Patmos used to be a famous resort of pirates. Dr. Clarke, after describing with enthusiasm the splendid scene which he witnessed in passing by Patmos, with feelings naturally excited by all the circumstances of local solemnity, and “the evening sun behind the towering cliffs of Patmos, gilding the battlements of the Monastery of the Apocalypse with its parting rays; the consecrated island, surrounded by inexpressible brightness, seeming to float upon an abyss of fire, while the moon, in milder splendour, was rising full over the opposite expanse,” proceeds to remark, “How very different were the reflections caused upon leaving the deck, by observing a sailor with a lighted match in his hand, and our captain busied in appointing an extraordinary watch for the night, as a precaution against the pirates who swarm in these seas.” These wretches, as dastardly as they were cruel, the instant they boarded a vessel, put every individual of the crew to death. They lurked about the isle of Fouri, to the north of Patmos, in great numbers, taking possession of bays and creeks the least frequented by other mariners. After they had plundered a ship, they bored a hole through her bottom, and took to their boats again. The knights of Malta were said to be amongst the worst of these robbers. In the library of the Monastery, which is built on the top of a mountain, and in the middle of the chief town, may be seen bulls from two of the Popes, and a protection from the Emperor Charles the Sixth, issued to protect the island from their incursions.
Though deficient in trees, Patmos now abounds in flowering plants and shrubs. Walnuts and other fruit trees grow in the orchards; and the wine of Patmos is the strongest and best flavoured of any in the Greek islands. The view of Patmos from the highest point is said to be very curious. The eye looks down on nothing but mountains below it; and the excessive narrowness of the island, with the curious form of its coast, have an extraordinary appearance.
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[Illustration: Letter M.]
Memorable in the history of genius is the 23rd of April, as being at once the day of the birth and death of Shakspeare; and these events took place on the same spot, for at Stratford-upon-Avon this illustrious dramatist was born, in the year 1564, and here he also died, in 1616. It has been conjectured, that his first dramatic composition was produced when he was but twenty-five years old. He continued to write for the stage for a great number of years; occasionally, also, appearing as a performer: and at length, having, by his exertions, secured a fortune of two or three hundred a year, retired to his native town, where he purchased a small estate, and spent the remainder of his days in ease and honour.
[Illustration: THE CHANDOS PORTRAIT OF SHAKESPEARE.]