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PAGE 3

Modern Greece
by [?]

Et vacuus cantat coram latrone viator;

Vacuus not of money, but of pistols. Yet on the other hand, though possibly sound law for the thickets of Mount Cithaeron, this would be too unsafe a policy as a general rule: too often it is the exposure of a helpless exterior which first suggests the outrage. And perhaps the best suggestion for the present would be, that travellers should carry in their hands an apparent telescope or a reputed walking-cane; which peaceful and natural part of his appointments will first operate to draw out his lurking forest friend from his advantage; and on closer colloquy, if this friend should turn restive, then the ‘Tuscan artist’s tube,’ contrived of course a double debt to pay, will suddenly reveal another sort of tube, insinuating an argument sufficient for the refutation of any sophism whatever. This is the best compromise which we can put forward with the present dilemma in Greece, where it seems that to be armed or to be unarmed is almost equally perilous. But our secret opinion is, that in all countries alike, the only absolute safeguard against highway robbery is–a railway; for then the tables are turned; not he who is stopped–incurs the risk, but he who stops: we question whether Samson himself could have pulled up his namesake on the Liverpool railway. Recently, indeed, in the Court of Common Pleas, on a motion to show cause by Sergeant Bompas, in Hewitt v. Price, Tindal (Chief-Justice) said–‘We cannot call a railway a public [Footnote 1] security, I think,’ (laughter:) but we think otherwise. In spite of ‘laughter,’ we consider it a specific against the Low Toby. And, en attendant, there is but one step towards amelioration of things for Greece, which lies in summary ejecting of the Bavarian locusts. Where all offices of profit or honor are engrossed by needy aliens, you cannot expect a cheerful temper in the people. And, unhappily, from moody discontent in Greece to the taking of purses is a short transition.

Thus have we disposed of ‘St. Nicholas’s Clerks.’ Next we come to fleas and dogs:–Have we a remedy for these? We have: but as to fleas, applicable or not, according to the purpose with which a man travels. If, as happened at times to Mr. Mure, a natural, and, for his readers, a beneficial anxiety to see something of domestic habits, overcomes all sense of personal inconvenience, he will wish, at any cost, to sleep in Grecian bedrooms, and to sit by German hearths. On the other hand, though sensible of the honor attached to being bit by a flea lineally descended from an Athenian flea that in one day may possibly have bit three such men as Pericles, Phidias, and Euripides, many quiet unambitious travellers might choose to dispense with ‘glory,’ and content themselves with the view of Greek external nature. To these persons we would recommend the plan of carrying amongst their baggage a tent, with portable camp-beds; one of those, as originally invented upon the encouragement of the Peninsular campaigns from 1809 to 1814, and subsequently improved, would meet all ordinary wants. It is objected, indeed, that by this time the Grecian fleas must have colonized the very hills and woods; as once, we remember, upon Westminster Bridge, to a person who proposed bathing in the Thames by way of a ready ablution from the July dust, another replied, ‘My dear sir, by no means; the river itself is dusty. Consider what it is to have received the dust of London for nineteen hundred years since Caesar’s invasion.’ But in any case the water cups, in which the bed-posts rest, forbid the transit of creatures not able to swim or to fly. A flea indeed leaps; and, by all report, in a way that far beats a tiger–taking the standard of measurement from the bodies of the competitors. But even this may be remedied: giving the maximum leap of a normal flea, it is always easy to raise the bed indefinitely from the ground–space upwards is unlimited–and the supporters of the bed may be made to meet in one pillar, coated with so viscous a substance as to put even a flea into chancery.