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Title: Summer Cruise in the Mediterranean on board an American frigate
Author: Willis, Nathaniel Parker
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             SUMMER CRUISE
                                   IN
                           THE MEDITERRANEAN.



                             SUMMER CRUISE

                                   IN

                           THE MEDITERRANEAN

                     ON BOARD AN AMERICAN FRIGATE.

                                   BY
                           N. PARKER WILLIS.

                                LONDON:
                    T. BOSWORTH, 215, REGENT STREET.
                                 1853.



                                LONDON:
               BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS



                                PREFACE.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Of one of the most delicious episodes in a long period of foreign
travel, this volume is the imperfect and hastily written transcript.
Even at the time it was written, the author felt its experience to be a
dream—so exempt was it from the interrupting and qualifying drawbacks
of happiness in common and working life—but, now, after an interval of
many years, it seems indeed like a dream, and one so full of unmingled
pleasure, that its telling almost wants the contrast of a sadness. Of
the noble ship, whose summer cruise is described, and her kind and
hospitable officers, the recollection is as fresh and grateful now, as
when, (twenty years ago,) the author bade them farewell in the port of
Smyrna. Of the scenes he passed through, while their guest, he has a
less perfect remembrance—relying indeed on these chance memoranda, for
much that would else be forgotten. It is with a mingled sense of the
real and the unreal, therefore, that the book is offered, in a new
shape, to the Public, whose approbation has encouraged its long
existence, and the author trusts that his thanks to the surviving
officers of that ship may again reach them, and that the kind favour of
the reading Public may be again extended to this his record of what he
saw in the company of these officers, and by their generous hospitality.

    HIGHLAND TERRACE,
        _October, 1852_.



                               CONTENTS.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                               LETTER I.

    Cruise in the Frigate “United States”—Elba—Piombino—Porto
    Ferrajo—Appearance of the Bay—Naval Discipline—Visit to the
    Town Residence of Napoleon—His Employment during his
    Confinement on the Island—His sisters Eliza and Pauline—His
    Country House—Simplicity of the Inhabitants of Elba      1

                               LETTER II.

    Visit to Naples, Herculaneum, and Pompeii      7

                              LETTER III.

    Account of Vesuvius—The Hermitage—The famous Lagrima
    Christi—Difficulties of the Path—Curious Appearance of the Old
    Crater—Odd Assemblage of Travellers—The New Crater—Splendid
    Prospect—Mr. Mathias, Author of the Pursuits of Literature—The
    Archbishop of Tarento      16

                               LETTER IV.

    The Fashionable World of Naples at the Races—Brilliant Show of
    Equipages—The King and his Brother—Rank and Character of the
    Jockeys—Description of the Races—The Public Burial Ground at
    Naples—Horrid and inhuman Spectacles—The Lazzaroni—The Museum
    at Naples—Ancient Relics from Pompeii—Forks not used by the
    Ancients—The Lamp lit at the time of our Saviour—The antique
    Chair of Sallust—The Villa of Cicero—The Balbi Family—Bacchus
    on the Shoulders of a Faun—Gallery of Dians, Cupids, Joves,
    Mercuries, and Apollos, Statue of Aristides, &c.      23

                               LETTER V.

    Pæstum—Temple of Neptune—Departure from Elba—Ischia—Bay of
    Naples—The Toledo—The Young Queen—Conspiracy against the
    King—Neapolitans Visiting the Frigates—Leave the
    Bay—Castellamare      32

                               LETTER VI.

    Baiæ—Grotto of Posilipo—Tomb of Virgil—Pozzuoli—Ruins of the
    Temple of Jupiter Serapis—The Lucrine Lake—Late of Avernus,
    the Tartarus of Virgil—Temple of Proserpine—Grotto of the
    Cumæan Sybil—Nero’s villa—Cape of Misenum—Roman villas—Ruins
    of the Temple of Venus—-Cento Camerelle—The Stygian Lake—The
    Elysian Fields—Grotto del Cane—Villa of Lucullus      38

                              LETTER VII.

    Island of Sicily—Palermo—Saracenic appearance of the
    town—Cathedral—The Marina—Viceroy Leopold—Monastery of the
    Capuchins—Celebrated Catacombs—Fanciful Gardens      45

                              LETTER VIII.

    The Lunatic Asylum at Palermo      51

                               LETTER IX.

    Palermo—Fête given by Mr. Gardiner, the American Consul—Temple
    of Clitumnus—Cottage of Petrarch—Messina—Lipari
    Islands—Scylla and Charybdis      57

                               LETTER X.

    The Adriatic—Albania—Gay Costumes and Beauty of the
    Albanese—Capo d’Istria—Trieste resembles an American
    Town—Visit to the Austrian Authorities of the
    Province—Curiosity of the Inhabitants—Gentlemanly Reception by
    the Military Commandant—Visit to Vienna—Singular Notions of
    the Austrians respecting the Americans—Similarity of the
    Scenery to that of New England—Meeting with German
    Students—Frequent Sight of Soldiers and Military
    Preparation—Picturesque Scenery of Styria      63

                               LETTER XI.

    Gratz—Vienna      70

                              LETTER XII.

    Vienna—Magnificence of the Emperor’s Manège—The Young Queen of
    Hungary—The Palace—Hall of Curiosities, Jewelry, &c.—The
    Polytechnic School—Geometrical Figures described by the
    Vibrations of Musical Notes—Liberal Provision for the Public
    Institutions—Popularity of the Emperor      76

                              LETTER XIII.

    Vienna—Palaces and Gardens—Mosaic Copy of Da Vinci’s “Last
    Supper”—Collection of Warlike Antiquities; Scanderburg’s Sword,
    Montezuma’s Tomahawk, Relics of the Crusaders, Warriors in
    Armour, the Farmer of Augsburg—Room of Portraits of Celebrated
    Individuals—Gold Busts of Jupiter and Juno—The Glacis, full of
    Gardens, the General Resort of the People—Universal Spirit of
    Enjoyment—Simplicity and Confidence in the Manners of the
    Viennese—Baden      82

                              LETTER XIV.

    Vienna—The Palace of Liechstenstein      87

                               LETTER XV.

    The Palace of Schoenbrunn—Hietzing, the Summer Retreat of the
    Wealthy Viennese—Country-House of the American Consul—Specimen
    of Pure Domestic Happiness in a German Family—Splendid Village
    Ball—Substantial Fare for the Ladies—Curious Fashion of
    Cushioning the Windows—German Grief—The Upper Belvidere
    Palace—Endless Quantity of Pictures      92

                              LETTER XVI.

    Departure from Vienna—The Eil-Wagon—Motley quality of the
    passengers—Thunderstorm in the Mountains of
    Styria—Trieste—Short Beds of the Germans—Grotto of
    Adelsburgh—Curious Ball-Room in the Cavern—Nautical
    preparations for a Dance on board the “United States” swept away
    by the Bora—Its successful Termination      98

                              LETTER XVII.

    Trieste, its Extensive Commerce—Hospitality of Mr. Moore—Ruins
    of Pola—Immense Amphitheatre—Village of Pola—Coast of
    Dalmatia, of Apulia and Calabria—Otranto—Sails for the Isles
    of Greece      106

                             LETTER XVIII.

    The Ionian Isles—Lord and Lady Nugent—Corfu—Greek and English
    Soldiers—Cockneyism—The Gardens of Alcinous—English
    Officers—Albanians—Dionisio Salomos, the Greek Poet—Greek
    Ladies—Dinner with the Artillery Mess      110

                              LETTER XIX.

    Corfu—Unpopularity of British Rule—Superstition of the
    Greeks—Accuracy of the Descriptions in the Odyssey—Advantage
    of the Greek Costume—The Paxian Isles—Cape Leucas, or Sappho’s
    Leap—Bay of Navarino, Ancient Pylos—Modon—Coran’s Bay—Cape
    St. Angelo—Isle of Cythera      115

                               LETTER XX.

    The Harbour of Napoli—Tricoupi and Mavrocordato, Otho’s Cabinet
    Councillors—Colonel Gordon—King Otho—The Misses
    Armanspergs—Prince of Saxe—Miaulis, the Greek
    Admiral—Excursion to Argos, the ancient Terynthus      122

                              LETTER XXI.

    Visit from King Otho and Miaulis—Visit an English and Russian
    Frigate—Beauty of the Greek men—Lake Lerna—The Hermionicus
    Sinus—Hydra—Ægina      129

                              LETTER XXII.

    The Maid of Athens—Romance and Reality—American Benefactions
    to Greece—A Greek Wife and Scottish Husband—School of Capo
    d’Istrias—Grecian Disinterestedness—Ruins of the most Ancient
    Temple—Beauty of the Grecian Landscape—Hope for the Land of
    Epaminondas and Aristides      134

                             LETTER XXIII.

    Athens—Ruins of the Parthenon—The Acropolis—Temple of
    Theseus—The Oldest of Athenian Antiquities—Burial-Place of the
    Son of Miaulis—Reflections on Standing where Plato taught, and
    Demosthenes harangued—Bavarian Sentinel—Turkish Mosque,
    erected within the Sanctuary of the Parthenon—Wretched
    Habitations of the Modern Athenians      139

                              LETTER XXIV.

    The “Lantern of Demosthenes”—Byron’s Residence in
    Athens—Temple of Jupiter Olympus, Seven Hundred Years in
    Building—Superstitious Fancy of the Athenians respecting its
    Ruins—Hermitage of a Greek Monk—Petarches, the Antiquary and
    Poet, and his Wife, Sister to the “Maid of Athens”—Mutilation
    of a Basso Relievo by an English Officer—The Elgin Marbles—The
    Caryatides—Lord Byron’s Autograph—Attachment of the Greeks to
    Dr. Howe—The Sliding Stone—A Scene in the Rostrum of
    Demosthenes      145

                              LETTER XXV.

    The Prison of Socrates—Turkish Stirrups and Saddles—Plato’s
    Academy—The American Missionary School at Athens—The Son of
    Petarches, and Nephew of “Mrs. Black of Ægina”      150

                              LETTER XXVI.

    The Piræus—The Sacra Via—Ruins of Eleusis—Gigantic
    Medallion—Costume of the Athenian Women—The Tomb of
    Themistocles—The Temple of Minerva—Autographs      155

                             LETTER XXVII.

    Mytilene—The Tomb of Achilles—Turkish Burying Ground—Lost
    Reputation of the Scamander—Asiatic Sunsets—Visit to a Turkish
    Bey—The Castles of the Dardanelles—Turkish Bath, and its
    Consequences      160

                             LETTER XXVIII.

    A Turkish Pic-Nic on the plain of Troy—Fingers v.
    Forks—Trieste—The Boschetto—Graceful Freedom of Italian
    Manners—A Rural Fête—Fireworks—Amateur Musicians      166

                              LETTER XXIX.

    The Dardanelles—Visit from the Pacha—His Delight at hearing
    the Piano—Turkish Fountains—Caravan of Mules laden with
    Grapes—Turkish Mode of Living—Houses, Cafés, and Women—The
    Mosque and the Muezzin—American Consul of the Dardanelles,
    another “Caleb Quotem”      171

                              LETTER XXX.

    Turkish Military Life—A Visit to the Camp—Turkish
    Music—Sunsets—The Sea of Marmora      179

                              LETTER XXXI.

    Gallipoli—Aristocracy of Beards—Turkish Shopkeepers—The
    Hospitable Jew and his lovely Daughter—Unexpected
    Rencontre—Constantinople—The Bosphorus, the Seraglio, and the
    Golden Horn      184

                             LETTER XXXII.

    Constantinople—An Adventure with the Dogs of Stamboul—The
    Sultan’s Kiosk—The Bazaars—Georgians—Sweetmeats—Hindoostanee
    Fakeers—Turkish Women and their Eyes—The Jews—A Token of
    Home—The Drug Bazaar—Opium Eaters      190

                             LETTER XXXIII.

    The Sultan’s Perfumer—Etiquette of Smoking—Temptations for
    Purchasers—Exquisite Flavour of the Turkish Perfumes—The Slave
    Market of Constantinople—Slaves from various Countries, Greek,
    Circassian, Egyptian, Persian—African Female Slaves—An
    Improvisatrice—Exposure for Sale—Circassian Beauties
    prohibited to Europeans—First sight of one, eating a Pie—Shock
    to Romantic Feelings—Beautiful Arab Girl chained to the
    Floor—The Silk Merchant—A cheap Purchase      196

                             LETTER XXXIV.

    The Bosphorus—Turkish Palaces—The Black
    Sea—Buyukdere      201

                              LETTER XXXV.

    The Golden Horn and its Scenery—The Sultan’s Wives and
    Arabians—The Valley of Sweet Waters—Beauty of the Turkish
    Minarets—The Mosque of Sulymanye—Mussulmans at their
    Devotions—The Muezzin—The Bazaar of the Opium-eaters—the Mad
    House of Constantinople, and Description of its inmates—Their
    Wretched Treatment—The Hippodrome and the Mosque of Sultan
    Achmet—The Janizaries—Reflections on the Past, the Present,
    and the Future      207

                             LETTER XXXVI.

    Sultan Mahmoud at his Devotions—Comparative Splendour of Papal,
    Austrian, and Turkish Equipages—The Sultan’s Barge or
    Caïque—Description of the Sultan—Visit to a Turkish
    Lancasterian School—The Dancing Dervishes—Visit from the
    Sultan’s Cabinet—The Seraskier and the Capitan Pacha—Humble
    Origin of Turkish Dignitaries      215

                             LETTER XXXVII.

    The Grand Bazaar of Constantinople, and its infinite Variety of
    Wonders—Silent Shopkeepers—Female Curiosity—Adventure with a
    Black-Eyed Stranger—The Bezestein—The Stronghold of
    Orientalism—Picture of a Dragoman—The Kibaub-Shop—A Dinner
    without Knives, Forks, or Chair—Cistern of the Thousand and One
    Columns      223

                            LETTER XXXVIII.

    Belgrade—The Cottage of Lady Montagu—Turkish
    Cemeteries—Natural Taste of the Moslems for the Picturesque—A
    Turkish Carriage—Washerwomen Surprised—Gigantic Forest
    Trees—The Reservoir—Return to Constantinople      229

                             LETTER XXXIX.

    Scutari—Tomb of the Sultana Valide—Mosque of the Howling
    Dervishes—A Clerical Shoemaker—Visit to a Turkish
    Cemetery—Bird’s-Eye View of Stamboul and its Environs—Seraglio
    Point—The Seven Towers      234

                               LETTER XL.

    Beauties of the Bosphorus—Summer-Palace of the
    Sultan—Adventure with an old Turkish Woman—The Feast of
    Bairam—The Sultan his own Butcher—His Evil Propensities—Visit
    to the Mosques—A Formidable Dervish—Santa Sophia—Mosque of
    Sultan Achmet—Traces of Christianity      240

                              LETTER XLI.

    Unerring Detection of Foreigners—A Cargo of Odalisques—The
    Fanar, or Quarter of the Greeks—Street of the
    Booksellers—Aspect of Antiquity—Purchases—Charity for Dogs
    and Pigeons—Punishment of Canicide—A Bridal
    Procession—Turkish Female Physiognomy      245

                              LETTER XLII.

    The Perfection of Bathing—Pipes—Downy
    Cushions—Coffee—Rubbing Down—“Circular Justice,” as displayed
    in the Retribution of Boiled Lobsters—A Deluge of Suds—The
    Shampoo—Luxurious Helps to the Imagination—A Pedestrian
    Excursion—Story of an American Tar, burdened with Small
    Change—-Beauty of the Turkish Children—A Civilised
    Monster—Glimpse of Sultan Mahmoud in an Ill-Humour      251

                             LETTER XLIII.

    Punishment of Conjugal Infidelity—Drowning in the
    Bosphorus—Frequency of its occurrence accounted for—A Band of
    Wild Roumeliotes—Their Picturesque Appearance—Ali Pacha, of
    Yanina—A Turkish Funeral—Fat Widow of Sultan Selim—A Visit to
    the Sultan’s Summer Palace—A Travelling Moslem—Unexpected
    Token of Home      257

                              LETTER XLIV.

    Farewell to Constantinople—Europe and the East compared—The
    Departure—Smyrna, the great Mart for Figs—An Excursion into
    Asia Minor—Travelling Equipments—Character of the
    Hajjis—Encampment of Gipsies—A youthful Hebe—Note—Horror of
    the Turks for the “Unclean Animal”—An Anecdote      263

                              LETTER XLV.

    Natural Statue of Niobe—The Thorn of Syria and its
    Tradition—Approach to Magnesia—Hereditary Residence of the
    Family of Bey-Oglou—Character of its present Occupant—The
    Truth about Oriental Caravanserais—Comforts and Appliances they
    yield to Travellers—Figaro of the Turks—The Pilaw—Morning
    Scene at the Departure—Playful familiarity of a Solemn old
    Turk—Magnificent Prospect from Mount Sypilus      268

                              LETTER XLVI.

    The Eye of the Camel—Rocky Sepulchres—Virtue of an old
    Passport, backed by Impudence—Temple of Cybele—Palace of
    Crœsus—Ancient Church of Sardis—Return to Smyrna      274

                             LETTER XLVII.

    Smyrna—Charms of its Society—Hospitality of Foreign
    Residents—The Marina—The Casino—A narrow Escape from the
    Plague—Departure of the Frigate—High Character of the American
    Navy—A Tribute of Respect and Gratitude—The Farewell      279



                  SUMMER CRUISE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER I.


    Cruise in the Frigate “United States”—Elba—Piombino—Porto
    Ferrajo—Appearance of the Bay—Naval Discipline—Visit to the
    Town Residence of Napoleon—His Employment during his
    Confinement on the Island—His sisters Eliza and Pauline—His
    Country House—Simplicity of the Inhabitants of Elba.

I had come from Florence to join the “United States,” at the polite
invitation of the officers of the ward-room, on a cruise up the
Mediterranean. My cot was swung immediately on my arrival, but we lay
three days longer than was expected in the harbour, riding out a gale of
wind, which broke the chain cables of both ships, and drove several
merchant vessels on the rocks. We got under way on the 3rd of June, and
the next morning were off Elba, with Corsica on our quarter, and the
little island of Capreja just ahead.

The firing of guns took me just now to the deck. Three Sardinian
gun-boats had saluted the commodore’s flag in passing, and it was
returned with twelve guns. They were coming home from the affair at
Tunis. It is a fresh, charming morning, and we are beating up against a
light head-wind, all the officers on deck looking at the island with
their glasses, and discussing the character of the great man to whom
this little barren spot was a temporary empire. A bold fortification
just appears on the point, with the Tuscan flag flying from the staff.
The sides of the hills are dotted with desolate looking buildings, among
which are one or two monasteries, and in rounding the side of the
island, we have passed two or three small villages, perched below and
above on the rocks. Off to the east, we can just distinguish Piombino,
the nearest town of the Italian shore, and very beautiful it looks,
rising from the edge of the water like Venice, with a range of cloudy
hills relieving it in the rear.

Our anchor is dropped in the bay of Porto Ferrajo. As we ran lightly in
upon the last tack, the walls of the fort appeared crowded with people,
the whole town apparently assembled to see the unusual spectacle of two
ships-of-war entering their now quiet waters. A small curving bay opened
to us, and as we rounded directly under the walls of the fort, the tops
of the houses in the town behind appeared crowded with women, whose
features we could easily distinguish with a glass. By the constant
exclamations of the midshipmen, who were gazing intently from the
quarter-deck, there was among them a fair proportion of beauty, or what
looked like it in the distance. Just below the summit of the fort, upon
a terrace commanding a view of the sea, stood a handsome house, with low
windows shut with Venetian blinds and shaded with acacias, which the
pilot pointed out to us as the town residence of Napoleon. As the ship
lost her way, we came in sight of a gentle amphitheatre of hills rising
away from the cove, in a woody ravine of which stood a handsome
building, with eight windows, built by the exile as a country-house.
Twenty or thirty, as good or better, spot the hills around, ornamented
with avenues and orchards of low olive-trees. It is altogether a rural
scene, and disappoints us agreeably after the barren promise of the
outer sides of the isle.

The “Constellation” came slowly in after us, with every sail set, and
her tops crowded with men; and as she fell under the stern of the
commodore’s ship, the word was given, and her vast quantity of sail was
furled with that wonderful alacrity which so astonishes a landsman. I
have been continually surprised in the few days that I have been on
board, with the wonders of sea discipline; but for a spectacle, I have
seen nothing more imposing than the entrance of these two beautiful
frigates into the little port of Elba, and their magical management. The
anchors were dropped, the yards came down by the run, the sails
disappeared, the living swarm upon the rigging slid below, all in a
moment, and then struck up the delightful band on our quarter-deck, and
the sailors leaned on the guns, the officers on the quarter railing, and
boats from the shore, filled with ladies, lay off at different
distances, the whole scene as full of repose and enjoyment, as if we had
lain idle for a month in these glassy waters. How beautiful are the
results of order!

                 *        *        *        *        *

We had made every preparation for a pic-nic party to the country-house
of Napoleon yesterday—but it rained. At sunset, however, the clouds
crowded into vast masses, and the evening gave a glorious promise, which
was fulfilled this morning in freshness and sunshine. The commodore’s
barge took off the ladies for an excursion on horseback to the iron
mines, on the other side of the island—the midshipmen were set ashore
in various directions for a ramble, and I, tempted with the beauty of
the ravine which enclosed the villa of Napoleon, declined all
invitations with an eye to a stroll thither.

We were first set ashore at the mole to see the town. A medley crowd of
soldiers, citizens, boys, girls, and galley-slaves, received us at the
landing, and followed us up to the town-square, gazing at the officers
with undisguised curiosity. We met several gentlemen from the other ship
at the café, and taking a cicerone together, started for the
town-residence of the emperor. It is now occupied by the governor, and
stands on the fine summit of the little fortified city. We mounted by
clean, excellent pavements, getting a good-natured _buon giorno!_ from
very female head thrust from beneath the blinds of the houses. The
governor’s aide received us at the door, with his cap in his hand, and
we commenced the tour of the rooms with all the household, male and
female, following to gaze at us. Napoleon lived on the first floor. The
rooms were as small as those of a private house, and painted in the
pretty fresco common in Italy. The furniture was all changed, and the
fire-places and two busts of the emperor’s sisters (Eliza and Pauline)
were all that remained as it was. The library is a pretty room, though
very small, and opens on a terrace level with his favourite garden. The
plants and lemon-trees were planted by himself, we were told, and the
officers plucked souvenirs on all sides. The officer who accompanied us
was an old soldier of Napoleon’s and a native of Elba, and after a
little of the reluctance common to the teller of an oft-told tale, he
gave us some interesting particulars of the emperor’s residence at the
island. It appears that he employed himself, from the first day of his
arrival, in the improvement of his little territory, making roads, &c.,
and behaved quite like a man who had made up his mind to relinquish
ambition, and content himself with what was about him. Three assassins
were discovered and captured in the course of the eleven months, the
first two of whom he pardoned. The third made an attempt upon his life,
in the disguise of a beggar, at a bridge leading to his country-house,
and was condemned and executed. He was a native of the emperor’s own
birthplace in Corsica.

The second floor was occupied by his mother and Pauline. The furniture
of the chamber of the renowned beauty is very much as she left it. The
bed is small, and the mirror opposite its foot very large, and in a
mahogany frame. Small mirrors were set also into the bureau, and in the
back of a pretty cabinet of dark wood standing at the head of the bed.
It is delightful to breathe the atmosphere of a room that has been the
home of the lovely creature whose marble image by Canova thrills every
beholder with love, and is fraught with such pleasing associations. Her
sitting-room, though less interesting, made us linger and muse again. It
looks out over the sea to the west, and the prospect is beautiful. One
forgets that her history could not be written without many a blot. How
much we forgive to _beauty_! Of all the female branches of the Bonaparte
family, Pauline bore the greatest resemblance to her brother Napoleon:
but the grand and regular profile which was in him marked with the stern
air of sovereignty and despotic rule, was in her tempered with an
enchanting softness and fascinating smile. Her statue, after the Venus
de’ Medicis, is the chef d’œuvre of modern sculpture.

We went from the governor’s house to the walls of the town, loitering
along and gazing at the sea; and then rambled through the narrow streets
of the town, attracting, by the gay uniforms of the officers, the
attention and courtesies of every smooched petticoat far and near. What
the faces of the damsels of Elba might be, if washed, we could hardly
form a conjecture.

The country-house of Napoleon is three miles from the town, a little
distance from the shore, farther round into the bay. Captain Nicholson
proposed to walk to it, and send his boat across—a warmer task for the
mid-day of an Italian June than a man of less enterprise would choose
for pleasure. We reached the stone steps of the imperial casino, after a
melting and toilsome walk, hungry and thirsty, and were happy to fling
ourselves upon broken chairs in the denuded drawing-room, and wait for
an extempore dinner of twelve eggs and a bottle of wine as bitter as
criticism. A farmer and his family live in the house, and a couple of
bad busts and the fire-places, are all that remain of its old
appearance. The situation and the view, however, are superb. A little
lap of a valley opens right away from the door to the bosom of the bay,
and in the midst of the glassy basin lies the bold peninsular promontory
and fortification of Porto Ferrajo, like a castle in a loch, connected
with the body of the island by a mere rib of sand. Off beyond sleeps the
main-land of Italy, mountain and vale, like a smoothly-shaped bed of
clouds; and for the foreground of the landscape, the valleys of Elba are
just now green with fig-trees and vines, speckled here and there with
fields of golden grain, and farm-houses shaded with all the trees of
this genial climate.

We examined the place, after our frugal dinner, and found a natural path
under the edge of the hill behind, stretching away back into the valley,
and leading, after a short walk, to a small stream and a waterfall.
Across it, just above the fall, lay the trunk of an old and vigorous
fig-tree, full of green limbs, and laden with fruit half ripe. It made a
natural bridge over the stream, and as its branches shaded the rocks
below, we could easily imagine Napoleon, walking to and fro in the
smooth path, and seating himself on the broadest stone in the heat of
the summer evenings he passed on the spot. It was the only walk about
the place, and a secluded and pleasant one. The groves of firs and brush
above, and the locust and cherry-trees on the edges of the walk, are old
enough to have shaded him. We sat and talked under the influence of the
“genius of the spot,” till near sunset, and then, cutting each a
walking-stick from the shoots of the old fig-tree, returned to the boats
and reached the ship as the band struck up their exhilarating music for
the evening on the quarter-deck.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We have passed two or three days at Elba most agreeably. The weather has
been fine, and the ships have been thronged with company. The common
people of the town come on board in boat-loads, men, women, and
children, and are never satisfied with gazing and wondering. The
inhabitants speak very pure Tuscan, and are mild and simple in their
manners. They all take the ships to be bound upon a mere voyage of
pleasure; and, with the officers in their gay dresses, and the sailors
in their clean white and blue, the music morning and evening, and the
general gaiety on board, the impression is not much to be wondered at.

Yesterday, after dinner, Captain Nicholson took us ashore in his gig, to
pass an hour or two in the shade. His steward followed, with a bottle or
two of old wine, and landing near the fountain to which the boats are
sent for water, we soon found a spreading fig-tree, and, with a family
of the country people from a neighbouring cottage around us, we idled
away the hours till the cool of the evening. The simplicity of the old
man and his wife, and the wonder of himself and several labourers in his
vineyard, to whom the captain gave a glass or two of his excellent
wines, would have made a study for Wilkie. Sailors are merry companions
for a party like this. We returned over the unruffled expanse of the
bay, charmed with the beauty of the scene by sunset, and as happy as a
life, literally _sans souci_, could make us. What is it, in this
rambling absence from all to which we look forward to in love and hope,
that so fascinates the imagination?

                 *        *        *        *        *

I went, in the commodore’s suite, to call upon the governor this
morning. He is a military, commanding-looking man, and received us in
Napoleon’s saloon, surrounded  by his officers. He regretted that his
commission did not permit him to leave the shore, even to visit a ship,
but offered a visit on the part of his sister, and a company of the
first ladies of the town. They came off this morning. She was a
lady-like woman, not very pretty, of thirty years perhaps. As she spoke
only Italian, she was handed over to me, and I waited on her through the
ship, explaining a great many things of which I knew as much as herself.
This visit over, we get under way to-morrow morning for Naples.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER II.


    Visit to Naples, Herculaneum, and Pompeii.

I have passed my first day in Naples in wandering about, without any
definite object. I have walked around its famous bay, looked at the
lazzaroni, watched the smoke of Vesuvius, traversed the square where the
young Conradine was beheaded and Masaniello commenced his revolt,
mounted to the castle of St. Elmo, and dined on macaroni in a trattoria,
where the Italian I had learned in Tuscany was of little more use to me
than Greek.

The bay surprised me most. It is a collection of beauties, which seems
more a miracle than an accident of nature. It is a deep crescent of
sixteen miles across, and a little more in length, between the points of
which lies a chain of low mountains, called the island of Capri,
looking, from the shore, like a vast heap of clouds brooding at sea. In
the bosom of the crescent lies Naples. Its palaces and principal
buildings cluster around the base of an abrupt hill crowned by the
castle of St. Elmo, and its half million of inhabitants have stretched
their dwellings over the plain towards Vesuvius, and back upon Posilipo,
bordering the curve of the shore on the right and left, with a broad
white band of city and village for twelve or fourteen miles. Back from
this, on the southern side, a very gradual ascent brings your eye to the
base of Vesuvius, which rises from the plain in a sharp cone, broken in
at the top, its black and lava-streaked sides descending with the
evenness of a sand-hill, on one side to the disinterred city of Pompeii,
and on the other to the royal palace of Portici, built over the yet
unexplored Herculaneum. In the centre of the crescent of the shore
projecting into the sea by a bridge of two or three hundred feet in
length, stands a small castle built upon a rock, on one side of which
lies the mole with its shipping. The other side is bordered, close to
the beach, with the gardens of the royal villa, a magnificent promenade
of a mile, ornamented with fancy temples and statuary, on the smooth
alleys of which may be met, at certain hours, all that is brilliant and
gay in Naples. Farther on, toward the northern horn of the bay, lies the
mount of Posilipo, the ancient coast of Baiæ, Cape Mysene, and the
mountain isles of Procida and Ischia, the last of which still preserves
the costumes of Greece, from which it was colonised centuries ago. The
bay itself is as blue as the sky, scarcely ruffled all day with the
wind, and covered by countless boats fishing or creeping on with their
picturesque lateen sails just filled: while the atmosphere over sea,
city, and mountain, is of a clearness and brilliancy which is
inconceivable in other countries. The superiority of the sky and climate
of Italy is no fable in any part of this delicious land—but in Naples,
if the day I have spent here is a fair specimen, it is matchless even
for Italy. There is something like a fine blue veil of a most dazzling
transparency over the mountains around, but above and between there
seems nothing but viewless space—nothing like air that a bird could
rise upon. The eye gets intoxicated almost with gazing on it.

We have just returned from our first excursion to Pompeii. It lies on
the southern side of the bay, just below the volcano which overwhelmed
it, about twelve miles from Naples. The road lay along the shore, and is
lined with villages, which are only separated by name. The first is
Portici, where the king has a summer palace, through the court of which
the road passes. It is built over Herculaneum, and the danger of
undermining it has stopped the excavations of unquestionably the richest
city buried by Vesuvius. We stopped at a little gate in the midst of the
village, and taking a guide and two torches, descended to the only part
of it now visible, by near a hundred steps. We found ourselves at the
back of an amphitheatre. We entered the narrow passage, and the guide
pointed to several of the upper seats for the spectators which had been
partially dug out. They were lined with marble, as the whole
amphitheatre appears to have been. To realise the effect of these ruins,
it is to be remembered that they are imbedded in solid lava, like rock,
near a hundred feet deep, and that the city, which is itself ancient, is
built above them. The carriage in which we came, stood high over our
heads, in a time-worn street, and ages had passed and many generations
of men had lived and died over a splendid city, whose very name had been
forgotten! It was discovered in sinking a well, which struck the door of
the amphitheatre. The guide took us through several other long passages,
dug across and around it, showing us the orchestra, the stage, the
numerous entrances, and the bases of several statues which are taken to
the museum at Naples. This is the only part of the excavation that
remains open, the others having again been filled with rubbish. The
noise of the carriages overhead in the streets of Portici was like a
deafening thunder.

In a hurry to get to Pompeii, which is much more interesting, we
ascended to daylight, and drove on. Coasting along the curve of the bay,
with only a succession of villas and gardens between us and the beach,
we soon came to Torre del Greco, a small town which was overwhelmed by
an eruption thirty-nine years ago. Vesuvius here rises gradually on the
left, the crater being at a distance of five miles. The road crossed the
bed of dry lava, which extends to the sea in a broad, black mass of
cinders, giving the country the most desolate aspect. The town is
rebuilt just beyond the ashes, and the streets are crowded with the
thoughtless inhabitants, who buy and sell, and lounge in the sun, with
no more remembrance or fear of the volcano, than the people of a city in
America.

Another half-hour brought us to a long, high bank of earth and ashes,
thrown out from the excavations; and passing on, we stopped at the gate
of Pompeii. A guide met us, and we entered. We found ourselves in the
ruins of a public square, surrounded with small low columns of red
marble. On the right were several small prisons, in one of which was
found the skeleton of a man with its feet in iron stocks. The cell was
very small, and the poor fellow must have been suffocated without even a
hope of escape. The columns just in front were scratched with ancient
names, possibly those of the guard stationed at the door of the prison.
This square is surrounded with shops, in which were found the relics and
riches of tradesmen, consisting of an immense variety. In one of the
buildings was found the skeleton of a new-born child, and in one part of
the square the skeletons of sixty men, supposed to be soldiers, who, in
the severity of Roman discipline, dared not fly, and perished at their
post. There were several advertisements of gladiators on the pillars,
and it appears that at the time of the eruption, the inhabitants of
Pompeii were principally assembled in the great amphitheatre, at a show.

We left the square, and visiting several small private houses near it,
passed into a street with a slight ascent, the pavement of which was
worn deep with carriage-wheels. It appeared to have led from the upper
part of the city directly to the sea, and in rainy weather must have
been quite a channel for water, as high stones at small distances were
placed across the street, leaving open places between for the
carriage-wheels. (I think there is a contrivance of the same kind in one
of the streets of Baltimore.)

We mounted thence to higher ground, the part of the city not excavated.
A peasant’s hut and a large vineyard stand high above the ruins, and
from the door the whole city and neighbourhood are seen to advantage.
The effect of the scene is strange beyond description. Columns, painted
walls, wheel-worn streets, amphitheatres, palaces, all as lonely and
deserted as the grave, stand around you, and behind is a poor cottage
and a vineyard of fresh earth just putting forth its buds, and beyond,
the broad, blue, familiar bay, covered with steamboats and sails, and
populous modern Naples in the distance—a scene as strangely mingled,
perhaps, as any to be found in the world. We looked around for a while,
and then walked on through the vineyard to the amphitheatre which lies
beyond, near the other gate of the city. It is a gigantic ruin,
completely excavated, and capable of containing twenty thousand
spectators. The form is oval, and the architecture particularly fine.
Besides the many vomitories or passages for ingress and egress, there
are three smaller alleys, one used as the entrance for wild beasts, one
for the gladiators, and the third as that by which the dead were taken
away. The skeletons of eight lions and a man, supposed to be their
keeper, were found in one of the dens beneath, and those of five other
persons near the different doors. It is presumed that the greater
proportion of the inhabitants of Pompeii must have escaped by sea, as
the eruption occurred while they were nearly all assembled on this spot,
and these few skeletons only have been found.[1]

We returned through the vineyard, and stopping at the cottage, called
for some of the wine of the last vintage (delicious, like all those in
the neighbourhood of Vesuvius), and producing our basket of provisions,
made a most agreeable dinner. Two parties of English passed while we
were sitting at our out-of-doors table. Our attendant was an uncommonly
pretty girl of sixteen, born on the spot, and famous just now as the
object of a young English nobleman’s particular admiration. She is a
fine, dark-eyed creature, but certainly no prettier than every fifth
peasant girl in Italy. Having finished our picturesque meal, we went
down into the ancient streets once more, and arrived at the small temple
of Isis, a building in excellent preservation. On the altar stood, when
it was excavated, a small statue of Isis, of exquisite workmanship (now
in the museum, to which all the curiosities of the place are carried),
and behind this we were shown the secret _penetralia_, where the priests
were concealed, who uttered the oracles supposed to be pronounced by the
goddess. The access was by a small secret flight of stairs,
communicating with the apartments of the priests in the rear. The
largest of these apartments was probably the refectory, and here was
found a human skeleton near a table, upon which lay dinner utensils,
chicken bones, bones of fishes, bread and wine, and a faded garland of
flowers. In the kitchen, which we next visited, were found cooking
utensils, remains of food, and the skeleton of a man leaning against the
wall with an axe in his hand, and near him a considerable hole, which he
had evidently cut to make his escape when the door was stopped by
cinders. The skeleton of one of the priests was found prostrate, near
the temple, and in his hand three hundred and sixty coins of silver,
forty-two of bronze, and eight of gold, wrapped strongly in a cloth. He
had probably stopped before his flight to load himself with the
treasures of the temple, and was overtaken by the shower of cinders and
suffocated. The skeletons of one or two were found upon beds, supposed
to have been smothered while asleep or ill. The temple is beautifully
paved with mosaic (as indeed are all the better private houses and
public buildings of Pompeii), and the open inner court is bordered with
a quadrilateral portico. The building is of the Roman Doric order. (I
have neither time nor room to enumerate the curiosities found here and
in the other parts of the city, and I only notice those which most
impressed my memory. The enumeration by Madame Stark, will be found
exceedingly interesting to those who have not read her laconic
guide-book.)

We passed next across a small street to the tragic theatre, a large
handsome building, where the seats for the vestals, consuls, and other
places of honour, are well preserved, and thence up the hill to the
temple of Hercules, which must have been a noble edifice, commanding a
superb view of the sea.

The next object was the triangular forum, an open space surrounded with
three porticoes, supported by a hundred Doric columns. Here were found
several skeletons, one of which was that of a man who had loaded himself
with plunder. Gold and silver coins, cups, rings, spoons, buckles, and
other things, were found under him. Near here, under the ruins of a
wall, were discovered skeletons of a man and a woman, and on the arms of
the latter two beautiful bracelets of gold.

We entered from this a broad street, lined with shops, against the walls
of which were paintings in fresco, and inscriptions in deep-red paint,
representing the occupations and recording the names of the occupants.
In one of them was found a piece of salt-fish, smelling strongly after
seventeen centuries! In a small lane leading from this street, the guide
led us to a shop, decorated with pictures of fish of various kinds, and
furnished with a stove, marble dressers, and earthern jars, supposed to
have belonged to a vender of fish and olives. A little further on was a
baker’s shop, with a well-used oven, in which was found a batch of bread
burnt to a cinder. Near this was the house of a midwife. In it were
found several instruments of a simple and excellent construction,
unknown to the moderns, a forceps, remains of medicines in a wooden box,
and various pestles and mortars. The walls were ornamented with frescoes
of the Graces, Venus, and Adonis, and similar subjects.

The temple of the pantheon is a magnificent ruin, and must have been one
of the choicest in Pompeii. Its walls are decorated with exquisite
paintings in fresco, arabesques, mosaics, &c., and its court is one
hundred and eighty feet long, and two hundred and thirty broad, and
contains an altar, around which are twelve pedestals for statues of the
twelve principal deities of the ancients. Gutters of marble are placed
at the base of the triclinium, to carry away the blood of the victims. A
thousand coins of bronze, and forty or fifty of silver, were found near
the sanctuary.

We passed on to the _Curea_, a semi-circular building, for the
discussion of matters of religion by the magistrates; a temple of
Romulus; the remains of a temple of Janus; a splendid building called
the _chalcidicum_, constructed by the priestess Eumachea and her son,
and dedicated as a temple of concord, and came at last, by a regular
ascent, into a large and spacious square, called the _forum civile_.
This part of the city of Pompeii must have been extremely imposing.
Porticoes, supported by noble columns, encompassed its vast area; the
pedestals of colossal statues, erected to distinguished citizens, are
placed at the corners; at the northern extremity rose a stately temple
of Jupiter: on the right was another temple to Venus; beyond, a large
public edifice, the use of which is not known; across the narrow street
which bounds it stood the Basilica, an immense building, which served as
a court of justice and an exchange.

We passed out at the gate of the city and stopped at a sentry-box, in
which was found a skeleton in full armour—a soldier who had died at his
post! From hence formerly the road descended directly to the sea, and
for some distance was lined on either side with the magnificent tombs of
the Pompeians. Among them was that of the Vestal virgins, left
unfinished when the city was destroyed; a very handsome tomb, in which
was found the skeleton of a woman, with a lamp in one hand and jewels in
the other (who had probably attempted to rob before her flight), and a
very handsome square monument, with a beautiful _relievo_ on one of the
slabs, representing (as emblematic of death) a ship furling her sails on
coming into port. Near one of the large family sepulchres stands a small
semi-circular room, intended for the funeral feast after a burial; and
here were found the remains of three men around a table, scattered with
relics of a meal. They were overwhelmed ere their feast was concluded
over the dead!

The principal inn of Pompeii was just inside the gate. We went over the
ruins of it. The skeleton of an ass was found chained to a ring in the
stable, and the tire of a wheel lay in the court-yard. Chequers are
painted on the side of the door as a sign.

Below the tombs stands the “suburban villa of Diomed,” one of the most
sumptuous edifices of Pompeii. Here was found everything that the age
could furnish for the dwelling of a man of wealth. Statues, frescoes,
jewels, wine, household utensils of every description, skeletons of
servants and dogs, and every kind of elegant furniture. The family was
large, and in the first moment of terror, they all retreated to a wine
vault under the villa, where their skeletons (eighteen grown persons and
two children) were found seventeen centuries after! There was really
something startling in walking through the deserted rooms of this
beautiful villa—more than one feels elsewhere in Pompeii, for it is
more like the elegance and taste of our own day; and with the brightness
of the preserved walls, and the certainty with which the use of each
room is ascertained, it seems as if the living inhabitant would step
from some corner and welcome you. The figures on the walls are as fresh
as if done yesterday. The baths look as if they might scarce be dry from
use. It seems incredible that the whole Christian age has elapsed since
this was a human dwelling—occupied by its last family _while our
Saviour was walking the world_!

It would be tedious to enumerate all the curious places to which the
guide led us in this extraordinary city. On our return through the
streets, among the objects of interest was the _house of Sallust, the
historian_. I did not think, when reading his beautiful Latin at school,
that I should ever sit down in his parlour! Sallust was rich, and his
house is uncommonly handsome. Here is his chamber, his inner court, his
kitchen, his garden, his dining-room, his guest-chamber, all perfectly
distinguishable by the symbolical frescoes on the wall. In the court was
a fountain of pretty construction, and opposite, in the rear, was a
flower-garden, containing arrangements for dining in open air in summer.
The skeleton of a female (supposed to be the wife of the historian) and
three servants, known by their different ornaments, were found near the
door of the street.

We passed a druggist’s shop and a cook-shop, and entered, treading on a
beautiful mosaic floor, the “house of the dramatic poet,” so named from
the character of the paintings with which it is ornamented throughout.
The frescoes found here are the finest ancient paintings in the world,
and from some peculiarity in the rings upon the fingers of the female
figures, they are supposed to be family portraits. With assistance like
this, how easily the imagination repeoples these deserted dwellings.

A heavy shower drove us to the shelter of the wine-vaults of Diomed, as
we were about stepping into our carriage to return to Naples. We spent
the time in exploring, and found some thirty or forty earthen jars still
half-buried in the ashes which drifted through the loop-holes of the
cellar. In another half-hour the black cloud had passed away over
Vesuvius, and the sun set behind Posilipo in a flood of splendour. We
were at home soon after dark, having had our fill of astonishment for
once. I have seen nothing in my life so remarkable as this disentombed
city. I have passed over, in the description, many things which were
well worth noting, but it would have grown into a mere catalogue else.
You should come to Italy. It is a privilege to realise these things
which could not be bought too dearly, and they cannot be realised but by
the eye. Description conveys but a poor shadow of them to the fancy.

-----

[1] “The number of skeletons hitherto disinterred in Pompeii and its
suburbs is three hundred.”—_Stark._

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER III.


    Account of Vesuvius—The Hermitage—The famous Lagrima
    Christi—Difficulties of the Path—Curious Appearance of the Old
    Crater—Odd Assemblage of Travellers—The New Crater—Splendid
    Prospect—Mr. Mathias, Author of the Pursuits of Literature—The
    Archbishop of Tarento.

Mounted upon asses much smaller than their riders, and with each a
bare-legged driver behind, we commenced the ascent of Vesuvius. It was a
troublesome path worn through the rough scoria of old eruptions, and
after two hours’ toiling, we were glad to dismount at “the hermitage.”
Here lives a capuchin friar on a prominent rib in the side of the
volcano, the red-hot lava dividing above his dwelling every year or two,
and coursing away to the valley in two rivers of fire on either side of
him. He has been there twelve years, and supports himself, and probably
half the brotherhood at the monastery, by selling _Lagrima Christi_ to
strangers. It is a small white building with a little grass and a few
trees about it, and looks like an island in the black waste of cinders
and lava.

A shout from the guide was answered by the opening of a small window
above, and the shaven crown of the old friar was thrust forth with a
welcome and a request that we would mount the stairs to the parlour. He
received us at the top, and gave us chairs around a plain board table,
upon which he set several bottles of the far-famed wine of Vesuvius. One
drinks it, and blesses the volcano that warmed the roots of the grape.
It is a ripe, rich, full-bodied liquor, which “ascends me into the
brain” sooner than any continental wine I have tasted. I never drank
anything more delicious.

We remounted our asses and rode on, much more indifferent than before,
to the roughness of the path. It strikes one like the road to the
infernal regions. No grass, not a shrub, nothing but a wide mountain of
cinders, black and rugged, diversified only by the deeper die of the
newer streaks of lava. The eye wearied of gazing on it. We mounted thus
for an hour or more, arriving at last at the base of a lofty cone whose
sides were but slopes of deep ashes. We left our donkeys here in company
with those of a large party that had preceded us, and made preparations
to ascend on foot. The drivers unlaced their sashes, and passing them
round the waists of the ladies, took the ends over their shoulders, and
proceeded. Harder work could scarce be conceived. The feet had no hold,
sinking knee-deep at every step, and we slipped back so much, that our
progress was almost imperceptible. The ladies were soon tired out,
although more than half dragged up by the guides. At every few steps
there was a general cry for a halt, and we lay down in the warm ashes,
quite breathless and discouraged.

In something more than an hour from the hermitage we reached the edge of
the old crater. The scene here was very curious. A hollow, perhaps a
mile round, composed entirely of scoria (like the cinders under a
blacksmith’s window) contained in its centre the sharp new cone of the
last eruption. Around in various directions, sat some thirty groups of
travellers, with each their six or seven Italian guides, refreshing
themselves with a lunch after the fatigue of the ascent. There were
English, Germans, French, Russians, and Italians, each speaking their
own language, and the largest party, oddly enough, was from the United
States. As I was myself travelling with foreigners, and found my
countrymen on Vesuvius unexpectedly, the mixture of nations appeared
still more extraordinary. The combined heat of the sun and the volcano
beneath us, had compelled the Italians to throw off half their dress,
and they sat or stood leaning on their long pikes, with their brown
faces and dark eyes glowing with heat, as fine models of ruffians as
ever startled a traveller in this land of bandits. Eight or ten of them
were grouped around a crack in the crater, roasting apples and toasting
bread. There were several of these cracks winding about in different
directions, of which I could barely endure the heat, holding my hand at
the top. A stick thrust in a foot or more, was burnt black in a moment.

With another bottle or two of “lagrima Christi” and a roasted apple, our
courage was renewed, and we picked our way across the old crater,
sometimes lost in the smoke which steamed up through the cracks, and
here and there treading on beautiful beds of crystals of sulphur. The
ascent of the new cone was shorter, but very difficult. The ashes were
so new and light, that it was like a steep sand-bank, giving
discouragingly at the least pressure, and sinking till the next step was
taken. The steams of sulphur as we approached the summit, were all but
intolerable. The ladies coughed, the guides sneezed and called on the
Madonna, and I never was more relieved than in catching the first clear
draught of wind on the top of the mountain.

Here we all stood at last—crowded together on the narrow edge of a
crater formed within the year, and liable every moment to be overwhelmed
with burning lava. There was scarce room to stand, and the hot ashes
burnt our feet as they sunk into it. The females of each party sunk to
the ground, and the common danger and toil breaking down the usual stiff
barrier of silence between strangers, the conversation became general,
and the hour on the crater’s edge passed very agreeably.

A strong lad would just about throw a stone from one side to the other
of the new crater. It was about forty feet deep, perhaps more, and one
crust of sulphur lined the whole. It was half the time obscured in
smoke, which poured in volumes from the broad cracks with which it was
divided in every direction, and occasionally an eddy of wind was caught
in the vast bowl, and for a minute its bright yellow surface was
perfectly clear. There had not been an eruption for four or five months,
and the abyss, which is, for years together, a pit of fire and boiling
lava, has had time to harden over, and were it not for the smoking
steams, one would scarce suspect the existence of the tremendous volcano
slumbering beneath.

After we had been on the summit a few minutes, an English clergyman of
my acquaintance, to our surprise, emerged from the smoke. He had been to
the bottom for specimens of sulphur for his cabinet. Contrary to the
advice of the guide, I profited by his experience, and disappearing in
the flying clouds, reached the lowest depths of the crater with some
difficulties of foothold and breath. The cracks, which I crossed twice,
were so brittle as to break like the upper ice of a twice frozen pond
beneath my feet, and the stench of the exhaling gases was nauseating
beyond all the sulphuretted hydrogen I have ever known. The sensation
was painfully suffocating from the moment I entered the crater. I broke
off as many bits of the bright golden crystals from the crust as my
confusion and failing strength would allow, and then remounted, feeling
my way up through the smoke to the summit.

I can compare standing on the top of Vesuvius and looking down upon the
bay and city of Naples, to nothing but mounting a peak in the infernal
regions overlooking paradise. The larger crater encircles you entirely
for a mile, cutting off the view of the sides of the mountain, and from
the elevation of the new cone, you look over the rising edge of this
black field of smoke and cinders, and drop the eye at once upon Naples,
lying asleep in the sun, with its lazy sails upon the water, and the
green hills enclosing it clad in the indescribable beauty of an Italian
atmosphere. Beyond all comparison, by the testimony of every writer and
traveller, the most beautiful scene in the world, the loveliest water,
and the brightest land, lay spread out before us. With the stench of hot
sulphur in our nostrils, ankle deep in black ashes, and a waste of
smouldering cinders in every direction around us, the enjoyment of the
view certainly did not want for the heightening of contrast.

We made our descent by jumps through the sliding ashes, frequently
tumbling over each other, and retracing in five minutes the toil of an
hour. Our donkeys stood tethered together on the herbless field of
cinders, and we were soon in the clumsy saddles, and with a call at the
hermitage, and a parting draught of wine with the friar, we reached our
carriages at the little village of Resina in safety. The feet of the
whole troop were in a wretched condition. The ladies had worn shoes, or
slight boots, which were cut to pieces of course, and one very
fine-looking girl, the daughter of an elderly French gentleman, had,
with the usual improvidence of her nation, started in satin slippers.
She was probably lamed for a month, as she insisted on persevering, and
wrapped her feet in handkerchiefs to return.

We rode along the curve of the bay, by one of these matchless sunsets of
Italy, and arrived at Naples at dark.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I have had the pleasure lately of making the acquaintance of Mr.
Mathias, the distinguished author of the “Pursuits of Literature,” and
the translator of Spenser and other English poets into Italian. About
twenty years ago, this well-known scholar came to Italy on a desperate
experiment of health. Finding himself better almost against hope, he has
remained from year to year in Naples, in love with the climate and the
language, until, at this day, he belongs less to the English than the
Italian literature, having written various original poems in Italian,
and translated into Italian verse, to the wonder and admiration of the
scholars of the country. I found him this morning at his lodgings, in an
old palace on the Pizzofalcone, buried in books as usual, and
good-humoured enough to give an hour to a young man who had no claim on
him beyond the ordinary interest in a distinguished scholar. He talked a
great deal of America naturally, and expressed a very strong friendship
for Mr. Everett, whom he had met on his travels, requesting me at the
same time to take to him a set of his works as a remembrance. Mr.
Mathias is a small man, of perhaps sixty years, perfectly bald, and a
little inclined to corpulency. His head is ample, and would make a fine
picture of a scholar. His voice is hurried and modest, and from long
residence in Italy, his English is full of Italian idioms. He spoke with
rapture of Da Ponte, calling me back as I shut the door, to ask for him.
It seemed to give him uncommon pleasure that we appreciated and valued
him in America.

I have looked over, this evening, a small volume, which he was kind
enough to give me. It is entitled “Lyric Poetry, by T. I. Mathias; a new
edition, printed privately.” It is dated 1832, and the poems were
probably all written within the last two years. The shortest extract I
can make is a “Sonnet to the Memory of Gray,” which strikes me as very
beautiful.

        “Lord of the various lyre! devout we turn
        Our pilgrim steps to thy supreme abode,
        And tread with awe the solitary road
        To grace with votive wreaths thy hallowed urn.
        Yet, as we wander through this dark sojourn,
        No more the strains we hear, that all abroad
        Thy fancy wafted, as the inspiring God
        Prompted ‘the thoughts that breathe, the words that burn.’

        “But hark! a voice in solemn accents clear
        Bursts from heaven’s vault that glows with temperate fire;
        Cease, mortal, cease to drop the fruitless tear;
        _Mute though the raptures of his full-strung lyre,_
        _E’en his own warblings, lessened on his ear,_
        _Lost in seraphic harmony expire_.”

I have met also, at a dinner party lately, the celebrated antiquary, Sir
William Gell. He, too, lives abroad. His work on Pompeii has become
authority, and displays very great learning. He is a tall,
large-featured man, and very commanding in his appearance, though lamed
terribly with the gout.

A friend, whom I met at the same house, took me to see the archbishop of
Tarento yesterday. This venerable man, it is well known, lost his gown
for his participation in the cause of the Carbonari (the revolutionary
conspirators of Italy). He has always played a conspicuous part in the
politics of his time, and now, at the age of ninety, unlike the usual
fate of meddlers in troubled waters, he is a healthy, happy, venerated
old man, surrounded in his palace with all that luxury can give him. The
lady who presented me took the privilege of intimate friendship to call
at an unusual hour, and we found the old churchman in his slippers, over
his breakfast, with two immense tortoise-shell cats, upon stools,
watching his hand for bits of bread, and purring most affectionately. He
looks like one of Titian’s pictures. His face is a wreck of commanding
features, and his eye seems less to have lost its fire, than to slumber
in its deep socket. His hair is snowy white—his forehead of prodigious
breadth and height—and his skin has that calm, settled, and yet healthy
paleness, which carries with it the history of a whole life of
temperance and thought.

The old man rose from his chair with a smile, and came forward with a
stoop and a feeble step, and took my two hands, as my friend mentioned
my name, and looked me in the face very earnestly. “Your country,” said
he, in Italian, “has sprung into existence like Minerva, full grown and
armed. We look for the result.” He went on with some comments upon the
dangers of republics, and then sent me to look at a portrait of Queen
Giovanna, of Naples, by Leonardo da Vinci, while he sat down to talk
with the lady who brought me. His secretary accompanied me as a
cicerone. Five or six rooms, communicating with each other, were filled
with choice pictures, every one a gift from some distinguished
individual. The present king of France has sent him his portrait! Queen
Adelaide has sent a splendid set of Sèvres china, with the portraits of
her family; the Queen of Belgium had presented him with her miniature
and that of Leopold; the King and Queen of Naples had half-furnished his
house; and so the catalogue went on. It seemed as if the whole continent
had united to honour the old man. While I was looking at a curious
mosaic portrait of a cat, presented to him on the death of the original,
by some prince whose name I have forgotten, he came to us, and said he
had just learned that my pursuits were literary, and would present me
with his own last work. He opened the drawer of a small bureau and
produced a manuscript of some ten pages, written in a feeble hand.
“This,” said he, “is an enumeration from memory of what I have not seen
for many years, the classic spots about our beautiful city of Naples,
and their associations. I have written it in the last month to wile away
the time, and call up again the pleasure I have received many times in
my life in visiting them.” I put the curious document in my bosom with
many thanks, and we kissed the hand of the good old priest and left him.
We found his carriage, with three or four servants in handsome livery,
waiting for him in the court below. We had intruded a little on the hour
for his morning ride.

I found his account of the environs merely a simple catalogue, with here
and there a classic quotation from a Greek or Latin author, referring to
them. I keep the MS. as a curious memento of one of the noblest relics I
have seen of an age gone by.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER IV.


    The Fashionable World of Naples at the Races—Brilliant Show of
    Equipages—The King and his Brother—Rank and Character of the
    Jockeys—Description of the Races—The Public Burial Ground at
    Naples—Horrid and inhuman Spectacles—The Lazzaroni—The Museum
    at Naples—Ancient Relics from Pompeii—Forks not used by the
    Ancients—The Lamp lit at the time of our Saviour—The antique
    Chair of Sallust—The Villa of Cicero—The Balbi Family—Bacchus
    on the Shoulders of a Faun—Gallery of Dians, Cupids, Joves,
    Mercuries, and Apollos, Statue of Aristides, &c.

I have been all day at “the races.” The King of Naples, who has a great
admiration for everything English, has abandoned the Italian custom of
running horses without riders through the crowded street, and has laid
out a magnificent course on the summit of a broad hill overlooking the
city on the east. Here he astonishes his subjects with _ridden_ races,
and it was to see one of the best of the season, that the whole
fashionable world of Naples poured out to the campo this morning. The
show of equipages was very brilliant, the dashing liveries of the
various ambassadors, and the court and nobles of the kingdom, showing on
the bright greensward to great effect. I never saw a more even piece of
turf, and it was fresh in the just-born vegetation of spring. The
carriages were drawn up in two lines, nearly half round the course, and
for an hour or two before the races, the king and his brother, Prince
Carlo, rode up and down between with the royal suite, splendidly
mounted, the monarch himself upon a fiery grey blood-horse, of uncommon
power and beauty. The director was an Aragonese nobleman, cousin to the
king, and as perfect a specimen of the Spanish cavalier as ever figured
in the pages of romance. He was mounted on a Turkish horse, snow-white,
and the finest animal I ever saw; and he carried all eyes with him, as
he dashed up and down, like a meteor. I like to see a fine specimen of a
man, as I do a fine picture, or an excellent horse, and I think I never
saw a prettier spectacle of its kind, than this wild steed from the
Balkan and his handsome rider.

The king is tall, very fat, but very erect, of a light complexion, and a
good horseman, riding always in the English style, trotting and rising
in his stirrup. (He is about twenty-three, and so surprisingly like a
friend of mine in Albany, that the people would raise their hats to them
indiscriminately I am sure.) Prince Charles is smaller and less kingly
in his appearance, dresses carelessly and ill, and is surrounded always
in public with half a dozen young Englishmen. He is said to have been
refused lately by the niece of the wealthiest English nobleman in Italy,
a very beautiful girl of eighteen, who was on the ground to-day in a
chariot and four.

The horses were led up and down—a delicate, fine-limbed sorrel mare,
and a dark chestnut horse, compact and wiry—both English. The bets were
arranged, the riders weighed, and, at the beat of a bell, off they went
like arrows. Oh what a beautiful sight! The course was about a mile
round, and marked with red flags at short distances; and as the two
flying creatures described the bright green circle, spread out like
greyhounds, and running with an ease and grace that seemed entirely
without effort, the king dashed across the field followed by the whole
court; the Turkish steed of Don Giovanni restrained with difficulty in
the rear, and leaping high in the air at every bound, his nostrils
expanded, and his head thrown up with the peculiar action of his race,
while his snow-white mane and tail flew with every hair free to the
wind. I had, myself, a small bet upon the sorrel. It was nothing—a pair
of gloves with a lady—but as the horses came round, the sorrel a whip’s
length ahead, and both shot by like the wind, scarce touching the earth
apparently, and so even in their speed that the rider in blue might have
kept his hand on the other’s back, the excitement became breathless.
Away they went again, past the starting-post, pattering, pattering on
with their slender hoofs, the sorrel still keeping her ground, and a
thousand bright lips wishing the graceful creature success. Half way
round the blue jacket began to whip. The sorrel still held her way, and
I felt my gloves to be beyond peril. The royal cortège within the ring
spurred across at the top of their speed to the starting-post. The
horses came on—their nostrils open and panting, bounding upon the way
with the same measured leaps a little longer and more eager than before;
the rider of the sorrel leaning over the neck of his horse with a loose
rein, and his whip hanging untouched from his wrist. Twenty leaps more!
With every one the rider of the chestnut gave the fine animal a blow.
The sorrel sprang desperately on, every nerve strained to the jump, but
at the instant that they passed the carriage in which I stood, the
chestnut was developing his wiry frame in tremendous leaps, and had
already gained on his opponent the length of his head. They were lost in
the crowd that broke instantly into the course behind them, and in a
moment after a small red flag was waved from the stand. My favourite had
lost!

The next race was ridden by a young Scotch nobleman, and the son of the
former French ambassador, upon the horses with which they came to the
ground. It was a match made up on the spot. The Frenchman was so
palpably better mounted, that there was a general laugh when the ground
was cleared and the two gentlemen spurred up and down to show themselves
as antagonists. The Parisian himself stuffed his white handkerchief in
his bosom, and jammed down his hat upon his head with a confident laugh,
and among the ladies there was scarce a bet upon the grave Scotchman,
who borrowed a stout whip, and rode his bony animal between the lines
with a hard rein and his feet set firmly in the stirrups. The Frenchman
generously gave him every advantage, beginning with the inside of the
ring. The bell struck, and the Scotchman drove his spurs into his
horse’s flanks and started away, laying on with his whip most
industriously. His opponent followed, riding very gracefully, but
apparently quite sure that he could overtake him at any moment, and
content for the first round with merely showing himself off to the best
advantage. Round came Sawney, twenty leaps ahead, whipping unmercifully
still; the blood of his hired hack completely up, and himself as red in
the face as an alderman, and with his eye fixed only on the road. The
long-tailed bay of the Frenchman came after, in handsome style, his
rider sitting complacently upright, and gathering up his reins for the
first time to put his horse to his speed. The Scotchman flogged on. The
Frenchman had disdained to take a whip, but he drove his heels hard into
his horse’s sides soon after leaving the post, and leaned forward quite
in earnest. The horses did remarkably well, both showing much more
bottom than was expected. On they came, the latter gaining a little and
working very hard. Sawney had lost his hat, and his red hair streamed
back from his redder face; but flogging and spurring, with his teeth
shut and his eyes steadily fixed on the road, he kept the most of his
ground and rode away. They passed me a horse’s length apart, and the
Scotchman’s whip flying to the last, disappeared beyond me. He won the
race by a couple of good leaps at least. The king was very much amused,
and rode off laughing heartily, and the discomfited Frenchman came back
to his party with a very ill-concealed dissatisfaction.

A very amusing race followed between two midshipmen from an English
corvette lying in the bay, and then the long lines of splendid equipages
wheeled into train, and dashed off the ground. The road, after leaving
the campo, runs along the edge of the range of hills, enclosing the
city, and just below, within a high white wall, lies the _public
burial-place of Naples_. I had read so many harrowing descriptions of
this spot, that my curiosity rose as we drove along in sight of it, and
requesting my friends to set me down, I joined an American of my
acquaintance, and we started to visit it together.

An old man opened the iron door, and we entered a clean, spacious, and
well-paved area, with long rows of iron rings in the heavy slabs of the
pavement. Without asking a question, the old man walked across to the
farther corner, where stood a moveable lever, and fastening the chain
into the fixture, raised the massive stone cover of a pit. He requested
us to stand back for a few minutes to give the effluvia time to escape,
and then, sheltering our eyes with our hats, we looked in. You have
read, of course, that there are three hundred and sixty-five pits in
this place, one of which is opened every day for the dead of the city.
They are thrown in without shroud or coffin, and the pit is sealed up at
night for a year. They are thirty or forty feet deep, and each would
contain perhaps two hundred bodies. Lime is thrown upon the daily heap,
and it soon melts into a mass of garbage, and by the end of the year the
bottom of the pit is covered with dry white bones.

It was some time before we could distinguish anything in the darkness of
the abyss. Fixing my eyes on one spot, however, the outlines of a body
became defined gradually, and in a few minutes, sheltering my eyes
completely from the sun above, I could see all the horrors of the scene
but too distinctly. Eight corpses, all of grown persons, lay in a
confused heap together, as they had been thrown in one after another in
the course of the day. The last was a powerfully made, gray old man, who
had fallen flat on his back, with his right hand lying across and half
covering the face of a woman. By his full limbs and chest, and the
darker colour of his legs below the knee, he was probably one of the
lazzaroni, and had met with a sudden death. His right heel lay on the
forehead of a young man, emaciated to the last degree, his chest thrown
up as he lay, and his ribs showing like a skeleton covered with skin.
The close black curls of the latter, as his head rested on another body,
were in such strong relief that I could have counted them. Off to the
right, quite distinct from the heap, lay, in a beautiful attitude, a
girl, as well as I could judge, of not more than nineteen or twenty. She
had fallen on the pile and rolled or slid away. Her hair was very long,
and covered her left shoulder and bosom; her arm was across her body,
and if her mother had laid her down to sleep, she could not have
disposed her limbs more decently. The head had fallen a little away to
the right, and the feet, which were small, even for a lady, were pressed
one against the other, as if she were about turning on her side. The
sexton said that a young man had come with the body, and was very ill
for some time after it was thrown in. We asked him if respectable people
were brought here. “Yes,” he said, “many. None but the rich would go to
the expense of a separate grave for their relations. People were often
brought in handsome grave-clothes, but they were always stripped before
they were left. The shroud, whenever there was one, was the perquisite
of the undertakers.” And thus are flung into this noisome pit, like
beasts, the greater part of the population of this vast city—the young
and the old, the vicious and the virtuous together, without the decency
even of a rag to keep up the distinctions of life! Can human beings thus
be thrown away?—men like ourselves—women, children, like our sisters
and brothers? I never was so humiliated in my life as by this horrid
spectacle. I did not think a man—a felon even, or a leper—what you
will that is guilty or debased—I did not think anything that had been
human could be so recklessly abandoned. Pah! It makes one sick at heart!
God grant I may never die at Naples!

While we were recovering from our disgust, the old man lifted the stone
from the pit destined to receive the dead on the following day. We
looked in. The bottom was strewn with bones, already fleshless and dry.
He wished us to see the dead of several previous days, but my stomach
was already tried to its utmost. We paid our gratuity, and hurried away.
A few steps from the gate, we met a man bearing a coffin on his head.
Seeing that we came from the cemetery, he asked us if we wished to look
into it. He set it down, and the lid opening with a hinge, we were
horror-struck with the sight of _seven dead infants_! The youngest was
at least three months old, the eldest perhaps a year; and they lay
heaped together like so many puppies, one or two of them spotted with
disease, and all wasted to baby-skeletons. While we were looking at
them, six or seven noisy children ran out from a small house at the
road-side and surrounded the coffin. One was a fine girl of twelve years
of age, and instead of being at all shocked at the sight, she lifted the
whitest of the dead things, and looked at its face very earnestly,
loading it with all the tenderest diminutives of the language. The
others were busy in pointing to those they thought had been prettiest,
and none of them betrayed fear or disgust. In answer to a question of my
friend about the marks of disease, the man rudely pulled out one by the
foot that lay below the rest, and holding it up to show the marks upon
it, tossed it again carelessly into the coffin. He had brought them from
the hospital for infants, and they had died that morning. The coffin was
worn with use. He shut down the lid, and lifting it again upon his head,
went on to the cemetery, to empty it like so much offal upon the heap we
had seen!

I have been struck repeatedly with the little value attached to human
life in Italy. I have seen several of these houseless lazzaroni
literally dying in the streets, and no one curious enough to look at
them. The most dreadful sufferings, the most despairing cries, in the
open squares, are passed as unnoticed as the howling of a dog. The day
before yesterday, a woman fell in the Toledo, in a fit, frothing at the
mouth, and livid with pain; and though the street was so crowded that
one could make his way with difficulty, three or four ragged children
were the only persons even looking at her.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I have devoted a week to the museum at Naples. It is a world! Anything
like a full description of it would tire even an antiquary. It is one of
those things (and there are many in Europe) that fortunately _compel_
travel. You must come abroad to get an idea of it.

The first day I buried myself among the curiosities found at Pompeii.
After walking through the chambers and streets where they were found, I
came to them naturally with an intense interest. I had visited a
disentombed city, buried for seventeen centuries—had trodden in their
wheel-tracks—had wandered through their dining-rooms, their chambers,
their baths, their theatres, their market-places. And here were gathered
in one place, their pictures, their statues, their cooking utensils,
their ornaments, the very food as it was found on their tables! I am
puzzled, in looking over my note-book, to know what to mention. The
catalogue fills a printed volume.

A curious corner in one of the cases was that containing the articles
found on the toilet of the wealthiest Pompeian’s wife. Here were pots of
rouge, ivory pins, necklaces, ear-rings, bracelets, small silver
mirrors, combs, ear-pickers, &c. &c. In the next case were two loaves of
bread, found in a baker’s oven, and stamped with his name. Two large
cases of precious gems, cameos and intaglios of all descriptions, stand
in the centre of this room (among which, by the way, the most
exquisitely done are two which one cannot look at without a blush).
Another case is filled with eatables, found upon the tables—eggs,
fish-bones, honey-comb, grain, fruits, &c. In the repository for ancient
glass are several cinerary urns, in which the ashes of the dead are
perfectly preserved; and numerous small glass lachrymatories, in which
the tears of the survivors were deposited in the tombs.

The brazen furniture of Pompeii, the lamps particularly, are of the most
curious and beautiful models. Trees, to which the lamps were suspended
like fruit, vines, statues holding them in their hands, and numerous
other contrivances, were among them, exceeding far in beauty any similar
furniture of our time. It appears that the ancients did not know the use
of the fork, as every other article of table service except this has
been found here.

To conceive the interest attached to the thousand things in this museum,
one must imagine a modern city, Boston for example, completely buried by
an unexpected and terrific convulsion of nature. Its inhabitants mostly
escape, but from various causes leave their city entombed, and in a
hundred years the grass grows over it, and its very locality is
forgotten. Near two thousand years elapse, and then a peasant, digging
in the field, strikes upon some of its ruins, and it is unearthed just
as it stands at this moment, with all its utensils, books, pictures,
houses, and streets, in untouched preservation. What a subject for
speculation! What food for curiosity! What a living and breathing
chapter of history were this! Far more interesting is Pompeii. For the
age in which it flourished and the characters who trod its streets, are
among the most remarkable in history. This brazen lamp, shown to me
to-day as a curiosity, was lit every evening in the time of Christ. The
handsome chambers through which I wandered a day or two ago, and from
which were brought this antique chair, were the home of Sallust, and
doubtless had been honoured by the visits of Cicero (whose villa,
half-excavated, is near by,) and by all the poets and scholars and
statesmen of his time. One might speculate endlessly thus! And it is
that which makes these lands of forgotten empires so delightful to the
traveller. His mind is fed by the very air. He needs no amusements, no
company, no books except the history of the place. The spot is peopled
wherever he may stray, and the common necessities of life seem to pluck
him from a far-reaching dream, in which he had summoned back receding
ages, and was communing, face to face, with philosophers and poets and
emperors, like a magician before his mirror. Pompeii and Herculaneum
seem to me visions. I cannot shake myself and wake to their reality. My
mind refuses to go back so far. Seventeen hundred years!

I followed the cicerone on, listening to his astonishing enumeration,
and looking at everything as he pointed to it, in a kind of stupor. One
has but a certain capacity. We may be over-astonished. Still he went on
in the same every-day tone, talking as indifferently of this and that
surprising antiquity as a pedlar of his two-penny wares. We went from
the bronzes to the hall of the papyri—thence to the hall of the
frescoes, and beautiful they were. Their very number makes them
indescribable. The next morning we devoted to the statuary—and of this,
if I knew where to begin, I should like to say a word or two.

First of all comes the _Balbi family_—father, mother, sons, and
daughters. He was pro-consul of Herculaneum, and by the excellence of
the statues, which are life itself for nature, he and his family were
worth the artist’s best effort. He is a fine old Roman himself, and his
wife is a tall, handsome woman, much better-looking than her daughters.
The two Misses Balbi are modest-looking girls, and that is all. They
were the high-born damsels of Herculaneum, however; and, if human nature
has not changed in seventeen centuries, they did not want admirers who
compared them to the Venuses who have descended with them to the “Museo
Borbonico.” The eldest son is on horseback in armour. It is one of the
finest equestrian statues in the world. He is a noble youth, of grave
and handsome features, and sits the superb animal with the freedom of an
Arab and the dignity of a Roman. It is a beautiful thing. If one had
visited these Balbis, warm and living, in the time of Augustus, he could
scarcely feel more acquainted with them than after having seen their
statues as they stand before him here.

Come a little farther on! Bacchus on the shoulders of a faun—a child
delighted with a grown-up playfellow. I have given the same pleasure to
just such another bright “picture in little” of human beauty. It moves
one’s heart to see it.

Pass now a whole gallery of Dians, Cupids, Joves, Mercuries, and
Apollos, and come to the presence of Aristides—him whom the Athenians
exiled because they were tired of hearing him called _The Just_. Canova
has marked three spots upon the floor where the spectator should place
himself to see to the best advantage this renowned statue. He stands
wrapped in his toga, with his head a little inclined, as if in
reflection, and in his face there is a mixture of firmness and goodness
from which you read his character as clearly as if it were written
across his forehead. It was found at Herculaneum, and is, perhaps, the
simplest and most expressive statue in the world.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER V.


    Pæstum—Temple of Neptune—Departure from Elba—Ischia—Bay of
    Naples—The Toledo—The Young Queen—Conspiracy against the
    King—Neapolitans Visiting the Frigates—Leave the
    Bay—Castellamare.

Salvator Rosa studied the scenery of La Cava—the country between
Pompeii and Salerno, on the road to Pæstum. It is a series of natively
abrupt glens, but gemmed with cottages and hanging gardens, through
which the wildness of every feature is as apparent as those of a savage
through his trinkets. I was going to Pæstum with an agreeable party, and
we came out upon the bluffs overhanging Salerno and the sea, an hour
before sunset.

We darted down upon the little city lying in the bend of the bay, like a
bird’s descent upon her nest. The road is cut through the side of the
precipice, and runs to the bottom with a single sweep. We were to pass
the night here, and go to Pæstum the next morning, see the ruins, and
return here to sleep once more before returning to Naples.

We were five or six miles from Salerno before sunrise, and entering upon
the dreary wastes of Calabria. The people we passed on the road were
dressed in skins with the wool outside, and the country looked abandoned
by nature itself, scarce a flourishing tree or a healthy plant within
the range of the sight. We turned from the main road after a while,
crossed a ruinous bridge, and tracked a broad, waste, gloomy plain, till
my eyes ached with its barrenness. In an hour more, three stately
temples began to rise in the distance, increasing in grandeur as we
approached. A cluster of ruined tombs on the right—a grass-grown and
broken city wall, through a rent of which passed the road—and we stood
among them, in the desert, amid temples of inimitable beauty!

There seemed to be a general feeling in the party that silence and
solitude were the spirits of the place. We separated and rambled about
alone. The grand temple of Neptune stands in the centre. A temple in the
midst of the sea could scarce seem more strangely placed. I stood on the
high base of the altar within and looked out between the columns on
every side. The Mediterranean slept in a broad sheet of silver on the
west, and on every other side lay the bare, houseless desert, stretching
away to the naked mountains on the south and east, with a barrenness
that made the heart ache, while it filled the imagination with its
singleness and grandeur. I descended to look at the columns. They were
eaten through and through with snails and worms, and all of the same
rich yellow so admirably represented in the cork models. But their size,
and their noble proportion as they stand, cannot be represented. They
seem the conception and the work of giant minds and hands. One’s soul
rises among them.

We walked round the ruins for hours. A little towards the sea, lie the
traces of an amphitheatre, filled with fragments of statuary, and parts
of immense friezes and columns. We all assembled at last in the great
temple, and sat down on the immense steps towards the east in the shadow
of the pediment, speculating on the wonderful fabric above us, till we
were summoned to start on our return. To think that these very temples
were visited as venerable antiquities in the time of Christ! What events
have these worm-eaten columns outlived! What moths of an hour, in
comparison, are we?

It is difficult to conceive how three such magnificent structures, so
near the sea, the remains of a great city, should have been lost for
ages. A landscape-painter, searching for the picturesque, came suddenly
upon them fifty years ago, and astonished the world with his discovery!
It adds to their interest now.

We turned our horses’ heads towards Naples. What an extraordinary
succession of objects were embraced in the fifty miles between—Pæstum,
Pompeii, Vesuvius, Herculaneum!—and, added to these, the thousand
classic associations of the lovely coast along Sorrento! The value of
life deepens incalculably with the privileges of travel.

                 *        *        *        *        *

WRITTEN ON BOARD THE FRIGATE “UNITED STATES.”—We set sail from Elba on
the 3rd of June. The inhabitants, all of whom, I presume, had been on
board of the ships, were standing along the walls and looking from the
embrasures of the fortress to see us off. It was a clear summer’s
morning, without much wind, and we crept slowly off from the point,
gazing up at the windows of Napoleon’s house as we passed under, and
laying on our course for the shore of Italy. We soon got into the
fresher breeze of the open sea, and the low white line of villages on
the Tuscan coast appeared more distant, till, with a glass, we could see
the people at the windows watching our progress. Fishing-boats were
drawn up on shore, and the idle sailors were leaning in the half shadow
which they afforded; but with the almost total absence of trees, and the
glaring white of the walls, we were content to be out upon the cool sea,
passing town after town unvisited. Island after island was approached
and left during the day; barren rocks with only a lighthouse to redeem
their nakedness: and in the evening at sunset we were in sight at
Ischia, the towering isle in the bosom of the bay of Naples. The band
had been called as usual at seven, and were playing a delightful waltz
upon the quarter-deck; the sea was even, and just crisped by the breeze
from the Italian shore; the sailors were leaning on the guns listening;
the officers clustered in their various places; and the murmur of the
foam before the prow was just audible in the lighter passages of the
music. Above and in the west glowed the eternal but untiring teints of
the summer sky of the Mediterranean, a gradually fading gold from the
edge of the sea to the zenith, and the early star soon twinkled through
it, and the air dampened to a reviving freshness. I do not know that a
mere scene like this, without incident, will interest a reader, but it
was so delightful to myself, that I have described it for the mere
pleasure of dwelling on it. The desert stillness and loneliness of the
sea, the silent motion of the ship, and the delightful music swelling
beyond the bulwarks and dying upon the wind, were such singularly
combined circumstances! It was a moving paradise in the waste of the
ocean.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Sail was shortened last night, and we lay-to under the shore of Ischia,
to enter the bay of Naples by daylight. As the morning mist lifted a
little, the peculiar shape of Vesuvius, the boldness of the island of
Capri, the sweeping curves of Baiæ and Portici, and the small promontory
which lifts Naples toward the sea, rose like the features of a familiar
friend to my eye. It would be difficult to have seen Naples without
having a memory steeped in its beauty. A fair wind set us straight into
the bay, and one by one the towns on its shore, the streaks of lava on
the sides of its volcano, and, soon after, the houses of friends on the
street of the Chiaga became distinguishable to the eye. There had been a
slight eruption since I was here; but now, as before, there was scarce a
puff of smoke to be seen rising from Vesuvius. My little specimen of
sulphur which I took from the just hardened bosom of the crater now
destroyed, lies before me on the table as I write, more valued than
ever, since its bed has been melted and blown into the air. The new and
lighter-coloured streak on the right of the mountain, would have
informed me of itself that the lava had issued since I was here. The
sound of bells and the hum of the city reached our ears, and running in
between the mole and the castle, the anchor was dropped, and the ship
surrounded with boats from the shore.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The heat kept us on board till the evening, and with several of the
officers I landed and walked up the Toledo as the lazzaroni were
stirring from their sleep under the walls of the houses. With the
exception of the absence of the English, who have mostly flitted to the
baths, Naples was the same place as ever, busy, dirty, and gay. Her
thousand beggars were still “dying of hunger,” and telling it to the
passenger in the same exhausted tone; her gay carriages and skeleton
hacks were still flying up and down, and dashing at and over you for
your custom; the cows and goats were driven about to be milked in the
street; the lemonade-sellers stood in their stalls; the money changers
at their tables in the open squares; puncinello squeaked and beat his
mistress at every corner; the awnings of the cafés covered hundreds of
smokers and loungers; and this gay, miserable, homeless, out-of-doors
people, seemed as degraded and thoughtless, and, it must be owned, as
insensibly happy as before. You would think, to walk through the Toledo
of Naples, that two-thirds of its crowd of wretches, and all its horses
and dogs, were at their last extremity, and yet they go on, and, I was
told by an Englishman resident here, who has been accustomed to meet
always the same faces, seem never to change or disappear, suffering, and
groaning, and dragging up and down, shocking the eye and sickening the
heart of the inexperienced stranger for years and years.

We passed the _prima sera_, the first part of the evening, as most men
in Italy pass it, eating ices at the thronged café, and at nine we went
to the splendid theatre of San Carlo to see _La Sonnambula_. The king
and queen were present, with the dissolute old queen-mother and her
gray-headed lover. I was instantly struck with the alteration in the
appearance of the young queen. When I was here three months ago, she was
just married, and appeared frequently in the public walks, and a fresher
or brighter face I never had seen. She was acknowledged the most
beautiful woman in Naples, and had, what is very much valued in this
land of pale brunettes, a clear rosy cheek, and lips as bright as a
child’s. She is now thin and white, and looks to me like a person fading
with a rapid consumption.

Several conspiracies have been detected within a month or two, the last
of which was very nearly successful. The day before we arrived, two
officers in the royal army, men of high rank, had shot themselves, each
putting a pistol to the other’s breast, believing discovery inevitable.
One died instantly, and the other lingers to-day without any hope of
recovery. The king was fired at on parade the day previous, which was
supposed to have been the first step, but the plot had been checked by
partial disclosure, hence the tragedy I have just related.

The ships have been thronged with visitors during the two or three days
we have lain at Naples, among whom have been the prime minister and his
family. Orders are given to admit every one on board that wishes to
come, and the decks, morning and evening, present the most motley scene
imaginable. Cameo and lava sellers expose their wares on the
gun-carriages, surrounded by the midshipmen—Jews and fruit-sellers hail
the sailors through the ports—boats full of chickens and pigs, all in
loud outcry, are held up to view with a recommendation in broken
English—contadini in their best dresses walk up and down, smiling on
the officers, and wondering at the cleanliness of the decks, and the
elegance of the captain’s cabin—Punch plays his tricks under the
gun-deck ports—bands of wandering musicians sing and hold out their
hats, as they row around, and all is harmony and amusement. In the
evening, it is pleasanter still, for the band is playing, and the better
class of people come off from the shore, and boats filled with these
pretty, dark-eyed Neapolitans, row round and round the ship, eying the
officers as they lean over the bulwarks, and ready with but half a nod
to make acquaintance and come up the gangway. I have had a private pride
of my own in showing the frigate as American to many of my foreign
friends. One’s nationality becomes nervously sensitive abroad, and in
the beauty and order of the ships, the manly elegance of the officers,
and the general air of superiority and decision throughout, I have found
food for some of the highest feelings of gratification of which I am
capable.

We weighed anchor yesterday morning (the twentieth of June), and stood
across the bay for Castellamare. Running close under Vesuvius, we passed
Portici, Torre del Greco, and Pompeii, and rounded-to in the little
harbour of this fashionable watering-place soon after noon. Castellamare
is about fifteen miles from Naples, and in the summer months it is
crowded with those of the fashionables who do not make a northern tour.
The shore rises directly from the sea into a high mountain, on the side
of which the king has a country-seat, and around it hang, on terraces,
the houses of the English. Strong mineral springs abound on the slope.

We landed directly, and mounting the donkeys waiting on the pier,
started to make the round of the village walks. English maids with their
prettily dressed and rosy children, and English ladies and gentlemen,
mounted, like ourselves on donkeys, met us at every turn as we wound up
the shady and zigzag roads to the palace. The views became finer as we
ascended, till we look down into Pompeii, which was but four miles off,
and away toward Naples, following the white road with the eye along the
shore of the sea. The paths were in fine order, and as beautiful as
green trees, and shade, and living fountains, crossing the road
continually, could make them. In the neighbourhood of the royal casino,
the ground was planted more like a park, and the walks were terminated
with artificial fountains, throwing up their bright waters amid statuary
and over grottoes, and here we met the idlers of the place of all
nations, enjoying the sunset. I met an acquaintance or two, and felt the
yearning unwillingness to go away which I have felt on every spot almost
of this “delicious land.”

We set sail again with the night-breeze, and at this moment are passing
between Ischia and Capri, running nearly on our course for Sicily. We
shall probably be at Palermo to-morrow. The ship’s bell beats ten, and
the lights are ordered out, and under this imperative government, I must
say, “good night!”

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER VI.


    Baiæ—Grotto of Posilipo—Tomb of Virgil—Pozzuoli—Ruins of the
    Temple of Jupiter Serapis—The Lucrine Lake—Lake of Avernus,
    the Tartarus of Virgil—Temple of Proserpine—Grotto of the
    Cumæan Sybil—Nero’s villa—Cape of Misenum—Roman villas—Ruins
    of the Temple of Venus—Cento Camerelle—The Stygian Lake—The
    Elysian Fields—Grotto del Cane—Villa of Lucullus.

We made the excursion to Baiæ on one of those premature days of March
common to Italy. A south wind and a warm sun gave it the feeling of
June. The heat was even oppressive as we drove through the city, and the
long echoing grotto of Posilipo, always dim and cool, was peculiarly
refreshing. Near the entrance to this curious passage under the
mountain, we stopped to visit the tomb of Virgil. A ragged boy took us
up a steep path to the gate of a vineyard, and winding in among the just
budding vines, we came to a small ravine, in the mouth of which, right
over the deep cut of the grotto, stands the half-ruined mausoleum which
held the bones of the poet. An Englishman stood leaning against the
entrance, reading from a pocket copy of the Æneid. He seemed ashamed to
be caught with his classic, and put the book in his pocket as I came
suddenly upon him, and walked off to the other side whistling an air
from the _Pirata_, which is playing just now at San Carlo. We went in,
counted the niches for the urns, stood a few minutes to indulge in what
recollections we could summon, and then mounted to the top to hunt for
the “myrtle.” Even its root was cut an inch or two below the ground. We
found violets, however, and they answered as well. The pleasure of
visiting such places, I think, is not found on the spot. The fatigue of
the walk, the noise of a party, the difference between reality and
imagination, and, worse than all, the caprice of mood—one or the other
of these things disturbs and defeats for me the dearest promises of
anticipation. It is the recollection that repays us. The picture recurs
to the fancy till it becomes familiar; and as the disagreeable
circumstances of the visit fade from the memory, the imagination warms
it into a poetic feeling, and we dwell upon it with the delight we
looked for in vain when present. A few steps up the ravine, almost
buried in luxuriant grass, stands a small marble tomb, covering the
remains of an English girl. She died at Naples. It is as lovely a place
to lie in as the world could show. Forward a little toward the edge of
the hill some person of taste has constructed a little arbour, laced
over with vines, whence the city and bay of Naples is seen to the finest
advantage. Paradise that it is!

It is odd to leave a city by a road piercing the base of a broad
mountain, in at one side and out at the other, after a subterranean
drive of near a mile! The grotto of Posilipo has been one of the wonders
of the world these two thousand years, and it exceeds all expectation as
a curiosity. Its length is stated at two thousand three hundred and
sixteen feet, its breadth twenty-two, and its height eighty-nine. It is
thronged with carts and beasts of burden of all descriptions, and the
echoing cries of these noisy Italian drivers are almost deafening.
Lamps, struggling with the distant daylight as you near the end, just
make darkness visible, and standing in the centre and looking either
way, the far distant arch of daylight glows like a fire through the
cloud of dust. What with the impressiveness of the place, and the danger
of driving in the dark amid so many obstructions, it is rather a
stirring half-hour that is spent in its gloom! One emerges into the
fresh open air and the bright light of day with a feeling of relief.

The drive hence to Pozzuoli, four or five miles, was extremely
beautiful. The fields were covered with the new tender grain, and by the
short passage through the grotto we had changed a busy and crowded city
for scenes of as quiet rural loveliness as ever charmed the eye. We soon
reached the lip of the bay, and then the road turned away to the right,
along the beach, passing the small island of Nisida (where Brutus had a
villa, and which is now a prison for the carbonari).

Pozzuoli soon appeared, and mounting a hill we descended into its busy
square, and were instantly beset by near a hundred guides, boatmen, and
beggars, all preferring their claims and services at the tops of their
voices. I fixed my eye on the most intelligent face among them, a
curly-headed fellow in a red lazzaroni cap, and succeeded, with some
loss of temper, in getting him aside from the crowd and bargaining for
our boats.

While the boatmen were forming themselves into a circle to cast lots for
the bargain, we walked up to the famous ruins of the temple of Jupiter
Serapis. This was one of the largest and richest of the temples of
antiquity. It was a quadrangular building, near the edge of the sea,
lined with marble, and sustained by columns of solid cipolino, three of
which are still standing. It was buried by an earthquake and forgotten
for a century or two, till in 1750 it was discovered by a peasant, who
struck the top of one of the columns in digging. We stepped around over
the prostrate fragments, building it up once more in fancy, and peopling
the aisles with priests and worshippers. In the centre of the temple was
the place of sacrifice, raised by flights of steps, and at the foot
still remain two rings of Corinthian brass, to which the victims were
fastened, and near them the receptacles for their blood and ashes. The
whole scene has a stamp of grandeur. We obeyed the call of our
red-bonnet guide, whose boat waited for us at the temple stairs, very
unwillingly.

As we pushed off from the shore, we deviated a moment from our course to
look at the ruins of the ancient mole. Here probably St. Paul set his
foot, landing to pursue his way to Rome. The great apostle spent seven
days at this place, which was then called Puteoli—a fact that attaches
to it a deeper interest than it draws from all the antiquities of which
it is the centre.

We kept on our way along the beautiful bend of the shore of Baiæ, and
passing on the right a small mountain formed in thirty-six hours by a
volcanic explosion, some three hundred years ago, we came to the Lucrine
Lake, so famous in the classics for its oysters. The same explosion that
made the Monte Nuovo, and sunk the little village of Tripergole,
destroyed the oyster-beds of the poets.

A ten minutes’ walk brought us to the shores of Lake Avernus—the
“Tartarus” of Virgil. This was classic ground indeed, and we hoped to
have found a thumbed copy of the Æneid in the pocket of the cicerone. He
had not even heard of the poet. A ruin on the opposite shore, reflected
in the still dark water, is supposed to have been a temple dedicated to
Proserpine. If she was allowed to be present at her own worship, she
might have been consoled for her abduction. A spot of more secluded
loveliness could scarce be found. The lake lay like a sheet of silver at
the foot of the ruined temple, the water looking unfathomably deep
through the clear reflection, and the fringes of low shrubbery leaning
down on every side, were doubled in the bright mirror, the likeness even
fairer than the reality.

Our unsentimental guide hurried us away as we were seating ourselves
upon the banks, and we struck into a narrow footpath of wild shrubbery
which circled the lake, and in a few minutes stood before the door of a
grotto sunk in the side of the hill. Here dwelt the Cumæan sybil, and by
this dark passage, the souls of the ancients passed from Tartarus to
Elysium. The guide struck a light and kindled two large torches, and we
followed him into the narrow cavern, walking downward at a rapid pace
for ten or fifteen minutes. With a turn to the right, we stood before a
low archway which the guide entered, up to his knees in water at the
first step. It looked like the mouth of an abyss, and the ladies refused
to go on. Six or seven stout fellows had followed us in, and the guide
assured us we should be safe on their backs. I mounted first myself to
carry the torch, and holding my head very low, we went plunging on,
turning to the right and left through a crooked passage, dark as Erebus,
till I was set down on a raised ledge called _the Sibyl’s bed_. The lady
behind me, I soon discovered by her screams, had not made so prosperous
a voyage. She had insisted on being taken up something in the
side-saddle fashion; and the man, not accustomed to hold so heavy a
burden on his hip with one arm, had stumbled and let her slip up to her
knees in water. He took her up immediately, in his own homely but safer
fashion, and she was soon set beside me on the sibyl’s stony couch,
dripping with water, and quite out of temper with antiquities.

The rest of the party followed, and the guide lifted the torches to the
dripping roof of the cavern, and showed us the remains of beautiful
mosaic with which the place was once evidently encrusted. Whatever truth
there may be in the existence of the sybil, these had been, doubtlessly,
luxurious baths, and probably devoted by the Roman emperors to secret
licentiousness. The guide pointed out to us a small perforation in the
rear of the sybil’s bed, whence, he said (by what authority I know not),
Caligula used to watch the lavations of the nymph. It communicates with
an outer chamber.

We reappeared, our nostrils edged with black from the smoke of the
torches, and the ladies’ dresses in a melancholy plight, between smoke
and water. It would be a witch of a sybil that would tempt us to repeat
our visit.

We retraced our steps, and embarked for Nero’s villa. It was perhaps a
half mile further down the bay. The only remains of it were some vapour
baths, built over a boiling spring which extended under the sea. One of
our boatmen waded first a few feet into the surf, and plunging under the
cold sea-water, brought up a handful of warm gravel—the evidence of a
submarine outlet from the springs beyond. We then mounted a high and
ruined flight of steps, and entered a series of chambers dug out of the
rock, where an old man was stripping off his shirt, to go through the
usual process of taking eggs down to boil in the fountain. He took his
bucket, drew a long breath of fresh air, and rushed away by a dark
passage, whence he reappeared in three or four minutes, the eggs boiled,
and the perspiration streaming from his body like rain. He set the
bucket down, and rushed to the door, gasping as if from suffocation. The
eggs were boiled hard, but the distress of the old man, and the danger
of such sudden changes of atmosphere to his health, quite destroyed our
pleasure at the phenomenon.

Hence to the cape of Misenum, the curve of the bay presents one
continuation of Roman villas. And certainly there was not probably in
the world, a place more adapted to the luxury of which it was the scene.
These natural baths, the many mineral waters, the balmy climate, the
fertile soil, the lovely scenery, the matchless curve of the shore from
Pozzuoli to the cape, and the vicinity, by that wonderful subterranean
passage, to a populous capital on the other side of a range of
mountains, rendered Baiæ a natural paradise to the emperors. It was
improved as we see. Temples to Venus, Diana, and Mercury, the villas of
Marius, of Hortensius, of Cæsar, of Lucullus, and others whose masters
are disputed, follow each other in rival beauty of situation. The ruins
are not much now, except the temple of Venus, which is one of the most
picturesque fragments of antiquity I have ever seen. The long vines hang
through the rent in its circular roof, and the bright flowers cling to
the crevices in its still half-splendid walls with the very poetry of
decay. Our guide here proposed a lunch. We sat down on the immense stone
which has fallen from the ceiling, and in a few minutes the rough table
was spread with a hundred open oysters from Fusaro (near Lake Avernus),
bottles at will of _lagrima Christi_ from Vesuvius, boiled crabs from
the shore beneath the temple of Mercury, fish from the Lucrine lake, and
bread from Pozzuoli. The meal was not less classic than refreshing. We
drank to the goddess (the only one in mythology, by the way, whose
worship has not fallen into contempt), and leaving twenty ragged
descendants of ancient Baiæ to feast on the remains, mounted our donkeys
and started over land for Elysium.

We passed the villa of Hortensius, to which Nero invited his mother,
with the design of murdering her, visited the immense subterranean
chambers in which water was kept for the Roman fleet, the horrid prisons
called the Cento Camerelle of the emperors, and then rising the hill at
the extremity of the cape, the Stygian lake lay off on the right, a
broad and gloomy pool, and around its banks spread the Elysian fields,
the very home and centre of classic fable. An overflowed marsh, and an
adjacent corn-field will give you a perfect idea of it. The sun was
setting while we swallowed our disappointment, and we turned our
donkeys’ heads toward Naples.

We left the city again this morning by the grotto of Posilipo to visit
the celebrated Grotto del Cane. It is about three miles off, on the
borders of a pretty lake, once the crater of a volcano. On the way there
arose a violent debate in the party on the propriety of subjecting the
poor dogs to the distress of the common experiment. We had not yet
decided the point when we stopped before the door of the keeper’s house.
Two miserable-looking terriers had set up a howl, accompanied with a
ferocious and half-complaining bark, from our first appearance around
the turn of the road, and the appeal was effectual. We dismounted and
walking toward the grotto, determined to refuse to see the phenomenon.
Our scruples were unnecessary. The door was surrounded with another
party less merciful, and as we approached, two dogs were dragged out by
the heels, and thrown lifeless on the grass. We gathered round them, and
while the old woman coolly locked the door of the grotto, the poor
animals began to kick, and after a few convulsions, struggled to their
feet and crept feebly away. Fresh dogs were offered to our party, but we
contented ourselves with the more innocent experiments. The mephitic air
of this cave rises to a foot above the surface of the ground, and a
torch put into it was immediately extinguished. It has been described
too often, however, to need a repetition. We took a long stroll around
the lake, which was covered with wild-fowl, visited the remains of a
villa of Lucullus on the opposite shore, and returned to Naples to
dinner.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER VII.


    Island of Sicily—Palermo—Saracenic appearance of the
    town—Cathedral—The Marina—Viceroy Leopold—Monastery of the
    Capuchins—Celebrated Catacombs—Fanciful Gardens.

FRIGATE UNITED STATES, _June 25_.—The mountain coast of Sicily lay
piled up before us at the distance of ten or twelve miles, when I came
on deck this morning. The quarter-master handed me the glass, and
running my eye along the shore, I observed three or four low plains,
extending between projecting spurs of the hills, studded thickly with
country-houses, and bright with groves which I knew, by the deep
glancing green, to be the orange. In a corner of the longest of these
intervals, a sprinkling of white, looking in the distance like a bed of
pearly shells on the edge of the sea, was pointed out as Palermo. With a
steady glass its turrets and gardens became apparent, and its mole,
bristling above the wall with masts; and, running in with a free wind,
the character of our ship was soon recognised from the shore, and the
flags of every vessel in the harbour ran up to the mast, the customary
courtesy to a man-of-war entering port.

As the ship came to her anchorage, the view of the city was very
captivating. The bend of the shore embraced our position, and the
eastern half of the curve was a succession of gardens and palaces. A
broad street extended along in front, crowded with people gazing at the
frigates, and up one of the long avenues of the public gardens, we could
distinguish the veiled women walking in groups, children playing,
priests, soldiers, and all the motley frequenters of such places in this
idle clime, enjoying the refreshing sea-breeze, upon whose wings we had
come. I was impatient to get ashore, but between the health-officer and
some other hindrances, it was evening before we set foot upon the pier.

With Captain Nicholson and the purser I walked up to the Toledo, as the
still half-asleep tradesmen were opening their shops after the _siesta_.
The oddity of the Palermitan style of building struck me forcibly. Of
the two long streets, crossing each other at right angles and extending
to the four gates of the city, the lower story of every house is a shop,
of course. The second and third stories are ornamented with
tricksy-looking iron balconies, in which the women sit at work
universally, while from above projects, far over the street, a grated
enclosure, like a long birdcage, from which look down girls and children
(or, if it is a convent, the nuns), as if it were an airy prison to keep
the household from the contact of the world. The whole air of Palermo is
different from that of the towns upon the continent. The peculiarities
are said to be Saracenic, and inscriptions in Arabic are still found
upon the ancient buildings. The town is poetically called the _concha
d’oro_, or “the golden shell.”

We walked on to the cathedral, followed by a troop of literally naked
beggars, baked black in the sun, and more emaciated and diseased than
any I have yet seen abroad. Their cries and gestures were painfully
energetic. In the course of five minutes we had seen two or three
hundred. They lay along the sidewalks, and upon the steps of the houses
and churches, men, women, and children, nearly or quite naked, and as
unnoticed by the inhabitants as the stones of the street.

Ten or twenty indolent-looking priests sat in the shade of the porch of
the cathedral. The columns of the vestibule were curiously wrought, the
capitals exceedingly rich with fretted leaf-work, and the ornaments of
the front of the same wild-looking character as the buildings of the
town. A hunchback scarce three feet high, came up and offered his
services as a cicerone, and we entered the church. The antiquity of the
interior was injured by the new white paint, covering every part except
the more valuable decorations, but with its four splendid sarcophagi
standing like separate buildings in the aisles, and covering the ashes
of Ruggiero and his kinsmen; the eighty columns of Egyptian granite in
the nave; the _ciborio_ of entire lapis-lazuli with its lovely blue, and
the mosaics, frescoes, and relievos about the altar, it could scarce
fail of producing an effect of great richness. The floor was occupied by
here and there a kneeling beggar, praying in his rags, and undisturbed
even by the tempting neighbourhood of strangers. I stood long by an old
man, who seemed hardly to have the strength to hold himself upon his
knees. His eyes were fixed upon a lovely picture of the virgin, and his
trembling hands loosed bead after bead as his prayer proceeded. I
slipped a small piece of silver between his palm and the cross of his
rosary, and without removing his eyes from the face of the holy mother,
he implored an audible blessing upon me in a tone of the most earnest
feeling. I have scarce been so moved within my recollection.

The equipages were beginning to roll toward the “Marina,” and the
sea-breeze was felt even through the streets. We took a carriage and
followed to the corso, where we counted near two hundred gay,
well-appointed equipages, in the course of an hour, What a contrast to
the wretchedness we had left behind! Driving up and down this half mile
in front of the palaces on the sea, seemed quite a sufficient amusement
for the indolent nobility of Palermo. They were named to us by their
imposing titles as they passed, and we looked in vain into their dull
unanimated faces for the chivalrous character of the once renowned
knights of Sicily. Ladies and gentlemen sat alike silent, leaning back
in their carriages in the elegant attitudes studied to such effect on
this side of the water, and gazing for acquaintances among those passing
on the opposite line.

Toward the dusk of the evening, an _avant-courrier_ on horseback
announced the approach of the viceroy Leopold, the brother of the King
of Naples. He drove himself in an English hunting-wagon with two seats,
and looked like a dandy whip of the first water from Regent Street. He
is about twenty and quite handsome. His horses, fine English bays, flew
up and down the short corso, passing and repassing every other minute,
till we were weary of touching our hats and stopping till he had gone
by. He noticed the uniform of our officers, and raised his hat with
particular politeness to them.

As it grew dark, the carriages came to a stand around a small open
gallery raised in the broadest part of the Marina. Rows of lamps,
suspended from the roof, were lit, and a band of forty or fifty
musicians appeared in the area, and played parts of the popular operas.
We were told they performed every night from nine till twelve. Chairs
were set around for the people on foot, ices circulated, and some ten or
twelve thousand people enjoyed the music in a delicious moonlight,
keeping perfect silence from the first note to the last. These heavenly
nights of Italy are thus begun, and at twelve the people separate and go
to visit, or lounge at home till morning, when the windows are closed,
the cool night air shut in, and they sleep till evening comes again,
literally “keeping the hours the stars do.” It is very certain that it
is the only way to enjoy life in this enervating climate. The sun is the
worst enemy to health, and life and spirits sink under its intensity.
The English, who are the only people abroad in an Italian noon, are
constant victims to it.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We drove this morning to the monastery of the Capuchins. Three or four
of the brothers in long grey beards, and the heavy brown sackcloth cowls
of the order tied round the waist with ropes, received us cordially, and
took us through the cells and chapels. We had come to see the famous
catacombs of the convent. A door was opened on the side of the main
cloister, and we descended a long flight of stairs into the centre of
three lofty vaults, lighted each by a window at the extremity of the
ceiling. A more frightful scene never appalled the eye. The walls were
lined with shallow niches, from which hung, leaning forward as if to
fall upon the gazer, the dried bodies of monks in the full dress of
their order. Their hands were crossed upon their breasts or hung at
their sides, their faces were blackened and withered, and every one
seemed to have preserved, in diabolical caricature, the very expression
of life. The hair lay reddened and dry on the dusty skull, the teeth,
perfect or imperfect, had grown brown in their open mouths, the nose had
shrunk, the cheeks fallen in and cracked, and they looked more like
living men cursed with some horrid plague, than the inanimate corpses
they were. The name of each was pinned upon his cowl, with his age and
the time of his death. Below in three or four tiers, lay long boxes
painted fantastically, and containing, the monk told us, the remains of
Sicilian nobles. Upon a long shelf above sat perhaps a hundred children
of from one year to five, in little chairs worn with their use while in
life, dressed in the gayest manner, with fanciful caps upon their little
blackened heads, dolls in their hands, and in one or two instances, a
stuffed dog or parrot lying in their laps. A more horribly ludicrous
collection of little withered faces, shrunk into expression so entirely
inconsistent with the gaiety of their dresses, could scarce be
conceived. One of them had his arm tied up, holding a child’s whip in
the act of striking, while the poor thing’s head had rotted and dropped
upon its breast; and a leather cap fallen on one side, showed his bare
skull, with the most comical expression of carelessness. We quite
shocked the old monk with our laughter, but the scene was irresistible.

We went through several long galleries filled in the same manner, with
the dead monks standing over the coffins of nobles, and children on the
shelf above. There were three thousand bodies and upward in the place,
monks and all. Some of them were very ancient. There was one, dated a
century and a half back, whose tongue still hangs from his mouth. The
friar took hold of it, and moved it up and down, rattling it against his
teeth. It was like a piece of dried fish-skin, and as sharp and thin as
a nail.

At the extremity of the last passage was a new vault appropriated to
women. There were nine already lying on white pillows in the different
recesses, who had died within the year, and among them a young girl, the
daughter of a noble family of Palermo, stated in the inscription to have
been a virgin of seventeen years. The monk said her twin-sister was the
most beautiful woman of the city at this moment. She was laid upon her
back, on a small shelf faced with a wire grating, dressed in white, with
a large bouquet of artificial flowers on the centre of the body. Her
hands and face were exposed, and the skin, which seemed to me scarcely
dry, was covered with small black ants. I struck with my stick against
the shelf, and startled by the concussion, the disgusting vermin poured
from the mouth and nostrils in hundreds. How difficult it is to believe
that the beauty we worship must come to this!

As we went toward the staircase, the friar showed us the deeper niches,
in which the bodies were placed for the first six months. There were
fortunately no fresh bodies in them at the time of our visit. The
stench, for a week or two, he told us, was intolerable. They are
suffered to get quite dry here, and then are disposed of according to
their sex or profession. A rope passed round the middle, fastens the
dead monk to his shallow niche, and there he stands till his bones rot
from each other, sometimes for a century or more.

We hurried up the gloomy stairs, and giving the monk our gratuity, were
passing out of the cloister to our carriage, when two of the brothers
entered, bearing a sedan chair with the blinds closed. Our friend called
us back, and opened the door. An old grey-headed woman sat bolt upright
within, with a rope around her body and another around her neck,
supporting her by two rings in the back of the sedan. She had died that
morning, and was brought to be dried in the capuchin catacombs. The
effect of the newly deceased body in a handsome silk dress and plaited
cap was horrible.

We drove from the monastery to the gardens of a Sicilian prince, near
by. I was agreeably disappointed to find the grounds laid out in the
English taste, winding into secluded walks shaded with unclipped trees,
and opening into glades of greensward cooled by fountains. We strolled
on from one sweet spot to another, coming constantly upon little Grecian
temples, ruins, broken aqueducts, aviaries, bowers furnished with
curious seats and tables, bridges over streams, and labyrinths of
shrubbery, ending in hermitages built curiously of cane. So far, the
garden, though lovely, was like many others. On our return, the person
who accompanied us began to surprise us with singular contrivances,
fortunately selecting the coachman who had driven us as the subject of
his experiments. In the middle of a long green alley he requested him to
step forward a few paces, and, in an instant, streams of water poured
upon him from the bushes around in every direction. There were seats in
the arbours, the least pressure of which sent up a stream beneath the
unwary visitor; steps to an ascent, which you no sooner touched than you
were showered from an invisible source; and one small hermitage, which
sent a _jet d’eau_ into the face of a person lifting the latch. Nearly
in the centre of the garden stood a pretty building, with an ascending
staircase. At the first step, a friar in white, represented to the life
in wax, opened the door, and fixed his eyes on the comer. At the next
step, the door was violently shut. At the third, it was half opened
again, and as the foot pressed the platform above, both doors flew wide
open, and the old friar made room for the visitor to enter. Life itself
could not have been more natural. The garden was full of similar tricks.
We were hurried away by an engagement before we had seen them all, and
stopping for a moment to look at a magnificent Egyptian Ibis, walking
around in an aviary like a temple, we drove into town to dinner.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER VIII.


    The Lunatic Asylum at Palermo.

PALERMO, _June 28_.—Two of the best conducted lunatic asylums in the
world are in the kingdom of Naples—one at Aversa, near Capua, and the
other at Palermo. The latter is managed by a whimsical Sicilian baron,
who has devoted his time and fortune to it, and, with the assistance of
the government, has carried it to great extent and perfection. The poor
are received gratuitously, and those who can afford it enter as
boarders, and are furnished with luxuries according to their means.

The hospital stands in an airy situation in the lovely neighbourhood of
Palermo. We were received by a porter in a respectable livery, who
introduced us immediately to the old baron—a kind-looking man, rather
advanced beyond middle life, of manners singularly genteel and
prepossessing. “_Je suis le premier fou_,” said he, throwing his arms
out, as he bowed on our entrance. We stood in an open court, surrounded
with porticoes lined with stone seats. On one of them lay a fat,
indolent-looking man, in clean gray clothes, talking to himself with
great apparent satisfaction. He smiled at the baron as he passed,
without checking the motion of his lips, and three others standing in
the doorway of a room marked as the kitchen, smiled also as he came up,
and fell into his train, apparently as much interested as ourselves in
the old man’s explanations.

The kitchen was occupied by eight or ten people, all at work, and all,
the baron assured us, _mad_. One man, of about forty, was broiling a
steak with the gravest attention. Another, who had been furious till
employment was given him, was chopping meat with violent industry in a
large wooden bowl. Two or three girls were about, obeying the little
orders of a middle-aged man, occupied with several messes cooking on a
patent stove. I was rather incredulous about his insanity, till he took
a small bucket and went to the jet of a fountain, and getting impatient
from some cause or other, dashed the water upon the floor. The baron
mildly called him by name, and mentioned to him, as a piece of
information, that he had wet the floor. He nodded his head, and filling
his bucket quietly, poured a little into one of the pans, and resumed
his occupation.

We passed from the kitchen into an open court, curiously paved, and
ornamented with Chinese grottoes, artificial rocks, trees, cottages, and
fountains. Within the grottoes reclined figures of wax. Before the altar
of one, fitted up as a Chinese chapel, a mandarin was prostrated in
prayer. The walls on every side were painted in perspective scenery, and
the whole had as little the air of a prison as the open valley itself.
In one of the corners was an unfinished grotto, and a handsome young man
was entirely absorbed in thatching the ceiling with strips of cane. The
baron pointed to him, and said he had been incurable till he had found
this employment for him. Everything about us, too, he assured us, was
the work of his patients. They had paved the court, built the grottoes
and cottages, and painted the walls, under his direction. The secret of
his whole system, he said, was employment and constant kindness. He had
usually about one hundred and fifty patients, and he dismissed upon an
average two-thirds of them quite recovered.

We went into the apartments of the women. These, he said, were his worst
subjects. In the first room sat eight or ten employed in spinning, while
one infuriated creature, not more than thirty, but quite gray, was
walking up and down the floor, talking and gesticulating with the
greatest violence. A young girl of sixteen, an attendant, had entered
into her humour, and with her arm put affectionately round her waist,
assented to everything she said, and called her by every name of
endearment while endeavouring to silence her. When the baron entered,
the poor creature addressed herself to him, and seemed delighted that he
had come. He made several mild attempts to check her, but she seized his
hands, and with the veins of her throat swelling with passion, her eyes
glaring terribly, and her tongue white and trembling, she continued to
declaim more and more violently. The baron gave an order to a male
attendant at the door, and beckoning us to follow, led her gently
through a small court planted with trees, to a room containing a
hammock. She checked her torrent of language as she observed the
preparations going on, and seemed amused with the idea of swinging. The
man took her up in his arms without resistance, and laced the hammock
over her, confining everything but her head, and the female attendant,
one of the most playful and prepossessing little creatures I ever saw,
stood on a chair, and at every swing threw a little water on her face,
as if in sport. Once or twice, the maniac attempted to resume the
subject of her ravings, but the girl laughed in her face and diverted
her from it, till at last she smiled, and dropping her head into the
hammock, seemed disposed to sink into an easy sleep.

We left her swinging and went out into the court, where eight or ten
women in the gray gowns of the establishment were walking up and down,
or sitting under the trees, lost in thought. One, with a fine,
intelligent face, came up to me and courtesied gracefully without
speaking. The physician of the establishment joined me at the moment,
and asked her what she wished. “To kiss his hand,” said she, “but his
looks forbade me.” She coloured deeply, and folded her arms across her
breast and walked away. The baron called us, and in going out I passed
her again, and taking her hand, kissed it, and bade her good-bye. “You
had better kiss my lips,” said she, “you’ll never see me again.” She
laid her forehead against the iron bars of the gate, and with a face
working with emotion, watched us till we turned out of sight. I asked
the physieian for her history. “It was a common case,” he said. “She was
the daughter of a Sicilian noble, who, too poor to marry her to one of
her own rank, had sent her to a convent, where confinement had driven
her mad. She is now a charity patient in the asylum.”

The courts in which these poor creatures are confined open upon a large
and lovely garden. We walked through it with the baron, and then
returned to the apartments of the females. In passing a cell, a large
majestic woman strided out with a theatrical air, and commenced an
address to the Deity, in a strain, which showed her possessed of
superiority both of birth and endowment. The baron took her by the hand
with the deferential courtesy of the old school, and led her to one of
the stone seats. She yielded to him politely, but resumed her harangue,
upbraiding the Deity, as well as I could understand her, for her
misfortunes. They succeeded in soothing her by the assistance of the
same playful attendant who had accompanied the other to the hammock, and
she sat still, with her lips white and her tongue trembling like an
aspen. While the good old baron was endeavouring to draw her into a
quiet conversation, the physician told me some curious circumstances
respecting her. She was a Greek, and had been brought to Palermo when a
girl. Her mind had been destroyed by an illness, and after seven years’
madness, during which she had refused to rise from her bed, and had
quite lost the use of her limbs, she was brought to this establishment
by her friends. Experiments were tried in vain to induce her to move
from her painful position. At last the baron determined upon addressing
what he considered the master-passion in all female bosoms. He dressed
himself in the gayest manner, and, in one of her gentle moments, entered
her room with respectful ceremony, and offered himself to her in
marriage! She refused him with scorn, and with seeming emotion he begged
forgiveness and left her. The next morning, on his entrance, she
smiled—the first time for years. He continued his attentions for a day
or two, and after a little coquetry, she one morning announced to him
that she had re-considered his proposal, and would be his bride. They
raised her from her bed to prepare her for the ceremony, and she was
carried in a chair to the garden, where the bridal feast was spread,
nearly all the other patients of the hospital being present. The gaiety
of the scene absorbed the attention of all; the utmost decorum
prevailed: and when the ceremony was performed the bride was crowned,
and carried back in state to her apartment. She recovered gradually the
use of her limbs, her health is improved, and, excepting an occasional
paroxysm, such as we happened to witness, she is quiet and contented.
The other inmates of the asylum still call her the bride; and the baron,
as her husband, has the greatest influence over her.

While the physician was telling me these circumstances, the baron had
succeeded in calming her, and she sat with her arms folded, dignified
and silent. He was still holding her hand, when the woman whom we had
left swinging in the hammock, came stealing up behind the trees on
tiptoe, and putting her hand suddenly over the baron’s eyes, kissed him
on both sides of his face, laughing heartily, and calling him by every
name of affection. The contrast between this mood and the infuriated one
in which we had found her, was the best comment on the good man’s
system. He gently disengaged himself, and apologised to his lady for
allowing the liberty, and we followed him to another apartment.

It opened upon a pretty court, in which a fountain was playing, and
against the columns of the portico sat some half dozen patients. A young
man of eighteen, with a very pale, scholar-like face, was reading
Ariosto. Near him, under the direction of an attendant, a fair, delicate
girl, with a sadness in her soft blue eyes that might have been a study
for a _mater dolorosa_, was cutting paste upon a board laid across her
lap. She seemed scarcely conscious of what she was about, and when I
approached and spoke to her, she laid down the knife and rested her head
upon her hand, and looked at me steadily, as if she was trying to
recollect where she had known me. “I cannot remember,” she said to
herself, and went on with her occupation. I bowed to her as we took our
leave, and she returned it gracefully but coldly. The young man looked
up from his book and smiled, the old man lying on the stone seat in the
outer court rose up and followed us to the door, and we were bowed out
by the baron and his gentle madmen as politely and kindly as if we were
concluding a visit with a company of friends.

                 *        *        *        *        *

An evening out of doors, in summer, is pleasant enough anywhere in
Italy: but I have found no place where the people and their amusements
were so concentrated at that hour, as upon the “Marina” of Palermo. A
ramble with the officers up and down, renewing the acquaintances made
with visitors to the ships, listening to the music and observing the
various characters of the crowd, concludes every day agreeably. A
terraced promenade twenty feet above the street, extends nearly the
whole length of the Marina, and here, under the balconies of the
viceroy’s palace, with the crescent harbour spread out before the eye,
trees above, and marble seats tempting the weary at every step, may be
met pedestrians of every class, from the first cool hour when the
sea-breeze sets in till midnight or morning. The intervals between the
pieces performed by the royal band in the centre of the drive, is seized
by the wandering _improvisatrice_, or the ludicrous _puncinello_, and
even the beggars cease to importune in the general abandonment to
pleasure. Every other moment the air is filled with a delightful
perfume, and you are addressed by the bearer of a tall pole tied thickly
with the odorous flowers of this voluptuous climate—a mode of selling
these cheap luxuries which I believe is peculiar to Palermo. The gaiety
they give a crowd, by the way, is singular. They move about among the
gaudily-dressed contadini like a troop of banners—tulips, narcissus,
moss-roses, branches of jasmine, geraniums, every flower that is rare
and beautiful scenting the air from a hundred overladen poles, and the
merest pittance will purchase the rarest and loveliest. It seems a clime
of fruits and flowers; and if one could but shut his eyes to the
dreadful contrasts of nakedness and starvation, he might believe himself
in a Utopia.

We were standing on the balcony of the consul’s residence (a charming
situation overlooking the Marina), and remarking the gaiety of the scene
on the first evening of our arrival. The conversation turned upon the
condition of the people. The consul remarked that it was an every-day
circumstance to find beggars starved to death in the streets; and that,
in the small villages near Palermo, eight or ten were often taken up
dead from the road-side in the morning. The difficulty of getting a
subsistence is every day increasing, and in the midst of one of the most
fertile spots of the earth, one half the population are driven to the
last extremity for bread. The results appear in constant conspiracies
against the government, detected and put down with more or less
difficulty. The island is garrisoned with troops from Italy, and the
viceroy has lately sent to his brother for a reinforcement, and is said
to feel very insecure. A more lamentably misgoverned kingdom than that
of the Sicilies, probably does not exist in the world.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER IX.


    Palermo—Fête given by Mr. Gardiner, the American Consul—Temple
    of Clitumnus—Cottage of Petrarch—Messina—Lipari
    Islands—Scylla and Charybdis.

PALERMO, _June 28th_.—The curve of “The Golden Shell,” which bends to
the east of Palermo, is a luxuriant plain of ten miles in length,
terminated by a bluff which forms a headland corner of the bay. A broad
neck of land between this bay and another indenting the coast less
deeply on the other side, is occupied by a cluster of summer palaces
belonging to several of the richer princes of Sicily. The breeze,
whenever there is one on land or sea, sweeps freshly across this ridge,
and a more desirable residence for combined coolness and beauty could
scarce be imagined. The Palermitan princes, however, find every country
more attractive than their own; and while you may find a dozen of them
in any city of Europe, their once magnificent residences are deserted
and falling to decay, almost without an exception.

The old walls of one of these palaces were enlivened yesterday, by a
_fête_ given to the officers of the squadron by the American consul, Mr.
Gardiner. We left Palermo in a long cavalcade, followed by a large
omnibus containing the ship’s band, early in the forenoon. The road was
lined with prickly pear and oleander in the most luxuriant blossom.
Exotics in our country, these plants are indigenous to Sicily, and form
the only hedges to the large plantations of cane and the spreading
vineyards and fields. A more brilliant show than these long lines of
trees, laden with bright pink flowers, and varied by the gigantic and
massive leaf of the pear, cannot easily be imagined.

We were to visit one or two places on our way. The carriage drew up
about eight miles from town, at the gate of a ruinous building, and
passing through a deserted court, we entered an old-fashioned garden,
presenting one succession of trimmed walks, urns, statues, and
fountains. The green mould of age and exposure upon the marbles, the
broken seats, the once costly but now ruined and silent fountains, the
tall weeds in the seldom-trodden walks, and the wild vegetation of
fragrant jasmine and brier, burying everything with its luxuriance, all
told the story of decay. I remembered the scenes of the Decameron; the
many “tales of love,” laid in these very gardens; the gay romances of
which Palermo was the favourite home; and the dames and knights of
Sicily, the fairest and bravest themes, and I longed to let my merry
companions pass on, and remain to realise more deeply the spells of
poetry and story. The pleasure of travel is in the fancy. Men and
manners are so nearly alike over the world, and the same annoyances
disturb so certainly, wherever we are, the gratification of seeing and
conversing with our living fellow-beings, that it is only by the mingled
illusion of fancy and memory, by getting apart, and peopling the
deserted palace or the sombre ruin from the pages of a book, that we
ever realise the anticipated pleasure of standing on celebrated ground.
The eye, the curiosity, are both disappointed, and the voice of a common
companion reduces the most romantic ruin to a heap of stone. In some of
the footsteps of Childe Harold himself, with his glorious thoughts upon
my lips, and all that moved his imagination addressing my eye, with the
additional grace which his poetry has left around them, I have found
myself unable to overstep the vulgar circumstances of the hour—“the
Temple of Clitumnus” was a ruined shed glaring in the sunshine, and the
“Cottage of Petrarch” an apology for extortion and annoyance.

I heard a shout from the party, and followed them to a building at the
foot of a garden. I passed the threshold and started back. A ghastly
monk, with a broom in his hand, stood gazing at me, and at a door just
beyond, a decrepit nun was see-sawing backward and forward, ringing a
bell with the most impatient violence. I ventured to pass in, and a door
opened at the right, disclosing the self-denying cell of a hermit with
his narrow bed and single chair, and at the table sat the rosy-gilled
friar, filling his glass from an antiquated bottle, and nodding his head
to his visitor in grinning welcome. A long cloister with six or eight
cells extended beyond, and in each was a monk in some startling
attitude, or a pale and saintly nun employed in work or prayer. The
whole was as like a living monastery as wax could make it. The mingling
of monks and nuns seemed an anachronism, but we were told that it
represented a tale, the title of which I have forgotten. It was
certainly an odd as well as an expensive fancy for a garden ornament,
and shows by its uselessness the once princely condition of the
possessors of the palace. An Englishman married not many years since an
old princess, to whom the estates had descended, and with much
unavailable property and the title of prince, he has entered the service
of the king of the Sicilies for a support.

We drove on to another palace, still more curious in its ornaments. The
extensive wall which enclosed it, the gates, the fountains in the courts
and gardens, were studded with marble monsters of every conceivable
deformity. The head of a man crowned the body of an eagle standing on
the legs of a horse; the lovely face and bosom of a female crouched upon
the body of a dog; alligators, serpents, lions, monkeys, birds, and
reptiles, were mixed up with parts of the human body in the most
revolting variety. So admirable was the work, too, and so beautiful the
material, that even outraged taste would hesitate to destroy them. The
wonder is that artists of so much merit could have been hired to commit
such sins against decency, or that a man in his senses would waste upon
them the fortune they must have cost.

We mounted a massive flight of steps, with a balustrade of
gorgeously-carved marble, and entered a hall hung round with the family
portraits, the eccentric founder at their head. He was a thin,
quizzical-looking gentleman, in a laced coat and sword, and had
precisely the face I imagined for him—that of a whimsical madman. You
would select it from a thousand as the subject for a lunatic asylum.

We were led next to a long, narrow hall, famous for having dined the
king and his courtiers an age or two ago. The ceiling was of plate
mirror, reflecting us all, upside down, as we strolled through, and the
walls were studded from the floor to the roof with the quartz diamond,
(valueless but brilliant), bits of coloured glass, spangles, and
everything that could reflect light. The effect, when the quaint old
chandeliers were lit, and the table spread with silver and surrounded by
a king and his nobles, in the costume of a court in the olden time, must
have exceeded faëry.

Beyond, we were ushered into the state drawing-room, a saloon of grand
proportions, roofed like the other with mirrors, but paved and lined
throughout with the costliest marbles, Sicilian agates, paintings set in
the wall and covered with glass, while on pedestals around, stood
statues of the finest workmanship, representing the males of the family
in the costume or armour of the times. A table of inlaid precious stones
stood in the centre, cabinets of lapis-lazuli and side tables, occupied
the spaces between the furniture, and the chairs and sofas were covered
with the rich velvet stuffs now out of use, embroidered and fringed
magnificently. I sat down upon a tripod stool, and with my eyes half
closed, looked up at the mirrored reflections of the officers in the
ceiling, and tried to imagine back the gay throngs that had moved across
the floor they were treading so unceremoniously, the knightly and royal
feet that had probably danced the stars down with the best beauty of
Sicily beneath those silent mirrors; the joy, the jealousy, the love and
hate, that had lived their hour and been repeated, as were our lighter
feelings and faces now, outlived by the perishing mirrors that might
still outlive ours as long. How much there is in an _atmosphere_! How
full the air of these old palaces is of thought! How one might enjoy
them could he ramble here alone, or with one congenial and musing
companion to answer to his moralising.

We drove on to our appointment. At the end of a handsome avenue stood a
large palace, in rather more modern taste than those we had left. The
crowd of carriages in the court, the gold-laced midshipmen scattered
about the massive stairs and in the formal walks of the gardens, the gay
dresses of the ship’s band, playing on the terrace, and the troops of
ladies and gentlemen in every direction, gave an air of bustle to the
stately structure that might have reminded the marble nymphs of the days
when they were first lifted to their pedestals.

The old hall was thrown open at two, and a table stretching from one end
to the other, loaded with every luxury of the season, and capable of
accommodating sixty or seventy persons, usurped the place of
unsubstantial romance, and brought in the wildest straggler willingly
from his ramble. No cost had been spared, and the hospitable consul (a
Bostonian) did the honours of his table in a manner that stirred
powerfully my pride of country and birthplace. All the English resident
in Palermo were present; and it was the more agreeable to me that their
countrymen are usually the only givers of generous entertainment in
Europe. One feels ever so distant a reflection on his country abroad.
The liberal and elegant hospitality of one of our countrymen at
Florence, has served me as a better argument against the charge of
hardness and selfishness urged upon our nation, than all which could be
drawn from the acknowledgments of travellers.

When dinner was over, an hour was passed at coffee in a small saloon
stained after the fashion of Pompeii, and we then assembled on a broad
terrace facing the sea, and with the band in the gallery above,
commenced dances which lasted till an hour or two into the moonlight.
The sunset had the eternal but untiring glory of the Italian summer, and
it never set on a gayer party. There were among the English one or two
lovely girls, and with the four ladies belonging to the squadron (the
commodore’s family and Captain Reed’s), the dancers were sufficient to
include all the officers, and the scene in the soft light of the moon
was like a description in an old tale. The broad sea on either side,
broke by the headland in front, the distant crescent of lights glancing
along the seaside at Palermo, the solemn old palaces seen from the
eminence around us, and the noble pile through whose low windows we
strolled out upon the terrace, the music and the excitement, all blended
a scene that is drawn with bright and living lines in my memory. We
parted unwillingly, and reaching Palermo about midnight, pulled off to
the frigates, and were under-weigh at daylight for Messina.

                 *        *        *        *        *

This is the poetry of sailing. The long, low frigate glides on through
the water with no more motion than is felt in a dining-room on shore.
The sea changes only from a glossy calm to a feathery ripple, the sky is
always serene, the merchant sail appears and disappears on the horizon
edge, the island rises on the bow, creeps along the quarter, is examined
by the glasses of the idlers on deck and sinks gradually astern; the
sun-fish whirls in the eddy of the wake, the tortoise plunges and
breathes about us; and the delightful temperature of the sea, even and
invigorating, keeps both mind and body in an undisturbed equilibrium of
enjoyment. For me it is a paradise. I am glad to escape from the
contact, the dust, the trials of temper, the noon-day sultriness, and
the midnight chill, the fatigue, and privation, and vexation, which
beset the traveller on shore. I shall return to it no doubt willingly
after a while, but for the present, it is rest, it is relief,
refreshment, to be at sea. There is no swell in the Mediterranean during
the summer months, and this gliding about, sleeping or reading, as if at
home, from one port to another, seems to me just now the Utopia of
enjoyment.

We have been all day among the Lipari islands. It is pleasant to look up
at the shaded and peaceful huts on their mountainous sides, as we creep
along under them, or to watch the fisherman’s children with a glass, as
they run out from their huts on the seashore to gaze at the uncommon
apparition of a ship-of-war. They seem seats of solitude and retirement.
I have just dropped the glass, which I had raised to look at what I took
to be a large ship in full sail rounding the point of Felicudi. It is a
tall, pyramidal rock, rising right from the sea, and resembling exactly
a ship with studding-sails set, coming down before the wind. The band is
playing on the deck; and a fisherman’s boat with twenty of the islanders
resting on their oars and listening in wondering admiration, lies just
under our quarter. It will form a tale for the evening meal, to which
they were hastening home.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We run between Scylla and Charybdis, with a fresh wind and a strong
current. The “dogs” were silent, and the “whirlpool” is a bubble to
Hurl-gate. Scylla is quite a town, and the tall rock at the entrance of
the strait is crowned with a large building, which seems part of a
fortification. The passage through the Faro is lonely—quite like a
river. Messina lies in a curve of the western shore, at the base of a
hill; and, opposite, a graceful slope covered with vineyards, swells up
to a broad table plain on the mountain, which looked like the home of
peace and fertility.

We rounded-to, off the town, to send in for letters, and I went ashore
in the boat. Two American friends, whom I had as little expectation of
meeting as if I had dropped upon Jerusalem, hailed me from the grating
of the health-office, before we reached the land, and having exhibited
our bill of health, I had half an hour for a call upon an old friend,
resident at Messina, and we were off again to the ship. The sails
filled, and we shot away on a strong breeze down the straits. Rhegium
lay on our left, a large cluster of old-looking houses on the edge of
the sea. It was at this town of Calabria that St. Paul landed on his
journey to Rome. We sped on without much time to look at it, even with a
glass, and were soon rounding the toe of “the boot,” the southern point
of Italy. We are heading at this moment for the gulf of Tarento, and
hope to be in Venice by the fourth of July.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER X.


    The Adriatic—Albania—Gay Costumes and Beauty of the
    Albanese—Capo d’Istria—Trieste resembles an American
    Town—Visit to the Austrian Authorities of the
    Province—Curiosity of the Inhabitants—Gentlemanly Reception by
    the Military Commandant—Visit to Vienna—Singular Notions of
    the Austrians respecting the Americans—Similarity of the
    Scenery to that of New England—Meeting with German
    Students—Frequent Sight of Soldiers and Military
    Preparation—Picturesque Scenery of Styria.

The Doge of Venice has a fair bride in the Adriatic. It is the fourth of
July, and with the Italian Cape Colonna on our left and the long, low
coast of Albania shading the horizon on the east, we are gazing upon her
from the deck of the first American frigate that has floated upon her
bosom. We head for Venice, and there is a stir of anticipation on board,
felt even through the hilarity of our cherished anniversary. I am the
only one in the ward-room to whom that wonderful city is familiar, and I
feel as if I had forestalled my own happiness—the first impression of
it is so enviable.

                 *        *        *        *        *

It is difficult to conceive the gay costumes and handsome features of
the Albanese existing in these barren mountains that bind the Adriatic.
It has been but a continued undulation of rock and sand, for three days
past; and the closer we hug to the shore, the more we look at the broad
canvass above us, and pray for wind. We make Capo d’Istria now, a small
town nestled in a curve of the sea, and an hour or two more will bring
us to Trieste, where we drop anchor, we hope for many an hour of novelty
and pleasure.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Trieste lies sixty or eighty miles from Venice, across the head of the
gulf. The shore between is piled up to the sky with the “blue Friuli
mountains;” and from the town of Trieste, the low coast of Istria breaks
away at a right angle to the south, forming the eastern bound of the
Adriatic. As we ran into the harbour on our last tack, we passed close
under the garden walls of the villa of the ex-queen of Naples, a lovely
spot just in the suburbs. The palace of Jerome Bonaparte was also
pointed out to us by the pilot, on the hill just above. They have both
removed since to Florence, and their palaces are occupied by English. We
dropped anchor within a half mile of the pier, and the flags of a dozen
American vessels were soon distinguishable among the various colours of
the shipping in the port.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I accompanied Commodore Patterson to-day on a visit of ceremony to the
Austrian authorities of the province. We made our way with difficulty
through the people, crowding in hundreds to the water-side, and
following us with the rude freedom of a showman’s audience. The
vice-governor, a polite but Frenchified German count, received us with
every profession of kindness. His Parisian gesture sat ill enough upon
his national high cheekbones, lank hair, and heavy shoulders. We left
him to call upon the military commandant, an Irishman, who occupies part
of the palace of the ex-king of Westphalia. Our reception by him was
gentlemanly, cordial, and dignified. I think the Irish are, after all,
the best-mannered people in the world. They are found in every country,
as adventurers for honour, and they change neither in character nor
manner. They follow foreign fashions, and acquire a foreign language;
but in the first they retain their heart, and in the latter their
brogue. They are Irishmen always. Count Nugent is high in the favour of
the Emperor, has the commission of a field-marshal, and is married to a
Neapolitan princess, who is a most accomplished and lovely woman, and
related to most of the royal houses of Europe. His reputation as a
soldier is well known, and he seems to me to have no drawback to the
enviableness of his life, except its expatriation.

Trieste is a busy, populous place, resembling extremely our new towns in
America. We took a stroll through the principal streets after our visits
were over, and I was surprised at the splendour of the shops, and the
elegance of the costumes and equipages. It is said to contain thirty
thousand inhabitants.

                 *        *        *        *        *

VIENNA.—The frigates were to lie three or four weeks at Trieste. One
half of the officers had taken the steamboat for Venice on the second
evening of our arrival, and the other half waited impatiently their turn
of absence. Vienna was but some four hundred miles distant, and I might
never be so near it again. On a rainy evening, at nine o’clock, I left
Trieste in the _eil-wagon_, with a German courier, and commenced the
ascent of the spur of the Friuli mountains that overhangs the bay.

My companions inside were a merchant from Gratz, a fantastical and poor
Hungarian count, a Corfu shop-keeper, and an Italian ex-militaire and
present apothecary, going to Vienna to marry a lady whom he had never
seen. After a little bandying of compliments in German, of which I
understood nothing except that they were apologies for the incessant
smoking of three disgusting pipes, the conversation, fortunately for me,
settled into Italian. The mountain was steep and very high, and my
friends soon grew conversable. The novelty of two American frigates in
the harbour naturally decided the first topic. Our Gratz merchant was
surprised at the light colour of the officers he had seen, and doubted
if they were not Englishmen in the American service. He had always heard
Americans were black. “They are so,”  said the soldier-apothecary; “I
saw the real Americans yesterday in a boat, quite black.” (One of the
cutters of the “Constellation” has a negro crew, which he had probably
seen at the pier.) The assertion seemed to satisfy the doubts of all
parties. They had wondered how such beautiful ships could come from a
savage country. It was now explained. “They were bought from the
English, and officered by Englishmen.” I was too much amused by their
speculations to undeceive them; and with my head thrust half out of the
window to avoid choking with the smoke of their pipes, I gazed back at
the glittering lights of the town below, and indulged the never-palling
sensation of a first entrance into a new country. The lantern at the
peak of the “United States” was the last thing I saw as we rose the brow
of the mountain, and started off on a rapid trot towards Vienna.

I awoke at daylight with the sudden stop of the carriage. We were at the
low door of a German tavern, and a clear, rosy, good-humoured looking
girl bade us good morning, as we alighted one by one. The phrase was so
like English, that I asked for a basin of water in my mother tongue. The
similarity served me again. She brought it without hesitation; but the
question she asked me as she set it down was like nothing that had ever
before entered my ears. The count smiled at my embarrassment, and
explained that she wished to know if I wanted soap.

I was struck with the cleanliness of everything. The tables, chairs and
floors, looked worn away with scrubbing. Breakfast was brought in
immediately—eggs, rolls, and coffee, the latter in a glass bottle like
a chemist’s retort, corked up tightly, and wrapped in a snowy napkin. It
was an excellent breakfast, served with cleanliness and good humour, and
cost about fourteen cents each. Even from this single meal, it seemed to
me that I had entered a country of simple manners and kind feelings. The
conductor gravely kissed the cheek of the girl who had waited on us, my
companions lit their pipes afresh, and the postillion, in cocked hat and
feather, blew a stave of a waltz on his horn, and fell into a steady
trot, which he kept up with phlegmatic perseverance to the end of his
post.

As we get away from the sea, the land grows richer, and the farm-houses
more frequent. We are in the duchy of Carniola, forty or fifty miles
from Trieste. How very unlike Italy and France, and how very like New
England it is! There are no ruined castles, nor old cathedrals. Every
village has its small white church, with a tapering spire, large
manufactories cluster on the water-courses, the small rivers are rapid
and deep, the horses large and strong, the barns immense, the crops
heavy, the people grave and hard at work, and not a pauper by the post
together. We are very far north, too, and the climate is like New
England. The wind, though it is midsummer, is bracing, and there is no
travelling as in Italy, with one’s hat off and breast open, dissolving
at midnight in the luxury of the soft air. The houses, too, are ugly and
comfortable, staring with paint and pierced in all directions with
windows. The children are white-headed and serious. The hills are
half-covered with woods, and clusters of elms are left here and there
through the meadows, as if their owners could afford to let them grow
for a shade to the mowers. I was perpetually exclaiming, “how like
America!”

We dined at Laybach. My companions had found out by my passport that I
was an American, and their curiosity was most amusing. The report of the
arrival of the two frigates had reached the capital of Illyria, and with
the assistance of the information of my friends, I found myself an
object of universal attention. The crowd around the door of the hotel
looked into the windows while we were eating, and followed me round the
house as if I had been a savage. One of the passengers told me they
connected the arrival of the ships with some political object, and
thought I might be the envoy. The landlord asked me if we had potatoes
in our country.

I took a walk through the city after dinner with my mincing friend the
count. The low, two-story wooden houses, the sidewalks enclosed with
trees, the matter-of-fact looking people, the shut windows, and neat
white churches remind me again strongly of America. It was like the more
retired streets of Portland or Portsmouth. The Illyrian language spoken
here, seemed to me the most inarticulate succession of sounds I had ever
heard. In crossing the bridge in the centre of the town, we met a party
of German students travelling on foot with their knapsacks. My friend
spoke to them to gratify my curiosity. I wished to know where they were
going. They all spoke French and Italian, and seemed in high heart,
bold, cheerful, and intelligent. They were bound for Egypt, determined
to seek their fortunes in the service of the present reforming and
liberal pacha. Their enthusiasm, when they were told I was an American,
quite thrilled me. They closed about me and looked into my eyes, as if
they expected to read the spirit of freedom in them. I was taken by the
arms at last, and almost forced into a beer-shop. The large tankards
were filled, each touched mine and the others, and “America” was drank
with a grave earnestness of manner that moved my heart within me. They
shook me by the hand on parting, and gave me a blessing in German, which
as the old count translated it, was the first word I have learned of
their language. We had met constantly parties of them on the road. They
all dress alike, in long travelling frocks of brown stuff, and small
green caps with straight visors; but, coarsely as they are clothed, and
humbly as they seem to be faring, their faces bear always a mark that
can never be mistaken. They look like scholars.

The roads, by the way, are crowded with pedestrians. It seems to be the
favourite mode of travelling in this country. We have scarce met a
carriage, and I have seen, I am sure, in one day, two hundred passengers
on foot. Among them is a class of people peculiar to Germany. I was
astonished occasionally at being asked for charity by stout,
well-dressed young men, to all appearance as respectable as any
travellers on the road. Expressing my surprise, my companion informed me
that they were _apprentices_, and that the custom or law of the country
compelled them, after completing their indentures, to travel in some
distant province, and depend upon charity and their own exertions for
two or three years before becoming masters at their trade. It is a
singular custom, and I should think, a useful lesson in hardship and
self-reliance. They held out their hats with a confident independence of
look that quite satisfied me they felt no degradation in it.

We soon entered the province of Styria, and brighter rivers, greener
woods, richer and more graceful uplands and meadows, do not exist in the
world. I had thought the scenery of Stockbridge, in my own State,
unequalled till now. I could believe myself there, were not the women
alone working in the fields, and the roads lined for miles together with
military wagons and cavalry upon march. The conscript law of Austria
compels every peasant to serve _fourteen_ years! and the labours of
agriculture fall, of course, almost exclusively upon females. Soldiers
swarm like locusts through the country, but they seem as inoffensive and
as much at home as the cattle in the farm-yards. It is a curious
contrast, to my eye, to see parks of artillery glistening in the midst
of a wheat-field, and soldiers sitting about under the low thatches of
these peaceful-looking cottages. I do not think, among the thousands
that I have passed in three days’ travel, I have seen a gesture or heard
a syllable. If sitting, they smoke and sit still, and if travelling,
they economise motion to a degree that is wearisome to the eye.

Words are limited, and the description of scenery becomes tiresome. It
is a fault that the sense of beauty, freshening constantly on the
traveller, compels him who makes a note of impressions to mark every
other line with the same ever-recurring exclamations of pleasure. I saw
a hundred miles of unrivalled scenery in Styria, and how can I describe
it? I were keeping silence on a world of enjoyment to pass it over. We
come to a charming descent into a valley. The town beneath, the river,
the embracing mountains, the swell to the ear of its bells ringing some
holiday, affect my imagination powerfully. I take out my tablets. What
shall I say? How convey to your minds who have not seen it, the charm of
a scene I can only describe as I have described a thousand others?

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER XI.


    Gratz—Vienna.

We had followed stream after stream through a succession of delicious
valleys for a hundred miles. Descending from a slight eminence, we came
upon the broad and rapid Muhr, and soon after caught sight of a distant
citadel upon a rock. As we approached, it struck me as one of the most
singular freaks of nature I had ever seen. A pyramid, perhaps three
hundred feet in height, and precipitous on every side, rose abruptly in
the midst of a broad and level plain, and around it in a girdle of
architecture, lay the capital of Styria. The fortress on the summit hung
like an eagle’s nest over the town, and from its towers, a pistol-shot
would reach the outermost point of the wall.

Wearied with travelling near three hundred miles without sleep, I
dropped upon a bed at the hotel, with an order to be called in two
hours. It was noon, and we were to remain at Gratz till the next
morning. My friend, the Hungarian, had promised, as he threw himself on
the opposite bed, to wake and accompany me in a walk through the town,
but the shake of a stout German chambermaid at the appointed time had no
effect upon him, and I descended to my dinner alone. I had lost my
interpreter. The _carte_ was in German, of which I did not know even the
letters. After appealing in vain in French and Italian to the persons
eating near me, I fixed my finger at hazard upon a word, and the waiter
disappeared. The result was a huge dish of cabbage cooked in some filthy
oil and graced with a piece of beef. I was hesitating whether to dine on
bread or make another attempt, when a gentlemanly man of some fifty
years came in and took the vacant seat at my table. He addressed me
immediately in French, and smiling at my difficulties, undertook to
order a dinner for me something less national. We improved our
acquaintance with a bottle of Johannesburgh, and after dinner he kindly
offered to accompany me in my walk through the city.

Gratz is about the size of Boston, a plain German city, with little or
no pretensions to style. The military band was playing a difficult waltz
very beautifully in the public square, but no one was listening except a
group of young men dressed in the worst taste of dandyism. We mounted by
a zigzag path to the fortress. On a shelf of the precipice, half way up,
hangs a small casino, used as a beer-shop. The view from the summit was
a feast to the eye. The wide and lengthening valley of the Muhr lay
asleep beneath its loads of grain, its villas and farm-houses, the
picture of “waste and mellow fruitfulness,” the rise to the mountains
around the head of the valley was clustered with princely dwellings,
thick forests with glades between them, and churches with white slender
spires shooting from the bosom of elms, and right at our feet, circling
around the precipitous rock for protection, lay the city enfolded in its
rampart, and sending up to our ears the sound of every wheel that rolled
through her streets. Among the striking buildings below, my friend
pointed out to me a palace which he said had been lately purchased by
Joseph Bonaparte, who was coming here to reside. The people were
beginning to turn out for their evening walk upon the ramparts which are
planted with trees and laid out for a promenade, and we descended to
mingle in the crowd.

My old friend had a great many acquaintances. He presented me to several
of the best dressed people we met, all of whom invited me to supper. I
had been in Italy almost a year and a half, and such a thing had never
happened to me. We walked about until six, and as I preferred going to
the play, which opened at that early hour, we took tickets for “Der
Schlimme Leisel,” and were seated presently in one of the simplest and
prettiest theatres I have ever seen.

“Der Schlimme Leisel” was an old maid who kept house for an old bachelor
brother, proposing, at the time the play opens, to marry. Her dislike to
the match, from the dread of losing her authority over his household,
formed the humour of the piece, and was admirably represented. After
various unsuccessful attempts to prevent the nuptials, the lady is
brought to the house, and the old maid enters in a towering passion,
throws down her keys, and flirts out of the room with a threat that she
“_will go to America!_” Fortunately she is not driven to that extremity.
The lady has been already married secretly to a poorer lover, and the
old bachelor, after the first shock of the discovery, settles a fortune
on them, and returns to his celibacy and his old maid sister, to the
satisfaction of all parties. Certainly the German is the most unmusical
language of Babel. If my good old friend had not translated it for me
word for word, I should scarce have believed the play to be more than a
gibbering pantomime. I shall think differently when I have learned it,
no doubt, but a strange language strikes upon one’s ear so oddly! I was
quite too tired when the play was over (which, by the way, was at the
sober hour of nine,) to accept any of the kind invitations of which my
companion reminded me. We supped _tête-à-tête_, instead, at the hotel. I
was delighted with my new acquaintance. He was an old citizen of the
world. He had left Gratz at twenty, and after thirty years wandering
from one part of the globe to the other, had returned to end his days in
his birthplace. His relations were all dead, and speaking all the
languages of Europe, he preferred living at a hotel for the society of
strangers. With a great deal of wisdom he had preserved his good humour
toward the world; and I think I have rarely seen a kinder, and never a
happier man. I parted from him with regret, and the next morning at
daylight, had resumed my seat at the _eil-wagon_.

Imagine the Hudson, at the highlands, reduced to a sparkling little
river a bowshot across, and a rich valley thridded by a road
accompanying the remaining space between the mountains, and you have the
scenery for the first thirty miles beyond Gratz. There is one more
difference. On the edge of one of the most towering precipices, clear up
against the clouds, hang the ruins of a noble castle. The rents in the
wall, and the embrasures in the projecting turrets, seem set into the
sky. Trees and vines grow within and about it, and the lacings of the
twisted roots seem all that keep it together. It is a perfect “castle in
the air.”

A long day’s journey and another long night (during which we passed
Neustadt, on the confines of Hungary) brought us within sight of Baden,
but an hour or two from Vienna. It was just sunrise, and market-carts
and pedestrians and suburban vehicles of all descriptions notified us of
our approach to a great capital. A few miles farther we were stopped in
the midst of an extensive plain by a crowd of carriages. A criminal was
about being guillotined. What was that to one who saw Vienna for the
first time? A few steps farther the postillion was suddenly stopped. A
gentleman alighted from a carriage in which were two ladies, and opened
the door of the diligence. It was the bride of the soldier-apothecary
come to meet him with her mother and brother. He was buried in dust,
just waked out of sleep, a three days’ beard upon his face, and, at the
best, not a very lover-like person. He ran to the carriage door, jumped
in, and there was an immediate cry for water. The bride had fainted! We
left her in his arms and drove on. The courier had no bowels for love.

There is a small Gothic pillar before us, on the rise of a slight
elevation. Thence we shall see Vienna. “Stop, thou tasteless
postillion!” Was ever such a scene revealed to mortal sight! It is like
Paris from the Barrière de l’Etoile—it seems to cover the world. Oh,
beautiful Vienna! What is that broad water on which the rising sun
glances so brightly? _The Danube!_ What is that unparalleled Gothic
structure piercing the sky? What columns are these? What spires?
Beautiful, beautiful city!

                 *        *        *        *        *

VIENNA.—It must be a fine city that impresses one with its splendour
before breakfast, after driving all night in a mail-coach. It was six
o’clock in the morning when I left the post-office, in Vienna, to walk
to a hotel. The shops were still shut, the milkwomen were beating at the
gates, and the short, quick ring upon the church bells summoned all
early risers to mass. A sudden turn brought me upon a square. In its
centre stood the most beautiful fabric that has ever yet filled my eye.
It looked like the structure of a giant, encrusted with fairies—a
majestically proportioned mass, and a spire tapering to the clouds, but
a surface so curiously beautiful, so traced and fretted, so full of
exquisite ornament, that it seemed rather some curious cabinet gem, seen
through a magnifier, than a building in the open air. In these foreign
countries, the labourer goes in with his load to pray, and I did not
hesitate to enter the splendid Church of St. Etienne, though a man
followed me with a portmanteau on his back. What a wilderness of arches!
Pulpits, chapels, altars, ciboriums, confessionals, choirs, all in the
exquisite slenderness of Gothic tracery, and all of one venerable and
time-worn dye, as if the incense of a myriad censers had steeped them in
their spicy odours. The mass was chanting, and hundreds were on their
knees about me, and not one without some trace that he had come in on
his way to his daily toil. It was the hour of the _poor man’s prayer_.
The rich were asleep in their beds. The glorious roof over their heads,
the costly and elaborated pillars against which they pressed their
foreheads, the music and the priestly service, were, for that hour,
theirs alone.

I seldom have felt the spirit of a place of worship so strong upon me.

The foundations of St. Etienne were laid seven hundred years ago. It has
twice been partly burnt, and has been embellished in succession by
nearly all the emperors of Germany. Among its many costly tombs, the
most interesting is that of the hero Eugene of Savoy, erected by his
niece, the Princess Therese, of Liechtenstein. There is also a vault in
which it is said, in compliance with an old custom, the entrails of all
the emperors are deposited.

Having marked thus much upon my tablets, I remembered the patient porter
of my baggage, who had taken the opportunity to drop on his knees while
I was gazing about, and having achieved his matins, was now waiting
submissively till I was ready to proceed. A turn or two brought us to
the hotel, where a bath and a breakfast soon restored me, and in an hour
I was again on the way with a _valet de place_, to visit the tomb of the
son of Napoleon.

He lies in the deep vaults of the capuchin convent, with eighty-four of
the imperial family of Austria beside him. A monk answered our pull at
the cloister-bell, and the valet translated my request into German. He
opened the gate with a guttural “Yaw!” and lighting a wax candle at a
lamp burning before the image of the Virgin, unlocked a massive brazen
door at the end of the corridor, and led the way into the vault. The
capuchin was as pale as marble, quite bald, though young, and with
features which expressed, I thought, the subdued fierceness of a devil.
He impatiently waved away the officious interpreter after a moment or
two, and asked me if I understood Latin. Nothing could have been more
striking than the whole scene. The immense bronze sarcophagi lay in long
aisles behind railings and gates of iron, and as the long-robed monk
strode on with his lamp through the darkness, pronouncing the name and
title of each as he unlocked the door and struck it with his heavy key,
he seemed to me, with his solemn pronunciation, like some mysterious
being calling forth the imperial tenants to judgment. He appeared to
have something of scorn in his manner as he looked on the splendid
workmanship of the vast coffin, and pronounced the sounding titles of
the ashes within. At that of the celebrated Empress Maria Theresa alone,
he stopped to make a comment. It was a simple tribute to her virtues,
and he uttered it slowly, as if he were merely musing to himself. He
passed on to her husband, Francis the First, and then proceeded
uninterruptedly till he came to a new copper coffin. It lay in a niche,
beneath a tall, dim window, and the monk, merely pointing to the
inscription, set down his lamp, and began to pace up and down the damp
floor, with his head on his breast, as if it was a matter of course that
here I was to be left awhile to my thoughts.

It was certainly the spot, if there is one in the world, to feel
emotion. In the narrow enclosure on which my finger rested, lay the last
hopes of Napoleon. The heart of the master-spirit of the world was bound
up in these ashes. He was beautiful, accomplished, generous, brave. He
was loved with a sort of idolatry by the nation with which he had passed
his childhood. He had won all hearts. His death seemed impossible. There
was a universal prayer that he might live, his inheritance of glory was
so incalculable.

I read his epitaph. It was that of a private individual. It gave his
name, and his father’s and mother’s; and then enumerated his virtues,
with a commonplace regret for his early death. The monk took up his lamp
and reascended to the cloister in silence. He shut the convent-door
behind me, and the busy street seemed to me profane. How short a time
does the most moving event interrupt the common current of life.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XII.


    Vienna—Magnificence of the Emperor’s Manège—The Young Queen of
    Hungary—The Palace—Hall of Curiosities, Jewelry, &c.—The
    Polytechnic School—Geometrical Figures described by the
    Vibrations of Musical Notes—Liberal Provision for the Public
    Institutions—Popularity of the Emperor.

I had quite forgotten, in packing up my little portmanteau to leave the
ship, that I was coming so far north. Scarce a week ago, in the south of
Italy, we were panting in linen jackets. I find myself shivering here,
in a latitude five hundred miles north of Boston, with no remedy but
exercise and an extra shirt, for a cold that would grace December.

It is amusing, sometimes, to abandon one’s self to a _valet de place_.
Compelled to resort to one from my ignorance of the German, I have
fallen upon a dropsical fellow, with a Bardolph nose, whose French is
execrable, and whose selection of objects of curiosity is worthy of his
appearance. His first point was the emperor’s stables. We had walked a
mile and a half to see them. Here were two or three hundred horses of
all breeds, in a building that the emperor himself might live in, with a
magnificent inner court for a _manège_, and a wilderness of grooms,
dogs, and other appurtenances. I am as fond of a horse as most people,
but with all Vienna before me, and little time to lose, I broke into the
midst of the head-groom’s pedigrees, and requested to be shown the way
out. Monsieur Karl did not take the hint. We walked on a half mile, and
stopped before another large building. “What is this?”—“The imperial
carriage-house, Monseigneur.” I was about turning on my heel and taking
my liberty into my own hands, when the large door flew open, and the
blaze of gilding from within turned me from my purpose. I thought I had
seen the _ne plus ultra_ of equipages at Rome. The imperial family of
Austria ride in more style than his Holiness. The models are lighter and
handsomer, while the gold and crimson is put on quite as resplendently.
The most curious part of the show were ten or twelve state _traineaux_
or sleighs. I can conceive nothing more brilliant than a turn-out of
these magnificent structures upon the snow. They are built with aerial
lightness, of gold and sable, with a seat fifteen or twenty feet from
the ground, and are driven, with two or four horses, by the royal
personage himself. The grace of their shape and the splendour of their
gilded trappings are inconceivable to one who has never seen them.

Our way lay through the court of the imperial palace. A large crowd was
collected round a carriage with four horses standing at the side-door.
As we approached it, all hats flew off, and a beautiful woman, of
perhaps twenty-eight, came down the steps, leading a handsome boy of two
or three years. It was the young Queen of Hungary and her son. If I had
seen such a face in a cottage _ornée_ on the borders of an American
lake, I should have thought it made for the spot.

We entered a door of the palace, at which stood a ferocious-looking
Croat sentinel, near seven feet high. Three German travelling students
had just been refused admittance. A little man appeared at the ring of
the bell within, and after a preliminary explanation by my valet,
probably a lie, he made a low bow, and invited me to enter. I waited a
moment, and a permission was brought me to see the imperial treasury.
Handing it to Karl, I requested him to get permission inserted for my
three friends at the door. He accomplished it in the same
incomprehensible manner in which he had obtained my own, and introducing
them with the ill-disguised contempt of a valet for all men with dusty
coats, we commenced the rounds of the curiosities together.

A large clock, facing us as we entered, was just striking. From either
side of its base, like companies of gentlemen and ladies advancing to
greet each other, appeared figures in the dress and semblance of the
royal family of Austria, who remained a moment, and then retired, bowing
themselves courteously out backward. It is a costly affair, presented by
the landgrave of Hesse to Maria Theresa, in 1750.

After a succession of watches, snuff-boxes, necklaces, and jewels of
every description, we came to the famous Florentine diamond, said to be
the largest in the world. It was lost by a duke of Burgundy upon the
battle-field of Granson, found by a soldier, who parted with it for five
florins, sold again, and found its way at last to the royal treasury of
Florence, whence it was brought to Vienna. Its weight is one hundred and
thirty-nine and a half carats, and it is estimated at one million,
forty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-four florins. It looks
like a lump of light. Enormous diamonds surround it, but it hangs among
them like Hesperus among the stars.

The next side of the gallery is occupied by specimens of carved ivory.
Many of them are antique, and half of them are more beautiful than
decent. There were two bas-reliefs among them by Raphael Donner, which
were worth, to my eye, all the gems in the gallery. They were taken from
Scripture, and represented the _Woman of Samaria at the well_, and
_Hagar waiting for the death of her son_. No powers of elocution, no
enhancement of poetry could bring those touching passages of the Bible
so movingly to the heart. The latter particularly arrested me. The
melancholy beauty of Hagar, sitting with her head bowed upon her knees,
while her boy is lying a little way off, beneath a shrub of the desert,
is a piece of unparalleled workmanship. It may well hang in the treasury
of an emperor.

Miniatures of the royal family in their childhood, set in costly gems,
massive plate curiously chased, services of gold, robes of diamonds,
gem-hilted swords, dishes wrought of solid integral agates, and finally
the crown and sceptre of Austria upon red velvet cushions, looking very
much like their imitations on the stage, were among the world of
splendours unfolded to our eyes. The Florentine diamond and the
bas-reliefs by Raphael Donner were all I coveted. The beauty of the
diamond was royal. It needed no imagination to feel its value. A savage
would pick it up in the desert for a star dropped out of the sky. For
the rest, the demand on my admiration fatigued me, and I was glad to
escape with my dusty friends from the university, and exchange
courtesies in the free air. One of them spoke English a little and
called me “Mister Englishman,” on bidding me adieu. I was afraid of a
beer-shop scene in Vienna, and did not correct the mistake.

As we were going out of the court, four covered wagons, drawn each by
four superb horses, dashed through the gate. I waited a moment to see
what they contained. Thirty or forty servants in livery came out from
the palace, and took from the wagons quantities of empty baskets
carefully labelled with directions. They were from Schoenbrunn, where
the emperor is at present residing with his court, and had come to
market for the imperial kitchen. It should be a good dinner that
requires sixteen such horses to carry to the cook.

It was the hungry hour of two, and I was still musing on the emperor’s
dinner, and admiring the anxious interest his servants took in their
disposition of the baskets, when a blast of military music came to my
ear. It was from the barracks of the imperial guard, and I stepped under
the arch, and listened to them an hour. How gloriously they played! It
was probably the finest band in Austria. I have heard much good music,
but of its kind, this was like a new sensation to me. They stand, in
playing, just under the window at which the emperor appears daily when
in the city.

I have been indebted to Mr. Schwartz, the American consul at Vienna, for
a very unusual degree of kindness. Among other polite attentions, he
procured for me to-day an admission to the Polytechnic School—a favour
granted with difficulty, except on the appointed days for public visits.

The Polytechnic School was established in 1816, by the present emperor.
The building stands outside the rampart of the city, of elegant
proportions, and about as large as all the buildings of Yale or Harvard
College thrown into one. Its object is to promote instruction in the
practical sciences, or, in other words, to give a practical education
for the trades, commerce, or manufactures. It is divided into three
departments. The first is preparatory, and the course occupies two
years. The studies are religion and morals, elementary mathematics,
natural history, geography, universal history, grammar, and “the German
style,” declamation, drawing, writing, and the French, Italian, and
Bohemian languages. To enter this class, the boy must be thirteen years
of age, and pays fifty cents per month.

The second course is commercial, and occupies one year. The studies are
mercantile correspondence, commercial law, mercantile arithmetic, the
keeping of books, geography and history, as they relate to commerce,
acquaintance with merchandise, &c. &c.

The third course lasts one year. The studies are chemistry as applicable
to arts, and trades, the fermentation of woods, tannery, soap-making,
dying, blanching, &c. &c.; also mechanism, practical geometry, civil
architecture, hydraulics, and technology. The two last courses are given
gratis.

The whole is under the direction of a principal, who has under him
thirty professors and two or three guardians of apparatus.

We were taken first into a noble hall, lined with glass cases containing
specimens of every article manufactured in the German dominions. From
the finest silks, down to shoes, wigs, nails, and mechanics’ tools, here
were all the products of human labour. The variety was astonishing.
Within the limits of a single room, the pupil is here made acquainted
with every mechanic art known in his country.

The next hall was devoted to models. Here was every kind of bridge,
fortification, lighthouse, dry dock, breakwater, canal-lock, &c. &c.;
models of steamboats, of ships, and of churches, in every style of
architecture. It was a little world.

We went thence to the chemical apartment. The servitor here, a man
without education, has constructed all the apparatus. He is an old
grey-headed man, of a keen German countenance, and great simplicity of
manners. He takes great pride in having constructed the largest and most
complete chemical apparatus—now in London. The one which he exhibited
to us occupies the whole of an immense hall, and produces an electric
discharge like the report of a pistol. The ordinary batteries in our
universities are scarce a twentieth part as powerful.

After showing us a variety of experiments, the old man turned suddenly
and asked us if we knew the geometrical figures described by the
vibrations of musical notes. We confessed our ignorance, and he produced
a pane of glass covered with black sand. He then took a fiddle bow, and
holding the glass horizontally, drew it downward against the edge at a
peculiar angle. The sand flew as if it had been bewitched, and took the
shape of a perfect square. He asked us to name a figure. We named a
circle. Another careful draw of the bow, and the sand flew into a
circle, with scarce a particle out of its perfect curve. Twenty times he
repeated the experiment, and with the most complicated figures drawn on
paper. He had reduced it to an art. It would have hung him for a
magician a century ago.

However one condemns the policy of Austria with respect to her subject
provinces and the rest of Europe, it is impossible not to be struck with
her liberal provision for her own immediate people. The public
institutions of all kinds in Vienna are allowed to be the finest and
most liberally endowed on the continent. Her hospitals, prisons, houses
of industry, and schools, are on an imperial scale of munificence. The
emperor himself is a father to his subjects, and every tongue blesses
him. Napoleon envied him their affection, it is said, and certainly no
monarch could be more universally beloved.

Among the institutions of Vienna are two which are peculiar. One is a
_maison d’accouchement_, into which any female can enter veiled, remain
till after the period of her labour, and depart unknown, leaving her
child in the care of the institution, which rears it as a foundling. Its
object is a benevolent prevention of infanticide.

The other is a private penitentiary, to which the fathers of respectable
families can send for reformation children they are unable to govern.
The name is kept a secret, and the culprits are returned to their
families after a proper time, punished without disgrace. Pride of
character is thus preserved, while the delinquent is firmly corrected.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XIII.


    Vienna—Palaces and Gardens—Mosaic Copy of Da Vinci’s “Last
    Supper”—Collection of Warlike Antiquities; Scanderburg’s Sword,
    Montezuma’s Tomahawk, Relics of the Crusaders, Warriors in
    Armour, the Farmer of Augsburg—Room of Portraits of Celebrated
    Individuals—Gold Busts of Jupiter and Juno—The Glacis, full of
    Gardens, the General Resort of the People—Universal Spirit of
    Enjoyment—Simplicity and Confidence in the Manners of the
    Viennese—Baden.

At the foot of a hill in one of the beautiful suburbs of Vienna, stands
a noble palace, called the Lower Belvidere. On the summit of the hill
stands another, equally magnificent, called the Upper Belvidere, and
between the two extend broad and princely gardens, open to the public.

On the lower floor of the entrance-hall in the former palace, lies the
copy, in mosaic, of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” done at
Napoleon’s order. Though supposed to be the finest piece of mosaic in
the world, it is so large that they have never found a place for it. A
temporary balcony has been erected on one side of the room, and the
spectator mounts nearly to the ceiling to get a fair position for
looking down upon it. That unrivalled picture, now going to decay in the
convent at Milan, will probably depend upon this copy for its name with
posterity. The expression in the faces of the apostles is as accurately
preserved as in the admirable engraving of Morghen.

The remaining halls in the palace are occupied by a grand collection of
antiquities, principally of a warlike character. When I read in my old
worm-eaten Burton, of “Scanderburg’s strength,” I never thought to see
his sword. It stands here against the wall, along straight weapon with a
cross hilt, which few men could heave to their shoulders. The tomahawk
of poor Montezuma hangs near it. It was presented to the emperor by the
king of Spain. It is of a dark granite, and polished very beautifully.
What a singular curiosity to find in Austria!

The windows are draped with flags dropping in pieces with age. This, so
in tatters, was renowned in the crusades. It was carried to the Holy
Land and brought back by the archduke Ferdinand.

A hundred warriors in bright armour stand around the hall. Their visors
are down, their swords in their hands, their feet planted for a spring.
One can scarce believe there are no men in them. The name of some
renowned soldier is attached to each. This was the armour of the cruel
Visconti of Milan—that of Duke Alba of Florence—both costly suits,
beautifully inlaid with gold. In the centre of the room stands a
gigantic fellow in full armour, with a sword on his thigh and a beam in
his right hand. It is the shell of the famous farmer of Augsburg, who
was in the service of one of the emperors. He was over eight feet in
height, and limbed in proportion. How near such relics bring history!
With what increased facility one pictures the warrior to his fancy,
seeing his sword, and hearing the very rattle of his armour. Yet it puts
one into Hamlet’s vein to see a contemptible valet lay his hand with
impunity on the armed shoulder, shaking the joints that once belted the
soul of a Visconti! I turned, in leaving the room, to take a second look
at the flag of the crusade. It had floated, perhaps, over the helmet of
Cœur de Lion. Saladin may have had it in his eye, assaulting the
Christian camp with his pagans.

In the next room hung fifty or sixty portraits of celebrated
individuals, presented in their time to the emperors of Austria. There
was one of Mary of Scotland. It is a face of superlative loveliness,
taken with a careless and most bewitching half smile, and yet not
without the look of royalty, which one traces in all the pictures of the
unfortunate queen. One of the emperors of Germany married Philippina, a
farmer’s daughter, and here is her portrait. It is done in the prim old
style of the middle ages, but the face is full of character. Her
husband’s portrait hangs beside it, and she looks more born for an
emperor than he.

Hall after hall followed, of costly curiosities. A volume would not
describe them. Two gold busts of Jupiter and Juno, by Benvenuto Cellini,
attracted my attention particularly. They were very beautiful, but I
would copy them in bronze, and coin “the thunderer and his queen,” were
they mine.

Admiration is the most exhausting thing in the world. The servitor
opened a gate leading into the gardens of the palace, that we might
mount to the Upper Belvidere, which contains the imperial gallery of
paintings. But I had no more strength. I could have dug in the field
till dinner-time—but to be astonished more than three hours without
respite is beyond me. I took a stroll in the garden. How delightfully
the unmeaning beauty of a fountain refreshes one after this inward
fatigue. I walked on, up one alley and down another, happy in finding
nothing that surprised me, or worked upon my imagination, or bothered my
historical recollections, or called upon my worn-out superlatives for
expression. I fervently hoped not to have another new sensation till
after dinner.

Vienna is an immense city (two hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants),
but its heart only is walled in. You may walk from gate to gate in
twenty minutes. In leaving the walls you come upon a feature of the city
which distinguishes it from every other in Europe. Its rampart is
encircled by an open park (called the Glacis), a quarter of a mile in
width and perhaps three miles in circuit, which is, in fact, in the
centre of Vienna. The streets commence again on the other side of it,
and on going from one part of the city to another, you constantly cross
this lovely belt of verdure, which girds her heart like a cestus of
health. The top of the rampart itself is planted with trees, and,
commanding beautiful views in every direction, it is generally thronged
with people. (It was a favourite walk of the Duke of Reichstadt.)
Between this and the Glacis lies a deep trench, crossed by draw-bridges
at every gate, the bottom of which is cultivated prettily as a flower
garden. Altogether Vienna is a beautiful city. Paris may have single
views about the Tuileries that are finer than anything of the same kind
here, but this capital of western Europe, as a whole, is quite the most
imposing city I have seen.

The Glacis is full of gardens. I requested my disagreeable necessity of
a valet, this afternoon, to take me to two or three of the most general
resorts of the people. We passed out by one of the city gates, five
minutes’ walk from the hotel, and entered immediately into a crowd of
people, sauntering up and down under the alleys of the Glacis. A little
farther on we found a fanciful building, buried in trees, and occupied
as a summer café In a little circular temple in front was stationed a
band of music, and around it for a considerable distance were placed
small tables filled just now with elegantly dressed people, eating ices,
or drinking coffee. It was in every respect like a private fête
champètre. I wandered about for an hour, expecting involuntarily to meet
some acquaintance—there was such a look of kindness and unreserve
throughout. It is a desolate feeling to be alone in such a crowd.

We jumped into a carriage and drove round the Glacis for a mile, passing
everywhere crowds of people idling leisurely along and evidently out for
pleasure. We stopped before a superb façade, near one of the gates of
the city. It was the entrance to the Volksgarten. We entered in front of
a fountain, and turning up a path to the left, found our way almost
impeded by another crowd. A semi circular building, with a range of
columns in front encircling a stand for a band of music, was surrounded
by perhaps two or three thousand people. Small tables and seats under
trees, were spread in every direction within reach of the music. The
band played charmingly. Waiters in white jackets and aprons were running
to and fro, receiving and obeying orders for refreshments, and here
again all seemed abandoned to one spirit of enjoyment. I had thought we
must have left all Vienna at the other garden. I wondered how so many
people could be spared from their occupations and families. It was no
holiday. “It is always as gay in fair weather,” said Karl.

A little back into the garden stands a beautiful little structure, on
the model of the temple of Theseus in Greece. It was built for Canova’s
group of “Theseus and the Centaur,” bought by the emperor. I had seen
copies of it in Rome, but was of course much more struck with the
original. It is a noble piece of sculpture.

Still farther back, on the rise of a mount, stood another fanciful café,
with another band of music—and another crowd! After we had walked
around it, my man was hurrying me away. “You have not seen the
Augarten,” said he. It stands upon a little green island in the Danube,
and is more extensive than either of the others. But I was content where
I was; and dismissing my Asmodeus, I determined to spend the evening
wandering about in the crowds alone. The sun went down, the lamps were
lit, the alleys were illuminated, the crowd increased, and the emperor
himself could not have given a gayer evening’s entertainment.

Vienna has the reputation of being the most profligate capital in
Europe. Perhaps it is so. There is certainly, even to a stranger, no
lack of temptation to every species of pleasure. But there is, besides,
a degree of simplicity and confidence in the manners of the Viennese
which I had believed peculiar to America, and inconsistent with the
state of society in Europe. In the most public resorts, and at all hours
of the day and evening, modest and respectable young women of the middle
classes walk alone perfectly secure from molestation. They sit under the
trees in these public gardens, eat ices at the cafés, walk home
unattended, and no one seems to dream of impropriety. Whole families,
too, spend the afternoon upon a seat in a thronged place of resort,
their children playing about them, the father reading, and the mother
sewing or knitting, quite unconscious of observation. The lower and
middle classes live all summer, I am told, out of doors. It is never
oppressively warm in this latitude, and their houses are deserted after
three or four o’clock in the afternoon, and the whole population pours
out to the different gardens on the Glacis, where till midnight, they
seem perfectly happy in the enjoyment of the innocent and unexpensive
pleasures which a wise government has provided for them.

The nobles and richer class pass their summer in the circle of rural
villages near the city. They are nested about on the hills, and crowded
with small and lovely rural villas more like the neighbourhood of Boston
than anything I have seen in Europe.

Baden, where the Emperor passes much of his time, is called “the
miniature Switzerland.” Its baths are excellent, its hills are cut into
retired and charming walks, and from June till September it is one of
the gayest of watering-places. It is about a two hours’ drive from the
city, and omnibuses at a very low rate, run between at all times of the
day. The Austrians seldom travel, and the reason is evident. They have
everything for which others travel, at home.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XIV.


    Vienna—The Palace of Liechtenstein.

The red-nosed German led on through the crowded Graben, jostling aside
the Parisian-looking lady and her handsome Hungarian cavalier, the
phlegmatic smoker and the bearded Turk, alike. We passed the imperial
guard, the city gate, the lofty bridge over the trench (casting a look
below at the flower-garden laid out in “the ditch” which encircles the
wall), and entered upon the lovely Glacis—one step from the crowded
street to the fresh greenness of a park.

Would you believe, as you walk up this shaded alley, that you are in the
heart of the city still?

The Glacis is crossed, with its groups of fair children and shy maids,
its creeping invalids, its solitude-seeking lovers, and its idling
soldiers, and we again enter the crowded street. A half hour more, and
the throng thins again, the country opens, and here you are, in front of
the palace of Liechstenstein, the first noble of Austria. A modern
building, of beautiful and light architecture, rises from its clustering
trees: servants in handsome livery hang about the gates and lean against
the pillars of the portico, and with an explanation from my lying valet,
who evidently makes me out an ambassador at least, by the ceremony with
which I am received, a grey servitor makes his appearance and opens the
immense glass door leading from the side of the court.

One should step gingerly on the polished marble of this superb
staircase! It opens at once into a lofty hall, the ceiling of which is
painted in fresco by an Italian master. It is a room of noble
proportions. Few churches in America are larger, and yet it seems in
keeping with the style of the palace, the staircase—everything but the
creature meant to inhabit it.

How different are the moods in which one sees pictures! To-day I am in
the humour to give it to the painter’s delusion. The scene is real.
Asmodeus is at my elbow, and I am witched from spot to spot, invisible
myself, gazing on the varied scenes revealed only to the inspired vision
of genius.

A landscape opens.[2] It is one of the woody recesses of Lake Nervi, at
the very edge of “Dian’s Mirror.” The huntress queen is bathing with her
nymphs. The sandal is half laced over an ankle that seems fit for
nothing else than to sustain a goddess, when casting her eye on the
lovely troop emerging from the water, she sees the unfortunate Calista
surrounded by her astonished sisters, and fainting with shame. Poor
Calista! one’s heart pleads for her. But how expressive is the cold
condemning look in the beautiful face of her mistress queen! Even the
dogs have started from their reclining position on the grass, and stand
gazing at the unfortunate, wondering at the silent astonishment of the
virgin troop. Pardon her, imperial Dian!

Come to the baptism of a child! It is a vision of Guido Reni’s.[3] A
young mother, apparently scarce sixteen, has brought her first child to
the altar. She kneels with it in her arms, looking earnestly into the
face of the priest while he sprinkles the water on its pure forehead,
and pronounces the words of consecration. It is a most lovely
countenance, made lovelier by the holy feeling in her heart. Her eyes
are moist, her throat swells with emotion—my own sight dims while I
gaze upon her. We have intruded upon one of the most holy moments of
nature. A band of girls, sisters by the resemblance, have accompanied
the young mother, and stand, with love and wonder in their eyes, gazing
on the face of the child. How strangely the mingled thoughts, crowding
through their minds, are expressed in their excited features. It is a
scene worthy of an audience of angels.

We have surprised Giorgione’s wife (the “Flora” of Titian, the “love in
life” of Byron) looking at a sketch by her husband. It stands on his
easel, outlined in crayons, and represents Lucretia the moment before
she plunges the dagger into her bosom. She was passing through his
studio, and you see by the half suspended foot, that she stopped but for
a momentary glance, and has forgotten herself in thoughts that have
risen unaware. The head of Lucretia resembles her own, and she is
wondering what Giorgione thought while he drew it. Did he resemble her
to the Roman’s wife in virtue as well as in feature? There is an
embarrassment in the expression of her face, as if she doubted he had
drawn it half in mischief. We will leave the lovely Venetian to her
thoughts. When she sits again to Titian, it will be with a colder
modesty.

Hoogstraeten, a Dutch painter, conjures up a scene for you. It is an old
man, who has thrust his head through a prison gate, and is looking into
the street with the listless patience and curiosity of one whom habit
has reconciled to his situation. His beard is neglected, his hair is
slightly grizzled, and on his head sits a shabby fur cap, that has
evidently shared all his imprisonment, and is quite past any pride of
appearance. What a vacant face! How perfectly he seems to look upon the
street below, as upon something with which he has nothing more to do.
There is no anxiety to get out, in its expression. He is past that. He
looks at the playing children, and watches the zigzag trot of an idle
dog with the quiet apathy of one who can find nothing better to help off
the hour. It is a picture of stolid, contented, unthinking misery.

Look at this boy, standing impatiently on one foot at his mother’s knee,
while she pares an apple for him! With what an amused and playful love
she listens to his hurrying entreaties, stealing a glance at him as he
pleads, with a deeper feeling than he will be able to comprehend for
years? It is one of the commonest scenes in life, yet how pregnant with
speculation!

On—on—what an endless gallery! I have seen twelve rooms, with forty or
fifty pictures in each, and there are thirteen halls more! The delusion
begins to fade. These are _pictures_ merely. Beautiful ones, however! If
language could convey to your eye the impressions that this waste and
wealth of beauty have conveyed to mine, I would write of every picture.
There is not an indifferent one here. All Italy together has not so many
works by the Flemish masters as are contained in this single
gallery—certainly none so fine. A most princely fortune for many
generations must have been devoted to its purchase.

I have seen seven or eight things in all Italy, by Corregio. They were
the gems of the galleries in which they exist, but always small, and
seemed to me to want a certain finish. Here is a Corregio, a large
picture, and no miniature ever had so elaborate a beauty. It melts into
the eye. It is a conception of female beauty so very extraordinary, that
it seems to me it must become, in the mind of every one who sees it, the
model and the standard of all loveliness. It is a nude Venus, sitting
lost in thought, with Cupid asleep in her lap. She is in the sacred
retirement of solitude, and the painter has thrown into her attitude and
expression so speaking an unconsciousness of all presence, that you feel
like a daring intruder while you gaze upon the picture. Surely such
softness of colouring, such faultless proportions, such subdued and yet
eloquent richness of teint in the skin, was never before attained by
mortal pencil. I am here, some five thousand miles from America, yet
would I have made the voyage but to raise my standard of beauty by this
ravishing image of woman.

In the circle of Italian galleries, one finds less of female beauty,
both in degree and in variety, than his anticipations had promised.
Three or four heads at the most, of the many hundreds that he sees, are
imprinted in his memory, and serve as standards in his future
observations. Even when standing before the most celebrated pictures,
one often returns to recollections of living beauty in his own country,
by which the most glowing head of Titian or the Veronese suffer in
comparison. In my own experience this has been often true, and it is
perhaps the only thing in which my imagination of foreign wonders was
too fervent. To this Venus of Corregio’s, however, I unhesitatingly
submit all knowledge, all conception even, of female loveliness. I have
seen nothing in life, imagined nothing from the description of poets,
that is any way comparable to it. It is matchless.

In one of the last rooms the servitor unlocked two handsome cases, and
showed me, with a great deal of circumstance, two heads by Denner. They
were an old man and his wife—two hale, temperate, good old country
gossips—but so curiously finished! Every pore was painted. You counted
the stiff stumps of the good man’s beard as you might those of a living
person, till you were tired. Every wrinkle looked as if a month had been
spent in elaborating it. The man said they were extremely valuable, and
I certainly never saw anything more curiously and perhaps uselessly
wrought.

Near them was a capital picture of a drunken fellow, sitting by himself,
and laughing heartily at his own performance on the pipe. It was
irresistible, and I joined in the laugh till the long suite of halls
rung again.

Landscapes by Van Delen—such as I have seen engravings of in America,
and sighed over as unreal—the skies, the temples, the water, the soft
mountains, the distant ruins, seemed so like the beauty of a dream.
Here, they recall to me even lovelier scenes in Italy—atmospheres
richer than the painter’s pallet can imitate, and ruins and temples
whose ivy-grown and melancholy grandeur are but feebly copied at the
best.

Come Karl! I am bewildered with these pictures. You have twenty such
galleries in Vienna, you say! I have seen enough for to-day, however,
and we will save the Belvidere till to-morrow. Here! pay the servitor,
and the footman, and the porter, and let us get into the open air. How
common look your Viennese after the celestial images we have left
behind! And, truly, this is the curse of refinement. The faces we should
have loved else, look dull! The forms that were graceful before, move
somehow heavily. I have entered a gallery ere now, thinking well of a
face that accompanied me, and I have learned indifference to it, by
sheer comparison, before coming away.

We return through the Kohlmarket, one of the most fashionable streets of
Vienna. It is like a fancy ball. Hungarians, Poles, Croats, Wallachians,
Jews, Moldavians, Greeks, Turks, all dressed in their national and
striking costumes, promenade up and down, smoking all, and none exciting
the slightest observation. Every third window is a pipe shop, and they
show, by their splendour and variety, the expensiveness of the passion.
Some of them are marked “two hundred dollars.” The streets reek with
tobacco smoke. You never catch a breath of untainted air within the
Glacis. Your hotel, your café, your coach, your friend, are all redolent
of the same disgusting odour.

-----

[2] By Franceschini. He passed his life with the Prince Liechstenstein,
and his pictures are found only in this collection. He is a delicious
painter, full of poetry, with the one fault of too voluptuous a style.

[3] One of the loveliest pictures that divine painter ever drew.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER XV.


    The Palace of Schoenbrunn—Hietzing, the Summer Retreat of the
    Wealthy Viennese—Country-House of the American Consul—Specimen
    of Pure Domestic Happiness in a German Family—Splendid Village
    Ball—Substantial Fare for the Ladies—Curious Fashion of
    Cushioning the Windows—German Grief—The Upper Belvidere
    Palace—Endless Quantity of Pictures.

Drove to Schoenbrunn. It is a princely palace, some three miles from the
city, occupied at present by the emperor and his court. Napoleon resided
here during his visit to Vienna, and here his son died—the two
circumstances which alone make it worth much trouble to see. The
afternoon was too cold to hope to meet the emperor in the grounds, and
being quite satisfied with drapery and modern paintings, I contented
myself with having driven through the court, and kept on to Hietzing.

This is a small village of country-seats within an hour’s drive of the
city—another Jamaica-Plains, or Dorchester in the neighbourhood of
Boston. It is the summer retreat of most of the rank and fashion of
Vienna. The American consul has here a charming country-house, buried in
trees, where the few of our countrymen who travel to Austria find the
most hospitable of welcomes. A bachelor friend of mine from New York is
domesticated in the village with a German family. I was struck with the
Americanism of their manners. The husband and wife, a female relative
and an intimate friend of the family, were sitting in the garden,
engaged in grave, quiet, sensible conversation. They had passed the
afternoon together. Their manners were affectionate to each other, but
serious and respectful. When I entered, they received me with kindness,
and the conversation was politely changed to French, which they all
spoke fluently. Topics were started, in which it was supposed I would be
interested, and altogether the scene was one of the simplest and purest
domestic happiness. This seems to you, I daresay, like the description
of a very common thing, but I have not seen such a one before since I
left my country. It is the first family I have found in two years’
travel who lived in, and seemed sufficient for, themselves. It came over
me with a kind of feeling of refreshment.

In the evening there was a ball at a public room in the village. It was
built in the rear of a café, to which we paid about thirty cents for
entrance. I was not prepared for the splendour with which it was got up.
The hall was very large and of beautiful proportions, built like the
interior of a temple, with columns on the four sides. A partition of
glass divided it from a supper room equally large, in which were set out
perhaps fifty tables, furnished with a _carte_, from which each person
ordered his supper when he wished it, after the fashion of a restaurant.
The best band in Vienna filled the orchestra, led by the celebrated
Strauss, who has been honoured for his skill with presents from half the
monarchs of Europe.

The ladies entered, dressed in perfect taste, _à la Parisienne_, but the
gentlemen (hear it, Basil Hall and Mrs. Trollope!) came in frock coats
and boots, and danced with their hats on! It was a public ball, and
there was, of course, a great mixture of society; but I was assured that
it was attended constantly by the most respectable people of the
village, and was as respectable as anything of the kind in the middle
classes. There were, certainly, many ladies in the company, of elegant
manners and appearance, and among the gentlemen I recognised two
_attachés_ to the French embassy, whom I had known in Paris, and several
Austrian gentlemen of rank were pointed out to me among the dancers. The
galopade and the waltz were the only dances, and dirty boots and hats to
the contrary notwithstanding, it was the best waltzing I ever saw. They
danced with a _soul_.

The best part of it was the _supper_. They danced and eat—danced and
eat, the evening through. It was quite the more important entertainment
of the two. The most delicate ladies present returned three and four
times to the supper, ordering fried chicken, salads, cold meats, and
_beer_, again and again, as if every waltz created a fresh appetite. The
bill was called for, the ladies assisted in making the change, the
tankard was drained, and off they strolled to the ball-room to engage
with renewed spirit in the dance. And these, positively, were ladies
who, in dress, manners, and modest demeanour, might pass uncriticised in
any society in the world! Their husbands and brothers attended them, and
no freedom was attempted, and I am sure it would not have been permitted
even to speak to a lady without a formal introduction.

We left most of the company supping at a late hour, and I drove into the
city, amused with the ball, and reconciled to any or all of the manners
which travellers in America find so peculiarly entertaining.

These cold winds from the Danube have given me a rheumatism. I was
almost reconciled to it this morning however, by a curtain-scene which I
should have missed but for its annoyance. I had been driven out of my
bed at daylight, and was walking my room between the door and the
window, when a violent knocking in the street below arrested my
attention. A respectable family occupies the house opposite, consisting
of a father and mother and three daughters, the least attractive of whom
has a lover. I cannot well avoid observing them whenever I am in my
room, for every house in Vienna has a leaning cushion on the window for
the elbows, and the ladies of all classes are upon them the greater part
of the day. A handsome carriage, servants in livery, and other
circumstances, leave no doubt in my mind that my neighbours are rather
of the better class.

The lover stood at the street door with a cloak on his arm, and a man at
his side with his portmanteau. He was going on a journey, and had come
to take leave of his mistress. He was let in by a gaping servant, who
looked rather astonished at the hour he had chosen for his visit, but
the drawing-room windows were soon thrown open, and the lady made her
appearance with her hair in papers, and other marks of a hasty toilet.
My room is upon the same floor, and as I paced to and fro, the
narrowness of the street in a manner forced them upon my observation.
The scene was a very violent one, and the lady’s tears flowed without
restraint. After twenty partings at least, the lover scarce getting to
the door before he returned to take another embrace, he finally made his
exit, and the lady threw herself on a sofa and hid her face—for five
minutes! I had begun to feel for her, although her swollen eyes added
very unnecessarily to her usual plainness, when she rose and rang the
bell. The servant appeared and disappeared, and in a few minutes
returned with a _ham, a loaf of bread, and a mug of beer?_ and down sets
my sentimental miss and consoles the agony of parting with a meal that I
would venture to substitute in quantity for any working man’s lunch.

I went to bed and rose at nine, and she was sitting at breakfast with
the rest of the family, playing as good a knife and fork as her sisters,
though, I must admit, with an expression of sincere melancholy in her
countenance.

The scene, I am told by my friend the consul, was perfectly German. They
eat a great deal, he says, in affliction. The poet writes:—

        “They are the _silent_ griefs which cut the heart-strings.”

For _silent_ read _hungry_.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The Upper Belvidere, a palace containing eighteen large rooms, filled
with pictures. This is the imperial gallery and the first in Austria.
How can I give you an idea of perhaps five hundred masterpieces you see
here now, and by whom Italy has been stripped. They have bought up all
Flanders, one would think, too. In one room here are twenty-eight superb
Vandykes. Austria, in fact, has been growing rich while every other
nation on the continent has been growing poor, and she has purchased the
treasures of half the world at a discount.[4]

It is wearisome writing of pictures, one’s language is so limited. I
must mention one or two in this collection, however, and I will let you
off entirely on the Esterhazy, which is nearly as fine.

“Cleopatra dying.” She is represented younger than usual, and with a
more fragile and less queenly style of beauty than is common. It is a
fair slight creature of seventeen, who looks made to depend for her very
breath upon affection, and is dying of a broken heart. It is painted
with great feeling, and with a soft and delightful tone of colour which
is peculiar to the artist. It is the third of Guido Cagnacci’s pictures
that I have seen. One was the gem of a gallery at Bologna, and was
bought last summer by Mr. Cabot of Boston.

“The wife of Potiphar” is usually represented as a woman of middle age,
with a full, voluptuous person. She is so drawn, I remember, in the
famous picture in the Barberini Palace at Rome, said to be the most
expressive thing of its kind in the world. Here is a painting less
dangerously expressive of passion but full of beauty. She is eighteen at
the most, fair, delicate, and struggles with the slender boy, who seems
scarce older than herself, more like a sister from whom a mischievous
brother has stolen something in sport. Her partly disclosed figure has
all the incomplete slightness of a girl. The handsome features of Joseph
express more embarrassment than anger. The habitual courtesy to his
lovely mistress is still there, his glance is just averted from the
snowy bosom toward which he is drawn, but in the firmly curved lip the
sense of duty sits clearly defined, and evidently will triumph. I have
forgotten the painter’s name. His model must have been some innocent
girl whose modest beauty led him away from his subject. Called by
another name the picture were perfect.

A portrait of Count Wallenstein, by Vandyke. It looks a _man_, in the
fullest sense of the word. The pendant to it is the Countess Turentaxis,
and she is a woman he might well have loved—calm, lofty, and pure. They
are pictures, I should think, would have an influence on the character
of those who saw them habitually.

Here is a curious picture by Schnoer—“Mephistopheles tempting Faust.”
The scholar sits at his table, with a black letter volume open before
him, and apparatus of all descriptions around. The devil has entered in
the midst of his speculations, dressed in black like a professor, and
stands waiting the decision of Faust, who gazes intently on the
manuscript held in his hand. His fingers are clenched, his eyes start
from his head, his feet are braced, and the devil eyes him with a side
glance, in which malignity and satisfaction are admirably mingled. The
features of Faust are emaciated, and show the agitation of his soul very
powerfully. The points of his compasses, globes, and instruments emit
electric sparks toward the infernal visitor; his lamp burns blue, and
the picture altogether has the most diabolical effect. It is quite a
large painting, and just below, by the same artist, hangs a small,
simple, sweet Madonna. It is a singular contrast in subjects by the same
hand.

A portrait of the Princess Esterhazy, by Angelica Kauffman—a beautiful
woman, painted in the pure, touching style of that interesting artist.

Then comes a “Cleopatra dropping the pearl into the cup.” How often, and
how variously, and how admirably always, the Egyptian queen is painted!
I never have seen an indifferent one. In this picture the painter seems
to have lavished all he could conceive of female beauty upon his
subject. She is a glorious creature. It reminds me of her own proud
description of herself, when she is reproaching Antony to one of her
maids, in “The False One” of Beaumont and Fletcher:—

                                    “To prefer
        The lustre of a little trash, Arsinoe,
        Before the _life of love and soul of beauty_!”

I have marked a great many pictures in this collection I cannot describe
without wearying you, yet I feel unwilling to let them go by. A female,
representing Religion, feeding a dove from a cup, a most lovely thing by
Guido; portraits of Gerard Douw and Rembrandt, by themselves; Rubens’
children, a boy and girl ten or twelve years of age, one of the most
finished paintings I ever saw, and entirely free from the common
dropsical style of colouring of this artist; another portrait of
Giorgione’s wife, the fiftieth that I have seen, at least, yet a face of
which one would never become weary; a glowing landscape by Fischer, the
first by this celebrated artist I have met; and last (for this is mere
catalogue-making), a large picture representing the “Sitting of the
English Parliament” in the time of Pitt. It contains about a hundred
portraits, among which those of Pitt and Fox are admirable. The great
Prime-Minister stands speaking in the foreground, and Fox sits on the
opposite side of the House listening attentively with half a smile on
his features. It is a curious picture to find in Vienna.

One thing more, however—a Venus, by Lampi. It kept me a great while
before it. She lies asleep on a rich couch, and, apparently in her
dream, is pressing a rose to her bosom, while one delicate foot,
carelessly thrown back, is half imbedded in a superb cushion supporting
a crown and sceptre. It is a lie, by all experience. The moral is false,
but the picture is delicious.

-----

[4] Besides the three galleries of the Belvidere, Leichstenstein, and
Esterhazy, which contain as many choice masters as Rome and Florence
together, the guide-book refers the traveller to _sixty-four_ private
galleries of oil paintings, well worth his attention, and to
_twenty-five_ private collections of engravings and antiquities. We
shall soon be obliged to go to Vienna, to study the arts, at this rate.
They have only no sculpture.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XVI.


    Departure from Vienna—The Eil-Wagon—Motley quality of the
    passengers—Thunderstorm in the Mountains of
    Styria—Trieste—Short beds of the Germans—Grotto of
    Adelsburgh—Curious Ball-Room in the Cavern—Nautical
    preparations for a Dance on board the “United States” swept away
    by the Bora—Its successful termination.

I left Vienna at daylight in a diligence nearly as capacious as a
steamboat—inaptly called the _eil-wagon_. A Friuli count, with a pair
of cavalry moustaches, his wife, a pretty Viennese of eighteen, scarce
married a year, two fashionable-looking young Russians, an Austrian
midshipman, a fat Gratz lawyer, a trader from the Danube, and a young
Bavarian student, going to seek his fortune in Egypt, were my
companions. The social habits of continental travellers had given me
thus much information by the end of the first post.

We drove on with German regularity, three days and three nights, eating
four meals a-day (and very good ones), and improving hourly in our
acquaintance. The Russians spoke all our languages. The Friulese and the
Bavarian spoke everything but English, and the lady, the trader, and the
Gratz avocat, were confined to their vernacular. It was a pretty idea of
Babel when the conversation became general.

We were coursing the bank of a river, in one of the romantic passes of
the mountains of Styria, with a dark thunder-storm gathering on the
summit of a crag overhanging us. I was pointing out to one of my
companions a noble ruin of a castle seated very loftily on the edge of
one of the precipices, when a streak of the most vivid lightning shot
straight upon the northern-most turret, and the moment after several
large masses rolled slowly down the mountain-side. It was so like the
scenery in a play, that I looked at my companion with half a doubt that
it was some optical delusion. It reminded me of some of Martin’s
engravings. The sublime is so well imitated in our day that one is less
surprised than he would suppose when nature produces the reality.

The night was very beautiful when we reached the summit of the mountain
above Trieste. The new moon silvered the little curved bay below like a
polished shield, and right in the path of its beams lay the two frigates
like a painting. I must confess that the comfortable cot swinging in the
ward-room of the “United States” was the prominent thought in my mind as
I gazed upon the scene. The fatigue of three days and nights’ hard
driving had dimmed my eye for the picturesque. Leaving my companions to
the short beds[5] and narrow coverlets of a German hotel, I jumped into
the first boat at the pier, and in a few minutes was alongside the ship.
How musical is the hail of a sentry in one’s native tongue, after a
short habitation to the jargon of foreign languages! “Boat ahoy!” It
made my heart leap. The officers had just returned from Venice, some
over land by the Friuli, and some by the steamer through the gulf, and
were sitting round the table laughing with professional merriment over
their various adventures. It was getting back to country and friends and
home.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I accompanied the commodore’s family yesterday in a visit to the Grotto
of Adelsburgh. It is about thirty miles back into the Friuli mountains,
near the province of Cariola. We arrived at the nearest tavern at three
in the afternoon, and subscribing our names upon the magistrate’s books,
took four guides and the requisite number of torches, and started on
foot. A half hour’s walk brought us to a large rushing stream, which,
after turning a mill, disappeared with violence into the mouth of a
broad cavern, sunk in the base of a mountain. An iron gate opened on the
nearest side, and lighting our torches, we received an addition of half
a dozen men to our party of guides, and entered. We descended for ten or
fifteen minutes, through a capacious gallery of rock, up to the ankles
in mud, and feeling continually the drippings exuding from the roof,
till by the echoing murmurs of dashing water we found ourselves
approaching the bed of a subterraneous river. We soon emerged in a vast
cavern, whose height, though we had twenty torches, was lost in the
darkness. The river rushed dimly below us, at the depth of perhaps fifty
feet, partially illuminated by a row of lamps, hung on a slight wooden
bridge by which we were to cross to the opposite side.

We descended by a long flight of artificial stairs, and stood upon the
bridge. The wildness of the scene is indescribable. A lamp or two
glimmered faintly from the lofty parapet from which we had descended;
the depth and breadth of the surrounding cave could only be measured by
the distance of the echoes of the waters, and beneath us leaped and
foamed a dark river, which sprang from its invisible channel, danced a
moment in the faint light of our lamps, and was lost again instantly in
darkness. It brought with it, from the green fields through which it had
come, a current of soft warm air, peculiarly delightful after the
chilliness of the other parts of the cavern; there was a smell of
new-mown hay in it which seemed lost in the tartarean blackness around.

Our guides led on, and we mounted a long staircase on the opposite side
of the bridge. At the head of it stood a kind of monument, engraved with
the name of the emperor of Austria, by whose munificence the staircase
had been cut and the conveniences for strangers provided. We turned
hence to the right, and entered a long succession of natural corridors,
roofed with stalactites, with a floor of rock and mud, and so even and
wide that the lady under my protection had seldom occasion to leave my
arm. In the narrowest part of it, the stalactites formed a sort of
reversed grove, with the roots in the roof. They were of a snowy white,
and sparkled brilliantly in the light of the torches. One or two had
reached the floor, and formed slender and beautiful sparry columns, upon
which the names of hundreds of visitors were written in pencil.

The spars grew white as we proceeded, and we were constantly emerging
into large halls of the size of handsome drawing-rooms, whose glittering
roofs, and sides lined with fantastic columns, seemed like the brilliant
frost-work of a crystallised cavern of ice. Some of the accidental
formations of the stalagmites were very curious. One large area was
filled with them, of the height of small plants. It was called by the
guides the “English Garden.” At the head of another saloon, stood a
throne, with a stalactite canopy above it, so like the work of art, that
it seemed as if the sculptor had but left the finishing undone.

We returned part of the way we had come, and took another branch of the
grotto, a little more on the descent. A sign above informed us that it
was the “road to the infernal regions.” We walked on an hour at a quick
pace, stopping here and there to observe the oddity of the formations.
In one place, the stalactites had enclosed a room, leaving only small
openings between the columns, precisely like the grating of a prison. In
another, the ceiling lifted out of the reach of torch-light, and far
above us we heard the deep-toned beat as upon a muffled bell. It was a
thin circular sheet of spar, called “the bell,” to which one of the
guides had mounted, striking upon it with a billet of wood.

We came after a while to a deeper descent, which opened into a
magnificent and spacious hall. It is called “the ball-room,” and used as
such once a year, on the occasion of a certain Illyrian festa. The floor
has been cleared of stalagmites, the roof and sides are ornamented
beyond all art with glittering spars, a natural gallery with a
balustrade of stalactites contains the orchestra, and side-rooms are all
around where supper might be laid, and dressing-rooms offered in the
style of a palace. I can imagine nothing more magnificent than such a
scene. A literal description of it even would read like a fairy tale.

A little farther on, we came to a perfect representation of a waterfall.
The impregnated water had fallen on a declivity, and with a slightly
ferruginous tinge of yellow, poured over in the most natural resemblance
to a cascade after a rain. We proceeded for ten or fifteen minutes, and
found a small room like a chapel, with a pulpit, in which stood one of
the guides, who gave us, as we stood beneath, an Illyrian exhortation.
There was a sounding-board above, and I have seen pulpits in old gothic
churches that seemed at a first glance to have less method in their
architecture. The last thing we reached was the most beautiful. From the
cornice of a long gallery, hung a thin, translucent sheet of spar, in
the graceful and waving folds of a curtain; with a lamp behind, the hand
could be seen through any part of it. It was perhaps twenty feet in
length, and hung five or six feet down from the roof of the cavern. The
most singular part of it was the fringe. A ferruginous stain ran through
it from one end to the other, with the exactness of a drawn line, and
thence to the curving edge a most delicate rose-tint faded gradually
down like the last flush of sunset through a silken curtain. Had it been
a work of art, done in alabaster, and stained with the pencil, it would
have been thought admirable.

The guide wished us to proceed, but our feet were wet, and the air of
the cavern was too chill. We were at least four miles, they told us,
from the entrance, having walked briskly for upward of two hours. The
grotto is said to extend ten miles under the mountains, and has never
been thoroughly explored. Parties have started with provisions, and
passed forty-eight hours in it without finding the extremity. It seems
to me that any city I ever saw might be concealed in its caverns. I have
often tried to conceive of the grottos of Antiparos, and the celebrated
caverns of our own country, but I received here an entirely new idea of
the possibility of space under ground. There is no conceiving it unseen.
The river emerges on the other side of the mountain, seven or eight
miles from its first entrance.

We supped and slept at the little albergo of the village, and returned
the next day to an early dinner.

TRIESTE.—A ball on board the “United States.” The guns were run out of
the ports; the main and mizen-masts were wound with red and white
bunting; the capstan was railed with arms and wreathed with flowers; the
wheel was tied with nosegays; the American eagle stood against the
mainmast, with a star of midshipmen’s swords glittering above it;
festoons of evergreens were laced through the rigging; the companion-way
was arched with hoops of green leaves and roses; the decks were
tastefully chalked: the commodore’s skylight was piled with cushions and
covered with red damask for an ottoman; seats were laid along from one
carronade to the other; and the whole was enclosed with a temporary tent
lined throughout with showy flags, and studded all over with bouquets of
all the flowers of Illyria. Chandeliers made of bayonets,
battle-lanterns, and candles in any quantity, were disposed all over the
hall. A splendid supper was set out on the gun-deck below, draped in
with flags. Our own and the “Constellation’s” boats were to be at the
pier at nine o’clock to bring off the ladies, and at noon everything
promised of the brightest.

First, about four in the afternoon, came up a saucy-looking cloud from
the westernmost peak of the Friuli. Then followed from every point
towards the north, an extending edge of a broad solid black sheet which
rose with the regularity of a curtain, and began to send down a wind
upon us which made us look anxiously to our ball-room bowlines. The
midshipmen were all forward, watching it from the forecastle. The
lieutenants were in the gangway, watching it from the ladder. The
commodore looked seriously out of the larboard cabin port. It was as
grave a ship’s company as ever looked out for a shipwreck.

The country about Trieste is shaped like a bellows, and the city and
harbour lie in the nose. They have a wind that comes down through the
valley, called the “bora,” which several times in the year is strong
enough to lift people from their feet. We could see, by the clouds of
dust on the mountain roads, that it was coming. At six o’clock the
shrouds began to creak; the white tops flew from the waves in showers of
spray, and the roof of our sea-palace began to shiver in the wind. There
was no more hope. We had waited even too long. All hands were called to
take down the chandeliers, sword-stars, and ottomans, and before it was
half done, the storm was upon us; the bunting was flying and flapping,
the nicely-chalked decks were swashed with rain, and strewn with leaves
of flowers, and the whole structure, the taste and labour of the ship’s
company for two days, was a watery wreck.

Lieutenant C——, who had the direction of the whole, was the officer of
the deck. He sent for his pea-jacket, and leaving him to pace out his
watch among the ruins of his imagination, we went below to get early to
bed, and forgot our disappointment in sleep.

The next morning the sun rose without a veil. The “blue Friuli” looked
clear and fresh; the south-west wind came over softly from the shore of
Italy, and we commenced retrieving our disaster with elastic spirit.
Nothing had suffered seriously except the flowers, and boats were
despatched ashore for fresh supplies, while the awnings were lifted
higher and wider than before, the bright-coloured flags replaced, the
arms polished and arranged in improved order, and the decks re-chalked
with new devices. At six in the evening everything was swept up, and the
ball-room astonished even ourselves. It was the prettiest place for a
dance in the world.

The ship has an admirable band of twenty Italians, collected from Naples
and other ports, and a fanciful orchestra was raised for them on the
larboard side of the mainmast. They struck up a march as the first
boatful of ladies stepped upon the deck, and in the course of half an
hour the waltzing commenced with at least two hundred couples, while the
ottoman and seats under the hammock-cloths were filled with spectators.
The frigate has a lofty poop, and there was room enough upon it for two
quadrilles after it had served as a reception-room. It was edged with a
temporary balustrade, wreathed with flowers, and studded with lights,
and the cabin beneath (on a level with the main ball-room), was set out
with card-tables. From the gangway entrance, the scene was like a
brilliant theatrical ballet.

An amusing part of it was the sailors’ imitation on the forward decks.
They had taken the waste shrubbery and evergreens, of which there was a
great quantity, and had formed a sort of grove, extending all round. It
was arched with festoons of leaves, with quantities of fruit tied among
them; and over the entrance was suspended a rough picture of a frigate
with the inscription, “Free trade and sailors’ rights.” The forecastle
was ornamented with cutlasses, and one or two nautical transparencies,
with pistols and miniature ships interspersed, and the whole lit up
handsomely. The men were dressed in their white duck trowsers and blue
jackets, and sat round on the guns playing at draughts, or listening to
the music, or gazing at the ladies constantly promenading fore and aft,
and to me this was one of the most interesting parts of the spectacle.
Five hundred weather-beaten and manly faces are a fine sight anywhere.

The dance went gaily on. The reigning belle was an American, but we had
lovely women of all nations among our guests. There are several wealthy
Jewish families in Trieste, and their dark-eyed daughters, we may say at
this distance, are full of the thoughtful loveliness peculiar to the
race. Then we had Illyrians and Germans, and—Terpsichore be our
witness—how they danced! My travelling companion, the count of Friuli,
was there; and his little Viennese wife, though she spoke no Christian
language, danced as featly as a fairy. Of strangers passing through the
Trieste, we had several of distinction. Among them was a fascinating
Milanese marchioness, a relative of Manzoni’s, the novelist (and as
enthusiastic and eloquent a lover of her country as I ever listened to
on the subject of oppressed Italy), and two handsome young men, the
counts Neipperg, sons-in-law to Maria Louisa, who amused themselves as
if they had seen nothing better in the little duchy of Parma.

We went below at midnight, to supper, and the ladies came up with
renewed spirit to the dance. It was a brilliant scene indeed. The
officers of both ships in full uniform, the gentlemen from shore, mostly
military, in full dress, the gaiety of the bright red bunting, laced
with white and blue, and studded, wherever they would stand, with
flowers, and the really uncommon number of beautiful women, with the
foreign features and complexions so rich and captivating to our eyes,
produced altogether an effect unsurpassed by anything I have ever seen
even at the court _fêtes_ of Europe. The daylight gun fired at the close
of a galopade, and the crowded boats pulled ashore with their lovely
freight by the broad light of morning.

-----

[5] A German bed is never over five feet in length, and proportionably
narrow. The sheets, blankets, and coverlets, are cut exactly to the size
of the bed’s _surface_, so that there is no _tucking up_. The
bed-clothes seem made for cradles. It is easy to imagine how a tall
person sleeps in them.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XVII.


    Trieste, its Extensive Commerce—Hospitality of Mr. Moore—Ruins
    of Pola—Immense amphitheatre—Village of Pola—Coast of
    Dalmatia, of Apulia and Calabria—Otranto—Sails for the Isles
    of Greece.

Trieste is certainly a most agreeable place. Its streets are beautifully
paved and clean, its houses new and well built, and its shops as
handsome and as well stocked with every variety of things as those of
Paris. Its immense commerce brings all nations to its port, and it is
quite the commercial centre of the continent. The Turk smokes
cross-legged in the café, the English merchant has his box in the
country and his snug establishment in town, the Italian has his opera,
and his wife her cavalier, the Yankee captain his respectable
boarding-house, and the German his four meals a day at a hotel dyed
brown with tobacco. Every nation is at home in Trieste.

The society is beyond what is common in a European mercantile city. The
English are numerous enough to support a church, and the circle of which
our hospitable consul is the centre, is one of the most refined and
agreeable it has been my happiness to meet. The friends of Mr. Moore
have pressed every possible civility and kindness upon the commodore and
his officers, and his own house has been literally our home on shore. It
is the curse of this _volant_ life, otherwise so attractive, that its
frequent partings are bitter in proportion to its good fortune. We make
friends but to lose them.

We got under way with a light breeze this morning, and stole gently out
of the bay. The remembrance of a thousand kindnesses made our anchors
lift heavily. We waved our handkerchiefs to the consul, whose balconies
were filled with his charming family watching our departure, and with a
freshening wind, disappeared around the point, and put up our helm for
Pola.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The ruins of Pola, though among the first in the world, are seldom
visited. They lie on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, at the head of a
superb natural bay, far from any populous town, and are seen only by the
chance trader who hugs the shore for the land-breeze, or the Albanian
robber who looks down upon them with wonder from the mountains. What
their age is I cannot say nearly. The country was conquered by the
Romans about one hundred years before the time of our Saviour, and the
amphitheatre and temples were probably erected soon after.

We ran into the bay, with the other frigate close astern, and anchored
off a small green island which shuts in the inner harbour. There is deep
water up to the ancient town on either side, and it seems as if nature
had amused herself with constructing a harbour incapable of improvement.
Pola lay about two miles from the sea.

It was just evening, and we deferred our visit to the ruins till
morning. The majestic amphitheatre stood on a gentle ascent, a mile from
the ship, goldenly bright in the flush of sunset; the pleasant smell of
the shore stole over the decks, and the bands of the two frigates played
alternately the evening through. The receding mountains of Istria
changed their light blue veils gradually to grey and sable, and with the
pure stars of these enchanted seas, and the shell of a new moon bending
over Italy in the west, it was such a night as one remembrances like a
friend. The “Constellation” was to part from us here, leaving us to
pursue our voyage to Greece. There were those on board who had
brightened many of our “hours ashore,” in these pleasant wanderings. We
pulled back to our own ship, after a farewell visit, with regrets
deepened by crowds of pleasant remembrances.

The next morning we pulled ashore to the ruins. The amphitheatre was
close upon the sea, and to my surprise and pleasure, there was no
_cicerone_. A contemplative donkey was grazing under the walls, but
there was no other living creature near. We looked at its vast circular
wall with astonishment. The Coliseum at Rome, a larger building of the
same description, is, from the outside, much less imposing. The whole
exterior wall, a circular pile one hundred feet high in front, and of
immense blocks of marble and granite, is as perfect as when the Roman
workman hewed the last stone. The interior has been nearly all removed.
The well-hewn blocks of the many rows of seats were too tempting, like
those of Rome, to the barbarians who were building near. The circle of
the arena, in which the gladiators and wild beasts of these then
new-conquered provinces fought, is still marked by the foundation of its
barrier. It measures two hundred and twenty-three feet. Beneath it is a
broad and deep canal, running toward the sea, filled with marble
columns, still erect upon their pedestals, used probably for the
introduction of water for the _naumachia_. The whole circumference of
the amphitheatre is twelve hundred and fifty-six feet, and the thickness
of the exterior wall seven feet six inches. Its shape is oblong, the
length being four hundred and thirty-six feet, and the breadth three
hundred and fifty. The measurements were taken by the captain’s orders,
and are doubtless critically correct.

We loitered about the ruins several hours, finding in every direction
the remains of the dilapidated interior. The sculpture upon the fallen
capitals and fragments of frieze was in the highest style of ornament.
The arena is overgrown with rank grass, and the crevices in the walls
are filled with flowers. A vineyard, with its large blue grape just
within a week of ripeness, encircles the rear of the amphitheatre. The
boat’s crew were soon among them, much better amused than they could
have been by all the antiquities in Istria.

We walked from the amphitheatre to the town; a miserable village built
around two antique temples, one of which still stands alone, with its
fine Corinthian columns, looking just ready to crumble. The other is
incorporated barbarously with the guard-house of the place, and is a
curious mixture of beautiful sculpture and dirty walls. The pediment,
which is still perfect, in the rear of the building, is a piece of
carving, worthy of the choicest cabinet of Europe. The thieveries from
the amphitheatre are easily detected. There is scarcely a beggar’s house
in the village, that does not show a bit or two of sculptural marble
upon its front.

At the end of the village stands a triumphal arch, recording the
conquests of a Roman consul. Its front, toward the town, is of Parian
marble, beautifully chiselled. One recognises the solid magnificence of
that glorious nation, when he looks on these relics of their distant
conquests, almost perfect after eighteen hundred years. It seems as if
the foot-print of a Roman were eternal.

We stood out of the little bay, and with a fresh wind, ran down the
coast of Dalmatia, and then crossing to the Italian side, kept down the
ancient shore of Apulia and Calabria to the mouth of the Adriatic. I
have been looking at the land with the glass, as we ran smoothly along,
counting castle after castle built boldly on the sea, and behind them,
on the green hills, the thickly built villages with their smoking
chimneys and tall spires, pictures of fertility and peace. It was upon
these shores that the Barbary corsairs descended so often during the
last century, carrying off for eastern harems, the lovely women of
Italy. We are just off Otranto, and a noble old castle stands frowning
from the extremity of the Cape. We could throw a shot into its
embrasures as we pass. It might be the “Castle of Otranto,” for the
romantic looks it has from the sea.

We have out-sailed the “Constellation,” or we should part from her here.
Her destination is France: and we should be to-morrow amid the [6]Isles
of Greece. The pleasure of realising the classic dreams of one’s
boyhood, is not to be expressed in a line. I look forward to the
succeeding month or two as to the “red-letter” chapter of my life.
Whatever I may find the reality, my heart has glowed warmly and
delightfully with the anticipation. Commodore Patterson is, fortunately
for me, a scholar, and a judicious lover of the arts, and loses no
opportunity, consistently with his duty, to give his officers the means
of examining the curious and the beautiful in these interesting seas.
The cruise, thus far, has been one of continually mingled pleasure and
instruction, and the best of it, by every association of our early days,
is to come.

-----

[6] It was to this point (the ancient Hydrantum) that Pyrrhus proposed
to build a bridge from Greece—_only_ sixty miles! He deserved to ride
on an elephant.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XVIII.


    The Ionian Isles—Lord and Lady Nugent—Corfu—Greek and English
    Soldiers—Cockneyism—The Gardens of Alcinous—English
    Officers—Albanians—Dionisio Salomos, the Greek Poet—Greek
    Ladies—Dinner with the Artillery Mess.

This is proper dream-land. The “Isle of Calypso,”[7] folded in a drapery
of blue air, lies behind, fading in the distance, “the Acroceraunian
mountains of old name,” which caught Byron’s eye as he entered Greece,
are piled up before us on the Albanian shore, and the Ionian sea is
rippling under our bow, breathing, from every wave, of Homer, and
Sappho, and “sad Penelope.” Once more upon Childe Harold’s footsteps. I
closed the book at Rome, after following him for a summer through Italy,
confessing, by many pleasant recollections, that

                                  “Not in vain
        He wore his sandal shoon, and scallop shell.”

I resume it here with the feeling of Thalaba when he caught sight of the
green bird that led him through the desert. It lies open on my knee at
the second canto, describing our position even to the hour:

        “‘Twas on a Grecian autumn’s gentle eve
        Childe Harold hailed Leucadia’s cape afar;
        A spot he longed to see, nor cared to leave.”

We shall lie off-and-on to-night, and go in to Corfu in the morning. Two
Turkish vessels-of-war, with the crescent flag flying, lie in a small
cove a mile off, on the Albanian shore, and by the discharge of
musketry, our pilot presumes that they have accompanied the Sultan’s
tax-gatherer, who gets nothing from these wild people without fighting
for it.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The entrance to Corfu is considered pretty, but the English flag flying
over the forts, divested ancient Corcyra of its poetical associations.
It looked to me a commonplace seaport, glaring in the sun. The “gardens
of Alcinous” were here, but who could imagine them, with a red-coated
sentry posted on every corner of the island.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Isles, Lord Nugent, came off to
the ship this morning in a kind of Corfiote boat, called a “scampavia,”
a greyhound-looking craft, carrying sail enough for a schooner. She cut
the water like the wing of a swallow. His lordship was playing sailor,
and was dressed like the mate of one of our coasters, and his manners
were as bluff. He has a fine person, however, and is said to be a very
elegant man when he chooses it. He is the author of the “Life and Times
of John Hampden,” and Whig, of course. Southey has lately reviewed him
rather bitterly in the “Quarterly.” Lady N. is literary, too, and they
have written between them a book of tales called (I think) “Legends of
the Lilies,” of which her ladyship’s half is said to be the better.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Went on shore for a walk. Greeks and English soldiers mix oddly
together. The streets are narrow, and crowded with them in about equal
proportions. John Bull retains his red face, and learns no Greek. We
passed through the Bazaar, and bad English was the universal language.
There is but one square in the town, and round its wooden fence,
enclosing a dusty area, without a blade of grass, were riding the
English officers, while the regimental band played in the centre. A more
arid and cheerless spot never pained the eye. The appearance of the
officers, retaining all their Bond-street elegance and mounted upon
English hunters, was in singular contrast with the general shabbiness of
the houses and people. I went into a shop at a corner to inquire for the
residence of a gentleman to whom I had a letter. “It’s _w_erry ‘ot,
sir,” said a little red-faced woman behind the counter, as I went out,
“perhaps you’d like a glass of _v_ater.” It was odd to hear the Wapping
dialect in the “isles of Greece.” She sold green groceries, and wished
me to recommend her to the _h_officers. Mrs. Mary Flack’s “grocery” in
the gardens of Alcinous.

“The wild Albanian, kirtled to the knee,” walks through the streets of
Corfu, looking unlike and superior to everything about him. I met
several in returning to the boat. Their gait is very lofty, and the
snow-white _juktanilla_, or kirtle, with its thousand folds, sways from
side to side, as they walk, with a most showy effect. Lord Byron was
very much captivated with these people, whose capital (just across the
strait from Corfu) he visited once or twice in his travels through
Greece. Those I have seen are all very tall, and have their prominent
features, with keen eyes and limbs of the most muscular proportions. The
common English soldiers look like brutes beside them.

The placard of a theatre hung on the walls of a church. A rude picture
of a battle between the Greeks and Turks hung above it, and beneath was
written, in Italian, “Honour the representation of the immortal deeds of
your hero Marco Bozzaris.” It is singular that even a pack of slaves can
find pleasure in a remembrance that reproaches every breath they draw.

Called on Lord Nugent with the commodore. The governor, sailor, author,
antiquary, nobleman (for he is all these, and a jockey to boot),
received us in a calico morning frock, with his breast and neck bare, in
a large library lumbered with half-packed antiquities and strewn with
straw. Books, miniatures of his family (a lovely one of Lady Nugent
among them), Whig pamphlets, riding-whips, spurs, minerals, hammer and
nails, half-eaten cakes, plans of fortifications, printed invitations to
his own balls and dinners, military reports, Turkish pistols, and,
lastly, his own just printed answer to Mr. Southey’s review of his book,
occupied the table. He was reading his own production when we entered.
His lordship mentioned, with great apparent satisfaction, a cruise he
had taken some years ago with Commodore Chauncey. The conversation was
rather monologue than dialogue; his excellency seeming to think, with
Lord Bacon, that “the honorablest part of talk was to give the occasion,
and then to moderate and pass to something else.” He started a topic,
exhausted and changed it with the same facility and rapidity with which
he sailed his scampavia. An engagement with the artillery-mess prevented
my acceptance of an invitation to dine with him to-morrow—a
circumstance I rather regret, as he is said to be, at his own table, one
of the most polished and agreeable men of his time.

Thank Heaven, revolutions do not affect the climate! The isle that gave
a shelter to the storm-driven Ulysses is an English barrack, but the
same balmy air that fanned the blind eyes of old Homer blows over it
still. “The breezes,” says Landor, beautifully, “are the children of
eternity.” I never had the hair lifted so pleasantly from my temples as
to-night, driving into the interior of the island. The gardening of
Alcinous seems to have been followed up by nature. The rhododendron, the
tamarisk, the almond, cypress, olive, and fig, luxuriate in the sweetest
beauty everywhere.

There was a small party in the evening at the house of the gentleman who
had driven me out, and among other foreigners present were the Count
Dionisio Salomos, of Zante, and the Cavaliere Andrea Mustoxidi, both men
of whom I had often heard. The first is almost the only modern Greek
poet, and his hymns, principally patriotic, are in the common dialect of
the country, and said to be full of fire. He is an excessively handsome
man, with large dark eyes, almost effeminate in their softness. His
features are of the clearest Greek chiselling, as faultless as a statue,
and are stamped with nature’s most attractive marks of refinement and
feeling. I can imagine Anacreon to have resembled him.

Mustoxidi has been a conspicuous man in the late chapter of Grecian
history. He was much trusted by Capo d’Istria, and among other things
had the whole charge of his school at Ægina. An Italian exile (a
Modenese, and a very pleasant fellow), took me aside when I asked
something of his history, and told me a story of him, which proves
either that he was a dishonest man, or (no new truth) that conspicuous
men are liable to be abused. A valuable donation of books was given by
some one to the school library. They stood on the upper shelves, quite
out of reach, and Mustoxidi was particular in forbidding all approach to
them. Some time after his departure from the island, the library was
committed to the charge of another person, and the treasures of the
upper shelves were found to be—painted boards! His physiognomy would
rather persuade me of the truth of the story. He is a small man, with a
downcast look, and a sly, gray eye, almost hidden by his projecting
eyebrows. His features are watched in vain for an open expression.

The ladies of the party were principally Greeks. None of them were
beautiful, but they had the melancholy, retired expression of face which
one looks for, knowing the history of their nation. They are unwise
enough to abandon their picturesque national costume, and dress badly in
the European style. The servant girls, with their hair braided into the
folds of their turbans, and their open-laced bodices and sleeves, are
much more attractive to the stranger’s eye. The liveliest of the party,
a little Zantiote girl of eighteen, with eyes and eye-lashes that
contradicted the merry laugh on her lips, sang us an Albanian song to
the guitar very sweetly.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Dined to-day with the artillery mess, in company with the commodore and
some of his officers. In a place like this, the dinner is naturally the
great circumstance of the day. The inhabitants do not take kindly to
their masters, and there is next to no society for the English. They sit
down to their soup after the evening drive, and seldom rise till
midnight. It was a gay dinner, as dinners will always be where the whole
remainder of what the “day may bring forth” is abandoned to them, and we
parted from our hospitable entertainers, after four or five hours
“measured with sands of gold.” We must do the English the justice of
confessing the manners of their best bred men to be the best in the
world. It is inevitable that one should bear the remainder of the nation
little love. Neither the one class nor the other, doubtless, will ever
seek it at our hands. But mutual hospitality may soften so much of our
intercourse as happens in the traveller’s way, and without loving John
Bull better, all in all, one soon finds out in Europe that the dog and
the lion are not more unlike, than the race of bagmen and runners with
which our country is overrun, and the cultivated gentlemen of England.

On my right sat a captain of the corps, who had spent the last summer at
the Saratoga Springs. We found any number of mutual acquaintances, of
course, and I was amused with the impressions which some of the fairest
of my friends had made upon a man who had passed years in the most
cultivated society of Europe. He liked America with reservations. He
preferred our ladies to those of any other country except England, and
he had found more dandies in one hour in Broadway than he should have
met in a week in Regent-street. He gave me a racy scene or two from the
City Hotel, in New York, but he doubted if the frequenters of a public
table in any country in the world were, on the whole, so well-mannered.
If Americans were peculiar for anything, he thought it was for
confidence in themselves and tobacco-chewing.

-----

[7] Fano, which disputes it with Gozo, near Malta.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XIX.


    Corfu—Unpopularity of British Rule—Superstition of the
    Greeks—Accuracy of the Descriptions in the Odyssey—Advantage
    of the Greek Costume—The Paxian Isles—Cape Leucas, or Sappho’s
    Leap—Bay of Navarino, Ancient Pylos—Modon—Coran’s Bay—Cape
    St. Angelo—Isle of Cythera.

CORFU.—Called on one of the officers of the 10th this morning, and
found lying on his table two books upon Corfu. They were from the
circulating library of the town, much thumbed, and contained the most
unqualified strictures on the English administration in the islands. In
one of them, by a Count, or Colonel, Boig de St. Vincent, a Frenchman,
the Corfiotes were taunted with their slavish submission, and called
upon to shake off the yoke of British dominion in the most inflammatory
language. Such books in Italy or France would be burnt by the hangman,
and prohibited on penalty of death. Here, with a haughty consciousness
of superiority, which must be galling enough to an Ionian who is capable
of feeling, they circulate uncensured in two languages, and the officers
of the abused government read them for their amusement, and return them
coolly to go their rounds among the people. They have twenty-five
hundred troops upon the island, and they trouble themselves little about
what is thought of them. They confess that their government is
excessively unpopular, the officers are excluded from the native
society, and the soldiers are scowled upon in the streets.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The body of St. Spiridion was carried through the streets of Corfu
to-day, sitting bolt upright in a sedan chair, and accompanied by the
whole population. He is the great saint of the Greek church, and such is
his influence, that the English government thought proper, under Sir
Frederick Adams’s administration, to compel the officers to walk in the
procession. The saint was dried at his death, and makes a neat, black
mummy, sans eyes and nose, but otherwise quite perfect. He was carried
to-day by four men in a very splendid sedan, shaking from side to side
with the motion, preceded by one of the bands of music from the English
regiments. Sick children were thrown under the feet of the bearers, half
dead people brought to the doors as he passed, and every species of
disgusting mummery practised. The show lasted about four hours, and was,
on the whole, attended with more marks of superstition than anything I
found in Italy. I was told that the better educated Christians of the
Greek Church disbelieve the saint’s miracles. The whole body of the
Corfiote ecclesiastics were in the procession, however.

I passed the first watch in the hammock-nettings to-night, enjoying
inexpressibly the phenomena of this brilliant climate. The stars seem
burning like lamps in the absolute clearness of the atmosphere. Meteors
shoot constantly with a slow liquid course over the sky. The air comes
off from the land laden with the breath of the wild thyme, and the water
around the ship is another deep blue heaven, motionless with its studded
constellations. The frigate seems suspended between them.

We have little idea, while conning an irksome school-task, how strongly
the “unwilling lore” is rooting itself in the imagination. The frigate
lies perhaps a half mile from the most interesting scenes of the
Odyssey. I have been recalling from the long neglected stores of memory,
the beautiful descriptions of the court of King Alcinous, and of the
meeting of his matchless daughter with Ulysses. The whole web of the
poet’s fable has gradually unwound, and the lamps ashore, and the
outline of the hills, in the deceiving dimness of night, have entered
into the delusion with the facility of a dream. Every scene in Homer may
be traced to this day, the blind old poet’s topography was so admirable.
It was over the point of land sloping down to the right, that the
Princess Nausicaa went with her handmaids to wash her bridal robes in
the running streams. The description still guides the traveller to the
spot where the damsels of the royal maid spread the linen on the grass,
and commenced the sports that waked Ulysses from his slumbers in the bed
of leaves.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Ashore with one of the officers this morning, amusing ourselves with
trying on dresses in a Greek tailor’s shop. It quite puts one out of
conceit with these miserable European fashions. The easy and flowing
juktanilla, the unembarrassed leggings, the open sleeve of the
collarless jacket leaving the throat exposed, and the handsome
close-binding girdle from it, seems to me the very dress dictated by
reason and nature. The richest suit in the shop, a superb red velvet,
wrought with gold, was priced at one hundred and forty dollars. The more
sober colours were much cheaper. A dress lasts several years.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We made our farewell visits to the officers of the English regiments,
who had overwhelmed us with hospitality during our stay, and went on
board to get under way with the noon breeze. We were accompanied to the
ship, not as the hero of Homer, when he left the same port, by three
damsels of the royal train, bearing, “one a tunic, another a rich
casket, and a third bread and wine” for his voyage, but by Mrs. Thompson
and Mrs. Wilson, soldiers’ wives, and washerwomen, with baskets of
hurriedly-dried linen, pinned, every bundle, with a neat bill in
shillings and halfpence.

Ulysses slept all the way from Corcyra to Ithaca. He lost a great deal
of fine scenery. The passage between Corfu and Albania is beautiful. We
ran past the southern cape of the island with a free wind, and are now
off the Paxian Isles, where, according to Plutarch, Emilanus, the
rhetorician, voyaging by night, “heard a voice louder than human,
announcing the death of Pan.” A “schoolboy midshipman” is breaking the
same silence with “on deck, all hands! on deck, all of you!”

                 *        *        *        *        *

Off the mouth of the Alpheus. If he still chases Arethusa under the sea,
and she makes straight for Sicily, her bed is beneath our keel. The moon
is pouring her broad light over the ocean, the shadows of the rigging on
the deck lie in clear and definite lines, the sailors of the watch sit
around upon the guns in silence, and the ship, with her clouds of snowy
sail spread aloft, is stealing through the water with the noiseless
motion of a swan. Even the gallant man-of-war seems steeped in the
spirit of the scene. The hour wants but an “Ionian Myrrha” to fill the
last void of the heart.

Cape Leucas on the lee—the scene of Sappho’s leap. We have coursed down
the long shore of ancient Leucadia, and the precipice to which lovers
came from all parts of Greece for an oblivious plunge, is shining in the
sun, scarce a mile from the ship. The beautiful Grecian here sung her
last song, and broke her lyre and died. The leap was not always so
tragical: there are two lovers, at least, on record (Maces of Buthrotum,
and Cephalos, son of Deioneos), who survived the fall, and were cured
effectually by salt water. It was a common resource in the days of
Sappho, and Strabo says that they were accustomed to check their descent
by tying birds and feathers to their arms. Females, he says, were
generally killed by the rapidity of the fall, their frames being too
slight to bear the shock; but the men seldom failed to come safe to
shore. The sex has not lost its advantages since the days of Phaon.

We have caught a glimpse of Ithaca through the isles, the land

        “Where sad Penelope o’erlooked the wave.”

and which Ulysses loved, _non quia larga, sed quia sua_—the most
natural of reasons. We lose Childe Harold’s track here. He turned to the
left into the gulf of Lepanto. We shall find him again at Athens.
Missolonghi, where he died, lies about twenty or thirty miles on our
lee, and it is one, of several places in the gulf, that I regret to pass
so near, unvisited.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Entering the bay of Navarino. A picturesque and precipitous rock, filled
with caves, nearly shuts the mouth of this ample harbour. We ran so
close to it, that it might have been touched from the deck with a tandem
whip. On a wild crag to the left, a small, white marble monument, with
the earth still fresh about it, marks the grave of some victim of the
late naval battle. The town and fortress, miserable heaps of dirty
stone, lie in the curve of the southern shore. A French brig-of-war is
at anchor in the port, and broad, barren hills, stretching far away on
every side, complete the scene before us. We run up the harbour, and
tack to stand out again, without going ashore. Not a soul is to be seen,
and the bay seems the very sanctuary of silence. It is difficult to
conceive, that but a year or two ago, the combined fleets of Europe,
were thundering among these silent hills, and hundreds of human beings
lying in their blood, whose bones are now whitening in the sea beneath.
Our pilot was in the fight, on board an English frigate. He has pointed
out to us the position of the different fleets, and among other
particulars, he tells me, that when the Turkish ships were boarded,
Greek sailors were found chained to the guns, who had been compelled, at
the muzzle of the pistol, to fight against the cause of their country.
Many of them must thus have perished in the vessels that were sunk.

Navarino was the scene of a great deal of fighting, during the late
Greek revolution. It was invested, while in possession of the Turks, by
two thousand Peloponnesians and a band of Ionians, and the garrison were
reduced to such a state of starvation, as to eat their slippers. They
surrendered at last, under promise that their lives should be spared;
but the news of the massacre of the Greek patriarchs and clergy, at
Adrianople, was received at the moment, and the exasperated troops put
their prisoners to death, without mercy.

The peaceful aspect of the place is better suited to its poetical
associations. Navarino was the ancient Pylos, and it is here that Homer
brings Telemachus in search of his father. He finds old Nestor and his
sons sacrificing on the seashore to Neptune, with nine altars, and at
each five hundred men. I should think the modern town contained scarce a
twentieth of this number.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Rounding the little fortified town of Modon, under full sail. It seems
to be built on the level of the water, and nothing but its high wall and
its towers are seen from the sea. This, too, has been a much-contested
place, and remained in possession of the Turks till after the formation
of the provisional government under Mavrocordato. It forms the
south-western point of the Morea, and is a town of great antiquity. King
Philip gained his first battle over the Athenians here, some thousands
of years ago; and the brave old Miualis beat the Egyptian fleet in the
same bay, without doubt in a manner quite as deserving of as long a
remembrance. It is like a city of the dead—we cannot even see a
sentinel on the wall.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Passed an hour in the mizen-chains with “the Corsair” in my hand, and
“Coran’s Bay” opening on the lee. With what exquisite pleasure one
reads, when he can look off from the page, and study the scene of the
poet’s fiction—

        “In Coran’s bay floats many a galley light,
        Through Coran’s lattices the lamps burn bright,
        For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night.”

It is a small, deep bay, with a fortified town, on the western shore,
crowned on the very edge of the sea, with a single, tall tower. A small
aperture near the top, helps to realise the Corsair’s imprisonment, and
his beautiful interview with Gulnare:—

        “In the high chamber of his highest tower,
        Sate Conrad fettered in the Pacha’s power,” &c.

The Pirate’s Isle is said to have been Poros, and the original of the
Corsair himself, a certain Hugh Crevelier, who filled the Ægæan with
terror, not many years ago.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Made the Cape St. Angelo, the southern point of the Peloponnesus, and
soon after the island of Cythera, near which Venus rose from the foam of
the sea. We are now running northerly, along the coast of ancient
Sparta. It is a mountainous country, bare and rocky, and looks as rude
and hardy as the character of its ancient sons. I have been passing the
glass in vain along the coast to find a tree. A small hermitage stands
on the desolate extremity of the Cape, and a Greek monk, the pilot tells
me, has lived there many years, who comes from his cell, and stands on
the rock with his arms outspread to bless the passing ship. I looked for
him in vain.

A French man-of-war bore down upon us a few minutes ago, and saluted the
commodore. He ran so close, that we could see the features of his
officers on the poop. It is a noble sight at sea, a fine ship passing,
with all her canvass spread, with the added rapidity of your own course
and hers. The peal of the guns in the midst of the solitary ocean, had a
singular effect. The echo came back from the naked shores of Sparta,
with a warlike sound, that might have stirred old Leonidas in his grave.
The smoke rolled away on the wind, and the noble ship hoisted her royals
once more, and went on her way. We are making for Napoli di Romania,
with a summer breeze, and hope to drop anchor beneath its fortress, at
sunset.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER XX.


    The Harbour of Napoli—Tricoupi and Mavrocordato, Otho’s Cabinet
    Councillors—Colonel Gordon—King Otho—The Misses
    Armanspergs—Prince of Saxe—Miaulis, the Greek
    Admiral—Excursion to Argos, the Ancient Terynthus.

NAPOLI DI ROMANIA.—Anchored in the harbour of Napoli after dark. An
English frigate lies a little in, a French and Russian brig-of-war
astern, and two Greek steamboats, King Otho’s yacht, and a quantity of
caïques, fill the inner port. The fort stands a hundred feet over our
heads on a bold promontory, and the rocky Palamidi soars a hundred feet
still higher, on a crag that thrusts its head sharply into the clouds,
as if it would lift the little fortress out of eyesight. The town lies
at the base of the mountain, an irregular looking heap of new houses;
and here, at present, resides the boy-king of Greece, Otho the first.
His predecessors were Agamemnon and Perseus, who, some three thousand
years ago (more or less, I am not certain of my chronology), reigned at
Argos and Mycenæ, within sight of his present capital.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Went ashore with the commodore, to call on Tricoupi and Mavrocordato,
the king’s cabinet councillors. We found the former in a new stone
house, slenderly furnished, and badly painted, but with an entry full of
servants, in handsome Greek costumes. He received the commodore with the
greatest friendliness. He had dined on board the “Constitution” six
years before, when his prospects were less promising than now. He is a
short, stout man, of dark complexion, and very bright black eyes, and
looks very honest and very vulgar. He speaks English perfectly. He
shrugged his shoulders when the commodore alluded to having left him
fighting for a republic, and said anything was better than anarchy. He
spoke in the highest terms of my friend, Dr. Howe (who was at Napoli
with the American provisions, when Grivas held the Palamidi). Greece, he
said, had never a better friend. Madame Tricoupi (the sister of Prince
Mavrocordato) came in presently with two very pretty children. She spoke
French fluently, and seemed an accomplished woman. Her family had long
furnished the Prince Hospodars of Wallachia, and though not a beautiful
woman, she has every mark of the gentle blood of the east. Colonel
Gordon, the famous Philhellene, entered, while we were there. He was an
intimate friend of Lord Byron’s, and has expended the best part of a
large fortune in the Greek cause. He is a plain man, of perhaps fifty,
with red hair and freckled face, and features and accent very Scotch. I
liked his manners. He had lately written a book upon Greece, which is
well spoken of in some review that has fallen in my way.

Went thence to Prince Mavrocordato’s. He occupies the third story of a
very indifferent house, furnished with the mere necessaries of life. A
shabby sofa, a table, two chairs, and a broken tumbler, holding ink and
two pens, is the inventory of his drawing-room. He received us with
elegance and courtesy, and presented us to his wife, a pretty and lively
little Constantinopolitan, who chattered French like a magpie. She gave
the uncertainty of their residence until the seat of government was
decided on, as the apology for their lodgings, and seemed immediately to
forget that she was not in a palace. Mavrocordato is a strikingly
handsome man, with long, curling, black hair, and most luxuriant
moustaches. His mouth is bland, and his teeth uncommonly beautiful; but
without being able to say where it lies, there is an expression of guile
in his face, that shut my heart to him. He is getting fat, and there is
a shade of red in the clear olive of his cheek, which is very uncommon
in this country. The commodore remarked that he was very thin when he
was here six years before. The settlement of affairs in Greece has
probably relieved him from a great deal of care.

Presented, with the commodore, to King Otho. Tricoupi officiated as
chamberlain, dressed in a court suit of light blue, wrought with silver.
The royal residence is a comfortable house, built by Capo d’Istria, in
the principal street of Napoli. The king’s aide, a son of Marco
Bozzaris, a very fine, resolute-looking young man of eighteen, received
us in the antechamber, and in a few minutes the door of the inner room
was thrown open. His majesty stood at the foot of the throne (a gorgeous
red velvet arm-chair, raised on a platform, and covered with a splendid
canopy of velvet), and with a low bow to each of us as we entered, he
addressed his conversation immediately, and without embarrassment, to
the commodore. I had leisure to observe him closely for a few minutes.
He appears about eighteen. He was dressed in an exceedingly well cut,
swallow-tailed coat, of very light blue, with a red standing collar,
wrought with silver. The same work upon a red ground, was set between
the buttons of the waist, and upon the edges of the skirts. White
pantaloons, and the ordinary straight court-sword completed his dress.
He is rather tall, and his figure is extremely light and elegant. A very
flat nose, and high cheekbones, are the most marked features of his
face; his hair is straight, and of a light brown, and with no claim to
beauty; the expression of his countenance is manly, open, and
prepossessing. He spoke French fluently, though with a German accent,
and went through the usual topics of a royal presentation (very much the
same all over the world) with grace and ease. In the few remarks which
he addressed to me, he said that he promised himself great pleasure in
the search for antiquities in Greece. He bowed us out after an audience
of about ten minutes, no doubt extremely happy to exchange his
court-coat and our company for a riding-frock and saddle. His horse and
a guard of twelve lancers were in waiting at the door.

The king usually passes his evenings with the Misses Armanspergs, the
daughters of the president of the regency. They accompanied him from
Munich, and are the only ladies in his realm with whom he is acquainted.
They keep a carriage, which is a kind of wonder at Napoli; ride on
horseback in the English style, very much to the amusement of the
Greeks; and give _soirées_ once of twice a week, which are particularly
dull. One of the three is a beautiful girl, and if policy does not
interfere, is likely to be Queen of Greece. The Count Armansperg is a
small, shrewd-looking man, with a thin German countenance, and agreeable
manners. He is, of course, the real king of Greece.

The most agreeable man I found in Napoli, was the king’s uncle, the
prince of Saxe, at present in command of his army. He is a tall and
uncommonly handsome soldier, of perhaps thirty-six years, and, with all
the air of a man of high birth, has the open and frank manners of the
camp. He has been twice on board the ship, and seemed to consider his
acquaintance with the commodore’s family as a respite from exile. The
Bavarian officers in his suite spoke nothing but the native German, and
looked like mere beef-eaters. The prince returns in two years, and when
the king is of age, his Bavarian troops leave him, and he commits
himself to the country.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Hired the only two public vehicles in Napoli, and set off with the
commodore’s family, on an excursion to the ancient cities in the
neighbourhood. We left the gate built by the Venetians, and still
adorned with a bas-relief of a winged lion, at nine o’clock of a clear
Grecian summer’s day. Auguries were against us. Pyrrhus did the same
thing with his elephants and his army, one morning about two thousand
years ago, and was killed before noon; and our driver stopped his horses
a half mile out of the gate, and told us very gravely that _the evil
eye_ was upon him. He had dreamed that he had _found_ a dollar the night
before—a certain sign by the laws of witchcraft in Greece, that he
should _lose_ one. He concluded by adding another dollar to the price of
each carriage.

We passed the house of old Miaulis, the Greek admiral, a pretty cottage
a mile from the city, and immediately after came the ruins of the
ancient Terynthus, the city of Hercules, The walls, built of the largest
hewn stones in the world, still stand, and will till time ends. It would
puzzle modern mechanics to carry them away. We drove along the same road
upon which Autolycus taught the young hero to drive a chariot, and
passing ruins and fragments of columns strewn over the whole length of
the plain of Argos, stopped under a spreading aspen tree, the only shade
within reach of the eye. A dirty khan stood a few yards off, and our
horses were to remain here while we ascended the hills to Mycenæ.

It was a hot walk. The appearance of ladies, as we passed through a
small Greek village on our way, drew out all the inhabitants, and we
were accompanied by about fifty men, women, and children, resembling
very much in complexion and dress, the Indians of our country. A mile
from our carriages we arrived at a subterranean structure, built in the
side of the hill, with a door toward the east, surmounted by the hewn
stone so famous for its size among the antiquities of Greece. It shuts
the tomb of old Agamemnon. The interior is a hollow cone, with a small
chamber at the side, and would make “very eligible lodgings for a single
gentleman,” as the papers say.

We kept on up the hill, wondering that the “king of many islands and of
all Argos,” as Homer calls him, should have built his city so high in
this hot climate. We sat down at last, quite fagged, at the gate of a
city built _only_ eighteen hundred years before Christ. A descendant of
Perseus brought us some water in a wooden piggin, and somewhat
refreshed, we went on with our examination of the ruins. The mere weight
of the walls has kept them together three thousand six hundred years.
You can judge how immoveable they must be. The antiquarians call them
the “cyclopean walls of Mycenæ;” and nothing less than a giant, I should
suppose, would dream of heaving such enormous masses one upon the other.
“The gate of the Lions,” probably the principal entrance to the city, is
still perfect. The bas-relief from which it takes its name, is the
oldest sculptured stone in Europe. It is of green basalt, representing
two lions rampant, very finely executed, and was brought from Egypt. An
angle of the city wall is just below, and the ruins of a noble aqueduct
are still visible, following the curve of the opposite hill, and
descending to Mycenæ on the northern side. I might bore you now with a
long chapter on antiquities (for, however dry in the abstract, they are
exceedingly interesting on the spot), but I let you off. Those who like
them will find Spohn and Wheeler, Dodwell, Leake, and Gell, diffuse
enough for the most classic enthusiasm.

We descended by a rocky ravine, in the bosom of which lay a well with
six large fig-trees growing at its brink. A woman, burnt black with the
sun, was drawing water in a goat-skin, and we were too happy to get into
the shade, and in the name of Pan, sink delicately, and ask for a drink
of water. I have seen the time when nectar in a cup of gold would have
been less refreshing.

We arrived at the aspen about two o’clock, and made preparations for our
dinner. The sea-breeze had sprung up, and came freshly over the plain of
Argos. We put our claret in a goat-skin of water hung at one of the
wheels, the basket was produced, the ladies sat in the interior of the
carriage, and the commodore, and his son, and myself made tables of the
foot-boards; and thus we achieved a meal which, if meals are measured by
content, old King Danaus and his fifty daughters might have risen from
their graves to envy us.

A very handsome Greek woman had brought us water, and stood near while
we were eating, and making over to her the remnants of the ham, and its
condiments, and the empty bottles, with which she seemed made happy for
a day, we went on our way to Argos.

“Rivers die,” it is said, “as well as men and cities.” We drove through
the bed of “Father Inachus,” which was a respectable river in the time
of Homer, but which, in our day, would be puzzled to drown a much less
thing than a king. Men achieve immortality in a variety of ways. King
Inachus might have been forgotten as the first Argive; but by drowning
himself in the river which afterwards took his name, every
knowledge-hunter that travels is compelled to look up his history. So
St. Nepomuc became the guardian of bridges by breaking his neck over
one.

The modern Argos occupies the site of the ancient. It is tolerably
populous, but it is a town of most wretched hovels. We drove through
several long streets of mud houses with thatched roofs, completely open
in front, and the whole family huddled together on the clay floor, with
no furniture but a flock bed in the corner. The first settlement by
Deucalion and Pyrrha, on the sediment of the deluge, must have looked
like it. Mud, stones, and beggars, were all we saw. Old Pyrrhus was
killed here, after all his battles, by a tile from a house-top; but
modern Argos has scarce a roof high enough to overtop his helmet.

We left our carriages in the street, and walked to the ruins of the
amphitheatre. The brazen Thalamos in which Danae was confined when
Jupiter visited her in a shower of gold, was near this spot, the
supposed site of most of the thirty temples once famous in Argos.

Some solid brick walls, the seats of the amphitheatre cut into the solid
rock of the hill, the rocky Acropolis above, and twenty or thirty horses
tied together, and treading out grain on a thrashing-floor in the open
field, were all we found of ancient or picturesque in the capital of the
Argives. A hot, sultry afternoon, was no time to weave romance from such
materials.

We returned to our carriages, and while the Greek was getting his horses
into their harness, we entered a most unpromising café for shade and
water. A billiard-table stood in the centre; and the high, broad bench
on which the Turks seat themselves, with their legs crooked under them,
stretched around the wall. The proprietor was a Venetian woman, who
sighed, as she might well, for a gondola. The kingdom of Agamemnon was
not to her taste.

After waiting awhile here for the sun to get behind the hills of Sparta,
we received a message from our coachman, announcing that he was
arrested. The “evil eye” had not glanced upon him in vain. There was no
returning without him, and I walked over with the commodore to see what
could be done. A fine-looking man sat cross-legged on a bench, in the
upper room of a building adjoining a prison, and a man with a pen in his
hand was reading the indictment. The driver had struck a child who was
climbing on his wheel. I pleaded his case in “choice Italian,” and after
half an hour’s delay, they dismissed him, exacting a dollar as a
security for reappearance. It was a curious verification of his
morning’s omen.

We drove on over the plain, met the king, five camels, and the Misses
Armansperg, and were on board soon after sunset.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXI.


    Visit from King Otho and Miaulis—Visit an English and Russian
    frigate—Beauty of the Greek Men—Lake Lerna—The Hermionicus
    Sinus—Hydra—Ægina.

NAPOLI DI ROMANIA.—Went ashore with one of the officers, to look for
the fountain of Canathus. Its waters had the property (vide Pausanias)
of renewing the infant purity of the women who bathed in them. Juno used
it once a year. We found but one natural spring in all Napoli. It stands
in a narrow street, filled with tailors, and is adorned with a marble
font bearing a Turkish inscription. Two girls were drawing water in
skins. We drank a little of it, but found nothing peculiar in the taste.
Its virtues are confined probably to the other sex.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The king visited the ship. As his barge left the pier, the vessels of
war in the harbour manned their yards and fired the royal salute. He was
accompanied by young Bozzaris and the prince, his uncle, and dressed in
the same uniform in which he received us at our presentation. As he
stepped on the deck, and was received by Commodore Patterson, I thought
I had never seen a more elegant and well-proportioned man. The frigate
was in her usual admirable order, and the king expressed his surprise
and gratification at every turn. His questions were put with uncommon
judgment for a landsman. We had heard, indeed, on board the English
frigate which brought him from Trieste, that he lost no opportunity of
learning the duties and management of the ship, keeping watch with the
midshipmen, and running from one deck to the other at all hours. After
going thoroughly through all the ship, the commodore presented him to
his family. He seemed very much pleased with the ease and frankness with
which he was received, and seating himself with our fair country-women
in the after-cabin, prolonged his visit to a very unceremonious length,
conversing with the most unreserved gaiety. The yards were manned again,
the salutes fired once more, and the king of Greece tossed his oars for
a moment under the stern, and pulled ashore.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Had the pleasure and honour of showing Miaulis through the ship. The old
man came on board very modestly, without even announcing himself, and as
he addressed one of the officers in Italian, I was struck with his noble
appearance, and offered my services as interpreter. He was dressed in
the Hydriote costume, the full blue trousers gathered at the knee, a
short open jacket, worked with black braid, and a red skull-cap. His
lieutenant dressed in the same costume, a tall, superb-looking Greek,
was his only attendant. He was quite at home on board, comparing the
“United States” continually to the “Hellas,” the American built frigate
which he commanded. Every one on board was struck with the noble
simplicity and dignity of his address. I have seldom seen a man who
impressed me more. He requested me to express his pleasure at his visit,
and his friendly feelings to the commodore, and invited us to his
country-house, which he pointed out from the deck, just without the
city. Every officer in the ship uncovered as he passed. The
gratification at seeing him was universal. He looks worthy to be one of
the “three” that Byron demanded, in his impassioned verse,

        “To make a new Thermopylæ.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

Returned visits of ceremony with the commodore, to the English and
Russian vessels of war. The British frigate “Madagascar” is about the
size of the “United States,” but not in nearly so fine a condition. The
superior cleanliness and neatness of arrangement on board our own ship
are indisputable. The cabin of Captain Lyon (who is said to be one of
the best officers in the English service) was furnished in almost
oriental luxury, and what I should esteem more, crowded with the
choicest books. He informed us that of his twenty-four midshipmen, nine
were sons of noblemen, and possessed the best family influence on both
father’s and mother’s side, and several of the remainder had high claims
for preferment. There is small chance there, one would think, for
commoners.

Captain Lyon spoke in the highest terms of his late passenger, King
Otho, both as to disposition and talent. Somewhere in the Ægæan, one of
his Bavarian servants fell overboard, and the boatswain jumped after
him, and sustained him till the boat was lowered to his relief. On his
reaching the deck, the king drew a valuable repeater from his pocket,
and presented it to him in the presence of the crew. He certainly has
caught the “trick of royalty” in its perfection.

The guard presented, the boatswain “piped us over the side,” and we
pulled alongside the Russian. The file of marines drawn up in honour of
the commodore on her quarter deck, looked like so many standing bears.
Features and limbs so brutally coarse I never saw. The officers,
however, were very gentlemanly, and the vessel was in beautiful
condition. In inquiring after the health of the ladies on board our
ship, the captain and his lieutenant rose from their seats and made a
low bow—a degree of chivalrous courtesy very uncommon, I fancy, since
the days of Sir Piercie Shafton. I left his imperial majesty’s ship with
an improved impression of him.

                 *        *        *        *        *

They are a gallant looking people the Greeks. Byron says of them, all
“are beautiful, very much resembling the busts of Alcibiades.” We walked
beyond the walls of the city this evening, on the plain of Argos. The
whole population were out in their Sunday costumes, and no theatrical
ballet was ever more showy than the scene. They are a very affectionate
people, and walk usually hand in hand, or sit upon the rocks at the
road-side, with their arms over each other’s shoulders; and their
picturesque attitudes and lofty gait, combined with the flowing beauty
of their dress, give them all the appearance of heroes on the stage. I
saw literally no handsome women, but the men were magnificent, almost
without exception. Among others, a young man passed us with whose
personal beauty the whole party were struck. As he went by he laid his
hand on his breast and bowed to the ladies, raising his red cap, with
its flowing blue tassel, at the same time with perfect grace. It was a
young man to whom I had been introduced the day previous, a brother of
Mavromichalis, the assassin of Capo d’Istrias. He is about seventeen,
tall and straight as an arrow, and has the eye of a falcon. His family
is one of the first in Greece; and his brother, who was a fellow of
superb beauty, is said to have died in the true heroic style, believing
that he had rid his country of a tyrant.

The view of Napoli and the Palamidi from the plain, with its back ground
of the Spartan mountains, and the blue line of the Argolic gulf between,
is very fine. The home of the Nemean lion, the lofty hill rising above
Argos, was enveloped in a black cloud as the sun set on our walk, the
short twilight of Greece thickened upon us, and the white, swaying
juktanillas of the Greeks striding past, had the effect of spirits
gliding by in the dark.

The king, with his guard of lancers on a hard trot, passed us near the
gate, followed close by the Misses Armansperg, mounted on fine Hungarian
horses. His majesty rides beautifully, and the effect of the short
high-borne flag on the tips of the lances, and the tall Polish caps with
their cord and tassels, is highly picturesque.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Made an excursion with the commodore across the gulf, to Lake Lerna, the
home of the hydra. We saw nothing save the half dozen small marshy
lakes, whose overflow devastated the country, until they were dammed by
Hercules, who is thus poetically said to have killed a many-headed
monster. We visited, near by, “the mills,” which were the scene of one
of the most famous battles of the late struggle. The mill is supplied by
a lovely stream, issuing from beneath a rock, and running a short course
of twenty or thirty rods to the sea. It is difficult to believe that
human blood has ever stained its pure waters.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Left Napoli with the daylight breeze, and are now entering the
Hermionicus Sinus. A more barren land never rose upon the eye. The
ancients considered this part of Greece so near to hell, that they
omitted to put the usual obolon into the hands of those who died here,
to pay their passage across the Styx.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Off the town of Hydra. This is the birthplace of Miaulis, and its
neighbour island, Spesia, that of the sailor heroine, Bobolina. It is a
heap of square stone houses set on the side of a hill, without the
slightest reference to order. I see with the glass, an old Greek smoking
on his balcony, with his feet over the railing, and half a dozen
bare-legged women getting a boat into the water on the beach. The whole
island has a desolate and sterile aspect. Across the strait, directly
opposite the town, lies a lovely green valley, with olive groves and
pastures between, and hundreds of gray cattle feeding in all the peace
of Arcadia. I have seen such pictures so seldom of late, that it is like
a medicine to my sight. “The sea and the sky,” after a while, “lie like
a load on the weary eye.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

In passing two small islands just now, we caught a glimpse between them
of the “John Adams,” sloop-of-war, under full sail in the opposite
direction. Five minutes sooner or later we should have missed her. She
has been cruising in the Archipelago a month or two, waiting the
commodore’s arrival, and has on board despatches and letters, which
makes the meeting a very exciting one to the officers. There is a
general stir of expectation on board, in which my only share is that of
sympathy. She brings her news from Smyrna, to which port, though my
course has been errant enough, you will scarce have thought of directing
a letter for me.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Anchored off the Island of Ægina, a mile from the town. The rocks which
King Æacus (since Judge Æacus of the infernal regions) raised in the
harbour to keep off the pirates, prevent our nearer approach. A
beautiful garden of oranges and figs close to our anchorage, promises to
reconcile us to our position. The little bay is completely shut in by
mountainous islands, and the sun pours down upon us, unabated by the
“wooing Ægæan wind.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXII.


    The Maid of Athens—Romance and Reality—American Benefactions
    to Greece—A Greek Wife and Scottish Husband—School of Capo
    d’Istrias—Grecian Disinterestedness—Ruins of the Most Ancient
    Temple—Beauty of the Grecian Landscape—Hope for the Land of
    Epaminondas and Aristides.

ISLAND OF ÆGINA.—The “Maid of Athens,” in the very teeth of poetry, has
become _Mrs. Black of Ægina_! The beautiful Teresa Makri, of whom Byron
asked back his heart, of whom Moore and Hobhouse, and the poet himself,
have written so much and so passionately, has forgotten the sweet
burthen of the sweetest of love songs, and taken the unromantic name,
and followed the unromantic fortunes, of a Scotchman!

The commodore proposed that we should call upon her on our way to the
temple of Jupiter, this morning. We pulled up to the town in the barge,
and landed on the handsome pier built by Dr. Howe (who expended thus,
most judiciously, a part of the provisions sent from our country in his
charge), and, finding a Greek in the crowd, who understood a little
Italian, we were soon on our way to Mrs. Black’s. Our guide was a fine,
grave-looking man of forty, with a small cockade on his red cap, which
indicated that he was some way in the service of the government. He laid
his hand on his heart, when I asked him if he had known any Americans in
Ægina. “They built this,” said he, pointing to the pier, the handsome
granite posts of which we were passing at the moment. “They gave us
bread, and meat, and clothing, when we should otherwise have perished.”
It was said with a look and tone that thrilled me. I felt as if the
whole debt of sympathy which Greece owes our country, were repaid by
this one energetic expression of gratitude.

We stopped opposite a small gate, and the Greek went in without cards.
It was a small stone house of a story and a half, with a rickety flight
of wooden steps at the side, and not a blade of grass or sign of a
flower in court or window. If there had been but a geranium in the
porch, or a rose-tree by the gate, for description’s sake.

Mr. Black was _out_—Mrs. Black was _in_. We walked up the creaking
steps, with a Scotch terrier barking and snapping at our heels, and were
met at the door by, really, a very pretty woman. She smiled as I
apologised for our intrusion, and a sadder or a sweeter smile I never
saw. She said her welcome in a few, simple words of Italian, and I
thought there were few sweeter voices in the world. I asked her if she
had not learned English yet. She coloured, and said, “No, signore!” and
the deep spot in her cheek faded gradually down, in teints a painter
would remember. Her husband, she said, had wished to learn her language,
and would never let her speak English. I began to feel a prejudice
against him. Presently, a boy of perhaps three years came into the
room—an ugly, white-headed, Scotch-looking little ruffian, thin-lipped
and freckled, and my aversion for Mr. Black became quite decided. “Did
you not regret leaving Athens?” I asked. “Very much, signore,” she
answered with half a sigh; “but my husband dislikes Athens.” Horrid Mr.
Black! thought I.

I wished to ask her of Lord Byron, but I had heard that the poet’s
admiration had occasioned the usual scandal attendant on every kind of
pre-eminence, and her modest and timid manners, while they assured me of
her purity of heart, made me afraid to venture where there was even a
possibility of wounding her. She sat in a drooping attitude on the
coarsely-covered divan, which occupied three sides of the little room,
and it was difficult to believe that any eye but her husband’s had ever
looked upon her, or that the “wells of her heart” had ever been drawn
upon for anything deeper than the simple duties of a wife and mother.

She offered us some sweetmeats, the usual Greek compliment to visitors,
as we rose to go, and laying her hand upon her heart, in the beautiful
custom of the country, requested me to express her thanks to the
commodore for the honour he had done her in calling, and to wish him and
his family every happiness. A servant-girl, very shabbily dressed, stood
at the side door, and we offered her some money, which she might have
taken unnoticed. She drew herself up very coldly, and refused it, as if
she thought we had quite mistaken her. In a country where gifts of the
kind are so universal, it spoke well for the pride of the family, at
least.

I turned after we had taken leave, and made an apology to speak to her
again; for in the interest of the general impression she had made upon
me, I had forgotten to notice her dress, and I was not sure that I could
remember a single feature of her face. We had called unexpectedly of
course, and her dress was very plain. A red cloth cap bound about the
temples, with a coloured shawl, whose folds were mingled with large
braids of dark-brown hair, and decked with a tassel of blue silk, which
fell to her left shoulder, formed her head-dress. In other respects she
was dressed like a European. She is a little above the middle height,
slightly and well-formed, and walks weakly, like most Greek women, as if
her feet were too small for her weight. Her skin is dark and clear, and
she has a colour in her cheek and lips that looks to me consumptive. Her
teeth are white and regular, her face oval, and her forehead and nose
form the straight line of the Grecian model—one of the few instances I
have ever seen of it. Her eyes are large, and of a soft, liquid hazel,
and this is her chief beauty. There is that “looking out of the soul
through them,” which Byron always described as constituting the
loveliness that most moved him. I made up my mind, as we walked away,
that she would be a lovely woman anywhere. Her horrid name, and the
unprepossessing circumstances in which we found her, had uncharmed, I
thought, all poetical delusion that would naturally surround her as the
“Maid of Athens.” We met her as simple Mrs. Black, whose Scotch
husband’s terrier had worried us at the door, and we left her, feeling
that the poetry which she had called forth from the heart of Byron, was
her due by every law of loveliness.

From the house of the maid of Athens we walked to the school of Capo
d’Istrias. It is a spacious stone quadrangle, enclosing a court
handsomely railed and gravelled, and furnished with gymnastic apparatus.
School was out, and perhaps a hundred and fifty boys were playing in the
area. An intelligent-looking man accompanied us through the museum of
antiquities, where we saw nothing very much worth noticing, after the
collections of Rome, and to the library, where there was a superb bust
of Capo d’Istrias, done by a Roman artist. It is a noble head,
resembling Washington.

We bought a large basket of grapes for a few cents in returning to the
boat, and offered money to one or two common men who had been of
assistance to us, but _no one would receive it_. I italicise the remark,
because the Greeks are so often stigmatised as utterly mercenary.

We pulled along the shore, passing round the point on which stands a
single fluted column, the only remains of a magnificent temple of Venus,
and, getting the wind, hoisted a sail, and ran down the northern side of
the island five or six miles, till we arrived opposite the mountain on
which stands the temple of Jupiter Panhellenios. The view of it from the
sea was like that of a temple drawn on the sky. It occupies the very
peak of the mountain, and is seen many miles on either side by the
mariner of the Ægæan.

A couple of wild-looking, handsome fellows, bareheaded and bare-legged,
with shirts and trousers reaching to the knee, lay in a small caique
under the shore; and, as we landed, the taller of the two laid his hand
on his breast, and offered to conduct us to the temple. The ascent was
about a mile.

We toiled over ploughed fields, with here and there a cluster of
fig-trees, wild patches of rock and brier, and an occasional wall, and
arrived breathless at the top, where a cool wind met us from the other
side of the sea with delicious refreshment.

We sat down among the ruins of the oldest temple of Greece after that of
Corinth. Twenty-three noble columns still lifted their heads over us,
after braving the tempests of more than two thousand years. The ground
about was piled up with magnificent fragments of marble, preserving,
even in their fall, the sharp edges of the admirable sculpture of
Greece. The Doric capital, the simple frieze, the well-fitted frusta,
might almost be restored in the perfection with which they were left by
the last touch of the chisel.

The view hence comprised a classic world. There was Athens! The broad
mountain over the intensely blue gulf at our feet was Hymettus, and a
bright white summit as of a mound between it and the sea, glittering
brightly in the sun, was the venerable pile of temples in the Acropolis.
To the left, Corinth was distinguishable over its low isthmus, and
Megara and Salamis, and following down the wavy line of the mountains of
Attica, the promontory of Sunium, modern Cape Colonna, dropped the
horizon upon the sea. One might sit out his life amid these
loftily-placed ruins, and scarce exhaust in thought the human history
that has unrolled within the scope of his eye.

We passed two or three hours wandering about among the broken columns,
and gazing away to the main and the distant isles, confessing the
surpassing beauty of Greece. Yet have its mountains scarce a green spot,
and its vales are treeless and uninhabited, and all that constitutes
desolation is there, and strange as it may seem, you neither miss the
verdure, nor the people, nor find it desolate. The outline of Greece, in
the first place, is the finest in the world. The mountains lean down
into the valleys, and the plains swell up to the mountains, and the
islands rise from the sea, with a mixture of boldness and grace
altogether peculiar. In the most lonely parts of the Ægæan, where you
can see no trace of a human foot, it strikes you like a foreign land.
Then the atmosphere is its own, and it exceeds that of Italy, far. It
gives it the look of a landscape seen through a faintly-teinted glass.
Soft blue mists of the most rarefied and changing shapes envelop the
mountains on the clearest day, and without obscuring the most distant
points perceptibly, give hill and vale a beauty that surpasses that of
verdure. I never saw such _air_ as I see in Greece. It has the same
effect on the herbless and rocky scenery about us, as a veil over the
face of a woman.

The islander who had accompanied us to the temple, stood on a fragment
of a column, still as a statue, looking down upon the sea towards
Athens. His figure for athletic grace of mould, and his head and
features, for the expression of manly beauty and character, might have
been models to Phidias. The beautiful and poetical land, of which he
inherited his share of unparalleled glory, lay around him. I asked
myself why it should have become, as it seems to be, the despair of the
philanthropist. Why should its people, who, in the opinion of Childe
Harold, are “nature’s favourites still,” be branded and abandoned as
irreclaimable rogues, and the source to which we owe, even to this day,
our highest models of taste, be neglected and forgotten? The nine days’
enthusiasm for Greece has died away, and she has received a king from a
family of despots. But there seems to me in her very beauty, and in the
still superior qualities of her children, wherever they have room for
competition, a promise of resuscitation. The convulsions of Europe may
leave her soon to herself, and the slipper of the Turk, and the hand of
the Christian, once lifted fairly from her neck, she will rise, and
stand up amid these imperishable temples, once more free!

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXIII.


    Athens—Ruins of the Parthenon—The Acropolis—Temple of
    Theseus—The Oldest of Athenian Antiquities—Burial-Place of the
    Son of Miaulis—Reflections on Standing where Plato taught, and
    Demosthenes harangued—Bavarian Sentinel—Turkish Mosque,
    erected within the Sanctuary of the Parthenon—Wretched
    Habitations of the Modern Athenians.

ÆGÆAN SEA.—We got under way this morning, and stood towards Athens,
followed by the sloop-of-war, “John Adams,” which had come to anchor
under our stern the evening of our arrival at Ægina. The day is like
every day of the Grecian summer, heavenly. The stillness and beauty of a
new world lie about us. The ships steal on with their clouds of canvass
just filling in the light breeze of the Ægæan, and withdrawing the eye
from the lofty temple crowning the mountain on our lee, whose shining
columns shift slowly as we pass; we could believe ourselves asleep on
the sea. I have been repeating to myself the beautiful reflection of
Servius Sulpitius, which occurs in his letter of condolence to Cicero,
on the death of his daughter, written on this very spot, [8]“On my
return from Asia,” he says, “as I was sailing from Ægina toward Megara,
I began to contemplate the prospect of the countries around me. Ægina
was behind, Megara before me; Piræus on the right, Corinth on the left;
all which towns, once famous and flourishing, now lie overturned and
buried in their ruins; upon this sight, I could not but presently think
within myself, ‘Alas! how do we poor mortals fret and vex ourselves if
any of our friends happen to die or be killed, whose life is yet so
short, when the carcases of so many cities lie here exposed before me in
one view.’”

The columns of the Parthenon are easily distinguishable with the glass,
and to the right of the Acropolis, in the plain, I see a group of tall
ruins, which by the position must be near the banks of the Ilissus. I
turn the glass upon the sides of the mount Hymettus, whose beds of
thyme, “the long, long summer gilds,” and I can scarce believe that the
murmur of the bees is not stealing over the water to my ear. Can this be
Athens? Are these the same isles and mountains Alcibiades saw, returning
with his victorious galleys from the Hellespont; the same that faded on
the long gaze of the conqueror of Salamis, leaving his ungrateful
country for exile; the same that to have seen, for a Roman, was to be
complete as a man; the same whose proud dames wore the golden
grasshopper in their hair, as a boasting token that they had sprung from
the soil; the same where Pericles nursed the arts, and Socrates and
Plato taught “humanity,” and Epicurus walked with his disciples, looking
for truth? What an offset are these thrilling thoughts, with the nearing
view in my sight, to a whole calendar of common misfortune!

Dropped anchor in the Piræus, the port of Athens. The city is five miles
in the interior, and the “arms of Athens,” as the extending walls were
called, stretched in the times of the republic from the Acropolis to the
sea. The Piræus, now nearly a deserted port, with a few wretched houses,
was then a large city. It wants an hour to sunset, and I am about
starting with one of the officers to walk to Athens.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Five miles more sacred in history than those between the Piræus and the
Acropolis do not exist in the world. We walked them in about two hours,
with a golden sunset at our backs, and the excitement inseparable from
an approach to “the eye of Greece,” giving elasticity to our steps. Near
the Parthenon, which had been glowing in a flood of saffron light before
us, the road separated, and taking the right, we entered the city by its
southern gate. A tall Greek, who was returning from the plains with a
gun on his shoulder, led us through the narrow streets of the modern
town to an hotel, where a comfortable supper, of which the most
attractive circumstance to me was some honey from Hymettus, brought us
to bed-time.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We were standing under the colonnades of the temple of Theseus, the
oldest, and the best preserved of the antiquities of Athens, at an early
hour. We walked around it in wonder. The sun that threw inward the
shadows of its beautiful columns, had risen on that eastern porch for
more than two thousand years, and it is still the transcendent model of
the world. The Parthenon was a copy of it. The now venerable and ruined
temples of Rome, were built in its proportions when it was already an
antiquity. The modern edifices of every civilised nation are considered
faulty only as they depart from it. How little dreamed the admirable
Grecian, when its proportions rose gradually to his patient thought,
that the child of his teeming imagination would be so immortal!

The situation of the Theseion has done much to preserve it. It stands
free of the city, while the Parthenon and the other temples of the
Acropolis, being within the citadel, have been battered by every
assailant, from the Venetian to the iconoclast and the Turk. It looks at
a little distance like a modern structure, its parts are so nearly
perfect. It is only on coming close to the columns that you see the
stains in the marble to be the corrosion of the long-feeding tooth of
ages. A young Englishman is buried within the nave of the temple, and
the son of Miaulis, said to have been a young man worthy of the best
days of Greece, lies in the eastern porch, with the weeds growing rank
over his grave.

We passed a handsome portico, standing alone amid a heap of ruins. It
was the entrance to the ancient Agora. Here assembled the people of
Athens, the constituents and supporters of Pericles, the first
possessors of these godlike temples. Here were sown, in the ears of the
Athenians, the first seeds of glory and sedition, by patriots and
demagogues, in the stirring days of Platæa and Marathon. Here was it
first whispered that Aristides had been too long called “the just,” and
that Socrates corrupted the youth of Athens. And, for a lighter thought,
it was here that the wronged wife of Alcibiades, compelled to come forth
publicly and sign her divorce, was snatched up in the arms of her
brilliant, but dissolute husband, and carried forcibly home, forgiving
him, woman-like, with but half a repentance. The feeling with which I
read the story when a boy, is strangely fresh in my memory.

We hurried on to the Acropolis. The ascent is winding and difficult,
and, near the gates, encumbered with marble rubbish. Volumes have been
written on the antiquities which exist still within the walls. The
greater part of four unrivalled temples are still lifted to the sun by
this tall rock in the centre of Athens, the majestic Parthenon, visible
over half Greece, towering above all. A Bavarian soldier received our
passport at the gate. He was resting the butt of his musket on a superb
bas-relief, a fragment from the ruins. How must the blood of a Greek
boil to see a barbarian thus set to guard the very sanctuary of his
glory.

We stood under the portico of the Parthenon, and looked down on Greece.
Right through a broad gap in the mountains, as if they had been swept
away that Athens might be seen, stood the shining Acropolis of Corinth.
I strained my eyes to see Diogenes lying under the walls, and Alexander
standing in his sunshine. “Sea-born Salamis” was beneath me, but the
“ships by thousands” were not there, and the king had vanished from his
“rocky throne” with his “men and nations.” Ægina lay far down the gulf,
folded in its blue mist, and I strained my sight to see Aristides
wandering in exile on its shore. “Mars Hill” was within the sound of my
voice, but its Areopagus was deserted of its judges, and the intrepid
apostle was gone. The rostrum of Demosthenes, and the academy of Plato,
and the banks of the Ilissus, where Socrates and Zeno taught, were all
around me, but the wily orator, and the philosopher, “on whose infant
lips the bees shed honey as he slept,” and he whose death and doctrine
have been compared to those of Christ, and the self-denying stoic, were
alike departed. Silence and rain brood over all!

I walked through the nave of the Parthenon, passing a small Turkish
mosque (built sacrilegiously by the former Disdar of Athens, within its
very sanctuary), and mounted the south-eastern rampart of the Acropolis.
Through the plain beneath ran the classic Ilissus, and on its banks
stood the ruins of the temple of Jupiter Olympus, which I had
distinguished with the glass in coming up the Ægæan. The Ilissus was
nearly dry, but a small island covered with verdure divided its waters a
short distance above the temple, and near it were distinguishable the
foundations of the Lyceum. Aristotle and his Peripatetics ramble there
no more. A herd of small Turkish horses were feeding up toward Hymettus,
the only trace of life in a valley that was once alive with the
brightest of the tides of human existence.

The sun poured into the Acropolis with an intensity I have seldom felt.
The morning breeze had died away, and the glare from the bright marble
ruins was almost intolerable to the eye. I climbed around over the heaps
of fragmented columns, and maimed and fallen statues, to the
north-western corner of the citadel, and sat down in the shade of one of
the embrasures to look over toward Plato’s academy. The part of the city
below this corner of the wall was the ancient Pelasgicum. It was from
the spot where I sat that Parrhesiades, the fisherman, is represented in
Lucian to have angled for philosophers, with a hook baited with gold and
figs.

The academy (to me the most interesting spot of Athens) is still shaded
with olive groves, as in the time of Plato. The Cephissus, whose gentle
flow has mingled its murmur with so much sweet philosophy, was hidden
from my sight by the numberless trees. I looked toward the spot with
inexpressible interest. I had not yet been near enough to dispel the
illusion. To me the academy was still beneath those silvery olives in
all its poetic glory. The “Altar of Love” still stood before the
entrance; the temple of Prometheus, the sanctuary of the Muses, the
statues of Plato and of the Graces, the sacred olive, the tank in the
cool gardens, and the tower of the railing Timon, were all there. I
could almost have waited till evening to see Epicurus and Leontium,
Socrates and Aspasia, returning to Athens.

We passed the Tower of the Winds, the ancient Klepsydra or water-clock
of Athens, in returning to the hotel. The Eight Winds sculptured on the
octagonal sides, are dressed according to their temperatures, six of
them being more or less draped, and the remaining two nude. It is a
small marble building, more curious than beautiful.

Our way lay through the sultry streets of modern Athens. I can give you
an idea of it in a single sentence. It is a large village, of originally
mean houses, pulled down to the very cellars, and lying choked in its
rubbish. A large square in ruins after a fire in one of our cities,
looks like it. It has been destroyed so often by Turks and Greeks
alternately, that scarce one stone is left upon the other. The
inhabitants thatch over one corner of these wretched and dusty holes
with maize stalks and straw, and live there like beasts. The fineness of
the climate makes a roof almost unnecessary for eight months in the
year. The consuls and authorities of the place, and the missionaries,
have tolerable houses, but the paths to them are next to impracticable
for the rubbish. Nothing but a Turkish horse, which could be ridden up a
precipice, would ever pick his way through the streets.

-----

[8] “_Ex Asia rediens_,” &c.—I have given the Translation from
Middleton’s Cicero.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXIV.


    The “Lantern of Demosthenes”—Byron’s Residence in
    Athens—Temple of Jupiter Olympus, Seven Hundred Years in
    Building—Superstitious Fancy of the Athenians respecting its
    Ruins—Hermitage of a Greek Monk—Petarches, the Antiquary and
    Poet, and his Wife, Sister to the “Maid of Athens”—Mutilation
    of a Basso Rilievo by an English Officer—The Elgin Marbles—The
    Caryatides—Lord Byron’s Autograph—Attachment of the Greeks to
    Dr. Howe—The Sliding Stone—A Scene in the Rostrum of
    Demosthenes.

Took a walk by sunset to the Ilissus. I passed, on the way, the “Lantern
of Demosthenes,” a small octagonal building of marble, adorned with
splendid columns, and a beautifully sculptured frieze, in which it is
said the orator used to shut himself for a month, with his head half
shaved, to practice his orations. The Franciscan convent, Byron’s
residence while in Athens, was built adjoining it. It is now demolished.
The poet’s name is written with his own hand on a marble slab of the
wall.

I left the city by the gate of Hadrian, and walked on to the temple of
Jupiter Olympus. It crowns a small elevation on the northern bank of the
Ilissus. It was once beyond all comparison the largest and most costly
building in the world. During seven hundred years it employed the
attention of the rulers of Greece, from Pisistratus to Hadrian, and was
never quite completed. As a ruin it is the most beautiful object I ever
saw. Thirteen columns of Pentelic marble, partly connected by a frieze,
are all that remain. They are of the flowery Corinthian order, and sixty
feet in height, exclusive of base or capital.

Three perfect columns stand separate from the rest, and lift from the
midst of that solitary plain with an effect that, to my mind, is one of
the highest sublimity. The sky might rest on them. They seem made to
sustain it. As I lay on the parched grass and gazed on them in the glory
of a Grecian sunset, they seemed to me proportioned for a continent. The
mountains I saw between them were not designed with more amplitude, nor
corresponded more nobly to the sky above.

The people of Athens have a superstitious reverence for these ruins.
Dodwell says, “The single column toward the western extremity was thrown
down, many years ago, by a Turkish voivode, for the sake of the
materials, which were employed in constructing the great mosque of the
bazaar. The Athenians relate that, after it was thrown down, the three
others nearest it were heard to lament the loss of their sister! and
these nocturnal lamentations did not cease till the sacrilegious voivode
was destroyed by poison.

Two of the columns, connected by one immense slab, are surmounted by a
small building, now in ruins, but once the hermitage of a Greek monk.
Here he passed his life, seventy feet in the air, sustained by two of
the most graceful columns of Greece. A basket, lowered by a line, was
filled by the pious every morning, but the romantic eremite was never
seen. With the lofty Acropolis crowned with temples just beyond him, the
murmuring Ilissus below, the thyme-covered sides of Hymettus to the
south, and the blue Ægæan stretching away to the west, his eye, at
least, could never tire. There are times when I could envy him his lift
above the world.

I descended to the Fountain of Callirhoe, which gushes from beneath a
rock in the bed of the Ilissus, just below the temple. It is the scene
of the death of the lovely nymph-mother of Ganymede. The twilight air
was laden with the fragrant thyme, and the songs of the Greek labourers
returning from the fields came faintly over the plains. Life seems too
short, when every breath is a pleasure. I loitered about the clear and
rocky lip of the fountain, till the pool below reflected the stars in
its trembling bosom. The lamps began to twinkle in Athens, Hesperus rose
over Mount Pentilicus like a blazing lamp, the sky over Salamis faded
down to the sober tint of night, and the columns of the Parthenon
mingled into a single mass of shade. And so, I thought, as I strolled
back to the city, concludes a day in Athens—one, at least, in my life,
for which it is worth the trouble to have lived.

I was again in the Acropolis the following morning. Mr. Hill had kindly
given me a note to Petarches, the king’s antiquary, a young Athenian,
who married the sister of the “Maid of Athens.”[9] We went together
through the ruins. They have lately made new excavations, and some
superb bassi-rilieivi are among the discoveries. One of them represented
a procession leading victims to the sacrifice, and was quite the finest
thing I ever saw. The leading figure was a superb female, from the head
of which the nose had lately been barbarously broken. The face of the
enthusiastic antiquary flushed while I was lamenting it. It was done, he
told me, but a week before, by an officer of the English squadron then
lying at the Piræus. Petarches detected it immediately, and sent word to
the admiral, who discovered the heartless goth in a nephew of an English
duke, a midshipman of his own ship. I should not have taken the trouble
to mention so revolting a circumstance if I had not seen, in a splendid
copy of the “illustrations of Byron’s Travels in Greece,” a most
virulent attack on the officers of the “Constellation,” and Americans
generally, for the same thing. Who but Englishmen have robbed Athens,
and Ægina, and all Greece? Who but Englishmen are watched like thieves
in their visits to every place of curiosity in the world? Where is the
superb caryatid of the Erechtheion? stolen, with such barbarous
carelessness, too, that the remaining statues and the superb portico
they sustained are tumbling to the ground! The insolence of England’s
laying such sins at the door of another nation is insufferable.

For my own part, I cannot conceive the motive for carrying away a
fragment of a statue or a column. I should as soon think of drawing a
tooth as a specimen of some beautiful woman I had seen in my travels.
And how one dare show such a theft to any person of taste, is quite as
singular. Even when a whole column or statue is carried away, its main
charm is gone with the association of the place. I venture to presume,
that no person of classic feeling ever saw Lord Elgin’s marbles without
execrating the folly that could bring them from their bright, native
sky, to the vulgar atmosphere of London. For the love of taste, let us
discountenance such barbarisms in America.

The Erechtheion and the adjoining temple are gems of architecture. The
small portico of the caryatides (female figures, in the place of
columns, with their hands on their hips) must have been one of the most
exquisite things in Greece. One of them (fallen in consequence of Lord
Elgin’s removal of the sister statue), lies headless on the ground, and
the remaining ones are badly mutilated, but they are very, very
beautiful. I remember two in the Villa Albani, at Rome, brought from
some other temple in Greece, and considered the choicest gems of the
gallery.

We climbed up the sanctuary of the Erechtheion, in which stood the
altars to the two elements to which the temples were dedicated. The
sculpture around the cornices is still so sharp, that it might have been
finished yesterday. The young antiquary alluded to Byron’s anathema
against Lord Elgin, in “Childe Harold,” and showed me, on the inside of
the capital of one of the columns, the place where the poet had written
his name. It was, as he always wrote it, simply “Byron,” in small
letters, and would not be noticed by an ordinary observer.

If the lover, as the poet sings, was jealous of the star his mistress
gazed upon, the sister of the “Maid of Athens” may well be jealous of
the Parthenon. Petarches looks at it and talks of it with a fever in his
eyes. I could not help smiling at his enthusiasm. He is about
twenty-five, of a slender person, with downcast, melancholy eyes, and
looks the poet according to the most received standard. His reserved
manners melted toward me on discovering that I knew our countryman, Dr.
Howe, who, he tells me, was his groomsman (or the corresponding
assistant at a Greek wedding), and to whom he seems, in common with all
his countrymen, warmly attached. To a man of his taste, I can conceive
nothing more gratifying than his appointment to the care of the
Acropolis. He spends his day there with his book, attending the few
travellers who come, and when the temples are deserted, he sits down in
the shadow of a column, and reads amid the silence of the ruins he
almost worships. There are few vocations in this envious world so
separated from the jarring passions of our nature.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Passed the morning on horseback, visiting the antiquities without the
city. Turning by the temple of Theseus, we crossed Mars Hill, the seat
of the Areopagus, and passing a small valley, ascended the Pnyx. On the
right of the path we observed the rock of the hill worn to the polish of
enamel by friction. It was an almost perpendicular descent of six or
seven feet, and steps were cut at the sides to mount to the top. It is
the famous sliding stone, believed by the Athenians to possess the power
of determining the sex of unborn children. The preference of sons, if
the polish of the stone is to be trusted, is universal in Greece.

The rostrum of Demosthenes was above us on the side of the hill facing
from the sea. A small platform is cut into the rock, and on either side
a seat is hewn out, probably for the distinguished men of the state. The
audience stood on the side-hill, and the orator and his listeners were
in the open air. An older rostrum is cut into the summit of the hill,
facing the sea. It is said that when the maritime commerce of Greece
began to enrich the lower classes, the thirty tyrants turned the rostrum
toward the land, lest their orators should point to the ships of the
Piræus, and remind the people of their power.

Scene after scene swept through my fancy as I stood on the spot. I saw
Demosthenes, after his first unsuccessful oration, descending with a
dejected air toward the temple of Theseus, followed by old Eunomus;[10]
abandoning himself to despair, and repressing the fiery consciousness
within him as a hopeless ambition. I saw him again, with the last
glowing period of a Philippic on his lips, standing on this rocky
eminence, his arm stretched toward Macedon; his eye flashing with
success, and his ear catching the low murmur of the crowd below, which
told him he had moved his country as with the heave of an earthquake. I
saw the calm Aristides rise, with his mantle folded majestically about
him; and the handsome Alcibiades waiting with a smile on his lips to
speak; and Socrates, gazing on his wild but winning disciple with
affection and fear. How easily is this bare rock, whereon the eagle now
alights unaffrighted, repeopled with the crowding shadows of the past.

-----

[9] You will recollect what Byron says of these three girls in one of
his letters to Dr. Drury: “I had almost forgot to tell you, that I am
dying for love of three Greek girls, at Athens, sisters. I lived in the
same house. Teresa, Marcama, and Katinka, are the names of these
divinities—all under fifteen.”

[10] “However, in his first address to the people, he was laughed at and
interrupted by their clamours; for the violence of his manner threw him
into a confusion of periods, and a distortion of his argument. At last,
upon his quitting the Assembly, Eunomus, the Thriasian, a man now
extremely old, found him wandering in a dejected condition in the
Piræus, and took upon him to set him right.”—_Plutarch’s Life of
Demosthenes._

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXV.


    The Prison of Socrates—Turkish Stirrups and Saddles—Plato’s
    Academy—The American Missionary School at Athens—The Son of
    Petarches and Nephew of “Mrs. Black of Ægina.”

ATHENS.—We dismounted at the door of Socrates’ prison. A hill between
the Areopagus and the sea, is crowned with the remains of a showy
monument to a Roman pro-consul. Just beneath it the hill forms a low
precipice, and in the face of it you see three low entrances to caverns
hewn in the solid rock. The farthest to the right was the room of the
Athenian guard, and within it is a chamber with a round ceiling, which
the sage occupied during the thirty days of his imprisonment. There are
marks of an iron door which separated it from the guard-room, and
through the bars of this he refused the assistance of his friends to
escape, and held those conversations with Crito, Plato, and others which
have made his name immortal. On the day upon which he was doomed to die,
he was removed to the chamber nearest the Acropolis, and here the
hemlock was presented to him. A shallower excavation between, held an
altar to the gods; and after his death, his body was here given to his
friends.

Nothing, except some of the touching narrations of Scripture ever seemed
to me so affecting as the history of the death of Socrates. It has been
likened (I think, not profanely), to the death of Christ. His virtuous
life, his belief in the immortality of the soul and a future state of
reward and punishment, his forgiveness of his enemies and his godlike
death, certainly prove him, in the absence of revealed light, to have
walked the “darkling path of human reason” with an almost inspired
rectitude. I stood in the chamber which had received his last breath,
not without emotion. The rocky walls about me had witnessed his
composure as he received the cup from his weeping jailer; the
roughly-hewn floor beneath my feet had sustained him, as he walked to
and fro, till the poison had chilled his limbs; his last sigh, as he
covered his head with his mantle and expired, passed forth by that low
portal. It is not easy to be indifferent on spots like these. The spirit
of the place is felt. We cannot turn back and touch the brighter links
of that “fleshly chain,” in which all human beings since the creation
have been bound alike without feeling, even through the rusty coil of
ages, the electric sympathy. Socrates died here! The great human leap
into eternity, the inevitable calamity of our race, was here taken more
nobly than elsewhere. Whether the effect be to “fright us from the
shore,” or, to nerve us by the example, to look more steadily before us,
a serious thought, almost, of course, a salutary one, lurks in the very
air.

We descended the hill and galloped our small Turkish horses at a
stirring pace over the plain. The short stirrup and high-peaked saddle
of the country, are (at least to men of my length and limb)
uncomfortable contrivances. With the knees almost up to the chin, one is
compelled, of course, to lean far over the horse’s head, and it requires
all the fulness of Turkish trousers to conceal the awkwardness of the
position. We drew rein at the entrance of the “olive-grove.” Our horses
walked leisurely along the shaded path between the trees, and we arrived
in a few minutes at the site of Plato’s Academy. The more ethereal
portion of my pleasure in seeing it must be in the recollection. The
Cephissus was dry, the noon-day sun was hot, and we were glad to stop,
with throbbing temples, under a cluster of fig-trees, and eat the
delicious fruit, forgetting all the philosophers incontinently. We sat
in our saddles, and a Greek woman, of great natural beauty, though
dressed in rags, bent down the boughs to our reach. The honey from the
over-ripe figs, dropped upon us as the wind shook the branches. Our
dark-eyed and bright-lipped Pomona served us with a grace and
cheerfulness that would draw me often to the neighbourhood of the
Academy if I lived in Athens. I venture to believe that Phryne herself,
in so mean a dress, would scarce have been more attractive. We kissed
our hand to her as our spirited horses leaped the hollow with which the
trees were encircled, and passing the mound sacred to the Furies, where
Œdipus was swallowed up, dashed over the sultry plain once more, and
were soon in Athens.

                 *        *        *        *        *

I have passed most of my leisure hours here in a scene I certainly did
not reckon in anticipation, among the pleasures of a visit to
Athens—the American Missionary School. We have all been delighted with
it, from the commodore to the youngest midshipman. Mr. and Mrs. Hill
have been here some four or five years, and have attained their present
degree of success in the face of every difficulty. Their whole number of
scholars from the commencement, has been upwards of three hundred; at
present they have a hundred and thirty, mostly girls.

We found the school in a new and spacious stone building on the site of
the ancient “market,” where Paul, on his visit to Athens, “disputed
daily with those that met with him.” A large court-yard, shaded partly
with a pomegranate tree, separates it from the marble portico of the
Agora, which is one of the finest remains of antiquity. Mrs. Hill was in
the midst of the little Athenians. Two or three serious-looking Greek
girls were assisting her in regulating their movements, and the new and
admirable system of combined instruction and amusement was going on
swimmingly. There were, perhaps, a hundred children in the benches,
mostly from three to six or eight years of age: dark-eyed, cheerful
little creatures, who looked as if their “birthright of the golden
grasshopper” had made them nature’s favourites as certainly as in the
days when their ancestor-mothers settled questions of philosophy. They
marched and recited, and clapped their sun-burnt hands, and sung hymns,
and I thought I never had seen a more gratifying spectacle. I looked
around in vain for one who seemed discontented or weary. Mrs. Hill’s
manner to them was most affectionate. She governs, literally with a
smile.

I selected several little favourites. One was a fine fellow of two to
three years, whose name I inquired immediately. He was Plato Petarches,
the nephew of the “Maid of Athens,” and the son of the second of the
three girls so admired by Lord Byron. Another was a girl of six or
seven, with a face, surpassing, for expressive beauty, that of any child
I ever saw. She was a Hydriote by birth, and dressed in the costume of
the islands. Her little feet were in Greek slippers; her figure was
prettily set off with an open jacket, laced with buttons from the
shoulder to the waist, and her head was enveloped in a figured
handkerchief, folded gracefully in the style of a turban, and brought
under her chin, so as to show suspended a rich metallic fringe. Her face
was full, but marked with childish dimples, and her mouth and eyes, as
beautiful as ever those expressive features were made, had a retiring
seriousness in them, indescribably sweet. She looked as if she had been
born in some scene of Turkish devastation, and had brought her mother’s
heart-ache into the world.

At noon, at the sound of a bell, they marched out, clapping their hands
in time to the instructor’s voice, and seated themselves in order upon
the portico, in front of the school. Here their baskets were given them,
and each one produced her dinner and eat it with the utmost propriety.
It was really a beautiful scene.

It is to be remembered that here are educated a class of human beings
who were else deprived of instruction by the universal custom of their
country. The females of Greece are suffered to grow up in ignorance. One
who can read and write is rarely found. The school has commenced
fortunately at the most favourable moment. The government was in process
of change, and an innovation was unnoticed in the confusion that at a
later period might have been opposed by the prejudices of custom. The
King and the President of the Regency, Count Armansperg, visited the
school frequently during their stay in Athens, and expressed their
thanks to Mrs. Hill warmly. The Countess Armansperg called repeatedly to
have the pleasure of sitting in the school-room for an hour. His
Majesty, indeed, could hardly find a more useful subject in his realm.
Mrs. Hill, with her own personal efforts, has taught _more than one
hundred children to read the Bible_! How few of us can write against our
names an equal offset to the claims of human duty?

Circumstances made me acquainted with one or two wealthy persons
residing in Athens, and I received from them a strong impression of Mr.
Hill’s usefulness and high standing. His house is the hospitable resort
of every stranger of intelligence and respectability.

Mr. King and Mr. Robinson, missionaries of the Foreign Board, are absent
at Psera. Their families are here.

I passed my last evening among the magnificent ruins on the banks of the
Ilissus. The next day was occupied in returning visits to the families
who had been polite to us, and, with a farewell of unusual regret to our
estimable missionary friends, we started on horseback to return by a
gloomy sunset to the Piræus. I am looking more for the amusing than the
useful in my rambles about the world, and I confess I should not have
gone far out of my way to visit a missionary station anywhere. But
chance has thrown this of Athens across my path, and I record it as a
moral spectacle to which no thinking person could be indifferent. I
freely say I never have met with an equal number of my fellow-creatures,
who seemed to me so indisputably and purely useful. The most cavilling
mind must applaud their devoted sense of duty, bearing up against exile
from country and friends, privations, trial of patience, and the many,
many ills inevitable to such an errand in a foreign land, while even the
coldest politician would find in their efforts the best promise for an
enlightened renovation of Greece.

Long after the twilight thickened immediately about us, the lofty
Acropolis stood up, bathed in a glow of light from the lingering sunset.
I turned back to gaze upon it with an enthusiasm I had thought laid on
the shelf with my half-forgotten classics. The intrinsic beauty of the
ruins of Greece, the loneliness of their situation, and the divine
climate in which, to use Byron’s expression, they are “buried,” invest
them with an interest which surrounds no other antiquities in the world,
I rode on, repeating to myself Milton’s beautiful description:—

        “Look! on the Ægæan a city stands
        Built nobly; pure the air and light the soil:
        Athens—the eye of Greece, mother of arts
        And eloquence; native to famous wits,
        Or hospitable, in her sweet recess
        City or suburban, studious walks or shades.
        See, there the olive groves of Academe,
        Plato’s retirement, where the attic bird
        Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long.
        There, flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound
        Of bees’ industrious murmurs, oft invites
        To studious musing; there Ilissus rolls
        His whispering stream; within the walls there view
        The schools of ancient sages, his who bred
        Great Alexander to subdue the world!”

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXVI.


    The Piræus—The Sacra Via—Ruins of Eleusis—Gigantic
    Medallion—Costume of the Athenian Women—The Tomb of
    Themistocles—The Temple of Minerva—Autographs.

PIRÆUS.—With a basket of ham and claret in the stern-sheets, a cool
awning over our heads, and twelve men at the oars, such as the coxswain
of Themistocles’ galley might have sighed for, we pulled away from the
ship at an early hour, for Eleusis. The conqueror of Salamis delayed the
battle for the ten o’clock breeze, and as nature (which should be called
_he_ instead of _she_, for her constancy) still ruffles the Ægæan at the
same hour, we had a calm sea through the strait, where once lay the
“ships by thousands.”

We soon rounded the point, and shot along under the

                              “Rocky brow
        Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis.”

It is a bare, bold precipice, a little back from the sea, and commands
an entire view of the strait. Here sat Xerxes, “on his throne of
gold,[11] with many secretaries about him to write down the particulars
of the action.” The Athenians owed their victory to the wisdom of
Themistocles, who managed to draw the Persians into the strait (scarce a
cannon shot across just here), where only a small part of their immense
fleet could act at one time. The wind, as the wily Greek had foreseen,
rose at the same time, and rendered the lofty-built Persian ships
unmanageable; while the Athenian galleys, cut low to the water, were
easily brought into action in the most advantageous position. It is
impossible to look upon this beautiful and lovely spot and imagine the
stirring picture it presented. The wild sea-bird knows no lonelier
place. Yet on that rock once sat the son of Darius, with his royal
purple floating to the wind, and, below him, within these rocky limits,
lay “one thousand two hundred ships-of-war, and two thousand
transports,” while behind him on the shores of the Piræus, were encamped
“seven hundred thousand foot, and four hundred thousand
horse,”—“amounting,” says Potter, in his notes, “with the retinue of
women and servants that attended the Asiatic princes in their military
expeditions, to more than five millions.” How like a king must the royal
Persian have felt, when

        “He counted them at break of day!”

With an hour or two of fast pulling, we opened into the broad bay of
Eleusis. The first Sabbath after the creation could not have been more
absolutely silent. Megara was away on the left, Eleusis before us at the
distance of four or five miles, and the broad plains where agriculture
was first taught by Triptolemus, the poetical home of Ceres, lay an
utter desert in the sunshine. Behind us, between the mountains,
descended the _Sacra Via_, by which the procession came to Athens to
celebrate the “Eleusinian mysteries”—a road of five or six miles,
lined, in the time of Pericles; with temples and tombs. I could half
fancy the scene, as it was presented to the eyes of the invading
Macedonians—when the procession of priests and virgins, accompanied by
the whole population of Athens, wound down into the plain, guarded by
the shining spears of the army of Alcibiades. It is still doubtful, I
believe, whether these imposing ceremonies were the pure observances of
a lofty and sincere superstition, or the orgies of licentious
saturnalia.

We landed at Eleusis, and were immediately surrounded by a crowd of
people, as simple and curious in their manners, and resembling somewhat
in their dress and complexion, the Indians of our country. The ruins of
a great city lay about us, and their huts were built promiscuously among
them. Magnificent fragments of columns and blocks of marble interrupted
the path through the village, and between two of the houses lay, half
buried, a gigantic medallion of Pentelic marble, representing, in
alto-rilievo, the body and head of a warrior in full armour. A hundred
men would move it with difficulty. Commodore Patterson attempted it six
years ago, in the “Constitution,” but his launch was found unequal to
its weight.

The people here gathered more closely round the ladies of our party,
examining their dress with childish curiosity. They were doubtless the
first females ever seen at Eleusis in European costume. One of the
ladies happening to pull off her glove, there was a general cry of
astonishment. The brown kid had clearly been taken as the colour of the
hand. Some curiosity was then shown to see their faces, which were
covered with thick green veils, as a protection against the sun. The
sight of their complexion (in any country remarkable for a dazzling
whiteness) completed the astonishment of these children of Ceres.

We, on our part, were scarcely less amused by their costumes in turn.
Over the petticoat was worn a loose jacket of white cloth reaching to
the knee, and open in front—its edges and sleeves wrought very
tastefully with red cord. The head-dress was composed entirely of
_money_. A fillet of gold sequins was first put, _à la feronière_,
around the forehead, and a close cap, with a throat-piece like the
gorget of a helmet, fitted the skull exactly, stitched with coins of all
values, folded over each other according to their sizes, like scales.
The hair was then braided and fell down the back, loaded also with
money. Of the fifty or sixty women we saw, I should think one half had
money on her head to the amount of from one to two hundred dollars. They
suffered us to examine them with perfect good-humour. The greater
proportion of pieces were _paras_, a small and thin Turkish coin of very
small value. Among the larger pieces were dollars of all nations,
five-franc pieces, Sicilian piastres, Tuscan colonati, Venetian
swansicas, &c. &c. I doubted much whether they were not the collection
of some piratical caique. There is no possibility of either spending or
getting money within many miles of Eleusis, and it seemed to be looked
upon as an ornament which they had come too lightly by to know its use.

We walked over the foundations of several large temples with the remains
of their splendour lying unvalued about them, and at a mile from the
village came to the “well of Proserpine,” whence, say the poets, the
ravished daughter of Ceres emerged from the infernal regions on her
visit to her mother. The modern Eleusinians know it only as a well of
the purest water.

On our return, we stopped at the southern point of the Piræus, to see
the tomb of Themistocles. We were directed to it by thirteen or fourteen
frusta of enormous columns, which once formed the monument to his
memory. They buried him close to the edge of the sea, opposite Salamis.
The continual beat of the waves for so many hundred years has worn away
the promontory, and his sarcophagus, which was laid in a grave cut in
the solid rock, is now filled by every swell from the Ægæan. The old
hero was brought back from his exile to be gloriously buried. He could
not lie better for the repose of his spirit (if it returned with his
bones from Argos). The sea on which he beat the haughty Persians with
his handful of galleys, sends every wave to his feet. The hollows in the
rock around his grave are full of snowy salt left by the evaporation.
You might scrape up a bushel within six feet of him. It seems a natural
tribute to his memory.[12]

On a high and lonely rock, stretching out into the midst of the sea,
stands a solitary temple. As far as the eye can reach, along the coast
of Attica and to the distant isles, there is no sign of human
habitation. There it stands, lifted into the blue sky of Greece, like
the unreal “fabric of a vision.”

Cape Colonna and its “temple of Minerva,” were familiar to my memory,
but my imagination had pictured nothing half so beautiful. As we
approached it from the sea, it seemed so strangely out of place, even
for a ruin, so far removed from what had ever been the haunt of man,
that I scarce credited my eyes. We could soon count them—thirteen
columns of sparkling marble, glittering in the sun. The sea-air keeps
them spotlessly white, and, till you approach them nearly, they have the
appearance of a structure, from its freshness, still in the sculptor’s
hands.

The boat was lowered, and the ship lay off-and-on while we landed near
the rocks where Falconer was shipwrecked, and mounted to the Temple. The
summit of the promontory is strewn with the remains of the fallen
columns, and their smooth surfaces are thickly inscribed with the names
of travellers. Among others, I noticed Byron’s and Hobhouse’s, and that
of the agreeable author of “A Year in Spain.” Byron, by the way,
mentions having narrowly escaped robbery here, by a band of Mainote
pirates. He was surprised swimming off the point, by an English vessel
containing some ladies of his acquaintance. He concludes the “Isles of
Greece” beautifully with an allusion to it by its ancient name:—

        “Place me on Sunium’s marble steep,” &c.

The view from the summit is one of the finest in all Greece. The isle
where Plato was sold as a slave, and where Aristides and Demosthenes
passed their days in exile, stretches along the west; the wide Ægæan,
sprinkled with here and there a solitary rock, herbless, but beautiful
in its veil of mist, spreads away from its feet to the southern line of
the horizon, and crossing each other almost imperceptibly on the light
winds of this summer sea, the red-sailed caique of Greece, the
merchantmen from the Dardanelles, and the heavy men-of-war of England
and France, cruising wherever the wind blows fairest, are seen like
broad-winged and solitary birds, lying low with spread pinions upon the
waters. The place touched me. I shall remember it with an affection.

There is a small island close to Sunium, which was fortified by one of
the heroes of the Iliad on his return from Troy—why, heaven only knows.
It was here, too, that Phrontes, the pilot of Menelaus, died and was
buried.

We returned on board after an absence of two hours from the ship, and
are steering now straight for the Dardanelles. The plains of Marathon
are but a few hours north of our course, and I pass them unwillingly;
but what is there one would not see? Greece lies behind, and I have
realised one of my dearest dreams in rambling over its ruins. Travel is
an appetite that “grows by what it feeds on.”

-----

[11] So says Phanodemus, quoted by Plutarch. The commentators upon the
tragedy of Æschylus on this subject, say it was a “silver chair,” and
that it “was afterwards placed in the Temple of Minerva, at Athens, with
the golden-hilted cimeter of Mardonius.”

[12] Langhorne says in his note on Plutarch, “There is the genuine
_attic salt_ in most of the retorts and observations of themselves. His
wit seems to have been equal to his military and political capacity.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXVII.


    Mytilene—The Tomb of Achilles—Turkish Burying Ground—Lost
    Reputation of the Scamander—Asiatic Sunsets—Visit to a Turkish
    Bey—The Castles of the Dardanelles—Turkish Bath and its
    consequences.

Lesbos to windward. A caique, crowded with people, is running across our
bow, all hands singing a wild chorus (perhaps the “Lesboum Carmen,”)
most merrily. The island is now called Mytilene, said to be the greenest
and most fertile of the Mediterranean. The Lesbian wine is still good,
but they have had no poetesses since Sappho. Cause and effect have
quarrelled, one would think.

Tenedos on the lee. The tomb of Achilles is distinguishable with the
glass on the coast of Asia. The column which Alexander “crowned and
anointed and danced around naked,” in honour of the hero’s ghost, stands
above it no longer. The Macedonian wept over Achilles, says the
school-book, and envied him the blind bard who had sung his deeds. He
would have dried his tears if he had known that his _pas seul_ would be
remembered as long.

Tenedos seems a pretty island as we near it. It was here that the Greeks
hid, to persuade the Trojans that they had abandoned the siege, while
the wooden horse was wheeled into Troy. The site of the city of Priam is
visible as we get nearer the coast of Asia. Mount Ida and the marshy
valley of the Scamander are appearing beyond Cape Sigæum, and we shall
anchor in an hour between Europe and Asia, in the mouth of the rapid
Dardanelles. The wind is not strong enough to stem the current that sets
down like a mill-race from the Sea of Marmora.

Went ashore on the Asian side for a ramble. We landed at the strong
Turkish castle that, with another on the European side, defends the
Strait, and passing under their bristling batteries, entered the small
Turkish town in the rear. Our appearance excited a great deal of
curiosity. The Turks, who were sitting cross-legged on the broad benches
extending like a tailor’s board, in front of the cafés, stopped smoking
as we passed, and the women, wrapping up their own faces more closely,
approached the ladies of our party, and lifted their veils to look at
them with the freedom of our friends at Eleusis. We came unaware upon
two squalid wretches of women in turning a corner, who pulled their
ragged shawls over their heads with looks of the greatest resentment at
having exposed their faces to us.

A few minutes’ walk brought us outside of the town. An extensive Turkish
grave-yard lay on the left. Between fig-trees and blackberry bushes it
was a green spot, and the low tombstones of the men, crowned each with a
turban carved in marble of the shape befitting the sleepers rank, peered
above the grass like a congregation sitting in a uniform head-dress at a
field-preaching. Had it not been for the female graves, which were
marked with a slab like ours, and here and there the tombstone of a
Greek, carved after the antique, in the shape of a beautiful shell, the
effect of an assemblage _sur l’herbe_ would have been ludicrously
perfect.

We walked on to the Scamander. A ricketty bridge gave us a passage, toll
free, to the other side, where we sat round the rim of a marble well,
and ate delicious grapes, stolen for us by a Turkish boy from a near
vineyard. Six or seven camels were feeding on the uninclosed plain,
picking a mouthful and then lifting their long, snaky necks into the air
to swallow; a stray horseman, with the head of his bridle decked with
red tassels and his knees up to his chin, scoured the bridle path to the
mountains; and three devilish looking buffaloes scratched their hides
and rolled up their fiendish green eyes under a bramble-hedge near the
river. _Voila!_ a scene in Asia.

The poets lie, or the Scamander is as treacherous as Macassar. Venus
bathed in its waters before contending for the prize of beauty adjudged
to her on this very Mount Ida that I see covered with brown grass in the
distance. Her hair became “flowing gold” in the lavation. My friends
compliment me upon no change after a similar experiment. My long locks
(run riot with a four months’ cruise) are as dingy and untractable as
ever, and, except in the increased brownness of a Mediterranean
complexion, the cracked glass in the state-room of my friend the
lieutenant gave me no encouragement of a change. It is soft water, and
runs over fine white sand; but the fountain of Callirhoe, at Athens (she
was the daughter of the Scamander, and like most daughters, is much more
attractive than her papa), is softer and clearer. Perhaps the loss of
the Scamander’s virtues is attributable to the cessation of the tribute
paid to the god in Helen’s time.

The twilights in this part of the world are unparalleled—but I have
described twilights and sunsets in Greece and Italy till I am ashamed to
write the words. Each one comes as if there never had been and never
were to be another, and the adventures of the day, however stirring, are
half forgotten in its glory, and seem in comparison, unworthy of
description; but one look at the terms that might describe it, written
on paper, uncharms even the remembrance. You must come to Asia and
_feel_ sunsets. You cannot get them by paying postage.

                 *        *        *        *        *

At anchor, waiting for a wind. Called to day on the Bey Effendi,
commander of the two castles, “Europe” and “Asia,” between which we lie.
A pokerish-looking dwarf, with ragged beard and high turban, and a tall
Turk, who I am sure never smiled since he was born, kicked off their
slippers at the threshold, and ushered us into a chamber on the second
story. It was a luxurious little room, lined completely with cushions,
the muslin-covered pillows of down leaving only a place for the door.
The divan was as broad as a bed, and, save the difficulty of rising from
it, it was perfect as a lounge. A ceiling of inlaid woods, embrowned
with smoke, windows of small panes fantastically set, and a place lower
than the floor for the attendant to stand and leave their slippers, were
all that was peculiar else.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The Bey entered in a few minutes, with a pipe-bearer, an interpreter,
and three or four attendants. He was a young man, about twenty, and
excessively handsome. A clear, olive complexion, a moustache of silky
black, a thin, aquiline nose, with almost transparent nostrils, cheeks
and chin rounded into a perfect oval, and mouth and eyes expressive of
the most resolute firmness, and at the same time, girlishly beautiful,
completed the picture of the finest-looking fellow I have seen within my
recollection. His person was very slight, and his feet and hands small,
and particularly well shaped. Like most of his countrymen of later
years, his dress was half European, and much less becoming, of course,
than the turban and trowser. Pantaloons, rather loose, a light
fawn-coloured short jacket, a red cap, with a blue tassel, and
stockings, without shoes, were enough to give him the appearance of a
dandy half through his toilet. He entered with an indolent step, bowed,
without smiling, and throwing one of his feet under him, sunk down upon
the divan, and beckoned for his pipe. The Turk in attendance kicked off
his slippers, and gave him the long tube with its amber mouth-piece,
setting the bowl into a basin in the centre of the room. The Bey put it
to his handsome lips, and drew till the smoke mounted to the ceiling,
and then handed it, with a graceful gesture, to the commodore.

The conversation went on through two interpretations. The Bey’s
interpreter spoke Greek and Turkish, and the ship’s pilot, who
accompanied us, spoke Greek and English, and the usual expressions of
good feeling, and offers of mutual service, were thus passed between the
puffs of the pipe with sufficient facility. The dwarf soon entered with
coffee. The small gilded cups had about the capacity of a goodwife’s
thimble, and were covered with gold tops to retain the aroma. The
fragrance of the rich berry filled the room. We acknowledged, at once,
the superiority of the Turkish manner of preparing it. It is excessively
strong, and drunk without milk.

I looked into every corner while the attendants were removing the cups,
but could see no trace of a _book_. Ten or twelve guns, with stocks
inlaid with pearl and silver, two or three pair of gold-handled pistols,
and a superb Turkish cimetar and belt, hung upon the walls, but there
was no other furniture. We rose, after a half hour’s visit, and were
bowed out by the handsome Effendi, coldly and politely. As we passed
under the walls of the castle, on the way to the boat, we saw six or
seven women, probably a part of his harem, peeping from the embrasures
of one of the bastions. Their heads were wrapped in white, one eye only
left visible. It was easy to imagine them Zuleikas after having seen
their master.

Went ashore at Castle Europe, with one or two of the officers, to take a
bath. An old Turk, sitting upon his hams, at the entrance, pointed to
the low door at his side, without looking at us, and we descended, by a
step or two, into a vaulted hall, with a large, circular ottoman in the
centre, and a very broad divan all around. Two tall young Mussulmans,
with only turbans and waistcloths to conceal their natural proportions,
assisted us to undress, and led us into a stone room, several degrees
warmer than the first. We walked about here for a few minutes, and as we
began to perspire, were taken into another, filled with hot vapour, and,
for the first moment or two, almost intolerable. It was shaped like a
dome, with twenty or thirty small windows at the top, several basins at
the sides into which hot water was pouring, and a raised stone platform
in the centre, upon which we were all requested, by gestures, to lie
upon our backs. The perspiration, by this time, was pouring from us like
rain. I lay down with the others, and a Turk, a dark-skinned,
fine-looking fellow, drew on a mitten of rough grass cloth, and laying
one hand upon my breast to hold me steady, commenced rubbing me without
water, violently. The skin peeled off under the friction, and I thought
he must have rubbed into the flesh repeatedly. Nothing but curiosity to
go through the regular operation of a Turkish bath prevented my crying
out “Enough!” He rubbed away, turning me from side to side, till the
rough glove passed smoothly all over my body and limbs, and then handing
me a pair of wooden slippers, suffered me to rise. I walked about for a
few minutes, looking with surprise at the rolls of skin he had taken
from me, and feeling almost transparent as the hot air blew upon me.

In a few minutes my Mussulman beckoned to me to follow him to a smaller
room, where he seated me on a stone beside a fount of hot water. He then
made some thick soap-suds in a basin, and, with a handful of fine flax,
soaped and rubbed me all over again, and a few dashes of the hot water,
from a wooden saucer, completed the bath.

The next room, which had seemed so warm on our entrance, was now quite
chilly. We remained here until we were dry, and then returned to the
hall in which our clothes were left, where beds were prepared on the
divans, and we were covered in warm cloths, and left to our repose. The
disposition to sleep was almost irresistible. We rose in a short time,
and went to the coffee-house opposite, when a cup of strong coffee, and
a hookah smoked through a highly ornamented glass bubbling with water,
refreshed us deliciously.

I have had ever since a feeling of suppleness and lightness, which is
like wings growing at my feet. It is certainly a very great luxury,
though, unquestionably, most enervating as a habit.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXVIII.


    A Turkish Pic-Nic, on the plain of Troy—Fingers _v._
    Forks—Trieste—The Boschetto—Graceful freedom of Italian
    Manners—A Rural Fête—Fireworks—Amateur Musicians.

DARDANELLES.—The oddest invitation I ever had in my life was from a
Turkish Bey to a _fête champètre_, on the ruins of Troy! We have just
returned, full of wassail and pillaw, by the light of an Asian moon.

The morning was such a one as you would expect in the country where
mornings were first made. The sun was clear, but the breeze was fresh,
and as we sat on the Bey’s soft divans, taking coffee before starting, I
turned my cheek to the open window, and confessed the blessing of
existence.

We were sixteen, from the ship, and our boat was attended by his
interpreter, the general of his troops, the governor of Bournabashi (the
name of the Turkish town near Troy), and a host of attendants on foot
and horseback. His cook had been sent forward at daylight with the
provisions.

The handsome Bey came to the door, and helped to mount us upon his own
horses, and we rode on, with the whole population of the village
assembled to see our departure. We forded the Scamander, near the town,
and pushed on at a hard gallop over the plain. The Bey soon overtook us
upon a fleet grey mare, caparisoned with red trappings, holding an
umbrella over his head, which he courteously offered to the commodore on
coming up. We followed a grass path, without hill or stone, for nine or
ten miles, and after having passed one or two hamlets, with their open
threshing-floors, and crossed the Simois, with the water to our
saddle-girths, we left a slight rising ground by a sudden turn, and
descended to a cluster of trees, where the Turks sprang from their
horses, and made signs for us to dismount.

It was one of nature’s drawing-rooms. Thickets of brush and willows
enclosed a fountain, whose clear waters were confined in a tank, formed
of marble slabs, from the neighbouring ruins. A spreading tree above,
and soft meadow-grass to its very tip, left nothing to wish but friends
and a quiet mind to perfect its beauty. The cook’s fires were smoking in
the thicket, the horses were grazing without saddle or bridle in the
pasture below, and we laid down upon the soft Turkish carpets, spread
beneath the trees, and reposed from our fatigues for an hour.

The interpreter came when the sun had slanted a little across the trees,
and invited us to the Bey’s gardens, hard by. A path, overshadowed with
wild brush, led us round the little meadow to a gate, close to the
fountain-head of the Scamander. One of the common cottages of the
country stood upon the left, and in front of it a large arbour, covered
with a grape-vine, was under-laid with cushions and carpets. Here we
reclined, and coffee was brought us with baskets of grapes, figs,
quinces, and pomegranates, the Bey and his officers waiting on us
themselves with amusing assiduity. The people of the house, meantime,
were sent to the fields for green corn, which was roasted for us, and
this with nuts, wine, and conversation, and a ramble to the source of
the Simois, which bursts from a cleft in the rock very beautifully,
whiled away the hours till dinner.

About four o’clock we returned to the fountain. A white muslin cloth was
laid upon the grass between the edge and the overshadowing tree, and all
around it were spread the carpets upon which we were to recline while
eating. Wine and melons were cooling in the tank, and plates of honey
and grapes, and new-made butter (a great luxury in the Archipelago),
stood on the marble rim. The dinner might have fed Priam’s army. Half a
lamb, turkeys, and chickens, were the principal meats, but there was,
besides, “a rabble rout” of made dishes, peculiar to the country, of
ingredients at which I could not hazard even a conjecture.

We crooked our legs under us with some awkwardness, and producing our
knives and forks (which we had brought with the advice of the
interpreter), commenced, somewhat abated in appetite by too liberal a
lunch. The Bey and his officers sitting upright with, their feet under
them, pinched off bits of meat dexterously with the thumb and
forefinger, passing from one to the other a dish of rice, with a large
spoon, which all used indiscriminately. It is odd that eating with the
fingers seemed only disgusting to me in the Bey. His European dress
probably made the peculiarity more glaring. The fat old governor who sat
beside me was greased to the elbows, and his long grey beard was studded
with rice and drops of gravy to his girdle. He rose when the meats were
removed, and waddled off to the stream below, where a wash in the clean
water made him once more a presentable person.

It is a Turkish custom to rise and retire while the dishes are changing,
and after a little ramble through the meadow, we returned to a lavish
spread of fruits and honey, which concluded the repast.

It is doubted where Troy stood. The reputed site is a rising ground,
near the fountain of Bournabashi, to which we strolled after dinner. We
found nothing but quantities of fragments of columns, believed by
antiquaries to be the ruins of a city that sprung up and died long since
Troy.

We mounted and rode home by a round moon, whose light filled the air
like a dust of phosphoric silver. The plains were in a glow with it. Our
Indian summer nights, beautiful as they are, give you no idea of an
Asian moon.

The Bey’s rooms were lit, and we took coffee with him once more, and,
fatigued with pleasure and excitement, got to our boats, and pulled up
against the arrowy current of the Dardanelles to the frigate.

                 *        *        *        *        *

A long, narrow valley, with precipitous sides, commences directly at the
gate of Trieste, and follows a small stream into the mountains of
Friuli. It is a very sweet, green place, and studded on both sides with
cottages and kitchen-gardens, which supply the city with flowers and
vegetables. The right hand slope is called the Boschetto, and is laid
out with pretty avenues of beech and elm as a public walk, while, at
every few steps, stands a bowling-alley or drinking arbour, and here and
there a trim little restaurant, just large enough for a rural party. It
is perhaps a mile and a half in length, and one grand café in the
centre, usually tempts the better class of promenaders into the expense
of an ice.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and all Trieste was pouring out to the
Boschetto. I had come ashore with one of the officers, and we fell into
the tide. Few spots in the world are so variously peopled as this
thriving seaport, and we encountered every style of dress and feature.
The greater part were Jewesses. How instantly the most common observer
distinguishes them in a crowd! The clear sallow skin, the sharp black
eye and broad eyebrow, the aquiline nose, the small person, the slow,
cautious step of the old, and the quick, restless one of the young, the
ambitious ornaments, and the look of cunning, which nothing but the
highest degree of education does away, mark the race with the
definiteness of another species.

We strolled on to the end of the walk, amused constantly with the family
groups sitting under the trees with their simple repast of a fritata and
a mug of beer, perfectly unconscious of the presence of the crowd. There
was something pastoral and contented in the scene that took my fancy.
Almost all the female promenaders were without bonnets, and the mixture
of the Greek style of head-dress with the Parisian coiffure, had a
charming effect. There was just enough of fashion to take off the
vulgarity.

We coquetted along, smiled upon by here and there a group that had
visited the ship, and on our return sat down at a table in front of the
café, surrounded by some hundreds of people of all classes, conversing
and eating ices. I thought as I glanced about me, how oddly such a scene
would look in America. In the broad part of an open walk, the whole town
passing and repassing, sat elegantly dressed ladies, with their husbands
or lovers, mothers with their daughters, and occasionally a group of
modest girls alone, eating or drinking with as little embarrassment as
at home, and preserving toward each other that courtesy of deportment
which in these classes of society can result only from being so much in
public.

Under the next tree to us sat an excessively pretty woman with two
gentlemen, probably her husband and cavalier. I touched my hat to them
as we seated ourselves, and this common courtesy of the country was
returned with smiles that put us instantly upon the footing of a half
acquaintance. A caress to the lady’s greyhound, and an apology for
smoking, produced a little conversation, and when they rose to leave us,
the compliments of the evening were exchanged with a cordiality that in
America would scarce follow an acquaintance of months. I mention it as
an every-day instance of the kind-hearted and open manners of Europe. It
is what makes these countries so agreeable to the stranger and the
traveller. Every café, on a second visit, seems like a home.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We were at a rural fête last night, given by a wealthy merchant of
Trieste, at his villa in the neighbourhood. We found the company
assembled on a terraced observatory, crowning a summer-house, watching
the sunset over one of the sweetest landscapes in the world. We were at
the head of a valley, broken at the edge of the Adriatic by the city,
and beyond spread the golden waters of the gulf toward Venice, headed in
on the right by the long chain of the Friuli. The country around was
green and fertile, and small white villas peeped out everywhere from the
foliage, evidences of the prosperous commerce of the town. We watched
the warm colours out of the sky, and the party having by this time
assembled, we walked through the long gardens to a house open with long
windows from the ceiling to the floor, and furnished only with the light
and luxurious arrangement of summer.

Music is the life of all amusement within the reach of Italy, and the
waltzing was mingled with performances on the piano (and very wonderful
ones to me) by an Italian count and his friend, a German. They played
duets in a style I have seldom heard even by professors.

The supper was fantastically rural. The table was spread under a large
tree, from the branches of which was trailed a vine, by a square frame
of lattice-work in the proportions of a pretty saloon. The lamps were
hung in coloured lanterns among the branches, and the trunk of the tree
passed through the centre of the table hollowed to receive it. The
supper was sumptuously splendid, and the effect of the party within,
seen from the grounds about, through the arched and vine-concealed
doors, was the most picturesque imaginable.

A waltz or two followed, and we were about calling for our horses, when
the whole place was illuminated with a discharge of fireworks. Every
description of odd figures was described in flame during the hour they
detained us, and the bright glare on the trees, and the figures of the
party strolling up and down the gravelled walks, was admirably
beautiful.

They do these things so prettily here! We were invited out on the
morning of the same day, and expected nothing but a drive and a cup of
tea, and we found an entertainment worthy of a king. The simplicity and
frankness with which we were received, and the unpretendingness of the
manner of introducing the amusements of the evening, might have been
lessons in politeness to nobles.

A drive to town by starlight, and a pull off to the ship in the cool and
refreshing night air, concluded a day of pure pleasure. It has been my
good fortune of late to number many such.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXIX.


    The Dardanelles—Visit from the Pacha—His Delight at hearing
    the Piano—Turkish Fountains—Caravan of Mules laden with
    Grapes—Turkish Mode of Living—Houses, Cafés, and Women—The
    Mosque and the Muezzin—American Consul of the Dardanelles,
    another “Caleb Quotem.”

COAST OF ASIA.—We have lain in the mouth of the Dardanelles sixteen
mortal days, waiting for a wind. Like Don Juan (who passed here on his
way to Constantinople)—

        “Another time we might have liked to see ’em,
        But now are not much pleased with Cape Sigæum.”

An occasional trip with the boats to the watering-place, a Turkish bath,
and a stroll in the bazaar of the town behind the castle, gazing with a
glass at the tombs of Ajax and Achilles, and the long, undulating shores
of Asia, eating often and sleeping much, are the only appliances to our
philosophy. One cannot always be thinking of Hero and Leander, though he
lie in the Hellespont.

A merchant-brig from Smyrna is anchored just astern of us, waiting like
ourselves for this eternal northeaster to blow itself out. She has forty
or fifty passengers for Constantinople, among whom are the wife of an
American merchant (a Greek lady), and Mr. Schauffler, a missionary, in
whom I recognised a quondam fellow-student. They were nearly starved on
board the brig, as she was provisioned but for a few days, and the
commodore has courteously offered them a passage in the frigate. Fifty
or sixty sail lie below Castle Europe, in the same predicament. With the
“cap of King Erricus,” this cruising, pleasant as it is, would be a
thought pleasanter to my fancy.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Still wind-bound. The angel that

            “Looked o’er my almanac
        And crossed out my ill-days,”

suffered a week or so to escape him here. Not that the ship is not
pleasant enough, and the climate deserving of its Sybarite fame, and the
sunsets and stars as much brighter than those of the rest of the world,
as Byron has described them to be (_vide_ letter to Leigh Hunt), but
life has run in so deep a current with me of late, that the absence of
incident seems like water without wine. The agreeable stir of travel,
the incomplete adventure, the change of costumes and scenery, the busy
calls upon the curiosity and the imagination, have become, in a manner,
very breath to me. Hitherto upon the cruise, we have scarce ever been
more than one or two days at a time out of port. Elba, Sicily, Naples,
Vienna, the Ionian Isles, and the various ports of Greece have come and
gone so rapidly, and so entirely without exertion of my own, that I seem
to have lived in a magic panorama. After dinner on one day I visit a
city here, and the day or two after, lounging and reading and sleeping
meanwhile quietly at home, I find myself rising from table, hundreds of
miles farther to the north or east, and another famous city before me,
having taken no care, and felt no motion, nor encountered danger or
fatigue. A summer cruise in the Mediterranean is certainly the
perfection of sight-seeing. With a sea as smooth as a river, and cities
of interest, classical and mercantile, everywhere on the lee, I can
conceive of no class of persons to whom it would not be delightful. A
company of pleasure, in a private vessel, would see all Greece and Italy
with less trouble and expense than is common on a trip to the lakes.

                 *        *        *        *        *

“All hands up anchor!” The dog-vane points at last to Constantinople.
The capstan is manned, the sails loosed, the quarter-master at the
wheel, and the wind freshens every moment from the “sweet south.” “Heave
round merrily!” The anchor is dragged in by this rushing Hellespont, and
holds on as if the bridge of Xerxes were tangled about the flukes. “Up
she comes at last,” and, yielding to her broad canvass, the gallant
frigate begins to make headway against the current. There is nothing in
the whole world of senseless matter, so like a breathing creature as a
ship! The energy of her motion, the beauty of her shape and contrivance,
and the ease with which she is managed by the one mind upon her
quarter-deck, to whose voice she is as obedient as the courser to the
rein, inspire me with daily admiration. I have been four months a guest
in this noble man-of-war, and to this hour, I never set my foot on her
deck without a feeling of fresh wonder. And then Cooper’s novels read in
a ward-room as grapes eat in Tuscany. It were missing one of the golden
leaves of a life not to have thumbed them on a cruise.

The wind has headed us off again, and we have dropped anchor just below
the castles of the Dardanelles. We have made but eight miles, but we
have new scenery from the ports, and that is something to a weary eye. I
was as tired of “the shores of Ilion” as ever was Ulysses. The hills
about our present anchorage are green and boldly marked, and the
frowning castles above us give that addition to the landscape which is
alone wanting on the Hudson. Sestos and Abydos are six or seven miles up
the stream. The Asian shore (I should have thought it a pretty
circumstance, once, to be able to set foot either in Europe or Asia in
five minutes) is enlivened by numbers of small vessels, tracking up with
buffaloes, against wind and tide. And here we lie, says the old pilot,
without hope till the moon changes. The “_fickle_ moon,” quotha! I wish
my friends were half as constant!

The Pacha of the Dardanelles has honoured us with a visit. He came in a
long caique, pulled by twenty stout rascals, his Excellency of “two
tails” sitting on a rich carpet on the bottom of the boat, with his boy
of a year old in the same uniform as himself, and his suite of pipe and
slipper-bearers, dwarf and executioner, sitting cross-legged about him.
He was received with the guard and all the honour due to his rank. His
face is that of a cold, haughty, and resolute, but well-born man, and
his son is like him. He looked at everything attentively, without
expressing any surprise, till he came to the pianoforte, which one of
the ladies played to his undisguised delight. It was the first he had
ever seen. He inquired, through his interpreter, if she had not been all
her life in learning.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The poet says, “The seasons of the year come in like masquers.” To one
who had made their acquaintance in New-England, most of the months would
literally pass _incog._ in Italy. But here is honest October, the same
merry old gentleman, though I meet him in Asia, and I remember him, last
year, at the baths of Lucca, as unchanged as here. It has been a clear,
bright, invigorating day, with a vitality in the air as rousing to the
spirits as a blast from the “horn of Astolpho.” I can remember just such
a day ten years ago. It is odd how a little sunshine will cling to the
memory when loves and hates that, in their time, convulsed the very
soul, are so easily forgotten.

We heard yesterday that there was a Turkish village seven or eight miles
in the mountains on the Asian side, and, as a variety to the promenade
on the quarter-deck, a ramble was proposed to it.

We landed, this morning, on the bold shore of the Dardanelles, and,
climbing up the face of a sand-hill, struck across a broad plain,
through bush and brier, for a mile. On the edge of a ravine we found a
pretty road, half-hedged over with oak and hemlock, and a mounted Turk,
whom we met soon after, with a gun across his pummel, and a goose
looking from his saddle-bag, directed us to follow it till we reached
the village.

It was a beautiful path, flecked with the shade of leaves of all the
variety of eastern trees, and refreshed with a fountain at every mile.
About half way we stopped at a spring welling from a rock, under a large
fig-tree, from which the water poured, as clear as crystal, into seven
tanks, and one after the other rippling away from the last into a wild
thicket, whence a stripe of brighter green marked its course down the
mountain. It was a spot worthy of Tempé. We seated ourselves on the rim
of the rocky basin, and, with a drink of bright water, and a half hour’s
repose, re-commenced our ascent, blessing the nymph of the fount, like
true pilgrims of the East.

A few steps beyond we met a caravan of the pacha’s tithe-gatherers, with
mules laden with grapes; the turbaned and showily-armed drivers, as they
came winding down the dell, produced the picturesque effect of a
theatrical ballet. They laid their hands on their breasts, with grave
courtesy, as they approached, and we helped ourselves to the ripe,
blushing clusters, as the panniers went by, with Arcadian freedom.

We reached the summit of the ridge a little before noon, and turned our
faces back for a moment to catch the cool wind from the Hellespont. The
Dardanelles came winding out from the hills, just above Abydos, and
sweeping past the upper castles of Europe and Asia, rushed down by
Tenedos into the Archipelago. Perhaps twenty miles of its course lay
within our view. Its colours were borrowed from the divine sky above,
and the rainbow is scarce more varied or brighter. The changing purple
and blue of the mid-stream, specked with white crests, the chrysoprase
green of the shallows, and the dyes of the various depths along the
shore, gave it the appearance of a vein of transparent marble, inlaid
through the valley. The frigate looked like a child’s boat on its bosom.
To our left, the tombs of Ajax and Achilles were just distinguishable in
the plains of the Scamander, and Troy (if Troy ever stood) stood back
from the sea, and the blue-wreathed isles of the Archipelago bounded the
reach of the eye. It was a view that might “cure a month’s grief in a
day.”

We descended now into a kind of cradle valley, yellow with rich
vineyards. It was alive with people gathering in the grapes. The
creaking wagons filled the road, and shouts and laughter rang over the
mountain-sides merrily. The scene would have been Italian, but for the
turbans peering out everywhere from the leaves, and those
diabolical-looking buffaloes in the wagons. The village was a mile or
two before us, and we loitered on, entering here and there a vineyard,
where the only thing evidently grudged us was our peep at the women.
They scattered like deer as we stepped over the walls.

Near the village we found a grave Turk, of whom one of the officers made
some inquiries, which were a part of our errand to the mountains. It may
spoil the sentiment of my description, but, in addition to the poetry of
the ramble, we were to purchase beef for the mess. His bullocks were out
at grass (feeding in pastoral security, poor things!), and he invited us
to his house, while he sent his boy to drive them in. I recognised them,
when they came, as two handsome steers, which had completed the beauty
of an open glade, in the centre of a clump of forest trees, on our
route. The pleasure they have afforded to the eye will be repeated upon
the palate—a double destiny not accorded to all beautiful creatures.

Our host led us up a flight of rough stone steps to the second story of
his house, where an old woman sat upon her heels, rolling out paste, and
a younger one nursed a little Turk at her bosom. They had, like every
man, woman, or child I have seen in this country, superb eyes and noses.
No chisel could improve the meanest of them in these features. Our
friend’s wife seemed ashamed to be caught with her face uncovered, but
she offered us cushions on the floor before she retired, and her husband
followed up her courtesy with his pipe.

We went thence to the café, where a bubbling hookah, a cup of coffee,
and a divan, refreshed us a little from our fatigues. While the rest of
the party were lingering over their pipes, I took a turn through the
village in search of the house of the Aga. After strolling up and down
the crooked streets for half an hour, a pretty female figure, closely
enveloped in her veil, and showing, as she ran across the street, a
dainty pair of feet in small yellow slippers, attracted me into the open
court of the best-looking house in the village. The lady had
disappeared, but a curious-looking carriage, lined with rich Turkey
carpeting and cushions, and covered with red curtains, made to draw
close in front, stood in the centre of the court. I was going up to
examine it, when an old man, with a beard to his girdle, and an
uncommonly rich turban, stepped from the house and motioned me angrily
away. A large wolf-dog, which he held by the collar, added emphasis to
his command, and I retreated directly. A giggle and several female
voices from the closely-latticed window, rather aggravated the
mortification. I had intruded on the premises of the Aga, a high offence
in Turkey, when a woman is in the case.

It was “deep i’ the afternoon,” when we arrived at the beach, and made
signal for a boat. We were on board as the sky kindled with the warm
colours of an Asian sunset—a daily offset to our wearisome detention
which goes far to keep me in temper. My fear is that the commodore’s
patience is not “so good a continuer” as this “vento maledetto,” as the
pilot calls it, and in such a case I lose Constantinople most
provokingly.

Walked to the Upper Castle Asia, some eight miles above our anchorage.
This is the main town on the Dardanelles, and contains forty or fifty
thousand inhabitants. Sestos and Abydos are a mile or two farther up the
Strait.

We kept along the beach for an hour or two, passing occasionally a Turk
on horseback, till we were stopped by a small and shallow creek without
a bridge, just on the skirts of the town. A woman with one eye peeping
from her veil, dressed in a tunic of fine blue cloth, stood at the head
of a large drove of camels on the other side, and a beggar with one eye,
smoked his pipe on the sand at a little distance. The water was
knee-deep, and we were hesitating on the brink, when the beggar offered
to carry us across on his back—a task he accomplished (there were six
of us) without taking his pipe from his mouth.

I tried in vain to get a peep at the camel-driver’s wife or daughter,
but she seemed jealous of showing even her eyebrow, and I followed on to
the town. The Turks live differently from every other people, I believe.
You walk through their town and see every individual in it, except
perhaps the women of the pacha. Their houses are square boxes, the front
side of which lifts on a hinge in the day-time, exposing the whole
interior, with its occupants squatted in the corners or on the broad
platform where their trades are followed. They are scarce larger than
boxes in the theatre, and the roof projects into the middle of the
street, meeting that of the opposite neighbour, so that the pavement
between is always dark and cool. The three or four Turkish towns I have
seen, have the appearance of cabins thrown up hastily after a fire. You
would not suppose they were intended to last more than a month at the
farthest.

We roved through the narrow streets an hour or more, admiring the fine
bearded old Turks, smoking cross-legged in the cafés, the slipper-makers
with their gay morocco wares in goodly rows around them, the wily Jews
with their high caps and caftans (looking, crouched among their
merchandise, like the “venders of old bottles and abominable lies,” as
they are drawn in the plays of Queen Elizabeth’s time), the muffled and
gliding spectres of the Moslem women, and the livelier-footed Greek
girls, in their velvet jackets and braided hair, and by this time we
were kindly disposed to our dinners.

On our way to the consul’s, where we were to dine, we passed a mosque.
The minaret (a tall peaked tower, about of the shape and proportions of
a pencil-case) commanded a view down the principal streets; and a stout
fellow, with a sharp clear voice, leaned over the balustrade at the top,
crying out the invitation to prayer in a long drawling sing-song, that
must have been audible on the other side of the Hellespont. Open
porches, supported by a paling, extended all around the church, and the
floors were filled with kneeling Turks, with their pistols and ataghans
lying beside them. I had never seen so picturesque a congregation. The
slippers were left in hundreds at the threshold, and the bare and
muscular feet and legs, half concealed by the full trowsers, supported
as earnest a troop of worshippers as ever bent forehead to the ground. I
left them rising from a flat prostration, and hurried after my
companions to dinner.

Our consul of the Dardanelles is an American. He is absent just now, in
search of a runaway female slave of the sultan’s; and his wife, a
gracious Italian, full of movement and hospitality, does the honours of
his house in his absence. He is a physician as well as consul and
slave-catcher, and the presents of a hand-organ, a French clock, and a
bronze standish, rather prove him to be a favourite with the “brother of
the sun.”

We were smoking the hookah after dinner, when an intelligent-looking
man, of fifty or so, came in to pay us a visit. He is at present an
exile from Constantinople, by order of the Grand Seignior, because a
brother physician, his friend, failed in an attempt to cure one of the
favourites of the imperial harem! This is what might be called “sympathy
upon compulsion.” It is unnecessary, one would think, to make friendship
more dangerous than common human treachery renders it already.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXX.


    Turkish Military Life—A Visit to the Camp—Turkish
    Music—Sunsets—The Sea of Marmora.

A half hour’s walk brought us within sight of the pacha’s camp. The
green and white tents of five thousand Turkish troops were pitched on
the edge of a stream, partly sheltered by a grove of noble oaks, and
defended by wicker batteries at distances of thirty or forty feet. We
were stopped by the sentinel on guard, while a message was sent in to
the pacha for permission to wait upon him. Meantime a number of young
officers came out from their tents, and commenced examining our dresses
with the curiosity of boys. One put on my gloves, another examined the
cloth of my coat, a third took from me a curious stick I had purchased
at Vienna, and a more familiar gentleman took up my hand, and after
comparing it with his own black fingers, stroked it with an approving
smile that was meant probably as a compliment. My companions underwent
the same review, and their curiosity was still unsated when a
good-looking officer, with his cimetar under his arm, came to conduct us
to the commander-in-chief.

The long lines of tents were bent to the direction of the stream, and,
at short distances, the silken banner stuck in the ground under the
charge of a sentinel, and a divan covered with rich carpets under the
shade of the nearest tree, marked the tent of an officer. The interior
of those of the soldiers exhibited merely a stand of muskets and a
raised platform for bed and table, covered with coarse mats, and decked
with the European accoutrements now common in Turkey. It was the middle
of the afternoon, and most of the officers lay asleep on low ottomans,
with their tent-curtains undrawn, and their long chibouques beside them,
or still at their lips. Hundreds of soldiers loitered about, engaged in
various occupations, sweeping, driving their tent-stakes more firmly
into the ground, cleaning arms, cooking, or with their heels under them
playing silently at dominoes. Half the camp lay on the opposite bank of
the stream, and there was repeated the same warlike picture, the white
uniform and the loose red cap with its gold bullion and blue tassel,
appearing and disappearing between the rows of tents, and the bright red
banners clinging to the staff in the breathless sunshine.

We soon approached the splendid pavilion of the pacha, unlike the rest
in shape, and surrounded by a quantity of servants, some cooking at the
root of a tree, and all pursuing their vocation with a singular
earnestness. A superb banner of bright crimson silk, wrought with long
lines of Turkish characters, probably passages from the Koran, stood in
a raised socket guarded by two sentinels. Near the tent, and not far
from the edge of the stream, stood a gaily-painted kiosk, not unlike the
fantastic summer-houses sometimes seen in a European garden, and here
our conductor stopped, and kicking off his slippers, motioned for us to
enter.

We mounted the steps, and passing a small entrance-room filled with
guards, stood in the presence of the commander-in-chief. He sat on a
divan, cross-legged, in a military frock-coat wrought with gold on the
collar and cuffs, a sparkling diamond crescent on his breast, and a
cimetar at his side, with a belt richly wrought, and held by a buckle of
dazzling brilliance. His aide sat beside him, in a dress somewhat
similar, and both appeared to be men of about forty. The pacha is a
stern, dark, soldier-like man, with a thick, straight beard as black as
jet, and features which look incapable of a smile. He bowed without
rising when we entered, and motioned for us to be seated. A little
conversation passed between him and the consul’s son, who acted as our
interpreter, and coffee came in almost immediately. There was an aroma
about it which might revive a mummy. The small china-cups, with thin
gold filagree sockets, were soon emptied and taken away, and the officer
in waiting introduced a soldier to go through the manual exercise by way
of amusing us.

He was a powerful fellow, and threw his musket about with so much
violence, that I feared every moment the stock, lock, and barrel would
part company. He had taken off his shoes before venturing into the
presence of his commander, and looked oddly enough, playing the soldier
in his stockings. I was relieved of considerable apprehension when he
ordered arms, and backed out to his slippers.

The next exhibition was that of a military band. A drum-major, with a
proper gold-headed stick, wheeled some sixty fellows with all kinds of
instruments under the windows of the kiosk, and with a whirl of his
baton, the harmony commenced. I could just detect some resemblance to a
march. The drums rolled, the “ear-piercing fifes” fulfilled their
destiny, and trombone, serpent, and horn showed of what they were
capable. The pacha got upon his knees to lean out of the window, and as
I rose from my low seat at the same time, he pulled me down beside him,
and gave me half his carpet, patting me on the back, and pressing me to
the window with his arm over my neck. I have observed frequently among
the Turks this singular familiarity of manners both to strangers and to
one another. It is an odd contrast with their habitual gravity.

The sultan, I think unwisely, has introduced the European uniform into
his army. With the exception of the Tunisian cap, which is substituted
for a thick and handsome turban, the dress is such as is worn by the
soldiers of the French army. Their tailors are of course bad, and their
figures, accustomed only to the loose and graceful costume of the East,
are awkward and constrained. I never saw so uncouth a set of fellows as
the five thousand Mussulmans in this army of the Dardanelles; and yet in
their Turkish trowsers and turban, with the belt stuck full of arms, and
their long moustache, they would be as martial-looking troops as ever
followed a banner.

We embarked at sunset to return to the ship. The shell-shaped caique,
with her tall sharp extremities and fantastic sail, yielded to the rapid
current of the Hellespont; and our two boatmen, as handsome a brace of
Turks as were ever drawn in a picture, pulled their legs under them more
closely, and commenced singing the alternate stanzas of a villainous
duet. The helmsman’s part was rather humorous, and his merry black eye
redeemed it somewhat, but his fellow was as grave as a dervish, and
howled as if he were ferrying over Xerxes after his defeat.

If I were to live in the East as long as the wandering Jew, I think
these heavenly sunsets, evening after evening, scarce varying by a
shade, would never become familiar to my eye. They surprise me day after
day, like some new and brilliant phenomenon, though the thoughts which
they bring, as it were by a habit contracted of the hour, are almost
always the same. The day, in these countries where life flows so
thickly, is engrossed, and pretty busily too, by the _present_. The
_past_ comes up with the twilight, and wherever I may be, and in
whatever scene mingling, my heart breaks away, and goes down into the
west with the sun. I am _at home_ as duly as the bird settles to her
nest.

It was natural in paying the boatman, after such a musing passage, to
remember the poetical justice of Uhland in crossing the ferry:—

        “Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee!
          Take! I give it willingly;
        For, invisibly to thee,
          _Spirits twain have crossed with me_!”

I should have paid for one other seat, at least, by this fanciful
tariff. Our unmusical Mussulmans were content, however, and we left them
to pull back against the tide, by a star that cast a shadow like a
meteor.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The moon changed this morning, and the wind, that in this clime of fable
is as constant to her as Endymion, changed too. The white caps vanished
from the hurrying waves of the Dardanelles, and after an hour or two of
calm, the long-expected breeze came tripping out of Asia, with oriental
softness, and is now leading us gently up the Hellespont.

As we passed between the two castles of the Dardanelles, the commodore
saluted the pacha with nineteen guns, and in half an hour we were off
Abydos, where our friend from the south has deserted us, and we are
compelled to anchor. It would be unclassical to complain of delay on so
poetical a spot. It is beautiful, too. The shores on both the Asian and
European sides are charmingly varied and the sun lies on them, and on
the calm strait that links them, with a beauty worthy of the fair spirit
of Hero. A small Turkish castle occupies the site of the “torch-lit
tower” of Abydos, and there is a corresponding one at Sestos. The
distance between looks little more than a mile—not a surprising feat
for any swimmer, I should think. Lady-loves in our day, alas! are not
won so lightly. The current of the Hellespont, however, remains the
same, and so does the moral of Leander’s story. The Hellespont of
matrimony may be crossed with the tide. The deuce is to _get back_!

Lampsacus on the starboard-bow, and a fairer spot lies on no river’s
brink. Its trees, vineyards, and cottages, slant up almost imperceptibly
from the water’s edge, and the hills around have the look “of a clean
and quiet privacy,” with a rural elegance that might tempt Shakspeare’s
Jaques to come and moralise. By the way, there have been philosophers
here. Did not Alexander forgive the city its obstinate defence for the
sake of Anaximenes? There was a sad dog of a deity worshipped here about
that time.

I take a fresh look at it from the port, as I write. Pastures, every one
with a bordering of tall trees, cattle as beautiful as the daughter of
Ianchus, lanes of wild shrubbery, a greener stripe through the fields
like the track of a stream, and smoke curling from every cluster of
trees, telling as plainly as the fancy can read, that there is both
poetry and pillaw at Lampsacus.

Just opposite stands the modern Gallipoli, a Turkish town of some thirty
thousand inhabitants, at the head of the Hellespont. The Hellespont gets
broader here, and a few miles farther up we open into the Sea of
Marmora. A French brig-of-war, that has been hanging about us for a
fortnight (watching our movements in this unusual cruise for an American
frigate, perhaps), is just ahead, and a quantity of sail are stretching
off on the southern tack, to make the best use of their new sea-room for
beating up to Constantinople.

We hope to see Seraglio Point to-morrow. Mr. Hodgson, the secretary of
our embassy to Turkey, has just come on board from the Smyrna packet,
and the agreeable preparations for going on shore are already on the
stir. I do not find that the edge of curiosity dulls with use. The
prospect of seeing a strange city, to-morrow, produces the same
quick-pulsed emotion that I felt in the diligence two years ago,
rattling over the last post to Paris. The entrances to Florence, Rome,
Venice, Vienna, Athens, are marked each with as white a stone. He may
“gather no moss” who rolls about the world; but that which the gold of
the careful cannot buy—pleasure—when the soul is most athirst for it,
grows under his feet. Of the many daily reasons I find to thank
Providence, not the least is that of being what Clodio calls himself in
the play, “a _here-and-there-ian_.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXXI.


    Gallipoli—Aristocracy of Beards—Turkish Shopkeepers—The
    Hospitable Jew and his lovely Daughter—Unexpected
    Rencontre—Constantinople—The Bosphorus, the Seraglio, and the
    Golden Horn.

What an image of life it is! The good ship dashes bravely on her
course—the spray flies from her prow—her sheets are steady and
full—to look up to her spreading canvass, and feel her springing away
beneath, you would not give her “for the best horse the sun has in his
stable.” The next moment, hey! the foresail is aback! the wind baffles
and dies, the ripples sink from the sea, the ship loses her “way,” and
the pennant drops to the mast in a breathless calm! “Clear away the
anchor!” and here we are till this “crab in the ascendant” that makes
“all our affairs go backwards,” yields to our better stars.

We went ashore to take a stroll through the streets of Gallipoli (the
ancient Gallipoli of Thrace) as a sop to our patience. A deeply-laden
Spanish merchant lay off the pier, with a crew of red-capped and
olive-complexioned fellows taking in grain from a Turkish caique, and a
crowd of modern Thracians, in the noble costumes and flowing beards of
the country, closed around us as we stepped from the boat.

A street of cafés led from the end of the pier, and as usual, they were
all crowded with Turks, leaning forward over their slippers, and
crossing their long chibouques as they conversed together. It is odd
that even the habit of a life can make their painful and unnatural
posture an agreeable one. Yet they will sit with their legs crooked
under them, in a way that strains the unaccustomed knee till it cracks
again, motionless by the hour together.

I had no idea till I came to Turkey how rare a beauty is a handsome
beard. Here no man shaves, and there is as great a difference in beards
as in stature. The men of rank that we have seen, might have been picked
out anywhere by their superior beauty in this respect. It grows vilely,
it seems to me, on scoundrels. The beggars ashore, the low Jews who
board us with provisions, the greater part of the soldiers and petty
shop-keepers of the towns, have all some mark in their beards, that
nature never intended them for gentlemen. Your smooth chin is a great
leveller, trust me!

These Turkish towns have a queer look altogether. Gallipoli is so seldom
touched by a Christian foot, that it preserves all its peculiarities
entire, and is likely to do so for the next century. We walked on,
ascending a narrow street completely shut in by the roofs of the low
houses meeting above. There are no carriages or carts, and the Turks
glide over the stones in their loose slippers with an indolent shuffle
that seems rather to add to the silence. You hear no voice, for they
seldom speak, and never above the key of a bassoon; and what with the
odd costumes, long beards, grave faces, and twilight darkness all about
you, it is like a scene on the stage when the lights are lowered in some
incantation scene.

Each street is devoted to some one trade. We first got among the
grocers. Every shop was a fellow to the other, containing an old Turk,
squatted among soap, jars of oil, raisins, olives, pickled fish, and
sweetmeats, and everything within his reach. He would sell you his whole
stock in trade without taking his pipe from his mouth, or disturbing his
yellow slipper.

The next turn brought us into the Jews’ quarter. They were all tailors,
and their shops were as dark as Erebus. The light crept through the
chinks in the roof, falling invariably on the same aquiline nose and
ragged beard, with now and then a pair of copper spectacles, while in
the back of the dim tenement sat an old woman with a group of handsome
little Hebrews, (they are always handsome when very young, with their
clear skins and dark eyes) the whole family stitching away most
diligently. It was laughable to see how every shop in the street
presented the same picture.

We then got among the slipper-makers, and vile work they turned out. We
were hesitating between two turnings when an old Jew, with a high
lamb’s-wool cap and long black caftan, rather shabby for wear, addressed
me in a sort of _lingua Franca_, half Italian, half French, with a
sprinkling of Spanish, and inquiring whether I belonged to the frigate
in the harbour, offered to supply us with provisions, &c. &c. I declined
his services, and he asked us directly to his house to take coffee—as
plump a _non sequitur_ as I have met in my travels.

We followed the old man to a very secluded part of the town, stopping a
moment by the way to look at the remains of an old fort built by the
Genoese in the stout times of Andrea Doria. (Where be their galleys
now?) Hajji (so he was called, he said from having been to Jerusalem)
stopped at last at the door of a shabby house, and throwing it open with
a hospitable smile, bade us welcome. We mounted a creaking stair, and
found things within better than the promise of the exterior. One half
the floor of the room was raised perhaps a foot, and matted neatly, and
a nicely carpeted and cushioned divan ran around the three sides, closed
at the two extremities by a lattice-work like the arm of a sofa. The
windows were set in fantastical arabesque frames, the upper panes
coarsely coloured, but with a rich effect, and the view hence stretched
over the Hellespont toward the south, with a delicious background of the
valleys about Lampsacus. No palace window looks on a fairer scene. The
broad Strait was as smooth as the amber of the old Hebrew’s pipe, and
the vines that furnished Themistocles with wine during his exile in
Persia, looked of as golden a green in the light of the sunset, as if
the honour of the tribute still warmed their classic juices.

The rich Turkish coffee was brought in by an old woman, who left her
slippers below as she stepped upon the mat, and our host followed with
chibouques and a renewed welcome. A bright pair of eyes had been peeping
for some time from one of the chambers, and with Hajji’s permission I
called out a graceful creature of fourteen, with a shape like a Grecian
Cupidon and a timid sweetness of expression that might have descended to
her from the gentle Ruth of Scripture. There are lovely beings all over
the world. It were a desert else. But I did not think to find such a
diamond in a Hebrew’s bosom. I have forgotten to mention her hair, which
was very remarkable. I thought at first it was dyed with henna. It
covered her back and shoulders in the greatest profusion, braided near
the head, and floating below in glossy and silken curls of a richness
you would deny nature had you seen it in a painting. The colour was of
the deep burnt brown of a berry, almost black in the shade, but catching
the light at every motion like threads of gold. In my life I have seen
nothing so beautiful. It was the “hair lustrous and smiling” of quaint
old Burton.[13] There was something in it that you could scarce avoid
associating with the character of the wearer—as if it stole its
softness from some inborn gentleness in her heart. I shall never thread
my fingers through such locks again!

We shook our kind host by the hand, and stepped gingerly down in the
fading twilight to our boat. As we were crossing an open space between
the bazaars, two gentlemen in a costume half European, half Oriental,
with spurs and pistols, and a quantity of dust on their moustaches,
passed, and immediately turned and called me by name. The last place in
which I should have looked for acquaintances, would be Gallipoli. They
were two French exquisites whom I had known at Rome, travelling to
Constantinople with no more serious object, I dare be sworn, than to
return with long beards from the East. They had just arrived on
horseback, and were looking for a khan. I commended them to my old
friend the Jew, who offered at once to lodge them at his house, and we
parted in this by-corner of Thrace, as if we had but met for the second
time in a morning stroll to St. Peter’s.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We lay till noon in the glassy harbour of Gallipoli, and then the breeze
came slowly up the Hellespont, its advancing edge marked by a crowd of
small sail keeping even pace with its wings. We soon opened into the
extending sea of Marmora, and the cloudy island of the same name is at
this moment on our lee. The sun is setting gorgeously over the hills of
Thrace, and thankful for sea-room once more, and a good breeze, we make
ourselves certain of seeing Constantinople to-morrow.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We were ten miles distant when I came on deck this morning. A long line
of land with a slightly waving outline began to emerge from the mist of
sunrise, and with a glass I could distinguish the clustering masses and
shining eminences of a distant and far extending city. We were
approaching it with a cloud of company. A Turkish ship-of-war, with the
crescent and star fluttering on her blood-red flag, a French cutter
bearing the handsome tricolor at her peak, and an uncounted swarm of
merchantmen, taking advantage of the newly-changed wind, were spreading
every thread of canvass, and stretching on as eagerly as we toward the
metropolis of the East. There was something in the companionship which
elated me. It seemed as if all the world shared in my anticipations—as
if all the world were going to Constantinople.

I approached the mistress of the East with different feelings from that
which had inspired me in entering the older cities of Europe. The
interest of the latter sprang from the past. Rome, Florence, Athens,
were delightful from the store of history and poetry I brought with me
and had accumulated in my youth—from what they once were, and for that
of which they preserved the ruins. Constantinople, on the contrary, is
still the gem of the Orient—still the home of the superb Turk, and the
resort of many nations of the East—still all that fires curiosity and
excites the imagination in the descriptions of the traveller. I was
coming to a living city, full of strange people and strange costumes,
language, and manners. It was, to the places I had seen, like the warm
and breathing woman perfect in life, to the interesting but lifeless and
mutilated statue.

As the distance lessened, the tall, slender, glittering minarets of a
hundred mosques were first distinguishable. Towers, domes, and dark
spots of cypresses next emerged to the eye, and a sea of buildings,
followed undulating in many swells and widening along the line of the
sea as if we were approaching a continent covered to its farthest limits
with one unbroken city.

We kept on with unslackened sail to the shore which seemed closed before
us. A few minutes opened to us a curving bay, winding in and lost to the
eye behind a swelling eminence, and as if mosques, towers, and palaces,
had spread away and opened to receive us into their bosom, we shot into
the heart of a busy city, and dropped anchor at the feet of a cluster of
hills, studded from base to summit with buildings of indescribable
splendour.

An American gentleman had joined us in the Dardanelles, and stood with
us, looking at the transcendent panorama. “What is this lovely point,
gemmed with gardens and fantastic palaces, and with every variety of
tree and building on its gentle slope descending so gracefully to the
sea?” _The Seraglio!_ “What is this opening of bright water, crowded
with shipping, and sprinkled with these fairy boats so gaily decked and
so slender, shooting from side to side like the crossing flight of a
thousand arrows?” _The Golden Horn_, that winds up through the city and
terminates in the valley of Sweet Waters! “And what is this other
stream, opening into the hills to the east, and lined with glittering
palaces as far as the eye can reach?” _The Bosphorus._ “And what is
this, and that, and the other exquisite and surpassing beauty—features
of a scene to which the earth surely has no shadow of a parallel?”
Patience! patience! We have a month before us, and we will see.

-----

[13] “Hair lustrous and smiling. The trope is none of mine. Æneas
Sylvius hath _crines ridentes_.”—_Anatomy of Melancholy._

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXXII.


    Constantinople—An Adventure with the Dogs of Stamboul—The
    Sultan’s Kiosk—The Bazaars—Georgians—Sweetmeats—Hindoostanee
    Fakeers—Turkish Women and their Eyes—The Jews—A Token of
    Home—The Drug Bazaar—Opium Eaters.

The invariable “_Where am I?_” with which a traveller awakes at morning
was to me never more agreeably answered. _At Constantinople!_ The early
ship-of-war summons to “turn out,” was obeyed with alacrity, and with
the first boat after breakfast I was set ashore at Tophana, the landing
place of the Frank quarter of Stamboul.

A row of low-built cafés, with a latticed enclosure and a plentiful
shade of plane-trees on the right; a large square, in the centre of
which stood a magnificent Persian fountain, as large as a church,
covered with lapis-lazuli and gold, and endless inscriptions in Turkish;
a mosque buried in cypresses on the left; a hundred indolent-looking,
large-trousered, moustached, and withal very handsome men, and twice the
number of snarling, wolfish, and half-starved dogs, are some of the
objects which the first glance, as I stepped on shore, left on my
memory.

I had heard that the dogs of Constantinople knew and hated a Christian.
By the time I had reached the middle of the square, a wretched puppy at
my heels had succeeded in announcing the presence of a stranger. They
were upon me in a moment from every heap of garbage, and every hole and
corner. I was beginning to be seriously alarmed, standing perfectly
still, with at least a hundred infuriated dogs barking in a circle
around me, when an old Turk, selling sherbet under the shelter of the
projecting roof of the Persian fountain, came kindly to my relief. A
stone or two well aimed, and a peculiar cry, which I have since tried in
vain to imitate, dispersed the hungry wretches, and I took a glass of
the old man’s raising water, and pursued my way up the street. The
circumstance, however, had discoloured my anticipations; nothing looked
agreeably to me for an hour after it.

I ascended through narrow and steep lanes, between rows of small wooden
houses, miserably built and painted, to the main street of the quarter
of Pera. Here live all Christians and Christian ambassadors, and here I
found our secretary of legation, Mr. H., who kindly offered to accompany
me to old Stamboul.

We descended to the water-side, and stepping into an egg-shell caique,
crossed the Golden Horn, and landed on a pier between the sultans green
kiosk and the seraglio. I was fortunate in a companion who knew the
people and spoke the language. The red-trousered and armed kervas, at
the door of the kiosk, took his pipe from his mouth, after a bribe and a
little persuasion, and motioned to a boy to show us the interior. A
circular room, with a throne of solid silver embraced in a double
colonnade of marble pillars, and covered with a roof laced with lapis
lazuli and gold, formed the place from which Sultan Mahmoud formerly
contemplated, on certain days, the busy and beautiful panorama of his
matchless bay. The kiosk is on the edge of the water, and the poorest
caikjee might row his little bark under its threshold, and fill his
monarch’s eye, and look on his monarch’s face with the proudest. The
green canvass curtains, which envelop the whole building, have, for a
long time, been unraised, and Mahmoud is oftener to be seen on
horseback, in the dress of a European officer, guarded by troops in
European costume and array. The change is said to be dangerously
unpopular.

We walked on to the square of Sultana Valide. Its large area was crowded
with the buyers and sellers of a travelling fair—a sort of Jews’ market
held on different days in different parts of this vast capital. In
Turkey every nation is distinguished by its dress, and almost as
certainly by its branch of trade. On the right of the gate, under a huge
plane-tree, shedding its yellow leaves among the various wares, stood
the booths of a group of Georgians, their round and rosy-dark faces (you
would know their sisters must be half houris) set off with a tall black
cap of curling wool, their small shoulders with a tight jacket studded
with silk buttons, and their waist with a voluminous silken sash, whose
fringed ends fell over their heels as they sat cross-legged, patiently
waiting for custom. Hardware is the staple of their shops, but the
cross-pole in front is fantastically hung with silken garters and
tasselled cords, and their own Georgian caps, with a gay crown of
cashmere, enrich and diversify the shelves. I bought a pair or two of
blushing silk garters of a young man, whose eyes and teeth should have
been a woman’s, and we strolled on to the next booth.

Here was a Turk, with a table covered by a broad brass waiter, on which
was displayed a tempting array of mucilage, white and pink, something of
the consistency of blanc-mange. A dish of sugar, small gilded saucers,
and long-handled, flat, brass spoons, with a vase of rose-water,
completed his establishment. The grave Mussulman cut, sugared, and
scented the portions for which we asked, without condescending to look
at us or open his lips, and, with a glass of mild and pleasant sherbet
from his next neighbour, as immovable a Turk as himself, we had lunched,
extremely to my taste, for just five cents American currency.

A little farther on I was struck with the appearance of two men, who
stood bargaining with a Jew. My friend knew them immediately as
_fakeers_, or religious devotees from Hindoostan. He addressed them in
Arabic, and, during their conversation of ten minutes, I studied them
with some curiosity. They were singularly small, without any appearance
of dwarfishness, their limbs and persons slight, and very equally and
gracefully proportioned. Their features were absolutely regular, and,
though small as a child’s of ten or twelve years, were perfectly
developed. They appeared like men seen through an inverted opera-glass.
An exceedingly ashy, olive complexion, hair of a kind of glittering
black, quite unlike in texture and colour any I have ever before seen;
large, brilliant, intense black eyes, and lips (the most peculiar
feature of all), of lustreless black,[14] completed the portraits of two
as remarkable-looking men as I have anywhere met. Their costume was
humble, but not unpicturesque. A well-worn sash of red silk enveloped
the waist in many folds, and sustained trowsers tight to the legs, but
of the Turkish ampleness over the hips. Their small feet, which seemed
dried up to the bone, were bare. A blanket, with a hood marked in a kind
of arabesque figure, covered their shoulders, and a high quilted cap,
with a rim of curling wool, was pressed down closely over the forehead.
A crescent-shaped tin vessel, suspended by a leather strap to the waist,
and serving the two purposes of a charity-box, and a receptacle for
bread and vegetables, seemed a kind of badge of their profession. They
were lately from Hindoostan, and were begging their way still farther
into Europe. They received our proffered alms without any mark of
surprise or even pleasure, and laying their hands on their breasts, with
countenances perfectly immoveable, gave us a Hindoostanee blessing, and
resumed their traffic. They see the world, these rovers on foot! And I
think, could I see it myself in no other way, I would e’en take sandal
and scrip, and traverse it as a dervish or beggar!

The alleys between the booths were crowded with Turkish women, who
seemed the chief purchasers. The effect of their enveloped persons, and
eyes peering from the muslin folds of the _yashmack_, is droll to a
stranger. It seemed to me like a masquerade, and the singular sound of
female voices, speaking through several thicknesses of a stuff, bound so
close on the mouth as to show the shape of the lips exactly, perfected
the delusion. It reminded me of the half-smothered tones beneath the
masks in carnival-time. A clothes-bag with yellow slippers would have
about as much form, and might be walked about with as much grace as a
Turkish woman. Their fat hands, the finger-nails dyed with henna, and
their unexceptionably magnificent eyes, are all that the stranger is
permitted to peruse. It is strange how universal is the beauty of the
eastern eye. I have looked in vain hitherto, for a small or inexpressive
one. It is quite startling to meet the gaze of such large liquid orbs,
bent upon you from their long silken fringes, with the unwinking
steadiness of look common to the females of this country. Wrapped in
their veils, they seem unconscious of attracting attention, and turn and
look you full in the face, while you seek in vain for a pair of lips to
explain by their expression the meaning of such particular notice.

The Jew is more distinguishable at Constantinople than elsewhere. He is
compelled to wear the dress of his tribe (and its “badge of sufferance,”
too), and you will find him, wherever there is trafficking to be done,
in a small cap, not ungracefully shaped, twisted about with a peculiar
handkerchief of a small black print, and set back so as to show the
whole of his national high and narrow forehead. He is always good
humoured and obsequious, and receives the curse with which his officious
offers of service are often repelled, with a smile, and a hope that he
may serve you another time. One of them, as we passed his booth, called
our attention to some newly-opened bales, bearing the stamp, “TREMONT
MILL, LOWELL, MASS.” It was a long distance from home to meet such
familiar words!

We left the square of the sultan mother, and entered a street of
_confectioners_. The East is famous for its sweetmeats, and truly a more
tempting array never visited the Christmas dream of a schoolboy. Even
Felix, the _patissier nonpareil_ of Paris, might take a lesson in
jellies. And then for “candy” of all colours of the rainbow (not shut
enviously in with pitiful glass cases, but piled up to the ceiling in a
shop all in the street, as it might be in Eutopia, with nothing to pay),
it is like a scene in the Arabian Nights. The last part of the
parenthesis is almost true, for with a small coin of the value of two
American cents, I bought of a certain kind called, in Turkish, “peace to
your throat” (they call things by such poetical names in the East), the
quarter of which I could not have eaten, even in my best “days of sugar
candy.” The women of Constantinople, I am told, almost live on
confectionery. They eat incredible quantities. The sultan’s eight
hundred wives and women employ five hundred cooks, and consume _two
thousand five hundred pounds of sugar daily_! It is probably the most
expensive item of the seraglio kitchen.

A turn or two brought us to the entrance of a long dark passage, of
about the architecture of a covered bridge in our country. A place
richer in the oriental and picturesque could scarce be found between the
Danube and the Nile. It is the bazaar of _drugs_. As your eye becomes
accustomed to the light, you distinguish vessels of every size and
shape, ranged along the receding shelves of a stall, and filled to the
uncovered brim with the various productions of the Orient. The edges of
the baskets and jars are turned over with rich coloured papers (a
peculiar colour to every drug), and broad spoons of boxwood are crossed
on the top. There is the _henna_, in a powder of deep brown, with an
envelope of deep Tyrian purple, and all the precious gums in their jars,
golden-leafed, and spices and dyes and medicinal roots, and above hang
anatomies of curious monsters, dried and stuffed, and in the midst of
all, motionless as the box of sulphur beside him, and almost as yellow,
sits a venerable Turk, with his beard on his knees, and his pipe-bowl
thrust away over his drugs, its ascending smoke-curls his only sign of
life. This class of merchants is famous for opium eaters, and if you
pass at the right hour, you find the large eye of the silent smoker
dilated and wandering, his fingers busy in tremulously counting his
spice-wood beads, and the roof of his stall wreathed with clouds of
smoke, the vent to every species of eastern enthusiasm. If you address
him, he smiles, and puts his hand to his forehead and breast, but
condescends to answer no question till it is thrice reiterated, and then
in the briefest word possible, he answers wide of your meaning, strokes
the smoke out of his moustache, and slipping the costly amber between
his lips, abandons himself again to his exalted revery. I write this
after being a week at Constantinople, during which the Egyptian bazaar
has been my frequent and most fancy-stirring lounge. Of its forty
merchants, there is not one whose picturesque features are not imprinted
deeply in my memory. I have idled up and down in the dim light, and
fingered the soft henna, and bought small parcels of incense-wood for my
pastille lamp, studying the remarkable faces of the unconscious old
Mussulmans, till my mind became somehow tinctured of the East, and (what
will be better understood) my clothes steeped in the mixed and agreeable
odours of the thousand spices. Where are the painters, that they have
never found this mine of admirable studies? There is not a corner of
Constantinople, nor a man in its streets, that were not a novel and a
capital subject for the pencil. Pray, Mr. Cole, leave things that have
been painted so often, as aqueducts and Italian ruins (though you _do_
make delicious pictures, and could never waste time or pencils on
_anything_), and come to the East for one single book of sketches! How I
have wished I was a painter since I have been here!

-----

[14] I have since met many of them in the streets of Constantinople, and
I find it a distinguishing feature of their race. They look as if their
lips were dead—as if the blood had dried beneath the skin.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXXIII.


    The Sultan’s Perfumer—Etiquette of Smoking—Temptations for
    Purchasers—Exquisite Flavour of the Turkish Perfumes—The Slave
    Market of Constantinople—Slaves from various Countries, Greek,
    Circassian, Egyptian, Persian—African female Slaves—An
    Improvisatrice—Exposure for Sale—Circassian Beauties
    prohibited to Europeans—First sight of one, eating a Pie—Shock
    to romantic Feelings—Beautiful Arab Girl chained to the
    Floor—The Silk Merchant—A cheap Purchase.

An Abyssinian slave, with bracelets on his wrists and ankles, a white
turban, folded in the most approved fashion around his curly head, and a
showy silk sash about his waist, addressed us in broken English as we
passed a small shop on the way to the Bozestein. His master was an old
acquaintance of my polyglot friend, and, passing in at a side door, we
entered a dimly-lighted apartment in the rear, and were received, with a
profusion of salaams, by the sultan’s perfumer. For a Turk, Mustapha
Effendi was the most voluble gentleman in his discourse that I had yet
met in Stamboul. A sparse grey beard just sprinkled a pair of blown-up
cheeks, and a collapsed double chin that fell in curtain folds to his
bosom, a moustache, of seven or eight hairs on a side, curled demurely
about the corners of his mouth, his heavy oily black eyes twinkled in
their pursy recesses, with the salacious good humour of a satyr; and, as
he coiled his legs under him on the broad ottoman in the corner, his
boneless body completely lapped over them, knees and all, and left him,
apparently, bolt upright on his trunk, like a man amputated at the hips.
A string of beads in one hand, and a splendid _narghilé_, or rose-water
pipe in the other, completed as fine a picture of a mere animal as I
remember to have met in my travels.

My learned friend pursued the conversation in Turkish, and in a few
minutes, the black entered, with pipes of exquisite amber filled with
the mild Persian tobacco. Leaving his slippers at the door, he dropped
upon his knee, and placed two small brass dishes in the centre of the
room to receive the hot pipe bowls, and, with a showy flourish of his
long, naked arm, brought round the rich mouth-pieces to our lips. A
spicy atom of some aromatic composition, laid in the centre of the bowl,
removed from the smoke all that could offend the most delicate organs,
and, as I looked about the perfumer’s retired sanctum, and my eye rested
on the small heaps of spice-woods, the gilded pastilles, the curious
bottles of attar of roses and jasmine, and thence to the broad soft
divans extending quite around the room, piled in the corners with
cushions of down, I thought Mustapha, the perfumer, among those who
lived by traffic, had the cleanliest and most gentlemanlike vocation.

Observing that I smoked but little, Mustapha gave an order to his
familiar, who soon appeared, with two small gilded saucers; one
containing a jelly of incomparable delicacy and whiteness, and the other
a candied liquid, tinctured with quince and cinnamon. My friend
explained to me that I was to eat both, and that Mustapha said, “on his
head be the injury it would do me.” There needed little persuasion. The
cook to a court of fairies might have mingled sweets less delicately.

For all this courtesy Mustapha finds his offset in the opened hearts of
his customers, when the pipes are smoked out, and there is nothing to
delay the offer of his costly wares. First calling for a jar of
jessamine, than which the sultan himself perfumes his beard with no
rarer, he turned it upside down, and, leaning towards me, rubbed the
moistened cork over my nascent moustache, and waited with a satisfied
certainty for my expression of admiration as it “ascended me into the
brain.” There was no denying it was of celestial flavour. He held up his
fingers: “One? two? three? ten? How many bottles shall your slave fill
for you?” It was a most lucid pantomime. An interpreter would have been
superfluous.

The attar of roses stood next on the shelf. It was the best ever sent
from Adrianople. Bottle after bottle of different extracts were passed
under nasal review; each, one might think, the triumph of the alchemy of
flowers, and of each a specimen was laid aside for me in a slender vial,
dexterously capped with vellum, and tied with a silken thread by the
adroit Abyssinian. I escaped emptying my purse by a single worthless
coin, the fee I required for my return boat over the Golden Horn—but I
had seen Mustapha the perfumer.

My friend led the way through several intricate windings, and passing
through a gateway, we entered a circular area, surrounded with a single
building divided into small apartments, faced with open porches. It was
the slave-market of Constantinople. My first idea was to look round for
Don Juan and Johnson. In their place we found slaves of almost every
eastern nation, who looked at us with an “I wish to heaven that somebody
would buy us” sort of an expression, but none so handsome as Haidee’s
lover. In a low cellar, beneath one of the apartments, lay twenty or
thirty white men chained together by the legs, and with scarce the
covering required by decency. A small-featured Arab stood at the door,
wrapped in a purple-hooded cloak, and Mr. H. addressing him in Arabic,
inquired their nations. He was not their master, but the stout fellow in
the corner, he said, was a Greek by his regular features, and the boy
chained to him was a Circassian by his rosy cheek and curly hair, and
the black-lipped villain with the scar over his forehead, was an
Egyptian doubtless, and the two that looked like brothers were Georgians
or Persians, or perhaps Bulgarians. Poor devils! they lay on the clay
floor with a cold easterly wind blowing in upon them, dispirited and
chilled, with the prospect of being sold to a taskmaster for their best
hope of relief.

A shout of African laughter drew us to the other side of the bazaar. A
dozen Nubian damsels, flat-nosed and curly-headed, but as straight and
fine-limbed as pieces of black statuary, lay around on a platform in
front of their apartment, while one sat upright in the middle, and
amused her companions by some narration, accompanied by grimaces
irresistibly ludicrous. Each had a somewhat scant blanket, black with
dirt, and worn as carelessly as a lady carries her shawl. Their black,
polished frames were disposed about, in postures a painter would scarce
call ungraceful, and no start or change of attitude when we approached,
betrayed the innate coyness of the sex. After watching the
_improvisatrice_ awhile, we were about passing on, when a man came out
from the inner apartment, and beckoning to one of them to follow him,
walked into the middle of the bazaar. She was a tall, arrow-straight
lass of about eighteen, with the form of a nymph, and the head of a
baboon. He commenced by crying in a voice that must have been educated
in the gallery of a minaret, setting forth the qualities of the animal
at his back, who was to be sold at public auction forthwith. As he
closed his harangue, he slipped his pipe back into his mouth, and
lifting the scrimped blanket of the ebon Venus, turned her twice round,
and walked to the other side of the bazaar, where his cry and the
exposure of the submissive wench were repeated.

We left him to finish his circuit, and walked on in search of the
Circassian beauties of the market. Several turbaned slave-merchants were
sitting round a _manghal_, or brass vessel of coals, smoking or making
their coffee, in one of the porticoes, and my friend addressed one of
them with an inquiry on the subject. “There were Circassians in the
bazaar,” he said, “but there was an express firman, prohibiting the
exposing or selling of them to Franks, under heavy penalties.” We tried
to bribe him. It was of no use. He pointed to the apartment in which
they were, and, as it was upon the ground floor, I took advice of modest
assurance, and approaching the window, sheltered my eyes with my hand,
and looked in. A great fat girl, with a pair of saucer-like black eyes,
and cheeks as red and round as a cabbage-rose, sat facing the window,
devouring a pie most voraciously. She had a small carpet spread beneath
her, and sat on one of her heels, with a row of fat, red toes, whose
nails were tinged with henna, just protruding on the other side from the
folds of her ample trousers. The light was so dim that I could not see
the features of the others, of whom there were six or seven in groups in
the corners. And so faded the bright colours of a certain boyish dream
of Circassian beauty! A fat girl eating a pie!

As we were about leaving the bazaar, the door of a small apartment near
the gate opened, and disclosed the common cheerless interior of a
chamber in a khan. In the centre burned the almost extinguished embers
of a Turkish _manghal_, and, at the moment of my passing, a figure rose
from a prostrate position, and exposed, as a shawl dropped from her face
in rising, the exquisitely small features and bright olive skin of an
Arab girl. Her hair was black as night, and the bright braid of it
across her forehead seemed but another shade of the warm dark eye that
lifted its heavy and sleepy lids, and looked out of the
accidentally-opened door as if she were trying to remember how she had
dropped out of “Araby the blest” upon so cheerless a spot. She was very
beautiful. I should have taken her for a child, from her diminutive
size, but for a certain fulness in the limbs and a womanly ripeness in
the bust and features. The same dusky lips which give the males of her
race a look of ghastliness, either by contrast with a row of dazzlingly
white teeth, or from their round and perfect chiselling, seemed in her
almost a beauty, I had looked at her several minutes before she chose to
consider it as impertinence. At last she slowly raised her little
symmetrical figure (the “Barbary shape” the old poets talk of), and
slipping forward to reach the latch, I observed that she was chained by
one of her ankles to a ring in the floor. To think that only a
“malignant and turbaned Turk” may possess such a Hebe! Beautiful
creature! Your lot,

        “By some o’er-hasty angel was misplaced,
        In Fate’s eternal volume.”

And yet it is very possible she would eat pies, too!

We left the slave-market, and wishing to buy a piece of Brusa silk for a
dressing-gown, my friend conducted me to a secluded khan in the
neighbourhood of the far-famed “burnt column.” Entering by a very mean
door, closed within by a curtain, we stood on fine Indian mats in a
large room, piled to the ceiling with silks enveloped in the soft
satin-paper of the East. Here again coffee must be handed round before a
single fold of the old Armenian’s wares could see the light, and
fortunate it is, since one may not courteously refuse it, that Turkish
coffee is very delicious, and served in acorn cups for size. A handsome
boy took away the little filagree holders at last, and the old trader,
setting his huge calpack firmly on his shaven head, began to reach down
his costly wares. I had never seen such an array. The floor was soon
like a shivered rainbow, almost paining the eye with the brilliancy and
variety of beautiful fabrics. And all this to tempt the taste of a poor
description-monger, who wanted but a plain robe de chambre to conceal
from a chance visitor the poverty of an unmade toilet! There were stuffs
of gold for a queen’s wardrobe; there were gauze-like fabrics interwoven
with flowers of silver; and there was no leaf in botany, nor device in
antiquity, that was not imitated in their rich borderings. I laid my
hand on a plain pattern of blue and silver, and half-shutting my eyes to
imagine how I should look in it, resolved upon the degree of depletion
which my purse could bear, and inquired the price. As “green door and
brass knocker” says of his charges in the farce, it was “ridiculously
trifling.” It is a cheap country, the East! A beautiful Circassian slave
for a hundred dollars (if you are a Turk), and an emperor’s
dressing-gown for three! The Armenian laid his hand on his breast, as if
he had made a good sale of it, the coffee-bearer wanted but a sous, and
that was charity; and thus, by a mere change of place, that which were
but a gingerbread expenditure becomes a rich man’s purchase.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXXIV.


    The Bosphorus—Turkish Palaces—The Black Sea—Buyukdere.

We left the ship with two caïques, each pulled by three men, and
carrying three persons, on an excursion to the Black Sea. We were
followed by the captain in his fast-pulling gig with six oars, who
proposed to beat the feathery boats of the country in a twenty miles’
pull against the tremendous current of the Bosphorus.

The day was made for us. We coiled ourselves _à la Turque_, in the
bottom of the sharp caique, and as our broad-brimmed pagans, after the
first mile, took off their shawled turbans, unwound their cashmere
girdles, laid aside their gold-broidered jackets, and with nothing but
the flowing silk shirt and ample trowsers to embarrass their action,
commenced “giving way,” in long energetic strokes—I say, just then,
with the sunshine and the west wind attempered to half a degree warmer
than the blood (which I take to be the perfection of temperature), and a
long, long autumn day, or two, or three, before us, and not a thought in
the company that was not kindly and joyous—just then, I say, I dropped
a “white stone” on the hour, and said, “Here is a moment, old Care, that
has slipped through your rusty fingers! You have pinched me the past
somewhat, and you will doubtless mark your cross on the future—but the
present, by a thousand pulses in this warm frame laid along in the
sunshine, is care-free, and the last hour of Eden came not on a softer
pinion!”

We shot along through the sultan’s fleet (some eighteen or twenty lofty
ships-of-war, looking, as they lie at anchor in this narrow strait, of a
supernatural size), and then, nearing the European shore to take
advantage of the counter-current, my kind friend, Mr. H., who is at home
on these beautiful waters, began to name to me the palaces we were
shooting by, with many a little history of their occupants between, to
which in a letter, written with a traveller’s haste, and in moments
stolen from fatigue, or pleasure, or sleep, I could not pretend to do
justice.

The Bosphorus is quite—there can be no manner of doubt of it—the most
singularly beautiful scenery in the world. From Constantinople to the
Black Sea, a distance of twenty miles, the two shores of Asia and
Europe, separated by but half a mile of bright blue water, are lined by
lovely villages, each with its splendid palace or two, its mosque and
minarets, and its hundred small houses buried in trees, each with its
small dark cemetery of cypresses and turbaned head-stones, and each with
its valley stretching back into the hills, of which every summit and
swell is crowned with a fairy kiosk. There is no tide, and the palaces
of the sultan and his ministers, and of the wealthier Turks and
Armenians, are built half over the water, and the ascending caique
shoots beneath his window, within the length of the owner’s pipe; and
with his own slender boat lying under the stairs, the luxurious oriental
makes but a step from the cushions of his saloon to those of a
conveyance, which bears him (so built on the water’s edge is this
magnificent capital) to almost every spot that can require his presence.

A beautiful palace is that of the “Marble Cradle,” or Beshiktash, the
sultan’s winter residence. Its bright gardens with latticed fences
(through which, as we almost touched in passing, we saw the gleam of the
golden orange and lemon-trees, and the thousand flowers, and heard the
splash of fountains, and the singing of birds) lean down to the lip of
the Bosphorus, and declining to the south, and protected from everything
but the sun by an enclosing wall, enjoy, like the terrace of old King
René, a perpetual summer. The brazen gates open on the water, and the
palace itself, a beautiful building, painted in the oriental style, of a
bright pink, stands between the gardens, with its back to the wall.

The summer palace, where the “unmuzzled lion,” as his flatterers call
him, resides at present, is just above on the Asian side, at a village
called Beylerbey. It is an immense building, painted yellow, with white
cornices, and has an extensive terrace-garden, rising over the hill
behind. The harem has eight projecting wings, each occupied by one of
the sultan’s lawful wives.

Six or seven miles from Constantinople, on the European shore, stands
the serai of the sultan’s eldest sister. It is a Chinese-looking
structure, but exceedingly picturesque, and like everything else on the
Bosphorus, quite in keeping with the scene. There is not a building on
either side, from the Black Sea to Marmora, that would not be ridiculous
in other countries; and yet, here, their gingerbread balconies,
imitation perspectives, lattices, bird-cages, and kiosks, seem as
naturally the growth of the climate as the pomegranate and the cypress.
The old maid sultana lives here with a hundred or two female slaves of
condition, a little empress in an empire sufficiently large (for a
woman); seeing no bearded face, it is presumed, except her black
eunuchs’ and her European physician’s, and having, though a sultan’s
sister, less liberty than she gives even her slaves, whom she permits to
marry if they will. She can neither read nor write, and is said to be
fat, indolent, kind, and childish.

A little farther up, the sultan is repairing a fantastical little palace
for his youngest sister, Esmeh Sultana, who is to be married to Haleil
Pacha, the commander of the artillery. She is about twenty, and, report
says, handsome and spirited. Her betrothed was a Georgian slave, bought
by the sultan when a boy, and advanced by the usual steps of
favouritism. By the laws of imperial marriages in this empire, he is to
be banished to a distant pachalick after living with his wife a year,
his connexion with blood-royal making him dangerously eligible to the
throne. His bride remains at Stamboul, takes care of her child (if she
has one), and lives the remainder of her life in a widow’s seclusion,
with an allowance proportioned to her rank. _His_ consolation is
provided for by the Mussulman privilege of as many more wives as he can
support. Heaven send him resignation—if he needs it notwithstanding.

The hakim, or chief physician to the sultan, has a handsome palace on
the same side of the Bosphorus; and the Armenian seraffs, or bankers,
though compelled, like all rayahs, to paint their houses of a dull lead
colour (only a Mussulman may live in a red house in Constantinople), are
said, in those dusky-looking tenements, to maintain a luxury not
inferior to that of the sultan himself. They have a singular effect,
those black, funereal houses, standing in the foreground of a picture of
such light and beauty!

We pass Orta-keni, the Jew village; the Arnaout-keni, occupied mostly by
Greeks; and here, if you have read “The Armenians,” you are in the midst
of its most stirring scenes. The story is a true one, not much
embellished in the hands of the novelist; and there, on the hill
opposite, in Anatolia, stands the house of the heroine’s father, the old
seraff Oglou, and, behind the garden, you may see the small cottage,
inhabited, secretly, by the enamoured Constantine; and here, in the
pretty village of Bebec, lives, at this moment, the widowed and
disconsolate Veronica, dressed ever in weeds, and obstinately refusing
all society but her own sad remembrance. I must try to see her. Her
“husband of a night” was compelled to marry again by the hospidar, his
father (but this is not in the novel, you will remember), and there is
late news that his wife is dead, and the lovers of romance in Stamboul
are hoping he will return and make a happier sequel than the sad one in
the story. The “orthodox catholic Armenian, broker and money-changer to
boot,” who was to have been her forced husband, is a very amiable and
good-looking fellow, now in the employ of our _chargé d’affaires_ as
second dragoman.

We approach Roumeli Hissar, a jutting point almost meeting a similar
projection from the Asian shore, crowned, like its _vis-a-vis_, with a
formidable battery. The Bospborus here is but half an arrow-flight in
width, and Europe and Asia, here at their nearest approach, stand
looking each other in the face, like boxers, with foot forward, fist
doubled, and a most formidable row of teeth on either side. The current
scampers through between the two castles, as if happy to get out of the
way, and, up-stream, it is hard pulling for a caique. They are beautiful
points, however, and I am ashamed of my coarse simile, when I remember
how green was the foliage that half-enveloped the walls, and how richly
picturesque the hills behind them. Here, in the European castle, were
executed the greater part of the janisaries, hundreds in a day, of the
manliest frames in the empire, thrown into the rapid Bosphorus, headless
and stripped, to float, unmourned and unregarded, to the sea.

Above Roumeli-Hissar, the Bosphorus spreads again, and a curving bay,
which is set like a mirror, in a frame of the softest foliage and
verdure, is pointed out as a spot at which the crusaders, Godfrey of
Bouillon, and Raymond of Toulouse, encamped on their way to Palestine.
The hills beyond this are loftier, and the Giant’s Mountain, upon which
the Russian army encamped at their late visit to the Porte, would be a
respectable eminence in any country. At its foot, the Strait expands
into quite a lake; and on the European side, in a scoop of the shore,
exquisitely placed, stand the diplomatic villages of Terapia and
Buyukdere. The English, French, Russian, Austrian and other flags were
flying over half-a-dozen of the most desirable residences I have seen
since Italy.

We soon pulled the remaining mile or two, and our spent caikjees drew
breath, and lay on their oars in the Black Sea. The waves were breaking
on the “blue Symplegades,” a mile on our left; and, before us, toward
the Cimmerian, Bosphorus; and, south, toward Colchis and Trebizond,
spread one broad, blue waste of waters, apparently as limitless as the
ocean. The _Black_ Sea is particularly _blue_.

We turned our prow to the west, and I sighed to remember that I had
reached my farthest step into the East. Henceforth I shall be on the
return. I sent a long look over the waters to the bright lands beyond,
so famed in history and fiction, and wishing for even a metamorphosis
into the poor sea-bird flying above us (whose travelling expenses Nature
pays), I lay back in the boat with a “change in the spirit of my dream.”

We stopped on the Anatolian shore to visit the ruins of a fine old
Genoese castle, which looks over the Black Sea, and after a lunch upon
grapes and coffee, at a small village at the foot of the hill on which
it stands, we embarked and followed our companions. Running down with
the current to Buyukdere, we landed and walked along the thronged and
beautiful shore to Terapia, meeting hundreds of fair Armenians and
Greeks (_all_ beautiful, it seemed to me), issuing forth for their
evening promenade, and, with a call of ceremony on the English
ambassador, for whom I had letters, we again took to the caique, and
fled down with the current like a bird. Oh what a sunset was there!

We were to dine and pass the night at the country-house of an English
gentleman at Bebec, a secluded and lovely village, six or eight miles
from Constantinople. We reached the landing as the stars began to
glimmer, and, after one of the most agreeable and hospitable
entertainments I remember to have shared, we took an early breakfast
with our noble host, and returned to the ship. I could wish my friends
no brighter passage in their lives than such an excursion as mine to the
Black Sea.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XXXV.


    The Golden Horn and its Scenery—The Sultan’s Wives and
    Arabians—The Valley of Sweet Waters—Beauty of the Turkish
    Minarets—The Mosque of Sulymanye—Mussulmans at their
    Devotions—The Muezzin—The Bazaar of the Opium-eaters—The Mad
    House of Constantinople, and Description of its Inmates—Their
    Wretched Treatment—The Hippodrome and the Mosque of Sultan
    Achmet—The Janizaries—Reflections on the Past, the Present,
    and the Future.

The “Golden Horn” is a curved arm of the sea, the broadest extremity
meeting the Bosphorus and forming the harbour of Constantinople, and the
other tapering away till it is lost in the “Valley of Sweet Waters.” It
curls through the midst of the “seven-hilled” city, and you cross it
whenever you have an errand in old Stamboul. Its hundreds of shooting
caïques, its forests of merchantmen and men-of-war, its noise and its
confusion, are exchanged in scarce ten minutes of swift pulling for the
breathless and Eden-like solitude of a valley that has not its parallel,
I am inclined to think, between the Mississippi and the Caspian. It is
called in Turkish _khyat-khana_. Opening with a gentle curve from the
Golden Horn, it winds away into the hills toward Belgrade, its long and
even hollow thridded by a lively stream, and carpeted by a broad belt of
unbroken green sward swelling up to the enclosing hills, with a grass so
verdant and silken that it seems the very floor of faëry. In the midst
of its longest stretch to the eye (perhaps two miles of level meadow)
stands a beautiful serai of the sultan’s, unfenced and open, as if it
had sprung from the lap of the green meadow like a lily. The stream runs
by its door, and over a mimic fall whose lip is of scalloped marble, is
built an oriental kiosk, all carving and gold, that is only too delicate
and fantastical for reality.

Here, with, the first grass of spring, the sultan sends his fine-footed
Arabians to pasture; and here come the ladies of his harem (chosen,
women and horses, for much the same class of qualities), and in the long
summer afternoon, with mounted eunuchs on the hills around, forbidding
on pain of death, all approach to the sacred retreat, they venture to
drop their jealous veils and ramble about in their unsunned beauty.

After a gallop of three or four miles over the broad waste table plains,
in the neighbourhood of Constantinople, we checked our horses suddenly
on the brow of a precipitous descent, with this scene of beauty spread
out before us. I had not yet approached it by water, and it seemed to me
as if the earth had burst open at my feet, and revealed some realm of
enchantment. Behind me, and away beyond the valley to the very horizon,
I could see only a trackless heath, brown and treeless, while a hundred
feet below lay a strip of very Paradise, blooming in all the verdure and
heavenly freshness of spring. We descended slowly, and crossing a bridge
half hidden by willows, rode in upon the elastic green sward (for
myself) with half a feeling of profanation. There were no eunuchs upon
the hills, however, and our spirited Turkish horses threw their wild
heads into the air, and we flew over the verdant turf like a troop of
Delhis, the sound of the hoofs on the yielding carpet scarcely audible.
The fair palace in the centre of this domain of loveliness was closed,
and it was only after we had walked around it that we observed a small
tent of the prophet’s green couched in a small dell on the hill-side,
and containing probably the guard of its imperial master.

We mounted again and rode up the valley for two or three miles,
following the same level and verdant curve, the soft carpet broken only
by the silver thread of the Barbyses, loitering through it on its way to
the sea. A herd of buffaloes, tended by a Bulgarian boy, stretched on
his back in the sunshine, and a small caravan of camels bringing wood
from the hills, and keeping to the soft valley as a relief to their
spongy feet, were the only animated portions of the landscape. I think I
shall never form to my mind another picture of romantic rural beauty (an
employment of the imagination I am much given to when out of humour with
the world) that will not resemble the “Valley of Sweet Waters”—the
_khyat-khana_ of Constantinople. “Poor Slingsby” never was here.[15]

The lofty mosque of Sulymanye, the bazaars of the opium-eaters, and the
_Timar-hané_, or mad-house of Constantinople, are all upon one square in
the highest part of the city. We entered the vast court of the mosque
from a narrow and filthy street, and the impression of its towering
plane-trees and noble area, and of the strange, but grand and costly
pile in its centre, was almost devotional. An inner court, enclosed by a
kind of romanesque wall, contained a sacred marble fountain of light and
airy architecture, and the portico facing this was sustained by some of
those splendid and gigantic columns of porphyry and jasper, the spoils
of the churches of Asia Minor.[16]

I think the most beautiful spire that rises into the sky is the Turkish
minaret. If I may illustrate an object of such magnitude by so trifling
a comparison, it is exactly the shape and proportions of an ever-pointed
pencil-case—the silver bands answering to the encircling galleries, one
above another, from which the muezzin calls out the hour of prayer. The
minaret is painted white, the galleries are fantastically carved, and
rising to the height of the highest steeples in our country (four and
sometimes six to a single mosque), these slender and pointed fingers of
devotion seem to enter the very sky. Remembering, dear reader, that
there are two hundred and twenty mosques and three hundred chapels in
Constantinople, raising, perhaps, in all, a thousand minarets to heaven,
you may get some idea of the magnificence of this seven-hilled capital
of the East.

It was near the hour of prayer, and the devout Mussulmans were thronging
into the court of Sulymanye by every gate. Passing the noble doors, with
their strangely-carved arches of arabesque, which invite all to enter
but the profaning foot of the Christian, the turbaned crowd repaired
first to the fountains. From the walls of every mosque, by small
conduits pouring into a marble basin, flow streams of pure water for the
religious ablutions of the faithful. The Mussulman approaches, throws
off his flowing robe, steps out of his yellow slippers, and unwinds his
voluminous turban with devout deliberateness. A small marble step, worn
hollow with pious use, supports his foot while he washes from the knee
downward. His hands and arms, with the flowing sleeve of his silk shirt
rolled to the shoulder, receive the same lavation, and then, washing his
face, he repeats a brief prayer, resumes all but his slippers, and
enters the mosque, barefooted. The _mihrab_ (or niche indicating the
side toward the tomb of the prophet), fixes his eye. He folds his hands
together, prays a moment standing, prostrates himself flat on his face
toward the hallowed quarter, rises upon his knees, and continues praying
and prostrating himself for perhaps half an hour. And all this process
is required by the mufti, and performed by every good Mussulman five
times a day! A rigid adherence to it is almost universal among the
Turks. In what an odour of sanctity would a Christian live, who should
make himself thus “familiar with heaven!”

As the muezzin from the minaret was shouting his last “mash-allah!” with
a voice like a man calling out from the clouds, we left the court of the
majestic mosque, with Byron’s reflection:—

        “Alas! man makes that great, which makes him little!”

and, having delivered ourselves of this scrap of poetical philosophy, we
crossed over the square to the opium-eaters.

A long row of half-ruined buildings, of a single story, with porticoes
in front, and the broad, raised platform beneath, on which the Turks sit
cross-legged at public places, is the scene of what was once a
peculiarly oriental spectacle. The mufti has of late years denounced the
use of opium, and the devotees to its sublime intoxication have either
conquered the habit, or what is more probable, indulge it in more secret
places. The shops are partly ruinous, and those that remain in order are
used as cafés, in which, however, it is said that the dangerous drug may
still be procured. My companion inquired of a good-humoured-looking
caféjee whether there was any place at which a confirmed opium-eater
could be seen under its influence. He said there was an old Turk, who
was in the habit of frequenting his shop, and, if we could wait an hour
or two, we might see him in the highest state of intoxication. We had no
time to spare, if the object had been worth our while.

And here, thought I, as we sat down and took a cup of coffee in the
half-ruined café, have descended upon the delirious brains of these
noble drunkards, the visions of Paradise so glowingly described in
books—visions, it is said, as far exceeding the poor invention of the
poet, as the houris of the prophet exceed the fair damsels of this
world. Here men, otherwise in their senses, have believed themselves
emperors, warriors, poets; these wretched walls and bending roof, the
fair proportions of a palace; this gray old caféjee, a Hylas or a
Ganymede. Here men have come to cast off, for an hour, the dull thraldom
of the body; to soar into the glorious world of fancy at a penalty of a
thousand times the proportion of real misery; to sacrifice the
invaluable energies of health, and deliberately poison the very fountain
of life, for a few brief moments of magnificent and phrensied
blessedness. It is powerfully described in the “Opium Eater” of De
Quincy.

At the extremity of this line of buildings, by a natural proximity,
stands the _Timar-hané_. We passed the porter at the gate without
question, and entered a large quadrangle, surrounded with the grated
windows of cells on the ground-floor. In every window was chained a
maniac. The doors of the cells were all open, and, descending by a step
upon the low stone floor of the first, we found ourselves in the
presence of four men chained to rings in the four corners by massy iron
collars. The man in the window sat crouched together, like a person
benumbed (the day was raw and cold as December), the heavy chain of his
collar hanging on his naked breast, and his shoulders imperfectly
covered with a narrow blanket. His eyes were large and fierce, and his
mouth was fixed in an expression of indignant sullenness. My companion
asked him if he were ill. He said he should be well, if he were
out—that he was brought there in a fit of intoxication, two years ago,
and was no more crazy than his keeper. Poor fellow! It might easily be
true! He lifted his heavy collar from his neck as he spoke, and it was
not difficult to believe that misery like his for two long years would,
of itself, destroy reason. There was a better dressed man in the
opposite corner, who informed us, in a gentlemanly voice, that he had
been a captain in the sultan’s army, and was brought there in the
delirium of a fever. He was at a loss to know, he said, why he was
imprisoned still.

We passed on to a poor, half-naked wretch in the last stage of illness
and idiocy, who sat chattering to himself, and, though trembling with
the cold, interrupted his monologue continually with fits of the wildest
laughter. Farther on sat a young man of a face so full of intellectual
beauty, an eye so large and mild, a mouth of such mingled sadness and
sweetness, and a forehead so broad, and marked so nobly, that we stood,
all of us, struck with a simultaneous feeling of pity and surprise. A
countenance more beaming with all that is admirable in human nature, I
have never seen, even in painting. He might have sat to Da Vinci for the
“beloved apostle.” He had tied the heavy chain by a shred to a round of
the grating, to keep its weight from his neck, and seemed calm and
resigned, with all his sadness. My friend spoke to him, but he answered
obscurely, and seeing that our gaze disturbed him, we passed unwillingly
on. Oh what room there is in the world for pity! If that poor prisoner
be not a maniac (as he may not be), and if nature has not falsified in
the structure of his mind the superior impress on his features, what
Prometheus-like agony has he suffered! The guiltiest felon is better
cared for. And, allowing his mind to be a wreck, and allowing the
hundred human minds, in the same cheerless prison, to be certainly in
ruins, oh what have they done to be weighed down with iron on their
necks, and exposed, like caged beasts, shivering and naked, to the eye
of pitiless curiosity? I have visited lunatic asylums in France, Italy,
Sicily, and Germany, but, culpably neglected as most of them are, I have
seen nothing comparable to this in horror.

“Is he never unchained?” we asked. “Never!” And yet from the ring to the
iron collar there was just chain enough to permit him to stand upright!
There were no vessels near them, not even a pitcher of water. Their dens
were cleansed and the poor sufferers fed at appointed hours, and, come
wind or rain, there was neither shutter nor glass to defend them from
the inclemency of the weather.

We entered most of the rooms, and found in all the same dampness, filth,
and misery. One poor wretch had been chained to the same spot for twenty
years. The keeper said he never slept. He talked all the night long.
Sometimes at mid-day his voice would cease, and his head nod for an
instant, and then with a start as if he feared to be silent, he raved on
with the same incoherent rapidity. He had been a dervish. His collar and
chain were bound with rags, and a tattered coat was fastened up on the
inside of the window, forming a small recess in which he sat, between
the room and the grating. He was emaciated to the last degree. His beard
was tangled and filthy, his nails curled over the ends of his fingers,
and his appearance, save only an eye of the keenest lustre, that of a
wild beast.

In the last room we entered, we found a good-looking young man,
well-dressed, healthy, composed, and having every appearance of a person
in the soundest state of mind and body. He saluted us courteously, and
told my friend that he was a renegade Greek. He had turned Mussulman a
year or two ago, had lost his reason, and so was brought here. He talked
of it quite as a thing of course, and seemed to be entirely satisfied
that the best had been done for him. One of the party took hold of his
chain. He winced as the collar stirred on his neck, and said the lock
was on the outside of the window (which was true), and that the boys
came in and tormented him by pulling it sometimes, “There they are,” he
said, pointing to two or three children who had just entered the court,
and were running round from one prisoner to another. We bade him good
morning, and he laid his hand to his breast, and bowed with a smile. As
we passed toward the gate, the chattering lunatic on the opposite side
screamed after us, the old dervish laid his skinny hands on the bars of
his window, and talked louder and faster, and the children, approaching
close to the poor creatures, laughed with delight at their excitement.

It was a relief to escape the common sights and sounds of the city. We
walked on to the Hippodrome. The only remaining beauty of this famous
square is the unrivalled mosque of Sultan Achmet, which, though inferior
in size to the renowned Santa Sophia, is superior in elegance both
within and without. Its six slender and towering minarets are the
handsomest in Constantinople. The wondrous obelisk in the centre of the
square, remains perfect as in the time of the Christian emperors, but
the brazen tripod is gone from the twisted column, and the serpent-like
pillar itself is leaning over with its brazen folds to its fall.

Here stood the barracks of the powerful Janisaries, and from the side of
Sultan Achmet the cannon were levelled upon them, as they rushed from
the conflagration within. And here, when Constantinople was “the second
Rome,” were witnessed the triumphal processions of Christian conquest,
the march of the crusaders, bound for Palestine, and the civil tumults
which Justinian, walking among the people with the Gospel in his hand,
tried in vain to allay ere they burnt the great edifice built of the
ruins of the temple of Solomon. And around this now neglected area, the
captive Gelimer followed in chains the chariot of the conquering
Belisarius, repeating the words of Solomon, “Vanity of vanities! all is
vanity!” while the conqueror himself, throwing aside his crown,
prostrated himself at the feet of the beautiful Theodora, raised from a
Roman actress to be the Christian empress of the East. From any elevated
point of the city, you may still see the ruins of the palace of the
renowned warrior, and read yourself a lesson on human vicissitudes,
remembering the school-book story of “an obolon for Belisarius!”

The Hippodome was, until late years, the constant scene of the games of
the jereed. With the destruction of the Janisaries, and the introduction
of European tactics, this graceful exercise has gone out of fashion. The
East is fast losing its picturesqueness. Dress, habits, character,
everything seems to be undergoing a gradual change, and when, as the
Turks themselves predict, the Moslem is driven into Asia, this splendid
capital will become another Paris, and with the improvements in travel,
a summer in Constantinople will be as little thought of as a tour in
Italy. Politicians in this part of the world predict such a change as
about to arrive.

-----

[15] Irving says, in one of his most exquisite passages—“He who has
sallied forth into the world like poor Slingsby, full of sunny
anticipations, finds too soon how different the distant scene becomes
when visited. The smooth place roughens as he approaches; the wild place
becomes tame and barren; the fairy teints that beguiled him on, still
fly to the distant hill, or gather upon the land he has left behind, and
every part of the landscape is greener than the spot he stands on.” Full
of merit and beautiful expression as this is, I, for one, have not found
it true. Bright as I had imagined the much-sung lands beyond the water,
I have found many a scene in Italy and the East that has more than
answered the craving for beauty in my heart. Val d’Arno, Vallombrosa,
Venice, Terni, Tivoli, Albano, the Isles of Greece, the Bosphorus, and
the matchless valley I have described, have, with a hundred other spots
less famous, far outgone in their exquisite reality, even the brightest
of my anticipations. The passage is not necessarily limited in its
meaning to scenery, however, and of _moral_ disappointment it is
beautifully true. There is many a “poor Slingsby,” the fate of whose
sunny anticipations of life it describes but too faithfully.

[16] Sulymanye was built of the ruins of the church St. Euphemia, at
Chalcedonia.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXXVI.


    Sultan Mahmoud at his Devotions—Comparative Splendour of Papal,
    Austrian, and Turkish Equipages—The Sultan’s Barge or
    Caïque—Description of the Sultan—Visit to a Turkish
    Lancasterian School—The Dancing Dervishes—Visit from the
    Sultan’s Cabinet—The Seraskier and the Capitan Pacha—Humble
    Origin of Turkish Dignitaries.

I had slept on shore, and it was rather late before I remembered that it
was Friday (the Moslem Sunday), and that Sultan Mahmoud was to go in
state to mosque at twelve. I hurried down the precipitous street of
Pera, and, as usual, escaping barely with my life from the
Christian-hating dogs of Tophana, embarked in a caique, and made all
speed up the Bosphorus. There is no word in Turkish for faster, but I
was urging on my caikjees by a wave of the hand and the sight of a
bishlik (about the value of a quarter of a dollar), when suddenly a
broadside was fired from the three-decker, “Mahmoudier,” the largest
ship in the world, and to the rigging of every man-of-war in the fleet
through which I was passing, mounted, simultaneously, hundreds of
blood-red flags, filling the air about us like a shower of tulips and
roses. Imagine twenty ships of war, with yards manned, and scarce a line
in their rigging to be seen for the flaunting of colours! The jar of the
guns, thundering in every direction close over us, almost lifted our
light boat out of the water, and the smoke rendered our pilotage between
the ships and among their extending cables rather doubtful. The white
cloud lifted after a few minutes, and, with, the last gun, down went the
flags altogether, announcing that the “Brother of the Sun” had left his
palace.

He had but crossed to the mosque of the small village on the opposite
side of the Bosphorus, and was already at his prayers when I arrived.
His body-guard was drawn up before the door, in their villainous
European dress, and, as their arms were stacked, I presumed it would be
some time before the sultan reappeared, and I improved the interval in
examining the handja-bashes or state-caïques, lying at the landing. I
have arrived at my present notions of equipage by three degrees. The
pope’s carriages at Rome rather astonished me. The emperor of Austria’s
sleighs diminished the pope in my admiration, and the sultan’s caïques,
in their turn, “pale the fires” of the emperor of Austria. The
handja-bash is built something like the ancient galley, very high at the
prow and stem, carries some fifty oars, and has a roof over her poop,
supported by four columns, and loaded with the most sumptuous ornaments,
the whole gilt brilliantly. The prow is curved over, and wreathed into
every possible device that would not affect the necessary lines of the
model; her crew are dressed in the beautiful costume of the country,
rich and flowing, and with the costly and bright-coloured carpets
hanging over her side, and the flashing of the sun on her ornaments of
gold, she is really the most splendid object of state equipage (if I may
be allowed the misnomer) in the world.

I was still examining the principal barge, when the troops stood to
their arms, and preparation was made for the passing out of the sultan.
Thirty or forty of his highest military officers formed themselves into
two lines from the door of the mosque to the landing, and behind them
were drawn up single files of soldiers. I took advantage of the respect
paid to the rank of Commodore Patterson, and obtained an excellent
position, with him, at the side of the caique. First issued from the
door two Georgian slaves, bearing censers, from which they waved the
smoke on either side, and the sultan immediately followed, supported by
the capitan-pacha, the seraskier, and Haleil Pacha (who is to marry the
Sultana Esmeh). He walked slowly down to the landing, smiling and
talking gaily with the seraskier, and, bowing to the commodore in
passing, stepped into his barge, seated himself on a raised sofa, while
his attendants coiled their legs on the carpet below, and turned his
prow across the Bosphorus.

I have perhaps never set my eyes on a handsomer man than Sultan Mahmoud.
His figure is tall, straight, and manly, his air unembarrassed and
dignified, and his step indicative of the well-known firmness of his
character. A superb beard of jetty blackness, with a curling moustache,
conceals all the lower part of his face; the decided and bold lines of
his mouth just marking themselves when he speaks. It is said he both
paints and dyes his beard, but a manlier brown upon a cheek, or a richer
gloss upon a beard, I never saw. His eye is described by writers as
having a _doomed darkness_ of expression, and it is certainly one that
would well become a chief of bandits—large, steady, and overhung with
an eyebrow like a thunder cloud. He looks the monarch. The child of a
seraglio (where mothers are chosen for beauty alone) could scarce escape
being handsome. The blood of Circassian upon Circassian is in his veins,
and the wonder is, not that he is the handsomest man in his empire, but
that he is not the greatest slave. Our “mother’s humour,” they say,
predominates in our mixtures. Sultan Mahmoud, however, was marked by
nature for a throne.

I accompanied Mr. Goodell and Mr. Dwight, American missionaries at
Constantinople, to visit a Lancasterian school established with their
assistance in the Turkish barracks. The building stands on the ascent of
one of the lovely valleys that open into the Bosphorus, some three miles
from the city, on the European side. We were received by the colonel of
the regiment; a young man of fine appearance, with the diamond crescent
and star glittering on the breast of his military frock, and after the
inevitable compliment of pipes and coffee, the drum was beat and the
soldiers called to school.

The Sultan has an army of boys. Nine-tenths of those I have seen are
under twenty. They marched in, in single file, and facing about, held up
their hands at the word of command, while a subaltern looked that each
had performed the morning ablution. They were healthy-looking lads,
mostly from the interior provinces, whence they are driven down likes
cattle to fill the ranks of their sovereign. Duller-looking subjects for
an idea it has not been my fortune to see.

The Turkish alphabet hung over the teacher’s desk (the colonel is the
schoolmaster, and takes the greatest interest in his occupation), and
the front seats are faced with a long box covered with sand, in which
the beginners write with their fingers. It is fitted with a slide that
erases the clumsy imitation when completed, and seemed to me an
ingenious economy of ink and paper. (I would suggest to the mind of the
benevolent, a school on the same principle for beginners in poetry. It
would save the critics much murder, and tend to the suppression of
suicide.) The classes having filed into their seats, the school opened
with a prayer by the colonel. The higher benches then commenced writing,
on slates and paper, sentences dictated from the desk, and I was
somewhat surprised at the neatness and beauty of the characters.

We passed afterward into another room where arithmetic and geography
were taught, and then mounted to an apartment on the second story
occupied by students in military drawing. The proficiency of all was
most creditable, considering the brief period during which the schools
have been in operation—something less than a year. Prejudiced as the
Turks are against European innovation, this advanced step towards
improvement tells well. Our estimable and useful missionaries appear,
from the respect everywhere shown them, to be in high esteem, and with
the Sultan’s energetic disposition for reform, they hope everything in
the way of an enlightened change in the moral condition of the people.

                 *        *        *        *        *

We went to the chapel of the dancing dervishes. It is a beautiful marble
building, with a court-yard ornamented with a small cemetery shaded with
cypresses, and a fountain enclosed in a handsome edifice, and defended
by gilt gratings from the street of the suburb of Pera, in which it
stands. They dance here twice a week. We arrived before the hour, and
were detained at the door by a soldier on guard, who would not permit us
to enter without taking off our boots—a matter about which, between
straps and their very muddy condition, we had some debate. The dervishes
began to arrive before the question was settled, and one of them, a
fine-looking old man, inviting us to enter, Mr. H. explained the
difficulty. “Go in,” said he, “go in!” and turning to the more
scrupulous Mussulman with the musket, as he pushed us within the door,
“Stupid fellow!” said he, “if you had been less obstinate, they would
have given you a _bakshish_” (Turkish for a _fee_). He should have said
less _religious_—for the poor fellow looked horror-struck as our dirty
boots profaned the clean white Persian matting of the sacred floor. One
would think “the nearer the church the farther from God,” were as true
here as it is said to be in some more civilised countries.

It was a pretty, octagonal interior, with a gallery, the _mihrab_ or
niche indicating the direction of the prophet’s tomb, standing obliquely
from the front of the building. Hundreds of small lamps hung in the
area, just out of the reach of the dervishes’ tall caps, and all around
between the gallery; a part of the floor was raised, matted, and divided
from the body of the church by a balustrade. It would have made an
exceedingly pretty ball-room.

None but the dervishes entered within the paling, and they soon began to
enter, each advancing first toward the mihrab, and going through fifteen
or twenty minutes’ prostrations and prayers. Their dress is very humble.
A high, white felt cap, without a rim, like a sugar-loaf enlarged a
little at the smaller end, protects the head, and a long dress of
dirt-coloured cloth, reaching quite to the heels and bound at the waist
with a girdle, completes the costume. They look like men who have made
up their minds to _seem_ religious, and though said to be a set of very
good fellows, they have a Mawworm expression of face generally, which
was very repulsive. I must except the chief of the sect, however, who
entered when all the rest had seated themselves on the floor, and after
a brief genuflexion or two took possession of a rich Angora carpet
placed for him near the mihrab. He was a small old man, distinguished in
his dress only by the addition of a green band to his cap (the sign of
his pilgrimage to Mecca) and the entire absence of the sanctimonious
look. Still he was serious, and there was no mark in his clear,
intelligent eye and amiable features, of any hesitancy or want of
sincerity in his devotion. He is said to be a learned man, and he is
certainly a very prepossessing one, though he would be taken up as a
beggar in any city in the United States. It is a thing one learns in
“dangling about the world,” by the way, to form opinions of men quite
independently of their dress.

After sitting a while in quaker meditation, the brotherhood rose one by
one (there were ten of them I think), and marched round the room with
their toes turned in, to the music of a drum and a Persian flute, played
invisibly in some part of the gallery. As they passed the carpet of the
cross-legged chief, they twisted dexterously and made three salaams, and
then raising their arms, which they held out straight during the whole
dance, they commenced twirling on one foot, using the other after the
manner of a paddle to keep up the motion. I forgot to mention that they
laid aside their outer dresses before commencing the dance. They
remained in dirty white tunics reaching to the floor, and very full at
the bottom, so that with the regular motion of their whirl, the wind
blew them out into a circle, like what the girls in our country call
“making cheeses.” They twisted with surprising exactness and rapidity,
keeping clear of each other, and maintaining their places with the
regularity of machines. I have seen a great deal of waltzing, but I
think the dancing dervishes for precision and spirit, might give a
lesson even to the Germans.

We left them twisting. They had been going for half an hour, and it
began to look very like perpetual motion. Unless their brains are
addled, their devotion, during this dizzy performance at least, must be
quite suspended. A man who could think of his Maker, while revolving so
fast that his nose is indistinct, must have some power of abstraction.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The frigate was visited to-day by the sultan’s cabinet. The _seraskier
pacha_ came alongside first, in his state caique, and embraced the
commodore as he stepped upon the deck, with great cordiality. He is a
short, fat old man, with a snow-white beard, and so bow-legged as to be
quite deformed. He wore the red Fez cap of the army, with a long blue
frock-coat, the collar so tight as nearly to choke him, and the body not
shaped to the figure, but made to fall around him like a sack. The red,
bloated skin of his neck fell over, so as to almost cover the gold with
which the collar was embroidered. He was formerly capitan pacha, or
admiral-in-chief of the fleet, and though a good-humoured, merry-looking
old man, has shown himself, both in his former and present capacity, to
be wily, cold, and a butcher in cruelty. He possesses unlimited
influence over the sultan, and though nominally subordinate to the grand
vizier, is really the second if not the first person in the empire. He
was originally a Georgian slave.

The seraskier was still talking with the commodore in the gangway, when
the present capitan pacha mounted the ladder, and the old man, who is
understood to be at feud with his successor, turned abruptly away and
walked aft. The capitan pacha is a tall, slender man, of precisely that
look and manner which we call gentlemanly. His beard grows untrimmed in
the Turkish fashion, and is slightly touched with gray. His eye is
anxious, but resolute, and he looks like a man of resource and ability.
His history is as singular as that of most other great men in Turkey. He
was a slave of Mohammed Ali, the rebellious Pacha of Egypt. Being
intrusted by his master with a brig and cargo for Leghorn, he sold the
vessel and lading, lived like a gentleman in Italy for some years with
the proceeds, and as the best security against the retribution of his
old master, offered his services to the sultan, with whom Ali was just
commencing hostilities. Naval talent was in request, and he soon arrived
at his present dignity. He is said to be the only officer in the fleet
who knows anything of his profession.

Haleil Pacha arrived last. The sultan’s future son-in-law is a man of
perhaps thirty-five. He is light-complexioned, stout, round-faced, and
looks like a respectable grocer, “well to do in the world.” He has
commanded the artillery long enough to have acquired a certain air of
ease and command, and carries the promise of good fortune in his
confident features. He is to be married almost immediately. He, too, was
a Georgian, sent as a present to the sultan.

The three dignitaries made the rounds of the ship and then entered the
cabin, where the pianoforte (a novelty to the seraskier and Haleil
Pacha, and to most of the attendant officers), and the commodore’s
agreeable society and champagne, promised to detain them the remainder
of the day. They were like children with a holiday. I was engaged to
dine on shore, and left them aboard.

In a country where there is no education and no rank, except in the
possession of present power, it is not surprising that men should rise
from the lowest class to the highest offices, or that they should fill
those offices to the satisfaction of the sultan. Yet it is curious to
hear their histories. An English physician, who is frequently called
into the seraglio, and whose practice among all the families in power
gives him the best means of information, has entertained me not a little
with these secrets. I shall make use of them when I have more leisure,
merely mentioning here, in connexion with the above accounts, that the
present grand vizier was a boatman on the Bosphorus, and the commander
of the sultan’s body-guard, a shoemaker. The latter still employs all
his leisure in making slippers, which he presents to the sultan and his
friends, not at all ashamed of his former vocation. So far, indeed, are
any of these mushroom officers from blushing at their origin, that it is
common to prefix the name of their profession to the title of pacha, and
they are addressed by it as a proper name. This is one respect in which
their European education will refine them to their disadvantage.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXXVII.


    The Grand Bazaar of Constantinople, and its infinite Variety of
    Wonders—Silent Shopkeepers—Female Curiosity—Adventure with a
    Black-eyed Stranger—The Bezestein—The Stronghold of
    Orientalism—Picture of a Dragoman—The Kibaub-Shop—A Dinner
    without Knives, Forks, or Chairs—Cistern of the Thousand and
    One Columns.

Bring all the shops of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, around the
City Hall, remove their fronts, pile up all their goods on shelves
facing the street, cover the whole with a roof, and metamorphose your
trim clerks into bearded, turbaned, and solemn old Mussulmans, smooth
Jews, and calpacked and rosy Armenians, and you will have something like
the grand bazaar of Constantinople. You can scarcely get an idea of it,
without having been there. It is a city under cover. You walk all day,
and day after day, from one street to another, winding and turning, and
trudging up hill and down, and never go out of doors. The roof is as
high as those of our three-story houses, and the dim light, so
favourable to shop-keepers, comes struggling down through skylights,
never cleaned except by the rains of heaven.

Strolling through the bazaar is an endless amusement. It is slow work,
for the streets are as crowded as a church-aisle after service; and,
pushed aside one moment by a bevy of Turkish ladies, shuffling along in
their yellow slippers, muffled to the eyes, the next by a fat slave
carrying a child, again by a _kervas_ armed to the teeth, and clearing
the way for some coming dignitary, you find your only policy is to draw
in your elbows, and suffer the motley crowd to shove you about at their
pleasure.

Each shop in this world of traffic may be two yards wide. The owner sits
cross-legged on the broad counter below, the height of a chair from the
ground, and hands you all you want without stirring from his seat. One
broad bench counter runs the length of the street, and the different
shops are only divided by the slight partition of the shelves. The
purchaser seats himself on the counter, to be out of the way of the
crowd, and the shopman spreads out his goods on his knees, never
condescending to open his lips except to tell you the price. If he
exclaims “bono,” or “calo,” (the only words a real Turk ever knows of
another language), he is stared at by his neighbours as a man would be
in Broadway who should break out with an Italian bravura. Ten to one,
while you are examining his goods, the bearded trader creeps through the
hole leading to his kennel of a dormitory in the rear, washes himself,
and returns to his counter, where, spreading his sacred carpet in the
direction of Mecca, he goes through his prayers and prostrations,
perfectly unconscious of your presence, or that of the passing crowd. No
vocation interferes with his religious duty. Five times a day, if he
were running from the plague, the Mussulman would find time for prayers.

The Frank purchaser attracts a great deal of curiosity. As he points to
an embroidered handkerchief, or a rich shawl, or a pair of gold-worked
slippers, Turkish ladies of the first rank, gathering their _yashmacks_
securely over their faces, stop close to his side, not minding if they
push him a little to get nearer the desired article. Feeling not the
least timidity, except for their faces, these true children of Eve
examine the goods in barter, watch the stranger’s countenance, and if he
takes off his glove, or pulls out his purse, take it up and look at it,
without even saying “by your leave.” Their curiosity often extends to
your dress, and they put out their little henna-stained fingers and pass
them over the sleeve of your coat with a gurgling expression of
admiration at its fineness, or if you have rings or a watch-guard, they
lift your hand or pull out your watch with no kind of scruple, I have
met with several instances of this in the course of my rambles. But a
day or two ago I found myself rather more than usual a subject of
curiosity. I was alone in the street of embroidered handkerchiefs (every
minute article has its peculiar bazaar), and wishing to look at some of
uncommon beauty, I called one of the many Jews always near a stranger to
turn a penny by interpreting for him, and was soon up to the elbows in
goods that would tempt a female angel out of Paradise. As I was
selecting one for a purchase, a woman plumped down on the seat beside
me, and fixed her great, black, unwinking eyes upon my face, while an
Abyssinian slave and another white woman, both apparently her
dependents, stood respectfully at her back. A small turquoise ring (the
favourite colour in Turkey), first attracted her attention. She took up
my hand in her soft, fat fingers, and dropped it again without saying a
word. I looked at my interpreter, but he seemed to think it nothing
extraordinary, and I went on with my bargain. Presently my fine-eyed
friend pulled me by the sleeve, and as I leaned toward her, rubbed her
forefinger very quickly over my cheek, looking at me intently all the
while. I was a little disturbed with the lady’s familiarity, and asked
my Jew what she wanted. I found that my rubicund complexion was
something uncommon among these dark-skinned orientals, and she wished to
satisfy herself that I was not painted! I concluded my purchase, and
putting the parcel into my pocket, did my prettiest at an oriental
salaam, but to my mortification, the lady only gathered up her
_yashmack_, and looked surprised out of her great eyes at my freedom. My
Constantinople friends inform me that I am to lay no “unction to my
soul” from her notice, such liberties being not at all particular. The
husband exacts from his half-dozen wives only the concealment of their
faces, and they have no other idea of impropriety in public.

In the centre of the bazaar, occupying about as much space as the body
of the City Hall in New York, is what is called the _bezestein_. You
descend into it from four directions by massive gates which are shut,
and all persons excluded, except between seven and twelve of the
forenoon. This is the core of Constantinople—the soul and citadel of
orientalism. It is devoted to the sale of arms and to costly articles
only. The roof is loftier, and the light more dim than on the outer
bazaars, and the merchants who occupy its stalls are old and of
established credit. Here are subjects for the pencil! If you can take
your eye from those Damascus sabres, with their jewelled hilts and
costly scabbards, or from those gemmed daggers and guns inlaid with
silver and gold, cast a glance along that dim avenue and see what a
range there is of glorious old grey beards, with their snowy turbans!
These are the Turks of the old _régime_, before Sultan Mahmoud
disfigured himself with a coat like a “dog of a Christian,” and broke in
upon the customs of the Orients. These are your opium-eaters, who smoke
even in their sleep, and would not touch wine if it were handed to them
by houris! These are your fatalists, who would scarce take the trouble
to get out of the way of a lion, and who are as certain of the miracle
of Mohammed’s coffin as of the length of the pipe, or of the quality of
the tobacco of Shiraz!

I have spent many an hour in the bezestein, steeping my fancy in its
rich orientalism, and sometimes trying to make a purchase for myself or
others. It is curious to see with what perfect indifference these old
cross-legs attend to the wishes of a Christian. I was idling round one
day with an English traveller, whom I had known in Italy, when a Persian
robe of singular beauty hanging on one of the stalls arrested my
companion’s attention. He had with him his Turkish dragoman, and as the
old merchant was smoking away and looking right at us, we pointed to the
dress over his head, and the interpreter asked to see it. The Mussulman
smoked calmly on, taking no more notice of us than of the white clouds
curling through his beard. He might have sat for Michael Angelo’s Moses.
Thin, pale, calm, and of a statue-like repose of countenance and
posture, with a large old-fashioned turban, and a curling beard half
mingled with grey, his neck bare, and his fine bust enveloped in the
flowing and bright coloured drapery of the East—I had never seen a more
majestic figure. He evidently did not wish to have anything to do with
us. At last I took out my snuff-box, and addressing him with “effendi!”
the Turkish title of courtesy, laid my hand on my breast and offered him
a pinch. Tobacco in this unaccustomed shape is a luxury here, and the
amber mouth-piece emerged from his moustache, and putting his three
fingers into my box, he said “_pekkhe!_” the Turkish ejaculation of
approval. He then made room for us on his carpet, and with a cloth
measure took the robe from its nail, and spread it before us. My friend
bought it unhesitatingly for a dressing-gown, and we spent an hour in
looking at shawls, of prices perfectly startling, arms, chalices for
incense, spotless amber for pipes, pearls, bracelets of the time of
Sultan Selim, and an endless variety of things “rich and rare.” The
closing of the bezestein gates interrupted our agreeable employment, and
our old friend gave us the parting salaam very cordially for a Turk. I
have been there frequently since, and never pass without offering my
snuff-box, and taking a whiff or two from his pipe, which I cannot
refuse, though it is not out of his mouth, except when offered to a
friend, from sunrise to midnight.

                 *        *        *        *        *

One of the regular “lions” of Constantinople is a _kibaub shop_, or
Turkish restaurant. In a ramble with our consul, the other day, in
search of the newly-discovered cistern of a “thousand and one columns,”
we found ourselves, at the hungry hour of twelve, opposite a famous shop
near the slave-market. I was rather staggered at the first glance. A
greasy fellow, with his shirt rolled to his shoulders, stood near the
door, commending his shop to the world by slapping on the flank a whole
mutton that hung beside him, while, as a customer came in, he
dexterously whipped out a slice, had it cut in a twinkling into bits as
large as a piece of chalk (I have stopped five minutes in vain, to find
a better comparison), strung upon a long iron skewer, and laid on the
coals. My friend is an old Constantinopolitan, and had eaten kibaubs
before. He entered without hesitation, and the adroit butcher, giving
his big trowsers a fresh hitch, and tightening his girdle, made a new
cut for his “narrow-legged” customers, and wished us a good appetite
(the Turks look with great contempt on our tight pantaloons, and
distinguish us by this epithet). We got up on the platform, crossed our
legs under us as well as we could, and I cannot deny that the savoury
missives that occasionally reached my nostrils, bred a gradual
reconciliation between my stomach and my eyes.

In some five minutes, a tin platter was set between us, loaded with
piping hot kibaubs, sprinkled with salad, and mixed with bits of bread;
our friend the cook, by way of making the amiable, stirring it up well
with his fingers as he brought it along. As Modely says in the play, “In
love or mutton, I generally fall to without ceremony,” but, spite of its
agreeable flavour, I shut my eyes, and selected a very small bit, before
I commenced upon the kibaubs. It was very good eating, I soon found out,
and, my fingers once greased (for we are indulged with neither knife,
fork, nor skewer, in Turkey), I proved myself as good a trencherman as
my friend.

The middle and lower classes of Constantinople live between these shops
and the cafés. A dish of kibaubs serves them for dinner, and they drink
coffee, which they get for about half a cent a cup, from morning till
night. We paid for our mess (which was more than any two men could eat
at once, unless _very_ hungry), twelve cents.

We started again with fresh courage, in search of the cistern. We soon
found the old one, which is an immense excavation, with a roof,
supported by five hundred granite columns, employed now as a place for
twisting silk, and escaping from its clamorous denizens, who rushed up
after us to the daylight, begging _paras_, we took one of the boys for a
guide, and soon found the object of our search.

Knocking at the door of a half-ruined house, in one of the loneliest
streets of the city, an old, sore-eyed Armenian, with shabby calpack,
and every mark of extreme poverty, admitted us, pettishly demanding our
entrance money, before he let us pass the threshold. Flights of steps,
dangerously ruinous, led us down, first into a garden, far below the
level of the street, and thence into a dark and damp cavern, the bottom
of which was covered with water. As the eye became accustomed to the
darkness, we could distinguish tall and beautiful columns of marble and
granite, with superb Corinthian capitals, perhaps thirty feet in height,
receding as far as the limits of our obscured sight. The old man said
there were a thousand of them. The number was doubtless exaggerated, but
we saw enough to convince us, that here was covered up, almost unknown,
one of the most costly and magnificent works of the Christian emperors
of Constantinople.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                            LETTER XXXVIII.


    Belgrade—The Cottage of Lady Montagu—Turkish
    Cemeteries—Natural Taste of the Moslems for the Picturesque—A
    Turkish Carriage—Washerwomen Surprised—Gigantic Forest
    Trees—The Reservoir—Return to Constantinople.

I left Constantinople on horseback with a party of officers, and two
American travellers in the East, early on one of nature’s holiday
mornings, for Belgrade. We loitered a moment in the small Armenian
cemetery, the only suburb that separates the thickly crowded street from
the barren heath that stretches away from the city on every side to the
edge of the horizon. It is singular to gallop thus from the crowded
pavement, at once into an uncultivated and unfenced desert. We are so
accustomed to suburban gardens that the traveller wonders how the
markets of this overgrown and immense capital are supplied. A glance
back upon the Bosphorus, and toward the Asian shore, and the islands of
the sea of Marmora, explains the secret. The waters in every direction
around this sea-girdled city are alive with boats, from the larger
_kachambas_ and _sandals_ to the egg-shell caique, swarming into the
Golden Horn in countless numbers, laden with every vegetable of the
productive East. It is said, however, that it is dangerous to thrive too
near the eye of the sultan. The summary mode for rewarding favourites
and providing for the residence of ambassadors, by the simple
confiscation of the prettiest estate desirably situated, is thought to
have something to do with the barrenness of the immediate neighbourhood.

The Turks carry their contempt of the Christian even beyond the grave.
The funereal cypress, so singularly beautiful in its native East, is
permitted to throw its dark shadows only upon turbaned tombstones. The
Armenian _rayah_, the oppressed Greek, and the more hated Jew, slumber
in their unprotected graves on the open heath. It almost reconciles one
to the haughtiness and cruelty of the Turkish character, however, to
stand on one of the “seven hills” of Stamboul, and look around upon
their own beautiful cemeteries. On every sloping hill-side, in every
rural nook, in the court of the splendid mosque, stands a dark
necropolis, a small city of the dead, shadowed so thickly by the close
growing cypresses, that the light of heaven penetrates but dimly. You
can have no conception of the beauty it adds to the landscape. And then
from the bosom of each, a slender minaret shoots into the sky as if
pointing out the flight of the departed spirit, and if you enter within
its religious darkness, you find a taste and elegance unknown in more
civilised countries; the humblest headstone lettered with gold, and the
more costly sculptured into forms the most sumptuous, and fenced and
planted with flowers never neglected.

In the East, the grave-yard is not, as with us, a place abandoned to its
dead. Occupying a spot of chosen loveliness, it is resorted to by women
and children, and on holidays by men, whose indolent natures find
happiness enough in sitting on the green bank around the resting-place
of their relatives and friends. Here, while their children are playing
around them, they smoke in motionless silence, watching the gay
Bosphorus or the busier curve of the Golden Horn, one of which is
visible from every cemetery in the Stamboul. Occasionally you see large
parties of twenty or thirty, sitting together, their slight feast of
sweetmeats and sherbet spread in some grassy nook, and the surrounding
head-stones serving as leaning-places for the women, or bounds for the
infant gambols of the gaily-dressed little Mussulmans.

Whatever else we may deny the Turk, we must allow him to possess a
genuine love for rural beauty. The cemeteries we have described, the
choice of his dwelling on the Bosphorus, and his habit of resorting,
whenever he has leisure, to some lovely scene to sit the livelong day in
the sunshine, are proof enough. And then all over the hills, both in
Anatolia and Roumelia, wherever there is a finer view or greener spot
than elsewhere, you find the small _sairgah_, the grassy platform on
which he spreads his carpet, and you may look in vain for a spot better
selected for his purpose.

Things are sooner seen than described (I wish it were as agreeable to
describe as to see them!) and all this digression, and much more which I
spare the reader, is the fruit of five minutes’ reflection while the
suridjee tightens his girths in the Armenian burying-ground. The
turbaned Turk once more in his saddle, then we will canter on some three
miles, if you please, over as naked a heath as the sun looks upon, to
the “Valley of Sweet Waters.” I have described this, I think, before. We
five to learn, and my intelligent friend tells me, as we draw rein, and
wind carefully down the steep descent, that the site of the Sultan’s
romantic serai, in the bosom of the valley, was once occupied by the
first printing-press established in Turkey—the fruit of an embassy to
the Court of Louis the Fifteenth, by Mehemet Effendi, in the reign of
Achmet the Third. And thus having delivered myself of a fact, a thing
for which I have a natural antipathy in writing, let us gallop up the
velvet brink of the Barbyses.

We had kept our small Turkish horses to their speed for a mile, with the
enraged suridjee crying after us at the top of his voice, “Ya-wash!
ya-wash!” (slowly, slowly!) when, at a bend of the valley, right through
the midst of its velvet verdure, came rolling along an _aruba_, loaded
with ladies. This pretty word signifies in Turkish a carriage, and the
thing itself reminds you directly of the fantastic vehicles in which
fairy queens come upon the stage. First appear two grey oxen, with their
tails tied to a hoop bent back from the bend of the pole, their heads
and horns and the long curve of the hoop decked with red and yellow
tassels so profusely, that it looks at a distance like a walking clump
of hollyhocks. As you pass the poor oxen (almost lifted off their hind
legs by the straining of the hoop upon their tails), a four-wheeled
vehicle makes its appearance, the body and wheels carved elaborately and
gilt all over, and the crimson cover rolled up just so far as to show a
cluster of veiled women, cross-legged upon cushions within, and riding
_in perfect silence_.[17] A eunuch or a _very_ old Turk walks at the
side, and thus the Moslem ladies “take kaif,” as it is called—in other
words _go a pleasuring_. But a prettier sight than this gay affair
rolling noiselessly over the pathless greensward of the Valley of Sweet
Waters, you may not see in a year’s travel.

A beautiful Englishwoman, mounted (if I may dare to write it) on a
_more_ beautiful Arabian, came flying toward us as we approached the
head of the valley, the long feathers in her riding cap all but brushing
our admiring eyes out as she passed, and other living thing met we none
till we drew up in the edge of the forest of Belgrade. A half hour
brought us to a bold descent, and through the openings in the wood we
caught a glimpse of the celebrated retreat of Lady Montagu, a village,
tossed into the lap of as bright a dell as the sun looks upon in his
journey. A lively brook, that curls about in the grass like a silver
flower worked into the green carpet, overcomes at last its unwillingness
to depart, and vanishes from the fair scene under a clump of willows;
and, as if it knew it was sitting for its picture, there must needs be a
group of girls with their trowsers tucked up to the knee, washing away
so busily in the brook, that they did not see that half a dozen Frank
horsemen were upon them, and their forgotten yashmacks all fallen about
their shoulders!

We dismounted, and finding (what I never saw before) a _red_-headed
Frenchman, walking about in his slippers, we inquired for the house of
Lady Montagu. He had never heard of her! A cottage, a little separated
from the village, untenanted, and looking as if it should be hers, stood
on a swell of the valley, and we found by the scrawled names and
effusions of travellers upon the gates, that we were not mistaken in
selecting it for the shrine of our sentiment.

I am sorry to be obliged to add, that in the romantic forest of
Belgrade, we listened to the calls of mortal hunger. With some very sour
wine, however, we did drink to the memory of Lady Mary and the “fair
Fatima,” washing down with the same draught as brown bread as ever I
saw, and some very indifferent filberts.

We mounted once more, and followed our silent guide across the brook,
politely taking it below the spot where our naiads of the stream were
washing, and following its slender valley for a mile, arrived at one of
the gigantic bendts, for which the place is famous. To give romance its
proper precedence over reality, however, I must first mention, that on
the soft bank of the artificial lake, which I shall presently describe,
Constantine Ghika, disguised as a shepherd, stole an interview with the
fair Veronica, and in the wild forest to the right, they wandered till
they lost their way; an adventure of which they only regretted the
sequel, finding it again! If you have not read “The Armenians,” this
pretty turn in my travels is thrown away upon you.

The valley of Belgrade widens and rounds into a lake-shaped hollow just
here, and across it, to form a reservoir for the supply of the city by
the aqueducts of Valens and Justinian, is built a gigantic marble wall.
There is no water just now, which, for a lake, is rather a deficiency;
but the vast white wall only stands up against the sky, bolder and more
towering, and coming suddenly upon it in that lonely place, you might
take it, if the “fine phrensy” were on you, for the barrier of some
enchanted demesne.

We passed on into the forest, winding after an almost invisible path, up
hill and down dale, till we came to the second bendt. This, and the
third, which is near by, are larger and of more ornamental architecture
than the first, and the forest around them is one in which, if he turned
his back on the lofty walls, a wild Indian would feel himself at home. I
have not seen such trees since I left America; clear of all underwood,
and the long vistas broken only by the trunk of some noble oak, fallen
aslant, it has for miles the air of a grand old wilderness, unprofaned
by axe or fire. In the midst of such scenery as this, to ride up to the
majestic bendt, faced with a front like a temple, and crowned by a
marble balustrade, with a salient and raised crescent in the centre,
like a throne for some monarch of the forest, it must be a more staid
imagination than mine that would not feel a touch of the knight of La
Mancha, and spur up to find a gate, and a bugle to blow a blast for the
warder! It is just the looking place I imagined for an enchanted castle,
when reading my first romances.

Farther on in the forest we found several circular structures, like
baths, sunk in the earth, with flights of steps winding to the bottom,
but with the same gigantic trees growing at their very rim, and nothing
near them to show the purpose of their costly masonry. We stopped to
form a conjecture or two with the aid of the _genus loci_; but the surly
suridjee, probably at a loss to comprehend the object of looking into a
hole full of dead leaves, chose to put his horse to a gallop; and having
no Veronica to make a romance of a lost path, we left our conjectures to
gallop after.

We reached the waste plains above the city at sunset, and turned a
little out of our way to enter through the Turkish cemetery (poetically
called by Mr. MacFarlane “death’s coronal”), on the summit and sides of
the hill behind Pera. Broad daylight, as it was still without, it was
deep twilight among its thick-planted cypresses; and our horses,
starting at the tall, white tombstones, hurried through its damp hollows
and emerged on a brow overlooking the bright and crowded Bosphorus,
bathed at the moment in a flood of sunset glory. I said again, as I
reined in my horse and gazed down upon those lovely waters, there is no
such scene of beauty in the world! And again I say, “poor Slingsby”
never was here!

-----

[17] Whether the difficulty of talking through the _yashmack_, which is
drawn tight over the mouth and nose, may account for it, or whether they
have another race of the sex in the East, I am not prepared to say, but
Turkish women are remarkable for their taciturnity.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XXXIX.


    Scutari—Tomb of the Sultana Valide—Mosque of the Howling
    Dervishes—A Clerical Shoemaker—Visit to a Turkish
    Cemetery—Bird’s-Eye View of Stamboul and its
    Environs—Seraglio-Point—The Seven Towers.

Pulled over to Scutari in a caique, for a day’s ramble. The Chrysopolis,
the “golden city” of the ancients, forms the Asian side of the bay, and
though reckoned, generally, as a part of Constantinople, is in itself a
large and populous capital. It is built on a hill, very bold upon the
side washed by the sea of Marmora, but leaning toward the seraglio, on
the opposite shore, with the grace of a lady (Asia) bowing to her
partner (Europe). You will find the simile very beautifully elaborated
in the first chapter of “The Armenians.”

We strolled through the bazaar awhile, meeting, occasionally, a caravan
of tired and dusty merchants, coming in from Asia, some with Syrian
horses, and some with dusky Nubian slaves, following barefoot, in their
blankets; and, emerging from the crowded street upon a square, we
stopped a moment to look at the cemetery and gilded fountains of a noble
mosque. Close to the street, defended by a railing of gilt iron, and
planted about closely with cypresses, stands a small temple of airy
architecture, supported on four slender columns, and enclosed by a net
of gilt wire, forming a spacious aviary. Within sleeps the Sultana
Valide. Her costly monument, elaborately inscribed in red and gold,
occupies the area of this poetical sepulchre; small, sweet-scented
shrubs half bury it in their rich flowers, and birds of the gayest
plumage flutter and sing above her in their beautiful prison. If the
soul of the departed Sultana is still susceptible of sentiment, she must
look down with some complacency upon the disposition of her “mortal
coil.” I have not seen so fanciful a grave in my travels.

We ascended the hill to the mosque of the Howling Dervishes. It stands
in the edge of the great cemetery of Scutari, the favourite burial-place
of the Turks. The self-torturing worship of this singular class of
devotees takes place only on a certain day of the week, and we found the
gates closed. A small café stood opposite, sheltered by large
plane-trees, and on a bench at the door sat a dervish, employed in the
unclerical vocation of mending slippers. Calling for a cup of the
fragrant Turkish coffee, we seated ourselves on the matted bench beside
him, and, entering into conversation, my friend and he were soon upon
the most courteous terms. He laid down his last, and accepted a
proffered narghilé, and, between the heavily-drawn puff’s of the
bubbling vase, gave us some information respecting his order, of which
the peculiarity that most struck me was a law compelling them to follow
some secular profession. In this point, at least, they are more
apostolic than the clergy of Christendom. Whatever may be the dervish’s
excellence as a “mender of souls,” thought I, as I took up the last, and
looked at the stitching of the bright new patch, (may I get well out of
this sentence without a pun!) I doubt whether there is a divine within
the Christian pale who could turn out so pretty a piece of work in any
corresponding calling. Our coffee drunk and our chibouques smoked to
ashes, we took leave of our papoosh-mending friend, who laid his hand on
his breast, and said, with the expressive phraseology of the East, “You
shall be welcome again.”

We entered the gloomy shadow of the vast cemetery, and found its cool
and damp air a grateful exchange for the sunshine. The author of
“Anastasius” gives a very graphic description of this place, throwing in
some horrors, however, for which he is indebted to his admirable
imagination. I never was in a more agreeable place for a
summer-morning’s lounge, and, as I sat down on a turbaned headstone,
near the tomb of Mohammed the Second’s horse, and indulged in a train of
reflections arising from the superior distinction of the brute’s ashes
over those of his master, I could remember no place, except Plato’s
Academy at Athens, where I had mused so absolutely at my ease.

We strolled on. A slender and elegantly-carved slab, capped with a small
turban, fretted and gilt, arrested my attention. “It is the tomb,” said
my companion, “of one of the ichoglans or sultan’s pages. The peculiar
turban is distinctive of his rank, and the inscription says, he died at
eighteen, after having seen enough of the world! Similar sentiments are
to be found on almost every stone. Close by stood the ambitious cenotaph
of a former pacha of Widin, with a swollen turban, crossed with folds of
gold, and a footstone painted and carved, only less gorgeously than the
other; and under his name and titles was written, “I enjoyed not the
world.” Farther on, we stopped at the black-banded turban of a cadi, and
read again, underneath, “I took no pleasure in this evil world.” You
would think the Turks a philosophising people, judging by these
posthumous declarations; but one need not travel to learn that
tombstones are sad liars.

The cemetery of Scutari covers as much ground as a city. Its black
cypress pall spreads away over hill and dale, and terminates, at last,
on a long point projecting into Marmora, as if it would pour into the
sea the dead it could no longer cover. From the Armenian village,
immediately above, it forms a dark, and not unpicturesque foreground to
a brilliant picture of the gulf of Nicomedia and the clustering Princes’
Islands. With the economy of room which the Turks practise in their
burying-grounds, laying the dead, literally, side by side, and the
immense extent of this forest of cypresses, it is probable that on no
one spot on the earth are so many of the human race gathered together.

We wandered about among the tombs till we began to desire to see the
cheerful light of day, and crossing toward the height of Bulgurlu,
commenced its ascent, with the design of descending by the other side to
the Bosphorus, and returning, by caique, to the city. Walking leisurely
on between fields of the brightest cultivation, we passed, half way up,
a small and rural serai, the summer residence of Esmeh Sultana, the
younger sister of the sultan, and soon after stood, well breathed, on
the lofty summit of Bulgurlu. The constantly-occurring sairgahs, or
small grass platforms, for spreading the carpet and “taking kaif,” show
how well the Turks appreciate the advantages of a position commanding,
perhaps, views unparalleled in the world for their extraordinary beauty.
But let us take breath and look around us.

We stood some three miles back from the Bosphorus, perhaps a thousand
feet above its level. There lay Constantinople! The “temptation of
Satan” could not have been more sublime. It seemed as if all the
“kingdoms of the earth” were swept confusedly to the borders of the two
continents. From Seraglio Point, seven miles down the coast of Roumelia,
the eye followed a continued wall; and from the same point, twenty miles
up the Bosphorus, on either shore, stretched one crowded and unbroken
city! The star-shaped bay in the midst, crowded with flying boats; the
Golden Horn sweeping out from behind the hills, and pouring through the
city like a broad river, studded with ships; and, in the palace-lined
and hill-sheltered Bosphorus, the sultan’s fleet at anchor, the lofty
men-of-war flaunting their blood-red flags, and thrusting their tapering
spars almost into the balconies of the fairy dwellings, and among the
bright foliage of the terraced gardens above them. Could a scene be more
strangely and beautifully mingled?

But sit down upon this silky grass, and let us listen to my polyglot
friend, while he explains the details of the panorama.

First, clear over the sea of Marmora, you observe a snow-white cloud
resting on the edge of the horizon. That is Olympus. Within sight of his
snowy summit, and along toward the extremity of this long line of
eastern hills, lie Bithynia, Phrygia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the
whole scene of the apostles’ travels in Asia Minor; and just at his
feet, if you will condescend to be modern, lies Brusa, famous for its
silks, and one of the most populous and thriving of the sultan’s cities.
Returning over Marmora by the Princes’ Islands, at the western extremity
of Constantinople, stands the Fortress of the Seven Towers, where fell
the Emperor Constantine Palæologus, where Othman the Second was
strangled, where refractory ambassadors are left to come to their senses
and the sultan’s terms, and where, in short, that “zealous public
butcher,” the seraskier, cuts any Gordian knot that may tangle his
political meshes; and here was the famous “Golden Gate,” attended no
more by its “fifty porters with white wands,” and its crowds of
“_ichoglans_ and mutes, turban-keepers, nail-cutters, and
slipper-bearers,” as in the days of the Selims.

Between the Seven Towers and the Golden Horn you may count the “seven
hills” of ancient Stamboul, the towering arches of the aqueduct of
Valens, crossing from one to the other, and the swelling dome and
gold-tipped minarets of a hundred imperial mosques crowning and
surrounding their summits. What an Orient look do those gallery-bound
and sky-piercing shafts give to the varied picture!

There is but one “Seraglio Point” in the world. Look at that tapering
cape, shaped like a lady’s foot, projecting from Stamboul toward the
shore of Asia, and dividing the bay from the sea of Marmora. It is cut
off from the rest of the city, you observe, by a high wall, flanked with
towers, and the circumference of the whole seraglio may be three miles.
But what a gem of beauty it is! In what varied foliage its
unapproachable palaces are buried, and how exquisitely gleam from the
midst of the bright leaves its gilded cupolas, its gay balconies, its
airy belvideres, and its glittering domes! And mark the height of those
dark and arrowy cypresses, shooting from every corner of its imperial
gardens, and throwing their deep shadows on every bright cluster of
foliage, and every gilded lattice of the sacred enclosure. They seem to
remind one, that amid all its splendour, and with all its secluded
retirement, this gorgeous sanctuary of royalty, has been stained, from
its first appropriation by the monarchs of the East till now, with the
blood of victims to the ambition of its changing masters. The cypresses
are still young over the graves of an uncle and a brother, whose cold
murder within those lovely precincts prepared the throne for the present
sultan. The seraglio, no longer the residence of Mahmoud himself, is at
present occupied by his children, two noble boys, of whom one, by the
usual system, must fall a sacrifice to the security of the other.

Keeping on toward the Black Sea, we cross the Golden Horn to Pera, the
European and diplomatic quarter of the city. The high hill on which it
stands overlooks all Constantinople; and along its ridge toward the
beautiful cemetery on the brow, runs the principal street of the Franks,
the promenade of the dragoman exquisites, and the Broadway of shops and
belles. Here meet, on the narrow _pavé_, the veiled Armenian, who would
die with shame to show her chin to a stranger, and the wife of the
European merchant, in a Paris hat and short petticoats, mutually each
other’s sincere horror. Here the street is somewhat cleaner, the dogs
somewhat less anti-Christian, and hat and trowsers somewhat less objects
of contempt. It is a poor abortion of a place, withal, neither Turkish
nor Christian; and nobody who could claim a shelter for his head
elsewhere, would take the whole of its slate-coloured and shingled
palaces as a gift.

Just beyond is the mercantile suburb of Galatan, which your dainty
diplomatist would not write on his card for an embassy, but for which,
as being honestly what it calls itself, I entertain a certain respect,
wanting in my opinion of its mongrel neighbour. Heavy gates divide these
different quarters of the city, and if you would pass after sunset, you
must anoint the hinges with a piastre.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                               LETTER XL.


    Beauties of the Bosphorus—Summer-Palace of the
    Sultan—Adventure with an old Turkish Woman—The Feast of
    Bairam—The Sultan his own Butcher—His evil Propensities—Visit
    to the Mosques—A formidable Dervish—Santa Sophia—Mosque of
    Sultan Achmet—Traces of Christianity.

From this elevated point, the singular effect of a desert commencing
from the very streets of the city is still more observable. The compact
edge of the metropolis is visible even upon the more rural Bosphorus,
not an enclosure or a straggling house venturing to protrude beyond the
closely pressed limit. To repeat the figure, it seems, with the
prodigious mass of habitations on either shore, as if all the cities of
both Europe and Asia were swept to their respective borders, or as if
the crowded masses upon the long extending shores were the deposit of
some mighty overflow of the sea.

From Pera commence the numerous villages, separated only by name, which
form a fringe of peculiarly light and fantastic architecture to the
never-wearying Bosphorus. Within the small limit of your eye, upon that
silver link between the two seas, there are fifty valleys and thirty
rivers, and an imperial palace on every loveliest spot from the Black
Sea to Marmora. The Italians say, “See Naples and die!” but for _Naples_
I would read _Stamboul and the Bosphorus_.

Descending unwillingly from this enchanting spot, we entered a long
glen, closed at the water’s edge by the Sultan’s summer-palace, and
present residence of Beylerbey. Half way down, we met a decrepit old
woman, toiling up the path, and my friend, with a Wordsworthian passion
for all things humble and simple, gave her the Turkish good-morrow, and
inquired her business at the village. She had been to Stavros, to sell
ten paras’ worth of herbs—about _one cent_ of our currency. He put a
small piece of silver into her hand, while, with the still strong habit
of Turkish modesty, she employed the other in folding her tattered
_yashmack_ so as to conceal her features from the gaze of strangers. She
had not expected charity. “What is this for?” she asked, looking at it
with some surprise. “To buy bread for your children, mother!” “Effendi!”
said the poor old creature, her voice trembling, and the tears streaming
from her eyes, “My children are all dead! _There is no one now between
me and Allah!_” It were worth a poet’s while to live in the East. Like
the fairy in the tale, they never open their lips but they “speak
pearls.”

We took a caique at the mosque of Sultan Selim, at Beylerbey, and
floated slowly past the imperial palace. Five or six eunuchs, with their
red caps and long blue dresses, were talking at a high tenor in the
court-yard of the harem, and we gazed long and earnestly at the fine
lattices above, concealing so many of the picked beauties of the empire.
A mandolin, very indifferently strummed in one of the projecting wings,
betrayed the employment of some fair Fatima, and there was a single
moment when we could see, by the relief of a corner window, the outline
of a female figure; but the caique floated remorselessly on, and our
busy imaginations had their own unreal shadows for their reward. As we
approached the central façade the polished brazen gates flew open, and a
band of thirty musicians came out and ranged themselves on the terrace
beneath the palace-windows, announcing, in their first flourish, that
Sultan Mahmoud had thrust his fingers into his _pilaw_, and his subjects
were at liberty to dine. Not finding their music much to our taste, we
ordered the caikjees to assist the current a little, and shooting past
Stavros, we cut across the Strait from the old palace of Shemsheh the
vizier, and, in a few minutes, I was once more in my floating home,
under the “star-spangled banner.”

                 *        *        *        *        *

Constantinople was in a blaze last night, with the illumination for the
approach of the Turkish feast of Bairam. The minarets were extremely
beautiful, their encircling galleries hung with coloured lamps, and
illuminated festoons suspended from one to the other. The ships of the
fleet were decked also with thousands of lamps, and the effect was
exceedingly fine, with the reflection in the Bosphorus, and the waving
of the suspended lights in the wind. The Sultan celebrates the festa by
taking a virgin to his bed, and sacrificing twenty sheep with his own
hand. I am told by an intelligent physician here, that this playing the
butcher is an every-day business with the “Brother of the Sun,” every
safe return from a ride, or an excursion in his _sultanethe caique_,
requiring him to cut the throat of his next day’s mutton. It may account
partly for the excessive cruelty of character attributed to him.

Among other bad traits, Mahmoud is said to be very avaricious. It is
related of his youth, that he was permitted occasionally, with his
brother (who was murdered to make room for him on the throne), to walk
out in public on certain days with their governor; and that, upon these
occasions, each was intrusted with a purse to be expended in charity.
The elder brother soon distributed his piastres, and borrowed of his
attendants to continue his charities; while Mahmoud quietly put the
purse in his pocket, and added it to his private hoard on his return. It
is said, too, that he has a particular passion for upholstery, and in
his frequent change from one serai to another, allows no nail to be
driven without his supervision. Add to this a spirit of perverse
contradiction, so truculent that none but the most abject flatterers can
preserve his favour, and you have a pretty handful of offsets against a
character certainly not without some royal qualities.

                 *        *        *        *        *

With one of the reis effendi’s and one of the seraskier’s officers,
followed by four _kervasses_ in the Turkish military dress, and every
man a pair of slippers in his pocket, we accompanied the commodore,
to-day, on a visit to the principal mosques.

Landing first at Tophana, on the Pera side, we entered the court of the
new mosque built by the present sultan, whose elegant exterior of white
marble and two freshly-gilded minarets we had admired daily, lying at
anchor without sound of the muezzin. The morning prayers were just over,
and the retiring Turks looked, with lowering brows at us, as we pulled
off our boots on the sacred threshold.

We entered upon what, but for the high pulpit, I should have taken for
rather a superb ball-room. An unencumbered floor carpeted gaily, a small
arabesque gallery over the door quite like an orchestra, chandeliers and
lamps in great profusion, and walls painted of the brightest and most
varied colours, formed an interior rather wanting in the “dim religious
light” of a place of worship. We were shuffling around in our slippers
from one side to the other, examining the marble _mihrab_ and the narrow
and towering pulpit, when a ragged and decrepid dervish, with his
papooshes in his hand, and his toes and heels protruding from a very
dirty pair of stockings, rose from his prayers, and began walking
backward and forward, eyeing us ferociously and muttering himself into
quite a passion. His charity for infidels was evidently at a low ebb.
Every step we took upon the holy floor seemed to add to his fury. The
kervasses observed him, but his sugar-loaf cap carried some respect with
it, and they evidently did not like to meddle with him. He followed us
to the door, fixing his hollow grey eyes with a deadly glare upon each
one as he went out, and the Turkish officers seemed rather glad to hurry
us out of his way. He left us in the vestibule, and we mounted a
handsome marble staircase to a suite of apartments above, communicating
with the sultan’s private gallery. The carpets here were richer, and the
divans with which the half dozen saloons were surrounded, were covered
with the most costly stuffs of the East. The gallery was divided from
the area of the mosque by a fine brazen grating curiously wrought, and
its centre occupied by a rich ottoman, whereon the imperial legs are
crossed in the intervals of his prostrations. It was about the size and
had the air altogether of a private box at the opera.

We crossed the Golden Horn, and passing the eunuch’s guard, entered the
gardens of the seraglio on our way to Santa Sophia. An inner wall still
separated us from the gilded kiosks, at whose latticed windows peering
above the trees, we might have clearly perused the features of any
peeping inmate; but the little cross-bars revealed nothing but their own
provoking eye of the size of a rose-leaf in the centre, and we reached
the upper gate without even a glimpse of a waved handkerchief to stir
our chivalry to the rescue.

A confused mass of buttresses without form or order, is all that you are
shown for the exterior of that “wonder of the world,” the mosque of
mosques, the renowned Santa Sophia. We descended a dark avenue, and
leaving our boots in a vestibule that the horse of Mohammed the Second,
if he was lodged as ambitiously living as dead, would have disdained for
his stable, we entered the vaulted area. A long breath and an admission
of its almost attributable supernatural grandeur, followed our too hasty
disappointment. It is indeed a “vast and wondrous dome!” Its dimensions
are less than those of St. Peter’s at Rome, but its effect, owing to its
unity and simplicity of design, is, I think, superior. The numerous
small galleries let into its sides add richness to it without impairing
its apparent magnitude, and its vast floor, upon which a single
individual is almost lost, the sombre colours of its walls untouched
probably for centuries, and the dim sepulchral light that struggles
through the deep-niched and retiring windows, form altogether an
interior from which the imagination returns, like the dove to the ark,
fluttering and bewildered.

Our large party separated over its wilderness of a floor, and each might
have had his hour of solitude, had the once Christian spirit of the spot
(or the present pagan demon) affected him religiously. I found, myself,
a singular pleasure in wandering about upon the elastic mats (laid four
or five thick all over the floor), examining here a tattered banner hung
against the wall, and there a rich cashmere which had covered the tomb
of the prophet; on one side a slab of transparent alabaster from the
temple of Solomon (a strange relic for a Mohammedan mosque!) and on the
other, a dark mihrab surrounded by candles of incredible proportions,
looking like the marble columns of some friezeless portico. The four
“six-winged cherubim” on the roof of the dome, sole remaining trace as
they are of the religion to which the building was first dedicated, had
better been left to the imagination. They are monstrous in mosaic. It is
said that the whole interior of the mosque is cased beneath its dusky
plaster with the same costly mosaic which covers the ceiling. To make a
Mohammedan mosque of a Christian church, however, it was necessary to
erase Christian emblems from the walls; besides which the Turks have a
superstitious horror of all imitative arts, considering the painting of
the Iranian features particularly, as a mockery of the handiwork of
Allah.

We went hence to the more modern mosque of Sultan Achmet, which is in
imitation of Santa Sophia within, but its own beautiful prototype in
exterior. Its spacious and solemn court, its six heaven-piercing
minarets, its fountains, and the mausoleums of the sultans, with their
gilded cupolas and sarcophagi covered with cashmeres (the murdering
sultan and his murdered brothers lying in equal splendour side by
side!), are of a style of richness peculiarly oriental and imposing. We
visited in succession Sultan Bajazet, Sulymanye, and Sultana Valide, all
of the same arabesque exterior, and very similar within. The description
of one leaves little to be said of the other, and, with the exception of
Santa Sophia, of which I should like to make a lounge when I am in love
with my own company, the mosques of Constantinople are a kind of “lion”
well killed in a single visit.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XLI.


    Unerring Detection of Foreigners—A Cargo of Odalisques—The
    Fanar, or Quarter of the Greeks—Street of the
    Booksellers—Aspect of Antiquity—Purchases—Charity for Dogs
    and Pigeons—Punishment of Canicide—A Bridal
    Procession—Turkish Female Physiognomy.

Pulling up the Golden Horn to-day in a caique without any definite
errand (a sort of excursion particularly after my own heart), I was
amused at the caikjee’s asking my companion, who shaves clean like a
Christian, and has his clothes from Regent-street, and looks for aught I
can see, as much like a foreigner in Constantinople as myself, “in what
vessel I had arrived.” We asked him if he had ever seen either of us
before. “No!” How then did he know that my friend, who had not hitherto
spoken a word of Turkish, was not as lately arrived as myself? What is
it that so infallibly, in every part of the world, distinguishes the
stranger?

We passed under the stern of an outlandish-looking vessel just dropping
her anchor. Her deck was crowded with men and women in singular
costumes, and near the helm, apparently under the protection of a
dark-visaged fellow in a voluminous turban, stood three young, and, as
well as we could see, uncommonly pretty girls. The captain answered to
our hail that he was from Trebizond, and his passengers were slaves for
the bazaar. How redolent of the East! Were one but a Turk, now, to
forestall the market and barter for a pair of those dark eyes while they
are still full of surprise and innocence!

We landed at the _Fanar_. Bow-windows crowded with fair faces, in
enormous pink turbans, naked shoulders (which I am already so
orientalised as to think very indecent), puffed curls and pinched
waists, reminded us at every step that we were in a Christian quarter of
Constantinople. From this paltry and miserable suburb, spring the modern
princes of Greece, the Mavrocordatos, and Ghikas, the Hospodars of
Wallachia and Moldavia, the subtle, insinuating, intriguing, but
talented and ever-successful Fanariotes. One hears so much of them in
Europe, and so much is made of a stray scion from the very far-traced
root of Palæologus or some equally boasted blood of the Fanar (I met a
Fanariote princess G—— at the baths of Lucca last year, whom I except
from every disparaging remark), that he is a little disappointed with
the dirty alleys and the stuffed windows shown him as hereditary homes
of these very sounding names. There are a hundred families at least in
the Fanar, that trace their origin back to no less than an imperial
stock, and there is not a house in the whole quarter that would pass in
our country for a respectable barn. In personal appearance they are
certainly very inferior to any other race of their own nation. The
Albanians and the Greeks I saw at Napoli and in the Morea, were (except
the North American Indians) the finest people, physically, I have ever
been among; while it would be difficult to find a more diminutive and
degenerate-looking body of men and women, than swarm in this nest of
Grecian princes.

We re-entered our little bark, and gliding along leisurely through the
crowd of piades, kachambas, and caïques, landed at Stamboul, and walked
on toward the bazaar. Always discovering new passages in that labyrinth
of shops, we found ourselves, after an hour’s rambling, in a long street
of booksellers. This is rather the oldest and narrowest part of the
bazaar, and the light of heaven meets with the additional interruption
of two rows of pillars with arched friezes standing in the middle of the
street. On entering the literary twilight of the passage in the rear of
these columns, the classic nostril detects instantly the genuine odour
of manuscript, black-letter, and ancient binding; and the trained eye,
accustomed to the dim niches of libraries, wanders over the well-piled
shelves with their quaint rows of volumes in vellum, and appreciates at
once their varied riches. Here is nothing of the complexion of a shelf
at the Harpers’, or the Hendees’, or the Careys’—no fresh and uncut
novel, no new-born poem, no political pamphlet or gay souvenir! And the
priceless treasures of learning are not here doled out by a talkative
publisher or dapper clerk, skilled only in the lettered backs of the
volumes he barters. But in sombre and uneven rows, or laid in heaps,
whose order is not in their similarity of binding, but in the
correspondence of their contents, lie venerable and much-thumbed tomes
of Arabic or Persian; while the venerable bibliopole, seated motionless
on his hams, with his grey beard reaching to his crossed slippers,
peruses an illuminated volume of Hafiz, lifting his eyes from the page
only to revolve some sweet image in his mind, and murmur a low “pekke!”
of approbation.

We had stepped back into the last century. Here was the calamus still in
use. The small, brown reed, not yet superseded by the more useful but
less classic quill, stood in every clotted inkstand, and nothing less
than the purchase of a whole scrivener’s furniture, from a bearded
bookworm, whose benevolent face took my fancy, would suffice my
enthusiasm. Not to waste all our oriental experience at a single stall,
we strolled farther on to buy an illuminated Hafiz. We stopped
simultaneously before an old Armenian who seemed, by his rusty calpack
and shabby robe, to be something poorer than even his plainly-clad
neighbours: for in Turkey, as elsewhere, he who lives in a world of his
own, has but a slender portion in that of the vulgar. A choice-looking
volume lay open upon one of the old man’s knees, while from a wooden
bowl he was eating hastily a pottage of rice. His meal was evidently an
interruption. He had not even laid aside his book.

There was something in his handling the volume, as he took down a
pocket-sized Hafiz, that showed an affection for the author. He turned
it over with a slight dilation of countenance, and opening it with a
careful thumb, read a line in mellifluous Persian. I took it from him
open at the place, and marked the passage with my nail, to look for it
in the translation.

With my cheaply-bought treasures in my pockets, we turned up the street
of the diamond merchants, and making a single purchase more in the
bazaar, of a tesbih or Turkish rosary of spice-wood, emerged to the open
air in the neighbourhood of the mosque of Sultan Bajazet.

Whether slipping the pagan beads through my fingers affected me
devoutly, or whether it was the mellow humour of the moment, I felt a
disposition to forgive my enemies, and indulge in an act of Mohammedan
piety—feeding the unowned dogs of the street. We stepped into a baker’s
shop, and laid out a piastre in bread, and were immediately observed and
surrounded, before we could break a loaf, by twenty or thirty as
ill-looking curs, as ever howled to the moon. Having distributed about a
dozen loaves, and finding that our largess had by no means satisfied the
appetites of the expecting rabble, we found ourselves embarrassed to
escape. Nothing but the baker’s threshold prevented them from jumping
upon us, in their eagerness, and the array of so many formidable mouths
ferocious with hunger, was rather staggering. The baker drew off the
hungry pack at last, by walking round the corner with a loaf in his
hand, while we made a speedy exit, patted on the back in passing by
several of the assembled spectators.

It is surprising that the Turks can tolerate this filthy breed of curs,
in such extraordinary numbers. They have a whimsical punishment for
killing one of them. The dead dog is hung by his heels, so that his nose
just touches the ground, and the _canicide_ is compelled to heap wheat
about him, till he is entirely covered; the wheat is then given to the
poor, and the dog buried at the expense of the culprit. There are
probably five dogs to every man in Constantinople, and besides their
incessant barking, they often endanger the lives of children and
strangers. MacFarlane, I think, tells the story of a drunken
sea-captain, who was entirely devoured by the dogs at Tophana; nothing
being found of him in the morning but his “indigestible pig-tail!”

We entered the court of Sultan Bajazet, and found the majestic
plane-trees that shadow its arabesque fountains, bending beneath the
weight of hundreds of pensionary pigeons. Here, as at several of the
mosques, an old man sits by the gate, whose business it is to expend the
alms given him in distributing grain to these sacred birds. Not to be
outdone in piety, my friend gave the blind Turk a piastre; and, as he
arose and unlocked the box beneath him, the pigeons descended about us
in such a cloud, as literally to darken the air. Handful after handful
was then thrown among them, and the beautiful creatures ran over our
feet and fluttered round us with a fearlessness that sufficiently proved
the safety in which they haunted the sacred precincts. In a few minutes
they soared altogether again to the trees, and their Mussulman-feeder
resumed his seat upon the box to wait for another charity.

A crowd of women at the harem gate, in the rear of the seraskier’s
palace, attracted our attention. Upon inquiry, we found that he had
married a daughter to one of the sultan’s military officers, and the
bridal party was expected presently to come out in arubas, and make the
tour of the Hippodrome, on the way to the house of the bridegroom. We
wiled away an hour returning the gaze of curiosity bent upon us from the
idle and bright eyes of a hundred women, and the first of the gilded
vehicles made its appearance; though in the same style of ornament with
the one I have already described, it differed in being drawn by horses,
and having a frame top, with small round mirrors set in the corners.
Within sat four very young women, one of whom was the bride; but which,
we found no one who could tell us. It is no description of a face in the
East to say, that the eyes were dark, and the nose regular—all that the
jealous yashmack permitted us to ascertain of the beauty of the bride.
Their eyes are _all_ dark, and their noses are _all_ regular; the
Turkish nose differing from the Grecian, as that of the Antinous from
the Apollo, only in its more voluptuous fulness, and a nostril less
dilated. Four darker pairs of eyes, however, and four brows of whiter
orb, never pined in a harem, or were reflected in those golden-rimmed
mirrors; and as the twelve succeeding arubas rattled by, and in each
suite four young women, with the same eternal dark eyes, “full of
sleep,” and the same curved and pearly forehead, and noses like the
Antinous, I thought of _toujours perdrix_, and felt that if there had
been but _one_ with a slight toss in that prominent member, it would not
have been displeasing.

In a conversation with a Greek lady the other day, she remarked that the
veils of the Turkish ladies conceal no charms. Their mouths, she says,
are generally coarse, and their teeth, from the immoderate use of
sweetmeats, or neglect, or some other cause, almost universally
defective. How far the interest excited by these hidden features may
have jaundiced the eyes of my fair informer, I cannot say; but, as a
general fact, uneducated women, whatever other beauties they may
possess, have rarely expressive or agreeable mouths. Nature forms and
colours the nose, the eyes, the forehead, and the complexion; but the
character, from the cradle up, moulds gradually to its own inward
changes, the plastic and passion-breathing lines of the lips. Allowing
this, it would be rather surprising if there was a mouth in all Turkey
that had more than a pretty silliness at the most—the art of dyeing
their finger nails, and painting their eyebrows, being the highest
branches of female education. How they came by these “eyes that teach us
what the sun is made of,” the vales of Georgia and Circassia best can
tell.

And so having rambled away a sunny autumn day, and earned some little
appetite, if not experience, we will get out of Stamboul, before the
sunset guard makes us prisoners, and climb up to our dinner in Pera.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XLII.


    The Perfection of Bathing—Pipes—Downy
    Cushions—Coffee—Rubbing Down—“Circular Justice,” as displayed
    in the Retribution of Boiled Lobsters—A Deluge of Suds—The
    Shampoo—Luxurious helps to the Imagination—A Pedestrian
    Excursion—Story of an American Tar, burdened with Small
    Change—Beauty of the Turkish Children—A Civilised
    Monster—Glimpse of Sultan Mahmoud in an Ill-Humour.

“Time is (not) money” in the East. We were three hours to-day at the
principal bath of Constantinople, going through the ordinary process of
the establishment, and were outstayed, at last, by two Turkish officers
who had entered with us. During this time, we had each the assiduous
service of an attendant, and coffee, lemonade, and pipes _ad libitum_,
for the consideration of half a Spanish dollar.

Although I have once described a Turkish bath, the metropolitan “pomp
and circumstance” so far exceed the provincial in this luxury, that I
think I shall be excused for dwelling a moment upon it again. The
dressing-room opens at once from the street. We descended half a dozen
steps to a stone floor, in the centre of which stood a large marble
fountain. Its basin was kept full by several _jets d’eau_, which threw
their silver curves into the air, and the edge was set round with
_narghilés_ (or Persian water-pipes with glass vases), ready for the
smokers of the mild tobacco of Shiraz. The ceiling of this large hall
was lofty, and the sides were encircled by three galleries, one above
the other, with open balustrades, within which the bathers undressed. In
a corner sat several attendants, with only a napkin around their waists,
smoking till their services should be required; and one who had just
come from the inner bath, streaming with perspiration, covered himself
with cloths, and lay crouched, upon a carpet till he could bear, with
safety, the temperature of the outer air.

A half-naked Turk, without his turban, looks more a Mephistopheles than
a Ganymede, and I could scarce forbear shrinking as this shaven-headed
troop of servitors seized upon us, and, without a word, pulled off our
boots, thrust our feet into slippers, and led us up into the gallery to
undress. An ottoman, piled with cushions, and overhung, on the wall, by
a small mirror, was allotted to each, and with the assistance of my
familiar (who was quite too familiar!) I found myself stripped, _nolens
volens_, and a snowy napkin, with gold and embroidered edge, twisted
into a becoming turban around my head.

We were led immediately into the first bath, a small room, in which the
heat, for the first breath or two, seemed rather oppressive. Carpets
were spread for us on the warm marble floor, and crossing our legs, with
more ease than when cased in our unoriental pantaloons, we were served
with pipes and coffee of a delicious flavour.

After a half hour, the atmosphere, so warm when we entered, began to
feel chilly, and we were taken by the arm, and led by our speechless
Mussulman, through an intermediate room, into the grand bath. The heat
here seemed to me, for a moment almost intolerable. The floor was hot,
and the air so moist with the suffocating vapour, as to rest like mist
upon the skin. It was a spacious and vaulted room, with perhaps fifty
small square windows in the dome, and four arched recesses in the sides,
supplied with marble seats, and small reservoirs of hot and cold water.
In the centre was a broad platform, on which the bather was rubbed and
shampooed, occupied, just then, by two or three dark-skinned Turks,
lying on their backs, with their eyes shut, dreaming, if one might judge
by their countenances, of Paradise.

After being left to walk about for half an hour, by this time bathed in
perspiration, our respective demons seized upon us again, and led us to
the marble seats in the recesses. Putting a rough mitten on the right
hand, my Turk then commenced upon my breast, scouring me without water
or mercy, from head to foot, and turning me over on my face or my back,
without the least “by your leave” expression in his countenance, and
with an adroitness which, in spite of the novelty of my situation, I
could not but admire. I hardly knew whether the sensation was
pleasurable or painful. I was less in doubt presently, when he seated me
upright, and, with the brazen cup of the fountain, dashed upon my peeled
shoulders a quantity of half boiling water. If what Barnacle, in the
play, calls “a circular justice,” existed in the world, I should have
thought it a judgment for eating of lobsters. My familiar was somewhat
startled at the suddenness with which I sprang upon my feet, and,
turning some cold water into the reservoir, laid his hand on his breast,
and looked an apology. The scalding was only momentary, and the
qualified contents of the succeeding cups highly grateful.

We were left again, for a while, to our reflections, and then reappeared
our attendants, with large bowls of the suds of scented soap, and small
bunches of soft Angora wool. With this we were tenderly washed, and
those of my companions who wished it were shaved. The last operation
they described as peculiarly agreeable, both from the softened state of
the skin and dexterity of the operators.

Rinsed once more with warm water, our snowy turbans were twisted around
our heads again, cloths were tied about our waists, and we returned to
the second room. The transition from the excessive heat within, made the
air, that we had found oppressive when we entered, seem disagreeably
chilly. We wrapped ourselves in our long cloths, and, resuming our
carpets, took coffee and pipes as before. In a few minutes we began to
feel a delightful glow in our veins, and then our cloths became
unpleasantly warm, and by the time we were taken back to the
dressing-room, its cold air was a relief. They led us to the ottomans,
and piling the cushions so as to form a curve, laid us upon them,
covered with clean white cloths, and bringing us sherbets, lemonade, and
pipes, dropped upon their knees, and commenced pressing our limbs all
over gently with their hands. My sensations during the half hour we lay
here were indescribably agreeable, I felt an absolute repose of body, a
calm, half-sleepy languor in my whole frame, and a tranquillity of mind,
which, from the busy character of the scenes in which I was daily
conversant, were equally unusual and pleasurable. Scarce stirring a
muscle or a nerve, I lay the whole hour, gazing on the lofty ceiling,
and listening to the murmur of the fountain, while my silent familiar
pressed my limbs with a touch as gentle as a child’s, and it seemed to
me as if pleasure was breathing from every pore of my cleansed and
softened skin. I could willingly have passed the remainder of the day
upon the luxurious couch. I wonder less than ever at the flowery and
poetical character of the oriental literature, where the mind is
subjected to influences so refining and exhilarating. One could hardly
fail to grow a poet, I should think, even with this habit of eastern
luxury alone. If I am to conceive a romance, or to indite an
epithalamium, send me to the bath on a day of idleness, and, covering me
up with their snowy and lavendered napkins, leave me till sunset!

                 *        *        *        *        *

With a dinner in prospect at a friend’s house, six or eight miles up the
Bosphorus, we started in the morning on foot, with the intention of
seeing Sultan Mahmoud go to mosque, by the way. We stopped a moment to
look into the marble pavilion, containing the clocks of the mosque of
Tophana, and drank at the opposite pavilion, from the brass cup chained
in the window, and supplied constantly from the fountain within, and
then kept on through the long street to the first village of
Dolma-baktchi, or the Garden of Gourds.

Determined, with the day before us, to yield to every temptation on the
road, we entered a small café, overlooking a segment of the Bosphorus,
and while the acorn-sized cups were simmering on the manghal, my friend
entered into conversation in Arabic with a tawny old Egyptian, who sat
smoking in the corner. He was a fine specimen of the
“responsible-looking” Oriental, and had lately arrived from Alexandria
on business. Pleasant land of the East! where, to be the pink of
courtesy, you must pass your snuff-box, or your tobacco-pouch to the
stranger, and ask him those questions of his “whereabouts,” so
impertinent in more civilised Europe!

After a brief dialogue, which was Hebrew to me, our Alexandrian,
knocking the ashes from his pipe, commenced a narration with a great
deal of expressive gesture, at which my friend seemed very provokingly
amused. I sipped my coffee, and wondered what could have led one of
these silent grey-beards into an amusing story, till a pause gave me an
opportunity to ask a translation. Hearing that we were Americans, the
Egyptian had begun by asking whether there was a superstition in our
country against receiving back money in change. He explained his
question by saying that he was in a café, at Tophana, when a boat’s
crew, from the American frigate, waiting for some one at the landing,
entered, and asked for coffee. They drank it very quietly, and one of
them gave the caféjee a dollar, receiving in change a handful of the
shabby and adulterated money of Constantinople. Jack was rather
surprised at getting a dozen cups of coffee, and so much coin for his
dollar, and requested the boy, by signs, to treat the company at his
expense. This was done, the Turks all acknowledging the courtesy by
laying their hands upon their foreheads and breast, and still Jack’s
money lay heavy in his hands. He called for pipes, and they smoked
awhile; but finding still that his riches were not perceptibly
diminished, he hitched up his trowsers, and with a dexterous flirt,
threw his piastres and paras all round upon the company, and rolled out
of the café. From the gravity of the other sailors at this remarkable
flourish, the old Egyptian and his fellow cross-legs had imagined it to
be a national custom!

Idling along through the next village, we turned to admire a Turkish
child, led by an Abyssinian slave. There is no country in the world
where the children are so beautiful, and this was a cherub of a boy,
like one of Domenichino’s angels. As we stopped to look at him, the
little fellow commenced crying most lustily.

“Hush! my rose!” said the Abyssinian, “these are good Franks! these are
not the Franks that eat children! hush!”

It certainly takes the nonsense out of one to travel. I should never
have thought it possible, if I had not been in Turkey, that I could be
made a bugbear to scare a child!

We passed the tomb of Frederick Barbarossa, getting, between the walls
of the palaces on the water’s edge, continual and incomparable views of
the Bosphorus, and arrived at Beshiktash (or the marble cradle), just as
the troops were drawn up to the door of the mosque. We took our stand
under a plane-tree, in the midst of a crowd of women, and presently the
noisy band struck up the sultan’s march, and the led horses appeared in
sight. They came on with their grooms and their rich housings, a dozen
matchless Arabians, scarce touching the ground with their prancings! Oh,
how beautiful they were! Their delicate limbs, their small, veined heads
and fiery nostrils, their glowing, intelligent eyes, their quick, light,
bounding action, their round bodies, trembling with restrained and
impatient energy, their curved, haughty necks, and dark manes flowing
wildly in the wind! El Borak, the mare of the prophet, with the wings of
a bird, was not lighter or more beautiful.

The sultan followed, preceded by his principal officers, with a
stirrup-holder running at each side, and mounted on a tame-looking
Hungarian horse. He wore the red Fez cap, and a cream-coloured cloak,
which covered his horse to the tail. His face was lowering, his firm,
powerful jaw, set in an expression of fixed displeasure, and his
far-famed eye had a fierceness within its dark socket, from which I
involuntarily shrank. The women, as he came along, set up a kind of
howl, according to their custom, but he looked neither to the right nor
left, and seemed totally unconscious of any one’s existence but his own.
He was quite another-looking man from the Mahmoud I had seen smiling in
his handja-bash on the Bosphorus.

As he dismounted and entered the mosque, we went on our way, moralising
sagely on the novel subject of human happiness—our text, the cloud on
the brow of a sultan, and the quiet sunshine in the bosoms of two poor
pedestrians by the way-side.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XLIII.


    Punishment of Conjugal Infidelity—Drowning in the
    Bosphorus—Frequency of its occurrence accounted for—A Band of
    Wild Roumeliotes—Their Picturesque Appearance—Ali Pacha, of
    Yanina—A Turkish Funeral—Fat Widow of Sultan Selim—A Visit to
    the Sultan’s Summer Palace—A Travelling Moslem—Unexpected
    Token of Home.

A Turkish woman was sacked and thrown into the Bosphorus this morning. I
was idling away the day in the bazaar and did not see her. The ward-room
steward of the “United States,” a very intelligent man, who was at the
pier when she was brought down to the caique, describes her as a young
woman of twenty-two or three years, strikingly beautiful; and with the
exception of a short quick sob in her throat, as if she had wearied
herself out with weeping, she was quite calm and submitted composedly to
her fate. She was led down by two soldiers, in her usual dress, her
yashmack only torn from her face, and rowed off to the mouth of the bay,
where the sack was drawn over her without resistance. The plash of her
body in the sea was distinctly seen by the crowd who had followed her to
the water.

It is horrible to reflect on these summary executions, knowing as we do,
that the poor victim is taken before the judge, upon the least jealous
whim of her husband or master, condemned often upon bare suspicion, and
hurried instantly from the tribunal to this violent and revolting death.
Any suspicion of commerce with a Christian particularly, is, with or
without evidence, instant ruin. Not long ago, the inhabitants of
Arnaout-keni, a pretty village on the Bosphorus, were shocked with the
spectacle of a Turkish woman and a young Greek, hanging dead from the
shutters of a window on the water’s side. He had been detected in
leaving her house at daybreak, and in less than an hour the unfortunate
lovers had met their fate. They are said to have died most heroically,
embracing and declaring their attachment to the last.

Such tragedies occur every week or two in Constantinople, and it is not
wonderful, considering the superiority of the educated and picturesque
Greek to his brutal neighbour, or the daring and romance of Europeans in
the pursuit of forbidden happiness. The liberty of going and coming,
which the Turkish women enjoy, wrapped only in veils, which assist by
their secrecy, is temptingly favourable to intrigue, and the
self-sacrificing nature of the sex, when the heart is concerned, shows
itself here in proportion to the demand for it.

An eminent physician, who attends the seraglio of the sultan’s sister,
consisting of a great number of women, tells me that their time is
principally occupied in sentimental correspondence, by means of flowers,
with the forbidden Greeks and Armenians. These platonic passions for
persons whom they have only seen from their gilded lattices, are their
only amusement, and they are permitted by the sultana, who has herself
the reputation of being partial to Franks, and, old as she is, ingenious
in contrivances to obtain their society. My intelligent informant thinks
the Turkish women, in spite of their want of education, somewhat
remarkable for their sentiment of character.

With two English travellers, whom I had known in Italy, I pulled out of
the bay in a caique, and ran down under the wall of the city, on the
side of the sea of Marmora. For a mile or more we were beneath the wall
of the seraglio, whose small water-gates, whence so many victims have
found

        “Their way to Marmora without a boat,”

are beset, to the imaginative eye of the traveller, with the _dramatis
personæ_ of a thousand tragedies. One smiles to detect himself gazing on
an old postern, with his teeth shut hard together, and his hair on end,
in the calm of a pure, silent, sunshiny morning of September!

We landed some seven miles below, at the Seven Towers, and dismissed our
boat to walk across to the Golden Horn. Our road was outside of the
triple walls of Stamboul, whose two hundred and fifty towers look as if
they were toppling after an earthquake, and are overgrown superbly with
ivy. Large trees, rooted in the crevices, and gradually bursting the
thick walls, overshadow entirely their once proud turrets, and for the
whole length of the five or six miles across, it is one splendid picture
of decay. I have seen in no country such beautiful ruins.

At the Adrianople gate, we found a large troop of horsemen, armed in the
wild manner of the East, who had accompanied a Roumeliote chief from the
mountains. They were not allowed to enter the city, and, with their
horses picketed upon the plain, were lying about in groups, waiting till
their leader should conclude his audience with the seraskier. They were
as cut-throat looking a set as a painter would wish to see. The extreme
richness of eastern arms, mounted showily in silver, and of shapes so
cumbersome, yet picturesque, contrasted strangely with their ragged
capotes, and torn leggings, and their way-worn and weary countenances.
Yet they were almost without exception fine-featured, and with a
resolute expression of face, and they had flung themselves, as savages
will, into attitudes that art would find it difficult to improve.

Directly opposite this gate stand five marble slabs, indicating the
spots in which are buried the heads of Ali Pacha, of Albania, his three
sons and grandson. The inscription states, that the rebel lost his head
for having dared to aspire to independence. He was a brave old
barbarian, however, and, as the worthy chief of the most warlike people
of modern times, one stands over his grave with regret. It would have
been a classic spot had Byron survived to visit it. No event in his
travels made more impression on his mind than the pacha’s detecting his
rank by the beauty of his hands. His fine description of the wild court
of Yanina, in “Childe Harold,” has already made the poet’s return of
immortality, but had he survived the revolution in Greece, with his
increased knowledge of the Albanian soldier and his habits, and his
esteem for the old chieftain, a hero so much to his taste would have
been his most natural theme. It remains to be seen whether the age or
the language will produce another Byron to take up the broken thread.

As we were poring over the Turkish inscription, four men, apparently
quite intoxicated, came running and hallooing from the city gate,
bearing upon their shoulders a dead man in his bier. Entering the
cemetery, they went stumbling on over the foot-stones, tossing the
corpse about so violently, that the helpless limbs frequently fell
beyond the limits of the rude barrow, while the grave-digger, the only
sober person, save the dead man, in the company, followed at his best
speed, with his pick-axe and shovel. These extraordinary bearers set
down their burden not far from the gate, and, to my surprise, walked
laughing off like men who had merely engaged in a moment’s frolic by the
way, while the sexton, left quite alone, composed a little the posture
of the disordered body, and sat down to get breath for his task.

My Constantinopolitan friend tells me that the Koran blesses him who
carries a dead body forty paces on its way to the grave. The poor are
thus carried out to the cemeteries by voluntary bearers, who, after they
have completed their prescribed paces, change with the first individual
whose reckoning with heaven may be in arrears.

The corpse we had seen so rudely borne on its last journey, was, or had
been, a middle-aged Turk. He had neither shroud nor coffin, but

        “Lay like a gentleman taking a snooze,”

in his slippers and turban, the bunch of flowers on his bosom the only
token that he was dressed for any particular occasion. We had not time
to stay and see his grave dug, and “his face laid toward the tomb of the
prophet.”

We entered the Adrianople gate, and crossed the triangle, which old
Stamboul nearly forms, by a line approaching its hypothenuse. Though in
a city so thickly populated, it was one of the most lonely walks
conceivable. We met, perhaps, one individual in a street; and the
perfect silence, and the cheerless look of the Turkish houses, with
their jealously closed windows, gave it the air of a city devastated by
the plague. The population of Constantinople is only seen in the bazaars
or in the streets bordering on the Golden Horn. In the extensive quarter
occupied by dwelling-houses only, the inhabitants, if at home, occupy
apartments opening on their secluded gardens, or are hidden from the
gaze of the street by their fine dull-coloured lattices. It strikes one
with melancholy after the gay balconies and open doors of France and
Italy!

We passed the Eskai Serai, the palace in which the imperial widows wear
their chaste weeds in solitude; and, weary with our long walk, emerged
from the silent streets at the bazaar of wax-candles, and took caique
for the _Argentopolis_ of the ancients, the _Silver City_ of Galatia.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The thundering of guns from the whole Ottoman fleet in the Bosphorus
announced, some days since, that the sultan had changed his summer for
his winter serai, and the commodore received yesterday a firman to visit
the deserted palace of Beylerbey.

We left the frigate at an early hour, our large party of officers
increased by the captain of the “Acteon,” sloop-of-war, some gentlemen
of the English ambassador’s household, and several strangers who took
advantage of the commodore’s courtesy to enjoy a privilege granted so
very rarely.

As we pulled up the Strait, some one pointed out the residence, on the
European shore, of the once favourite wife, and now fat widow, of Sultan
Selim. She is called by the Turks, the “boneless sultana,” and is the
model of shape by the oriental standard. The poet’s lines,

        “Who turned that little waist with so much care,
        And shut perfection in so small a ring?”

though a very neat compliment in some countries, would be downright
rudeness in the East. Near this jelly in weeds lives a venerable Turk,
who was once ambassador to England. He came back too much enlightened,
and the mufti immediately procured his exile, for infidelity. He passes
his day, we are told, in looking at a large map hung on the wall before
him, and wondering at his own travels.

We were received at the shining brazen gate of Beylerbey, by Hamik Pacha
(a strikingly elegant man, just returned from a mission to England),
deputed by the sultan to do the honours. A side-door introduced us
immediately to the grand hall upon the lower floor, which was separated
only by four marble pillars, and a heavy curtain rolled up at will, from
the gravel walk of the garden in the rear. We ascended thence by an open
staircase of wood, prettily inlaid, to the second floor, which was one
long suite of spacious rooms, built entirely in the French style, and
thence to the third floor, the same thing over again. It was quite like
looking at lodgings in Paris. There was no furniture, except, an
occasional ottoman turned with its face upon another, and a prodigious
quantity of French musical clocks, three or four in every room, and all
playing in our honour with an amusing confusion. One other article, by
the way—a large, common, American rocking-chair! The poor thing stood
in a great gilded room all alone, looking pitiably home-sick. I seated
myself in it, _malgré_ a thick coat of dust upon the bottom, as I would
visit a sick countryman in exile.

The harem was locked, and the polite pacha regretted that he had no
orders to open it. We descended to the gardens, which rise by terraces
to a gimcrack temple and orangery, and having looked at the sultan’s
poultry, we took our leave. If his pink palace in Europe is no finer
than his yellow palace in Asia, there is many a merchant in America
better lodged than the padishah of the Ottoman empire. We have not seen
the _old_ seraglio, however, and in its inaccessible recesses, probably,
moulders that true oriental splendour which this upholsterer monarch
abandons in his rage, for the novel luxuries of Europe.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XLIV.


    Farewell to Constantinople—Europe and the East compared—The
    Departure—Smyrna, the great Mart for Figs—An Excursion into
    Asia Minor—Travelling Equipments—Character of the
    Hajjis—Encampment of Gipsies—A Youthful Hebe—Note—Horror of
    the Turks for the “Unclean Animal”—An Anecdote.

I have spent the last day or two in farewell visits to my favourite
haunts in Constantinople. I galloped up the Bosphorus, almost envying
_les ames damnées_ that skim so swiftly and perpetually from the
Symplegades to Marmora, and from Marmora back to the Symplegades. I took
a caique to the Valley of Sweet Waters, and rambled away an hour on its
silken sward. I lounged a morning in the bazaars, smoked a parting pipe
with my old Turk in the bezestein, and exchanged a last salaam with the
venerable Armenian bookseller, still poring over his illuminated Hafiz.
And last night, with the sundown boat waiting at the pier, I loitered
till twilight in the small and elevated cemetery between Galata and
Pera, and, with feelings of even painful regret, gazed my last upon the
matchless scene around me. In the words of the eloquent author of
“Anastasius,” when taking the same farewell, “For the last time, my eye
wandered over the dimpled hills, glided along the winding waters, and
dived into the deep and delicious dells, in which branch out its jagged
shores. Reverting from these smiling outlets of its sea-beat suburbs to
its busy centre, I surveyed, in slow succession, every chaplet of
swelling cupolas, every grove of slender minarets, and every avenue of
glittering porticoes, whose pinnacles dart their golden shafts from
between the dark cypress-trees into the azure sky. I dwelt on them as on
things I never was to behold more; and not until the evening had
deepened the veil it cast over the varied scene from orange to purple,
and from purple to the sable hue of night, did I tear myself away from
the impressive spot. I then bade the city of Constantine farewell for
ever, descended the high-crested hill, stepped into the heaving boat,
turned my back upon the shore, and sank my regrets in the sparkling
wave, across which the moon had already flung a trembling bar of silvery
light, pointing my way, as it were, to other unknown regions.”

There are few intellectual pleasures like that of finding our own
thoughts and feelings well described by another!

I certainly would not live in the East; and when I sum up its
inconveniences and deprivations to which the traveller from Europe, with
his refined wants, is subjected, I marvel at the heart-ache with which I
turn my back upon it, and the deep dye it has infused into my
imagination. Its few peculiar luxuries do not compensate for the total
absence of _comfort_; its lovely scenery cannot reconcile you to
wretched lodgings; its picturesque costumes and poetical people, and
golden sky, fine food for a summer’s fancy as they are, cannot make you
forget the civilised pleasures you abandon for them—the fresh
literature, the arts and music, the refined society, the elegant
pursuits, and the stirring intellectual collision of the cities of
Europe.

Yet the world contains nothing like Constantinople! If we could compel
all our senses into one, and live by the pleasures of the eye, it were a
paradise untranscended. The Bosphorus—the superb, peculiar,
incomparable Bosphorus! the dream-like, fairy-built seraglio! the sights
within the city so richly strange, and the valleys and streams around it
so exquisitely fair! the voluptuous softness of the dark eyes haunting
your every step on shore, and the spirit-like swiftness and elegance of
your darting caique upon the waters! In what land is the priceless sight
such a treasure? Where is the fancy so delicately and divinely pampered?

Every heave at the capstan-bars drew upon my heart; and when the
unwilling anchor at last let go its hold, and the frigate swung free
with the outward current, I felt as if, in that moment, I had parted my
hold upon a land of faëry. The dark cypresses and golden pinnacles of
Seraglio Point, and the higher shafts of Sophia’s sky-touching minarets
were the last objects in my swiftly-receding eye, and, in a short hour
or two, the whole bright vision had sunk below the horizon.

We crossed Marmora, and shot down the rapid Dardanelles in as many hours
as a passage up had occupied days, and, rounding the coast of Anatolia,
entered between Mitylene and the Asian shore, and, on the third day,
anchored in the bay of Smyrna.

“Everybody knows Smyrna,” says MacFarlane, “_it is such a place for
figs_!” It is a low-built town, at the head of the long gulf, which
bears its name, and, with the exception of the high rock immediately
over it, topped by the ruins of an old castle, said to embody in its
walls the ancient Christian church, it has no very striking features.
Extensive gardens spread away on every side, and, without exciting much
of your admiration for its beauty, there is a look of peace and rural
comfort about the neighbourhood that affects the mind pleasantly.

Almost immediately on my arrival, I joined a party for a few days’ tour
in Asia Minor. We were five, and, with a baggage-horse, and a mounted
suridjee, our caravan was rather respectable. Our appointments were
orientally simple. We had each a Turkish bed (alias, a small carpet), a
nightcap, and a “copy-hold” upon a pair of saddle-bags, containing
certain things forbidden by the Koran, and therefore not likely to be
found by the way. Our attendant was a most ill-favoured Turk, whose
pilgrimage to Mecca (he was a hajji, and wore a green turban) had, at
least, imparted no sanctity to his visage. If he was not a rogue, nature
had mis-labelled him, and I shelter my want of charity under the Arabic
proverb: “Distrust thy neighbour if he has made a hajji; if he has made
two, make haste to leave thy house.”

We wound our way slowly out of the narrow and ill-paved streets of
Smyrna, and passing through the suburban gardens, yellow with lemons and
oranges, crossed a small bridge over the Hermus. This is the favourite
walk of the Smyrniotes, and if its classic river, whose “golden sands”
(here, at least), are not golden, and its “Bath of Diana” near by, whose
waters would scarce purify her “silver bow,” are something less than
their sounding names; there is a cool, dark cemetery beyond, less
famous, but more practicable for sentiment, and many a shadowy vine and
drooping tree in the gardens around, that might recompense lovers,
perhaps, for the dirty labyrinth of the intervening suburb.

We spurred away over the long plain of Hadjilar, leaving to the right
and left the pretty villages, ornamented by the summer residences of the
wealthy merchants of Smyrna, and in two or three hours reached a small
lone café, at the foot of its bounding range of mountains. We dismounted
here to breathe our horses, and while coffee was preparing, I
discovered, in a green hollow hard by, a small encampment of gipsies.
With stones in our hands, as the caféjee told us the dogs were
troublesome, we walked down into the little round-bottomed dell, a spot
selected with “a lover’s eye for nature,” and were brought to bay by a
dozen noble shepherd-dogs, within a few yards of their outer tent.

The noise brought out an old sun-burnt woman, and two or three younger
ones, with a troop of boys, who called in the dogs, and invited us
kindly within their limits. The tents were placed in a half circle, with
their doors inward, and were made with extreme neatness. There were
eight or nine of them, very small and low, with round tops, the cloth
stretched tightly over an inner frame, and bound curiously down on the
outside with beautiful wicker-work. The curtains at the entrance were
looped up to admit the grateful sun, and the compactly-arranged
interiors lay open to our prying curiosity. In the rounded corner
farthest from the door, lay uniformly the same goat-skin beds, flat on
the ground, and in the centre of most of them, stood a small loom, at
which the occupant plied her task like an automaton, not betraying by
any sign a consciousness of our presence. They sat cross-legged like the
Turks, and had all a look of habitual sternness, which, with their thin,
strongly-marked gipsy features, and wild eyes, gave them more the
appearance of men. It was the first time I had ever remarked such a
character upon a class of female faces, and I should have thought I had
mistaken their sex, if their half-naked figures had not put it beyond a
doubt. The men were probably gone to Smyrna, as none were visible in the
encampment. As we were about returning, the curtain of the largest tent,
which had been dropped on our entrance, was lifted cautiously, by a
beautiful girl, of perhaps thirteen, who, not remarking that I was
somewhat in the rear of my companions, looked after them a moment, and
then fastening back the dingy folds by a string, returned to her
employment of swinging an infant in a small wicker hammock, suspended in
the centre of the tent. Her dark, but prettily-rounded arm, was decked
with a bracelet of silver pieces, and just between two of the finest
eyes I ever saw, was suspended by a yellow thread, one of the small gold
coins of Constantinople. Her softly-moulded bust was entirely bare, and
might have served for the model of a youthful Hebe. A girdle round her
waist sustained loosely a long pair of full Turkish trousers, of the
colour and fashion usually worn by women in the East, and caught over
her hip, hung suspended by its fringe the truant shawl that had been
suffered to fall from her shoulders and expose her guarded beauty. I
stood admiring her a full minute, before I observed a middle-aged woman
in the opposite corner, who, bending over her work, was fortunately as
late in observing my intrusive presence. As I advanced half a step,
however, my shadow fell into the tent, and starting with surprise, she
rose and dropped the curtain.

We remounted, and I rode on, thinking of the vision of loveliness I was
leaving in that wild dell. We travel a great way to see hills and
rivers, thought I, but, after all, a human being is a more interesting
object than a mountain. I shall remember the little gipsy of Hadjilar,
long after I have forgotten Hermus and Sypilus.

Our road dwindled to a mere bridle-path, as we advanced, and the scenery
grew wild and barren. The horses were all sad stumblers, and the uneven
rocks gave them every apology for coming down whenever they could forget
the spur, and so we entered the broad and green valley of Yackerhem (I
write it as I heard it pronounced), and drew up at the door of a small
hovel, serving the double purpose of a café and a guard-house.

A Turkish officer of the old régime, turbanned and cross-legged, and
armed with pistols and ataghan, sat smoking on one side the brazier of
coals, and the caféjee exercised his small vocation on the other. Before
the door, a raised platform of greensward and a marble slab, facing
toward Mecca, indicated the place for prayer; and a dashing rider of a
Turk, who had kept us company from Smyrna, flying past us and dropping
to the rear alternately, had taken off his slippers at the moment we
arrived, and was commencing his noon devotions.

We gathered round our commissary’s saddle-bags and shocked our Mussulman
friends, by producing the unclean beast[18] and the forbidden liquor,
which, with the delicious Turkey coffee, never better than in these
way-side hovels, furnished forth a traveller’s meal.

-----

[18] Talking of hams, two of the Sultan’s chief eunuchs applied to an
English physician, a friend of mine at Constantinople, to accompany them
on board the American frigate. I engaged to wait on board for them on a
certain day, but they did not make their appearance. They gave, as their
apology, that they could not defile themselves by entering a ship
polluted by the presence of that unclean animal, the hog.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XLV.


    Natural Statue of Niobe—The Thorn of Syria and its
    Tradition—Approach to Magnesia—Hereditary Residence of the
    Family of Bey-Oglou—Character of its Present Occupant—The
    Truth about Oriental Caravanserais—Comforts and Appliances they
    yield to Travellers—Figaro of the Turks—The Pilaw—Morning
    Scene at the Departure—Playful Familiarity of a Solemn old
    Turk—Magnificent Prospect from Mount Sypilus.

Three or four hours more of hard riding brought us to a long glen,
opening upon the broad plains of Lydia. We were on the look-out here for
the “natural statue of Niobe,” spoken of by the ancient writers as
visible from the road in this neighbourhood; but there was nothing that
looked like her, unless she was, as the poet describes her, a “Niobe,
_all_ tears,” and runs down toward the Sarabat, in what we took to be
only a very pretty mountain rivulet. It served for simple fresh water to
our volunteer companion, who darted off an hour before sunset, and had
finished his ablutions and prayers, and was rising from his knees as we
overtook him upon its grassy border. Almost the only thing that grows in
these long mountain passes, is the peculiar thorn of Syria, said to be
the same of which our Saviour’s crown was plaited. It differs from the
common species, in having a hooked thorn alternating with the straight,
adding cruelly to its power of laceration. It is remarkable that the
flower, at this season withering on the bush, is a circular
golden-coloured leaf, resembling exactly the radiated glory usually
drawn around the heads of Christ and the Virgin.

Amid a sunset of uncommon splendour, firing every peak of the opposite
range of hills with an effulgent red, and filling the valley between
with an atmosphere of heavenly purple, we descended into the plain.

Mount Sypilus, in whose rocks the magnetic ore is said to have been
first discovered, hung over us in bold precipices; and, rounding a
projecting spur, we came suddenly in sight of the minarets and cypresses
of _Magnesia_ (not pronounced as if written in an apothecary’s bill),
the ancient capital of the Ottoman empire.

On the side of the ascent, above the town, we observed a large isolated
mansion, surrounded with a wall, and planted about with noble trees,
looking, with the exception that it was too freshly painted, like one of
the fine old castle palaces of Italy. It was something very
extraordinary for the East, where no man builds beyond the city wall,
and no house is very much larger than another. It was the hereditary
residence, we afterwards discovered, of almost the only noble family in
Turkey—that of the Bey-Oglou. You will recollect Byron’s allusion to it
in the “Bride of Abydos:”

        “We Moslem reck not much of blood,
          But yet the race of Karaisman,
        Unchanged, unchangeable hath stood,
          First of the bold Timareot bands
        Who won, and well can keep, their lands;
        Enough that he who comes to woo
        Is kinsman of the Bey-Oglou.”

I quote from memory, perhaps incorrectly.

The present descendant is still in possession of the title, and is said
to be a liberal-minded and hospitable old Turk, of the ancient and
better school. His camels are the finest that come into Smyrna, and are
famous for their beauty and appointments.

Our devout companion left us at the first turning in the town, laying
his hand to his breast in gratitude for having been suffered to annoy us
all day with his brilliant equitation, and we stumbled in through the
increasing shadows of twilight to the caravanserai.

It is very possible that the reader has but a slender conception of an
_oriental hotel_. Supposing it, at least, from the inadequacy of my own
previous ideas, I shall allow myself a little particularity in the
description of the conveniences which the travelling Zuleikas and
Fatimas, the Maleks and Othmans, of eastern story, encounter in their
romantic journeys.

It was near the farther outskirt of the large city of Magnesia (the
accent, I repeat, is on the penult), that we found the way encumbered
with some scores of kneeling camels, announcing our vicinity to a khan.
A large wooden building, rather off its perpendicular, with a great many
windows, but no panes in them, and only here and there a shutter
“hanging by the eyelids,” presently appeared, and entering its
hospitable gateway, which had neither gate nor porter, we dismounted in
a large court, lit only by the stars, and pre-occupied by any number of
mules and horses. An inviting staircase led to a gallery encircling the
whole area, from which opened thirty or forty small doors; but, though
we made as much noise as could be expected of as many men and horses, no
waiter looked over the balustrades, nor maid Cicely, nor Boniface, or
their corresponding representatives in Turkey, invited us in. The
suridjee looked to his horses, which was his business, and to look to
ourselves was ours; though, with our stiff limbs and clamorous
appetites, we set about it rather despairingly.

The Figaro of the Turks is a caféjee, who, besides shaving, making
coffee, and bleeding, is supposed to be capable of every office required
by man. He is generally a Greek, the Mussulman seldom having sufficient
facility of character for the vocation. In a few minutes, then, the
nearest Figaro was produced, who scarce dissembling his surprise at the
improvidence of travellers who went about without pot or kettle, bag of
rice or bottle of oil, led the way with his primitive lamp to our
apartment. We might have our choice of twenty. Having looked at the
other nineteen, we came back to the first, reconciled to it by sheer
force of comparison. Of its two windows, one alone had a shutter that
would fulfill its destiny. It contained neither chair, table, nor
utensil of any description. Its floor had not been swept, nor its walls
whitewashed since the days of Timour the Tartar. “Kalo! Kalo!” (Greek
for _you will be very comfortable_), cried our commissary, throwing down
some old mats to spread our carpets upon. But the mats were alive with
vermin, and, for sweeping the room, the dust would not have been laid
till midnight. So we threw down our carpets upon the floor, and driving
from our minds the too luxurious thoughts of clean straw, and a corner
in a warm barn, sat down, by the glimmer of a flaring taper, to wait,
with what patience we might, for a chicken still breathing freely on his
roost, and turn our backs as ingeniously as possible on a chilly
December wind, that came in at the open window, as if it knew the
caravanserai were free to all comers. There is but one circumstance to
add to this faithful description—and it is one which, in the minds of
many very worthy persons, would turn the scale in favour of the hotels
of the East, with all its disadvantages—_there was nothing to pay_!

Ali Bey, in his travels, predicts the fall of the Ottoman empire from
the neglected state of the khans; this inattention to the public
institutions of hospitality, being a falling away from the leading
Mussulman virtue. They never gave the traveller more than a shelter,
however, in their best days; and to enter a cold, unfurnished room,
after a day’s hard travel, even if the floor were clean, and the windows
would shut, is rather comfortless. Yet such is Eastern travel, and the
alternative is to take “the sky for a great coat,” and find as soft a
stone as possible for your pillow.

We gathered around our pilaw, which came in the progress of time, and
consisted of a chicken, buried in a handsomely-shaped cone of rice and
butter, forming, with a large crater-like black bowl in which it stood,
the cloud of smoke issuing from its peak, and the lava of butter flowing
down its sides, as pretty a miniature Vesuvius as you would find in a
modeller’s window in the Toledo. Encouraging that sin in Christians,
which they would not commit themselves, they brought us some wine of the
country, the sin of drinking which, one would think, was its own
sufficient punishment. With each a wooden spoon, the immediate and only
means of communication between the dish and the mouth, we soon solved
the doubtful problem of the depth of the crater, and then casting lots
who should lie next the window to take off the edge of the December
blast, we improved upon some hints taken from the fig-packers of Smyrna,
and with an economy of exposed surface which can only be learned by
travel, disposed ourselves in a solid body to sleep.

The tinkling of the camels’ bells awoke me as the day was breaking, and
my toilet being already made, I sprang readily up and descended to the
court of the caravanserai. It was an eastern scene, and not an
unpoetical one. The patient and intelligent camels were kneeling in
regular ranks to receive their loads, complaining in a voice almost
human, as the driver flung the heavy bales upon the saddles too roughly,
while the small donkey, no larger than a Newfoundland dog, leader of the
long caravan, took his place at the head of the gigantic file, pricking
back his long ears as if he were counting his spongy-footed followers,
as they fell in behind him. Here and there knelt six or seven, with
their unsightly humps still unburdened, eating with their peculiar
deliberateness from small heaps of provender, and scattered over the
adjacent fields, wandered separately the caravan of some indolent
driver, browsing upon the shrubs, and looking occasionally with
intelligent expectation toward the khan, for the appearance of their
tardy master. Over all rose the mingled music of the small bells with
which their gay-covered harness was profusely covered, varied by the
heavy beat of the larger ones borne at the necks of the leading and last
camels of the file, while the retreating sounds of the caravans already
on their march, came in with the softer tones which completed its
sweetness.

In a short time my companions joined me, and we started for a walk in
the town. The necessity of attending the daylight prayers makes all
Mussulmans early risers, and we found the streets already crowded, and
the merchants and artificers as busy as at noon. Turning a corner to get
out of the way of a row of butchers, who were slaughtering sheep
revoltingly in front of their stalls, we met two old Turks coming from
the mosque one of whom, with the familiarity of manners which
characterises the nation, took from my hand a stout English riding-whip
which I carried, and began to exercise it on the bag-like trowsers of
his friend. After amusing himself a while in this manner, he returned
the whip, and, patting me condescendingly on the cheek, gave me two figs
from his voluminous pocket, and walked on. Considering that I stand six
feet in my stockings, an unwieldy size, you may say, for a pet, this
freak of the old Magnesian would seem rather extraordinary. Yet it
illustrates the Turkish manners, which, as I have often had occasion to
notice, are a singular mixture of profound gravity and the most childish
simplicity.

We found a few fine old marble columns in the porches of the mosques,
but one Turkish town is just like another, and after an hour or two of
wandering about among the wooden houses and narrow streets, we returned
to the khan, and, with a cup of coffee, mounted and resumed our journey.

I have never seen a finer plain than that of Magnesia. With an even
breadth of seven or eight miles, its length cannot be less than fifty or
sixty, and throughout its whole extent it is one unbroken picture of
fertile field and meadow, shut in by two lofty ranges of mountains, and
watered by the full and winding Hermus. Without fence, and almost
without human habitation, it is a noble expanse to the eye, possessing
all the untrammelled beauty of a wilderness without its detracting
inutility. It is literally “clothed with flocks.” As we rode on under
the eastern brow of Mount Sypilus, and struck out more into the open
plain, as far as we could distinguish by the eye, spread the snowy sheep
in hundreds, at merely separating distances, checkered here and there by
a herd of the tall jet-black goats of the East, walking onward in slow
and sober procession, with the solemn state of a funeral. The road was
lined with camels coming into Smyrna by this grand highway of nature,
and bringing all the varied produce of Asia Minor to barter in its busy
mart. We must have passed a thousand in our day’s journey.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                              LETTER XLVI.


    The Eye of the Camel—Rocky Sepulchres—Virtue of an old
    Passport, backed by Impudence—Temple of Cybele—Palace of
    Crœsus—Ancient Church of Sardus—Return to Smyrna.

Unsightly as the camel is, with its long snaky neck, its frightful hump,
and its awkward legs and action, it wins much upon your kindness with a
little acquaintance. Its eye is exceedingly fine. There is a lustrous,
suffused softness in the large hazel orb that is the rarest beauty in a
human eye, and so remarkable is this feature in the camel, that I wonder
it has never fallen into use as a poetical simile. They do not shun the
gaze of man like other animals, and I pleased myself often when the
suridjee slackened his pace, with riding close to some returning
caravan, and exchanging steady looks in passing with the slow-paced
camels. It was like meeting the eye of a kind old man.

The face of Mount Sypilus, in its whole extent, is excavated into
sepulchres. They are mostly ancient, and form a very singular feature in
the scenery. A range of precipices, varying from one to three hundred
feet in height, is perforated for twenty miles with these airy
depositories for the dead, many of them a hundred feet from the plain.
Occasionally they are extended to considerable caves, hewn with great
labour in the rock, and probably from their numerous niches, intended as
family sepulchres. They are now the convenient eyries of great numbers
of eagles, which circle continually around the summits, and poise
themselves on the wing along the sides of these lonely mountains, in
undisturbed security.

We arrived early in the afternoon at Casabar, a pretty town at the foot
of Mount Tmolus. Having eaten a melon, the only thing for which the
place is famous, we proposed to go on to Achmet-lee, some three hours
farther. The suridjee, however, whose horses were hired by the day, had
made up his mind to sleep at Casabar, and so we were at issue. Our stock
of Turkish was soon exhausted, and the hajji was coolly unbuckling the
girths of the baggage-horse without condescending even to answer our
appeal with a look. The Mussulman idlers of the café opposite, took
their pipes from their mouths and smiled. The gay caféjee went about his
arrangements for our accommodation, quite certain that we were there for
the night. I had given up the point myself, when one of my companions,
with a look of the most confident triumph, walked up to the suridjee and
tapping him on the shoulder, held before his eyes a paper with the seal
of the pacha of Smyrna in broad characters at the top. After the
astonished Turk had looked at it for a moment, he commenced in good
round English, and poured upon him a volume of incoherent rhapsody,
slapping the paper violently with his hand and pointing to the road. The
effect was instantaneous. The girth was hastily rebuckled, and the
frightened suridjee put his hand to his head in token of submission,
mounted in the greatest hurry and rode out of the court of the
caravanserai. The caféjee made his salaam, and the spectators wished us
respectfully a good journey. The magic paper was an old passport, and
our friend had calculated securely on the natural dread of the
incomprehensible, quite sure that there was not one man in the village
that could read, and none short of Smyrna who could understand his
English.

The plain between Casabar and Achmet-lee, is quite a realisation of
poetry. It is twelve miles of soft, bright greensward, broken only with
clumps of luxurious oleanders, an occasional cluster of the “black tents
of Kedar” with their flocks about them, and here and there a loose and
grazing camel indolently lifting his broad foot from the grass as if he
felt the coolness and verdure to its spongy core. One’s heart seems to
stay behind as he rides onward through such places.

The village of Achmet-lee consists of a coffee-house with a single room.
We arrived about sunset, and found the fire-place surrounded by six or
seven Turks squatted on their hams, travellers like ourselves, who had
arrived before us. There was fortunately a second fire-place, which was
soon blazing with faggots of fir and oleander, and with, a pilaw between
us, we crooked our tired legs under us on the earthen floor, and made
ourselves as comfortable as a total absence of every comfort would
permit. The mingled smoke of tobacco and the chimney drove me out of
doors as soon as our greasy meal was finished, and the contrast was
enough to make one in love with nature. The moon was quite full, and
pouring her light down through the transparent and dazzling sky of the
East with indescribable splendour. The fires of twenty or thirty
caravans were blazing in the fields around, and the low cries of the
camels and the hum of voices from the various groups, were mingled with
the sound of a stream that came noiselessly down its rocky channel from
the nearest spur of Mount Tmolus. I walked up and down the narrow
camel-path till midnight; and if the kingly spirits of ancient Lydia did
not keep me company in the neighbourhood of their giant graves, it was
perhaps because the feet that trod down their ashes came from a world of
which Crœsus and Abyattis never heard.

The sin of late rising is seldom chargeable upon an earthen bed, and we
were in the saddle by sunrise, breathing an air that, after our smoky
cabin, was like a spice-wind from Arabia. Winding round the base of the
chain of mountains which we had followed for twenty or thirty miles, we
ascended a little, after a brisk trot of two or three hours, and came in
sight of the citadel of ancient Sardis, perched like an eagle’s nest on
the summit of a slender rock. A natural terrace, perhaps a hundred feet
above the plain, expanded from the base of the hill, and this was the
commanding site of the capital of Lydia. Dividing us from it ran the
classic and “golden-sanded” Pactolus, descending from the mountains in a
small, narrow valley, covered with a verdure so fresh, that it requires
some power of fancy to realise that a crowded empire ever swarmed on its
borders. Crossing the small, bright stream, we rode along the other
bank, winding up its ascending curve, and dismounted at the ruins of the
temple of Cybele, a heap of gigantic fragments strewn confusedly over
the earth, with two majestic columns rising lone and beautiful into the
air.

A Dutch artist, who was of our party, spread his drawing-board and
pencils upon one of the fallen Ionic capitals, the suridjee tied his
horses’ heads together, and laid himself at his length upon the grass,
and the rest of us ascended the long steep hill to the citadel. With
some loss of breath, and a battle with the dogs of a gipsy encampment,
hidden so as almost to be invisible among the shrubbery of the
hill-side, we stood at last upon a peak, crested with one tottering
remnant of a wall, the remains of a castle whose foundations have
crumbled beneath it. It looks as if the next rain must send the whole
mass into the valley.

It puzzled my unmilitary brain to conceive how Alexander and his
Macedonians climbed these airy precipices, if taking the citadel was a
part of his conquest of Lydia. The fortifications in the rear have a
sheer descent from their solid walls of two or three hundred
perpendicular feet, with scarce a vine clinging by the way. I left my
companions discussing the question, and walked to the other edge of the
hill, overlooking the immense plains below. The tumuli which mark the
sepulchres of the kings of Lydia, rose like small hills on the opposite
and distant bank of the Hermus. The broad fields, which were once the
“wealth of Crœsus,” lay still fertile and green along the banks of their
historic river. Thyatira and Philadelphia were almost within reach of my
eye, and I stood upon Sardis—in the midst of the sites of the Seven
Churches. Below lay the path of the myriad armies of Persia, on their
march to Greece; here Alexander pitched his tents after the battle of
Granicus, wiling away the winter in the lap of captive Lydia; and over
the small ruin just discernible on the southern bank of the Pactolus,
“the angel of the church of Sardis” brooded with his protecting wings
till the few who had “not defiled their garments,” were called to “walk
in white,” in the promised reward of the Apocalypse.

We descended again to the temple of Cybele, and mounting our horses,
rode down to the palace of Crœsus. Parts of the outer walls, the bases
of the portico, and the marble steps of an inner court, are all that
remain of the splendour that Solon was called upon in vain to admire.
With the permission of six or seven storks, whose coarse nests were
built upon the highest points of the ruins, we selected the broadest of
the marble blocks, lying in the deserted area, and spreading our
travellers’ breakfast upon it, forgot even the kingly builder in our
well-earned appetites.

There are three parallel walls remaining of the ancient church of
Sardis. They stand on a gentle slope, just above the edge of the
Pactolus, and might easily be rebuilt into a small chapel, with only the
materials within them. There are many other ruins on the site of the
city, but none designated by a name. We loitered about, collecting
relics, and indulging our fancies, till the suridjee reminded us of the
day’s journey before us, and with a drink from the Pactolus, and a
farewell look at the beautiful Ionic columns standing on its lonely
bank, we put spurs to our horses and galloped once more down into the
valley.

Our Turkish saddles grew softer on the third day’s journey, and we
travelled more at ease. I found the freedom and solitude of the wide and
unfenced country growing at every mile more upon my liking. The heart
expands as one gives his horse the rein and gallops over these wild
paths without toll-gate or obstacle. I can easily understand the feeling
of Ali Bey on his return to Europe from the East.

Our fourth day’s journey lay through the valley between Tmolus and
Semering—the fairest portion of the dominion of Timour the Tartar. How
gracefully shaped were those slopes to the mountains! How bright the
rivers! How green the banks! How like a new-created and still unpeopled
world it seemed, with every tree and flower and fruit the perfect model
of its kind!

Leaving the secluded village of Nymphi nested in the mountains on our
left, as we approached the end of our circuitous journey, we entered
early in the afternoon the long plains of Hadjilar, and with tired
horses and (_malgré_ romance) an agreeable anticipation of Christian
beds and supper, we dismounted in Smyrna at sunset.

                 *        *        *        *        *

                 *        *        *        *        *



                             LETTER XLVII.


    Smyrna—Charms of its Society—Hospitality of Foreign
    Residents—The Marina—The Casino—A narrow Escape from the
    Plague—Departure of the Frigate—High Character of the American
    Navy—A Tribute of Respect and Gratitude—The Farewell.

What can I say of Smyrna? Its mosques and bazaars scarce deserve
description after those of Constantinople. It has neither pictures,
scenery, nor any peculiarities of costume or manners. There are no
“lions” here. It is only one of the most agreeable places in the world,
exactly the sort of thing, that (without compelling private individuals
to sit for their portraits),[19] is the least describable. Of the
fortnight of constant pleasure that I have passed here, I do not well
know how I can eke out half a page that would amuse you.

The society of Smyrna has some advantages over that of any other city I
have seen. It is composed entirely of the families of merchants, who,
separated from the Turkish inhabitants, occupy a distinct quarter of the
town, are responsible only to their consuls, and having no nobility
above, and none but dependants below them, live in a state of cordial
republican equality that is not found even in America. They are of all
nations, and the principal languages of Europe are spoken by everybody.
Hospitality is carried to an extent more like the golden age than these
“days of iron;” and, as a necessary result of the free mixture of
languages and feelings, there is a degree of information and liberality
of sentiment among them, united to a free and joyous tone of manners and
habits of living, that is quite extraordinary in men of their
care-fraught profession. Our own country, I am proud to say, is most
honourably represented. There is no traveller to the East, of any
nation, who does not carry away with him from Smyrna, grateful
recollections of _one_ at least whose hospitality is as open as his
gate. This living over warehouses of opium, I am inclined to think, is
healthy for the heart.

After having seen the packing of figs, wondered at the enormous burdens
carried by the porters, ridden to Bougiar and the castle on the hill,
and admired the caravan of the Bey-Oglou, whose camels are the
handsomest that come into Smyrna, one has nothing to do but dine, dance,
and walk on the Marina. The last is a circumstance the traveller does
well not to miss. A long street extends along the bay, lined with the
houses of the rich merchants of the town, and for the two hours before
sunset every family is to be seen sitting outside its door upon the
public pavement, while beaux and belles stroll up and down in all the
gaiety of perpetual holiday. They are the most out-of-doors people, the
Smyrniotes, that I have ever seen. And one reason perhaps is, that they
have a beauty which has nothing to fear from the daylight. The rich,
classic, glowing face of the Greeks, the paler and livelier French, the
serious and impassioned Italian, the blooming English, and the shrinking
and fragile American, mingle together in this concourse of grace and
elegance like the varied flowers in the garden. I would match Smyrna
against the world for beauty. And then such sociability, such primitive
cordiality of manners as you find among them! It is quite a Utopia. You
would think that little republic of merchants, separate from the
Christian world on a heathen shore, had commenced _de novo_, from
Eden—ignorant as yet of jealousy, envy, suspicion, and the other
ingredients with which the old world mingles up its refinements. It is a
_very_ pleasant place, Smyrna!

The stranger, on his arrival, is immediately introduced to the Casino—a
large palace, supported by the subscription of the residents, containing
a reading-room, furnished with all the gazettes and reviews of Europe, a
ball-room frequently used, a coffee-room whence the delicious mocha is
brought to you whenever you enter, billiard-tables, card-rooms, &c. &c.
The merchants all are members, and any member can introduce a stranger,
and give him all the privileges of the place during his stay in the
city. It is a courtesy that is not a little drawn upon. English, French,
and American ships-of-war are almost always in the port, and the
officers are privileged guests. Every traveller to the East passes by
Smyrna, and there are always numbers at the Casino. In fact, the
hospitality of this kindest of cities has not the usual demerit of being
rarely called upon. It seems to have grown with the demand for it.

                 *        *        *        *        *

Idling away the time very agreeably at Smyrna, waiting for a vessel to
go—I care not where. I have offered myself as a passenger in the first
ship that sails. I rather lean toward Palestine and Egypt, but there are
no vessels for Jaffa or Alexandria. A brig, crowded with hajjis to
Jerusalem, sailed on the first day of my arrival at Smyrna, and I was on
the point of a hasty embarkation, when my good angel, in the shape of a
sudden caprice, sent me off to Sardis. The plague broke out on board
immediately on leaving the port, and nearly the whole ship’s company
perished at sea!

There are plenty of vessels bound to Trieste and the United States, but
there would be nothing new to me in Illyria and Lombardy; and much as I
love my country, I am more enamoured for the present of my
“sandal-shoon.” Besides, I have a yearning to the South, and the cold
“Bora” of that bellows-like Adriatic, and the cutting winter winds of my
native shore, chill me even in the thought. Meantime I breathe an air
borrowed by December of May, and sit with my windows open, warming
myself in a broad beam of the soft sun of Asia. With such “appliances,”
even suspense is agreeable.

                 *        *        *        *        *

The commodore sailed this morning for his winter quarters in Minorca. I
watched the ship’s preparations for departure from the balcony of the
hotel, with, a heavy heart. Her sails dropped from the yards, her head
turned slowly outward as the anchor brought away, and with a light
breeze in her topsails, the gallant frigate moved majestically down the
harbour, and in an hour was a speck on the horizon. She had been my home
for more than six months. I had seen from her deck, and visited in her
boats some of the fairest portions of the world. She had borne me to
Sicily, to Illyria, to the isles and shores of Greece, to Marmora and
the Bosphorus, and the thousand lovely pictures with which that long
summer voyage had stored my memory, and the thousand adventures and
still more numerous kindnesses and courtesies, linked with these
interesting scenes, crowded on my mind as the noble ship receded from my
eye, with an emotion that I could not repress.

There is a “pomp and circumstance” about a man-of-war, which is
exceedingly fascinating. Her imposing structure and appearance, the
manly and deferential etiquette, the warlike appointment and impressive
order upon her decks, the ready and gallantly-manned boat, the stirring
music of the band, and the honour and attention with which her officers
are received in every port, conspire in keeping awake an excitement, a
kind of chivalrous elation, which, it seems to me, would almost make a
hero of a man of straw. From the hoarse “seven bells, sir!” with which
you are turned out of your hammock in the morning, to the blast of the
bugle and the report of the evening gun, it is one succession of
elevating sights and sounds, without any of that approach to the
ridiculous which accompanies the sublime or the impressive on shore.

From the comparisons I have made between our own and the ships-of-war of
other nations, I think we may well be proud of our navy. I had learned
in Europe, long before joining the “United States,” that the respect we
exact from foreigners is paid more to Americans afloat, than to a
continent they think as far off at least as the moon. They _see_ our
men-of-war, and they know very well what they have done, and from the
appearance and character of our officers, what they might do again—and
there is a tangibility in the deductions from knowledge and eyesight,
which beats books and statistics. I have heard Englishmen deny, one by
one, every claim we have to political and moral superiority; but I have
found no one illiberal enough to refuse a compliment, and a handsome
one, to _Yankee ships_.

I consider myself, I repeat, particularly fortunate to have made a
cruise on board an American frigate. It is a chapter of observation in
itself, which is worth much to any one. But, in addition to this, it was
my good fortune to have happened upon a cruise directed by a mind full
of taste and desire for knowledge, and a cruise which had for its
principal objects improvement and information. Commodore Patterson knew
the ground well, and was familiar with the history and localities of the
interesting countries visited by the ship, and every possible facility
and encouragement was given by him to all to whom the subjects and
places were new. An enlightened and enterprising traveller himself, he
was the best of advisers and the best and kindest of guides. I take
pleasure in recording almost unlimited obligations to him.

And so, to the gallant ship—to the “warlike world within”—to the docks
I have so often promenaded, and the moonlight watches I have so often
shared—to the groups of manly faces I have learned to know so well—to
the drum-beat and the bugle-call, and the stirring music of the band—to
the hammock in which I swung and slept so soundly, and last and nearest
my heart, to the gay and hospitable mess with whom for six happy months
I have been a guest and a friend, whose feelings I have learned but to
honour my country more, and whose society has become to me even a
painful want—to all this catalogue of happiness, I am bidding a
heavy-hearted farewell. Luck and Heaven’s blessing to ship and company!

-----

[19] A courteous old traveller, of the last century, whose book I have
somewhere fallen in with, indulges his recollections of Smyrna with less
scruples. “Mrs. B.,” he says, “who has travelled a great deal, is
mistress of both French and Italian. The Misses W. are all amiable young
ladies. A Miss A., whose name is expressive of the passion she inspires,
without being beautiful, possesses a _je ne sais quoi_, which fascinates
more than beauty itself. Not to love her, one must never have seen her.
And who would not be captivated by the vivacity of Miss B.?” How
charming thus to go about the world, describing the fairest of its
wonders, instead of stupid mountains and rivers!

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                           TRANSCRIBER NOTES


Obvious printer and spelling errors have been corrected.

Inconsistent use of hyphens maintained.

Cover created for this ebook edition.

[The end of _Summer Cruise in the Mediterranean on board the American
frigate_, by N. (Nathaniel) Parker Willis]





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