The Turk and the Greek; Or Creeds, Races, Society, and Scenery in Turkey, Greece, and the Isles of Greece
By Hurd and Houghton.. New York:
MR. BENJAMIN writes from thorough acquaintance with his subject, and tells us a good deal about Levantine places and people. His chapter on Crete is particularly interesting at this time, though it will do nothing to change the pretty generally received idea of a half-barbaric, generous people, heroically and almost hopelessly struggling, not against the Turk at Constantinople, for he is virtually dead, but against Mr. Podsnap in London and M. César Crapeau at Paris, — in fact, against the Turk throughout Christendom. In treating of the kingdom of Greece, Mr. Benjamin is partially confirmatory of two very widely differing authorities,—of Edmond About and of the late President Felton. He declares that the Frenchman is infallible as regards Greek brigandage and Greek roguery generally, and he is not less cordial than the American scholar in his recognition of the intellectual capacity of the modern Greeks. In fact, there is probably, after the ex-lazzaroni of Naples and our own freedmen at the South, no people so eager to learn and achieve mental advantages as the Athenians.
Of Constantinople,—where, as the son of a missionary, he spent part of his childhood, — Mr. Benjamin does not write so entertainingly as of Scio, where he passed a summer. The notable aspects of life in Stamboul must be few, we suppose, and bazaars and Pera and veiled ladies and festive cemeteries do at last pall upon the taste; whereas a sojourn in a country-house at Scio, among picturesque and kindly peasant folk, can still please. We mustown that Mr. Benjamin does not make the most of his materials in any case.