Chapter XXIX. Farewell to the Orient - Malta.
Embarcation - Farewell to the Orient - Leaving Constantinople - A
Wreck - The Dardanelles - Homeric Scenery - Smyrna Revisited - The Grecian
Isles - Voyage to Malta - Detention - La Valetta - The Maltese - The
Climate - A Boat for Sicily.
"Farewell, ye mountains,
By glory crowned
Ye sacred fountains
Of Gods renowned;
Ye woods and highlands,
Where heroes dwell;
Ye seas and islands,
In The Dardanelles, Saturday, August 7, 1852.
At last, behold me fairly embarked for Christian Europe, to which I bade adieu in October last, eager for the unknown wonders of the Orient. Since then, nearly ten months have passed away, and those wonders are now familiar as every-day experiences. I set out, determined to be satisfied with no slight taste of Eastern life, but to drain to the bottom its beaker of mingled sunshine and sleep. All this has been accomplished; and if I have not wandered so far, nor enriched myself with such varied knowledge of the relics of ancient history, as I might have purposed or wished, I have at least learned to know the Turk and the Arab, been soothed by the patience inspired by their fatalism, and warmed by the gorgeous gleams of fancy that animate their poetry and religion. These ten months of my life form an episode which seems to belong to a separate existence. Just refined enough to be poetic, and just barbaric enough to be freed from all conventional fetters, it is as grateful to brain and soul, as an Eastern bath to the body. While I look forward, not without pleasure, to the luxuries and conveniences of Europe, I relinquish with a sigh the refreshing indolence of Asia.
We have passed between the Castles of the two Continents, guarding the mouth of the Dardanelles, and are now entering the Grecian Sea. To-morrow, we shall touch, for a few hours, at Smyrna, and then turn westward, on the track of Ulysses and St. Paul. Farewell, then, perhaps forever, to the bright Orient! Farewell to the gay gardens, the spicy bazaars, to the plash of fountains and the gleam of golden-tipped minarets! Farewell to the perfect morn's, the balmy twilights, the still heat of the blue noons, the splendor of moon and stars! Farewell to the glare of the white crags, the tawny wastes of dead sand, the valleys of oleander, the hills of myrtle and spices! Farewell to the bath, agent of purity and peace, and parent of delicious dreams - to the shebook, whose fragrant fumes are breathed from the lips of patience and contentment - to the narghileh, crowned with that blessed plant which grows in the gardens of Shiraz, while a fountain more delightful than those of Samarcand bubbles in its crystal bosom I Farewell to the red cap and slippers, to the big turban, the flowing trousers, and the gaudy shawl - to squatting on broad divans, to sipping black coffee in acorn cups, to grave faces and salaam aleikooms, and to aching of the lips and forehead! Farewell to the evening meal in the tent door, to the couch on the friendly earth, to the yells of the muleteers, to the deliberate marches of the plodding horse, and the endless rocking of the dromedary that knoweth his master! Farewell, finally, to annoyance without anger, delay without vexation, indolence without ennui, endurance without fatigue, appetite without intemperance, enjoyment without pall!
La Valetta, Malta, Saturday, August 14, 1852.
My last view of Stamboul was that of the mosques of St. Sophia and Sultan Achmed, shining faintly in the moonlight, as we steamed down the Sea of Marmora. The Caire left at nine o'clock, freighted with the news of Reschid Pasha's deposition, and there were no signs of conflagration in all the long miles of the city that lay behind us. So we speculated no more on the exciting topics of the day, but went below and took a vapor bath in our berths; for I need not assure you that the nights on the Mediterranean at this season are anything but chilly. And here I must note the fact, that the French steamers, while dearer than the Austrian, are more cramped in their accommodations, and filled with a set of most uncivil servants. The table is good, and this is the only thing to be commended. In all other respects, I prefer the Lloyd vessels.