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Flight of cranes—View of Alexandria Troas—Return to our boat—Mount Athos—Manner of passing the night—Way back to the ruins.
On the way from Tenedos we were amused by vast caarvans or companies of cranes, passing high in the air from Thrace, to winter, as we supposed, in Egypt. We admired the number and variety of the squadrons, their extent, orderly array, and apparently good discipline. About a quarter after three we landed near the ancient port of Troas.
We immediately began a cursory survey of this deserted place; ascending to the principal ruin, which is at some distance from the shore. The whole site was overspread with stones and rubbish intermingled with stubble, plantations of cotton and of Turkey wheat, plats of long dry grass, thickets and trees, chiefly the species of low oak, which produces valanea, or the large acorns used in tanning. A solemn silence prevailed, and we saw nothing alive, but a fox and some partridges. In the mean time, the Turks, who were left in the wherry, removed about three miles lower down, towards the promontory Lectos, where the beach afforded a station less exposed to the wind, and more secure.
The evening coming on, we were advised to retire to our boat. By the way we saw a drove of camels feeding. We came to a shed, formed with boughs round a tree, to shelter the flocks and herds from the sun at noon; and under it was a peasant, who had an ass laden, besides other articles, with a goatskin containing sour curds, on which, and some brown bread, our Turks made their evening meal. A goatskin, with the hair on, served likewise for a bucket. It was distended by a piece of wood, to which a rope was fastened. He drew for us water from a well not far off,and promised to bring us milk, and a kid the next day. We found our cook, a Jew, busy by the sea-side preparing supper; his tin-kettle boiling over a fire in the open air.
The beauty of the evening in this country surpasses all description. The sky now glowed with the rich tints of the setting sun, which, skirting the western horizon, raised, as it were, up to our view the distant summits of the European mountains. We saw the cone of Athos distinctly, bearing from us 55m. west of north. This top is so lofty, that the sun-rising is beheld on it three hours sooner than by the inhabitants of the sea-coast.* The shadow of the mountain at the solstice reached into the Agora or Market-place of Myrina, a town in Lemnos, which island is distant eighty-seven miles eastward, -f - The shore is strewed with pumice-stones, once perhaps floating from iEtna or Vesuvius, unless ejected by some nearer volcano. Indeed, the pikes both of Athos and of Tenedos suggest the idea, that their mountains have burned ; and it is possible, that these, with many of the islands in this sea, may have been the produce of eruptions, which happened at a period too early to be recorded in history.
We had here no choice, but were forced to pass the night on the beach, which was sandy. The Turks constructed a half-tent for us near our boat, with the oars and sail. We now discovered that we had neglected to procure wine and candles at Tenedos. We did not, however, remain in the dark. An extemporary lamp supplied one omission. It was a cot
ton-wick swimming in oil, on a bit of cork in a drinking-glass, suspended by a string. By this light, the Turks, sitting before us on the ground, cross-legged, endeavoured to amuse us, by teaching us the numbers in their own language, or by learning them in English. Some desired us to distinguish each by his name, Mahmet, Selim, Mustapha, and the like. They were liberal of their tobacco, filling their pipes from their bags, lighting and presenting them to us, as often as they saw us unprovided. Our janizary, who was called Baructer Aga, played on a Turkish instrument like a guittar. Some accompanied him with their voices, singing aloud. Their favourite ballad contained the praises of Stamboul or Constantinople. Two, and sometimes three or four, danced together, keeping time to alively tune, until they were almost breathless. These extraordinary exertions were followed with a demand of bac-shish, a reward or present; which term, from its frequent use, was already become very familiar to us. We were fatigued by our rough hot walk among the ruins, and growing weary of our savages, gladly lay down to rest under the halftent. The Turks slept by us, upon the ground, with theirarms ready, in case of an alarm, except two, who had charge of the boat. The janizary, who watched, sate smoking, cross-legged, by the fire. The stars shone in a clear blue sky, shedding a calm serene light: the jackalls howled in vast packs, approaching near us, or on Mount Ida; and the waves beat gently on the shore in regular succession.
We rose with the dawn, ready dressed, hoping to get to the ruins in the cool of the morning. It was necessary to take water with us, as none could be procured there. A well, by which the peasant had agreed to leave his bucket for our use, with his ass, was known only to the janizary, and we resolved to accompany him to the place, rather than wait for his return. Some of the Turks carried our umbrella, and earthen jar, and instruments for measuring or drawing. After going about half a mile by the sea towards Lectos, we turned to the left, and crossing the plain, and two water-courses, one of which was not quite dry, came to a root of Mount Ida, and a vineyard. We entered, and saw nobody, but gathered as many grapes as we chose; and, loading the ass with our luggage, repassed the plain to the great ruin at Troas, distant about an hour. Some peasants were employed in a field of Turkey wheat on the way, and their dogs worried us exceedingly.
Policy of Alexander the Great—Alexandria Troas—Its situation—Ports—Appearance—Remains—The principal ruin— Inscriptions—The Aqueduct—Account of it—Of Atticus Herodes—No churches visible—The marbles removed.
Alexander the Great, instead of marking his progress by devastation, wisely provided more lasting and honourable monuments of his passage through the countries which he subdued; causing cities and temples to be erected, and forming plans for their improvement and future prosperity. As his stay was commonly short, the execution of his noble designs was committed to the governors, whom he appointed; men of grand ideas, fitted to serve so magnificent a master. Alexandria Troas was one of eighteen cities, which bore his name.
This city was begun by Antigonus, and from him first called Antigonia; but Lysimachus, to whom, as a successor of Alexander, it devolved, changed the appellation in honour of the
deceased king. In the war with Antiochus it was eminent for its fidelity to the Romans, who conferred on it the same privileges as the cities of Italy enjoyed. Under Augustus, it received a Roman colony, and increased. It was then the only considerable place between Sigeum and Lectos, and was inferior to no city of its name, but Alexandria in Egypt.*
Alexandria Troas was seated on a hill, sloping towards the sea, and divided from M. Ida by a deep valley. On each side is an extensive plain, with water-courses. The founders, it is probable, were aware, that, like Tenedos, it would derive many advantages from its situation on the coast,, near the mouth of the Hellespont.
The port of Troas, by which we landed, has a hill rising round it in a semicircle, and covered with rubbish. Many small granite pillars are standing, half buried, and much corroded by the spray. It is likely the vessels were fastened to them by ropes. A sand-bank, at the entrance, had cut off the communication with the sea, and the smaller basin was dry. The larger had water, but apparently shallow. Its margin was incrusted with spontaneous salt. . Both were artificial, and intended for some small craft and galleys; ships of burthen anchoring in the road without the mole.
The city wall is standing, except toward the vineyard, but with gaps, and the battlements ruined. It was thick and solid, had square towers at regular distances, and was several miles in circumference. Besides houses, it inclosed many magnificent structures; but now appears as the boundary of a forest or neglected park. A map belonging to Mr. Wood, and made, as we supposed by a Frenchman, in 1726, served us