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"I also visited the small dépôt which Dr. King has under his charge, at his own house. He has sold and distributed from thence during the last year 368 Bibles and Testaments. I was quite astonished at the number of Scriptures that have been circulated in Greece, through Dr. King's instrumentality, since his residence in the country. They amount to an average of three or four thousand each year, for a period of twenty-five years, making between 75,000 and 100,000 copies, that have thus gone forth through all the land, in their mission of mercy and love.
"I also held a conference with the Rev. Dr. Hill,.in relation to the Bible interests. His views agreed substantially with those of Dr. King, with regard to the Athens edition of the New Testament, and the favorable prospects for the distribution of the Scriptures at present. He said he knew that 'five, at least, of the archbishops and bishops of the Greek church were favorable to the circulation of the Bible among their people, and the government were quite ready to have the Testament introduced and taught in all their schools.'
"Dr. Hill kindly gave me an introduction to the Director of Public Schools, who expressed an earnest desire to have their schools supplied with the New Testament. He stated that there were 550 government schools in Greece-400 for boys,
and 150 for girls, embracing 40,000 children; and if we gave ten Testaments to each school, they would consequently need 5,500 copies to meet the demand. Dr. Hill, who was present, at once offered to superintend the distribution of whatever number I might choose to designate for that purpose. I then called upon Mr. Nicholaides, the Agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society at Athens, under whose direction the new edition of the Testament was published. I stated to him the arrangement I had previously made with the officers of that society, in London, that the books should be printed expressly for us, and sold to us at cost price. He informed me that 5,000 had been published, and 2,000 were already disposed of, so that 3,000 only remained on hand. Of these, I have ordered that 1,000 be placed in the government schools, and 300 in the school under the direction of Mrs. Hill. He states that a second edition of 5,000 copies can be published here, if desired, in three or four months.
"I was much interested in a visit I made to Mrs. Hill's mission school. She has under her charge between three and four hundred Greek girls and children. They are regularly and thoroughly taught in the Scriptures. Indeed, I was quite surprised at the promptness and entire accuracy of their answers to Bible questions. She desired 400 New Testaments and 100 Bibles for
her school. Dr. and Mrs. Hill have been engaged in this mission for more than twenty years, and have done a noble work in the religious education of the daughters of Greece. They are now reaping the reward of their labors, in seeing their pupils occupying positions of honor and usefulness in all the land. I also visited, in company with Dr. Hill, the government schools of Athens, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Scriptures were taught, and if they desired a further supply. The first we visited was a school for boys, numbering 450, conducted on the Lancasterian principle. The New Testament, Evangelia, is introduced into the regular course of instruction, and taught morning and evening. I said to the principal, that 'we in America were much interested in the Greeks, especially in the schools of Greece, and were desirous to furnish them with the Bible as the basis of all true education.'
"I am well aware of this,' said he; 'the Americans have always done us good, and we feel particularly grateful to you for the Bible.' I was much pleased with the order and efficiency of their system, and the bright, intelligent countenances of the boys. He requested me to send him twenty-five or thirty New Testaments for his school.
"Then we made a visit to a government school for girls, situated in the ancient Agora, where St.
Paul preached. This numbered 350, under the superintendence of an excellent lady, and was most admirably conducted. It was truly cheering to know that they were all instructed in the Word of God, and taught the way of everlasting life. One of the teachers remarked to me that 'their Scriptures were quite exhausted, and they much needed a new supply.'
"We then visited the Normal School for the education of teachers. The instruction here is given by lectures from professors, and one lecture a week is devoted to the Bible. One of the professors spoke English very well, and said to me: 'You must be very much encouraged by your visit. The Scriptures now have free circulation in Greece. All that we need is a full supply.'
"The university, also, which numbers 650 students, has a course of lectures in Biblical theology. Indeed, a far more liberal and evangelical spirit now prevails in Greece, and it seems a most favorable moment to commence new operations for placing the Scriptures in their schools, and distributing them throughout the country. This is the only hope for the future of this ancient classic land. I was much encouraged by the kind and friendly manner in which I was received by all in behalf of the Bible Cause.
"Having thus fully accomplished the object of
SABBATH AT ATHENS..
my visit, I determined at once to return again to Constantinople.
"Most sincerely your friend and brother,
"C. N. RIGHTER."
He gives, in his correspondence, the following account of a Sabbath at Athens:
"ATHENS, Oct. 14, 1855.
"In the morning early, I went, in company with a friend, to attend the services of the Greek church. The first we entered was very small and humble in appearance, designed for the poorer classes, yet it was fully attended. They seemed very degraded and bigoted in the observance of form, devoutly kissing the pictures of the Virgin and saints, and pressing them with their foreheads, holding lighted candles, and crossing themselves incessantly. Their worship is very like that of the Romish church, consisting of reading the liturgy, and nasal singing by priests and small boys, burning incense, swinging the censer, and various outward rites. They have the lower forms of the Roman Catholics without their soul-inspiring music and splendid cathedrals.
"We then sought out the large church of St. Irene, in the central street of the city. This is principally attended by the higher classes. It is massive and finely built, though still unfinished.