the village of Phyni to arrange a foundation.

There was no water nearer than the torrent in the deep hollow half a mile below, therefore extreme labour was required in mixing the mortar for the walls; the jars in which the necessary water was conveyed upon men’s shoulders up the precipitous rocks appeared to be influenced by some adverse, but unseen, agency, as they constantly slipped from their hold and broke. During the night the work which the masons had accomplished in the day fell down, and was discovered every morning as a heap of ruin; the building could not proceed. In this perplexity the Church was relieved by a supernatural interposition. Early one morning a jar of pure water was discovered in the sharp angle of the hollow between the hills, exactly below the rachkooba, where I am now writing. It was evident to the priestly mind that an angel had placed this jar of water to denote the spot where some hidden spring might be developed, which would be a favourable site for the new monastery. They dug, and shortly discovered the expected source.

It was therefore resolved that instead of erecting the monastery close to the effigy in the cave, where bad luck had hitherto attended their efforts, it would be more advisable to commence the building upon a favourable spot, where a level already existed, in the angle between two mountain slopes within a few yards of the spring; it would be easier to convey the small effigy to the new building than to erect the monastery close to the effigy. Accordingly the work was commenced: the walls no longer fell during the night, and the unseen agency was evidently propitious.

Upon completion of the monastery the original effigy was enshrined, and Trooditissa became famous as a holy site. Years passed away, and the reputation of the establishment was enhanced by the arrival of a lady of high position from Beyrout, together with her husband, as pilgrims to the now celebrated mountain cave. The lady was childless, and having presented a handsome offering, and kissed the rock entrance of the cave, in addition to the effigy within the monastery, she waited in the neighbourhood for a certain number of months, at the expiration of which she gave birth to a son. The monks claimed this boy as their lawful prize, and he was brought up as a priest; but there is some discrepancy in the accounts which I could not well understand, as it appears that his parents insisted upon his restoration, and that an angelic interposition at length prevented litigation. It may be well imagined that the result of the lady’s pilgrimage spread far and wide; the reputation of the monastery reached its zenith, and all the unfruitful women flocked to the shrine to kiss the cave and the picture of the Virgin within the church; at the same time offering a certain sum for the benefit of the establishment. The friction of constant and oft-repeated kissing at length began to tell upon the sacred effigy, and it became almost worn out; it was therefore determined that a beautiful silver-gilt Virgin and Child should be supplied by a first-rate artist which should cover the original relic within. This was remarkably well executed by Cornaro, and a small aperture like a keyhole of a door has been left, which is covered by a slide; this is moved upon one side when required, and enables the pilgrim to kiss through the hole a piece of rather brown-looking wood, which is the present exhausted surface of the effigy.

Although decayed by time and use, the miraculous property remains unchanged. This was exhibited a few years ago in a remarkable manner, where a childless lady had become old in barren expectation; but a visit to Trooditissa produced the desired result, and conferred much happiness upon the once despairing wife, who now became a mother. In addition to a monetary offering, this lady had presented the Virgin with a handsome belt with massive silver-gilt buckles, which she had worn during pregnancy. This offering is now suspended around the present effigy, and for a small consideration any lady applicant is allowed to fasten it round her waist. The effect is infallible, and quite equals that of the rock and silver Virgin. This remarkable inductive power may perhaps be some day explained by philosophers, but it is now exceedingly dangerous, and unfortunate results have occurred, when in a sudden impulse of devotion young maidens have kissed the rock entrance to the cave, or imprudently pressed their lips upon the sacred effigy.

During my sojourn at Trooditissa no arrivals of despairing wives occurred, but in the exhausted conditions of the finance throughout the island, it would have been the height of folly to have desired an increase of family, and thereby multiply expenses; possibly the uncertainty respecting the permanence of the English occupation may deter the ladies, who may postpone their pilgrimage to the monastery until their offspring should be born with the rights of British subjects.

I have described the origin of the ecclesiastical retreat at Trooditissa as nearly as possible according to the viva-voce history related by the monks. It is impossible to gauge the opinions of the world, as individuals differ as much in nervous structure and in theological creeds as they do in personal appearance; some may accept the monks’ belief implicitly, while others may suggest that the original occupant of the cave was some unknown hermit secluded from the world, whose solitary lamp burning before the Virgin had attracted the attention of the shepherds from the mountain opposite. The old man may have fallen down a precipice and died, leaving his lamp still alight; but it would be unfair to interfere with the original legend, which must remain with the usual clouds and uncertainties that obscure the tales of centuries.

About 250 feet above the monastery the ridge of a spur afforded a level space beneath some tall pines which threw a welcome shade, and would have been a convenient camping-ground. This spot was occupied by the roughest of log-huts, which had been erected by a shepherd as his summer residence when the goats should be driven from the low ground to the mountain pasture. This man was originally a Turk, and formed one of a peculiar sect known in Cyprus as Linobambaki (linen and cotton). These people are said to be converts to Christianity, but in reality they have never been troubled with any religious scruples, and accordingly never accommodate their principles to the society of their neighbourhood. In a Turkish village the Linobambaki would call himself by a Turkish name, as Mahomet, or Hassan, &c., while in a Christian community he would pass as Michael or Georgy, or by other Greek appellations. The name “linen and cotton” applied to them is expressive of their lukewarmness and time-serving, their religious professions fluctuating according to the dictates not of conscience, but personal interest. It is supposed that about 1500 of these people exist in various parts of Cyprus; they are baptised in the Greek Church, and can thus escape conscription for military service according to Turkish law. The goatherd upon our mountain had been a Turkish servant (shepherd) in a Greek family, and had succeeded in gaining the heart of his master’s daughter, whom he was permitted to marry after many difficulties. This woman must have been very beautiful when young, as, in spite of hard work and exposure, she was handsome at forty, with a pair of eyes that in youth might have been more attractive than the mysterious light in the hermit’s cave. It is one of the blessings of fine eyes that they are almost certain to descend to the children. Property may vanish, litigation may destroy the substance of an inheritance; but the eyes, large, soft, and gentle, which can occasionally startle you by their power and subdue you by a tear, are the children’s entail that nothing can disestablish. Even when time has trampled upon complexion, the eyes of beauty last till death.

The children of this Linobambaki and his handsome wife were seven–two boys of about nineteen and seventeen, and five girls from fourteen to one and a half–all of whom had the eyes of the mother developed most favourably. I cannot well describe every individual of a family: there were the two handsome shepherd youths who would have made level ground of mountain steeps, through their power and activity.

“Right up Ben Lomond could he press, And not a sob his toil confess.”

These young fellows matched the goats in clambering up the rocks and following their wayward flocks throughout the summits of the Troodos range; and their sisters the little shepherdesses were in their way equally surprising, in hunting runaway goats from the deepest chasm to the sharpest mountain-peak.

I hardly know who was our greatest favourite. There was “Katterina” (about fourteen) too old to make a pet of, but a gentle-charactered girl, always willing to please and never out of temper, and even in the big, hateful, beauty-destroying, high hob-nailed boots she could run up the mountain soil and clamber like a monkey. Then came, I believe, our best favourite, the bright, large-eyed, sparkling child “Vathoo,” who was the real beauty of the family, about ten years old; she was full of life and vigour, a perfect goat upon the mountains, with a most lovely face that would have charmed Murillo as a subject, with an extreme perfection of features, a bronzed complexion, but hardly the soft expression required for a sacred picture; in fact Vathoo was a perfect little gipsy beauty, with perhaps more devil than angel in her impulsive character.

Then came the real gentle little face with gazelle-like eyes, “Baraksu,” about eight years old: followed by a minimum shepherdess, “Athena,” of nearly five years old, who climbed the rocks, shouted, and threw stones at her refractory flock, as though an experienced goatherd of forty. The youngest was just able to stand; with a pair of the biggest black eyes, and a natural instinct for gorging itself with unripe fruits and hard nuts, which, added to its maternal sustenance that it was still enjoying, proved the mill-like character of its infantine digestion. For two months we thought this young Hercules was a promising boy, until by an accident we discovered it was a “young lady” Linobambaki! When we arrived at Trooditissa these children were in rags and filth, but under the tutelage of my wife they quickly changed, and the never-failing fountain, assisted by a cake of soap supplied occasionally, effected a marked improvement in all complexions.

They were remarkably well-mannered after the first natural shyness had worn away, and formed a contrast to children of a low class in England in never misbehaving when intimate. All these little creatures were employed in cleaning and improving the place; even the minute Athena might be seen carrying a great stone upon her small shoulder, adding her mite to the work, and rubbing the galled spot as she threw down her load. The bright threepenny pieces were in great favour, and the children invariably hastened to their mother with their earnings at the close of the afternoon. When the camp and monastery surroundings were in perfect order there was no longer any remunerative employment for the family, except the uncertain and occasional work of collecting wild flowers for the tent and table. The myrtles bloomed in early July, and in the deep ravine by the waterfall the oleanders were then still in blossom. Several plants which were strange to me were added to the collection; the days were generally passed by the children in minding the numerous goats until the evening, when each child brought some simple offering of flowers. We bought sheep from the low country at about six or seven shillings each, and Vathoo was the special shepherdess of our small flock, for which she was responsible; they were invariably driven out at 4 A.M. and brought home at 8 to avoid the sun, and again taken out from 4 P.M. till 7.

In this simple manner we passed our time at Trooditissa; my amusements were my small garden, writing an account of Cyprus, and strolling over the mountains: the latter occupation being most unprofitable, as I destroyed all my boots upon the horrible surface of loose stones, in which there was little geological interest, as they were all gneiss and syenite, cracked and starred during a process of subaquean cooling. The deplorable aspect of the otherwise beautiful mountains was occasioned by the wholesale and wilful destruction of pine-trees, which is the Cypriote’s baneful characteristic, and as this is one of the most important subjects in the modern history of the island, I shall devote the following special chapter entirely to the question of “Woods and Forests.”

CHAPTER XIII.

WOODS AND FORESTS.

The climate of Cyprus is extreme in temperature during the months of June, July, August, and until the close of September; throughout the greater portion of the island the treeless surface absorbs the sun’s rays, and during the night radiates the heat thus obtained, which raises the thermometer to 90 degrees before sunrise: while at noon it occasionally marks 100 degrees beneath the shade. A treeless country must either be extremely hot or cold, according to the latitude; and without a certain proportion of forest there will be an absence of equilibrium in temperature. Most persons will have observed the effect of heat radiation from rocks, or even from the walls of a building that have been exposed to a summer’s sun during the long day. At about six P.M., when the air is cool, the sun-heat stored by absorption escapes from its imprisonment, and thermometers would exhibit a difference of many degrees if placed at two feet from the ground, and at fifty; the rocks and earth have been heated like an oven. Trees will affect the surface of the soil in the same manner that an umbrella protects an individual from the surf, and upon lofty mountains they exercise a marked influence upon the rainfall. Should the summits be naked, the rocks become heated to a high degree, and should clouds pass overhead, the vapour would not condense, but, on the contrary, it might disperse upon contact with the heated surface. If the summits were clothed with forests, the rocks and soil, being shaded from the sun, would remain cool, and the low temperature of earth and foliage would condense the vapour and produce rain. It is well known that trees exert a direct influence upon meteorological phenomena, therefore should forests be totally destroyed, a change may be expected in the temperature, attended by a corresponding decrease in the rainfall. It is obvious that should a country be entirely covered with trees and jungle, it will be too damp and unhealthy for the occupation of man; and should it be absolutely barren of forest, it will possess a minimum rainfall; therefore in all countries that are expected to develop agricultural resources, the due proportions of woods and forests require special attention.

In ancient days there can be no question that Cyprus was rich in timber, and that the mountainous districts were thickly clothed to their summits with valuable wood varying in species according to altitude. At the risk of repetition I must describe the qualities which now exist, and which were no doubt exported from the island, and became widely known and appreciated in the early days of Cyprian prosperity.

Oaks.–There are several varieties of oak, but large park-like timber of this species is exceedingly scarce, and although met with occasionally in grand spreading trees with trunks of large girth, they are only sufficient to prove the destruction that has befallen their race. It is most probable that the oak was largely exported for ship-building; but as an available forest-tree it may be said to have disappeared. The ilex is the most common of all woods upon the Troodos range and upon other mountains, but the natives have made such constant attacks upon this quality for the manufacture of charcoal that it is seldom met with as a forest-tree. It is extremely hardy, and through continual hacking, it has grown into dense bushes which are generally about eight feet high; but in very remote localities among the mountains I have found it in the shape of timber growing to the height of forty feet. There is a third variety with a prickly leaf resembling holly, of an intensely dark green.

Pines.–I have only met with three varieties–the Pinus maritima, Pinus laricio, and the stone pine. The latter is very rare, but may be seen at Platraes. The natives invariably pick the cones of this species when green for the sake of the small edible nuts afforded by the seeds.

The Pinus laricio is a handsome tree with a dark foliage and branches that droop regularly from the summit, widening towards the base. It is difficult to determine the maximum size that would be attained by this species, as the Cypriotes seldom allow any tree to remain uninjured. The usual size of the Laracio on the Troodos range is about fifty feet in height, with a girth of six feet, but I have frequently seen specimens of nine feet in girth, and about seventy to eighty feet in height.

The Pinus maritima has a lighter foliage and the branches are more spreading, but the size is about the same as the Laricio. Both these species are rich in tar and turpentine.

Cypress.–There are two varieties–the dwarf, which covers the flat-topped limestone hills of the Carpas district, and the fragrant species which grows upon the heights of Troodos and all that range which extends to Poli-ton-Krysokhus.

The dwarf-cypress attains a height of about twenty feet, and is exceedingly hard and durable. The fragrant species varies from thirty to thirty-five feet, with a stem of six, to sometimes eight feet in circumference. The wood is highly aromatic; and I have already described it as resembling a mixture of sandal-wood and cedar. This tree is known by the Cypriotes as kypresses, while the dwarf variety is known as the “wild cypress,” and is called by them “aoratu.”

Plane (Platanus).–This tree is generally found in the ravines among the mountains, on the borders of streams, and would grow to a large size, but its straight young stems are much sought after by the natives for various purposes, and it is seldom allowed a chance of arriving unscathed at maturity. Its light green foliage is highly ornamental, mixed with the dark shades of the ilex in the deep bottoms of the gorges; and wherever a never-failing stream is met with the plane may be expected.

The elm, ash, maple, walnut, mulberry, peach, apricot, apple, pear, filbert, fig, plum, cherry, orange, lemon, pomegranate, are common, but as they do not come within the category of trees indigenous to the natural forests of the island, I shall not include them.

Olive.–The wild olive forms a considerable portion of the low scrub-woods of the Carpas district, and the young trees, when transplanted and grafted, become the accepted olives of cultivation. There is no reason why the wild olive should not be grafted in its natural position the same as the caroub.

Caroub.–This tree has already been described, but although not valuable as timber, owing to the short length of its trunk, it should receive the special attention of the government, as its produce should be extended to the utmost limit of the capabilities of the island. If the wild trees were grafted wherever they are met with, whole forests would quickly be produced with a minimum of labour, and vast tracts of rocky soil, worthless for other cultivation, would be brought into value, at the same time that the surface would be covered with the much desired vegetation.

Tremithia.–The wood of this tree is of no value, but the berries are used as a substitute for olive-oil; as it grows in large quantities as a shrub, simply because it is not allowed the chance of arriving at maturity, it is to be hoped that a few years of forest supervision will add this shady and highly-ornamental tree to the list of those common to the island. The arbutus, myrtle, and the mastic are trees of so small a growth that they cannot be classed with “Woods and Forests.”

One of the first acts of the British administration was a stringent prohibition against the felling of any tree throughout Cyprus, or the cutting of any wood for the burning of charcoal. This law for the preservation of woods and forests extended to trees upon PRIVATE PROPERTY OF INDIVIDUALS!–thus the owner of a garden could not cut down one of his own caroub-trees if they were too thickly planted; or if he required a piece of timber for making or repairing his water-wheel. An act for the protection of crown forests was highly necessary, but no laws are of value unless the machinery exists for enforcing them, and at the present moment the stringent enactment against the destruction of trees may be evaded like any of the Ten Commandments, because there is absolutely no staff, nor special officers for the supervision of woods and forests. This important subject requires a separate department, and nothing can be more simple if administered by persons qualified by education for the development of trees suitable to the island. The poverty of the local government, owing to the miserable conditions of our tenure, which send the cream to Turkey, and suckle the necessary staff upon the thin skimmed-milk, does not permit the real improvement of the forests. It is simply ridiculous to make laws without the active weapons to enforce authority; we may as well rest satisfied with the game laws in England and dismiss our keepers, as prohibit the cutting of wood in Cyprus without supervising the forests by a staff of foresters. If the words “Thou shalt not steal,” even from a divine command, were sufficient to prevent felony and petty larceny, it would be folly to incur the expense of police; but we know that practically all laws must be upheld by force, represented by the authorised guardians of the state. At this moment in Cyprus the law proclaims, “Thou shalt not cut a tree,” while practically you may cut as many as you like in the mountain forests, as there is no person authorised to interfere with your acts. Some miserable offender may be pounced upon in his own garden, near one of the principal towns, where the law SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ENFORCED, as interfering with the individual rights of private property; but in the situations where the prohibition is of the first importance, there is literally not an officer or man to prevent the usual depredations. Why? The answer must be accepted. There is no money, and we cannot afford an independent department of “Woods and Forests.” If the country is to continue in this slip-shod form it is a disgrace to England. There is time to save the forests from absolute destruction, and in my own opinion, before anything is done beyond the necessary roads and irrigation loans, every possible attention should be concentrated upon the protection and development of forest-trees.

The position at this moment is as follows. Throughout the entire mountain range there are not 5 per cent. of pines free from mutilation.

The whole of Troodos, and the mountain districts from near Lithrodondo to as far west as Poli-ton-Khrysokus, are naturally adapted for the growth of pines and cypress, which love the soil of the plutonic rocks, and drive their roots deep into the interstices, deriving nourishment where nothing else would thrive. Upon the highest altitudes there is not a dwarf shrub to cover the surface of the loose coffee-coloured rocks, where in the winter the snow accumulates to a depth of twenty feet, yet there we find the pines and cypress in their greatest vigour; but even to these solitary heights the Cypriote has penetrated with his unsparing axe, and has created a desolation that must be seen to be understood. There is no sight so exasperating as this uncalled-for destruction; it is beyond all belief, and when the amount of labour is considered that must have been expended in this indiscriminate attack upon forest-trees THAT ARE LEFT TO ROT UPON THE GROUND where they have fallen, the object of the attack is at first sight inconceivable. The sight of a mountain pine-forest in Cyprus would convey the impression that an enemy who had conquered the country had determined to utterly destroy it, even to the primaeval forests; he had therefore felled, and left to rot, the greater portion of the trees; but finding the labour beyond his means, he had contented himself with barking, ringing, and hacking at the base of the remainder, to ensure their ultimate destruction.

The extreme heights of Troodos, shoulders and head, are about 6300 feet above the sea, from which altitude the pines and cypress descend to within 1500 feet of the level. There are rough native mule-paths throughout the mountains, and the sure-footed animals will carry a man with ease where walking would be most fatiguing, owing to the loose rocks and smaller stones, which cover every inch of the surface. I have walked and ridden over the greater portion, but in all cases I have been overcome with anger and dismay at the terrible exhibition of wanton and unwarrantable desolation. If a hurricane had passed over the country and torn up by the roots nine trees out of every ten that composed the forest, the destruction would be nothing compared to that of the native Cypriote, who mutilates those which he has not felled; the wind would only upturn, but would spare those whose strength had resisted the attack. Magnificent trees lie rotting upon the ground in thousands upon thousands, untouched since the hour when they fell before the most scientifically applied axe. I never saw a higher example of woodcraft. The trunks of pines two feet in diameter are cut so carefully, that the work of the axe is almost as neat as that of a cross-cut saw. These large trees are divided about four feet from the ground, as that is a convenient height for the woodman, and spare his back from stooping to his blow. Each cut with the axe is nearly at a right angle with the stem and so regularly is the cutting conducted completely round the tree, that at length only two, or at the most three inches of wood remain to support the trunk, which in the absence of wind remains balanced to the last moment, until overthrown by the wedge.

Upon first arrival in the country it is difficult to comprehend the reason for this general destruction; but as a gipsy in Turkey will burn down a handsome tree in order to make his wooden spoons, so the Cypriote will fell a large pine for the sake of the base of five or six feet in length that will afford him a wooden trough either for water or to feed his pigs. A great number of the larger trees are cut and partially scooped for four or five feet before their destruction is determined upon, as the carpenter wishes to prove the quality of the heart. Many are rejected, and the operation proceeds no further; but the tree remains mutilated for ever.

Other trees are felled for the purpose of obtaining tar. Before they are absolutely cut down they are tapped by cutting a deep incision nearly into the centre of the heart, like a huge notch, and they are left for a time to prove whether the tar will run, as exhibited by the production of the resin. If unfavourable, the tree is left thus cut to the heart and blemished. Nearly every tree is thus marked. If the signs of tar are propitious, the tree is felled, the branches are lopped, and the trunk cut into sections and split. All pieces are then arranged longitudinally in a rude kiln formed of loose stones and earth, in which they are burned, and the tar as it exudes is led by a narrow gutter formed of clay into the receptacle prepared.

Should a straight pole be required for any special purpose, a large pine is felled, and the tapered, pointed top is cut off to a convenient length, the great spar being rejected and left to decay upon the ground. I have never seen pit-saws used, but as a rule, should a beam or stout plank be required, a whole tree is adzed away to produce it, and great piles of chips are continually met with in the forests, where some large trunk has thus perished under the exhausting process. I was rather surprised, when the military huts were conveyed at an immense expense of transport to the mountain station, that a few pairs of English sawyers had not been employed to cut the inexhaustible supply of seasoned wood now lying uselessly upon the ground, that would have supplied all necessary planks and rafters, &c.

Fires, either accidental or malicious, are not uncommon, and I have seen hill-sides completely destroyed. At a certain season the pines change their foliage and the ground becomes thickly covered to the depth of a couple of inches or more with the dry and highly inflammable spines. Should these take fire, the conflagration in a high wind becomes serious, and spreads to the trees, which perish.

Nothing would be easier than to defend the interests of the woods and forests by an efficient staff of foresters, who should be Highlanders from Scotland accustomed to mountain climbing, or English game-keepers, who would combine the protection of forests with that of game. These men, under the command of a certain number of officers, should be quartered in particular districts, and would quickly acquire a knowledge of the localities. The higher mountains would be their home during the summer months, from which points the sound of an axe could be heard from a great distance, and from the commanding elevation a depredator could be distinctly identified with a good telescope. The Cypriotes are easily governed, and should a few severe examples be made public when the destroyers had been taken in the act, an exceedingly small staff of foresters would be sufficient to insure order and protection.

The pine and cypress are the trees most generally attacked, and, as I have already shown, there is no difficulty whatever in their preservation should the requisite staff of officials be appointed. It should, however, be borne in mind that the preservation of woods and forests is a simple matter compared with the absolute necessity of their extension; it is therefore desirable to examine the capabilities of the island for tree-culture.

When Cyprus was first occupied by British troops the English newspapers were full of superficial advice suggested by numerous well-meaning correspondents who were utterly devoid of practical experience in tree-planting, and a unanimous verdict was given in favour of the Eucalyptus globulus, and other varieties of the same tree, irrespective of all knowledge of localities and soils.

The absence of money would be the only excuse for any delay in experimental tree-culture. The seeds of the eucalyptus were sent out in considerable quantities to the various chief commissioners of districts for cultivation, as though these overworked and ill-paid officers were omniscient, and added the practical knowledge of horticulture to their military qualifications. Every commissioner that I saw had a few old wine or beer cases filled with earth, in which he was endeavouring to produce embryo forests of the varieties of eucalyptus, to be planted out when germinated–how, when, or where, he could not tell. Of course all these attempts ended in failure. There should have been an experienced gardener specially appointed for the purpose of raising and planting out the young trees adapted for the various soils and altitudes of the country, and such trees should have been ready for their positions at the commencement of the winter months in November. The commissioners worked in this new occupation with the same praiseworthy energy that distinguished them throughout all the trying difficulties of their appointment as rulers in a strange country, where, without a knowledge of the language or customs, they were suddenly called upon to confer happiness and contentment upon an oppressed population by administering TURKISH laws in the essence of their integrity.

The Cypriotes had expected to see England and the English as their rulers; but like the well-known saying, “Scratch a Russian and you discover the Tartar,” they might have “scratched an Englishman and have found the Turk,” in the actual regime that we were bound to maintain according to the conditions of the British occupation.

The native mind could not understand the reason for the stringent rule prohibiting the cutting of trees and they came to the conclusion that our government contemplated some selfish advantage, and that the forests were eventually to be leased to a company. When they shall see tree-planting commenced by the government upon an extensive scale they will believe in the undertaking as intended for the welfare of the island.

Whenever this important and necessary work shall be organised, it is to be hoped that “common sense” will be employed in the selection of trees adapted for the various localities, and that no absurd experiments will be made upon a large scale by introducing varieties foreign to the island until they shall have been tested satisfactorily in botanical nurseries established at various altitudes.

There are various local difficulties that must be considered in addition to soil and climate; the most important is the presence of vast numbers of goats throughout the mountains, that would utterly destroy certain varieties of young plants. There can be no doubt that the climate and soil are specially adapted for the introduction of the common larch, which would grow quickly into value for the much-needed poles for rafters and beams for the flat-topped roofs; but this tree is eagerly devoured by sheep, goats, and cattle, and would be destroyed in its first stage unless protected by fencing. It will be a safe rule to adopt the native trees as a guide to future extension, as the varieties of such classes as are indigenous will assuredly succeed. The two existing pines are shunned by goats even when in their earliest growth, and they are so ineradicable that were the forests spared and allowed to remain without artificial planting, in ten years there would be masses of young trees too thick for the success of timber. The rain, when heavy, washes the fallen cones from the highest points, and as they are carried by the surface water down the steep inclines they hitch among the rocks and take root in every favourable locality. Here we have two native trees that will plant themselves and flourish without expense, invulnerable to the attacks of goats, and only demanding rest and time. On the other hand, they might be planted at regular intervals with so small an outlay that their artificial arrangement would be advisable.

The cypress may be extended in a similar manner.

The presence of several varieties of oak would naturally suggest the introduction of the cork-tree and the species which produces the valonia, which forms an important article of trade, and is largely used in England by the tanner. This cup of the acorn of the Quercus aegilops is extremely rich in tannin, and ranges in price from 20 to 30 pounds sterling per ton delivered in an English port. It is exported largely from the Levant, and there can be little doubt that its introduction to Cyprus would eventually supply a new source of revenue.

The climate and soil of the Troodos mountains would be highly favourable to the cork-tree,* which would after thirty or forty years become extremely valuable. The box might be introduced from the mountains of Spain, also the Spanish chestnut, which for building purposes is invaluable, as not only practically imperishable, but fire-proof. It is not generally known that the wood of the Spanish chestnut is so uninflammable that it requires the aid of other fuel to consume it by fire; it might be used with great advantage in massive logs for upright pillars, to support beams of similar wood in warehouses.

(*The cork oak is mentioned in some works on Cyprus as indigenous to the island; this is a mistake. The ilex is plentiful, but not the cork-tree.)

Although the walnut cannot be classed with forest-trees indigenous to Cyprus, it flourishes abundantly at a high elevation, ranging from about 2500 to 5000 feet above the sea. At Trooditissa monastery there are trees that were planted by the hands of the old monk, my informant, only twenty years ago, which are equal in size to a growth of fifty years in England. The planting of walnuts should certainly be encouraged, as the wood is extremely valuable; at the same time that the crop yields an annual revenue.

The preservation and extension of the woods and forests throughout the mountainous districts of Cyprus are a simple affair, which only requires capital and common sense combined with the usual necessary experience. There are other portions of the island which require a different treatment.

It is the fashion to accredit every portion of Cyprus as tree-bearing in its early history, but if the student will compare the large population reported to have existed at that time with the superficial area of the island, it will be plainly seen that a very large proportion must have been under cultivation, otherwise supplies must have been imported. I have before mentioned my opinion that the hard bare surface of the denuded cretaceous hills could never have borne timber, neither do I believe in the traditions concerning forests in the plain of Messaria, for the simple reason that it must have been the cereal-producing area of the island.

The ancient forests must have existed where the vestiges remain to the present day, in which localities the natural inclination of the soil is to produce trees, which are still represented, in spite of the hideous destruction perpetrated by the inhabitants during many centuries. These positions include the entire Carpas district, together with the long range of compact limestone mountains forming the northern wall of the island, the northern coast and western, comprising the country between Poli-ton-Khrysokhus, and Baffo, and the central and coast-line from Baffo to Limasol, with exceptions of lands here and there cultivated with cereals. The greater portion of the mountains that are now occupied with vineyards were originally forests, which have been cleared specially for the cultivation of the vine. I have seen ground at an elevation of 4800 feet where the vineyards originally existed upon cleared forest soil, which, having been abandoned, is relapsing into its former state, becoming more or less covered with pines as birds may have dropped the seeds, or the cones may have been driven from higher altitudes by wind and rain.

The question that must now be determined is this: “What portions of the island are to be restored to forest?” Any person who has carefully examined the country can reply without hesitation, “Plant all useless lands with trees; those useless lands are already more or less covered with bush or woods, and denote their own position, in the Carpas, the Troodos, and all mountain and hill ranges.”

Where ancient forests have disappeared in favour of cultivation, it would be folly to convert an improvement into the original wilderness. That question is easily simplified, and when the department of Woods and Forests shall be established, a few years of energy will produce a new picture in a country where the growth of timber proceeds quickly.

But the last necessary reform still remains unnoticed; this should determine the amount of caroubs, mulberry, and fruit-trees that should be CUMPULSORILY planted by all proprietors of land in proportion to their acreage; and this is absolutely necessary.

As I have described in many portions of our journey through Cyprus, the simple action of an insignificant stream, or of a solitary cattle-wheel, forms an oasis in the rainless desert of the Messaria, and the eye that has been wearied with the barren aspect of a treeless surface is gladdened by the relief of a sudden appearance of groves of oranges, lemons, and other shady trees, the result of a supply of water. Whenever such welcome spots are met with upon the miserable plain, the question invariably arises, “Why should such fruitful and delightful positions be so rare? The soil is fertile, the climate is favourable, all that is required is water, and energy.”

If a Cypriote is asked the question, he invariably replies “that during the Turkish administration the fruit-trees increased their troubles, owing to the vexatious and extortionate taxation of the crops, therefore they were glad to be quit of them altogether.” Your question No. 2 follows, “Why do you not plant trees now that the English have occupied the country?” The reply is stereotyped, “We are not sure that you will remain here permanently, and if you abandon the island the Turks will resume the old system with even greater oppression than before.” This is an unanswerable dilemma, which no doubt retards improvements; but there is a third difficulty which is invariably brought prominently forward when any suggestions are made for an extension of agricultural enterprise: “We have no money.” This is absolutely true, although I have heard the assertion contested by certain authorities. The people as a rule are miserably poor, and cannot afford to run the risks of experiments, especially during the present uncertainty connected with the British occupation.

The opinions that I personally offer are based upon the assumption that England can never recede from the position she has assumed in Cyprus, which she must continue, for better or for worse, as a point of honour. Any abandonment of the protection we have afforded to the inhabitants would tend to aggravate their position, should they return to the authority of the Porte, and their only hope would lie in the occupation of our empty bed by France, who certainly requires a coaling depot towards the east of the Mediterranean. Should we wash our hands of Cyprus, and evacuate it in a similar manner to Corfu, we should become the laughing-stock of Europe, and no future step taken by England in the form of a “protectorate” would ever be relied upon. Had we retained Corfu to the present moment, no doubt would have existed as to any change in our intentions respecting Cyprus, but the precedent established by our retirement from that grand strategical position has borne its fruit in the want of confidence now felt by all classes in the permanence of our new acquisition.

It will be admitted that a general want of elasticity has succeeded to the first bound of expectation that was raised by the sudden announcement of a British occupation; the government cannot be held responsible for the disappointment of rash adventurers, but their true responsibility commenced when they assumed the charge of the inhabitants of Cyprus. The first year of the new administration has been marked by a minimum rainfall that has caused the destruction of all crops dependent upon the natural water-supply of seasons, and this partial famine of the first year of our occupation is generally regarded as a disaster. Although disastrous, I believe the serious warning will operate with wholesome effect, by opening the eyes of the authorities to the absolute necessity of directing special attention to the requirements of the people, who after centuries of oppression have become apathetic and inert, which unfits them for the spontaneous action that should be exerted against the dangerous exigencies of their climate. The government of Cyprus must be to a certain extent paternal, and the planting of trees that will eventually benefit not only individuals, but the island generally, and ultimately the revenue, should be made compulsory, in proportion to the area of the various holdings, due assistance being accorded to the proprietors by way of loans.

The eucalyptus is suitable for many localities in the lowlands of Larnaca and Famagousta, and it might be profitably introduced throughout such swampy soils as the neighbourhood of Morphu and other similar positions with good sanitary results; but such trees will represent the woods and forests of the low country without a productive income to the population; whereas by an enforced cultivation of fruit-trees upon every holding the island would in a few years become a garden, and the exportation of fruit to Egypt, only thirty hours’ distant, would be the commencement of an important trade, alike beneficial to the individual proprietors and to the island generally.

At the present time, and for many years past, Alexandria has been supplied with all fruits from Jaffa, Beyrout, and various ports on the coast of Syria, but there is no reason why Cyprus should not eventually monopolise the trade, if special attention shall be bestowed (by the suggested department of Woods and Forests) upon the qualities and cultivation whenever an arrangement for an extension of planting shall be carried out. I have never seen any fruits of high quality in Cyprus, but they are generally most inferior, owing to the neglect of grafting, and the overcrowding of the trees. The cherries which grow in the villages from 2500 to 4500 feet above the sea are taken down to Limasol and the principal towns for sale, but they are small and tasteless, although red and bright in colour. They grow in large quantities, and are never attacked by birds which render the crop precarious in England, and necessitate the expense of netting; should the best varieties be introduced, every natural advantage exists for their cultivation.

The apricots are not much larger than chestnuts, and would be classed as “wild fruit,” from the extreme inferiority of size and flavour; but there is no reason except neglect for the low quality of a delicious species of fruit that seems from the luxuriant growth of the tree to be specially adapted to the soil and climate. It is useless to enumerate the varieties of fruits that are brought to market; all are inferior, excepting grapes and lemons. The productions of the gardens exhibit the miserable position of the island, which emanates from a want of elasticity in a debased and oppressed population too apathetic and hopeless to attempt improvements.

England can change this wretched stagnation by the application of capital, and by encouraging the development of the first necessity, WATER; without which, all attempts at agricultural improvements, and the extension of tree-planting in the low country, would be futile. I shall therefore devote the following chapter to the subject of artificial irrigation, and its results.

CHAPTER XIV.

REMARKS ON IRRIGATION.

The ancient prosperity of Cyprus must have been due to artificial irrigation, which ensured a maximum of production, similar to the inundated lands of Egypt. In the latter country the Nile is a “Salvator Mundi,” without which Egypt would be a simple prolongation of the Nubian and Libyan deserts, in the absence of a seasonable rainfall. The difference between the great cereal-producing portion of Cyprus and the Delta of Egypt is, that, although the plain of Messaria has been formed chiefly through the action of the Pedias river and other periodical mountain streams, which have deposited a rich stratum of soil during inundations, the rivers are merely torrents, or simple conduits, which carry off the waters of heavy storms, or intervals of rain, and act as drains in conveying the surplus waters during floods; while at other times they are absolutely dry.

If the Nile were controlled by a series of weirs or dams, with sluices to divert the high waters of the period into natural depressions within the desert, to form reservoirs at high levels for the supply of Egypt in seasons of scarcity, the command of the water-supply would be far preferable to the chances of rain in the most favoured country. Water, like fire, should be the slave of man, to whom it is the first necessity; therefore his first effort in his struggle with the elements should reduce this power to vassalage. There must be no question of supremacy; water must serve mankind.

Many years ago I published, in the Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia, my ideas for the control of the Nile and the submersion of the cataracts by a series of weirs, with water-gates for the facility of navigation; which with certain modifications will some day assuredly be carried out, and will render Egypt the most favoured country of the world, as absolute mistress of the river which is now at the same time a tyrant and a slave. The Pedias of Cyprus may during some terrific rainfall assume proportions that would convey a most erroneous impression to the mind of a stranger, who, upon regarding the boiling torrent overspreading a valley of some miles in width in its impetuous course towards ancient Salamis, might conclude that it was a river of the first importance. The fact is that no RIVER exists in Cyprus: what should be rivers are mere channels, watercourses, brooks, torrents, or any of the multifarious names for stream-beds that may be discovered in an English dictionary. At the same time that the natural channels are dry during the summer months, through the want of power in the water-head to overcome the absorption of the porous soil throughout its course, it must not be forgotten that a certain supply exists at the fountain head, within practicable distance, which might be stored and led from the mountains to the lower lands for the purposes of irrigation. When we reflect that in the proverbially wet climate of England there is a considerable difficulty in assuring a supply of wholesome water, and that the various water companies have made enormous profits, it is not surprising that in a neglected island like Cyprus there should be distress in the absence of abundant rain. The uninitiated in England seldom appreciate the labour and expenditure that has supplied the response to the simple turning of a tap within an ordinary house. If they would follow the artificial stream from the small leaden pipe to the distant reservoir, they would discover that a glen or valley has been walled in by a stupendous dam, which imprisons a hill-rivulet before it can have descended to the impurities of habitations, and that the pressure of waters thus stored at an elevated level forces a supply to a town at a distance of many miles. This same principle might be adopted in numerous localities among the mountains of Cyprus, where the streams are perennial, but are now exhausted by the absorption of the sandy beds before they have time to reach the villages in the lower lands. Iron pipes might be laid to convey a water-supply to certain districts, upon which a rate would be levied per acre and the crops would be ensured.

The government at the present moment obtains a revenue in kind, or in a money valuation of the corn taken at the threshing-floor; thus in the absence of a crop through drought, or other accident, the revenue suffers directly together with the owner: no crop, no revenue. The main strength of a country lies in an annual income free from serious fluctuations, and the extreme instability of Cyprus is the result of the peculiar uncertainty of seasons which is a special feature in its meteorological condition. It is therefore incumbent upon the government, as an act of self-preservation, to take such measures of precaution as will render certain the supply of water, which is all that is required to ensure the average produce of the soil, and thereby to sustain the revenue.

I do not indulge in engineering details, but, from the experience I have gained by a personal examination of the localities, I am convinced that no difficulty whatever exists that would not be overcome with a very moderate outlay. The mountains are admirably situated, with a watershed upon all sides, thus offering the greatest facilities for reservoirs and pipes that would radiate in every direction. This subject will demand a careful inquiry by hydraulic engineers, as it is a special branch of the profession that requires wide experience, and large sums may be fruitlessly expended through ignorance, where a trifling amount well administered might achieve great results.

One of the first necessary steps in an examination of the subterranean water-supply of Cyprus will be “borings” that will test the existence of artesian springs. There are in many portions of the island extensive plateaux at high altitudes that would absorb a considerable rainfall, in addition to a large superficial area of mountains and hills that would exert the requisite pressure to force the water above the surface of a lower level upon boring, should it now lie beneath some impervious stratum. Boring will alone solve this question. Should artesian wells be practicable in certain localities, an immense blessing will be conferred upon the island.

In the meantime the native method already described, of connecting chains of wells from different springs converging to a main channel or subterranean tunnel, is an original form of Cyprian engineering thoroughly understood by the population, which should be strenuously encouraged. It is a common fault among English people to ignore the value of native methods, and to substitute some costly machinery which requires skilled labour and expense in working; this must in time get out of order and necessitate delay and extra outlay in repairs; generally at a period when the machine is most required.

It is a curious fact that the shadoof or lever and bucket worked by hand, which is so generally used throughout Egypt, is unknown in Cyprus, where in many localities it would be easily worked when water is within five to eight feet of the surface. This arrangement only requires a pole of about twenty feet in length supported upon an upright post, so as to play like a pump-handle by the balance of a weight attached to one end to counterbalance the pail of water suspended to a long stick and short rope at the other extremity. In Egypt the weight at the short end is merely a mass of clay tempered with chopped straw beaten together to represent about 150 lbs. or whatever may be required; this adheres, and forms a knob to the end of the lever.

A man holds the long thin stick suspended at the other extremity to which the bucket is attached, and pulls it down hand over hand until the utensil is immersed in the water; when full, it is so nearly counterbalanced by the weight at the end of the lever that a very slight exertion raises it to the desired level, where it is emptied into a receiver. Many years ago, when at Gondokoro, I arranged a double shadoof of parallel levers and two galvanised iron buckets of four gallons each, worked by two men. I timed the labour of this simple machine, and proved that the two men delivered 3600 gallons within an hour. The men exerted themselves to a degree that could not have been continued throughout the day, and the buckets, of English make, were far more capacious than the simple leather stretched upon a hoop of sticks that is used in Egypt; but there is no reason for such inferior adjuncts. It may be safely assumed that with proper appliances the double shadoof, worked by two men, will deliver 2000 gallons an hour for a working day of six active hours, or a total of 12,000 gallons. In Cyprus the wages of a labourer are one shilling a day, therefore the cost of raising 12,000 gallons would be only two shillings, provided the water is only five feet from the surface. There are many portions of the Messaria plain where the water is even nearer, but the shadoof could work profitably at six, and even at eight feet, and it possesses the advantage of such extreme cheapness of original cost that the outlay is insignificant.

Where fuel is expensive, and cattle and human labour cheap, the ancient Egyptian water-wheel will deliver a supply at a cheaper rate than steam. It has the merit of being always ready; there is no delay in lighting fires and getting up the steam; there is no expensive engineer who may be sick or absent when required; but the wheel is turned either by night or day by mules or oxen, driven by a child. Wind vanes might be attached to this principle, and could be connected on favourable occasions.

The peculiarity throughout the lower levels in Cyprus (specially exhibited in the plain of Messaria) of a water-supply within a few feet of the surface, at the same time that the crops may be perishing from drought, is in favour of the general adoption of the Egyptian wheel. Although this simple construction is one of the oldest inventions for raising water, and is generally understood, I may be excused for describing it when upon the important topic of irrigation.

A large pit is sunk to about three feet below the level of the water, and should the earth not be sufficiently tenacious for self-support, the sides are walled with masonry; this pit would usually be about twenty feet long, four feet wide, and twenty feet deep for a first-class wheel. When the wooden wheel of about seventeen feet diameter has been fixed upon its horizontal shaft, it is arranged with a chain of large earthen jars; those of Egypt contain about three gallons each, but the Cyprian pots are very inferior, scarcely exceeding the same number of quarts.

These jars are secured upon a double line of stiff ropes formed in Cyprus of the long twisted wands of myrtle, which are exceedingly tough, and are substitutes for willows in basket-work. When completed, the chain resembles a rope ladder, with the numerous jars sufficiently close together to represent spokes separated by about sixteen inches. This is suspended over the edge of the wheel, and hangs vertically; the lower portion of this necklace-like arrangement being about three feet below the water, or as near the bottom as is possible with safety to the jars.

When the wheel turns the necklace of pots must of necessity obey the movement, and as they dip successively and fill in the deep water, they in turn rise to the surface with the revolutions of the wheel; upon passing the centre they invert, and empty their contents into a large trough connected with a reservoir capable of containing many hundred hogsheads. A circular chain or ladder of twenty feet diameter will contain about twenty jars of three gallons each–equalling a delivery of about two and a half gallons per jar, as there is generally a loss of water during the movement; therefore one complete revolution of the wheel would deliver fifty gallons into the reservoir.

The wheel is turned by a simple contrivance of wooden cogs and drivers, worked by a long revolving lever, to which, for a powerful machine such as I have described, a pair of mules or oxen would be necessary. A child sits upon the pole or lever and keeps the animals to their work.

There is no specified limit to the depth at which this instrument can work, as it must depend upon the length of chain and the number of jars, which of course increase the weight and strain upon the machinery and animals. In Cyprus, where the water is generally near the surface, the advantages are obvious, and I feel convinced that no modern invention is so well adapted for the Cypriote cultivator.

The cost of erection of such a machine complete, together with the sinking of the pit, is calculated, at an average of localities, as 12 pounds; a pair of oxen will cost 10 pounds: thus the water-wheel in working order will amount to 22 pounds. One wheel will irrigate eighty donums, or about forty acres of cereals, but the same instrument would only suffice for about six acres of garden ground, which requires a more constant supply of water. It may therefore be understood that in calculating the power of a water-wheel, various conditions must be considered, and I shall confine myself to the farm, upon which it will be necessary to establish one water-wheel or sakyeeah for every forty acres; this entails a first outlay of eleven shillings per acre; and at once ensures the crop and renders the farmer independent of the seasons. But including the cost of constructing the numerous water-channels of clay to conduct the stream to the desired fields, together with the expense of erecting the reservoirs of masonry upon a sufficient scale, I should raise the original outlay for irrigation by cattle-wheels to 20 shillings per acre (1 pound). This would include the services of a pair of oxen for other work when the sakyeeah should not be required.* (*The wheel I have described is double the power of those in general use in Cyprus, where a single animal works the sakyeeah, and it would irrigate a larger acreage.) According to this calculation, which exceeds by a large margin the figures given to me by several native farmers, the owner of a hundred acres must only expend 100 pounds to ensure his annual crops! To us this appears nothing, but to the Cypriote it is everything. Where is he to obtain one hundred pounds? To him the sum is