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Title: The City of the Sultan; and Domestic Manners of the Turks, in 1836, Vol. 1 (of 2)
Author: Pardoe, Miss (Julia)
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The City of the Sultan; and Domestic Manners of the Turks, in 1836, Vol. 1 (of 2)" ***

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DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE TURKS, IN 1836, VOL. 1 (OF 2)***


available by Internet Archive/American Libraries
(https://archive.org/details/americana)



      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive/American Libraries. See
      https://archive.org/details/cityofsultanandd01pardiala

Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      A carat character is used to denote superscription. A
      single character following the carat is superscripted
      (example: G^t). Multiple superscripted characters are
      enclosed by curly brackets (example: Lith^{rs}).

      The part of List of Illustrations in Vol. I. related
      to Vol. II. is moved to Vol. II. for completenes and
      consistency.



THE CITY OF THE SULTAN; AND DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE TURKS, IN 1836.


[Illustration: Miss Pardoe del.

Day & Haghe Lith^{rs}. to the King.

THE CHAPEL OF THE TURNING DERVISHES.]

_H. Colburn, 13 G^t. Marlborough S^t._]


THE CITY OF THE SULTAN; AND DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE TURKS, IN 1836.

by

MISS PARDOE,

Author of “Traits and Traditions of Portugal.”


[Illustration: THE MAIDEN’S TOWER.]


In Two Volumes.

VOL. I.



London:
Henry Colburn, Publisher,
Great Marlborough Street.
1837.

London:
F. Shoberl, Jun., Leicester Street, Leicester Square.


  TO HER

  TO WHOM PROFESSION AND PANEGYRIC

  WERE ALIKE SUPERFLUOUS;

  AND FROM WHOM,

  DURING MY SOJOURN IN THE EAST,

  I WAS FOR THE FIRST TIME SEPARATED—

  TO MY LOVED AND LOVING MOTHER,

  I DEDICATE THIS WORK.



PREFACE.


In publishing the present work I feel that I should be deficient in
self-justice, did I not state a few facts relatively to the numerous
difficulties with which I have had to contend during its compilation.

The language of Turkey, in itself a serious impediment from its total
dissimilarity to every European tongue, naturally raises a barrier
between the native and the stranger, which is to the last only partially
removed by the intervention of a third person; who, acting as an
Interpreter, too frequently fritters away the soul of the conversation,
even where he does not wilfully pervert its sense. But this drawback to
a full and free intercourse with the natives, irritating and annoying as
it is, sinks into insignificance, when compared with the myriad snares
laid for the stranger, (and, above all, for the literary stranger) by
party-spirit and political prejudice. The liberal-minded and
high-hearted politician of Europe, even while he is straining every
nerve, and exerting every energy, to support and strengthen the
interests of his country, disdains to carry with him into private life
the hatreds, the jealousies, and the suspicions, which, like rust on
metal, mar the brightness of the spirit that harbours them. He does not
reject a friend because his political tenets may be at variance with his
own; nor overlook the amiable traits of his character, to dwell only
upon his opposing prejudices and interests.

The height to which party-spirit is carried in Constantinople; or I
should rather say, in the Frank quarter of Constantinople, would be
laughable were it not mischievous. Even females are not free from the
_malaria_ which hovers like an atmosphere about the streets and
“palaces” of Pera; and a traveller has not been domesticated a week
among its inhabitants, ere he almost begins to believe that the
destinies of the whole Eastern Empire hang upon the breath of a dozen
individuals. With one party, Russia is the common sewer into which are
poured all the reproach and the vituperation of indignant
patriotism—with the other, England is the landmark towards which is
pointed the finger of suspicion and defiance. All this may be very
necessary, and very praiseworthy, as a matter of diplomacy; I suppose
that it is both the one and the other. I have no opinion to offer on the
subject. I merely venture to question the propriety of suffering such
anti-social feelings to intrude into the bosom of private life; and to
question the soundness of the judgment which would universally create a
bad man out of a rival politician; and make the opening of one door the
signal for the closing of another. It is said that the three plagues of
Constantinople are Fire, Pestilence, and Dragomen; judging from what I
saw and heard while there, I should be inclined to add a fourth, and to
designate it, Politics. Certain it is that the faubourg of Pera always
reminded me of an ant-hill; with its jostling, bustling, and racing for
straws and trifles; and its ceaseless, restless struggling and striving
to secure most inconsequent results.

That the great question of Eastern policy is a weighty and an important
one, every thinking person must concede at once; but whether its final
settlement will be advantageously accelerated by individual jealousies
and individual hatreds is assuredly more problematical. “He who is not
for me is against me,” is the motto of every European resident in
Turkey; for each, however incompetent he may be to judge of so intricate
and comprehensive a subject, is nevertheless a loud and uncompromising
politician. And, if the temporary sojourner in the East be resolved to
belong to no _clique_, to pledge himself to no party, and to pursue a
straight and independent path, as he would do in Europe, without lending
himself to the views of either, he is certain to be suspected by both.

These are the briars which beset the wayside of the stranger in Turkey.
He has not only to contend with the unaccustomed language and manners of
the natives—to fling from him his European prejudices—and to learn to
look candidly and dispassionately on a state of society, differing so
widely from that which he has left—but when the wearied spirit would
fain fall back, and repose itself for a while among more familiar and
congenial habits, it has previously to undergo an ordeal as unexpected
as it is irritating; and from which it requires no inconsiderable
portion of moral courage to escape unshackled.

Such are the adventitious and unnecessary difficulties that have been
gratuitously prepared for the Eastern traveller, and superadded to the
natural impediments of the locality; and of these he has infinitely more
reason to complain, than of the unavoidable obstacles which meet him at
every step in his commerce with the natives. That the Turks as a people,
and particularly the Turkish females, are shy of making the acquaintance
of strangers, is most true; their habits and feelings do not lend
themselves readily to a familiar intercourse with Europeans; nor are
they induced to make any extraordinary effort to overcome the prejudice
with which they ever look upon a Frank, when they remember how absurdly
and even cruelly they have been misrepresented by many a passing
traveller, possessed neither of the time nor the opportunity to form a
more efficient judgment.

When my father and myself left Europe, it was with the intention of
visiting, not only Turkey, but also Greece, and Egypt; and we
accordingly carried with us letters to influential individuals, resident
in each of those interesting countries, whose assistance and friendship
would have been most valuable to us. And, for the two or three first
months of our sojourn in Constantinople, while yet unwilling to draw
deductions, and to trust myself with inferences, which might, and
probably would, ultimately prove erroneous, I suffered myself to be
misled by the assertions and opinions of prejudiced and party-spirited
persons, and still maintained the same purpose. But, when awakened to a
suspicion of the spirit-thrall in which I had been kept, I resolved to
hazard no assertion or opinion which did not emanate from personal
conviction, and I found that I could not prove an honest chronicler if I
merely contented myself with a hurried and superficial survey of a
country constituted like Turkey.

To this conviction must consequently be attributed the fact that the
whole period of my sojourn in the East was passed in Constantinople, and
a part of Asia Minor. But my personal disappointment will be over-paid,
should it be conceded that I have not failed in the attempt of affording
to my readers a more just and complete insight into Turkish domestic
life, than they have hitherto been enabled to obtain.

  Bradenham Lodge, Bucks,
    May 1837.



CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.


  CHAPTER I.

  The Golden Horn—Stamboul in Snow—The Seraï
  Bournou—Scutari—Galata—First View of Constantinople—St.
  Sophia and Solimaniè—Pera—Domestication of Aquatic
  Birds—Sounds at Sea—Caïques—Oriental Grouping—Armenian
  Costume—Reforms of Sultan Mahmoud—Dervishes—Eastern
  Jews—Evening—Illuminated Minarets—Romance versus
  Reason—Pain at Parting—Custom House of Galata—The East
  versus the West—Reminiscences of the Marseillois
  Functionaries—The British Consul at Marseilles—The
  Light-house at Syra—The Frank Quarter—Diplomatic
  Atmosphere—Straw Huts—Care of the Turks for Animals—Scene
  from Shakspeare                                               Page 1


  CHAPTER II.

  Difficulty of Ingress to Turkish Houses—Steep Streets—The
  Harem—The Tandour—The Mangal—The Family—Female
  Costume—Luxurious Habits—The Ramazan—The Dining-room—The
  Widow—The Dinner—The Turks not Gastronomers—Oriental
  Hospitality—Ceremony of Ablution—The Massaldjhe—Alarm in the
  Harem—The Prayer—Evening Offering—Puerile
  Questions—Opium—Primitive Painting—Splendid Beds—Avocations
  of a Turkish Lady—Oriental Coquetry—Shopping—Commercial
  Flirtations—The Sultana Heybétoullah—A Turkish Carriage—The
  Charshees—Armenian Merchants—Greek Speculators—Perfumes and
  Embroidery                                                        16


  CHAPTER III.

  Turning Dervishes—Appearance of the Tekiè—The
  Mausoleum—Duties of the Dervishes—Chapel of the Convent—The
  Chief Priest—Dress of the Brotherhood—Melancholy
  Music—Solemnity of the Service—Mistakes of a Modern
  Traveller—Explanation of the Ceremony—The Prayer—The Kiss of
  Peace—Appearance of the Chapel—Religious Tolerance of the
  Turks—The French Renegade—Sketch of Halet Effendi, The
  Founder of the Tekiè                                              40


  CHAPTER IV.

  Merchants of Galata—Palaces of Pera—Picturesque Style of
  Building—The Perotes—Social Subjects—Greeks, European and
  Schismatic—Ambassadorial Residences—Entrée of the
  Embassies—The Carnival—Soirées Dansantes—The Austrian
  Minister—Madame la Baronne—The Russian Minister—Madame de
  Boutenieff—The Masked Ball—Russian Supremacy—The Prussian
  Plenipotentiary—The Sardinian Chargé d’Affaires—Diplomacy
  Unhoused—Society of Pera                                         56


  CHAPTER V.

  The Greek Carnival—Kassim Pasha—The Marine Barrack—The
  Admiralty—Palace of the Capitan Pasha—Turkish Ships and
  Turkish Sailors—More Mistakes—Aqueduct of Justinian—The
  Seraï—The Arsenal—The “Sweet Waters”—The Fanar—Interior of
  a Greek House—Courteous Reception—Patriarchal Customs—Greek
  Ladies at Home—Confectionary and Coffee—A Greek
  Dinner—Ancient and Modern Greeks—A Few Words on
  Education—National Politeness—The Great Logotheti
  Aristarchi—His Politics—Sketch of his Father—His Domestic
  History—A Greek Breakfast—The Morning after a Ball—Greek
  Progress towards Civilization—Parallel between the Turk and
  the Greek                                                         65


  CHAPTER VI.

  Difficulty of Obtaining an Insight into Turkish
  Character—Inconvenience of Interpreters—Errors of
  Travellers—Ignorance of Resident Europeans—Fables and
  Fable-mongers—Turkey, Local and Moral—Absence of Capital
  Crime—Police of Constantinople—Quiet Streets—Sedate
  Mirth—Practical Philosophy of the Turks—National
  Emulation—Impossibility of Revolution—Mahmoud and his
  People—Unpopularity of the Sultan—Russian
  Interference—Vanity of the Turks—Russian Gold—Tenderness of
  the Turks to Animals—Penalty for Destroying a Dog—The English
  Sportsman—Fondness of the Turks for Children—Anecdote of the
  Reiss Effendi—Adopted Children—Love of the Musselmauns for
  their Mothers—Turkish indifference to Death—Their
  Burial-places—Fasts—The Turks in the Mosque—Contempt of the
  Natives for Europeans—Freedom of the Turkish
  Women—Inviolability of the Harem—Domestic Economy of the
  Harem—Turkish Slaves—Anecdote of a Slave of Achmet
  Pasha—Cleanliness of Turkish Houses—The Real Romance of the
  East                                                              86


  CHAPTER VII.

  The Harem of Mustafa Effendi—The Ladies of the
  Harem—Etiquettical Observances of the Harem—Ceremonies of
  the Salemliek—Jealousy of Precedence among the Turkish
  Women—Apartment of the Effendi—Eastern Passion for
  Diamonds—Personal Appearance of Mustafa Effendi—The little
  Slave-girl—Slavery in Turkey—Gallant Present—The
  Dinner—Turkish Cookery—Illuminated Mosques—The
  _Bokshaliks_—The Toilet after the Bath—History of an
  _Odalisque_—Stupid Husbands—Reciprocal Commiseration—Errors
  of a Modern French Traveller—Privacy of the Women’s
  Apartments—Anecdote of the Wife of the Kïara Bey—The Baïram
  _Bokshalik_—My Sleeping-room—Forethought of Turkish
  Hospitality—Farewell to Fatma Hanoum—Dense Crowd—Turkish
  Mob—Turkish Officers—Military Difficulty—The “Lower
  Orders”—Tolerance of the Orientals towards
  Foreigners—Satisfactory Expedient                               109


  CHAPTER VIII.

  Bath-room of Scodra Pasha—Fondness of the Eastern Women for
  the Bath—The Outer Hall—The Proprietress—Female Groups—The
  Cooling-room—The Great Hall—The Fountains—The Bathing
  Women—The Dinner—Apology for the Turkish Ladies                129


  CHAPTER IX.

  Cheerful Cemeteries—Burial-ground of Pera—Superiority of the
  Turkish Cemeteries—Cypresses—Singular Superstition—The
  Grand Champs—Greek Grave-yard—Sultan Selim’s
  Barrack—Village of St. Demetrius—European
  Burial-ground—Grave-stones—The Kiosk—Noble View—Legend of
  the Maiden’s Tower—Plague Hospital of the Turks—The
  Plague-Caïque—Armenian Cemetery—Curious
  Inscriptions—Turkish Burial-place—Distinctive
  Head-stones—Graves of the Janissaries—Wild
  Superstition—Cemetery of Scutari—Splendid Cypresses—Ancient
  Prophecy—Extent of Burial-ground—The Headless
  Dead—Exclusive Enclosures—Aspect of the Cemetery from the
  Summer Palace of Heybètoullah Sultane—Local Superstition—The
  Damnèd Souls                                                     138


  CHAPTER X.

  Character of the Constantinopolitan Greeks—The Greek Colony
  at the Fanar—Vogoride, Logotheti, and Angiolopolo—Political
  Sentiment—Chateaubriand at the Duke de Rovigo’s—Biting
  Criticism—Greek Chambers—“What’s in a Name?”—Custom of
  Burning Perfumes—The Pastille of the Seraglio—Turkish
  Cosmetics—Eastern Beauty                                        157


  CHAPTER XI.

  The Kourban-Baïram—Politeness of Mustafa Effendi—Depressing
  Recollections—Unquiet Night—Midnight March—Turkish
  Coffee—A Latticed Araba—The Mosque of Sultan
  Achmet—Beautiful coup-d’œil—Dress of the Turkish
  Children—Restlessness of the Franks—The Festival of
  Sacrifice—Old Jewish Rite—The Turkish
  Wife—Sun-rise—Appearance of the Troops—Turkish
  Ladies—Group of Field Officers—The Sultan’s
  Stud—Magnificent Trappings—The Seraskier Pasha—The Great
  Officers of State—The Procession—The Sultan—Imperial
  Curiosity—The Chèïk-Islam—Costume of the Sultan—Japanese
  Superstition—Vanity of Sultan Mahmoud—The Hairdresser of
  Halil Pasha—Rapid Promotion—Oriental Salutations—Halil
  Pasha—Saïd Pasha—Unruly Horses—The Valley of the “Sweet
  Waters”—Pera                                                    171


  CHAPTER XII.

  The Military College—Achmet Pasha and Azmi Bey—Study of Azmi
  Bey—His grateful Memories of England and the English—The
  Establishment—The Lithographic Presses—Extemporaneous
  Poetry—Halls of Study—Number of Students—Mathematical
  Hall—The Sultan’s Gallery—The Mosque—The Mufti—The Turkish
  Creed—The Imperial Closet—The Gallery of the Imperial
  Suite—The Retiring-Room—The Printing-Office—The
  Hospital—The Refectory—The Professor of Fortification—Negro
  Officers—Moral Condition of the College—Courtesy of the
  Officers—Deficiencies of the Professors—The Turks a Reading
  People—Object of the Institution—Reasons of its
  Failure—Smiling Enemies—Forlorn Hope—Russian
  Influence—Saduk Agha—Achmet Pasha—Azmi Bey—Apology for my
  Prolixity                                                        194


  CHAPTER XIII.

  Invitation from Mustapha Pasha of Scodra—The Caïque, and the
  Caïquejhes—How to Travel in a Caïque—Hasty
  Glances—Self-Gratulation—Scutari—Imperial Superstition—The
  Seraglio Point—Dolma Batchè—Beshiktash—The Turning
  Dervishes—Beglièrbey—The Kiosks—A Dilemma—A Ruined
  Palace—An Introduction—A Turkish Beauty—A Discovery—A New
  Acquaintance—The Buyuk Hanoum—Fatiguing Walk—Palace of
  Mustapha Pasha—The Harem—Turkish Dyes—Ceremonies of
  Reception—Turkish Establishment—The Buyuk Hanoum—Turkish
  Chaplets—The Imperial Firman—Pearls, Rubies, and
  Emeralds—The Favourite Odalique—Heyminè Hanoum—A
  Conversation on Politics—Scodra Pasha—Singular
  Coincidence—Convenience of the Turkish Kitchen—Luxury of the
  Table—Coquetry of the Chibouk—Turkish Mode of Lighting the
  Apartments—Gentleness towards the Slaves—Interesting
  Reminiscences—Domestic Details—Dilaram Hanoum—A Paragraph
  on Pearls—A Turkish Mirror—A Summons—Scodra Pasha—Motives
  for Revolt—The Imperial Envoy—Submission—Ready Wit of the
  Pasha’s Son—The Reception Room—Personal Appearance of the
  Scodra Pasha—Inconvenient Courtesy—Conversation on
  England—Philosophy—Pleasant Dreams—The Plague-Smitten         216


  CHAPTER XIV.

  Procession of Betrothal—Preliminary Ceremonies—The Mantle of
  Mahomet—The Palace of the Seraskier Pasha—The Palace
  Square—Picturesque Groups—An Interior—Turkish
  Children—Oriental Curiosity—Costume of the Turkish
  Children—Military Music—The Procession—Hurried Departure of
  the Crowd—The Seraskier’s Tower—The Fire Guard—Candidates
  for the Imperial Bride—Imperial Expedient—Saïd Pasha—Policy
  of the Seraskier—An Audience—The Biter Bitten—Ingenious
  Ruse—Sublime Economy—Brilliant Traffic—The Danger of
  Delay—The Marriage Gifts—An Interesting Interview              255


  CHAPTER XV.

  Fine Scenery—The Coast of Asia—Turkish Cemeteries—The
  Imperial Seraï—The Golden Horn—Mount Olympus—The
  Arabajhe—The Araba—The Persian Kiosk—The Barrack of
  Scutari—The Mosque of Selim III.—The Slipper of the Sultana
  Validè—The Imperial Guard—Military Material—The Macaroni
  Manufactory—Sublime Targets—A Major of the Imperial
  Guard—Triumph of Utilitarianism—The Rise of the Vines—The
  Holy Tomb—Encampments of the Plague-smitten—The Setting
  Sun—Return to Europe—The Square of Topphannè                   276


  CHAPTER XVI.

  Turkish Superstitions—Auguries—The Court Astrologer—The
  Evil Eye—Danger of Blue Eyes—Imperial Firman—The
  Babaluk—The Ceremony—Sable Pythonesses—Witchcraft             289


  CHAPTER XVII.

  Imperial Invitation—Disagreeable Adventure—Executed
  Criminal—Efficacy of Wayside Executions—Tardy
  Conversions—Mistaken Humanity—Summary Mode of
  Execution—The Palace of Asmè Sultane—Entrance of the
  Harem—Costume of the Slaves—Nazip Hanoum—Ceremonious
  Reception—The Adopted Daughter—Costume of the Ladies of the
  Seraï—Beauty of the Slaves—Extraordinary
  Arrangement—Rejected Addresses—The Imperial
  Lover—Sacredness of Adoption in Turkey—Romantic
  Correspondence—Ladies of the Household—The Mother of the
  Slaves—Peroussè Hanoum—Crowded Audience—The Imperial
  Odalique—Music of the Harem—The New Pet—The
  Kislar-Agha—The “Light of the Harem”—The Poetical
  Sultan—Indisposition of the Sultana—The Palace Gardens—The
  Imperial Apartments—The Dancing Girl—Reluctant
  Departure—Ballad by Peroussè Hanoum                             298


  CHAPTER XVIII.

  Kahaitchana—The Barbyses—The Valley of the Sweet
  Waters—Imperial Procession—National Interdict—Picturesque
  Scene—The Princess Salihè and her Infant—Forbearance of the
  Sultan—The Toxopholites—Imperial Monopoly—Passion of the
  Sultan for Archery—Record-Columns—The Odalique’s Grave—The
  Lost One—Azmè Sultane—Imperial Courtesy—A Drive through the
  Valley                                                           321


  CHAPTER XIX.

  Easter with the Greeks—Greek Church at Pera—Women’s
  Gallery—Interior of a Greek Church—The Sanctuary—The
  Screen—Throne of the Patriarch—The Holy Sepulchre—Singular
  Appearance of the Congregation—Sociability of the
  Ladies—_L’Echelle des Morts_—Shipping—Boats and
  Boatmen—Church of the Fanar—Ancient Screen—Treasure
  Chests—The Sanctuary—Private Chapels—A Pious
  Illumination—Priests’ House—Prison—Remedy against
  Mahomedanism—Midnight Mass—Unexpected Greetings—The
  Patriarch—Logotheti—Russian Secretaries—Russian Supremacy
  in Turkey—Affinity of Religion between the Greeks and
  Russians—The Homage—Pious Confusion—Patriarch’s
  Palace—Lovely Night-Scene—Midnight Procession—Serious
  Impressions—Suffocating Heat—Dawn                              332


  CHAPTER XX.

  Feasting after Fasting—Visit to the Patriarch—Gorgeous
  Procession—Inconvenient Enthusiasm—Indisposition of the
  Patriarch—The Ceremony of Unrobing—The Impromptu Fair—The
  Patriarch at Home—The Golden Eggs                               353


  CHAPTER XXI.

  High Street of Pera—Dangers and Donkeys—Travelling in an
  Araba—Fondness of the Orientals for their
  Cemeteries—Singular Spectacle—Moral Supineness of the
  Armenians—M. Nubar—The Fair—Armenian
  Dance—Anti-Exclusives—Water Venders—Being à la
  Franka—Wrestling Rings—The Battle of the Sects                 360


  CHAPTER XXII.

  The Mosques at Midnight—Baron Rothschild—Firmans and
  Orders—A Proposition—Masquerading—St. Sophia by
  Lamplight—The Congregation—The Mosque of Sultan
  Achmet—Colossal Pillars—Return to the Harem—The
  Chèïk-Islam—Count Bathiany—The Party—St. Sophia by
  Daylight—Erroneous Impression—Turkish Paradise—Piety of the
  Turkish Women—The Vexed Traveller—Disappointment—Confusion
  of Architecture—The Sweating Stone—Women’s Gallery—View
  from the Gallery—Gog and Magog at Constantinople—The
  Impenetrable Door—Ancient Tradition—Leads of the
  Mosque—Gallery of the Dome—The Doves—The Atmeidan—The Tree
  of Groans—The Mosque of Sultan Achmet—Antique
  Vases—Historical Pulpit—The Inner Court—The Six
  Minarets—The Mosque of Solimaniè—Painted
  Windows—Ground-plan of the Principal Mosques—The Treasury of
  Solimaniè—Mausoleum of Solyman the Magnificent—Model of the
  Mosque at Mecca—Mausoleums in General—Indispensable
  Accessories—The Medresch—Mosque of Sultan Mahmoud at
  Topphannè                                                        373


  CHAPTER XXIII.

  Antiquities of Constantinople—Ismäel Effendi—The
  Atmeidan—The Obelisk—The Delphic Tripod—The Column of
  Constantine—The Tchernberlè Tasch—The Cistern of the
  Thousand and One Columns—The Boudroum—The Roman
  Dungeons—Yèrè-Batan-Seraï—The Lost Traveller—Extent of the
  Cistern—Aqueduct of Justinian—Palace of Constantine—Tomb of
  Heraclius—The Seven Towers—An Ambassador in Search of
  Truth—Tortures of the Prison—A Legend of the Seven Towers      405


  CHAPTER XXIV.

  Balouclè—The New Church—Delightful Road—Eyoub—The
  Cemetery—The Rebel’s Grave—The Mosque of Blood—The Hill of
  Graves—The Seven Towers—The Palace of Belisarius—The City
  Walls—Easter Festivities—The Turkish Araba—The Armenian
  Carriage—Travellers—Turkish
  Women—Seridjhes—Persians—Irregular Troops—The Plain of
  Balouclè—Laughable Mistake—Extraordinary Discretion—The
  Church of Balouclè—The Holy Well—Absurd Tradition—The
  Chapel Vault—Enthusiasm of the Greeks—A Pleasant
  Draught—Greek Substitute for a Bell—Violent Storm              434


  CHAPTER XXV.

  Figurative Gratitude of the Seraskier Pasha—Eastern
  Hyperbole—Reminiscences of Past Years—A Vision
  Realized—Strong Contrasts—The Marriage Fêtes—Popular
  Excitement—Crowded Streets—The Auspicious Day—Extravagant
  Expectations—The Great Cemetery—Dolma Batchè—The Grand
  Armoury—Turkish Women—Tents of the Pashas—The
  Bosphorus—Preparations—Invocation—The Illuminated
  Bosphorus—A Stretch of Fancy—A Painful Recollection—Natural
  Beauties of the Bosphorus—The Grave-Yard—Evening
  Amusements—Well Conducted Population                            446


  CHAPTER XXVI.

  Repetition—The Esplanade—The Kiosk and the Pavilion—A Short
  Cut—Dense Crowd—A Friend at Court—Curious _Coup
  d’Œil_—The Arena—The Orchestra—First Act of the
  Comedy—Disgusting Exhibition—The Birth of the
  Ballet—Dancing Boys—Second Act of the Drama—Insult to the
  Turkish Women—The Provost Marshal—Yusuf Pasha, the
  Traitor—Clemency of the Sultan—Forbearance of an Oriental
  Mob—Renewal of the Ballet—Last Act of the Drama—Theatrical
  Decorations—Watch-dogs and Chinese—Procession of the
  Trades—Frank Merchants—Thieves and Judges—Bedouin
  Tumblers—Fondness of the Pashas for Dancing—The Wise Men of
  the East                                                         460


  CHAPTER XXVII.

  Succession of Banquets—The Chèïk Islam and the
  Clergy—Sectarian Prejudices—The Military Staff—The Naval
  Chiefs—The Imperial Household—The Pashas—The Grand
  Vizier—Magnificent Procession—Night Scene on the
  Bosphorus—The Palace of the Seraskier Pasha—Palace of Azmè
  Sultane—Midnight Serenade—Pretty Truants—The Shore of
  Asia—Ambassadorial Banquet—War Dance—Beautiful Effects of
  Light                                                            478


  CHAPTER XXVIII.

  Monotonous Entertainments—Bridal Preparations—Common
  Interest—Appearance of the Surrounding Country—Ride to
  Arnautkeui—Sight-loving Ladies—Glances and
  Greetings—Pictorial Grouping—The Procession—The
  Trousseau—A Steeple-Chase                                       488


  CHAPTER XXXI.

  The Bridal Day—Ceremony of Acceptance—The Crowd—The Kislar
  Agha and the Court Astrologer—Order of the Procession—The
  Russian Coach—The Pasha and the Attachés—The
  Seraskier—Wives of the Pashas—The Sultan and the Georgian
  Slave 500


  CHAPTER XXX.

  A New Rejoicing—Scholastic Processions—Change in the
  Valley—The Odalique’s Grave—The Palace of Eyoub—The State
  Apartments—Return to Pera                                       509


ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                                                  PAGE

  Chapel of the Turning Dervishes                      _Frontispiece._

  The Maiden’s Tower                            _Vignette Title-page._

  Military College                                                 196

  Palace of the Sweet Waters                                       324

  A Street in Pera                                                 361

  Column of Constantine and Egyptian Tripod                        407

  The Seven Towers                                                 421


THE CITY OF THE SULTAN.



CHAPTER I.


  The Golden Horn—Stamboul in Snow—The Seraï
  Bournou—Scutari—Galata—First View of Constantinople—St.
  Sophia and Solimaniè—Pera—Domestication of Aquatic
  Birds—Sounds at Sea—Caïques—Oriental Grouping—Armenian
  Costume—Reforms of Sultan Mahmoud—Dervishes—Eastern
  Jews—Evening—Illuminated Minarets—Romance _versus_
  Reason—Pain at Parting—Custom House of Galata—The East
  _versus_ the West—Reminiscences of Marseillois
  Functionaries—The British Consul at Marseilles—The
  Light-house at Syra—The Frank Quarter—Diplomatic
  Atmosphere—Straw Huts—Care of the Turks for Animals—A Scene
  from Shakspeare.

It was on the 30th of December, 1835, that we anchored in the Golden
Horn; my long-indulged hopes were at length realized, and the Queen of
Cities was before me, throned on her peopled hills, with the silver
Bosphorus, garlanded with palaces, flowing at her feet!

It was with difficulty that I could drag myself upon deck after the
night of intense suffering which I had passed in the sea of Marmora,
and, when I did succeed in doing so, the vessel was already under the
walls of the Seraglio garden, and advancing rapidly towards her
anchorage. The atmosphere was laden with snow, and I beheld Stamboul for
the first time clad in the ermine mantle of the sternest of seasons.
Yet, even thus, the most powerful feeling that unravelled itself from
the chaos of sensations which thronged upon me was one of unalloyed
delight. How could it be otherwise? I seemed to look on fairy-land—to
behold the embodiment of my wildest visions—to be the denizen of a new
world.

Queenly Stamboul! the myriad sounds of her streets came to us mellowed
by the distance; and, as we swept along, the whole glory of her princely
port burst upon our view! The gilded palace of Mahmoud, with its
glittering gate and overtopping cypresses, among which may be
distinguished the buildings of the Seraï, were soon passed; behind us,
in the distance, was Scutari, looking down in beauty on the channel,
whose waves reflected the graceful outline of its tapering minarets, and
shrouded themselves for an instant in the dark shadows of its funereal
grove. Galata was beside us, with its mouldering walls and warlike
memories; and the vessel trembled as the chain fell heavily into the
water, and we anchored in the midst of the crowd of shipping that
already thronged the harbour. On the opposite shore clustered the
painted dwellings of Constantinople, the party-coloured garment of the
“seven hills”—the tall cypresses that overshadowed her houses, and the
stately plane trees, which more than rivalled them in beauty, bent their
haughty heads beneath the weight of accumulated snows. Here and there, a
cluster of graceful minarets cut sharply against the sky; while the
ample dome of the mosque to which they belonged, and the roofs of the
dwellings that nestled at their base, lay steeped in the same chill
livery. Eagerly did I seek to distinguish those of St. Sophia, and the
smaller but far more elegant Solimaniè, the shrine of the Prophet’s
Beard, with its four minarets, and its cloistered courts; and it was not
without reluctance that I turned away, to mark where the thronging
houses of Pera climb with magnificent profusion the amphitheatre of
hills which dominate the treasure-laden port.

As my gaze wandered along the shore, and, passing by the extensive grove
of cypresses that wave above the burying-ground, once more followed the
course of the Bosphorus, I watched the waves as they washed the very
foundation of the dwellings that skirt it, until I saw them chafing and
struggling at the base of the barrack of Topphannè, and at intervals
flinging themselves high into the air above its very roof.

To an European eye, the scene, independently of its surpassing beauty
and utter novelty, possessed two features peculiarly striking; the
extreme vicinity of the houses to the sea, which in many instances they
positively overhang; and the vast number of aquatic fowl that throng the
harbour. Seagulls were flying past us in clouds, and sporting like
domestic birds about the vessel, while many of the adjoining roofs were
clustered with them; the wild-duck and the water-hen were diving under
our very stern in search of food; and shoals of porpoises were every
moment rolling by, turning up their white bellies to the light, and
revelling in safety amid the sounds and sights of a mighty city, as
though unconscious of the vicinity of danger. How long, I involuntarily
asked myself, would this extraordinary confidence in man be repaid by
impunity in an English port? and the answer was by no means pleasing to
my national pride.

As I looked round upon the shipping, the language of many lands came on
the wind. Here the deep “Brig a-hoy!” of the British seaman boomed along
the ripple; there, the shrill cry of the Greek mariner rang through the
air: at intervals, the full rich strain of the dark-eyed Italian
relieved the wild monotonous chant of the Turk; while the cry of the
sea-boy from the rigging was answered by the stern brief tones of the
weather-beaten sailor on the deck.

Every instant a graceful caïque, with its long sharp prow and gilded
ornaments, shot past the ship: now freighted with a bearded and
turbaned Turk, squatted upon his carpet at the bottom of the boat, pipe
in hand, and muffled closely in his furred pelisse, the very
personification of luxurious idleness; and attended by his red-capped
and blue-coated domestic, who was sometimes a thick-lipped negro, but
more frequently a keen-eyed and mustachioed musselmaun—now tenanted by
a group of women, huddled closely together, and wearing the _yashmac_,
or veil of white muslin, which covers all the face except the eyes and
nose, and gives to the wearer the appearance of an animated corpse; some
of them, as they passed, languidly breathing out their harmonious
Turkish, which in a female mouth is almost music.

Then came a third, gliding along like a nautilus, with its small white
sail; and bearing a bevy of Greeks, whose large flashing eyes gleamed
out beneath the unbecoming _fèz_, or cap of red cloth, with its purple
silk tassel, and ornament of cut paper, bound round the head among the
lower classes, by a thick black shawl, tightly twisted. This was
followed by a fourth, impelled by two lusty rowers, wherein the round
hats and angular costume of a party of Franks forced your thoughts back
upon the country that you had left, only to be recalled the next instant
by a freight of Armenian merchants returning from the Charshees of
Constantinople to their dwellings at Galata and Pera. As I looked on
the fine countenances, the noble figures, and the animated expression of
the party, how did I deprecate their shaven heads, and the use of the
frightful _calpac_, which I cannot more appropriately describe than by
comparing it to the iron pots used in English kitchens, inverted! The
graceful pelisse, however, almost makes amends for the monstrous
head-gear, as its costly garniture of sable or marten-skin falls back,
and reveals the robe of rich silk, and the cachemire shawl folded about
the waist. Altogether, I was more struck with the Armenian than the
Turkish costume; and there is a refinement and _tenue_ about the wearers
singularly attractive. Their well-trimmed mustachioes, their stained and
carefully-shaped eyebrows, their exceeding cleanliness, in short, their
whole appearance, interests the eye at once; nor must I pass over
without remark their jewelled rings, and their pipes of almost countless
cost, grasped by fingers so white and slender that they would grace a
woman.

While I am on the subject of costume, I cannot forbear to record my
regret as I beheld in every direction the hideous and unmeaning _fèz_,
which has almost superseded the gorgeous turban of muslin and cachemire:
indeed, I was nearly tempted in my woman wrath to consider all the
admirable reforms, wrought by Sultan Mahmoud in his capital,
overbalanced by the frightful changes that he has made in the national
costume, by introducing a mere caricature of that worst of all
originals—the stiff, starch, angular European dress. The costly turban,
that bound the brow like a diadem, and relieved by the richness of its
tints the dark hue of the other garments, has now almost entirely
disappeared from the streets; and a group of Turks look in the distance
like a bed of poppies; the flowing robe of silk or of woollen has been
flung aside for the ill-made and awkward surtout of blue cloth; and the
waist, which was once girdled with a shawl of cachemire, is now
compressed by two brass buttons!

The Dervish, or domestic priest, for such he may truly be called, whose
holy profession, instead of rendering him a distinct individual, suffers
him to mingle like his fellow-men in all the avocations, and to
participate in all the socialities of life; which permits him to read
his offices behind the counter of his shop, and to bring up his family
to the cares and customs of every-day life; and who is bound only by his
own voluntary act to a steady continuance in the self-imposed duties
that he is at liberty to cast aside when they become irksome to him; the
holy Dervish frequently passed us in his turn, seated at the bottom of
the caïque, with an open volume on his knees, and distinguished from the
lay-Turk by his _geulaf_, or high hat of grey felt. Then came a group
of Jews, chattering and gesticulating; with their ample cloaks, and
small dingy-coloured caps, surrounded by a projecting band of brown and
white cotton, whose singular pattern has misled a modern traveller so
far as to induce him to state that it is “a white handkerchief,
inscribed with some Hebrew sentences from their law.”

Thus far, I could compare the port of Constantinople to nothing less
delightful than poetry put into action. The novel character of the
scenery—the ever-shifting, picturesque, and graceful groups—the
constant flitting past of the fairy-like caïques—the strange
tongues—the dark, wild eyes—all conspired to rivet me to the deck,
despite the bitterness of the weather.

Evening came—and the spell deepened. We had arrived during the Turkish
Ramazan, or Lent, and, as the twilight gathered about us, the minarets
of all the mosques were brilliantly illuminated. Nothing could exceed
the magical effect of the scene; the darkness of the hour concealed the
outline of the graceful shafts of these etherial columns, while the
circles of light which girdled them almost at their extreme height
formed a triple crown of living diamonds. Below these depended (filling
the intermediate space) shifting figures of fire, succeeding each other
with wonderful rapidity and precision: now it was a house, now a group
of cypresses, then a vessel, or an anchor, or a spray of flowers; and
these changes were effected, as I afterwards discovered, in the most
simple and inartificial manner. Cords are slung from minaret to minaret,
from whence depend others, to which the lamps are attached; and the
raising or lowering of these cords, according to a previous design,
produces the apparently magic transitions which render the illuminations
of Stamboul unlike those of any European capital.

But I can scarcely forgive myself for thus accounting in so
matter-of-fact a manner for the beautiful illusions that wrought so
powerfully on my own fancy. I detest the spirit which reduces every
thing to plain reason, and pleases itself by tracing effects to causes,
where the only result of the research must be the utter annihilation of
all romance, and the extinction of all wonder. The flowers that blossom
by the wayside of life are less beautiful when we have torn them leaf by
leaf asunder, to analyze their properties, and to determine their
classes, than when we first inhale their perfume, and delight in their
lovely tints, heedless of all save the enjoyment which they impart. The
man of science may decry, and the philosopher may condemn, such a mode
of reasoning; but really, in these days of utilitarianism, when all
things are reduced to rule, and laid bare by wisdom, it is desirable to
reserve a niche or two unprofaned by “the schoolmaster,” where fancy
may plume herself unchidden, despite the never-ending analysis of a
theorising world!

My continued indisposition compelled my father and myself to remain
another day on board; but I scarcely felt the necessity irksome. All was
so novel and so full of interest around me, and my protracted voyage had
so thoroughly inured me to privation and inconvenience, that I was
enabled to enjoy the scene without one regret for land. The same
shifting panorama, the same endless varieties of sight and sound,
occupied the day; and the same magic illusions lent a brilliancy and a
poetry to the night.

Smile, ye whose exclusiveness has girdled you with a fictitious and
imaginary circle, beyond which ye have neither sympathies nor
sensibilities—smile if ye will, as I declare that when the moment came
in which I was to quit the good brig, that had borne us so bravely
through storm and peril—the last tangible link between ourselves and
the far land that we had loved and left—I almost regretted that I trod
her snow-heaped and luggage-cumbered deck for the last time; and that,
as the crew clustered round us, to secure a parting look and a parting
word, a tear sprang to my eye. How impossible does it appear to me to
forget, at such a time as this, those who have shared with you the
perils and the protection of a long and arduous voyage! From the sturdy
seaman who had stood at the helm, and contended with the drear and
drenching midnight sea, to the venturous boy who had climbed the bending
mast to secure the remnants of the shivered sail, every face had long
been familiar to me. I could call each by name; nor was there one among
them to whom I had not, on some occasion, been indebted for those rude
but ready courtesies which, however insignificant in themselves, are
valuable to the uninitiated and helpless at sea.

On the 1st of January, 1836, we landed at the Custom House stairs at
Galata, amid a perfect storm of snow and wind; nor must I omit the fact
that we did so without “let or hindrance” from the officers of the
establishment. The only inquiry made was, whether we had brought out any
merchandize, and, our reply being in the negative, coupled with the
assurance that we were merely travellers, and that our packages
consisted simply of personal necessaries, we were civilly desired to
pass on.

I could not avoid contrasting this mode of action in the “barbarous”
East, with that of “civilized” Europe, where even your very person is
not sacred from the investigation of low-bred and low-minded
individuals, from whose officious and frequently impertinent contact you
can secure yourself only by a bribe. Perhaps the contrast struck me the
more forcibly that we had embarked from Marseilles, where all which
concerns either the Douane or the Bureau de Santé is _à la
rigueur_—where you are obliged to pay a duty on what you take out of
the city as well as what you bring into it—pay for a certificate of
health to persons who do not know that you have half a dozen hours to
live—and—hear this, ye travel-stricken English, who leave your country
to breathe freely for a while in lands wherein ye may dwell without the
extortion of taxes—pay _your own_ Consul for permission to embark!

This last demand rankles more than all with a British subject, who may
quit his birth-place unquestioned, and who hugs himself with the belief
that nothing pitiful or paltry can be connected with the idea of an
Englishman by the foreigners among whom he is about to sojourn. He has
to learn his error, and the opportunity is afforded to him at
Marseilles, where the natives of every other country under Heaven are
free to leave the port as they list, when they have satisfied the
demands of the local functionaries; while the English alone have a
special claimant in their own Consul, the individual appointed by the
British government to “assist” and “protect” his fellow-subjects—by
whom they are only let loose upon the world at the rate of six francs
and a half a head! And for this “consideration” they become the happy
possessors of a “Permission to Embark” from a man whom they have
probably never seen, and who has not furthered for them a single view,
nor removed a single difficulty. To this it may be answered that, had
they required his assistance, they might have demanded it, which must be
conceded at once, but, nevertheless, the success of their demand is more
than problematical—and the arrangement is perfectly on a par with that
of the Greeks in the island of Syra, who, when we cast anchor in their
port, claimed, among other dues, a dollar and a half for the
signal-light; and, on being reminded that there had been no light at the
station for several previous nights, with the additional information
that we had narrowly escaped wreck in consequence, coolly replied, that
all we said was very true, but that there would shortly be a fire
kindled there regularly—that they wanted money—and that, in short, the
dollar and a half must be paid; but herefrom we at least took our
departure without asking leave of our own Consul.

From the Custom House of Galata, we proceeded up a steep ascent to Pera,
the quarter of the Franks—the focus of diplomacy—where every lip
murmurs “His Excellency,” and secretaries, interpreters, and _attachés_
are

  “Thick as the leaves on Valombrosa.”

But, alas! on the 1st day of January, Pera, Galata, and their environs,
were one huge snowball. As it was Friday, the Turkish Sabbath, and,
moreover, a Friday of the Ramazan, every shop was shut; and the few foot
passengers who passed us by hurried on as though impatient of exposure
to so inclement an atmosphere. As most of the streets are impassable for
carriages, and as the sedan-chairs which supply, however imperfectly,
the place of these convenient (and almost, as I had hitherto considered,
indispensable) articles, are all private property, we were e’en obliged
to “thread our weary way” as patiently as we could—now buried up to our
knees in snow, and anon immersed above our ancles in water, when we
chanced to plunge into one of those huge holes which give so interesting
an inequality to the surface of Turkish paving.

Nevertheless, despite the difficulties that obstructed our progress, I
could not avoid remarking the little straw huts built at intervals along
the streets, for the accommodation and comfort of the otherwise homeless
dogs that throng every avenue of the town. There they lay, crouched down
snugly, too much chilled to welcome us with the chorus of barking that
they usually bestow on travellers: a species of loud and inconvenient
greeting with which we were by no means sorry to dispense. In addition
to this shelter, food is every day dispensed by the inhabitants to the
vagrant animals who, having no specific owners, are, to use the
approved phraseology of genteel alms-asking, “wholly dependent on the
charitable for support.” And it is a singular fact that these
self-constituted scavengers exercise a kind of internal economy which
almost appears to exceed the boundaries of mere instinct; they have
their defined “walks,” or haunts, and woe betide the strange cur who
intrudes on the privileges of his neighbours; he is hunted, upbraided
with growls and barks, beset on all sides, even bitten in cases of
obstinate contumacy, and universally obliged to retreat within his own
limits. Their numbers have, as I was informed, greatly decreased of late
years, but they are still very considerable.

As we passed along, a door opened, and forth stepped the most
magnificent-looking individual whom I ever saw: he had a costly
cachemire twined about his waist, his flowing robes were richly furred,
and he turned the key in the lock with an air of such blended anxiety
and dignity, that I involuntarily thought of the Jew of Shakspeare; and
I expected at the moment to hear him exclaim, “Shut the door, Jessica,
shut the door, I say!” But, alas! he moved away, and no sweet Jessica
flung back the casement to reply.



CHAPTER II.


  Difficulty of Ingress to Turkish Houses—Steep Streets—The
  Harem—The Tandour—The Mangal—The Family—Female
  Costume—Luxurious Habits—The Ramazan—The Dining-room—The
  Widow—The Dinner—The Turks not Gastronomers—Oriental
  Hospitality—Ceremony of Ablution—The Massaldjhe—Alarm in the
  Harem—The Prayer—Evening Offering—Puerile
  Questions—Opium—Primitive Painting—Splendid Beds—Avocations
  of a Turkish Lady—Oriental Coquetry—Shopping—Commercial
  Flirtations—The Sultana Heybétoullah—A Turkish Carriage—The
  Charshees—Armenian Merchants—Greek Speculators—Perfumes and
  Embroidery.

I have already mentioned that we arrived at Constantinople during the
Ramazan or Lent; and my first anxiety was to pass a day of Fast in the
interior of a Turkish family.

This difficult, and in most cases impossible, achievement for an
European was rendered easy to me by the fact that, shortly after our
landing, I procured an introduction to a respectable Turkish merchant;
and I had no sooner written to propose a visit to his harem than I
received the most frank and cordial assurances of welcome.

A Greek lady of my acquaintance having offered to accompany me, and to
act as my interpreter, we crossed over to Stamboul, and, after
threading several steep and narrow streets, perfectly impassable for
carriages, entered the spacious court of the house at which we were
expected, and ascended a wide flight of stairs leading to the harem, or
women’s apartments. The stairs terminated in a large landing-place, of
about thirty feet square, into which several rooms opened on each side,
screened with curtains of dark cloth embroidered with coloured worsted.
An immense mirror filled up a space between two of the doors, and a long
passage led from this point to the principal apartment of the harem, to
which we were conducted by a black slave.

When I say “we,” I of course allude to Mrs. —— and myself, as no men,
save those of the family and the physician, are ever admitted within the
walls of a Turkish harem.

The apartment into which we were ushered was large and warm, richly
carpeted, and surrounded on three sides by a sofa, raised about a foot
from the ground, and covered with crimson shag; while the cushions, that
rested against the wall or were scattered at intervals along the couch,
were gaily embroidered with gold thread and coloured silks. In one angle
of the sofa stood the _tandour_: a piece of furniture so unlike any
thing in Europe, that I cannot forbear giving a description of it.

The tandour is a wooden frame, covered with a couple of wadded
coverlets, for such they literally are, that are in their turn overlaid
by a third and considerably smaller one of rich silk: within the frame,
which is of the height and dimensions of a moderately sized breakfast
table, stands a copper vessel, filled with the embers of charcoal; and,
on the two sides that do not touch against the sofa, piles of cushions
are heaped upon the floor to nearly the same height, for the convenience
of those whose rank in the family does not authorize them to take places
on the couch.

The double windows, which were all at the upper end of the apartment,
were closely latticed; and, at the lower extremity of the room, in an
arched recess, stood a classically-shaped clay jar full of water, and a
covered goblet in a glass saucer. Along a silken cord, on either side of
this niche, were hung a number of napkins, richly worked and fringed
with gold; and a large copy of the Koran was deposited beneath a
handkerchief of gold gauze, on a carved rosewood bracket.

In the middle of the floor was placed the _mangal_, a large copper
vessel of about a foot in height, resting upon a stand of the same
material raised on castors, and filled, like that within the tandour,
with charcoal.

The family consisted of the father and mother, the son and the son’s
wife, the daughter and her husband, and a younger and adopted son. The
ladies were lying upon cushions, buried up to their necks under the
coverings of the tandour; and, as they flung them off to receive us, I
was struck with the beauty of the daughter, whose deep blue eyes, and
hair of a golden brown, were totally different from what I had expected
to find in a Turkish harem. Two glances sufficed to satisfy me that the
mother was a shrew, and I had no reason subsequently to revoke my
judgment. The son’s wife had fine, large, brilliant, black eyes, but her
other features were by no means pleasing, although she possessed, in
common with all her countrywomen, that soft, white, velvety skin, for
which they are indebted to the constant use of the bath. To this luxury,
in which many of them daily indulge, must be, however, attributed the
fact that their hair, in becoming bright and glossy, loses its strength,
and compels them to the adoption of artificial tresses; and these they
wear in profusion, wound amid the folds of the embroidered handkerchiefs
that they twine about their heads in a most unbecoming manner, and
secure by bodkins of diamonds or emeralds, of which ornaments they are
inordinately fond.

They all wore chemisettes or under garments of silk gauze, trimmed with
fringes of narrow ribbon, and wide trowsers of printed cotton falling
to the ancle: their feet were bare, save that occasionally they thrust
them into little yellow slippers, that scarcely covered their toes, and
in which they moved over the floor with the greatest ease, dragging
after them their anterys, or sweeping robes; but more frequently they
dispensed with even these, and walked barefoot about the harem. Their
upper dresses were of printed cotton of the brightest colours—that of
the daughter had a blue ground, with a yellow pattern, and was trimmed
with a fringe of pink and green. These robes, which are made in one
piece, are divided at the hip on either side to their extreme length,
and are girt about the waist with a cachemire shawl. The costume is
completed in winter by a tight vest lined with fur, which is generally
of light green or pink.

Their habits are, generally speaking, most luxurious and indolent, if I
except their custom of early rising, which, did they occupy themselves
in any useful manner, would be undoubtedly very commendable; but, as
they only add, by these means, two or three hours of _ennui_ to each
day, I am at a loss how to classify it. Their time is spent in dressing
themselves, and varying the position of their ornaments—in the
bath—and in sleep, which they appear to have as entirely at their back
as a draught of water; in winter, they have but to nestle under the
coverings of the tandour, or in summer to bury themselves among their
cushions, and in five minutes they are in the land of dreams. Indeed, so
extraordinarily are they gifted in this respect, that they not
unfrequently engage their guests to take a nap, with the same
_sang-froid_ with which a European lady would invite her friends to take
a walk. Habits of industry have, however, made their way, in many
instances, even into the harem; the changes without have influenced the
pursuits and feelings of the women; and utter idleness has already
ceased to be a necessary attribute to the high-bred Turkish female.

As it was the time of the Ramazan, neither coffee nor sweetmeats were
handed to us, though the offer of refreshments was made, which we,
however, declined, being resolved to keep Lent with them according to
their own fashion. We fasted, therefore, until about half past six
o’clock, when the cry of the muezzin from the minarets proclaimed that
one of the outwatchers, of whom many are employed for the purpose, had
caught a glimpse of the moon. Instantly all were in motion; their
preliminary arrangements had been so zealously and carefully made that
not another second was lost; and, as a slave announced dinner, we all
followed her to a smaller apartment, where the table, if such I may call
it, was already laid.

The room was a perfect square, totally unfurnished, save that in the
centre of the floor was spread a carpet, on which stood a wooden frame,
about two feet in height, supporting an immense round plated tray, with
the edge slightly raised. In the centre of the tray was placed a
capacious white basin, filled with a kind of cold bread soup; and around
it were ranged a circle of small porcelain saucers, filled with sliced
cheese, anchovies, caviare, and sweetmeats of every description: among
these were scattered spoons of box-wood, and goblets of pink and white
sherbet, whose rose-scented contents perfumed the apartment. The outer
range of the tray was covered with fragments of unleavened bread, torn
asunder; and portions of the Ramazan cake, a dry, close, sickly kind of
paste, glazed with the whites of eggs, and strewed over with aniseeds.

Our party was a numerous one—the aged nurse, who had reared the
children of the family—the orphan boy of a dead son, who, with his
wife, had perished by plague during the previous twelve months—several
neighbours who had chosen the hour of dinner to make their visits—a
very pretty friend from Scutari—and a very plain acquaintance from the
house of death—the widow of a day—whose husband had expired the
previous morning, been buried the same evening, and, as it appeared,
forgotten on the morrow; for the “disconsolate widow” had come forth in
a pink vest, and sky blue trowsers, with rings on her fingers, and
jewels in her turban, to seek the advice and assistance of the master of
the house, in securing some valuable shawls, and sundry diamonds and
baubles which she had possessed before her marriage, from the grasp of
the deceased’s relatives.

As soon as the serious business of the repast really commenced, that is,
when we had each possessed ourselves of a cushion, and squatted down
with our feet under us round the dinner tray, having on our laps linen
napkins of about two yards in length richly fringed; the room was
literally filled with slaves, “black, white, and gray,” from nine years
old to fifty.

Fish, embedded in rice, followed the side or rather circle saucers that
I have already described; and of most of which I sparingly partook, as
the only answer that I was capable of giving to the unceasing “Eat, eat,
you are welcome,” of the lady of the house. With the fish, the spoons
came into play, and all were immersed in the same dish; but I must not
omit to add that this custom is rendered less revolting than it would
otherwise be, by the fact that each individual is careful, should the
_plat_ be partaken of a second time, (a rare occurrence, however, from
the rapidity with which they are changed), always to confine herself to
one spot. The meat and poultry were eaten with the fingers; each
individual fishing up, or breaking away, what pleased her eye; and
several of them tearing a portion asunder, and handing one of the pieces
to me as a courtesy, with which, be it remarked, _par parenthèse_, I
should joyfully have dispensed. Nineteen dishes, of fish, flesh, fowl,
pastry, and creams, succeeding each other in the most heterogeneous
manner—the salt following the sweet, and the stew preceding the
custard—were terminated by a pyramid of pillauf. I had the perseverance
to sit out this elaborate culinary exhibition; an exertion which is,
however, by no means required of any one, by the observance of Turkish
courtesy.

Gastronomy is no science in the East, and _gourmands_ are unknown; the
Osmanlis only eat to live, they do not live to eat; and the variety of
their dishes originates in a tacit care to provide against individual
disgusts, while the extreme rapidity with which they are changed
sufficiently demonstrates their want of inclination to indulge
individual excess. The women drink only coffee, sherbet, or water; but
some few among the men are adopting the vices of civilized nations, and
becoming addicted to beverages of a more potent description. No person
is expected to remain an instant longer at a Turkish table than suffices
him to make his meal; the instant that an individual has satisfied his
appetite, he rises without comment or apology, washes his hands, and
resumes his pipe or his occupation. Nor must I pass over without comment
the simple and beautiful hospitality of the Turks, who welcome to their
board, be he rich or poor, every countryman who thinks proper to take a
seat at it; the emphatic “You are welcome,” is never coldly nor
grudgingly uttered; and the Mussulmauns extend this unostentatious
greeting to each new comer, without reservation or limit, upon the same
principle that they never permit them to find fault with any article of
food which may be served up. They consider themselves only as the
stewards of GOD, and consequently use the goods of life as a loan rather
than a possession; while they consider themselves bound to give from
their superfluity to those who have been less favoured.

As we rose from table, a slave presented herself, holding a basin and
strainer of wrought metal, while a second poured tepid water over our
hands, from an elegantly-formed vase of the same materials; and a third
handed to us embroidered napkins of great beauty, of which I really
availed myself with reluctance.

Having performed this agreeable ceremony, we returned to the principal
apartment, where our party received an addition in the person of a very
pretty old _massaljhe_, or tale-teller, who had been invited to relieve
the tedium of the evening with some of her narrations. This custom is
very general during the Ramazan, and is a great resource to the Turkish
ladies, who can thus recline in luxurious inaction, and have their minds
amused without any personal exertion. Coffee was prepared at the mangal,
and handed round: after which the elder lady seated herself on a pile of
cushions placed upon the floor, and smoked a couple of pipes in perfect
silence, and with extreme _gusto_, flinging out volumes of smoke, that
created a thick mist in the apartment.

I had just begun to indulge in a violent fit of coughing, induced by the
density of this artificial atmosphere, when in walked a slave to
announce the intended presence of the gentlemen of the family, and in an
instant the whole scene was changed. The two Turkish ladies whom I have
already mentioned as being on a visit in the house rushed from the room
barefooted, in as little time as it would have required for me to
disengage myself from the tandour; the less agile _massaljhe_ covered
her face with a thick veil, and concealed herself behind the door—the
Juno-like daughter (one of the most majestic women I ever remember to
have seen, although very far from one of the tallest) flung a
handkerchief over her head, and fastened it beneath her chin: while the
son’s wife caught up a _feridjhe_, or cloak, and withdrew, muffled amid
its folds, to her own apartment. The elder lady was the only one of the
party undisturbed by the intelligence: she never raised her eyes from
the carpet, but continued inhaling the aroma of the “scented weed,”
gravely grasping her long pipe, her lips pressed against its amber
mouthpiece, and her brilliant rings and diamond-studded bracelet
flashing in the light.

In a few minutes, the aged father of the family was squatted down
immediately opposite to my seat, smothered in furs, and crowned with the
most stately looking turban I had yet seen: on one side of him stood a
slave with his chibouk, which his wife had just filled and lighted, and
on the other his elder son, holding the little brass dish in which the
pipe-bowl is deposited to protect the carpet. Near him, on another
cushion, lay the tobacco-bag of gold-embroidered cachemire, from which
the said son was about to regale himself, after having supplied the
wants of his father: and a few paces nearer to the door reclined the
handsome Soliman Effendi, the adopted son to whom I have already
alluded.

While the party were refreshing themselves with coffee, which was
shortly afterwards served to them, a cry from the minarets of a
neighbouring mosque announced the hour of prayer; when the old man
gravely laid aside his pipe, and, spreading a crimson rug above the
carpet near the spot where he had been sitting, turned his face to the
East, and began his devotions by stroking down his beard and falling
upon his knees, or rather squatting himself in a doubled-up position
which it were impossible to describe. For a while his lips moved
rapidly, though not a sound escaped them, and then suddenly he
prostrated himself three times, and pressed his forehead to the carpet,
rose, and folding his arms upon his breast, continued his
prayer—resumed after a brief space his original position, rocking his
body slowly to and fro—again bent down—and, repeated the whole of
these ceremonies three times, concluding his orison by extending his
open palms towards Heaven; after which, he once more slowly and
reverentially passed his hand down his beard, and, without uttering a
syllable, returned to his seat and his pipe, while a slave folded the
rug and laid it aside. I remarked that at intervals, during the prayer,
he threw out a long respiration, as though he had been collecting his
breath for several seconds ere he suffered it to escape, but throughout
the whole time not a single word was audible. The rest of the party
continued to laugh, chat, and smoke quite unconcernedly, however, during
the devotions of the master of the house, who appeared so thoroughly
absorbed as to be utterly unconscious of all that was going on around
him.

I ought not to have omitted to mention that, on entering the harem, each
of the gentlemen of the family had deposited on a table at the
extremity of the apartment his evening offering; for no Turk, however
high his rank, returns home for the night, when the avocations of the
day are over, empty-handed: it signifies not how trifling may be the
value of his burthen—a cluster of grapes—a paper of sweetmeats—or,
among the lower orders, a few small fish, or a head of salad—every
individual is bound to make an offering to the _Dei Penates_; and to
fail in this duty is to imply that he is about to repudiate his wife.

The father of the eldest son, Usuf Effendi, had brought home Ramazan
cakes, but Soliman Effendi deposited on the tandour a _boksha_, or
handkerchief of clear muslin wrought with gold threads, and containing
sweetmeats; among them were a quantity of Barcelona nuts, which, in
Turkey, are shelled, slightly dried in the oven, and eaten with raisins,
as almonds are in Europe. In the course of the evening, the elder lady
resumed her place at the tandour; and, in the intervals of the
conversation, she amused herself by burning one of the nuts at a candle,
and, having reduced it to a black and oily substance with great care and
patience, she took up a small round hand-mirror, set into a frame-work of
purple velvet, embroidered in silver that was buried among her cushions,
and began to stain her eyebrows, making them meet over the nose, and
shaping them with an art which nothing but long practice could have
enabled her to acquire.

Their questions were of the most puerile description—my age—why I did
not marry—whether I liked Constantinople—if I could read and write,
&c., &c.; but no impertinent comment on fashions and habits so different
from their own escaped them: on the contrary, they were continually
remarking how much I must find every thing in Turkey inferior to what I
had been accustomed to in Europe: and they lost themselves in wonder at
the resolution that had decided me to visit a part of the world where I
must suffer so many privations. Of course, I replied as politely as I
could to these complimentary comments; and my companion and myself being
much fatigued with the exertions that we had made during the day, we
determined to retire to our apartment, without waiting to partake of the
second repast, which is served up between two and three o’clock in the
morning.

From this period the Turks remain smoking, and sipping their coffee,
detailing news, and telling stories, an amusement to which they are
extremely partial, until there is sufficient light to enable them to
distinguish between a black thread and a white one, when the fast is
scrupulously resumed. But it may be curious to remark, that, as not even
a draught of water can be taken until the evening meal, and, (still
greater privation to the Osmanli,) not a pipe can be smoked, they have
adopted a singular expedient for appeasing the cravings of re-awakening
appetite. They cause opium pills to be prepared, enveloped in one, two,
and three coatings of gold leaf; and these they swallow at the last
moment when food is permitted to be taken; under the impression that
each will produce its intended effect at a given time, which is
determined by the number of envelopes that have to disengage themselves
from the drug before it can act.

The apartment wherein we passed the night was spacious and lofty; and
the ceiling was lined with canvass, on which a large tree in full leaf
was painted in oils; and, as this was the great ornament of the room,
and, moreover, considered as a model of ingenious invention, one of the
slaves did not fail to point out to us that the canvass, instead of
being tightly stretched, was mounted loosely on a slight frame, which,
when the air entered from the open windows, permitted an undulation
intended to give to the tree the effect of reality. I do not think that
I was ever more amused—for the branches resembled huge boa constrictors
much more than any thing connected with the vegetable kingdom: and every
leaf was as large and as black as the crown of a man’s hat.

Our beds were composed of mattresses laid one above the other upon the
floor, and these were of the most costly description; mine being yellow
satin brocaded with gold, and that of my companion violet-coloured
velvet, richly fringed. A Turkish bed is arranged in an instant—the
mattresses are covered with a sheet of silk gauze, or striped muslin,
(my own on this occasion was of the former material)—half a dozen
pillows of various forms and sizes are heaped up at the head, all in
richly embroidered muslin cases, through which the satin containing the
down is distinctly seen—and a couple of wadded coverlets are laid at
the feet, carefully folded: no second sheet is considered necessary, as
the coverlets are lined with fine white linen. Those which were provided
for us were of pale blue silk, worked with rose-coloured flowers.

At the lower end of every Turkish room are large closets for the
reception of the bedding; and the slaves no sooner ascertain that you
have risen, than half a dozen of them enter the apartment, and in five
minutes every vestige of your couch has disappeared—you hurry from the
bed to the bath, whence you cannot possibly escape in less than two
hours—and the business of the day is then generally terminated for a
Turkish lady. All that remains to be done is to sit under the covering
of the tandour, passing the beads of a perfumed chaplet rapidly through
the fingers—arranging and re-arranging the head-dress and
ornaments—or to put on the _yashmac_ and _feridjhe_, and sally forth,
accompanied by two or three slaves, to pay visits to favourite friends;
either on foot, in yellow boots reaching up to the swell of the leg,
over which a slipper of the same colour is worn; or in an araba, or
carriage of the country, all paint, gilding, and crimson cloth, nestled
among cushions, and making more use of her eyes than any being on earth
save a Turkish woman would, with the best inclination in the world, be
able to accomplish; such finished coquetry I never before witnessed as
that of the Turkish ladies in the street. As the araba moves slowly
along, the _feridjhe_ is flung back to display its white silk lining and
bullion tassels; and, should a group of handsome men be clustered on the
pathway, that instant is accidentally chosen for arranging the
_yashmac_. The dark-eyed dames of Spain, accomplished as they are in the
art, never made more use of the graceful veil than do the orientals of
the jealous _yashmac_.

The taste for “shopping”—what an excellent essay might the “_piquante_
and _spirituelle_” Lady Morgan write on this universal feminine
mania!—is as great among the eastern ladies as with their fair European
sisters; but it is indulged in a totally different manner.
Constantinople boasts no commercial palace like those of Howell and
James, or Storr and Mortimer; and still less a Maradan Carson: no
carriage draws up at the door of an Ebers or a Sams for “the last new
novel;” nor does a well-warmed and well-floored bazar tempt the
satin-slippered dame to wander among avenues of glittering gewgaws and
elaborated trifles: the carriage of the veiled Osmanli stops at the door
of some merchant who has a handsome shopman; and the name of the latter,
having been previously ascertained, Sadak or Mustapha, as the case may
be, is ordered by the _arabajhe_, or coachman, to exhibit to his
mistress some article of merchandize, which he brings accordingly, and,
while the lady affects to examine its quality and to decide on its
value, she enters into conversation with the youth, playing upon him
meanwhile the whole artillery of her fine eyes. The questioning
generally runs nearly thus:—“What is your name?”—“How old are
you?”—“Are you married?”—“Were you ever in love?”—and similar
misplaced and childish questions. Should the replies of the interrogated
person amuse her, and his beauty appear as great on a nearer view as
when seen from a distance, the merchandize is objected to, and the visit
repeated frequently, ere the fastidious taste of the purchaser can be
satisfied.

Nor are women of high rank exempt from this indelicate fancy, which can
only be accounted for by the belief that, like caged birds occasionally
set free, they do not know how to use their liberty: the Sultana
Haybétoullah, sister to his Sublime Highness, the Light of the Ottoman
Empire, is particularly attached to this extraordinary _passe-temps_.

The following morning we started on an exploring expedition, accompanied
by the closely-veiled and heavily-draped “Juno,” and attended by her
nurse and child, and her quaintly-habited footman; and, as the carriage
could not approach the house by a considerable distance, owing to the
narrowness and steepness of the streets in that quarter of the city,
(which, built upon the crest and down the slope of one of the “seven
hills,” overlooks the glittering and craft-clustered port), we were
obliged to walk to it through the frozen snow, upon the same principle
that, as the mountain would not go to Mahomet, Mahomet was compelled to
go to the mountain.

Directly I cast my eyes on the carriage, I had an excellent idea of that
which the fairy godmother of Cinderella created for her favourite out of
a pumpkin. Its form was that of a small covered waggon; its exterior was
all crimson cloth, blue silk fringe, and tassels; and its inside
precisely resembled a cake of gilt gingerbread. Four round
looking-glasses, just sufficiently large to reflect the features, were
impannelled on either side of the doors; and in the place of windows we
had gilt lattices, so closely made that our position was the very
reverse of cheerful; and, as I found it, moreover, quite impossible to
breathe freely, these lattices were flung back despite the cold, and
this arrangement being made, I established myself very comfortably on
the satin cushions, with my feet doubled under me _à la Turque_, amid
the piled-up luxuries of _duvet_ and embroidery.

Our first visit was to the charshees, or, as Europeans for some
inexplicable reason have the habit of calling them, the “bazars”—the
word bazar literally signifying market—and, as the carriage rattled
under the heavy portal, my first feeling was that of extreme
disappointment. The great attraction of these establishments is
undeniably their vast extent, for in _tenue_ and richness they are as
inferior to our own miniature bazars in London as possible. Rudely
paved—disagreeably dirty—plentifully furnished with _égouts_, of which
both the sight and the scent are unpleasing—badly lighted—clumsily
built—and so constructed as to afford no idea of the space they cover,
until you have wandered through the whole of their mazes, your
involuntary impression is one of wonder at the hyperboles which have
been lavished on them by travellers, and the uncalled-for extacies of
tour-writers.

The charshees are like a little commercial town, roofed in; each street
being appropriated to one particular trade or calling; and presenting
relative degrees of attraction and luxury, from the diamond-merchant’s
counter to the cushions of the shawl and fur-menders.

The Beizensteen is wonderfully rich in jewels, but in order to witness
the display of these you must be, or be likely to become, a purchaser,
as only a few, and those of comparatively small value, are exposed in
the glass cases which ornament the counters. Nearly the whole of the
jewellers are Armenians; as well as the money-changers, who transact
business in their immediate vicinity. Indeed, all the steady commerce on
a great scale in the capital may be said to be, with very slight
exceptions, in the hands of the Armenians, who have the true, patient,
plodding, calculating spirit of trade; while the wilder speculations of
hazardous and ambitious enterprise are grasped with avidity by the more
daring and adventurous Greeks; and hence arises the fact, for which it
is at first sight difficult to account, that the most wealthy and the
most needy of the merchants of Stamboul are alike of that nation: while
you rarely see an Armenian either limited in his means, or obtrusive in
his style.

In the street of the embroiderers, whose stalls make a very gay
appearance, being hung all over with tobacco-bags, purses, and
_coiffures_, wrought in gold and silver, we purchased a couple of
richly-worked handkerchiefs, used by the ladies of the country for
binding up the hair after the bath, and which are embroidered with a
taste and skill truly admirable.

Thence we drove to the shoe bazar, where slippers worked with
seed-pearls, and silver and gold thread, upon velvets of every shade and
colour, make a very handsome and tempting appearance; and among these
are ranged circular looking-glasses, of which the frames, backs, and
handles are similarly ornamented. The scent-dealers next claimed our
attention, and their quarter is indeed a miniature embodiment of “Araby
the Blest,” for the atmosphere is one cloud of perfume. Here we were
fully enabled to understand _l’embarras des richesses_, for all the
sweets of the East and West tempted us at once, from the long and
slender _flacon_ of Eau de Cologne, to the small, gilded,
closely-enveloped bottle of attar-gul. Nor less luxurious was the
atmosphere of the spice bazar, with its pyramids of cloves, its piles of
cinnamon, and its bags of mace—and, while the porcelain dealers allured
us into their neighbourhood by a dazzling display, comprising every
variety of ancient and modern china; silks, velvets, Broussa satins, and
gold gauze in their turn invited us in another direction—and, in short,
I left the charshees with aching eyes, and a very confused impression of
this great mart of luxury and expence.

It was a most fatiguing day; and I was scarcely sorry when, having bade
farewell to the hospitable family, who had so kindly and courteously
received us as guests, we hastened to embark on board our caïque, and in
ten minutes found ourselves at Topphannè, whence we slowly mounted the
steep ascent which terminates in the high-street of Pera, within a
hundred yards of our temporary residence.



CHAPTER III.


  Turning Dervishes—Appearance of the Tekiè—The
  Mausoleum—Duties of the Dervishes—Chapel of the Convent—The
  Chief Priest—Dress of the Brotherhood—Melancholy
  Music—Solemnity of the Service—Mistakes of a Modern
  Traveller—Explanation of the Ceremony—The Prayer—The Kiss of
  Peace—Appearance of the Chapel—Religious Tolerance of the
  Turks—The French Renegade—Sketch of Halet Effendi, the
  Founder of the Tekiè.

I paid two visits to the convent (if such, indeed, it may be termed) of
Turning, or, as they are commonly called in Europe, Dancing Dervishes,
which is situated opposite the Petit Champs des Morts, descending
towards Galata. The court of the Tekiè is entered by a handsomely
ornamented gate, and, having passed it, you have the cemetery of the
brethren on your left hand, and the gable of the main building on your
right. As you arrive in front of the convent, the court widens, and in
the midst stands a magnificent plane tree of great antiquity, carefully
railed in; while you have on one side the elegant mausoleum in which
repose the superiors of the order; and on the other the fountain of
white marble, roofed in like an oratory, and enclosed on all its six
sides from the weather, where the Dervishes perform their ablutions ere
they enter the chapel. The mausoleum is of the octagon form, the floor
being raised two steps in the centre, leaving a space all round, just
sufficiently wide for one person to pass along. The sarcophagi are
covered with plain clay-coloured cloth, and at the head of each tomb is
placed the _geulaf_, or Dervishes’ hat, encircled by a clear muslin
handkerchief, embroidered with tinted silks and gold thread. A large
gilt frame, enclosing the representation of a hat wrought in needlework,
and standing on a slab, on which is inscribed a sentence from the Koran,
rests against one of the sarcophagi, and huge wax-candles in plain
clay-coloured candlesticks are scattered among the tombs.

The Tekiè is a handsome building with projecting wings, in which the
community live very comfortably with their wives and children; and
whence, having performed their religious duties, they sally forth to
their several avocations in the city, and mingle with their fellow-men
upon equal terms. Unlike the monks of the church of Rome, the Dervishes
are forbidden to accumulate wealth in order to enrich either themselves
or their convent. The most simple fare, the least costly garments, serve
alike for their own use, and for that of their families: industry,
temperance, and devotion are their duties; and, as they are at liberty
to secede from their self-imposed obligations whenever they see fit to
do so, there is no lukewarmness among the community, who find time
throughout the whole year to devote many hours to God, even of their
most busy days; and, unlike their fellow-citizens, the other
Mussulmauns, they throw open the doors of their chapel to strangers,
only stipulating that gentlemen shall put off their shoes ere they
enter.

This chapel, which has been erroneously designated a “mosque,” is an
octagon building of moderate size, neatly painted in fresco. The centre
of the floor is railed off, and the enclosure is sacred to the
brotherhood; while the outer circle, covered with Indian matting, is
appropriated to visiters. A deep gallery runs round six sides of the
building, and beneath it, on your left hand as you enter, you remark the
lattices through which the Turkish women witness the service. A narrow
mat surrounds the circle within the railing, and upon this the brethren
kneel during the prayers; while the centre of the floor is so highly
polished by the perpetual friction that it resembles a mirror, and the
boards are united by nails with heads as large as a shilling, to prevent
accidents to the feet of the Dervishes during their evolutions. A bar of
iron descends octagonally from the centre of the domed roof, to which
transverse bars are attached, bearing a vast number of glass lamps of
different colours and sizes; and, against many of the pillars, of which
I counted four-and-twenty, supporting the dome, are hung frames, within
which are inscribed passages from the Prophets.

Above the seat of the superior, the name of the founder of the Tekiè is
written in gold on a black ground, in immense characters. This seat
consists of a small carpet, above which is spread a crimson rug, and on
this the worthy principal was squatted when we entered, in an ample
cloak of Spanish brown, with large hanging sleeves, and his geulaf, or
high hat of grey felt, encircled with a green shawl. I pitied him that
his back was turned towards the glorious Bosphorus, that was distinctly
seen through the four large windows at the extremity of the chapel,
flashing in the light, with the slender minarets and lordly mosques of
Stamboul gleaming out in the distance.

One by one, the Dervishes entered the chapel, bowing profoundly at the
little gate of the enclosure, took their places on the mat, and, bending
down, reverently kissed the ground; and then, folding their arms meekly
on their breasts, remained buried in prayer, with their eyes closed, and
their bodies swinging slowly to and fro. They were all enveloped in wide
cloaks of dark coloured cloth with pendent sleeves; and wore their
geulafs, which they retained during the whole of the service.

I confess that the impression produced on my mind by the idea of Dancing
Dervishes was the very reverse of solemn; and I was, in consequence,
quite unprepared for the effect that the exhibition of their religious
rites cannot fail to exert on all those who are not predetermined to
find food for mirth in every sectarian peculiarity. The deep stillness,
broken only by the breath of prayer, or the melancholy wailing of the
muffled instruments, which seemed to send forth their voice of sadness
from behind a cloud in subdued sorrowing, like the melodious plaint of
angels over fallen mortality—the concentrated and pious
self-forgetfulness of the community, who never once cast their eyes over
the crowds that thronged their chapel—the deep, rich chant of the
choral brethren—even the very contrast afforded by the light and
fairy-like temple in which they thus meekly ministered to their Maker,
with their own calm and inspired appearance, heightened the effect of
the scene; and tacitly rebuked the presumption and worldliness of spirit
that would have sought a jest in the very sanctuary of religion.

The service commenced with an extemporaneous prayer from the chief
priest, to which the attendant Dervishes listened with arms folded upon
their breasts, and their eyes fixed on the ground. At its conclusion,
all bowed their foreheads to the earth; and the orchestra struck into
one of those peculiarly wild and melancholy Turkish airs which are
unlike any other music that I ever heard. Instantly, the full voices of
the brethren joined in chorus, and the effect was thrilling: now the
sounds died away like the exhausted breath of a departing spirit, and
suddenly they swelled once more into a deep and powerful diapason that
seemed scarce earthly. A second stillness of about a minute succeeded,
when the low, solemn music was resumed, and the Dervishes, slowly rising
from the earth, followed their superior three times round the enclosure;
bowing down twice under the shadow of the name of their Founder,
suspended above the seat of the high priest. This reverence was
performed without removing their folded arms from their breasts—the
first time on the side by which they approached, and afterwards on that
opposite, which they gained by slowly revolving on the right foot, in
such a manner as to prevent their turning their backs towards the
inscription. The procession was closed by a second prostration, after
which, each Dervish having gained his place, cast off his cloak, and
such as had walked in woollen slippers withdrew them, and, passing
solemnly before the Chief Priest, they commenced their evolutions.

I am by no means prepared, nor even inclined, to attempt a Quixotic
defence of the very extraordinary and _bizarre_ ceremonial to which I
was next a witness; but I cannot, nevertheless, agree with a modern
traveller in describing it as “an absurdity.” That it does not accord
with our European ideas of consistent and worthy worship is not only
possible, but certain; yet I should imagine that no one could feel other
than respect for men of irreproachable character, serving God according
to their means of judgment.

The extraordinary ceremony which gives its name to the Dancing, or, as
they are really and much more appropriately called, the Turning
Dervishes—for nothing can be more utterly unlike dancing than their
evolutions—is not without its meaning. The community first pray for
pardon of their past sins, and the amendment of their future lives; and
then, after a silent supplication for strength to work out the change,
they figure, by their peculiar and fatiguing movements, their anxiety to
“shake the dust from their feet,” and to cast from them all worldly
ties.

As I could not reconcile myself to believe that the custom could have
grown out of mere whim, I took some pains to ascertain its meaning, as
well as visiting the chapel a second time during its observance, in
order to ascertain whether the ceremonies differed on different days,
but I remarked no change.

Immediately after passing with a solemn reverence, twice performed, the
place of the High Priest, who remained standing, the Dervishes spread
their arms, and commenced their revolving motion; the palm of the right
hand being held upwards, and that of the left turned down. Their
under-dresses (for, as I before remarked, they had laid aside their
cloaks) consisted of a jacket and petticoat of dark coloured cloth, that
descended to their feet; the higher order of brethren being clad in
green, and the others in brown, or a sort of yellowish gray; about their
waists they wore wide girdles, edged with red, to which the right side
of the jacket was closely fastened, while the left hung loose: their
petticoats were of immense width, and laid in large plaits beneath the
girdle, and, as the wearers swung round, formed a bell-like appearance;
these latter garments, however, are only worn during the ceremony, and
are exchanged in summer for white ones of lighter material.

The number of those who were “on duty,” for I know not how else to
express it, was nine; seven of them being men, and the remaining two,
mere boys, the youngest certainly not more than ten years of age. Nine,
eleven, and thirteen are the mystic numbers, which, however great the
strength of community, are never exceeded; and the remaining members of
the brotherhood, during the evolutions of their companions, continue
engaged in prayer within the enclosure. These on this occasion amounted
to about a score, and remained each leaning against a pillar: while the
beat of the drum in the gallery marked the time to which the revolving
Dervishes moved, and the effect was singular to a degree that baffles
description. So true and unerring were their motions, that, although the
space which they occupied was somewhat circumscribed, they never once
gained upon each other: and for five minutes they continued twirling
round and round, as though impelled by machinery, their pale,
passionless countenances perfectly immobile, their heads slightly
declined towards the right shoulder, and their inflated garments
creating a cold, sharp air in the chapel, from the rapidity of their
action. At the termination of that period, the name of the Prophet
occurred in the chant, which had been unintermitted in the gallery; and,
as they simultaneously paused, and, folding their hands upon their
breasts, bent down in reverence at the sound, their ample garments wound
about them at the sudden check, and gave them, for a moment, the
appearance of mummies.

An interval of prayer followed; and the same ceremony was performed
three times; at the termination of which they all fell prostrate on the
earth, when those who had hitherto remained spectators flung their
cloaks over them, and the one who knelt on the left of the Chief Priest
rose, and delivered a long prayer divided into sections, with a rapid
and solemn voice, prolonging the last word of each sentence by the
utterance of “ha—ha—ha”—with a rich depth of octave that would not
have disgraced Phillips.

This prayer was for “the great ones of the earth”—the magnates of the
land—all who were “in authority over them;” and at each proud name they
bowed their heads upon their breasts, until that of the Sultan was
mentioned, when they once more fell flat upon the ground, to the sound
of the most awful howl I ever heard.

This outburst from the gallery terminated the labours of the orchestra;
and the superior, rising to his knees while the others continued
prostrate, in his turn prayed for a few instants; and then, taking his
stand upon the crimson rug, they approached him one by one, and,
clasping his hand, pressed it to their lips and forehead. When the first
had passed, he stationed himself on the right of the superior, and
awaited the arrival of the second, who, on reaching him, bestowed on him
also the kiss of peace, which he had just proffered to the Chief Priest;
and each in succession performed the same ceremony to all those who had
preceded him, which was acknowledged by gently stroking down the beard.

This was the final act of the exhibition; and, the superior having
slowly and silently traversed the enclosure, in five seconds the chapel
was empty, and the congregation busied at the portal in reclaiming
their boots, shoes, and slippers.

I had never hitherto seen such picturesque groups as those which
thronged the Dervishes’ chapel on my second visit; nor did I ever
witness more perfect order in any public assembly. A deep stillness
reigned throughout the whole ceremony, only broken by the sobs of a
middle-aged Turk who stood near me, and who was so much overcome by the
saddening wail of the orchestra that he could not restrain his tears; a
circumstance by no means uncommon in this country, where all ranks are
peculiarly susceptible to the influence of music.

The interior of the edifice was a perfect picture, of which the
soberly-clad Dervishes occupied the centre; while the exterior circle
was peopled with groups of soldiers in their coarse wrapping coats and
red caps—venerable Turks in claret-coloured pelisses, richly
furred—descendants of Mahomet, with their green turbans and portly
beards—and peasants in their rude suits of dusky brown; all equally
intent, and all equally orderly.

The Turks are extremely tolerant with regard to religious opinions;
their creed being split into as many sects as that of the Church of
England; and each individual being left equally free to follow, as he
sees fit, the dictates of his conscience. The Dervishes are of several
different orders. The _Mivlavies_ are materialists in their faith; the
_Zerrins_ worship the Virgin Mary; and the _Bektachis_ believe in the
Saviour and the twelve apostles; every order has its peculiar
constitution, differing from the dogmas of simple Islamism; but they are
universally venerated by Musselmauns, despite their sectarian
prejudices. They are generally versed in astrology and music; exorcise
sufferers from witchcraft and the evil eye; and are always of quiet and
submissive manners, never mingling either in the intrigues of the court,
or the cabals of the Ulémas.

It is not surprising that the Turks should venerate their own Dervishes,
when they not only tolerate but even respect the Christian monks, and
regard their monasteries as holy places, bearing the names of saints,
and inhabited by men wholly devoted to God. To such a height, indeed, do
they carry this reverence, that they permit the communities of several
convents built on the charming little group of islands, called “Princes’
Islands,” situated in the Propontis, not more than two leagues from
Constantinople, to be summoned to their chapel to prayer by the ringing
of bells; a privilege which is not accorded to any Christian church
devoted to a general congregation; but perhaps the greatest proof that
can be adduced of their veneration for religious societies exists in the
fact that in the mausoleum of the principal Tekiè at Iconium lies one
of the most celebrated of Musselmaun saints, Mollah Hunkiar, and beside
him a Christian monk, to whom he had been so tenderly attached during
his life, that he desired in his will that they should not be separated
after death. The two tombs still exist, and what renders the anecdote
still more worthy of record, is the circumstance that it is the Chèïk or
Abbot of this very monastery, who has the privilege of girding on the
sword of the Sultan in the Mosque of Eyoub, on his accession to the
Ottoman throne.

The Turks do not consider their women worthy to become Dervishes, but
they, nevertheless, respect the Christian nuns; and a somewhat curious
proof of this fact was given in 1818, on the receipt by the Sultan and
his favourite minister, Halet Effendi, of two petitions drawn up by a
sisterhood at Genoa, in which were set forth the injuries done to their
convent by the French Republicans, terminating with a prayer to “his
very pious Highness,” to send to them, as a present, three Turkey
carpets to cover the floor of their chapel, one of which was to be
crimson, a second purple, and the third green; and in return they
promised to pray for the health, prosperity, and glory of the august
head of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan gallantly acceded to their
request, and the compatriotes of Roxalana received with the least
possible delay the magnificent donation by which a Musselmaun Emperor
contributed to the adornment of a temple dedicated to Christian worship.

In the cemetery of the Tekiè at Pera lies the body of the Marquis de
Bonneval, a French renegade who died a pasha; and the stone slab yet
remains there that once covered the head of Halet Effendi, the founder
of the convent, which, I have omitted to mention, is built entirely of
marble. The head of the Effendi has, however, been removed to a less
sacred place of burial, and has found a traitor’s grave.

Halet Effendi, once the favourite of the Sultan, was the cause of the
Greek insurrection, which he brought about to conceal his own disloyal
views. Having, by his intrigues, caused the appointment of Michel Suzzo
to the principality of Moldavia, and having been reproached with the
disaffection of Suzzo towards his Imperial master, the minister, who was
responsible for the conduct and loyalty of his Greek _protégé_, boldly
replied that the disaffection towards the Sultan was not that of Suzzo
individually, but of his whole nation; an assertion which he immediately
proceeded to bear out by exciting the Greeks covertly to rebellion; and
he was so well seconded by his creature that, when Ypsalanti reared his
standard in the provinces, Suzzo joined his banner, and the insurrection
in the Morea, and the revolt of the Greeks in Constantinople, with the
murder of the Patriarch, were the fearful consequences of the rebellious
coalition; a treason which Mahmoud visited on his favourite with a
sentence of exile to Iconia, giving him, at the same time, an autograph
letter, in which he pledged himself to respect both his life and
property; but, after the lapse of a few years, repenting an act of
clemency so misplaced, the Sultan dispatched a Capedjee-basha, furnished
with a Firman of recall, to his banished courtier, who found Halet
Effendi at Iconia, and presented his credentials. The exile, overjoyed
at so sudden and unlooked-for a change in his fortunes, lost no time in
preparing for his return to Constantinople; but he had not long confided
himself to the keeping of the Capedjee-basha when the bowstring
terminated his existence, and the executioner hastened back to Stamboul,
carrying along with him the head of his victim.

This ghastly memorial of their benefactor was consigned, at their urgent
request, to the Dervishes of Pera, who buried it in their grave-yard,
beneath the small slab of stone, which, in a Turkish cemetery, indicates
to the initiated that the deceased above whom it is placed has perished
by violence; but it had not lain there more than a few days, when the
Sultan chanced to inquire how it had been disposed of; and, hearing
that it had received burial at this Tekiè, of whose order, entitled
Mevlavies, he is himself a member, (and whose chapel in which he
formerly performed his evolutions he still frequents, although in
private, occupying, on his visits, one of the latticed closets,) he
ordered that it should be immediately disinterred and carried to Balata,
where the common sewers of the city empty themselves into the Bosphorus.
This was accordingly done; and the turban-crested pillar that surmounts
the slab now only serves to indicate the spot where rested for a few
brief days the dishonoured head of Halet Effendi.



CHAPTER IV.


  Merchants of Galata—Palaces of Pera—Picturesque style of
  Building—The Perotes—Social Subjects—Greeks, European and
  Schismatic—Ambassadorial Residences—Entrée of the
  Embassies—The Carnival—Soirées Dansantes—The Austrian
  Minister—Madame la Baronne—The Russian Minister—Madame de
  Boutenieff—The Masked Ball—Russian Supremacy—The Prussian
  Plenipotentiary—The Sardinian Chargé d’Affaires—Diplomacy
  Unhoused—Society of Pera.

Neither Frank nor Christian is allowed to inhabit the “City of the
Faithful;” and the faubourg of Pera, situated on the opposite side of
the port, is consequently the head-quarters of the _élite_ of European
society. Galata, which skirts the shore of the Bosphorus at the base of
the hill on which Pera is built, numbers among its inhabitants many very
respectable merchants, whose avocations demand their continual presence;
but Pera is the dwelling-place of the beau-monde—the seat of
fashion—the St. James’s of the capital. Here every thing social is _en
magnifique_: the residences attached to the different Legations glory in
the imposing designations of “palaces”—the gloomy _magazins_ of the
Parisian _modistes_ are as dear and as dirty as can be desired—all the
_employés_ of diplomacy throng the narrow, steep, and ill-paved
streets, while the fair Greeks look down upon them from their
bay-windows, projecting far beyond the façade of the building; and the
bright-eyed Armenians peer from their lattices “all-seeing, but unseen.”
The quaintly-coloured houses, looking like tenements of painted
pasteboard, appear as though a touch would make them meet, and are
picturesque beyond description, as they advance and recede, setting all
external order, regularity, and proportion, at defiance.

In my rapid definition of European society, I must not omit to mention
that the Perotes, or natives of Pera, consider themselves as much Franks
as though they had been born and nurtured on the banks of the Thames or
the Seine; and your expression of amusement at this very original notion
would inevitably give great offence. Conceding this point, therefore, as
one which will not admit of argument, I shall simply divide society into
two parts—the diplomatic and the scandalous—premising, however, that
it requires a delicate touch to separate them, they are so intimately
interwoven. Those who have the _entrée_ of the several embassies
criticise each other; while those who have not, exercise a still more
powerful prerogative; and certain it is that, between the two, the
population of Pera is a great circulating medium which would render an
official “hue and cry” a work of supererogation. “Not a feather falls
to the ground,” but in half an hour every individual in the place knows
by whom it was plucked, and the tale is told with a raciness and a zest
that would make the fortune of a Sunday paper.

A nice distinction exists among the Greeks, on which they vehemently
insist; the Greek Catholics consider themselves as Europeans, while the
schismatic Greeks do not assume this privilege, of which the former are
extremely jealous.

After the residence of a few weeks, you can readily determine the origin
of every female whom you encounter in the streets of Pera. The fair
Perotes, indeed, wear the bonnet, the cloak, and the shawl, which form
the walking garb of the genuine European gentlewoman; but, nevertheless,
it is impossible not to distinguish them at a glance; an insurmountable
taste for bright colours, an indescribable peculiarity in the adjustment
of their toilette, at once mark the Perote; while the dark-eyed Greek is
known by her wide-spreading turban of gauze or velvet, over which is
flung a lace veil, which, falling low upon the back and shoulders,
leaves the face almost entirely uncovered.

Since the great fire of Pera, the Ambassadors of England and France have
resided at Therapia, a pretty village on the banks of the Bosphorus,
near the mouth of the Black Sea; but the Internuncio of Russia, the
Ministers of Austria and Prussia, and the Chargés d’Affaires of Sardinia
and Holland, still inhabit the town daring the winter months. The
Austrian palace, however, is the only one that now remains, the other
diplomatic establishments being compressed into dwelling-houses; thus
the Russian minister inhabits a mansion in the High Street, and the
Dutch Chargé d’Affaires resides next door to us.

The _entrée_ of the embassies is peculiarly easy to the resident
Europeans, as their number is so limited that _les grands convenances_
are almost necessarily laid aside, and their Excellencies
super-eminently tolerant with regard to the rank of their guests. Thus
it is somewhat startling to a traveller, accustomed to the exclusive
circles of Paris and London, to find, not only merchants and their wives
at the diplomatic _soirées_, but even the head clerks and their fair
partners. It is true that the mode of reception has gradations of
graciousness,

  “Small by degrees, and beautifully less;”

but this is mere matter of individual feeling and power of
endurance—the fact remains unaltered.

The Carnival had this year resumed its gaiety; men’s minds had begun to
cast off the panic occasioned by the terrific conflagration which almost
made the town a waste, and nearly ruined many of the inhabitants whose
property consisted chiefly in houses.

At the Austrian palace there were balls every Sunday throughout the
Carnival, where mustachioes and diplomatic buttons were rife. The
never-ending cotillon, the rapid mazurka, the quadrille, and waltz, were
equally popular; and I have danced the first with a Greek, the second
with a Russian, the third with a Frenchman, and the fourth with a
German, during the course of the evening.

The Baron de Stürmer, the Austrian minister, is about fifty years of
age, partially bald, and remarkably grave-looking when not excited; but
his address is peculiarly agreeable, and his smile like lightning.

Madame la Baronne is a good specimen of the present school of Parisian
breeding—her pride is blent with playfulness, and her courtesy is as
gracious as it is graceful. Although _tant soit peu precieuse_—she is
perfectly free from pedantry, and is a delightful conversationist. She
has memories of Napoleon at St. Helena, where she resided for several
years; anecdotes, _piquantes_ and political—those well-worded and
softly-articulated compliments which seat you upon velvet; and, above
all, that air of genuine _laissez aller insouciance_ which no woman save
a Parisian ever thoroughly acquires. I am indebted to the elegant
hospitality of this lady for many of the most pleasant hours that I
spent in the Frank circle at Pera.

M. de Boutenieff, the Russian minister, has a face which, for the first
five minutes, baffles you by its contradictory expression—there is a
character of benevolence and gentleness about the forehead and eyes that
attracts, while the subtle curve of the lip repulses by its cast of
craft and caution—his conversation is easy, courtly, and pleasing; and
his unremitted good humour and affability render him universally popular
in society. Madame de Boutenieff, who is his second wife, is young,
graceful, and lively—an indefatigable dancer, and a fascinating
hostess; and, moreover, the niece of Nesselrode.

The _soirées dansantes_ at the Russian palace terminated with a masked
ball, which worthily wound up the Carnival, and was sustained with great
spirit. The fair hostess herself, with two ladies attached to the
legation, and the wife of the French chancellor, personated angels, who
were led into the ball-room by a _parti carré_ of devils, embodied by
four of the Russian secretaries. Some of our politicians will assuredly
smile at the conceit, nor can I forebear to admit the propriety of the
fancy; for truly, when I consider the number of _attachés_ to the
Russian Legation, as compared with that of the other powers at this
court, I am inclined to allow that “their name is legion.”

Even in a ball-room the Russian supremacy is palpably evident—their
number, their political power, their never-ceasing efforts at
popularity—cannot be forgotten for a moment. There is diplomacy in
every action—in every look—in every tone—and withal a
self-gratulatory, quiet species of at-home-ness every where and with
everybody, which shews you at once that they are quite at ease, at
least, for the present.

Exquisite, in the most wide acceptation of the term, in their
costume—affectedly refined and aristocratic in their manners—_acharnés
pour la danse_—“_passant la moitié de leur temps à rien faire, et
l’autre moitié à faire des riens_,” the _attachés_ of M. de Boutenieff,
upwards of thirty in number, are as busily employed in turning heads and
winning hearts, as though the great stake which they came here to play
were but the secondary object of their mission.

Count Königsmark, the Prussian minister, is a high-bred and accomplished
gentleman: distinguished by that calm and graceful _tenue_ that sits so
well on men of rank, and which is the most becoming attribute alike of
mental and of social aristocracy.

The Sardinian Chargé d’Affaires, General Montiglio, is of very retiring
habits, and mixes little in general society; but he is a person of
considerable acquirements, and an indefatigable sportsman. His domestic
history is a little romance, and may serve to account in a great
measure for his love of retirement, and the hermit-like seclusion of his
wife. Having made a _mariage d’inclination_ which was considered by the
Sardinian court to be incompatible with his rank and position in
society, he was sent into honourable exile to Smyrna, as Chargé
d’Affaires, whence he was a short time since removed to Constantinople;
where, as I before remarked, he is rarely met with amid the Perote crowd
that fills the ambassadorial ball-rooms.

The other foreign ministers play a comparatively insignificant _rôle_ in
society; as, since the destruction of the several diplomatic residences
in the great fire, they have been compelled to inhabit houses which are
not calculated for reception; and it would appear as though they are
likely to be long situated thus: the only palace in process of
restoration being that of Russia. Here again is asserted the autocracy
of the North—the English palace is in ruins, and parasites are
wreathing, like emerald-coloured snakes, about its tottering
walls—Holland, France, all save Austria, are

  “Driven from their parch’d and blacken’d halls.”

The evil is general—but the remedy has been applied, as yet, only in
one instance.

Close the doors of the diplomatic residences, and little more can be
said for the European society of Pera; it is about on a par with that
of a third-rate provincial town in England. _Ennui_ succeeds to
curiosity, and indifference to _ennui_; and you gladly step into your
caïque, or your araba; or, better still, spring into your saddle, to
recreate yourself among scenes of beauty and magnificence, and to escape
from “the everlasting larum” of “rounded sentences which tend to
nothing.”



CHAPTER V.


  The Greek Carnival—Kassim Pasha—The Marine Barrack—The
  Admiralty—Palace of the Capitan Pasha—Turkish Ships and
  Turkish Sailors—More Mistakes—Aqueduct of Justinian—The
  Seraï—The Arsenal—The “Sweet Waters”—The Fanar—Interior of
  a Greek House—Courteous Reception—Patriarchal Customs—Greek
  Ladies at Home—Confectionary and Coffee—A Greek
  Dinner—Ancient and Modern Greeks—A Few Words on
  Education—National Politeness—The Great Logotheti
  Aristarchi—His Politics—Sketch of his Father—His Domestic
  History—A Greek Breakfast—The Morning after a Ball—Greek
  Progress towards Civilization—Parallel between the Turk and
  the Greek.

The Greek Carnival extends three days beyond that of the Europeans; and,
such being the case, we gladly accepted an invitation to a ball to be
given by a wealthy Cesarean merchant, resident at the Fanar, or Greek
quarter of Constantinople; and I embarked in a caïque, with my father,
under one of those bright spring suns which make the Bosphorus glitter
like a plate of polished steel.

We took boat at Kassim Pasha, in the yard of the marine barrack, an
extensive block of building, equally remarkable for its tawdry
fresco-painted walls, and demolished windows; and close beside the
Admiralty, a gay-looking edifice in the Russian taste, elaborately
ornamented throughout its exterior, and adorned with peristyles on
three of its sides. The _rez-de-chaussée_ contains apartments
appropriated to the principal persons of the establishment, and public
offices for the transaction of business. The next range are sacred to
the Sultan, who occasionally passes a morning at Kassim Pasha,
inspecting the progress of the vessels of war now building: and from the
windows of his saloons looking down upon the line-of-battle ships in the
harbour.

On a height a little in rear of the Admiralty stand the picturesque
remains of the palace that was formerly inhabited by the Capitan Pasha;
of which two long lines of grated arches still exist nearly perfect,
having much the effect of an aqueduct; while a little cluster of towers,
crowning the grass-grown acclivity, add a most interesting feature to
the ruin.

On all sides of the caïque towered a lordly vessel with its bristling
cannon, and painted or gilt stern gallery, lying peacefully at anchor in
the land-locked harbour; while the largest frigate in the world was
busily preparing for sea as we passed under her bows, and her deck was
all alive with men, in their red caps and close blue jackets; but I fear
that the blue jackets of England would scarce seek to claim brotherhood
with the tars of Turkey, for they have, in sooth, but a “lubberly” look
with them; and it is commonly remarked that the Sultan has some of the
finest vessels in the world, and some of the worst sailors.

As this was the first day of unclouded sunshine on which I had crossed
the port, I looked around me in order to discover the “gilded domes” of
which a modern traveller has spoken; but, alas!—the truth must be
told—not a mosque in Stamboul has a gilded dome; and the only approach
to such a gorgeous object that I could discover were the gilded spires
of the minarets of Sultan Mahmoud’s mosque at Topphannè; but, _en
revanche_, the eye lingered long on the ruin of Justinian’s aqueduct,
which rises hoar and dark above the clustering houses of the city,
spanning the two hills against which it rests, as with the grasp of
centuries—upon the glittering pinnacles of the Seraï, flashing out amid
the tall cypresses that hem them in; and on the elegant, but nearly
untenanted, Seraglio itself, which stands upon the very edge of the
lake-like sea, mirrored in the clear waters.

But these were soon left behind; and, as our sturdy rowers rapidly
impelled us forward, we traced on our right hand the extensive
outbuildings of the Arsenal, which bound the shore to the very extremity
of the port, and only terminate at the point of the “Sweet Waters,”
where a lovely river empties itself into the harbour, and gives its name
to the locality.

In ten minutes, we were at the Fanar, and landed on a wooden terrace
washed by the waters of the port; and in five more we had passed into
the garden to which it belonged, and thence into the house of the
hospitable family who had offered us a home for the night.

Having traversed an extensive hall paved with stone, whence three
flights of marble stairs gave admittance into different parts of the
mansion, we passed through a long gallery, and entered the apartment in
which the ladies of the family were awaiting our arrival. No chilling
salutation of measured courtesy—no high-bred manifestation of
“exclusive” indifference, greeted the foreign strangers; but each in
turn approached us with extended hand, and offered the kiss of welcome;
and in less than a quarter of an hour we were all laughing and chatting
as gaily in French, as though we had been the acquaintance of years.

No where do you feel yourself more thoroughly at home at once than among
the inhabitants of the East; they _may_ be what we are accustomed to
call them—semi-barbarians—but, if such be the case, never was the
aphorism of a celebrated female writer more thoroughly exemplified that
“extreme politeness comes next to extreme simplicity of manners.” Any
privation that you may suffer in a Turkish or Greek house, beyond those
consequent on the habits of the country, must be gratuitous, as the
natives place a firm reliance on your asking for all that you require
or wish; and they are so far from being obliged to you for a contrary
mode of action, that you cannot more seriously offend than by giving
them cause to suspect, after your departure, that you have been
inconvenienced during your residence in their families.

The room in which we were received was of considerable extent, and
surrounded on three sides by a sofa, like those in the Turkish houses,
which were in fact copied from the Greeks; this was covered with a gay
patterned chintz, and furnished with cushions of cut velvet of a rich
deep blue; nor was the comfortable tandour wanting; and, when I had laid
aside my cloak, shawl, and bonnet, and exchanged my walking shoes for
slippers, I crept under the wadded coverings as gladly as any Greek
among them; and, having surrounded ourselves with cushions, we all sat
in luxurious idleness, speculating on the forthcoming ball, and relating
anecdotes of those which were past.

Nothing can be more patriarchal than the domestic economy of a Greek
family: that in which we were guests comprised three generations; and
the respect and obedience shown by the younger branches to their
venerable relatives were at once beautiful and affecting. The aged
grandmother, a noble remain of former beauty, with a profile which a
sculptor must still have loved to look upon, so perfectly was its
outline preserved—wore her grey hair braided back from her forehead,
and a dark shawl wound about her head—a long pelisse of brown cloth
lined with rich fur, with wide sleeves, and an under-jacket of crimson
merinos, doubled with marten-skin—her daughter, the mistress of the
house, and the mother of twelve children, reminded me strongly of a
Jewess, with her large, dark, flashing eyes, and high aquiline nose: her
wide brow was cinctured with a costly Persian scarf; and during the day
she three times changed the magnificent cachemere in which she was
enveloped. The younger ladies wore turbans of gauze wreathed with
flowers, very similar to those which are in use among our matrons for
evening dress; their dark, luxuriant, glossy hair being almost entirely
hidden; and furred pelisses that reached from the throat mid-way to the
knee, whence the full petticoat of merinos, or chaly, fell in large
folds to their feet.

As soon as we were comfortably established round the tandour, a servant
brought in a tray on which were arranged a large cut glass vase, filled
with a delicate preserve slightly impregnated with _attar de rose_, a
range of crystal goblets of water, and a silver boat, whose oars were
gilt tea-spoons. One of these the lady of the house immersed in the
preserve, and offered to me; after which she replaced the spoon in the
boat, and I then accepted a draught of water presented by the same
hospitable hand; the whole ceremony was next gone through with my
father; and, the tray being dismissed, a second servant entered with
coffee, served in little porcelain cups of divers patterns, without
saucers, but deposited in stands of fillagreed silver, shaped nearly
like the egg-cups of Europe.

After this, we were left to our charcoal and cushions until six o’clock;
save that my father smoked a costly pipe with a mouthpiece of the
colour and almost of the bulk of a lemon, in company of our host, a
tall, majestic-looking man, upwards of six feet in height, whose black
calpac differed from those of the Armenians in its superiority of size
and globular form, and whose furred garments, heaped one above another,
seemed to me, shivering as I had lately been under a sharp spring breeze
on the water, the very embodiment of comfort.

A Greek dinner is a most elaborate business; rendered still more lengthy
by the fact that the knives, forks, and other appliances which European
example has introduced, are as yet rather hindrances than auxiliaries to
most of those who have adopted them.

When we had taken our places at table, I looked around me with
considerable interest—we were truly a large party—all the junior
members of the family, who had been throughout the morning “on
household cares intent,” were gathered around the board; and such a
circle of bright black eyes I never beheld before in my life!

The very aspect of the repast was _appetissant_—the portly tureen of
rice soup was surrounded by every tentative to appetite that can be
enumerated; pickled anchovies, shred cheese, dried sausage divided into
minute portions, pickles of every description, salt tunny-fish, looking
like condensed rose leaves, and Adrianople tongues sliced to the
thinness of wafers. The sparkling Greek wines were laughing in light
among dishes upheaped with luscious confectionary—Sciote pastry—red
mullet, blushing through the garlanded parsley among which they were
imbedded, and pyramids of pillauf slightly tinged with the juice of the
tomato. More substantial dishes were rapidly handed round by servants,
and a delicious dessert crowned the hospitable meal, at whose
termination we hurried to our several apartments, and were soon immersed
in all the mysteries of the toilet.

The house of the merchant by whom the ball was to be given, and whose
name was Kachishesh Oglou, signifying “Son of the Hermit,” was next door
to that in which we were already guests; and the cheerful music of the
Wallachian band gave earnest of its commencement long ere we were ready
to augment the festive crowd: and a crowd it truly was, a perfect
social kaleidoscope; for the variety of costumes and colours in constant
motion formed a gay and characteristic piece of human mosaic. There were
the venerable men whose hair and beards had grown gray with age, and who
had scorned to put off the garb of their fathers; the dark globular
calpac and the graceful pelisse—the _tiers étât_ of fashion, in their
semi-European dress, the ill-cut frock-coat, and the scarlet _fèz_,
drawn down to their very eyebrows—and the young, travelled beaux, in
their pride of superior knowledge and _tenue_, gloved and chausséd with
a neatness and precision worthy of the school in which they had studied.

Among the ladies, the same graduated scale of fashion was perceptible:
the elder matrons wore the dark head-dress and unbecoming vest of
by-gone years, half concealed by the warm wrapping pelisse—the next in
age had mingled the Greek and European costumes into one heterogeneous
mass, each heightening and widening the absurdity of the other; and had
overlaid the inconsistent medley with a profusion of diamonds absolutely
dazzling; while the younger ladies presented precisely the same
appearance as the belles of a third rate country town in England: their
petticoats too short, their heads too high, their sleeves too elaborate,
and their whole persons over-dressed.

I have already remarked on the fondness of the Greek ladies for gay
colours; a taste peculiarly, and almost painfully, apparent in a
ball-room: such bright blues, deep pinks, and glowing scarlets I never
before saw collected together; and this glaring taste extends even to
their jewels, which they mix in the most extraordinary manner; their
only care being to heap upon their persons every ornament that they can
contrive to wear.

I cannot, however, record even this inconsequent criticism without a
feeling of self-reproach, when I remember the kindliness of heart, and
frankness of welcome, with which I was received among them. No curious
impertinence taught me that I was felt to be a stranger; on the
contrary, I was greeted with smiles on every side; each had something
kind and complimentary to address to me; and in ten minutes I had been
presented to every individual in the room whose acquaintance I could
desire to make. Nor must I pass over without remark the progress of
education among these amiable women; two-thirds of the younger ones
speak French, many of them even fluently—several were conversant with
English, and still more with Italian; while a knowledge of the ancient
Greek is the basis of their education, and is consequently almost
general. A taste for music is also rapidly obtaining; and time and
greater facilities are alone wanting to lend the polish of
high-breeding and high education to the Greek ladies: the material is
there—they already possess intellect, quickness of perception, and a
strong desire for instruction; and, even eminently superior as they
already are to the Turkish and Armenian females, they are so conscious
of their deficiencies both of education and opportunity, that, were
these once secured to them, they would probably be inferior to no women
in the world as regards mental acquirements.

I pass by the heavy-looking, but, nevertheless, handsome, son of the
Prince of Samos, the minister of Moldavia—a group of Mickialis,
Manolakis, Lorenzis, Arcolopolos, &c., &c., &c., all dark-eyed and
mustachioed—to particularize an individual who must ever be an object
of great interest to all who are conversant with Eastern politics—I
allude to Nicholas Aristarchi—Great Logotheti, or head of the clergy,
and representative of the Greek nation in the Synod—the Aristarchi, who
is accused by his enemies of having brought about the treaty of Unkiar
Skelessi—of having caused Achmet Pasha to counsel the Sultan to cede
some of his finest provinces to the Russians, in virtue of the
convention of St. Petersburg; and, to crown all, of being in the receipt
of a considerable pension, granted to him, in consideration of his
services, by the Emperor Nicholas.

Be all this as it may—and be it remembered that each of these
assertions is totally discredited by a numerous party, who have taken a
very different view of the political career of Logotheti, and who find a
complete refutation of these charges against him, in the perilous
situation of the Sultan when Mahomet Ali marched upon Qutayah—Mahmoud
was without fleet or army—threatened by his people—abandoned by his
friends—deserted by his allies—and reduced to the bare question of
self-preservation. In this strait, uncounselled, unadvised, even
unsuspected of such an intention, he personally invited the Russian
fleet to protect him against his own subjects, nor did he abandon his
purpose at the remonstrance of his own ministers, and those of the
foreign powers.

During the succeeding four years, the Ottoman Government have persisted
in the same views, as if in conviction of their efficacy; and it is
scarcely probable that a solitary individual, and that individual,
moreover, a Greek raïah, could possess sufficient power to regulate the
movements of a despotic government; while it is certain that Aristarchi
is still in the confidence of the Turkish ministry, and is more or less
interwoven in the intricate web of her political existence.

Many of those who have been the most violent against him have forgotten,
or perhaps have never known, that he is the son of that Aristarchi who
was sacrificed because he was too true to the cause which he had
espoused. Aristarchi was the last Greek Dragoman to the Porte, and the
confidant of Halet Effendi; and, on the insurrection of his countrymen,
he continued faithful to the interests of the Sultan, and steadily
pursued the straight and manly line of policy which had induced him to
support the views of England against those of Russia; but he was
abandoned in his need by the power that he had, in his days of
influence, exerted his best energies to serve. England changed her
policy, and Aristarchi, abandoned to the tender mercies of the
arch-traitor, Halet Effendi, was exiled to Boloo, under a promise of
recall; but he ultimately lost his life, which no powerful hand was
outstretched to save, simply because Aristarchi was the only individual
whose personal and acquired rank rendered him eligible to fill the
exalted station of Prince of Wallachia; and that he was unhappily the
confidant of the treacherous intrigues of his patron, which that patron
well knew that he possessed the power to disclose. Thus, forgotten on
one hand, and betrayed on the other, he fell a sacrifice to the
misgivings of Halet Effendi, who supplied his place with one less versed
in the intricacies of his own subtle policy.

Logotheti saw his father cut to pieces before his eyes—murdered by the
emissaries of those whom he had served with honour and fidelity—he
beheld his mother put forth, with her seven helpless daughters, from the
home that had so long been her’s—he stood between his two young
brothers, orphaned and beggared by the same stroke—he saw the
possessions which should have been his own pass into the hands of
strangers—and he knew and felt that on his individual exertions
depended the comforts, the fortunes, the very existence, of those
helpless and homeless beings.

I shall pursue the subject no farther for obvious reasons, suffice it
that Nicholas Aristarchi, Great Logotheti and Chargé d’Affaires for
Wallachia, was to me an object of surpassing interest: I had heard so
much of him—I had imagined so much—and I had been so deeply affected
by his domestic history—that I was anxious to see a man who had
suffered so fearfully, who had struggled so manfully, and who had
grappled with fortune until he saw it at his feet; and whose individual
influence had sufficed to depose two Patriarchs, and to seat two others
on the throne of the Greek church.

Nor did I, when I first met him, know the tendency of his politics; I
was desirous only to make the acquaintance of a man who had become an
object of great interest to me from the description and narration of an
individual whom he had essentially served, and who had succeeded in
awakening in my mind a wish to see and converse with him. My business
was with the man; with the politician I had nothing to do. I thought
only of the Aristarchi, who had saved and supported a ruined mother and
a beggared family; I cared not for the Dragoman, who had assisted at
treaties, and passed his youth among the intrigues of cabinets. His
domestic history was a little romance; my feelings of sympathy had been
excited by the manner in which it was related to me; and I rejoiced in
the opportunity of becoming known to him.

Logotheti was one of the first persons presented to me; and I instantly
felt that, had I encountered him in a crowd, I could not have passed him
by without remark. He is about five and thirty, of the middle size, and
there is mind in every line of his expressive countenance—his brow is
high and ample, with the rich brown hair receding from it, as if fully
to reveal its intellectual character; his bright and restless eyes
appear almost to flash fire during his moments of excitement, but in
those of repose their characteristic is extreme softness; his nose is a
perfect aquiline, and his moustache partially conceals a set of the
whitest teeth I ever saw. As he stood conversing with me, I remarked
that he constantly amused himself by toying with his beard, which he
wears pointed, and of which he is evidently vain. His voice is
extremely agreeable, his delivery emphatic, and he speaks French
fluently.

After a few moments of conversation, he introduced me to his wife, his
mother, and his sisters, all of whom greeted me with the greatest
kindness; and in a few more, my hand was in his, and we were threading
the mazes of a cotillon. I was much amused by the officiousness of his
attendants; his pipe-bearer, whose tube (not staff) of office was of the
most costly description, approached him every five minutes with the
tempting luxury, of which he was, however, much too well-bred to avail
himself while conversing with me; although the Greek ladies are
accustomed to this social accessory, and many of the elder ones even
indulge in it themselves—another handed to him from time to time a
clean cambric handkerchief—while a third haunted him like his shadow,
and the moment that we paused, either in the dance, or in our walk
across the room, placed a couple of chairs for us to seat ourselves. Of
this latter arrangement, he availed himself without scruple, and
compelled me to do the same; while, as the evolutions of the figure
constantly caused me to rise, he invariably stood leaning over the back
of my empty chair, until I was again seated, ere he would resume his
own.

As he persisted in dancing with me nearly the whole of the evening, and
talking to me during the remainder, I soon became much interested in
his conversation, and it was with sincere pleasure that I heard him
promise that he would get up an extempore ball for us the following
night. The news soon spread through the room, and great were the
exertions made to secure invitations, the more particularly as the
morrow was the last day of the Carnival; and, at half past four in the
morning, after having received an invitation to breakfast with Madame
Logotheti, we made our parting bow to our very handsome hostess and her
hospitable husband, and hastened to secure a little rest, to enable us
to contend with the fatigues of the forthcoming evening.

A Greek breakfast differs little from a Greek dinner: there are the same
sparkling wines, the same goodly tureen of soup, the same meats, and
confectionary, and _friandises_; but, in addition to these, there is the
snowy kaimack, or clotted cream, and the bubbling urn.

I know not whether others have made the same remark, but I have
frequently observed that the breakfast after a ball, where the party is
an agreeable one, is a most delightful repast. The excitement of the
previous night has not entirely subsided—the “sayings and doings” of
“ladies bright and cavaliers” afford a gay and unfailing topic—and all
goes “merry as a marriage bell.” Certain it is, that in this instance
my theory is borne out by the result; for, on the termination of the
meal, the family insisted on our remaining with them during our stay at
the Fanar. Servants were accordingly despatched for our bandboxes and
dressing-cases, and we established ourselves comfortably round the
tandour until dinner-time.

As the house which Logotheti occupied during the winter months was
merely hired,[1] and, although extremely handsome and spacious, was
greatly inferior in magnificence to his residence on the Bosphorus, he
did not consider it expedient to give the ball himself, lest he should
offend many whom he had neither time nor space to invite; but requested
one of his friends, Hage Aneste, or Aneste the Pilgrim, a Primate of the
Greek church and a near neighbour, to open his house in the evening, and
the arrangement was completed at once.

If I had been pleased with Logotheti in the heat and hurry of a ball
room, I was infinitely more delighted with him in the bosom of his
family. His gentle and courtly manners, and his unaffected and fluent
conversation, rendered him a charming companion; and the hours flew so
swiftly in his society, and that of his amiable family, that dinner was
announced before the morning had appeared to be half spent.

At half past nine, we were in the ball-room, which I entered on the arm
of Logotheti, and I was considerably startled during our progress up
stairs by the manner of his reception. Our host and hostess met us on
the first landing-place, where they bent down and kissed the hem of his
garment, despite his efforts to prevent this truly Oriental salutation.
Their example was followed by all those who made way for us; and, as he
led me through the noble saloon in which we were to dance, and seated me
in the centre of the sofa, at the upper end of a drawing-room that
opened into it, every one rose, and continued standing until he had
taken possession of a chair.

Coffee having been handed round, Logotheti conducted me back into the
saloon, where we opened the ball with a Polonaise; after which,
quadrilles, waltzes, cotillons, and mazurkas, followed each other in
rapid succession; and, after having been introduced to more persons than
I could possibly recognise should I ever meet them again, and dancing
until near six o’clock in the morning, I walked another Polonaise with
our agreeable host, and quitted the ball-room with more regret than I
ever experienced on a similar occasion.

We remained the morrow at the Fanar, and I carried away with me no
memories save those of kindness and courtesy. Seldom, very seldom
indeed, have I passed three days of such unalloyed gratification as
those for which I am indebted to Logotheti and his friends.

No circumstance impressed me more strongly during this very agreeable
visit, than the rapid strides which the Constantinopolitan Greeks are
making towards civilization. The Turks have a thousand old and cherished
superstitions that tend to clog the chariot wheels of social
progression, and which it will require time to rend away; the Armenians,
who consider their Moslem masters as the _ne plus ultra_ of human
perfection, are yet further removed from improvement than the Turks;
while the Greeks, lively and quick-minded, seize, as it were by
intuition, minute shades of character as well as striking points of
manners. Locomotive, physically as well as mentally, they indulge their
erratic tastes and propensities by travel; they compare, estimate, and
adopt; they pride themselves in their progress; they stand forth,
scorning all half measures, as declared converts to European customs;
and they fashion their minds as well as their persons, after their
admitted models.

The Turk is the more stately, the more haughty, and the more
self-centered, of the inhabitants of the East; but in all that relates
to social tactics he is very far inferior to the keen, shrewd,
calculating, intriguing, Greek.

The Moslem will fix his eye upon a distant and important object, and
work steadily onwards until he has attained it; but, meanwhile, the
active Greek will have clutched a score of minor advantages, which
probably, in the aggregate, are of more than equal weight. It is the
collision of mind and matter—the elephant and the fox. Intellectual
craft has been the safety-buoy of the Greeks; had they been differently
constituted, they would long ere this have been swept from the face of
the earth, or have become mere “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” As
it is, there is so strong a principle of moral life in this portion of
the Greek nation, that, were they only more united among themselves, and
less a prey to intestine jealousies and heart-burnings, it is probable
that in these times, when Turkey lies stretched like a worsted giant at
the mercy of the European powers, the heel of the Greeks might be shod
with an iron, heavy enough to press her down beyond all means of
resuscitation; in possession, as they are, of the confidence of those in
power.

Animal force has subjugated the Greeks—subjugated, but not subdued
them; their physical power has departed, but their moral energy remains
unimpaired; and it is doubtful whether human means will ever crush it.



CHAPTER VI.


  Difficulty of Obtaining an Insight into Turkish
  Character—Inconvenience of Interpreters—Errors of
  Travellers—Ignorance of Resident Europeans—Fables and
  Fable-mongers—Turkey, Local and Moral—Absence of Capital
  Crime—Police of Constantinople—Quiet Streets—Sedate
  Mirth—Practical Philosophy of the Turks—National
  Emulation—Impossibility of Revolution—Mahmoud and his
  People—Unpopularity of the Sultan—Russian
  Interference—Vanity of the Turks—Russian Gold—Tenderness of
  the Turks to Animals—Penalty for Destroying a Dog—The English
  Sportsman—Fondness of the Turks for Children—Anecdote of the
  Reiss Effendi—Adopted Children—Love of the Musselmauns for
  their Mothers—Turkish Indifference to Death—Their
  Burial-places—Fasts—The Turks in the Mosque—Contempt of the
  Natives for Europeans—Freedom of the Turkish
  Women—Inviolability of the Harem—Domestic Economy of the
  Harem—Turkish Slaves—Anecdote of a Slave of Achmet
  Pasha—Cleanliness of Turkish Houses—The Real Romance of the
  East.

There is, perhaps, no country under heaven where it is more difficult
for an European to obtain a full and perfect insight into the national
character, than in Turkey. The extreme application, and the length of
time necessary to the acquirement of the two leading languages, which
bear scarcely any affinity to those of Europe, render the task one of
utter hopelessness to the traveller, who consequently labours under the
disadvantage of explaining his impressions, and seeking for information
through the medium of a third person, inferentially, and it may almost
be said totally, uninterested in both. The most simple question may be
put in a manner calculated to influence the reply; as the rivulet takes
the tinge of the soil over which it passes—a misplaced emphasis may
change the nature of an assertion; and no one requires to be reminded of
the difficulty, if not impossibility, of meeting with an individual so
straightforward and matter-of-fact as to translate as though he were
perpetually _in foro conscientiæ_. Thus the means of communication
between the native and the stranger have an additional and almost
insurmountable impediment in this respect, superadded to the natural and
palpable obstacles presented by opposing and diffluent prejudices,
customs, and opinions.

Flung back, consequently, upon his own resources; soured, perhaps
somewhat, by the consciousness that he is so, and judging according to
his own impressions, the traveller hazards undigested and erroneous
judgments on the most important facts—traces effects to wrong
causes—and, deciding by personal feeling, condemns much that, did he
perfectly and thoroughly comprehend its nature and tendency, he would
probably applaud. Hence arise most of those errors relative to the
feelings and affairs of the East, that have so long misled the public
mind in Europe; and, woman as I am, I cannot but deplore a fact which I
may be deficient in the power to remedy. The repercussion of public
opinion must be wrought by a skilful and a powerful hand, They are no
lady-fingers which can grasp a pen potent enough to overthrow the
impressions and prejudices that have covered reams of paper, and spread
scores of misconceptions. But, nevertheless, like the mouse in the
fable, I may myself succeed in breaking away a few of the meshes that
imprison the lion; and, as I was peculiarly situated during my residence
in the East, and enjoyed advantages and opportunities denied to the
generality of travellers, who, as far as the natives are concerned, pass
their time in Turkey “unknowing and unknown,” I trust that my attempt to
refute the errors of some of my predecessors, and to advance opinions,
as well as to adduce facts, according to my own experience, may not
entail on me the imputation of presumption. I know not whether it may
have been from want of inclination, but it is certain that Europeans are
at this moment resident in Turkey, as ignorant of all that relates to
her political economy, her system of government, and her moral ethics,
as though they had never left their own country: and who have,
nevertheless, been resident there for fifteen or twenty years. If you
succeed in prevailing on them to speak on the subject, they never
progress beyond exanimate and crude details of mere external effects.
They have not exerted themselves to look deeper; and it may be
supererogatory to add, that at the Embassies the great question of
Oriental policy is never discussed, save _en petit comité_. It is also a
well-attested fact that the entrée of native houses, and intimacy with
native families, are not only extremely difficult, but in most cases
impossible to Europeans; and hence the cause of the tissue of fables
which, like those of Scheherazade, have created genii and enchanters _ab
ovo usque ad mala_, in every account of the East. The European mind has
become so imbued with ideas of Oriental mysteriousness, mysticism, and
magnificence, and it has been so long accustomed to pillow its faith on
the marvels and metaphors of tourists, that it is to be doubted whether
it will willingly cast off its old associations, and suffer itself to be
undeceived.

To the eye, Turkey is, indeed, all that has been described, gorgeous,
glowing, and magnificent; the very position of its capital seems to
claim for it the proud title of the “Queen of Cities.” Throned on its
seven hills, mirrored in the blue beauty of the Bosphorus—that glorious
strait which links the land-locked harbour of Stamboul to the mouth of
the Euxine—uniting two divisions of the earth in its golden
grasp—lording it over the classic and dusky mountains of Asia, and the
laughing shores of Europe—the imagination cannot picture a site or
scene of more perfect beauty. But the _morale_ of the Turkish empire is
less perfect than its terrestrial position; it possesses the best
conducted people with the worst conducted government—ministers
accessible to bribes—public functionaries practised in chicane—a court
without consistency, and a population without energy.

All these things are, however, on the surface, and cannot, consequently,
escape the notice of any observant traveller. It is the reverse of the
picture that has been so frequently overlooked and neglected. And yet
who that regards, with unprejudiced eyes, the moral state of Turkey, can
fail to be struck by the absence of capital crime, the contented and
even proud feelings of the lower ranks, and the absence of all
assumption and haughtiness among the higher?

Constantinople, with a population of six hundred thousand souls, has a
police of one hundred and fifty men. No street-riots rouse the quiet
citizens from their evening cogitations—no gaming-house vomits forth
its throng of despairing or of exulting votaries—no murders frighten
slumber from the pillows of the timid, “making night hideous”—no ruined
speculator terminates his losses and his life at the same instant, and
thus bequeathes a double misery to his survivors—no inebriated mechanic
reels homeward to wreak his drunken temper on his trembling wife—the
Kavashlir, or police of the capital, are rather for show than use.

From dusk the streets are silent, save when their echoes are awakened by
the footfalls of some individual who passes, accompanied by his servant
bearing a lantern, on an errand of business or pleasure. Without these
lanterns, no person can stir, as the streets of the city are not
lighted, and so ill-paved that it would be not only difficult, but
almost dangerous, to traverse them in the dark. If occasionally some
loud voice of dispute, or some ringing peal of laughter, should scare
the silence of night, it is sure to be the voice or the laughter of an
European, for the Turk is never loud, even in his mirth; a quiet,
internal chuckle, rather seen upon the lips than sensible to the ear, is
his greatest demonstration of enjoyment; and while the excitable Greek
occasionally almost shrieks out his hilarity, the Musselmaun will look
on quietly, with the smile about his mouth, and the sparkle in his eye,
which are the only tokens of his anticipation in the jest.

The Turks are the most practical philosophers on earth; they are always
contented with the present, and yet ever looking upon it as a mere
fleeting good, to which it were as idle to attach any overweening value,
as it would be to mourn it when it escapes them. Honours and wealth are
such precarious possessions in the East, that men cannot afford to waste
existence in weak repinings at their loss; nor are they inclined to do
so, when they remember that the next mutation of the Imperial will may
reinstate them, unquestioned and untrammelled, in their original
position.

It is true that the sharpest sting of worldly misfortune is spared to
the Turk, by the perfect similarity of habit and feeling between the
rich and the poor; and he also suffers less morally than the European,
from the fact that there exists no aristocracy in the country, either of
birth or wealth, to ride rough-shod over their less fortunate
fellow-men. The boatman on the Bosphorus, and the porter in the
streets—the slave in the Salemliek, and the groom in the stables, are
alike eligible to fill the rank of Pasha—there is no exclusive _clique_
or _caste_ to absorb “the loaves and fishes” of office in Turkey—the
butcher of to-day may be the Generalissimo of to-morrow; and the barber
who takes an Effendi by the nose on Monday may, on Tuesday, be equally
authorized to take him by the hand.

To this circumstance must be attributed, in a great degree, the
impossibility of a revolution in Turkey; but another may also be adduced
of at least equal weight. In Europe, the subversion of order is the work
of a party who have everything to gain, and who, from possessing no
individual interest in the country, have consequently nothing to lose.
To persons of this class, every social change offers at least the
prospect of advantage; but, throughout the Ottoman empire, nearly every
man is the owner of a plot of land, and is enabled to trim his own vine,
and to sit under the shadow of his own fig-tree—he has an interest in
the soil—and thus, although popular commotions are of frequent
occurrence, they merely agitate, without exasperating the feelings of
the people.

The Osmanli is, moreover, mentally, as well as physically, indolent—he
is an enemy to all unnecessary exertion; and the subjects of Sultan
Mahmoud have never threatened him with rebellion because he refused to
grant any change in their existing privileges and customs, but, on the
contrary, because he sought to introduce innovations for which they had
never asked, and for which they had no desire. “Why,” they exclaim in
their philosophy, “why seek to alter what is well? If we are content,
what more can we desire?” And, acting upon this principle, they resist
every attempt at change, as they would a design against their individual
liberty.

This feeling has induced the great unpopularity of the Sultan; who, in
his zeal to civilize the Empire, has necessarily shocked many privileges
and overturned many theories. That he _is_ unpopular, unfortunately
admits of no doubt, even in the minds of those most attached to his
interests—the very presence of Russian arms within his Imperial
territory sufficiently attest the fact: and it is to be feared that he
will discover, when too late, that these apparent means of safety were
the actual engines of his destruction. Be this as it may, it is certain
that the Russian alliance has given great and rational umbrage to the
bulk of his people; and, combined with his own mania for improvement and
innovation, has caused a want of affection for his person, and a want of
deference for his opinions, which operate most disadvantageously for his
interests.

That the Russian influence has negatived the good effects of many of his
endeavours is palpable, and forces itself daily on the notice of those
who look closely and carefully on the existing state of things at
Constantinople. It is the policy of Russia to check every advance
towards enlightenment among a people whom she has already trammelled,
and whom she would fain subjugate. The Turk is vain and self-centered,
and consequently most susceptible to flattery. Tell him that he is
“wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best,” and his own self-appreciation
leads him immediately to put firm faith in the sincerity of your
assertion; the effect of this blind trust is evident at once—it
paralyzes all desire of further improvement: he holds it as
supererogatory to “gild refined gold, and paint the lily,” and he thus
stops short at the threshold, when he should press forward to the arena.

These sober statements are sad innovators on our European ideas of
Eastern magnificence, but they are, nevertheless, too characteristic to
be passed over in silence.

To all the brute creation the Turks are not only merciful but
ministering friends; and to so great an extent do they carry this
tenderness towards the inferior animals, that they will not kill an
unweaned lamb, in order to spare unnecessary suffering to the mother;
and an English sportsman, who had been unsuccessful in the chase,
having, on one occasion, in firing off his piece previously to
disembarking from his caïque, brought down a gull that was sailing above
his head, was reproached by his rowers with as much horror and emphasis
as though he had been guilty of homicide.

I have elsewhere remarked on the singular impunity enjoyed by the
aquatic birds which throng the harbour of Constantinople, and sport
among the shipping; on the divers, that may be knocked down by the oar
of every passing caïque, so fearless are they of human vicinity; and the
gulls, which cluster like pigeons on the roofs of the houses—on the
porpoises that crowd the port, and the dogs that haunt the streets. It
may not be unamusing to state the forfeit inflicted on an individual
for destroying one of these animals, as it is both curious and
characteristic. The dead dog is hung up by the tail in such a manner as
to suffer his nose to touch the ground; and his murderer is compelled to
cover him entirely with corn or millet seed, which is secured by the
proper authorities, and distributed to the poor. This ceremony generally
costs the delinquent about a thousand piastres.

Another distinguishing trait in the Turkish character is their strong
parental affection; indeed I may say love of children generally. Nothing
can be more beautiful than the tenderness of a Turkish father; he hails
every demonstration of dawning intellect, every proof of infant
affection, with a delight that must be witnessed to be thoroughly
understood; he anticipates every want, he gratifies every wish, he
sacrifices his own personal comfort to ensure that of his child; and I
cannot better illustrate this fact than by mentioning a circumstance
which fell under my own observation.

The Reiss Effendi, or Minister for Foreign Affairs, had a grandchild
whose indisposition caused him the most lively uneasiness; it was in
vain that his English physician assured him of the total absence of
danger; his every thought, his every anxiety, were with this darling
boy; in the midst of the most pressing public business, he would start
up and hasten to the chamber of the little patient, to assure himself
that everything was going on favourably; he would leave his friends, in
an hour of relaxation, to sit beside the sick bed of the child; and at
length, when a strict and rigid system of diet was prescribed, which was
to be of a fortnight’s duration, he actually submitted himself, and
compelled all his establishment to submit, to the same monotonous and
scanty fare, lest the boy should accidentally see, or otherwise become
conscious of the presence of, any more enticing food, for which he might
pine, and thus increase his malady.

It may be thought that I have cited an extreme instance, but such is, in
reality, far from being the case; indeed, to such a pitch do the
Osmanlis carry their love for children, that they are constantly
adopting those of others, whom they emphatically denominate “children of
the soul.” They generally take them into their families when mere
infants; they rear them with the most extreme care and tenderness: and
finally portion them on their marriage, as though the claim were a
natural, rather than a gratuitous, one. The adopted child of Turkey is
not like the _protégé_ of Europe, the plaything of a season, and
ultimately too often the victim of a whim: the act of adoption is with
the Turks a solemn obligation; and poverty and privation would alike
fail to weary them of well-doing where their affections as well as their
word were pledged.

An equally beautiful feature in the character of the Turks is their
reverence and respect for the author of their being. Their wives advise
and reprimand unheeded—their words are _bosh_—nothing—but the mother
is an oracle; she is consulted, confided in, listened to with respect
and deference, honoured to her latest hour, and remembered with
affection and regret beyond the grave. “My wives die, and I can replace
them,” says the Osmanli; “my children perish, and others may be born to
me; but who shall restore to me the mother who has passed away, and who
is seen no more?”

These are strong traits, beautiful developments, of human nature; and,
if such be indeed the social attributes of “barbarism,” then may
civilized Europe, amid her pride of science and her superiority of
knowledge, confess that herein at least she is mated by the less
highly-gifted Musselmauns.

The philosophy and kindly feeling of the Turk is carried even beyond the
grave. He looks upon death calmly and without repugnance; he does not
connect it with ideas of gloom and horror, as we are too prone to do in
Europe—he spreads his burial places in the sunniest spots—on the
crests of the laughing hills, where they are bathed in the light of the
blue sky; beside the crowded thoroughfares of the city, where the dead
are, as it were, once more mingled with the living—in the green nooks
that stretch down to the Bosphorus, wherein more selfish spirits would
have erected a villa, or have planted a vineyard. He identifies himself
with the generation which has passed away—he is ready to yield his
place to that which is to succeed his own.

Nor must I omit to remark on the devout and unaffected religious feeling
that exists in Turkey, not only among the Musselmauns, who, however
imperative may be their avocations, never neglect to pray five times
during the day; but equally among the Greeks and Armenians, whose fasts
are so severe that those of the Roman Catholics are comparatively
feasts. If you meet a Turk and inquire after his health, he
replies—“_Shukiur Allah!_—Praise be to God, I am well.” Every thing is
referred to the Great First Cause. There is none of that haughty
self-dependence, that overweening _morgue_, so strongly marked in
Europeans. Among men, the Osmanli considers himself the first, but only
among men; when he puts off his slippers at the door of the mosque, he
carries no pomp with him into the presence of his God. The luxurious
inhabitant of the East, who, in his own salemliek is wont to recline on
cushions, and to be served by officious slaves, does not pass into the
house of God to tenant a crimson-lined and well-wadded pew, and to
listen to the words of inspiration beside a comfortable stove, in dreamy
indifference: he takes his place among the crowd—the Effendi stands
beside the water-carrier—the Bey near the charcoal-vender—he is but
one item among many—he arrogates to himself no honour in the temple
where all men are as one common family; and he insults not the Divine
Majesty by a bended knee and a stubborn brow.

That the generality of the Turks hold every Frank in supreme contempt,
admits of no doubt; and could they, to use their own phrase, “make our
fathers and mothers eat dirt,” I am afraid that our respectable
ancestors would never again enjoy a comfortable meal; but this feeling
on their part is rather amusing than offensive, and only enhances the
merit of their politeness when they show courtesy to the stranger and
the Giaour.

If, as we are all prone to believe, freedom be happiness, then are the
Turkish women the happiest, for they are certainly the freest
individuals in the Empire. It is the fashion in Europe to pity the women
of the East; but it is ignorance of their real position alone which can
engender so misplaced an exhibition of sentiment. I have already stated
that they are permitted to expostulate, to urge, even to insist on any
point wherein they may feel an interest; nor does an Osmanli husband
ever resent the expressions of his wife; it is, on the contrary, part
and parcel of his philosophy to bear the storm of words unmoved; and the
most emphatic and passionate oration of the inmates of his harem seldom
produces more than the trite “_Bakalum_—we shall see.”

It is also a fact that though a Turk has an undoubted right to enter the
apartments of his wives at all hours, it is a privilege of which he very
rarely, I may almost say, never avails himself. One room in the harem is
appropriated to the master of the house, and therein he awaits the
appearance of the individual with whom he wishes to converse, and who is
summoned to his presence by a slave. Should he, on passing to his
apartment, see slippers at the foot of the stairs, he cannot, under any
pretence, intrude himself in the harem: it is a liberty that every woman
in the Empire would resent. When guests are on a visit of some days, he
sends a slave forward to announce his approach, and thus gives them time
and opportunity to withdraw.

A Turkish woman consults no pleasure save her own when she wishes to
walk or drive, or even to pass a short time with a friend: she adjusts
her _yashmac_ and _feridjhe_, summons her slave, who prepares her
_boksha_, or bundle, neatly arranged in a muslin handkerchief; and, on
the entrance of the husband, his inquiries are answered by the
intelligence that the Hanoum[2] Effendi is gone to spend a week at the
harem of so and so. Should he be suspicious of the fact, he takes steps
to ascertain that she is really there; but the idea of controlling her
in the fancy, or of making it subject of reproach on her return, is
perfectly out of the question.

The instances are rare in which a Turk, save among the higher ranks,
becomes the husband of two wives. He usually marries a woman of his own
rank; after which, should he, either from whim, or for family reasons,
resolve on increasing his establishment, he purchases slaves from
Circassia and Georgia, who are termed _Odaliques_; and who, however they
may succeed in superseding the Buyuk Hanoum, or head of the harem, in
his affections, are, nevertheless, subordinate persons in the household;
bound to obey her bidding, to pay her the greatest respect, and to look
up to her as a superior. Thus a Turkish lady constantly prefers the
introduction of half a dozen _Odaliques_ into her harem to that of a
second wife; as it precludes the possibility of any inconvenient
assumption of power on the part of her companions, who must, under all
circumstances, continue subservient to her authority.

The almost total absence of education among Turkish women, and the
consequently limited range of their ideas, is another cause of that
quiet, careless, indolent happiness that they enjoy; their sensibilities
have never been awakened, and their feelings and habits are
comparatively unexacting: they have no factitious wants, growing out of
excessive mental refinement; and they do not, therefore, torment
themselves with the myriad anxieties, and doubts, and chimeras, which
would darken and depress the spirit of more highly-gifted females. Give
her shawls, and diamonds, a spacious mansion in Stamboul, and a sunny
palace on the Bosphorus, and a Turkish wife is the very type of
happiness; amused with trifles, careless of all save the passing hour; a
woman in person, but a child at heart.

Were I a man, and condemned to an existence of servitude, I would
unhesitatingly chuse that of slavery in a Turkish family: for if ever
the “bitter draught” can indeed be rendered palatable, it is there. The
slave of the Osmanli is the child of his adoption; he purchases with his
gold a being to cherish, to protect, and to support; and in almost every
case he secures to himself what all his gold could not command—a
devoted and loving heart, ready to sacrifice its every hope and impulse
in his service. Once forget that the smiling menial who hands you your
coffee, or pours the rose-water on your hands from an urn of silver,
has been purchased at a price, and you must look with admiration on the
relative positions of the servant and his lord—the one so eager and so
earnest in his services—the other so gentle and so unexacting in his
commands.

No assertion of mine can, however, so satisfactorily prove the fact
which I have here advanced, as the circumstance that almost all the
youth of both sexes in Circassia insist upon being conveyed by their
parents to Constantinople, where the road to honour and advancement is
open to every one. The slaves receive no wages; the price of their
services has already been paid to their relatives; but twice in the
year, at stated periods, the master and mistress of the family, and,
indeed, every one of their superiors under the same roof, are bound to
make them a present, termed the _Backshish_, the value of which varies
according to the will of the donor; and they are as well fed, and nearly
as well clothed, as their owners.

As they stand in the apartment with their hands folded upon their
breasts, they occasionally mix in the conversation unrebuked; while,
from their number, (every individual maintaining as many as his income
will admit), they are never subjected to hard labour; indeed, I have
been sometimes tempted to think that all the work of a Turkish house
must be done by the fairies; for, although I have been the inmate of
several harems at all hours, I never saw a symptom of any thing like
domestic toil.

There is a remarkable feature in the position of the Turkish slaves that
I must not omit to mention. Should it occur that one of them, from
whatever cause it may arise, feels himself uncomfortable in the house of
his owner, the dissatisfied party requests his master to dispose of him;
and, having repeated this appeal three several times, the law enforces
compliance with its spirit; nor is this all—the slave can not only
insist on changing owners, but even on selecting his purchaser, although
he may by such means entail considerable loss on his master. But, as
asseveration is not proof, I will adduce an example.

The wife of Achmet Pasha had a female slave, who, being partial to a
young man of the neighbourhood, was desirous to become his property.
Such being the case, she informed her mistress that she wished to be
taken to the market and disposed of, which was accordingly carried into
effect; but, as she was young and pretty, and her lover in confined
circumstances, he was soon outbidden by a wealthier man; and, on her
return to the harem of Achmet Pasha, her mistress told her that an
Asiatic merchant had offered twenty thousand piastres for her, and that
she would be removed to his house in a few days. “I will not belong to
him,” was the reply; “there was a young man in the market who bid twelve
thousand for me, and I have decided to follow him. My price to you was
but ten thousand piastres, and thus you will gain two thousand by
selling me to him.” Her declaration was decisive: she became the
property of her lover, and her resolution cost her mistress eighty
pounds sterling.

The most perfect cleanliness is the leading characteristic of Eastern
houses—not a grain of dust, not a foot-mark, defaces the surface of the
Indian matting that covers the large halls, whence the several
apartments branch off in every direction; the glass from which you drink
is carefully guarded to avoid the possibility of contamination; and, the
instant that you have eaten, a slave stands before you with water and a
napkin to cleanse your hands. To the constant use of the bath I have
already alluded; and no soil is ever seen on the dress of a Turkish
gentlewoman.

I am quite conscious that more than one lady-reader will lay down my
volume without regret, when she discovers how matter-of-fact are many of
its contents. The very term “Oriental” implies to European ears the
concentration of romance; and I was long in the East ere I could divest
myself of the same feeling. It would have been easy for me to have
continued the illusion, for Oriental habits lend themselves greatly to
the deceit, when the looker-on is satisfied with glancing over the
surface of things; but with a conscientious chronicler this does not
suffice; and, consequently, I rather sought to be instructed than to be
amused, and preferred the veracious to the entertaining.

This bowing down of the imagination before the reason is, however, the
less either a merit on the one hand, or a sacrifice on the other, that
enough of the wild and the wonderful, as well as of the bright and the
beautiful, still remains, to make the East a scene of enchantment. A
sky, whose blue brilliancy floods with light alike the shores of Asia
and of Europe—whose sunshine falls warm and golden on domes, and
minarets, and palaces—a sea, whose waves glitter in silver, forming the
bright bond by which two quarters of the world are linked together—an
Empire, peopled by the gathering of many nations—the stately Turk—the
serious Armenian—the wily Jew—the keen-eyed Greek—the graceful
Circassian—the desert-loving Tartar—the roving Arab—the mountain-born
son of Caucasus—the voluptuous Persian—the Indian Dervish, and the
thoughtful Frank—each clad in the garb, and speaking the language of
his people; suffice to weave a web of tints too various and too
brilliant to be wrought into the dull and commonplace pattern of
every-day existence.

I would not remove one fold of the graceful drapery which veils the
time-hallowed statue of Eastern power and beauty; but I cannot refrain
from plucking away the trash and tinsel that ignorance and bad taste
have hung about it; and which belong as little to the masterpiece they
desecrate, as the votive offerings of bigotry and superstition form a
part of one of Raphaël’s divine Madonnas, because they are appended to
her shrine.



CHAPTER VII.


  The Harem of Mustafa Effendi—The Ladies of the
  Harem—Etiquettical Observances of the Harem—Ceremonies of the
  Salemliek—Jealousy of Precedence among the Turkish
  Women—Apartment of the Effendi—Eastern Passion for
  Diamonds—Personal Appearance of Mustafa Effendi—The little
  Slave-girl—Slavery in Turkey—Gallant Present—The
  Dinner—Turkish Cookery—Illuminated Mosques—The
  _Bokshaliks_—The Toilet after the Bath—History of an
  _Odalique_—Stupid Husbands—Reciprocal Commiseration—Errors
  of a Modern French Traveller—Privacy of the Women’s
  Apartments—Anecdote of the Wife of the Kïara Bey—The Baïram
  _Bokshalik_—My Sleeping-room—Forethought of Turkish
  Hospitality—Farewell to Fatma Hanoum—Dense Crowd—Turkish
  Mob—Turkish Officers—Military Difficulty—The “Lower
  Orders”—Tolerance of the Orientals towards
  Foreigners—Satisfactory Expedient.

On the eve of the Baïram which terminates the Ramazan, we passed over to
Constantinople with some friends to visit Mustafa Effendi, the Egyptian
Chargé d’Affaires, whose magnificent mansion is situated near the gate
of the Seraglio. Having passed the portal, we found ourselves in a
spacious and covered court, having on our right hand a marble fountain,
into whose capacious basin the water fell murmuringly from a group of
lion’s heads; and, beyond it, the entrance to the women’s apartments,
with the conventuallooking wheel, by means of which food is introduced
into the harem; and on our left a stately staircase leading to the main
body of the building. Here our party were compelled to separate; the
gentlemen put off their boots, and followed the two black slaves who
awaited them, to the suite of rooms occupied by the master of the house,
while my companion and myself were consigned to the guidance of a third
attendant, who beat upon the door of the harem, and we entered a large
hall paved with marble, and were immediately surrounded by half a dozen
female slaves, who took our shoes, shawls, and bonnets, and led us over
the fine Indian matting of the centre saloon, to the richly-furnished
apartment of the lady of the house.

A soft twilight reigned in the room, of which all the curtains were
closely drawn to exclude the sun; and the wife of the minister and her
daughter-in-law were seated at the tandour, engaged in conversation with
several of their attendants, who stood before them in a half circle,
with their arms folded upon their breasts. The elder lady was the most
high-bred person whom I had yet seen in the country; the younger one was
pale and delicate, with eyes like jet, and a very sweet and gentle
expression; she spoke but seldom, and always in monosyllables, being
evidently overawed by the presence of her companion.

There are probably few nations in the world that observe with such
severity as the Turks that domestic precedence and etiquette, which,
while it may certainly prevent any disrespectful familiarity, has a
tendency to annihilate all ease. Thus, the other ladies of the family
are each inferior to the first wife, who takes the upper seat on the
sofa, and regulates all the internal economy of the women’s apartments:
and, although they may be greatly preferred by the husband, they are,
nevertheless, bound to obey her commands, and to treat her with the
respect due to a superior. In the Salemliek, when she is desired by her
lord to be seated, (without which gracious intimation she must continue
standing before him), she is privileged to place herself on the same
sofa, but on its extreme edge, and at a considerable distance; while the
other ladies are only permitted to fold their feet under them on a
cushion spread upon the carpet, and thence look up to the great and
gracious ruler of their destinies! The ceremonies of the Salemliek are
neither forgotten nor neglected in the harem, and it is customary for
all the slaves to bend down and kiss the hem of their mistress’s garment
on her first appearance in the morning.

These heart-shutting observances cannot fail to heighten the jealousy
which their relative position must naturally excite in the bosoms of
the other inmates of the harem, although such a circumstance as
rebellion against the supreme power is never heard of, nor imagined.

During the day we were summoned to the apartment of the minister;
whither, as the invitation was not extended to his wife, we went,
accompanied only by three or four black slaves. After traversing several
long galleries and halls, covered so closely with matting that not a
footfall could be heard, we passed under the tapestry-hanging that
veiled the door of the Effendi’s apartment, and found ourselves in an
atmosphere so heavy with perfume that for a moment it was almost
suffocating.

The venerable Chargé d’Affaires, who had been long an invalid, was
sitting upon his sofa, surrounded by cushions of every possible size and
shape, wrapped in furs, and inhaling the odour of a bunch of musk
lemons, the most sickly and sating of all savours—a magnificent mangal,
upheaped with fire, occupied the centre of the apartment; the divan was
almost covered with inlaid boxes, articles of bijouterie, books, and
papers; a large silver tray resting upon a tripod was piled
pyramidically with fine winter fruits; and within a recess on one side
of the room were ranged a splendid coffee service of French porcelain,
and a pair of tall and exquisitely-wrought essence-vases of fillagreed
silver—in short, the whole aspect of the apartment would have
satisfied the most boudoir-loving _petite-maitresse_ of Paris or London.
Near the mangal stood the four attendants of the master of the house,
two fine boys of twelve or fourteen years of age, and two pretty little
girls, one or two years younger, gorgeously dressed, and wearing
magnificent brilliant ornaments on their heads and bosoms.

The rage for diamonds is excessive among both the Turks and the Greeks;
but, while the Greek ladies delight in heaping upon their persons every
ornament for which they can find space, many of the fair Osmanlis, with
a pretty exclusive scorn of adventitious attraction, content themselves
with a clasp or two, a bracelet, or some similar bagatelle; and decorate
their favourite slaves with their more costly and ponderous jewels.

A most venerable-looking person was Mustafa Effendi, with his lofty
turban, and his snow-white beard; and he received us so kindly, and
discoursed with us so good-humouredly, that I was delighted with him. A
chair was brought for the Greek lady who had accompanied me, but he
motioned to me to place myself on a pile of cushions at his side, where
I remained very comfortably during the whole of our visit. He took a
great quantity of snuff from a box whose lid was richly set with
precious stones; and, on my admiring it, showed me another containing
his opium pills, which was exquisitely inlaid with fine large
brilliants.

My attention being attracted to the rosy, happy-looking little
slave-girl who stood near me, with her chubby arms crossed before her,
her large pink trowsers completely concealing her naked feet, and her
long blue antery richly trimmed with yellow floss-silk fringe, lying
upon the carpet; he beckoned her to him, called her a good child, who
had wit enough to anticipate his wants, and affection enough to supply
them without bidding, and bade me remark the henna with which the tips
of her toes and fingers were deeply tinged. She was, he said, a
Georgian, whom he had purchased of her mother for six thousand piastres;
she had already been in his house two years; and he hoped some day to
give her a marriage portion, and to see her comfortably established, as
she was a good girl, and he was much attached to her. The other, he
added, was also obedient and willing, but she did not possess the
vivacity and quickness of his little favourite—she had cost him seven
thousand piastres, as she was a year older, and considerably stronger
than her companion; and was a Circassian, brought to Constantinople, and
sold, at her own request, by her parents.

When I remembered that these children were slaves, I felt inclined to
pity them—when the very price which had been paid for them was stated
to me, a sickness crept over my heart—but, as I looked upon the pleased
and happy countenances of the two little girls, and remembered that
slavery, in Turkey at least, is a mere name, and in nine cases out of
ten even voluntary, I felt that here my commiseration would be
misplaced.

Soon after we had taken leave of the gentle and gracious old Effendi, a
basket of delicious fruit was sent into the harem for our use, with an
injunction that we should dine alone, lest we should be inconvenienced
by the national habits. An embroidered carpet was consequently spread,
beside which were placed a couple of cushions; and the dinner tray, such
as I have before described it, was lifted into the apartment of the
younger lady, at her earnest request: nine slaves, forming a line from
the table to the door, waited upon us: and we partook of an endless
variety of boiled, stewed, roasted, and baked—delicious cinnamon
soup—chickens, farcied with fine herbs and olives—anchovy
cakes—lemon-tinted pillauf—chopped meat and spiced rice, rolled in
preserved vine-leaves-the most delicate of pastry, and the most costly
of conserves. Many-coloured sherbets, and lemonade, completed the
repast; and when I laid aside my gold-embroidered napkin, and wiped the
rose-water from my hands, I could but marvel at the hyper-fastidiousness
of those travellers who have affected to quarrel with the Turkish
kitchen; or infer that they had only “assisted” at the tables of hotels
and eating-houses.

From the windows of the apartment, we had an excellent view, when the
evening had closed in, of the illuminated mosques of the city, and the
lines of light that hung like threads of fire from minaret to minaret.
The casements quivered beneath the shock of the rattling cannon; and all
the sounds which came to us from without spoke of festivity and
rejoicing; and, meanwhile, we were a happy party within. Fatma Hanoum
smoked her pipe, and overlooked the distribution of the _bokshaliks_
that her daughter was preparing for the morrow—every member of the
household, on the occasion of the Baïram, being entitled to a present,
more or less valuable according to their deserts, the length and
difficulty of their services, or the degree of favour in which they are
held.

We, meanwhile, amused ourselves with watching the slaves, who, having
left the bath, had seated themselves in groups at the lower end of the
apartment, combing, tressing, and banding their dark, glossy hair; the
younger ones forming it into one long, thick plait, hanging down the
centre of the back, and twisting above it the painted handkerchief, so
popular in the harem that it is worn equally by the Sultana and the
slave; the others binding their tresses tightly about their heads, and
replacing the locks which they hid from view with a profusion of false
hair, braided in twenty or thirty little plaits, and reaching round the
whole width of the shoulders.

All were busily engaged in preparing for the festival of the morrow,
though many of them were aware that they should not leave the harem; it
was sufficient that it _was_ a festival, an excitement, a topic of
conversation, something, in short, to engross their thoughts; and no
belle ever prepared for a birthday with more alacrity than did the
females of the harem of Mustafa Effendi, black and white, for the
Baïram.

In the course of the evening, the Bayuk Hanoum was summoned to her
husband, and then the timid wife of her son joined us at the tandour,
and related to us the little history of her life, which, although by no
means remarkable in Turkey, is so characteristic, and will, moreover,
appear so extraordinary to European readers, that I shall give it, as
nearly as my memory will serve me, in her own words.

“I am but nineteen,” she said, “a Circassian by birth, and was brought
by my parents to Constantinople, and sold, at the age of nine years, to
a friend of Fatma Hanoum’s. I was very happy, for she was kind to me,
and I thought to pass my life in her harem; but about a year ago I
accompanied her hither on a visit to the wife of Mustafa Effendi, at a
moment when her son was beside her. I was one of four; and I do not yet
understand why nor how I attracted his attention as I stood beside my
companions; but a few days afterwards my mistress called me to her, and
asked me if I had remarked the young Ismaël Bey when we had visited his
mother. I told her that I had seen him; and she then informed me that
the Hanoum desired to purchase me, in obedience to his wish; and
demanded of me if I was willing to accede to the arrangement. Of course,
I consented, and the Bey, having considered me as agreeable when I had
withdrawn my _yashmac_ as he had anticipated, he purchased me for ten
thousand piastres, and I became an inmate of the harem of Mustafa
Effendi—I am still happy,” she added plaintively, “very happy, for I am
sure he loves me; but I nevertheless hope to be more so; for ere long I
shall be a mother, and should my child prove to be a boy, from his
_Odalique_ I may perhaps become his wife.”

I pitied the poor young creature as I listened to her narrative, through
the medium of my companion, who spoke the Turkish language fluently; and
I breathed a silent prayer that her visions of happiness might be
realized. She was not pretty; but she was so childlike, so graceful, and
so gentle, that she inspired an interest which, when I had heard her
story, was even painful; nor was the feeling lessened by an
introduction to her husband, who, during the evening, sent to desire
that all the women, save his mother and wife, should retire, as he
intended to visit the harem; doubtlessly as much to satisfy his
curiosity, as to exhibit his courtesy, by paying his respects to the
European guests of his mother. Sallow and sickly-looking, inanimate,
even for a Turk, and apparently _bête comme une bûche_, he seated
himself, and listened to the conversation that was going forward, with
one unvaried and inexpressive smile—

  Pleased, he knew not why, and cared not wherefore;

dividing his admiration between the Frank ladies, and the brilliancy of
a large diamond that he wore on his finger.

How comparative is happiness! I never lay my head upon my pillow, but I
am grateful to Providence that I was not born in Turkey; while the fair
Osmanlis in their turn pity the Frank women with a depth of sentiment
almost ludicrous. They can imagine no slavery comparable with our’s—we
take so much trouble to attain such slight ends—we run about from
country to country, to see sights which we must regret when we leave
them—we are so blent with all the anxieties and cares of our male
relations—we expose ourselves to danger, and brave difficulties suited
only to men—we have to contend with such trials and temptations, from
our constant contact with the opposite sex—in short, they regard us
as slaves, buying our comparative liberty at a price so mighty, that
they are unable to estimate its extent—and then, the hardship of
wearing our faces uncovered, and exposing them to the sun and wind, when
we might veil them comfortably with a _yashmac_! Not a day passes in
which they have commerce with a Frank, but they return thanks to Allah
that they are not European women!

A modern French traveller, whose amusing work has, in one moderate
volume, contrived to treat of about a dozen countries and localities;
and to detail, respecting each, such a mass of fallacies as assuredly
were never before collected together: informs his readers that the
jealousies of the harem are carried to such a pitch as to entail poison,
or, at the least, humiliating and severe labour on the victim of the
disappointed rival! This assertion, like many others in which he has
indulged, would be comic were it not wicked—for the very arrangements
of the harem render it impossible: each lady has her private apartment,
which, should she desire to remain secluded, no one has the privilege to
invade; and, from the moment that she becomes a member of the family,
her life, should she so will it, is one of the most monotonous idleness.
The very slaves, as I believe I have elsewhere remarked, are so numerous
in every handsome establishment, that three-fourths of their time is
unemployed; and as, in the less distinguished ranks, no Turk indulges
in the expensive luxury of a second wife, there is little opportunity
afforded for female tyranny.

The Kiära Bey, or Minister of the Interior, despite his exalted station
and his immense wealth, has declined to avail himself of his polygamical
privilege; and, although his wife is both plain and elderly, she has
such a supreme hold, if not upon his heart, at least upon his actions,
that, a short time since, having discovered that her lord had suddenly
become more than necessarily attentive to a fair Circassian, her own
peculiar favourite, whom she had reared from a child, and whose beauty
was of no ordinary character, she very quietly placed her in an araba,
sent her to the slave-market, and disposed of her to the highest bidder.
The ingratitude of the _protégée_ had loosened her hold on the
affections of her patroness; nor did the husband venture to utter a
reproach to his outraged helpmate, when he discovered the absence of the
too-fascinating Circassian.

Had the unhappy girl been the _Odalique_ of the lord, instead of the
slave of the lady, the evil would have been irremediable, however; as in
that case, the Bayuk Hanoum would have possessed no power to displace
her.

Early in the morning, the stately Fatma Hanoum presented to my companion
and myself a _bokshalik_ from the venerable Effendi, which consisted of
the material for a dress, neatly folded in a handkerchief of clear
muslin, fringed with gold-coloured silk; and, as I made my hasty
toilette, in the hope of witnessing the procession of the Baïram, and
seeing Mahmoud “the Powerful” in all the splendour of his greatness, I
glanced with considerable interest round the apartment in which I had
passed the night. In the domed recess, which I soon discovered to be
common to every handsome Turkish apartment, stood a French clock, that
“discoursed,” if not “eloquent,” at least fairy-like, music—a piece of
furniture, by the way, universally popular among the natives of the
East, who usually have one or more in every room occupied by the
family—two noble porcelain vases—a china plate containing an enamelled
snuff-box, and a carved ebony chaplet—and a tray on which were placed
cut crystal goblets of water, covered glass bowls filled with delicate
conserves, a silver caïque, whose oars were small spoons, and a
beautifully worked wicker basket, shaped like a dish, and upheaped with
crystallized fruits, sparkling beneath a veil of pale pink gauze,
knotted together with bunches of artificial flowers.

Turkish hospitality and _prévoyance_ provide even for the refreshment of
a sleepless night!

The divan was of flesh-coloured satin, and the carpet as delicately
wrought and patterned as a cachemire shawl. The cushions which had been
piled about my bed were of velvet, satin, and embroidered muslin, and
the coverlets, of rich Broussa silk, powdered with silver leaves.

I made my libations with perfumed water—swallowed my coffee from a
china cup so minute that a fairy might have drained it—tied on my
bonnet—an object of unvarying amusement to the Turkish ladies, who
consider this stiff head-dress as one of the most frightful and
ridiculous of European inventions—and bade adieu to Fatma Hanoum and
her dark-eyed daughter, with a regret which their unbounded courtesy and
kindness were well calculated to inspire.

A wealthy Armenian diamond-merchant, who held a high situation in the
Mint, had offered us a window, whence we might witness the whole
ceremony of the Imperial procession, and towards this point we bent our
steps. But, alas for our curiosity! our leave-taking had been so
thoughtlessly prolonged, that the subjects of his Sublime Highness had
blocked up every avenue bearing upon the point by which he was to pass;
and, despite all the efforts of our European cavaliers and native
attendants, to proceed was impossible. We accordingly took up our
station a little apart from the crowd, in order to contemplate at our
ease the novel and picturesque spectacle of a Turkish mob.

In the distance rose the gigantic dome and arrowy minarets of Saint
Sophia; and beneath them, far as the eye could reach, stretched a sea of
capped and turbaned heads, heaving and sinking like billows after a
storm. Every house-roof, every mouldering wall, every heap of rubbish,
was covered with eager spectators; while the windows of the surrounding
dwellings were crowded with veiled women and laughing children.

What groups were wedged together in the narrow space immediately before
us! The pale, bent, submissive-looking Jew was folding his greasy mantle
closer about him, as he elbowed aside the green-turbaned Emir, and the
grave and solemn Hadje who had knelt beside the grave of the Prophet:
the bustling Frank was striding along, jostling alike the serious
Armenian, whose furred and flowing habit formed a strange contrast to
the short blue jacket and tight pantaloons of the tall, strong-limbed,
Circassian—and the bustling and noisy Greek, whose shrill voice and
vociferous utterance would have suited a woman—parties of Turkish
officers were forcing a passage as best they could, with their caps
pulled down upon their eyebrows, their sword-belts hanging at least a
quarter of a yard below their waists, and their diamond stars, (the
symbols of their military rank) glittering in the clear
sunshine—patroles of Turkish soldiers were endeavouring in vain to
clear a passage along the centre of the street for the convenience of
the Sultanas, and the wives of the different Pashas, whose arabas were
momently expected; the mob closing rapidly in their rear as they slowly
moved on—and clouds of doves at intervals filled the air, the tenants
of the giant mosque before us, scared from the usual quiet of their
resting-places by the unwonted stir and excitement beneath them.

As the birds which domesticate themselves about the mosques are held
sacred, and regarded with almost superstitious reverence, their numbers
necessarily increase to a wonderful extent; and on this occasion they
hovered round the stupendous edifice of Saint Sophia, to the amount of
several thousands.

A strange military difficulty had been started a short time previously
to the occasion of the Baïram, which had been overcome in so
extraordinary and even humorous a manner, that it deserves especial
mention; and it was to convince myself of the actual existence of the
laughable custom engendered by Turkish jealousy, that I remained longer
than I should have otherwise been induced to do, in the immediate
vicinity of a Constantinopolitan mob. Be it, however, avowed, _en
passant_, that the—what shall I call them? for our European term of
“lower orders” is by no means applicable to a people who acknowledge no
difference of rank—no aristocracy save that of office—the great mass
of the population of the capital—assimilate on no one point with our
own turbulent, vociferous, uncompromising, and unaccommodating mobs in
Europe. Among above five thousand boatmen, artisans, and soldiers, not a
blow was struck, not a voice was raised in menace—among the conflicting
interests, feelings, and prejudices, of Christians, Musselmauns, and
Jews, not a word was uttered calculated to excite angry or unpleasant
feeling; while I am bound to confess that a female, however fastidious,
would have found less to offend her amid the crush and confusion of that
mighty mass of commonly called semi-civilized human beings, than in a
walk of ten minutes through the streets of London or Paris.

The natives of the East have yet to learn that there can be either wit
or amusement in annoying others for the mere sake of creating annoyance;
that there can be humour in raising a blush on the cheek of the timid,
or calling a pang to the heart of the innocent. They are utilitarians;
to torment for the mere love of mischief they do not comprehend; and
they, consequently, never attempt extraneous evil unless to secure, or
at least to strive for, some immediate personal benefit. Thus no rude
or impertinent comment is made upon the Frank stranger, and above all,
upon the Frank woman, whose habits, manners, and costume, differ so
widely, and, doubtlessly to them so absurdly, from those of their own
country; while towards each other they are as staid, as solemn, and as
courteous, as though each were jealous to preserve the good order of the
community, and considered it as his individual concern.

To revert to the military ceremony, from which, in order to render
justice to the Turkish population, I have unavoidably digressed; I shall
mention, without further preface, that it arose from the reluctance of
the Sultan and his ministers, that the troops, in presenting arms to the
female members of the Imperial family, should have the opportunity
afforded them of a momentary gaze at their veiled and sacred
countenances. The difficulty was, how to retain the “pomp and
circumstance” of the ceremonial, and at the same time to render this
passing privilege impossible. A most original and satisfactory expedient
was at length fortunately discovered; and we were lucky enough to
witness the effect of the new arrangement.

The slow and noisy rattle of the arabas was heard—the word was passed
along the line that the Sultanas were approaching—and suddenly the
troops faced about, with their backs to the open space along which the
princesses were expected, and, extending their arms to their full
length, the manœuvre was performed behind them, producing the most
extraordinary and ludicrous scene that was perhaps ever enacted by a
body of soldiers! In this uncomfortable, and I should also imagine
difficult, position, they remained until the four carriages had passed,
when they resumed their original order, and stood leaning negligently on
their muskets until the return of the Imperial _cortège_.

George Cruikshank would have immortalized himself had he been by to note
it!



CHAPTER VIII.


  Bath-room of Scodra Pasha—Fondness of the Eastern Women for
  the Bath—The Outer Hall—The Proprietress—Female Groupes—The
  Cooling-room—The Great Hall—The Fountains—The Bathing
  Women—The Dinner—Apology for the Turkish Ladies.

The first bath-room which I saw in the country was that of Scodra Pasha;
and, had I been inclined so to do, I might doubtlessly have woven a
pretty fiction on the subject, without actually visiting one of these
extraordinary establishments. But too much has already been written on
inference by Eastern tourists, and I have no wish to add to the number
of fables which have been advanced as facts, by suffering imagination to
usurp the office of vision. Such being the case, I resolved to visit a
public bath in company with a female acquaintance, and not only become a
spectator but an actor in the scene, if I found the arrangement
feasible.

The bath-room of the Pasha, or rather of his family, was a domed
cabinet, lined with marble, moderately heated, and entered from the
loveliest little boudoir imaginable, where a sofa of brocaded silk,
piled with cushions of gold tissue, offered the means of repose after
the exhaustion of bathing. But I had seen it tenanted only by a Greek
lady and myself, and half a score of slaves, who were all occupied in
attendance upon us; and I felt at once that, under such circumstances, I
could form no adequate idea of what is understood by a Turkish bath; the
terrestrial paradise of Eastern women, where politics, social and
national, scandal, marriage, and every other subject under heaven,
within the capacity of uneducated but quick-witted females, is
discussed: and where ample revenge is taken for the quiet and seclusion
of the harem, in the noise, and hurry, and excitement, of a crowd.

Having passed through a small entrance-court, we entered an extensive
hall, paved with white marble, and surrounded by a double tier of
projecting galleries, supported by pillars: the lower range being raised
about three feet from the floor. These galleries were covered with rich
carpets, or mattresses, overlaid with chintz or crimson shag, and
crowded with cushions; the spaces between the pillars were slightly
partitioned off to the height of a few inches; and, when we entered, the
whole of the boxes, if I may so call them, were occupied, save the one
which had been reserved for us.

In the centre of the hall, a large and handsome fountain of white
marble, pouring its waters into four ample scallop shells, whence they
fell again into a large basin with the prettiest and most soothing sound
imaginable, was surrounded by four sofas of the same material, on one of
which, a young and lovely woman, lay pillowed on several costly shawls,
nursing her infant.

When I had established myself comfortably among my cushions, I found
plenty of amusement for the first half hour in looking about me; and a
more singular scene I never beheld. On the left hand of the door of
entrance, sat the proprietress of the baths, a beautiful woman of about
forty, in a dark turban, and a straight dress of flowered cotton, girt
round the waist with a cachemire shawl; her chemisette of silk gauze was
richly trimmed—her gold snuff-box lay on the sofa beside her—her
amber-headed pipe rested against a cushion—and she was amusing herself
by winding silk from a small ebony distaff, and taking a prominent part
in the conversation; while immediately behind her squatted a negro
slave-girl of twelve or thirteen years of age, grinning from ear to ear,
and rolling the whites of her large eyes in extacy at all that was going
forward.

The boxes presented the oddest appearance in the world—some of the
ladies had returned from the bathing-hall, and were reclining
luxuriously upon their sofas, rolled from head to foot in fine white
linen, in many instances embroidered and fringed with gold, with their
fine hair falling about their shoulders, which their slaves, not quite
so closely covered as their mistresses, were drying, combing, perfuming,
and plaiting, with the greatest care. Others were preparing for the
bath, and laying aside their dresses, or rather suffering them to be
laid aside, for few of them extended a hand to assist themselves—while
the latest comers were removing their _yashmacs_ and cloaks, and
exchanging greetings with their acquaintance.

As I had previously resolved to visit every part of the establishment, I
followed the example of my companion, who had already undergone the
fatigue of an Oriental bath, and exchanged my morning dress for a linen
wrapper, and loosened my hair: and then, conducted by the Greek
waiting-maid who had accompanied me, I walked barefooted across the cold
marble floor to a door at the opposite extremity of the hall, and, on
crossing the threshold, found myself in the cooling-room, where groups
of ladies were sitting, or lying listlessly on their sofas, enveloped in
their white linen wrappers, or preparing for their return to the colder
region whence I had just made my escape.

This second room was filled with hot air, to me, indeed, most
oppressively so; but I soon discovered that it was, nevertheless, a
_cooling-room_; when, after having traversed it, and dipped my feet some
half dozen times in the little channels of warm water that intersected
the floor, I entered the great bathing-place of the establishment—the
extensive octagon hall in which all those who do not chuse, or who
cannot afford, to pay for a separate apartment, avail themselves, as
they find opportunities, of the eight fountains which it contains.

For the first few moments, I was bewildered; the heavy, dense,
sulphureous vapour that filled the place, and almost suffocated me—the
wild, shrill cries of the slaves pealing through the reverberating domes
of the bathing-halls, enough to awaken the very marble with which they
were lined—the subdued laughter, and whispered conversation of their
mistresses murmuring along in an under-current of sound—the sight of
nearly three hundred women only partially dressed, and that in fine
linen so perfectly saturated with vapour, that it revealed the whole
outline of the figure—the busy slaves, passing and repassing, naked
from the waist upwards, and with their arms folded upon their bosoms,
balancing on their heads piles of fringed or embroidered napkins—groups
of lovely girls, laughing, chatting, and refreshing themselves with
sweetmeats, sherbet, and lemonade—parties of playful children,
apparently quite indifferent to the dense atmosphere which made me
struggle for breath—and, to crown all, the sudden bursting forth of a
chorus of voices into one of the wildest and shrillest of Turkish
melodies, that was caught up and flung back by the echoes of the vast
hall, making a din worthy of a saturnalia of demons—all combined to
form a picture, like the illusory semblance of a phantasmagoria, almost
leaving me in doubt whether that on which I looked were indeed reality,
or the mere creation of a distempered brain.

Beside every fountain knelt, or sat, several ladies, attended by their
slaves, in all the various stages of the operation; each intent upon her
own arrangements, and regardless of the passers-by; nor did half a dozen
of them turn their heads even to look at the English stranger, as we
passed on to the small inner cabinet that had been retained for us.

The process of Turkish bathing is tedious, exhausting, and troublesome;
I believe that the pretty Greek who attended me spent an hour and a half
over my hair alone. The supply of water is immense, and can be heated at
the pleasure of the bather, as it falls into the marble basin from two
pipes, the one pouring forth a hot, and the other a cold, stream. The
marble on which you stand and sit is heated to a degree that you could
not support, were the atmosphere less dense and oppressive; and, as the
water is poured over you from an embossed silver basin, the feeling of
exhaustion becomes almost agreeable. Every lady carries with her all the
appliances of the bath, as well as providing her own servant; the
inferior ranks alone availing themselves of the services of the bathing
women, who, in such cases, supply their employers with every thing
requisite.

These bathing-women, of whom I saw several as I traversed the great
hall, are the most unsightly objects that can be imagined; from
constantly living in a sulphureous atmosphere, their skins have become
of the colour of tobacco, and of the consistency of parchment; many
among them were elderly women, but not one of them was wrinkled; they
had, apparently, become aged like frosted apples; the skin had tightened
over the muscles, and produced what to me at least was a hideous feature
of old age.

Having remained in the bath about two hours and a half, I began to
sicken for pure air and rest; and, accordingly, winding a napkin with
fringed ends about my head, and folding myself in my wrapper, I hastily
and imprudently traversed the cooling-room, now crowded with company,
looking like a congregation of resuscitated corpses clad in their
grave-clothes, and fevered into life; and gained the outer hall, where
the napkin was removed from my head, my hair carefully plaited without
drying, and enveloped in a painted muslin handkerchief; and myself
buried among the soft cushions of the divan.

A new feature had been added to the scene since my departure; most of
the ladies were at dinner. The crimson glow of the bath, which throws
all the blood into the head, had passed from most of their faces, and
was replaced by the pure, pale, peach-like softness of complexion that
its constant use never fails to produce. Numbers of negresses were
entering with covered dishes, or departing with the reliques of those
which had been served up; and, as the Turkish mode of eating lends
itself to these _pic-nic_ species of repasts, the fair ladies appeared
to be as much at home squatted round their plated or china bowls, spoon
in hand, in the hall of the bath, as though they were partaking of its
contents in the seclusion of their own harems.

Sherbet, lemonade, _mohalibè_, a species of inferior blanc-manger, and
fruit, were constantly handed about for sale; and the scene was
altogether so amusing, that it was almost with regret that I folded
myself closely in my cloak and veil, and bowed my farewell to the
several groups which I passed on my way to the door.

I should be unjust did I not declare that I witnessed none of that
unnecessary and wanton exposure described by Lady M. W. Montague. Either
the fair Ambassadress was present at a peculiar ceremony, or the Turkish
ladies have become more delicate and fastidious in their ideas of
propriety.

The excessive exhaustion which it induces, and the great quantity of
time which it consumes, are the only objections that can reasonably be
advanced against the use of the Turkish bath.



CHAPTER IX.


  Cheerful Cemeteries—Burial-ground of Pera—Superiority of the
  Turkish Cemeteries—Cypresses—Singular Superstition—The
  _Grand Champs_—Greek Grave-yard—Sultan Selim’s
  Barrack—Village of St. Demetrius—European
  Burial-ground—Grave-stones—The Kiosk—Noble View—Legend of
  the Maiden’s Tower—Plague Hospital of the Turks—The
  Plague-Caïque—Armenian Cemetery—Curious Inscriptions—Turkish
  Burial-place—Distinctive Head-stones—Graves of the
  Janissaries—Wild Superstition—Cemetery of Scutari—Splendid
  Cypresses—Ancient Prophecy—Extent of Burial-ground—The
  Headless Dead—Exclusive Enclosures—Aspect of the Cemetery
  from the Summer Palace of Heybetoullah Sultane—Local
  Superstition—The Damnèd Souls.

I have alluded elsewhere to the apparent care with which the Turks
select the most lovely spots for burying their dead, and how they have,
by such means, divested death of its most gloomy attributes. Like the
ancient Romans, they form grave-yards by the road-side; and, like them,
they inscribe upon their tombs the most beautiful lessons of resignation
and philosophy.

The Cemetery of Pera offers a singular spectacle; and the rather that
the “Champ des Morts” is the promenade of the whole population, Turk,
Frank, Greek, and Armenian; the lesser burial-place, or _Petit Champs_,
is sacred to the Mussulmauns, and fringes with its dark cypresses the
crest of the hill that dominates the port; it is hemmed in with
houses—overlooked by a hundred casements—grazed by cattle—loud with
greetings and gossipry—and commands an extensive view of the shipping
in the harbour and the opposite shore. There are footpaths among the
funereal trees; sunny glades gleaming out amid the dark shadows;
head-stones clustered against the grassy slopes, and guard-houses, with
their portals thronged with lounging soldiers, mocking the
defencelessness of the dead. Nor must I forget to mention the small
octagonal building, which, seated in the very depth of the valley, and
generally remarkable from the dense volume of smoke exuding from its
tall chimney, marks the spot where the last profane duties are paid to
the dead; where the body is washed, the beard is shorn, the nails are
cut, and the limbs are decently composed, ere what was so lately a True
Believer is laid to rest in the narrow grave, to be aroused only by the
sound of the last trumpet.

The superiority of the Turkish cemeteries over those of Europe may be
accounted for in several ways. Their head-stones are more picturesque
and various—their situation better chosen—and, above all things, the
Mussulmaun never disturbs the ashes of the dead. There is no burying and
re-burying on the same spot, as with us. The remains of the departed
are sacred.

When a body is committed to the earth, the priest plants a cypress at
the head, and another at the foot, of the grave; and hence those
far-spreading forests, those bough o’er-canopied cities of the dead,
which form so remarkable a feature in Turkish scenery. Should only one
tree in six survive, enough still remain to form a dense and solemn
grove; but the Turks have a singular superstition with regard to those
that, instead of lancing their tall heads towards the sky, take a
downward bend, as though they would fain return to the earth from whence
they sprang; they hold that these imply the damnation of the soul whose
mortal remains they overshadow; and as, from the closeness with which
they are planted, and their consequent number, such accidents are by no
means rare, it must be at best a most uncomfortable creed.

But it is to the “Grand Champs” that the stranger should direct his
steps, if he would contemplate a scene to which the world probably can
produce no parallel. Emerging from the all but interminable High Street,
whose projecting upper stories form a canopy above your head for nearly
its whole length, you have on your left hand the plague-hospital for the
Franks, and on your right a stretch of higher land, which is the
burial-ground of the Greeks. Here there is nothing to arrest your steps;
it is ill-kept, and, were it not for the houses that surround it, would
be dreary and desolate from its very disorder. The Greek is the creature
of to-day—yesterday is blotted from his tablets.

Having passed the grave-yard, the road widens into an esplanade, in
front of an extensive block of building, erected by Sultan Selim as a
cavalry barrack. It is painted rose-colour, has a noble entrance, and
possesses a look of order and regularity almost European. It is not
until you descend the gentle declivity that slopes onward to the Grand
Champs des Morts, that you discover the whole extent of the edifice,
which is a quadrangle, having three fronts; its fourth side being
devoted to a range of stabling.

The road to Therapia and the “Sweet Waters” skirts the burial-ground;
and the little Greek village or colony of St. Demetrius covers an
opposite height.

The first plot of ground, after passing the barrack, is the grave-yard
of the Franks; and here you are greeted on all sides with inscriptions
in Latin: injunctions to pray for the souls of the departed; flourishes
of French sentiment; calembourgs graven into the everlasting stone,
treating of roses and reine Marguerites; concise English records of
births, deaths, ages, and diseases; Italian elaborations of regret and
despair; and all the commonplaces of an ordinary burial-ground.

Along the edge of this piece of land, a wide road conducts you to a
steep descent leading to the Sultan’s Palace of Dolma Batché; the crest
of the hill commanding a noble view of the channel; while, on the verge
of the descent, and almost touching the graves, stands a kiosk of wood,
rudely put together, and serving as a coffee room; and immediately in
front of it, a group of cypresses form a pleasant shade, beneath which
parties of Turks, Greeks, and Armenians, seated on low stools, smoke
their eternal chibouks, sip their sugarless coffee, and contemplate one
of the loveliest views over which the eye of a painter ever lingered.

From this height, the hill slopes rapidly downward, clothed with fruit
trees, and bright with vegetation. At its foot flows the blue Bosphorus,
clear and sparkling as the sky, whose tint it rivals. Immediately across
the channel stretches Scutari, the gem of the Asian shore, with its
forest of cypresses, its belt of palaces, its hill-seated kiosks, and
its sky-kissing minarets. Further in the distance are two pigmy islands,
heaving up their dark sides from the bright wave, like aquatic monsters
revelling in the sunshine; beyond is a stretch of sea—the Sea of
Marmora—laughing in the light, as though no storms had ever rent its
bosom—while, above all, on the extreme verge of the horizon, almost
blending with the dark purple clouds that rest upon it, towers Mount
Olympus, the dwelling of the gods, crowned with snows, and flinging its
long shadows over the pleasant town and mulberry groves of Broussa. And
here, a little to the right, (where Scutari, after advancing with a
graceful curve, as though to do homage to her European sister, again
recedes), upon a rock so small that its foundations cover the whole
surface, stands the “Maiden’s Tower;” an object in itself so picturesque
that it would arrest the eye though it possessed no legend to attract
the sympathy—but such is far from being the case.

This Tower, so runs the tale, was erected by a former Sultan, as a
residence for his only daughter, of whom it was foretold by the
astrologers that she would, before the completion of her eighteenth
year, be destroyed by a serpent. Every precaution was taken to overcome
destiny; but it was not to be—an adder, accidentally concealed in a box
of figs, fastened upon the hand of the princess, and she was found dead
on her sofa.

The Maiden’s Tower is now the plague-hospital of the Turks: and his
heart must be atrophised indeed who can look around on the bright and
beautiful scene amid which it stands, and not feel how much the bitter
pang of the plague-smitten must be enhanced by the contrast of all
around them with their own probable fate—for, alas! the long gaze of
the sickening victim is too frequently his last! The dying wretch should
pass to his infected home by a road of gloom and shadow, where no image
of gladness can mock him by its intrusive and harrowing presence—but to
be swiftly borne along that blue sea, with those magnificent shores
stretching away into the distance, far beyond his failing vision—to be
carried to his narrow chamber, probably to die—cut off from his
fellow-men—from all the glory and the majesty around him—surely no
after-pang can be so keen as that which grapples at his heart during his
brief voyage to the Maiden’s Tower!

Rapidly darts forward the slender caïque; it shoots from the shore like
a wild bird—no sound of revelry, no shout of greeting, no pealing
laughter, heralds its departure—the sturdy rowers bend to their oars;
the resisting waters yield before the vigorous stroke—there is no
pause—no interval—the errand is contagion—the freight is death! The
eyes are dim that roll languidly in their sockets: the lips are livid
that quiver with agony in lieu of words: the brow is pale and clammy
that is turned upwards to the cloudless sky—the hands are nerveless
that are flung listlessly across the panting breast—and as men watch
from afar the rapid progress of the laden boat, their own breath comes
thickly, and their pulses throb; and, when they at length turn aside to
pursue their way, they move onward with a slower and a less steady
step—their brows are clouded—they have looked upon the plague!

But the goal is gained, and the caïque has discharged its gloomy
freight. All around is life, and light, and loveliness. The surface of
the channel is crowded with boats, filled with busy human beings,
hurrying onward in pursuit of pleasure or of gain; a thousand sounds are
on the wind. The swift caïques dart like water-fowl past the Maiden’s
Tower, and few within them waste a thought upon the anguish which it
conceals!

A few paces from the spot whence you look down upon this various
scene—a few paces, and from the refuge of the dying you gaze upon the
resting-place of the dead. Where the acacia-trees blossom in their
beauty, and shed their withered flowers upon a plain of graves on the
right hand, immediately in a line with the European cemetery, is the
burial-ground of the Armenians. It is a thickly-peopled spot; and as you
wander beneath the leafy boughs of the scented acacias, and thread your
way among the tombs, you are struck by the peculiarity of their
inscriptions. The noble Armenian character is graven deeply into the
stone; name and date are duly set forth; but that which renders an
Armenian slab (for there is not a head-stone throughout the cemetery)
peculiar and distinctive, is the singular custom that has obtained among
this people of chisselling upon the tomb the emblem of the trade or
profession of the deceased.

Thus the priest is distinguished even beyond the grave by the mitre that
surmounts his name—the diamond merchant by a group of ornaments—the
money-changer by a pair of scales—the florist by a knot of
flowers—besides many more ignoble hieroglyphics, such as the razor of
the barber, the shears of the tailor, and others of this class; and,
where the calling is one that may have been followed by either sex, a
book, placed immediately above the appropriate emblem, distinguishes the
grave of the man.

Nor is this all: the victims of a violent death have also their
distinctive mark—and more than one tomb in this extraordinary
burial-place presents you with the headless trunk of an individual, from
whose severed throat the gushing blood is spirting upwards like a
fountain, while the head itself is pillowed on the clasped hands! Many
of the more ancient among the tombs are very richly and elaborately
wrought, but nearly all the modern ones are perfectly simple; and you
seldom pass the spot without seeing groups of people seated upon the
graves beneath the shadow of the trees, talking, and even smoking. Death
has no gloom for the natives of the East.

The Turkish cemetery stretches along the slope of the hill behind the
barrack, and descends far into the valley. Its thickly-planted cypresses
form a dense shade, beneath which the tall head-stones gleam out white
and ghastly. The grove is intersected by footpaths, and here and there a
green glade lets in the sunshine, to glitter upon many a gilded tomb.
Plunge into the thick darkness of the more covered spots, and for a
moment you will almost think that you stand amid the ruins of some
devastated city. You are surrounded by what appear for an instant to be
the myriad fragments of some mighty whole—but the gloom has deceived
you—you are in the midst of a Nekropolis—a City of the Dead. Those
chisselled blocks of stone that lie prostrate at your feet, or lean
heavily on one side as if about to fall, and which at the first glance
have seemed to you to be the shivered portions of some mighty
column—those turban-crowned shafts which rise on all sides—those gilt
and lettered slabs erected beside them—are memorials of the
departed—the first are of ancient date; the earth has become loosened
at their base, and they have lost their hold—the others tell their own
tale; the bearded Moslem sleeps beside his wife—the turban surmounting
his head-stone, and the rose-branch carved on her’s, define their sex,
while the record of their years and virtues is engraven beneath. Would
you know more? Note the form and folds of the turban, and you will learn
the rank and profession of the deceased—here lies the man of law—and
there rests the Pasha—the soldier slumbers yonder, and close beside you
repose the ashes of the priest—here and there, scattered over the
burial-ground, you may distinguish several head-stones from which the
turbans have been recently struck off—so recently that the severed
stone is not yet weather-stained; they mark the graves of the
Janissaries, desecrated by order of the Sultan after the distinction of
their body; who himself stood by while a portion of the work was going
forward; and the mutilated turbans that are half buried in the long
grass beside these graves are imperishable witnesses to their
disgrace—a disgrace which was extended even beyond the grave, and whose
depth of ignominy can only be understood in a country where the dead are
objects of peculiar veneration.

Those raised terraces enclosed within a railing are family
burial-places; and the miniature column crowned with a _fèz_, painted
in bright scarlet, records the rest of some infant Effendi. At the base
of many of the shafts are stones hollowed out to contain water, which
are carefully filled, during the warm season, by pious individuals, for
the supply of the birds, or any wandering animals.

The Turks have a strange superstition attached to this cemetery. They
believe that on particular anniversaries sparks of fire exude from many
of the graves, and lose themselves among the boughs of the cypresses.
The idea is at least highly poetical.

But Constantinople boasts no burial-place of equal beauty with that of
Scutari, and probably the world cannot produce such another, either as
regards extent or pictorial effect. A forest of the finest cypresses
extending over an immense space, clothing hill and valley, and
overshadowing, like a huge pall, thousands of dead, is seen far off at
sea, and presents an object at once striking and magnificent. Most of
the trees are of gigantic height, and their slender and spiral outline
cutting sharply against the clear sky is graceful beyond expression. The
Turks themselves prefer the great cemetery of Scutari to all others;
for, according to an ancient prophecy in which they have the most
implicit faith, the followers of Mahomet are, ere the termination of the
world, to be expelled from Europe; and, as they are jealous of
committing even their ashes to the keeping of the Giaour, they covet,
above all things, a grave in this Asiatic wilderness of tombs. Thus,
year after year, the cypress forest extends its boundaries, and spreads
further and wider its dense shadows; generation after generation sleeps
in the same thickly-peopled solitude; and the laughing vineyard and the
grassy glade disappear beneath the encroachments of the ever-yawning
sepulchre—the living yield up their space to the dead—the blossoming
fruit trees are swept away, and the funereal and feathering boughs of
the dark grave-tree tower in their stead.

It is not without a sensation of the most solemn awe that you turn aside
from the open plain, and abandon the cheerful sunshine, to plunge into
the deep gloom of the silent forest; scores of narrow pathways intersect
it in all directions; and, should you fail to follow them in your
wanderings, your every step must be upon a grave. Here a group of lofty
and turban-crowned columns, each with a small square slab of stone at
its base, arrests you with a thrill of sickening interest, for that
silent and pigmy slab tells you a tale of terror—each covers the
severed head of a victim to state policy, or state intrigue—Vizirs and
Pashas, Beys and Effendis—the eye that blighted, and the brow that
burned, are mouldering, or have mouldered there—the fever of ambition,
the thirst of power, the wiliness of treason, and the pride of
place—all that frets and fevers the mind of man, is there laid to rest
for ever—and the stately turban towers, as if in mockery, above the
trunkless head which festers in its dishonoured grave!

Those gilded tombs enclosed within their circling barrier are inscribed
with the names and titles of some powerful or wealthy race that has
carried its pride beyond the grave, and not suffered even its dust to
mingle with that of more common men—the prostrate and perished columns
on one hand have yielded reluctantly to time, and now cumber the earth
in recordless ruin; while the stately head-stones on the other, yet
bright with gilding, and elaborate with ornament, point out to you the
resting-places of the newly dead—the pomp of yesterday speaks far less
sadly to the heart than the hoar and letterless remains of by-past
centuries.

Suddenly a bright light flashes through the gloom; the warm sunshine
falls in a flood of radiance, the more startling from the darkness that
surrounds it, upon a limited and treeless space, on which time or the
tempest have done their work; and where withered boughs and shivered
trunks, branchless and gray with moss, are prostrate among sunken tombs
and ruined monuments.

Your spirit is oppressed, your eye is blinded, by that mocking light!

Here and there, upon the borders of the forest, a latticed pavilion of
the brightest green, contrasting strangely with the cold, white,
spectral-looking head-stones which it overtops, causes you to turn aside
almost in wonder; but death is even there—it is the tomb of some
beloved child, and the slab within is strown with flowers—flowers that
have been gathered in anguish, and moistened with tears. Alas! for the
breaking heart and the trembling hand that strewed them there!

I remember nothing more beautiful than the aspect of the burying-ground
of Scutari, from the road which winds in front of the summer palace of
the Princess Haybètoullah. The crest of the hill is one dense mass of
dark foliage, while the slope is only partially clothed with trees, that
advance and recede in the most graceful curves; and the contrast between
the deep dusky green of the cypresses, and the soft bright tint of the
young fresh grass in the open spaces between them, produces an effect
almost magical, and which strikes you as being more the result of art
than accident, until you convince yourself, by looking around you, that
it is to its extent alone that this noble cemetery owes its gloom, for
its site is eminently picturesque and beautiful. On one side, an open
plain separates it from the channel; on the other, it is bounded by a
height clothed with vines and almond trees—the houses of Scutari touch
upon its border, and even mingle with its graves in the rear, while
before it spreads a wide extent of cultivated land dotted with
habitations.

Need I add that the Nekropolis of Scutari, such as I have described it,
has also its local superstition? Surely not; and the idea is so wild,
and withal so imaginative, that I cannot pass it by without record.

Along the channel may be constantly seen clouds of aquatic birds of
dusky plumage, speeding their rapid flight from the Euxine to the
Propontis, or bending their restless course from thence back again to
the Black Sea, never pausing for a moment to rest their weary wing on
the fair green spots of earth that woo them on every side; and it is
only when a storm takes place in the Sea of Marmora, or sweeps over the
bosom of the Bosphorus, that they fly shrieking to the cypress forest of
Scutari for shelter; and these the Turks believe to be the souls of the
damned, who have found sepulchre beneath its boughs, and which are
permitted, during a period of elementary commotion, to revisit the spot
where their mortal bodies moulder; and there mourn together over the
crimes and judgment of their misspent existence upon earth—while,
during the gentler seasons, they are compelled to pass incessantly
within sight of the localities they loved in life, without the privilege
of pausing even for one instant in the charmed flight to which they are
condemned for all eternity!

My mind was full of this legend when I visited the cemetery—and I can
offer no better apology for the wild verses that I strung together as I
sat upon a fallen column in one of the gloomiest nooks of the forest,
and amid the noon-day twilight of the thick branches, while my
companions wandered away among the graves.


  THE DAMNÈD SOULS.

  Hark! ’tis a night when the storm-god rides
    In triumph o’er the deep;
  And the howling voice of the tempest chides
    The spirits that fain would sleep:
  When the clouds, like a sable-bannered host,
    Crowd the dense and lurid sky;
  And the ship and her crew are in darkness lost
    As the blast roars rushing by.

  Voices are heard which summon men
    To a dark and nameless doom;
  And spirits, beyond a mortal’s ken,
    Are wandering through the gloom;
  While the thunders leap from steep to steep,
    And the yellow lightnings flash,
  And the rocks reply to the riot on high,
    As the wild waves o’er them dash.

  And we are here, in this night of fear,
    Urged by a potent spell,
  Haunting the glade where our bones are laid,
    Our tale of crime to tell—
  We have hither come, through the midnight gloom,
    As the tempest about us rolls,
  To spread mid the graves, where the rank grass waves,
    The feast of the Damnèd Souls.

  Some have flown from the deep sea-caves
    Which the storm-won treasures hold;
  And these are they who through life were slaves
    To the sordid love of gold;
  No other light e’er meets their sight,
    Save the gleam of the yellow ore;
  And loathe they there, in their dark despair,
    What they idolized before.

  They have swept o’er the rude and rushing tide,
    Bestrewn with wreck and spoil,
  Where the shrieking seaman writhed and died
    ’Mid his unavailing toil;
  And they rode the wave, without power to save
    The wretch as he floated by;
  And sighed to think, as they saw him sink,
    What a boon it was to die!

  Some were cast from the burning womb,
    Whence the lava-floods have birth;
  From fires which wither, but ne’er consume
    The rejected one of earth—
  And these are they who were once the prey
    Of the thirst that madmen know,
  When the world for them is the diadem
    That burns into the brow.

  They who crouch in the deepest gloom
    Where no lightning-flash can dart,
  Who, chained in couples, have hither come,
    And can never be rent apart;
  These are they whose life was a scene of strife,
    And who learnt, alas! too late,
  That the years flew fast which they each had cast
    On the altar of their hate.

  But, hark! through the forest there sweeps a wail
    More wild than the tempest-blast,
  As each commences the darkling tale
    Of the stern and shadowy past—
  And the spell that has power, in this dread hour,
    No pang of our’s controls—
  Nor may mortal dare in the watch to share
    That is kept by the Damnèd Souls!



CHAPTER X.


  Character of the Constantinopolitan Greeks—The Greek Colony at
  the Fanar—Vogoride, Logotheti, and Angiolopolo—Political
  Sentiment—Chateaubriand at the Duke de Rovigo’s—Biting
  Criticism—Greek Chambers—“What’s in a Name?”—Custom of
  Burning Perfumes—The Pastille of the Seraglio—Turkish
  Cosmetics—Eastern Beauty.

The more I saw of the Greeks, the more curious did I find the study of
that page of the great volume of human nature which was there flung
back; and, far from sharing in the astonishment of those who almost deem
it a miracle that the whole nation has not been swept away, I rather
marvel at the state of moral and political thraldom in which they exist.
The tolerated citizens of an Empire whose interests, both civil and
religious, differ so widely from their own, the Fanariote Greeks nourish
in their heart’s core a hatred of their masters as intense as it is
enduring, and serve them rather from fear than zeal.

Every Greek is an intuitive diplomatist; nature has endowed him with a
keen and subtle spirit—a power to see deeply, and to act promptly—and
as their motto is palpable to all who have studied their
character—_tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis_—they are any
thing but safe counsellors or firm friends. Each is to be had at a
price: and, as several of the most talented among them are in the
confidence of the leading members of the Turkish government, it were
idle to expatiate on the pernicious consequences of their influence.
There are so many spies in the camp—so many breaches in the
fortress—and, with the helm of affairs, although not actually in their
grasp, at least sufficiently within their reach to enable them
occasionally to make the vessel of state policy swerve towards the
course whither they would fain direct it, they are no contemptible
allies to any foreign power that may need their services. The Turk
probably possesses the soundest judgment, but the Greek is more subtle
and quick-witted, and dazzles even where he may fail to convince.

Under these circumstances, partially trusted by the Turks, and enriched
and employed by other nations—gifted with subtlety, energy of
character, and that keenness of perception and quickness of intellect
for which they are remarkable—the Greeks would be dangerous, if not
fatal enemies to their Moslem masters, had they not, like Achilles, one
vulnerable point—they are not true, even to each other. Dissimulation
is the atmosphere in which they livejealousy is the food on which they
prey—and, while they are urging on the chariot of their own fortunes,
they are sure to have some luckless rival impaled upon one of the spokes
of its uncertain wheel.

Hence, all those overwhelming revolutions which render the tenure of
wealth and honours among them almost as precarious as among the Turks
themselves. The tolerance of the Sultan’s government has conceded to
them a magistracy and an ecclesiastical power as distinct as though they
were a free people and the denizens of a free country; and their shrewd
and subtle spirits, trammelled without, become tenfold more bitter in
their concentrated struggle for supremacy among themselves. Their circle
is limited: their hemisphere will afford space for one luminary only; to
aggrandize one, another must be sacrificed; and thus it is a perpetual
grappling for ascendency; and public probity and private friendship give
way before it.

The Greek colony at the Fanar is the focus of intrigue; each is a spy
upon his neighbour—here “Greek meets Greek,” and the “tug of war” is
deadly. Patriarchs and archbishops are deposed and exiled—magistrates
are displaced and banished, as one or the other party obtain
power—until the concentration of hatred atrophises every heart, and the
smile upon every lip waits but the opportunity to wither into a sneer.

With the double impulsion of honour and power among their own community,
and wealth and influence without, it will be readily understood that a
people constituted like the Fanariote Greeks pursue their purpose with a
tenacity that blinds them to all less absorbing considerations. Each
suffices to himself—he is his own world—and he centres all his
energies and exertions upon one point. In this fact exists the weakness
of the Greeks—they are too egotistical to be dangerous—they indulge
individual selfishness when they should exert themselves for the common
benefit of the community—the fruit is perished at the core, and it
consequently decays upon the surface—and, while they thus make war upon
each other, and fling the brand of jealousy upon the hearths of their
own race, they require no exterior force to crush them.

The three most conspicuous individuals now left among the Fanariote
Greeks are Vogorede, Logotheti, and Angiolopolo, each of whom is more or
less in the confidence of the Porte. The war between these talented and
ambitious men is literally a war of wits. The craft is with Vogorede,
the energy with Logotheti, and the tenacity of purpose with Angiolopolo.
The nature of each individual is written on his countenance—that of
Vogorede changes like the hue of the camelion; he is a man whose smile
is not mirth, nor approbation, nor enjoyment—his brow is narrow and
deeply interlined, less by time than by the workings of his spirit; his
eye is cold and quick, but it is the quickness which gives no token of
intelligence—the restlessness of suspicion.

The personal attributes of Logotheti are of a different character; his
glance is searching and fiery, his features mobile and expressive, and
his forehead high and strongly marked; and to these no more striking
contrast can be afforded than by the truly magnificent head of
Angiolopolo. There is not a vestige of passion, not a trace of anxiety,
nor care, nor emotion perceptible; his countenance is calm, benevolent,
and beautiful: his brow is singularly smooth for his age, and its
character of placidity has continued unchanged throughout a long life of
political exertion and excitement; while the white beard, which he wears
to the utmost length that is now permitted, (Sultan Mahmoud having
lately regulated this important point, and having even curtailed the
exuberance of that of one of his ministers with his own Imperial hands!)
gives him an air of patriarchal dignity in excellent keeping with his
strictly Oriental costume.

Having been for twelve years Chargé d’Affaires at Paris during the reign
of Napoleon, he has a memory stored with anecdote; and a vivacity of
expression, and an accuracy of detail, which make his portraits
life-like, and never fail to point the moral of the tale. He discourses
fluently in French, and enters into the most trifling subjects with a
relish and gaiety quite wonderful when his age (near seventy) and his
pursuits are taken into consideration; and you have not been half an
hour in his society before you feel the greatest surprise that the
_maladie de pays_ should ever have been sufficiently strong to induce
him to solicit his recall from a court whose now time-worn recollections
yet retain so bright a hold upon his nature. Angiolopolo has neither the
appearance nor the bearing of a veteran politician; and, were you
ignorant of his history, you would look upon him as one who had fallen
into “the sear and yellow leaf,” without one storm to hasten the decay.

After an existence of political toil, Angiolopolo has ostensibly retired
into the calm and quiet of domestic life. I speak, therefore, of him
rather as he was a few months back than as he now actually is; though
the fire which has been long burning requires time ere it can be
thoroughly extinguished, and it is only fair to infer that, after so
many years of state service, Angiolopolo will carry with him the same
tastes and pursuits to the grave.

Prepossessed by his appearance, I accepted with pleasure an invitation
to spend the day with his family, and the more particularly as I was
anxious to make the acquaintance of all those individuals who had become
matter of local interest.

When I entered, he was seated in the Oriental fashion on a corner of the
sofa, with a small writing-stand on a low stool beside him, and leaning
his arm upon a chest of polished wood containing papers. He received us
with much politeness, and presented me to his wife and daughter, who
were nestled under the covering of the tandour, on the other side of the
apartment, and who welcomed me in the most cordial manner.

For a time, nothing but the veriest commonplace was uttered by any of
the party; but some political allusion having been accidentally made, he
expressed himself both disappointed and annoyed at the supineness of the
British Government, though he admitted that it had caused him no
surprize, as it was not the first occasion on which England, after
amusing and deluding the Porte with promises of protection and support,
had failed to fulfil her pledges in the hour of need. “As individuals,”
he added emphatically, “no one can respect the English more than I do,
but as a nation every thinking man throughout the Ottoman Empire has
lost faith in them—the trust and confidence which the Turks once placed
in the political integrity of Great Britain are at an end for ever.”

As he was an invalid, we dined _en famille_; and I was struck with the
extreme attention and deference that he showed towards his wife; all the
other Greeks with whom I had become acquainted being the most
indifferent, or, as we style it in Europe, the most fashionable of
husbands; nor was I less surprised at the apparent zest with which he
entered into the inconsequent conversation that ensued, and the
playfulness with which he bandied jest for jest, and piled anecdote on
anecdote. One incident that he mentioned I may repeat without
indiscretion, as it cannot, after such a lapse of time, affect the
individual who is its subject, and whose literary reputation is now too
well established to be injured by the old-world histories of the past.

Angiolopolo was one day dining at the table of the Duke de Rovigo, when
the work of Chateaubriand on the East became the subject of
conversation; the author himself, then a very young man, and but little
known in the world of letters, being one of the guests; and, while it
was under discussion, the Duke requested of Angiolopolo to give him his
opinion on its merits. The Ottoman Chargé d’Affaires, aware that
Chateaubriand was present, and not wishing to pronounce a judgment that
must be displeasing to him, carelessly replied that he remembered having
met with the work some time previously: and thus sought to turn aside
the subject, the more particularly as, not being supposed to be aware of
the vicinity of the author, he had no apology afforded him on the score
of delicacy, should he pronounce an opinion tending to gloss over his
real sentiments.

But this indefinite reply did not satisfy the Duke, who expressed his
astonishment that a native of the country of which the work treated
should feel so little interest in the subject as to retain no memory of
its contents. Thus urged, Angiolopolo found himself compelled to declare
that he had not only read the book carefully, but still retained the
most perfect recollection of many of its passages; and that he had
evaded the inquiry simply from a disinclination to speak with severity
of a writer, who had permitted himself to describe the domestic manners
of a people, of whom he had only been enabled to judge from such
specimens as coffee-houses and the like places of vulgar resort had
offered to his observation.

That he should form erroneous opinions of the mass from these low-bred
and low-minded portions of the population might be pardoned, as the
error of a surface-scanning and light-headed traveller; but that he
should put them forth in sober earnestness to mislead wiser men, who did
not possess the opportunity of forming a more correct judgment for
themselves, was a graver and a more reprehensible fault, and one which
no native of the East could easily forgive. Had he been honest, he would
frankly have acknowledged that the doors of the higher classes were
reluctantly and rarely opened to the Franks, who required the best
introductions to secure an entrance into any distinguished house; both
the habits and the position of the Orientals being unfavourable to the
curiosity of strangers—and not have libelled a people of whom he really
knew as little on his return to Europe as the day on which he landed at
Stamboul.

“Chateaubriand has since become a distinguished writer;” he added in
conclusion, “but I doubt not that often, amid his success, he has
remembered the dinner at the Duke de Rovigo’s, and his inexorable
critic.”

In anecdotes of this description, in which his powers of memory and his
natural vivacity were equally apparent, the hours passed rapidly away;
nor did we retire till near midnight, and even then more as a matter of
expediency than of weariness, (for he was far too hospitable to suffer
us to leave him until the following day,) and we had consequently full
time to enjoy his reminiscences.

I should have previously remarked that the chambers in the Greek houses
are generally arranged in the same manner as those of the Turks—that
is to say, a pile of mattresses are heaped upon the floor, without a
bedstead; but with the Greeks the coverlets are less splendid, and the
pillows are less costly. In each, a tray is conspicuously set out with
conserves, generally strongly impregnated with perfume, such as rose,
bergamotte, and citron: and covered goblets of richly-cut crystal,
filled with water. The custom appears singular to an European, but it is
by no means unpleasant; and I had not been long in the country ere I
found the visit of the servant, who knelt down at my bedside, and handed
the tray to me on my awaking, a very agreeable one.

“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet. I confess that to me there is a spell
in many; and among the Greeks I did not enjoy my sweetmeats the less
that they were handed to me by Euphrosine or Anastasia; or my coffee
that the tray was held by Demetrius or Theodosius. This may be folly,
but it is not the less fact.

The custom of burning perfumes in the mangal is, if not a healthy, at
least a very luxurious one; and the atmosphere of the saloon of
Angiolopolo was heavy with ambergris and musk. I have not yet met with a
native of the East, of either sex, who was not strongly attached to
their use; their own perfumes are delicate and agreeable, being rather
concentrated preparations, than individual scents; and soothing, rather
than exciting, the nerves; but they are also very partial to those of
Europe, and among the latest presents of the Empress of Russia to the
Princess Asmé, the Sultan’s eldest sister, were several cases of Eau de
Cologne.

The pastille of the seraglio, of which a large quantity has been
presented to me by different Turkish and Armenian gentlemen, is a
delightful invention; and looks, moreover, in its casing of gold leaf,
extremely elegant; as it is somewhat costly, it is not in common use,
but it is greatly prized in the harems.

Perhaps no country exceeds Turkey in the variety and value of its
cosmetics; and, although there are no daily prints to advertise their
virtues, no ingenious puffs to expatiate on their properties, the ladies
are by no means ignorant of their existence, but employ them in all
their varieties; from the dye with which they darken their eyebrows, to
the henna that disfigures the extremities of their fingers.

Among the fair Greeks, the use of rouge is by no means uncommon; and
they also carry to a greater extreme than the Turkish women the
frightful custom of joining the eyebrows artificially across the nose,
by which mistaken habit I have seen many a really pretty face terribly
disfigured. I am, however, bound to confess that the dearth of beauty
among the Greek ladies is very striking; their expression is good, but
their features are irregular, and ill-assorted; and, were it not that
they have almost universally fine, sparkling, dark eyes, they would be,
taking them collectively, a decidedly plain race.

I looked in vain for the noble, calm, and peculiar outline which we are
prone to believe must characterize the whole people; for the
finely-poised head, the expansive brow, the drooping eyelid, and, above
all, the straight nose and short upper lip of genuine Grecian beauty; I
met with it only in one instance, but that one was a breathing model of
the beautiful and classical in nature.

The Greek ladies are bad figures, are by no means gifted either as to
hands or feet, walk ungracefully, and are remarkable only, as I have
already stated, for their bright eyes, and their dark, lustrous hair.

The men are a much finer race, or rather there are more individuals
among them who have the distinguished outline of head which one looks to
meet with in their nation; but the females have neither the sweet,
sleepy, fascinating expression of the Turkish beauties, nor the pure,
fresh, sparkling complexion of the Armenian maidens, whose foreheads are
frequently as snowy as the veil that binds them, and whose lips and
cheeks look like crushed roses.

Not the least lovely among them is the fair girl who, in a spirit of
frolic, consented to be presented to an English traveller, (Mr. Auldjo)
as a Turkish lady, but whose style of beauty is perfectly dissimilar
from that of the nation which she personated; the dark eyes, the
henna-tipped fingers, and the costume, which is essentially the same as
that of the harem, were, however, quite sufficient to deceive an
unpractised eye; and the lively Armenian, to whom I was introduced at my
express desire, tells the tale of her successful deceit with a
self-complacency and enjoyment perfectly amusing.

Had she more mind, and less _enbompoint_, an Armenian beauty would be
perfect!



CHAPTER XI.


  The Kourban-Baïram—Politeness of Mustafa Effendi—Depressing
  Recollections—Unquiet Night—Midnight March—Turkish Coffee—A
  Latticed Araba—The Mosque of Sultan Achmet—Beautiful _coup
  d’œil_—Dress of the Turkish Children—Restlessness of the
  Franks—The Festival of Sacrifice—Old Jewish Rite—The Turkish
  Wife—Sun-rise—Appearance of the Troops—Turkish Ladies—Group
  of Field Officers—The Sultan’s Stud—Magnificent
  Trappings—The Seraskier Pasha—The Great Officers of
  State—The Procession—The Sultan—Imperial Curiosity—The
  Chèïk-Islam—Costume of the Sultan—Japanese
  Superstition—Vanity of Sultan Mahmoud—The Hairdresser of
  Halil Pasha—Rapid Promotion—Oriental Salutations—Halil
  Pasha—Saïd Pasha—Unruly Horses—The Valley of the “Sweet
  Waters”—Pera.

The Kourban-Baïram being fixed for the 28th of March, we crossed over to
Constantinople on the evening of the 27th, in order to be on the spot,
and thus diminish the fatigue of the morrow. Mustafa Effendi, who had
removed with his harem to his country-house, very obligingly offered us
the use of his mansion for the night, as well as the services of his
house-steward and a couple of servants; and we accordingly found
ourselves once more at home beneath his hospitable roof.

I rejoiced that we required the accommodation only for some hours; as
perhaps there are few things more depressing than a stroll through the
empty and echoing chambers that you have associated with ideas and
memories of mirth, and inhabitation, and amusement. The spacious
apartments gave back a hollow reverberation, as we wandered over their
uncarpeted floors, and flung open the casements of their uncurtained
windows. The very chambers which had been purposely and carefully
prepared for us were new and strange, being in a different part of the
house from that occupied by the harem; and I more than once regretted
the absence of the courteous old man who had received me so kindly on my
first visit.

As I had failed to obtain a view of the procession at the Festival of
the Baïram, that terminated the Ramazan, when an apartment had been
prepared for us at the Mint, of which we were unable to take possession,
owing to the density of the crowd, that filled every street in its
neighbourhood, and which we were not sufficiently early to precede; I
was the more anxious not to subject myself to a similar disappointment
on the present occasion; a feeling that was, indeed, shared by the whole
party; and, accordingly, on parting for the night, which we did at an
early hour, we were very sincere in our reciprocal promises to be
hyper-diligent on the morrow.

And what a night we passed! The cannon was booming along the water, and
rattling in long-sustained echoes among the hills—the myriad dogs that
infest the city, scared from their usually quiet rest, were howling,
whining, and barking, without a moment’s intermission; and the Imperial
band was perambulating the streets, attended by flambeau-bearers; and
executing, with admirable precision, some noble pieces of music. The
wind-instruments were relieved at intervals by the drums and fifes, than
which there are, perhaps, none better in the world: and these were
succeeded by the tramp, beneath our window, of the whole garrison of the
city, afoot and under arms two hours before daybreak.

I watched the troops as they passed, the flaring torches throwing them
into broad light between the two lofty white walls that hemmed in the
narrow street, and from whose surface the sickly moonlight was fast
waning, scrambling up the steep hill upon whose rise the house is built,
rather in masses than in columns; officers and men mingled pell-mell,
laughing, talking, and struggling over the rough pavement, in a manner
much more picturesque than imposing.

I had scarcely thrown myself once more upon my sofa, in order to court
the sleep of which I had as yet only dreamt, when the rattling of our
heavy carriage into the courtyard, and the loud knock at the door by
which the Greek waiting-maid announced her wish for admittance,
dispelled my hopes once more; and when she entered, candle in hand, I
resigned myself to my fate, and, having ascertained that it was nearly
four o’clock, made a hasty toilette, and joined my companions.

The warmest and strongest of coffee was soon swallowed—by the way, what
a sad pity it is that we know nothing about making coffee in Europe—and
having settled ourselves comfortably in our well-cushioned araba, Madame
——, myself, and our attendant were soon jolting over the rough _pavé_
towards the scene of action, followed by my father and the two Turkish
servants. The lattices of the carriage were closely shut, to avoid any
possible difficulty, owing to our being Europeans; and one servant
walked close beside each door, as though guarding the harem of some
bearded Moslem.

Arrived within the precincts of the court of Sultan Achmet’s magnificent
mosque, and fairly _entamés_ among the carriages, which resembled a bed
of scarlet and yellow poppies, we removed the lattices altogether, and
remained lying very comfortably among our silken cushions, with the
araba open on all sides, and immediately in front of us the space along
which the procession was to pass: the line of carriages forming one
boundary, and the other being guarded by a treble rank of military.

The coup-d’œil was beautiful! The sun was just fringing the fleecy
clouds with a glad golden edge; and, as the vapours rolled away, the
bright blue of the laughing sky spread far and wide its stainless
canopy. The noble trees that overshadow a portion of the enclosure were
just putting forth their young spring leaves, all fresh, and dewy, and
tender—tokens of that infant vegetation which may be blighted by too
rude a blast, and which awakens in the heart such gentle and such fond
associations—the spacious steps of white marble that stretch far in
front of the principal entrance of the mosque were crowded with human
beings—the exterior gallery that runs along the side of the edifice on
which the Sultan was to pass was filled with women, whose white veils
and dark _feridjhes_ made them look like a community of nuns—while, in
the rear of the military, groups were every where forming, shifting, and
producing the most interesting pictorial effects.

Here, it was a party of Jews—there, a knot of Armenians—further on, a
circle of Greeks—and close beside us a cluster of women huddled
together, and holding by the hand their rosy children, whose appearance
I cannot more appropriately describe than by comparing them to the
sweeps on May-day—such costumes! such pinks, greens, reds, and
yellows, each out-glaring the other on the girls; the most grotesque
prints fashioned into the most _outré_ forms—pendent sleeves, trailing
_anterys_, and little curly heads enveloped in painted handkerchiefs:
while the boys from three years of age figured in surtout coats as
brightly buttoned, and as ill-cut as those of their fathers—miniature
pantaloons, corded with scarlet—and minute _fez’s_, with their purple
tassels attached by stars of pearl of great beauty, or decorated with
magnificent brilliant ornaments, fastened to the cap with pearl loops,
to which were generally added golden coins, blue beads, and other
preservatives against the Evil Eye!

A few Franks were distinguishable among the crowd; but they appeared and
disappeared like wandering spirits, never resting long on the same spot,
and earning many a quiet smile from their Moslem neighbours, who are
never weary of marvelling at the perpetual locomotion of the Giaours, so
opposed to their own love of rest and quiet. Give a Turk a moderately
good position on such an occasion as this, and he will never abandon it
on the bare possibility of procuring a better; but the Greek and the
European fidget and fuss to the last moment, and very probably do not
always profit by their pains.

The Kourban-Baïram, or festival of sacrifice, differs from that which
takes place at the conclusion of the Ramazan, by its greater pomp and
the circumstance that, on the occasion of the present festival, animals
are sacrificed to propitiate the favour of the Divinity: and, as we
drove along the streets, they were crowded with sheep and lambs about to
be offered up.

Every head of a family sacrifices an animal with his own hands; and
every male member of his household is at liberty to indulge his piety in
a similar manner; but the chief of the house is bound to observe the
ceremonial.

On his return from the Mosque, the Sultan puts on a sacrificial dress,
and, while two attendants hold the lamb which is to be honoured by
suffering the stab of the Imperial knife, he slaughters it with his
Sublime hands. The first victim that he destroys is a propitiation for
himself, but he afterwards offers up one for each member of his family,
and consequently his office is by no means a sinecure.

Nor is this the only occasion on which this ancient Jewish rite is
observed by the Turks. On recovery from a severe illness, on the birth
of a child, on return from a pilgrimage—in short, in every leading
circumstance of his life, the Musselmaun immolates a victim: but the
Kourban-Baïram is the great sacrificial anniversary, and is observed
with much splendour and rejoicing by all the population of the capital.
The vessels in the harbour are gaily decked out with flags; all business
is suspended; men grasp each other by the hand in the streets, and utter
a fraternal greeting—and the poor are seen hastening from house to
house to secure the flesh of the sacrifices, which is divided among
themselves and the dogs of the city, scarcely less sacred than their own
kind in the eyes of the Osmanlis.

A friend of mine was told the other day by a Turk with whom he is
intimate, and who had just returned to Stamboul after an absence of six
months, that he had ascertained that while he was away from home his
wife had not once quitted the house; a piece of intelligence which so
rejoiced him, that he had sacrificed six sheep, one for each month, in
gratitude to Allah and the Prophet, who had bestowed on him so virtuous
a helpmate.

What a glorious burst of light flooded the enclosure when the sun at
length clomb the horizon! It was not only a time of human festival, but
nature’s own peculiar holyday; and there was an elasticity and balminess
in the air that swept through the carriage, which made the heart leap
for gladness.

The troops presented a better appearance in line than I had expected,
but Sultan Mahmoud has yet much to do if he ever intends to make them
look like _soldiers_. They are dirty, slouching, and awkward; tread
inwards from their habit of sitting upon their feet, and march as though
they were dragging their slippers after them. The frightful _fèz_ is
pulled down to their very eyebrows, and the ill-cut clothing is composed
of the coarsest and dingiest materials.

But what shall I say of the officers? How shall I describe the
appearance of the gallant individuals who were constantly passing and
repassing, and making frequent pauses in our immediate vicinity; incited
thereto, as I have no doubt, by the presence of two lovely young Turkish
ladies, who had quitted their carriage, and established themselves on
the footboard behind, in order to secure a better sight of the “Brother
of the Sun,” whom we were all anxiously awaiting; and whose _yashmacs_
were so gracefully, or shall I say coquettishly, arranged, that I doubt
whether they would have been so attractive without them. They were of
the whitest and clearest muslin, through which I not only saw the
flowers that rested on their foreheads, and the diamonds that sparkled
in the embroidered and richly-fringed handkerchiefs bound about their
heads, but even the very colour of their lips. And then the magic of
their long, sleepy, jet-black eyes, and the constant flinging back and
refolding of the jealous _feridjhe_, by fingers white, and slender, and
henna-tipped! I really pitied the sword-girt Moslems.

I was still gazing at these lovely women, when a party of about thirty
field-officers passed the carriage, on their way to their places near
the door of the Mosque, at which the Sultan was to enter. They were all
similarly attired in surtout coats of Spanish brown, gathered in large
folds at the back of the waist, and buttoned beneath a cloth strap; a
very common and ugly fashion among the Turks; and wore sword-belts
richly embroidered with gold. Many among them were some of the stoutest
men I ever saw.

In about five minutes after them, arrived the led horses of the Sultan;
and these formed by far the most splendid feature of the procession;
they were ten in number, and wore on their heads a _panache_ of white
and pink ostrich feathers mixed with roses, and fastened down upon the
forelock with a clasp of precious stones. Each was attended by a groom,
controlling, with some trouble, the curvettings and capers of the
pampered animals, who were caparisoned in a style of splendour which, if
it have ever been equalled, can certainly never have been surpassed.
Their housings, which were either of silk or velvet, all differing the
one from the other, were embroidered with gold and silver, large
pearls, and jewels. One of them bore, on a ground of myrtle-coloured
velvet, the cypher of the Sultan wrought in brilliants, and surrounded
by a garland of flowers formed of rubies, emeralds, and topaz. Another
housing, of rich lilac silk, was worked at the corners with a cluster of
musical instruments in diamonds and large pearls, and, as the sunshine
flashed upon it, it was like a blaze of light. The remainder were
equally magnificent; and the well-padded saddles of crimson or green
velvet were decorated with stirrups of chased gold, while the bridles,
whose embroidered reins hung low upon the necks of the animals, were one
mass of gold and jewels.

The Sultan’s stud was succeeded by the Seraskier Pasha in state, mounted
on a tall gray horse, (whose elaborate accoutrements were only inferior
to those that I have attempted to describe,) and surrounded and followed
by a dozen attendants on foot: his diamond-hilted sword—the rings upon
his hands—the star in front of his _fèz_, and the orders on his breast,
were perfectly dazzling.

At intervals of about a minute, all the great officers of state passed
in the same order, and according to their respective ranks; and at
length we heard the welcome sounds of the Imperial band, which struck up
the Sultan’s Grand March, as Mahmoud the Powerful, the Brother of the
Sun, and Emperor of the East, passed the gates of the court.

First came twelve running footmen, in richly laced uniforms, and high
military caps; and these were succeeded by the twenty body pages, who
were splendidly dressed, and wore in their chakos, plumes, or rather
_crêtes_ of stiff feathers, intermixed with artificial flowers of
immense size, and originally invented to conceal the face of the Sultan
as he passed along, and thus screen him from the Evil Eye! But his
present Sublime Highness is not to be so easily scared into concealment,
and the pages who were wont to surround his predecessors merely precede
him, while a crowd of military officers supply their place, one walking
at each of his stirrups, and the rest a little in the rear.

As this was the first occasion on which I had seen the Sultan, I leant
eagerly forward upon my cushions to obtain a good view of him; and I saw
before me, at the distance of fifteen or twenty yards at the utmost, a
man of noble physiognomy and graceful bearing, who sat his horse with
gentlemanlike ease, and whose countenance was decidedly prepossessing.
He wore in his _fèz_ an aigrette of diamonds, sustaining a cluster of
peacock’s feathers; an ample blue cloak was flung across his shoulders,
whose collar was one mass of jewels, and on the third finger of his
bridle hand glittered the largest brilliant that I ever remember to have
seen.

As he moved forward at a foot’s pace, loud shouts of “Long live Sultan
Mahmoud!” ran along the lines, and were re-echoed by the crowd, but he
did not acknowledge the greeting, though his eyes wandered on all sides,
until they fell upon our party, when a bright smile lit up his features,
and for the first time he turned his head, and looked long and fixedly
at us. In the next instant, he bent down, and said something in a
subdued voice to the officer who walked at his stirrup, who, with a low
obeisance, quitted his side, and hastily made his way through the crowd,
until he reached our carriage, to the astonishment and terror of a group
of Turkish women who had ensconced themselves almost under it; and,
bowing to my father, who still stood bare-headed beside us, he inquired
of one of the servants who I was and what had brought me to
Constantinople; the Sultan, meanwhile, looking back continually, and
smiling in the same goodhumoured and condescending manner.

The reply was simple—I was an Englishwoman, and had accompanied my
father to Turkey, for the purpose of seeing the country; and, having
received this answer, the messenger again saluted us, and withdrew.

A very short interval ensued ere he returned, and hurriedly and
anxiously resumed his inquiries, to which our attendant became too
nervous to reply; when he exclaimed, “Is there no one here who can act
as Dragoman, and give me the intelligence which is required by his
Sublime Highness?”

“I will inform you of all that you require to learn, Effendim;” said my
companion in her soft, harmonious, Turkish: “the lady is English.”

“His Highness sees that she is English;” replied the officer: “but he
wishes to know _who_ she is.”

This important information was added, and once more he departed.

Crowds of decorated individuals closed the procession; and in five
minutes more Sultan Mahmoud dismounted and entered the Mosque.

The Chèïk-Islam, or High Priest, had preceded his Imperial Master; but
we saw him only at a distance as he ascended the marble steps that I
have already mentioned, and passed in through the great entrance. He
wore a turban of the sacred green, about which was wound a massive
chain, or rather belt, of gold; and was mounted on a fine Arabian, whose
bridle was held by two grooms.

Sultan Mahmoud is not a handsome man, and yet it is difficult to define
wherefore; for his features are good and strongly marked, and his eye
bright and piercing. His jet black hair, seen in heavy curls beneath
the _fèz_, which, like most of his subjects, he wears drawn down low
upon his forehead; and his bushy and well-trimmed beard, add
considerably to the dignity of his appearance, as well as giving to him
a look of much greater youth than he can actually boast; but this is a
merely artificial advantage, being the effect of one of those skilful
dyes so common in the East.

As in Japan, the popular belief is firm that the King never dies, so in
Turkey the Sovereign is never permitted to imagine that he can grow old;
and thus every officer of the household stains his hair and beard, and
uses all the means with which art or invention can supply him, in order
that no intrusive symptom of age or decay may shock the nerves, and
awaken the regrets of his lord and contemporary—the faded beauties of
the Seraglio are removed from his sight, the past is seldom adverted to,
and the future is considered as his sure and undoubted heritage.

Never did monarch lend himself to the delicious cheat more lovingly than
Sultan Mahmoud; who, with all his energy of character, is the victim
(for in his case I can apply no other term) of the most consummate
personal vanity. We are accustomed in England to think of George the
Fourth as the _ne plus ultra_ of exquisitism—the Prince of
_Petit-maîtres_—but what will honest John Bull say to a Turkish
Emperor, an Imperial Mussulmaun, who paints white and red, and who
considers himself sufficiently repaid for all the care and anxiety of a
costly toilette, by the admiration and flattery of the ladies of the
Seraglio? And yet such is the case—the Immolator of the Janissaries,
the reformer of a mighty empire, the sovereign of the gravest people
upon earth, is a very “thing of shreds and patches”—a consumer of
cosmetics—an idolater of gauds and toys—the Sacrificing High Priest at
the altar of self-adornment!

On a recent occasion, having caused his hair (of which he is extremely
vain) to be cut by the court _coiffeur_, he withdrew his _fèz_ and
inquired of his son-in-law, Halil Pasha, if he approved of the style in
which it had been done. The Favorite, with a sincerity which did him
honour, replied that the Imperial Head had been most basely shorn; and
was forthwith desired to display the honours of his own cranium to his
Sublime Highness, who immediately acquiesced in the superior skill of
the artist who had operated upon the Pasha; and desired that, without a
moment’s delay, the happy mortal who had exhibited such distinguished
taste in curling and cutting should be summoned to his presence.

In five minutes, half a dozen of the palace officers were _en route_ in
search of the _coiffeur_, who was accidentally from home: and it was
not until after a considerable delay that he was discovered, basin in
hand, and razor in grasp, busily engaged in shaving the head of a
grave-looking Armenian, who had already undergone half the operation.
Despite the lathered skull of the customer, and the terrified
deprecations of the _artiste_, the officers, who were utterly ignorant
of the Sultan’s motive for summoning their prisoner, pounced upon him
without mercy, and rather dragged than conducted him to the caïque that
was waiting to convey him to the palace; whither he was followed by the
silent and pitying wonder of the men, and the low wailing of the women.

On his arrival, he was immediately led into the Imperial presence, where
his trembling knees instinctively bent under him, as he wildly gasped
out his innocence of any and every crime against His Sublime Highness;
he wrung his hands, he implored a mercy for which he scarcely dared to
hope, he writhed in his agony of spirit, expecting nothing less than the
bowstring for some imputed delinquency, and he talked of his wife, and
his young and helpless children so soon to be cast upon the world unless
his life were spared; while the Sultan laid aside his _fèz_, and
prepared his own head for a more simple operation.

“Peace, fool!” said His Highness at length, “did you not cut the hair
of Halil Pasha?”

“I did, your Sublime Highness; and to the best of my poor skill,”
faltered out the pale and terrified _artiste_; “have mercy upon my want
of knowledge!”

“Compose your nerves, and produce your scissors,” returned the Sultan;
“you shall have the distinguished honour of cutting mine, also—to your
task at once.”

No sooner said than done: men of this craft have been gifted with ready
wit and self-possession, from the days in which the red-robed ghost of
the German barber shaved the adventurous student in the haunted castle;
and ere long His Imperial Highness was cropped and curled to his sublime
satisfaction; and the hairdresser found himself appointed keeper of the
head of the Turkish Empire—a “man of mark”—and returned to his home in
triumph, not only _quitte pour la peur_, but with his wildest visions
realized!

During the short period that the Sultan remained in the mosque, the
scene around us was far from unamusing: the horses were paraded to and
fro; the troops rested on their arms, and conversed freely with each
other; the officers, breaking through the spell that had lately bound
them, resumed their stroll and their scrutiny; and many a glance was
directed towards our little party, for which we were indebted to the
curiosity of their Imperial Master. Then came a rush from the great
entrance of the mosque; and, when a host of red-capped and turbaned
Turks had issued forth, the Chèïk-Islam slowly descended the steps, and
departed in the same state as he had come. The horses were led back into
their ranks; the military shouldered their muskets; and once more the
Seraskier Pasha with his train of attendants paced slowly along the
line.

Those officers who were of sufficiently high grade to attract his
attention made their graceful obeisance, first laying their right hand
upon their lips, and then upon their foreheads, and bowing down nearly
to the earth; while the Pashas, who were not of a rank elevated enough
to appear mounted before the Sultan, moved amid the throng, with their
diamond orders and embroidered sword-belts glittering in the light.
Among these was Namik Pasha, whom I had known in England, and who
approached the carriage to greet me, while the Seraskier reined up his
horse beneath the window of a house that overlooked the scene, and paid
his compliments to Madame de Boutenieff, who sat surrounded by
secretaries and _attachés_.

One by one, all the Pashas re-appeared, and, having saluted each other
with a ceremonious etiquette that distinctly marked their respective
ranks, they marshalled themselves round the gateway according to their
precedence of power; and then it was that I particularly remarked the
unpleasant effect of their ungloved hands, so utterly inconsistent,
according to European ideas, with the magnificence of all the other
details of their costume.

By a happy, though not altogether singular, coincidence, the husband of
one of the princesses, and the intended husband of the other, are both
the adopted sons of the old Seraskier; and as they took their places on
either side of him, they naturally excited considerable attention.

Halil Pasha is a good-looking man, but clumsily and ungracefully made,
with a grave expression of countenance; which, if report speak truly,
the temper of his Imperial helpmate is not calculated to gladden.

Having mentioned the Princess Salihè, I may as well introduce in this
place a little anecdote, for whose veracity my informant pledged
himself. Her Imperial Highness, on one occasion, only a few months back,
chanced to pass in her araba by a coffee-kiosk, in which a party of
Ulemas, about thirty in number, were gravely smoking their chibouks. It
chanced that no individual among them remarked the approach of the
Imperial carriage; and they consequently all remained seated, as though
the owner of the equipage had not been the Cousin of the Sun and Moon,
and herself one of the principal constellations. The rage of the
Princess was unbounded; and she instantly despatched one of her
_kavashlir_ for an armed guard, to whom she gave orders to convey the
whole party to the palace of the Seraskier, to receive the bastinado for
the want of respect which they had displayed towards her sacred person.
To hear was to obey; and forthwith the thirty Ulemas, members of the
most powerful body of men now existing in the Empire, were marched off
to the Seraskier; to whom, on their appearance in the court of the
palace, it was immediately announced that a formidable group of Ulemas,
attended by a number of soldiers, were approaching, as if to demand an
audience of His Excellency.

The Seraskier, anxious as to the purport of their visit, ordered that
they should instantly be admitted; and, suspicious of some popular
discontent, resolved upon giving them a most courteous reception; when
he was struck dumb by the intelligence that they were prisoners sent to
receive the punishment of their crime! For a moment even the Seraskier
was at fault; but, suddenly looking towards them with a smiling
countenance, and affecting not to remark the lowering brows of the
outraged professors—“Her Imperial Highness has condescended to make
merry with me,” he said gaily. “She threatened that I should pay dear
for some unpalatable advice that I ventured to give her, and you are to
be the medium of her vengeance. I comprehend the jest, and must abide by
her good pleasure.” Then, turning to his purse-bearer, he desired him to
count out one hundred piastres to each individual, which was accordingly
done, and the discomfited Ulemas left the palace.

But the affair might have proved to be the very reverse of a jest in its
consequences, and this the Pasha well knew when he ventured to set at
nought the orders of the princess; and he accordingly lost no time in
obtaining an audience of the Sultan, to whom he explained the whole
circumstance. His Highness, after commenting gaily on the expedient of
the Seraskier, and causing steps to be taken to ascertain that the
aggrieved parties harboured no thoughts or designs of revenge, sent a
stern message to his Imperial daughter, in which he warned her not to
attempt on any future occasion to bastinado his learned and faithful
subjects, thirty at a time.

Saïd Pasha, the affianced bridegroom of the Princess Mihirmàh, is
decidedly the handsomest man at court, as well as one of the youngest;
he has fine eyes, a prominent and well-shaped nose, and a smile of
peculiar sweetness.

A burst of martial music again warned us of the approach of the Sultan;
and, as he moved along upon his proud steed, which tossed its
party-coloured plumes and flashing jewels in the clear sunshine, he
turned towards us another look and another smile—and, in a few minutes,
nothing of the pageant remained with us save its memory; if, indeed, I
except the band, whose thrilling music, as they marched past, startled
our horses, which began to rear and kick in so inconvenient a manner
that we were glad to drive off; and, taking our way through “The Valley
of the Sweet Waters,” along the banks of the sparkling Barbyses, and
past the Imperial Kiosks, that rise like fairy palaces from the soft
turf of that lovely spot, we returned, amid the freshness and beauty of
a quiet day in Spring, to our residence at Pera.



CHAPTER XII.


  The Military College—Achmet Pasha and Azmi Bey—Study of Azmi
  Bey—His grateful Memories of England and the English—The
  Establishment—The Lithographic Presses—Extemporaneous
  Poetry—Halls of Study—Number of Students—Mathematical
  Hall—The Sultan’s Gallery—The Mosque—The Mufti—The Turkish
  Creed—The Imperial Closet—The Gallery of the Imperial
  Suite—The Retiring-Room—The Printing-Office—The
  Hospital—The Refectory—The Professor of Fortification—Negro
  Officers—Moral Condition of the College—Courtesy of the
  Officers—Deficiencies of the Professors—The Turks a Reading
  People—Object of the Institution—Reasons of its
  Failure—Smiling Enemies—Forlorn Hope—Russian
  Influence—Saduk Agha—Achmet Pasha—Azmi Bey—Apology for my
  Prolixity.

The Military College, which, from its extent, and the lavish liberality
of its arrangements, may well be termed a princely establishment,
occupies the crest of a hill immediately above the Imperial palace of
Dolma Batché, signifying the “Valley of Gourds”—and the tall minaret of
its mosque shoots upwards into the blue heaven with the grace and
lightness of a sky-winged arrow; while the gilded crescent in the centre
of the dome reflects back the sparkling sunbeams as they flash upon its
glittering surface.

As I had brought an introductory letter to Achmet Pasha, the governor,
and had been personally acquainted in London with Azmi Bey, the
Military Commandant, and, in fact, Principal of the Institution, I
experienced no difficulty whatever in obtaining permission to pay it a
visit; and I accordingly proceeded thither, accompanied by my father and
a couple of friends, who were, like myself, anxious to form a correct
opinion of the establishment.

We were met at the great entrance by the young Bey himself, who welcomed
us with the most sincere cordiality; and, offering me his arm with a
ready politeness quite European, he conducted us to his private
apartment, or, perhaps, I should rather call it, study. This very
cheerful and comfortable room, situated at an angle of the building, and
commanding two magnificent points of view, was thickly hung with English
and French engravings, principally interiors of our metropolitan
buildings, college-halls, theatres, and other places of public resort,
highly coloured—a large stove gave forth an agreeable warmth—the
window seats were strown with books and papers—a few maps were lying
upon a side table—a curious collection of volumes was gathered together
in a small bookcase—and the apartment had altogether a more furnished
and snug look than any which I had yet seen inhabited by a Turk—there
were flowers also in a glass vase; and a paper-presser on which a
sleeping Cupid lay stretched listlessly among his fabled roses—the
souvenir of an European friend.

We remained some time talking over past days, and I was sincerely
pleased by the fond and grateful manner in which he spoke of England,
and his English acquaintance. He reminded me of several little by-gone
incidents, inquired for particular individuals, and exhibited a warmth
of feeling and interest in the past for which I was scarcely prepared.
During the conversation, tea was handed to us in the Russian fashion by
his dragoman, attended by two negro slaves, and after partaking of it we
commenced our survey of the establishment.

[Illustration: Miss Pardoe del.

Day & Haghe Lith^{rs}. to the King.

THE MILITARY COLLEGE.

_Pub^d. by Henry Colburn, 13 G^t. Marlborough S^t._]

The main building forms three sides of a square, and the centre of the
fourth is occupied by an elegant kiosk-like edifice, containing the
lithographic presses. Here we found an individual designing a very
neatly-ornamented sheet-almanac, of which he had sketched the border
with great delicacy. All the machinery is English, and appears to be in
constant use. I have omitted to mention that, before we quitted the
apartment of Azmi Bey, he presented to us several of the Professors, who
entered to pay their respects. Among these, the most remarkable was
Saduk Agha, a Prussian renegade, who speaks French, Italian, and Turkish
fluently, and has a considerable knowledge of English. After conversing
with him for some time on the merits of lithography, and examining a
number of drawings, principally military figures, that had been executed
by the pupils of the establishment, and were many of them of
considerable merit; he joined his entreaties to those of Azmi Bey that I
would write a few lines as evidence of my visit, which they might put
under the press. Finding that they were both determined to succeed, and
not considering the point worthy of contention, I complied with the
request, not a little amused at my first appearance in print in Turkey:
and I much doubt whether any thing that I have hitherto written, am now
writing, or may hereafter write, will ever be read and re-read with so
much apparent _gusto_ as the half dozen lines of doggrel verse which I
improvised on a scrap of torn paper, _sur la plante des pieds_,
surrounded by about a score of Turkish spectators.

From this point, we proceeded to the inner or garden court, of which one
side is laid out in a parterre inclosure, the centre being occupied by
the mosque, and the extreme end terminated by the two great halls of
study. We entered the first of these by a noble flight of stone steps,
and found ourselves in an apartment of vast extent, admirably lighted,
and arranged with the most perfect order and conveniency. Thickly set
rows of high-backed benches of stained wood extended the whole depth of
the hall, leaving a passage on either side just sufficiently wide for
the ingress and egress of visitors; and the first ranges of seats were
occupied by about one hundred and fifty of the junior pupils, who were
busily employed in tracing upon their slates the elegant characters of
their language, as sentence after sentence was slowly declaimed by the
head boy of the class. This department of the institution is on the
Lancastrian system.

There are at present only three hundred students on the establishment; a
report having been promulgated by its enemies that an attempt would be
made to interfere with their religious tenets; in consequence of which
many parents declined sending their sons: the only answer of the
Governors to this calumny has been to compel the attendance of the boys
three times a day at the mosque; a tolerably convincing proof that they
entertain no anti-Mohammedan partialities.

As the School is expressly intended as a nursery for the army, all the
ambition of the students is made to bear upon that point: extraordinary
application, or regularity of conduct, is recompensed by a step of
military rank; and thus, should the intention of the authorities ever be
borne out, a youth of talent and good conduct may hereafter quit the
college as an officer, and thus commence his actual career of life,
where many of his predecessors have terminated their’s.

Having traversed the Lancastrian class, we reached the mathematical
hall, where a considerable number of young men were busily engaged in
colouring ground-plans of the surrounding country. The lower end of this
stately apartment forms a deep bay, round which rows of seats are
arranged amphitheatrically, having in the midst of them a table whereon
are placed globes, charts, and all the requisites for study. The other
extremity of the hall is terminated by a raised gallery, intended for
the use of the Sultan, above which hangs his portrait in oils, executed
by an Armenian artist, harsh, and crude, and wiry, as though it had been
the production of a Chinese easel, and surmounted by a most elaborate
drapery. Beneath the portrait is stretched a noble map of the
Archipelago, the Sea of Marmora, and the Bosphorus. An electrifying
machine, and a large map of America, an immense table, and the desks and
seats of the students, made up the remainder of the furniture; and the
apartment itself was by far the finest that I had yet seen in the
country.

The next point of curiosity was the mosque; and I was no less surprised
than gratified at the readiness with which Azmi Bey acceded to our
desire of visiting it. The outer apartment, or vestibule, was covered
with fine Indian matting, and before we traversed it the Bey requested
my father to put off his boots, though he made no objection to my
retaining my slippers. As we reached the door which opened into the body
of the mosque, I perceived that we had arrived during the prayers. The
High Priest sat with his arms folded above his ample robe; his dark brow
surmounted by a turban of the sacred green, and his feet doubled under
him, in a recess facing the entrance, chanting in a nasal and monotonous
drawl; while a very slender congregation was scattered over the floor,
squatted upon the rich carpets that covered it. But we no sooner made
our appearance than the Mufti rose and quitted the mosque, followed by
his little flock; and we were left in quiet possession of the elegant
temple whence they had so hastily withdrawn.

The faith of the Musselmauns is that of love, not fear: to believe in
One GOD, and to be charitable—and who shall deny that it is a
comprehensive creed? The mosque in which we stood was the very
embodiment of such a worship—the sunshine streamed through its many
windows upon the most delicate fresco-painting, the brightest and
richest of carpets, and the glittering lattices of the Imperial closet.
The only dark object that met the eye was a curtain of olive-coloured
cloth, surrounded by a bordering of flowers, delicately worked in tinted
silks, which veiled the entrance of the marble steps leading to the
pulpit—all beside was dazzlingly bright, and it was almost with regret
that I returned into the vestibule, in order to ascend to the Sultan’s
gallery.

A small hall and a handsome flight of stairs, closely covered with
English carpeting, conducted us to an elegant anti-room, from which four
doors, veiled by draperies of dove-coloured cloth heavily fringed,
opened into as many apartments, appropriated to the Sultan and his
suite.

The Imperial closet is richly hung with gold-coloured draperies, that
fling a sunset glow on the surrounding objects: a magnificent sofa
occupies one side of the room, and the floor is covered with a Brussels
carpet. Portions of the gilded lattice open and shut at pleasure; and
the whole has so perfectly Oriental an effect, that you involuntarily
think of Scheherazade and her fable-loving Sultan; and forget the
sanctity of the place, while contemplating the luxury of its
arrangement.

The gallery appropriated to the Imperial suite adjoins the closet, and
beyond this is the retiring-room of the Sultan, wherein he performs his
ablutions, previously to the commencement of the service. It is less
gorgeous in its general effect than the closet, but commands a noble
view of the Bosphorus, and the Sea of Marmora.

On leaving the mosque, we descended by a flight of stone steps into the
vaults beneath it, to visit the printing-office, where all was activity:
compositors were setting the types—“devils” were guiding the
rollers—lads were folding the printed sheets—and binders were
stitching them into volumes. Every thing was clean, and orderly, and
well conducted.

We next made a tour of the hospital; and, had not two of the beds been
tenanted, I should have quitted the establishment, if not with a firm
conviction, at least with a very strong suspicion, that it was intended
merely for show, it was so delicately clean and so beautifully arranged.

At the head of the stairs was the receiving-room of the surgeon; and
beyond this, on either side of the gallery, were the laboratory and the
surgery, their doors veiled with white muslin, and every article in its
place; the dormitories, which are only two in number, each capable of
containing about a score of patients, were carpeted along the centre;
the beds were tastefully draperied with muslin: and a small table stood
near each pillow; while along the cornice of the ceiling were suspended,
at regular distances, small tablets, whereon were inscribed the names of
the different diseases to be treated in the ward.

The refectory was perfectly European in its aspect, surrounded by long
narrow tables and benches, and well supplied with plates, spoons,
forks, and soup-ladles. As we entered, Azmi Bey looked towards us
confidently for applause. He had truly worked a goodly reform in Turkish
habits, when he taught each boy to put his fork into his own plate,
instead of plunging his fingers into the dish of the community! Nor did
we fail to compliment him on the change.

By the time that we had completed our survey of the Establishment, our
“tail” would have been no contemptible rival to that of Mr.
O’Connell—every Professor and Officer connected with the Institution
having made his bow, and joined the party. And not the least conspicuous
of the number was the Professor of Fortification, who, besides being a
Creole, had one of the most frightful and resolute squints I ever had
the misfortune to meet with; and the Captain of the Guard, a very
corpulent and consequential negro. Black officers and soldiers are,
however, common in Turkey, where a man’s colour is never construed into
an objection to profit by his services, nor an excuse for leaving them
unrewarded.

Having described in detail the external arrangements of the Military
College of Turkey, it now remains for me to advert to its moral
condition, and this is truly a melancholy task; for, rich as I have
shown it to be in all the outward attributes necessary to such an
Establishment, it is utterly destitute of the more essential requisites
for insuring the important end of its foundation.

Care and cost have been lavished upon it unsparingly: it is a favourite
toy of the Sultan—a subject of ceaseless thought and interest to Achmet
Pasha, to whose immediate control it has been entrusted—the one
engrossing object of Azmi Bey’s solicitude—the Great National
Scholastic Establishment—the nursery for the Imperial Army. But, alas!
despite all these advantages, it is like the Statue of Pygmalion ere it
was warmed to life—a body without a soul—matter without mind—a
splendid machine, without a competent and practised hand to call forth
its powers, and to work out its effects!

To the courtesy of the several individuals immediately connected with
the Institution, I have already borne testimony; nor does a doubt exist
in my own mind of their sincere zeal for its welfare and prosperity.
But, unhappily, the best intentions, and the most earnest enthusiasm,
must fail to compensate the painful deficiency of that talent and
experience necessary to its success. Could sentiment be deepened into
science, and inclination be wrought into ability, the Military College
would take high ground; for the students are eager in the pursuit of
knowledge, but, where the means are limited, the effects must be
comparatively inconsequent: and it is a melancholy truth that the
untiring application, the admirable docility, and the promising talents
of the pupils, can only conduct them to a certain point, beyond which
their best efforts will not enable them to progress unassisted. This is
more particularly the fact as regards the youth of Turkey, from the
circumstance of their being by nature imitative rather than inventive;
and, moreover, not possessing those opportunities of observation and
individual research which lead the students of Europe to rely in no
trifling degree upon their own mental resources.

In our western world the wings of Genius are never clipped—the sunny
path of Talent is never overshadowed—the calm brow of Science is never
clouded—by a deficiency in the means of further improvement,
encouragement, and support. But Education, as we comprehend the term, is
yet in its first infancy in Turkey; and should the same evil influence
which is now blighting with its Upas breath the Ottoman atmosphere be
long suffered to exhale its poisonous properties, it is certain to
annihilate all power of improvement.

Perhaps, with the single exception of Great Britain, there exists not in
the world a more reading nation than Turkey. I have no doubt that this
assertion will startle many individuals in Europe, who have been
accustomed, and, indeed, led to believe, that the natives of the East
are, as a people, plunged in the profoundest ignorance. It is,
nevertheless, a fact that nearly every man throughout the Empire can
read and write, and that there are at this moment upwards of eight
thousand children scattered through the different schools of the
capital. But the studies of the Osmanlis of both sexes have, with some
few exceptions, hitherto been confined to the Koran, and to works of an
inconsequent and useless description; the mere plaything of an idle
hour, incapable of inspiring one novel idea, or of leaving upon the mind
impressions calculated to exalt or to enlighten it.

The object of such an Institution as a Public School was undoubtedly to
widen the mental views, and to enlarge the tastes of the youth of
Turkey. But, in order to effect this very desirable end, it was
requisite that the soundest judgment should be exercised in the
selection of the individuals to whom were committed its different
departments of literature and science, and this was unfortunately far
from being the case; the internal economy of the Establishment having
been entrusted to persons so decidedly incompetent that, with every
desire to do their duty, they have erred, from their utter ignorance of
the extent of the task which they have undertaken, or which has been
forced upon them.

As far as the different Professors are capable of so doing, they have
directed the studies and formed the tastes of the students; but the
young and ardent mind, thirsting after knowledge, and earnest in its
acquirement, demands assistance as progressive as its own advancement.
The fresh and buoyant spirit requires external aid, at once able and
judicious, to support its vigour, and to strengthen its yet unpractised
wing. And where these fail, where the shadow is alone furnished, while
the substance is wanting, what can be expected from the comparatively
unassisted efforts of young and unformed intellects, that have not
simply to struggle onward towards a goal to be attained only by their
best energies; but also to contend against, and to cast from them, a
crowd of early prejudices and associations—while they are destitute of
the assistance of more experienced and mature talents, upon which to
fall back, when they have themselves just acquired sufficient knowledge
to feel their own deficiencies?

Let it not be believed for an instant that the Turks, had they been left
to the free exercise of their own good sense and reflection, are so
obtuse as not to have made the discovery that the progress of the pupils
was necessarily retarded by the inexperience and incompetency of the
preceptors. He who judges thus hastily will wrong them. Already had the
suspicion sprung up in their minds—already did those on whom the
authority for so doing more particularly devolved suggest the
expediency of procuring, from Europe, men of talent, science, and
judgment, capable of sustaining the credit of the Establishment. But the
project was crushed in the bud; negatived on its first suggestion; set
aside by a single sentence; _that_ sentence which has become
all-powerful in Constantinople—and thus the ruin of the Institution is
already sealed by the incapacity of its professors, the prejudices of
its enemies, and the lavish and deceitful encomiums of its false
friends.

Achmet Pasha has been told that never did establishment prosper like the
Military College of Constantinople. A foreign minister has declared it
perfect; and obsequious secretaries and _attachés_ have raised their
hands and eyes in almost religious wonder. Compliments have been
lavished on the meagre talents of the masters, and smiles have veiled
their deficiencies. And thus, flattered into a belief of their own
sufficiency on the one hand, and misled by misstatements on the other,
the influential individuals connected with the unhappy College have
abandoned it to the ruin which must ultimately, and at no distant
period, overtake it; from the hopeless incapacity of a set of men, who,
familiar with the name of every science under Heaven, are most of them
profoundly ignorant of all save the first rudiments of each; and who
are, consequently, ill calculated to work that great moral change so
ardently desired by all the true friends of Turkey.

I put forth this assertion boldly, because I have convinced myself of
its justice; and if—after having stated the eagerness with which the
students seek to acquire information, the care and cost that have been
lavished on the College itself, and the zeal and untiring watchfulness
of those to whose charge it has been intrusted—I am asked the simple
question of wherefore this great National Institution is crippled in so
senseless and ruinous a manner by the appointment of inefficient
individuals to its most important and responsible posts, the answer is
ready—It is the will of Russia!

The growth of knowledge is the destruction of tyranny and oppression: it
is the moral axe struck to the core of the wide-spreading Banian of
usurpation and encroachment—it is the light of mind, dispelling the
darkness of prejudice and falsehood.

Were Turkey once roused to a perfect estimate of her own moral power,
she must inevitably cast off the web that has been slowly and craftily
woven about her; and which, should no friendly hand disentangle its
intricate threads ere it be yet too late, must ultimately fetter her
strength beyond all power of resuscitation. To do this she must take an
enlarged and correct view of her position—she must be able to
appreciate her just value among the nations—she must be capable of
combating sophistry with caution, and craft with calculative wisdom.
This power she can only acquire by placing herself upon a mental
equality with more civilized Europe; by training up her youth to habits
of reflection and scientific research; by awakening within their breasts
the generous emulation of excellence; and by opening before them paths
of honour and advancement, no longer to be trodden by the weak foot of
chance, but sacred to superior merit and superior genius.

All this must Turkey accomplish ere she can once again be great and
free. And it is to prevent this that the subtle policy of her archenemy,
Russia, strains every nerve, and exerts every energy—the blandishments
of a flattery, to which she is constitutionally too susceptible for her
real welfare—the threats of a strength beneath which she is
unfortunately already bowed almost to the dust—for should some generous
spark of honour be aroused to resistance, there is the unanswerable
declaration—_L’Empereur le veut!_ beyond which there is no appeal.

Thus Russia looked upon the College with a jealous eye—it might, if
suffered to progress towards perfection unchecked, ultimately become a
great moral engine in the hands of the Turkish government: and this was,
of course, not to be permitted. The Russian Legation consequently took
an overwhelming and most generous interest in all the details of the
establishment; laughed to scorn the necessity of European science and
European assistance, where native talent was so rife—employed her
creatures in writing complimentary and fulsome panegyrics on the
Institution, which were lithographed at the school, and translated for
the Sultan; and, in short, administered such copious draughts of
flattery to all connected with the establishment, that their soporific
effects are painfully apparent in the quiet, self-gratulatory, smiling
satisfaction of those, who, while they believe that they are nursing the
new-born Institution into vigour, are actually closing their encircling
arms so tightly about its throat that they are strangling it in its
first weakness.

The School has but one hope—and that is unhappily faint and afar off.
There are now between thirty and forty promising young men studying in
Europe, who may perchance one day be enabled to effect its
resuscitation. But years must elapse ere the most gifted pupils are
eligible to become preceptors: and before those years are past, what may
be the fate of Turkey? England must resolve the question.

At present it is certain that the Military College is indirectly under
Russian control and patronage; all the professors having been selected
openly or covertly by themselves. And thus, one individual, for the
limited remuneration of about £200 a year, not having the fear of
ridicule before his eyes, gravely undertakes to impart to his pupils the
knowledge of some half dozen sciences, among which geography and
astronomy are far from being the most profound or conspicuous.

Saduk Agha, of whom I have already spoken, is a man of distinguished
abilities, who, had he been suffered to do so, might have materially
assisted the studies of the pupils; but this point would have been too
mighty for Russian policy to concede; and, as it was not judged prudent
to exclude him altogether, and thus draw down remarks which might have
proved inconvenient, his services were secured at a salary of £150 a
year, to teach the Prussian game entitled _Le Jeu de Guerre_, which is a
species of dissected military map, put together precisely like the
puzzles used by children in England.

Achmet Pasha, (to whom, as I have already remarked, the superintendence
of the Institution has been immediately confided), however much he may
desire its prosperity, has scarcely time, talent, or opportunity, (as I
think it will be conceded when I have enumerated his multitudinous
avocations) to give to it the care and attention which it requires from
its Principal; or to bestow upon it that watchful _surveillance_ so
necessary to the prosperity of an Establishment for youth. He is Grand
Chamberlain—Generalissimo of the Imperial Guard—Governor of the
Military College—Director of the Roads—Grand Master of the
Artillery—Head of the Police—Inspector of Naval Architecture—_pro
tempore_ Lord of the Admiralty, and Governor of Natolia—in short, he
either is, or requires to be, an universal genius.

Azmi Bey, the Military Commandant, with a zeal which retains him a
willing prisoner almost constantly within the walls of the college, and
an enthusiasm that neither difficulties nor disappointments have yet
quenched, is, nevertheless, too young and too inexperienced to be equal
to meet efficiently the weighty responsibility that has been thrust upon
him; and for which he is indebted to a quickness of observation, an
ardent desire of improvement, and a facility of imitation, called forth
and developed by his brief residence in Europe. All that he was
competent to effect, he has already accomplished; for he has reduced to
order the chaos of conflicting prejudices and associations, and habits,
which met him, Hydra-headed, on the very threshold of his task. From his
limited experience of European feelings and manners, he has also
profited sufficiently to enable him to adopt much that was worthy of
imitation; while, on the other hand, he has judiciously rejected much of
which the utility and desirableness were at best problematical. The
easy, I may almost say, affectionate manner of all around him convince
you at once that he is gentle in his rule; while the earnestness with
which he interests himself in the most minute details connected with the
Establishment is an equal proof of his unfeigned desire for its success.
But the brevity of his European sojourn, and the confusion of ideas, and
hurry of mind, consequent on a residence in London during the height of
the season—the rapidity with which he was whirled from military and
naval colleges to railroads and manufactories, from museums and
libraries to public gardens and theatres—could scarcely, even with the
most ceaseless efforts on his own part, have afforded opportunities for
study, or time for reflection and research, calculated to render him the
efficient mainspring of so complicated and delicate a piece of machinery
as a great National Academy.

I fear that I have been prolix on the subject of this interesting
Establishment, which might have become a moral sceptre in the hand of a
future Sultan, and which is now “a vain shadow” and “a whitewashed
sepulchre;” but it is impossible not to feel deeply the cruel wrong
committed by the false sophisms of a smiling enemy, towards a confiding
and unsuspicious people; yet was my sympathy unmingled with surprise.
Did not Russia refuse to allow the Porte to ratify the engagements
entered into by Reschid Bey with the European officers whom he had
selected for the service of the Sultan? And was it probable that she
would permit a nearer and a more certain danger without an effort to
annihilate it?

One more question, and I have done. Will the traveller in Turkey, fifty
years hence, have any thing to tell of the Military College of
Constantinople? Alas! I doubt it.



CHAPTER XIII.


  Invitation from Mustapha Pasha of Scodra—The Caïque, and the
  Caïquejhes—How to Travel in a Caïque—Hasty
  Glances—Self-Gratulation—Scutari—Imperial Superstition—The
  Seraglio Point—Dolma Batchè—Beshiktash—The Turning
  Dervishes—Beglièrbey—The Kiosks—A Dilemma—A Ruined
  Palace—An Introduction—A Turkish Beauty—A Discovery—A New
  Acquaintance—The Buyuk Hanoum—Fatiguing Walk—Palace of
  Mustapha Pasha—The Harem—Turkish Dyes—Ceremonies of
  Reception—Turkish Establishment—The Buyuk Hanoum—Turkish
  Chaplets—The Imperial Firman—Pearls, Rubies, and
  Emeralds—The Favourite Odalique—Heyminè Hanoum—A
  Conversation on Politics—Scodra Pasha—Singular
  Coincidence—Convenience of the Turkish Kitchen—Luxury of the
  Table—Coquetry of the Chibouk—Turkish Mode of Lighting the
  Apartments—Gentleness towards the Slaves—Interesting
  Reminiscences—Domestic Details—Dilaram Hanoum—A Paragraph on
  Pearls—A Turkish Mirror—A Summons—Scodra Pasha—Motives for
  Revolt—The Imperial Envoy—Submission—Ready Wit of the
  Pasha’s Son—The Reception Room—Personal Appearance of the
  Scodra Pasha—Inconvenient Courtesy—Conversation on
  England—Philosophy—Pleasant Dreams—The Plague-Smitten.

Accompanied by a Greek lady of my acquaintance, I embarked one fine
morning on board our caïque, to pay a visit to the wife and daughter of
Mustapha Pasha of Scodra. As his palace was situated in a distant
quarter of the city, and we were anxious to avoid the necessity of
rattling over the rude and broken pavement of the streets in an araba,
we resolved to stretch out beyond the Seraglio Point; and, following
the walls that are now crumbling into ruin along the coast, disembark at
Yani-capu, or the New Gate pier.

Our sturdy rowers accordingly bent to their oars, and the arrowy caïque
shot across the port, and out into the wider sea beyond, like a wild
bird. The boatmen were clad in their summer garb, for the sunshine lay
bright upon the water, and scarcely a breath of air murmured among the
dark branches of the cypress groves. They wore shirts of silk gauze, of
about the thickness of mull-muslin, with large hanging sleeves, and
bordered round the breast with a narrow scallopping of needlework; their
ample trowsers were of white cotton, and their shaven heads were only
partially covered by small skull-caps of red cloth, with pendent tassels
of purple silk; their feet were bare.

My companion and myself occupied cushions spread along the bottom of the
boat: the most comfortable, as well as the safest way to travel in a
caïque, which, from its peculiar formation, is liable to be overset by
the slightest imprudence; while our Greek servant, with his legs folded
under him, was seated on the raised stern of the boat, immediately
behind us.

What pretty peeps we had of the Seraglio gardens, as we shot along;
through the many latticed openings contrived for the gratification of
the fair prisoners. What magnificent glimpses of domes and minarets, of
bursting foliage, of marble fountains, and of gilded kiosks! But, alas!
how vain must have been all the luxurious inventions of the most
luxurious of Sultans, to insure happiness to the tenants of this painted
prison! I looked around me on the sea-birds that were sporting upon the
wave—above me, to the fleecy clouds that were sailing over the blue
ether—far into the distance where a shoal of dolphins were gamboling
almost above the water; and, as I felt the motion of the swift caïque,
while it was gently heaved up and down by the current of the sea of
Marmora, and saw how rapidly we sped along, I breathed a silent
thanksgiving that _I_ too was free! Free to come and to go—to love or
to reject—to gaze in turn upon every bright and beautiful scene of
nature, untrammelled, and unquestioned—that no Sultan could frown me
into submission—no Kislar Agha frighten me into hypocrisy—in short,
that I was not born a subject of his Sublime Highness, Mahmoud the
Powerful.

On our left, rose the lordly mountain of Bulgurlhu Dagi, above Scutari,
whose shores were fringed with country-houses, and hanging gardens;
gradually deepening into a sterner character as they receded from the
Bosphorus, and lifting to the sky the palace-like barrack, and the
elegant Persian kiosk of the Sultan. The present Sovereign has a
superstition derived from an astrologer whom he consulted in his youth,
that, while he is constructing Imperial residences, he is sure to be
fortunate in his other undertakings; and hence he is continually adding
to the almost countless numbers of palaces and kiosks, that occupy the
loveliest spots throughout the vicinity of the capital.

The most extensive and ancient of these is that which is situated at the
entrance of the harbour, and gives its name to the “Seraglio Point,” the
walls of the Imperial Seraï running, as I have already mentioned, far
along the coast. On the opposite shore is the small but elegant palace
of Scutari, with its bowery terraces, which are overlooked by the
Sultan’s principal residence of Dolma Batchè; and you may shoot an arrow
from the many-coloured and irregularly constructed palace of Dolma
Batchè to the vast edifice now building on the same border of the
Bosphorus, with infinitely less taste and more architectural
pretension—although, with true Eastern inconsistency, the whole of the
stupendous palace above Beshiktash, save the foundation, is of wood,
surrounded by a colonnade, supported on stately columns of white marble.

This palace, of which the expence is estimated at a million sterling,
has been already a considerable time in progress; and is erected on a
locality that was partly occupied by a beautiful kiosk of Sultan Selim,
and partly by a Tekiè and Chapel of Turning Dervishes.

These latter, with a tenacity altogether incompatible with our European
ideas of a despotic government, resolutely refused to quit their
convent, when the plan of the new palace which rendered their ejection
indispensable was explained to them. They had come to a resolution not
to move—their mausoleum contained the holy ashes of a saint, and, in
short, they were determined to measure their strength with the Sultan.
Accordingly, raising the cry of sacrilege, they continued snugly within
their convent walls, which were soon overtopped by the Imperial pile
that rose gradually on either side of them.

But Sultan Mahmoud was born a century too late to be thus baffled—the
work went on; and he bore the opposition to his will with most exemplary
patience so long as it did not retard the operations of his architects.
But, when the moment at length arrived which rendered expedient the
removal of the fraternity, he claimed from the Chèïk Islam, or High
Priest, his permission to expel them; and, having failed in procuring
it, quietly mounted his horse, and rode up to the convent gate. The
Chief Dervish met him on the threshold, and the dialogue was brief:—

“Your Tekiè occupies the ground necessary to the completion of my
palace:—you must vacate it.”

“We guard the sepulchre of a saint, may it please your Sublime
Highness.”

“My pleasure is your immediate removal—I have provided a place of
reception for your community.”

“We are not strong enough to contend against your Imperial will. We
obey.” And the fraternity were put in possession of an extensive
edifice, lately occupied by the Court Jester!

By a strange chance, this house was situated immediately under the holy
tomb which had afforded to the Dervishes their principal pretext for
disobedience to the Imperial mandate; and the Sultan adroitly availed
himself of the fact to impress upon them the eligibility of the
situation, pointing out, with a solemnity worthy of the occasion, that
it was more decent for them to be domesticated on the very spot
consecrated by the remains of the illustrious deceased, than at the
distance of a furlong, as had hitherto been the case. The observation
was a happy one, and the remark unanswerable; and the fraternity were
fain to affect accordance with the sentiment, however inconvenient its
effects.

Immediately opposite, seated upon the Asian shore, like a regal beauty
contemplating her gorgeousness in the clear mirror of the Bosphorus,
rises the summer palace of Beglièrbey—with its walls of pale gold and
dead white; the prettiest and most fanciful of all the Imperial
residences, and rendered doubly agreeable by its spacious gardens and
overhanging groves.

But the kiosks! Who shall number the kiosks! those gilt-latticed,
many-formed, and graceful toys, which seem as though they had been
rained from the sky during an hour of sunshine—see them on the heights
of the Asian shore—seek them in the depths of the “Valley of Sweet
Waters”—count them as they rise at short distances along the walls of
the Seraï—pause a moment to admire their fairy-like beauty as you
gallop through some lovely glen, so wild and solitary that you almost
fancied yourself to have been the first who has ever explored its
recesses—any where, every where, you come upon them; and they are so
neatly kept, so brightly gilt, and so gaily painted, that they look like
gigantic flowers scattered over the landscape.

But back, my truant fancy, to the sea of Marmora, and the shores of
Scutari; where the light caïque is bounding over the heaving waters, and
Mount Olympus, with its crown of snow, is summoning you to memories of
the days when, if Gods indeed were not, men lent them life! Back to the
hoary walls of Byzantium—to the lingering relics of the Ancient
Romans—to the City of the True Believers!

We passed the little bay of Cum-capu, or Sandport, and our caïque
shortly afterwards shot into the creek of Yani-capu; but we had not left
the boat five minutes when we became suspicious that the servant was not
altogether so familiar with the road leading to the palace of the Pasha
as he had professed to be. Nor were our suspicions erroneous; for, after
leading us up one street and down another; along the foot of the
Aqueduct of Justinian; and amid the blackened remains of the last great
fire, he fairly confessed that he had lost his way.

In this dilemma, we took a guide, who assured us that he was as familiar
with the palace of the Scodra Pasha as with his own house, and so he
proved to be; though the trifling inconvenience that ensued convinced us
that we were as far from our object as ever. After threading a vast
number of narrow streets, each more filthy than the last, we at length
reached one which, built on a steep acclivity, boasted a somewhat more
comfortable and cleanly appearance; the houses were larger and better
kept, and the shops less frequent and more respectable. Our guide
stopped before a pair of great gates about half way up the hill, and,
seizing the knocker, gave very audible evidence of our wish for
admittance; after which he pocketed his piastres, and withdrew.

On the opening of the gate, we found ourselves in a small covered court,
choked with rubbish. A house, literally “tottering to its fall,” and
propped on the garden side with heavy pieces of timber, presented itself
as the palace of the Pasha; and the door of the harem, which one rude
blow would have shivered to atoms, was immediately before us.

We looked at each other in wonder; but, as the servant who had given us
admittance assured us that we had made no mistake, which we were not
only inclined, but really anxious to believe that we had done, we
desired to be conducted to the Buyuk Hanoum. A loud blow on the door of
the harem, most portentously echoed by the void beyond, was instantly
answered by the appearance of a tall, bony, grinning negress; who,
having bade us welcome, invited us to follow her to her mistress.

The stairs by which we ascended to the harem creaked and quivered
beneath our weight; the window that lighted them was uncurtained, and
its missing panes were replaced by rags and paper—there was no matting
upon the floor of the empty, chilly, comfortless hall into which the
apartments opened—and the whole appearance of the place was so desolate
and wretched, that I shivered as I remembered that I had engaged myself
to pass the night there.

Having traversed the hall, the slave lifted the heavy curtain veiling
the door of one of the inner apartments; and, having obeyed her
bidding, we found ourselves in a small, snug, well-heated room, closely
carpeted and curtained; and at the instant of our entrance a beautiful
girl rose from the sofa where she had been seated, and welcomed us with
a smile and a blush that made us forget at once “the ruin of her house.”
There was one circumstance connected with the greeting, however, that
struck us as very singular; she made no allusion to our having been
expected: but there was, on the contrary, a sort of wonder and curiosity
in her manner, which, with intuitive good-breeding, she did not express.

We were both still haunted by the idea that there must be some mistake;
and this impression was heightened by the timid and constrained bearing
of the young beauty, who, after having clapped her hands, and desired
the two or three slaves who hastily obeyed the summons to prepare
sweetmeats and coffee, suddenly sank into silence, as though waiting to
learn the purport of our visit. My companion, acting upon the
presumption that some mistake _must_ exist, although she was unable to
comprehend its nature, once more inquired if she were correct in
supposing that we were in the palace of the Scodra Pasha.

Again she was answered affirmatively.

“And you are then the beautiful daughter of the Pasha, of whom I have
heard so much?”

“I am the wife of his son,”—was the reply, which, concise as it was,
brought a brighter blush to the cheek of the speaker.

And she _was_ beautiful, according to the strict rule of Turkish
loveliness; with rich red lips, large dark sleepy eyes, and a throat as
white and dazzling as the inner leaf of the water-lily.

“You are young to be a wife; have you been long married?”

“Exactly twelve months—I am thirteen; my husband is a year older.”

“Did you expect us earlier?”

“Expect you!” echoed the fair Turk, opening her deep eyes in wonder:
“Mashallah! how could I expect that two Frank ladies would come to visit
me?”

This was inexplicable!

“I trust that the Pasha has quite recovered his late indisposition,”
pursued my companion after a moment’s silence.

“I did not know that he was unwell; we have not heard from him lately.”

“Heard from him?” echoed Madame——in her turn; “my husband had a long
conversation with him yesterday.”

Again the beauty dilated her large eyes in wonder. “Impossible! He is in
Albania.” Here was the solution of the enigma. We were bound on a visit
to Mustapha Pasha, the rebel—and we were under the roof of Omer Pasha,
his present successor!

After a hearty laugh on all sides, we were quite at our ease; the young
beauty handed scented conserves and coffee to us with her own pretty,
plump, henna-tipped fingers; and informed us that her mother-in-law, the
Buyuk Hanoum, and herself, were occupying a house lent to them by a
friend, for the few weeks which they found it expedient to pass in
Constantinople, while making their arrangements for Albania, where they
were shortly to join the Pasha.

After passing half an hour in chatting on various subjects, we rose to
take our leave, and to profit by the polite offer of our new
acquaintance to send a servant to point out to us the palace of Mustapha
Pasha. As we were making our parting compliments, a slave came in to
request that we would pay a visit to the Buyuk Hanoum in her apartment,
whither she had just returned from the bath.

We immediately assented, and were conducted to a spacious room at the
other extremity of the hall, where we found the lady seated under the
tandour, and almost in darkness; the windows of the room being on the
old Turkish principle—that is, perforated in a double tier—the lower
ones so closely latticed that they admitted scarcely any light, and
barely permitted those within to see into the street; and the upper
ones, small and half circular, dull with dust, situated close to the
ceiling, and, in several instances, where time or accident had displaced
the glass, repaired roughly with thin planks nailed across. The
atmosphere of the apartment was close and oppressive, perfume having
been flung into the mangal as we entered, which was rising in a dense
vapour; and every creek and crevice in the room (and they were not few)
being stopped with pink paper.

The Buyuk Hanoum received us with much courtesy, and apologized for not
having welcomed us herself on our first arrival in her own apartment,
owing to her having been at the moment in the bath; and she appeared
much amused at the mistake, (of which her slaves had already informed
her) that had brought us under her roof. She had formerly been a fine
woman, but was no longer young, and had consequently lost all the
charming _fraicheur_ (I use the French word, for it is perfectly
untranslateable) which is the great beauty of Oriental females. In the
course of conversation, we discovered that she was sister to one of the
wives of Achmet Pasha; and had herself been to pay a visit to the harem
of Mustapha Pasha the previous day.

As our engagement still remained to be fulfilled, we did not long linger
in the apartment of the Buyuk Hanoum; but, taking leave of herself and
her pretty little daughter-in-law, who had, during our visit, remained
standing at the end of the room, with her hands folded meekly before
her, while we shared the sofa of the hostess: we placed ourselves under
the guidance of a bearded and turbaned Moslem, who was awaiting us in
the courtyard, and once more sallied forth.

What a walk we had! Up and down, and in and out, until I began to think
that the tales of Eastern enchantment that I had read in my girlhood
were now realized for my individual inconvenience, and that the palace
was receding as rapidly as we advanced. I was not, however, suffered to
persist in this idle fancy, for we really _did_ arrive at last, although
some hours later than we should have done, before the great gates of an
extensive edifice, which I am bound to admit had, externally, more the
appearance of a barrack than a palace. Half a dozen servants, several of
them negroes, were lounging in listless idleness at the entrance, which
our arrival instantly changed into ready and officious bustle.

We were ushered across an extensive courtyard to one of the wings of the
palace, a vast, irregular, pile of building; and a single stroke upon
the door of the harem was immediately answered from within: a group of
smiling female slaves received us in an inner court, wherein stood the
araba of the Buyuk Hanoum, and a very handsome marble fountain, at
which a pretty girl of about eighteen was performing her ablutions. A
couple of the negroes accompanied us up stairs, and, leading us across a
very handsome saloon, whose recesses were filled with cushions, and
whose open gallery commanded the court beneath, showed us into a smaller
apartment, and seated us on a sofa, whereon lay a mandolin and a
tambourine, probably flung there by some fair musicians whom our
approach had startled from their pastime.

Here we were shortly joined by a very old woman, who came to pay her
compliments to us; and who, from her manner, was evidently a
confidential person in the harem. She had been extremely beautiful, and
was still a fine ruin; the outline of her features being delicate and
regular; while her hair, of a bright chesnut colour, unmixed with a
taint of gray, gave her a softness of expression perfectly singular.
This latter circumstance only served to convince me of the great
superiority of the dyes in use among the Turkish women, to those common
in Europe; a fact which I had already occasion to notice: whatever may
be the age of a Turkish female, she is seldom disfigured by gray hair,
but, on the contrary, her tresses are as pure in colour, and as smooth
and glossy, as those of the youngest girl in her family.

A female slave shortly afterwards appeared to conduct us to the
apartment of the Buyuk Hanoum, which, when we entered, was half filled
with attendants, some standing in a semicircle round the mangal, and
others squatted on the carpet at the extremity of the room.

As this was the first harem that I had visited, where the establishment
was on the true Turkish footing—or, to speak more plainly, where there
were more candidates than one for the affections of the master of the
house, although there was, in point of fact, actually but one wife—I
paid particular attention to those delicate shades of etiquette and
gradations of ceremony that I had been prepared to notice in these
“princely families.”

The Buyuk Hanoum occupied the upper end of the sofa, against which the
tandour was placed; she was a plain woman, with a cold and somewhat
stern expression of countenance: and there was more haughtiness in the
bend and the smile wherewith she welcomed us, than I had yet seen
exhibited by a Turkish female; when we entered, she was amusing herself,
as is common with both sexes in this country, (as well Turks as
Armenians) in passing rapidly through her fingers the beads of a
chaplet, that rested on the gold-embroidered covering of the tandour.

I must be permitted a momentary digression on the subject of these
chaplets, which are as popular, or very nearly so, as the chibouk. They
resemble, somewhat, the rosary of the Roman Catholics, save that instead
of being terminated by a crucifix and a knot of relics, they are merely
beads strung upon a silk cord, divided at intervals by some of a larger
size, and secured, at the junction of the cord, by a carved acorn, or an
ornament of a like description. They are commonly made of a wood, which,
becoming heated by the action of the hand emits a delicious perfume; but
their material depends upon the taste and means of the owner; the poorer
classes carrying chaplets of berries, common beads, and other cheap
substitutes, for this somewhat costly indulgence.

The more independent the circumstances of a Turk, and consequently the
less use he is called upon to make of his hands, the more constantly are
they employed in toying with his chaplet—his fingers are busy with it
as he walks along the street—you hear the light click, click, click, of
the fast-falling beads, as he is squatted on his sofa—nay, so fond is
he of this dull enjoyment, that, only a short period after my arrival at
Constantinople, a Firman was issued by the Sultan, forbidding the use of
the chaplet in the mosques, the noise of so many collected together, and
all at work at the same time, disturbing the Mufti.

It is composed of ninety-nine beads, without including that which
connects the ends of the cord. With each of the former, an attribute of
God is recited thus; Great—Glorious—Excellent—Omnipotent—&c. &c. The
final bead terminates the ejaculatory prayer, and bears the name of the
Deity himself.

The chaplet of the Buyuk Hanoum was of fine pearls, beautifully matched,
and each the size of a pea, the divisions being formed by emeralds
similarly shaped and sized, and the whole string secured by one
pear-shaped emerald the size of a hazel-nut.

At the angle of the sofa sat the favourite Odalique of the Pasha, a
short, slight, unattractive woman of about thirty years of age; with
common, and rather coarse features, but with a shrewd and keen
expression that almost made them interesting. Close beside her was
seated a third lady, who, although certainly not pretty, was
nevertheless tall, graceful, and delicate, with full, fine eyes, and an
exquisite complexion; when we entered, she was employed in fondling a
sweet little child of between one and two years old. A pile of cushions,
carefully and comfortably arranged, were prepared immediately opposite
to the seat of the Buyuk Hanoum, for her fair daughter, but the lovely
Heyminè had not yet left the bath.

At the invitation of the Buyuk Hanoum, we placed ourselves beside her,
and partook of sweetmeats and coffee, amid the polite greetings of the
whole party; and the refreshments had scarcely disappeared, when the
fair bather entered the apartment.

How shall I describe the beautiful Heyminè Hanoum? How paint the soft,
sweet, sleepy loveliness of the Pasha’s daughter? She was just sixteen,
at the age when Oriental beauty is at its height, and Oriental
gracefulness unsurpassed by any gracefulness on earth. Her slight,
willow-like, figure—her dark deep eyes, long and lustrous, with lashes
edging like silken fringes their snowy and vein-traced lids—her
luxuriant hair, black as the wing of the raven—her white and dazzling
teeth—and the sweet but firm expression of her beautifully formed
mouth——

I had seen many lovely women in Turkey, but never one so purely, so
perfectly lovely, as Heyminè Hanoum; and I am not quite sure that I did
not admire her the more for the deep shade of melancholy that cast a
sort of twilight over her beauty, and softened, without diminishing, its
effect.

She had been born in Albania; it was the land of her love; the Buyuk
Hanoum, her mother, was descended from one of the most powerful and
princely families of the country; and she had been used to see her
looked upon with the reverence due to her birth and rank; she
remembered that the Pasha, her father, had dared, in his pride of
place, to measure strength with the Sultan, his master, and to defy his
power—he had failed, but the haughty effort had been made; and the fair
Heyminè looked back with sadness and regret to the days of past
splendour and warrior strife amid which she had grown to womanhood. She
clung to her mother with the loving gentleness that spoke in her deep
eyes: but she worshipped her father, as something more than mortal; and
her fair cheek flushed crimson, and her proud lip dilated into smiles,
as she spoke of him. And how she had garnered up within her heart those
sweet, sad, memories which mock the brightness of the present! How she
dwelt upon the country she had loved and lost, and amid whose mountains
she had breathed the breath of freedom! I never saw the enthusiasm of
the spirit more legibly written upon the brow of any human being than on
her’s. It redeemed the apathy of a score of Eastern women!

The Buyuk Hanoum was as far from being reconciled to the change of
country and position as her daughter; but her sadness was more subdued
by resignation—she had reached the age when reverses are less keenly
felt—a calm sorrow sat upon her brow, and breathed in her low,
tremulous, tone; but the blood which leaped to the brow of the daughter
in warmer gushes as she spoke of the past only curdled more chillingly
about the heart of the mother when the same visions arose in vain
mockery before her, to remind her of what had once been, and could never
be again!

Scodra Pasha had earned for himself a place on the page of history, but
he had paid a high and a painful price for the privilege. He had tasted
for a brief space the intoxicating draught of power, but the bowl had
been dashed from his lips. He had defied the yoke beneath which he had
been ultimately bowed, and the iron that has been resisted is ever that
which eats deepest into the soul.

It must be a severe trial to sink from a leader to a vassal; even when
it is from a rebel chief to the dependent Pasha of a Sultan. Mustapha
Pasha had been almost a sovereign in Albania, a brave soldier, and a
powerful prince; and, when he accepted the conditions of his Imperial
Master, and bought his life at the price of his country and his fortune,
the struggle of the spirit must have been a bitter one.

It was a singular circumstance that, at the period of my first visit to
his harem, he was occupying a palace adjoining that in which resided
another attainted noble—the Ex-Pasha of Bagdad! Both men of
information—both blighted in their ambition, and bowed beneath the
power they had defied—they amused the _ennui_ of their monotonous
existence with writing poetry; and moralizing on the instability of
human greatness. I have remarked elsewhere that the Turks are seldom
found wanting in philosophy.

As we did not arrive at the Pasha’s palace for several hours after we
were expected, it was supposed that some accidental circumstance had
prevented our visit, and the family had consequently dined before we got
there: but such an occurrence as this never causes the slightest
inconvenience in a Turkish house, where the culinary arrangements are so
regulated that you can command an excellent repast at whatever moment
you may chance to require it.

On the present occasion, I rather regretted that the profuse and even
sumptuous dinner that was served up to us was, from an excess of
courtesy on the part of our entertainers, perfectly European in its
arrangement, being accompanied by silver forks, knives, and chairs; but
the luxury of the East had, nevertheless, its part in the banquet, for
the cloth that covered the table was enriched with a deep border of
exquisite needlework, and the napkins of muslin, almost as impalpable as
a cobweb, were richly embroidered in gold. Wine was handed to us on a
beautifully chased golden salver, and the glasses from which we drank it
were of finely cut crystal; while the table stood upon a tapestry
carpet.

But the most beautiful objects employed during the repast were the
silver basin, strainer, and vase, that were held by two black slaves for
us to wash our hands, while a third stood a pace behind them, bearing
upon his arm the napkin, wrought with a border of flowers in coloured
silks, whereon they were to be dried. The vase, shaped like that from
which Ganymede might have poured wine for Imperial Jove, was chased in
the most delicate manner with grapes and vine leaves; and the same
design enriched the border of the capacious basin.

As soon as we had dined, we adjourned to the private apartment of
Heyminè Hanoum, at her especial invitation; when the young beauty, freed
from the restraint of her mother’s presence, clapped her hands, and
ordered her pipe, which she smoked with as much grace and gusto as any
Moslem of the Empire. They who cavil at this application of the word
_grace_, have certainly never seen a young Turkish woman manage her
chibouk—Nothing can be more coquettish!

The chapter on fans, so celebrated in the “Spectator,” might be
out-written a hundredfold by one competent to describe the manœuvres
of an Eastern beauty, with her amber-lipped and gold-twisted pipe. Such
soft and studied attitudes—such long and slowly-drawn respirations,
having all the sentiment of a sigh without its sadness—such clasping
and unclasping of the delicate fingers about the slender tube—-no
novice should venture to smoke beside a Turkish woman, who is not
satisfied to look as awkward as a poor mortal can desire!

We were all comfortably nestled among our cushions; and, on a small
round table at the extremity of the apartment, stood a tray, bearing
four wax lights. This custom of clustering the candles together is
common in both Turkish, Armenian, and Greek houses; and is peculiarly
congenial to the indolence of Eastern habits, as it leaves such deep
shadows in the distance, that those who have no immediate occupation to
confine them to the vicinity of the glare may doze in undisturbed
twilight on their sofas.

At intervals, a slave entered to trim the candles, or to replenish the
pipe of Heyminè Hanoum; and each lingered awhile, unchidden, to listen
to a fragment of the conversation, or to indulge in another gaze at the
Frank strangers; among the rest, one pale, languid-looking woman, who
complained of sudden and severe suffering, and to whom the Pasha’s
daughter spoke even more kindly and gently than to any of the others,
squatted down near the door, and remained a considerable time, with her
head drooping on her bosom, apparently amused in spite of her
indisposition.

The slaves, both black and white, were innumerable—I should think that
we had at least a score in attendance on us during dinner.

Despite the occasional interruptions that I have described, our
conversation became gradually extremely interesting. The young beauty
talked of Albania—of the proud and happy life that she had led there
during her father’s prosperity; and then of the misery which she had
endured in exchanging its delights for the chilling observances and
restraints of the Turkish capital. Had the heart of Heyminè Hanoum beat
in the breast of her father, let the result have been what it might, he
never would have recanted his rebellion.

From the political position of her family, she digressed to its social
condition; and I was not a little amused by the perfect _sang froid_
with which she entered into a detail of the domestic arrangements of the
household.

“You have seen my brother;” she said, “and I need not tell you that he
is delicate and sickly. He was my mother’s last child, and the Pasha
feared that he should be left without a son. In this dilemma, he
expressed to the Buyuk Hanoum his desire to contract a second marriage;
but this she would by no means permit. She could not, however, avoid
seeing that his anxiety was but too well founded: and she accordingly
proposed a compromise, to which he at once agreed. Without loss of
time, he wrote to a friend in Constantinople to purchase for him four
young Circassians, and to embark them, under the charge of an elderly
woman, for Albania.

“Young as I was, I shall not attempt to describe to you my mortification
on their arrival. I saw the tears of my mother, which, when alone with
me, she did not attempt to suppress; we had hitherto had but one heart
and one interest in the harem of my father, and we became suddenly
domesticated with strangers—women of another land and another language;
to whom we were knit by no ties, bound by no sympathies.

“But all this is idle. You saw the Odalique who sat nearest to my
mother? Allah has been gracious to her—she has borne two sons to the
Pasha.—She with the large dark eyes, who when you entered was nursing
her infant, has no other child than that one little girl. A third you
will shortly see, when she pays me her visit previously to retiring for
the night: I love her much, but she, poor thing! is childless. The
fourth died in consequence of her sufferings during the passage to
Albania, which was tempestuous and protracted. The aged woman who
received you on your arrival was the person who accompanied the four
Circassians from Constantinople, and—but here is Dilaram Hanoum.”

As she spoke, the curtain that shaded the door was pushed aside, and the
Odalique entered. She was by far the prettiest woman of the three, but
there was a subdued and hopeless expression about her, which showed at
once that she had not been a favourite child of fortune. She was slight
and beautifully formed, with a low, soft voice which was almost music.
She appeared much attached to the lovely Heyminè, and hastened, after
the first salutations were over, to replenish the pipe that rested
beside the young beauty, and to hand it to her; a mark of attention and
respect which was acknowledged by its object with the graceful
salutation common in the East—the pressure of the fingers of the right
hand to the lips and brow.

The conversation was, of course, changed on her entrance; and the
subject of jewels having been mentioned, Heyminè Hanoum despatched a
slave for a handkerchief with which she was in the habit of binding up
her hair, in order to show us one of the Albanian fashions. It was of
black muslin, painted with groups of coloured flowers, and bordered all
round with a deep fringe of fine pearls. I never in my life saw any
mixture which produced a more striking effect; and when she wound it
about her head—the dark glossy tresses of her hair relieved by the
bright tints of the flowers, and the whiteness of her clear brow
rivalling the pearls that rested on it—her crimson jacket, lined with
sable, falling back, and revealing the transparent chemisette of gauze,
and the fair throat which it shaded—the pale blue silk trowsers trimmed
with silver, and the small white naked foot that peeped for an instant
from beneath them as she altered her position—I thought that earth
could hold nothing more lovely than Heyminè Hanoum!

I was very busily engaged in examining an elegant hand-mirror set in a
frame of chased silver, when a couple of negroes entered to invite us to
the presence of the Pasha, who was awaiting us in his apartment. I have
already mentioned that one room in the harem is appropriated to the
master of the house, wherein he receives such of its inmates as he
desires to converse with.

The message was scarcely delivered when the Buyuk Hanoum, whom the Pasha
had desired to introduce us, entered the apartment, evidently somewhat
surprised at the honour which was about to be bestowed upon two female
Infidels. I had heard a great deal of the Scodra Pasha, and I naturally
desired to see him; nor perhaps may it be amiss to impart to my readers
a portion of his history.

Mustapha Pasha was residing on his Pashalik in Albania when Sultan
Mahmoud reformed the national costume of the country, and replaced the
lofty turbans and flowing garments of past centuries, with the scarlet
_fèz_ and frock coat of the present day. When the order for this change
reached the Pasha, he at once communicated it to the troops, who
resisted it with such violence as to threaten not only the liberty, but
the life of their Chief if he persisted in its enforcement. In vain did
he argue, explain, and persuade; the soldiery, wedded to their ancient
usages, refused to listen to his reasonings; their opposition being
furthermore aggravated by a conscription, enforced with sufficient
severity to lend them arguments against all concession to a power by
which they were thus oppressed; and he finally found himself compelled
to adopt a decided line of conduct in order to insure his own personal
safety.

Already nearly in a state of siege in one of his palaces—surrounded by
troops on whom he could by no means depend, seconded as they were by the
people, in the indignation excited by the threatened infringement on
their cherished habits—drawing the whole of his revenue from the
soil—married to a lady of the country—possessed of considerable
property within the Pashalik—and threatened with death by an infuriated
populace—it cannot be wondered at that Mustapha Pasha, thus hard
pressed, resolved to assist his people in the struggle; and
strengthening his army, and trusting to his mountain fastnesses,
determined on a resistance to the Imperial will which at once placed
Albania in a state of revolt.

It were tedious to detail at length the various fortunes of the rebel
Pasha: a brave man, beloved by his troops, and sincere in the same
cause—greatly assisted, moreover, by the mountainous and difficult
character of the country naturally possesses the means of making head
against a superior power to his own; and thus it was with the Scodra
Pasha. Many abortive attempts were made to dislodge and capture him, by
an army under the command of Reschid Mehemet Pasha, but in vain. He
still held on his way, until at length the Sultan, irritated at the
ill-success of his endeavours, despatched Achmet Pasha with full power
to act as a pacificator, and to use all possible means to recall the
rebel chief to his allegiance, and an order not to return without having
terminated the rebellion.

Thus instructed, the Imperial Envoy left the capital for Albania; and
his attempts were not destined to be as fruitless as those of his
predecessors. The rebel Pasha’s army had fought for their lives as well
as their privileges; they had gone too far to recede; and Achmet Pasha
felt at once the utter futility of persisting in a system of violence
which could produce no definite result. The character of his adversary
was well known to him; it was high, honourable, and unsullied, save by
his revolt against his Imperial Master; and it was to this knowledge
that he resolved to trust, in order to bring about a submission which
the Sultan’s arms were unable to effect. He accordingly despatched a
messenger to Mustapha Pasha, by whom he requested an interview; and, to
prove that no treachery was intended on the one hand, or feared on the
other, he offered to place himself in the power of the rebel leader, by
meeting him alone and unattended wherever he might appoint.

The Scodra Pasha, a man of amiable disposition and quick feelings, was
touched by this mark of confidence, and unhesitatingly acceded to the
request; when Achmet Pasha, without further delay, fulfilled the
conditions which he had imposed upon himself, mounted his horse, and
rode boldly off to the palace of the rebel. He was received with the
utmost courtesy; coffee and pipes were introduced, and the two Pashas
sat down side by side upon their cushions to discuss the important
subject of their meeting.

To a man of Mustapha Pasha’s good sense and sound judgment, it was by no
means difficult for his visitor to demonstrate in the clearest manner
the hopelessness of his situation. It was true that hitherto he had
baffled all the attempts of the Imperial troops, by the wisdom of his
measures, the judiciousness of his arrangements, the bravery of his own
bearing, and the zeal of his soldiery. But this state of things could
not last for ever—he was feeding upon his own strength, and his
resources must ultimately fail—he had yet time to make a creditable and
a free submission—he had still an opportunity to save his head—but,
when he yielded from weakness, (and, should he persist in his rebellion,
the bitter hour of helplessness must come;) how could he look for a
mercy which he had rejected when it was freely extended to him?

Thus pressed, both by exterior argument and internal conviction; wearied
also, it may be, of opposition to a sovereign whom he reverenced; the
rebel leader asked time for deliberate consideration ere he returned a
definite answer to the proposition—he stipulated also that an assurance
should be solemnly given that his own life and those of his family
should be spared; which Achmet Pasha did not hesitate to promise upon
the spot. It was accordingly determined that the latter should remain
two days in the palace of the rebel chief, when he should either depart
alone, and unmolested, bearing with him the continued defiance of the
revolted province; or that he should return to Constantinople
accompanied by his host, and the females of his family, under the
safeguard of his plighted word.

The latter alternative was adopted; and Achmet Pasha ultimately returned
to Constantinople in company with the Scodra Pasha and his Harem. The
fortune of the rebel chief was confiscated, and a hundred and twenty
thousand piastres a-year settled upon him to supply the means of
existence. But some time elapsed ere he was admitted to the presence,
and allowed the high honour of kissing the foot, of his Sublime
Highness.

On the same occasion he presented his two eldest sons, with whom the
Sultan was so much pleased that he created them Pashas on the instant;
and, having entered into conversation with them, he inquired how they
liked the _fèz_, upon which the younger of the two, a fine boy of eight
years of age, answered with a promptitude worthy of an accomplished
courtier, that he had always liked it, but since he had seen it on the
head of the Sultan, he should like it a thousand times better; a reply
which so delighted Mahmoud that he immediately presented him with a
watch magnificently enriched with diamonds. Nor was the child less
fortunate throughout the audience, for the smiling sovereign tried him
with another question, to which he answered with even more point—“And
which do you like the best, my young Pasha?” asked the Sultan:
“Constantinople or Albania?”

“Constantinople,” replied the boy; “because you are here—the leaves
cannot come upon the trees without the sun; and we cannot grow up to be
brave men if we are not near you.”

No wonder that Mustapha Pasha looks upon the mother of the boy as “the
Light of the Harem.”

The Buyuk Hanoum led us across the outer saloon to a spacious staircase,
then across an upper hall, through a short gallery, and finally to the
door of the Pasha’s apartment. As I crossed the threshold, I was
actually dazzled with light: the room was large; and was raised one step
at the upper end, round which ran the sofa. Two tables, bearing trays of
candles, were placed near the entrance; and a silver branch holding
others was in the arched recess between them. The curtains and the
covering of the sofa were of crimson satin, the latter fringed with gold
a foot in depth, and furnished with cushions of gold tissue embroidered
with coloured silk. At the extremity of the dais a pile of cushions were
heaped upon the floor; and at the upper end of the sofa squatted the
Pasha, with a negro slave on each side of him, busied in arranging his
pipe which had been just replenished. A capacious mangal, heavy with
perfume, occupied the centre of the floor.

Mustapha Pasha is still in the prime of life; of the middle size, with
an agreeable and sensible expression of face, and a slight cast in one
of his eyes. He received us very courteously, and ordered chairs for my
friend and myself near his own seat, while he motioned the Buyuk Hanoum
to be seated also; an intimation which she obeyed by placing herself on
the extreme edge of the sofa. The next ceremony was to cause pipes to be
presented to my companion and myself; the greatest honour that can be
conferred on a female in Turkey being an invitation to smoke in the
presence of the other sex.

This was indeed a dilemma, for smoking had formed no part of my
education; and I knew that, did I even raise the pipe to my lips, I
should infallibly be ill; but the Pasha fortunately remarked the slight
shudder and the gesture of repugnance with which I took it from the hand
of the slave; and he immediately requested me to refuse it, if I found
it disagreeable, as he merely sought to pay me a compliment by offering
it.

I need not say how gladly I availed myself of the permission, much to
the amusement of the Pasha; who, after he had inhaled a few whiffs of
his own chibouk, sent a second message to the harem, which was answered
by the speedy appearance of Heyminè Hanoum and the favourite Odalique. A
motion of his hand invited both to take their places upon the cushions
already alluded to; and then I remarked the ascendency of the latter
over the spirit of the Pasha—an ascendency due probably as much to her
being the mother of his two sons, as to her natural shrewdness of
intellect. Be that as it may, however, it was easy to perceive that she
was a woman of great natural talent, and wonderful quickness of
perception; and very likely to retain the supremacy that she had gained.

The Pasha understood a little French, but did not attempt to speak it;
though it is probable that he will soon do so, as he is studying the
language with unwearying perseverance. He has already formed a very
respectable library, where he has collected together the works of
Voltaire, Racine, Boileau, Molière, and many other standard authors; and
he has done so thus prematurely, he says, in order that the sight of the
volumes may stimulate him to industry; as he never looks towards them
without reflecting on the riches that are hidden from him by his
ignorance of the language, and which may one day be within his grasp.

I was astonished at many of the questions that he asked me; they were so
unlike the generality of those to which I had already become accustomed
in the country. He was very inquisitive on the subject of the Thames
Tunnel—inquired as to its probable expense—the period at which it was
likely to be completed—the width of the river at that precise
spot—the amount of the toll to be paid by passengers—the mode in
which the money had been obtained for its construction—in what manner
it would be lighted—in short, he entered into every particular
connected with the undertaking so earnestly, that I had reason to
congratulate myself on being able to satisfy his curiosity.

He next asked a number of questions relatively to the Fire Insurance
Companies of London, of which he had heard vaguely; and, when I had
explained to him the whole of the system, he expressed his regret that
no institution of the kind had been established in Constantinople; a
want to which he was the more sensible as he had lately lost a house
filled with valuable furniture and effects, of which he had been unable
to save the smallest portion. He inquired if I thought that one of our
Companies would consent to accept an insurance for his palace; as in the
event of their being willing to do so, he would immediately take steps
to make the arrangement. I explained to him the difficulty of inducing
them to run so great a risk, aware as they must be of the frequency of
fires in Stamboul, and the exorbitant interest they would require in the
event of their consenting to his wish: when he at once allowed the
objection to be perfectly reasonable, although he much regretted the
necessity of abandoning the idea.

In the course of conversation, some allusion having been made to the
philosophy with which he supported his reverses, his reply was so
characteristic that it deserves record. “The chariot of my fortunes,” he
said, “had, for so long a time, run smoothly over the highways of life,
that I ought rather to feel surprise at its even pace during so many
years, than wonder that its wheels should fail at last.”

To comment on such an answer would be idle.

It was not without regret that I took leave of the Pasha, whose
courteous manners and intelligent conversation rendered him a most
agreeable companion; and, had I been able to converse with him in his
own language, I have no doubt that I should have been still more
impressed in his favour. Before we quitted him, he invited us to spend a
few days with the Buyuk Hanoum, and his daughter, during the marriage
festivities of the Princess Mihirmàh, at a house which he had taken at
the “Sweet Waters;” and, as we re-entered the harem, I could not refrain
from expressing to the fair Heyminè my admiration of the intelligence
and information of her father. But all praise of the Pasha to his
daughter was “gilding refined gold, painting the lily, and throwing a
perfume o’er the violet;” human commendations could not exalt him higher
in her esteem.

If splendour could insure repose, we were destined to a long night of
slumber beneath the roof of Mustapha Pasha, for our beds were one blaze
of gold and embroidery; and it is certain that the fair form which
hovered about me until I sank upon my pillows had a most pleasant
influence over my dreams; I never passed a more delicious night. I had
visions of beauty, of which the lovely Heyminè was the type and subject:
and if some faint impressions of strife and suffering mingled in the
illusion, a bright smile and a soft glance dispelled the gloom, and
brought back the light and the loveliness, that had been veiled for a
moment, with tenfold lustre.

In the morning we returned to Pera, carrying with us a store of pleasant
memories for which we were indebted to this amiable family; and it was
not without a very painful emotion that we learnt, in the course of the
second day after we had quitted them, that the harem of the Pasha was
dispersed in all directions, and the palace completely empty. The sick
slave, whom I mentioned as having passed a considerable time in the
apartment of Heyminè Hanoum, had died the previous night of plague!



CHAPTER XIV.


  Procession of Betrothal—Preliminary Ceremonies—The Mantle of
  Mahomet—The Palace of the Seraskier Pasha—The Palace
  Square—Picturesque Groups—An Interior—Turkish
  Children—Oriental Curiosity—Costume of the Turkish
  Children—Military Music—The Procession—Hurried Departure of
  the Crowd—The Seraskier’s Tower—The Fire Guard—Candidates
  for the Imperial Bride—Imperial Expedient—Saïd Pasha—Policy
  of the Seraskier—An Audience—The Biter Bitten—Ingenious
  Ruse—Sublime Economy—Brilliant Traffic—The Danger of
  Delay—The Marriage Gifts—An Interesting Interview.

A few days after my visit to the harem of Scodra Pasha, my father and
myself started at nine o’clock in the morning to Constantinople, to be
present at the procession consequent on the betrothal of the Princess
Mihirmàh, the Sultan’s second daughter; a lovely girl of nineteen, about
to be bestowed on Mohammed Saïd Pasha, who had been summoned from his
Pashalik, at the Dardanelles, to receive at the hand of his Imperial
Master this most honouring of all gifts.

But, before describing the procession, it may not perhaps be amiss to
record some of the less public ceremonies of the betrothal, for which I
am indebted to an eye-witness.

The day fixed upon for its celebration was the 7th of April; and, at
the hour which the Court Astrologer had decided to be the most
auspicious for the assembling together of the individuals necessary to
its completion, who had received their notes of invitation two days
previously from the Kislar-Aghasi (Chief of the Eunuchs), they met in
the private apartment of the Imperial Treasurer, near the chamber that
contains the holy Mantle of Mahomet—the same sacred locality that
witnessed the betrothal of the elder Princess. Here the whole company
entered at the moment which had also been previously pointed out by the
Astrologer as fortunate, and remained for some time in religious
silence, in presence of the inestimable relic; after which each member
of the distinguished circle seated himself upon the carpet that had been
prepared for him.

The Grand Vizier, Mohammed Ronouf Pasha, took the upper place upon the
sofa, having near him the Chèïk-Islam, (or High Priest) Mekki Zadè
Moustafa Assim Effendi, who officiated on the august occasion. On the
right sat the chief of the Eunuchs of the Imperial Seraglio, who acted
as the proxy of the Princess; and whose witnesses were the Commissioner
of the Imperial Treasury, and Osman Agha, one of the principal
Eunuchs.—On the left was placed the adopted father and representative
of Mohammed Saïd Pasha, the Seraskier—having for his witnesses, Halil
Rifat Pasha, the Sultan’s son-in-law, Akhmet Fevzi Pasha, Military
Counsellor of the Palace, and Mohammed Saïd Pertew Effendi, Minister of
the Interior, and Counsellor of State, with four others. Among the
Chèïks and the men of letters who were admitted to this august assembly,
to mingle their prayers with those of the Chèïk-Islam, were Elhadj
Yousouf Effendi, Chief of the Chèïks, and preacher at the great mosque
of St. Sophia; and Elhadj Abdoullah Effendi, first chaplain of the
mosque of Eyoub, and preacher at the mosque of Sultan Akhmet.

They were no sooner seated than the officers attached to the service of
this chamber, which bears the name of Khirkaï-Chériff, presented to each
person perfumes and rose-water according to the Eastern custom; and,
when they withdrew, the doors were closed, and the ceremony commenced
with a prayer by the Chèïk-Islam, for the divine blessing on the union
they were then assembled to celebrate; after which he put the customary
questions to the proxies of the two contracting parties.

As soon as the act of betrothal was terminated, the doors were again
thrown open, and the two Chèïks pronounced a prayer suited to the
occasion. At the close of the prayer, the distinguished party quitted
the Khirkaï-Chériff, and passed into a neighbouring apartment, where
they partook of the refreshments provided for them, and were waited upon
by the keeper of the Privy Purse, who presented to them the rich gifts
with which his Sublime Highness was pleased to honour them. They then
left the palace.

As soon as they had departed, the Sultana-Mother sent by the Bach-Agha
(Eunuch and Major Domo) the nuptial offering of the bride to the
bridegroom, who was awaiting it at the palace of the Seraskier, and
superintending at the same time the arrangement of his own marriage
present, which was to be conveyed with great pomp to the Seraï. The
procession was to start from the palace of the Seraskier (the
bridegroom’s adopted father) at half-past ten o’clock, and we
accordingly hired a window overlooking the line of march; whence we
could see the train issue from the palace court, cross the extensive
space in front of it, and finally lose itself in a narrow street leading
to the Imperial residence.

The esplanade on which we looked down was crowded with horsemen,
footmen, and carriages. Groups of women were squatted immediately in the
rear of the soldiers, who lined the space along which the procession was
to move; others occupied a raised platform erected by some speculative
Moslem, whereon a place could be secured for the modest remuneration of
a piastre, (two-pence halfpenny.) Rows of arabas, like beds of scarlet
poppies, were ranged behind the pedestrians; while, further from the
scene of action, parties were scattered over the whole square in the
most picturesque confusion. Here a train of Serudjhis walked the horses
that they had brought for hire; there a knot of Jews chattered and
gesticulated; while their women huddled themselves up in the coarse
cotton scarfs which concealed their head-dresses. On one side the snowy
turbans and dark robes of half a dozen Ulemas formed a striking contrast
to the green shawls bound about the brows of a group of Hadjïs, and
their ample pelisses of crimson or maroon, lined and overlaid with fur.
Here it was a party of soldiers—there a band of Bulgarians, dressed in
jackets of sheepskin, with the wool turned inwards, round caps of black
lambskin, and leather leggings. Then moved by a score of Armenians, with
their tall calpacs and crimson slippers—jostled, as they passed slowly
along, by a set of Franks, crushing and squeezing, as though they were
resolved to carry their point, _coute qui coute_.

On a little hillock near the window that we occupied, a couple of Turks
had spread their carpet, and were quietly smoking their chibouks,
attended by their negro pipe-bearers; while here and there a gigantic
umbrella of white cotton overshadowed a round stand covered with
sherbet and mohalibè, around which were clustered a throng of noisy
Greeks, each with eyes as black as the shawl that he wore about his
scarlet _fèz_.

Nor was the scene within the room less characteristic than that without;
the remaining windows had been hired by four grave-looking elderly
Turks, who had brought with them half a dozen pretty little girls, of
eight or ten years of age; who were sitting, doubled up at one corner of
the sofa, with all the early taught awe and deference for the lordly sex
which is the leading sentiment of the harem.

Our entrance, however, aroused them into something like action; for
while our dragoman explained who and what we were, whence we came, and
whither we were bound:—questions which are asked by the grave and
bearded Moslem, as unceremoniously as by any one of our Trans-Atlantic
brethren, and without the slightest suspicion on his own part that he is
guilty of any impertinence—I made an easy acquaintance with the pretty
children, by permitting them to handle the flowers in my bonnet, to
touch my shawl, and to run their little plump fingers over my
waist-ribbon. And when the grandee of the party who occupied the upper
end of the sofa, whereon, moreover, his attendants had spread a carpet
of crimson shag, fringed with gold, as though the ignoble chintz were
not worthy the honour of receiving him, had taken the chibouk from his
own mouth, and sent it by his pipe-bearer to my father—a mark of high
consideration rather flattering than fastidious—and my father had, in
his turn, despatched the dragoman, to spread before the children a feast
of mohalibè, frosted over with powdered sugar, we were all the best
friends in the world.

One of the little girls—a calm, self-centered, true Turkish child, with
all the premature languishment and indolence so peculiar to the women of
the country, with black, sleepy eyes, and lips like rose-buds—was clad
in a jacket of purple velvet, lined with ermine, and laced with gold;
her antery of pale pink muslin was tucked up within the cachemire shawl
that she wore about her waist; and her large trowsers of green chintz
fell in ample plaits over the little naked feet, which, when she rose
from the sofa, were scarcely covered at the extremities by the yellow
slippers that lay beside her.

Another, perhaps a year younger, had her jacket of crimson merino
doubled with sable, and her little Symrniote fèz worked with seed
pearls; her antery was yellow, her trowsers blue, and her chemisette of
pale amber-coloured gauze. Nothing can be more outré than the costume of
a little Turkish maiden; the long hair hanging in a score of minute
braids, each confined at the extremity with a small knot of ribbon; the
tight sleeves, open from the elbow, falling below the hip, and edged
with elaborately wrought silk fringe; the round, white, dimpled feet,
peeping out beneath the full trowsers; and the heavy jacket folding back
from the ivory shoulders and snowy throat.

There is no distinction of dress between the child of two years old and
the woman of twenty; the same jewels, the same fashion, the same
material, compose the one and the other; they differ only in quantity;
the diamonds, except upon great occasions, are lavished on the children;
and in fringe, and embroidery, and ribbon, they only yield to their
elders, because there is not sufficient space upon their little persons
to enable their parents to equalize the consumption between them.

At length, the distant sounds of military music came to us from the
Palace court, and forth issued the Sultan’s Band, playing his Grand
March; this was succeeded by a regiment of the line, moving in double
files: then rode forward about a score of staff officers, including
several generals of brigade, and colonels of the Imperial Guard,
surrounded by servants on foot; these were succeeded by two open
carriages and four, empty—and after these came the presents of the
bridegroom to the Imperial Family. First walked a hundred men of the
Seraskier’s establishment; about a score of whom bore upon their heads
cages of wire, covered with coloured gauze, ornamented with flowing
ribbons, and filled with sweetmeats of the most costly description,
piled in porcelain dishes; the frosted sugar glittering in the light
like jewels. Those were succeeded by others charged with silk stuffs of
the most rare qualities, produced by the Indian looms—Cachemires of
Tibet and Lahor—and other magnificent gifts, destined for the Sultan
Mother.

The offerings to the bride followed. They consisted of two toilette
services of massive silver, containing the most delicious perfumes of
the East; a silver dinner service, arranged on a plateau of the same
metal; several silver salvers covered with precious stones, and
ornaments of gold and silver, and others heaped with gold coins: the
whole covered with cages of silver net-work. Each of these bearers was
attended by a page.

Then followed four more, having on their heads trays of shawls, folded
in coloured muslin—and next came a dozen men, charged with all the
articles necessary for the bath, under transparent coverings. One
carried the pattens of ebony, inlaid with stars of mother-of-pearl, and
clasped over the foot with a band of brilliants; another, the
head-kerchief of silver tissue, embroidered with wreaths of silken
flowers; the third, a pile of silk napkins, fringed with gold; the
fourth, a wrapping-cloth of flowered satin; the fifth, a capacious basin
of burnished gold; the sixth, a comb of ivory, enriched with diamonds;
the seventh, a pair of slippers, wrought with emeralds and seed pearl;
the eighth, a chemisette of pale pink gauze, edged round the bosom with
silver fringe; the ninth, a cut crystal box clasped with gold,
containing scented soaps; the tenth, an ebony essence case, studded with
rubies; the eleventh, a hand-mirror in a gold frame, surrounded by a
garland of jewels; and the twelfth, a sofa covering of crimson velvet,
flowered and fringed with gold.

Four eunuchs in brown and gold followed the presents; and were succeeded
by an escort of sergeants of the line; after which appeared the
Seraskier Pasha, surrounded by a brilliant staff, and preceding a second
regiment of infantry, with the bright barrels of their fire-locks
flashing in the sunshine, and attended by their band. These terminated
the procession. But an interesting feature of the show still remained,
when the led horses of the palace guests, each held by a groom, came
prancing through the wide gateway, as if vain of their glittering
housings and embroidered reins; the groups which had been scattered over
the square were all in motion; the crimson-covered arabas began to move
from their station; the sherbet-venders vaunted their merchandize, with
voluble eagerness, to the passers-by—the Turks resigned their chibouks
to their pipe-bearers, and rose from their carpets, which were instantly
rolled up, and carried away by their domestics—the Bulgarians inflated
their bag-pipes, and obstructed the path of the foot-passengers, with
their heavy and awkward dance, which must have been modelled upon that
of the bear—and, ere I had wearied of contemplating the scene,
nine-tenths of the crowd that had so lately thronged the wide space
beneath me had passed away.

The sunshine was lying warm and bright on the dome of Sultan Bajazet’s
mosque, with its portals of indented gothic; and its spiral minarets,
with their galleries of rich tracery-work; dominated in their turn by
the Tower of the Seraskier, which shoots up tall and white from an angle
of the palace court, like the giant guardian of the locality; and whose
summit (to which we afterwards ascended) commands a series of the most
magnificent views that the world can produce.

On one side, the City of Constantinople is spread out beneath you like a
map; and you look down upon its thousand domes, and its five thousand
minarets—upon its khans, and its charshees, its palaces and its
prisons. Move a few paces forward, only to the next window, and the Sea
of Marmora, with its peopled coasts, its rocky islets, and its
glittering waves, carries your thoughts homeward to the “golden west.”
From one point you look on Mount Olympus, with its crown of snow; from
another, on the sunny Bosphorus, laden with life, and laughing in the
day-beam. Turn to the left, and the Golden Horn, from whence the riches
of the world are poured forth over the East, lies at your feet.
On—on—ere your eyes ache with gazing, and your mind with wonder, and
repose your vision on the dark and arid rocks which enclose “The Valley
of the Sweet Waters,” the most fairy-like glen that ever was hemmed in
by a belt of mountains. And when you at length descend the three hundred
and thirty steps of the dizzy Tower of the Seraskier, inscribe upon your
tablets the faint record of an hour, during which, if you have
sensibility or imagination, a love of the beautiful, or an appreciation
of the sublime, you must have lived through an age of feeling and of
fancy; with the busy, breathing city at your feet—the sweet, still
valley beside you—and the wide sea, the unfathomable, the mysterious
sea, bounding your vision.

What a pigmy is man amid such a scene as this!

I must not omit to mention that the Seraskier’s Tower, called, by the
Turks, Yanguen Kiosk, or Fire Tower, is the watch-house of the
fire-guard. Six individuals are constantly on the look-out during the
day and night, who relieve each other every hour; and, during the
night-watch, the guard constantly makes his round in a pair of spring
pattens, which, being made of wood, and soled with iron, keep up a
continual noise that prevents his giving way to drowsiness, and thus
neglecting his duty.

There were seven equally eligible candidates for the hand of the
Princess Mihirmàh; and consequently more than seven times seven
intrigues set on foot, when it was finally announced that the Sultan,
her father, had resolved on bestowing her in marriage on some fortunate
noble of his Empire. The Sublime Porte was all in commotion—the seven
Eligibles all in agitation—every palace and harem on the _qui
vive_—bribes flew about, on yellow wings, like the bright butterflies
that herald spring—and the Sultan himself, weary of conflicting
counsels and opposing interests, wavering and undecided; while many
persons agreed in believing that the Imperial choice would ultimately
fall on the handsome and wealthy Mustapha Pasha of Adrianople; and the
rather as it was rumoured that the Princess had seen and admired him.

But Sultan Mahmoud, after a youth of terror and a manhood of blood, had
become too good a tactician to risk offending many by ennobling one;
and he consequently adopted an expedient which had assuredly never been
contemplated by those about his person. He caused the names of the seven
candidates to be inscribed on as many separate shreds of parchment; and
on the following Friday, when he visited the mosque, he cast them all in
a mass beneath his prayer-carpet, where they remained during the
service; at whose close, he put up a prayer to Allah and the Prophet to
aid him in the hour of trial, by enabling him to withdraw the name of
the individual whose alliance would prove the most beneficial, alike to
his Empire, and to his daughter. Whether the prayer was heard and
answered, I know not; but the Sublime fingers closed over the parchment
which was inscribed with the cypher of Saïd Pasha of the Dardanelles.

Saïd Pasha is a handsome man of three or four and thirty, with an
expression of benevolence and amiability strikingly in his favour. He
commenced his career at Court as Page to the Sultan, where he lost the
favour of his master by refusing to obey a command which would have
rendered him for a time the companion of grooms and serving-men; an
instance of self-respect and self-appreciation so rare in Turkey, that
it excited quite as much astonishment as indignation. Dismissed from the
Court in disgrace, the young adventurer became a member of the sect of
the _Mevlavies_, or Turning Dervishes; but, after the expiration of a
year, he was recalled by the Sultan, and received a post in the army.
Subsequently to this period, his rise to the Pashalik was rapid, as is
generally the case in the East; and, on the last page of existence which
he has turned, the characters may indeed be said to have been traced in
gold.

After this hasty sketch of his history, it is scarcely necessary for me
to add that Saïd Pasha left the Dardanelles a poor man; nor to remind my
readers that a titled Lackland was no meet match for a Sultan’s
daughter. The evil cried aloud for remedy, and the cure came as speedily
as its necessity had arisen.

The Seraskier had adopted Halil Pasha as his son, on the occasion of his
marriage with the Princess Salihè, two years ago; and had been to him a
most munificent father; in the present difficulty he again stepped
forward, and the portionless Saïd Pasha beheld himself at once a rich
man.

Upon the Seraskier it then devolved, in his double capacity of High
Minister and Parent, to introduce the fortunate bridegroom to his
Imperial father-in-law; and the recollection of all that the wily old
courtier had done for the object of his first adoption, produced very
different feelings in the breasts of the two individuals, more
immediately interested in the financial arrangements of the marriage.

“I present to your Sublime Highness,” said the minister, “the son-in-law
whom Allah has destined to the high honour of becoming the husband of
your Imperial daughter—Saïd Pasha, my adopted son—and I do so with the
greater delight that I know him to be as brave in the field, as he is
wise in the cabinet—as mild in temper, as he is courageous in
spirit—learned, gentle, submissive, and enthusiastic, in his attachment
to your Sublime Highness (May your end be glorious!) He has every virtue
under heaven, and but one defect.”

“And what may that be?” inquired the Sultan, arching his dark eyebrows
in astonishment. “It must be weighty indeed if it can counteract the
effect of so bright a list of qualities.”

“Alas! your Sublime Highness—” replied the Seraskier, “Saïd Pasha is
poor!”

The point was pathetic enough; and the politic minister, who would
gladly have secured the honour of being the adopted father of the
Sultan’s second son-in-law, without paying quite so high a price for it
as he had done on the marriage of his first, flattered himself that a
recollection of the enormous outlay which he had made on that occasion
would exonerate him from a similar expence on the present. But the
Sultan had doubtlessly learnt that the diamond can be cut only with its
own dust; and he acted upon that principle, as he blandly answered, if
not in the words, at least in the feeling, of our immortal bard:—

  ’Tis true, ’tis pity, and pity ’tis, ’tis true;

“But, while he has the wealthy and munificent Seraskier of the Sublime
Empire for his adopted father, he must remain unconscious of the fact.”

The Minister did all that have remained for him to do—he tried to look
flattered and gratified—he even returned thanks for the gracious words
which taught him to understand all that was expected of him: and he left
the Presence to withdraw, from his strong box, ducats to the amount of
two millions of piastres, which were bought up by the Frank Merchants at
Galata.

But the best part of the jest was yet to come. On the marriage of one of
the Imperial Family, every Pasha of the Empire is expected to present an
offering proportioned to his means; and, as these generally consist of
jewels, the Chamberlain acquaints each individual, on learning the
amount of his purposed present, with the most acceptable shape in which
he can make it; and by these means prevents the chance of a too frequent
repetition of the same gift.

When the Princess Salihè became the wife of Halil Pasha, the amount of
her diamonds thus obtained was very considerable; and, as she is a
person of too morose and selfish a character to take pleasure in showing
herself to the people as the sisters of the Sultan are in the habit of
doing; and, moreover, too haughty to seek to dazzle even in the harem,
his Sublime Highness, who is an admirable tactician, bethought himself
of a most brilliant plan for making a little money in a quiet way out of
these anti-engaging qualities.

He accordingly paid a visit to his daughter; and after she had enjoyed
the high honour of kissing his foot, and he had graciously signified to
her his Imperial permission that she should seat herself upon the
cushions piled on the floor near him; he condescendingly explained to
her the utter uselessness of jewels which she never wore, and suggested
the expediency of her disposing of them, and adding the interest of the
sum that they would produce to her present income.

The Princess listened in respectful silence; and then ventured to doubt
whether a purchaser could be found for the diamonds of a Sultan’s
daughter. This difficulty was, however, instantly overcome, by an offer,
on the part of his Sublime Highness, to become himself that purchaser.
And the consent of the Princess having been obtained, and the price to
be paid decided on, the principal remained in the Imperial Treasury,
whence the interest was to be drawn; and the jewels, thus, in point of
fact, obtained for a per centage on their value, were carried off in
triumph by the court jewellers, to be reset for the younger Princess!

Nor was this all—for, when the Pashas declared the amount of their
offerings, the money was paid on the instant, and these very diamonds
given in exchange, fashioned into such forms as best suited the taste
and convenience of their new owner.

Thus were things situated when the baffled Seraskier withdrew from the
Imperial Presence, to drag his beloved ducats from their snug
resting-place in his strong box, and to scatter them among the
money-changing Franks. Many of the Pashas had not yet come forward with
their gifts, and he had still breathing time for a shrewd stroke. It is
the fashion at the Sublime Court for each noble to announce the amount
of the present which he purposes to make; and the declaration generally
exceeds the actual value of the offering by fifty or a thousand
piastres. The Seraskier accordingly collected these declarations, and
having so done, he addressed a courtly circular to the tardy (in this
case too tardy!) Pashas, informing them that his Sublime Highness
Mahmoud “The Powerful,” the Light of the World, and Brother of the Sun,
had so overwhelmed his intended son-in-law, Mohammed Saïd Pasha, with
the brightness of his munificence, that he had rained diamonds upon him,
and overstrown his path with precious stones; and, such being the case,
he, the Seraskier, acting as his adopted father and counsellor, had
suggested to him the expediency of proposing to those Pashas who had not
yet honoured him with their gifts, to make them in the current coin of
the Empire, rather than in diamonds which could not, under the
circumstances, avail him any thing.

The suggestion was a command; the wily Seraskier held the list of names
and offerings; and each Pasha was under the necessity of coming forward,
and paying to the treasurer of the Seraskier the actual sum in money
which he had specified!

Nothing sharpens the wits of a Turk like self-interest.

The procession, from which I have digressed, passed through the street
called Divan-Yoli, terminating at the mosque of St. Sophia, near the
Imperial Palace. When it arrived at Ortakapou, or The Middle Door, the
whole of the officers alighted, and formed an avenue to the entrance of
the harem, whence the marriage gifts were conveyed into the Seraï, where
the Seraskier, acting for the bridegroom, craved and obtained an
interview with the Kislar-Agha, who was proxy for the Princess. This
hideous negro has the thickest lips, the flattest nose, the smallest
eyes, and the most unwieldy person of all the eunuchs of the empire.
Imagination cannot paint his ugliness! And before this revolting
caricature of humanity, the haughty Minister, in whose hands are life
and death, bent his stubborn knee in supplication. Scarcely had he
crossed the threshold of the magnificent apartment in which the
Kislar-Agha awaited him, ere he prostrated himself to the earth, as he
besought the monstrous representative of youth and beauty to have mercy
upon the slave who kissed the dust before the Light of the Creation, the
Glory of the Moon,[3] the Empress of his thoughts—upon which the
unwieldy negro averted his face, cast down his eyes, and assumed the
prude; but, after a vast deal of coquetting, the lover-like vehemence of
the gray-headed Seraskier met with its reward—a sable hand was extended
towards him, which he embraced with transport—the presents were
condescendingly accepted; the sweetmeats by the Kislar-Agha himself: and
the more costly offerings by the principal eunuchs of the palace, in the
names of their Imperial Mistresses, to whom they were immediately
conveyed.

And thus terminated the first act of the sublime comedy!



CHAPTER XV.


  Fine Scenery—The Coast of Asia—Turkish Cemeteries—The
  Imperial Seraï—The Golden Horn—Mount Olympus—The
  Arabajhe—The Araba—The Persian Kiosk—The Barrack of
  Scutari—The Mosque of Selim III.—The Slipper of the Sultana
  Validè—The Imperial Guard—Military Material—The Macaroni
  Manufactory—Sublime Targets—A Major of the Imperial
  Guard—Triumph of Utilitarianism—The Rise of the Vines—The
  Holy Tomb—Encampments of the Plague-smitten—The Setting
  Sun—Return to Europe—The Square of Topphannè.

I have seldom seen a lovelier day than that on which we first passed
over to Scutari; the sunshine was bright upon the Bosphorus, the tops of
the tall cypresses were golden in the light, and their feathery branches
heaved slightly beneath the breeze; the sky was blue about the spiral
minarets: and the painted houses gleamed out like gigantic flowers as
the day-beam touched them; the ripple sparkled like diamond-dust, and
our arrowy caïque seemed to breathe as it undulated upon the surface.

It was a glorious scene! And we were soon upon the bosom of the blue
waters, darting along, with the wild birds above our heads, out into the
Sea of Marmora. Europe was beside and behind us—Europe, with its
palaces, its politics, and its power—and the shadowy shore of Asia,
with its cypress-crowned heights, and its dusky mountains, seemed to woo
our approach. How I regretted that the passage was so brief—a few
strokes of the oar, a few pulsations of the heart, after we had shot
past the “Maiden’s Tower,” and we were landed beside the ruined mosque,
in the valley beyond the Persian Kiosk of the Sultan, which crowns the
crest of the highest hill.

The land curved gracefully downward at this point to form a fair green
glen, where a group of plane trees and acacias threw their long branches
over the remains of the crumbling temple. Here and there a solitary
cypress shot up its dark head like a death-lance into the clear horizon,
contrasting its funereal and gloomy pomp with the laughing clusters of
the pink-blossoming almond-trees, which were scattering their petals
over the grave-stones that rose on the side of the grassy bank amid the
wild flowers, as if to link the present with the past.

It is a beautiful custom, that of burying the dead upon the very path of
the living! It destroys so much of the gloom which imagination is prone
to drape about the grave—it creates so much more of a common interest.
The Turk smokes his chibouk with his back resting against a
turban-crested grave-stone; the Greek spreads his meal upon a tomb; the
Armenian shelters himself from the sunshine beneath the boughs that
overshadow the burial-places of his people; the women sit in groups, and
talk of their homes and of their little ones among the ashes of their
ancestors; and the children gather the wild flowers that grow amid the
graves, as gaily as though death had never entered there.

The caïque soon darted into the little bay, and we trod the shore of
Asia. Immediately in front of us, on the European coast, stretched the
long castellated wall of the ancient city of Constantine, with its Seven
Towers, and its palace-girdled Point. Nothing could be more beautiful!
The numerous buildings of the imperial Seraï were overtopped by shadowy
plane-trees, leafy beeches, lofty cypresses, feathery acacias, and other
magnificent forest trees; from amid whose foliage the gleaming domes and
gilded spires of the palace peeped out like glimpses of fairy-land. On
the extreme point of the shore stands that portion of the Seraglio which
was formerly appropriated to the ladies of the Imperial Harem, but which
is now untenanted, save by half a dozen old and withered women, the
surviving wives of the unfortunate Sultan Selim. The sun had touched it,
and was reflected back in brightness from its gilded doors and
glittering lattices. It looked like a cluster of kiosks gracefully
flung together in the hour of sport.

Beyond that point lay the Golden Horn; and, along the summit of the hill
which shuts it in on the opposite shore, stretched the cypress-grove and
houses of Pera. But ere long we turned away from these accustomed
objects to glance upwards to the crest of Mount Olympus, far, far away
in the distance, forming a mighty background to the Sea of Marmora. We
saw it at a happy moment, for the sunbeams had turned its snows to
jewels, which were flashing with a brightness that almost forbade our
gaze; when suddenly a light cloud passed over its stately brow, and,
deadening for an instant the glitter that it had borrowed from the
day-beam, sobered down its tints into more subdued beauty, and made it
look as though it were girdled by a rainbow.

As we reluctantly quitted this fair scene, and walked towards the
valley, we saw the araba that we had appointed to await us there,
standing beneath the shade of the tall trees; and as the arabajhe
observed our approach, he rose from his seat beneath a stately elm, laid
aside his chibouk, and prepared to assist us into the carriage. But I
lingered yet another moment to contemplate his costume—his voluminous
turban, which it must have required ells of muslin to produce; and his
gaily-tasselled and embroidered jacket, falling back to disclose the
shawl that bound his waist. I scarcely knew which to admire the
most;—his black and bushy beard, and the thick mustachioes that adorned
his upper lip; or the elaborately-wrought Albanian leggings and yellow
slippers which completed his costume.

No one but a native of the luxurious East could ever have invented an
araba; with its comfortable cushions, and its gaily painted roof, and
gilded pillars. The prettiest are those of brown and gold, with
rose-coloured draperies, through which the breeze flutters to your cheek
as blandly as though it loved the tint that reminded it of the roses of
the past season amid which it had wandered.

As we clomb the hill, we passed beside the Imperial kiosk, a delicate
little edifice with walls of pale green, and snow-white jalousies; and
then, descending a slight acclivity, we found ourselves opposite the
magnificent barrack, which forms so fine a feature from the sea. There
is probably no country in the world where the barracks are so elegantly
built as in Turkey; they have all the appearance of palaces; and that of
Scutari being appropriated to the Imperial Guard is the handsomest in
the neighbourhood of the capital; being a quadrangle, flanked with
square towers, built in three sections, gradually diminishing in size,
and crowned by a slight spire. Immediately opposite to the principal
gate of the barrack stands the magnificent mosque of Selim III.; but
Scutari, among the numerous temples whose slender minarets are relieved
by the dark back ground of her funereal cypresses, possesses one of
which I must not forget to make mention. Small in size, and not
particularly elegant in its appearance, the mosque of the Sultana Validè
must not be passed over in silence, built as it was from the proceeds of
one of her diamond-sprinkled slippers!

I have mentioned that this barrack is occupied by the Imperial Guard:
and I never shall forget their appearance, as groups of them passed us
on the road. Dirty, slouching, and awkward, many among them without
either shirts or stockings, they certainly looked as unlike Household
Troops as can well be imagined; and might have traversed three quarters
of Europe without being mistaken for soldiers at all, either by their
gait or their garb. When on duty, and not examined too closely, they
make a fair figure as a body, but on ordinary occasions they are as
unmilitary in their appearance and bearing as the rest of the Turkish
army; and the majority of them are such mere boys that they induce a
feeling of pity rather than fear. On one occasion, when I paid a visit
to the Sultan’s sister, while waiting to be admitted, I amused myself
by looking attentively at the palace-guard, who had all collected
outside the guard-house to see the Franks; including the two sentinels
on duty, they amounted to ten individuals; and certainly eight of the
number were not more than fourteen years of age; nor do I believe that
any of them had washed their faces, or brushed their garments for a week
previously.

A Pasha, while speaking with me one day of the Turkish army, assured me
that it was composed of “excellent materials.”—It may be so; I cannot,
nor do I desire, to confute his opinion; but it is certain that, like
other raw materials, it will require a great deal of working before it
can be rendered serviceable; and that, at present, there are few things
more laughable than to see a Turkish regiment at drill or exercise;
there is an independence of feeling and action about each individual
which is quite _impayable_.

But the surprise created by the appearance of the Imperial Guard was not
to be the only cause for astonishment excited by this gallant corps; for
we were yet indulging a hearty laugh at their expense when we were
startled by the recommendation of the arabajhe that we should visit the
Macaroni Manufactory of Achmet Pasha. At first we thought that our
dragoman had played us false, for we could find no possible connection
in our own minds between the Generalissimo of the Armies of the Sublime
Porte, and a Macaroni Manufactory. The invitation had, however, been
correctly interpreted, and we immediately diverged from the road to see
this highly-connected establishment.

On rising a little hill, we entered the widest street that I had yet
seen in the East, partly overshadowed by the stately trees which
encircled an ancient mosque, and terminated by the principal entrance to
the garrison.

I may as well mention here that the main portal of every Turkish barrack
is decorated with a target, richly framed, and perforated with one or
more balls, shot by the Sublime hand of the Sultan, who is an excellent
marksman; and thus seeks to excite by his example a feeling of emulation
among his soldiery.

The araba drew up before a neat-looking white building with a green
balcony, and, ere we could alight, the door was opened to us; when one
of the gentlemen of the party instantly recognized an acquaintance, to
whom he hastened to present us; and I in turn made my bow to a Major of
the Imperial Guard, with a diamond decoration on his breast, his sleeves
tucked up to the shoulders, and his arms buried to the elbows in flour.

The Turks are utilitarians indeed!

The scene was a singular one; the large hall in which we stood was
entirely over-canopied with ropes of macaroni, and surrounded by presses
and rollers.—A major was deciding on the merits of the flour—a
lieutenant was superintending the working of the machine—a couple of
sergeants were suspending the paste to dry—and a fatigue party were
turning the wheels.

Hear this, ye Grenadiers and Coldstream! ye exquisites of Bond Street
and the Ring! There was no _ennui_ here—all was grinding, and sifting,
and rolling, and drying, and selling—yes, selling—The Imperial Guard
of his Sublime Highness have no occasion to kill time; they rather seek
customers. The whitest and finest of the paste supplies the kitchen of
the Sultan: the darkest and coarsest finds its way to that of the
soldiers; but “more remains behind;” and if you are inclined to feast on
Imperial macaroni, you have but to draw out your purse, and pay it in
piastres!

What a well-imagined antidote to the weariness of a garrison life—What
a triumph for utilitarianism!

I shall say nothing of the forest-like cemetery; I have spoken of it
elsewhere. The dark cypresses were flinging their long shadows across
the road; and the hill which we slowly ascended on quitting the
manufactory was called “The Rise of the Vines.” The name is
appropriate; for the houses that fringe it on the left hand overlook a
wide extent of orchard and vineyard, interspersed with kiosks, and
groups of flowering acacias. The view was bounded by the sea, and the
tall mountains above Broussa: and flowers were blossoming by the
wayside, and wild-birds were singing among the boughs. No wonder that
the nature-loving Turks are attached to Scutari.

A small building to the left of the road attracted my attention, and I
alighted to examine it. It proved to be the tomb of a Saint; and I
distinguished, through the closely-latticed casement, a wooden
sarcophagus surmounted by a green turban, and surrounded by the
prayer-carpets of the priests. The wire-work of the window was knotted
all over with rags; shreds of cotton, woollen, and silk—morsels of
ribbon and tape—and fragments of every description. They had been
fastened there by sick and suffering persons, who had firmly believed
that their trouble, whether mental or physical, would remain attached to
the rag, and that they should themselves “return each to his home
clean.”

We avoided the town, for the Plague was there; that omnipresent but
invisible enemy which stretches its clammy hand over the East, and
sweeps down its prey, unchecked by the groans of the bereaved, or the
pangs of the smitten—the deadly Plague, which spares neither sex, nor
age, nor condition, but makes one universal harvest of mankind.

Nothing ever thrilled me more than when I once came suddenly, during my
wanderings, upon an encampment of the Plague-smitten. The huts are
generally erected on a hill-side, and the tents pitched among them; and
you see the families of the infected basking in the sunshine within
their prescribed limits, and gazing eagerly at the chance passenger,
whom his ignorance of their vicinity may conduct past their temporary
dwellings; the children rolling half-naked upon the grass; and the
sallow and careworn parents hanging out the garments of the patients on
the trees of the neighbourhood. Such was precisely the case with that
into which I had unconsciously intruded; and whence I was very hastily
dislodged by the shouts of the guard, stationed to enforce the
quarantaine of the mountain colony; and the alarmed exclamations of my
companions.

It is difficult to look upon such a scene, and upon such a sky, and to
believe in the existence of this frightful scourge! It is the canker at
the core of the forest-tree—the serpent in the garden of Eden.

The sun was setting ere we prepared to traverse the Golden Horn, in
order to reach the European side before the firing of the evening gun;
the shadows were lying long upon the water: a yellow gleam was settling
on the domes and houses of Stamboul, and a thick vapour lowered over the
sky. The twilight of the East is fleeting as a thought—and the outline
of the city ere long loomed out from amid the gathering darkness, like a
spectre of the past. One line of light still glimmered across the waves
like a thread of gold, linking the shores of Europe and of Asia; but,
even as I pointed it out, it faded; softening down to a faint yellow,
like the lip of a primrose—and in another instant, it was gone; while,
as it disappeared, the hoarse cannon pealed over the ripple, and told
that another day was spent.

Our rowers had calculated to a nicety, for, as the sound died away, the
caïque touched the crazy wooden pier of Topphannè, and we were once more
in Europe!

There is not a locality throughout the whole of the capital more
strictly or more richly oriental in its aspect than the small square of
Topphannè. In the midst stands the celebrated Kilidge Ali Pasha
Djiamini, or Fountain of the Mosque of Ali Pasha, a French renegade, who
built the temple which bears his name. Constantinople boasts no other
fountain of equal beauty. Its rich and elegant arabesques are beyond all
praise; and, when the sun is shining on them, almost look like jewels.
It has, however, suffered materially from the reforming mania of the
Sultan, who, in his rage for improvement, has replaced its wavy and
deeply-projecting roof with a little terrace railing, out of all
keeping, alike with its architecture and its ornaments; and who was with
difficulty persuaded not to destroy it altogether.

On one side of the fountain is the mosque to which it belongs, and on
the other the kiosk of Halil Pasha, with its magnificent portal and
glittering casements. But to be seen to perfection, the square of
Topphannè must be visited during the autumn, when the rich fruits of
Asia are scattered over its whole extent; piles of perfumed melons,
pyramids of yellow grapes, heaps of scarlet pomegranates—the golden
orange, the amber-coloured lemon, the ruddy apple, the tufted quince,
all are poured forth before you. Nor are the vendors less various or
less glowing than their merchandize, as they sit doubled-up upon their
mats, clad in all the colours of the rainbow, with their chibouks
between their lips; rather waiting than looking for customers—a bright
sky above them, and the blended languages of many lands swelling upon
the wind.

Had I landed at Topphannè on my arrival in Turkey, I should have fancied
myself a spectator of one of the scenes described by the tale-telling
Schererazade.



CHAPTER XVI.


  Turkish Superstitions—Auguries—The Court Astrologer—The Evil
  Eye—Danger of Blue Eyes—Imperial Firman—The Babaluk—The
  Ceremony—Sable Pythonesses—Witchcraft.

The Turks are strangely superstitious; they cling resolutely to the
absurd and wild fancies which have been banished from Europe for
centuries; and that too with a blindness of faith, and a tenacity of
purpose, quite in keeping with their firm and somewhat dogged natures.

Many of their superstitions they inherit from the Romans; they extract
auguries of good and evil from the entrails of fresh-slaughtered
animals—they draw inferences from the flight of birds—they have
auspicious and inauspicious hours, which are gravely determined by the
Astrologers; and no Osmanli ever undertakes a journey, builds a house,
marries a wife, or commences any business of importance, without
satisfying himself on this important point. Should evil or
disappointment overtake him, despite the precaution he has used, he
never blames either his own mismanagement or another’s treachery;
neither does he sink beneath the trial: he tells you that it is his
_kismet_—his fate—and he calmly submits to what he considers to have
been inevitable; and should misfortunes accumulate about him, instead of
attributing them to worldly causes, he ascribes them to _felech_—his
constellation—without searching further.

When he is troubled with unpleasant dreams, haunted by melancholy
fancies, or suffering from bodily disease, he tears away a fragment of
his dress, and fastens the rag to the iron-work of a window belonging to
the tomb of a saint, in order to deposit the evil along with it. When he
is sick, he procures from the Priest an earthen bowl, inscribed
throughout its interior with passages from the Koran; and, filling it
with water, sets it aside until the whole of the writing becomes
effaced, when he swallows the liquid, and thus administers to himself a
dose of Holy Writ! The Court Astrologer publishes every year a species
of supernatural almanack, in which he specifies the lucky and unlucky
days of the different moons; foretells wars, deaths, and marriages; and
imparts a vast quantity of multifarious information, which must be both
valuable and curious, if it is to be estimated by the price paid for it,
as the salary of the Seer is a most liberal one.

Another singular superstition common throughout Turkey is the belief
that should a dog chance to pass between two persons who are conversing,
one or the other will fall sick unless the animal be propitiated with
food; and the first care of a Musselmaun to whom this ill-luck has
occurred, is to look about him for the means of averting its effect.

But the predominant weakness of the East is the dread of the Evil Eye.
Should you praise the beauty of a Turkish child to its mother, without
prefacing your admiration with “_Mashallah!_” or, In the name of
God—which is considered sufficient to counteract the power of all
malignant spirits; and, should the child become ill or meet with an
accident, it is at once decided that you have smitten it with the Evil
Eye. The Greeks, when by accident they allude to their own good health
or good fortune, immediately spit upon their breasts to avert the malign
influence; and to such a pitch do they carry their faith in the efficacy
of this inelegant exorcism, that on a recent occasion, when an
acquaintance of my own was introduced to a beautiful Greek girl, and
betrayed into an eulogium on her loveliness, he was earnestly entreated
by her mother to perform the same ceremony in the very face which he had
just been eulogizing, in order to annul the evil effects of his
admiration; and so pressing were her instances that he was compelled to
affect obedience to her wishes, ere she could be re-assured of the
safety of her daughter!

The Turk decorates the roof of his house, the prow of his caïque, the
cap of his child, the neck of his horse, and the cage of his bird, with
charms against the Evil Eye; one of the most powerful of these antidotes
being garlic: and it must be conceded that, here at least, the workers
of woe have shown their taste. Every hovel has its head of garlic
suspended by a string; and bouquets of flowers formed of spices, amid
which this noxious root is nestled, are sent as presents to the mother
of a new-born infant, as a safeguard both to herself and her little one.

A blue eye is super-eminently suspicious, for they have an idea that
such is the legitimate colour of the evil orb; and you seldom see a
horse, or a draught ox, or even a donkey, which has not about its neck a
string of blue beads, to preserve it from the dark deeds of witchcraft.
I was considerably amused on one occasion, when, being about to meet the
carriage of a friend, the horse that drew it, either from idleness or
caprice, suddenly stood still, and the arabajhe exclaimed with vehemence
to his mistress, “You see, madam, you see that the horse is struck—the
new Hanoum has blue eyes!” turning his own on me as he spoke, with a
most unloving expression. I am perfectly convinced that, had the animal
met with any misfortune, or been guilty of any misdemeanour during the
remainder of the day, the whole blame would have inevitably been visited
on my unlucky eyes, which had counteracted the effect of a row of glass
beads, and a crescent of bone!

To protect the reigning Sultan from the power of the Evil Eye during his
state progresses through the streets of the capital, a peculiar
head-dress was invented for the Imperial body-pages, whose ornamented
plumes were of such large dimensions as, collectively, to form a screen
about his sacred person. Even Sultan Mahmoud, who is superior to many of
the popular prejudices, has just caused a Firman to be published,
prohibiting the women from looking earnestly at him as he passes them,
on pain of—what think you, reader?—of subjecting their husbands or
brothers to the bastinado! The Turkish laws are too gallant to condemn
females to suffer this punishment in their own persons, and Mahmoud is
consequently to be protected from the possibly fatal effects of the
ladies’ eyes by their fears for their male relations.

Another singular custom is that of pouring water where any one has
fallen, to prevent a recurrence of the accident on the same spot, which
is religiously observed by the lower orders; as well as flinging stones
at the body of a decapitated criminal, in order to secure the dreams of
the spectator from an intrusion of the ghastly object.

No Turk of the lower ranks of society ever passes a shred of paper which
may chance to lie upon his path; he always gathers it up with the
greatest care; as the popular belief leads him to place implicit faith
in an ancient superstition that all paper thus obtained will be
collected after death, and scattered over the burning soil through which
he is to pass to paradise; and that consequently the more he is enabled
to secure, the less suffering he will have to endure hereafter.

A most extraordinary fact came to my knowledge a short time before I
left the East, relatively to the female Arabs of the harem. They have a
species of society, or institution—I scarcely know how to term it—in
which they are initiated from their girlhood, that they call “Babaluk,”
whose principle of mystery is kept as secret as that of freemasonry;
while the occasional display of its influence is wild and startling
enough to remind the spectator of the Priestesses of Delphi.

Far from affecting any concealment of their participation in the
pretended powers of the society, you cannot, when a guest in the harem,
please an initiated Arab more surely than by inquiring if she be a
Babaluk; and the Turkish ladies frequently amuse themselves and their
visitors by exhibiting their black slaves while under the influence of
their self-excited phrenzy. When a sable Pythoness is informed of the
wish of her mistress, she collects such of her companions as are
Babaluks, for there are sometimes several in the same harem, and a
brazier of burning charcoal is placed in the centre of the saloon in
which the ceremony is to take place. Round this brazier the Arabs squat
down, and commence a low, wild chant, which they take up at intervals
from the lips of each other; and then break into a chorus, that
ultimately dies away in a wail, succeeded by a long silence, during
whose continuance they rock their bodies backwards and forwards, and
never raise their eyes from the earth. From the moment in which the
chant commences, an attendant is constantly employed in feeding the fire
with aloes, incense, musk, and every species of intoxicating perfume.

After a time, they fall on the floor in a state of utter insensibility,
and great exertion is frequently necessary to arouse them from their
trance; but, when once they are awakened, they become furious—they rend
themselves, and each other—they tear their hair and their
clothing—they howl like wild beasts, and they cry earnestly for food,
while they reject all that is offered except brandy and raw meat, both
of which they destroy in great quantities. Having satisfied their
hunger, they renew the warfare that they had discontinued to indulge it,
and finally roll on the floor with bloodshot eyeballs, and foaming at
the mouth.

A second trance ultimately seizes them, from which they are left to
recover alone; fresh perfumes being flung into the brazier to expedite
their restoration, which generally takes place in ten or fifteen
minutes; and then it is that the spell of prophecy is on them. They rise
slowly and majestically from the floor—they wave their hands solemnly
over the aromatic flame—they have become suddenly subdued and gentle;
and, after having made the circuit of the brazier several times in
silence, they gaze coldly round the circle, until, fixing upon some
particular individual, they commence shadowing forth her fate, past,
present, and to come; and I have heard it seriously asserted that they
have thus divulged the most secret events of by-gone years, as well as
prophecying those which subsequently took place.

It is scarcely wonderful—even disgusting as a great portion of the
ceremonial undoubtedly is—that many of the Turkish ladies occasionally
relieve the tedium of the harem by the exhibition of the Babaluk; that
vague yearning to pry into futurity so inherent in our nature, coupled
with the uncertainty on whom the spell of the sybil may be cast, causes
an excitement which forms an agreeable contrast from their customary
_ennui_. No second fate is ever foretold at the same orgies. When the
first Babaluk begins to speak, the others sink down into a sitting
posture, occasionally enforcing her assertions by repeating the last
words of any remarkable sentence in a long, low wail; and, when she
ceases and takes her place among them, they are for the third time
overtaken by a trance: the brazier is then removed, the spectators leave
the room, the door is carefully closed, and the Babaluks are left to
awaken at their leisure. When they finally come forth, they resume their
customary avocations, without making the slightest allusion to the
extraordinary scene in which they have been actors; nor do they like the
subject to be mentioned to them until several days have elapsed.



CHAPTER XVII.


  Imperial Invitation—Disagreeable Adventure—Executed
  Criminal—Efficacy of Wayside Executions—Tardy
  Conversions—Mistaken Humanity—Summary Mode of Execution—The
  Palace of Asmè Sultane—Entrance of the Harem—Costume of the
  Slaves—Nazip Hanoum—Ceremonious Reception—The Adopted
  Daughter—Costume of the Ladies of the Seraï—Beauty of the
  Slaves—Extraordinary Arrangement—Rejected Addresses—The
  Imperial Lover—Sacredness of Adoption in Turkey—Romantic
  Correspondence—Ladies of the Household—The Mother of the
  Slaves—Peroussè Hanoum—Crowded Audience—The Imperial
  Odalique—Music of the Harem—The New Pet—The Kislar-Agha—The
 “Light of the Harem”—The Poetical Sultan—Indisposition of the
  Sultana—The Palace Gardens—The Imperial Apartments—The
  Dancing Girl—Reluctant Departure—Ballad by Peroussè Hanoum.

Having received an invitation to wait upon Asmè Sultane, the elder
sister of the Sultan, at her summer palace, I started from Pera early
one morning accompanied by a friend, to obey the Imperial summons.

The weather was beautiful; the great Cemetery was crowded with loungers,
and the road leading to “The Sweet Waters” thronged with horsemen. The
spring flowers were bursting, and the young leaves trembling in the
fresh breeze; and, as we passed on, amid sunshine and salutations, I
forgot the purpose of my errand in the enjoyment of the glad scene
around me.

But, unhappily for the continuance of these joyous feelings, the
authorities had just secured a band of Sclavonian housebreakers, and,
having bestowed upon them a very summary species of civil drum-head
court-martial, had hung a dozen of them the previous day in the
outskirts of the city. Of this uncomfortable fact we were entirely
ignorant; and the shock may consequently be conceived when, on
descending a steep pitch into the narrow street of Ortakeuÿ, the
arabadjhe suddenly exclaimed—“A man hanged! A man hanged! Hide your
eyes, ladies.” But it was too late. As the carriage turned the corner of
the road I had caught sight of the suspended criminal, and I continued
to gaze upon him, fascinated by the horror of the spectacle. This was
only the second time that I had looked upon death, and it was now before
me in so revolting a shape that I felt as though my life-blood were
curdling about my heart!

We had come upon the victim in so instantaneous a manner that the sleeve
of my dress almost touched his arm, as he hung from the projecting spout
of a house immediately beside our path. He was a tall, powerful man,
bare-headed, and clad in a white jacket and trowsers, fastened about his
waist with a scarlet shawl. But what made the exhibition tenfold more
horrible was the fact that the rope had slipped during his dying
struggles, and that his head was bent forcibly backward. I shall never
forget it; and I verily believe that I should have remained without the
power of turning away my eyes had not my companion aroused me forcibly
from my lethargy; when, yielding to the heart-sickness which crept over
me, I fortunately fainted, and thus escaped all further suffering from
the disgusting spectacle.

I am not prepared to deny that these wayside executions may be very
efficacious in preventing the spread of crime; it is a subject on which
I am not competent to offer an opinion; but I am enabled from my own
painful experience to decide upon their extreme inconvenience, to use no
stronger term, to those who do not require so frightful a warning. To
encounter death in a shape of violence upon the very path of the living,
and in the midst of men busied in their daily avocations—to know that
the narrow space in which the victim is suspended, surrounded by objects
of barter, has been let out on hire for this horrible purpose—that a
bargain has been made between the government and the shopkeeper for the
use of the doorway leading into his dwelling—there is altogether
something so revolting in the whole system that I cannot think of it
without a shudder; and thus was every avenue into Pera closed for three
days against those to whom such sights were painful; for the same
ghastly object presented itself at each village leading from the city:
while the body of the ringleader of the band, decapitated, and deprived
of its right hand, was exposed in one of the public squares.

One of the gang saved himself by becoming at one and the same time a
True Believer and King’s Evidence; the only individual of the
association who would consent to accept life on such terms. The
remainder, kept in ignorance, according to the Turkish custom, of the
precise moment of their execution, were allowed to frequent the taverns
and coffee-houses accompanied by a guard, during several hours, and to
drink and converse freely with those whom they happened to meet there;
when suddenly their career of intemperance was checked; they were halted
in front of the house which had been fixed upon for their reception, the
fatal noose affixed, a basket placed beneath their feet to be
subsequently drawn away, and in another instant they were launched into
Eternity, while the accents of revelry were yet upon their lips! As the
Turks do not admit the efficacy of a tardy and terror-wrung repentance,
they consider this mode of execution to be the most humane which they
can adopt; and, as the criminal is flattered to the last with the hope
of pardon, he thus escapes much of the premature suffering attendant
upon a violent death.

In about an hour after we had escaped from the frightful spectacle I
have described, we arrived at the gate of the Palace—an extensive and
handsome edifice on the border of the Bosphorus; where a guard of
soldiers and a throng of servants were to be traversed ere we could
reach the staircase leading to the ante-room in which we waited, while
our presence was announced to the princess. As Her Highness was in the
bath when we entered, we were detained a considerable time in this
apartment, surrounded by the officers of the household, and the
principal negroes of the harem; a delay at which I rather rejoiced, as I
had not altogether recovered from the effects of my morning’s adventure.

At length we were requested to move forward, and, attended by half a
dozen individuals of the Imperial suite, we traversed several apartments
neatly matted, but quite destitute of furniture; until at the extremity
of a long gallery, lighted on either side by twelve spacious windows,
commanding the channel on the one hand, and the palace gardens on the
other, we reached the lofty doors of the harem, which were flung back at
the first signal of our attendants, and as instantly closed again when
we had crossed the threshold.

A train of female slaves, dressed in the most gaudy furniture chintzes,
received us as we entered, and led us across a lordly hall lined with
white marble, and supported by numerous pillars of the same material;
through whose open doors we had a delicious view of the extensive
gardens, with their fantastic flower-beds, stately fountains, and
gleaming terraces. Nazip Hanoum, the adopted daughter of the Princess,
met us in the centre of the hall, and welcomed us most gracefully; after
which, taking a hand of each, she conducted us to her own apartment, a
charming room overlooking the water, and entered from a gallery that
surrounded the principal saloon. Having relieved us of our veils, and
seated us on the cushions beside her, she clapped her hands, and about a
score of slaves entered with coffee and sweetmeats.

The _coup d’œil_ was beautiful, as the fair girls, not one of whom
could have been more than twenty years of age, and who were all
exceedingly lovely, prepared to hand the refreshments. The princess had
given orders that we should be received with all possible ceremony: and
the display was consequently most beautiful. One slave held a weighty
vase, suspended from three silver chains, in which stood the coffee;
another bore a large gold salver, covered with cups and holders of
costly enamel, whence depended a dazzling drapery of gold tissue
wrought with pearls, and richly fringed: a third carried a gilded tray
bearing vases of cut crystal containing a variety of exquisite
sweetmeats, confined beneath golden covers enriched with gems; a fourth
held the salver on which stood a range of glass goblets of beautiful
form and workmanship, filled with water—all, in fine, were laden with
some object of cost and luxury; and their attitudes were so graceful,
their faces so lovely, and their costume so striking, that I regretted
their departure, when, after we had partaken of the rose-scented jelly
and perfumed mocha, they slowly withdrew.

Nazip Hanoum, the favourite of Asmè Sultane, was purchased by Her
Imperial Highness when she was only a few months old, together with her
mother, who died while she was yet an infant. Her influence over the
mind of her illustrious protectress is unlimited, and, had she been
really born “beneath the purple,” she could not have commanded greater
liberty or consideration than she now enjoys. Her features are very
regular, and even handsome; but her beauty is destroyed by the immense
number of freckles that cover her face and bosom. Her eyes are a deep
rich blue, with long dark lashes, and her hair is of a fine golden
auburn; but the great charm of Nazip Hanoum exists in her extreme
gracefulness; she has not a movement which is not elegant; and her
playful vivacity and great natural shrewdness render her a delightful
companion. Her voice is low, and sweet; and her ringing laughter the
very echo of joyousness.

Her costume was an odd admixture of the European and the Oriental. She
wore trowsers of pale blue cotton flowered with yellow; and an antery of
light green striped with white, and edged with a fringe of pink floss
silk; while her jacket, which was the production of a Parisian
dress-maker, was of dove-coloured satin, thickly wadded, and furnished
with a deep cape, and a pair of immense sleeves, fastened at the wrists
with diamond studs. But the most striking feature of the costume in the
Imperial Palaces is the head-dress. Nothing can be imagined more
hideous! A painted handkerchief is bound tightly round the brow, and
secured by jewelled bodkins: the back hair is _crèpé_ until it becomes
one huge dishevelled mass, when it is traversed across the top of the
head by a corner of the handkerchief: a number of slender plaits of
false hair hang down the back, frequently differing very materially from
the colour of the natural tresses: the front locks are cut square across
the forehead, and left a couple of inches longer at the sides, where
they lie quite flat, and are stuck full of roses, or gems; or overhung
by the deep fringe of the handkerchief, wrought to resemble a wreath of
flowers. Some few among the ladies of the Imperial Seraïs fasten
immense bunches of artificial ringlets under their yashmacs when they
drive out, but they are as yet sufficiently uncommon to be remarkable.
To this head-dress, such as I have described it, Nazip Hanoum had added,
in common with the other females of the household, a star and crescent
of sticking-plaister between her eyebrows, which were stained a deep
black, and destroyed the natural softness of her expression. But her
hands and arms were lovely! White, and round, and soft, as though they
had been moulded in wax; and her slight elastic figure looked as if it
had been modelled by the Graces.

Asmè Sultane is celebrated throughout the capital for the beauty of her
slaves; and his Sublime Highness has thrice demanded Nazip Hanoum, but
has been thrice refused; an occurrence so unprecedented in the East,
that he has finished by persuading himself that he is actually attached
to the lively girl who has dared to play the part of a modern Roxalana,
and to defy his power.

His first rejection was treated by the Sultan as the wayward whim of a
spoiled beauty, and he even condescended to expostulate with Nazip
Hanoum; but his advice had no more effect upon her than his preference;
and for the first time in his life, the “Brother of the Sun” and
“Emperor of the Earth” found himself slighted by a mere girl.

The evil was, however, without remedy, for, as the adopted daughter of
an Imperial Princess, the liberty of the young Hanoum was sacred; and
his Sublime Highness was fain to content himself with the anticipation
of future success; but, when a second solicitation brought with it only
a second repulse, despite all the costly gifts and lover-like courtesies
of the preceding twelve months, the enraged Sultan took up the affair in
another tone, and accused the Princess of having instigated her
favourite to this unheard-of rebellion against his sacred will.

The Sultana defended herself with all the energy of innocence, and even
consented to further his suit by her counsels and persuasion, but no
success followed her efforts. Nazip Hanoum preferred the partial liberty
of the harem of her protectress, and the comparative independence of her
present position, to the gilded captivity of the Imperial Seraglio, and
the fleeting favour of its lord; and she consequently continued firm.

The Sultan, enraged beyond endurance at this unexpected perseverance,
left the palace in displeasure, and even refused to see his sister, whom
he still persisted in believing to be the principal cause of his defeat.
But monarchs are mere men where blighted feeling or wounded vanity make
themselves felt: and Mahmoud, when he retreated to his gilded saloons at
Beglierbey, shared the fate of his kind. He became convinced that he
really loved Nazip Hanoum, and that her possession was necessary to his
happiness; and, determined not to be thwarted a third time, he continued
deaf to the earnest and humble prayers of the Princess that he would
restore to her the light of his favour, and the glory of his presence;
and actually refused during three long weeks to be accessible to her
entreaties; when, feeling convinced that this display of his sublime
wrath must have produced a powerful effect on the refractory beauty, he
once more bent his course to the palace of the Princess.

A rich gift to Nazip Hanoum announced her pardon; and when she had
played and sung, seated on a cushion at his feet, and he had witnessed
the graceful movements of the dancing girls, and partaken of the
perfumed sherbet of his Imperial Sister, he led the young beauty into
the gardens of the palace, where she was compelled to listen for the
third time to his thriftless suit. But, alas! for the lordly lover—the
reflections of the past year had only strengthened her resolution, and
she continued as unmoved by his protestations as she had been by his
displeasure; and thus, Mahmoud returned once more to his Seraglio as
unsuccessful as ever.

Such is the sacredness of adoption among the Turks.

I have already mentioned that the Palace of Ortakeuÿ fronts the
Bosphorus, from which it is only separated by a broad path or terrace of
marble, extending along a considerable portion of the channel, and only
broken at intervals by the projection of the different palaces and
dwellings that are built against the edge of the stream. While we were
conversing with Nazip Hanoum, my attention was attracted by a peculiar
signal rising from this terrace, and evidently intended for the ear of
some fair inhabitant of the Seraï. As no answer was returned, the shrill
wild sound was repeated, when Nazip Hanoum rose quietly from her
cushions, and throwing back a small door which opened in the midst of
the lattice-work of one of the windows, demanded, in a tone of pretty
peevishness, why she was thus persecuted, when she had announced her
resolution not to receive another letter. The reply to this appeal,
brief as it was, was conclusive, for, shrugging her shoulders with a
coquettish gesture of impatience, she flung from the casement a painted
handkerchief secured by a silken cord attached to the window-frame, and
after the delay of a moment, drew it back, and took a letter from amid
its folds, which, having read with a blush and a smile, she thrust into
the shawl that was bound about her waist, with all the composure of a
person to whom such an occurrence was no novelty.

We shortly afterwards proceeded to wait upon all the principal ladies of
the household, who occupied apartments opening from the same gallery as
that of Nazip Hanoum. The first whom we visited was the mother of the
slaves, a serious, stately woman, of about fifty years of age, dressed
in an antery and trowsers of black cashmere, very silent, and even
sad-looking, whom we quitted as soon as we had satisfied her curiosity;
for the atmosphere of her stateliness did not appear congenial to our
light-hearted conductress.

We were next introduced to Peroussè Hanoum, the private secretary of the
Princess, who had been a favourite Odalique of Sultan Selim; a woman
remarkable for her talents both natural and acquired; and a celebrated
poet. She was seated upon her sofa, surrounded by papers; lying
confusedly in heaps, or tied up in squares of clear muslin; and engaged
in writing on the lid of a chest inlaid with mother-of-pearl. She was
still handsome, with delicate features, and fine eyes, but disfigured by
the dye with which she had made her eyebrows meet across her nose. Had I
been able to converse with her, without the interposition of a third
person, I am sure that I should have been delighted, for she was all
energy and enthusiasm. Her room was crowded with Turkish and Greek
women, squatted on cushions all over the floor; and close beside her,
with her pale cheek resting upon her knees, sat one of the ladies of the
Imperial Seraglio, who having suffered severely from a protracted
indisposition, had asked and obtained permission to spend a few weeks in
the harem of the Princess, by whom she had been brought up. She was a
lovely girl of eighteen or nineteen, very richly dressed, but evidently
broken-hearted. Whenever she was addressed, the tears rushed into her
large dark eyes, and every reply appeared to be an effort. The gilded
Palace of her Imperial Master had evidently been a mere prison to her;
and you read a tale of blighted hope and spirit-sickness upon every line
of her pallid face.

While we were in the apartment of the secretary, Nazip Hanoum, at the
request of the fair and faded visitor, sent a slave for her zebec, and
played and sang with considerable sweetness and execution: after which
the gifted Peroussè Hanoum read one of her poems, which elicited such
rapturous applause, that I asked and obtained a transcript of it, and
having caused it to be translated into French by one of the Professors
of the Military College, I have since rendered it into English verse for
the gratification of my readers.

We spent a considerable time in the apartment of Peroussè Hanoum; and
after having paid a number of less interesting visits, we finally
entered the principal room of the Harem. Here we found a sweet girl of
about thirteen years of age, lying upon a pile of cushions, having
sprained her ancle a day or two previously, while dancing before the
Sultan. She was amusing herself by nursing a very fine infant, a recent
purchase of the Princess, who had bought both it and its mother, at the
earnest request of the latter; who, having lost three husbands in the
space of eighteen months, and being left entirely destitute, had
profited by the well-known partiality of her Imperial Highness for
children, to become an inmate of the Palace. The little girl was the pet
and plaything, not only of Asmè Sultane, but of the whole harem; and was
handed from one to the other, and caressed by all; while the mother did
nothing but eat, sleep, and say her prayers; which latter ceremony she
performed with most edifying ostentation.

What a bevy of fair girls occupied that apartment! What eyes, and lips,
and teeth, were grouped together, as they sat clustered like bees upon
their cushions, with their delicate fingers clasped together, and almost
making their idleness look graceful! Here and there one lay fast asleep,
with her cheek pillowed upon her hand, and a smile upon her lips, as
though her last waking glance had been at the silver mounted mirror
which lay beside her, and her last thought one of triumph at her young
beauty.

A few were yet settling their cashemere girdles, and arranging their
unwieldy head-dresses for the day, after their return from the bath;
while one laughing maiden, who appeared to possess the talent in an
extraordinary degree, was cutting court-plaister into various fantastic
shapes, and dispensing them to her numerous applicants, by whom they
were immediately affixed to their carefully-tinted eyebrows. The
Kislar-Agha, meanwhile, walked in and out of the apartment, rolling the
whites of his large eyes, and pouting his thick lips in silence, totally
unmoved by the mirth and laughter going on in every direction; and
scarcely replying to the questions and comments of those who were
courageous enough to address him.

But, although there were many prettier women than herself in the party,
Nazip Hanoum was the “Light of the Harem!” All gave way before her; her
graceful playfulness, her joyous laughter, her innocent caprices, were
alike received with smiles and approbation; and she appeared to be a
general favourite, and to justify by her amiability the measureless
affection of her Imperial patroness. We were shortly joined by Peroussè
Hanoum, who accompanied one of the slaves on the zebec, while she sang,
or rather recited, one of her own compositions; after which the fair
favourite played the theorbo, and, while another of the party beat the
tambourine, half a dozen voices pealed out the ballads of the Sultan,
who is also a poet, and who frequently enjoys the happiness of listening
to his own productions, from the lips of the fair household of his
Imperial Sister.

The part taken in this concert by Nazip Hanoum and the Secretary was
intended as a high compliment to their Frank visitors; for the Turkish
ladies hold it as a degradation to exhibit a talent which is made an
object of speculation and profit by hired performers.

Her Imperial Highness having left the bath with a violent and painful
headache, we were requested to make a tour of the gardens, while she lay
down to endeavour to obtain some relief: and accordingly, conducted by
Nazip Hanoum, and followed by a dozen of her companions, we sallied
forth by a door opening from the hall upon a stately terrace of white
marble; and I laughed most heartily when, on emerging from the palace,
the sprightly favourite shouted to the gardeners who were at work on all
sides, “Do not look—we are coming out;” and, as a matter of course,
every one of them turned towards her to utter their assurance of
obedience, while away ran the laughing girl to gather the gayest flowers
of the parterre, as an offering to the Frank ladies.

One fountain which we passed struck me as being peculiarly elegant; the
stream, falling from an artificial eminence, filled successively eleven
basins of white marble, gradually increasing in size, until the last
formed a noble sheet of water immediately under the palace windows. The
terraces were shaded by stately trees; and a gaily gilded kiosk,
superbly painted in fresco, throughout the whole of its interior,
occupied the highest point of the grounds.

Having completed our survey of the gardens, and the Princess being still
invisible, we proceeded, under the same guidance, to visit the state
apartments, which were situated immediately over the harem.

The grand saloon, built above the marble hall, was the very embodiment
of Eastern splendour. Its magnificently-painted dome was supported by
forty porphyry pillars with gilt capitals; its walls were lined with
plate glass; its doors veiled by silken draperies; its floor covered
with Persian carpets; and the lattices which veiled the entrance to the
women’s apartments richly carved and gilt. At either extremity of the
saloon, whose form was a fine oval, a noble flight of marble steps led
downwards to the harem; and along the glittering balustrade were
scattered groups of slaves, awaiting the summons of their Imperial
Mistress, and clad in the gaudiest colours.

The morning-room of the Sultana was flooded with sunshine, and opened
upon the terrace: the carpet, covering the floor, the cushions which
were piled beneath the windows and the hangings of the walls, were all
of the purest white, ornamented with wreaths of roses; while the roof,
on which the Orientals universally display most elaborate taste, was of
a deep purple colour, ribbed and studded with golden stars.

The reception-room was in a different style: sombre, magnificent, and
almost cloistral in its decorations; heavy with gilding, and gloomy with
cornices; while the sleeping chamber, hung with crimson and blue satin,
and scattered over with perfumes and objects of taste, had an air of
comfort and inhabitation almost English.

But the most elegant suite of rooms was that appropriated to the Sultan.
A saloon whose thirty windows were hung with purple velvet fringed with
gold; whose sofa cushions were formed of glittering tissue; and whose
walls were rich with plate-glass and gilding; whose floor was crowded
with objects of _vertù_, and whose every table was scattered over with
gems, opened into the Imperial sleeping-room, whose European bed, hung
with flowered muslin, and decorated with knots of coloured ribbon,
contrasted cheerfully with the heavy magnificence of the saloon and its
elaborate draperies; while the mangal of wrought silver, richly gilt,
and the collection of jewelled toys which filled the two recesses at the
end of the apartment, brought back the imagination to the gorgeous East.

Incense-burners of gold, studded with precious stones; ring-trays
wreathed with rubies; a miniature of the Sultan himself in a frame
thickly set with diamonds, and resting upon a cushion of white satin; a
toilette of fillagreed silver; a chocolate cup of enamel studded with
pearls: and a gilt salver, covered with watches of all sizes and shapes,
were part of the tempting array. But I was more delighted by a Koràn,
and a manuscript collection of prayers, written by the Sultan, and
splendidly illuminated. Both were bound in gold, with the Imperial
cipher wrought upon each corner in brilliants, while a border was formed
round the outer edges of the volumes, of passages from the holy
writings, indifferent coloured jewels.

The private withdrawing-room was not remarkable in any respect, if,
indeed, I except the circumstance of its sofa and curtains being trimmed
with fluted gauze ribbon, which, to an European eye, produced a most
extraordinary effect. But, upon the whole, I saw less inconsistency and
bad taste exhibited in the arrangements of the numerous apartments that
I traversed, than I had prepared myself to expect.

While we were making our tour of the palace, orders had been given by
the Princess that the dancing girls should prepare themselves to exhibit
their skill for our amusement; but, unfortunately, in the excess of her
graciousness, she had resolved on treating us with a view of their new
dresses and their new dances, both intended to be European; and
assuredly such costumes were never before imagined. I will give the
description of one—it will suffice to afford an idea of the whole. A
dress of blue muslin, elaborately ornamented with bows of pink and
scarlet ribbon, was drawn round the throat with a cord of green silk,
which hung down the back and terminated in two heavy tassels; the
petticoat was long and scanty, and was trimmed with two narrow flounces,
edged with white satin; black leather shoes of the coarsest description,
gloveless hands, a sash of pink and silver that swept the floor; a
necklace of pearl; and a head-dress at least a yard across, where a mass
of false hair was smothered in flowers enough to decorate a supper
table, and carefully selected of all the colours of the rainbow,
completed the costume; and I need not expatiate on its effect. But the
admiration which it excited in the harem was immense; and the really
beautiful girl who was the fortunate wearer of the motley garb appeared
to consider herself raised above mortality, as she listened to the
comments of the throng by whom she was surrounded.

The male dresses were in perfect keeping with that which I have
endeavoured to describe; and the whole had found such favour in the eyes
of the Sultana, that she only tolerated the Turkish costume on ordinary
occasions.

As the day was waning to a close, and the distance to Pera was
considerable, I was reluctantly obliged to decline the honour of dining
in the palace, and awaiting until evening the appearance of the
Princess, whose continued indisposition still confined her to her
apartment; and accordingly, despite the remonstrances of our kind and
courteous entertainers, I took my leave of the fair favourite and her
talented friend; bearing with me an invitation from Her Imperial
Highness to repeat my visit at no distant period, when she might be able
to receive and converse with me; and I then returned to Pera with an
aching head and dazzled eyes.

I subjoin the little ballad of Peroussè Hanoum, which I have rendered
almost literally into English verse. I could have wished that it had
been somewhat more Oriental in its character, but its quaintness is at
least sufficiently characteristic.


  BALLAD.

  My love for thee hath ta’en away my rest;
    By day and night I think of thee alone;
  I muse upon the curls which veil thy breast,
    And sigh to know that thou art not mine own.

  My love for thee is madness! All esteem
    My passion folly who do look on me;
  The arrows of thine eyes have drank the stream
    Of my fond heart; and I must part from thee.

  My love for thee is deep; and I of late
    Can look upon none other—Thou art cold,
  And ’tis the working of my hapless fate
    That I no more thy gracious smiles behold.

  Leyla! be mine, and learn my spirit-wrong;
  I’ll tell thee all my grief—the tale is long.



CHAPTER XVIII.


  Kahaitchana—The Barbyses—The Valley of the Sweet
  Waters—Imperial Procession—National Interdict—Picturesque
  Scene—The Princess Salihè and her Infant—Forbearance of the
  Sultan—The Toxopholites—Imperial Monopoly—Passion of the
  Sultan for Archery—Record-Columns—The Odalique’s Grave—The
  Lost One—Azmè Sultane—Imperial Courtesy—A Drive through the
  Valley.

The loveliest spot in the neighbourhood of Constantinople is undeniably
Kahaitchana; called by the Franks the “Valley of the Sweet Waters,” a
name as appropriate as it is poetical.

The sparkling Barbyses takes its rise amid the rich vegetation of the
valley, and traverses its greensward like a silver thread. As a river it
is inconsiderable, but, being the only stream of any size within many
miles of the capital, it is an object of great enjoyment and admiration.

The valley itself, like that of Rasselas, is shut in on all sides by
tall and arid hills, amid which it nestles so fresh, and green, and
sunny, that you feel at once that it was destined by nature for holyday
uses. Need I say that the Sultan has here both a summer palace and a
kiosk? There exists no pretty spot near Stamboul where he has them not;
but the Palace of Kahaitchana is a favourite retreat, where he generally
retires to escape from the coil and cares of the capital, whenever he
can contrive to wring a day’s leisure from the stern grasp of public
duty. The ride from Pera is delightful: the air of the hills is so
elastic that it seems to instil new life into your pulses; and the
descent into the valley is so picturesque, that, despite your previous
enjoyment, you are anxious to arrive in the lovely spot which lies,
bathed in sunshine, at your feet.

A brighter day never shone from the heavens than that on which I joined
a party who were bound for Kahaitchana. I had been indisposed for
several days, and was too weak to indulge myself with a gallop; and
accordingly, comfortably nestled amid the cushions of my araba, I
suffered the more joyous and healthful of my friends to fly past me, and
leisurely pursued my way to the valley.

As I descended the hill, I saw a procession of carriages issuing from
the palace court, and making their way along the opposite bank of the
stream, which forms the boundary of the Imperial pleasure grounds. A
mounted guard stopped me for an instant at the foot of the height, but
suffered me to pass after the delay of a moment, as he had received no
orders to prevent the entrance of any Frank lady by that road; the
interdict being confined to Greeks, Armenians, and Jewesses. Simply
requesting me, therefore, to stop my carriage, as the Imperial family
passed, he desired my arabajhe to proceed. I obeyed without hesitation;
and, as the river is only a few feet in width, I had an excellent view
of the distinguished party.

An open carriage, drawn by four fine bay horses, each led by a groom,
contained the two younger sons of the Sultan, the palace dwarf, and the
principal negro of the Sultan’s household. The infant prince is a
sweet-looking child, with bright eyes and rosy cheeks, and appears
healthy enough to be the son of a peasant. Four bullock-carriages
followed, and among their veiled occupants were the Princess Mihirmàh,
her mother, and one of her sisters. Some of the younger ladies were
exceedingly lovely, and wore their yashmacs so transparent, and so
coquettishly arranged, that I could trace their features distinctly.
This is, however, by no means the case generally speaking, as the
inmates of the Imperial Seraglio are more closely covered when in a less
retired spot, than any other of the Turkish women; and I remember on one
occasion to have seen a favourite Odalique of the Sultan, who had a
gauze across her eyes, as well as wearing her yashmac close to their
very lids!

Troops of negroes surrounded the carriages, and the procession was
closed by the Kislar Agha, mounted on a superb Arabian horse, and
accompanied by four attendants on foot.

As soon as the _cortège_ had passed, I pursued my way, and found that my
friends had been compelled to make a circuit, and to enter the valley by
another road, which did not communicate with the palace grounds. Nothing
could be more cheerful or more picturesque than the scene that met my
eye as I descended from the araba. The greensward was covered with merry
groups—Wallachian and Bulgarian musicians were scattered among the
revellers; Bohemian flower girls were vending their pretty nosegays in
every direction, so skilfully arranged that each veiled fair one saw in
an instant whether the tale she wished to tell had been anticipated by
the dark-eyed Flora—mounted patroles appeared and disappeared along the
crests of the hills as they pursued their round of observation—an
Imperial caïque of white and gold was riding upon the ripple near one of
the palace gates—Turkish servants were galloping in all
directions—every avenue of the Imperial residence was doubly
guarded—and all was bustle and excitement.

[Illustration: Miss Pardoe del.

Day & Haghe Lith^{rs}. to the King

PALACE of the “SWEET WATERS”.

_Henry Colburn, 13, G^t. Marlborough S^t. 1837._]

As we were standing in front of the palace, two six-oared caïques drew
up beside the terrace, and shortly afterwards appeared the Princess
Salihè, the wife of Halil Pasha, attended by half a dozen negroes,
and twice as many female slaves, and followed by the head nurse carrying
in her arms the lovely infant, on occasion of whose birth Sultan Mahmoud
displayed such unprecedented generosity.

Heretofore, as it was stated at the time in the public prints, all the
Emperors of Turkey had caused the male children of their own offspring
to be destroyed, and thus provided most efficiently against future
disputes relatively to the succession. The child on whom I now looked
had not only been spared by its Imperial Grandsire, but public
rejoicings had taken place on its birth—cannon had been fired, and
ministers had been admitted to the Presence on audiences of
congratulation. It was a noble boy, laughing and sporting in the arms of
its nurse; and, as the caïques shot away, I busied myself with
endeavouring to picture to my mind’s eye the joy of the fond mother on
learning that her child was to be spared to her. The delight was,
however, fated to be transient, for Mahmoud was ere long released from
his incipient enemy, (if such the little prince were indeed destined one
day to become) without dyeing his own hands in blood. Three days after
our visit to Kahaitchana he expired in convulsions, induced by his
sufferings in teething.

As I understood that His Highness was engaged at archery with some of
his favourite Pashas, I resolved on endeavouring to obtain a sight of
him; and accordingly one or two of our party detached themselves from
the rest, and, making a circuit of the pleasure-grounds, we arrived
opposite the spot where the Toxopholites were “speeding the winged arrow
to the mark.” A heavy cloud that was passing over the valley had already
shed a few of those large drops which fall upon the leaves with the
sound and the weight of hail; and the Sultan was seated beneath a red
umbrella, held over his sacred person by one of the Officers of the
Imperial Household. The favoured Pashas were standing in a line along
the _façade_ of the building; and a number of servants were dispersed
over the lawn, for the purpose of collecting the arrows.

Apropos of umbrellas—Until the present reign, the red umbrella was
sacred to the use of the Sultan; but his present Highness probably
deeming the monopoly a very inconsequent one, graciously removed the
interdict; and I need scarcely add that red umbrellas are now the rage
at Constantinople.

Archery is a passion with Sultan Mahmoud, who is extremely vain of his
prowess; so much so indeed, that a long stretch of hilly country
immediately in the rear of the Military College is dotted over with
marble pillars fancifully carved, and carefully inscribed, erected on
the spots where the arrows shot by himself from a terrace on the crest
of the height are supposed to have fallen—I say supposed, for, as his
foible is no secret, the Imperial pages who are employed to collect the
shafts, and to measure the distances, generally pick up the arrow and
run on twenty or thirty paces further, ere they affect to find it; by
which means the Sultan shoots like the Prince Aimwell in the Fairy Tale;
and the cunning varlets who restore his arrows earn many a _backshish_
or present which more honest men would miss. I remember on one occasion,
when on an exploring expedition, suddenly coming upon so handsome a
marble column, inscribed with letters of gold, and surmounted by an urn,
that I was curious to learn its purport; when, to my surprise, I
discovered that this was a record-pillar of the same description; and as
his Sublime Highness had on this occasion pulled a very long bow indeed,
so he had perpetuated its memory by a handsomer erection than usual.

The archery party at Kahaitchana was amusing enough. First flew the
arrow of the Sultan, and away ran the attendants; then each Pasha shot
in his turn, taking especial care to keep within bounds, and not to
out-Cæsar Cæsar. Some of them looked important, and others horridly
bored: but there was no escape from an amateur who boasts that he has
practised every week for the last forty years.

A little to the left of the spot occupied by the archers is a raised
platform overshadowed by a weeping willow, beneath which rises a
handsome head-stone. It is the grave of an Imperial Odalique, who died
suddenly in the very zenith of her youth, her beauty, and her favour.
She was buried in this lovely spot at the express command of the Sultan,
who was so deeply affected by her loss that for two entire years he
abandoned the valley. The platform is overlooked by the windows of the
Salemliek, and every wind that sighs through the willow branches carries
their voice to the ears of those who occupy its gilded chambers.
Mahmoud, in a fit of poetical despair, is said to have written a
pathetic ballad of which she was the subject. I endeavoured to procure
it, but failed; and, as I was loath that she should remain unsung in
Europe, I even tried my own hand in some wild stanzas, which I wrote
hurriedly as I stood near her grave.


  THE LOST ONE.

  Spring is come back to us—the laughing Spring!
    Sunlight is on the waters—
  And many a bright, and many a beaming thing,
  O’er this fair scene its gladdening spell will fling,
    For the East’s dark-eyed daughters.
  But where is She, the loveliest of the throng,
  The painter’s model, and the theme of song;
    For whom the summer roses joyfully
  Gave forth alike the beauty of their bloom,
  Their dewy freshness, and their soft perfume:—
    The loved of the World’s Monarch—Where is She?

  Alas! for her the Spring returns in vain;
    Her home is with the sleepers:—
  She will not join in the glad song again
  With which she once subdued the spirit-pain
    Of the earth’s pale-browed weepers.
  For her the dance is ended—and for her
  The flowers no more will their bright petals stir;
    Nor the sad bulbul wake his melody:
  The sunshine falls on every hillock’s crest,
  The pulse of joy beats high in every breast;
    But She, the loved and lost one, where is She?

  She lies where lie the last year’s faded flow’rs;
    She sleeps where sleep the proudest;
  And there are eyes that will weep burning show’rs,
  And there are sighs will wear away the hours
    When the heart’s grief is loudest.
  Yet mourn her not, she had her day of pride,
  The East’s dread sovereign chose her for his bride;
    The sunlight rested on her favour’d brow:
  Like a fair blossom blighted in its bloom,
  She filled an early, but a cherished tomb,
    And where the mighty linger, rests She now!

Despite the sentiment of the thing, however, the beautiful Odalique has
been long forgotten; and the bevy of beauties who wander near her grave
have no time to sigh over her fate. It was, nevertheless, consolatory to
my romance to remark that the Sultan shot his arrows in another
direction!

On leaving the neighbourhood of the Toxopholites, I returned accompanied
by a Greek lady to the araba, and drove higher up the valley; where we
came in contact with the carriages of Azmè Sultane and her suite. On
seeing us, she stopped, and, after inquiring if I were the Frank lady
whom she had invited to her palace, she courteously and condescendingly
expressed her regret that her indisposition had rendered her unable to
receive me, but desired that I would hold myself engaged to spend
another day in the Seraï ere long. She then, as a mark of especial
favour, sent one of her negroes to the araba, with the infant to whom I
have already made allusion, and whom I discovered to be the namesake of
my lovely acquaintance, Heyminè Hanoum: the child was richly and
fantastically dressed; and, when I had praised its beauty, admired its
costume, and restored it to the attendant, I received a very gracious
salutation from Her Highness, who moved on, followed by her suite.

The Princess, who is the widow of a Pasha, is a noble-looking woman,
with a very aristocratic manner, and strongly resembles her brother. She
has evidently been handsome, but must now be more than sixty years of
age. Her fair favourite, Nazip Hanoum, was seated beside her, but so
closely veiled, that, until she saluted me, I was unable to recognise
her.

As we continued our drive, we passed a hundred groups of which an artist
might have made as many studies. All was enjoyment and hilarity. Caïques
came and went along the bright river; majestic trees stretched their
long branches over the greensward; gay voices were on the wind; the
cloud had passed away; and the sunlight lay bright upon the hill-tops. I
know not a spot on earth where the long, sparkling summer day may be
more deliciously spent than in the lovely Valley of the Sweet Waters.



CHAPTER XIX.


  Easter with the Greeks—Greek Church at Pera—Women’s
  Gallery—Interior of a Greek Church—The Sanctuary—The
  Screen—Throne of the Patriarch—The Holy Sepulchre—Singular
  Appearance of the Congregation—Sociability of the
  Ladies—_L’Echelle des Morts_—Shipping—Boats and
  Boatmen—Church of the Fanar—Ancient Screen—Treasure
  Chests—The Sanctuary—Private Chapels—A Pious
  Illumination—Priests’ House—Prison—Remedy against
  Mahomedanism—Midnight Mass—Unexpected Greetings—The
  Patriarch—Logotheti—Russian Secretaries—Russian Supremacy in
  Turkey—Affinity of Religion between the Greeks and
  Russians—The Homage—Pious Confusion—Patriarch’s
  Palace—Lovely Night-Scene—Midnight Procession—Serious
  Impressions—Suffocating Heat—Dawn.

Our own Easter was over. The last dinner had been eaten, the last
quadrille had been danced; politics had succeeded to parties, and
diplomacy to dissipation; when the Greeks were preparing to celebrate
the festival with all the pomp and circumstance of the most gorgeous and
glowing of religions. I took this opportunity of paying my first visit
to the Greek Church of Pera; an elegant edifice built at the expense of
the Russian government, and richly decorated with blue and gold; where
the service is performed both in Greek and Russ, all the priests
attached to it being Russians.

A Greek lady, whose acquaintance I had made, politely offered me the use
of her seat, which I accepted the more gladly, that without such
accommodation I must have failed in my attempts to witness the ceremony;
most of the females being obliged to content themselves with hearing the
service, without a hope of seeing it. This difficulty arises from the
fact that the women are not permitted to occupy the body of the church,
but are confined to a gallery so closely latticed that it is impossible
for those below to catch the faintest glimpse of the secluded fair-ones.

The appearance of a Greek church differs from those of the Roman
Catholics, infinitely more than do the several religions. The Sanctuary,
in the midst of which stands the High Altar, is separated from the
church by a close screen; and there are neither aisles nor side chapels.
The whole edifice is lighted by chandeliers suspended from the ceiling
in three straight lines, reaching from the Sanctuary to the principal
entrance: and the screen is ornamented with the effigies of saints,
hardly and drily painted; which frequently figure in such sort in their
temples as thoroughly to exonerate them from the imputation of making to
themselves the “likeness of anything in Heaven, or on earth, or in the
waters under the earth.” Nor is this all; for the pious being to the
full as prone to make votive offerings to their favourite saints as any
Catholic in Spain or Portugal, the staring, wooden pictures are
furthermore decorated with gold and silver hands, eyes, ears, or noses,
as the case may be; which gives them so comical an effect that the
gravest person cannot contemplate them without a smile.

The centre of the screen is closed by a curtain above the low double
door opening into the church—the veil shrouding from the eyes of the
congregation “the holy of holies,” according to the old Jewish use. On
the present occasion, the curtain was drawn back, and the High Priest
was robing himself in front of the altar.

The Patriarch’s throne was on the right hand, and immediately opposite
to it was the pulpit; while at the bottom of the church on each side of
the door stood two enormous chests of polished wood, containing the
church plate and properties. In the centre of the marble floor was
placed the boast and treasure of the chapel—a stone which once formed
part of the Sepulchre of the Saviour, affirmed to have been brought from
the Holy Land, and ultimately deposited here. The crush towards this
point was enormous: the dense crowd shoving and elbowing each other most
determinedly to secure an approach; which, when they had effected it,
enabled them to cross themselves, according to the rite of their
church, seven times successively with a rapidity only to be acquired by
long practice, and to kiss each extremity of the stone, leaving a piece
of money in the salver of the attendant priest.

Huge wax candles of at least seven inches in diameter were burning in
front of the Sanctuary, and on the canopy covering the Sepulchre; and
the glare fell upon a dense crowd of heads, some shaven close, some
decorated with a single long tress of hair hanging from the summit; some
half-shaved, as though a platter had been adjusted to the cranium of the
individual, and that the barber had operated round its edges; and others
with long dishevelled elf-locks falling about their shoulders—the
effect was perfectly ludicrous!

Meanwhile, the ladies in the gallery were not idle: compliments were
exchanged—inquiries made and answered—and conversations carried on, as
coolly as though the interlocutors had been quietly seated in their own
houses: while every five or six minutes a priest made his appearance,
bearing a salver to receive the donations of the pious and charitable.
But I soon wearied of the nasal, monotonous chant of the officiating
priests, which more than counteracted the light and gladsome aspect of
the edifice; and, satisfied with having seen a great deal of paint and
gilding, and a rich display of tissue and embroidery, as well as a holy
scuffle among the crowd at a particular period of the service, to
possess themselves of the candles that had lit up the Sepulchre, I
escaped from the scene of pious confusion; and slowly taking my way
through the cypress-shaded burial-ground, and onward to the Echelle des
morts, I gladly stepped into the caïque, to share, beneath the
hospitable roof of a friend, in the magnificent ceremonials which were
to take place in the ancient patriarchal church at the Fanar.

As we traversed the port, I was struck by the various character of the
shipping, more than usually conspicuous under a flood of bright
sunshine. The vessels of war, (one of them the largest in the world)
were lying like floating cities on the still surface of the mirror-like
Bosphorus: the foreign merchant ships, anchored in dense ranks along the
shore, with their sails furled, and their slender masts shooting
upwards, like the tall stems of a wind-stripped forest—the Arab
vessels, with their sharp high prows and sterns, precisely as I had
often seen them represented on the antique medals—the steam-packets,
dark and motionless like ocean-monsters, about to vomit forth their
volumes of thick, suffocating smoke upon the clear air; while about, and
around, and among all these, darted, and glided, and whirled, the
slender caïques of polished and carved walnut wood, with their
gracefully-clad rowers, and their minute gilded ornaments glittering in
the light; the sharp shrill cry of “On the European side”—“On the
Asiatic side!”—ringing upon the ear every moment, as the boatmen
indicated each to the other which course to steer, in order to leave to
all a free passage.

We landed on a terrace overhanging the water, at the extremity of our
friend’s garden; and after taking coffee with the ladies, immediately
set forth to visit the church by daylight. Though more limited in its
dimensions, and less rich in its decorations, than the church at Pera,
it nevertheless pleased me infinitely better; there was an air of
time-hallowed holiness about the whole of its interior, far more
attractive than the unfaded paint and fresh gilding which I had seen in
the morning.

The Patriarch’s throne, simple, and even clumsy in its form and fashion,
had existed for twelve hundred years, and was consequently respectable
from its antiquity; close beside it stood the raised and high-backed
chair of Logotheti; and about twenty feet beyond, stretched the
magnificent screen of the Sanctuary, delicately carved in dark oak. This
screen particularly attracted me, the workmanship was so minute and
elaborate, and the columns which separated the panels in such high and
bold relief. Here, as at Pera, dry, hard, savage-looking Saints
ornamented the spaces between them, and were equally decorated with the
incongruous and disjointed offerings of their votaries.

The most popular personage of the whole calendar among the Greeks is
decidedly St. George, who had no less than two entire effigies in beaten
silver in this church. The pulpit was of mosaic, thickly overstrown with
stars of mother-of-pearl; and two large chests, similar to those which I
have already named, were composed of the same materials. The women’s
gallery was even more closely latticed than that at Pera, and the flood
of light without was admitted so sparingly by the high and infrequent
casements, that a solemn twilight reigned throughout the edifice, which
accorded admirably with its antique and somewhat gloomy character.

Thanks to the guidance under which we entered, the priest who had opened
the doors for us was obliging enough to walk to the other extremity of
the church, and thus leave us the opportunity of penetrating into the
Sanctuary, which the profane foot of woman is supposed never to tread.
It consisted of a small chapel, containing an altar by no means
remarkable, spread with the sacramental plate: a high-backed chair of
marble for the Patriarch, a fountain for the use of the officiating
priests, a few miserable oil-paintings, and a vast number of small
pictures of Saints and Virgins, placed there during a certain time for
“a consideration,” to become hallowed by the sanctity of the spot ere
they were removed to the private chapels of the different families:
every Greek, however limited in fortune, having an apartment in his
house fitted up as an oratory.

I was, however, much more amused (for that is the only applicable word)
in watching the proceedings of a Greek lady who had accompanied me, than
in contemplating the portly saints and florid martyrs by whom I was
surrounded. A slight iron rail runs along the screen at the base of the
paintings for the purpose of supporting the tapers which the zeal of the
pious may be inclined to burn in their honour; and my companion was
busily employed in lighting a score of these minute candles at a lamp
that is constantly left burning for the purpose; humming in an
under-tone, while she did so, the barcarolle in Masaniello which was
exchanged, as she commenced her survey of the holy group, for such
exclamations as the following:—

“The Virgin—I shall give her four, because my own name is Mary—and
look, I pray you, at the pretty effect of her gold hand, and her silver
crown, with the light flashing on them. Now comes St. George—I like St.
George, so he shall have two. Who is this? Oh! St. Nicholas; I cannot
bear St. Nicholas, so I shall pass him by.”

I ventured to intercede in his favour.

“Very well, then, as you wish it, there is one for him; but he never was
a favourite of mine: there are two saints in the calendar to whom I
never burn a taper, St. Nicholas and St. Demetrius.”

It was, however, finally settled that no partialities were to be
indulged on the present occasion, and consequently the effect produced
was that of a miniature illumination. My curiosity being satisfied, and
the pious offering of my companion completed, we proceeded to make a
tour of the vast monastic-looking building forming one side of the
enclosure, and which is appropriated to the priests. Ascending an
external flight of steps, we found ourselves in a wide gallery, whence
the apartments opened on the right and left, precisely as the cells are
arranged in a convent. One of these small, but comfortable, rooms is
allotted to each individual; and those which we visited were very
carefully carpeted and curtained, with divans of chintz, and every
luxury customary in Greek apartments. In many of them we found ladies
taking coffee with their owners, while servants were hurrying to and
fro, full of bustle and importance.

Altogether there was an atmosphere of comfort about the establishment,
which quite made me overlook its otherwise dreary extent; and as I
passed out by another door, having before me the Palace of the
Patriarch, I felt no inclination to commiserate the worldly condition of
his subordinates.

From the Priest’s House we proceeded to the prison,[4] where we found
one miserable urchin of twelve years old, “in durance vile” for an
attempt to turn Musselmaun; he was ragged and almost barefooted, and
some pious Turk had promised to recompense his apostacy with a new suit,
and a pair of shoes; but, unfortunately for the cause of the Prophet,
the boy was caught in the act of elusion, and delivered up by his
exasperated parents to the authority of the Church, which had already
kept him a prisoner for eight days, and was about to send him, with a
chain about his leg, to spend a month in a public mad-house!

What analogy the good Papas had found between the mosque and the
mad-house I know not; but the punishment was certainly a most original
and frightful one. The boy told us his own tale, and then added, with a
broad grin, that he would take them in at last. Two other prisoners,
accused of theft, were about to suffer their sentence in a day or two:
exile in both cases, accompanied by branding on the breast in the most
aggravated of the two; and, meanwhile, close confinement. They were a
couple of shrewd-looking, desperate ruffians, and laughed in his face as
the keeper spoke of them. We were then shown the bastinado, and the
rings and chains for insubordinate prisoners; and, after having made a
donation which was received with a surprise perfectly untrammelled with
gratitude, I returned to the residence of our hospitable friends, with
the rattling of fetters in my ears, and a thousand gloomy fancies
floating over my brain.

At half past ten o’clock we repaired once more to the Church, in order
to assist at the midnight mass; where a Greek lady very politely gave up
her seat to me, that I might have an uninterrupted view of the
ceremonies. The service had already commenced when we entered, and the
whole interior of the edifice was one blaze of light. The thirty
chandeliers suspended from the ceiling threw a many-coloured gleam on
the crowd beneath them, from their pendants of tinted glass; and the
huge candles in front of the Sanctuary, and the tapers burning before
the saints, added to the brightness of the glare; which, penetrating
through the lattices of the gallery, enabled me to contemplate as
extraordinary a scene as I had ever witnessed in a place of worship. The
fair tenants of the front seats presented much the same appearance as a
parterre of flowers; there were turbans of every tint, dresses of every
dye, bonnets of every form: and such a constant flutter, fidget, and
fuss; such bowing, smiling, and whispering, that I began to fancy there
must be some mistake, and that we were, in fact, gathered together to
witness some mere worldly exhibition.

But the monotonous chanting of the priests, which had been momentarily
suspended, was suddenly renewed; and I turned away from a score of
polite greetings, offered by persons of whom I had not the slightest
recollection, but to whom I had doubtlessly been presented during the
carnival, in order to observe the proceedings beneath me.

The Patriarch was seated on his throne, dressed in a vestment of white
satin, clasped on the breast with an immense diamond ornament, over
which was flung a scarf of gold tissue; the borders of the robe were
wrought to about a foot in depth with portraits of the saints in
needlework of different colours, interspersed with gold and silver
threads. His crown of crimson velvet was entirely covered with immense
pearls, fashioned into different figures; the intermediate spaces being
occupied by rubies, emeralds, and brilliants, of great beauty and
lustre. He held his staff in one hand, and in the other the Gospel,
bound in white satin, and studded with jewels; and, at every movement
that he made, the tapers by which he was surrounded flashed back the
radiance of his elaborately-gemmed habit in a coruscation perfectly
dazzling.

Beside him, and on a level with the throne, sat Logotheti, in an uniform
richly embroidered with silver; my father was beside him; and at the
foot of his chair stood Vogorede; while immediately in front of the
throne, in a line with the pulpit, four of the Russian Secretaries
occupied a crimson-cushioned seat, whence they had a full view of the
Sanctuary.

Among the numerous causes, all working towards the same centre of
Russian supremacy in Turkey, one of the most dangerous for the Moslem is
the community of religion between the Russian and the Greek. The
Autocrat has built a church for the Greeks in the vicinity of
Constantinople, and the arms of Russia surmount the portal! The
_attachés_ of the Russian Embassy, while the members of all the other
Legations are either sleeping or feasting, are meekly kneeling before
the throne of the Greek Patriarch, and humbly kissing the hand which
extended to them!

The act in itself is simple. It is the effect that it produces on the
minds of the mass which is to be dreaded. The expression of delighted
admiration on the countenances of the crowd was a perfect study, as,
following in the wake of Logotheti and Vogoride, ere less important
persons had an opportunity of doing homage to the Patriarch, the
all-powerful agents of all-powerful Russia bent a willing knee to kiss
the sacred hand. A common interest was created at once, and no tie is so
sure as that of religious faith. The Greeks already writhe in their
fetters—the bondmen loathe their task-masters—the tree is cankered at
the core, and hollowed in the trunk: let Russia apply the axe, and it
will fall.

The Moslem, be he lured to ruin as smilingly as he may, and flattered
into security as blandly as the criminal of his country, who finds the
rope about his neck ere he knows that he is condemned; is the coveted
prey of his semi-barbarous ally. The force of the Russian, and the guile
of the Greek—external power and internal treachery—are at work against
him; and what has he to oppose to these? High-sounding titles, and
pompous phrases—a young and half-trained soldiery—a navy, unequal to
the management of their magnificent shipping—and a Capital, protected
by men, many of whom wear a Russian medal at their breast—a medal
bestowed on them by the munificent Emperor of another nation, for having
done their duty (according to Muscovite notions) towards their own!

But let Turkey be supported for awhile, as her own efforts merit that
she should be; let her find the ready help from European powers, in
which she so fondly trusted—and she will, ere long, prove herself
worthy to take her place among the nations. Her military and naval
forces require only time; her soldiers have already given evidence of
their courage, and, having so done when comparatively undisciplined,
will naturally develop still higher attributes when acting as a
well-organized body; in which each individual receives, as well as
gives, support. Let the Russian medal be trampled in the dust of the
city streets—and this will demand no effort on the part of those who
wear it, into whose breasts it burns, and who consider it rather as a
brand of disgrace, than as a creditable badge—and it will then require
no spirit of prophecy to foretell the future prosperity of Turkey. To
the East, Europe is indebted for her knowledge of military tactics and
military subordination, and she can well afford to pay back the debt.
Half a dozen experienced officers would, in a few months, change the
whole appearance and nature of the Turkish army.

Homage had been paid to the Patriarch, and the chanting became more
animated, as, followed by a train of Archbishops and Bishops, he retired
to the sanctuary, and added to his already costly habiliments several
other jewelled and embroidered draperies. He next received the
sacrament, at which period of the ceremony every man, woman, and child,
within the church hastened to light the taper that they had brought for
the purpose, (the symbol of the Resurrection) which produced a sudden
burst of light absolutely thrilling. As I looked down upon the
struggling and stifling crowd beneath me, so closely wedged together
that it was with difficulty they could raise the arm holding the taper,
which each lit by that of his neighbour, the scene was most
extraordinary. A dense vapour was even then rapidly spreading its heavy
folds over the whole edifice, and, in a few moments, I could distinguish
nothing but a sea of heads, and a multitude of pigmy lights, feebly
struggling through the thick smoke.

The fiery and impetuous Greeks, enthusiastic in all their feelings—in
religion, in love, in hate, and in ambition—did not, in the present
instance, confine themselves so scrupulously as an European congregation
would have done, to the space assigned to them—half a dozen wild,
bandit-looking individuals clambered into the pulpit—a score more clung
to the steps—those who chanced to be nearest to the vacated stalls of
the Bishops appropriated them without ceremony—others hung by the
pillars which supported the gallery—and thus sufficient space was with
difficulty ensured by the panting beadles for the passage of the
procession.

At this moment, I followed my friend from the church, and, four or five
sturdy servants having with considerable effort forced a way for us to
the Patriarch’s Palace, we hastened to take possession of his private
sitting-room, which, as it overlooked the enclosure in which the church
was situated, and where the procession was to halt, he had politely
offered, in order to secure the gratification of my curiosity.

The night was one of beauty. The pale moon was riding high among masses
of fleecy clouds, which were pillowed upon the deep blue of the sky,
forming towers, and palaces, and islets, so changeful and fleeting, that
they looked like the ephemeral creations of fairy-land. A lofty and
leafy plane tree, whose foliage had newly burst beneath the soft
influence of spring, was sighing gently in the midnight wind; and the
long dark outline of the monastic buildings, and the slanting roof of
the church, loomed out in the faint moonlight, with a mysterious depth
of shadow well suited to the solemnity of the hour. The wide doors of
the sacred edifice suddenly fell back—the low chant of the choir
swelled upon the night air—and forth rushed the eager crowd that had so
lately thronged the church; each with his lighted taper in his hand, and
pressing forward to a raised platform in the centre of the enclosure,
railed in for the convenience of the Patriarch and his train of
dignitaries.

Ere long, the whole of the wide space was like a sea, in which the dark
waves flung themselves upwards in fiery sparks, while they rolled and
swelled in gloom beneath the surface—or like a spot upon a sky of
tempest, into which were gathered all the stars of heaven to form one
galaxy of light amid the surrounding gloom. And forth into this place of
brightness slowly moved the holy train from the chapel. First came the
bearer of the golden crucifix, surrounded by gilded lanterns and
gleaming candlesticks; and next the torch-bearers, whose waxen candles,
linked together in threes with gaudily-coloured ribbons, represented the
Trinity; then moved forward a train of priests, walking two and two,
with their flowing robes of saffron-coloured satin, their luxuriant
beards sweeping down to their breasts, their brimless caps, and their
long locks falling upon their shoulders.

Nothing can be more picturesque than the head-dress of a Greek priest.
As they are not permitted to use either scissors or razor from the
period of their birth, when they are vowed to the Church by their
parents, they reduce the beard by plucking it, according to the old
Jewish law; and, being almost universally very fine men, they do this
with a care and skill which heighten the effect of their appearance;
while their long thick locks are, on ordinary occasions, hidden beneath
their caps.

This holy body was succeeded by the Patriarch, supported on either side
by two of the Archbishops, who, in the Greek Church, represent the
Apostles, as the Patriarch himself personates the Saviour, and followed
by the ten others in robes of such dazzling brilliancy that any attempt
at description would be idle. Immediately after these came the Bishops,
walking two and two; succeeded in their turn by Logotheti and Vogoride,
another train of priests, and finally by that portion of the
congregation who had not been able to effect an earlier egress from the
church.

The junior priests arranged themselves in a circle at the foot of the
platform, which was soon filled by the heads of the Church, and the lay
dignitaries, among whom stood my father. The Patriarch read a portion of
the scriptures, from an ample volume that lay open on the stand before
him: the attendant priests chanted a psalm which rose and fell on the
night wind in solemn cadences; and, finally, the elder of the Bishops,
having placed in the hand of the Patriarch one of the triple candles
which I have already named, wherewith to bless the people; and
subsequently two linked together, representing the double nature of
Christ; the whole crowd bowed their uncovered heads, and crossed
themselves seven times, with the collected points of the two
fore-fingers and the thumb; after which a passage was with difficulty
forced through the crowd for the return of the procession, whose chant
gradually died away upon the ear, as it disappeared beneath the portal
of the church, and in five minutes more we were alone, gazing out upon
the empty enclosure flickered with moonlight.

It was a solemn moment! The pomp and circumstance of human worship had
passed away, and we looked only on the uncertain moon, over which the
light scud was rapidly drifting; while the only sound that fell upon our
ears was the sighing of the midnight wind through the leaves of the tall
plane tree. I bowed my head in silence upon the cushion against which I
leaned—my excited fancies were suddenly sobered, my throbbing pulses
stilled—Nature had spoken to my heart, and my spirit was subdued
beneath her influence. It was a sudden and strange reaction; and, could
I at that moment have escaped to the solitude of my own chamber, I do
not think that one idle memory of the magnificence which I had so lately
witnessed would have intruded on my reveries.

Man’s pride, and pomp, and power, had fettered my fancy, and riveted my
gaze—But it was night; the still, soft night, with its pale moon, its
mysterious clouds, and its sighing voice, which had touched my spirit.
In such hours, the heart would be alone with GOD!

When we re-entered the church, I feared that I should have fainted;
thick volumes of smoke were rolling heavily along the roof; the
suffocating incense was mounting in columns from the censers—the myriad
tapers were adding their heat to that of the burning perfume; and the
transition from the light pure atmosphere without was sickening. I
persisted, nevertheless, in my determination of remaining until the
close of the ceremony, which concluded with the Declaration of Faith,
read by Logotheti; and a portion of the Gospel, delivered from the
pulpit by a priest, richly dressed in blue and silver.

The grey light of morning was glimmering on the Bosphorus as we returned
to the house, where we breakfasted, and then retired to bed with aching
heads and dazzled eyes, to prepare for the fatigues of the morrow.



CHAPTER XX.


  Feasting after Fasting—Visit to the Patriarch—Gorgeous
  Procession—Inconvenient Enthusiasm—Indisposition of the
  Patriarch—The Ceremony of Unrobing—The Impromptu Fair—The
  Patriarch at Home—The Golden Eggs.

To what a breakfast did we sit down the following morning! The long and
rigorous fast was over, and a hearty vengeance was to be taken for the
previous forty days of penance and abstinence. It was amusing to remark
with what interest every dish was examined, and how universally each was
rejected which was not composed of some hitherto forbidden luxury. The
centre of the table was occupied by a porcelain bowl filled with eggs
boiled hard, and stained a fine red with logwood; but it was placed
there merely in compliance with the national custom, as an Easter
emblem; for on this, the first day of emancipation from the thrall of
fast, no individual of the party had a thought to bestow on such
primitive fare.

At the conclusion of the meal, I went, accompanied by my father, and a
fine youth who had escaped from college for the Easter recess, and who
volunteered to act as interpreter, to pay a visit to the Patriarch, who
had expressed a desire to make our acquaintance. We were conducted
through several large, cold, scantily furnished apartments, presenting
rather the appearance of belonging to a barrack than to an episcopal
palace, with their floors thickly strown with bay leaves, which emitted
a delicious perfume as we passed along, to the private sitting-room
overlooking the court of the church, where we seated ourselves to await
the arrival of the Patriarch, who had not yet left the Sanctuary.

A sudden rush from the door of the church called us to the windows,
whence we could distinguish, in the distance, the gorgeous procession
which was conducting the Patriarch home after eight and forty hours of
constant ceremonial. We had ample time to enjoy the spectacle, for the
throng was so dense, that it was with the utmost difficulty that the
beadles and _kavasses_ could force a passage through the excited and
clamorous multitude, for the objects of their overweening and
inconvenient enthusiasm. Nor was the difficulty likely to decrease, for
the crowd were still pouring out from the church, clinging one to the
other to secure their footing, and defying alike the many-thonged whips
of the beadles, and the powerful elbows and staves of the police.

The Patriarch, who had rigorously observed the fast throughout the whole
of Lent; and who had, moreover, only partially recovered from a severe
and lingering illness, was little able, after forty-eight consecutive
hours of exertion, to contend with this unlooked-for and gratuitous
demand upon his energies; and as he moved forward, supported by two of
the Bishops, he continually implored the forbearance of the people, who,
in their eagerness to kiss the hem of his garment, subjected him to no
slight risk of suffocation. But he implored in vain; the crowd shouted
and struggled—the beadles struck and shoved—and the priests threatened
and expostulated—unheeded; while the Patriarch was ultimately lifted
from his feet, and carried to the foot of the great stair leading to the
palace, by half a dozen of his followers.

The solemn chant of the approaching priests instantly re-echoed through
the vast pile, and an avenue was formed from the portal of the building
to the door of the apartment in which we stood. First entered the
incense-bearer, who swung his censor twice or thrice at each extremity
of the room, and then hastily withdrew; and he was almost immediately
followed by the whole train of Bishops, sinking under the weight of
jewels and embroidery in which they were attired, and who took their
places in line along the edge of the divan, and there awaited in
silence the arrival of the two Archbishops who preceded the Patriarch.
The sight was dazzling! On all sides a mass of gold and precious stones,
of tissue and embroidery, presented itself; and the eye actually ached
with gazing. After the lapse of a few seconds, the Great Dignitaries
also arrived: and as I advanced to kiss the hand of the Patriarch, I
felt completely overawed by the magnificence of the spectacle.

The ceremony of unrobing followed, during which the solemn chanting of
the priests, who lined the gallery through which the train had passed,
was never once interrupted; and as the Bishops cast off robe after robe
of costly silk, gorgeous brocade, and glittering tissue, I only
marvelled how they could have supported such a weight of dress amid the
crowd that had so unmercifully pressed upon them below, without sinking
under it!

A furred mantle having been flung over the shoulders of the Patriarch,
he was conducted from the apartment, followed by the Bishops; and we
remained for a time watching the movements of the multitude in the court
beneath, while he prepared himself to receive the numerous visits which
he had to undergo, ere he could enjoy the repose that he so much needed.
Triumphal arches, formed of green boughs and flowering shrubs, had been
hastily set up in every direction, and beneath these stood the sherbet
venders, and confectioners, without whom no festival is complete in the
East.

The church doors were already closed: and the versatile Greeks were now
as ardent and eager in the pursuit of pleasure as they had been but an
hour previously in that of salvation. Most of them were employed in
re-arranging their turbans, which had been unwound in the late struggle;
others were squatted on the ground, eating _yahourt_ (a sort of
coagulated buttermilk) out of small earthen basins, which they emptied
with their forefinger, with a rapidity perfectly surprising; and others
again surrounding a _mohalibè_ merchant, whose large tray, neatly
covered with a white cloth, china saucers, and shining brass spoons
shaped like trowels, enhanced the relish of the dainty that he
dispensed—a species of inferior blanc-manger, eaten with rose-water and
powdered sugar.

A servant having announced that the Patriarch awaited us in another
department, we followed him to a spacious saloon in the opposite wing of
the palace, where we found the magnificent Prelate seated in a cushioned
chair raised a few steps from the floor. He had exchanged his
party-coloured raiment for a flowing robe of violet silk with a falling
collar of velvet, and wore about his neck a massive gold chain, from
which was suspended a star of brilliants. On his right hand were two
baskets of variegated wicker-work; the one containing eggs of a crimson
colour richly gilt, and the other filled with eggs of white and gold;
while on his left-hand, a larger basket was upheaped with others simply
stained with logwood, like those which I had seen on the breakfast
table.

He received us with much politeness; and, through the medium of our
young friend, who made an admirable Dragoman, he asked me several
questions on the impressions which I had received in the East: appeared
gratified at the admiration that I expressed of the gorgeous ceremonial
to which I had so lately been a witness; and regretted that the
exhaustion under which he was then suffering from the fatigues of the
last two days rendered him unable to converse with me, as he had been
desirous of doing.

Coffee and sweetmeats were shortly afterwards served; and, as I was
aware that the anti-room was thronged with persons who were waiting to
pay their compliments to him, I rose to depart; when he presented to me
a couple of the gilded eggs, which he accompanied by a flattering
expression of the pleasure that my visit had afforded to him, and a hope
that he should again see me when his health was re-established. I made
as handsome a reply as I was capable of doing; pressed to my lips the
holy fingers which were extended towards me, and took my leave.

I was not aware, as I received the eggs, of the extent of the
compliment that had been paid to me, which I only learnt accidentally,
on inquiring the origin and meaning of so singular an offering. The
custom, as I was informed, is of so ancient a date, that no reason, save
its antiquity, can now be adduced for its observance; but great ceremony
is kept up in the distribution. To the principal persons of the nation
the Patriarch gives two of those eggs which are gilt, to the next in
rank one gilt and one plain—then follows one gilt—then two plain—and
finally one—but, to each person who is admitted to the presence of the
Patriarch, he is under the necessity of making the offering, be the
guest who he may; and a day is set apart during the week, on which the
whole of the male Greek population of Constantinople have the right to
receive it at his hands, until extreme fatigue obliges him to resign the
office to the Grand-Vicar.

On returning to the house of our friends, we partook of coffee, and the
delicious Easter cake peculiar to the Greeks; and immediately afterwards
embarked in our caïque, which was to convey us to the Echelles des
Morts, in order to witness the festivities of the Armenians in the great
cemetery.



CHAPTER XXI.


  High Street of Pera—Dangers and Donkeys—Travelling in an
  Araba—Fondness of the Orientals for their Cemeteries—Singular
  Spectacle—Moral Supineness of the Armenians—M. Nubar—The
  Fair—Armenian Dance—Anti-Exclusives—Water Venders—Being à
  la Franka—Wrestling Rings—The Battle of the Sects.

The araba was already at the door when we arrived at home; and, weary
with mounting the steep ascent to Pera, I gladly threw myself upon the
crimson mattress, and among the yielding cushions, and prepared to
become a spectator of this new festival in luxurious inaction.

Let no one venture either on foot, on horseback, or in a carriage, along
the all-but-interminable High Street of Pera, on a fête-day, if he be in
a hurry! In the first place, two moderately-sized individuals who chance
to be opposite neighbours may shake hands from their own doors without
moving an inch forward—and in the next, there is no other road from
Topphannè or Galata (the principal landing-places) to the Great
Cemetery. And then the natives of the East have a very sociable, but
extremely inconvenient habit of walking with their arms about each
other’s necks, or holding hands like children in parties of five or
six, although they are obliged, from the narrowness of the thoroughfare,
to move along sideways; but, nevertheless, they will not slacken their
hold until the necessity for so doing becomes sufficiently imperative to
admit no alternative.

[Illustration: A STREET IN PERA]

Another peculiarity attending an Eastern mob is its utter disregard of
being run over, or knocked down: an Oriental will see your horse’s nose
resting on his shoulder, and even then he will not move out of the way
until you compel him; and when your arabajhe warns him that he is almost
under the wheel of the carriage, he looks at him as though he wondered
at the wanton waste of words bestowed upon so insignificant a piece of
information.

But, if the bipeds are difficult of management, the quadrupeds are
altogether unmanageable! Let those whose nerves are shattered by the
rattle of the London carts come here, and have their temper tried by the
donkeys of Constantinople. You have scarcely turned the corner of the
street, and forced your way among the clinging, chattering, lounging
mob, ere you come upon a gang of donkeys—your horse is restless, he
champs the bit, paws with his foreleg, and backs among the crowd, in his
impatience to get on; you must be contented to allow him the privilege
of champing, pawing, and backing, for there is no contending against a
string of a dozen donkeys, laden with tiles.

While you are trying to look amused at your dilemma, and endeavouring
with “favour and fair words” to induce their owner to arrange them in
regular line in order to enable you to pass, you hear a portentous
clatter a hundred yards a-head:—you look forward with foreboding, and
your fears have not misled you: it is, indeed, “the meeting of the
donkeys;” and another gang, heavily charged with earth, or bricks, or
unhewn stone, are gravely approaching to entangle themselves among your
first favourites, and to be dislodged only with blows and kicks very
ill-calculated to pacify either you or your horse.

In an araba your case is still more hopeless; for a horse _must_ get on
at last, by dint of intruding upon the pavement, and impudently poking
his nose into every window; applying his shoulder to the back of one
individual, and whisking his long tail into the face of another—but a
carriage following a carriage must be satisfied to travel at the pace
which may chance to be agreeable to its leader—while a carriage meeting
a carriage is pushed one way, lifted another, driven against the walls
of the houses, and shoved into the kennel, until you begin to consider
it very doubtful whether you possess sufficient strength of wrist and
tenacity of finger, to enable you to remain within, while such violent
proceedings are taking place without. And when to these difficulties are
superadded the inconvenience of a dense, reckless, pleasure-seeking mob,
it must be conceded on all hands that the progress along the High Street
of Pera on a festival day is by no means “easy travelling.”

On the occasion of which I am about to speak we encountered three
detachments of donkeys, four arabas, six horses laden with timber, and a
flock of sheep—fortunately, we were by no means pressed for time;
though how we escaped victimizing a few of the supine subjects of his
Sublime Highness, I cannot take upon me to explain.

I have already spoken elsewhere of the indifference, if not absolute
enjoyment, with which the inhabitants of the East frequent their
burying-grounds; but on the occasion of this festival I was more
impressed than ever by the extent to which it is carried. The whole of
the Christian Cemetery had assumed the appearance of a fair—nor was
this all, for the very tombs of the dead were taxed to enhance the
comforts of the living; and many was the tent whose centre table,
covered with a fringed cloth, and temptingly spread with biscuits,
sweetmeats, and sherbet, was the stately monument of some departed
Armenian! Grave-stones steadied the poles which supported the
swings—divans, comfortably overlaid with cushions, were but
chintz-covered sepulchres—the step that enabled the boy to reach his
seat in the merry-go-round was the earth which had been heaped upon the
breast of the man whose course was run—the same trees flung their long
shadows over the sports of the living and the slumbers of the dead—the
kibaub merchants had dug hollows to cook their dainties under the
shelter of the tombs—and the smoking booths were amply supplied with
seats and counters from the same wide waste of death.

On one side, a slender train of priests were committing a body to the
earth, and mingling their lugubrious chant with the shrill instruments
of a party of dancers; on the other, a patrol of dismounted lancers were
threading among the many-coloured tents, in order to maintain an order
which the heavy-witted Armenians lacked all inclination to break.

I never saw a set of people who bore so decidedly the stamp of having
been born to slavery as the Armenians: they seem even to love the rattle
of their chains; they have no high feeling, no emulation, no enthusiasm,
no longing for “a place among the nations;” no aspirations after the
bright and the beautiful; no ideas, in short, beyond a pitiful imitation
of their Moslem masters, whom they consider as the _ne plus ultra_ of
all perfection.

The appearance of the upper class of Armenians I have already described.
Give them a more becoming head-dress, and their costume is surpassingly
graceful; but their advantages are all external; their dreams are all of
piastres; they have no soul. If you talk to them of their subjection to
the Osmanli, what do they reply? “All that you say may be very true, but
it does not concern me—my affairs are in a most prosperous condition.”

It is impossible to make them sensible of their own social position;
they listen, twirl their mustachioes, flourish their white
handkerchiefs, replenish their chibouks, utter from time to time
“_pekké,_” (very well), with an inane smile, and ultimately walk away,
as well satisfied with themselves and with their tyrants as though the
subject were one of the most irrelevant nature.

From this sweeping accusation of apathy and self-depreciation, even
after many months passed in the East, I can except only one individual;
but that one is indeed a rare and a bright example to the rest of his
countrymen. To those travellers who have visited Constantinople, and who
have had the pleasure and advantage of his acquaintance, I need scarcely
say that I allude to M. Nubar, the eminent merchant of Galata, whose
extensive information, sound judgment, and habitual courtesy, render his
friendship extremely valuable to those who are fortunate enough to
secure it.

To return, however, to the festival of the Champ des Morts, from which I
have digressed. Every hundred yards that we advanced, the scene became
more striking. One long line of diminutive tents formed a temporary
street of eating-houses; there were kibaubs, pillauf, fritters, pickled
vegetables, soups, rolls stuffed with fine herbs, sausages, fried fish,
bread of every quality, and cakes of all dimensions. Escaping from this
too savoury locality, we found ourselves among the sherbet venders,
whose marquees, lined with blue or crimson, were pitched with more
precision and regard to comfort and convenience than those of the
_restaurateurs_. Mirrors, bouquets, and a display of goblets of all
shapes and sizes, were skilfully set forth in many of them; some even
indulged in the luxury of pictures, which were universally-glaring and
highly-coloured French prints of female heads, of the most common
description; and in these tents chairs and cushions were alike provided
for the guests; while in one corner stood the mangal, ready to supply
the necessary fragment of live coal for igniting the chibouk.

Scattered among these more assuming establishments were the stands of
the itinerant merchants, whose little cupolaed fountains threw up a
slender thread of water to the accompaniment of a tinkling sound,
produced by the contact of half a dozen thin plates of metal; while a
circle of sherbet glasses, filled with liquids of different colours, and
interspersed with green boughs, and suspended lemons, looked so cool and
refreshing that they were more tempting by far than the aristocratic
establishments of the marquee owners. Here and there a flat tomb,
fancifully covered with gold-embroidered handkerchiefs, was overspread
with sweetmeats and preserved fruits; while, in the midst of these rival
establishments, groups of men were seated in a circle, wherever a little
shade could be obtained, smoking their long pipes in silence, with
their diminutive coffee-cups resting on the ground beside them. The
wooden kiosk overhanging the Bosphorus was crowded; and many a party was
snugly niched among the acacias, with their backs resting against the
tombs, and the sunshine flickering at their feet.

But the leading feature of the festival was the Armenian dance, that was
going forward in every direction, and which was so perfectly
characteristic of the people that it merits particular mention. A large
circle was formed, frequently consisting of between forty and fifty
individuals, (chance comers falling in as they pleased without question
or hindrance) holding each other by the hand, or round the neck, and
wedged closely together so as to form a compact body; the leader of the
dance being the only one who detached himself from the rest, and held
the person next to him at arm’s length. In the centre of the ring stood,
and sometimes danced, the musician, whose instrument was either a
species of small, cracked guitar, with wire strings, which he struck
with very slender regard to either time or tune; or a bagpipe precisely
similar to that of Scotland, but not played in the same spirit-stirring
style, the Armenian performer making no attempt at any thing beyond
noise, and never by any accident forming three consecutive notes which
harmonized; but his hearers were not fastidious, and the music was, at
least, in good keeping with the dance. Beside the minstrel, such as I
have described him, moved the buffoon of the company, who also, by some
extraordinary and perfectly Armenian concatenation of ideas, acted as
Master of the Ceremonies.

The leader flourished a painted muslin handkerchief, while he lifted up
first one foot and then the other, as fowls do sometimes in a farmyard;
poising the body on one leg for an instant, and then changing the
position. This movement was followed by the whole of the party with more
or less awkwardness; and thus hopping, balancing, and shifting their
feet, they slowly worked round and round the circle, without changing
either the time or the movement for several consecutive hours; the
different individuals falling in and out of the ring as their
inclination prompted, without disturbing in the slightest degree the
economy of the dance. There was nothing exclusive in these Terpsichorean
circles, where the smart serving-man’s neck was clasped by the sinewy
hand of the street-porter, and where the embroidered Albanian legging
and European shoe were placed in juxtaposition with the bare limb and
heelless slipper. There must have been at least a dozen of these dances
going forward in the fair, (for such I may truly call it), with a
perseverance and solemnity perfectly astonishing, when it is remembered
that many of the individuals thus engaged had walked five and six
leagues to share in the festival, and would have no resting-place but
the earth whereon to sleep away their fatigue.

Great was the commerce of the water-venders, who traversed the crowd in
every direction, with their classically formed earthen jars upon their
shoulders, and their crystal goblets in their hands, who, for a couple
of _paras_, poured forth a draught of sparkling water, which almost made
one thirsty to look at it; and were as particular and punctilious in
cleansing the glass after every customer, as though they were under the
_surveillance_ of his successor.

A few, a very few, of the revellers had indulged in deeper potations,
and were exhibiting proofs of their inebriety in their unsteady gait and
uncertain utterance; but intemperance is not _yet_ the common vice of
the East; although it bids fair in time to become such. A very talented
and distinguished individual, with whom I was lately conversing on the
subject of the different degrees of civilization attained by particular
nations, said of the Russians that they had commenced with champagne and
ballet-dancers. Glorious was it, therefore, for the half dozen Armenians
who were staggering among the crowd, to have profited as far as they
could by so brilliant an example. Being intoxicated is, according to
the Eastern phraseology, being _à la Franka_.

Apart from the crowd were wrestling-rings, where the combatants
exhibited their prowess precisely after the fashion of the Ancient
Romans; and on all sides were bands of Bohemians, as dark-eyed and as
voluble as the gipsies of Europe.

The festival lasted three days, and not a single hand nor voice was
raised in violence during the whole period; when, as if resolved to
vindicate themselves from the aspersion of utter insensibility, the
Catholic and Schismatic sects terminated their sports with a regular
fight, in front of an Armenian church in Galata. The Schismatic party
were returning to the place of embarkation in order to pass over to
Constantinople, and singing at the pitch of their voices, at the precise
moment when a priest of the opposite sect was performing mass in the
church. A messenger was despatched to the revellers to enforce silence
until they had quitted the precincts of the chapel; but his errand was a
vain one; the Schismatics were not to be controlled; a crowd
collected—the merits of the case were explained—the Catholics became
furious, and insisted on the instant departure of the intruders—the
Schismatics waxed valiant, and refused to move—and, finally, after a
fight in which many blows were given and received, the Turks stepped in
as mediators, and carried off a score of the combatants to Stamboul,
where they were detained for the night, fined a few piastres, and
dismissed like a set of lubberly schoolboys, who had wound up a holyday
with a boxing-match!



CHAPTER XXII.


  The Mosques at Midnight—Baron Rothschild—Firmans and
  Orders—A Proposition—Masquerading—St. Sophia by
  Lamplight—The Congregation—The Mosque of Sultan
  Achmet—Colossal Pillars—Return to the Harem—The
  Chèïk-Islam—Count Bathiany—The Party—St. Sophia by
  Daylight—Erroneous Impression—Turkish Paradise—Piety of the
  Turkish Women—The Vexed Traveller—Disappointment—Confusion
  of Architecture—The Sweating Stone—Women’s Gallery—View from
  the Gallery—Gog and Magog at Constantinople—The Impenetrable
  Door—Ancient Tradition—Leads of the Mosque—Gallery of the
  Dome—The Doves—The Atmeidan—The Tree of Groans—The Mosque
  of Sultan Achmet—Antique Vases—Historical Pulpit—The Inner
  Court—The Six Minarets—The Mosque of Solimaniè—Painted
  Windows—Ground-plan of the Principal Mosques—The Treasury of
  Solimaniè—Mausoleum of Solyman the Magnificent—Model of the
  Mosque at Mecca—Mausoleums in General—Indispensable
  Accessories—The Medresch—Mosque of Sultan Mahmoud at
  Topphannè.

Although I am about to describe to my readers a morning at the mosques,
I must nevertheless first conduct them into the mosques at midnight, by
recounting a visit to St. Sophia and Sultan Achmet, which I have
hitherto forborne to mention, in the hope (since realized) of being
enabled, ere my departure from Constantinople, both to form and to
impart a better idea of these magnificent edifices than my first
adventurous survey had rendered me capable of doing.

During a visit that I made to a Turkish family, with whom I had become
acquainted, the conversation turned on the difficulty of obtaining a
Firman to see the mosques; when it was stated that Baron Rothschild was
the only private individual to whom the favour had ever been accorded:
(probably upon the same principle that the Pope instituted the order of
St. Gregory, and bestowed the first decoration upon the Hebraic
Crœsus) and that travellers were thus dependent on the uncertain
chance of encountering, during their residence in Turkey, some
distinguished person to whom the marble doors were permitted to fall
back.

In vain I questioned and cross-questioned; I failed to obtain a ray of
hope beyond the very feeble one held out by this infrequent casualty;
and I could not refrain from expressing the bitterness of my
disappointment, with an emphasis which convinced my Musselmaun hearers
that I was sincere.

Hours passed away, and other subjects had succeeded to this most
interesting one, when, as the evening closed in, I remarked that ——
Bey, the eldest son of the house, was carrying on a very energetic
_sotto voce_ conversation with his venerable father; and I was not a
little astonished when he ultimately informed me, in his imperfect
French, that there was one method of visiting the mosques, if I had
nerve to attempt it, which would probably prove successful; and that, in
the event of my resolving to run the risk, he was himself so convinced
of its practicability, that he would accompany me, with the consent of
his father, attended by the old Kïara, or House-steward; upon the
understanding (and on this the grey-bearded Effendi had resolutely
insisted) that in the event of detection it was to be _sauve qui peut_;
an arrangement that would enable his son at once to elude pursuit, if he
exercised the least ingenuity or caution.

What European traveller, possessed of the least spirit of adventure,
would refuse to encounter danger in order to stand beneath the dome of
St. Sophia? And, above all, what wandering Giaour could resist the
temptation of entering a mosque during High Prayer?

These were the questions that I asked myself as the young Bey vowed
himself so gallantly to the venture, (to him, in any case, not without
its dangers) in order to avert from me the disappointment which I
dreaded.

I at once understood that the attempt must be made in a Turkish dress;
but this fact was of trifling importance, as no costume in the world
lends itself more readily or more conveniently to the purposes of
disguise. After having deliberately weighed the chances for and against
detection, I resolved to run the risk; and accordingly I stained my
eyebrows with some of the dye common in the harem; concealed my female
attire beneath a magnificent pelisse, lined with sables, which fastened
from my chin to my feet; pulled a _fèz_ low upon my brow; and, preceded
by a servant with a lantern, attended by the Bey, and followed by the
Kïara and a pipe-bearer, at half-past ten o’clock I sallied forth on my
adventurous errand.

We had not mentioned to either the wife or the mother of the Bey whither
we were bound, being fearful of alarming them unnecessarily; and they
consequently remained perfectly satisfied with the assurance of the old
gentleman, that I was anxious to see the Bosphorus by moonlight; though
a darker night never spread its mantle over the earth.

I am extremely doubtful whether, on a less exciting occasion, I could
have kept time with the rapid pace of my companion, over the vile
pavement of Constantinople; as it was, however, I dared not give way,
lest any one among the individuals who followed us, and who were perhaps
bound on the same errand, should penetrate my disguise.

“If we escape from St. Sophia unsuspected,” said my chivalrous friend,
“we will then make another bold attempt; we will visit the mosque of
Sultan Achmet; and as this is a high festival, if you risk the
adventure, you will have done what no Infidel has ever yet dared to do;
but I forewarn you that, should you be discovered, and fail to make your
escape on the instant, you will be torn to pieces.”

This assertion somewhat staggered me, and for an instant my woman-spirit
quailed; I contented myself, however, with briefly replying: “When we
leave St. Sophia, we will talk of this,” and continued to walk beside
him in silence. At length we entered the spacious court of the mosque,
and as the servants stooped to withdraw my shoes, the Bey murmured in my
ear: “Be firm, or you are lost!”—and making a strong effort to subdue
the feeling of mingled awe and fear, which was rapidly stealing over me,
I pulled the _fèz_ deeper upon my eyebrows, and obeyed.

On passing the threshold, I found myself in a covered peristyle, whose
gigantic columns of granite are partially sunk in the wall of which they
form a part; the floor was covered with fine matting, and the coloured
lamps, which were suspended in festoons from the lofty ceiling, shed a
broad light on all the surrounding objects. In most of the recesses
formed by the pillars, beggars were crouched down, holding in front of
them their little metal basins, to receive the _paras_ of the
charitable; while servants lounged to and fro, or squatted in groups
upon the matting, awaiting the egress of their employers. As I looked
around me, our own attendant moved forward, and raising the curtain
which veiled a double door of bronze, situated at mid-length of the
peristyle, I involuntarily shrank back before the blaze of light that
burst upon me.

Far as the eye could reach upwards, circles of coloured fire, appearing
as if suspended in mid-air, designed the form of the stupendous dome;
while beneath, devices of every shape and colour were formed by myriads
of lamps of various hues: the Imperial closet, situated opposite to the
pulpit, was one blaze of refulgence, and its gilded lattices flashed
back the brilliancy, till it looked like a gigantic meteor!

As I stood a few paces within the doorway, I could not distinguish the
limits of the edifice—I looked forward, upward—to the right hand, and
to the left—but I could only take in a given space, covered with human
beings, kneeling in regular lines, and at a certain signal bowing their
turbaned heads to the earth, as if one soul and one impulse animated the
whole congregation; while the shrill chanting of the choir pealed
through the vast pile, and died away in lengthened cadences among the
tall dark pillars which support it.

And this was St. Sophia! To me it seemed like a creation of
enchantment—the light—the ringing voices—the mysterious extent, which
baffled the earnestness of my gaze—the ten thousand turbaned Moslems,
all kneeling with their faces turned towards Mecca, and at intervals
laying their foreheads to the earth—the bright and various colours of
the dresses—and the rich and glowing tints of the carpets that veiled
the marble floor—all conspired to form a scene of such unearthly
magnificence, that I felt as though there could be no reality in what I
looked on, but that, at some sudden signal, the towering columns would
fail to support the vault of light above them, and all would become
void.

I had forgotten every thing in the mere exercise of vision;—the danger
of detection—the flight of time—almost my own identity—when my
companion uttered the single word “_Gel_—Come”—and, passing forward to
another door on the opposite side of the building, I instinctively
followed him, and once more found myself in the court.

What a long breath I drew, as the cold air swept across my forehead! I
felt like one who has suddenly stepped beyond the circle of an
enchanter, and dissolved the spell of some mighty magic.

“Whither shall we now bend our way?” asked my companion, as we resumed
our shoes.

“To Sultan Achmet,”—I answered briefly. I could not have bestowed many
words on my best friend at that moment; the very effort at speech was
painful.

In ten minutes more we stood before the mosque of Sultan Achmet, and,
ascending the noble flight of steps which lead to the principal
entrance, we again cast off our shoes, and entered the temple.

Infinitely less vast than St. Sophia, this mosque impressed me with a
feeling of awe, much greater than that which I had experienced in
visiting its more stately neighbour—four colossal pillars of marble,
five or six feet in circumference, support the dome, and these were
wreathed with lamps, even to the summit; while the number of lights
suspended from the ceiling gave the whole edifice the appearance of a
space overhung with stars. We entered at a propitious moment, for the
Faithful were performing their prostrations, and had consequently no
time to speculate on our appearance; the chanting was wilder and
shriller than that which I had just heard at St. Sophia; it sounded to
me, in fact, more like the delirious outcry, which we may suppose to
have been uttered by a band of Delphic Priestesses, than the voices of a
choir of uninspired human beings.

We passed onward over the yielding carpets, which returned no sound
beneath our footsteps: and there was something strangely supernatural
in the spectacle of several human beings moving along, without creating
a single echo in the vast space they traversed. We paused an instant
beside the marble-arched platform, on which the muezzin was performing
his prostrations to the shrill cry of the choir;—we lingered another,
to take a last look at the kneeling thousands who were absorbed in their
devotions; and then, rapidly descending into the court, my companion
uttered a hasty congratulation on the successful issue of our bold
adventure, to which I responded a most heartfelt ‘Amen’—and in less
than an hour, I cast off my _fèz_ and my pelisse in the harem
of——Effendi, and exclaimed to its astonished inmates:—“I have seen
the mosques!”

Knowing what I now know of the Turks, I would not run the same risk a
second time, though the Prophet’s Beard were to be my recompense. There
are some circumstances in which ignorance of the extent of the danger is
its best antidote.

But the feeling that remained on my mind was vague even to pain; I had
seen St. Sophia, it is true, and seen it in all the glory of its million
lamps; I had beheld it at a moment when no christian eye had ever
heretofore looked on it; and when detection would have involved instant
destruction. I had lifted aside the veil from the Holy of
Holies—witnessed the prostration which followed the thrilling cry of
“Allah Il Allah!”—and polluted, with the breath of a Giaour, the
atmosphere of the True Believers—I had looked upon the Chèïk-Islam, as
he stood with his face turned Mecca-ward, his pale brow cinctured with
gold, and his stately figure draped in white cachemere—and I had stood
erect when every head was bowed, and every knee bent at the name of the
Prophet; but still I had no definite idea of the mosque of St. Sophia;
on the contrary, the wish that I had formerly felt to visit it grew to a
positive craving from the hour in which I found myself at midnight
beneath its fire-girdled dome, and glanced out into the deep and
mysterious darkness beyond; and it was not until months afterwards that
it was satisfied, when the arrival of Count Bathiany, an Hungarian
nobleman, brother to the Princess Metternich, gave an opportunity to the
curious of indulging their lion-hunting propensities.

The party assembled at half-past ten in the morning at one of the gates
of the city, near the Seraglio wall, known by the name of “The Gate of
the Garden.” There were horsemen and pedestrians—ladies in arabas, and
on foot—spruce _attachés_, grave elderly gentlemen, anxious
antiquaries, officers of the navy, dragomen, foreign nobles, native
servants, and a motley train of sailors and attendants, carrying the
slippers of their several masters.

But if the eye were confused by the number of objects by which it was
attracted as our party passed, procession-like, through the narrow
streets, amid the comments and not unfrequently the scowls of the Turks,
who bear but impatiently this licensed profanation of their temples; the
ear was infinitely more so by the confusion of languages which assailed
it on all sides; here, two Russians almost set your teeth on edge as
they exchanged a few sentences—there, a couple of Germans deluded you
for the first moment into a belief that they were conversing in
English—on one side, a dark-eyed stranger begged your pardon in his low
soft Italian, for an awkwardness of which you were not conscious, and
thus gave himself an opportunity of addressing you during the morning,
without rudeness—and on the other, two smart midshipmen laughed out in
the lightness of their hearts words which told of home, because they
were breathed in the language of your own land—while a constant chorus
of Turkish, Greek, and Arab, was kept up by the attendants in the rear.

At length we reached St. Sophia; and I felt my heart beat quicker, as I
once more traversed the flagged court, and passed the elegant fountain,
at which the Faithful perform their ablutions; with its projecting
octagonal roof, its marble basin, and its covering of close iron
net-work, to protect the spring from the pollution of the birds.

At the entrance of the peristyle to which I have before alluded, we put
on the slippers we had provided, and, as soon as we had all passed, the
doors were closed.

How different was the aspect of every object around me from that which
it wore on my last visit! Then, all was refulgent with light; and now, a
sacred gloom hung upon the dark walls, and floated like a veil about our
path. Few were they who did not pass on in silence; for there is a power
and a sublimity in scenes like the one I am attempting to describe,
which overawe for awhile even the most vulgar minds; while to the
susceptible and contemplative the spell is deepened a thousand-fold.

One burst, rather of sound than speech—the wordless tribute of
irrepressible admiration—heralded our passage across the block of
porphyry upon which close the interior doors of the mosque; and in less
than a moment the richly carpeted floor of marble, porphyry, jasper, and
verd-antique, was mosaiced with groups of gazers throughout its whole
extent. Some stood riveted to the spot on which they had first halted,
as if touched by the wand of an enchanter, and scarcely stirring a limb
in the excess of their absorbing contemplation; others hurried rapidly
along, as though breathless with eager and impatient curiosity—one
tall, pale man, with amber-coloured mustachioes and long thin fingers,
was already taking notes, with his little red book resting against the
boots that he carried in his hand; and a couple of antiquaries were just
commencing a dispute _sotto voce_ relatively to some pillars of Egyptian
granite on the left hand side of the temple.

Nor were the Imams idle; for they had instantly detected the unhandsome
intrusion of one traveller with his boots on; an insult so great, that
no Moslem can tolerate it; and they were busily employed in compelling
their removal: accompanying the ceremony with certain epithets addressed
to the Giaour, with which, if he were unfortunate enough to understand
them, he had no opportunity of feeling flattered.

Our party were not, however, the only tenants of the vast pile. A group
of Ulemas were engaged in prayer as we entered, nor did they suffer our
presence to interfere with their devotions; and almost in the centre of
the floor knelt a party of women similarly engaged, while a couple of
children, who had accompanied them, were chasing each other over the
rich carpets.

An erroneous impression has obtained in Europe that females do not
attend, or rather, I should perhaps say, are not permitted to enter, the
mosques; this, as I have just shewn, is by no means the case; the
entrance is forbidden to them only during the midnight prayer. And, in
like manner, I had been taught to believe, before I visited the country,
that the Turks denied to their women the possession of souls: this is as
false a position as the other. It is true that the lordly Moslem claims
a paradise apart; where Hourii are to wreathe his brow with
ever-blooming flowers—pour his sherbet in streams of perfume into its
crystal vase—and fill his chibouk with fragrance.[5] But, amid these
voluptuous dreams, he does not quite overlook the eternal interests of
his mere earthly partner; I do not believe that her future enjoyments
are as clearly defined as those which he arrogates to himself—there is
a little harem-like mystery flung over the destiny that awaits her; but,
meanwhile, he does not altogether shut her out from the promise of a
hereafter, from which he himself anticipates so full a portion of
felicity.

The Turkish women are intuitively pious; the exercises of religion are
admirably suited to their style of existence. In the seclusion of the
harem the hour of prayer is an epoch of unwearying interest to the
whole of its inhabitants; and there is something touching and beautiful
in the humility with which, when they have spread their prayer-carpets,
they veil themselves with a scarf of white muslin, ere they intrude into
the immediate presence of their Maker.

Being aware of all this, the appearance of females in the mosque of St.
Sophia did not produce the same effect upon me as upon many of the
party. Those who were lately from Europe could scarcely believe their
eyes; and when, in reply to the remark of a person who stood near me,
expressing his astonishment at such an apparition, I explained to him
that the presence of females in the different mosques was of constant
and hourly occurrence, he looked so exceedingly annoyed at the sweeping
away of his ancient prejudices, that I verily believe he thought the
deficiency of the whole female Empire of Turkey must be transferred to
my own little person, and that I, at least, could have no soul.

Upon the whole, the first view of St. Sophia disappointed me; I had
carried away an idea of much greater extent; spacious as it was, I could
now see from one extremity of the wide edifice to the other—I was no
longer bewildered by the blaze of innumerable lights—and I know not
wherefore, but I regretted the mysterious indistinctness of outline
which had thralled me during my midnight visit.

Ignorant as I am also of architecture as a science, I have a sufficient
perception of the beautiful and the symmetrical, to make me lament the
incongruous medley of different orders and materials by which I was
surrounded. What gigantic pillars encircle the dome!—What individual
treasures are collected together! But with what recklessness are they
forced into juxtaposition! Columns of varying sizes and proportions;
some of Egyptian granite, others of porphyry, others again of scagliola,
and various precious marbles, are scattered, like the fragments of many
distinct buildings, throughout the whole body of the edifice. The eye is
bewildered, and the mind remains unsatisfied.

Eight of the porphyry pillars are relics of the temple of Heliopolis;
while those of _verd-antique_ are from that of Ephesus. The walls are
lined with marble, jasper, porphyry, and verd-antique, to the height of
a gallery which surrounds the temple; and which, like the base of the
building, is floored with rich marbles, and supported by plain columns
of the same material. But the dome, which was formerly adorned with
minute mosaics, was white-washed when the Turks converted St. Sophia
into a mosque; and the original richness of the design is now only to
be deciphered in spots where the plaster has fallen away; added to
which, the inferior Imams attached to the building make a trade of the
fragments of mosaic that they are continually tearing down, and which
are eagerly bought up by travellers, who thus encourage a Vandalism
whose destructive effects are irreparable.

Before we ascended to the gallery, we were introduced to one of the
miracles of the place, in the shape of a column; a portion of whose
surface is cased with iron, in one part of which a deep cavity is worn
away beneath the metal; and into this orifice the visiter is invited to
insert his finger, in order to convince himself of the humidity of the
marble. This column is called by the Imams “the Sweating Stone;” but if
the indignation of the inanimate matter at the transformation of a
Christian temple into a Mahommedan mosque have really reduced it to a
state of perpetual and palpable perspiration, I am under the necessity
of confessing that the miracle was not wrought for me; for, on making
the trial, I was conscious only of an extreme chill.

Hence we ascended by a very dilapidated and crumbling spiral stair to
the gallery, devoted originally to the use of the women, and capacious
enough to contain several hundreds; and here the mosaic merchants
plunged their hands into their breasts, and from amid the folds of their
garments drew forth some thousands of the gilt and coloured stones which
they had torn away from the elaborately-ornamented dome.

These were soon disposed of, and then we were permitted to contemplate
at our ease the marvels of the mighty pile, with its vast uncumbered
space, its bronzed columns, (many of them clamped with iron to enable
them to resist more powerfully the ravages of time,) and the huge,
shapeless, mystic-looking masses of dark shadow immediately beneath the
dome, which, after you have lost yourself in a thousand vague
conjectures on their nature and purport, turn out to be nothing more
than the mere daubing of some journeyman painter for the purpose of
effacing two mighty cherubim, that, in days of yore, pointed to the
Christian votary the way to Heaven, but which now, in the dim twilight
of the place, look like familiar spirits, shapeless and grim, guarding
the accumulated relics of the days of paganism, congregated beneath
them.

The view from this gallery, at the upper extremity of the mosque, is
extremely imposing; from that point you take in, and feel, all the
extent of the edifice, whose effect is rendered the more striking, from
the fact that it is entirely laid bare beneath you, being totally free
from the divisions and subdivisions which in Catholic chapels are
necessary for the location of the different shrines. Plain and
unornamented, save by the casing of marble already alluded to, the walls
tower upward in severe beauty, until they reach the base of the stately
dome, which is poized, as if by some mighty magic, on the capitals of a
circle of gigantic and rudely fashioned pillars; immediately beneath you
are the columns that support the gallery in which you stand, throughout
the whole extent of the temple; while on your left hand the marble
pulpit, with its flight of noble steps, shut in by a finely sculptured
door of the same material, and on your right the Imperial closet, with
its gilded lattices, complete the detail of the picture.

The two huge waxen candles occupying the sides of the arched recess, or
_mihrab_, at the eastern end of the building, are lighted every night,
and last exactly twelve months; they are the very Gog and Magog of
wax-chandlery, and must be at least eighteen inches in circumference.

In making the tour of the gallery, we came upon a door that had been
stopped with masonry; the frame into which it had originally fitted is
of white marble, and remains quite perfect. There are traces of violence
on the brick-work, which appears to have been secured by some powerful
cement that has indurated with age, until it has acquired the solidity
of stone, and has become capable of resisting any ordinary effort to
remove it; and this door is the second miracle of St. Sophia.

The legend runs that the united attempts of all the masons of Stamboul
are powerless against the rude masonry that blocks the entrance of this
passage, by reason of a wondrous and most potent talisman, which human
means have as yet failed to weaken; but that it conducts to an apartment
in which a Greek Bishop is seated before a reading-desk perusing an open
volume of so holy a nature, that no Moslem eye must ever rest upon it.
Nor does the tradition end here, for both the Turks and Greeks have a
firm faith in the prophecies which have been made, that St. Sophia will
one day revert to the Christians, on which occasion the walled-up Bishop
will emerge from his concealment, and chant a solemn high mass at the
great altar.

The latter portion of the legend would imply that the superstition is of
remote origin. I felt glad of this—these mystic imaginings require to
be enveloped in the mist of centuries, in order to elevate the
ridiculous into the sublime, and to attract our fancy without revolting
our reason.

From the gallery we passed out upon the leads that cover the inferior
cupolas of the building, and screen the mausoleums of the Sultans, and
other distinguished personages, whose ashes repose within the holy
precincts of St. Sophia; and, after traversing a number of these, and
crouching through several low and narrow stone passages, stopping at
intervals to contemplate the magnificent views that were spread out
beneath us on all sides, and which varied every moment as we advanced,
we at length found ourselves at the foot of the ruinous and crumbling
stair, or rather ascent, (for the traces of steps are almost worn away)
leading to the gallery encircling the dome.

Few of the party were disheartened by the difficulty; and accordingly we
slipped and scrambled towards the summit, and resolved to see all the
marvels of the place; but when the narrow door which opens from the
gallery was flung back by the guide, “a change came o’er the spirit of
our dream”—and out of the hundred individuals who were lion-hunting at
St. Sophia, there were only seven who possessed nerve enough to make the
tour of the dome. Many a fair lady and gallant knight leant for an
instant over the slender fence, and looked down into the body of the
building while clinging firmly to the rail; gazing on men reduced to the
dimensions of pigmies, and wide carpets dwindled to the proportions of a
pocket handkerchief; but a brief survey contented them, and they drew
back from the dizzy spectacle, with swimming heads and aching eyes.

Seven individuals only, as I have already mentioned, detached themselves
from the throng, of which number I was one; and I understood at once the
secret of the line of light that had struck me so forcibly on the night
of my first visit, when I remarked the clustered lamps which were still
attached to the lower railing of the gallery; and I wondered no longer
at the sublime effect they had produced, as I perceived the immense
height at which they had been placed.

The path we had to follow was about a foot in width, and the slight
railing that protected it was secured by iron bars to the wall beyond;
but in two places the projecting ledge that formed the passage had lost
its horizontal position, and sloped downwards at the outer edge, giving
a most uncomfortable projection to the wooden fence; these little
inconveniences were, however, amply compensated by the sublime effect of
the edifice, seen thus, as it seemed, from the clouds; while the
beautiful proportions of the dome became tenfold more evident as the eye
took in its whole extent, unbewildered by the immense space which had
baffled it from below.

While I stood gazing on the magnificent spectacle spread out beneath
me, a couple of doves winged their tranquil flight across the body of
the mosque, to their resting-places on the opposite side of the
building. As these birds are held sacred by the Musselmauns, they abound
about all their public edifices, and multiply to an extraordinary
extent; and their appearance, at a moment when my fancy was awakened,
and my feelings excited, by the objects of beauty and of grandeur that
surrounded me, produced an effect so powerful as to give birth to a very
different train of ideas from those in which I had previously been
indulging.[6]

The tour of the gallery completed our survey of the far-famed St.
Sophia; and flinging off the slippers which we had drawn over our shoes,
we exchanged the marble floor, covered with yielding carpets, for the
steep and stony streets leading to the mosque of Sultan Achmet.

On passing through the Atmeidan (or Place of Horses) on one side of
which the mosque is situated, a large plane tree was pointed out to me,
from whose branches Sultan Mahmoud caused several of the principal
Janissaries to be hanged, during the destruction of that formidable
body, whence it is called by the Turks “the Tree of Groans.” The
exterior of the building was already familiar to me, as it was from the
courtyard of Sultan Achmet that I had seen the procession of the
Kourban-Baïram; but of its interior I retained only the same dreamy,
indistinct impression which I had carried away on the same occasion from
St. Sophia.

The mosque of Sultan Achmet is remarkable for the immensity of the four
colossal columns that support the dome, to which I have already alluded;
and from the fact that the decree against the Janissaries was unrolled
and read by the Chief Priest from its marble pulpit. An air of solemn
and religious grandeur is shed over it by the dim twilight that enters
through the windows of clouded glass; and it possesses a side gallery,
roofed with mosaic and supported by marble pillars, which produces a
very pleasing effect; but beyond this, there is little to attract in its
detail, if, indeed, I except the curious and valuable collection of
antique vases, many of them richly inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and
various coloured stones, (and all of them, as the Imam assured us,
authentic) which are suspended from the transverse bars of iron that
support the lamps, intermixed with ostrich eggs, bunches of corn in the
ear, and similar symbols of abundance.

The inner court of the mosque is truly beautiful, being surrounded by an
open cloister supported by graceful columns in the Arabian taste, whose
capitals resemble clusters of stalactites, and whose slender shafts
shoot upwards almost with the lightness of a minaret. In the centre of
the court, a stately fountain pours forth its sparkling waters; and on
the left hand as you enter is situated the marble balcony from which are
read all the Imperial Firmans that possess public interest. Near the
gate of entrance, stands an immense block of porphyry of singular
beauty, resting upon two masses of stone; on which the dead are exposed
previous to their interment; no corpse being permitted to defile the
interior of the mosque, and the Sultans themselves having the funeral
prayers read over them in the open air.

The mosque of Sultan Achmet is the only one in the city that has six
minarets. This peculiarity arose from the desire of the Sultan to be the
first monarch who should build a mosque in his capital, rivalling that
of Mecca in the number of its minarets; but, as this could not be done
without permission of the Mufti, compliance with the Imperial request
was delayed, until steps had been taken to increase those at Mecca to
seven, as it was not deemed expedient for any other mosque to enjoy the
same privileges as that which is sanctified by the presence of the
Prophet’s Tomb.

These minarets are arranged with the most beautiful taste: two of them
are attached to the main body of the building, while the four others
pierce through the dense foliage of the stately forest trees which
encircle the mosque, with an irregularity singularly graceful. Their
transparent galleries of perforated masonry (three in number) girdle the
slender shafts with the lightness and delicacy of net-work, and their
pointed spires, touched with gold, gleam out like stars through the
clear blue of the surrounding horizon.

From the mosque of Sultan Achmet we proceeded to that of Solimaniè,
built by Solyman the Magnificent, which is considered to be the most
elegant edifice in Stamboul. Its interior is eminently cheerful and
attractive; and the splendid windows of stained glass are the spoils of
its founder, who, subsequently to a victory obtained over the Persians,
bore them away in triumph to enrich the present building, which was then
in a state of progression. The four pillars that support the dome are
slight and well-proportioned; but the four porphyry columns which form
the angles of the temple are the boast of the edifice; they originally
served as pedestals to as many antique statues, and are of surpassing
symmetry. St. Sophia, amid all the remains which are collected beneath
its roof, possesses nothing so fine; and, independently of these, there
is a greater attempt at architectural elaboration throughout the whole
building, than in either of the mosques that we had previously visited.

The pulpit is very peculiar, being shaped somewhat like the blossom of
the aram, which it the more resembles from the fact that the marble
whereof it is formed is of the most snowy whiteness; and the great doors
of the main entrance are richly inlaid with devices of mother-of-pearl.

Attached to the wall, near the platform of the muezzin, hangs a long
scroll of parchment, on which are traced, in black and gold, the
ground-plans of the five principal mosques in the world—viz. those of
Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, St. Sophia, and Adrianople. It is evidently of
great antiquity, and was precisely the description of relic which an
antiquary would have valued; while even to the unscientific it was an
object of considerable interest.

There is one peculiarity in the mosque of Solimaniè, which it were an
injustice to the Turkish government to pass over in silence; and which
is in itself so interesting, that I am surprised no traveller has yet
made it matter of record.

An open gallery, extending along the whole of the northern side of the
edifice, is filled with chests of various sizes and descriptions, piled
one on the other, and carefully marked; these chests contain treasure,
principally in gold, silver, and jewels, to a vast amount; and are all
the property of individuals, who, in the event of their leaving the
country, family misunderstandings, or from other causes, require a place
of safety in which to deposit their wealth. Each package being
accurately described, and scrupulously secured, is received and
registered at Solimaniè by the proper authorities, and there it remains
intact and inviolate, despite national convulsions and ministerial
changes. No event, however unexpected, or however extraordinary, is
suffered to affect the sacredness of the trust; and no consideration of
country, or of religion, militates against the admission of such
deposits as may be tendered, by persons anxious to secure their property
against casualties.

On one side may be seen the fortune of an orphan confided to the keeping
of the Directors of the Institution during his minority; on the other,
the capital of a merchant who is pursuing his traffic over seas. All
classes and all creeds alike avail themselves of the security of the
depository; and, although an individual may fail to reclaim his property
for twenty, fifty, or even an unlimited number of years, no seal is ever
broken, no lock is ever forced. And despite that this great National
Bank, for as such it may truly be considered, offers not only an easy,
but an efficient and abundant, mean of supply, no instance has ever
been known in which government has made an effort to avail itself of the
treasures of Solimaniè. As the property is deposited, so is it
withdrawn—the proper documents are produced, and the chest or desk is
delivered up without the demand of a piastre from those who have acted
as its guardians.

The despotism of the Turkish government cannot, in this instance, be
subject of complaint; when, amid all its reverses, and all its
necessities, it has ever respected the property thus trustingly
confided; while it can scarcely be denied that the admirable integrity,
which is the great safeguard of the heaped-up wealth within the walls of
the mosque, is at least as worthy of commendation, as the generous
liberality which has foreborne to levy a tax upon so valuable a
privilege.

From the mosque we passed out by a charming covered walk to the
mausoleum of the Magnificent Solyman; an elegant cupolaed building, with
a fluted roof projecting about two feet forward, cased with marble on
the outside, and finely painted within in delicate frescoes. An enormous
plane tree flings its tortuous branches over the beautiful edifice,
which has far more the aspect of a temple than a tomb; and the sunshine
falls flickeringly on the marble steps, as it struggles through the
fresh leaves. The floor is richly carpeted, and along the centre are
ranged the sarcophagi of Solyman the Magnificent and his successor, of
Sultan Akhmet, and of the two daughters of the Imperial founder of the
mosque. Those of the Sultans are adorned with lofty turbans of white
muslin, decorated with aigrettes, and attached to the sarcophagi by
costly shawls; the tombs of the Princesses are covered plainly with
cachemire of a dark green colour, and are considerably injured by time.

An admirable model of the mosque of Mecca occupied a stand on the right
of the entrance, and was an object of general curiosity; it was well
executed, and gave an excellent idea not only of the building itself but
of the approaches to it. The Tomb of the Prophet occupied the centre of
the plan; and the line of road, covered with pilgrims, with its mountain
barrier and halting-places, enabled the spectator to form an accurate
judgment of the locality.

In all mausoleums of this description, (and they abound in
Constantinople) a priest each day lights up the huge wax candles that
are placed at the feet of the sarcophagi, and leaves them burning while
he reads a chapter from the Koran. Every part of the building is kept
scrupulously clean, and a grain of dust is never suffered to pollute the
tombs; the light is freely admitted to the interior, and no feeling of
gloom connects itself with these resting-places of the dead, which are
the very types of luxury and comfort.

Each mausoleum has its peculiar priest, which renders a fact that at
first startled me infinitely less surprising; I allude to the immense
number of individuals attached to the service of each mosque—St. Sophia
alone, as I have been credibly informed, affording occupation to more
than three hundred persons!

Three accessories are indispensable to a mosque—a clock, a fountain,
and a minaret; the clock determines the hour of prayer—the fountain
enables the Faithful to perform their ablutions—and the minaret
supplies the gallery whence the muezzin warns the pious to the temple of
Allah.

But, independently of these, every Imperial mosque possesses also its
_Medresch_ or College, where the _Sophtas_ are instructed at the expense
of the establishment; and its _Imaret_, or receiving-house for pilgrims,
where wayfaring strangers are lodged and fed, and the poor are relieved
at a certain hour each day, when a distribution of food takes place to
all who think proper to solicit it. In the event of a _Kourban_, or
sacrifice, it is in the _Imaret_ that the animal is put to death, and
shared among the needy who throng its entrance to benefit by the pious
offering.

The mosque of Sultan Mahmoud at Topphannè is greatly enhanced in beauty
by the splendid fountain and clock-house which he has built on either
side of the entrance; and whose gilded lattice-work, and paintings in
arabesque are truly Oriental in their taste; this small but elegant
mosque is also remarkable for the gilt spires of its minarets, and the
stately flight of marble steps by which it is approached.

The ruins of a mosque still remain in Constantinople which was
overthrown by an earthquake, wherein the tomb of the Sultan by whom it
was built, was covered with a slab of red marble, said to have been the
identical stone on which our Saviour was stretched on his descent from
the cross, embalmed, and prepared for the sepulchre!

All the principal mosques are surrounded, and partially overshadowed, by
ancient and stately trees, that, in many cases, appear to be coeval with
the edifice, and through whose leafy screen portions of the white
building gleam out in strong relief; and these are dominated in their
turn by the arrowy minarets, which, springing from a dense mass of
foliage, cut sharply against the clear sky, and heighten the beauty of
the picture.

I have seldom spent a morning of more absorbing interest than that which
I passed among the Mosques of Constantinople.



CHAPTER XXIII.


  Antiquities of Constantinople—Ismäel Effendi—The
  Atmeidan—The Obelisk—The Delphic Tripod—The Column of
  Constantine—The Tchernberlè Tasch—The Cistern of the Thousand
  and One Columns—The Boudroum—The Roman
  Dungeons—Yèrè-Batan-Seraï—The Lost Traveller—Extent of the
  Cistern—Aqueduct of Justinian—Palace of Constantine—Tomb of
  Heraclius—The Seven Towers—An Ambassador in Search of
  Truth—Tortures of the Prison—A Legend of the Seven Towers.

The antiquities of Constantinople are few in number; and when the
by-past fortunes of Byzantium are taken into consideration, not
remarkably interesting. I shall consequently say little upon the
subject, and the rather that more competent writers than myself have
already described them; and that these reliques of departed centuries
are not calculated to be treated _a tutto volo di penna_. But, as it is
impossible to pass them over altogether in silence, I shall merely
endeavour to describe their nature and the effect which they produced
upon myself.

Perhaps the most curious remain of by-gone days now existing, and
certainly that which is the least known, is _Yèrè-Batan-Seraï_,
literally the “Swallowed up Palace,” anciently called _Philoxmos_. I
had heard much of this extraordinary old Roman work, but we had
repeatedly failed in our attempts to visit it, from the fact of its
opening into the court of a Turkish house, whose owner was not always
willing to submit to the intrusion of strangers.

We were not, however, fated to leave Constantinople without effecting
our purpose; which we ultimately accomplished through the medium of one
of the Sultan’s Physicians, who provided us with such attendance as
insured our success. Ismäel Effendi, Surgeon-in-chief of the Anatomical
School attached to the Seraï Bournou, volunteered to become our escort,
and we gladly availed ourselves of his kindness. He was a fine,
vivacious, intelligent young man, endowed with an energy and mobility
perfectly Greek, combined with that gentle and quiet courtesy so
essentially Turkish: and we were, furthermore, accompanied by one of his
friends, who spoke the French language with tolerable fluency; and a
soldier of the Palace Guard, to prevent our collision with the
passers-by; a precaution which the rapid and virulent spread of the
Plague had rendered essentially necessary.

We first directed our steps to the Atmeidan, or Place of Horses, the
ancient race-course of the Romans; in which stands a handsome Egyptian
obelisk of red granite, placed there by Theodosius, and resting upon a
pedestal of white marble, whereon are coarsely represented his
victories in very ill-executed _alto relievo_. The obelisk is sixty feet
in height, and elaborately ornamented with hieroglyphics.

Near it are the remains of the Delphic Tripod; the brazen heads of the
serpents are wanting; and it is asserted that one of them was struck off
by Sultan Akhmet at a single blow of his scimitar.

[Illustration: COLUMN OF CONSTANTINE. TRIPOD. EGYPTIAN OBELISK.]

The Turks are extremely jealous of this interesting remain, as they have
a tradition that, when it is either destroyed or displaced,
Constantinople will fall once more into the hands and under the power of
the Christians; and so universal is this superstition, that a pretty
little girl of about eight years of age, who saw us examining it,
approached us, and said earnestly; “You may look, but you cannot buy
this with all your gold, for it is our talisman, and you are Franks and
Infidels.”

About one hundred paces beyond the Tripod, the lofty monument of
Constantine, denuded of the coating of metal by which its coarse masonry
is said to have been once concealed, rears its head ninety feet from the
earth; and appears, from its immense height and small circumference,
superadded to the apparently careless and insecure manner in which the
stones are put together, to stand erect only by a miracle.

But far more curious than either of these is the _Tchernberlè Tasch_, or
Burnt Pillar, situated at a short distance from the Tower of the
Seraskier. It was originally brought by Constantine from the Temple of
Apollo, at Rome, and was placed upon an hexagonal pedestal, within which
were built up several portions of the Holy Cross; whence the small
square in which it stood became a place of prayer. When first
transported to Constantinople, it was surmounted by a statue of the God,
from the chisel of Phidias, of which the head was surrounded by a halo.
But the conqueror appropriated the figure, and caused to be inscribed
beneath it, “The Justice of the Sun to the Illustrious Constantine.”

The destruction of the statue is diversely explained by different
writers. Genaro Esquilichi declares it to have been destroyed by a
thunderbolt; Anna de Comnena asserts that it was overthrown by a strong
southerly wind during the reign of Alexius de Comnena, and that it
killed several persons in its fall; while other authors mention that it
was merely mutilated by the first accident, and utterly ruined by the
second. The pedestal bears an inscription now nearly obliterated, which
may be thus rendered from the original Greek:

 “O Christ, Master and Protector of the World,
  I dedicate to Thee this City, subject to Thee;
  And the Sceptre, and the Empire of Rome.
  Guard the City, and protect it from all evil.”

The pillar is ninety feet in height, and the pedestal measures thirty
feet at its base; it has suffered severely from fire as well as from
time, and a strong wire-work has been carefully erected about it to
prevent its falling to pieces, as it is rent and riven in every
direction. It is to be deplored that this interesting relic is built in
on all sides by unsightly houses.

From the _Tchernberlè Tasch_ we proceeded to visit a cistern called by
the Turks _Bin-Vebir-Direg_, or the “Thousand and One,” in allusion to
the number of columns that support it. It is an immense subterranean, of
which the roof is in reality sustained by three hundred and thirty-six
pillars of coarse marble, each formed of two or more blocks.

These pillars are now buried to one-third of their height in the earth,
the water-courses having been turned, and the cistern dried up, for the
purpose of receiving the rubbish which was flung out when the
foundations of St. Sophia were laid. It is now occupied by silk-winders,
and they have become so accustomed to the sight of visiters that they
scarcely suffer you to descend the first flight of steps before they all
quit their wheels, and begin shouting for _backschish_. The channel worn
in the stone by the passage of the water that once flowed into the
cistern is distinguishable on three different sides of the subterranean,
which is lit by narrow grated windows level with the roof; and the
echoes, prolonged and flung back by the vaulted recesses, have a sound
so hollow and supernatural that they appear like the distant mutterings
of fiends.

As we were about to quit _Bin-Vebir-Direg_, one of the silk-spinners
informed us that there was another smaller _Boudroum_, or subterranean
in the neighbourhood, to which he offered to conduct us; honestly
admitting, at the same time, that the atmosphere that we should breathe
there was so unwholesome that few persons ventured to indulge their
curiosity by descending into it. Thither we accordingly went, and the
less reluctantly as we ascertained by the way that this also had been
converted into a spinning establishment, where fifty or sixty persons
were constantly employed.

A short walk over the rubbish of an ancient fire brought us to the
narrow door of this second subterranean. And we had not descended a
dozen steps, ere we were perfectly convinced of the accuracy of the
information given to us by the guide. Each felt as though a wet garment
had suddenly been wound about him; and the appearance of the miserable
beings who were turning the cotton wheels, sufficiently demonstrated the
unhealthiness of the atmosphere; they were all deadly white, and looked
like a society of recuscitated corpses. We had heard a confusion of
voices from the moment that we approached the neighbourhood of
_Bin-Vebir-Direg_, but all was silence within the _Boudroum_ where we
now found ourselves; while the blended curiosity and astonishment with
which every eye was turned upon us, was a convincing proof that the
unfortunates who tenanted it were little used to the sight of strangers.

Immediately that we had descended into the vault, they simultaneously
desired us to keep in continual motion during our stay, alleging that
the exercise consequent on their occupation was their only preservative
against destruction; and confirming the truth of their statement by the
melancholy tale of a man who had come a few weeks previously to visit
one of their company, and who remained quietly smoking upon his mat for
several hours, after which he was seized with lethargy, and died.

As the lower orders of Orientals universally believe every Frank to be,
if not actually a Physician by profession, at least perfectly conversant
with the “healing art,” a group of the pallid wretches by whom we were
surrounded immediately began to apply to my father for advice and
assistance; when the good-natured Ismäel Effendi volunteered to
prescribe for them, and listened with the greatest patience to a list of
ailments, engendered by the fetid atmosphere, and quite beyond the reach
of medicine.

This cistern, although of considerably less extent than
_Bin-Vebir-Direg_, being supported only by one and thirty pillars, is
nevertheless infinitely handsomer, as the columns are at least thrice
the circumference of the “Thousand and One,” and uncovered to their
base; two only are imperfect; and the _coup-dœil_ from mid-way of the
stone stair is most imposing.

On emerging from this dim and vapour-freighted vault, we inquired of the
guide whom we had retained, whether he could direct us to any other
object of interest in that quarter of the city; when, after some
hesitation, allured by the promise held out to him of a liberal
_backschish_, he at length admitted that there was a _Boudroum_ about
half a mile from thence, which was but little known, and into which no
Frank had ever been admitted. Then followed a host of assurances of the
danger that he incurred by pointing it out to us, and of which we
readily understood the motive; and, after receiving a second promise of
reward, he ultimately led the way through one or two narrow streets;
when passing under a large doorway, we found ourselves in a dilapidated
Khan, where a dozen old men were seated on low stools, winding silk.
Here our conductor procured lights, after which he preceded us down a
flight of steps, terminating in a second door, whence a short stair
descended into an extensive vault, supported by eight double arches of
solid masonry, as perfect as though they had only been completed on the
previous day.

Traversing this vault, we entered a second, perfectly dark, of which the
outer wall was strengthened by four large pillars. At the extreme end of
this inner subterranean, we found a flight of ruined stone steps, which
we ascended with some difficulty, and, on arriving at the summit of the
stair, discovered that we were standing in a dilapidated Roman dungeon.

From this point several other cells branched off in different
directions. The entrance of one, which appeared to be a _cachot forcé_,
was so blocked by the masses of stone that had fallen from the roof,
that we were unable to penetrate into it; but on the other side we
passed into a range of dungeons, of which the partition walls, at least
a foot in thickness, had been torn down. The iron rings by which the
prisoners had been chained, still remained, as did also the sleeping
places hollowed in the masonry; but the most curious and frightful
feature of the locality was a water-course, which, passing along the
entire line of cells, emptied itself into a small dungeon, situated
under the arched vault that I have already described, and thus offered a
ready mean of destruction to the oppressor, and a dreadful and hopeless
death to the captive.

I was sincerely glad to leave this gloomy remain of by-past power, and
to breathe once more the pure air of Heaven, on my way to
_Yèrè-Batan-Seraï_, where we arrived after a long and very fatiguing
walk. After a little hesitation, the door of the Turkish house to which
I have elsewhere alluded was opened to us, and, passing through the
great entrance hall, we traversed the courtyard, and descending a steep
slope of slippery earth, found ourselves at the opening of the dim
mysterious Palace of Waters.

The roof of this immense cistern, of which the extent is unknown, is
supported, like that of _Bin-Vebir-Direg_, by marble columns, distant
about ten feet from each other, but each formed from a single block; the
capitals are elaborately wrought, and in one instance the entire pillar
is covered with sculptured ornaments.

At the period of our visit, Constantinople had been long suffering from
drought, and the water in the cistern was consequently much lower than
usual, a circumstance that greatly tended to augment the stateliness of
its effect. There was formerly a boat upon it, but it has been destroyed
in consequence of the numerous accidents to which it gave rise.

The Kiära of the Effendi who owned the house, had accompanied us to the
vault; and he mentioned two adventures connected with it that had taken
place within his own knowledge, and which he related to us as having
both occurred to Englishmen.

The first and the saddest was the tale of a young traveller, who about
six years ago arrived at Constantinople, and in his tour of the capital,
obtained permission to see the _Yèrè Batan Seraï_. The boat was then
upon the water; and, not satisfied with gazing on the wonders of the
place from land, he sprang into the little skiff, and accompanied by the
boatman who was accustomed to row the family in the immediate vicinity
of the opening, he pushed off, after having received a warning not to
be guilty of the imprudence of advancing so far into the interior as to
lose sight of the light of day. This warning he was unhappy enough to
disregard. Those who stood watching his progress remarked that he had
provided himself with a lamp, and they again shouted to him to beware:
but the wretched man was bent upon his purpose; and having, as it is
supposed, induced the boatman, by the promise of a heavy reward, to
comply with his wish, the flame of the lamp became rapidly fainter and
fainter, and at length disappeared altogether from the sight of those
who were left behind; and who remained at their station anxiously
awaiting its return. But they lingered in vain—they had looked their
last upon the unfortunates who had so lately parted from them in the
full rush of life and hope—the boat came no more—and it is presumed
that those within it, having bewildered themselves among the columns,
became unable to retrace their way, and perished miserably by famine.

I should have mentioned that the spot on which we stood was not the
proper entrance to the cistern, of whose existence and situation they
are even now ignorant, but an opening formed by the failure of several
of the pillars, by which accident the roof fell in, and disclosed the
water-vault beneath.

Another similar but less extensive failure of the extraordinary fabric
in a yard near the Sublime Porte betrayed its extent in that direction;
a third took place in the immediate neighbourhood of St. Sophia; and a
fourth within the walls of the Record Office; thus affording an
assurance that the cistern extended for several leagues beneath the
city. Further than this the Constantinopolitan authorities cannot throw
any light on its dimensions; and, as far as I was individually
concerned, I am not quite sure that this fact did not increase the
interest of the locality—the mysterious distance into which man is
forbidden to penetrate—the long lines of columns deepening in tint, and
diminishing in their proportions as they recede—the sober twilight that
softens every object—and the dreamy stillness that lords it over this
singular Water Palace, which the voice of man can awaken for a brief
space into long-drawn and unearthly echoes, that sweep onward into the
darkness, and ere they are quite lost to the ear, appear to shape
themselves into words: all combined to invest the spot with an awful and
thrilling character, which, to an imaginative mind, were assuredly more
than an equivalent for the privilege of determining its limits.

The second local anecdote related to us by the Kiära was that of an
Englishman, who, only a few months previous to our visit, had requested
permission to make use of the little boat that had replaced the one in
which the traveller, to whom I have already alluded, had been lost. Many
objections were started; and the fate of his unfortunate countryman was
insisted upon as the reason of the refusal; but on his repeated promises
of prudence, the old Effendi at length consented to his wish; and having
lighted a couple of torches, and affixed them to the stern of the boat,
the traveller drew out a large quantity of strong twine, which he made
fast to one of the pillars, leaving the ball to unwind itself as he
proceeded.

As no one could be found who was willing to accompany him, he started
alone; and hour after hour went by without sign of his return; until, as
the fourth hour was on the eve of completion, the flame of the torches
lit up the distance, and was reflected back by the gleaming columns. The
wanderer sprang from the boat chilled and exhausted; and, in answer to
the inquiries of those about him, he stated that he had progressed for
two hours in a straight line, but that he had seen nothing more than
what they looked upon themselves—the vaulted roof above his head, the
water beneath his feet, and a wilderness of pillars rising on all sides,
and losing themselves in the darkness.

This second adventure so alarmed the worthy old Osmanli to whom the boat
belonged, that he caused it to be immediately destroyed; and visitors
are now compelled to content themselves with a partial view of
_Yèrè-Batan-Seraï_ from the ruined opening.

Marcian’s Column, called by the Turks _Kestachi_, which is situated in
the garden of a Turkish house near the gate of Adrianople, is a splendid
remain, of which the capital is supported by four magnificent eagles.
The hexagonal pedestal is ornamented with wreaths of oak leaves, and the
height of the shaft is nearly eighty feet.

Of the remains of the Aqueduct of Justinian I have already spoken; and
hundreds of beautiful and graceful columns, and thousands of sculptured
fragments, are to be seen intermingled with the masonry of the city
walls.

The ancient Palace of Constantine, vulgarly named the Palace of
Belisarius, stands in that quarter of the city called Balata, a
corruption of _Balati_, “the gate of the palace.” It is impossible to
visit this curious ruin with any pleasure, as it has been given up to
the needy Jews, who have established within its walls a species of
pauper barrack, redolent of filth. It is of considerable extent, and
principally remarkable for the curious arrangement of its brick-work;
there are, however, the remains of a handsome doorway, and outworks of
great strength.

About ten days before I left the country, some workmen, employed in
digging the foundation of an outbuilding at the Arsenal, brought to
light a handsome sarcophagus of red marble, containing the bodies of
Heraclius, a Greek Emperor, who flourished during the reign of Mahomet,
and his consort. The two figures representing the Imperial pair are
nearly perfect. That of the Emperor holds in one hand a globe, and with
the other grasps a sceptre; while the Empress is represented with her
crown resting upon her open palm. At their feet are the busts of two
worthies, supposed to be portraits of celebrated warriors, but the
inscriptions beneath them are nearly obliterated.

Immediately that the identity of the occupants of this lordly tomb was
ascertained, orders were given that an iron railing, breast-high, should
be erected to protect the relic from injury, the Turks having a
tradition that Heraclius died a Mahomedan. The fact is, however, more
than doubtful; although it is well known that Mahomet sent him an
invitation to abjure Christianity, and to become a True Believer; but,
at the period of this occurrence, Heraclius was bowed by years, and sunk
in sensual enjoyments. Anxious to evade a war with Mahomet, whose
successes were then at their height, he despatched an ambiguous reply to
the message, and died ere he had given the Musselmauns reason to
suspect the real motive of his supineness. Hence the Turks claimed the
sarcophagus of Heraclius as the tomb of a True Believer; and a marble
mausoleum is to be built over it, similar to those which contain the
ashes of the Sultans.

[Illustration: Miss Pardoe del.

Day & Haghe Lith^{rs}. to the King.

THE SEVEN TOWERS.

_Pub^d. by H. Colburn, 13 G^t. Marlborough S^t._]

The Seven Towers—that celebrated prison of which the very name is a
spell of power—are rapidly crumbling to decay, but must continue to be
among the most interesting of the antiquities of Constantinople, as long
as one stone remains upon another.

Although situated in a populous part of the city, this fortress is,
nevertheless, an isolated building; and four of the towers to which it
owes its name are destroyed, but of those that still exist, one contains
the apartments originally appropriated to state prisoners, and is also
the residence of the Military Commandant and the officers of the
garrison. When it ceased to be a state prison for attainted Turks, the
fortress of the Seven Towers was exclusively reserved for the reception
of the Russian Ambassadors, on the occasion of any misunderstanding
between the Ottoman and Muscovite courts; and it is almost a ludicrous
fact that, during the reign of Mustapha III., His Excellency Count
Obrescoff, representative of Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress of all
the Russias, not only suffered an imprisonment of three years in this
fortress, but actually passed several days at the bottom of a dry well,
into which it was the Sublime pleasure of the Sultan to cause him to be
lowered.

If His Highness acted upon the impression that the Muscovite Minister
would succeed during his subterranean sojourn in discovering the moral
deity who is said to be concealed therein, there is every reason, from
existing circumstances, to believe that the experiment was a failure, or
that she declined being withdrawn from her retreat.

Instruments of torture—racks, wheels, and oubliettes—are rife within
this place of gloom and horror. One chasm, upon whose brink you stand,
is called the “Well of Blood,” and is said to have overflowed its margin
with the ensanguined stream which was once warm with life—a small
court, designated the “Place of Heads,” is pointed out as having been
cumbered with the slain, until the revolting pile was of sufficient
height to enable the spectator to look out from its summit upon the
waves of the glittering Propontis; and more than one stone tunnel is
shown, into which the wretched captive was condemned to crawl upon his
hands and knees, and there left to die of famine.

But I shall pass by these tales of terror, to narrate a Legend of the
Seven Towers, less known than the objects which are exhibited to every
visiter, and more calculated to interest the reader.

On the declaration of war with Russia made by the Turks in 1786, Baron
Bulhakoff, the Russian Minister, despite his representation that the
imprisonment of the Muscovite Ambassadors on such occasions had been
abolished by treaty, was, nevertheless, sent to the Seven Towers by
order of Codza Youssouf Pasha, the Grand Vèzir, with the assurance that
treaties were very good things in a time of peace, but mere waste paper
in the event of war. The discomfited Ambassador was, however, treated
with great civility, and was even permitted to select such members of
the Legation as he desired should bear him company during his captivity;
strict orders being given to the Commandant of the castle to accede to
every request of his prisoner which did not tend to compromise his
safety; and upon his complaining of the accommodations of the Tower, he
was moreover permitted to erect a kiosk on the walls of the fortress,
whence he had a magnificent view of the Sea of Marmora and its
glittering islands, and to construct a spacious and handsome apartment
within the Tower itself.

I have already stated that the Commandant was lodged beneath the same
roof as his prisoner; but I have yet to tell that he had an only
daughter, so young, and so lovely, that she might have taken her stand
between the two Houri who wait at the portal of Paradise to beckon the
Faithful across its threshold, without seeming less beautiful than they.
Fifteen springs had with their delicate breathings opened the petals of
the roses since the birth of Rèchèdi[7] Hanoum, and she had far
out-bloomed the brightest blossoms of the fairest of seasons. Her voice,
when it was poured forth in song, came through the lattices of her
casement like the tones of a distant mandolin sweeping over the waters
of the still sea—when you looked upon her, it was as though you looked
upon a rose; and when you listened, you seemed to listen to the
nightingale.

Rèchèdi Hanoum had never yet poured the scented sherbet in the garden of
flowers. Her young heart was as free as the breeze that came to her brow
from the blue bosom of the Propontis; and when she heard that a
Muscovite Giaour was about to become an inmate of the Tower, she only
trembled, for she knew that he was the enemy of her country.

Terror was, however, soon succeeded by curiosity. Only a few weeks after
the compulsatory domestication of the Ambassador at the Seven Towers,
his kiosk was completed; and from her closed casements the young Hanoum
could see all that passed in the vast apartment of the prisoner.

Her first glance at the dreaded Infidel was transient; but soon she took
another, and a longer look; and curiosity was, in its turn, succeeded by
sympathy. The Russian prisoner was the handsomest man on whom her eye
had ever rested, and it was not thus that she had pictured to herself
the dreaded Muscovite. He was unhappy too, for in his solitary moments
he paced the floor with hurried and unequal steps, like one who is
grappling with some painful memory; and at times sat sadly, with his
head pillowed on his hand, and his fingers wreathed amid the wavy hair
which encircled his brow; looking so mournful, and above all so
fascinating, that the fair Rèchèdi at last began to weep as she clung to
her lattice, with her gaze riveted upon him; and to find more happiness
in those tears, than in all the simple pleasures that had hitherto
formed the charm of her existence.

Little did the young Hanoum suspect that she loved the Giaour. She never
dreamt of passion; but, with all the generous anxiety of innocence,
unconscious that a warmer feeling than that of mere pity urged her to
the effort, she began to muse upon the means of diminishing the
irksomeness of a captivity which she was incapable of terminating. The
first, the most natural impulse led her to sweep her hands across the
chords of her Zebec; and as she remarked the start of agreeable surprise
with which the sound was greeted by the courtly prisoner, her young
heart bounded with joy, and the wild song gushed forth in a burst of
sweetness which chained the attention of the captive, and afforded to
the delighted girl the opportunity of a long, long look, that more than
repaid her for her minstrelsy.

During the evening she watched to ascertain whether a repetition of her
song would be expected, and she did not watch in vain; for more than
once the Russian noble leant from his casement, and seemed to listen;
but he came not there alone; one of his companions in captivity was
beside him; and Rèchèdi Hanoum, although she guessed not wherefore, had
suddenly become jealous of her minstrelsy, and would not exhibit it
before a third person.

On the morrow, an equally graceful, and equally successful effort whiled
the prisoner for a time from his sorrows. A cluster of roses, woven
together with a tress of bright dark hair, was flung from the casement
of the young beauty, at a moment when the back of the stranger was
turned towards her. It fell at his feet, and was secured and pressed to
his lips, with a respectful courtesy that quickened the pulses of the
donor; but not a glimpse of the fair girl accompanied the gift; and it
seemed as though the Baron had suspected wherefore, for ere long he was
alone in his apartment; and, when he had dismissed his attendants, he
once more advanced to the window, and glanced anxiously towards the
jealous lattices by which it was overlooked.

There was a slight motion perceptible behind the screen; a white hand
waved a greeting; and the imprisoned noble bent forward to obtain a
nearer view of its fair owner. For a moment Rèchèdi Hanoum stood
motionless, terrified at the excess of her own temerity; but there was a
more powerful feeling at her heart than fear; and in the next, she
forced away her prison-bars for an instant; and, with the telltale hand
pressed upon her bosom, stood revealed to her enraptured neighbour.

From that day the young beauty allowed herself to betray to the captive
her interest in his sorrows; she did more; she admitted that she shared
them; and ere long there was not an hour throughout the day in which the
thoughts of Rèchèdi Hanoum were not dwelling on the handsome prisoner.

Thus were things situated during two long years, when the death of the
reigning Sultan, at the termination of that period, induced the
Ambassadors of England and France to demand from his successor, Selim
III., the liberty of the Russian Minister. The request was refused, for
the war was not yet terminated; and the new Sovereign required no better
pretext for disregarding the representations of the European
Ambassadors, than the continuation of hostilities between the two
countries. But Selim had other and more secret reasons for thus
peremptorily negativing their prayer; and it will be seen in the suite
that they did not arise from personal dislike to the captive Muscovite.

Like Haroun Alraschid of Arabian memory, the new Sultan, during the
first weeks of his reign, amused himself by nocturnal wanderings about
the streets of the city in disguise; attended by the subsequently famous
Hussèin, his first and favourite body-page; and immediately that he had
refused compliance with the demand of the Ambassadors, he resolved on
paying an _incognito_ visit to his prisoner at the Seven Towers. As soon
as twilight had fallen like a mantle over the gilded glories of
Stamboul, he accordingly set forth; and having discovered himself to the
Commandant, and enjoined him to secresy, he entered the anti-chamber of
the Baron, where he found one of his suite, to whom he expressed his
desire to have an interview with the captive Ambassador.

The individual to whom the Sultan had addressed himself recognised him
at once; but, without betraying that he did so, contented himself with
expressing his regret that he was unable to comply with the request of
his visitor, the orders of the Sultan being peremptory, that the Baron
should hold no intercourse with any one beyond the walls of the
fortress.

On receiving this answer, Selim replied gaily that the Sultan need never
be informed of the circumstance; and that, being a near relation of the
Commandant, and having obtained his permission to have a few minutes’
conversation with the prisoner, he trusted that he should not encounter
any obstacle either on the part of the Baron himself, or on that of his
friends.

The Dragoman, with affected reluctance, quitted the room, to ascertain,
as he asserted, the determination of His Excellency, but in reality to
inform him of the Imperial masquerade; and in five minutes more the
disguised Sultan and his favourite were ushered into the apartment of
the Ambassador.

After some inconsequent conversation, Selim inquired how the Baron had
contrived to divert the weary hours of his captivity; and was answered
that he had endeavoured to lighten them by books, and by gazing out upon
the Sea of Marmora from his kiosk. Bulhakoff sighed as he made the
reply, and remembered how much more they had been brightened by the
affection of the fair Rèchèdi Hanoum; and he almost felt as though he
were an ingrate that he did not add her smiles and her solicitude to the
list of his prison-blessings.

“The same volume and the same kiosk cannot please for ever;” said the
Sultan with a smile; “and you would not, doubtlessly, be sorry to
exchange your books against the conversation of your fellow-men; nor
your view of the blue Propontis for one more novel. A prison is but a
prison at the best, even though you may be locked up with all the
courtesy in the world. But your captivity is not likely to endure much
longer. _Shekiur Allah!_—Praise be to God—I am intimately acquainted
with the Sultan’s favourite; and I know that, had not the meddling
ministers of England and France sought to drive the new sovereign into
an act of justice, which he had resolved to perform from inclination,
you would have been, ere this, at liberty. Do not therefore be induced
to lend yourself or your countenance to any intrigue that they may make
to liberate you, and which will only tend to exasperate His Highness;
but wait patiently for another month, and at its expiration you will be
set free, and restored to your country.”

“I trust that you may prove a true prophet—” said the Baron; and his
visitors shortly afterwards departed.

The days wore on; the month was almost at an end, and yet the captive
noble had never ventured to breathe to the fair girl who loved him the
probability of his liberation. He shrank from the task almost with
trembling, for he felt that even to him the parting would be a bitter
one—even to him, although he was about to recover liberty, and country,
and friends. What, then, would it be to her? to “his caged bird,” as he
had often fondly called her—who knew no joy save in his presence—no
liberty save that of loving him! As the twilight fell sadly over the
sea, and the tall trees of the prison-garden grew dark and gloomy in the
sinking light, he remembered how ardently they had both watched for that
still hour, soon to be one of tenfold bitterness to the forsaken Rèchèdi
Hanoum; and there were moments in which he almost wished that she had
never loved him.

But the hour of trial came at last. Selim had redeemed his word, and
Bulhakoff was free. His companions in captivity would fain have quitted
the fortress within the hour; but the liberated prisoner lingered. He
gave no reason for his delay; he offered no explanation of his motives;
he simply announced his resolution not to quit the Tower until the
morrow; and then he shut himself into his chamber, and passed there
several of the most bitter hours of his captivity.

Once more twilight lay long upon the waters—the time of tryst was
come—the last which the beautiful young Hanoum was ever to keep with
her lover. She had long forgotten the possibility of his liberation; and
when she stole from her chamber to the shadow of the tall cypresses that
had so often witnessed their meeting, her heart bounded like her step.
But no fond smile welcomed her coming—no reproach, more dear than
praise, murmured against her tardiness—Bulhakoff was leaning his head
against the tree beside which he stood, and the young beauty had clasped
within her own the chill and listless hand that hung at his side, ere
with a painful start he awakened from his reverie.

The interview was short; but brief as was its duration it had taught the
wretched girl that for her there was no future save one of misery. She
did not weep—her burning eyeballs were too hot for tears. She _could_
not weep, for the drops of anguish would have dimmed the image of him
whom she had loved, and was about to lose. She made no reply to the
withering tidings he had brought, for what had words to do with such a
grief as her’s? She was like one who dreamt a fearful dream; and when
she turned away to regain her chamber, she walked with a firm step, for
her heart was broken; and she had nothing now left to do but to veil
from her lover the extent of her own anguish, lest she should add to the
bitterness of his.

The morrow came. The Baron turned a long, soul-centered look-towards the
lattices of his young love, and quitted her for ever; and, ere many
weeks were spent, the same group of cypresses which had overshadowed the
trysting-place of Rèchèdi Hanoum gloomed above her grave.



CHAPTER XXIV.


  Balouclè—The New Church—Delightful Road—Eyoub—The
  Cemetery—The Rebel’s Grave—The Mosque of Blood—The Hill of
  Graves—The Seven Towers—The Palace of Belisarius—The City
  Walls—Easter Festivities—The Turkish Araba—The Armenian
  Carriage—Travellers—Turkish
  Women—Seridjhes—Persians—Irregular Troops—The Plain of
  Balouclè—Laughable Mistake—Extraordinary Discretion—The
  Church of Balouclè—The Holy Well—Absurd Tradition—The Chapel
  Vault—Enthusiasm of the Greeks—A Pleasant Draught—Greek
  Substitute for a Bell—Violent Storm.

Our next expedition was to Balouclè, where the Greeks have recently
built a small, but elegant church, upon the spot once occupied by a very
spacious edifice, which had gone to ruin. The ride, though long and
somewhat fatiguing, was most delightful; the road leading us across the
hills, to the fair Valley of the Sweet Waters, along the banks of the
sparkling Barbyses, past the Imperial kiosks; and onward to the
beautiful village of Eyoub, the stronghold of the Constantinopolitan
Turks, wherein they allow no Giaour to reside; and the marble floor of
whose thrice-holy mosque no infidel foot has ever trodden.

The situation of Eyoub is eminently picturesque. It is backed by
gently-swelling hills, clothed with trees, where the delicate acacia and
the majestic maple are mingled with the scented lime and the dark and
rigid cypress, whose blended shadows fall over a thousand graves, and
turn away the sunlight from the lettered tombs of many a lordly
Musselmaun. Eyoub possesses also a melancholy interest from the fact,
that in its beautiful cemetery stands the rude mausoleum of the rebel
Ali of Tepeleni who revolted in Albania, wherein are deposited the heads
of himself, his three sons, and his grandson. Nor is this all; for a
small mosque, almost buried amid tall trees, may be distinguished at the
point where the main street sweeps downward to the water’s edge, whose
modest minaret is painted a dull red from its base to its spire, and
which bears the thrilling designation of the “Mosque of Blood.”

I have elsewhere mentioned that the Osmanlis do not permit their temples
to be desecrated by the admission of the dead beneath their roofs; and
this humble pile earned its awful appellation at the siege of
Constantinople, when its doors were forced by the combatants, and its
narrow floor cumbered with slain. Since that period, its single minaret
has been painted as I have described; and it possesses an additional
interest from its vicinity to the bleak, naked, treeless hill, whereon
were interred all the True Believers who perished at that memorable
period, and whose ashes still remain undisturbed.

Nothing can be more romantic than the appearance of the Seven Towers,
the remains of the Palace of Belisarius, and the crumbling walls of the
city, extending along the whole line of road to Balouclè, like a
succession of ruined castles; and overtopped by forest trees, whose
bright foliage forms a striking contrast from the grey and mouldering
rampart. At intervals, towers thickly overgrown with ivy, and tottering
to their fall, raise their fantastic outline against the sky; while the
moat is in many places entirely concealed by the wild fig trees, and the
dense underwood, that have sprung in wild luxuriance from the rich soil.

At the period of our visit, the Easter festivities were at their height,
and the road was covered with groups of travellers, all hurrying towards
the same point. There was the gilded araba of the Turkish lady, with its
covering of crimson cloth, and its carved lattices; followed by a
mounted negro. Then came the bullock-carriage of an Armenian family,
gaily painted and cushioned, its oxen half covered with worsted tassels
and finery, and glittering about the head with foil and gold leaf; while
a long curved stick, extending backward from each yoke as far as the
carriage, was painted in stripes of blue and yellow, and adorned with
pendent tassels of coloured worsted. Both animals wore their charm
against the Evil Eye; and the whole equipage was sufficiently
well-appointed to have done honour to the harem of a Pasha, while the
bright dark eyes and delicate hands of its occupants would have been an
equal triumph for his taste. But at the first glance you saw that the
carriage was not that of a Turk, for the painted hoops were plainly
covered by a white awning, the symbol of the _raïah_. The haughty
Osmanli has reserved to himself the privilege of seating his wives
beneath draperies of crimson, blue, or purple, fringed with gold; while
the Armenian, the Greek, and the Jew, when making use of this popular
conveyance, are obliged to content themselves with a simple awning of
white linen. Here galloped a reckless Greek, urging his good hack to the
top of its speed; there moved along a stately Turk, with the hand of his
groom resting on the flank of his well-fed horse, and his pipe-bearer
walking five paces behind him. Now it was a party of Franks, booted,
spurred, and looking in silent scorn upon the incongruous trappings of
the natives, and now a group of foot-passengers, walking at a pace which
I never saw equalled in England.

As we approached Balouclè, the features of the scene became still more
striking. The low wall that skirted the road was covered with Turkish
women, squatted upon their rugs and carpets, with the arabas in which
they had travelled ranged along behind them. Seridjhes were walking
droves of horses to and fro, and waiting for customers to hire them;
travelling merchants were retailing yahourt and mohalibè to the hungry
and the weary; Bulgarians were playing their awkward antics to attract
the attention of the idle, and the piastres of the profuse; and the halt
and the blind were seated by the wayside, to invoke the paras of the
charitable. Parties of Persians, with large white turbans, silken robes,
and eyes as black as midnight, were walking their well-trained horses
through the crowd; and a detachment of the Irregular Troops, with their
jester at their head, in a cap made of sheepskin, adorned with three
fox-tails, and a vest of undressed leather, drove back the people on
either side, as they made their way through the throng with a sort of
short run. They had precisely the appearance of banditti, each being
dressed and armed according to his own means or fancy; while their huge
mustachioes, and the elf locks that escaped from beneath their turbans,
added to the ferocious character of their aspect.

The plain on which the Church is situated is thickly wooded in its
immediate neighbourhood, and on this occasion was covered with a dense
crowd of merry human beings. The same amusements as I have described at
the Armenian festival were in full career; but the heavy meaningless
dance of the Champs des Morts was here exchanged for the graceful
romaïka, which was going forward in every direction.

For every other female whom I saw on the ground, I remarked at least a
hundred and fifty Turkish women; and the astonishment excited by the
appearance of the Greek lady by whom I was accompanied, and myself among
these latter, was most amusing. As the greater number of them had never
before seen a Frank lady on horseback, they concluded that we had each
lost a leg; and the “Mashallahs!” with which they contemplated our
gaiety were innumerable. But as a Turkish woman never scruples to
address a stranger in the street; and as our being actually crippled was
a matter of uncertainty; they were resolved to satisfy their minds on
this very important point; and several of them accordingly addressed
themselves to the gentlemen of our party, in order to resolve the doubt;
exclaiming with an energy worthy of the occasion: “For the love of God,
tell us if your wives have lost a leg, or not!”

When they had been assured to the contrary, their next conclusion was
still more amusing. It was clear that none but rope-dancers could
balance themselves upon the back of a horse without having one leg on
either side of the saddle—ergo, we were collectively, ladies and
gentlemen, the identical party of rope-dancers, whom the Sultan had
engaged for the marriage festivities of his Imperial daughter: and so
perfectly convinced were they of their own sagacity on this second
occasion, that I am only surprised that they had sufficient discretion
to refrain from requesting us to give them a specimen of our abilities.

The Church of Balouclè stands in the centre of an enclosed court, within
which are also situated the houses of the priests. A handsome flight of
stone steps leads downward to the portal; and, as you cross the
threshold, the interior of the edifice produces on you the effect of
something that has sprung into existence at the touch of an enchanter’s
wand. It looks as though it were built of porcelain, all is so fresh and
so glittering. It is entirely lined with white and gold, and the paint
upon the walls is so highly varnished, that you can scarcely distinguish
it from the polished marble that composes the screen of the sanctuary;
the latticed gallery of the women is fancifully decorated and gilt; and
the elegant pulpit is shaped like an inverted minaret.

But the principal attraction of the Church of Balouclè, and that which
lends to it its distinguishing character of sanctity, is the Holy Well,
dedicated to the Virgin, which, on the occasion of all high festivals,
is opened for the benefit and edification of the pious. Situated in a
vault immediately beneath the chancel, protected by a balustrade of
marble, and lighted by the lamp that is constantly burning before the
shrine of the Madonna, rises the spring whose holy and healing qualities
are matter of devout belief with the Greeks; and in which the lower
orders of the people gravely assert that fish are to be seen swimming
about, cooked on one side and crude on the other.

This somewhat extraordinary circumstance is accounted for by a variety
of legends; the most comprehensible of the whole being that which
affirms that, some holy man or woman having been refused food on this
very spot, when on a pilgrimage to a shrine of the Virgin, situated in
the neighbourhood, the well-disposed fish, whose pious self-immolation
has been thus immortalised, sprang from the waters of the spring, and
flung themselves upon the heated ashes of the fire, whereon the churlish
host, who refused help to the weary and wayworn pilgrims, had just
prepared his own meal. How the travellers were induced to refrain from
the savoury repast; and how the fish contrived to return to the stream
after being well cooked on one side, the legend sayeth not; and those
who are inclined to doubt the fact of their present existence had
better make a descent into the vault on the occasion of an Easter
festival; and, should they still continue sceptical, after the scene
which they will then and there witness, nothing that I can say will
awaken their faith.

After having duly flung a few piastres upon the salver held by the
priest who guarded the door; and protected on either side by a
gentleman, to secure me from the pressure of the crowd, I commenced my
slippery descent into the subterranean chapel. The stone steps were
running with water, spilt by the eager motions of those who were bearing
it away; nor was this all, for, as they handed it to each other over the
heads of such as chanced to obstruct their passage, an occasional shower
fell upon us from above, whose holiness by no means sufficed to
counteract its chill.

When I gained the chapel, and paused to take breath, a most singular
scene presented itself. The narrow space was cumbered with individuals,
who were shouting, struggling, and even fighting their way, to the
margin of the Well: an image of the Virgin tricked out in gold and
embroidery, before which burned the lamp that lit up the subterranean,
gleamed out in vain from a niche opposite to the spring: the very piety
of her votaries had induced them to turn their backs upon her; and I
believe that mine was the only eye which rested upon her altar.

Some, who had succeeded in filling the vessels which they had brought
with them, were standing bare-headed, throwing the cold stream over
their shaven crowns: others, who had suffered from lameness, were
emptying their earthen jars upon their feet; some were pouring it down
their chests, and others again down their throats.

By the strenuous endeavours of my friends, and the assistance of a
sickly-looking priest who was collecting paras among the crowd, I
succeeded in obtaining a draught of the water; and, whether it arose
from the stream having been thickened by the dipping in of so many
vessels, or that the half fried fish imparted to it a disagreeable
flavour of the charcoal ashes; or, again, that it was really and simply
of very indifferent quality, I cannot take upon me to decide; while I am
quite competent to declare that I never swallowed a more unsatisfactory
beverage, and that nothing less than a very painful thirst would have
induced me to venture upon a second trial.

On escaping from the subterranean, (and it was really an escape)! I went
to examine the machine which in all the principal Greek churches acts as
the substitute for a bell, whose use is not permitted by the Turks. It
is a very inartificial instrument, being merely a bar of iron resting
lightly between two perpendicular pieces of timber, which, on being
struck with a short bar of cypress-wood, emits a clear ringing sound,
that may be heard to a considerable distance. In the smaller churches
two sticks are beaten together, but this signal avails only when the
congregation is nestled near the walls of the temple.

Having secured the water that they had taken so much trouble to obtain,
the enthusiastic and light-hearted Greeks were pouring out of the chapel
as we returned; and ere we could mount our horses many of them had
already joined the dancers, and were engaged in winding through the
graceful mazes of the romaïka, while others were busied in filling their
chibouks in the neighbourhood of the coffee-tents.

A mass of heavy vapours, rising up against the wind, and arraying
themselves like a host about to do battle, warned us not to linger long
at so considerable a distance from home; and, profiting by the
intimation of a coming storm, we started off at a gallop, to the
increased astonishment of the Turkish women, who were still clustering
like bees upon the wall. But our speed availed us nothing: we had not
cleared the hills above Kahaitchana when the enemy was upon us; and a
tempest of blended hail, rain, and wind bore us company for the
remainder of the journey; and thus we were fairly drenched ere we
reached Pera, notwithstanding our offerings at the shrine of the Virgin,
and our pilgrimage to the Holy Well.



CHAPTER XXV.


  Figurative Gratitude of the Seraskier Pasha—Eastern
  Hyperbole—Reminiscences of Past Years—A Vision
  Realized—Strong Contrasts—The Marriage Fêtes—Popular
  Excitement—Crowded Streets—The Auspicious Day—Extravagant
  Expectations—The Great Cemetery—Dolma Batchè—The Grand
  Armoury—Turkish Women—Tents of the Pashas—The
  Bosphorus—Preparations—Invocation—The Illuminated
  Bosphorus—A Stretch of Fancy—A Painful Recollection—Natural
  Beauties of the Bosphorus—The Grave-Yard—Evening
  Amusements—Well Conducted Population.

In a letter of thanks recently addressed by the Seraskier Pasha to the
Sultan, in acknowledgment of some honour conferred upon him by his
Imperial Master, he exclaims in an affected burst of enthusiastic
gratitude:—“Your Sublime favour has been as a southern sun piercing
even to the remote corner of my insignificance. Had I all the forest
boughs of the Universe for pens, and the condensed stars of Heaven for a
page whereon to inscribe your bounties, I should still lack both space
and means to record them!”

Even in this style should he or she who undertakes to become their
chronicler, shape the periods in which are detailed the marriage
festivities of the Princess Mihirmàh. The pen should be tipped with
diamond-dust, and the paper powdered with seed-pearl. All the hyperboles
of the Arabian story-tellers should be heaped together, as the colours
of the rainbow are piled upon the clouds which pillow the setting sun;
and, as the gorgeous tail of the peacock serves to withdraw the eye from
its coarse and ungainly feet, so should the glowing sentences that
dilate on the glories of the show, veil from the vision of the reader
the paltry details that would tend to dissolve the enchantment.

How often have I hung entranced over the sparkling pages of the “Hundred
and One Nights.” How little did I ever expect to see them brought into
action. When a mere girl, I remember once to have laid the volume on my
knees; and, with my head pillowed on my hand, and my eyes closed, to
have attempted to bring clearly before my mental vision the Caravan of
the Merchand Abdullah, when he departed in search of the Valley of
Diamonds.

Years have since passed over me, and that gorgeous description is no
longer a mere dream. I have looked upon its realization—I have seen the
flashing of the jewels in the sunshine—the prancing of the steeds
impatient of a rider—the rolling of the fifty chariots—the gathering
of the throng of princes—the eunuchs and the horsemen—winding their
way over hill and through valley, under a sky of turquoise, along the
bank of a clear stream; and within sight of a sea whose shore was
studded with palaces, and upon whose blue bosom a fleet of stately ships
were riding at anchor within an arrow’s flight of land.

But I have also seen more than this. I have seen not only the machinery
at work, but the wheels that worked it; not only the brilliant effect,
but the combination of paltry means used to produce it—the blending of
the magnificent and the _mesquin_—a thousand minute details,
unimportant in themselves, and yet operating so powerfully on the
imagination, that they clipped the wings of Fancy, and wrung the wand
from the grasp of the Enchanter.

There is no consistency, no keeping, in Oriental splendour. The Pasha,
with the diamond on his breast, is generally attended by a running
footman who is slip-shod; and the Sultana, whose araba is veiled by a
covering of crimson and gold, not infrequently figures in pantaloons of
furniture chintz, and an antery of printed cotton. The same startling
contrasts meet you at every step: and tourists and historians pass them
over, because they destroy the continuity of their narrations, and the
rounding of their periods; and yet they are as characteristic of the
people as the chibouk or the turban, and therefore equally worthy of
record.

The Fêtes were to continue for eight days—the diamond was to be
shivered into fragments, and thus divided into many portions without
sacrificing its lustre. All the population of Constantinople was in a
ferment—the charshees had yielded up their glittering store of gold and
silver stuffs—the diamond-merchants had exhausted themselves in elegant
conceits—the confectioners had realized the fabled garden of
enchantment visited by Aladdin in his search for the magic lamp, and the
candied fruits peeped from amid their sugary cases, like masses of
precious ore, and clusters of jewels—the silk-bazar of Broussa was a
waste—the environs of Pera resembled a scattered camp—the heights
around the valley of Dolma Batchè were guarded by mounted
troops—provisions of every description trebled their price: and one
vessel, laden with a hundred and fifty thousand fowls for the market of
Constantinople, which arrived from the Archipelago, was secured for the
exclusive use of the Sultan’s kitchen.

Pashas were daily pouring in from the provinces—tribute was flung into
the yawning coffers of the state—audiences of congratulation kept the
Imperial Palace in a constant whirl—and the streets of the city were
thronged with a motley crowd, either invited thither by the
authorities, or attracted by the hope of profit. Bulgarians, in parties
of three or four, impeded the progress of every respectable passenger
who would fain have threaded his way among them unmolested; and by dint
of stunning him with their discordant instruments, and intruding
themselves upon his path to exhibit their coarse and ungainly dances,
wrung from him by their sturdy perseverance a donation whose impulse was
certainly not one of charity. Bohemian gipsies, some of them so lovely
that they seemed formed to command the prosperity which they subtly
promised to others, were bestowing palaces and power on every side at
the slender price of a few paras. Arabian tumblers, turned loose for the
first time in the streets of a great capital, and appearing scarcely
able to keep their feet upon the solid earth, jostled you at every
corner. Persian rope-dancers stalked gravely and solemnly along, with
large white turbans, and flowing robes. Bedouin jugglers were grouped in
coffee-shops and smoking-booths, awaiting the moment when their services
would be required; and bewildering the sober brains of the surrounding
Turks with loud vauntings of the feats with which they proposed to
delight his Sublime Highness, and to astonish his people. Altogether,
Constantinople resembled a human kaleidoscope, whose forms and features
varied at every turn; and even those who, like myself, had no immediate
interest in the festival, caught a portion of the popular excitement,
and became anxious for the period of its celebration.

At length, the auspicious morning dawned which the Court Astrologer had
declared to herald happiness to the Princess; and all Stamboul had
crossed the Bosphorus with the rising sun to share in the Imperial
festivities.

Long before mid-day Pera also was a desert: the stream of life had
flowed in one sole direction, and every avenue leading to Dolma Batchè
was thronged with human beings, anxious and excited, and yet scarcely
knowing what they anticipated. The marriage festival had been the one
engrossing subject of discourse and speculation for so many months—such
extravagant suggestions had been hazarded, and such wild assertions had
been made, that the imagination of the crowd had run riot; and, had the
fountains poured forth liquid ore, and the heavens themselves rained
diamond-dust, I am not sure that such events would have caused any
extraordinary manifestation of astonishment, from the mass of spectators
who had clustered themselves like bees in the neighbourhood of the
palace.

The Great Cemetery looked as though every grave had given up its dead;
there was scarcely space to pass among the crowd which thronged it.
Dancing, smoking, and gambling for sugarplums, (the only stake that a
Turk ever hazards on a game of chance) divided the attention of the
loiterers, with swings, round-abouts, and mohalibè merchants. Pillauf
and kibaubs were preparing in every direction for the refreshment of the
hungry; and tinted and perfumed sherbets, carefully guarded from the
sun, were whiling in their turn the weary and the warm to pause on their
onward path, and indulge in their tempting freshness.

The tents were flaunting their bright colours in the sunshine; the
smoking booths were filled with guests; the little wooden kiosk on the
edge of the height was unapproachable; the long line of wall surrounding
the Artillery Barrack was, as usual on all festive occasions, covered
with Turkish women; and the whole space beneath was instinct with life
and motion.

From the point of the hill above the sea the land shoots sharply down
into the valley of Dolma Batchè, clothed with fruit trees, whose
perfumed blossoms, then in the height of their beauty, were emptying
their tinted chalices, on the air. The road leading to the Palace is cut
along the side of the declivity, forming on its upper edge a lofty ridge
which was fringed throughout its whole length with tents; in the
distance rose the Military College, spanning the crest of the hill like
a diadem; with the gilded and glittering crescent that crowns the dome
of its mosque flashing in the sunshine. On the right hand the view was
bounded by the dense forest of cypresses rising above the tombs of the
Turkish cemetery, which swept darkly downwards to the Bosphorus that was
laughing in its loveliness, and reflecting on its waveless bosom the
lovely height of Scutari which hemmed in the landscape. And as the eye
wandered onward along the channel, it took in the dusky shore of Asia,
with its kiosk-crowned and forest-clad mountains; until the line was
lost in the gradually failing purple, that blent itself at last with the
horizon.

Immediately beneath the hill, and close upon the shore, stands the
Palace of Dolma Batchè, with its walls of many tints, and its fantastic
irregularity of outline; while behind its spacious gardens, sloping
gently upward, and clothed with turf, rises a stretch of land which was
now crowded with Turkish women. Nothing could be more picturesque than
their appearance: the nature of the ground having enabled them to
arrange themselves amphitheatrically, and from thence to command an
uninterrupted view of the esplanade in front of the Grand Armoury, which
is enclosed on its opposite side by a raised terrace, along whose edge
were pitched the tents of the Pashas. There must have been at least five
hundred women clustered together on that one small stretch of land; and
in the distance it presented precisely the appearance of a meadow
covered with daisies, with here and there a corn-poppy flaunting in the
midst; the white yashmacs and red umbrellas lending themselves readily
to the illusion.

The tents of the Pashas were many of them very magnificent: the Grand
Vèzir’s was hung with crimson velvet, richly embroidered; while that of
Achmet Pasha was lined with green satin, and fringed with gold; and the
whole were richly carpeted, and surrounded by handsome sofas. The
reception-marquee, in which the Sultan was to entertain a party of
guests daily, was situated in the rear of those that I have just
described: and the kitchen, ingeniously fitted up with stoves, dressers,
and tables, hewn in the hill-side, was tenanted by five hundred cooks.

The Bosphorus was crowded with caïques, almost as countless as its
ripple; and immediately in front of the Palace, and nearly in the centre
of the stream, were anchored two rafts, supporting small fortified
castles, whence the fireworks were to be displayed.

A survey of these different preparations proved to be the principal
amusement of the day, as the rope-dancing on the Esplanade of the
Armoury was not sufficiently attractive to detain any individual less
indolent than a Turkish woman; and consequently, after having completed
our tour of observation, we returned to Pera in order to repose
ourselves, and to prepare for the magnificent spectacle that awaited us
in the evening.

And now, ye Spirits of Fire, who guard the subterranean flames which are
only suffered to flash forth at intervals from the crater of some fierce
volcano—Ye, whose brows are girt with rays of many-coloured radiance,
whose loins are cinctured by the lightning, and whose garments are of
the tint which hangs like a drapery over the cineritious remnants of a
conflagrated city—Ye, who must have left your vapoury palaces, and
bowed your flame-crowned heads upon your gleaming wings, in blighted
pride to see your lordliest pageants overmatched—lend me a pen of fire,
drawn from the pinion of your bravest sprite, and fashioned with an
unwrought diamond; for thus only can I record the glorious scene that
burst upon me, as, at the close of day, I stood upon a height above the
channel, when a festive people had recorded their participation in the
gladness of their Monarch, in characters of fire.

The moon rode high in Heaven, but her beam looked pale and sickly, as it
faded before the brighter light with which men had made night glorious;
while the stars seemed but fading sparks, that had been emitted by the
stupendous line of fire girdling the Bosphorus—It was a spectacle of
enchantment!

Not an outline could be traced of any of the lordly piles which fringe
the coast. The summit of the Asian shore was dimly perceptible, as it
cut sharply against the clear deep blue of the horizon; but there was no
intrusive object of mortal creation for the every day necessities of
life, to recall the wandering fancy back to earth. Nothing can be
conceived more beautiful than the whole scene. A range of palaces of the
most fantastic forms, wrought in fire, and seeming to be poized upon the
waves, along which they threw their gleaming shadows, stretched far as
the eye could reach. Portals of variegated light—terraces of burnished
gold, or of beaten silver—groves of forest trees, whose leaves were
emeralds—fruits, heaped in stately vases, each one a priceless
gem—altars, upon which burnt flames of liquid metal—pavilions of
crystal—and halls, lined with columns of sapphire, and lighted by domes
of carbuncles, were among the objects that appeared to have sprung up
from the depths of the ocean, and to be now riding upon its bosom.

The sensation which this gorgeous scene produced upon me, for the first
few moments, was almost painful. I deemed myself thralled—I doubted my
own identity—I almost expected the earth to fail beneath my feet, for
earth had no share in the spectacle on which I looked—I saw boats
passing and repassing over a lake of molten silver—I saw palaces of
fire based upon its surface, and heaving with its undulations—a marine
monster, whose eyes were dazzling, and whose nostrils vomited forth
flames that shot high into the air, wound its slow way among the gliding
barks, and none heeded its vicinity—I beheld huge dark masses covered
with stars of light, which were reflected in the stream beneath, looking
like rocky craters that would shortly burst, and cast forth the
imprisoned fires—carriages and horses, guided by spectral hands,
followed over the same cold clear surface—and suddenly, with a hissing
sound which startled me from my reverie, and a burst of light almost
blinding, up sprang a cluster of fiery serpents into the pure ether,
mocking the pale moon with their transient brilliancy, and then falling
back in starry showers.

The dream of fancy was dispelled at once:—A handful of rockets sufficed
to arouse me from one of the wildest visions in which I ever remember to
have indulged—for I no sooner saw them run shimmering along the sky,
than I sickened at the memory of the frightful catastrophe which
attended their preparation; when eighty-four miserable human beings fell
victims to the explosion of the powder-room of the manufactory. My
enthusiasm was at an end: but my admiration of the magnificent scene,
amid which I stood, continued unabated; the channel of the Bosphorus,
beautiful under all circumstances, and at all times, offered facilities,
and enhanced effects, in an exhibition like that on which I looked, that
cannot probably be exceeded in the world; and I felt at once that, even
had man done less, nature would still have made the pageant peerless.

We at length turned reluctantly away from the City of Fire on which we
had been so long looking; and, threading among the tents that occupied
the crest of the hill, we passed out through the fair of the Great
Cemetery. Every booth was thronged. In one, a set of Fantoccini were
performing their miniature drama; in another, an Improvvisatore was
regaling a circle of listeners with a gesticulation and volubility which
appeared to excite great admiration in his auditors; while in a third, a
trio of Bohemian minstrels, squatted upon a mat, were accompanying their
wild recitative by a few chords struck almost at random upon their
mandolins.

In the distance, a wreath of lamps defined the outline of the Military
College; while lower in the valley gleamed out the costly chandeliers
which lit up the tents of the Pashas. The hills were sprinkled over with
lights; the terrace at the extremity of the palace was a wall of fire;
and the scene was all life and gladness. Crowds thronged the narrow
road; but not a sound of discord, not a word uttered in menace or in
defiance, escaped from the lips of a single individual; all were
tranquil, orderly, and well conducted; the sole aim of each was
amusement; and this great eastern mob, amounting to between forty and
fifty thousand persons, collected together from all the surrounding
country, from the heart of a great city, and from the shores of two
different quarters of the earth, appeared to act from one common
impulse, and to have one common interest.

It is questionable whether such a fact as this could be recorded of any
other country.



CHAPTER XXVI.


  Repetition—The Esplanade—The Kiosk and the Pavilion—A Short
  Cut—Dense Crowd—A Friend at Court—Curious _Coup d’Œil_—The
  Arena—The Orchestra—First Act of the Comedy—Disgusting
  Exhibition—The Birth of the Ballet—Dancing Boys—Second Act
  of the Drama—Insult to the Turkish Women—The Provost
  Marshal—Yusuf Pasha, the Traitor—Clemency of the
  Sultan—Forbearance of an Oriental Mob—Renewal of the
  Ballet—Last Act of the Drama—Theatrical
  Decorations—Watch-dogs and Chinese—Procession of the
  Trades—Frank Merchants—Thieves and Judges—Bedouin
  Tumblers—Fondness of the Pashas for Dancing—The Wise Men of
  the East.

It were worse than idle to follow the daily progress of the Fêtes. It
were but to weary the reader with repetitions, or to delude him with
fictions; for the same actors being engaged during the whole of the
festival, only varied their exhibitions sufficiently to emancipate
themselves from the reproach of actual repetition. So monotonous,
indeed, did I find the second representation I was induced to witness,
that I never ventured upon a third.

I have already mentioned that the Esplanade of the Grand Armoury had
been selected as one of the spots upon which the sports were to take
place; but I learnt from an individual who had possessed himself of the
important secret, that the principal performers were to exhibit on a
piece of land situated between the palace walls, and the kiosk in which
the Pashas did the honours to the dinner-guests of the Sultan, after the
termination of their repast; while a garden Pavilion, whose windows
opened upon this space, was to be tenanted by his Sublime Highness, his
Imperial daughters, the Sultana, their mother, and half a dozen of the
most favoured ladies of the harem, who, from the painted lattices, could
look forth upon the scene.

This arrangement sufficiently attested the superiority of the situation;
and, accordingly, avoiding the crowd of the Champs des Morts, and the
thronged descent into the valley, we drove across the hills beyond the
Military College; and then, skirting the height above Dolma Batchè,
suddenly descended almost under the walls of the Palace. But the chosen
spot was surrounded by guards, and the crowd were clustered densely in
their rear; so densely, indeed, that the _arabadjhe_ declared our
further progress to be altogether impracticable.

From this dilemma we were fortunately extricated by an officer of Achmet
Pasha’s household; who, perceiving the difficulty, hastened to remove
it, which he effected in no very gentle manner by striking the
individuals who impeded our passage right and left with the flat of his
sword, until he established us immediately behind the line of military.

The performances had not yet commenced, and I had consequently time to
contemplate the animated scene before me. On my right was the kiosk,
whose wide casements were crowded with Pashas; on my left the Garden
Pavilion, which had the honour of screening from the gaze of the vulgar
the Brother of the Sun and his train of attendant beauties; behind me
rose the hill whose summit was covered with the tents of the Imperial
suite, and whose rise was occupied by a crowd of Turkish females; and
before me stretched the Bosphorus. A small opening, leading down from
the arena towards the shore, was occupied by a detachment of military:
and beneath the windows of the kiosk, mats had been spread for about a
hundred women, who were comfortably established under the long shadows
of the building.

At the other extremity of the circle, thirteen Jews, seated
crescent-wise, were playing upon tambourines; while as many more,
squatted in their rear, were each beating upon a sort of coarse drum,
whose only attribute was noise; and the time to be observed by the
musicians was regulated by an individual, with a venerable white beard
and a staff of office. This head-splitting orchestra continued to
accompany the whole performance, with very slight intervals of rest; and
was quite in keeping with the remainder of the exhibition.

Not the slightest effort had been made to level the piece of land thus
converted into a temporary theatre, and which was stony and uneven to a
degree that must have disconcerted any individuals less philosophical
than those who were to exhibit their histrionic and terpsichorean
talents before the Ottoman Emperor and his August Court. In fact, the
whole of the scenic preparations were conducted in so primitive a manner
that you saw at once no deceit was intended, and that, if you suffered
yourself to be led away by the incidents of the drama, you would not be
deluded thereto by any effort of the actors.

The first arrival upon the scene was that of four ragged personages,
apparently intended to represent the street porters who ply for hire
about the quays and markets; and these interesting individuals sustained
a long and animated conversation, setting forth the dull condition of
the Queen of Cities, in which neither feast nor festival had been held
since the Baïram. Their lamentations at length attracted the attention
of a fifth loiterer of the same class, who, joining the group, gave a
new tone to the subject by announcing the approaching marriage of the
High and Peerless Princess Mihirmàh—the daughter of His Sublime
Highness Mahmoud the Powerful, the Emperor of the East, and Conqueror of
the World!

The intelligence was received with enthusiasm, and the new comer was
encouraged to proceed with his narration; in which he accordingly set
forth not only the beauties and virtues of the Imperial Bride, and the
high and endearing qualities of her affianced husband, but also gave a
_catalogue raisonné_ of all the sports and ceremonies which were to be
observed on the happy occasion of her nuptials; and it is only fair to
believe that he did so with some address, as a murmur of admiration ran
through the crowd who were devouring his discourse.

After asserting that the whole universe had been taxed to produce
novelties worthy of the illustrious event, he proposed to exhibit to his
companions an ingenious machine that had been imported from Europe, and
which was to be exhibited by a friend of his own. Hereupon, a sort of
buffoon was introduced, attended by two men, who fixed a swing with a
lattice seat between two slight wooden frames, which they were obliged
to support during the remainder of the scene.

One by one, the respectable worthies whom I have attempted to describe
were seated in the swing, and rocked gently backwards and forwards by
the proprietor of the show; and during this time an old Jew, with a long
white beard and tattered garments, followed by a deformed and hideous
dwarf, joined himself to the party, but at a sufficient distance to
indicate that he was conscious of his unworthiness to intrude upon their
notice.

A mischievous whim suddenly prompted the hilarious Mussulmauns to make
the quailing dwarf a party in their pastime, and they accordingly placed
him in the swing, and amused themselves for a time with his abortive
attempts to escape; but, wearying of the jest, they agreed to replace
him by his master; and, despite the prayers and terror of the hoary Jew,
they compelled him to occupy the crazy seat, which, failing beneath his
weight, precipitated him to the ground, where, falling upon his head, he
remained apparently lifeless.

At this period of the performance, half a score of the members of the
orchestra left their places, and walked demurely out of the ring, in
order to swell the crowd which shortly afterwards advanced to raise the
body of the murdered man, and convey him away to burial.

Nothing can be conceived more disgusting than the scene that followed;
all the actors being actually Jews, selected from the very dregs of the
people, and compelled to exhibit the degradation of their social state
for the amusement of their task-masters. A wretched bier, borne by four
men, was brought forward, on which the supposed corpse was flung with a
haste and indecency betokening strong alarm; and it was about to
disappear with its loathsome freight, when its passage was obstructed by
a party of police, who, occupying the centre of the path along which it
was passing, and remaining erect on its approach, were supposed to
awaken in the bosoms of the bearers one of the strongest superstitions
of the Jews of Turkey; who, when they are carrying a body to the grave
that is met by a Christian or a Mahommedan who refuses to bend down and
pass under the bier, consider the corpse so contaminated by the contact
as to be without the pale of salvation; and, setting down the body under
this impression on the spot where the encounter has taken place, they
abandon it to the tender mercies of the local authorities.

This wretched and revolting superstition was enacted by the degraded
wretches who were hired on the present occasion to expose the abjectness
of their people, with all the painful exactness which could delude the
spectator into the belief that he beheld a scene of actual and
unpremeditated horror. A distracted wife tore off her turban, and
plucked out handfuls of her dishevelled hair; the body was rolled over
into the dust: a scuffle ensued between the Jewish rabble and the armed
kavasses, in which a few blows were given that appeared to fall more
heavily than was altogether necessary to the effect of the scene; and
the Jew, recovering from his trance amid the shouting and yelling of
the combatants, was borne off in triumph by his tribe, with a wild
chorus that terminated the first act of the drama!

At intervals, the disgust which this hateful exhibition tended to excite
in my bosom was relieved by the arrival of some tardy Pasha, attended by
a train of domestics; who, entering the arena by the passage to which I
have already alluded as opening from the shoreward side of the
enclosure, guided his richly caparisoned steed, whose housings were
bright with gems and embroidery, through the motley throng of actors;
while his diamond star glittered in the sunshine, and his gold-wrought
sword-belt and jewelled weapon-hilt flashed back the light that glanced
upon them.

My pen wearies of its office, as I pursue the detail of the morning’s
performance; but I compel myself to the task, in order to convey to my
readers an accurate idea of the Turkish drama—for this coarse,
revolting, and aimless exhibition, whose description I have commenced,
is the highest effort that the histrionic art has yet made in Turkey;
and I am bound to add that the effect which it produced upon the
spectators was one of unequivocal gratification.

The retreat of the Jewish party was succeeded by the arrival of a group
of ballet dancers, consisting of about a score of youths from fourteen
to twenty years of age, dressed in a rich costume of satin, fringed and
ribbed with gold, varying in colour, according to the fancy of the
wearer. They all wore their own long hair, curled in ringlets, and
floating about their shoulders; and their appearance was so extremely
disagreeable, notwithstanding the splendour of their costume, that I was
surprised to learn that they all belonged to the Sultan, or to different
wealthy Pashas, who take so much delight in seeing them dance as to keep
several constantly in their pay.

As I had been assured that the whole of the exhibition remained
precisely similar to the scenic amusements of the ancient Romans, I
contemplated it with more patience than I should otherwise have been
able to exert: for I soon discovered that the dancing was quite upon a
par with the dramatic portion of the entertainment. If that upon which I
now looked were indeed the germ whence sprang the most graceful and the
most elegant of all the movements of which the human form is
susceptible—if this were indeed the birth of the Ballet—then is it a
fair child that may truly blush for its parentage: for the exhibition
was coarse, monotonous, and wearisome, nor did it possess one redeeming
attribute. An unceasing circuit of the enclosure—a wreathing of arms
and handkerchiefs—an affected inclination of the head first to the one
side, and then to the other—a beating of feet upon the earth, and a
succession of prostrations before the Pashas, appeared to be the extent
of talent of which the dancers were capable; and the only variation that
I was able to discover was an increase of speed, which rendered the
heavy movements of the exhibitors only the more conspicuous. The very
appearance, moreover, of this party of petticoated and long-haired
youths was revolting to my English ideas: and, despite the acclamations
with which they were liberally greeted, I felt glad when they made their
parting obeisance, and gave place to the second series of performers.

A Turk, fèzed and coated, next entered upon the scene—a sort of
Oriental Jacques, melancholy and gentlemanlike, who told a tale of
blighted love, and consequent sadness; at whose termination he was
accosted by the buffoon, who in his turn delivered a panegyric on the
loveliness of the veiled beauties of Stamboul, which however failed in
its effect upon the slighted suitor; who, with sundry contortions, and
wringings of the hands, professed his inability ever to love again.

The buffoon, resolved, as it appeared, to make trial of his constancy;
or outraged at the affectation of so anti-Turkish a display of
sensibility, shortly withdrew; and returned accompanied by three of the
Ballet dancers, disguised as females, and wearing the _yashmac_ and the
_feridjhe_. Of course, curiosity succeeded to indifference, and passion
to curiosity; and a scene of love-making ensued, that consisted of
attempts to induce the ladies to unveil; experiments with the swing,
which occasionally broke down to the great amusement of the spectators;
and energetic asseverations on the one part and the other.

During the scene, the principal dancer, who personated the attractive
fair-one, displayed considerable talent in his part; the _feridjhe_ was
thrown aside; and those Franks who were present, and who could not
necessarily hope to gain even a glimpse of a Turkish female in the
costume of the harem, had here an excellent opportunity of forming an
idea of their appearance; and not only of their appearance, but of their
manners also, for the resemblance was perfect; and, to render the
ridicule still more complete, the dress was that of the last Palace
adoption—the antery and trowsers, wedded to the wadded silk jacket and
_gigot_ sleeves!

In the course of the performance, he danced the dance of the harem, with
a degree of skill that few of the female dancers ever attain; and which
elicited great applause from the audience; and, had the exhibition
ended here, it would have been rather absurd than revolting; but the
jealous Musselmauns, who veil the casements of their harems with
lattices, and the faces of their women with _yashmacs_, sat not only
quietly but admiringly by, while all, and probably more than all, the
secrets of the interior were laid bare, and caricatured for the
amusement of the vulgar. There could not have been a high-minded Turkish
woman present, who did not blush at least as deeply for her husband as
for herself; and not a pure-hearted female of any nation, who did not
feel more contempt for the instigators of the insult than for its
objects.

Not one of the least extraordinary portions of the day’s performances
was enacted by a young Pasha, recently promoted to that distinguished
rank, with the additional titles of General, and Provost-Marshal of the
Ottoman armies. This very heavy and coarse-looking individual, who was
formerly Commandant of the Military College in its days of neglect and
utter uselessness, is the son of Yusuf Pasha, the treacherous Chief who
sold Varna to the Russians, and escaped into the Northern States, where
he remained secure, until the kind-hearted Nicholas had wrung his pardon
from the betrayed Sultan; who in his plenitude of mercy not only forgave
the crime of his false servant, but rewarded his affected penitence
with the Pashalik of Belgrade, which he now enjoys.

Mustapha Pasha, his son, figured on the occasion of the Fêtes with a
diamond star upon his breast, and grasping a whip bound with gold wire,
and furnished with a long lash, which he laid about the heads and
shoulders of the mob with a most lavish hand, whenever they advanced an
inch or two beyond their allotted boundary. I confess that I could not
help smiling as I pictured to myself the reception which His Highness
Mustapha Pasha, General of Brigade, and Provost Marshal of the Ottoman
Armies, would have received from a sturdy English mob, when they felt
his long whip among them! I suspect that his labours would have been
brief, and his office not altogether a safe one.

Could I have disengaged my carriage from the crowd, I should at once
have retired, perfectly satisfied with the specimen I had obtained of
the Turkish taste in theatricals; but the arabas were standing four
deep, and pressed upon from behind by a dense mob; and I was
consequently compelled to remain a patient spectator of the whole
performance. Intrigues with Greek serving-men, domestic quarrels ending
in blows, and similarly well-conceived incidents, filled up the canvass,
until the end of the second act, when a fresh set of ballet dancers,
amounting to nearly one hundred, and clad in the beautiful old Greek
dress, entered, and made their bow to the Pashas.

During their performance, which was similar to that of the first party,
although less gracefully executed, a new feature was added to the
exhibition. An attempt at side scenes was evident, though I confess that
for the first few minutes I was at a loss to imagine the intention of
the very primitive machinery that was introduced. A couple of frames,
similar to those on which linen is dried in England, were placed on a
line about twenty feet apart, while, in the centre, a low railing of
about six feet in length divided the distance. A poor old wretch, with a
rope about his neck, was then tied to each frame, and made to squat down
upon his hands and knees, to represent a watch-dog; and some green
almonds were scattered about him for his food.

These miserable individuals, whose hired and voluntary degradation made
me heart-sick, were both of them old men, whose beards were grey, and
whose age should have exempted them from such an office as their
necessities had induced them to fulfil. Beside these were placed two
youths dressed as Chinese, with long braids hanging down their backs,
and feather fans in their hands; not very unlike the figures which adorn
the old china in the cabinet of an antiquary. Next came forward a
procession composed of all the trades of Constantinople, from the Jew
who vends fried fish at the corners of the streets, to the Frank
merchant, who, when he closes his office, becomes one of the
“Exclusives” of Pera.

Of course, the Frank was very roughly handled. His hat was struck off,
and made a football for all the ragamuffins by whom he was surrounded;
and the comments which were uttered alike upon his costume and his
country were by no means courteous or conciliatory. But it could
scarcely be expected that more delicacy would be observed towards a
Frank than had been shown to the women of the country; and, this
specimen of bad taste apart, the procession was the best point of the
performance; as the individuals who composed it appeared to have been
principally “taken in the fact,” and forced upon the scene; thus
affording faithful rather than flattering representations of their
several callings.

When the procession moved off, the serious business of the drama was
resumed; the three females re-entered on the scene, accompanied by their
mother, and a Greek serving-man, laden with their parasols and
essence-bottles; and followed by two thieves, who concealed themselves
behind the Chinese statues, for such I found that the two quaint figures
who had so quietly walked to their places were intended to represent.
After a vast deal of absurd grimace and buffoonery, rugs were spread in
front of the low railing, and the four females and the Greek servant
seated themselves, to listen to a tale told by the old woman.

While they were thus engaged, the melancholy Jacques of the previous act
stole upon their privacy, when an absurd exhibition of screaming and
fainting took place; during which the two thieves contrived, without any
attempt at self-concealment, to possess themselves of the cachemires and
handkerchiefs of the ladies, and, moving a few paces apart, they began
to divide the spoil; when the buffoon, in his turn, prowling about the
neighbourhood, discovered the theft, and, raising a hue and cry, at
which the dogs were let loose by the party, hastened during the
confusion to seize upon the booty of the robbers. The outcry attracted
the attention of the Cadi, who entered, accompanied by his attendants,
to ascertain the cause of the tumult; when the ladies, with tears and
shrieks, declared the amount of their losses, and demanded justice.

Of course the good taste which had made a jest of the feelings of their
allies, and the morals of their women, would not permit the Turkish
comedians to spare their judges; and accordingly the Cadi was a huge
caricature of humanity, with spectacles as large as saucers, and a
beard of sheep skin. A hurried trial ensued, in which, while the Cadi
was ogling the females, the buffoon was making himself merry at the
expense of the Cadi; the executioner with his bastinado, and the clerk
with his ink-horn and parchment, were both forthcoming; and the drama
ended by the capture of the thieves, and the restoration of the stolen
property!

A confused dance, accompanied by the wild, shrill chanting of the
dancers, which I can compare to nothing but the orgies of a troop of
Bacchantes, succeeded the departure of the actors, and the whole arena
appeared in motion. The drums and tambourines gave out their loudest
discord; gold and silver glittered in the sunshine; arms were tossed in
the air; the long tresses of the performers floated on the wind; and I
was delighted when the appearance of a troop of Bedouin Arabs, summoned
to Stamboul expressly for the occasion, possessed themselves of the open
space to exhibit their feats of strength and address. They were
magnificently attired in coloured satins, and formed a very curious
group; but their accomplishments would scarcely have secured for them an
engagement in a respectable English booth. It was altogether pitiable.

When I at length contrived to escape from the crowd, I left a party of
the dancing boys performing their evolutions in the Kiosk of the
Pashas. Their Highnesses had not yet had a surfeit of the senseless
pastime; and the youths were reaping a golden harvest.

The days are gone by in which people were wont to talk of the “Wise Men
of the East.”



CHAPTER XXVII.


  Succession of Banquets—The Chèïk Islam and the
  Clergy—Sectarian Prejudices—The Military Staff—The Naval
  Chiefs—The Imperial Household—The Pashas—The Grand
  Vizier—Magnificent Procession—Night Scene on the
  Bosphorus—The Palace of the Seraskier Pasha—Palace of Azmè
  Sultane—Midnight Serenade—Pretty Truants—The Shore of
  Asia—Ambassadorial Banquet—War Dance—Beautiful Effects of
  Light.

One of the most characteristic features of the marriage festivities was
the succession of banquets given by the Sultan to the different high
personages, belonging to, or connected with, his Empire.

The first day was sacred to the Clergy, and the procession was a most
interesting one. At its head walked the Chèïk Islam, with the golden
circlet about his brow, and his graceful robes of white cachemire
falling around him in heavy folds; a party of the principal Imams
followed. Then came the High Chief of the Turning Dervishes, with his
lofty hat of white felt folded about with a shawl of the sacred green,
and shrouded in his ample mantle. Other sects of Dervishes succeeded;
and after them came Hadjis from the Holy Shrine of Mahomet—Emirs with
their voluminous white turbans—and Fakirs from the far East. A short
space behind advanced the Greek Patriarch, with his jewelled crown, and
robes of embroidered satin; supported by a group of prelates. Following
close upon his steps, next moved forward the Armenian Archbishop,
similarly attended, and gorgeously attired; and as he advanced, he made
way for the Jewish Hahām-bachi, or Grand Rabbi, with his flowing
beard and inlaid crosier; a throng of Rabbis were in his train; and
altogether the scene was one of a most interesting character.

On the arrival of these holy men at the banquetting tent, a delicate
difficulty presented itself. The heads of the Greek and Armenian
churches resolutely refused to sit at table with, or to eat from the
same dish as, their Israelitish companion; while the Jew, on his side,
declared the utter impossibility of his partaking of the same food as
that eaten by his Christian brethren. The stately Chèïk Islam,
meanwhile, was sitting by in uninterested silence; wondering, in the
tolerance of his own heart and creed, why men serving the same God
should not “dip with each other in the dish.”

The difficulty was at length surmounted; for, as the Jewish law did not
permit the Hahām-bachi to partake of flesh that had not been
slaughtered by one of his own tribe, there was nothing left for him but
a dinner of cheese and salad, which was accordingly spread on a
side-table; while the scrupulous Christian prelates, who had refused the
companionship of the representative of the ancient religion, seated
themselves quietly on either side of the High Priest of Mahomet, and
made an excellent dinner. The honours were done by four of the principal
Pashas; and, at the close of the repast, the party adjourned to the
kiosk to which I have already made reference, in order to enjoy the
flight of the rockets, and the fairy wonders of the illuminated
Bosphorus.

To the church succeeded the army; and on the morrow Achmet Pasha, and
the principal Officers of the Staff, were the invited guests.

The magnificent shipping in the harbour next gave up its chiefs; and
again Achmet Pasha, as temporary High Admiral, headed the board.

On the fourth day, all the members of the Imperial Household were
feasted in their turn; and, on the fifth, came the princely train of
Pashas.

The Grand Vèzer rode first on a magnificent white Arabian, whose
housings were wrought with gold and seed-pearl. His bridle-rein was
richly worked with coloured silks; and his golden stirrups were finely
chased. His sword-hilt blazed with diamonds: and the brilliant order
that he wore upon his breast burnt in the sunlight; fifteen servants on
foot surrounded his horse.

He was followed by the four newly-elected Vèzirs: the
Oumouri-Mulkiènaziri, or Minister of the Interior; the
Oumouri-Karidjiè-Naziri, or Minister of the Exterior; the Minister of
Military Finance: and the Lord High Comptroller of the Mint; by the
Seraskier Pasha, the Generallissimo of the Imperial Armies, the Grand
Master of the Artillery, and a crowd of out-dwelling Pashas, who had
been summoned by the Sultan to assist at the festival.

I never witnessed a more magnificent or profuse display of diamonds, and
embroidery; of proud steeds, and glittering parade. The crowd of running
footmen—the trampling of impatient chargers—the clashing of jewelled
weapons against the gilded stirrups—the noise, the hurry, and the
glare, baffle all description; and when at length the princely train had
disappeared within the tent, and the grooms were leading away the
splendid animals, who, freed from the control of a rider, were rearing
and prancing among the crowd, I felt like one suddenly awakened from a
gorgeous dream, and had only a severe headache left, to convince me that
I had really been a spectator of the splendid scene.

In the evening, well furred and cloaked, we descended to the pier of
Topphannè; and having secured one of the large caïques that ply to the
islands, we stepped on board; and, rowing out into the middle of the
channel, contemplated at our ease the wonders which surrounded us. From
the centre of the stream, the whole mass of waters appeared to be
girdled with fire; the shore was wrapt in darkness, and the edifices of
light seemed to lift themselves almost to the clouds. I can conceive
nothing finer of its kind; and we continued almost motionless where we
had first paused, our caïque heaving gently upon the bosom of the blue
waters; until a large flight of rockets gave us a momentary view of the
surrounding shores; but, above all, of the surface of the channel.

If I had been surprised at the density of the crowd on shore, I was
tenfold more so at the floating throng which had almost choked up the
passage of the Bosphorus. Every light and manageable craft that could be
made available, was astir that night, from the caïque of the Pasha, to
the little, round, tub-like boat of the Archipelagon trader; while the
countless white yashmacs of the women gleamed out in the light of the
rockets like a dense ridge of surf, as you approached nearer to the edge
of the shore; a circumstance which was readily accounted for by the fact
that no Turkish female is allowed to walk the streets after eight
o’clock at night, and that this was consequently their only method of
witnessing the illuminations.

Having contemplated the general effect from a distance, we with some
difficulty made our way through the caïques which were closely wedged
together opposite the Palace of Dolma Batchè, just in time to escape one
of the magnificent explosions produced by the Greek fires, that were
blazing up out of the water in every direction, and which burst not five
yards from our boat.

Of all the illuminations, that of the Seraskier Pasha, taken
individually, was by far the most brilliant. The whole _façade_ of the
palace was one blaze of light; and, in lieu of the oil by which the
lamps were filled in every other instance, he had fed the flame with
some ardent spirit, which gave to it the fitful tint and the flashing
brilliancy of diamonds. A magnificent screen in arabesques, on the
opposite coast, at the small summer palace of Scutari, was the next most
attractive object of the Bosphorus. But it is only as a whole that such
a pageant should be judged; and all those who looked upon the one which
I have attempted to describe, will doubtlessly concede that it was a
spectacle of beauty which has probably never been exceeded.

We made our way slowly, but without much difficulty, along the European
shore, until we reached the Palace of Azmè Sultane; but for a while
after we had gained that point all further progress was impossible.
There must have been many hundred caïques wedged together in front of
her terrace, and not less than fifty of them contained musicians. We had
intended to disembark at the palace steps, and to pay a visit to Nazip
Hanoum, but were obliged to abandon the idea, as we became instantly
aware that the thing was impracticable. We therefore remained quietly in
our boat, under the bright light of the magnificent screen upon whose
surface coloured lamps were intermixed with orange boughs and exotic
flowers. The terrace was crowded; and I saw more than one light and
fairy figure, that even the feridjhe failed wholly to conceal, which
looked as though its owner should rather have been peering through the
slender lattices, than from beneath the shade of a yashmac; but the
occasion was so rife with excitement, and the voices from the caïques
were so enticing, that doubtlessly more than one fair Dilaram and Leyla
played truant that evening after the prescribed hour.

Having at length contrived to make our way through this crowd of
worshippers, for such they must have been, we left the Palace far behind
us in a few minutes, and escaped from the noise and even danger which
were the present characteristics of its vicinity. Our sturdy boatmen,
bending to their oars, soon brought us opposite to the dwelling of the
bride, whose whole extent was bright with festooned fires; but my spirit
had begun to weary with the perpetual glare, and I rejoiced when we
struck out once more into the middle of the channel, and running under
the shore of Asia, whose infrequent lights at this point of the stream
rather relieved than pained the eye, left far behind us the clamorous
merriment of the crowd. We had the moon high above us; the pale and
placid moon, which had for many nights been mocked by a radiance more
dazzling than her own; while the myriad stars that were twinkling their
silver eyes as if in wonder at the scene beneath them, were reflected in
the clear water as in a mirror. It was a heavenly night; and as we
glided slowly along under the Asian mountains, the song of a hundred
nightingales came to us from the groves and gardens of the coast.

The transition was extraordinary; and, after the excitement, the hurry,
and the exertion of the previous day, the quiet of the hour fell upon me
like a happy dream; and I remember that I shed tears as I lay back upon
my cushions, and looked upwards to the calm moon, and listened to the
thrilling melody of the midnight woods, and felt the soft wind fanning
the hair upon my brow; but they were tears in which there was no
bitterness; an outpouring of the wearied spirit that relieved its
weight; and when we once more became entangled in the floating crowd,
and dashed forward into the blinding light of the fire-girt Palaces, the
heart-laugh which went ringing over the ripple might sometimes have been
traced to me.

The mere worldling will sneer at this admission; but those whose
misfortune it is to feel deeply will understand the seeming
inconsistency.

The sixth day was fixed upon for the Ambassadorial Banquet, where the
representatives of the Mighty Ones of the Earth were to feast together
at the board of the Brother of the Sun, and Emperor of the World. A
table, well-appointed in the European style, had been prepared; and the
banquetting tent was neatly fitted up with draperies and mirrors.

In the evening a new and distinct feature was added to the
entertainments, by the introduction in the outer court of the Palace of
a raised platform, on which a score of performers, clad in half armour,
attempted a species of war-dance to the light of a dozen bonfires, which
flashed and faded by turns; now revealing the glittering costume of the
struggling and straggling combatants, and now enveloping them in a cloud
of dense black smoke, as impenetrable as the waves of Erebus. The whole
thing was a failure; and the only charm attendant on the exhibition, was
the singular transition of light and shade that played over the surface
of the painted palace, and which produced effects almost magical; now
touching the lofty portal with a golden gleam, and then fading away into
a faint green, caught from the leafy boughs which fed the fires.

The Turks are decidedly not a dancing nation.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


  Monotonous Entertainments—Bridal Preparations—Common
  Interest—Appearance of the Surrounding Country—Ride to
  Arnautkeui—Sight-loving Ladies—Glances and
  Greetings—Pictorial Grouping—The Procession—The Trousseau—A
  Steeple-Chase.

Thus far all had been monotonous from its constant repetition; the same
dramas had been enacted, the same lamps had been lighted, and the same
banquets had been prepared; but the seventh day was the eve of the
Imperial marriage, on which the _trousseau_ of the bride was to be borne
in state from the Palace of Dolma Batchè, to her own glittering Seraï on
the Bosphorus. The period was arrived when her slaves, on withdrawing
her from the bath, were to braid her long tresses with threads of gold,
and strings of pearl, and to stain the palms of her hands and the soles
of her feet with henna.

At an early hour the streets of Pera were crowded with arabas and
saddle-horses; and my own eager little chesnut was neighing out his
impatience under my window before eight o’clock. It was a glorious
morning, bright and sunny, without a cloud; and, as I sprang into my
saddle, I felt that this was a day on which the Fates had resolved to
weave a white thread into the web of my existence.

All the three hundred thousand persons said to have been collected in
Constantinople on the occasion of the Imperial marriage, must have been
beside our path that morning! I never before beheld such a gathering of
human beings. There had been divided interests during the previous days
of festival: different points of attraction, which had wrenched asunder
the mighty mass of mortality, and fashioned it into divers portions; but
on the present occasion, men’s minds were all bent upon one object; and
this community of purpose had collected them together in one vast
multitude.

The road was guarded by armed sentinels; and about an arrow’s flight
from the Military College, on the line from Dolma Batchè to the Palace
of the Princess, a handsome tent had been pitched for the Ambassadors,
which was already thronged. Every rising ground was occupied as far as
the eye could reach; and the outline of the road along which the
procession was to pass, was marked by clusters of females, seated so
closely together that from a short distance they appeared to form one
compact body. Behind these were ranged lines of arabas, filled with
Turkish, Greek, and Armenian ladies; while on the open space beyond,
horsemen galloped to and fro; pedestrians, who had been too tardy to
secure advantageous places, straggled from spot to spot, in the hope of
establishing themselves among some knot of friends; and water-venders,
with their long-necked earthen jars and crystal goblets, passed from one
party to another, disposing, at an usurious interest, of their tempting
merchandize.

As there was no sign of the procession when we reached the Ambassadorial
tent, we resolved to canter on to Arnautkeui, and amuse ourselves by a
survey of the wayside groups; and a most interesting ride it was. As the
Turkish women generally, on any occasion which takes them from their
homes at an early hour, profit by the circumstance to remain in the open
air all day, none of our party were surprised at the well-organized
arrangements that were making on all sides. The whole line of road from
Dolma Batchè to the kiosk above the Palace of Arnautkeui was edged with
spectators; and wherever a tree afforded the means of doing so, shawls
and rugs had been stretched against the sun, producing a very cheerful
and pretty effect. The number of Turkish females collected together on
this occasion may be imagined when I state that a friend of mine, on
whose veracity I have the most perfect reliance, assured me that he
knew it to be a fact, that several of these sight-loving ladies had
actually sold the tiles off the roofs of their houses, in order to raise
money enough to enable them to hire an araba for the last two days of
the Festival!

Nor was this all; for a still more startling fact came to my knowledge
from so authentic a source that I state it without hesitation. A Turkish
female in a respectable station of society, having in vain importuned
her husband for the means of witnessing the festivities in a manner
suited to her rank, and receiving for an answer the assurance that he
was unable to comply with her request; finding that she had no hope of
success save through her own ingenuity, set herself to work to devise
some expedient by which she might raise the necessary sum; and having
taken into her confidence a favourite slave who was to accompany her in
the event of any fortunate discovery, it was at length decided between
them that she should sell her son, a fine little boy of about five years
of age. No sooner said than done; she adjusted her yashmac and feridjhe,
took her child by the hand, and, followed by her attendant, proceeded to
the house of a slave merchant, where the bargain was soon made, and the
sum of three thousand piastres given in exchange for the little
Musselmaun!

The astonishment of the husband may be conceived, when on the morrow he
saw his wife seated in an araba in the midst of a bevy of her fair
friends, without being able to discover how she had contrived to secure
a carriage at so expensive a period. He demanded an explanation in vain;
and it was not until he inquired for his child, and detected a
mysterious confusion in the manner of his wife, that a suspicion of the
fact flashed upon him. He insisted on hearing the truth; and when he at
length learnt it, he hurried like a madman to the slave-merchant, and
demanded back his boy; but the dealer in human beings had no expensive
sympathies; and he only answered the agonized intreaties of the father,
by asserting his willingness to deliver up the child when the money
which he had given for him was repaid. The wretched parent had it not to
give; and finding that his misery produced no effect upon the
slave-merchant, he hurried in his anguish to the Seraskier, who, having
heard the tale, summoned to his presence the mother, the child, and the
merchant; and after having ascertained that the fact was precisely as it
had been stated to him, he expressed to the former his horror of the
unnatural deed of which she had been guilty, and received for answer
that she had acted under the firm conviction that her husband had merely
refused to supply her with money from an impulse of avarice; and that,
being devoted to his child, he would immediately purchase him back. The
apology, poor as it was, was admitted; and the Seraskier, finding that
the father really did not possess the means of recovering his boy,
generously paid the price of his liberty, and restored him to his
parents; only cautioning the mother not to attempt a second sale of the
same description, as, in the event of such an occurrence, she should
herself be her child’s ransom.

Hear this, ye Englishwomen, who have been accustomed to believe that the
Turkish females are always under lock and key—Hear this: and then
imagine to what a pitch they carry their love of dissipation and
expense.

Not the least amusing part of the ride was the multitude of recognitions
and salutations consequent upon our progress through the crowd. Here a
veiled lady greeted us from her gilded araba; and there a laughing Greek
saluted us from beneath his wayside tent. On one side, we were joined by
a rival party of mounted Franks; and on the other we were beckoned aside
by some pretty friend, who was seated under the shade of a cluster of
overhanging branches.

Had there been nothing further to anticipate, the mere sight of the
great congregation of human beings collected together that morning,
would of itself have been a highly interesting spectacle.

Probably in no other country upon earth can you encounter such groups as
you do in Turkey; they always appear as though they had been arranged by
an artist; and I find myself on every occasion just about to describe
them, when I remember that I have already done so more than once; and am
compelled, however reluctantly, to forego the inclination.

Having reached the crest of the hill above Arnautkeui, we turned our
horses’ heads once more towards Dolma Batchè; and had almost reached the
Palace when the sound of a military band came cheerfully on the wind,
and we were obliged to gallop off, in order to secure an elevated
station whence we could conveniently witness the passage of the
procession.

We were fortunate enough to possess ourselves of a spot of ground that
overhung the road, along which we reined up our horses in line, and
awaited the arrival of the pageant.

The Band led the way, playing the Sultan’s Grand March upon their wind
instruments, and the military followed in good order; it was a squadron
of the _élite_ of the Turkish Army, the Cavalry of the Imperial Guard,
whose several troops are distinguished by the different colour of their
horses. I counted four negro officers as they passed us.

The Troops were succeeded by fifty Field Officers, the General Staff of
the Empire, well mounted and attended; and they, in their turn, gave
place to twenty Great Officers of the Imperial Household. With these
individuals commenced the interest and Orientalism of the spectacle; the
flashing diamonds upon their breasts and hands, and the glittering
housings of their horses, relieving the monotonous slowness with which
they progressed. This splendid train was followed by fourteen led mules,
laden with packages, covered with the gold and silver stuffs of Broussa,
and secured upon the animals with cords of silk. The packages contained
the velvet and satin mattresses intended for the harem of the Princess,
and all the minor articles necessary to her household; which are
supplied by the Sultan, even to the feather-brush that beats aside the
flies from the dinner-table.

Next came twelve beautiful white mules, magnificently housed, and led by
pages dressed in a scarlet uniform: a present to the Princess from her
Imperial Father.

Nine carriages of silver net-work, roofed and draperied with coloured
silk, each drawn by four bay horses, followed next in line; and through
the transparent lattices glittered the costly sofa-furniture of tissue
and embroidery; the velvet cushions, and the golden fringes which were
to adorn the saloons of the bridal Palace.

After these came three open droskys, with pages running at the
bridle-rein of the superb leaders, who seemed impatient of the pace at
which they travelled, and scattered the foam from their mouths as they
champed their embossed bits; and these were overlaid with cloths of
crimson velvet fringed with gold, on which was displayed a collection of
richly-chased silver plate.

Then followed five other carriages, drawn like the foregoing by four
stately horses, containing trunks covered with coloured velvets and gold
and silver stuffs, and clamped and hinged with wrought silver, laden
with the linen of the Imperial Bride.

Next came forward what, at the first glance, seen as it was through the
cloud of dust raised by the carriages, seemed to be a moving tulip-bed,
extending far as the eye could reach. Nor was the illusion an
overstrained one; for this portion of the procession proved to be a
train of one hundred and fifty men, each attended by a page, and bearing
upon his head a basket of wicker-work, covered with gold tissue, and
surmounted by a raised dome of coloured gauze, decorated with bunches of
artificial flowers. Beneath these transparent screens might be seen the
toilette of the young Princess; her golden ewers, and jewel-studded
basins—her diamond-covered essence-boxes, and gemmed water-vases—her
glittering porcelain, her emerald-mounted hair-brushes—and all the
costly gauds which litter so magnificently the chambers of the great.
Golden cages, filled with stuffed birds—inlaid caskets, heavy with
perfumes—musical instruments, rich with laboured gold and
jewels—salvers, upheaped with gold coins—and ten thousand brilliant
toys, if not without a name, yet almost without a use, followed in their
turn; and then came pyramids of sweetmeats, glittering like fruits which
had suddenly been hardened into gems; and trays of shawls, each one a
fortune in itself, enveloped separately in wrappers of coloured gauze,
tied with long loops of ribbon.

But the most gorgeous display was yet to come; embroidered handkerchiefs
whose gold and silver threads were mingled with silks of many hues, and
whose texture was almost as impalpable as the gossamer—jackets of
velvet worked on the sleeves and breasts with precious stones—trowsers
sprinkled with stars of gold and silver—anteries of white silk, wrought
with coloured jewels—robes of satin powdered with seed-pearl—slippers
as diminutive as that of Cinderella, fringed with floss silk, and
powdered with rubies; and finally, sixteen bearers, balancing upon their
heads cages of silver wire, resting on cushions of crimson velvet,
whereon were displayed the bridal diamonds. The sunshine was flashing on
them as they passed us, and at times it was impossible to look upon
them.

It seemed as though the trees of the Seraï must have dropped diamonds,
to supply the profusion of the Imperial Father. It is impossible to
describe them—the diadems and bracelets, the necklaces and wreaths, the
rings and clasps: suffice it that every female article of dress or
ornament, for which this costly stone could be made available, was here
in its magnificence; and assuredly the gifts of the Queen of Sheba to
King Solomon must have sunk into insignificance before the bridal
_trousseau_ of the Princess Mihirmàh—“The Glory of the Moon!”

Forty mounted negroes appointed to her household followed, like demons
of darkness, on the footsteps of the flashing treasure which I have just
described; and I can safely declare that I never beheld so hideous an
assemblage of human beings. The diamonds were quite secure, I should
imagine, from all depredators, under the charge of these frightful
guardians—these gnomes, gloating over the produce of the “dark gold
mines,” where no light could intrude in which they might mirror their
own ugliness; and His Sublime Highness, or rather his Master of the
Ceremonies, appeared to have been of the same opinion; for although a
guard preceded the procession, none followed it; and the termination of
the pageant came so abruptly upon me after its greatest splendour, that
I felt as though some accident had detained the remaining actors in the
show, and that something more must follow; but as, after the lapse of a
moment, I discovered that all was really over, there was nothing for it
but a steeple chase “over bank, bush, and briar,” in order to get once
more in advance of the procession, and thus secure a second view.

On this we accordingly determined; and after a gallop over ploughed
fields, and a few leaps over sundry intervening fences and ditches, we
found ourselves on the height above Arnautkeui, just as the gorgeous
train was beginning to descend the hill.



CHAPTER XXIX.


  The Bridal Day—Ceremony of Acceptance—The Crowd—The Kislar
  Agha and the Court Astrologer—Order of the Procession—The
  Russian Coach—The Pasha and the Attachés—The Seraskier—Wives
  of the Pashas—The Sultan and the Georgian Slave.

The morrow was the bridal day, when the fortunate Saïd Pasha was to
receive his Imperial Bride beneath his own roof, and to look upon her
for the first time. As yet he had not had even a glimpse of her through
her yashmac, their only interview having taken place on his arrival from
the Dardanelles, when he had been summoned to the palace to throw
himself at her feet, and to return thanks for the honour she was about
to confer upon him. This interview, if such indeed a meeting may be
termed in which one of the parties only has a sight of the other, is one
of the ceremonies _à la rigeur_ in the Imperial marriages of the East.

The bridegroom elect is led into a room, at whose upper extremity a door
stands ajar; and behind this sits the lady splendidly habited, and
surrounded by a train of slaves. A small portion of her embroidered
antery is suffered to pass the opening of the door; and a side lattice,
veiled with thin gauze, enables her to take a view of her suitor as he
approaches; which he does slowly, and upon his knees, the whole length
of the apartment. On arriving near the “Door of Light” that conceals the
Princess, he thrice bows his forehead to the earth, ere he ventures to
implore a ratification of his hopes. The officious Kislar Agha replies
for the bride; and after a second prostration, the Pasha returns thanks
“in a neat speech;” and with the permission of the same personage, he
then raises to his lips the hem of the Imperial garment, and retires in
the same humble posture in which he entered.

The _on dit_ at the Palace whispered the disappointment of the bride on
the present occasion, that the choice of her Imperial father had not
fallen on Mustapha Pasha of Adrianople, whom she had once seen by
accident, and by whose personal beauty she had been much attracted. It
is, nevertheless, possible that this glimpse of her destined bridegroom
reconciled her to her destiny; for, as it is the appearance only to
which Turkish females generally attach any importance in their husbands,
the young Pasha of the Dardanelles could safely compete with all his
rivals, being really a very handsome and intelligent-looking person.

Had I not known that such a thing was altogether impossible, I should
have said, when I pulled up my panting horse on the height above the
palace, that the same groups occupied the same spots where I had seen
them on the previous day. The scene did not appear to have altered in a
single feature. I saw the same smiling faces, and received the same
kindly greetings; laughed at the same dirty, stupid-looking sentinels,
and bought a cool draught from the same water-vender for a twenty para
piece; and, altogether, I had some difficulty in persuading myself that
I had really talked politics with a hot-headed Englishman, theology with
a Greek Papas, and nonsense with a Sardinian Secretary, and moreover had
slept through a long night, since I last stood upon that sunny hill, and
looked far and wide upon the same wilderness of human beings.

The procession of the preceding day had been announced to start from
Dolma Batchè at eight o’clock, but the mid-day muezzin had been called
from the minarets, ere the first trumpeter issued from the portal.
Profiting, therefore, by our experience, we partook of a quiet breakfast
on the present occasion, ere we sped to the scene of action; and we had
judged rightly in so doing, for we were yet considerably in advance of
the bridal train. Nevertheless, it is certain that the baggage-mules and
the treasure-carriages required more time to prepare them for the
journey than the Imperial Bride, and her attendant train of ladies; for
the Kislar Agha was yet girding on his sword with all the quiet
precision of a man who has no cause for haste, when a negro of the Seraï
rushed into the apartment, and startled him with the intelligence that
her Highness was not only ready to start, but actually in the Great
Saloon of the Harem, waiting for him to precede her to her carriage. At
this announcement the portly personage suffered his weapon to fall from
his hands; and tossing his arms above his head, he filled the apartment
with his outcries.

“Who has done this? Who has insidiously counselled this haste? Where is
the traitor who would destroy the Imperial Daughter of our noble Sultan?
(May his beard be white!) It yet wants ten minutes of the time appointed
by the astrologer—the lucky moment is not come—and until it arrives,
she shall not set her foot without the palace, were it ten times her
bridal day.”

At length, however, the auspicious moment really did arrive, when the
Kislar Agha was himself the first to hasten the departure of the
Princess. The procession was the very triumph of mystery. All the
high-born beauties of Stamboul were to pass us by, and we were only to
imagine the loveliness on which we were to have no opportunity of
looking. The Sultan’s Band opened the march, and executed with great
precision a piece of martial music, composed for the occasion by their
talented leader Donizetti; a regiment of cavalry followed, and was
succeeded in its turn by a gorgeous train of Pashas, among whom rode the
bridegroom; and then came the European carriage of the Sultan, drawn by
four bay horses, each led by a page in a scarlet and gold uniform. This
was succeeded by the Imperial State Coach, of silver gilt, the raised
cornice above the roof inlaid with cornelians, agates, and jaspers, the
magnificent gift of the Emperor of Russia to his Turkish ally—the
gilded lattices, through which gleamed the jealous curtains of
rose-coloured silk, were closely shut; and the Imperial Bride was the
sole tenant of the costly vehicle. This carriage, which was drawn by six
stately horses from the personal stud of the Autocrat, was followed by
that in which the Princess had been accustomed to drive on state
occasions; the windows were thrown back, and the curtains undrawn—it
was empty. Next came the Sultana-Mother, the Princess Salihè, and the
younger sister of the bride, a sweet-looking girl of eleven or twelve
years of age, who sat beside her veiled relatives in a heavy head-dress
of black velvet, overcharged with diamonds; but whose fair young face
laughed out in loveliness beneath the hideous disfigurement. These were
succeeded by a second Russian carriage, drawn by four horses similar to
those in the State Coach, an offering of Russian policy to Achmet Pasha,
whose Buyuk Hanoum was within, attended by three female slaves.

The train amounted in all to forty-seven carriages and four; many of
them tenanted by five and even six individuals, whose coquettishly
arranged yashmacs afforded at times something more than a glimpse of
their fair faces; a fact of which the negro guard appeared so well
aware, that on some suggestion from one of them to a Pasha, who rode
immediately in front of the Imperial carriage, on the second apparition
of our party by the wayside, (which, _soit dit en passant_, must have
been sufficiently attractive to the veiled beauties, being principally
composed of _attachés_ to the different embassies), His Excellency
addressed himself to me in very tolerable French, and told me that,
although I was individually at liberty to accompany the procession to
the Palace-gates if I wished to do so, he must request that the
gentlemen would not attempt to advance further. But the prohibition was
more readily uttered than obeyed; and we only just waited for a first
glimpse of the fifty negroes who formed the rear-guard, ere we were off
again, as fast as our generous horses would carry us.

And well should we have been repaid when we pulled up mid-way of the
steep descent leading to the Palace, had it only been by the spectacle
of the wily old Seraskier, who rode beside the window of the State
Coach, in a state of admirably got-up agitation; first shouting to the
troop of attendants who hung on to the wheels, like a man in the last
agony; and then modulating his voice to the extremest gentleness of
which it was susceptible, to implore of the Imperial Bride not to
imagine that there existed the slightest danger; half the fuss that he
was making meanwhile, being more than sufficient to satisfy her that she
was on the eve of being hurled over the precipice.

On her arrival in the Court of the Palace, Saïd Pasha, on his knees
beside the carriage, received her in his arms, and carried her into the
Great Saloon of the Harem; the ladies of the Court, who had the
_entrée_, followed in succession; the golden gates were closed: and the
excluded had nothing more to do than to shake the dust from their
garments—and truly it was about an inch thick—to swallow a glass of
iced lemonade in the saddle, and to gallop back, under a burning sun, to
their respective homes.

Each Pasha, on the occasion of an Imperial marriage, sends on a stated
day his Buyuk Hanoum, or principal wife, to the Palace, attended by two
slaves, to congratulate the Princess on her approaching nuptials; and
these are the ladies who subsequently form the reception circle at her
new home. At the visit of felicitation, when the Sultan receives them on
the part of his august daughter, they are presented by the munificent
sovereign with an antery, jacket, and trowsers of rich stuff, a pair of
embroidered slippers, and a diamond ring; the same articles, but fitted
in value to their station, being bestowed also on their attendants. In
this magnificent costume they are expected to appear on the bridal day;
and on their departure from the Presence, they place their own gifts in
the hands of the Kislar Agha, which are always of the extremest richness
that the means of the Pasha will permit.

An amusing anecdote is connected with this ceremony, which, being
authentic, I may as well relate. The Imperial Presentation negatives the
necessity of yashmacs, and thus Sultan Mahmoud enjoys the exclusive
privilege of forming a judgment on the taste of his Pashas. On the
marriage of the Princess Salihè, the Reiss Effendi forwarded to the
Imperial Presence the mother of his sons, a lady to whom nature had not
originally been lavish of her gifts, and who had subsequently lost an
eye during an attack of plague. His Sublime Highness was observed to
fidget upon his sofa as the presentation took place, but the Buyuk
Hanoum was received with all the honours due to the exalted rank of her
husband, and departed laden with the rich gifts of Imperial generosity.

On the morrow, however, a caïque impelled by three rowers, and freighted
with a closely veiled female under the guard of a party of the negroes
of the Seraï, pushed off from the Palace of Dolma Batchè, and ran
alongside the terrace of that of the minister; when the lady was landed,
and, on being conducted into the presence of the Reiss Effendi, her veil
was withdrawn, and she proved to be a lovely Georgian slave of about
sixteen years of age, in all the first burst of her young beauty—a
present to the noble from his Imperial Master, accompanied by a command,
that should another occasion occur in which the wives of the Pashas were
required to appear before the Sultan, the Reiss Effendi would cause the
dark-eyed Georgian to act as the representative of a lady, whose age and
infirmities must render all court ceremonials extremely irksome to her
feelings.

Of course, the lovely slave was one of the bridal train of the Princess
Mihirmàh!



CHAPTER XXX


  A New Rejoicing—Processions—Change in the Valley—The
  Odalique’s Grave—The Palace of Eyoub—The State
  Apartments—Return to Pera.

A couple of days of rest succeeded to the marriage festivities, and
during that time all the tents which had fringed the height above Dolma
Batchè were transferred to the Valley of the Sweet Waters, whither they
were followed by the tumblers, rope-dancers, and jugglers, who had
delighted the crowd in the purlieus of the Imperial Palace. A new
rejoicing to succeed the bridal fètes; the two younger sons of the
Sultan, and eight thousand children, belonging to every class of the
Turkish population, from the Pashas to the charcoal-venders of the
metropolis and its vicinity, were to be circumcised with much pomp at
Kahaitchana. A temporary building, shaped like a crescent, and capable
of containing the whole number, had been erected above the upper kiosk,
and near the border of the stream, across which a new bridge had been
thrown; the pavilion was lined throughout with rich hangings, and well
cushioned, and presented a very gay and pretty appearance.

The Sultan entertained the Imperial Family at his Palace on the
Barbyses; the Pashas gave daily dinners in their tents; and there was
not an araba in Constantinople or Pera that was not in requisition.

After passing to Eyoub in our caïque, we hired a close araba, in which
we drove to the valley. The scene was a very animated one; lines of
coffee-tents clung to the sides of the heights; groups of women, seated
on their mats, were scattered over the greensward; itinerant
fruit-merchants wandered to and fro, with their strawberries neatly
arranged in small baskets wreathed with oak leaves, and their cherries
heaped in pyramids; mohalibè and yahourt were to be seen on all sides:
the little fountains of the sherbet-venders were tinkling like distant
sheep-bells; and, high above the heads of the crowd, a rope-dancer was
balancing himself in mid-air, with his crimson satin vestment flaring in
the hot sunshine.

One pretty feature in the scene was the constant succession of
scholastic processions; each mosque sending its little troop, headed by
an Imam, to parade the valley, and to chant a prayer for the
preservation of the Sultan’s sons; after which all the children of the
Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Catholic, and Jewish schools, accompanied by
their masters, passed before the Sultan, and shared in the festivities,
to which they had been especially invited. Nor was the appearance of the
Turkish children who assisted at the ceremony less interesting; as they
all, save those belonging to the more distinguished families, who wore a
vast quantity of gold embroidery about their coats and fèzes, were
dressed in a kind of uniform, provided for them by the Sultan; and had
their long hair plaited in innumerable braids, and woven together with
gold threads, sometimes to a quarter of a yard in breadth.

For the first hour I was exceedingly amused. The Barbyses was alive with
caïques—the air was loud with music and laughter—the greensward was
crowded with arabas and idlers; and every shady tree had a colony
beneath its boughs. But I soon wearied of the coil and confusion by
which I was surrounded; the green, fresh, quiet valley had lost all its
charm; I could scarcely recognize my favourite spots; nor was it until
the close of twilight, when the illuminated glories of the port flashed
out like a circle of fire in the distance, that I became reconciled. The
moon silvered over the rippling river; the nightingales were loud in the
Palace gardens; a million of twinkling stars were relieving the deep
blue of the summer sky; while here and there erections of many-coloured
light rose flashing out amid the leafy boughs of the crowd-invaded glen.
Pashas came and went in their noiseless caïques; dulcimers and
tambourines deadened at times the music of the night bird; and the low
wind, which heaved the elastic branches of the water willow, and came
sighing along the ripple of the sweet river, rendered the valley by
night a scene of enchantment.

I wandered to the grave of the Odalique: the moonlight was resting upon
the record-stone; and a nightingale, seated amid the branches of the
overhanging tree, was breathing out its song of mournful melody: it was
far away from the idle throng of revellers, and I was weak enough to be
glad that it was so.

The night was so lovely that we dismissed our araba, and determined on
returning in a caïque as far as the Palace of Eyoub, where I had been
invited by the Princess Azmè to pass the night; but, on arriving there,
we found that the Sultana and the principal ladies of her household had
been detained by the Sultan, and would not return until the following
day.

As, however, I was fearful that the opportunity of seeing this palace
might not recur, from the fact that the Princess never inhabits it save
on occasions of festival at Kahaitchana, when she profits by its
vicinity to the valley, I availed myself of the offer of the
house-steward to show me over the state apartments, which are entirely
unfurnished, but in themselves extremely magnificent. The screen of
light that extended along the whole front of the building cast its glare
through the unshuttered windows, and was reflected back by the gilded
walls and glittering cornices. The decorations throughout are heavy, but
of the greatest richness, and by far the most Oriental in their
character, of any that I had yet seen. The palace was built by Sultan
Selim, and its situation is beautiful. What was formerly the
reception-room of that unfortunate Sovereign, is entirely lined with
gilding, the walls being niched, and overhung with stalactited cornices
similar to those which decorate many of our old cathedral tombs; and the
weight of this elaborate ornament is relieved by a ceiling of faint
blue, sprinkled with silver stars. But the absence of furniture, and the
vast extent of the building, gave an air of desolation and discomfort to
its whole appearance, which even the well-matted and curtained rooms
that had been temporarily fitted-up for the use of the Sultana’s harem
failed to overcome: and, consequently, when I had satisfied my
curiosity, I pleaded the absence of Her Highness, and those individuals
of her suite with whom I was acquainted, as my apology for not availing
myself of her flattering invitation; and, reentering-our caïque, we
dashed out into the centre of the port; and after contemplating for a
time its temporary glories, were landed at the Echelle des Morts, and,
passing along beneath the moon-touched and sighing cypresses of the
grave-yard, soon found ourselves at Pera.



  FOOTNOTES:

  [1] As an example of the morals of the Greek clergy, it may not
  be impertinent to mention that this house was bequeathed by the
  Archbishop of Dercon, who died a few months ago at Therapia, to
  Hesterine, _la dame de ses pensées_.

  [2] Signifying mistress, or lady.

  [3] Mihirmàh, the glory of the moon.

  [4] The fact of the Patriarch being not only the head of the
  church, but also the chief magistrate of his nation, will
  account for the proximity of the prison to the Episcopal
  Palace.

  [5] I am aware that I may here be taxed with an anachronism,
  and reminded that in the days of Mahomet the use of tobacco was
  altogether unknown in Turkey; but I, nevertheless, maintain my
  position, being perfectly convinced that the Hourii would now
  beckon in vain to a paradise of which the chibouk did not form
  a feature.

  [6] The height of the mosque to the summit of the dome is 185
  French feet; the dome itself, from the gallery to the leads,
  47, and its diameter, 54.

  [7] Mignionette.


  END OF VOL I.

  LONDON:
  F. SHOBERL, JUN., LEICESTER STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE.





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