John Bramsen.

Travels in Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Morea, Greece, Italy, etc. etc (Volume 2) online

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Departure for Cerigo. — Calm and expected
Attacks—Island of Romo, — St. Jtjane. —
— Storm. -^ Perilous Situation. — Island of
Stampalia. — The Deserted Island. — Stan-


Stan-Dia, (opposite the Island of Candia,) Oct. ISH.
After remaining three days in the harbour
of Rhodes waiting for a favourable wind,
we sailed again on the fourth, with a fine
breeze which continued till we were off the
island of Simi. Here we lay for some time
becalmed. Tiie captain and many of the
sailors pretended that the island was full of
pirates, and were the whole day busily
engaged in cleaning their muskets and getting


1 3 c H 8


the four swivel guns of the brig ready, with
all the solemnity of a preparation for action ;
but after all we found that neither the
muskets nor the cannon were loaded. On
our expressing surprise that this was not
done when so much danger was apprehended,
the captain said he did not see that it was^
necessary till the enemy should appear in
sight. It was not difficult to perceive that
our commander was a man of as little courage
as nautical knowledge ; and I believe the real
secret of the matter was, that he was fearful
of having the arms loaded, knowing that he
had no authority on board.

On the 14th of October light breezes
sprung up, and after a tedious course we
found ourselves opposite tlie uninhabited
island of Romo, where the breeze again
slackened. Here five of the sailors low-
Gi*ed the captain's boat, without asking
any permission, and rowed close under the
island to _fish. At six in the afternoon a
fine breeze sprung up, but to our mortifi-
cation these fellows still loitered near the
shore, ^''e were, however, keeping a steady
course, and were within sight of the island
of St. Juane, when the captain finding his


men did not come on board, was obliged to
put about and lay too for them, continuing
to fire muskets as a signal for their return.
We were detained in this state of suspense
more than two hours, and had lost much of
the advantage of the wind before they came
on board.

At' nine o'clock we passed the island of St.
Juane, with a fair breeze from the south-west ;
at ten o'clock it freshened, and we saw flashes
of lightning to the south-east. About eleven
the sky became much overcast, and the
lightning grew more vivid. The wind con-
tinued to freshen, and about midnight blew
very hard j our brave captain looked as
black as the sky, he took in the main-sail,
reefed fore-top-sail, and came below in a
tremble to order the dead lights to be put in ;
at the same time informing us, with a very
woeful countenance, that the weather wore a
most threatening appearance. According to
the custom of all the Greek vessels, there was
a Madonna fixed in the cabin, under which
was a lamp constantly burning. The cook
came and administered incense td it with
much gravity, as he also did to the cabin and
the births, praying at the same time with the

B 2


captain in all the fervency of alarm. At one
o'clock it blew a heavy gale and the sea ran
high. To add to our distress, the wind was
constantly shifting from north to east, so
that after all our exertions they calculated that
we were still eighteen miles from the island
of St. Juane. Our situation began to grow
perilous. We were surrounded by the various
islandsof the Archipelago, with whose bearings
and situations it was evident our captain was
perfectly ignorant, so that we were every
moment in danger of running on shore.

At three o'clock in the morning I was
awaked by a dreadful noise, and ran on deck
to ascertain the cause. The night was so
very dark that I could hardly see an ob-
ject before me. The rain poured down in
torrents, the thunder was loud, and the
flashes of lightning very vivid. Tiie wind
had increased till it blew a perfect hurricane,
the sea ran mountains high, and the vessel
laboured very hard ; the more so as the Jielm
wa« held by one who evidently knew nothing
of its use. I called for the captain, but no
answer was returned. All was discord and
confusion upon deck : the captain and his
men were in a vehement dispute j the mate


had ordered the sailors to reef some of the
sails contrary to his commands. I repeat-
edly inquired tlie cause of this confusion,
but all the answer I received was, an increase
of clamour and vociferation. After remaining
some time in this state of suspense, the
captain informed me with great agitation that
the mate refused to obey his orders ; that the
brig was saiHng at the rate of from eight
to ten knoLs an hour, and t'nat he was appre-
hensive we siiould run ashore on one of the
islands by which we were surrounded. The
mate pretended that he knew^ the situation of
the isLind better than the captain, and assured
us he VKOu'd bring us safe out of the perils
which threatened us. The captain was in and
out of the cabin every momiCnt, examining
and measuring the chart ; he was constantly
attended by his tkithfui cook, who during the
whole of these operations wxis continually
carrying incense to the Madonna, and praying
that she would enligliten the captain's mind.
About four o'clock we shipped two heavy
seas. Most of the sailors had sounjht refug-e
in the cabin, where they lay stretched out on
the chairs and benches, exclaiming Maria San-,
B 3


tissima, and crossing themselves every instant.
Only the mate and two men kept the deck,
the others were too much frightened to move
out of the cabin. The whole night passed in
this state of uncertainty and alarm. When
daylight appeared we found ourselves off the
island of Stampalia, and only at the distance
of about twelve or fifteen miles from shore,
having run close under many islands du-
ring the night. Providence alone could
have guided us securely through the perils
which we had passed. We determined, if
possible, to make Stampalia, particularly as
the mate assured us he had been there before,
and pretended to be well acquainted with the
entrance of the harbour, which, he said, was
a very safe one. This assurance revived the
drooping spirits of the crew, and we were ail
in hope that a few hours would place us
out of the reach of danger. But this hope
was quickly disappointed ; for we were
hardly eight miles from the island when the
wind suddenly shifted to the north-west, and
entirely defeated our purpose. AVhat made
us regret this circumstance the more was the
conviction that, had we not lost time in wait-


ing for our runaway crew near Rome, we
should certainly liave been enabled to make
the port.

At half-past four it again blew a hurricane :
the captain and most of tlie crew were of opi-
nion that it was better to let the brig go be-
fore the wind, for as the sea ran so high and
beat so furiously over the vessel, we should
endanger her by keeping on our present tack.
They said, the only choice we had was, ei-
ther to try and make some port, or to lay
close under the shore of one of the rocky
islands. The captain considered the latter
plan as too dangerous, and was determined to
bring the ship before the wind ; but there
was no one to obey his commands. Almost
all the men kept below, partly through fear
of being washed overboard, and partly from
a determination not to obey the captain's

Mr. Maxwell, who, on all occasions of
emergency, evinced the utmost coolness and
self-possession, now exposed himself to every
danger: and assisted by myself, the Scotch
servant, and four men, who we had brought to
a sense of duty, aided the captain, and suc-
ceeded in bringing the brig before the wind.

B 4


In doing this, owing to the captain's igno-
rance in carrying too mucli canvass, she was
almost thrown on her beam ends, with her
gunwale under water. As soon as she was
about, the captain took in all sail and scud-
ded before the wind. As all attempts to
reacli any port before night set in were inef-
fectual, the captain determined to keep on
the present tack till morning. About mid-
night we were awaked by the cook, who
was again incensing the cabin, and had so
filled it with clouds of smoke that we could
hardly breathe. The cabin with the lamp
glimmering under the image, the dead lights
in, and most of the crew huddled together on
the floor, presented no very inspiriting ap-
pearance. We enquired why they were suf-
fered to lie in the cabin, and not in their pro-
per births in the forecastle ? The captain
cried bitterly, and said that the sea was break-
ing over the forecastle so violently that the
men could not sleep there ; besides, added
he, all depends upon the will of God. He
repeated the old story, that according to all
human calculation we must inevitably run
ashore in two hours time, as we were almost
entirely surrounded with islands, and as the


night was so dark it' was impossible for hu-
man skill to avoid them. The only faint
hope he had left was to make the island of
Candia. We used every effort to cheer up
both him and his men ; telling them that
though it was their duty to place their hopes
on Providence, yet it was equally so to exert
themselves to maintain their posts on deck
and keep a careful look-out. The mate and
four of the hands seemed to be the best ac-
quainted with the Archipelago, and we pre-
vailed upon them to keep watch till morning.
This night passed as uncomfortably as the
preceding one : at every violent plunge of the
vessel nothing was heard but exclamations of
*' Ma?^ia Santissima siamo perdutiP* — "Most
holy Virgin we are lost!" At daybreak the
gale abated, and we found to our general joy,
that we were not above twenty miles from a
small island, which they pronounced to be
Spina-longa ; if therefore their suppositions
were well founded, we could not be far from
the island of Candia. The hope of shortly
reaching a port of security cheered up our
dispirited Greeks j they resumed their sta-
tions on deck, and made all sail for the
island : but on coming near it they discovered


their mistake, and upon examining the
chart seemed not a little staggered to find
that Spina-longa was a port in Candia instead
of an island. Tlie sea ran so high that the
captain would not risk attempting to enter an
unknown port ; but he was prevailed upon to
alter his opinion by the assurance of one of
the sailors, who declared he knew the place
well, and would undertake to bring the vessel
safe into harbour. The majority approving of
the proposal, the captain at last consented,
and the man taking the helm with a look of
confidence, altered the course, and soon ful-
filled bis promise.

The entrance into the port was narrow, and
between twojutting headlands j but when we
had cleared these to our surprise we found
ourselves at once in smooth water. The sen-
sation which attends a sudden transition from
a heavy sea into calmness and serenity I
found very singular, though very agreeable.
We dropt anchor quite close under the sliore ;
so near, indeed, that it seemed as if we could
almost have jumped on land. We secured the
brig with ropes fastened to the rocks, and
when this was done the vessel lay perfectly


Proud of having accomplished his object,
the sailor, who said he knew the island, now
confessed that he never was in the place be-
fore ; but that he thought it better to risk
making some port than to stand out to sea
again, especially as the rigging wanted re-
pair, and all hands were exhausted. We
were astonished at the man's daring impu-
dence, and returned thanks to Providence
for our preservation. We immediately set
about repairing the sails, and after taking the
precaution to load our fire-arms and station a
guard on deck during the night, enjoyed the
luxury of a sound and tranquil repose.

The following morning Mr. Maxwell and
myself; together with the Scotch servant, the
captain and several sailors, w^ent on shore.
We took our guns loaded, and divided our-
selves into parties, with a view to examine the
island, and to dicover whether it was a re-
treat for pirates. We found many stones
heaped together in the form of a fire-place,
and from the coals and ashes it was evident
a fire had been kindled there : the various
peelings of fruits were additional proof that
it had been lately visited, and served to put
ste on our guard.


The island is about three EiigHsh miles
long, and consists of one entire rock j wc
saw no trees, but many small bushes of dwarf
pine, and another kind of shrub of an odori-
ferous smell, with whose name I was unac-
quainted, but which resembled the wild myr-
tle. We saw se\eral caves on the ridges of
the hills ; some of our party ventured in to
examine them, but there was no appearance
of any person, and they seemed to be merely
places which pirates use for tlie purposes of
concealment, and for depositing their booty.
Whilst thus engaged we heard the report of a
gun ; we hastened to the spot to learn the
caiise, and found that Mr. Maxwell had shot
a fine hare, who at the sight of him had not
quitted her form, but had remained sitting,
apparently surprised at tlie sight of a human
being. The island was covered with ravens
and jays, which were very vociferous ; some
of the sailors had robbed their nests and car-
ried away their young, and the clamours of
the plundered parents attracted swarms of
their companions. The port lias good an-
chorage, and is spacious enougli for two fri-
gatesv to lie in security. The place so
abounded with fish that after a few hours fishK


ing our sailors returned witli nearly a boat
load : some resembled the gold fish and tasted
like trout.

On our return we referred to our chart,
and found that it was the uninhabited island
ofStan-dia, a frequent landing-place for pi-
rates, and sometimes for fishermen from Can-
dia, who come over here to follow their occu-
pation. We lay here three days, during the
whole of which time the wind was extremely
rough ; we could observe from the heights
that the sea ran very liigh, yet the harbour
was as smooth as if there had been a dead

( I'i )


Island of C^ndia. — View of the Toxmi and its

Picturesque Eiivirons. — Cerigotto. — St.

NicHOLO. — Quarantine. — Governor of Ce-

niGO. — Descrijjtion of the Island. — Embark

from the Gulf of Mjrathonisi.

Cerigo, Port St. Nlcholo, Oct. 1814.
On Sunday the ISth October at seven
o'clock we weighed anchor, and lialf an liour
after were under sail : the wind freshened
from the north-west with a rough sea ; but as
it was not quite favorable, we had not, even at
four in the afternoon, entirely lost sight of
Stan-dia, On the 19th we were entirely be-
calmed about three miles from the island of
Candia, just opposite the town of the same
name. With our glass we could distinctly
see the fortifications, which are of Venetian
construction, as also the walls which surround
the town, and which had the appearance of
considerable strength. We could even perceive
that many of the houses were painted red.
The captaiii told us that the Jiarbour is very


bad, and that large vessels are much exposed
there. The cruelty exercised by the present
Pacha has nearly depopulated this once beau-
tiful and flourishing island.

On the nriorning of the 19th of October
we distinctly heard the discharge of cannon,
and from eleven to twelve o'clock the fire
was very animated, and only ceased at three
in the afternoon. We sent several sailors to
the mast-head, to see if they could discover
from whence the fire proceeded, but without
success. We had heard that the Pacha was
on bad terms with the Grand Seignor, and
tliat several villages were in revolt against
him ; it is therefore more than probable, that
the firing w^e heard proceeded from some
farther acts of cruelty committed by this
rebellious chief.

The general aspect of the island is grand.
A chain of high mountains intorsect it ; and
Mount Ida towers in the centre, its lofly
summits covered with snow. The town of
Candia, surrounded by groves of orange
and lemon trees, opposed to the transpa-
rent sea reflecting a cloudless sky, pre-
sented a pleasing contrast of nature. An
English Vice-Consul resides at Canea, also a


Mr. Simons, a Fr-^nch merchant, who, we
understand, are both very attentive to tra-

On the 20th October, at ten o'clock in the
morning, a fine breeze sprung up from the
south-east, and we soon lost sight of this
beautiful island. In the afternoon we came
in view of Cerigotto, a small island twenty-
five miles south of Cerigo ; it is remarkable
as containing only a single house, and that is
inhabited by a Greek, who attends herds of
cattle belonging to the inhabitants of Cerigo.

On the afternoon of the same day we
entered the island of Cerigo. Its appearance
\fas savage and wild, the shore was rocky, and
there was neither tree nor shrub to enliven
the scene. Our sailors being ignorant of the
place, entered the small port called St.
Nicholo, mistaking it for the port of the town
of Cerigo : we were immediately put under
quarantine. This port is very inconsiderable,
but affords good anchorage : it is of such
a depth that vessels of considerable burthen
can lie close to the wharf; indeed this is the
only secure place, as they are much exposed if
they anchor at any distance from shore, where
the currents run very strong. We were in-


formed that a large Spanisli vessel, richly
laden and bound for Cadiz, was wrecked off
this port in a gale during the winter of 1813.
The captain v^^as on shore at the time, and
it was with great difficulty that the crew were
saved in the long-boat. There is a fort at
the entrance of the harbour, which is gar-
risoned by some Sicilian rangers. On the
2 1st of October we quitted the brig Achmed,
and felt no regret in so doing, having passed
many uncomfortable days on board ; she sailed
the day after our landing with a fair breeze
for Malta, the port of her destination.

On hearing of our arrival, Captain Taylor,
governor of the island, favored us with a visit,
accompanied by several officers ; amongst
them was Mr. Manucius, son of the former
English Consul, to whom we brought a
letter of recommendation. As we were under
quarantine they could not enter our house,
but he came to the door and made enquiries,
offering us every accommodation in their
power. Captain Taylor was so kind as to order
that our quarantine should be made as com-
fortable as circumstances would permit ; as-
sured us through our guard, that he would do
every thing to facilitate our expedition to the

VOL. II. c


Morea ; and as we intended sailing to the
gulf of Maratlionisi, to pay a visit to the
Mainottes, he proposed hiring a small ojien
boat to convey us thither. In addition to
these favours, he promised to give us a letter
to the Bey of the Mainottes, as did also Mr.

The island of Cerigo is only forty-five
English miles in circumference j it was for-
merly called Cithera, and forms one of the
seven Ionian islands. There is a town of the
same name, which we were told is badly
built and thinly inhabited ; we could not
enter it in consequence of our quaran-
tine. It has a castle situated on a rock
and a small harbour ; the trade is very li-
mited. The island is rocky, which added to
the want of rain and the excessive heat
during the summer, renders pasturage for cat-
tle very scanty. There are hardly any cows in
the island, of course milk and butter are
scarce. The cultivated parts produce excel-
lent grapes and oranges, with a few vegetables
and lemons J honey of a superior quality is
made here. We went with our guard two
miles from Port Nicolo, to visit some objects
of antiquity ; we saw a kind of tomb, part of


a cliapel and a wall remaining, but the whole
is in so ruinous a condition, that it is im-
possible to trace its former state, and as the
only communication we had was with our old
guard from the health office, we could get no
satisfactory information respecting it.

c 2

c 20 ;


Pirates, — Adventure with them. — MarathO'
NISI. — The Bey. — Medical Consultation. —
The Major. — Curious Particulars respecting
Oie MAiNOTTEs.'^Descriptioji of their Town,
— TJie Castle. — Environs. — Visit to the Bey.
— Our medical Reputation established. — Inte-
resting Remains of Antiquity.

Marathonisi, October ISl*.
We embarked on the 24th of October, at
three in the morning, on board the vessel
which the Governor had hired for us, and
sailed with a Hght breeze from the south.
Our boat was not sufficiently large to
permit us to venture far out to sea, being
only of two tons burthen, and manned by a
Greek and his two sons. A sail, four oars to
row in case of a calm, a small anchor and a
spy-glass, was the whole of our equipment.
As the bay of Coron and the gulf of Mara-
thonisi are the general rendezvous of the
pirates of the Morea, our captain's intention
was to coast along close under shore, and keep


a strict look out, though we were assured by
Governor Taylor that, in consequence of an
armed vessel belonging to the Grand Signior,
which had been cruizing in these waters, the
danger was not so great as formerly, and that
many of these pirates have been taken and
executed on the spot.

At half past four we got out to sea ; the
sky was serene, the water smooth, and the
light breeze bore us pleasantly along. We
had made nearly twenty miles, and no sail
was in sight. At six we were only about
seven miles distance from the cape of the
Morea. We designed to make that point,
and sail between the rocks and the shore,
as being the safest passage for small

It was about seven o'clock when we dis-
covered a vessel, apparently a schooner, lying
to, with all her sails loose ; she was near the
point of the cape, and so close under the
rocks that she was almost concealed by them.
We were still at too great a distance to be
able to discern her movements j but about
an hour after we plainly perceived that she
had got under weigh, and was dropping very
leisurely along the shore. Our captain in-
c 3


formed us that the vessel had a very sus-
picious appearance, and not a little resembled
one he had been chased by a fortnight before,
when sailing from Marathonisi to Cerigo :
he therefore thouj^ht it advisable to sail out-
side of the rocks and keep more to the open
sea, for with a light breeze we should soon be
certain of outsailing her. We agreed to his
proposal, veered about, and had not been
an hour on this tack, going with a fresh breeze
at the rate of about five knots an hour, when
we discovered that the schooner was under
a press of canvass, following our course.
About eleven she gained so fast upon us, that
witli a glass we could plainly discover that
she was built like a galley, carried several
guns and was full of Turks and Greeks. She
continued to come upon us, till we were only
about five miles distant from her. Our cap-
tain and his sons crossed themselves every
moment, and were continually pointing at
the vessel and exclaiming *' Kakos ! KakosJ'*
Our interpreter told us tliat the captain had
no doubt but this was a pirate in chace of

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