Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Letter XII

Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow:
One of The Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
by Eliza Roxcy Snow
Letter XII

Letter II.



Beyrout. Protestant college and schools. Embark for Constantinople. Island of Cyprus. Mount Olympus. Sea of Marmora. Arrival at the Turkish Metropolis. Greek Independence Day. At Athens. Classical ruins. Peculiar Greek customs. Funeral ceremony.

ATHENS, GREECE, APRIL 12TH, 1873. Editor Deseret News:

In my last I closed with our arrival at Beyrout. The locality of Beyrout is very beautiful: it. stands on a promontory of a triangular form, the apex projecting into the Mediterranean, and its base extending along the foot of the Lebanon mountains. Groves of pine and mulberry are seen on the rising hills, and covering the mountain acclivities; and here and there groups of palm and cypresses. Our hotel, situated close upon the shore, commands a splendid view of the Bay of St. George, on which are floating ships and steamers, the Mediterranean, the finest portion of the city, and some of the picturesque scenery of Lebanon. It is a mental luxury to look from my window, or out from the open balcony, and con- template these lovely scenes, wrought by the hand of God, and by His inspirations in man.

The city contains over fifty thousand inhabitants one-third of these are Mussulmen, the rest, Christians, Jews and strangers. Its numerous shops, capacious warehouses, its busy quay and numbers of bazars, ships and steamers, exhibit life and commercial enterprise, forming a striking contrast with the old, threadbare, worn-out and moth-eaten systems of doing

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business, still practised in the towns and cities of Palestine. With regard to foreign trade and commerce, Beyrout stands foremost in Syria; the largest imports are for Damascus, it forming the seaport for that city. The chief article of export is raw silk, the trade in which is fast increasing, and every 3 r ear becoming more important. In the vicinity of the city, and through the region of Lebanon, the country is being filled with mulberry orchards, and little doubt is entertained of its proving a permanent source of business and profit.

The new portion of the city is handsomely built, the private dwellings and public edifices are chiefly constructed of stone, substantially built, with some artistic display. Some of the streets are broad and well paved, and nearly everywhere signs of improvement and enterprise are visible, inso- much that one could almost fancy himself in a European city.

American and English missionaries have established a Protestant college and several schools in Beyrout and in Lebanon. These institutions arc accessible to students of every sect and party who are willing to conform to the regulations, which are skilfully arranged with a view to proselyting. All boarders are required to be present at morning and evening prayers, and attend Protestant worship, and college classes upon the Scriptures during the week. The Bible is also used as a text book for common instruc- tions, etc. These educational departments are sustained by contributions from Europe and America. Some seventy students attend the Protestant college. The British Syrian schools at Beyrout number over six hundred scholars, and including the branch schools in Lebanon, rising one thousand.

March 25th, we embarked on an Austrian Lloyd steamer for Constanti- nople. We passed the Island of Cyprus; had a view, from the deck, of Mount Olympus, the summit of which was once crowned with the celebrated Temple of Venus; passed the island of Rhodes, where we saw the fortifica- tions of the "Knights of St. John," their bastions, battlements, overhang- ing buttresses and lofty towers. The Island of Patmos was pointed out in the distance, where the Eevelator John received his wonderful visions. We called at Smyrna, the city honored with many euphonious names "The Ornament of Asia," "The Crown of Ionia," "Sweet smelling Smyrna," etc.; passed the Island of Mytilene, Tenedos; went through the Darda- nelles, and were shown the place where Leander, and afterward Lord Byron, performed feats of swimming; then steamed over the Sea of Marmora, and at length arrived at Constantinople, the celebrated capital of the Ottoman empire.

The port was crowded with ships, steamers, barges, ferrios and small boats, so numerous that they appeared as if swarming on the waters, num- bering many thousands. This magnificent bay accommodates twelve


hundred sail, and is sufficiently deep to float ships of war of the largest magnitude.

For advantages of trade and commerce, and for beauty of situation, Constantinople undoubtedly excels all other cities in the world. It stands upon two continents, Europe and Asia, and upon two seas, the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora. Its population is variously estimated at from five hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand; of these about three hundred thousand are Greeks and Armenians, sixty thousand Jews, and thirty thousand Europeans. It contains forty colleges, one thousand mosques, many Jewish synagogues, and numerous Catholic churches.

We visited the American Minister, and spent a few hours in his com- pany very pleasantly. We have made it an invariable rule to call on our American Ministers and Consuls, and, without an exception, have been courteously and kindly received, and in several instances our company has been solicited. Our cards and letters of introduction from President Young, on every occasion, have been noticed and honored.

While in Constantinople we visited the principal mosques, the tombs of the sultans, the offices of the Sublime Porte, the Treasury, Armory, Mint, Repository of Antiquities, the bazars and the Palace of the Osmanli Sul- tans, the Royal Seraglio. The Mosque of St. Sophia, which we inspected, in several respects is the most remarkable edifice in the Turkish empire. It is three hundred and fifty feet in length, by two hundred and thirty-five in breadth. It was built for a Catholic temple in the sixth century, by the Emperor Justinian, and was sixteen years in course of construction. At that time it was celebrated as the most remarkable and magnificent temple in the whole empire. In the fifteenth century it was converted into a mosque, through the conquering sword of Mohammed the Second, at the capture of Constantinople. It has two flags suspended on either side of the pulpit, indicating the victory of Islam over Judaism and Christianity, and the Koran over the Old and New Testaments. The roof is constructed in such a manner that it exhibits nine cupolas, the great dome forming the highest summit, and so arranged that it appears as if suspended in the air; the whole seen together presents an appearance of singular grandeur and magnificence. The walls and numerous arches are built of brick; the interior of the building is adorned with the richest and most costly mate- rials granite, marble and porphyry of every description; black marble with white veins, white marble with rose-colored stripes, green and blue marble, and Bosphorus marble with black veins. We counted eight large porphyry columns, which were taken from the "Temple of the Sun," at Baalbec, and six or eight of green columns of porphyry, which our guide informed us were from the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. The floor is

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formed of variegated marble with waving lines, imitating the movings of the ocean. The tiles which cover the arches of the cupolas were made at Rhodes, of chalk-white clay of peculiar lightness, being only one-twelfth of the usual weight; and had inscribed upon them, "God has founded it, and it will not be overthrown: God will support it in the blush of the dawn." It has sixteen gates of bronze, adorned with crosses; the spaces between them are decorated with beautiful marble, and above them are mosaic pictures. The central dome is one hundred and seven feet in diam- eter, with a rise of forty-six feet, and with an elevation of one hundred and eighty feet above the ground, with semi-domes on two sides, of equal diam- eter. The grand dome is supported by arches resting on four immense piers, supported by abutments. Its numerous arches, pillars and cupolas are all inlaid with marble mosaics of the most beautiful designs. In the cupola are inscribed the following words from the Koran: "God is the light of the heavens and the earth." On ceremonial occasions, during the night, these expressive words are illuminated by thousands of lamps, suspended in circles, one above another, which, aided by attachments of ostrich eggs, and quantities of tinsel, and numerous artificial flowers, are said to pro- duce a wonderful effect.

One hundred architects, during the construction of this mosque, super- intended ten thousand masons, five thousand working on one side, the other half at the same time engaged on the opposite side of the building. It is said of the Emperor, that during the progress of the work he paid occa- sional visits, to inspire the workmen, dressed in coarse linen, a cloth around his head, and a rough stick in his hand. When the walls had reached about six feet above the ground, an expenditure of about twenty-two tons of gold had been incurred; and a traditionary account is given, that when this extraordinary structure had been completed as far as the cupolas, the funds were exhausted, and the people groaning and murmuring under the heavy burden of imposed taxes; whereupon an angel appeared, and, leading the mules of the treasury to a subterranean vault, loaded them with four tons of gold !

We went

aboard an Austrian Lloyd steamer, April oth, and steered for 

Athens, the capital of Greece. In going down the Archipelago, the usual dulness and monotony of ocean life was partially relieved by the changing scenery and charming views, constantly exhibited on the numerous islands we were passing. Syra especially attracted attention; the picturesque appearance of its capital city of thirty thousand people drew expressions of surprise and admiration. Stopping a few hours at anchorage gave opportu- nity of inspecting this locality. The city is built on a gigantic, conical hill, rising steeply from the shore in a semi-circle, over a mile in width, extend-


ins; to an immense height; its narrow and pointed summit crowned with a large cathedral; the whole hill, with its indentures and depressions, covered from base to summit with elegant buildings painted white, with green win- dow shutters, blue cornices and balustrades.

It chanced- to be a holiday with the Greeks they were celebrating their independence. Flags were floating from the tops of buildings and tall masts of the ships in the harbor. At night, before our departure, there was a grand illumination, in which the entire city and ships at anchor par- ticipated. The appearance altogether was very striking.

We arrived at Piraeus, the seaport of Athens, 7th ult., having experi- enced a favorable passage. We took carriage and drove to Athens, five miles distant, over a beautiful road, skirted with poplar and pepper trees.


The whole of the modern city of Athens has been built within the last forty-five years. It is situated about five miles from the sea, on the Plain of Attica. Many of the buildings possess some architectural beauty, which, combined with their yellow- washed stucco, present an agreeable and lively appearance. Olive groves, the scene of Plato's meditations, stretching along the plain, the trees and shrubbery in the Queen's garden, an orange grove fronting the King's Palace, pepper trees skirting the boulevards, a few cypresses and Italian poplars, form the principal foliage which is seen in and around Athens. The Queen's garden attached to the Palace is a beautiful enclosure of several acres, extending along the boulevards and partially encircling the palace, and adorned with rich shrubbery, flower- beds, luxurious foliage, grass-plats, artificial waters, and winding gravel walks. Fronting the palace is a small, enclosed area, decorated with orange trees; in the centre is a fine fountain surrounded with seats for the conve- nience of promenaders. The trees were constantly dropping their golden fruit here and there, on the gravelly walks, but left untouched by the mul- titude of pedestrians. The King's Palace is the most conspicuous building in Athens. It is located on a gently rising eminence at the foot of Mount Lycabettis, and facing what is termed the "Square of the Constitution." On this square, September, 1843, the people and troops assembled, and continued ten hours without any act of violence, waiting for King Otho to grant the request of their leaders in signing the constitutional charter, to which, at last, he reluctantly consented. The front of the palace has a portico constructed of marble the walls of the building are composed of broken limestone faced with cement.

The Acropolis is a vast rock, rising to the height of three hundred and fifty feet above the plain, with a flat summit, about one thousand feet long


by five hundred broad. The Areopagus, or Hill of Mars, is a lower emi- nence, forming a kind of offshoot to the Acropolis. The remains of the celebrated Temple of Jupiter Olympus occupy a broad square of ground a little eastward of the Acropolis. Fifteen Corinthian columns of immense size are now standing, out of one hundred and twenty-four, which formerly covered a space of three hundred and fifty-four feet, by a breadth of one hundred and seventy-one feet. These marble columns are fifty-five feet in height and six feet four inches in diameter. One of the marble beams, supported by these gigantic columns, is said to weigh twenty-three tons. We noticed one of the pillars which had been thrown down in a high wind it is formed of eighteen sections. It is estimated that three thousand dol- lars would be required to set up these sections and restore the pillar to an upright position, which will afford a faint idea of the cost of erecting the entire building.

We ascended the Acropolis to inspect its stupendous and melancholy ruins. When it stood in the fulness of its splendor, the whole summit was occupied with temples, sanctuaries, statuary and monuments; only suffi- cient now remain to show their former grandeur and magnificence. There were the marble temples of Minerva, Propylaca, Wingless Victory, the Erectheum and the Parthenon; also gigantic statues of Grecian deities, from forty to sixty feet in height, on lofty pedestals decorated with ivory and gold, glistening in the sunlight. Some of these colossal statues could be seen from the decks of vessels, standing a long distance out at sea. A fewmassive columns of temples are seen sustaining huge marble beams, over twenty feet in length. In the Propylacan Temple, quantities of black marble were used in its construction, and. the same as other heathen sanc- tuaries, was adorned with costly paintings and historical decorations. The entire expense of this building has been estimated at about two and a half millions of dollars. The Parthenon is built entirely of marble, and is two hundred and twenty-eight feet long by one hundred and one broad. Its ceiling is supported the same as that of the Propylacan, by huge marble beams, resting on massive columns. One of the doorways is thirty-three feet in height and sixteen feet wide; the head of the doorway is formed of marble lintels, nearly twenty-seven feet in length. The Erectheum has a number of standing columns, supporting massive marble beams and lintels over doorways; most of this temple, however, lies in a heap of superb ruins. The frieze of this building was composed of black marble, adorned with figures in low relief, in white marble. The surface of the Acropolis is mostly spread with ruins, broken pillars, pieces of entablatures and sculp- tured fragments.

The Greeks have some very peculiar customs. When, after a lengthy



absence, friends meet, or when parting for a considerable time, it is usual to kiss one another on the cheek. I have noticed in Athens, the same as in Italy, two gentlemen meeting on the public street, with hats off, demon- strating their affection by hugging and kissing each other in the most vio- lent manner. Many of the Greeks have a habit of carrying in the hand strings of glass or wooden beads, which they manipulate or work with their fingers, while walking the streets or in conversation, the same as the gen- tleman his watchguard, or twirls his cane, or the lady flirts her fan, having no religious reference as the Catholic in counting his beads.

It is customary to make the sign of the cross in the following manner: Uniting the tips of the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand, and touching alternately the forehead, navel, right breast and left breast, three times in rapid succession, whenever passing a church, seeing the cross, or hearing the name of the Savior spoken. They have a singular form for burying the dead. I witnessed the ceremony of burying two persons, who apparently had occupied respectable positions in society. The processions -were preceded by boys in white robes, carrying a crucifix and other eccle- siastic insignia of considerable splendor, followed by priests, chanting in a low, monotonous, melancholy tone, while all hats were off and every hand was making the sign of the cross, as the solemn train was passing along the crowded thoroughfare; the corpse, with ghastly features exposed to full view in an open coffin, covered with white cloth, variously decorated; the lid of

the coffin, painted with a large cross, was carried along in the procession, in

an upright position. The corpse was dressed in the clothing customarily worn while living; the head partially elevated, and the hands folded in front

of a picture of the Virgin, placed on his breast.

Returning from the Museum, we met the King of Greece, who was walking leisurely along the sidewalk, among the citizens, dressed in plain,

ordinary costume. His appearance is rather prepossessing; his figure is slight of medium size, light complexion, and eyes expressive of both kind- ness and determination. He has the reputation of honesty and frankness without affectation, and his domestic life above reproach, and makes the welfare and improvement of his people a direct aim and constant study. He is about twenty-eight years of age married the daughter of the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, and has a family.

The Greek Church and Greek nation may be considered synonymous words, as one cannot exist without the other, being interwoven like cotton and woolen threads in a garment. It is a strong prevailing feeling in the people, that, as the church cannot exist without the people, so the people cannot exist as a nation without the church. The banners of the revolu- tion were constantly blessed by the bishops, and among the first victims of


that revolution was the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. In fact the first article of the constitution makes the Greek Church the corner stone of the political fabric. It is as follows: "The dominant religion of Greece ia that of the Orthodox Oriental Church of Christ. All other recognized religions are tolerated, and the free exercise of worship

is protected by law. 

Proselytism and all other interferences, prejudicial to the dominant religion, are forbidden." Therefore any attempt made by Protestants, in the way of proselyting, is regarded with suspicion.

x Mr. Francis, the American minister, invited our party to spend an evening at his residence. We had a pleasant time with the minister, his lady and son, also Mr. Goodenough, the Consul General of Constantinople,, , who was spending a few days in Athens. In conversation with these people, we gathered interesting items in reference to modern Greece, the king and government. Mr. Francis' fine abilities and conversational talent drew around him many visitors, especially Americans. Mrs. Francis is a lady of intelligence, of lively disposition and polite manners.

We left Athens on the evening of the twelfth, on an Austrian Lloyd steamer, for Trieste, Austria, where we arrived on the seventeenth, after a pleasant passage. This is a charming town, built in the form of a crescent, on rounded and conical hills and mountain acclivities. It is surrounded with beautiful scenery. The city has a population of about one hundred thousand. We were shown many objects of attraction and curiosity.

The nineteenth, we took train for Munich, the capital of Bavaria, through the Brenner Pass, by the way of Verona, a town in Italy. Our route led through an interesting country, under an excellent state of tillage the landscape covered with verdure and rich in luxurious foliage, the apple, plum, apricot, cherry and chestnut adorned with blossoms, and the vine clothed with leaves; patches of clover, grain in full growth, green pas- tures and meadows, and off in the distance a long high range of moun- tains, with summits mantled in snow. We arrived at Verona in the evening and remained over Sunday.

The country from Verona to Munich is in the highest state of cultiva- tion, abounding in fields of grain, vegetable gardens, fruit orchards and vineyards; nearly the whole region is dotted with walnut, apple, cherry, apri- cot, plum and mulberry, the grapevine stretching from one tree to another, clinging to the branches, while below flourish luxuriant gardens or waving grain. We passed over a narrow, winding vale, extending over seventy miles, skirted by lofty mountains and adorned with towns and villages, and churches here and there, on high plateaus above the plain; streamlets are seen now and then dashing and foaming over rocky steps, producing cas- cades of great beauty and grandeur. We noticed images of the Savior,


nearly life-size, representing His crucifixion, and secured to posts placed here and there along the public road. Women were laboring in the fields, driving plow, spading ground, scattering manure, and some in tops of trees trimming the branches.

Monday evening, twenty-first, we arrived in Munich.'