Abridged from The Totall Discourse of the Rare Adventures and Painefull Perigrinations of Long Nineteen Years Travayles from Scotland to the most Kingdoms in Europe, Asia and Africa in 1632
William Lithgow, a Scottish tailor, after having his ears cut off by the outraged brothers of a lady he had dishonoured, found it advisable to leave his home town of Lanark for a lifetime of foreign travel. In the Adriatic, his ship was attacked by corsairs. After an overland expedition from Patras to Athens and back, he sailed to Crete, and crossed the Aegean, visiting some of the islands of the Archipelago, before continuing on to Constantinople. In Crete, then under Venetian lordship, he was several times in danger of his life. Although very much inclined to self-pity, his adventurous curiosity, and his self-righteous and abrasive personality, coupled with the anarchy of the regions through which he travelled, led him into many “rare and painful adventures” which are happily not open to travellers in a later age; but which are immensely entertaining for the armchair traveller to read about.
“The sorrowful master seeing nothing but shipwreck, took the helm in hand, directing his course to rush upon the face of a low rock, whereupon the sea most fearfully broke. As we touched, the mariners contending who should first leap out, some fell overboard, and those that got land, were pulled back by the reciprocating waves. Neither in all this time durst I once move; for they had formerly sworn, if I pressed to escape before the rest were first forth, they would throw me headlong into the sea. So being two ways in danger of death, I patiently offered up my prayers to God.
At our first encounter with the rocks, (our foredecks and boat’s gallery being broke, and a great lake made) the recoiling waves brought us back from the shelves a great way; which the poor master perceiving, and that there were seven men drowned, and eleven persons alive, cried with a loud voice: “Be of good courage, take up oars, and row hastily; it may be, before the barque sink we shall attain to yonder cave, which then appeared to our sight. Every man working for his own deliverance (as it pleased God) we got the same with good fortune: for no sooner were we disbarked, and I also left the last man, but the boat immediately sunk...”
Review: 'It is a rumbustuously told story, full of narrow minded judgements about foreigners and some memorable generalisations (the women of Chios are 'the most beautiful dames ... of all the Greeks upon the face of the earth').' Jonathan Carr in Athens News