Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

been thought essential to the perfection of a grammar school—that of the rod; and the master was accused of using it too freely. On the whole, I thought him a worthy man, and a respectable teacher. Most of the pupils studied a small volume of selections from both poets and prose writers ; the master being as usual the living and only lexicon. Some smaller schools are kept by females, in which girls are taught sewing, and both boys and girls learned the alphabet and the more common prayers.

Soon after my arrival I visited the schools, and left presents of tracts, and of the few school books which had been prepared at Malta. I found the system of teaching in them all to be very imperfect, and that not half the children of the island could on account of the poverty or indifference of their parents, avail themselves of these advantages. Much however as I wished to be doing something for the instruction of the youth, I was aware that at so critical a time as the present, and in sight of the Sultan's palace, it was a delicate matter to intermeddle with the subject of education. Still I was desirous of feeling the public pulse, and of ascertaining how far such interference would be tolerated. Unqualified as were both of the clerical masters, I thought it would be risking too much, to begin in opposition to them. Accordingly, after consulting with my English friends, I proposed to one of them that he should receive into his school all the poor female children of the island, on such terms as we should agree. It was evident from the struggle manifest in his feelings during some days' deliberation, that he wanted the pay, but after much deliberation, he wrote me a note declining the offer, and assigning

as a reason 6 they had no such custom.The note which is mislaid, is worthy of being copied entire, together with its signature, lepouóvaxoosacred monk. It is an accurate picture of society in these countries. They have no such custom as educating females, but they have the custom of supporting a herd of idle, ignorant and worthless, sacred monks.

Unwilling to be deterred by what might have originated more in jealousy of the Protestants, than fear of exciting the suspicions of the Turks, I engaged a Greek lady who already had a few pupils, to take a number of others under her instruction. The master of the Hellenic school accepted a like offer that was made to him, provided the matter was kept secret. He himself undertook to select the most deserving children, always sending me their names for approval. Other female teachers came forward from time to time to solicit pupils, so that before my departure more than fifty children, mostly girls, were enjoying the benefits of gratuitous instruction. The schools of course, thus became a matter of notoriety both to Turks and Greeks, but I never heard of any complaint being made respecting them from any quarter.

The whole expenses incurred for tuition and books was something more than fifty dollars, and though the improvement of the children was not so great as could have been wished, still, I trust some little impulse has been given to the cause of education in the island. Besides I have hoped that if so much success was attendant on the first experiment, greater things might be expected at a subsequent effort.

The distribution of Greek tracts, I began on my first passage to the islands. Upon handing a few to my fellow passengers and the boatmen near me, the oth

[ocr errors]

ers at once let go their oars, and gathered around. So great was their curiosity that the boat was left for some minutes to the guidance of the waves, while they were busied in reading these new books in their own language. Soon after my arrival, I sent a few as specimens to the priests and principal persons in the island, and gave others to the children near my lodgings. Immediately after, my doors were crowded with persons of all classes, begging tracts, and for some weeks when I went abroad I was followed by groups of children, crying out in the Turkish style of address, τζελιβί, τζελιβί, ένα φυλλάδια, ένα φυλλάδα-«Sir, Sir, a little book, a little book.” I made it a rule to give but one tract to each of the children, though I afterwards added a second towards the close of my stay. Still, so great was their eagerness to increase their stock, that numbers did not hesitate to deny having already received their quota. Scarcely a day passed in which my Greek attendant Nicholas, who served in a variety of capacities, as clerk, interpreter, and cook, did not detect them in attempts at deception. In one instance, several lads after having been refused tracts, climbed into my window and stole some valuable Spanish books, but their comrades hastened to inform me, and the people talked of having them bastinadoed, if I had not forgiven them. I visited also the other islands, and made in them a less extensive distribution. Many persons too from the continent and some from a great distance, came to beg for the little books.” At Tatavla, a Greek suburb or village near Pera, my approach with tracts literally caused 6 the lame man to leap as an hart.” A poor man with a wooden leg, on seeing them in our hands came hobbling after us with such manifest hazard of a fall, that we stopped to grati

fy him. This was the signal for a multitude of boys and young men to gather around, and I found no way of escaping from their importunity, but by leaving a few with my companion, while I hastened forward with the residue to the school for which they were intended.

I also sold a number of copies of the New Testament, which I had received from the depository of the Rev. Mr. Leeves. Of the degree of publicity with which these books were circulated, the following will serve as an example. On the feast of St. George, thousands of Greeks from Constantinople and the coasts of Asia, have been in the habit of assembling for merry making at the monastery of that name in Prinkipos. Upon this occasion, I employed a young Greek to expose them for sale during several successive days, in the presence of the Turkish authorities, and of the multitude. One of the Turkish officers passing by, took up some of the books, and seeing they were Greek, or Turkish in Greek characters, laid them down without any remark. In general, there was little disposition among the people to purchase, so devoted were they to their dancing and wine. I could have given away thousands to eager recipients, but I had begun to doubt the expediency of this indiscriminate distribution, even among those who could read. There were however, some pleasing instances of sales effectedone of a little boy which deserves to be recorded. He was a thoughtful and intelligent child, who had come a long distance as he told me, from the interior of Bithynia. While the youths were engaged in the revel and dance, and the children were expending their money for toys and fruit, he withdrew, and sat on the rocks eying the bright covered books. After purcha

sing a tract for three of his four paras, he continued reading it for some time, until he became so eager to obtain a second, that he offered to give a part of his dress in payment. Of course, we did not suffer so liberal a spirit to go unrewarded.

If these statements were to end here, as those of an itinerant missionary necessarily must, they would leave a wrong impression on the mind. I am sorry to add that subsequent observation greatly lowered my estimation of this extreme eagerness to receive books. Many of those who could read fluently, were content with a hasty, and oftentimes only a partial perusal. A book they seemed to regard as something to be kept, not to be read. In the family of a deceased priest who had formerly resided in the Archipelago, I met with a copy of the modern Greek testament, printed at the Canstein press in Halle. It had been in their possession many years, carefully preserved as a relic, but never opened. Still, there were instances not a few which came to my knowledge, of a happier character. A merchant who was formerly deputy governor of Prinkipos, but had been set aside for some quarrel with his Turkish superior, I always found reading when I passed his shop, until the contents of the books were almost committed to memory. An elderly Greek lady, since deceased, sent her servant for copies of all my tracts, with a polite request that I would call on her. She devoted much of her time to the perusal of them, and I have found her affected to tears, while reading some of these simple narratives. Mr. Leeves and Mr. Hartly who visited her, thought her mind open to conviction. Many of the children, on condition of receiving a new book, would give a very tolerable account of

« ZurückWeiter »