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enormous and overpowering.

In times of scarcity, which unfortunately are the general conditions of the country, owing to the deficiency of rain, the farmer must borrow money not only for the current expenses of his employment, but for the bare sustenance of his family; he has recourse to the usurer, and henceforth becomes his slave. The rate of interest may be anything that can be imagined when extortion acts upon one side while poverty and absolute famine are the petitioners. The farm, together with the stock, are mortgaged, and the expected crops for a stipulated number of seasons are made over to the usurer at a fixed sum per measure of corn, far below the market price. Another bad season adds to the crushing burden, and after a few years, when the unfortunate landowner is completely overwhelmed with debt, perchance one of the happy years arrives when propitious rains in the proper season bring forth the grand cereal-producing power of Cyprus, and the wheat and barley, six feet high, wave over the green surface throughout the island. The yield of one such abundant crop almost releases the debtor from his misery; another year would free him from the usurer; but rarely or never are two favourable seasons consecutive; the abundant harvest is generally followed by several years of drought. This pitiable position may be quickly changed by government assistance without the slightest risk.

The first necessity is capital, and the usurer must disappear from the scene. I do not think that an agricultural bank will be practically worked, as the value of money in the east is above 6 per cent., which is the maximum that the Cyprian cultivator should pay. The government must advance loans for the special erection of water-wheels, or other methods of irrigation, at 6 per cent., taking a mortgage of the land as their security; this loan upon water-works to take precedence of all others. The government can borrow at 4 per cent., and will lend at 6, which is not a bad beginning for a national bank. The water-wheels can be constructed in a few weeks, and their effect would be IMMEDIATE; there would be no doubtful interval of years, but the very first season would leave the cultivator in a position to repay the loan; at the same time, the government would reap the direct benefit of a certain revenue from the irrigated and assured production of the land.

This is no visionary theory; the fact is already patent in the few farms belonging to wealthy land-owners that I have already described, as exhibiting the simple power of a few water-wheels to produce abundance, while upon the margin of such verdant examples the country is absolutely desert, parched and withered by a burning sun, yielding nothing either to the owner or to the revenue, while at the same time the water-supply is only four or five yards beneath the feet of the miserable proprietor, who has neither capital nor power to raise it to the surface.

There is no necessity for the government to embark in any uncertain enterprise, neither should they interfere with the native methods of irrigation; and above all things, no money should leave the island to fill the pockets of English contractors in the purchase of pumps, or other inventions. All that is required by the Cypriote is capital; lend him the money at 6 per cent.: the government will be saved all trouble, and the profit to all parties will be assured. The money expended in the erection of water-wheels or other works will circulate throughout the island in the payment of native labour, and will relieve the wants of many who, in the absence of land, must earn their livelihood by manual labour. “Water!” is the cry throughout this neglected island; it has been the cry in Eastern lands from time immemorial, when in the thirsty desert Moses smote the rock, and the stream gushed forth for multitudes; when Elijah mocked the priests of Baal with, “Call him louder!” in their vain appeal for rain, and the “little cloud, no bigger than a man’s hand,” rose upon the horizon in answer to his prayer. In the savage tribes of Africa, the “rain-maker” occupies the position of priest and chief. In England, the clergy offer prayers for either rain or for fine weather. In Cyprus the farmer places the small picture of the Virgin upon his field, before which he lights his tapers, which the wind extinguishes; at the same time THE WATER-SUPPLY IS CLOSE BENEATH HIS FEET, and the expenditure of a few pounds sterling would produce a permanent blessing and uninterrupted prosperity by practical common sense and labour, without any miraculous interposition in his behalf.

There are few countries where such facilities exist for irrigation, and the work should be commenced without delay. Should next year be one of drought like the spring of 1879, the greatest misery will befall the population; there is already sufficient disappointment in the want of progress since the British occupation, and the feeling will be intensified should the assistance of government be withheld in this crying necessity of artificial irrigation.

The Cypriote well-sinker is wonderfully clever in discovering springs, and I have already described the method of multiplying the water-power of one source by securing and concentrating the neighbouring sources. This work only requires money, and the inhabitants, without further assistance than loans secured by a water-rate upon the district, will rapidly develop the natural supply. There should be a special commission appointed, in each of the six districts of Cyprus, to investigate and report officially upon this subject. In forming the commission, care should be taken that the native element should predominate, and that no enthusiastic English engineer, blooming with new schemes, should thrust into shadow the Cyprian intelligence upon the working of their own systems. If I were an English engineer employed in any work, I should probably have the natural failing of enforcing my own opinions; but from many years’ experience I have come to the conclusion that the inhabitants of a country are generally better qualified than strangers for giving practical opinions upon their own locations. There is plenty of intelligence in Cyprus; the people are not savages, but their fault is poverty, the natural inheritance of Turkish rule; and we, the English, have the power to make them rich, and to restore the ancient importance of the island. In England, at the time that I am writing, money is not worth 2 per cent. owing to the general depression of trade; the money-market has been in this plethoric or dropsical state for the last three years, and there appears to be no hope upon the commercial horizon of a favourable change. In Cyprus the resources are great, but the capital is wanting, and the strange anomaly is presented that the exchange of the British for the Turkish flag has not increased public confidence. Something must be done to change the present stupor; if Cypriotes were Candians (Cretans) their voices would be forcibly heard, and the Turkish rule beneath the British uniform would be quickly overthrown. The Cypriote, down-trodden for centuries, is like sodden tinder that will not awaken to the spark: he is what is called “easily governed;” which means an abject race, in which all noble aspirations have been stamped out by years of unremitting oppression and injustice; still, like the Cyprian ox, he ploughs the ground. It is the earth alone that yields the world’s wealth: if we have no other thoughts but avarice, let us treat the Cypriote as we should his animal, and make him a wealth-producer. England has acquired the reputation of the civiliser of the world; it is in this character that we were expected to effect a magic change in the position of Cyprus; instead of which we have hitherto presented a miserable result of half-measures, where irresolution has reduced the brilliant picture of our widely-trumpeted political surprise to a dull “arrangement in whitey-brown” . . . which is the pervading tint of the Cyprian surface in the absence of artificial irrigation.

CHAPTER XV.

LIFE AT THE MONASTERY OF TROODITISSA.

The life at our quiet camp at Trooditissa was a complete calm: there could not be a more secluded spot, as no human habitation was near, except the invisible village of Phyni two miles deep beneath, at the mountain’s base. The good old monk Neophitos knitted, and taught his boys always in the same daily spot: the swallows built their nests under the eaves of the monastery roof and beneath the arch which covered in the spring, and sat in domestic flocks upon the over-hanging boughs within a few feet of our breakfast-table, when their young could fly. Nightingales sang before sunset, and birds of many varieties occupied the great walnut-tree above our camp, and made the early morning cheerful with a chorus of different songs. There was no change from day to day, except in the progress of the gardens; the plums grew large: the mulberries ripened in the last week of July, and the shepherd’s pretty children and the monastery boys were covered with red stains, as though from a battlefield, as they descended from the attractive boughs. It was a very peaceful existence, and I shall often look back with pleasure to our hermitage by the walls of the old monastery, which afforded a moral haven from all the storms and troubles that embitter life. On Sundays we sent a messenger for the post to the military camp at Troodos, about five and a half miles distant, and the arrival of letters and newspapers restored us for a couple of days to the outer world: after which we relapsed once more into the local quiescent state of complete rest. It must not be supposed that we were idle; there were always occupations which by degrees I hope improved the place, and to a certain degree the people. Occasionally I asked the old monks to sit and smoke their cigarettes in our “rachkooba,” when they sipped their hot coffee, and explained difficult theological questions to my intense edification; of course I always listened, but never argued. My particular friend old Neophitos treated me to long stories which he imagined must be new and interesting, especially the history of Joseph and his brethren, which he several times recounted from beginning to end with tears of sympathy in his eyes at Joseph’s love for the youngest brother Benjamin. The Garden of Eden, the Deluge, including the account of Noah’s Ark, and several equally modern and entertaining stories, I always listened to with commendable attention. Yet even in this solitude, where the chapel-bell on Saturday night, and at daybreak upon Sunday mornings, was in harmony with the external peaceful surroundings, and it appeared as though discord could never enter the walls of Trooditissa, the old monks had their cares and difficulties.

The principal cause of trouble was “servants!” I was quite surprised, as I thought we were nearer heaven in this spot than in any earthly locality I had ever visited; but even here the question of “servants” was an irritation to the nerves of the patient monks. My own servants were excellent, and never quarrelled or complained; they appeared to have been mesmerised by the placid character of their position, and to have become angelic; especially in not fatiguing themselves through over-exertion. With the monks the case was different. In this quiet retreat, where man reigned alone, as Adam in the Garden of Eden; where the cares and anxieties of married life were unknown within the sacred walls of celibacy, a single representative of the other sex existed in the ubiquitous shape of a “maid of all work;” and as Eve caused the first trouble in the world, so the monastery “maid” disturbed the otherwise peaceful existence of Neophitos.

This maid’s name was “Christina,” and she received the munificent sum of one hundred piastres per annum as wages, which in English money would be fifteen shillings and sixpence every year. The world is full of ingratitude, and strange to say, Christina was dissatisfied, which naturally wounded the feelings of the good monks, as in addition to this large sum of money she received her food and clothes; the latter consisting of full trousers, and a confusion of light material, which, having no shape whatever, I could not describe. Christina, though young, was not pretty, and she was always either crying or scolding, which would of course spoil any beauty; while at the same time she was either washing all the clothes belonging to the whole establishment of monks (a very disagreeable business), or hanging them out to dry near the spring; or she was sweeping the monastery; or arranging the very dirty rooms of the establishment; or baking all the bread that was required; or cooking the dinner; or repairing all the old clothes which the monks wore when they were only fit for a paper-mill. As there was no special accommodation in the shape of a laundry, Christina had to collect sticks, and make a huge fire beneath a copper cauldron in the open air, into which she plunged all the different vestments of the monks and priests, and stewed them before washing. This was a Cyprian “maid of all work,” whose gross ingratitude troubled the minds of her “pastors and masters;” and one day a peculiar mental disturbance pervaded the whole priestly establishment and caused a monasterial commotion, as, after a violent fit of temper attended by crying, Christina had declared solemnly that she “would stand it no longer,” and “she wished TO BETTER HERSELF!”

Whenever there was a difficulty the monks came to me; why, I cannot imagine. If the shepherd’s goats invaded their gardens and destroyed the onions and the beet-root crops, they applied to me. Of course I advised them to “fence their gardens,” and they went away satisfied, but did not carry out the suggestion so in due time their crops were devoured. They now told me that THEY ALWAYS HAD DIFFICULTY WITH WOMEN! This new theory startled me almost as much as the novelty of the old monks’ stories. They explained that YOUNG WOMEN WOULDN’T WORK, AND OLD WOMEN COULDN’T WORK. It had not occurred to them that a middle-aged woman might have combined all that they desired. Knowing their strict moral principles, I had suggested an “old woman” as the successor of Christina; as I explained to them that, to be in harmony with the establishment, a woman of a “certain age” as general servant would not detract from the religious character of the place. However I might argue, the old monk hesitated; but while the monk wavered, Christina’s “monkey was up,” and, taking her child in her arms, she started off without giving a “month’s notice,” and fairly left the monastery, with monks, priests, deacons, servants and the dogs all aghast and barking. There was nobody to wash the linen, to bake the bread, to sweep the rooms, to cook the dinner, to mend the clothes! Christina was gone, and the gentle sex was no longer represented in the monastery of Trooditissa.

I was sorry for Christina, but I was glad the child was gone; although I pitied the poor abandoned and neglected little creature with all my heart. As a rule, “maids of all work” should not be mothers, but if they are, they should endeavour to care for the unfortunate child. This wretched little thing was about two years old–a girl; its eyes were nearly closed with inflammation caused by dirt and neglect; it was naked, with the exception of a filthy rag that hung in tatters scarcely below its hips; and as its ill-tempered and over-worked mother alternately raved, or cried, the child, which even at this age depended mainly upon her nursing for its food, joined in a perpetual yell, which at length terminated in a faint and wearied moan, until it laid itself down upon the bare, hard stones, and fell asleep. It was a sad picture of neglect and misery; the shepherd’s pretty children shunned it, and in its abandoned solitude the little creature had to amuse itself. The face looked like that of an old careworn person who had lost all pleasure in the world, and the child wandered about alone and uncared for; its only plaything was my good-tempered dog Wise, who allowed himself to be pulled about and teased in the most patient manner. I cured the child’s eyes after some days’ attention, and my wife had it washed, and made it decent clothes. This little unusual care, with a few kind words in a strange language only interpreted by a smile, attracted the poor thing to the tent, where it would sit for hours, until it at length found solace in the child’s great refuge, sleep. It would always follow Lady Baker to and fro along the only level walk we had, from the tent to the running spring, and would sit down by her side directly she arrived at our favourite seat–a large flat rock looking down upon a precipitous descent to the ravine some 500 feet below, and commanding a view of the low country and the distant sea. It was an obstinate and perverse little creature, and it insisted upon climbing upon rocks and standing upon the extreme edge overhanging a precipice. If it had been the loved and only offspring of fond parents, heiress to a large estate, it would of course have tumbled over, in the absence of nurses and a throng of careful attendants, but never having been cared for since its birth, it possessed an instinctive knowledge of self-preservation, and declined to relieve its mother of an extra anxiety. It was an agreeable change to lose the sound of a child’s constant wailing, and I suggested to the monks that its presence was hardly in accordance with the severe aspect of the establishment. There was some mystery connected with it of which I am still ignorant, as I never ask questions; but it is at the least ill-judged and thoughtless on the part of “maids of all work” to engage themselves to any situation where the kissing of a rock, or a holy effigy, may lead to complications. It was of no use to moralise; Christina was gone, together with the child; there was absolute quiet in the monastery; neither the scolding of the mother, nor the crying of an infant, was heard. The monks looked more austere than ever, and remained in unwashed linen, until they at length succeeded in engaging a charming substitute in a middle-aged maid of all work of seventy-five!

About the 20th July the swallows disappeared, and I have no idea to what portion of the world they would migrate at this season. In the low country the heat is excessive, and even at the altitude of Trooditissa the average, since the 1st of the month, had been at 7 A.M. 70.7 degrees–3 P.M. 77.3 degrees.

The birds that had sung so cheerfully upon our arrival had become silent. There was a general absence of the feathered tribe, but occasionally a considerable number of hoopoes and jays had appeared for a few days, and had again departed, as though changing their migrations, and resting for a time upon the cool mountains.

I frequently rambled among the highest summits with my dogs, but there was a distressing and unaccountable absence of game; in addition to which there was no scent, as the barren rocks were heated in the sun like bricks taken from the kiln. The under-growth up to 4500 feet afforded both food and covert for hares, but they were very scarce. A peculiar species of dwarf prickly broom covers the ground in some places, and the young shoots are eagerly devoured by goats; this spreads horizontally, and grows in such dense masses about one foot from the surface that it will support the weight of a man.

When grubbed up by the root it forms an impervious mat about three or four feet in diameter, and supplies an excellent door to the entrance of a garden, to prevent the incursions of goats or fowls. The Berberris grew in large quantities, which, together with the foliage of the dwarf ilex, is the goat’s favourite food. Not far from the village of Prodomos, upon the neighbouring heights, I found, for the first time in Cyprus, the juniper, which appeared to be kept low by the constant grazing of the numerous herds.

The walking over the mountains is most fatiguing, and utterly destructive to boots, owing to the interminable masses of sharp rocks and stones of all sizes, which quite destroy the pleasure of a lengthened stroll. The views from the various elevated ridges are exceedingly beautiful, and exhibit the numerous villages surrounded by vineyards snugly clustered in obscure dells among the mountains at great elevations above the sea. Prodomos is about 4300 feet above the level, and can be easily distinguished by the foliage of numerous spreading walnut-trees and the large amount of cultivation by which it is surrounded.

There was no difficulty in gaining the highest point of the island from our camp, as a zigzag rocky path led to the top of a ridge about 600 feet directly above the monastery, which ascended with varying inclinations to the summit of Troodos, about 2100 feet above Trooditissa; by the maps 6590 feet above the sea, but hardly so much by recent measurement.

The moufflon, or wild sheep, exists in Cyprus, but in the absence of protection they have been harassed at all seasons by the natives, who have no idea of sparing animals during the breeding season. The present government have protected them by a total prohibition, under a penalty of ten pounds to be inflicted upon any person discovered in killing them. In the absence of all keepers or guardians of the forests, it would be difficult to prove a case, and I have no doubt that the natives still attempt the sport, although from the extreme wariness of the animals they are most difficult to approach. The authorities should employ some dependable sportsman to shoot a certain number of rams which are now in undue proportion, as the ewes with young lambs have been an easier prey to the unsparing Cypriotes.

Absurd opinions have been expressed concerning the numbers of moufflon now remaining upon the island, and it would be quite impossible to venture upon a conjecture, as there is a very large area of the mountains perfectly wild and unoccupied to the west of Kyka monastery, extending to Poli-ton-Khrysokus, upon which the animals are said to be tolerably numerous. There are some upon the Troodos range, but from all accounts they do not exceed fifteen.

On 2nd July I started at 4 A.M. with a shepherd lad for the highest point of Troodos, hoping by walking carefully to see moufflon among some of the numerous ravines near the summit, which are seldom invaded by the flocks of goats and their attendants. I took a small rifle with me as a companion which is seldom absent in my walks, and although I should have rigidly respected the government prohibition in the case of ewes, or even of rams at a long shot that might have been uncertain and hazardous, I should at the same time have regarded a moufflon with good horns at a range under 150 yards, in the Abrahamic light of “a ram caught in a thicket” that had been placed in my way for the purpose of affording me a specimen.

On arrival at the top of the ridge above the monastery the view was superb. We looked down a couple of thousand feet into deep and narrow valleys rich in vineyards; the mountains rose in dark masses upon the western side, covered with pine forests, which at this distance did not exhibit the mutilations of the axe. At this early hour the sea was blue and clear, as the sun had not yet heated the air and produced the usual haze which destroys the distant views: and the tops of the lower mountains above Omodos and Chilani appeared almost close beneath upon the south, their vine-covered surface producing a rich contrast to the glaring white marls that were cleared for next year’s planting. The top of Troodos was not visible, as we continued the ascent along the ridge, with the great depths of ravines and pine-covered steeps upon either side, but several imposing heights in front, and upon the right, seemed to closely rival the true highest point.

As we ascended, the surface vegetation became scanty; the rocks in many places had been thickly clothed with the common fern growing in dense masses from the soil among the interstices; the white cistus and the purple variety had formed a gummy bed of plants which, together with several aromatic herbs, emitted a peculiar perfume in the cool morning air. These now gave place to the hardy berberris which grew in thick prickly bushes at long intervals, leaving a bare surface of rocks between them devoid of vegetation. There was little of geological interest; gneiss and syenite predominated, with extremely large crystals of hornblende in the latter rock, that would have afforded handsome slabs had not the prevailing defect throughout Cyprus rendered all blocks imperfect through innumerable cracks and fissures. A peculiar greenish and greasy-looking rock resembling soapstone was occasionally met with in veins, and upon close examination I discovered it to be the base of asbestos. The surface of this green substance was like polished horn, which gradually became fibrous, and in some specimens developed towards the extremity into the true white hairy condition of the well-known mineral cotton.

We were near the summit of the mountain, and arrived at an ancient camp that had been arranged with considerable judgment by a series of stone walls with flanking defences for the protection of each front. This was many centuries ago the summer retreat of the Venetian government, and it had formed a sanatorium. This extends to the summit of the mountain, where fragments of tiles denote the former existence of houses. In the absence of water it would have been impossible to adopt the usual custom of mud-covered roofs, therefore tiles had been carried from the low country. It is supposed that the stations fell into decay at about the period of the Turkish conquest.

A rattle of loose stones upon the opposite side of a ravine suddenly attracted my attention; and two moving objects at about 230 yards halted, and faced us in the usual manner of inquiry when wild animals are disturbed to windward of their enemy. The rocks were bare, and their cafe-au-lait colour exactly harmonised with that of the two moufflon, which I now made out to be fine rams with large and peculiar heads. Motioning to my shepherd lad to sit quietly upon the ground, upon which I was already stretched, I examined them carefully with my glass. Had they not been moving when first observed I should not have discovered them, so precisely did their skins match the rocky surface of the steep inclination upon which they stood. They remained still for about two minutes, affording me an excellent opportunity of examination. The horns were thick, and rose from the base like those of the ibex, turning backwards, but they twisted forward from the first bend, and the points came round towards the front in the ordinary manner of the sheep. Like all the wild sheep of India and other countries, the coat was devoid of wool, but appeared to be a perfectly smooth surface of dense texture. It was too far for a certain shot, especially as the animals were facing me, which is always an unsatisfactory position even when at a close range.

I put up the 200 yards sight, and raised the rifle to my shoulder, merely to try the view; but when sighted I could not clearly distinguish the animal from the rocks, and I would not fire to wound. My shepherd lad at this moment drew his whistle, and, without orders, began to pipe in a wild fashion, which he subsequently informed me should have induced the moufflon to come forward towards the sound; instead of which, they cantered off, then stopped again, as we had the wind, and at length they disappeared among the rocks and pines. It would be almost impossible to obtain a shot at these wary creatures by approaching from below, as they are generally upon high positions from which they look down for expected enemies, and the noise of the loose rocks beneath the feet of a man walking up the mountains would be sure to attract attention. The only chance of success would be to pass the night on the summit of Troodos, and at daybreak to work downwards.

I made a long circuit in the hope of again meeting the two rams, during which I found many fresh tracks of the past night, but nothing more.

The summit of the mountain was disappointing, as the haze occasioned by the heat in the low country obscured the distant view. It was 8.10. A.M., and the air was still deliciously cool and fresh upon the highest point of Cyprus, which affords a complete panorama that in the month of October or during early spring must be very beautiful. Even now I could distinguish Larnaca, Limasol, Morphu, all in opposite directions, in addition to the sea surrounding the island upon every point except the east. The lofty coast of Caramania, which had formed a prominent object in the landscape when at Kyrenia, was now unfortunately hidden within the haze.

From this elevated position I could faintly hear the military band practising at the camp of the 20th Regiment, invisible, about a mile distant among the pine-forests, at a lower level of 700 feet. There were no trees upon the rounded knoll which forms the highest point of Cyprus: these must have been cleared away and rooted out when the ancient camp was formed, and the pines have not re-grown, for the simple reason that no higher ground exists from which the rains could have washed the cones to root upon a lower level.

I now examined every ravine with the greatest caution in the hopes of meeting either the two rams, or other moufflon, but I only came across a solitary ewe with a lamb about four months old; which I saw twice during my walk round the mountain tops. Upon arriving during my descent at the highest spring of Troodos, where the cold water dripped into a narrow stream bed, I lay down beneath a fine shady cypress, and having eaten two hard-boiled eggs and drunk a cupful of the pure icy water mixed with a tinge of Geneva from my flask, I watched till after noon in the hope that my two rams might arrive to drink. Nothing came except a few tame goats without a goatherd; therefore I descended the abominable stones which rattled down the mountain side, and by the time that I arrived at our camp at Trooditissa, my best shooting boots of quagga hide, that were as dear to me as my rifle, were almost cut to pieces.

There was a terrible picture of destruction throughout the forests of Troodos. Near the summit, the pines and cypress were of large growth, but excepting the cypress, there were scarcely any trees unscathed, and the ground was covered by magnificent spars that were felled only to rot upon the surface.

I was not sorry to arrive at the shepherd’s hut upon the ridge overhanging the monastery upon my return. The good wife was as usual busy in making cheeses from the goat’s milk, which is a very important occupation throughout Cyprus. The curd was pressed into tiny baskets made of myrtle wands, which produced a cheese not quite so large as a man’s fist. I think these dry and tasteless productions of the original Cyprian dairy uneatable, unless grated when old and hard; but among the natives they are highly esteemed, and form a considerable article of trade and export. Cesnola mentions that 2,000,000 (two million) cheeses per annum are made in Cyprus of this small kind, which weigh from half a pound to three-quarters. I have frequently met droves of donkeys heavily laden with panniers filled with these small cheeses, which, although representing important numbers, become insignificant when computed by weight.

During our stay at Trooditissa we occasionally obtained eels from a man who caught them in the stream at the base of the mountains; this is the only fresh-water fish in Cyprus that is indigenous. Some persons have averred that the gold-fish dates its origin from this island; this is a mistake, as it is not found elsewhere than in ornamental ponds and cisterns in the principal towns. It is most probable that it was introduced by the Venetians who traded with the far East, and it may have arrived from China.

The streams below the mountains contain numerous crabs of a small species seldom larger than two inches and a half across the shell, to a maximum of three inches; these are in season until the middle of June, after which they become light and empty. When alive they are a brownish green, but when boiled they are the colour of the ordinary crab, and are exceedingly full in flesh, and delicate. The shell is extremely hard compared to the small size, and the claws must be broken by a sharp blow with the back of a knife upon a block.

We frequently had them first boiled and then pounded in a mortar to a paste, then mixed with boiling water and strained through a sieve; after which cream should be added, together with the required seasonings for a soup. I imagine that the common green crabs of the English coasts, which are caught in such numbers and thrown away by the fishermen, would be almost as good if treated in the same manner for potage.

The calm monotony of a life at Trooditissa was disturbed every now and then at distant intervals by trifling events which only served to prove that peculiar characters existed in the otherwise heavenly atmosphere which showed our connection with the world below.

One night a burglar attempted an entrance; but the man (who was a carpenter) having been previously suspected, was watched, and having been seen in the middle of the night to place a ladder against the outer gallery, by which he ascended, and with false keys opened a door that led to the store-room of the monastery, he was suddenly pounced upon by two strong young priests and fairly captured. On the following morning the monks applied to me, and as usual I vainly pleaded my unofficial position. I was either to do or to say something. If the man was sent to Limasol, thirty-five miles distant, the monks would have the trouble and expense of appearing as prosecutors; the robber would be imprisoned for perhaps a couple of years, during which his family would starve. I could offer no advice. I simply told them that if any robber should attempt to enter my tent I should not send him to Limasol, but I should endeavour to make the tent so disagreeable to him that he would never be tempted to revisit the premises from the attraction of pleasing associations. I explained to the monks that although a severe thrashing with stout mulberry sticks would, if laid on by two stout fellows, have a most beneficial effect upon the burglar, and save all the trouble of a reference to Limasol, at the same time that the innocent wife and family would not be thrown upon their relatives, they must not accept my views of punishment as any suggestion under the present circumstances.

About half an hour after this conversation I heard a sound of well-inflicted blows, accompanied by cries which certainly denoted a disagreeable physical sensation, within the courtyard of the monastery, and to my astonishment I found that my interpreter and willing cook Christo had volunteered as one of the executioners, and the burglar, having been severely thrashed, was turned out of the monastery and thrust down the path towards the depths of Phyni. Christo was a very good fellow, and he sometimes reminded me of a terrier ready to obey or take a hint from his master upon any active subject, while at others, in his calmer moments, he resembled King Henry’s knights, who interpreted their monarch’s wishes respecting Thomas a-Becket.

On 6th June we had been somewhat startled by the sudden appearance in the afternoon of a man perfectly naked, who marched down the approach from the spring and entered the monastery-yard in a dignified and stage-like attitude as though he had the sole right of entree. At first sight I thought he was mad, but on reference to the monks I discovered he was perfectly sane. It appeared that he was a Greek about forty-five years of age, who was a native of Kyrenia, and for some offence twenty years ago he had been ordered by the priests to do penance in this extraordinary manner. His body, originally white, had become quite as brown as that of an Arab of the desert; he possessed no clothing nor property of any kind, not even a blanket during winter; but he wandered about the mountains and visited monasteries and certain villages, where he obtained food as charity. He would never accept money (probably from the absence of pockets), neither would he venture near Turkish villages, as he had several times received a thrashing from the men for thus presenting himself before their women, and it is to be regretted that the Cypriotes had not followed the Turkish example, which would have quickly cured his eccentricity. He was a strong, well-built man, with good muscular development; his head was bald with the exception of a little hair upon either side, and he was interesting to a certain extent as an example of what a European can endure when totally exposed to the sun and weather. Sometimes he slept like a wild animal beneath a rock among the mountains, or in a cave, when such a luxurious retreat might offer a refuge; at other times he was received and sheltered by the priests or people. This individual’s name was Christodilos, and according to my notes taken at the time, he is described as “originally a labourer of Kyrenia; parents dead: one brother and two sisters living.”

CHAPTER XVI.

SOMETHING ABOUT TAXATION.

The monastery gardens of Trooditissa at the close of July exhibited the great fruit-producing power of the soil and climate at this high altitude, but at the same time they were examples of the arbitrary and vexatious system of Turkish taxation, which remains unchanged and is still enforced by the British authorities. I shall describe this in detail, and leave the question of possibility of development under such wholesale tyranny to the judgment of the public. It is difficult to conceive how any persons can expect that Europeans, especially Englishmen, will become landowners and settle in Cyprus when subjected to such unfair and irritating restrictions.

NO PRODUCE CAN BE REMOVED FROM ANY GARDEN UNTIL IT SHALL HAVE BEEN VALUED FOR TAXATION BY THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL APPOINTED FOR THAT PURPOSE, at the rate of 10 per cent. ad valorem.

At first sight this system appears incredible, but upon an examination of the details our wonder ceases at the general absence of cultivated vegetables and the propagation of superior qualities of fruits. If the object of the government were purposely to repress all horticultural enterprise, and to drive the inhabitants to the Nebuchadnezzar-like grazing upon wild herbs, the present system would assuredly accomplish the baneful end. The Cypriotes are called indolent, and are blamed by travellers for their apathy in contenting themselves with wild vegetables, when their soil is eminently adapted in the varying altitudes and climates for the production of the finest qualities of fruits and green-stuffs. I will imagine that an Englishman of any class may be placed in the following position of a cultivator, which he assuredly would be, if foolish enough to become a proprietor in Cyprus.

I am at this moment looking down from the shade of the great walnut-tree upon the terraced gardens and orchards beneath, which are rich in potatoes of excellent quality, onions, beet-root, &c.; together with walnuts, pears, apples, plums, filberts, figs, and mulberries. The pears and plums are of several varieties, some will ripen late, others are now fit to gather, but nothing can be touched until the valuer shall arrive; he is expected in ten days; by which time many of the plums will have fallen to the ground, and the swarming rats will have eaten half the pears. The shepherds’ children and the various monastery boys live in the boughs like monkeys, and devour the fruit ripe or unripe, from morning till evening, with extraordinary impunity; women who arrive from the low country with children to be christened place them upon the ground, and climb the pear-trees; neither colic nor cholera is known in this sanctified locality. The natives of the low country who arrive at the monastery daily with their laden mules from villages upon the other side of the mountains, en route to Limasol, immediately ascend the attractive trees and feast upon the plums; at the same time they fill their handkerchiefs and pockets with pears, &c., as food during their return journey. “There will not be much trouble for the valuer when he arrives,” I remarked to the monks, “if you allow such wholesale robbery of your orchards.”

“On the contrary,” they replied, “the difficulty will be increased; we never sell the produce of the gardens, which is kept for the support of all those who visit us, but we have much trouble with the valuation of the fruits for taxation. It is hard that we shall have to pay for what the public consume at our expense, but it will be thus arranged. . . . The valuer will arrive, and he will find some trees laden with unripe fruit, others that have been stripped by plunder; the potatoes, &c., will be still in the ground. We shall have a person to represent our interests in the valuation as a check upon the official; but in the end he will have his own way. We shall explain that certain trees are naked, as the fruit became ripe and was stolen by the boys. ‘Then you ought to have taken more care of it,’ he will reply; `how many okes of plums were there upon those trees?’ We shall have to guess the amount. `Nonsense!’ he will exclaim to whatever figure we may mention, ‘there must have been double that quantity: I shall write down 1500 (if we declared 1000), which will split the difference.’ (“Splitting the difference” is the usual method of arranging an Oriental dispute, as instanced by Solomon’s well-known suggestion of dividing the baby.).

“We shall protest,” continued the monks, “and this kind of inquisitorial haggling will take place concerning every tree, until the valuer shall have concluded his labour, and about one-third more than the actual produce of the orchards will have been booked against us; upon which we must pay a tax of 10 per cent., at the same time that the risks of insects, rats, and the expenses of gathering remain to the debit of the garden. In fact,” said the poor old monks, “our produce is a trouble to us, as personally we derive no benefit; the public eat the fruit, and the government eats the taxes.”

There were curious distinctions and exceptions in this arbitrary form of taxation: if a fruit-tree grew within the monastery courtyard it was exempt; thus the great walnut-tree beneath which we camped was free. It was really cheering to find that we were living under some object that was not taxed in Cyprus; but the monk continued, and somewhat dispelled the illusion . . . “This tree produced in one year 20,000 walnuts, and it averages from 12,000 to 15,000; but when the crops of our other trees are estimated, the official valuer always insists upon a false maximum, so as to include the crop of the courtyard walnut in the total amount for taxation.”

The potatoes, like all other horticultural productions, are valued while growing, and the same system of extravagant estimate is pursued.

This system is a blight of the gravest character upon the local industry of the inhabitants, and it is a suicidal and unstatesmanlike policy that crushes and extinguishes all enterprise. What Englishman would submit to such a prying and humiliating position? And still it is expected that the resources of the island will be developed by British capital! The great want for the supply of the principal towns is market-gardens. Imagine an English practical market-gardener, fresh from the ten-mile radius of Covent Garden, where despatch and promptitude mean fortune and success: he could not cut his cauliflowers in Cyprus until his crop of unblown plants had been valued by an official and while he might be waiting for this well-hated spirit of evil, his cauliflower-heads would have expanded into coral-like projections and have become utterly valueless except for pig-feeding. I cannot conceive a more extravagant instance of oppression than this system of taxation, which throws enormous powers of extortion into the hands of the official valuer. This person can oppose by delays and superlative estimates the vital interests of the proprietors; if the property is large, the owner will be only too glad to silence his opposition by a considerable bribe; the poor must alike contribute, or submit to be the victim of delays which, with perishable articles such as vegetables, represent his ruin. Is it surprising that the villages of the desolate plain of Messaria are for the most part devoid of fruit-trees? We are preaching to the Cypriotes the advantage of planting around their dwellings, as though they were such idiots as to be ignorant that “he who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.” If they plant fruit-trees under the present laws they are planting curses which will entail the misery of inquisitorial visits and the most objectionable and oppressive form of an unjust taxation. As the law at present stands, the amount of fruit is ridiculously small, and the quality inferior, while cultivated vegetables are difficult to obtain. Can any other result be expected under the paralysing effect of Turkish laws? which unfortunately British officials have the questionable honour of administering.

I have heard officials condemn in the strongest terms the laws they are obliged to enforce. There are few persons who are obtuse to the sense of injustice, but at the same time the suggestion has been expressed that an extreme difficulty would be experienced should the taxes be collected in any other form than dimes. I cannot see the slightest truth in this disclaimer of responsibility for Turkish evils, and I believe the present difficulty might be overcome with little trouble by a system of rating the land ad valorem.

The soil and general value of properties in Cyprus vary as in England and other countries according to quality and position. There is land contiguous to market towns of much higher value than the same quality of soil in remote districts; there are farms supplied with water either naturally or artificially, which are far more valuable than others which are dependent upon favourable seasons. Land which formerly produced madder was of extreme value, and should have been adjudged accordingly; but why should not all properties of every description throughout Cyprus be rated and taxed in due proportion? The valuation should be arranged by local councils. The vineyards which produced the expensive wines should be rated higher than those of inferior quality. Gardens should be rated according to their distance from a market; fields in proportion to their water-supply and the quality of the soil. The Cypriotes do not complain of the amount of 10 per cent. taxation under the name of dimes, but they naturally object to the arbitrary and vexatious system of inquisitorial visits, together with the delays and loss of time occasioned by the old Turkish system. “Rate us, and let us know the limit of our responsibility”–that is the natural desire of the inhabitants. If the industries of the country are to be developed they must be unfettered; but if weighed down by restrictions and vexatious interference, they will hardly discover the benefit of a change to British masters.

Some people in Cyprus make use of an argument in favour of the present system of dimes or collecting in kind by tenths, which does not commend itself by logical reasoning. They say, “if you rate the land ad valorem, and establish a monetary payment of 10 per cent., you will simply burden the poor land-holder with debt during a season of drought, when his property will produce nothing. According to the present system he and the government alike share the risk of seasons; if the land produces nothing, there can be no dimes.” It does not appear to have occurred to these reasoners that in such seasons of scarcity the taxation could be easily reduced as a temporary measure of relief according to the valuation of the local medjlis or council; but I claim the necessity of artificial irrigation that will secure the land from such meteorological disasters, and will enable both the cultivator and the government to calculate upon a dependable average of crops, instead of existing upon the fluctuations of variable seasons.

The district of Larnaca will offer a fair example of the usual methods of taxation, and as the figures have been most kindly supplied by the authorities of the division, they can be thoroughly relied upon.

The revenues of the district (Larnaca) are derived from the following sources:–

1. Dimes (i.e. tenths of the produce)–in some instances may be paid in kind.
2. Property Tax–4 piastres per 1000 upon the value of immovable property, such as buildings, land, trees; this is classed as 1st class Verghi. 3. Charge upon Income derived from Rents–40 piastres per 1000; classed as 2nd class Verghi. 4. Charge on Trade Profits–30 piastres per 1000; 3rd class Verghi.
5. Exemption from Military Service–this tax levied upon Christians only, at the rate of 5000 piastres for 180 males. 6. Duty upon Sale of Horses, Mules, Donkeys, Camels, and Cattle–1 piastre in every 40 upon price; also tax on goods weighed by public measurer.
7. Tax on Flocks of Sheep and Goats–2.5 piastres per head. This is not levied until the animal shall be one year old.

In 1877 the amount received was–

Piastres. Paras. 1. Dimes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 822,000 2. Property Tax. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221,897 24 3. Rent Charge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20,089 32 4. Tax on Trade-Profits . . . . . . . . . . . 65,340 20 5. Military Exemption. . . . . . . . . . . . . 153,333 25 6. Sales of Animals, Measures, &c. . . . . . . 450,000 7. Sheep and Goats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200,000 _______ ___

1,932,659 101

The return of sheep and goats in the district of Larnaca during the year 1878, and comprising 36 villages, was rendered as 47,841.

The following taxes are payable by inhabitants of Scala and the neighbourhood:–

JANUARY, 1879.

1. The tithe of agricultural produce, including silk, payable in some cases in kind, in others in money. 2. Tax in lieu of military service, 5000 copper piastres for 180 Christian males.
3. Verghi (a), 4 per 1000 on the purchasing value of houses, land, or immovable property.
4. Verghi (b), 4 per cent. on the rent of immovable property, or houses not occupied by their owners. 5. Verghi (c), 3 per cent. on profits and professions. 6. Tax on sheep, 2.5 silver piastres each. 7. Tax on goats, 2 silver piastres each. 8. Tax on pigs, 3 silver piastres each.
9. Tax on wood and charcoal. Wood for carpenters’ uses pays 20 per cent. on the value at the place of production, and a further 5 per cent. on the amount of the tax on coming into the town.

Firewood pays 12 per cent. on the value at the place of production, and a further 5 per cent. as above.

Charcoal pays 2 piastres per 100 okes.

10. Tax on goods weighed, one half para per oke. (In the case of wood and charcoal, hay, chopped straw, lime, and onions, the tax begins at a weight of 50 okes, and at a rate of 5 paras for 50 okes.)
11. Tax on grain measured, 2 paras per kilo paid by the buyer, and 2 paras per kilo paid by the seller. If measured for the sole convenience of the owner, 2 paras per kilo. 12. Octroi. Every load brought from the villages to the town pays a tax of one oke per load, or in money, according to the market rate of the goods.
13. Tax on the sale of mules, horses, donkeys, oxen, and camels in the town, 1 para per piastre of the price. 14. Property tax (municipal) paid by owners:– On houses let to tenants, 5 per cent. per annum. On houses inhabited by the owners, 3 per cent. per annum. 15. Tax on camels (M.) 2 shillings each per annum. 16. Tax on carts (M.) belonging to and working in Larnaca and Marina townships, 1*. each per annum. 17. Corvee. Forced labour on roads four days a year. 18. Shop licences (M.) in classes, 10*, 5*., 2*., 1*., 10 shillings. 19. Wine licences (C.H.) in classes, 25 per cent., 12.5 per cent., 6.25 per cent. on rental.
20. Licences to merchants, bankers, &c., (M.) in classes, 10*., 5*., 2*., 1*.
21. Monopolies. Salt, gunpowder.
22. Custom House duties 8 per cent. on imports, 1 per cent. exports.

Custom House duty on wine, 10 per cent. Custom House duty on imported tobacco, 75 per cent; on home grown, or imported unmanufactured, 10 pence a pound.
23. Stamps, transfer and succession duties. Mubashine. Voted to remain in force until March 1st, 1879.

[Transcriber’s Note: Omitted table of villages on page 388 which was hard to read.]

There are other taxes according to the laws of succession upon the death of an individual which I give in the same words as furnished to me by the authority:–

Memorandum of the Defter Hakkani about the Transfer in Succesion of Property.

When a man dies his properties must be duly transferred to his heirs, who must apply to the authorities within six months, in order to have the transfer made.

The transfer is made by giving a new Kotshan (Title), to the heirs in exchange for the Kotshan of the deceased.

The right to the inheritance is stated by the laws as follows:–

1st, To the son or daughter; in want of which, 2nd, to the grandson and granddaughter; in want of which, 3rd, to the father and mother; in want of which, 4th, to the brother from the same father and mother; in want of which, 5th, to the sister from the same father and mother; in want of which, 6th, to the brother from the same mother; and in want of which, 7th, to the sister from the same mother.

The grandson and the granddaughter from right to the inheritance of the share belonging to their father, who may have died before the death of their grandfather; they inherit together with their uncles and aunts as another direct son or daughter of the grandfather.

In all above stated degrees of inheritance, except in the 1st and 2nd, the husband or wife has right to the fourth share of the land left by the husband or wife.

This is for property in land (Arazi).

As to the freehold property (Emlak), the male inhabitants two-thirds and the female one-third; but it is very difficult to enumerate the various shades of division which are always made by the cadis according to the Cheni law; there is no Nizam law in this respect.

All system of endorsment on Kotshan is abolished.

The duty on transfer in succession of a freehold property is half the fees on transfer by sale.

In transferring by sale the fees are 1 per cent. on the value, if this freehold property is a real one (Emlaki Serfi); and 3 per cent. if it is vacouf freehold property (Emlak Meocoofi). Besides this 3 piastres as price of paper, and 1 piastre as clerks’ fees (Riataki) are paid for every new Kotshan.

The lands (Arazi) pay 5 per cent. indifferently on transfer by sale and on transfer by succession.

The custom is to value lands at one year’s rental, or value of products.

If a house is occupied by the owner no tax on rental is demanded; the only tax demanded in that case being that on the proportionate value.

The proportionate values of real properties are not assessed for a fixed period. Therefore the value, once assessed, can remain the same for many years, or it can be altered in the annual inspections of the Vakouat Riatibs according to an increase or decrease of value that may take place on account of repairs, a general rise of value, or partial or entire destruction by fire, rain, &c.

The poverty of the agricultural classes was so generally acknowledged even by the Turkish administration that it was absolutely necessary to relieve them by some external assistance; it was therefore resolved in 1869 to create an “Agricultural Bank and a Locust Fund;” the principles of this establishment are sufficiently original to attract attention.

In 1871 the Turkish government issued a decree that all cultivators of the ground should pay to the authorities a sum of money equal to the price of one kilo of wheat and one of barley for every pair of oxen in their possession, in order to create a capital for the new bank. The number of oxen would represent the scale of every holding, as they would exhibit the proportion of ploughs required upon the farm, and thus yield an approximate estimate of the area.

This arbitrary call upon the resources of the impoverished farmers was an eccentric financial operation in the ostensible cause of assistance, but it produced a capital of 169,028 piastres. The rate of interest upon loans to individuals, or for particular districts, for the purpose of destroying locusts was 8 per cent. previous to the year 1875, and was increased to 12 per cent. since that period. Receipts for all sums borrowed for the public benefit of locust destruction were signed by the head-men and members of councils of villages.

At first sight the establishment of an agricultural bank sounded propitious as a step in the right direction, but, according to the conditions of all loans, it became usurious, and saddled the unfortunate farmers after a few bad seasons with debts that could never be paid off. If X borrowed 1000 pounds, he received only 880 pounds, as the year’s interest was deducted in advance, but he was afterwards charged compound interest at 12 per cent. upon the whole 1000 pounds. Compound interest at 12 per cent. means speedy ruin.

Upon an examination of the accounts, the whole affair represents apparently large figures in piastres, which when reduced to pounds sterling presents a miserable total that proves the failure of the enterprise. As I have already stated, a “bank” could not succeed in Cyprus if it were established specially to benefit the agriculturist; money can always command 10 per cent., while the farmer should obtain the loans necessary for irrigation at a maximum of 6 per cent. if he is really to be encouraged. This can only be accomplished through a Government or National Bank, expressly organised for the purpose of developing the agricultural interests. As the government can obtain any amount at 4 per cent., the National Bank could well afford to lend at 6, especially as the loan would be secured by a first mortgage, to take precedence of all other claims upon the property.

The “Locust Fund” was an admirable institution which has achieved great results. There can be little doubt that throughout the world’s history man has exhibited a lamentable apathy in his passive submission to the depredations of the insect tribe, whereas by a system of organisation he would at the least have mitigated the scourge which has in many instances resulted in absolute famine. At one time the plague of locusts was annually expected in Cyprus as a natural advent like the arrival of swallows in the usual season, and when the swarms were extreme the crops were devoured throughout the island, and swept completely from the surface, entailing general ruin. The cultivation of cotton, which should be one of the most important industries, has been much restricted from the fear of locusts, as they appear in May, when the tender young plants are a few inches above the ground and are the first objects of attack.

It is related that when under the Venetians, Cyprus annually exported 30,000 bales or 6,600,000 lbs. of cotton. In 1877 the consular reports estimated the entire produce of the island at 2000 bales of 200 okes per bale, or 1,100,000 lbs., equal to only one-sixth of the original Venetian export.

The steps taken to destroy the locusts have so far diminished their numbers that in certain districts the production of cotton might be largely extended. M. Mattei, and Said Pacha when governor of Cyprus, combined to make war upon the locust swarms by means of a simple but effective method, which will render their names historical as the greatest benefactors in an island that has seldom known aught but oppressors.

The idea originated with Signor Richard Mattei, who is the largest landed proprietor in Cyprus. It is much to be regretted that professional entomologists can seldom assist us in the eradication of insect plagues; they can explain their habits, but they are useless as allies against their attacks. M. Mattei had observed that the young locusts invariably marched straight ahead, and turned neither to the right or left; he had also remarked that upon arrival at an obstacle they would endeavour to climb over, instead of going round it. Under these peculiarities of natural instinct a very simple arrangement sufficed to lead them to destruction. Pits were dug about three or four feet deep at right angles with the line of march, and screens of cotton cloth edged at the bottom with oil-skin were arranged something after the fashion of stop-nets for ground game in covert-shooting in England. This wall, with a slippery groundwork, prevented the insects from proceeding. As they never turn back, they were obliged to search sideways for a passage, and were thus led into the pits in millions, where they were destroyed by burying the masses beneath heaps of earth. If a few gallons of petroleum were sprinkled over them, and fire applied, much trouble would be saved. This is a crude method of insect destruction which could be improved upon, but great praise is due to the efforts of M. Richard Mattei and Said Pacha for having devoted their energies so successfully to the eradication of a scourge which proved its ancient importance from the Biblical registration of a curse upon the Egyptians.

There is a reward given by government for the destruction of locust eggs. Each female deposits two small cases or sheaths beneath the ground, containing thirty or forty eggs in each. The position is easily distinguished by a shining slimy substance. A certain sum per oke is given, and the people gladly avail themselves of the opportunity of earning money at the same time that they destroy the common enemy.

The British administration is keenly alive to the importance of this warfare, and I have frequently met commissioners of districts galloping in hot haste, as though in pursuit of a retreating enemy, towards some quarter where the appearance of locust swarms may have been reported, in order to take immediate measures for their destruction.

Unfortunately the locust is not the only enemy of cotton cultivation, but the (to my mind) abominable system of dimes, or tenths of produce to be valued while growing, restricts the cultivator to an inferior variety that will remain within the pod, instead of expanding when liberated by ripening.

The cultivation of cotton differs according to the many varieties of the plant. Pliny described the “wool-bearing trees of Ethiopia,” and I have myself seen the indigenous cotton thriving in a wild state in those parts from whence they were first introduced to Egypt, during the reign of Mehemet Ali, grandfather of the Khedive. It is well known that although comparatively a recent article of cultivation in Egypt, it has become one of the most important exports from that country. Cotton of the first quality requires a peculiar combination of local conditions. Water must be at command whenever required during the various stages of cultivation; and perfectly dry weather must be assured when the crop is ripe and fit to gather. The collection extends over many days, as the pods do not burst at the same period. Some of the most valuable kinds detach easily from the expanded husk and fall quickly to the ground, which entails constant attention, and the quality would deteriorate unless labour is always at hand to gather the cotton before it shall fall naturally from the plant.

It will be therefore understood that, although many soils may be highly favourable to the growth of fine qualities of cotton, there is an absolute necessity for a combination of a peculiar climate, where neither rain nor dew shall moisten, and accordingly deteriorate the crop. Egypt is specially favoured for the production of first-class cotton, as in the upper portions of the Delta rain is seldom known; but the extreme carelessness of the people has reduced the average quality by mixing the seeds, instead of keeping the various classes rigidly separate.

The dry climate, combined with the fertile soil of Cyprus, would suggest a great extension of cotton cultivation, when artificial irrigation shall be generally developed, but so long as the present system of collecting the dimes is continued, the farmer cannot produce the higher qualities which require immediate attention in collecting. During the delay in waiting for the official valuer, the pods are bursting rapidly, and the valuable quality is falling to the ground; the cultivator is therefore confined to the growth of those inferior cottons that will adhere to the pods, and wait patiently for the arrival of the government authority.

Consul Hamilton Lang, in his interesting work upon Cyprus, suggests that the duty should be collected upon export, to relieve the farmer from the present difficulty, which would enable him to cultivate the American high qualities. It is almost amusing to contrast the criticisms and advice of the various British consuls who have for many years represented us in Cyprus with the ideas of modern officials. There can be no doubt concerning consular reports in black and white, and equally there can be no question of existing ordinances under the British administration; but what appeared highly unjust to our consuls when Cyprus was under Turkish rule, is accepted as perfectly equitable now that the island has passed into the hands of Great Britain.

For many years I have taken a peculiar interest in cotton cultivation, and in 1870 I introduced the excellent Egyptian variety, known as “galleen,” into Central Africa, and planted it at Gondokoro, north latitude 4 degrees 54′, with excellent results. In the first year this grew to the height of about seven feet, with a proportionate thickness of stem, and the spreading branches produced an abundant crop of a fine quality, which detached itself from the seeds, immediately reducing the operation of the cleaning-machine or “cotton-gin” to a minimum of labour. I have been much struck with the inferiority of Cyprian cotton; scarcely any of the crop finds its way to England, but is exported to Marseilles and Trieste. Should Consul Lang’s suggestion be carried out, and the duty be taken upon export to relieve the grower from the vexatious delays of the inquisitor or government valuer, there can be no question of immediate improvement. There is no more trouble or expense in producing a first-class cotton than in the commonest variety, when climate and soil are so peculiarly favourable as in Cyprus. If the government continues the system of ad valorem taxation, common sense will suggest that the highest quality would alike be favourable to the revenue and to the cultivator; therefore, in the interests of the country and of individuals, every encouragement should be afforded to the farmers to ensure the best of all species of produce throughout the island. The excellent compilation of Captain Savile, officially and expressly printed for the service of the government, contains the following passages:–

“According to all accounts the taxation of the inhabitants of Cyprus has under Turkish administration been carried out in a most severe and oppressive manner, and the imposts upon certain articles of agriculture and commerce have been so heavy that their culture and export has in some cases been almost abandoned. . . .

“The cultivation of vines for the manufacture of wine has been so heavily and unjustly taxed, that a great part of the vineyards have of late years been turned to other and more profitable purposes, or else have been abandoned, and consequently a branch of agriculture for which the island is especially suited and a remunerative article of commerce is neglected and allowed to decline. An extensive development of vineyards and manufacture of wine should be encouraged, and with this object it has been suggested that it might be wise to free this production from all except export duty.

“Allusion has already been made to the injurious effect of the collection of the tithe (dimes) upon cotton at the time when the crop is gathered, instead of at the time of shipment, and it has been explained how the former method prevents the farmers from growing the best and most remunerative varieties of the plant; this is a matter that requires the attention of the authorities when the re-adjustment of the taxes is considered.”

Captain Savile’s useful book is an echo of consular statements and reports written in England for government information without any personal experience of the island; but from my own investigations I can thoroughly endorse the views expressed, and I only regret that the miserable conditions of our occupation have rendered such necessary reforms most difficult, as the poverty of the present government of Cyprus cannot afford to run the risk of experimental lessons in taxation.

When criticising and condemning existing evils, it must be distinctly understood that I do not presume to attach blame to individual authorities of the local government: I denounce the arbitrary and oppressive system of TURKISH rules, which, although in some instances mitigated by our administration, still remain in force, and are the results of the conditions that were accepted when England resolved upon this anomalous occupation. I have to describe Cyprus as I saw it in 1879, and in this work I endeavour to introduce the public to the true aspect of the situation “as I saw it;” other people have an equal right with myself to their own opinions upon various subjects, but, should we differ upon certain questions, we shall at least be unanimous in praise of the extreme devotion to a most difficult task in a contradictory position, exhibited not only by the governor, and commissioners of districts, but by all British officers entrusted with authority. If Cyprus were free from the fetters of the Turkish Convention, and the revenue should be available for the necessary improvements, with commercial and agricultural reforms, the same energy now bestowed by the governor and other officials would rapidly expand the resources of the island. We are prone to expect too much, and must remember that at the time I write, only twelve months have elapsed since the day of the British military occupation. No officers understood either the language, or laws, of the people they had to govern; they were for the most part specially educated for the military profession, and they were suddenly plunged into official positions where agricultural, legal, commercial, and engineering difficulties absorbed their entire attention, all of which had to be comprehended through the medium of an interpreter. It is rare that the most favoured individual combines such general knowledge; Turks and Greeks, antagonistic races, were to lie down contented like the lion and the lamb under the blessing of a British rule: all animosities were to be forgotten. The religion of Mussulmans would remain inviolate, and the Greek Church would hold its former independence: freedom and equality were to be assured when the English flag replaced the Crescent and Star upon the red ensign beneath which Cyprus had withered as before a flame; the resources of the country were to awaken as from a long sleep, and the world should witness the marvellous change between Cyprus when under Turks, and when transferred to Englishmen. “Look upon that picture, and on this!” The officers of our army were the magicians to effect this transformation, not only strangers to the climate, language, laws, customs, people, but without MONEY: as the island had been robbed of revenue by the conditions of the Turkish Convention.

In spite of the many abuses which still exist, and which demand reform, there could not be a more tangible proof of the general efficiency of the officers of our army than the picture of Cyprus after the first year’s occupation. Although the government has been severely pinched for means, and a season of cruel drought has smitten the agriculturists; with commerce languishing through the uncertainty of our tenure, the Cyprian population of all creeds and classes have already learned to trust in the honour and unflinching integrity of British rulers, which ensures them justice and has relieved them from their former oppressors.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE DISTRICT OF LIMASOL AND LANDOWNERS.

The port of Limasol will eventually become the chief commercial centre of Cyprus, and in the depression of 1879 caused by drought and general uncertainty it formed a favourable exception to the general rule. It may be interesting to examine the position of the revenue during the years inclusive from 1875 to 1878.

CUSTOMS.

Year. Revenue. Expenditure. Balance. Piastres. Piastres. Piastres. 1875 964,839 164,663 800,176 1876 819,139 172,472 646,667 1877 1,340,643 169,506 1,171,137 1878 1,553,363 161,594 1,391,769

The exports from Limasol have been largely in excess of imports:–

Year Exports Year Imports

1875 77,022 1875 47,325 1876 59,895 1876 50,920 1877 93,805 1877 41,920 1878 101,457 1878 99,714

The principal articles of export from Limasol are wine and caroubs, and the general production of these items has been as follows:–

Year. Okes. Year. Tons.

1875 Wine 4,811,732 1875 Caroubs 8,690 1876 ” 3,710,884 1876 ” 6,080 1877 ” 2,208,617 1877 ” 6,520 1878 ” 5,795,109 1878 ” 4,345

The different descriptions of wine and spirits produced in the Limasol district during the last four years are as follows, values in okes:–

Year. Raki or ——————-Wine.—————— native brandy Commanderiea. Red Wine. Black Wine. 1875 467,711 173,946 85,008 4,056,067 1876 251,298 87,585 56,434 2,815,567 1877 181,269 45,522 38,563 1,943,290 1878 378,694 180,103 133,555 5,102,757

In the year 1878 the goods exported from Limasol may be approximately represented by–

Cotton for Austria . . . . 10,000 okes valued at 500 pounds sterling. Wool for France c. . . . . 9,500 okes valued at 560 pounds. Rags for Italy . . . . . . 77,600 okes valued at 700 pounds. Sumach in leaf for
Greece. . . . . 110,000 okes valued at 500 pounds. Black wine for
Turkey. . . . 1,850,000 okes valued at 25,000 pounds. Commanderia for
Austria . . . . 155,000 okes valued at 2,075 pounds. Caroubs for
England, France,
Russia, and Italy . . . . 10,000 tons valued at 33,000 pounds. Raisins for Austria,
France, and Turkey . . . . 90,000 okes valued at 850 pounds. Skins for Greece . . . . . .9,800 okes valued at 1,025 pounds. Sundries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . valued at 11,000 pounds.

Total value of exports. . . . . . . . . . . . . 75,210 pounds sterling.

The tobacco produced in the districts of Limasol and Baffo and at Lefka, inclusive, is a mere trifle compared to the capabilities of the island:–

In 1875 the crop amounted to 1,395 okes. 1876 ” 1,280 “
1877 ” 857 “
1878 ” 1,731 “

This is only worth enumeration as an example of the utter insignificance of the production, which should be an important item in the agricultural wealth of the island. The greater portion of the tobacco consumed in Cyprus is imported in bales from Salonica, and is consigned to manufacturers who divide and classify the leaves, which are cut, and formed into packets bearing the Custom House stamps, supplied upon purchase. Limasol alone imports about 20,000 okes, which are forwarded from Larnaca, where the duty is paid. No export duties of any description are levied upon goods from this island.

The direct benefit to the Cypriotes conferred by the British occupation was exhibited in the sudden rise of value both in real property and in labour. The rental of houses within the principal towns was trebled, and it would be difficult to establish an average price of land either in towns, or upon the outskirts, as the prices demanded have been in most instances fictitious, representing the desires of the seller, but in no way verifying the actual selling value. I have only heard of a few small plots that have changed hands at quadruple their former estimate, and as a rule there are few buyers during this period of uncertainty respecting the permanence of our occupation; but owners hold out in the hope of an ultimate decision in favour of British absolute possession. In the town of Limasol there has been a decided rise in the general value of property, which is due to the steady improvement of the trade, and does not represent a mere speculative impulse as in Larnaca, which has suffered by a subsequent reaction. The municipal receipts of Limasol have increased from 207 pounds sterling in the twelve months ending 30th September, 1878, to 1718 pounds in the ten months of 1879. This has certainly been due to the energy of Colonel Warren, R. A., the chief commissioner of the district, to whom I am indebted for all statistics connected with the locality.

The position of a district chief commissioner was by no means enviable in Cyprus. The pay was absurdly small, and he was obliged to institute reforms both for sanitary and municipal interests which necessitated an outlay, and increased the local taxation. The population had been led to expect a general diminution of imposts upon the suddenly-conceived British occupation, and the Cypriotes somewhat resembled the frogs in the fable when the new King Log arrived with a tremendous splash which created waves of hope upon the surface of the pool, but subsided into disappointment; they found that improvements cost money, and that British reforms, although they bestowed indirect benefits, were accompanied by a direct expenditure. The calm apathy of a Cypriote is not easily disturbed; he is generally tolerably sober, or if drunk, he is seldom the “WORSE for liquor,” but rather the better, as his usual affectionate disposition may be slightly exaggerated, instead of becoming pugnacious and abusive like the inebriated Briton. There are no people more affectionate in their immediate domestic circle, or more generally courteous and gentle, than the Cypriotes, but like a good many English people, they have an aversion to increased taxation. Thus, although the British commissioners of districts vied with each other in a healthy ambition to exhibit a picture of paradise in their special localities, the people grumbled at the cost of cleanliness and health within their towns, and would have preferred the old time of manure-heaps and bad smells gratis to the new regime of civilisation for which they had to pay.

The Greek element is generally combustible, and before the first year of our occupation had expired various causes of discontent awakened Philhellenic aspirations; a society was organised under the name of the “Cypriote Fraternity,” as a political centre from which emissaries would be employed for the formation of clubs in various districts with the object of inspiring the population with the noble desire of adding Cyprus to the future Greek kingdom. Corfu had been restored to Greece; why should not Cyprus be added to her crown? There would be sympathisers in the British Parliament, some of whom had already taken up the cause of the Greek clergy in their disputes with the local authorities, and the Greeks of the island had discovered that no matter what the merits of their case might be, they could always depend upon some members of the House of Commons as their advocates, against the existing government and their own countrymen. Under these favourable conditions for political agitation the “Cypriote Fraternity” has commenced its existence. I do not attach much importance to this early conceived movement, as Greeks, although patriotic, have too much shrewdness to sacrifice an immediate profit for a prospective shadow. The island belongs at this moment to the Sultan, and the English are simply tenants under stipulated conditions. Before Cyprus could belong to Greece it must be severed from the Ottoman Empire, and should England be sufficiently wayward to again present herself to the world as the spoiled child of fortune, and deliver over her new acquisition according to the well-remembered precedent of Corfu, the monetary value of all property in Cyprus would descend to zero, and the “Cypriote Fraternity,” if householders or landowners, would raise the Greek standard over shattered fortunes.

The total of population within the entire district of Limasol in 1879 represented 23,530, comprising 12,159 males and 11,371 females, of all ages.

The following list is the official enumeration of animals and trees within the same province:–

ANIMALS.

Cattle. Mules. Horses. Donkeys. Pigs. Goats. Sheep. 6,006 1,812 1,129 4,026 2,138 19,896 11,790

TREES.

Caroubs. Olives. Walnuts.
267,779 114,413 957

Natural pine and Cyprus forests, with oak, &c., not counted.

VINEYARDS.

Cultivated land. Uncultivated land. 40,642 donums. 114,650 donums. 21,180 donums.

According to this official statistical representation the cultivated land would be in proportion to the population about five donums, or two and a half acres, per individual.

The question of ownership of lands will eventually perplex the government to a greater extent than many persons would imagine, and the difficulty attending the verification of titles will increase with every year’s delay.

Before the British occupation, land was of little value, and an extreme looseness existed in the description of boundaries and landmarks. In the absence of fences the Cypriote can generally encroach upon any land adjoining his limit, should it belong to the state. Every season he can drive his plough a few paces further into his neighbour’s holding, unless prevented, until by degrees he succeeds in acquiring a considerable accession. The state is the sufferer to an enormous extent by many years of systematic invasion. Forest land has been felled and cleared by burning, and the original site is now occupied by vineyards. The bribery and corruption that pervaded all classes of officials prior to the British occupation enabled an individual to silence the local authority, while he in many instances more than doubled his legal holding. The absence of defined boundaries has facilitated these encroachments. According to an official report this difficulty is dwelt upon most forcibly as requiring immediate investigation. The vague definition in title-deeds, which simply mentions the number of donums, affords no means of proving an unjust extension; such terms are used as “the woods bounded by a hill,” or “the woods bounded by uncultivated land,” and this indefinite form of expression leaves a margin of frontier that is practically without limit, unless the invader may be stopped by arriving within a yard of his nearest neighbour. My informant, Colonel Warren, R. A., chief commissioner of Limasol, assured me that some holders of land in his district, whose titles show an amount of ninety donums, lay claim to ten times the area. There is hardly a proprietor who does not occupy a ridiculous surplus when compared with his title-deeds, and the encroachments are even now proceeding.

This system of land-robbery was connived at by the officials for a “CONSIDERATION;” old title-deeds were exchanged for new on the application of the holder, and the seals of the venal authorities rendered them valid, at the same time that hundreds of acres were fraudulently transferred from the state. When the intention of a British occupation was made public, a general rush was made for obtaining an excess over the amount defined in the title-deeds, by the swindling method; and the extent to which this plunder was extended may be imagined from the fact that 40,000 such documents were awaiting the necessary signatures when, by the arrival of the British officials, the Turkish authority, who could not sign the deeds with sufficient expedition, was dismissed, and the false titles were invalidated.

The monasteries and the vacouf (Turkish religious lands) lay claim to lands of vast and undefined extent, which are mystified by titles and gifts for charitable purposes, surrounded with clouds of obscure usages and ancient rules that will afford a boundless field for litigation. In fact, the existing government has arrived at the unpleasant position of being excluded from the land, nearly all of which is claimed either by individuals or religious institutions.

The arrangement of this most serious question will stir up a nest of hornets. The equitable adjustment would demand a minute survey of the various districts, and a comparison of the holdings with the title deeds; but what then? It is already known that the holdings are in excess, and where is the legal remedy that can be practically applied? If the actual letter of the law shall be enforced, and each proprietor shall be compelled to disgorge his prey, there will be endless complications. In England, twenty-one years’ uninterrupted possession, with occupation, constitutes a valid title. In Cyprus the extended holdings have in many instances been inherited, and have remained unquestioned as the acknowledged property of individuals, while in other cases they have been more recently acquired. The question will comprise every possible difficulty, and can only be determined by a special commission officially appointed for a local investigation throughout each separate district.

This will be a labour of years, and the innumerable intricacies and entanglements will test the patience and HONESTY of interpreters in a country where bribery has always opened a golden road for an escape from difficulty, while our own authorities are entirely ignorant of the native language. It is this lack of natural means of communication viva voce which increases the already awkward position of high officials: the power of speech belongs to the dragoman alone, and a great gulf exists between the English and the Cypriote, who represent the deaf and dumb in the absence of an interpreter. The old song “We have no money,” is the now stereotyped response to all suggestions for district schools, but if we are to retain Cyprus, one of the most urgent necessities is the instruction of the people in English. It is not to be expected that any close affinity can exist between the governing class and the governed, in the darkness of two foreign tongues that require a third person for their enlightenment. In many cases secrecy may be of considerable importance, and the conversation should be confined to the principals, but the third person must invariably be present as interpreter, and unless he is a man of the highest integrity he will not lose an opportunity of turning his knowledge of state secrets to account for his own advantage. Throughout the Levant it is difficult to find men who combine the rare qualities necessary for a confidential dragoman; such a person would be invaluable, as he would represent all the cardinal virtues, at the same time that he must possess a natural aptitude for his profession, and a store of patience, with the most unruffled temper. The natives dread the interpreter, they know full well that one word misunderstood may alter the bearing of their case, and they believe that a little gold judiciously applied may exert a peculiar grammatical influence upon the parts of speech of the dragoman, which directly affects their interests. There are, no doubt, men of honour and great capability who occupy this important position, at the same time it is well known that many interpreters have been found guilty; the exceptions proving the rule, and exhibiting the extreme danger and general disadvantage in the ignorance of the native language. It cannot be expected that the English officials are to receive a miraculous gift of fiery tongues, and to address their temporary subjects in Turkish and in Greek; but it is highly important that without delay schools should be established throughout the island for the instruction of the young, who in two or three years will obtain a knowledge of English. Whenever the people shall understand our language, they will assimilate with our customs and ideas, and they will feel themselves a portion of our empire: but until then a void will exclude them from social intercourse with their English rulers, and they will naturally gravitate towards Greece, through the simple medium of a mother-tongue. Limasol must perforce of its geographical advantages become the capital of Cyprus. As I have already described, the port may be much improved. The neighbouring country is healthy, and well covered with trees; the landscape is pleasing, and the new road opens a direct communication with the mountain sanatorium. The most important exports of the island are produced within the district, and, as might be expected, the result of commercial enterprise is exhibited in the increased intelligence and activity of the Limasol inhabitants. It is highly to be desired that this favourable position should become the seat of government. Although the troops in 1879 are camped among the barren rocks beneath the pine-forests upon Mount Troodos, at an elevation of about 5800 feet above the sea, there is no necessity for a station at so extreme and inconvenient an altitude in north latitude 35 degrees. The general unhealthiness of the troops upon the first occupation of the island during the summer and autumn of 1878, determined the military authorities to arrange the new camp at the greatest altitude practicable with a regard to the supply of water, but the experience gained in 1879 proves that a permanent camp, or barracks, may be equally healthy at a lower and more convenient level. This fact would establish an additional advantage in the selection of Limasol for headquarters, as the troops would be in the immediate neighbourhood at all seasons. Colonel Warren, R.A., who had been the prime mover in all the improvements that had been made in Limasol since the British occupation, was promoted on 1st August to the position of chief of the staff under Sir Garnet Wolseley’s able successor, Major-General Biddulph, C.B., R.A., and the district thus lost its leading spirit. In reforming abuses and promoting progress, Colonel Warren had not entirely escaped the usual fate of men who are in advance of their age. The unflinching determination to administer the laws without fear or favour to all classes had infringed upon the assumed immunities of the Greek Church, which had always received deferential consideration from the Turkish government, and although actually liable to taxation, the right had never been enforced. This is a curious contradiction to the vulgar belief in Mussulman intolerance and bigotry; the Greek Church not only enjoyed a perfect freedom under the Turks, but the bishops were assisted in obtaining a forced tribute from their flock by the presence of Turkish zaphtiehs (police), who accompanied them during their journeys through the diocese.

An interference with Church property or established rights is certain to create a buzzing of the ecclesiastical bees, who will swarm against the invader with every sting prepared for action. As the case was investigated by a special court of inquiry, and terminated, as might have been expected, completely in favour of Colonel Warren, it is not necessary to enter upon minute details; but, as the plaintiff was the Bishop of Citium, and this first public attack created a peculiar agitation that will probably be repeated, it may be interesting to examine the actual position of the Greek Church as it existed during the Turkish administration.

The Church in Cyprus is represented by an Archbishop and three Bishops as the acknowledged heads. The diocese of the former comprises Lefkosia, Famagousta, and the Carpas districts, while the three Bishoprics are those of Larnaca or Citium, Kyrenia, and Baffo.

The revenues of the Archbishop amount to about £2000 a year, and the necessary expenditure for staff, schools, &c., to £1500. The Bishopric of Baffo is the richest, with a revenue of about £1000; at the same time the outgoings are small, amounting to £300 a year for the payment of his staff, and one-fifth of the expenses of a public school.

The Bishopric of Larnaca or Citium is valued at about £900 a year, but the expenditure is confined to £200. That of Kyrenia is about the same as Citium. There is no possibility of determining an exact figure, as these revenues are dependent upon voluntary payments, which cannot be enforced by any statute; but there is a “Berat” (decree) which invites the local authorities to render the bishops assistance in the collection of their revenues, without the absolute enforcement of any payments. No amounts due to the bishops for either canonical, ecclesiastical, or alms (Zitia), can be recovered through a court of law. On the other hand, the all-powerful countenance afforded by the Turkish government represented by public functionaries (zaphtiehs), who accompanied the bishops during their diocesan visits upon a tour of collection, was a moral influence that succeeded in extorting the unwilling fees. In case of a defaulting village, it is said that a bishop has been known to suspend the functions of the priest until the necessary payments should be completed by his parishioners, who, thus temporarily cut off from all ghostly comfort, hastened to arrive at a pecuniary compromise.

The monasteries are an important institution throughout Cyprus, and there is a decided difference between the monks of these establishments and the general priesthood. The monks are supposed to devote their lives to charitable objects; they are not allowed to marry, and they have a superior education, as all can read and write. On the other hand, the priests are grossly ignorant, and it is computed that only a quarter of their number could even write their own names. These are allowed to marry one wife, but they cannot re-marry in the event of her decease; they are generally poor to a superlative degree, and are frequently obliged to work for hire like common labourers. Should a man desire to become a priest, it is only necessary that he should be recommended by the inhabitants of his village as a person of good reputation that would be suitable for the office: he is then ordained by the bishop upon payment of a fee of about one hundred piastres (or 150), and he is at once at liberty to enter upon his duties. These ordination fees are a temptation to the bishops to increase the number of priests to an unlimited extent, and the result is seen throughout Cyprus in a large and superfluous body of the most ignorant people, totally unfitted for their position.

The monasteries vary in their revenues, as they have derived their possessions at different periods from grants of land, or private gifts, or legacies. In like manner with the bishops, although they cannot legally compel the villagers to pay according to their demands, they assumed a power which by long sufferance had become recognised by the ignorant peasantry, who reluctantly acceded to their claims. I have myself witnessed an altercation between the monks and shepherds on the mountains upon a question of cheeses and goats, which the former claimed as annually due to the monastery; it appeared that prior to the British occupation they had been able by threats to extort this demand, but the shepherds had now determined to free themselves from all payments beyond those which the law compelled, and they resisted the priestly authority, before which they had hitherto remained as slaves. This spirit of independence that has been so quickly developed by the equity of British rule will probably extend, and may seriously interfere with the revenues of the Church, should the population determine to abide by their legal status and refuse the ordinary fees. It cannot be expected that either bishops, monks, or priests regard this change with satisfaction, and in their hearts they may sigh for the good old times of a Turkish administration, when the Greek Church of Cyprus was an imperium in imperio that could sway both the minds and purses of the multitude, untouched by laws or equity, and morally supported by the government.

The most important monastery in the island is that of Kykou; this is situated upon the mountains at an elevation of 3800 feet above the sea, and it comprises an establishment of sixty monks, with a gross revenue from various properties in different portions of the country estimated together with donations at about £5000 per annum. The monastery of Mahera estimates its revenue at £2000; that of Fameromeni at Nicosia, at £2000 without any expenditure, as the three monks, together with one servant, are paid by the extra incomes of the Church. There are many monasteries throughout the island, and all with the exception of Kykou and St. Andrea, at the eastern point of Cyprus, pay a certain portion of their revenue to the bishop of the diocese. The two monasteries I have excepted are perfectly independent of all ecclesiastical control in revenue and finance. Considerable caution will be necessary in arranging the land question with these numerous establishments, which have hitherto enjoyed a peculiar independence. Up to the present time the income of the bishops has been derived from the annual payments from monasteries, by the canonical tax paid by every church; from the alms (Zitia), which is a tax levied upon all crops; from the dish exposed for offerings in church while they officiate, and from various ordination fees and marriage licences. From the inquiries I made in various dependable quarters, the bishops are not generally beloved either by the monks, priests, or public; but this absence of appreciation may be due to the continual demands upon the funds of monasteries and the pockets of the peasantry, more than to any personal peculiarities of character. There are stories of neglect of duty and misappropriation of funds intended for charitable purposes, which I should decline to believe possible among ecclesiastics of such devout principles and high position. The Archbishop is much beloved, and is loudly praised by all classes of the inhabitants, to whom he owes his election as supreme head of the Church after the following manner:-

In the event of death, the vacant see of Cyprus is represented by the Bishop of Baffo, and the new archbishop must be elected by the people. The bishop occupies the position of president of an ecclesiastical council, to which representatives are sent from every district, charged with the votes of the inhabitants in favour of the archbishop. Upon his election, the approval and confirmation of his appointment must be obtained by an imperial decree before the archbishop can officiate. In the same manner every bishop is elected by the people of the district, and their representatives are sent to Nicosia, where the archbishop presides over his council, or court; but the new bishop must also be confirmed in his position by an imperial decree.

Should an archbishop be guilty of any crime, either civil or ecclesiastical, he may be deposed by the head of the Church at Constantinople, acting in conjunction with the Turkish government, at the request of the inhabitants of Cyprus.

Bishops may be deposed by the archbishop, who would in such a case assemble the Synod, composed of the heads of clergy in his presidency. Before this tribunal a bishop would be summoned to appear in case of an accusation, and the trial would take place in open court; the power of punishment or absolution remaining in the hands of the archbishop.

The Turkish government appears to have held a peculiar position in relation to the Greek Church in Cyprus, as, although acting in conjunction and in harmony with the customs of the inhabitants, it reserved the right of supreme authority in special cases; thus at various epochs the Turkish government deposed the Archbishops Chrissanthon and Panareton, hanged the Archbishop Kipriano, and banished the Archbishops Joachim and Damaskino.

From the universal complaints, there can be little doubt that the schools that should be established from funds specially invested for that purpose in the hands of certain monasteries, bishops, &c., are grossly neglected, and it has already been suggested that a commission should be instituted by the British authorities, under the presidency of the archbishop, for a rigid investigation of the resources of all monasteries and the ACTUAL revenue of bishoprics, together with the disbursement of all sums that should have been expended either for education or for charitable purposes.

The tithes exacted by the bishops from the peasantry add seriously to the imposts of ordinary taxation, and there is every probability of a reform being demanded by the inhabitants at the hands of the British administration. When under Turkish rule, the Greek Church enjoyed not only perfect freedom, but an immunity from taxation, as, although they were legally liable, the law was never enforced upon the clergy. The English government has determined upon the observance of all laws by all classes, and the Church has awakened to the fact that there is no exception.

“From the earliest times the Greek Church of Cyprus has enjoyed an especial degree of independence; in the reign of the Emperor Zeno, A.D. 473, exceptional privileges were conceded to the Archbishop of Cyprus, who, although he owns the supremacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople over the orthodox Greek Church, claims to be entirely independent of him as regards Church discipline; he wears purple, carries a gold-headed sceptre, has the title of Beatitude, signs in red as the Greek Emperors were wont to do, and uses a seal bearing a two-headed imperial eagle. It is said that these dignities were conferred in consequence of the fortunate discovery at Salamis of the body of St. Barnabas, with a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which precious relic was sent to Constantinople, and in return the Emperor confirmed the Church of Cyprus in its absolute independence, and gave the archbishop the above privileges.”* (*Savile’s Cyprus, p. 142.)

St. Paul and St. Barnabas visited the island A.D. 45, and the conversion of Sergius Paulus, the proconsul at Paphos, by their preaching, was the first seed of Christianity implanted in Cyprus at the period when the inhabitants were steeped in heathenism; but some of the superstitions at present existing are hardly less degrading than pagan rites, and in the kissing of the Virgin’s cave at Trooditissa for the purpose already described, we can trace an affinity with the ancient worship of Venus.

CHAPTER XVIII.

ON POLICE, FOOD, CLIMATE, &C.

The population of Cyprus is about 200,000, of which number more than three-fourths belong to the Greek Church; nevertheless the minority of Turks completely dominated prior to the British occupation. Although the Cypriote is, as I have described, courteous, gentle, and affectionate in his domestic circle, he is at the same time cunning and addicted to petty larceny, and in all your dealings with these apparently easy-going people you must exercise the same acuteness that is so absolutely necessary in England. There are few great crimes in proportion to the population, nor do we ever hear of such atrocities as those classes of murders which so frequently blacken the page of our modern history. Homicide is more common than actual murder, and is often the result of a sudden quarrel where knives are drawn, and a fatal stab in passion constitutes the offence. Sheep-stealing is the prevalent crime, and is carried on with an amount of hardihood that can only be accounted for from the difficulty of proof. The flocks of goats, &c., roam over the wild and uninhabited area of the high mountains and frequently stray from the shepherd and are lost for two or three nights; by the time they are recovered a certain number may be missing, and it is hardly possible to discover the thief, as the animals have been driven to a great distance. Tracking would be out of the question over the rocky surface, where every small plot of naked soil is trodden into countless footmarks by the innumerable goats which browse upon the mountain slopes. At night the flocks are generally herded within a circle protected by a fence of thorny bushes; sometimes these folds are invaded by thieves during the darkness, and a considerable number are driven off. As the locality would be generally distant from the principal town, and the shepherd cannot forsake his flock for several days to prosecute, the thieves frequently escape, and this immunity encourages them to further depredations. During my residence within the precincts of the monastery, the fold upon the hill within a quarter of a mile of the establishment was thus robbed, and the thieves were never discovered.

The police or zaphtiehs are generally too far from these wild localities to be of any service, and they are at present too few for the proper supervision of the island. A plan is I believe in contemplation to extend this body upon a scale that will render the force efficient as a gendarmerie, which would to a considerable degree relieve the necessity for a permanent European military force. There can be no better soldier than the Turk under British officers. The Christians in Cyprus have an objection to this service, and there is no reason why a military force to combine the duties of police should not be organised, that would be thoroughly acclimatised, and would at the same time be maintained for less than half the expense of English troops. There is nothing to fear from the Turkish population in Cyprus, and they would willingly enlist in our service, and could always be depended upon in case of necessity. The force already organised is an admirable nucleus, and could be rapidly increased; each man finds his own horse and receives two shillings a day inclusive; his clothes and arms being provided by the government. For service in the trying climate of Cyprus the Turk is pre-eminent. I do not see any need for the presence of British troops in this island. The fortresses are all dismantled, the natives are peaceful, and the extremely low price of wine and spirits is terribly adverse to the sanitary condition of the English soldier. The staunch sobriety of the Turk, his extreme hardihood, which enables him to endure great fatigue upon the most simple fare, and his amenity to discipline, together with an instinctive knowledge of arms and a natural capacity for a military profession, render him a valuable material for our requirements in organising a defensive force in Cyprus. Should it be determined that a certain number of British troops shall be retained, they can be spared unnecessary exposure, and retire to the mountain sanatorium during the summer months.

The wages of both artisans and ordinary labourers have risen considerably since the British occupation, as might have been expected. Skilled masons and carpenters can now command from 3 shillings 6 pence to 5 shillings per diem, who formerly could earn a maximum of 3 shillings. Ordinary masons for building walls can even now be obtained for 2 shillings 6 pence and 3 shillings, and agricultural labourers receive 1 shilling. It is probable that should extensive government improvements be undertaken, or large contracts be made by private individuals for public works, the rate will rise from one shilling to eighteen pence, as the demand for labour shall increase. Should schools be established and education become general throughout the island, the result will probably be exhibited by a corresponding advance in wages, as individuals will estimate their value at a higher rate. At present there is no organised system of education for the peasantry, and the few schools are confined to Nicosia, Larnaca, Limasol, Baffo, and Morphu, all of which are supported by original grants, voluntary contributions, the payments of pupils, and by certain sums annually provided by the bishops and monasteries.

The rate of wages should in all countries bear a just proportion to the price of food, and should the habits of the Cypriotes remain unchanged, and their diet retain its simple character, there is no reason to anticipate a rate that would eventually exceed 10 shillings or 11 shillings a week. If we determine upon low wages, we must keep down the price of food. The Turkish administration had peculiar municipal laws upon this subject which are still in force in some localities, but have been abrogated in Limasol. I have already mentioned that the price of meat was fixed at a certain sum per oke, so that good and bad sold at the same figure, and resulted in the inferior qualities being sent to market, while the best never appeared. Fish, fruits, and vegetables were rated in the same manner, and the municipal authorities ruled, and fixed a standard price for everything; good and bad all shared alike. By this extraordinary legislation, which to the English mind is inconceivable, the finest cauliflowers and the most common varieties would sell exactly at the same price; no matter what the quality of vegetables might be, all were reduced to the same level. Fish was simply fish. The best varieties and the most inferior were included in the same despotic law. Salmon and stickleback, turbot and sprat, herrings and soles, would (had they existed) have been sold at so much a pound independent of their qualities. The result was that if your servant went to market to buy a fine species of fish, the seller insisted upon his taking a due proportion of inferior trash that was hardly eatable. “All was fish that came to the net;” little and big, good and bad, fetched the same price.

Such a system would ensure the worst of everything; what gardener would devote his energies to producing fine varieties, if a common field cabbage would rival his choicest specimens at the same price, but at a minimum of labour?

It was evident that the lowest class of vegetables would represent the garden produce, as this absurd rule was a premium for indolence, whereas free competition, that would have assured high prices to the best qualities, would have stimulated the cultivators in their productions. This argument was so indisputable that the chief commissioner (Colonel Warren, R.A.) determined at all hazards to introduce free markets into Limasol; and although opposed to the conservative ideas of his municipal council, he carried out his views of a healthy competition and free and unrestricted trade, which would awaken the Cypriotes to the fact that labour properly directed would ensure the best qualities, that would benefit the producer by securing the best prices.

Self-evident facts in an English community may be utterly misconstrued in Cyprus. The Cypriote has never been accustomed to unrestricted freedom, but like his own ox in the plough, he requires a certain amount of control, and his energies must be directed by a driver or ruler. When the vegetables were assured of a certain fixed price per oke regulated by the authorities, he knew that he would obtain that amount for his produce whether good or bad; accordingly he brought his goods to market. But, when he found that his inferior vegetables would remain unsold, or would realise a mere trifle should a competitor’s stall present a superior show, he withdrew altogether from the market, which at length became deserted; and the few who maintained their positions advanced their prices to such an exorbitant degree that vegetables became a luxury in which none could indulge but the rich. The fishermen profited by the reform and only caught sufficient for the minimum demand, but at the same time that they reduced their own labour and consequently the supply of fish, they also took advantage of the new law of free trade, and advanced their prices in extortionate proportion. Instead of the self-evident prosperity that would benefit all classes, the sudden liberty to which the Cypriote was unaccustomed acted diametrically against all English expectations, and for the time ruined the market. This was told me by Colonel Warren himself, and the failure of the apparently wholesome reform is suggestive of the danger that may result in the too sudden enfranchisement of those races which from a long series of oppression are unfit for perfect liberty.

At the same time there can be no doubt that the vexatious and arbitrary systems of taxation pursued in collecting the “dimes” has prevented the extension of market gardens, and were this tax remitted, I cannot imagine any more lucrative occupation than the growth of vegetables of the best quality for the FREE markets of the principal towns.

Some encouragement is necessary in promoting exhibitions, or horticultural shows, accompanied by substantial prizes, in various localities; and I should not be dismayed by the failure of the first well-meant attempt at reform in Limasol.

When I was at Limasol in May the price of cauliflowers was 2 pence the oke (2.75 lbs). Fish was dear at 2 shillings the oke; mutton 8 pence the oke. Beef is seldom eaten by the Cypriotes; potatoes are good, and are usually 1 penny the lb. Flour, best, 8 pence the oke. If a sheep should be purchased alive, and be killed for home consumption, the mutton should not exceed 3 pence per lb. for the best quality, leaving the skin, head, &c., as profit.

There are two varieties of sheep; the fat-tailed species supplies the best mutton, but the wool of both is coarse, and is exported to Trieste and Marseilles to the amount of about 400,000 lbs. annually. A large trade in lamb skins is a necessary result of the slaughter of a considerable proportion of lambs every winter and spring, owing to the usual scarcity of pasturage, which limits the increase of the flocks. The entire yield of skins is absorbed by Trieste and Marseilles.

A sheep in good condition of the fat-tailed species weighs when dressed, without the head, 16 okes, or 44 lbs. Fowls in the country can generally be purchased for 1 shilling each, but they are double that price in the market-towns. Turkeys fetch about 4 or 5 shillings each; pigeons 6 pence; fish is about 2 shillings the oke, or 8 pence the lb.; milk about 4 pence a quart; eggs from 24 to 30 for one shilling.

The grapes are the best fruit in Cyprus; these are really good, and in some instances would compare favourably with the hot-house produce of England. The best varieties can be purchased at the vineyards for less than 1 penny the lb. The above prices prove that the expense of necessaries is moderate, and the actual cost of existence low, but the want of good servants is a serious disadvantage.

At some future time Cyprus will become the resort of delicate persons to escape the winter and spring of England, as the climate of the southern portion of the island is most enjoyable during the cool season. In the neighbourhood of Limasol there are many excellent sites for building, in picturesque spots within two or three miles of the town. At present there is no adequate comfort for invalids, and the hotels are hardly adapted for persons who are accustomed to luxury. The commencement is attended with risk, and it would be dangerous under the existing conditions of the island to build and furnish an hotel with grounds and gardens sufficiently attractive for English visitors. There is no direct communication from England, which effectually debars Cyprus from an influx of travellers. It is necessary to land at Alexandria either from Marseilles or Brindisi, and thence to re-ship in small and uncomfortable steamers, which are by no means suitable for ladies or invalids. The