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the East. "Go up to the monastery," is the proper command to the servant, "tell the monks that the celebrated Milordos Inglesis, the friend of the Universal Patriarch, is arrived, and that he is a great ally of the Sultan, and of all the captains of all the men of war that come down the Archipelago," &c. Such a message as this, delivered with confidence, is irresistible. The monk and the mule equally obey the words of undisputed power.
The first monastery that opened its gates to the mandate of authority was that of St. LAURA, and this the author designates as one of the grand -and as yet unexplored-monasteries of the famous sanctuary of Mount Athos, better known in the Levant by the appellation of Ayov Opos, or, in Italian, Monte Santo. It was founded by some one of the name of Nicephorus, whom our author thinks was Nicephorus Botoniates, who came here about 1081. The order is that of St. Basil, as is that of all the monks of St. Athos. Their habits are ascetic, and their discipline severe. They never sit down during service, but lean upon crutches. But we must pass over the description, however interesting, of the building and church, with the various treasures of antiquity it contains; we must also reluctantly omit the description of the "savoury mess," or moretum, which was especially made for the traveller's breakfast by the hands of the agoumenos himself, and come to where our heart is fixed;-the library.
"There were in all about five thousand volumes, a very large collection, of which about four thousand were printed books. These were mostly divinity, but among them there were several fine Aldine classics, and the editio princeps of the Anthologia in capital letters. The nine hundred manuscripts consisted of six hundred volumes written upon paper, and three hundred on vellum. With the exception of four volumes the former were all divinity, principally liturgies and books of prayer. Those four volumes were Homer's Iliad, and Hesiod, neither of which were very old, and two curious and rather early manuscripts on botany, full of rudely drawn figures of herbs. These were probably the works of Dioscorides. They were not in good condition, having been much studied by the monks in former days. They were large thick quartos. Among the three hundred manuscripts on vellum there were many large folios of the works of St. Chrysostom and other Greek fathers of the Church of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and about fifty copies of the Gospels and the Evangelistarium of nearly the same age. One Evangelistarium was in fine uncial letters of the ninth cen
tury; it was a thick quarto, and on the first leaf was an illumination the whole size of the page on a gold background, representing the donor of the book accompanied by his wife. This ancient portrait was covered over with a piece of gauze. It was a very remarkable manuscript. There were one quarto and one duodecimo of the Acts, Epistles, and Apolypse of the eleventh century, and one folio of the Book of Job, which had several miniatures in it, badly executed, in brilliant colours; this was probably of the twelfth century. These three manuscripts were such volumes as are not often seen in European libraries. All the rest were anthologia and books of prayer, nor did I meet with one single leaf of a classic author on vellum. I went into the library several times, and looked over all the vellum manuscripts very carefully, and I believe that I did not pass by unnoticed anything which was particularly interesting in point of subject, antiquity, or illumination. Several of the copies of the Gospels had their titles ornamented with arabesques, but none struck me as being peculiarly valuable,"* &c.
tions to all his interrogations relative to his philological examinations, obliging yourselves and lending yourselves in a manner not only fully to satisfy and content him, but so that he shall approve of and praise your conduct.
"This we desire and require to be executed, rewarding you with the Divine and with our blessing. (Signed) GREGORIOS, Universal Patriarch.
"Constantinople, 1 (13) July, 1837."
* "The most valuable reliquary of St. Laura is a kind of triptic about eighteen inches
Into the monastery of CARACALLA, next visited, the author made his entrance, in the following manner.
** I sent in my servant as ambassador, to explain that the first cousin, once removed, of the Emperor of all the Franks, was at the gate, and to show the letter of the Greek patriarch. Incontinently the agoumenos made his appearance at the porch with many expressions of welcome and good will. I believe it was longer than the days of his life since a Frank had entered the convent, and I doubt whether he had ever seen one before, for he looked so disappointed when he found that I
had no tail, or horns, and, barring his glorious long beard, that I was so little different from himself. We made many speeches to each other, he in heathen Greek and I in English, seasoned with innumerable bows, gesticulations, and temenahs; after which I jumped off my mule and we entered the precincts of the monastery, attended by a long train of bearded fathers, who came out to stare at me."
In the church, on the altar, there were two very remarkable crosses, each of them about six or eight inches long, of carved wood set in gold and jewels, of very early and beautiful workmanship; one of them in particular, which was presented to the church by the Emperor John Zimisces, was a most curious specimen of ancient jewellery. Now for the library. This was a dark closet that had been locked for many years, but the agoumenos made no difficulty in breaking the old-fashioned padlock by which the door was fastened.
"I found upon the ground, and upon some broken-down shelves, about four or five hundred volumes, chiefly printed books; but amongst them, every now and then, I stumbled upon a manuscript; of these there were about thirty on vellum, and fifty or sixty on paper. I picked up a single loose leaf of very ancient uncial Greek characters, part of the Gospel of St. Matthew, written in small square letters, and of small quarto size. I searched in vain for the volume to which this leaf belonged. As I had found it impossible to purchase any manuscripts at St. Laura, I feared that the same would be the case in other monasteries; however, I made bold to ask for this single leaf as a thing
of small value. 'Certainly,' said the agoumenos; what do you want it for?' My servant suggested that, perhaps, it might be useful to cover some jam pots or vases of preserves which I had at home. 'Oh!' said the agoumenos, ' take some more,' and without more ado he seized upon an unfortunate thick quarto manuscript of the Acts and Epistles, and drawing out a knife cut out an inch thickness of leaves at the end before I could stop him. It proved to be the Apocalypse, which concluded the volume, but which is rarely found in early Greek manuscripts of the Acts. It was of the eleventh century," &c.
This agoumenos was a man of sense. He did not care about the manuseript, but he wanted money for the repair of his buildings, and for the replenishment of his cellar.
In leaving the inhospitable roof of PHILOTHEO, Mr. Curzon says he came to a beautiful waterfall, in a rocky glen, embosomed in trees and odoriferous shrubs, the rocks being of white marble, and the flowers such as we cherish in the greenhouses in England; he never saw a more charmingly romantic spot. After an hour's ride he came to the monastery of IVERON or Iberon, which is of great size. It was founded by
high, of pure gold, a present from the Emperor Nicephorus, the founder of the abbey. The front represents a pair of folding doors, each set with a double row of diamonds, emeralds, pearls, and rubies as large as sixpences. When the doors are opened a large piece of the holy cross, splendidly set with jewels, is displayed in the centre; and the insides of the two doors, and the whole surface of the reliquary; are covered with engraved figures of the saints stuck full of precious stones. This beautiful shrine is of Byzantine workmanship, and, in its way, is a superb work of art,"
Theophania, or Theodora, the wife of the Emperor Romanus, the son of
"The library is a remarkably fine one, perhaps altogether the most precious of all those which now remain on the holy mountain. It is situated over the porch of the church, which appears to be the usual place where the books are kept in these establishments. The room is of good size, well fitted up with bookcases with glass doors, of not very old workmanship. I should imagine that about a hundred years ago, some agoumenos, or prior, or librarian, must have been a reading man; and the pious care which he took to arrange the ancient volumes of the monastery has been rewarded by the excellent state of preservation in which they still remain. Since his time, they have probably remained undisturbed. Every one could see through the greenish uneven panes of old glass that there was nothing but books inside, and therefore nobody meddled with them. I was allowed to rummage at my leisure in this mine of archæological treasure. Having taken up my abode for the time being in a cheerful room, the windows of which commanded a glorious prospect, I soon made friends with the literary portion of the community, which consisted of one thin old monk, a cleverish man, who united to many other offices that of librarian. He was also secretary to my lord the agoumenos, a kind-hearted old gentleman, who seemed to wish everybody well, and who evidently liked much better to sit still on his divan, than to regulate the affairs of his convent. The rents, the long lists of tuns of wine and oil, the strings of mules laden with corn, which came in daily from the farms, and all the other complicated details of this mighty coenobium,- -over all these, and numberless other important matters, the thin secretary had full control.
of the young monks, demure fat youths, came into the library every now and then, and wondered what I could be doing there, looking over so many books; and they would take a volume out of my hand when I had done with it, and, glancing their eyes over its ancient vellum leaves, would look up inquiringly into my face, saying,
TI EVE?-what is it?-what can be the use of looking at such old books as these?' They were rather in awe of the secretary, who was evidently, in their opinion, a prodigy of learning and erudition. Some in a low voice, that they might not be
overheard by the wise man, asked me where I came from, how old I was, and whether my father was with me; but they soon all went away, and I turned to, in right good earnest, to look for uncial manuscripts and unknown classic authors. Of these last there was not one on vellum, but on paper there was an octavo manuscript of Sophocles, and a Coptic Psaltery with an Arabic translation-a curious book to meet with on Mount Athos. Of printed books there were, I should think, about five thousand-of manuscripts on paper, about two thousand; but all religious works of various kinds. There were nearly a thousand manuscripts on vellum, and these I looked over more carefully than the rest. About one hundred of them were in the Iberian language: they were mostly immense thick quartos, some of them not less than eighteen inches square, and from four to six inches thick. One of these, bound in wooden boards, and written in large uncial letters, was a magnificent old volume. Indeed all these Iberian or Georgian manuscripts were suberb specimens of ancient books. I was unable to read them, and therefore cannot say what they were; but I should imagine that they were church books, and probably of high antiquity. Among the Greek manuscripts, which were principally of the eleventh and twelfth centuriesworks of St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, and books for the services of the ritual-I discovered the following, which are deserving of especial mention :- -A large folio Evangelistarium bound in red velvet, about eighteen inches high and three thick, written in magnificent uncial letters half an inch long, or even more. Three of the illuminations were the whole size of the page, and might almost be termed pictures from their large proportions: and there were several other illuminations of smaller size in different parts of the book. This superb manuscript was in admirable preservation, and as clean as if it had been
* We are told, that the Emperor Leo the First was crowned by the Patriarch of Anatolia in the year 459. He is the first prince on record who received his crown
from the hands of a bishop.
four Gospels, with four finely-executed miniatures of the evangelists. It was about nine or ten inches square, written in round semi-uncial letters in double columns, with not more than two or three words in a line. In some respects it resembled the book of the Epistles in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. This manuscript, in the original black leather binding, had every appearance of the highest antiquity. It was beautifully written and very clean, and was altogether such a volume as is not to be met with every day. A quarto manuscript of the four Gospels, of the eleventh or twelfth century, with a great many (perhaps fifty) illuminations. Some of them were unfortunately rather damaged. Two manuscripts of the New Testament, with the Apocalypse. A very fine manuscript of the Psalms, of the
eleventh century, which is indeed about the era of the greater portion of the vellum manuscripts on Mount Athos. There were also some ponderous and magnificent folios of the works of the fathers of the Church-some of them, I should think, of the tenth century; but it is difficult, in a few hours, to detect the peculiarities which prove that manuscripts are of an earlier date than the twelfth century. I am, however, convinced that very few of them were written after that time. The paper manuscripts were of all ages, from the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries down to a hundred years ago; and some of them, on charta bombycini, would have appeared very splendid books if they had not been eclipsed by the still finer and more carefully-executed manuscripts on vellum."
The arguments of the author did not prevail in inducing the faithful monks to part with any of their literary treasures. The monkish heart that no female eye had ever softened, and the monkish ear that had not awakened to the voice of the charmer, were not to be subdued by a wandering Frank, and his purse of gold remained at his girdle unopened; and so he wisely solaced himself by turning from the selfishness of men to the contemplation of the beauties of nature.
"The view," he says, "from the window of the room which I occupied at Iveron was one of the finest on Mount Athos. The glorious sea, and the towers which command the scaricatojos or landing-places of the different monasteries along the coast, and the superb monastery of Stavroniketa like a Gothic castle perched upon a beetling rock, with the splendid
forest for a background, formed altogether a picture totally above my powers to describe. It almost compensated for the numberless tribes of vermin by which the room was tenanted. In fact, the whole of the scenery on Mount Athos is so superlatively grand and beautiful that it is useless to attempt any description."
At our time of life, beneath the grey shadows of the descending sun, when the desire of the more stirring pleasures and passions are subdued, we cannot conceive any recreation more delightful than that which the author enjoyed, of riding on his quiet mule from monastery to monastery, through scenery of every varied character of beauty, and associated in the mind with recollections of historic fame; and sitting down to the frugal comfortable table of refreshment with the good old monks, enjoying their cheerful and contented society, and closing the labours of the day in exploring the treasures of unopened missals and undeciphered manuscripts, accompanied with the pleasing prospect of shortly finding some of these noble and patriarchal volumes his own.
"The library of STAVRONIKETA contained about eight hundred volumes, of which nearly two hundred were on vellum. Among these were conspicuous the entire works of St. Chrysostom, in eight large folio volumes complete, and a manuscript of the Scala Perfectionis,' in Greek, containing a number of most exquisite miniatures, in a brilliant state of preservation. It was a quarto of the tenth or eleventh
century, and a most unexceptionable tome, which these unkind monks preferred keeping to themselves, instead of letting me have it, as they ought to have done. The miniatures were first-rate works of Byzantine art. It was a terrible pang to me to leave such a book behind. There was also a psalter with several miniatures, but these were partially damaged; five or six copies of the Gospels, two fine folio volumes of
the Menologia, or lives of the Saints, and sundry opoλoyou and books of divinity, and the works of the fathers. On paper there were two hundred more manuscripts, among which was a curious one of the Acts and Epistles, full of large miniatures and
illuminations, exceedingly well done. As it is quite clear that all these manuscripts are older than the time of the patriarch Jeremias, they confirm my opinion that he could not have been the original founder of the monastery," &c.
An hour's scramble from one monastery of the mountain brings us to another, which stand side by side like colleges at a University.
The monastery of PANTACRATORAS was built by Manuel and Alexius Comnenus, and Johannes Pumicerius, their brother. It was subsequently repaired by Barbulus and Gabriel, two Wallachian nobles. The church is handsome and curious, and contains several relics, but the reliquaries are not of much beauty, nor of very great antiquity. Among them, however, is a small thick quarto volume, about five inches square every way, in the handwriting, as you are told, of St. John of Kalavita. Now St. John of Kalavita was a hermit, who died in the year 450, and his head is shown at Besançon, in the church of St. Stephen, to which place it was taken after the siege of Constantinople. How be it this manuscript did not seem to me to be older than the twelfth century, or the eleventh at the earliest. It is written in a very minute hand and contains the Gospels, some Prayers, and Lives of Saints, and is ornamented with some small illuminations. The binding is very curious, it is entirely of silver gilt, and is of great antiquity. The back part is composed of an intricate kind of chain work, which bends when the book is opened, and the sides are embossed with a variety of devices. On my inquiring for the library I was told it had been destroyed during the revolution. It had formerly been preserved in the great square tower or keep, which is a grand feature in all the monasteries. I went to look at the place, and leaning through a ruined arch I looked down into the lower story of the tower, and there I saw the melancholy remains of a once famous library. This was a dismal spectacle for a devout lover of old books, a sort of biblical knight-errant, as I then considered myself, who had entered on the perilous adventure of Mount Athos, to recover from the thraldom of ignorant monks those fair vellum volumes, with their bright illuminations and velvet dresses, and jewelled clasps, which for so many centuries had lain imprisoned in their dark monastic dungeons. It was indeed a heartrending sight. By the dim light which streamed through the opening of an iron door in the wall of a ruined tower, I saw above a hundred ancient manuscripts lying among the rubbish which had fallen from
the upper floor, which was ruinous and had in great part given way. Some of these manuscripts seemed quite entirefine large folios-but the monks said they were unapproachable, for that floor also on which they lay was unsafe, the beams below being rotten from the wet and rain which came in through the roof. Here was a trap ready set and baited for a bibliographical antiquary. I peeped at the old manuscripts, looked particularly at one or two that were lying in the middle of the floor, and could hardly resist the temptation. I advanced cautiously along the boards, keeping close to the wall, whilst every now and then a dull cracking noise warned me of my danger, but I tried each board by stamping upon it with my foot before I ventured my weight upon it. At last, when I dared go no further, I made them bring me a long stick, with which I fished up two or three fine manuscripts, and poked them along towards the door. When I had safely landed them, I examined them more at my ease, but found that the rain had washed the outer leaves quite clean: the pages were stuck tight together into a solid mass, and when I attempted to open them, they broke short off in square bits like a biscuit. Neglect and damp and exposure had destroyed them completely. One fine volume, a large folio in double columns, of most venerable antiquity, particularly grieved
I do not know how many more manuscripts there might be under the piles of rubbish. Perhaps some of them might still be legible, but without assistance and time I could not clean out the ruins that had fallen from above; and I was unable to save even a scrap from this general tomb of a whole race of books. I came out of the great tower, and sitting down on a pile of ruins, with a bearded assembly of grave caloyeri round me, I vented my sorrow and indignation in a long oration, which however produced a very slight effect upon my auditory; but whether from their not understanding Italian, or my want of eloquence, is matter of doubt. My man was the only person who seemed to commiserate my misfortune, and he looked so genuinely vexed and sorry that I liked him the better ever afterwards, &c.”