WITH THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR. 27
afforded Daedalus the model for his labyrinth, and travellers have discovered in many
parts the various accurate outlines of some of the most convoluted letters of the Greek
alphabet. It was remarkable for the alterations it caused in the countries through which
it wound its way—obliterating old, and adding new tracts. This was so frequent, and
attended with such damage, that an indictment lay against the river ; and the person who
suffered was remunerated out of the tolls of the bridges which passed over it.
This constant undermining of its banks, and the fall of them into its current, was
the probable cause of its devious course. The soil, obstructed in one place, was deposited
in another; while the great quantity held in suspension, was suffered to fall when the
waters, meeting the obstructions of the sea, no longer supported it in the current. In its
mouth it formed great bars, and threw up new lands. The changes thus made were
celebrated by the ancients as so many mythological and preternatural metamorphoses :—
" The magic river in its tortuous wheel
Defrauds the mariner ; and where his keel
Plough'd up the pliant wave—the rustic's share
Delves in the soil, and plants his harvest there.
The moving waves to fixed furrows rise;
The sportive kid the dolphin's place supplies.
The shepherd's pipe delights the grazing sheep,
Where the hoarse sailor's voice outroared the boisterous deep."
Thus it happened that several celebrated towns, situated on its banks, are not now to
be traced there. The city of Myus stood on a bay ; the constant deposit of mud by the
river obstructed the ingress of salt-water, and the bay was changed into an inland lake; the
alluvial and marshy soil, generated by the slime, afforded a nidus to vast swarms of
insects ; and so Myus was infested, and called "the city of gnats." The swarms at this
day are an intolerable nuisance; towards evening, the inside of tents become black with
them. Myriads of winged insects cling to the poles and canvass. The torture they give
is so insupportable, that the sufferers blow them up with gunpowder, and often set fire
to their tents, to get rid of a plague equal to any of those of Egypt. Miletus, celebrated
for its woollen manufacture and rich dyes—the birth-place of one of the seven wise men,
and the capital of Ionia—was ruined by the Meander; the capricious stream removed
itself from its vicinity, and, for an easy and inviting approach, prohibited ingress by
depositing inaccessible mounds of mud.
The process, which for revolving centuries marked this singular river,, rs still going
on; deposits are daily made of soft soil, and that which had been left before, hardened into
firm ground. This new-created land is stretching beyond the estuary of the stream, and
the promontories which marked its mouth, as its barrier against the encroaching of the sea,
are now so remote from it, that they are seen distant inland hills. A judicious traveller
remarks, that it is probable the land will be pushed away, to join the island of Samos,
and such a change will be wrought on this coast by the caprice of the river, that " barren
rocks may be enamelled with rich domains, and other cities may rise and flourish on the
bounty of the Meander."