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plates contained a peculiar sort of cake, which is called Collyva. It is, in fact, an offering made to the manes of the dead, and can certainly claim a pagan rather than a Christian origin. It is carefully made, the principal ingredients being boiled wheat and currants. The surface of the top is ornamented with various degrees of neatness, by means of the eatable red grains of the pomegranate, or almonds, or any thing of the kind. These cakes were sent by the relatives of those who had died within a year or two, and if handsome were allowed to remain before the chancel. If more commonly prepared, the contents were thrown together into a basket. In every plate of collyra, and in every basket, were stuck a number of little lighted waxen tapers, which burned during the service.
The notion of the common people respecting this usage was expressed to me by a person whom I asked to explain its purport. “The soul of the deceased,” said he, “for whom the collyva is offered, comes down during the service, and eats a single grain of the wheat.” But what manner of good this could do the disembodied spirit he was not able to explain; nor did he give me any satisfactory reason for offering so large a quantity, when the spirit is so moderate in its desires. The parish priest during the short service I attended took notice of the names of all those for whom collyva had been offered. At the conclusion he helped himself to his share of the cakes, after the spirits had enjoyed an ample opportunity of eating to their hearts' content. The rest was distributed by handfuls to every person present, to be carried away and eaten at home —a feast for the dead.
The arrival of the American frigate Cumberland in the harbor of Piræus, followed shortly by the steamship San Jacinto, produced some commotion in the city of Athens. An intervention on the part of the United States in behalf of Dr. King had been threatened, but was not generally expected. No American vessel of war had done more than touch at Piræus for a number of years past; and multitudes had never even seen one of our frigates. The unusual circumstance was, therefore, set down at once as having some connection with the trial and imprisonment of the only representative of the United States within the boundaries of the kingdom.
The Hon. Mr. Marsh, American Minister to Constantinople, having been commissioned to investigate the heavy charges of
injustice preferred against the courts of law by the joint testimony of all the Americans residing at Athens, was a passenger on board the San Jacinto. Though not accredited to the Court of Athens at this time, his official character rendered it imperatively necessary that there should be a formal presentation to the queen, who was regent during the temporary absence of King Otho in Germany. To arrange the preliminaries, Dr. King and myself called on Mr. Colocotroni, the master of ceremonies (aularches), whom we found living in very simple style, in the northern quarter of the town. He was a middle aged man, of slender form, and pleasing address. The interview was a short one, and we left, Mr. Colocotroni promising to send early notice of the time when it would suit the queen's convenience to receive the American Minister and officers. Meanwhile an amusing incident occurred at Piraeus. A young American lieutenant had long been desirous of procuring a block of genuine Pentelican marble, to serve as a pedestal for the bust of his father-in-law, a warm admirer of Greece. In the garden of a friend in Athens, he found a piece that exactly suited his purpose. The owner cheerfully presented him with it, and had it neatly inclosed in a box. One evening, after a call-in the city, the officer placed it in his carriage and rode down to Piraeus, expecting to find one of the ship's boats in waiting. It was late, however, and none were to be found; but there were other boats at hand, and he deposited himself and his prize in one of these. Qn reaching the frigate he stepped on board, telling the boatmen to bring his box on deck. Instead of doing so, they demanded an exorbitant fare; and when he refused to pay it, quietly shoved off, and put back to shore. The lieutenant, who was on deck and unarmed, was unable to stop the rogues; and retired to his state-room for the night, as may be imagined, considerably vexed at the occurrence. Early the next morning, application was made for the arrest of the dishonest boatmen. They were readily identified, and in their house was found the box, which they had conveyed thither with no little trouble, and had broken open to discover its contents. They had evidently been deceived by its great weight; and doubtless their chagrin
PRESENTATION AT COURT. - ... 105
was considerable, when instead of a small treasure in gold or silver, they found inside nothing but a worthless block of stone. But for an unlucky discovery, the box would now have been restored to its owner. The marble had once been embedded in some church or chapel, as was manifest from a large Byzantine cross rudely carved on one face. The customhouse officers declared that this cross was old, and that the stone came under the category of antiquities, whose exportation is prohibited by law. There was no use in arguing the matter with them. The only resource was to send up to the city for Mr. Pittakes, the General Superintendent of Antiquities; who, on his arrival, laughed at the simplicity of the officials, and readily granted permission to export that block, and as many more such as could be procured. On the day appointed by the queen, we rode to the palace, and were ushered into the waiting-chamber, upon the second story near the northeastern corner. Here we were met by Mr. Colocotroni, who was introduced to Mr. Marsh, Commodore Stringham, and fourteen other officers. Having been desired by Mr. M. to assist him in the translation of the various Greek documents relating to Dr. King's case, it was thought proper by Mr. Colocotroni, that I should be presented at the same time; which would otherwise have been out of order. The usual routine of commonplace remarks having been gone through on either side, Mr. Colocotroni seated himself by my side, and inquired privately respecting the rank and names of the several officers; for the purpose, as I afterward learned, of informing the queen on the subject, and furnishing her with appropriate staple of remark. He then retired; and after a brief interval returned and ushered us into the adjoining presentation-room. Queen Amelia was standing near the centre of the room, which, though on no great scale of magnificence, was handsomely decorated and furnished. She was attired very tastefully: her dress was not remarkable for costliness; and she wore but little jewelry. Her height is good; and though well-formed, she is rather disposed to be fleshy. By most persons she is considered handsome. She is certainly betterlooking than most of the crowned heads of Europe. At the age of thirty-two or three she had, however, naturally lost much of her former beauty. A few paces behind the queen was the grande maîtresse, Madame Pulsky, who during the entire ceremony of presentation stood in the same spot, immovable as a statue.
On entering the room each individual bowed profoundly, and then all ranged themselves in the form of a crescent, occupying positions corresponding to their official rank. Mr. Colocotroni first presented Mr. Marsh; and the queen having advanced, stood for some five or ten minutes engaged in conversation with him. Then Mr. Marsh accompanied her along the line, introducing each one in succession. To the superior officers a few questions were addressed, which had to be interpreted to those who were so unfortunate as not to know a single word of French—the language that the queen had chosen to make use of The junior officers were, for the most part, honored with but a single interrogatory; and that related to their own department of naval service. The captain of the marines, for instance, was merely asked how many men he commanded, or some other similarly trivial question.
I have no doubt all were equally delighted when the awkward ceremony was dispatched, and a bow from the queen announced that we were at liberty to retire from the royal presence. If our entrance had been punctilious, our departure was still more so; and we literally bowed ourselves out of the room ; for it would have been a gross violation of all courtly etiquette to turn our backs upon the queen. Although the retrograde motion was neither convenient nor graceful, we made good our retreat to the door. Most of the party seemed much pleased with the result of the interview, the consequence of which was an invitation sent to the American Minister, Commodore, and Captains, to dine at the palace on a specified day. Strange to say, only Mr. Marsh and one of the captains were forthcoming; the attractions of royalty not being sufficiently powerful to induce the Commodore to postpone his departure for Constantinople, where the presence of an American frigate was imperatively demanded to protect our citizens.