CLARKE, Edward Daniel. Travels in various countries of Europe, Asia and Africa. Part the second: Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land: Section the third..., London, T. Cadell and W. Davies, MDCCCXVI [=1816].
Edward Daniel Clarke (1769-1822) was son of a writer and grandson of an archaeologist. He specialized in mineralogy and became a Doctor of the University of Cambridge. In 1799, at the age of thirty, as companion to aristocrat J.M.Cripps, he travelled throughout most of Europe. He toured Scandinavia and reached Moscow, as well as the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, the Troad, Cyprus, the Holy Land, Egypt, the Cyclades, Central Greece and the Balkan Peninsula. He returned to London in 1804 and was later ordained as an Anglican priest. Tireless and observant, shrewd and insightful, Clarke witnessed many important events of his time, which he mentions in his chronicle. The first edition of his account was published in six volumes between 1810 and 1823, and included one hundred and eighty-five plates.
The introduction to the first volume is dedicated to the geography of the Holy Land and the value of Turkish coins. The first chapters describe Constantinople: the palace, the harem, the sultan’s triumphal processions, the bazaar and the Byzantine hippodrome. From the Hellespont, Clarke reached the Troad. He narrates his antiquarian explorations in the region in detail. He then sailed to Rhodes, describing Tenedos, Lesbos, Chios, Cos and Cnidus. He reached Macre in Lycia, and from there travelled to Egypt and Cyprus, which he also describes, followed by a thorough tour of the Holy Land. The Appendix includes, among other data, documents on the fall of Selim III in 1807, a list of about six hundred and fifty Ottoman and Arab manuscripts (on theology, metaphysics, logic, history, poetry, literature, dream interpretation, geography, astronomy, etc.), a catalogue of one hundred and seventy-two tales from the "Arabian Nights", temperature tables and Clarke’s itinerary laid out in detail, with all the distances in caravan travelling hours.
Part of the second, the third and the fourth volumes narrate Clarke’s journey into Greek territories. After leaving Alexandria, their ship sailed first to Cos and then dropped anchor at Patmos. Clarke is responsible for despoiling the library of the monastery of St John on that island. After visiting Naxos, Paros, Syros, Sounion and Vari, he “beheld, with great transports of joy” Athens and the Acropolis monuments at sunset, waxing lyrical on the whiteness of the Parthenon visible on the horizon. Especially memorable are Clarke’s pages on Lusieri’s pillaging of the Acropolis monuments on behalf of Lord Elgin. Clarke met Lusieri in the Erechtheion, while the latter was “working” there and the Italian artist pointed out that the Caryatids were in excellent condition. In his text, Clarke makes scathing comments on the “work” being carried out by Europeans on the ancient monuments, as well as their negligence which caused irrevocable damage. Subsequently Clarke toured the Peloponnese (Epidaurus, Nauplion, Argos, Mycenae, Nemea) and returned to Athens. At Eleusis, he pursued and achieved the removal of one of the two colossal Pentelic marble Caryatids, from the Lesser Propylaea of the Sanctuary of Demeter. The statue is presently in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. On leaving Greece, Clarke and Cripp transported 76 and 80 cases respectively, containing their collections of marbles, manuscripts, coins and minerals. Nevertheless, Clarke’s observations on the occupations, customs, and everyday life of the Greeks remain invaluable to historical research.
The Appendix to the second volume includes, aside from temperature tables and extracts from other travellers’ handwritten notes, a table of all the locations Clarke visited himself, as well as the "Κατάλογος των βιβλίων ελληνικών τε και κοινών της τυπογραφίας του Πάνου Θεοδοσίου του εξ Ιωαννίνων" [List of books printed in classical and modern Greek from the print-shop of Panos Theodosiou from Ioannina], printed in Venice.
The introduction to the present volume includes observations on ancient vases and natural history (botany and mineralogy), together with a table showing the weight and monetary value of minerals found in Hungary and Transylvania. The subsequent chapters deal with Clarke's journey from Athens to Vienna. The author first comments on the customs of the Athenians and their dances. Subsequently, he narrates his tour in Marathon, Boeotia (Tanagra, Thebes, Hosios Loukas, Leuctra, Thespiae, Helicon, Livadeia, Chaeronea, Skripou and Orchomenos), and Phocis (Delphi, Tithorea). His journey continued on to Thermopylae and the plain of Thessaly, all the way to Tempi; from there, the traveller visited Pydna, Axios river and Thessaloniki. Clarke then describes Athos, Amphipolis and Kavala, and relates the rest of his journey, on to Thrace, Evros river, Rhaedestus (Tekirdag) and Istanbul. Afterward, Clarke left Istanbul and toured Eastern Thrace, Pyrgos (Bourgas) in modern-day Bulgary and Aemus Mons. From there, he travelled to Bucarest, visited the mines of Transylvania, and crossed Hungary to finally end up in Vienna.
The Appendix includes a text on the devastation caused by the Crusaders in Istanbul in 1204, an excerpt from Niketas Choniates rendered into English, a thorough list of the flora species collected by Clarke in Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land and a table recording ambient temperature in all the places visited by Clarke from December 1801 (Athens) to July 1802 (Vienna). There is also a table of Clarke's itinerary, recording distances and travelling time between the locations on the author's route.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou