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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Against this annual produce the natives
calculate as follows:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cypress may be extended in a similar manner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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