5 OCTOBER 1878, Page 16


THE amusing ignorance regarding Cyprus, which we have already in some degree endeavoured to dissipate, seems destined not to prevail much longer. Not only does one little volume upon the subject succeed another with astonishing celerity, but the inde- fatigable Mr. Cook is, we are told, even now making arrange- ments to personally conduct any number of obedient tourists over the length and breadth of the island. One of two plans must therefore be resorted to,—we must either be beforehand with the Cookites, and make a hasty dive into the country ere it suffers from another invasion, or be content to gain our informa- tion concerning it at second-hand ; and this, perhaps, considering the apparent prevalence there of fever and various other discom- forts, may be the more prudent plan. Mrs. Batson Joyner's adaptation of Herr von Liiher's account of his recent visit to the island, augmented as it is by much additional matter, which the • Cyprus, Historical and Descriptive. Adapted from the German of Franz von Liiher. With much additional matter, by Kra. A. Batson Joyner. London: W. U. Allen and Co.

editor has been at pains to collect, gives us a really excellent idea of the physical appearance, condition, and resources of Cyprus ; and is a readable work, equally useful as a handy travel- ling companion or for the home reader ; moreover, it does not convey at all the idea of being a translation. It is accom- panied by two maps,—a small one, showing the relation of the island to the adjacent coasts, which has the odd effect from the way it is outlined, of appearing to turn land into sea, and vice versa ; the other and larger one, a clear and detailed map of the island, giving the ancient and modern names of places, the roads, and the heights of several of the mountains, one chain of which runs from east to west, with ramifications north and south covering almost the whole of the southern half of the island, while a much smaller one runs in a narrow line close beside the northern coast. Herr von Loher, who landed at Larnaka in April, 1877, seems to have visited most of the important places in Cyprus, and to have taken pains to ascertain everything relating to the condition, employments, and character of its people ; nor does he appear to have any particular bias which would render his narra- tion untrustworthy. According to him, as indeed according to numbers of authorities, ancient and modern, which the public has either never consulted or entirely forgotten, our new possession is an island of singular fertility, containing an immense variety of different plants and trees, and especially adapted for the acclima- tisation of others ; indeed, during the middle-ages, and especially under the dominion of the Lusignans, which was its most flourish- ing period, the vegetable productions of the tropics were intro- duced there, and from thence distributed over Greece, Italy, the south of France, Spain, the Canary Islands, and America, while those of more temperate climates were also tried, and some, such as cherries, peaches, apricots, and walnuts, came to great perfec- tion, while the island became renowned for its vegetables. Olive- trees were once very numerous, but their cultivation was abandoned for that of cotton, which proved such a success that it obtained soon after its introduction from Persia the appellation of " the gold plant." Now, however, but little of it is seen in the country, although Cyprus cottons are greatly prized ; and the culture of rhubarb, saffron, the jujube-tree, the sugar-cane, and other useful products has been, under Turkish misgovernment, almost entirely neglected. Even the silk trade, once so flourishing, has dwindled to very small proportions ; and notwithstanding the specially valuable properties of the wine of Cyprus, vineyards are neglected and the grapes left to grow as they please, and at the mercy of goats and young donkeys, who browse upon them during the early part of the year, while the nectar itself is manufactured in the rudest and most careless fashion, and rich lands, that might produce at least fifty times the amount now exported, are allowed to lie waste. Perhaps when Englishmen come to understand the virtues, not merely of the luscious, though invigorating corn- manderia and muscadine, but of the capital, dry, claret-like mavro, attention will be turned to the wine-producing regions of Cyprus, and this alone may prove a fertile source of revenue. At the present day, however, the vegetation of the island must present a lovely sight. Not only do we hear of " hundreds of waving palm- trees " at Nikosia and other places, but we are told that " corn is extensively cultivated ; wheat, barley, oats, and beans flourish well. Upon the mountains grow fir and and pine trees, and in the valleys we find fine oaks, ashes, orange, fig, citron, date, walnut, and a great variety of other trees. Overhanging shrubs crowd the deep hills and precipitous cliffs, and amongst them grow the oleander, myrtle, arbutus, juniper, and mastic. Not less striking is the lovely carpet of flowers, which clothes the face of the country with ever-varying beauties."

Herr von Liiher speaks of roses, jasmine, tulips, peonies, hyacinths, narcissus, and anemones, and in describing his ride to Chrysorogiatissa he says that "every decaying stump showed a luxuriant crop of orchids and rare creepers," and adds, " the whole air was so charged with heavy perfume from these multi- tudinous flowers, that I breathed more freely when we reached a slight eminence and were met by a refreshing breeze, which bore with it the delicious odour of some neighbouring fig-trees." On this occasion he found the heat almost intolerable, describing it as actually seeming to rise from the ground and scorch the legs ; he says, however, that this was the only time he experienced that overpowering sultriness which is so common in Sicily. But then it must be remembered that the author travelled during that season when Cyprus would seem to be a perfect paradise, the early spring. For when we talk of the climate of this island, we must be careful to particularise the time of year. During four months, namely, from the middle of October to that of February, rain falls abundantly, the next four months are cool and lovely, and the temperature resembles that of the coasts of Italy ; while for the remaining four, the country is a perfect Sahara. Our unfortunate countrymen who are now there are of course beginning their Cypriote existence under unfavourable auspices in this respect, and they are probably quite unprepared for such a climate, and likely to commit every kind of imprudence ; and this, according to the Abbe* Maria, who is quoted by Herr von ',ober, is the especial cause of prolonged attacks of fever,—to which, however, the natives of the country are decidedly subject. A chill caught during perspira- tion, the immoderate use of strong liquors, the undue consump- tion of cucumbers and melons, are certain to produce a fit of ague ; but it may be cured by a rigidly careful diet. The Greeks and Turks are said to ward off an attack by continued horse exercise, and a large glass of good Cyprian wine is also stated to be a good remedy. The people of Cyprus are described as re- markably abstinent ; indeed, the author attributes in great mea- sure to this fact the neglect of proper cultivation throughout the island, as the wild fruits and vegetables contribute so largely to the food of the population. " Even in the houses of tolerably well-to-do people," he says, " they never cook more than twice or three times in the week, and fish and flesh are rare delicacies." During the summer months those who can afford to do so go off to the mountains, returning to their homes in the winter, when snow covers Olympus, and the icy winds from the Taurus induce a considerable degree of cold. The breeze from the Mediterranean which prevails until the middle of September tempers to some degree the great heat of that season, while, when the burning north wind sets in from Asia Minor, it feels like the blast of a furnace, and should it prevail continuously for seven or eight days is fatally destructive to vegetation. This is the reason why, notwithstanding its fertility, scarcity is so often felt in Cyprus. The traveller in Cyprus either purchases or hires mules or donkeys, both being exceedingly well•broken, useful animals ; and the Cypriote donkey —a breed peculiar to the island—is glossy, sleek, large-eyed, and intelligent, and able to resist the fatigue of a long journey even better than the mule. The muleteers are said to be an excellent and trustworthy class. Herr von Liiher gives a droll account of the start, as, perched upon any amount of coloured blankets or quilts, which are placed over the native saddle, and the saddle-bags, containing his equipment and provisions, his feet stuck into two rusty stirrups, by means of which he with difficulty maintains his equilibrium, holding up a yellow cotton umbrella, and lighting a cigarette, the traveller proceeds upon his way. When he stops to rest, he will be found, even although he may be quite a rich merchant, seated opposite to his muleteer, eating from the same dish (very probably nothing but black olives and brown bread), and drinking some milk from the same jug (a glass would be a useless luxury), with every appearance of satisfac- tion. Apparently the domestic character of the Cypriote is a pleasing one. The members of each family are said to hold together, and share whatever fortune may await them. Brothers will not marry until sisters are provided for, aged fathers and mothers are re- spected and cared for, and the women are chaste and industrious, holding an influential position in the household. On the other hand, we are told that in social and political life falsehood and faithlessness, covetousness, robbery, revenge, baseness, and sub- serviency are everywhere predominant. Herr von Liiher describes very pleasantly his various excursions in the island, and its towns, monasteries, and ancient ruins, the account of the grand old fortress of Buffavento being especially interesting. He also enters into the history of Cyprus in ancient times and during the middle-ages, and describes the efforts of the Germans to obtain possession of the island. The book concludes with a chapter upon the Euphrates Valley Railway, and the suitability of Cyprus as a terminus to the line ; but it is amusing to find General Sir F. Goldsmid and Mr. Andrew spoken of as the founders of the project, while the name of General Chesney, who really originated the whole matter, is not even mentioned. The appendix gives some additional information of a geographical, statistical, and historical character, and as there is a tolerably complete index, it is easy to refer to any part of the work, which, as we have before said, is compendious and entertaining.