The Giaour

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For other versions of this work, see The Giaour, a Fragment of a Turkish Tale.
The Giaour (1813)
by George Gordon Byron
13780The Giaour1813George Gordon Byron






"One fatal remembrance—one sorrow that throws
"It's bleak shade alike o'er our joys and our woes—
"To which Life nothing brighter nor darker can bring,
"For which joy hath no balm—and affliction no sting."

Printed by T. Davison, Whitefriars,








The story which these disjointed fragments present, is founded upon circumstances now less common in the East than formerly; either because the la_dies are more circumspect than in the "olden time;" or because the Christians have better luck, or less enterprize.

No breath of air to break the wave
That rolls below the Athenian's grave,
That tomb[1] which, gleaming o'er the cliff,
First greets the homeward-veering skiff,
High o'er the land he saved in vain—
When shall such hero live again?

Far, dark, along the blue sea glancing,
The shadows of the rocks advancing,
Start on the fisher's eye like boat
Of island-pirate or Mainote;
And fearful for his light caique
He shuns the near but doubtful creek,
Though worn and weary with his toil,
And cumber'd with his scaly spoil,
Slowly, yet strongly, plies the oar,
Till Port Leone's safer shore
Receives him by the lovely light
That best becomes an Eastern night.

Who thundering comes on blackest steed?
With slacken'd bit and hoof of speed,
Beneath the clattering iron's sound
The cavern'd echoes wake around
In lash for lash, and bound for bound;
The foam that streaks the courser's side,
Seems gather'd from the ocean-tide:
Though weary waves are sunk to rest,
There's none within his rider's breast,
And though to-morrow's tempest lower,
'Tis calmer than thy heart, young Giaour[2]!
I know thee not, I loathe thy race,
But in thy lineaments I trace
What time shall strengthen, not efface;
Though young and pale, that sallow front
Is scath'd by fiery passion's brunt,
Though bent on earth thine evil eye
As meteor like thou glidest by,
Right well I view, and deem thee one
Whom Othman's sons should slay or shun.

The hour is past, the Giaour is gone,
But neither fled, nor fell alone;
Woe to that hour he came or went,
The curse for Hassan's sin was sent
To turn a palace to a tomb;
He came, he went, like the Simoom[3],
That harbinger of fate and gloom,
Beneath whose widely-wasting breath
The very cypress droops to death—
Dark tree—still sad, when others' grief is fled,
The only constant mourner o'er the dead!

I hear the sound of coming feet,
But not a voice mine ear to greet—
More near—each turban I can scan,
And silver-sheathed ataghan[4];
The foremost of the band is seen
An Emir by his garb of green[5]:
"Ho! who art thou?—this low salam[6]
"Replies of Moslem faith I am."
"The burthen ye so gently bear,
"Seems one that claims your utmost care,
"And, doubtless, holds some precious freight,
"My humble bark would gladly wait.

"Thou speakest sooth, thy skiff unmoor,
"And waft us from the silent shore;
"Nay, leave the sail still furl'd, and ply
"The nearest oar that's scatter'd by,
"And midway to those rocks where sleep
"The channel'd waters dark and deep.—
"Rest from your task—so—bravely done,
"Our course has been right swiftly run,
"Yet 'tis the longest voyage, I trow,
"That one—*****

Sullen it plunged, and slowly sank,
The calm wave rippled to the bank;
I watch'd it as it sank, methought
Some motion from the current caught
Bestirr'd it more,—'twas but the beam
That checquer'd o'er the living stream—
I gaz'd, till vanishing from view,
Like lessening pebble it withdrew;
Still less and less, a speck of white
That gemm'd the tide, then mock'd the sight;
And all its hidden secrets sleep,
Known but to Genii of the deep,
Which, trembling in their coral caves,
They dare not whisper to the waves.

As rising on its purple wing
The insect-queen[7] of eastern spring,
O'er emerald meadows of Kashmeer
Invites the young pursuer near,
And leads him on from flower to flower
A weary chace and wasted hour,
Then leaves him, as it soars on high
With panting heart and tearful eye:
So Beauty lures the full-grown child
With hue as bright, and wing as wild;
A chase of idle hopes and fears,
Begun in folly, closed in tears.
If won, to equal ills betrayed,
Woe waits the insect and the maid,
A life of pain, the loss of peace,
From infant's play, and man's caprice:
The lovely toy so fiercely sought
Has lost its charm by being caught,
For every touch that wooed its stay
Has brush'd its brightest hues away,
Till charm, and hue, and beauty gone,
'Tis left to fly or fall alone.
With wounded wing, or bleeding breast,
Ah! where shall either victim rest?
Can this with faded pinion soar
From rose to tulip as before?
Or Beauty, blighted in an hour,
Find joy within her broken bower?
No: gayer insects fluttering by
Ne'er droop the wing o'er those that die,
And lovelier things have mercy shewn
To every failing but their own,
And every woe a tear can claim
Except an erring sister's shame.

The Mind, that broods o'er guilty woes,
Is like the Scorpion girt by fire,
In circle narrowing as it glows
The flames around their captive close,
Till inly search'd by thousand throes,
And maddening in her ire,
One sad and sole relief she knows,
The sting she nourish'd for her foes,
Whose venom never yet was vain,
Gives but one pang, and cures all pain,
And darts into her desperate brain.—
So do the dark in soul expire,
Or live like Scorpion girt by fire[8];
So writhes the mind by conscience riven,
Unfit for earth, undoom'd for heaven,
Darkness above, despair beneath,
Around it flame, within it death!—

Black Hassan from the haram flies,
Nor bends on woman's face his eyes,
The unwonted chace each hour employs,
Yet shares he not the hunter's joys.
Not thus was Hassan wont to fly
When Leila dwelt in his Serai.
Doth Leila there no longer dwell?
That tale can only Hassan tell:
Strange rumours in our city say
Upon that eve she fled away;
When Rhamazan's[9] last sun was set,
And flashing from each minaret
Millions of lamps proclaim'd the feast
Of Bairam through the boundless East.
'Twas then she went as to the bath,
Which Hassan vainly search'd in wrath,
But she was flown her master's rage
In likeness of a Georgian page;
And far beyond the Moslem's power
Had wrong'd him with the faithless Giaour.
Somewhat of this had Hassan deem'd,
But still so fond, so fair she seem'd,
Too well he trusted to the slave
Whose treachery deserv'd a grave:
And on that eve had gone to mosque,
And thence to feast in his kiosk.
Such is the tale his Nubians tell,
Who did not watch their charge too well;
But others say, that on that night,
By pale Phingari's[10] trembling light,
The Giaour upon his jet black steed
Was seen—but seen alone to speed
With bloody spur along the shore,
Nor maid nor page behind him bore.

Her eye's dark charm 'twere vain to tell,
But gaze on that of the Gazelle,
It will assist thy fancy well,
As large, as languishingly dark,
But Soul beam'd forth in every spark
That darted from beneath its lid,
Bright as the gem of Giamschid[11].
Yea, Soul, and should our prophet say
That form was nought but breathing clay,
By Alla! I would answer nay;
Though on Al-Sirat's[12] arch I stood,
Which totters o'er the fiery flood,
With Paradise within my view,
And all his Houris beckoning through.
Oh! who young Leila's glance could read
And keep that portion of his creed[13]
Which saith, that woman is but dust,
A soulless toy for tyrant's lust?
On her might Muftis gaze, and own
That through her eye the Immortal shone—
On her fair cheek's unfading hue,
The young pomegranate's[14] blossoms strew
Their bloom in blushes ever new—
Her hair in hyacinthine[15] flow
When left to roll its folds below;
As midst her handmaids in the hall
She stood superior to them all,
Hath swept the marble where her feet
Gleamed whiter than the mountain sleet
Ere from the cloud that gave it birth,
It fell, and caught one stain of earth.

Stern Hassan hath a journey ta'en
With twenty vassals in his train,
Each arm'd as best becomes a man
With arquebuss and ataghan;
The chief before, as deck'd for war,
Bears in his belt the scimitar
Stain'd with the best of Arnaut blood,
When in the pass the rebels stood,
And few return'd to tell the tale
Of what befell in Parne's vale.
The pistols which his girdle bore
Were those that once a pasha wore,
Which still, though gemm'd and boss'd with gold,
Even robbers tremble to behold.—
'Tis said he goes to woo a bride
More true than her who left his side;
The faithless slave that broke her bower,
And, worse than faithless, for a Giaour!—

The sun's last rays are on the hill,
And sparkle in the fountain rill,
Whose welcome waters cool and clear,
Draw blessings from the mountaineer;
Here may the loitering merchant Greek
Find that repose 'twere vain to seek
In cities lodg'd too near his lord,
And trembling for his secret hoard—
Here may he rest where none can see,
In crowds a slave, in deserts free;
And with forbidden wine may stain
The bowl a Moslem must not drain.—

The foremost Tartar's in the gap,
Conspicuous by his yellow cap,
The rest in lengthening line the while
Wind slowly through the long defile;
Above, the mountain rears a peak,
Where vultures whet the thirsty beak,
And their's may be a feast to-night,
Shall tempt them down ere morrow's light.
Beneath, a river's wintry stream
Has shrunk before the summer beam,
And left a channel bleak and bare,
Save shrubs that spring to perish there.
Each side the midway path there lay
Small broken crags of granite gray,
By time or mountain lightning riven,
From summits clad in mists of heaven;
For where is he that hath beheld
The peak of Liakura unveil'd?

They reach the grove of pine at last,
"Bismillah[16]! now the peril's past;
"For yonder view the opening plain,
"And there we'll prick our steeds amain:"
The Chiaus spake, and as he said,
A bullet whistled o'er his head;
The foremost Tartar bites the ground!
Scarce had they time to check the rein
Swift from their steeds the riders bound,
But three shall never mount again,
Unseen the foes that gave the wound,
The dying ask revenge in vain.
With steel unsheath'd, and carbines bent,
Some o'er their courser's harness leant,
Half shelter'd by the steed,
Some fly behind the nearest rock,
And there await the coming shock,
Nor tamely stand to bleed
Beneath the shaft of foes unseen,
Who dare not quit their craggy screen.
Stern Hassan only from his horse
Disdains to light, and keeps his course,
Till fiery flashes in the van
Proclaim too sure the robber-clan
Have well secur'd the only way
Could now avail the promis'd prey;
Then curl'd his very beard[17] with ire,
And glared his eye with fiercer fire.
"Though far and near the bullets hiss,
"I've scaped a bloodier hour than this."
And now the foe their covert quit,
And call his vassals to submit;
But Hassan's frown and furious word
Are dreaded more than hostile sword,
Nor of his little band a man
Resign'd carbine or ataghan.
In fuller sight, more near and near,
The lately ambush'd foes appear,
And issuing from the grove advance,
Some who on battle charger prance.—
Who leads them on with foreign brand,
Far flashing in his red right hand?
"'Tis he—'tis he—I know him now,
"I know him by his pallid brow;
"I know him by the evil eye[18]
"That aids bis envious treachery;
"I know him by his jet-black barb,
"Though now array'd in Arnaut garb,
"Apostate from his own vile faith,
"It shall not save him from the death;
"'Tis he, well met in any hour,
"Lost Leila's love—accursed Giaour!"

With sabre shiver'd to the hilt,
Yet dripping with the blood he spilt;
Yet strain'd within the sever'd hand
That quivers round the faithless brand;
His turban far behind him roll'd,
And cleft in twain its firmest fold;
His flowing robe by falchion torn,
And crimson as those clouds of morn
That streak'd with dusky red, portend
The day shall have a stormy end;
A stain on every bush that bore
A fragment of his palampore[19],
His heart with wounds unnumber'd riven,
His back to earth, his face to heaven,
Fall'n Hassan lies—his unclos'd eye
Yet lowering on his enemy,
As if the hour that seal'd his fate,
Surviving left bis quenchless hate;
And o'er him bends that foe with brow
As dark as his that bled below.—

"Yes, Leila sleeps beneath the wave,
"But his shall be a redder grave;
"Her spirit pointed well the steel
"Which taught that felon heart to feel.
"He call'd the Prophet, but his power
"Was vain against the vengeful Giaour:
"He call'd on Alla—but the word
"Arose unheeded or unheard.
"Thou Paynim fool!—could Leila's prayer
"Be pass'd, and thine accorded there?
"I watch'd my time, I leagu'd with these,
"The traitor in his turn to seize;
"My wrath is wreak'd, the deed is done,
"And now I go—but go alone."
A turban[20] carv'd in coarsest stone,
A pillar with rank weeds o'ergrown,
Whereon can now be scarcely read
The Koran verse that mourns the dead;
Point out the spot where Hassan fell
A victim in that lonely dell.
There sleeps as true an Osmanlie
As e'er at Mecca bent the knee;
As ever scorn'd forbidden wine,
Or pray'd with face towards the shrine,
In orisons resumed anew
At solemn sound of "Alla Hu[21]!"
Yet died he by a stranger's hand,
And stranger in his native land—
Yet died he as in arms he stood,
And unaveng'd, at least in blood.
But him the maids of Paradise
Impatient to their halls invite,
And the dark Heaven of Houri's eyes
On him shall glance for ever bright;
They come—their kerchiefs green they wave[22],
And welcome with a kiss the brave!
Who falls in battle 'gainst a Giaour,
Is worthiest an immortal bower.

But thou, false Infidel! shalt writhe
Beneath avenging Monkir's[23] scythe;
And from its torment 'scape alone
To wauder round lost Eblis'[24] throne;
And fire unquench'd, unquenchable—
Around—within—thy heart shall dwell,
Nor ear can hear, nor tongue can tell
The tortures of that inward hell!—
But first, on earth as Vampire[25] sent,
Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent;
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race,
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corse;
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the dæmon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are wither'd on the stem.
But one that for thy crime must fall—
The youngest—most belov'd of all,
Shall bless thee with a father's name—
That word shall wrap thy heart in flame!
Yet must thou end thy task, and mark
Her cheek's last tinge, her eye's last spark,
And the last glassy glance must view
Which freezes o'er its lifeless blue;
Then with unhallowed hand shalt tear
The tresses of her yellow hair,
Of which in life a lock when shorn,
Affection's fondest pledge was worn;
But now is borne away by thee,
Memorial of thine agony!
Wet with thine own best blood shall drip[26],
Thy gnashing tooth and haggard lip;
Then stalking to thy sullen grave—
Go—and with Gouls and Afrits rave;
Till these in horror shrink away
From spectre more accursed than they!

"How name ye yon lone Caloyer?
"His features I have scann'd before
"In mine own land—'tis many a year,
"Since, dashing by the lonely shore,
"I saw him urge as fleet a steed
"As ever serv'd a horseman's need.
"But once I saw that face—but then
"It was so mark'd with inward pain
"I could not pass it by again;
"It breathes the same dark spirit now,
"As death were stamped upon his brow.

"'Tis twice three years at summer tide
"Since first among our freres he came;
"And here it soothes him to abide
"For some dark deed he will not name.
"But never at our vesper prayer,
"Nor e'er before confession chair
"Kneels he, nor recks he when arise
"Incense or anthem to the skies,
"But broods within his cell alone,
"His faith and race alike unknown.
"The sea from Paynim land he crost,
"And here ascended from the coast,
"Yet seems he not of Othman race,
"But only Christian in his face:
"I'd judge him some stray renegade,
"Repentant of the change he made,
"Save that he shuns our holy shrine,
"Nor tastes the sacred bread and wine.
"Great largess to these walls he brought,
"And thus our abbot's favour bought;
"But were I Prior, not a day
"Should brook such stranger's further stay,
"Or pent within our penance cell
"Should doom him there for aye to dwell.
"Much in his visions mutters he
"Of maiden 'whelmed beneath the sea;
"Of sabres clashing—foemen flying,
"Wrongs aveng'd—and Moslem dying.
"On cliff he hath been known to stand,
"And rave as to some bloody hand
"Fresh sever'd from its parent limb,
"Invisible to all but him,
"Which beckons onward to his grave,
"And lures to leap into the wave."

To love the softest hearts are prone,
But such can ne'er be all his own;
Too timid in his woes to share,
Too meek to meet, or brave despair;
And sterner hearts alone may feel
The wound that time can never heal.
The rugged metal of the mine
Must burn before its surface shine,
But plung'd within the furnace-flame,
It bends and melts—though still the same;
Then tempered to thy want, or will,
'Twill serve thee to defend or kill;
A breast-plate for thine hour of need,
Or blade to bid thy foeman bleed;
But if a dagger's form it bear,
Let those, who shape it's edge, beware!
Thus passion's fire, and woman's art,
Can turn and tame the sterner heart;
From these it's form and tone is ta'en,
And what they make it, must remain,
But break—before it bend again.

If solitude succeed to grief,
Release from pain is slight relief;
The vacant bosom's wilderness
Might thank the pang that made it less.
We loathe what none are left to share—
Even bliss—'twere woe alone to bear;
The heart once left thus desolate,
Must fly at last for ease—to hate.
It is as if the dead could feel
The icy worm around them steal,
And shudder, as the reptiles creep
To revel o'er their rotting sleep
Without the power to scare away
The cold consumers of their clay!
It is as if the desart-bird,[27]
Whose beak unlocks her bosom's stream;
To still her famish'd nestlings' scream,
Nor mourns a life to them transferr'd;
Should rend her rash devoted breast,
And find them flown her empty nest.
The keenest pangs the wretched find
Are rapture to the dreary void—
The leafless desart of the mind—
The waste of feelings unemploy'd—
Who would be doom'd to gaze upon
A sky without a cloud or sun?
Less hideous far the tempest's roar,
Than ne'er to brave the billows more—
Thrown, when the war of winds is o'er,
A lonely wreck on fortune's shore,
'Mid sullen calm, and silent bay,
Unseen to drop by dull decay;—
Better to sink beneath the shock
Than moulder piecemeal on the rock!

"Father! thy days have pass'd in peace,
"'Mid counted beads, and countless prayer;
"To bid the sins of others cease,
"Thyself without a crime or care,
"Save transient ills that all must bear,
"Has been thy lot, from youth to age,
"And thou wilt bless thee from the rage
"Of passions fierce and uncontroul'd,
"Such as thy penitents unfold,
"Whose secret sins and sorrows rest
"Within thy pure and pitying breast.
"My days, though few, have pass'd below
"In much of joy, but more of woe;
"Yet still in hours of love or strife
"I've scap'd the weariness of life;
"Now leagu'd with friends, now girt by foes,
"I loath'd the languor of repose;
"Now nothing left to love or hate,
"No more with hope or pride clate;
"I'd rather be the thing that crawls
"Most noxious o'er a dungeon's walls,
"Than pass my dull, unvarying days,
"Condemn'd to meditate and gaze;
"Yet, lurks a wish within my breast
"For rest—but not to feel 'tis rest—
"Soon shall my fate that wish fulfil;´
"And I shall sleep without the dream
"Of what I was, and would be still,
"Though Hope hath long withdrawn her beam.

"I lov'd her, friar! nay, adored—
"But these are words that all can use
"I prov'd it more in deed than word—
"There's blood upon that dinted sword—
"A stain it's steel can never lose:
"'Twas shed for her, who died for me,
"It warmed the heart of one abhorred:
"Nay, start not—no—nor bend thy knee,
"Nor midst my sins such act record,
"Thou wilt absolve me from the deed,
"For he was hostile to thy creed!
"The very name of Nazarene
"Was wormwood to his Paynim spleen,
"Ungrateful fool! since but for brands,
"Well wielded in some bardy hands;
"And wounds by Galileans given,
"The surest pass to Turkish heav'n;
"For him his Houris still might wait
"Impatient at the prophet's gate.
"I lov'd her—love will find its way
"Through paths where wolves would fear to prey,
"And if it dares enough, 'twere hard
"If passion met not some reward—
"No matter how—or where—or why,
"I did not vainly seek—nor sigh:
"Yet sometimes with remorse in vain
"I wish she had not lov'd again.
"She died—I dare not tell thee how,
"But look—'tis written on my brow!
"There read of Cain the curse and crime,
"In characters unworn by time:
"Still, ere thou dost condemn me—pause—
"Not mine the act, though mine the cause;
"Yet did he but what I had done
"Had she been false to more than one;
"Faithless to him-he gave the blow,
"But true to me—I laid him low;
"Howe'er deserv'd her doom might be,
"Her treachery was truth to me;
"To me she gave her heart, that all
"Which tyranny can ne'er enthrall;
"And I, alas! too late to save,
"Yet all I then could give—I gave—
"'Twas some relief—our foe a grave.
"His death sits lightly; but her fate
"Has made me—what thou well may'st hate.
"His doom was seal'd—he knew it well,
"Warn'd by the voice of stern Taheer,
"Deep in whose darkly boding ear[28]
"The deathshot peal'd of murder near—
"As filed the troop to where they fell!

"The cold in clime are cold in blood,
"Their love can scarce deserve the name;
"But mine was like the lava flood
"That boils in Ætna's breast of flame,
"I cannot prate in puling strains
"Of ladye-love, and beauty's chain;
"If changing cheek—and scorching vein—
"Lips taught to writhe—but not complain—
"If bursting heart, and mad'ning brain,
"And daring deed, and vengeful steel,
"And all that I have felt—and feel—
"Betoken love—that love was mine,
"And shewn by many a bitter sign.
"'Tis true, I could not whine nor sigh,
"I knew but to obtain or die.
"I die—but first I have possest,
"And come what may, I have been blest;
"Even now alone, yet undismay'd,
"(I know no friend, and ask no aid,)
"But for the thought of Leila slain,
"Give me the pleasure with the pain,
"So would I live and love again.
"I grieve, but not, my holy guide!
"For him who dies, but her who died;
"She sleeps beneath the wandering wave,
"Ah! had she but an earthly grave,
"This breaking heart and throbbing head
"Should seek and share her narrow bed.

"Tell me no more of fancy's gleam,
"No, father, no, 'twas not a dream;
"Alas! the dreamer first must sleep,
"I only watch'd, and wish'd to weep;
"But could not, for my burning brow
"Throbb'd to the very brain as now.
"I wish'd but for a single tear,
"As something welcome, new, and dear;
"I wish'd it then—I wish it still,
"Despair is stronger than my will.
"Waste not thine orison—despair
"Is mightier than thy pious prayer;
"I would not, if I might, be blest,
"I want no paradise—but rest.
"'Twas then, I tell thee, father! then
"I saw her—yes—she liv'd again;
"And shining in her white symar,[29]
"As through yon pale grey cloud—the star
"Which now I gaze on, as on her
"Who look'd and looks far lovelier;
"Dimly I view its trembling spark—
"To-morrow's night shall be more dark—
"And I—before its rays appear,
"That lifeless thing the living fear.
"I wander, father! for my soul
"Is fleeting towards the final goal;
"I saw her, friar! and I rose,
"Forgetful of our former woes;
"And rushing from my couch, I dart,
"And clasp her to my desperate heart;
"I clasp—what is it that I clasp?
"No breathing form within my grasp,
"No heart that beats reply to mine,
"Yet, Leila! yet the form is thine!
"And art thou, dearest, chang'd so much,
"As meet my eye, yet mock my touch?
"Ah! were thy beauties e'er so cold,
"I care not—so my arms enfold
"The all they ever wish'd to hold.
"Alas! around a shadow prest,
"They shrink upon my lonely breast;
"Yet still—'tis there—in silence stands,
"And beckons with beseeching hands!
"With braided hair, and bright-black eye—
"I kuew 'twas false—she could not die!
"But he is dead—within the dell
"I saw him buried where he fell;
"He comes not—for he cannot break
"From earth—why then art thou awake?
"They told me, wild waves roll'd above
"The face I view, the form I love;
"They told me—'twas a hideous tale!
"I'd tell it—but my tongue would fail—
"If true—and from thine ocean-cave
"Thou com'st to claim a calmer grave;
"Oh! pass thy dewy fingers o'er
"This brow that then will burn no more;
"Or place them on my hopeless heart—
"But, shape or shade!—whate'er thou art,
"In mercy, ne'er again depart—
"Or farther with thee bear my soul,
"Than winds can waft—or waters roll!—
"Such is my name, and such my tale,
"Confessor to thy secret ear,
"I breathe the sorrows I bewail,
"And thank thee for the generous tear
"This glazing eye could never shed,
"Then lay me with the humblest dead,
"And save the cross above my head;
"Be neither name nor emblem laid
"By prying stranger to be read,
"Or stay the passing pilgrim's tread."
He pass'd—nor of his name and race
Hath left a token or a trace,
Save what the father must not say
Who shrived him on his dying day;
This broken tale was all we knew
Of her he lov'd, or him he slew.

The circumstance to which the above story relates was not very uncommon in Turkey. A few years ago the wife of Muchtar Pacha complained to his father of his son's supposed infidelity; he asked with whom, and she had the barbarity to give in a list of the twelve handsomest women in Yanina. They were seized, fastened up in sacks, and drowned in the lake the same night! One of the guards who was present informed me, that not one of the victims uttered a cry, or shewed a symptom of terror at so sudden a "wrench from all we know, from all we love." The fate of Phrosine, the fairest of this sacrifice, is the subject of many a Romaic and Arnaut ditty. The story in the text is one told of a young Venetian many years ago, and now nearly forgotten.—I heard it by accident recited by one of the coffee-house story-tellers who abound in the Levant, and sing or recite their narratives.—The additions and interpolations by the translator will be easily distinguished from the rest by the want of Eastern imagery; and I regret that my memory has retained so few fragments of the original.

T. DAVISON, Lombard-street,
Whitefriars, London.

  1. A tomb above the rocks on the promontory, by some supposed the sepulchre of Themistocles.
  2. Infidel.
  3. The blast of the desart, fatal to every thing living, and often alluded to in eastern poetry.
  4. The ataghan, a long dagger worn with pistols in the belt, in a metal scabbard, generally of silver; and, among the wealthier, gilt, or of gold.
  5. Green is the privileged colour of the prophet's numerous pretended descendants; with them, as here, faith (the family inheritance) is supposed to supersede the necessity of good works; they are the worst of a very indifferent brood.
  6. Salam aleikoum! aleikoum salam! peace be with you; be with you peace—the salutation reserved for the faithful;-to a Christian, "Urlarula," a good journey; or saban hiresem, saban serula; good morn, good even; and sometimes, "may your end be happy;" are the usual salutes.
  7. The blue-winged butterfly of Kashmeer, the most rare and beautiful of the species.
  8. Alluding to the dubious suicide of the scorpion, so placed for experiment by gentle philosophers. Some maintain that the position of the sting, when turned towards the head, is merely a convulsive movement; but others have actually brought in the verdict "Felo de se." The scorpions are surely interested in a speedy decision of the question; as, if once fairly established as insect Catos, they will probably be allowed to live as long as they think proper, without being martyred for the sake of an hypothesis.
  9. The cannon at sunset close the Rhamazan; and the illumination of the mosques, and firing of guns through the night, announce the Bairam; it lasts three days; and after a month's fast is pleasant enough.
  10. Phingari, the moon.
  11. The celebrated fabulous ruby of Sultan Giamschid, the embellisher of Istakhar; from its splendour, named Schebgerag, "the torch of night," also, the "cup of the sun," &c.
  12. Al-Sirat, the bridge of breadth less than the thread of a famished spider, over which the Mussulmans must skate into Paradise, to which it is the only entrance; but this is not the worst, the river beneath being hell itself, into which, as may be expected, the unskilful and tender of foot contrive to tumble with a "facilis descensus Averni," not very pleasing in prospect to the next passenger. There is a shorter cut downwards for the Jews and Christians.
  13. A vulgar error; the Koran allots at least a third of Paradise to well-behaved women; but by far the greater number of Mussulmans interpret the text their own way, and exclude their moieties from heaven. Being enemies to Platonics, they cannot discern "any fitness of things" in the souls of the other sex, conceiving them to be superseded by the Houris.
  14. An oriental simile, which may, perhaps, though fairly stolen, be deemed "plus Arabe qu'en Arabie."
  15. Hyacinthine, in Arabic, "Sunbul," as common a thought in the eastern poets as it was among the Greeks.
  16. Bismillah—"In the name of God;" the commencement of all the chapters of the Koran but one, and of prayer and thanksgiving.
  17. A phenomenon not uncommon with an angry Mussulman. In 1809, the Capitan Pacha's whiskers at a diplomatic audience were no less lively with indignation than a tiger cat's, to the horror of all the dragomans; the portentous mustachios twisted, they stood erect of their own accord, and were expected every moment to change their colour, but at last condescended to subside, which, probably, saved more heads than they contained hairs.
  18. The "evil eye," a common superstition in the Levant, and of which the imaginary effects are yet very singular on those who conceive themselves affected.
  19. The flowered shawls of Kashmeer, generally worn by persons of rank.
  20. The turban—pillar—and inscriptive verse, decorate the tombs of the Osmanlies, whether in the cimetery or the wilderness. In the mountains you frequently pass similar mementos; and on enquiry you are informed that they record some victim of rebellion, plunder, or revenge.
  21. "Alla Hu!" the concluding words of the Muezzin's call to prayer from the highest gallery on the exterior of the Minaret. On a still evening, when the Muezzin has a fine voice (which they frequently have) the effect is solemn and beautiful beyond all the bells in Christendom.
  22. The following is part of a battle song of the Turks:—"I see—I see a dark eyed girl of Paradise, and she waves a handkerchief, a kerchief of green; and cries aloud, Come, kiss me, for I love thee," &c.
  23. Monkir and Nekir are the inquisitors of the dead, before whom the corpse undergoes a slight noviciate and preparatory training for damnation. If the answers are none of the clearest, he is hauled up with a scythe and thumped down with a red hot mace till properly seasoned, with a variety of subsidiary probations. The office of these angels is no sinecure; there are but two; and the number of orthodox deceased being in a small proportion to the remainder, their hands are always full.
  24. Eblis the Oriental Prince of Darkness.
  25. The Vampire superstition is still general in the Levant. Honest Tournefort tells a long story, which Mr. Southey, in the notes on Thalaba, quotes about these "Vroucolochas," as he calls them. The Romaic term is "Vardoulacha," which the worthy old traveller has thus transposed. I recollect a whole family being terrified by the scream of a child, which they imagined must proceed from such a visitation. The Greeks never mention the word without horror.
  26. The freshness of the face, and the wetness of the lip with blood, are the never-failing signs of a Vampire. The stories told in Hungary and Greece of these foul feeders are singular, and some of them most incredibly attested.
  27. The Pelican is, I believe, the bird so libelled, by the imputation of feeding her chickens with her blood.
  28. This superstition of a second-hearing (for I never met with downright second-sight in the East) fell once under my own observation.—On my third journey to Cape Colonna early in 1811, as we passed through the defile that leads from the hamlet between Keratia and Colonna, I observed Dervish Tahiri riding rather out of the path, and leaning his head upon his hand, as if in pain.—I rode up and enquired "We are in peril," he answered. "What peril? we are not now in Albania, nor in the passes to Ephesus, Messalunghi, or Lepanto; there are plenty of us, well armed, and the Choriates have not courage to be thieves?"—"True, Affendi, but nevertheless the shot is ringing in my ears."—"The shot!—not a tophaike has been fired this morning."—"I hear it notwithstanding—Bom—Bom—as plainly as I hear your voice."—"Psha."—"As you please, Affendi; if it is written, so will it be."—I left this quickeared predestinarian, and rode up to Basili, his Christian compatriot; whose ears, though not at all prophetic, by no means relished the intelligence.—We all arrived at Colonna, remained some hours, and returned leisurely, saying a variety of brilliant things, in more languages than spoiled the building of Babel, upon the mistaken seer. Romaic, Arnaout, Turkish, Italian, and English were all exercised, in various conceits, upon the unfortunate Mussulman. While we were contemplating the beautiful prospect, Dervish was occupied about the columns.—I thought he was deranged into an antiquarian, and asked him if he had become a "Palao-castro" man: "No," said he, "but these pillars will be useful in making a stand;" and added other remarks, which at least evinced his own belief in his troublesome faculty of fore-hearing.—On our return to Athens, we heard from Leoné (a prisoner set ashore some days after) of the intended attack of the Mainotes, mentioned, with the cause of its not taking place, in the notes to Childe Harolde, Canto 2d.—I was at some pains to question the man, and he described the dresses, arms, and marks of the horses of our party so accurately, that with other circumstances, we could not doubt of his having been in "villanous company," and ourselves in a bad neighbourhood.—Dervish became a soothsayer for life, and I dare say is now hearing more musquetry than ever will be fired, to the great refreshment of the Arnaouts of Berat, and his native mountains.—I shall mention one trait more of this singular race.—In March 1811, a remarkable stout and active Arnaout came (I believe the 50th on the same errand,) to offer himself as an attendant, which was declined: "Well, Affendi," quoth he, "may you live!—you would have found me useful. I shall leave the town for the hills to-morrow, in the winter I return, perhaps you will then receive me."—Dervish, who was present, remarked as a thing of course, and of no consequence, "in the mean time he will join the Klephtes," (robbers), which was true to the letter.—If not cut off, they come down in the winter, and pass it unmolested in some town, where they are often as well known as their exploits.
  29. "Symar"—Shroud.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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