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WITH THE CAMERA,
THE AUTUMN OF 1878
JOHN THOMSON F.R.G.S.
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The objects I had in view when—in spite of dangers, some real,
some imaginary—I determined to visit Cyprus were two-fold. The
first was to obtain a series of photographs of the island and
its people; and the second to so supplement these pictures by
personal observation, as to present to the public a faithful
reproduction of what I saw and heard during my travels.
Had I allowed first impressions to influence me, I should have
set my face homeward soon after landing at Larnaca; for in that
town I found a number of assembled immigrants bewailing the want
of forethought that had brought them and their wares to an
“exhausted island, never free from pestilence, and to a
Gloomy forebodings thus greeted me on all sides; but in the end
I took what turned out to be the right course. I thought that,
after all, I would wait and see things for myself, and pursue my
original plan of exploring Cyprus with the “camera,” taking
views (as impartial as they were photographic) of whatever might
prove interesting on the journey.
The expedition was not accomplished without some toil and
discomfort, but I confess to feeling some hope that the labours
undergone will not prove to have been altogether wasted, The
present work will afford those of my readers who have not
visited Cyprus a fair notion of the topography of the country
and its resources; and, on the other hand, those who have
themselves travelled through the island will find in these
volumes a faithful souvenir of their wanderings.
The photographs have been printed in permanent pigments, and
therefore, while they supply incontestable evidence of the
present condition of Cyprus, they will also afford a source of
comparison in after years, when, under the influence of British
rule, the place has risen from its ruins.
Although the island has been woefully wrecked by Turkish
maladministration, my readers will perceive that it is neither
barren nor “exhausted,” and that at no distant day it may regain
something at least of its old renown as a centre of commerce in
As to its unhealthiness, I have had my own experience of the
Famagosta (Famagusta / Gazi Mağusa)
fever, which is of a kind that may be set down as akin to the
malarious maladies of the Nile Delta, and of all other hot and
marshy regions. There is this difference, however, to
distinguish the case of Cyprus, its marshes are well defined and
limited in area, and in all probability, therefore, may be
rendered innoxious by drainage and by the planting of trees.
There is no harbour worthy of the name on any part of the coast;
but it appears to me that a spacious haven may be constructed at
Famagosta, by making use of a natural breakwater in the shape of
a partly-submerged reef of rocks. The old basin is silted up,
probably by the joint action of the sea and the alluvial deposit
from the mouth of the river Pedæzus.