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Title: Constantinople, Vol. II (of 2)
Author: De Amicis, Edmondo
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Constantinople, Vol. II (of 2)" ***

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[Illustration: Girl of the Harem.]







  VOL. II.




  TURKISH WOMEN                                                   7

  YANGHEN VAHR                                                   71

  THE WALLS                                                     101

  THE OLD SERAGLIO                                              141

  THE LAST DAYS                                                 213

  THE TURKS                                                     247

  THE BOSPHORUS                                                 269



Photogravures by W. H. GILBO.

  GIRL OF THE HAREM                           _Frontispiece._

  TURKISH LADY                                                   11

  LEMONADE-SELLER                                                19

  AN OUTING OF THE WOMEN OF THE HAREM                            21

  DANCING GIRLS                                                  45

  TURKISH FIREMEN                                                79

  WATER-SELLER                                                   85

  AQUEDUCT OF VALENS                                             96

  MOSQUE OF THE CHORA                                           110

  DERVISH                                                       120

  INTERIOR VIEW OF THE SEVEN TOWERS                             127

  VIEW OF INTERIOR OF THE SEVEN TOWERS                          133

  PANORAMA OF THE SERAGLIO                                      147

  A TURKISH WOMAN                                               184


  PANORAMA OF MOSQUE OF BAYEZID                                 218

  ANCIENT FOUNTAIN AT SKUTARI                                   223


  TÜRBEH OF THE MOSQUE SHAZADEH                                 235


  COFFEE-MAKERS                                                 245


  MOSQUE OF VALIDÊH AT OK SERAI                                 275

  SWEET WATERS OF EUROPE                                        280

  ENTRANCE TO THE BLACK SEA                                     293


On arriving in Constantinople for the first time, one is much
surprised, after all he has heard of the thraldom of the Turkish women,
to see them, everywhere and at all hours of the day, coming and going
with apparently the same freedom as the women of any other city in
Europe. It seems as though all these imprisoned swallows must that
very day have been given their liberty, and a new era of freedom and
independence dawned for the fair sex among the Mussulmans. At first
the impression is very odd: one is in doubt whether all these females
enveloped in white veils and long, variously-colored mantles are nuns
or masqueraders or lunatics; and, as you never by any chance see one of
them accompanied by a man, they seem not to belong to any one, being
all, apparently, young girls or widows or inmates of some huge asylum
for the “unhappily married.” It is some time before you can realize
that all these Turkish men and women, who meet and jostle one another
in the streets without ever walking along together or interchanging
so much as a nod or look, can have anything in common, and you
constantly find yourself stopping to watch them and reflect upon this
singular custom. And these strange figures, you say to yourself--these
actually are those “subduers of hearts,” “fountains of peace,”
“little rose-leaves,” “early grapes,” “morning rays,” “life-givers”,
“sunrises”, and “shining moons” about whom thousands of poets have
written and sung? These are the “hanums” and mysterious slaves, reading
of whom in Victor Hugo’s ballads at the age of twenty, in a shady
garden, we imagined to be like beings of another world? These the
unfortunate beauties, hidden behind gratings, watched over by eunuchs,
separated from the world, who, passing like shadows across the face of
the earth, emit one cry of pleasure and one of sorrow? Let us see how
much truth lies at the bottom of all this poetry.

       *       *       *       *       *

First of all, then, the face of the Turkish woman is no longer
a mystery, and owing to this fact alone much of the poetry that
surrounded her has disappeared. That jealous veil which, according to
the Koran, was to be at once the “seal of her virtue and a safeguard
against the world,” has become a mere form. Every one knows how the
_yashmac_ is arranged. There are two large white veils--one, bound
around the head like a bandage, covers the forehead down to the
eyebrows, is knotted just above the nape of the neck, and falls over
the back in two long ends reaching to the waist; the other covers
all the lower part of the face and is carried back and tied in with the
first in such a manner as to give the effect of a single veil. These
veils, however, which are supposed to be of muslin and adjusted so as
to leave nothing visible but the eyes and the upper part of the cheeks,
have worn away to something very thin and flimsy indeed, while they
have drawn farther and farther apart, until now not only most of the
face, but the ears, neck, and hair, and not infrequently a European
hat and feathers worn by “reformed ladies,” are plainly visible. Hence
the reverse of the former order of things has come about. Then it was
the older women who were allowed to appear with their faces somewhat
less closely covered, while the young ones were obliged to conceal
them rigorously. Now the young ones, especially if they be handsome,
show as much of their features as possible, while the older women, in
order to deceive people, wear their veils thick and closely drawn. And
so an infinite number of charming and romantic incidents told by poets
and writers of fiction are no longer possible, and among other fables
is that of the husband seeing his bride’s face for the first time on
the night of his marriage. Beyond the face, however, all is still
concealed, and not so much as a passing glimpse can be had of waist or
bosom or arm: the _ferege_ hides everything. This is a sort of tunic
furnished with a cape and very long sleeves, full and shapeless, and
falling like a cloak from the shoulders to the feet. In winter it is
made of cloth, in summer of silk, all of one color, and that usually
brilliant--now bright red, now orange, now green; but, whatever may
be the change in color from year to year, the cut is never altered.
Notwithstanding the fact that the women are enveloped in this manner,
so great is the art with which they can adjust the _yashmac_ that the
pretty ones pass for beauties, and those who are ugly look pleasing.
It is difficult to say just what it is they do with those two veils.
How artfully they dispose of their ample folds, drawing them back and
allowing them to fall in simple classic lines or arranging them like
coronets or turbans! With what subtle grace they employ them to at once
display and conceal their charms, offering a tantalizing suggestion, a
promise, a check, and revealing unlooked-for marvels! Some of them seem
to wear about their heads a white diaphanous cloud, which at a breath
would melt away, others to be garlanded with lilies and jasmines: all
of them apparently have the whitest skin, and seem to borrow from those
veils a shining reflection and an appearance of delicacy and freshness
quite captivating to behold. It is a headgear at once austere and
festive, with something of a sacerdotal or nun-like character. Beneath
it, one would think, nothing but kind thoughts and innocent, child-like
fancies could have birth. But it appears that a little of everything is
born there.

[Illustration: Turkish Lady.]

It is not altogether easy to define the beauty of the Turkish women. In
thinking of them, I may say I always see a very white face, two black
eyes, a crimson mouth, and a sweet expression. But then they almost
all of them paint, whiten their skin with almond and jasmine paste,
lengthen their eyebrows with India ink, color their eyelids, powder
their necks, draw dark circles around their eyes, and put patches on
their cheeks; but in all this they employ taste and discretion, unlike
the belles of Fez, who use whitewash brushes to beautify themselves
with. Most of them have pretty oval contours, noses a little arched,
lips somewhat thick, round, dimpled chins--many of them have dimples
in their cheeks as well--handsome necks, long and flexible, and tiny
little hands, generally covered--more’s the pity!--by the sleeves
of their mantles. They are usually plump, and many of them above
the medium height. One rarely sees the dumpy or scrawny type of our
countries. One universal defect they have--their manner of walking;
they shuffle and stumble along like big children who have grown too
fast: this, it is said, comes from a weakness of limb resulting from
the abuse of the bath, and also, in a measure, from the wretched
shoes they wear. Elegant-looking women, whose feet must be very small
indeed, may sometimes be seen wearing men’s slippers or long, wide,
wrinkled shoes, such as a European peasant-woman would scorn. But
even that ungainly walk has something child-like about it that, once
you are accustomed to it, appeals to you. There are none of those
stiff-looking individuals, like the figures in fashion-plates, whom we
see in our cities going along with little mincing steps like pieces
on a chess-board. They have not yet lost the free, careless gait
natural to the Oriental, and when they do, although they may gain in
dignity, they will be less attractive. Occasionally one sees a face
of great beauty, and not always the same type either, since there
is Circassian, Persian, and Arabian blood mingled with the Turkish.
There is the matron of thirty, whose ample form the _ferajeh_ cannot
entirely conceal, very tall, with great dark eyes, protruding lips,
and delicate nostrils, the kind of _hanum_ who makes a hundred slaves
tremble at her glance, and the mere sight of whom turns into ridicule
the boast made by Turkish gentlemen that they are four times the
husband. Then there are others, chubby little ladies with everything
round about them--face, eyes, nose, mouth--and such a guileless,
childish, kindly air of entire and sweet resignation to their lot,
which is that of never being anything more than a plaything and
source of recreation, that you feel tempted to slip a sugar-plum into
their mouths in passing. And there are the slender, graceful figures
of sixteen-year-old brides, vivacious and passionate, whose bright
coquettish eyes arouse a sentiment of pity in one’s breast for the
poor effendi who has undertaken the care of them, and the unfortunate
eunuch whose duty it is to mount guard over them.

The city is wonderfully adapted to form a background and framework for
the beauty of the women and the picturesque style of their dress. You
should see, for instance, one of those graceful figures, with its white
veil and crimson _ferajeh_, seated in a käik on the surface of the
blue Bosphorus, or extended on the grass surrounded by the vivid green
of some cemetery, or, better still, coming toward you down one of the
steep lonely side-streets of Stambul, closed in at the end by a great
plane tree, when the wind is blowing and veil and _ferajeh_ flutter
about and reveal neck and foot and ankle. I can assure you that if the
indulgent decree of Suleiman the Magnificent were in force at such a
moment, levying a fine upon every kiss given to the wife or daughter of
another, even the avarice of a Harpagon would receive a severe shock.
And even when the wind is high the Turkish women do not feel called
upon to struggle very hard to keep down the _ferajeh_, their modesty
not including their ankles, and sometimes stopping quite short of them.

It is at first somewhat astounding to see how they look at you,
laughing too in a manner which certainly encourages the taking of
liberties. It not infrequently happens that a young European, looking
attentively at a Turkish lady even of rank, finds his gaze smilingly
returned, sometimes by an actual laugh, or, again, a pretty _hanum_
driving by in her carriage waves a graceful salute behind the eunuch’s
back to some good-looking Frank who has struck her fancy. Occasionally
in a cemetery or some retired street a lively young woman goes the
length of tossing a flower as she goes by or dropping it on the ground,
with the manifest intention of having it picked up by the young
gentleman who is walking behind her. Hence it follows that a fatuous
traveller is sometimes betrayed into making grave mistakes, and more
than one fool of a European is quite saddened at the close of his
month’s visit to Constantinople at the thought of the hundred or so
unfortunates whose peace of mind he has destroyed for ever. No doubt
there is in some of these carryings on a frank avowal of preference,
but they are chiefly dictated by a spirit of rebellion nursed in the
heart of Turkish women and born of their hatred of the subjection in
which they are kept. This they give vent to at every opportunity, and
these little mischievous acts of secret spite toward their masters are
more the result of childishness than coquetry. What coquetry they have
is of a most singular kind, a good deal like the first experiments of
young girls when they begin to find people looking at them. It consists
of a great deal of laughing, gazing up with the mouth open as though
very much astonished, pretending that they have hurt their head or
foot, certain gestures of impatience with the _ferajeh_, which is in
their way, and various other school-girl tricks, which certainly seem
to be done more to make one laugh than with any view of fascinating.
They never pose as if for a photograph or the drawing-room; what little
art of that kind they possess is of the most rudimentary kind. It is
plain to be seen that they have not, as, Tommaseo would say, many
veils to lift, that they are unaccustomed to long courtships--to being
“surrounded by the pack” like Giusti’s hieroglyphical women; and when
they take a fancy to any one, instead of wasting time in sighs and
languishing glances, they would like to say quite frankly, “Christian,
I like you.” Being unable to say the actual words, they make their
meaning clear with equal frankness by displaying two shining rows of
pearls or laughing outright in your face. They are just pretty tamed

[Illustration: Lemonade Seller.]

And, after all, Turkish women are free--a discovery which the foreigner
makes as soon as he lands. It is an exaggeration for Lady Mary Wortley
Montague to say that they have more liberty than European women, but
any one who has been to Constantinople cannot help but laugh when he
hears people talk of their “bondage.” When a lady wishes to go out
she tells the eunuch to order her carriage, and goes without asking
any one’s permission, and stays as long as she wants to, provided,
of course, she returns before nightfall. Formerly she was always
accompanied by a eunuch or female slave or friend. The bolder spirits,
when they wanted no one else, would at least take a child with them as
a sort of passport to public respect. One of them appearing entirely
alone in some retired spot would quite probably have found herself
stopped by a city guard or a straight-laced old Turk, and subjected to
a severe cross-examination: “Where are you going? Where have you been?
Why is there no one with you? Is it thus that you respect your effendi?
Go home at once.” But now-a-days all this has changed, and hundreds of
Turkish women may be seen at all hours of the day quite alone in the
Mussulman streets and suburbs, and in the Frankish cities as well. They
pay each other visits from one end of Stambul to the other, spend half
a day in the bath-houses, make excursions by water to the Sweet Waters
of Europe on Thursday, and on Sunday to the Sweet Waters of Asia. On
Friday they visit the cemeteries of Skutari, on the other days of
the week the Isles of the Princes, Terapia, Buyukdereh, or Kalender,
to eat luncheon in parties of eight or ten with their slaves. They
say their prayers at the tombs of the pâdishahs and sultanas, visit
the dervishes’ monasteries, and go to see the public exhibitions of
wedding-outfits. And not a man would presume to join or follow one of
them, or even so much as to accost her. For a Turk to be seen in some
retired street in Constantinople, not arm-in-arm or walking beside,
but merely pausing an instant to exchange half a dozen words with
one of the “veiled,” would be considered most unseemly, even were it
written on their foreheads that they were man and wife; or, to speak
more correctly, it would be looked upon as an audacious piece of
impudence, as though two individuals should select the centre of one
of our crowded streets in which to make mutual declarations of love.
In this sense, then, Turkish women really have more freedom than ours,
and no one knows how highly they value it or how eagerly they grasp at
the noise and crowd and open air and light of the streets and public
resorts. In their own houses they see but one single man, while their
windows and gardens are like those in convents; so it is perfectly
natural to find them running about the city with all the enjoyment of
liberated prisoners. It is great fun to follow one of them--at a safe
distance--and see how she has mastered the art of chopping the joys of
vagrancy into the smallest possible pieces. First she will drop into
the nearest mosque to say her prayers and loiter under the arches of
the courtyard for a quarter of an hour or so, chatting with a friend;
next she will go to the bazâr, glance into half a dozen shops, turn one
or two upside down, and finally, after purchasing some trifle, take
the tramway down to the fish-market, cross the bridge, and examine
at her leisure every wig and headdress in every hair-dresser’s shop
in the Rue de Pera; next we find her in a cemetery, where, after
settling herself comfortably on one of the tombs, she will sit for
some time munching sweetmeats; then back to the city and down to the
Golden Horn again, making numberless détours to right and left, and
watching everything out of the corner of her eye--shop-windows, signs,
posters, the other ladies who pass her, carriages, the open doors of
theatres, advertisements; then she will buy a bunch of flowers, give a
trifle to some beggar, drink a glass of lemonade from a water-carrier,
and, recrossing the Golden Horn, in a käik this time, make some fresh
excursions about Stambul; after which she will again take the tramway,
alighting at her own door. But even on the threshold she is fully
capable of turning back merely for the purpose of walking a little
way up the street and making the circuit of a half-dozen houses or
so before being shut in for the night, just as some young girl who
has been allowed to go out for once alone tries to crowd a little of
everything into that one short hour of liberty. A poor fat effendi who
should undertake to follow and watch his wife to see if she were up
to any mischief would certainly have a hard time of it: he would very
probably find himself distanced at the end of the first half hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

To really get a good view of the Mussulman fair sex, you must go to
the Sweet Waters of Europe, at the head of the Golden Horn, on
one of the great feast-days, or to those of Asia, near the village of
Anadoli-Hissar. These are two extensive public gardens, watered by
two little rivers, and thickly sprinkled with trees, fountains, and
cafés. There, on a vast grassy plain, beneath the shade of walnuts,
terebinths, palm trees, and sycamores, forming a succession of
leafy pavilions, through which not so much as a ray of sunshine can
penetrate, may be seen thousands of women seated in circular groups
surrounded by their slaves, eunuchs, and children, lunching and passing
away half a day in each other’s company, while all around them crowds
are coming and going. On arriving you are at once captivated by this
scene, which resembles a festival in the Islam Paradise. The myriads of
white veils and scarlet, green, yellow, and gray _ferajehs_; the groups
of slaves dressed in every hue of the rainbow; the crowds of children
in their fanciful costumes; the great Smyrna rugs spread on the grass;
the gold and silver vessels passed from hand to hand; the Mussulman
waiters from the cafés in gala dress running hither and thither
carrying plates of fruit and ices; the gypsies dancing; the Bulgarian
shepherds playing on their pipes; the horses with silk and gilded
trappings stamping beneath the trees to which they are tied; the pashas
and beys and young gallants who gallop along the river’s bank; the
swaying of the distant crowd like the movement of the wind over a bed
of tulips and hyacinths; the gayly-painted käiks and elegant carriages
which every moment deposit fresh loads of color in that sparkling sea;
and the mingled melody of flute and pipe and tambourine, of voices
singing and children calling to one another; the play of light and
shade across the grass and thick foliage of the trees and shrubs, with
here and there a little glimpse of some distant view,--all combine to
form an effect of light and color, sound and movement, so perfect that
one’s first impulse is to clap his hands enthusiastically and cry,
“Bravo! bravissimi!” as though it were a masterly production on the

[Illustration: An Outing of the Women of the Harem.]

Even in such a scene as this, notwithstanding the opportunities
afforded by the crowd and confusion, it is extremely rare to find
Turkish men and women making eyes at one another or exchanging so
much as a smile or glance of intelligence. Gallantry, _coram populo_,
does not exist there as it is seen in our countries; there are none
of those melancholy sentinels who march up and down beneath the loved
one’s windows, or those devoted followers who will walk for three hours
behind the beloved object. Their love-making is carried on entirely
within doors. If by chance you should happen to come upon a young
Turk in the act of gazing up at a grated window behind which may be
detected the flash of an eye or a white hand, you may take it for
almost certain that they are a pair of fiancés. To engaged couples
alone are meetings and rendezvous permitted and all the other childish
accompaniments of authorized courtship, such as conversing together at
a distance by means of a flower or ribbon or by the color of the dress
or scarf. In this art the Turkish women are very proficient. There are
a thousand small objects, such as flowers, fruits, grass, feathers,
stones, to each one of which some especial meaning is attached, an
epithet or verb, or even a whole sentence, so that an entire letter may
be expressed in a single bunch of flowers, and any number of things
be said with a little box or purse full of odds and ends apparently
collected by merest chance; and, as the signification of the various
objects is usually expressed in verse, every lover is in a position
to compose an amorous couplet, or even a polymetrical poem, in five
minutes. A few cloves, a scrap of paper, a slice of pear, a bit of
soap, a match, an end of gold thread, a grain of cinnamon and one of
pepper, signify, “I have long loved you. I pant, languish, die with
love for you. Give me a little hope; do not repulse me. Answer me with
a word.” And not only love-affairs, but thousands of other matters,
can be expressed with equal facility--reproof, counsel, warning,
news. Young girls just beginning to be conscious that they have
hearts find endless occupation and amusement in committing all this
symbolic language to memory, and in composing long letters addressed
to imaginary sultans of twenty. Then there is the language of signs
or gestures, some of which are extremely graceful, such, for example,
as that of the man who, wishing to imply that he has been wounded by
the force of his love, stabs himself in the heart with an invisible
dagger, to which the woman responds by letting her arms fall at her
sides in such a way that the _ferajeh_ opens a little in front, which
means, “I open my arms to you.” No European, however, has probably ever
witnessed the actual interchange of these signs, which have now almost
passed into traditions, and are only to be learned, moreover, from some
ingenuous _hanum_ who has confided them to a Christian friend. Were
you to interrogate a Turk in regard to them, you would cover him with

       *       *       *       *       *

We learn through the same channels what the dress of the Turkish women
is in the seclusion of the harem--the details of that charming costume,
at once rich and fantastic, which every one has some idea of, and
which lends to every woman who wears it the dignity of a princess and
freedom and grace of a child. We will never see it unless the fashion
should be adopted in our own country, for even should the _ferajeh_
be some day discarded, every Turkish woman will by that time be found
dressed like a European underneath. What anguish for the artists, and
what a pity for all concerned! Just fancy a Turkish beauty, “slender as
a cypress,” with the coloring “of all the blended tints of a rose’s
petals,” wearing a little red-velvet or silver-brocade cap slightly
on one side, her black hair falling down over the shoulders, clad in
a garment of white-silk damask embroidered in gold, with wide, open
sleeves, and a long skirt parted in front so as to show the full
trousers of rose-colored silk falling in close folds over little
feet encased in tiny pointed slippers turned up in Chinese fashion;
a sash of green satin around the waist, and diamonds flashing from
neck and arms and hair, the tassel of the cap, slippers, girdle,
forehead, so that she glitters from head to foot like the Madonna in a
Spanish cathedral as she lies extended on a wide divan in an attitude
of childish grace, surrounded by a circle of pretty Circassian,
Arabian, or Persian slaves, enveloped like statues of antiquity in
long, sweeping garments; or imagine a bride, “white as the summit of
Olympus,” arrayed in sky-blue satin with a large gold-embroidered
veil falling over her entire person, seated upon a pearl-embroidered
ottoman; or picture to yourself the adored favorite in the most retired
apartment of the harem, wearing the jacket and trousers which set off
to the utmost advantage the exquisite contours of her person, making
her look like a graceful, well-formed boy. Then you can realize what
those beasts of “reforming” Turks, with their bald heads and black
coats, have to answer for. These house-costumes, however, vary with
the changing fashions. The Turkish women, having nothing else in the
world to occupy them, devote a large part of their time to trying to
devise some new style of dress: they cover themselves with finery and
trinkets, stick feathers and ribbons in their hair, tie scarfs around
their heads and fur around their necks and arms, borrowing something
from all the different styles of Oriental costume; they combine the
fashions of Europe and the East, wear wigs, dye their hair black, red,
yellow, indulge every sort of fancy, and vie with one another every
whit as much as the leaders of fashion in other lands. If at one of the
gatherings at the Sweet Waters a fairy should suddenly wave her wand
and all the _ferajehs_ fall off, no doubt we would find some of the
ladies attired like Asiatic queens, others like French Christians or in
full ball-costume or in the gala dress of tradespeople, riding habits,
Greek costumes, gypsy dresses, or like vivandières--just as great a
variety, in short, as may be seen among the men on the bridge of the
Validêh Sultan.

       *       *       *       *       *

The apartments occupied by beautiful and wealthy Mohammedan ladies
correspond, to a certain extent, with their fanciful and captivating
style of dress. The rooms reserved for the women are usually well
situated, commanding charming views of sea or country or else
overlooking a wide expanse of the city. Beneath the windows are gardens
enclosed between high walls covered with ivy and jasmine, overlooked
by terraces; over the street extend small rooms built out from the
walls and enclosed with glass, like the _miradores_ of Spanish houses.
The interiors are simply enchanting. Almost all the rooms are small,
the floors covered with Chinese matting and rugs; screens painted
with flowers and fruits stand about; a wide divan runs all around the
wall, and in the centre of the room a fountain plays; vases of flowers
stand in the windows, and over all falls that soft, subdued light so
characteristic of the Oriental house, like the dim light of the forest
or--what shall I say?--the cloister or some sacred spot, so that one is
inclined to walk on tiptoe and speak in whispers, saying nothing but
what is humble and tender, talking only of God and love. This soft,
mysterious light, the perfumes wafted in from the gardens, the murmur
of the fountains, the figures of the slaves flitting back and forth
like phantoms, the stillness which broods over everything, the distant
blue of the Asiatic mountains seen between the bars of the windows with
their leafy screen of honeysuckle, awaken in the breast of a European,
who finds herself for the first time within those mysterious walls, an
inexpressible sensation of languor and of melancholy.

The decoration of most of these harems is simple in the extreme,
almost severe, but there are those which are very magnificent, having
walls hung with satin and gold damask, screens of cedar-wood, gilded
gratings, and costly furniture, from whose character it is easy enough
to judge what sort of life is led by the inmates. You find only
arm-chairs, big and little ottomans, rugs, stools, low seats, cushions
of every possible size and shape, and mattresses covered with shawls
and brocades; everything is soft, yielding, inviting, saying in a
thousand different ways, “Rest, take your ease: love, sleep, dream.”
Here and there are hand-mirrors and large fans of ostrich feathers;
chased chibuks hang on the walls and bird-cages in the windows;
braziers for burning perfumes stand in the middle of the rooms,
and musical boxes, bric-à-brac, and ornaments in every direction;
sufficiently indicating the tastes of an idle and weary woman. Nor does
this luxury exist only on the surface: in some establishments all the
table service is of gold--of solid gold the vessels for perfumed water,
of gold the fringe of the satin napkins--while brilliants and precious
stones glitter from the various utensils, the coffee-cups, goblets,
pipes, table-linen, and fans. In others--and these by far the greater
number of houses, it must be understood--little if any change has
been made from the ancient order of things in the tent or hut of the
Tartar, whose entire outfit could be packed upon the back of a single
mule, and everything stood in perpetual readiness for a fresh migration
across Asia. These houses are distinctively Mohammedan and severe in
character, where, when the hour of departure sounds, nothing is heard
but the resigned voice of the master pronouncing the word “Olsun!” (So
be it).

       *       *       *       *       *

The Turkish dwelling, as every one knows, is divided into two parts,
the _harem_ and the _selamlik_. The _selamlik_ is the part reserved
for the man. Here he works, eats, sees his friends, takes his siesta,
and sometimes sleeps at night. The wife never enters it, but, just as
the man rules in the _selamlik_, so does she govern in the harem. She
orders and arranges everything just as she chooses, and does whatever
she wants to, except that of course she cannot receive male visitors.
If she does not feel like seeing her husband, she can even refuse to do
that, sending a polite message requesting him to return at some other
time. Although the _selamlik_ is, as a rule, only separated from the
_harem_ by one small door and a narrow corridor, they are, in reality,
like two distinct houses, far away from one another. The male friends
of the effendi who come to see him, and the ladies who call upon the
hanum, neither encounter nor hear each other, and frequently are
mutually unknown. In the same way, the two establishments are supplied
with different servants and very commonly separate kitchens. Husband
and wife seek their amusements in their own way, spending their time
and their money without reference to each other, and rarely even dine
together, having almost nothing in common. It is very unusual for the
man to enter the harem in the character of husband or companion or
as the guide and educator of his children; his visits are those of
the lover: on crossing that threshold, he puts away all his cares and
worries, giving himself up entirely to the soft distractions of the
moment: his object is to be amused and diverted, and it would never
occur to him to look there for the light and guidance of a mind more
clear and serene than his own, or for even a sympathetic interest in
his affairs; and, indeed, the women of Turkey would be found to be but
poorly adapted to satisfy such demands were they made. The husband,
moreover, is at no pains to surround himself with that halo of wisdom
or strength or intelligence which might be calculated to increase his
importance in his wife’s eyes. What would be the use? He is already
the god of the temple, claiming worship and adoration as a right.
There is no need for him to make himself more attractive. The honor
which, of his bounty, he pays his wife in going to see her at all
itself calls for a sentiment of gratitude sufficiently like love to
satisfy him. The word “woman” has for him absolutely no association
with the mind or with any of his outside interests and occupations.
She belongs exclusively to his private life, and on this account he
dislikes to so much as hear the word pronounced in public. If he has
to announce the birth of a daughter, he will say, “‘A veiled one’ or
‘a hidden one’ or ‘a little stranger’ has been born to me.” And so
it is that any real intimacy between husband and wife is out of the
question: all those depths and secret recesses of the soul which can
only be discovered by the light of entire mutual confidence must, from
the nature of things, remain for ever hidden; their intercourse lacks
the necessary quality of an assured footing. The wife, never knowing
at what hour she may receive a visit from her husband, is constantly
decked out in expectation of that event: intent upon outdoing a rival
or preserving a pre-eminence which is continually threatened, she is
always something of a courtier, doing violence to her own feelings in
order that everything may look smiling and cheerful for her lord, and
often enough, when her heart is heavy within her, assuming the gay
and laughing mien of a happy, contented woman in order to prevent his
growing weary of and neglecting her. And so it happens that the Turk
never really knows woman as a wife, just as he has never known her as
a mother, sister, or friend, and never will as a daughter, while she,
finding that her nobler qualities are neither used nor prized, allows
them to become blunted and warped, valuing only those for which she is
sought, and often resolutely checking the natural and finer dictates
of her own heart in order to find, if not happiness, at least peace,
in the apathy of a purely animal existence. She has, it is true, the
comfort of her children, and very often her husband sends for them to
pet and caress them in her presence; but whatever satisfaction this
might have given her is marred by the knowledge that within the hour
he may well have done the same to the children of another wife, and
an hour later be embracing those of a third, and--who knows?--within
a year of still a fourth. Lover-like devotion, parental affection,
friendship, confidence, all, are divided and subdivided, each portion
having its own hours, regulations, and boundaries. Hence his visit is
cold and formal, while through and beneath it all there is a bitter
humiliation, a deadly insult, in the love of a husband who pays a
eunuch to mount guard over his wife. He says to her, in substance, “I
love you, ‘my joy,’ ‘glory,’ ‘pearl of my house,’ but I am quite sure
that you cannot be trusted.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The conditions of married life, however, vary very greatly according to
the worldly possessions of the husband, even apart from the fact that a
man who can only support one woman can, of course, have but one wife.
The rich man lives apart from his wife in body as well as in spirit;
he is able to afford a separate suite of apartments or even a house
for her, and does so in order that he may carry on his occupations and
receive his friends and acquaintances without running any risk of the
ladies of his household being seen or interfered with. The Turk of
moderate means is forced, from motives of economy, to live on terms of
much greater familiarity with his wife, and, dwelling under the same
roof, sees her much more frequently. The poor Turk is obliged to occupy
the smallest possible space, and so eats, sleeps, and passes all his
leisure time in the company of his wife and children. Wealth divides,
while poverty unites. The life led in the houses of the poor differs
very little whether the inmates be Turks or Christians. The woman who
cannot keep a slave does the work herself, and labor increases her
dignity and authority. Not infrequently she may even be found routing
her lazy husband out of the neighboring café or tavern and driving him
home with blows from her slipper. Here, at least, husband and wife are
on an equality: they spend their evenings together, seated side by side
in the doorway of their house, and in the more retired suburbs even go
together, sometimes, to make the family purchases. Not infrequently
you may see in an out-of-the-way cemetery a father and mother, with
their children gathered around them, seated near the grave of some
relative, eating their luncheon, just like a laboring family in any
other part of the world; and from the mere fact that it is uncommon,
one finds himself strangely moved by this simple scene. You realize,
as you watch them, how natural, how essential, and eternally and
universally fitting is that junction of soul and body; that in that
group, so complete in itself, there is no room for any one else; that
a single additional note and the harmony would be spoiled or destroyed
outright; that, talk and argue as you may, the fact remains that the
first condition, the elementary force, the cornerstone of an orderly
and well-balanced society, is there before you; that every and any
other combination of affections and interests violates a natural law;
that this is a family, the other a herd; that this, and this only,
corresponds to a home, the other to a wolf’s den.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are those who maintain that the women of the East are not only
satisfied with polygamy, but that they do not so much as understand
its injustice. To believe this one would have to be ignorant, I do
not say of Oriental life, but of the human heart itself. And how is
it, if this be so, that almost every Turkish girl, when she agrees to
marry, makes it a condition that during her lifetime there shall be no
other wife, or that large numbers of wives return to their own homes
on account of the husband’s failure to keep this promise? and what is
the meaning of the Turkish proverb, “A house with four wives, a vessel
in a storm”? And even supposing her husband worships her, an Oriental
woman can hardly fail to curse polygamy, obliging her, as it does, to
live with that sword of Damocles suspended over her head--the daily
dread of a rival, not hidden and distant and always in the wrong, as
the rival of a European wife must necessarily be, but installed beside
her in the same house, with the same name, and entitled to equal rights
with herself. She is liable at any time to have one of her own slaves
suddenly lift her head in her presence, treat her as an equal, and
have children whose rights are the same as those of her own. It is
quite impossible that she should be blind to the injustice of such a
state of things; and when the husband whom she loves introduces another
wife into his house, it may well happen that, reflecting upon the
fact that he is but taking advantage of the code of the Prophet, and
knowing full well at the bottom of her heart that an older and more
sacred law has denounced that act as an infamous abuse of power, she
rebels against and curses the conditions which have taken her husband
from her, cut the knot which bound them together, and destroyed the
happiness of her life. On the other hand, suppose she does not love
him: she still has good cause to detest a law which so seriously
interferes with the rights of her children, wounds her self-respect,
and permits her husband to either neglect her altogether or seek her
society solely from motives in which affection plays no part. It may be
urged that Turkish women know that such misfortunes as these sometimes
overtake European women as well: perhaps they do, but they also know
that the latter are not obliged by the law, both civil and religious,
to treat with respect and give the title of sister to the women who
have poisoned their lives, and have, moreover, the comfort of being
looked upon as martyrs, as well as a hundred ways of vindicating and
consoling themselves without the husband being once able to say, as
the polygamist can to his rebellious wife, “I have a right to love a
hundred women, while it is your duty to love no one but me.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The Turkish woman has, however, many rights and privileges under
the law to console her. She is treated on all hands with a certain
chivalric tenderness. No man would dare to raise a hand against her in
public. Not a soldier, even in the midst of the general license and
disorder of a riot, would attempt to maltreat even the most insolent
woman of the people. The husband observes toward his wife a sort of
formal deference, and the mother is always the object of especial
veneration. Nor would a man dream of making his wife work in order that
she might support him. It is the husband who settles the dot upon his
wife; she is expected to bring him nothing but her wedding outfit and
some female slaves. In cases of repudiation or divorce he is obliged to
provide for her maintenance, and this is also the case when he treats
her badly and she demands a separation in consequence. The facility of
divorce remedies, to some small extent, the unfortunate consequences
of marriages made almost always in the dark on account of the peculiar
conditions of Turkish society, which oblige the two sexes to live
entirely apart. It requires very little to enable a woman to obtain a
divorce: it is only necessary to show that her husband has ill-treated
her once, or spoken of her in conversation with others in offensive
terms, or neglected her for a certain length of time. When she has a
complaint to make, she has only to lay her grievance before the court
in writing, or she may, if she choose, present it in person before a
vizier--the grand vizier himself, if she wishes to--he being almost
always ready to receive and listen to her kindly and patiently. If she
cannot get on with his other wives, she may require her husband to
provide her with a separate establishment, to which, indeed, she has a
right in any case, or at least to separate apartments. The husband is
forbidden to take either as wife or odalisque any slave whom his wife
has brought from her father’s house. A woman who has been betrayed and
abandoned can require the man to marry her unless he already has four
wives: in that case she can oblige him to support her in his house and
recognize her children. There are no illegitimate children in Turkey.
Bachelors and old maids are very rare, and forced marriages far less
common than one would suppose, as the guilty fathers are liable
to punishment under the law. The state pensions all widows without
relatives or means, and also provides support for orphans; often female
children who have been abandoned are taken from the street by women of
wealth, who educate and marry them off, and it is unusual for women to
be reduced to absolute want. Now, all of this is not only true, but
very admirable, but at the same time one cannot refrain from laughing
outright when the Turks solemnly compare the social privileges enjoyed
by their women with those of European countries, to the advantage
of the former, or try to persuade us that they are blessed with an
immunity from the corruption which, they declare, exists among us.
What possible value in the eyes of a woman is an outward show of
respect, when her very position as a suppliant wife is in itself a
humiliation? Of what avail the facility of divorce and right it gives
her to remarry, when the second husband can at any time repeat the
offence for which she left the first? What great matter is it for a man
to be required to recognize his illegitimate son, when he has not the
means to support him, and can have fifty others “legitimately,” who,
if they are spared the opprobious epithet of “bastard,” are not spared
from want and neglect? The social evils which exist in European lands
are to be found in Turkey under different conditions and names, and
the fact that they are tolerated, and even sanctioned, certainly does
not extenuate them, while it may and does make them more common. For a
Turk to attempt to criticise any one else in this regard is to the last
degree blind and fatuous.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the foregoing it is very easy to imagine what sort of women the
Turkish ones are--merely “pleasing females” for the most part, who,
barely knowing how to read and write, as a matter of fact do neither;
miraculous beings those who have a little superficial smattering of
education. It would not be agreeable to the men, in whose eyes they are
endowed with “long hair and little brains,” for them to cultivate their
minds, as it might be very inconvenient were they to become equal in
this respect, or even superior to, themselves. And so, as they never
read and are debarred from picking up any stray crumbs of knowledge
by association with men, they grow up in a state of crass ignorance.
The separation of the sexes also results in the loss of gentleness on
the one hand and of high-mindedness on the other. The men grow rough
as they grow older, and the women become gossips: even in old age,
from never having moved in any society beyond the narrow circle of
their female friends and relatives, the women retain something puerile
in all their ideas and habits, are excessively curious, everything
astonishes them, and they make a great deal out of every trifle; they
have spiteful little tricks, too, and are inclined to look down on and
despise education; they burst out laughing when any one speaks to them,
and pass hours at a time over the most childish games, such as chasing
each other from room to room, and snatching sugar-plums out of one
another’s mouths. On the other hand, to paraphrase the French saying,
they have good qualities in their defects: their natures are frank
and open, easily read at a glance; they impress you as being “real
persons,” as Madame de Sévigne said of them, not masques or caricatures
or apes; free, natural, and, even when they are unhappy, “_all of one
piece_;” and if, as it is said, one of them has only to affirm and
reaffirm a thing for every one to discredit it, it only means that
she has too little art to deceive with success. At all events--and
it is no small praise--there are no dull blue-stockings among them,
or wearisome pedagogues who can talk of nothing but language and
style, or those spiritual creatures who dwell on a loftier plane than
ordinary mortals. It is, however, perfectly true that in their narrow
lives, cut off from all elevating association or occupation, with
the instinctive desire of youth and beauty for love and admiration
constantly thwarted and dissatisfied, their souls remain undeveloped.
When once an evil passion gets control of them, having none of the
checks and self-restraints imposed by education, they run into violent
excesses. Their idle, purposeless life fosters the growth of all
manner of foolish tastes, which they pursue with the utmost obstinacy,
determined to satisfy them at whatever cost. Moreover, in the sensual
air of the harem, surrounded constantly by women inferior to themselves
in birth and education, and away from men, whose presence would act
as a check, they abandon themselves to the most indecent crudities of
language; ignorant of all shades of expression, they say things right
out with brutal frankness, using words at which they ought to blush,
and indulging in equivocal jests, becoming at times openly abusive and
insolent: sometimes the ears of a European who understands Turkish
are treated to a flood of invective and abuse directed against a rude
or impolitic shopkeeper, which, coming as it does from the lips of a
_hanum_ to all outward appearance of the highest breeding, would never,
among us, be heard from the mouth of any but the lowest class of women.
It seems as though their virulence increased in proportion with their
knowledge of European customs and intercourse with the women of other
lands--as though the spirit of rebellion was stirred up within them by
these means. A Turkish woman, finding herself really beloved by her
husband, takes advantage of the fact to visit him with all manner of
petty acts of tyranny in revenge for the great social tyranny of which
she is the victim: she is often represented as being all sweetness and
bashful timidity, but there are fierce, bold spirits as well, and in
popular uprisings it is not uncommon to find women in the front ranks:
they assemble and arm themselves, and stop the carriages of unpopular
viziers, covering them with abuse, stoning them, and forcibly resisting
arrest. They are, indeed, like all other women, sweet and gentle when
unmoved by passion, treat their slaves with great kindness when they
are not jealous of them, and are tender and affectionate with their
children, though even if they were willing to take the trouble to
have them educated or trained, they have no idea how to set about it.
They contract the most ardent friendships with each other, especially
those who are separated from their husbands or are suffering from the
same kind of misfortune: these friendships are of the most exaggerated
character; they wear the same colors, use the same perfumes, put
on patches of the same size and shape, and make enthusiastic
demonstrations and protestations of undying regard. I might add here
the remark that has been made by more than one lady traveller from
Europe, that there “exist among them all the vices of ancient Babylon,”
were I not unwilling in so serious a matter to make a statement which
rests wholly on the assertions of others.

       *       *       *       *       *

The manners of Turkish women reflect their characters. They are
all more or less like young girls of good family, who, having been
brought up in the country and arrived at the transition stage between
childhood and womanhood, keep their mothers in a constant state of
uneasiness by their want of conventionality. It is very funny to
hear a European lady’s account of a visit to a harem. The _hanum_,
for instance, after sitting for the first few moments in a dignified
attitude upon the sofa, just as she sees her visitor doing, will
suddenly and without any warning clasp her hands over her head, or
begin to yawn loudly or to nurse one of her knees. Accustomed to the
liberty, not to say license, of the harem, and to the easy attitudes
of idleness and fatigue, and weakened as they are by their prolonged
and frequent baths, they quickly tire in any erect or constrained
position, and, throwing themselves on the divan, toss continually from
one side to the other, twist and tangle up their long trains, roll
themselves into balls, catch hold of their feet, put a cushion on their
knees and rest their elbows upon it, straighten themselves out, twist,
turn, stretch, arch their backs like cats, roll from the divan on to
the mattress, from the mattress on to the rug, from the rug on to the
marble pavement, and go to sleep like children wherever and whenever
they happen to feel sleepy. One French lady traveller declares that
they are something like mollusks, and they are nearly always in such a
position that one could take them in his arms like a ball. Their most
conventional attitude is sitting cross-legged, and it is said that the
defect of slightly crooked legs so common among them comes from their
having sat in this position since childhood. But how gracefully they do
it! You can see them in the public gardens and cemeteries. They drop
straight down without so much as putting out a hand, erect as statues,
and rise with the same ease, perfectly straight and without leaning
upon anything, as though they were being drawn out. But this is about
the only free, strong movement they have. The grace of a Turkish woman
seems to consist entirely in those attitudes of repose which display
to their best advantage the charming curves of her figure. With head
thrown back, hair streaming loosely over the pillow, and arms hanging
down, she can draw money and jewels from the husband’s pocket and drive
the unfortunate eunuch to the verge of despair.

[Illustration: Dancing Girls.]

Nor is the practice of such arts as these the only occupation by which
they seek to enliven the deadly monotony of the greater number of lives
passed in a harem--a monotony resulting not so much from the absence of
employment and distractions as from their all being so much alike, just
as certain books are tiresome from their uniformity of style, while
their subjects may be entirely different. They do everything in their
power to combat ennui: the whole day is often nothing but a prolonged
struggle with this dreaded enemy. Seated upon rugs and cushions, with
their slaves grouped around them, they hem innumerable little
handkerchiefs to give away to their friends; embroider night-caps and
tobacco-pouches as presents for their husbands, fathers, and brothers;
tell the beads of the _tespi_ a hundred times; count as high as they
know how; spend hours at a time watching the movements of the ships
on the Bosphorus or Sea of Marmora from the small round windows of
their elevated apartments; or weave interminable romances of love
and liberty and riches as they watch the smoke from their cigarettes
curl upward in blue wreaths. Tired of their cigarettes, they betake
themselves to the chibuk and inhale the “blond hair of Latakia,” then
a cup of Syrian coffee and a few sweetmeats, or some fruit or an ice,
which they can spend half an hour in eating; then comes a little more
smoking, the narghileh this time, perfumed with rose-water, and after
it a piece of mastic gum, which they suck to get rid of the taste of
the smoke; then some lemonade to do away with the taste of the mastic.
They dress and undress, try on all their costumes, make experiments
with all the colors in their little boxes, put on and take off patches
cut like stars and crescents; and arrange a dozen or so mirrors and
hand-glasses in such a way that they can see themselves on all sides;
finally, when they are tired out, two young slaves will dance for their
amusement accompanied by tambourine and tabor, while a third repeats
the well-known song or fairy-tale that every one can say by heart,
or the usual couple of mascottes dressed like acrobats perform the
regular wrestling-match, which always ends in a stamp on the floor and
an artificial, mirthless laugh. Sometimes a troupe of Egyptian dancers
will present themselves, and this event is made the excuse for a little
fête, or a gypsy comes and the _hanum_ must have her fortune told
from the palm of her hand, or purchase a talisman that will preserve
her youth, or a decoction to bring her children, or a love-philter.
She will pass hours with her face pressed against the window-grating
watching the people and dogs pass in the street below, or teaching
the parrot a new word; then go to the garden to swing: returning to
the house, she says her prayers or throws herself upon the divan to
play a game of cards; then a visitor is announced and she jumps up to
receive her, and there follows the customary round of coffee, tobacco,
lemonade, and sweetmeats, of empty laughter and tremendous yawns,
until, the visitor having departed, the eunuch appears in the doorway,
saying in a low voice, “The effendi.”--“At last! Really, Providence has
sent him; I don’t care if he were the ugliest husband in Stambul.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is the life in a harem where there is at least peace, if nothing
more, but there are others in which the dulness is relieved, not to
say annihilated, by the storms of passion which sweep across them,
and there the life is something altogether different. All is peaceable
enough in a harem where there is but one wife whose husband loves her,
pays no attention to the slaves, and has no outside intrigues. There
is also, if not happiness, quiet, in those where the several wives
are equally cold or indifferent, none of them caring particularly for
the husband, who on his part does not distinguish among them, but
bestows upon each in turn a sufficient amount of attention--where no
one is impelled by love or jealousy or ambition to try to supersede
the others. These good-natured wives have for a common object the
getting as much money as possible out of the effendi; they occupy the
same house, never quarrel, call each other sister, and join in one
another’s amusement. The boat is made after the devil’s pattern, but
it goes ahead all the same, and there is peace or the semblance of it,
in a harem where the wife, finding herself set aside to make room for
another, accepts the situation in a spirit of resignation, and, while
declining the shreds of love her husband is still willing to allow
her, continues to live in his house on friendly terms with him and the
other inmates, consoling herself in a sort of dignified retirement
with the society of her children. But when, as is sometimes the case,
it is a question of a woman of high spirit and fiery passions, it
is an altogether different matter. She declines to submit quietly
to her rival’s triumph or to the shame of desertion, and will not
consent without a fight to see her children set aside to make room
for those of a new-comer. Life in one of these harems is a fore-taste
of the infernal regions. There are weeping and lamentation, breaking
of crockery and glass; slaves die from having long pins driven
into them; plots are hatched, crimes contemplated, and sometimes
committed--stabbing, poisoning, or throwing vitriol in the face of the
enemy. Existence is nothing but a series of persecutions, implacable
hatreds, fierce and deadly acts of revenge. The man, in short, who has
several wives must either, if he loves one, sacrifice his peace, or
else care for them equally and purchase quiet at the expense of love;
in either case he usually walks straight to his ruin. If his wives are
not jealous by reason of their love for him, they are from motives of
ambition and rivalry in luxury and dress. So, then, if he gives his
favorite a piece of jewelry or a carriage or a villa on the Bosphorus,
he has to do the same for each of the others, or he soon has the house
down about his ears, and so buys his peace for its weight in gold. And
the same difficulties extend to the children, those of the neglected
mother being filled with hatred and envy for those of the favorite; and
it is not hard to imagine what sort of training they must get, brought
up in harems whose very air is heavy with violence and intrigue,
surrounded by slaves and eunuchs, with no help from their fathers, no
examples set them of application or self-control, in that sensual,
enervating atmosphere, the little girls in especial being taught from
earliest infancy to build all their hopes of future success upon their
ability to arouse a sentiment for which “love” seems too lofty a title,
and receiving the necessary training partly from their own mothers,
partly from slaves, and mostly from Kara-Gyuz.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are, besides the peaceful and tempestuous, two other types of
harem--that of the young and liberal-minded Turk, who encourages his
wife in the cultivation of European ideas, and that of the Turk of
the old school, who is either strict by nature or else is under the
influence of relatives, especially of an old mother if she happens to
be one of those inflexible Mussulman women sternly opposed to change of
any sort, and determined that he shall manage his house according to
her ideas. Nothing can exceed the contrast between the two. The former
has the air of a European lady’s house: there is a piano on which the
_hanum_ is being taught to play by a Christian music-mistress; there
are work-tables, straw chairs, a bedstead, and writing-desk; a good
crayon portrait of the effendi by an Italian artist of Pera hangs
on the wall; in one corner stands a small bookcase containing two
or three dozen books, among which may be found a little French and
Turkish dictionary and the last number of _La Mode illustrée_, which
is sent to the mistress by the wife of the Spanish consul after she
has done with it; moreover, there is a complete box of water-colors,
with which the _hanum_ paints fruits and flowers, and she assures her
friends that she never suffers for a moment from ennui. Among other
things, she is writing her memoirs, and at a certain hour of the day
her French master arrives to practise French conversation with her
(of course it must be understood that he is old and bent and feeble).
Sometimes a German female photographer comes from Galata to take her
photograph. When she is ill a European doctor attends her, who may
even be young and handsome, her husband not being such a jealous beast
as some of his more antiquated friends; and now and then a French
dressmaker is summoned to cut and fit a costume in the very latest
style as it is given in the fashion-plates, so that she may give her
husband a charming surprise on the following Thursday evening, that
being the special feast-day of Mussulman couples, when the effendi
pays particular court to his “rose-leaf.” And then the effendi, being
a person of high position, has promised that she may watch the first
large ball given at the English embassy during the following winter
from the crack of some retired doorway. In short, the _hanum_ is a
European lady of the Mussulman faith, who says to her friends with
intense satisfaction, “I live like a _Cocona_”--a Christian. And her
friends and relatives, though they may be unable to do the same, would
like to; and among themselves they talk of the fashions and theatres,
telling each other stories of the “superstitions,” the “pedantries,”
and the “bigotry” of Old Turkey, winding up every discourse with the
remark, “And it is high time that we should change all this and begin
to lead lives more like rational human beings.”

But that other harem! Here there is nothing that is not severely
Turkish, from the costume of the mistress to the smallest article
of furniture--not a book except the Koran, the only newspaper the
_Stambul_. Should the _hanum_ fall ill, instead of a doctor, one of
those innumerable Turkish doctresses, with a miraculous specific for
every kind of disease, is summoned. If her parents have become tainted
with the European craze, they are only permitted to see their daughter
once a week. Every door and window in the house is furnished with
bars and bolts: absolutely nothing European but the air is allowed to
enter the household, unless the mistress has unfortunately been taught
a little French in her girlhood, in which case the mother-in-law is
perfectly capable of thrusting a coarse romance of the worst type into
her hands, so as to be able to say, “There! you see now what fine sort
of people these are you are so crazy to imitate! what pretty things
they do and say! what a beautiful example they set!”

And, notwithstanding all their restrictions, Turkish women’s lives are
full of plots and schemes and scandals to a degree that at first sight
would seem impossible in a society where there is so little direct
communication between the two sexes. In one household, for example, the
old mother has made up her mind to prejudice her son against one of his
wives, so that another, her favorite, may occupy the chief place. So
she tries, among other things, to keep the first one’s children in the
background and prevent them from being educated or made attractive in
their father’s eyes, hoping that he may neglect them for those of the
second. In another the deserted wife revenges herself upon her rival
by throwing a beautiful slave, whom she has sought over land and sea,
in the husband’s way, hoping to make him leave the second one, as he
has her. Another with a genius for matchmaking manages so that one of
her own family shall see and fall in love with a certain young girl
of her acquaintance, and by marrying her himself balk her husband,
whom she suspects of having views in the same direction. A number of
wealthy women club together to purchase and present a handsome slave
to the Sultan or the grand vizier, to further some private scheme
they have on hand; other women of good family, by means of secret
wirepulling and their influence over powerful relatives, can accomplish
almost anything they want--the disgrace of a prominent official, the
elevation of a friend, the divorce of this one, the dismissal of
that to some distant province; and, although there is so much less
social intercourse than among us, they do not know any less about one
another’s affairs. A woman’s reputation for wit or insane jealousy or
stupidity or a slanderous tongue extends far beyond the circle of her
immediate acquaintances, while a clever speech or one of those plays
upon words to which the Turkish language lends itself so admirably
flies from mouth to mouth and is repeated far and wide. Births,
marriages, circumcisions, fêtes, every little event which occurs in the
European colony or the Seraglio, forms the subject of endless talk and
gossip: “Have you seen the new bonnet of the French ambassadress?--Who
knows anything about the pretty Georgian slave the Validêh Sultan is
going to give the Pâdishah on the feast of Great Bairam?--Is it true
that Ahmed-Pasha’s wife was seen the day before yesterday in European
shoes trimmed with silk tassels?--Have the costumes for the ‘Bourgeois
gentilhomme’ they are going to perform in the Seraglio theatre actually
come at last?--Mahmûd Effendi’s wife has been going for a week past
to the Bayezid mosque to pray for twins.--There has been a scandal in
connection with such and such a photographer’s shop in the Rue de Pera,
on account of Ahmed Effendi’s having found his wife’s picture among the
photographs.--Madame Ayscé drinks wine.--Madame Fatima has ordered
visiting-cards.--Some one saw Madame Hafiten go in a Frank shop at
three o’clock, and she never came out till four.”

The chronicle of petty gossip and malicious tattle flies in and out
among those innumerable little yellow and red houses with incredible
rapidity, circulates about the court, crosses over to Skutari, proceeds
along both banks of the Bosphorus as far as the Black Sea, and not
infrequently, finding its way to the large provincial cities, returns
from thence with each particular added to and embellished to provoke
fresh mirth and gossip in the thousand harems of the great metropolis.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you could only meet in Constantinople one of those walking society
chronicles with which all European cities are provided, who know
everything about everybody and are always quite willing to impart
their knowledge, it would be beyond measure amusing and instructive to
get him to station himself by your side at the entrance to the Sweet
Waters of Europe on some great fête-day and whisper a word or two
about every noteworthy person who passed by. There could certainly be
no better method of obtaining an insight into Constantinople manners
and customs. But, after all, what difference does it make whether we
have his help or not? As long as the incidents are perfectly well
known, we can imagine the people for ourselves: for my part, it
is just as though I stood there looking and listening. The people
stream by, and our Turkish gossip points and whispers: “Do you see
that lady passing now? She has quarrelled with her husband and gone
to Skutari to live: that, you know, is where they all go when they
are discontented or have a falling out with their husbands. She is
staying with a friend, and will wait until her effendi, who at bottom
is really very fond of her, shall go and tell her that the slave
who caused the trouble has been gotten rid of, and conduct her home
again pacified.--This effendi is in the Foreign Office: he has just
done what numbers of others do to avoid being pestered to death with
relations-in-law and relations of relations-in-law--that is, married
an Arabian slave: his sister is giving her her first lessons in
Turkish.--That handsome woman over there is a divorcée. When Effendi
So-and-so has succeeded in repudiating one of his four wives, she
is to take her place, having been promised it some time ago.--That
one just behind her has been divorced twice from the same man, and
now she wants to marry him again, he wishing it as well. So she is
about, in obedience to the law governing such cases, to marry some one
else, whose wife she must be for twenty-four hours, after which the
capricious fair one is free to marry her first husband for the third
time.--The brunette yonder with the expressive eyes was an Abyssinian
slave who was sent by a great lady of Cairo as a present to a great
lady of Stambul; on dying the latter left her the post of mistress of
the establishment.--That effendi is fifty years old, and has had ten
wives, but the old lady near him dressed in green has done better yet,
having been the lawful wife of no less than twelve husbands.--There
goes a personage who makes her living by purchasing young girls of
fourteen or so, and, after teaching them music, singing, dancing,
and the manners of good society, resells them at a premium of five
hundred per cent.--Now, there goes a very handsome woman whose exact
value I happen to know: she is a Circassian bought at Topkhâneh for
one hundred and twenty Turkish francs, and resold three years later
for a bagatelle of four hundred.--This one near us, who is adjusting
her veil, has had a somewhat checkered career. She began as a slave;
then she was an odalisque; then she married, was divorced, and married
again; at present she is a widow and is looking about for some fresh
matrimonial venture.--Do you see that effendi? Well, you could hardly
guess what has happened in his household: his wife has fallen in love
with a eunuch, and they say that if he does not look out there will be
something queer in his coffee one of these days, and she will be free
to end her life in peace with the object of her choice; nor will it
be the first time that that kind of thing has happened.--There is a
merchant who has married his four wives with an eye to business: he
keeps one in Constantinople, one in Trebizond, one in Salonika, and one
in Alexandria. Thus at the end of each journey he finds a home awaiting
him.--There is a handsome young pasha only twenty-four years old: a
month ago he was nothing but a poor subaltern in the Imperial Guard,
whom the Sultan promoted at a bound, so as to marry him to one of his
sisters; but he is not an object of envy to the other men, for it is
no joke to be the husband of one of the sultanas: as every one knows,
they are as ‘jealous as nightingales.’ Probably were we to search
through the crowd we would find a slave dogging his footsteps now, so
as to note and report every one whom he either does or does not look
at.--See that slender, graceful figure over there? One need not be very
discriminating to know her at once for a flower from the Seraglio. She
was one of the Sultan’s beauties: a few months ago an official of the
War Office, who has managed to ingratiate himself at court, obtained
her hand in marriage, and before long he will mount rapidly.--That
little five-year-old girl was betrothed to-day to a youngster of eight.
The groom elect was taken to see her, and, finding her to his taste,
promptly flew into a violent passion because a small boy cousin about
a yard high kissed her in his presence.--There goes an old hag who
had two sheep killed the day before yesterday in gratitude to Allah
for having removed a daughter-in-law whom she hated.--There goes the
wife of a friend of mine with her face completely covered and wearing
a lilac _ferajeh_: he is a Turk, but she is a Christian and goes to
church every Sunday: don’t speak of it, though, to any one--on her
account, not his. The Koran does not forbid such marriages: for one of
the faithful to purify himself from the embrace of an unbeliever he has
only to wash the face and hands.--Ah! what have we missed! One of the
Seraglio carriages has just gone by with the Sultan’s third _kaydyn_
inside: I recognized it by the rose-colored ribbon around the lackey’s
neck. She was a present from the pasha of Smyrna, and is said to have
the largest eyes and smallest mouth in the empire--a face very much on
the order of that of the pretty little _hanum_ with an arched nose who
scandalized Christian and Mussulman alike the other day by flirting
openly with an English artist of my acquaintance. Little wretch! When
the two angels, Nekir and Munkir, come to judge her soul, she thinks
she will be able to get out of it with the usual fib, saying her eyes
were shut at the moment, so she did not see that it was an unbeliever.”

       *       *       *       *       *

So then there are faithless wives among the Turks as well? There are,
indeed, notwithstanding the jealousy of the effendis and vigilance of
the eunuchs; notwithstanding the hundred blows of the whip with which
the Koran threatens to punish the guilty one; notwithstanding the
fact of the Turkish husbands being all banded together in a sort of
society for mutual protection, and that an entirely opposite state of
things from that existing in other countries obtains there, everything
seeming to conspire tacitly to ensure conjugal felicity. It may almost
be affirmed that the “veiled” of Constantinople commit no fewer
indiscretions than their unveiled sisters of most Christian cities.
Were this not the case, why should the word _Kerata_--which, translated
into mythological nomenclature, would read Menelaos--be heard so
frequently upon the lips of Kara-Gyuz? But you say, How is it possible?
Well, in any number of ways: first, it must be remembered that women
are no longer flung into the Bosphorus, either in bags or out of them,
and that the bastinado on the soles of the feet, fasting, hair-cloth,
enforced silence, and so on are punishments which have become merely
idle threats in the mouth of some brutal _Kerata_. The jealous husband
still does all in his power to protect his rights, but when he fails
he no longer indulges in the violent scenes or summary administrations
of justice of former times, it being now much more difficult to keep
the knowledge of these little domestic tragedies within the walls
of one’s own house. Moreover, a dread of being laughed at is one of
the influences which have crept in along with other European ideas.
The Turk’s jealousy, too, is a cold, apathetic, corporeal affair,
proceeding more from self-esteem than from love for another, and,
although bitter and suspicious, and even vindictive, it is not, in
the nature of things, to be compared for vigilance and watchfulness
with that which springs from a real and passionate devotion. And,
then, who is going to undertake to watch a wife living apart from her
husband--that is, in a separate establishment, where the husband does
not even go every day? Who is going to follow her every time she goes
out through all those intricate windings and twistings of the Galata
and Pera streets and lanes and retired parts of Stambul? What is there
to prevent any handsome young aide-de-camp of the Sultan from doing
what, as a matter of fact, I did see one of them do one day--gallop
his horse close by a carriage just at the corner of a street when the
eunuch riding ahead had his back turned and the carriage concealed
the one behind, and throw a note in the window? And then the evenings
during Ramazan when the women can stay out till midnight, and the
obliging _Cocone_--she in especial who lives on the border between a
Mussulman and a Christian community--is far too hospitable to refuse
admittance to a Christian gentleman just because a Mussulman lady
happens to be calling on her at the moment. There are, however, no more
of those thrilling and horrible incidents which once were so common.
Great ladies now-a-days do not emulate the example set by a sultana
of the last century, who, when she repented of her kindness toward
a youth who had brought the stuffs purchased in the morning to the
Seraglio, had him quietly dropped into the Bosphorus. Now everything
is as prosaic as possible, and the places of rendezvous are usually
those out-of-the-way shops which deal in a little of everything. It
is useless to ask why the Turkish authorities do not suppress this
license, when one has only to read the regulations issued to the police
in regard to the preservation of good behavior during the period of
some popular festivity, to see that they make every effort in their
power to do so. Most of these regulations bear upon the conduct of
women, many of them being addressed directly to them in the shape of
admonitions and threats. For example, a woman is forbidden to go to the
rear of a shop; she must stay where she can be seen from the street.
She is forbidden to make use of the tramways for mere amusement;
that is, she must get out at the end of the route, and cannot return
immediately by the same line. She is forbidden to make signs to the
people who pass her, to stop here, to go there, to linger longer than a
certain specified time in a given place; and so on. Any one can easily
imagine for himself to what extent such regulations as these can be
enforced. And then there is that blessed veil: originally introduced
in the interests of the men, it is now used as a means of outwitting
them by the women, who first wear a transparent one in order to start a
flirtation, and then a thick one in order to carry it on. It is said
to be the cause of all manner of curious situations--favored lovers
who are still ignorant of their lady-loves’ identity; women who hide
themselves under others’ names in order to carry out some scheme of
revenge; practical jokes, unexpected encounters, and scrapes which give
rise to any amount of gossip and idle talk.

The place to hear all these things is the bath-house: here every
rumor and fresh bit of scandal is discussed and commented upon and
remodelled ready to be served up afresh. The bath is, in fact, the
great rendezvous of the Turkish women, taking, to some extent, the
place of the theatre in their lives: they go there in couples or
parties, accompanied by their slaves carrying rugs and cushions, toilet
articles, sweetmeats, and sometimes even their luncheon when they
propose remaining the entire day. As many as two hundred women are
sometimes assembled in those dimly-lighted rooms lined with marbles and
musical with running fountains. The picture made by these nymph-like
forms flitting about in the airiest of costumes is, according to those
European ladies who have seen it, enough to paralyze the fingers of an
artist. There are _hanums_ whose dazzling skin contrasts strikingly
with that of their ebony-colored slaves; handsome matronly figures,
which fulfil an old-fashioned Turk’s ideal of feminine loveliness;
slim young wives with their short hair turned up, looking like little
girls; Circassians whose tresses fall like a golden shower below their
knees; Turkish women with jet-black hair divided into a hundred or more
locks hanging over the breast and shoulders, while others have theirs
arranged in any quantity of wavy little tufts, like an enormous wig.
One wears an amulet around her neck, another a bit of garlic bound to
her head to avert the evil eye; there are savages with tattooed arms,
and little ladies of fashion whose tender skin betrays the stays and
shoes of modern civilization; while the shoulders of more than one poor
slave bear witness to the existence of a eunuch’s whip. Everywhere
groups are to be seen in an endless variety of graceful abandonment.
Some lie stretched out full length upon rugs smoking, others are having
their hair combed out by slaves; some are embroidering, some singing,
laughing, chasing one another and throwing water about like children;
shrill screams come from the shower-baths; here a party of friends are
seated in a circle having a little feast together; towels fly through
the air, pitched from one group to another. The less covering they have
on their bodies, the more they seem to reveal the childishness of their
natures. They are very fond of comparing their good points, measuring
their feet, weighing their comparative attractions. One observes,
candidly, “I am beautiful;” another, “I am passable.” A third wishes
she had not such and such a defect, while a fourth says to her friend,
“Why, do you know, you are prettier than I?” or one is heard saying to
another reproachfully, “Just see how terribly fat Madame Ferideh has
gotten; and you telling her to eat rice-balls, when you know she ought
to live on dried crabs!” When an amiable _cocona_ is present they all
crowd around and ply her with questions: “Is it true that you go to
balls with your neck bare down to here? What does your effendi think of
it? And what do the other men say? How do they hold you when you dance?
This way? Really and truly? Well, I will believe such things when I see

Not only at the bath, but everywhere else and on all possible
occasions, they try their best to meet and talk with Europeans, being
especially delighted if they can manage to receive one in their own
homes. On such occasions a number of friends are asked to meet her,
all the women of the establishment are marshalled in force, and a
small feast is prepared at which the guest is crammed with fruit and
sweetmeats, and seldom allowed to depart without receiving a present of
some sort. Of course it is not a mere wish to be hospitable that moves
the _hanum_ to take this trouble, but curiosity; and so, just so soon
as she feels sufficiently at ease with her new friend, she begins to
ask questions, inquiring into every minutest detail of European life,
examining her costume piece by piece, from the bonnet to the shoes,
and will not rest satisfied until, having persuaded the foreigner
to accompany her to the bath, she can see for herself how those
extraordinary women are made who study all sorts of things, paint,
write for publication, work in public offices, ride on horseback, and
climb to the tops of lofty mountains. Since the “reform” movement set
in, making this sort of intercourse possible, the Turkish women have
abandoned some of the more extraordinary ideas they once entertained
regarding their European sisters, which made them look upon them with
dislike and contempt, and mistrust even their education and breeding,
which, moreover, they were quite unable to appreciate. Now it is
quite different. They realize their own ignorance, and are ashamed
of it, and, very much afraid of seeming childish or ill-mannered,
they are consequently far more reserved than formerly, and it is hard
to get them to talk in the same frank, ingenuous way they once did:
every year they imitate the West more and more in their dress and
customs, studying European languages--not from any especial thirst
for knowledge, but so as to be more like other people, and to enable
them to converse with Christians or introduce French words into
their conversation; even those who do not speak French pretend that
they understand it at least, and they all love dearly to be called
“Madame,” sometimes frequenting certain Frankish shops for no other
purpose; and Pera, the all-powerful, attracts them as the candle
does the moth; their footsteps, their imaginations, and their money,
all are irresistibly drawn in that direction, to say nothing of the
field it affords for their little shortcomings. Their eager desire
to make friends among European women is perfectly natural: they are
to them like revelations of another world. They are never weary of
hearing descriptions of some grand theatrical performance or ball or
state reception--of the doings of women of the world, the brilliant
society, adventures during Carnival time, long journeys, and all the
other strange features of that wonderful Western life; and these
glowing scenes take complete possession of the poor little brains,
sick to death of the dull monotony of the harem and gloomy shadow of
the garden-walls. Just as Europeans dream of the mystery and dreamy
tranquillity of the Orient, they sigh enviously for the varied and
feverish life of the West, and would willingly exchange all the
splendors of the Bosphorus for a gloomy quarter of Paris. It is really,
though, not so much the excitement and variety of society that they
want: the feature which they care most about and long for most ardently
is the domestic life, the little world of the European house, the
circle of devoted friends, the family board surrounded with sons and
daughters, the happy, honored old age, that equal sharing of sorrow and
joy, the confidences, mutual respect, and sacred memories which can
make the union of two lives a beautiful and enviable thing even where
there is not passionate love--that sanctuary called “home” to which
the heart turns even after a life of wandering and sin, a safe place
of refuge even amid the storms and passions of youth, the thought of
which comforts and sustains one in times of suffering and misery with a
promise of peace in the years to come, like the glory of a clear sunset
seen from some dark valley.

But all those who really take to heart the unfortunate lot of woman in
Turkey can find comfort in one undeniable fact--the daily increasing
disfavor with which polygamy is regarded there. The Turks themselves
have always considered it rather in the light of a permitted abuse than
man’s natural right. Mohammed says: “He who marries but one wife does
well,” although he himself married several; and, as a matter of fact,
all those Turks who wish to be looked up to as models in the community
do have but one; those with more, while they are not blamed exactly,
are certainly not commended. Comparatively few Turks openly advocate
polygamy, and fewer still approve of it in their own consciences,
being, for the most part, fully alive to its injustice and the
unfortunate consequences resulting therefrom. There is a party strongly
opposed to its practice at all, while the higher officials of state,
officers of the army, magistrates, and religious dignitaries--all
those, in short, whose social position requires them to adopt a
certain respectability and dignity in their mode of life--have but
one wife; and this being of necessity the case among the poor and
persons of moderate means as well, four-fifths of the entire Mussulman
population of Constantinople are no longer polygamists. This, it is
true, is largely due to the craze for European manners and customs,
while many of them have _odalisques_ in addition to the one wife; but
the European mania itself is the result of a growing, if confused,
idea that some change in the social conditions of Mussulman society is
imperatively demanded, while the custom of having odalisques, already
openly denounced as a vice, is sure to disappear with the suppression
of slavery--an abuse still tolerated--and become merged into that form
of corruption common to all European countries. Will a still greater
corruption be the result? Let others be the judges; but here are the
facts. To transform Turkish into European society the position of
woman must be established; that can only be done through the death of
polygamy, and polygamy is dying. Possibly were the Sultan to issue a
decree suppressing it outright to-morrow, not one dissentient voice
would be raised. The edifice has crumbled to pieces, and nothing now
remains to be done but to cart away the débris. Already the light of a
new day is tingeing the balconies of the harems with rose color. Take
heart, beautiful _hanums_! Soon the doors of the selamlik will swing
open; the bars will fall from the windows, the _ferajeh_ be relegated
to the museum of the Great Bazâr, and the word “eunuch” mean no more
than a dark memory of your youth. Then the whole world will be free to
admire your charms of mind and person. When the “pearls of the Orient”
are spoken of in Europe, the words will refer to the charming Mussulman
women, beautiful, refined, and witty, not to those useless stones which
adorn your foreheads amid the cold, wearisome splendors of the harem.
Be of good cheer. Surely your sun is rising at last. For my own part,
as I tell my incredulous friends, old as I am, I have not abandoned the
hope of one day giving my arm to the wife of a pasha passing through
Turin and repeating a few pages of _I Promessi Sposi_ to her as we walk
together on the banks of the Po.


I was amusing myself with such fancies as these one morning at about
five o’clock as I lay half asleep in bed at the Hôtel de Byzance. In a
sort of dreamy vision I saw the hill of Superga in the distance, and
began to explain to my travelling _hanum_ that “that arm of the Lake
of Como which extends southward between two continuous chains--” Just
here there rose up before me the form of my friend Yunk, candle in
hand, clad all in glistening white. “What on earth,” said he, “can be
going on?” I listened, and, sure enough, there was a confused murmur of
voices from the street, hurrying footsteps on the stair, the subdued
roar and tumult of mid-day. Running to the window, I peered out, and
saw crowds of people all hurrying in the direction of the Golden Horn.
I then repaired to the hall, where I succeeded in laying hands on a
Greek waiter just as he was shooting by me three steps at a time. “What
is it?” I said; “what has happened?” Shaking me off, he merely cried,
“Yanghen Vahr! Heavens! did you not hear them calling?” And then, as he
disappeared, he shouted, “Look at the top of the Galata Tower!” We ran
back to the window, and, craning our necks toward Galata, saw the upper
part of the great tower illuminated by a brilliant red light, while a
dense black cloud, issuing from some neighboring houses amid a vortex
of flames and sparks, spread itself rapidly across the starlit sky.
Instantly our thoughts flew to those terrible Constantinople fires of
which we had heard so much, especially that fearful one of four years
before, and for a moment we were filled with alarm and dismay, but only
for a moment--I confess it with shame--for, following immediately upon
that first natural impulse, came the selfish eager curiosity of the
painter and writer, and a smile--yes, actually that is the disgraceful
truth, a smile--broke over our faces which might have served as a model
for one of Doré’s demons of the infernal regions. Had any one opened
our breasts at that moment, they would have been found to contain
nothing but an inkstand and a pallet.

We flung on our clothes and ran down the Grande Rue de Pera as fast
as our legs could carry us, but, happily, our curiosity was not to be
gratified on this occasion. By the time we reached the Galata Tower
the fire had been pretty nearly extinguished; only two small houses
were actually burned; the people were dispersing and the streets were
flooded with water from the pumps, and cluttered up with furniture
and bedding; men and women, shivering with fright and cold, were
going about in their night-clothes, talking and lamenting in a dozen
different languages, nothing being distinguishable through the noise
and confusion but that shrill note of terror and excitement which marks
the near escape from some great danger. Finding that we were too late
to see anything, we walked off toward the bridge to console ourselves
for our unrighteous disappointment by watching the sun rise, and before
long we were rewarded by a sight which went far beyond any fire.

The sky was just beginning to grow light beyond the Asiatic hills;
Stambul, momentarily disturbed by the report of fire, had sunk back
into the solemn stillness of night, and banks and bridges were alike
deserted. The entire Golden Horn seemed buried in slumber beneath a
covering of light fog. Not a boat moved, not a bird fluttered, not a
tree rustled, not a breath of wind could be heard. That huge city,
blue, hazy, silent, veiled, seemed to be an atmospheric effect--a
sudden cry, a burst of sunlight,--and it would tremble and vanish.
Never had it appeared so aërial, so mysterious, so entirely to
correspond to the magic city of the Eastern fairy-tale which the
traveller comes upon unexpectedly, and on entering finds every one
turned to stone, just as they were in the midst of their gay, busy
lives when the spell of a wicked genie fell upon them. As we leaned
over the bridge, gazing on the scene before us, the fire completely
forgotten, we heard all at once, from across the water, a faint,
uncertain noise as of persons calling aloud for help; then, as it drew
nearer, shrill cries of “Allah! Allah! Allah!” echoing throughout
the great empty space around us, and in a moment we beheld a noisy,
evil-looking throng pouring toward us across the bridge.

“_Tulumbadgi_” (firemen), cried one of the bridge-guards, and we drew
to one side and watched them as they rushed by, a horde of swarthy,
half-naked savages with bare heads and hairy chests, streaming with
perspiration, young and old, big and little, with faces of thieves
and cutthroats, four of them bearing a small pump, that looked like a
child’s bier, on their shoulders, while the rest were armed with long
hooked poles, coils of rope, axes, and picks. On they rushed, uttering
hoarse cries, panting for breath, with eyes dilated, streaming hair,
grim, determined, their rags fluttering in the wind and poisoning the
sweet morning air with the close, malodorous smell of wild beasts.
Sweeping across the bridge, they finally disappeared in the Rue de
Galata, whence fainter and fainter came the cry “Allah! Allah!” till at
length profound silence reigned once more.

It is impossible to convey the impression made upon my mind by this
unexpected and tumultuous irruption in the midst of the solemn,
impressive calm of the sleeping city. In an instant’s luminous flash I
saw distinctly portrayed before me scenes of barbarian invasions, of
pillage, murder, and rape, which until then I had never been able to
picture to my mind as actual events, and I asked myself if that could
be the city that I was familiar with--if this really were the same
bridge across which European ambassadors, ladies dressed in Parisian
costumes, and venders of French newspapers were wont to cross by day. A
moment later and the silence of the Golden Horn was once more broken by
the same far-away cry, and another fierce, unruly, panting mob rushed
by like a whirlwind, accompanied by the same tumult of hoarse shouts
and sinister laughter, again followed by the mournful prolonged cry of
“Allah! Allah!” which, dying out, left us once more silent and alone.
Not long after another mob, with all the now familiar accompaniments,
poured by, and still another, then two more, and finally the madman
of Pera, stark naked and half dead with cold, rending the air with
his piercing shrieks, and followed, as usual, by a crowd of Turkish
ragamuffins. They, like the firemen, were swallowed up in the dark
openings of the streets on the Frankish shore, and again profound
silence fell upon the mighty city, now gilded by the first rays of

Before long the sun rose, and simultaneously with it the muezzins
appeared upon the various minarets; then the käiks started into life,
the harbor awoke; people began to cross the bridge, and soon we could
hear on all sides the dull roar of the city’s daily life as we slowly
retraced our steps toward Pera. But so deep was the impression made
upon us by that sight--the sleeping city, the whitening heavens, the
savage hordes--that to this day we never meet without recalling it,
and always with the selfsame thrill, half of wonder, half of fear, as
though we had seen in a vision the Stambul of other days or dreamed it
while under the mystic influence of _hascisc_.

And so I missed seeing a fire in Constantinople, but if I did not
actually see the one that destroyed Pera in 1870, I have heard it
described so often by eye-witnesses, and have collected such full and
accurate details, that I may be said to have seen it with the eyes of
my mind, and, it may be, can give as correct an account of what took
place as though I had really been present in the flesh.

[Illustration: Turkish Firemen.]

The fire started in a little house in the Rue Feridee in Pera on the
fifth day of June--that is, in the season when the greater part of
the well-to-do population of Pera is out of town, spending the summer
in their country-houses on the Bosphorus--and at one o’clock, just
when the entire community, European as well, is shut up in-doors
taking the mid-day siesta. The only occupant of the house in the Rue
Feridee was an old female servant--the family having that very day
gone to the country--who, as soon as she discovered the fire, rushed
into the street and began to run, yelling “Fire!” at the top of
her lungs. People at once poured out of the neighboring houses with
buckets and little hand-pumps, the idiotic law prohibiting persons
from extinguishing a fire until the Serasker officials have arrived
upon the scene having already fallen into disuse, and flew of course
to the nearest fountain to have them filled. Now, the Pera fountains
are only open at certain hours of the day, when the water-carriers
who draw the supply for the families of the vicinity can have access
to them; once the distribution is over, they are closed and locked,
the keys being placed in charge of an official with orders not to
give them up “except on receipt of a notice from the authorities.”
At this very moment there lounged beside this particular fountain a
member of the Turkish municipal guard of Pera, with the keys in his
pocket, looking impassively on at the fire; the crowd surrounded him,
imploring him in excited tones to unlock the fountain; but this he
flatly refused to do, on the ground that he had received no orders to
that effect. They pressed closer, grew threatening, and finally laid
forcible hands upon him, on which he resisted, defending himself to the
best of his ability and declaring that they should never get the key
from him alive. In the mean time the flames had made great headway;
the original house was completely destroyed, and those next to it were
burning merrily. News of the fire had spread rapidly from quarter to
quarter; the watchmen on the summits of the Galata and Serasker towers
had hoisted the red balloons used in the day-time as fire-signals.
All the city guards were running through the streets, striking the
pavement with their long staves and raising the dreaded cry, “Yanghen
Vahr!” (There is a fire), in response to which was heard the hollow
beating of a thousand drums as all the barracks took the alarm. Then
three guns fired from Topkhâneh announced the news to every quarter of
the great city, from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmora, and at that
sound the Seraskerat, the Seraglio, the foreign embassies, all Pera,
all Galata, were thrown into an uproar, and in a short space of time
the minister of war, accompanied by a crowd of officials, appeared in
the Rue Feridee, shortly followed by a troop of firemen eager for the
fray. But, as is almost always the case, their first efforts proved
wholly unavailing. The narrowness of the streets interfered with
their movements; the pumps would not work; the water-supply was both
insufficient and distant, while the undisciplined rabble of firemen
found it more to their interest to add to rather than allay the general
disorder, under cover of which they were able to appropriate many stray
pieces of property; and in addition to everything else it was found
that an Armenian festival, which was being celebrated at Beikos, had
drawn almost all the porters thither, so that hardly any were to be
found to transport the contents of the burning houses to places of
safety. It must be borne in mind that wooden houses were much more
generally the rule then in Constantinople than at present, even those
whose walls were of stone or brick being surmounted by a flimsy roof
but seldom protected by tiles, and consequently very easily ignited.
On this occasion there was not even the advantage of a population
of Mussulmans; apathetic and fatalistic as they are, even fire does
not arouse them to any great excitement, and consequently, although
of little or no help so far as putting it out is concerned, they at
least do not interfere by their own ill-directed efforts with what is
being done by others. Here the people were almost all Christians, who
immediately lost their heads: hardly had the fire spread beyond the
first few houses when the entire neighborhood became a scene of the
wildest, most indescribable confusion: furniture was thrown recklessly
out of upper windows; shrieks and lamentations rent the air; streets
were blocked up, and a general state of panic ensued, upon which
neither threats nor force availed to make the smallest impression.
Hardly one hour had elapsed from the time when the fire first broke
out before the Rue Feridee was in flames from one end to the other.
Officials and firemen beat a hasty retreat in all directions, sometimes
abandoning the bodies of the dead and injured in their flight, and
all hope vanished of stamping the fire out at its birth. Most
unfortunately, a high wind was blowing, and this carried the flames
from the burning buildings in horizontal sheets across the roofs of
the neighboring houses, like flapping tents of fire, so that they all
caught from above as though a volcano were being discharged upon them.
In this way the conflagration spread with fearful rapidity, and many
families who were still assembled in their homes, feeling that they
were perfectly secure for some time yet, and would be able to remove
at least a part of their belongings, were first made aware of their
danger by having the roof fall in, and barely had time to escape with
their lives. House after house caught as though smeared with pitch, and
instantly out of each of the innumerable little windows there poured a
torrent of flame, long winding sheets, curling and swaying from side
to side like great fiery serpents hungry for their prey, reaching down
and licking the very stones as though in search of human victims. The
fire did not seem to run, but rather fly, and, instead of enveloping
the objects in its path, flowed over them like an angry tide. From the
Rue Feridee it swept furiously down the Rue Tarla-Bashi, then turned
back to pour like a torrent through the Rue de Misc and enfold the
entire quarter of Agha-Dgiami as though it had been a forest of dead
trees; then the Rue Sakes-Agatshe, then that of Kalindgi-Kuluk, and
then street after street with terrifying rapidity until the entire
incline of Yeni-Sheir was wrapped in flames; and these met and mingled
with the blazing whirlwind which swept, roaring and bellowing, down
the Grande Rue de Pera. It was not even as though there had been a
thousand disconnected fires to extinguish, a thousand disorganized
enemies to vanquish, but rather as though each fresh conflagration were
the well-aimed stroke of some master mind controlling and directing all
his forces, and having no less object in view than the destruction of
the entire city, not one corner of which was to be allowed to escape.
The narrow streets were like so many streams of lava, which would
meet and swell into rivers or suddenly spread out into fiery lakes,
utterly incapable of being stopped or controlled by any one. At the
end of three hours half of Pera was in flames; a thousand columns of
smoke, red, blue, white, and black, swept over the houses, lightly
grazing the roofs, and extending as far as the eye could reach along
the hillsides, obscuring and transforming with sinister effect the
vast outskirts on the Golden Horn. In all directions could be seen
furious whirlwinds of cinders and sparks, while against the houses
still standing in the lower quarters of the city the wind beat showers
of sparks and bits of charred wood, blowing them about like so much
hail. In the burning quarters the streets were simply nothing less than
huge furnaces, covered on top with a thick awning of solid flame, and
constantly fed with pine wood from the Black Sea used for beams, the
light inflammable rafters of _ciardak_, balconies and wooden minarets
from the smaller mosques, all of which, falling in with a crackling,
splintering noise, sounded as though they were being torn in pieces
by an earthquake. Down those streets which were still passable flying
forms were seen of mounted lancers, illuminated by what might have been
the light of the infernal regions, as they galloped furiously in all
directions, carrying the orders of the Seraskerat; Seraglio officials
with bare heads and faces blackened with smoke; stray horses whose
riders had met with some accident; files of porters laden with all
manner of household goods; troops of howling dogs; gangs of homeless
fugitives stumbling and falling in their mad flight down the steep
inclines, blindly treading down the dead and injured, scaling the heaps
of débris, and disappearing finally amid fire and smoke like legions
of the damned. Once, at the opening of a burning street, the mounted
figure of Sultan Abdul-Aziz appeared for an instant, surrounded by
his court, pale as a ghost, staring with dilated eyes at the flames,
as though repeating to himself the memorable words of Selim I.: “This
is the fiery breath of my victims destined to consume my capital, my
seraglio, my very self!” A moment later he had disappeared amid a cloud
of smoke and cinders, followed by his courtiers.

[Illustration: Water Seller.]

All of the army stationed at Constantinople, in addition to the
innumerable brigades of firemen, were pressed into service, being
formed into long chains and immense semicircles, which, under the
direction of the viziers, officials of the court, pashas, and ulemas,
endeavored to surround whole quarters, or, by concentrating their
efforts upon some special spot, check the advance of the fire in that
direction. Row after row of buildings would fall in the space of a
few minutes; the roofs swarmed with intrepid men waging the unequal
conflict at close quarters, and ever and anon falling into the yawning
crater at their feet, only to be succeeded by others, as when some
daring attack is making upon a powerful enemy, sending up hoarse cries
and waving their singed fezzes in the midst of the smoke and flames.
But, notwithstanding all these efforts, the fire still advanced
triumphant, lit up the thousand streams of water directed against
it, and leaped at a bound across the gardens, open squares, small
cemeteries, and great stone buildings which lay in its path, forcing
back soldiers, firemen, and citizens on all sides, like an army in
retreat, and beating them about the shoulders as with red-hot muskets.
Yet even in all that frightful panic and confusion there were those
who preserved their self-possession sufficiently to perform noble acts
of heroism and devotion. White-veiled Sisters of Charity could be seen
in the midst of blazing ruins leaning over the prostrate forms of the
dying; Turks threw themselves into the flames and reappeared bearing
in their scorched and blackened arms the bodies of Christian children;
other Mussulmans were known to have stood, apparently unmoved, with
folded arms watching a burning house, and, while the families of
Christians around them, utterly beside themselves with fright, filled
the air with useless lamentations, would coldly offer a reward of a
hundred Turkish francs to any one who would rescue a European boy
who had failed to escape with the rest; and others, again, who made
it their business to look after the injured children whom they found
in the streets, binding up their wounds with strips torn from their
own turbans, and seeing that they were restored to their parents; and
still others who generously threw open their doors to the half-naked
fugitives; while more than one was seen to set an example of courage
and indifference to the things of this world by seating himself upon a
rug in front of his burning domicile, calmly smoking a narghileh, and
only moving farther off as the flames advanced.

But neither courage nor indifference, real or assumed, availed to check
that fiery tempest. Now and then, with some temporary dying down of
the wind, it would seem to abate a little of its fury, but not for
long: the wind rising again with renewed violence, the flames, which
had hardly begun to subside, would burst forth afresh, shooting out
their sharp points like well-directed arrows, and accompanied by a
deep, rumbling roar, broken from time to time by sharp explosions from
the petroleum shops or gas in the dwellings, where the pipes were
transformed into streams of molten lead; or when roofs would suddenly
fall as though borne down by an avalanche; or a grove of cypress trees
all at once begin to twist and writhe, and then burst into flame,
sending down showers of burning resin; or some group of old wooden
houses explode simultaneously like rockets, and emit such a fury of
flame that it would seem as though the bellows of a thousand workshops
were being turned upon them. It was a scene of ruin and wholesale
destruction and disaster such as might result from fire, flood,
earthquake, and the sacking of the city by a victorious army, all going
on at once. No one had ever seen or imagined such horrors, and the
effect upon the whole population was as though it had gone stark mad.
In the streets of Pera the wildest confusion reigned, such noise and
panic as are found on the deck of a vessel about to founder. There,
in the midst of heaps of overturned furniture, beneath the flashing
blades of the officers’ swords, the knocks and blows of porters and
water-carriers, the hoofs of the pashas’ horses, gangs of firemen
advancing at a dead run, overturning and treading down all they came in
contact with,--were French, Italian, Greek, and Armenian families, rich
and poor, old and young, men, women, and children, lost, distraught,
groping blindly about in search of missing relatives, filling the
air with shrieks and lamentations, choked with smoke and blinded with
sparks; or a foreign ambassador followed by a troop of servants laden
with books and valuable documents; or monks holding the crucifix aloft
above the heads of the terrified throng; groups of Turkish women, their
arms filled with costly objects from the harem; processions of men
bending beneath the spoils of mosque and school, church or theatre;
and from time to time a suffocating cloud of smoke, blown down by some
sudden gust, would wrap everything in temporary darkness and increase
still more the general terror and confusion.

An added feature of the horrors of that fearful time were the armies of
thieves and desperadoes, who, having assembled, in obedience to some
secret code of signals in use among them, from every hole and den in
Constantinople, arrayed themselves in the guise of porters, soldiers,
or respectable citizens, and then, boldly entering houses on pretence
of lending assistance, made off with armsful of plunder: sometimes
these gentry, being detected, would be pursued as they fled with their
booty to Kassim Pasha or Tataola by parties of soldiers, and on being
overtaken and surrounded pitched battles would ensue.

Firemen, porters, and water-carriers, reinforced by their numerous
families and relatives, organized into bands, and before the very eyes
of the distracted owners would all at once strike for higher wages,
utterly declining to go on working unless their pay were doubled
or quadrupled. Furniture and household goods heaped in the narrow
streets and guarded by the families who owned them would be captured
by crews of armed plunderers, the owners driven away, and the defences
strengthened to afford resistance against other bands of blackguards.
Troops of fugitives escaping with some of their personal property,
encountering similar parties in some narrow thoroughfare, would dispute
the right of way fiercely, desperately, abandoning in their mad flight
those who were overthrown or injured in the onslaught.

But by the time the fire had raged for four hours it had gained such
headway that few gave further thought to their property: to escape
alive was the most that could be hoped for; two-thirds of Pera were in
flames, and the fire had now reached such volume, and was advancing
in so many different directions at once, that a whole quarter would
suddenly be surrounded and cut off by a girdle of flame before the
inhabitants had become aware of its approach. Hundreds of terrified
creatures, flying in disorder up some narrow, steep, winding street,
intent only on escaping from the hungry fiend in their rear, would
at some sudden turn be confronted by a whirlwind of smoke and flame
bearing relentlessly down upon them, and turn shrieking back to seek
wildly for some other road of escape; entire families, one numbering
twenty-two persons, were all at once surrounded, suffocated, burned,
charred; some, beside themselves with terror, would take refuge in
cellars, where they were soon choked to death; others threw themselves
into wells and cisterns, climbed trees, or, after searching vainly
through their houses for some spot or corner where they might hope
for protection, suddenly losing their heads, would be seen to rush
out and fling themselves voluntarily into the flames. Looking down
the hillsides of Pera from some high point, families could be seen
assembled upon their roofs, who, kneeling in close groups and with
outstretched arms in the centre of an ever-narrowing circle of flame,
invoked that aid from Heaven which man was powerless to give; herds of
frantic people, rushing from the heights of Pera to scatter themselves
throughout Galata, Topkhâneh, Fundukli, and the cemeteries in the
lower parts of the town, ever running farther and farther, looking for
still more distant and protected spots in which to hide themselves
from the enemy, whom they imagined to be still pursuing them; children
streaming with blood; wild-looking women, with singed hair and torn
flesh, bearing dead or dying infants in their arms; men with faces and
limbs frightfully burned, who writhed on the ground in their agony; old
people sobbing like children; men of wealth reduced in the course of a
few moments to penury, who beat their heads against the stones; youths
yelling like maniacs, who fell unconscious on the banks of the Golden
Horn, spent with excitement and horror; families bearing the blackened
corpses of their dead; poor creatures, driven crazy by the sights
around them, who hurried along dragging chairs after them attached to
strings, or clasped bits of rags or broken pottery to their bosoms as
though they were of priceless value, at the same time giving vent to
loud lamentations or bursts of insane laughter.

And still from the lower quarters of Galata, from the arsenals of
Tersane and Topkhâneh, from barrack, mosque, and imperial palace,
there swarmed fresh battalions of _nizam_, crews of robbers, bands of
firemen, shouting “_Yanghen Vahr_” or “_Allah_,” advancing as to an
attack, scaling the hills under the steady rain of sparks and cinders
and burning brands, and through streets filled with smouldering
débris, and with them generals, dervishes, messengers from the court,
families who had turned back to search for missing members, blackguards
and heroes, misery, crime, and charity,--all mingled together in a
confused, inextricable torrent which swept through the narrow streets
with a roar like that of the ocean in a storm, its surface lighted up
with the crimson glare of that mighty furnace.

And just across from this region of torment lay Stambul, peaceful,
smiling, and serene as ever, while on the other side the tranquil
beauties of the Asiatic shore were mirrored in the waters of the
Bosphorus, on whose unmoved bosom the ships rode peacefully at anchor.
Enormous crowds of people, blackening the banks for miles, stood
silent and impassive witnesses of the horrible sight; the sing-song
voice of the muezzin was heard as usual announcing from every minaret
the setting of the sun; flocks of birds soared lazily above the
mosques on the Seven Hills; and venerable Turks, seated in the shade
of plane trees on the verdant heights of Skutari, murmured placidly
to themselves, “And so the final hour of the City of the Sultans has
sounded? That day which was foretold has come: let Allah’s will be
done.--So be it, so be it!”

Happily, with nightfall came the beginning of the end. At seven o’clock
the last building took fire--the English embassy--and just after that,
the wind suddenly dying down, the fire was either extinguished or went
out of its own accord. It had been burning six hours, and in that
time two-thirds of Pera were reduced to ashes, nine thousand houses
destroyed, and two thousand lives lost.

Next to the famous fire of 1756, which demolished, in the reign of
Osman III. eighty thousand houses and wiped out two-thirds of Stambul,
no such disaster as this has ever visited the city, nor from the time
Constantinople was conquered up to the present day has any one fire
been the cause of so much loss of life.

On the following day Pera presented a spectacle which, if less
terrifying, was in no sense less heart*-rending, than that during the
actual progress of the fire. Wherever the flames had passed there was
nothing to be seen but grim wastes broken only by the naked outlines
of great hills; unfamiliar views were opened up; broad sheets of light
poured down upon vast open spaces covered with ashes, while here and
there the melancholy column of a blackened and half-ruined chimney
stood like a gravestone marking the site of a desolated hearth.
Whole quarters had disappeared as completely as though they had been
Bedouin encampments swept away by a cyclone. Through many streets,
which could only be traced by the double line of black, smoking ruins,
thousands of the homeless wandered up and down, ragged and dishevelled,
imploring aid from the hurrying throng of soldiers and doctors, Sisters
of Charity, and priests of every religion, while employés of all
ranks distributed the food and money or directed the placing of the
mattresses, bedding, and army tents issued by order of the government
for the use of the entirely destitute. The heights of Tataola and the
great Armenian cemetery swarmed with dense crowds of persons formed
into a huge encampment; everywhere one stumbled upon piles of household
goods, whose owners, utterly exhausted with what they had been through,
lay stretched out upon them. The vast Galata cemetery looked like a
bazâr which had been turned upside down: piled along the walks and
among the tombs was a bewildering mass of household stuff--divans,
pillows, bedding, pianos, books, pictures, broken carriages; the gilded
sedan chair of an ambassadress; parrot-cages out of the harems; and
horses who had sustained injuries tied to the cypress trees,--all
watched over by porters and servants blackened with smoke and dropping
with fatigue. The dregs and offscourings of the city employed
themselves in searching through the ruins for stray valuables, locks
off the doors, nails, and bits of iron, avoiding the outstretched forms
of soldiers and firemen, who, unable to hold out any longer against
sleep and fatigue, had dropped wherever they might happen to be. Here
and there persons might be seen endeavoring by the aid of pieces of
board and strips of canvas to erect temporary places of shelter above
their ruined dwellings; groups of people kneeling before the blackened
altar of some roofless church; and men and women passing in review the
long lines of charred and disfigured bodies, who, finally recognizing
in some pitiful blackened heap the object of their search, would burst
into shuddering sobs and wails of despair, while others would suddenly
be seen to drop as though they had been shot from their places in some
long procession of biers and litters; and over all clouds of dust and
smoke and the dense, suffocating atmosphere heavy with the sickening
smell of charred human flesh. Now and then the men working with picks
and shovels among the ruins would dislodge showers of ashes and
cinders upon the close, silent, awe-stricken crowds collected from all
parts of Stambul, above whose heads would appear groups of consuls
and ambassadors, drawn up at the corners of the streets and gazing in
pale-faced consternation at the surrounding ruin.

And yet, overpowering as this disaster appeared at the time, as is
always the case in Oriental countries, not many months had elapsed
before it was completely forgotten. When I visited Constantinople four
years later no traces of it were to be seen except certain tracts of
bare ground at the far end of Pera, below the heights of Tataola, and
the fire was referred to by the inhabitants as something which had
occurred in the remote past. For some little time--that is, as long as
the ruins were still warm--the papers were filled with demands that the
government should be made to take some precautions against a recurrence
of the same thing. They suggested the reorganization of the fire
department, the purchase of new pumps, increase of the water-supply,
and that regulations should be enacted controlling the manner in which
houses were to be built in the future; but, finding that the government
turned a deaf ear to these proposals, the Europeans soon ceased to make
them, and continued to live in the Turkish fashion; that is, trusting a
little to the good God and a little to good luck.

And so, as nothing or next to nothing has been done to improve the
conditions, we may assume pretty confidently that the fire of 1870 was
not the last of those great conflagrations which, “it is written,”
are in the course of every few years or so to devastate the City
of the Sultans. It is true that many of the houses in Pera are now
built of masonry, but most of these are wretchedly constructed by
architects without either knowledge or experience, sometimes by any
one who happens to come along; and, the authorities not attempting
to exercise any sort of supervision in the matter, it is not unusual
for them to fall down before being completed, while those which
remain standing are not in any way fitted to resist fire. Water, too,
is always scarce, especially in Pera, and is everywhere subjected
to the most shameful monopoly, and, being mainly derived from the
reservoirs built by the Romans in the village of Belgrâd, the supply
fails altogether unless abundant rains fall in both spring and autumn;
then the rich pay its weight in gold to get it, while the poor people
drink mud. The fire-brigade might be likened more to an army of
malefactors than an organized corps of employés: it is composed of
men of every nationality, accountable, more in name than in actual
fact, to the Seraskerat, from which they receive nothing but a ration
of bread--untaught, undisciplined, dishonest, feared and dreaded by
the people quite as much as the flames which they do not know how to
extinguish, and suspected, not without cause, of hoping for fires
as affording opportunities for pillage. As for the pumps, while there
seems to be plenty of them, and the Turks pride themselves upon these
wonderful machines, they are in reality absurd playthings, holding
about a dozen quarts of water, which they throw out in gentle little
rivulets more suitable for watering flower-beds than extinguishing

[Illustration: Aqueduct of Valens.]

And yet the inhabitants of Constantinople might consider themselves
fortunate were these the only evils existing in this connection. There
is doubtless no foundation for the reports--credited, however, by
some--that the government instigates many of the fires with a view to
widening the streets: the dangers and inconveniences of such a method
would be too great in comparison with the advantages; nor does it
now happen, as it has sometimes in the past, that the “opposition”
sets fire to a certain quarter in order to intimidate the sultans,
or the army to enforce its demands for higher pay; but the general
suspicion that many fires are started deliberately by persons who have
something to gain thereby has but too often been verified, and hence
the people of Constantinople live in a continual state of dread. They
are afraid of the water-carriers, porters, architects, lumber- and
lime-merchants, and, more than all the rest, of their servants, who are
the evil geniuses of Constantinople: these people are all in league
with organized bands of thieves, they in turn being in communication
with various other secret organizations which manage the sale of
every kind of stolen property and facilitate the commission of all
manner of crimes, while the local police treat them all alike with a
leniency which savors strongly of complicity. No incendiary was ever
known to be punished, and thieves are rarely arraigned after a fire;
more rarely still are the stolen goods restored to their rightful
owners. Moreover, Constantinople being a rendezvous for miscreants
from all over the world, the course of justice is constantly being
blocked by international complications: consuls demand the surrender
of criminals of their own countries; trials drag on for centuries; and
so many delinquents escape altogether that the fear of punishment as a
restraining influence upon the criminal class is almost _nil_, and they
have come to look upon the plundering of houses during a fire much in
the light of a privilege tacitly acknowledged by the authorities to be
theirs, just as soldiers were formerly allowed to sack and plunder a
vanquished city. And so the word “Fire” still means for the inhabitants
of Constantinople “every misfortune,” and the cry _Yanghen Vahr_ is
charged with a dread meaning, terrible, fateful, carrying with it
dismay--a cry at which the entire city is moved to its very depths, and
pours forth as at the announcement of a scourge from God. And who can
tell how often yet the great metropolis is doomed to fall before the
flames and rise again ere European civilization shall have planted its
triumphant ensign upon the imperial palace of Dolmabâghcheh?

       *       *       *       *       *

In the old days, when a fire broke out in Constantinople, if the Sultan
happened to be at that moment in the harem, news of the disaster was
sent to him in the person of an odalisque dressed in scarlet from
head to foot, with orders to present herself before him wherever he
might be, were it even in the embraces of the favorite. She had only
to appear upon the threshold: the flaming color of her attire would
do the rest and be the mute announcement of her errand. Will any one
believe that among all the striking and terrible pictures which my
mind conjures up at the thought of a Constantinople fire the figure
of that odalisque moves my artistic sense the most, and makes me long
to be a painter that I might depict the scene as it rises before me?
At all events, I shall go on begging every artist I meet to do it for
me, until I come across one whose fancy will be struck with the idea,
and who will earn my undying gratitude. The picture will represent an
apartment in the imperial harem flooded with soft light. Seated upon
a broad divan by the side of a fair young pearl-bedecked Circassian,
Selim I., the mighty Sultan, suddenly disengages himself from the arms
of his companion, and fixes his great black eyes upon the scarlet-clad
odalisque standing in the doorway, mute, erect, immovable as a statue,
one hand holding back the curtain beyond which is seen the open
terrace, and in the blue distance the great smoking city, while her
pallid, terror-stricken face would seem to say, “King of kings, Allah
summons you to go to the relief of your unhappy people.”


I determined to make the circuit of the ancient walls of Stambul
entirely alone, and this plan I recommend to all Italians visiting
Constantinople, as the sight of those majestic and beautiful ruins
cannot make a profound and lasting impression upon the mind unless one
is altogether intent upon receiving it and can freely follow his own
train of thought. It is a question of tramping about fifteen Italian
miles through deserted streets and exposed to the full blaze of the
sun. “Very possibly,” said I to my friend, “when I have gone halfway I
shall be seized with such a desperate attack of loneliness that I will
invoke you like one of the saints, but, all the same, I want to go by
myself.” And so, having first lightened my purse for fear some suburban
pick-pocket might do it for me, and thrown something to the “eager
dogs within,” so that I might say to myself later on, “Be still, then,
accursed wolf!” I set forth in the direction of the Validêh Sultan
bridge at eight in the morning, beneath a sky washed clean and bright
by a shower which had fallen during the night.

My plan was to leave Stambul by the gate in the Blachernæ, to follow
the line of the walls from the Golden Horn to the Castle of the Seven
Towers, and to return along the shore of the Sea of Marmora, thus
completing the triangle of the Mussulman city.

Crossing the bridge, I turned to the right and plunged into that vast
district known as _Istambul disciaré_, or Outer Stambul, a long strip
of the city shut in between the walls and the harbor, composed of
miserable little houses and wood and oil-shops, and more than once
destroyed by fire; flights of stairs lead from the banks down to little
inlets crowded with boats and shipping, and in the space between these
on the one hand, and the narrow lanes and alleyways of the city on
the other, there is a constant passing back and forth of porters,
asses, and camels, the same mixture of strange people and dirty things
which, as well as the unintelligible clamor of tongues, is to be found
in those wonderful ports of the Chinese and Indian seas where the
people and merchandise of two hemispheres meet and mingle. Those walls
which are still standing on this side are five times a man’s height,
castellated, strengthened every hundred paces by small quadrangular
towers, and in many places falling into ruins. They are, from an
historic or artistic standpoint, however, the least noteworthy of any
of the fortifications of Stambul.

Traversing the Greek quarters, I skirted the bank among the various
pastry-cook, fruit, and fritter stalls, passing by groups of handsome
Greek sailors standing in the attitudes of their own ancient gods
around some cook carrying on his avocation in the open; then, making
a circuit around the vast Ghetto of Balata and threading the silent
Blachernæ quarter, I finally quitted the city by the gate called _Egri
Kapou_, not far from the banks of the Golden Horn. While all this
may be said in a few words, to do it requires an hour and a half,
now mounting, now descending, passing around lakes of mud and over
heaps of stones, through an endless maze of narrow streets and dark
passage-ways, across vast desolate wastes, with nothing to guide you
but the points on the minarets of the Selim mosque: at a certain place
you begin to notice fewer and fewer European faces and costumes; then
European houses disappear, then pavements, then the signs on the shops,
then names on the streets, then every indication of labor; and the
farther you go the more surly the dogs become, the more impudently do
the Turkish ragamuffins stare you in the eye, and the common women take
pains to conceal their faces; until at last you find yourself in the
heart of barbarous Asia, and, instead of a two hours’ walk, you seem to
have made a two days’ journey.

On issuing from the _Egri Kapou_ I turned to the left, and came quite
unexpectedly upon a long stretch of those famous walls which formed
Stambul’s defences upon the land side. Three years have elapsed since
that moment, but to this day I can never recall it without a fresh
sensation of wonder. There is no other spot in the East, so far as
I know, which presents so vividly before the mind the memories of
the past, the grandeur of human achievement, the majesty of power,
the glory of the centuries, the mystery of decay, and the beauties
of nature. You are filled with awe and terror and admiration at
this sight, worthy of a canto of Homer, and involuntarily uncover,
exclaiming “All honor!” as though called upon to salute the mutilated
ranks of some mighty band of heroes.

The line of walls and lofty towers extends as far as the eye can reach,
rising and falling according to the natural character of the land, at
some points seeming to sink into the earth, and at others to crown the
summit of a mountain: it is diversified by an endless variety of color,
and ruin in every stage of advancement, in some places nearly black, in
others almost as yellow as gold, and overgrown by a rich, deep-green
vegetation, which, scaling the walls to their very summits, falls back
in waving garlands from the battlements and loopholes, rears itself in
feathery plumes upon the tops of the towers, and overflows in green
cascades from curtain and crumbling breach, its billowy waves filling
the moat and lapping the very roadside.

There are three lines of fortifications, forming as it were three
gigantic ruined steps. The inner one, which is the highest, is
strengthened at short regular intervals by massive square towers;
that in the middle by round ones; the outer wall, much lower than
the others, is protected by a deep, wide moat, formerly filled with
water drawn from the Golden Horn and Sea of Marmora, and now choked
with grass and shrubbery. These walls, as we see them now, are almost
precisely as they were the day after the conquest of Constantinople.
The restorations made by Muhammad and Bayezid II. amount to very
little. There can be still seen the breaches made by Orbano’s powerful
guns, the marks left by the catapults and battering-rams, the great
rents where mines were fired, and all the various indications which
mark those spots where the attack was most furious, the defence most
desperate. Almost all the round towers of the middle wall are ruined
from base to summit, and while those of the inner wall are most of them
still standing, they are broken at the corners, dismantled, dwindling
off to points at the top, like huge tree-trunks sharpened at the end
with blows from some giant axe, or else cracked from top to bottom
or hollowed out at the base like cliffs worn by the sea-waves. Great
masses of masonry detached from the curtains have rolled down upon
the platforms of the middle and outer walls and choke up the moat.
Little footpaths wind in and out amid the heaps of stones and thick
underbrush, lost to view in the deep shadows of the overhanging
vegetation between huge stones and bare patches of earth torn up by
the falling of some heavy mass. Each portion of walls between any
two towers comprises in itself a complete and wonderful example of
ruins and of vegetation, full of power and majesty, wild, colossal,
forbidding, and adorned with a melancholy and imposing beauty which
impels a feeling of reverence. One seems to be looking at the ruins
of an endless chain of feudal castles, or of one of those mighty
girdles of wall which encircled the fabulous empires of Eastern Asia.
Constantinople of to-day disappears, and before us rises the City
of the Constantines; we breathe the air of the fifteenth century,
and as our thoughts become more and more centred upon the day of her
tremendous fall, we find ourselves for a few moments dazed, bewildered,
and turned, as it were, to stone.

The Egri Kapou through which I had come is identical with the famous
Charsian gate used by Justinian when he made his triumphal entry into
the city, and later by Alexius Comnenus when he seized the throne:
before it lies a Mussulman cemetery, and here, during the early days of
the siege, were placed the gigantic cannon of Orbano, which kept four
hundred artillerymen employed and required a hundred oxen to move. The
gate was defended by Teodoro di Caristo and Giovanni Greant against
the attacks of the left wing of the Turkish army, which reached clear
to the Golden Horn. From this point to the Sea of Marmora there are
no longer any hamlets, not so much as a group of houses, and, as the
road consequently runs between the walls and the open country, there
is nothing whatever to distract one’s thoughts from the mighty ruins
themselves. Setting forth on the road, I walked for some time between
two cemeteries, a Christian one on my left, lying directly beneath the
walls, and an enormous Mussulman one on my right, shaded by a forest
of cypress trees; overhead the sun poured down in straight, direct
rays; before me stretched the highway, white, solitary, and rising
by a gentle incline, until on the summit of the opposite heights it
divided the limpid horizon with a sharp, clear-cut line. On one hand
tower succeeded tower, on the other tombstone followed tombstone; not a
sound broke the stillness save my own measured tread and the occasional
rustle of a lizard in the grass by the roadside. After walking thus
for some distance, I suddenly found myself opposite a beautiful
square gateway surmounted by a great arch in an excellent state of
preservation, and flanked by two massive octagonal towers. This was the
Adrianopolis Gate, the Polyandrion of the Greeks, which was made the
principal point of attack when the Avars besieged Constantinople during
the reign of Heraclius in 625. During the attack under Muhammad II. it
was defended by the brothers Paoli and Antonino Troilo Bochiardi, and
later on was the gate through which the Turks made their victorious
exits and entries. Neither ahead nor about me was there a living soul
to be seen: all at once a couple of Turkish cavalrymen came through
the gate and disappeared down the Adrianopolis road at a full gallop,
enveloped in a thick cloud of dust, after which everything returned to
the same death-like stillness. Following their lead, I too took the
Adrianopolis road, and, turning my back for a time upon the walls,
descended into the valley of the Lycus, climbed the opposite ascent,
and found myself looking out over the vast undulating and arid plain
of Dahud-Pasha, where, during the siege of Constantinople, Muhammad
II. established his head-quarters. Here I stood for some time,
shading my eyes with my hand and searching about as if expecting to
find some traces still of the imperial camp to aid me in picturing
to myself the strange and imposing spectacle which that spot must
have presented toward the close of the spring of 1453. Just here the
life of all that mighty army flowed back as to its heart, clasping in
its fatal embrace the great dying metropolis; from this point those
orders were issued which fell on all sides like thunderbolts, set in
motion the arms of a hundred thousand workmen, directed the overland
transportation of two hundred galleys[A] from the Bay of Beshiktash to
the bay of Kassim-Pasha, thrust armies of Armenian miners into
the bowels of the earth, despatched heralds in all directions whose
flags announced the hour of attack, and in the time it would take to
tell the beads of a tespi bent three hundred thousand bows and caused
three hundred thousand cimeters to flash in the air. Here the trembling
envoys of Constantine came face to face with their Genoese countrymen
from Galata selling oil with which to grease Orbano’s mighty cannon,
and Mussulman scouts stationed upon the banks of the Sea of Marmora
in order that they might give warning when the European fleet should
appear upon the horizon bringing the last relief of Christianity to the
last defences of the Constantines. There too were to be found a swarm
of renegade Christians, Asiatic adventurers, old sheikhs, and lean,
ragged dervishes, wasted away by long marches, going restlessly back
and forth among the tents of the fourteen thousand Janissaries; and
interminable troops of horse already harnessed, long files of camels
standing motionless in the midst of catapults and battering-rams, and
cannons lying overturned where they had exploded, and great pyramids
of huge granite balls, among which wound long processions of begrimed
and blackened soldiers bearing two by two from the neighborhood of the
walls to the open country beyond the mutilated bodies of the dead and
groaning forms of the wounded; while over all there hung a perpetual
cloud of smoke.

    [A] There were eighty galleys, according to Ducas.--TRANS.

[Illustration: Mosque of the Chora.]

In the centre of the Janissaries’ camp rose the many-colored tents of
the court, and high above them all the crimson pavilion of Muhammad II.
At daybreak he would appear in his doorway pale from the anxious vigil
of the night, wearing a great turban to which was affixed a yellow
plume, and a long blood-colored caftan. There he would stand, his eagle
glance fixed upon the still unconquered city lying before him, one hand
toying with his thick black beard, while with the other he fingered
uneasily the silver handle of his curved dagger: around him would be
gathered a group of his officers--Orbano, inventor of that huge cannon
which was destined before many days to explode and scatter his own
bones upon the esplanade of the Hippodrome; Admiral Balta-Ogli, already
filled with uneasy presentiments concerning his future and the disgrace
which the golden sceptre of his mighty lord was to bring about his
ears; the hardy governor of the Epepolin, that great movable castle,
surmounted by a tower and braced with iron, which was finally burned
to the ground in front of the gate of San Romano; and a circle of
poets and legislators bronzed by the suns of a hundred battlefields; a
retinue of pashas, whose bodies were covered with wounds and their long
caftans riddled with arrow-holes; a throng of gigantic Janissaries,
with naked blades clasped in their hands, and sciaus armed with great
steel clubs, ready to strike off the head or pound the flesh of rebel
or coward alike; the flower of that boundless multitude of Asiatics,
overflowing with youth, energy, and ferocity, only awaiting the signal
to hurl themselves like a mighty torrent of fire and sword upon the
feeble remnant of the Byzantine Empire. There they would stand, silent,
motionless, in the rosy beams of the rising sun, looking with rapt gaze
where, against the horizon, the thousand cupolas of the great city
promised to them by the Prophet rose above the sobs and lamentations
of its cowardly inhabitants. I saw them thus before me, their very
postures, their arms, the folds of their long cloaks and caftans, their
gigantic shadows falling athwart the earth seamed and scarred with
the passage of heavy cannon and ponderous cars, when all at once, my
eye chancing to fall upon a large stone half buried in the ground, I
mechanically read the worn inscription upon its face. In a twinkling
the imposing warlike scene disappeared, and in its stead the wide
barren plain was peopled with a light-hearted multitude of Vincennes
soldiers in their red breeches; I heard the cheerful songs of Normandy
and Provence, saw Maréchal Saint-Arnaud, Canrobert, Forey, Espinasse,
Pelissier, and recognized a thousand faces and brilliant uniforms,
alive in my memory and dear to my heart ever since childhood, and read
again, with an inexpressible sensation of surprise and delight, that
meagre inscription: “Eugène Saccard, Caporal dans le 22° léger, 16
Juin, 1854.”

From this point I recrossed the valley of the Lycus, and again took
the road which skirts the walls, still lonely and deserted and still
winding between ruins and cemeteries, passing before the ancient
military Gate of Pempti, now walled up, and again crossing the Lycus,
which enters the city at this point, I found myself in front of the
Cannon Gate, so called from the circumstance of Orbano’s great gun
having been stationed opposite it; here Muhammad II. made his last
and successful assault upon the fortifications. Raising my eyes to
the top of the wall, I was startled at encountering the gaze of two
or three dark, unprepossessing-looking individuals with wild, matted
hair, who peered down at me from behind the battlements with an
expression of astonishment, and then remembered to have heard that a
band of gypsies had established themselves in the ruined towers and
more habitable parts of the fortification. The traces left at this
point of the fearful conflict are grand and awe-inspiring beyond
expression--crumbling, dismantled walls, towers knocked to pieces or
battered out of shape, bastions buried beneath huge masses of rubbish,
loopholes burst open, the earth ploughed up, and the moat filled with
colossal fragments which look like masses detached from the side of a
rugged mountain. It is as though the terrific battle had been waged
only the preceding day, and these ruins speak more eloquently than
could any human voice of the frightful disaster of which they are the
witnesses. It was the same, with but slight modification, before every
gate in the whole line of the defences. The battle began at daybreak,
with the Ottoman forces divided into four enormous columns preceded
by a hundred thousand volunteers, who formed an immense vanguard
predestined to death. All of this food for the cannon, this reckless,
undisciplined horde of Tartars, Caucasians, Arabs, and negroes,
directed by sheikhs spurred on by dervishes, driven and lashed from
behind by furious bands of sciaus, hurled itself forward to the attack
laden with earth and faggots, forming one unbroken line and raising one
unearthly yell from the Sea of Marmora to the Golden Horn. On reaching
the edge of the moat they are momentarily checked by a hailstorm of
stone and iron missiles, beating hundreds upon hundreds to the ground,
pierced with arrows, blown to pieces by the cannonballs, set fire to by
_springals_, beaten, crushed, and torn asunder--old men, boys, slaves,
thieves, shepherds, brigands, hewn down by the thousand, until before
long the moat and banks are filled with dead bodies, heaps of quivering
flesh, blood-stained turbans, bows, and cimeters, across which still
other hordes, driven forward by those behind, rush to the attack,
only to be beaten back, overturned, repulsed, decimated by a still
more furious storm of stones and arrows from the walls; while a dense
cloud of smoke and dust envelops alike besiegers and besieged, living
and dead, until at length a shrill, wild call from a thousand Ottoman
trumpets, heard above the din of battle, sounds the retreat, and the
great vanguard, bleeding, exhausted, and reduced to half its number,
draws off from the entire length of the walls in an unsteady, wavering
line. Then Muhammad gives the signal for a general assault, and at that
sign three mighty armies, three great rivers of men, start into motion,
advance, spread out, cover the heights, overflow the valleys, and amid
the flashing of swords and waving of banners, the din and clangor of
drums and trumpets, sweep against those doomed walls with a shock like
that of a tempestuous ocean beating against a rock-bound shore, while
the savage cry, uttered as with one voice from all that vast multitude
of powerful throats, “_La Ilah illa lah!_” echoes like a thunder-clap
from the Golden Horn to the Castle of the Seven Towers. Then the
great battle really begins, or rather a hundred different battles,
carried on before every gate, at every breach, in the ditches, from
the bastions, at the foot of the curtains. From one end to the other
of Constantinople’s mighty ramparts ten thousand bastions pour down
death and destruction upon two hundred thousand human beings; rocks,
beams, casks filled with earth, and burning faggots are hurled from
tower and curtain. Ladders laden with men give way, the high bridges
of the attacking towers fall in, catapults take fire; host after host
hurls itself forward, wavers, and falls back upon heaps of stone,
piles of human bodies, the drawn weapons of comrades, the dying and
wounded; here and there the thick clouds of smoke are lighted up by
vivid flames of Greek fire, while the air is rent with the shrieks of
the injured, whistles of cannon-balls, explosions from the mines, and
the forbidding roar of Muhammad’s eighteen batteries, which command the
city from the neighboring heights. Occasionally there comes a momentary
hush, as though the opposing forces had paused for breath: as the
smoke clears away glimpses can be caught through the great breach near
the San Romano Gate of Constantine’s crimson mantle, or the flashing
arms of Gustinian and Francesco di Toledo, or the terrible forms of
the three hundred Genoese archers; and at that sight the battle is
resumed with renewed fury. The smoke, rolling down in thick clouds,
again conceals the breach, ladders are flung against the walls, fresh
torrents of missiles pour from the defences, and the dead are piled
in heaps before the Adrianopolis and Golden, the Selymbria, the Tou
Tritou, the Pempton, Rusion, Blachernæ, and Heptapyrgion gates, while
legion after legion of armed men, rising as it were out of the very
earth, beat against the walls, pour over the moat, surmount the outer
ramparts, fall, rise again, dragging themselves up by loosened stones,
climbing over dead bodies, through clouds of arrows, beneath hailstorms
of stones, in girdles of flame, until at length, decimated and spent,
the besiegers draw off, while a wild cry of victory mingled with solemn
chants of thanksgiving is heard from the city’s walls. From the height
facing the San Romano Gate, Muhammad II. has followed the battle’s
course surrounded by his fourteen thousand Janissaries, and now for a
moment he seems in doubt whether to continue the assault or abandon the
undertaking altogether; but, turning his glance upon that throng of
eager upturned faces, those ranks of sinewy giants, whose mighty frames
are trembling with fierce and wrathful impatience, only awaiting the
word to throw themselves furiously into the breach, his mind is made
up, and, rising in his stirrups with a gesture of haughty disdain, he
once more raises the battle-cry. Then is the vengeance of the Almighty
let loose upon that doomed city. The fourteen thousand, responding
with one terrible cry as from a single throat, sweep forward; throngs
of dervishes speed in all directions, threatening and collecting the
scattered forces; sciaus beat back the fugitives; the pashas again
form their men in line; and the Sultan, brandishing his iron mace
and surrounded by a cloud of flashing cimeters and drawn bows, a sea
of turbans and helmets, dashes forward to take the field in person.
From the San Romano Gate there pours a fresh shower of missiles;
Gustinian is wounded and drops; the Italians fall back discouraged; a
gigantic Janissary, Hassan d’Olubad, is the first to scale the walls;
Constantine, fighting amid the remnant of his Morean heroes, is thrown
from the battlements, fights on below outside the gate, until at last,
overpowered by numbers, he sinks among the heaps of the slain. And with
him falls the Empire of the East.

Tradition says that a mighty tree marks the spot where the emperor’s
body was found, but I failed to discover any trace of it. Between the
huge blocks of stone, where streams of blood once flowed, the ground
is all white with marguerites, and clouds of butterflies hover above.
Plucking a flower by way of remembrance, to the great bewilderment of
the watching gypsies, I resumed my walk. Before me the walls still
stretched away into the distance as far as the eye could reach,
completely hiding the city at those points where the ground rose, so
that one would never have dreamed that just beyond those deserted ruins
there could be a great metropolis, crowned with mighty buildings and
inhabited by a teeming population; in the hollows, however, above the
battlements, points of minarets flashed in the light, and the summits
of cupolas, roofs of Greek churches, and tops of cypress trees stood
out against the sky, while here and there, through a gap, fleeting
views of the city would be obtained, as through a door hastily opened
and closed again--groups of houses seemingly abandoned, deserted
villages, kitchen-gardens, pleasure-grounds, and still farther away
the fantastic outlines of Stambul palpitating in the white heat of the
mid-day sun.

I next came to the Tetarte Gate, now only distinguished by means of its
two towers standing close together. All this part of the walls is in a
much better state of preservation than the rest; long portions of the
bastions of Theodosius are still standing almost intact, as well as
the charming towers erected by the prefect Anthemius and emperor Ciro
Constantine, whose invincible summits, crowned by fifteen centuries,
seem to defy the ravages of time and fury of man. At some points
peasants have erected upon the curtains huts whose slight construction
offers a strange contrast to the massive masonry around them, like
birds’-nests built upon the side of some beetling cliff. And to the
right are the same interminable, unbroken succession of cypress groves
and cemeteries, rising and falling with the rise and fall of the earth,
the little valleys all gray with tombstones: here a dervish convent is
half hidden by a circle of plane trees; there a solitary café stands
with its fountain and willow, and beyond the trees white footpaths wind
away and are lost to view in the rising ground of the bare and arid
plain, beneath the brilliant sky, against which vultures may be seen
slowly circling upward.

Another quarter of an hour’s walk brought me to the gate called _Yeni
Mevlevi_, from a famous dervish monastery opposite it. The gateway is
low, with four marble columns built into it, and a square lower on
either side, bearing an inscription of Ciro Constantine dated 447, and
another of Justinian II. and Sophia, in which the imperial names are
incorrectly spelled--a rather striking proof of the barbaric ignorance
of the fifth century. I peered through the gateway up at the walls,
into the monastery, and the cemetery, but there was not a living soul
to be seen anywhere, so, after resting a while with my back against
the parapet of a little bridge thrown across the moat, I resumed my

[Illustration: Dervish.]

I would give my memories of the most beautiful view in Constantinople
if in exchange I could transfer to my readers any of the profound and
singular impressions made upon me by my slow progress between those two
interminable chains of ruins and sepulchres, beneath that eastern sun,
amid that profound solitude, that utter peacefulness. Often, at some
troubled period of my life, I had wished that I might find myself one
of a great silent caravan of mysterious persons ever travelling through
strange, unfamiliar lands to an unknown goal. Well, that road seemed to
answer to this fanciful longing. I wanted it to continue for ever. Far
from oppressing me with any feeling of melancholy, I was conscious of
a sensation of exhilaration and excitement: the brilliant vegetation,
the cyclopean dimensions of the walls, the great rolling surface of
the earth like the waves of a mighty ocean, the crowding memories of
emperors and armies, of fierce warfare, dead and gone generations,
whole nations who had passed away, the great city so near at hand, the
mortal stillness, broken only by the beat of an eagle’s wings taking
its solitary flight from the summit of a ruined tower,--all flooded
my soul, and bore me out of myself on a rushing tide of unutterable
desires and longings, which my mortal body seemed too small to contain.
I felt as though I ought to be two feet taller, clad in that colossal
armor of the grand elector of Saxony which hangs in the Madrid armory,
that my tread should resound through the stillness like the measured
beat of a troop of mediæval halberdiers, and my arms be endued with
titanic strength, that I might lift and heave into place the overturned
masses of those superb walls; and, walking thus, with head aloft,
with bent brows and clenched hands apostrophizing in heroic verse
Constantine and Muhammad, rapt in a sort of warlike delirium, my whole
soul in the past, and the blood coursing through my veins with all the
heat and fire of first youth, I felt so unutterably happy at being
alone, so jealous of that solitude surcharged with life, that, had I
suddenly encountered the best friend I have in the world, I am afraid
the coolness of my welcome would have estranged him for ever.

I next came to the ancient military gate called Tou Tritou, now closed.
The shattered condition of towers and curtains show that some of
Orbano’s mighty cannon must have been directed against this portion
of the defences. It is thought, indeed, that here was one of those
three breaches which Muhammad II. pointed out to his army on the first
day of the assault, saying, “You can ride into Constantinople on
horseback through the three openings I have made for you.” Next I came
to an open gate flanked by two octagonal towers, which, from its small
bridge supported on three charming arches of a beautiful golden color,
I identified as the _Silivri_ Gate, leading to ancient _Selymbria_,
corrupted by the Turks into _Silivri_. During the siege this gate was
defended by a Genoese, Maurizio Cottaneo. Some of the paving laid
by Justinian can still be seen. Facing it is an enormous cemetery,
beyond which stands the celebrated Balukli monastery. On entering
the cemetery I found without difficulty the solitary spot where are
interred the heads of the famous Ali of Tepelen, pasha of Janina, his
sons Veli, governor of Trikala; Muctar, administrator of Arlonia,
Saalih, administrator of Lepanto, and of his nephew, Mehemed, son of
Veli, administrator of Delvino. There are five small stone columns,
surmounted by turbans, bearing the date 1827,[B] and an inscription of
the simplest kind. They were erected by the poor Soliman dervish, Ali’s
boyhood’s friend, who bought the heads after they were removed from the
Seraglio walls, and interred them with his own hands. The inscription
upon Ali’s tombstone, which stands in the middle, reads as follows:
“Here lies the head of the celebrated Ali Pasha of Tepelen, governor
of the sanjak of Janina, who for upward of fifty years labored for the
independence of Albania;” which proves that pious lies may be found
even upon Mussulman gravestones. Pausing for a few moments to muse
over the little corner of earth covering that once formidable head,
Hamlet’s interrogations addressed to Yorick’s skull came into my mind:
“Where now are your klephtis, lion of Epirus? where are your brave
Arnaouts, your castles bristling with guns, your charming pavilions
reflected in the still waters of Janina’s lake, your buried treasures?
and where, alas! the beautiful eyes of your beloved Vasilik, that
lovely unfortunate who wandered a homeless outcast through the streets
of the capital distracted by the memories of her lost happiness and
high estate?” At this point my reflections were disturbed by a slight
noise behind me, and, turning, I found a tall, emaciated man, clad in
a long dark tunic, gazing at me with a look of interrogation. From his
gestures I understood that he was a monk from the Greek monastery of
Balukli offering to show me the Holy Well, and I accordingly followed
him in the direction of the church. Leading the way across a deserted
courtyard, he opened a small door, and, having lighted a candle,
conducted me down a narrow stair beneath a low damp roof: at the
bottom was a sort of cistern, and my guide, holding the candle so that
its rays fell upon the water, pointed out some red fishes swimming
about, gabbling meanwhile some unintelligible rigmarole, which was no
doubt the famous legend of the miracle of the fish. It seems that at
the moment when the Mussulmans made their final and successful assault
upon Constantinople a Greek monk was engaged in frying fish in the
monastery kitchen. Suddenly another monk appeared in the doorway,
crying that the city had been taken. “Bah!” replied the first; “I will
believe it when I see these fish jump out of the pan;” upon which out
jumped the fish as lively and frisky as you please, half brown and half
red, because only one side was done; and they were religiously picked
up, as any one might suppose, and put back in the water whence they had
been originally taken; and there they are swimming to this very day.
His recital finished, the monk threw some drops of holy water in my
face, and, when these had fallen back in his hand converted into coin,
reconducted me to the entrance, where he stood leaning against the
doorway watching my receding figure with his dull, sleepy little eyes.

    [B] Ali Pasha was beheaded on February 5th, 1822.--TRANS.

And ever on the one hand wall after wall, tower succeeding tower,
and on the other shaded cemeteries, sometimes a green field or so, a
vineyard, or a group of deserted houses. Now and then, as I looked
ahead from some depression in the road, I would fancy that I could
see the final outline, but on reaching high ground the same unbroken
succession would again be seen stretching away into the distance,
seemingly without end: at every few steps new towers would come in
sight, far away, one behind the other, two or three at a time, as
though they were pressing forward and peering over one another’s heads
in the effort to see who it could be thus daring to disturb that
silence and solitude.

[Illustration: Interior View of the Seven Towers.]

All along this part of the defences the vegetation is something quite
marvellous. Spreading trees grow from the very summits of the towers,
as though they stood in gigantic vases; garlands of brilliant flowers,
vines, and creepers droop and wave from the battlements; while below,
from the midst of a dense undergrowth of brambles, nettles, wild
strawberries, and lentisks, plane and willow trees cast their dark
shadows across the moat and its banks. Whole sections of the walls
are completely covered with vegetation flung like a green veil over
the brickwork and crumbling masonry, and concealing the cracks and
fissures. The moat is laid out in truck-gardens; on its banks are
flocks of sheep and goats grazing, whose keepers, Greek boys, lie
stretched out at full length under the trees; now and then a flock of
birds flies out from the walls, and the atmosphere is loaded with the
penetrating odor of wild grass; from those hoary ruins there comes
something of the joyous spirit of spring-time, and they look as
though they had been decked and wreathed for the triumphal procession
of a sultana. All at once a salt breath blew across my cheek, and,
raising my eyes, I saw far ahead of me the blue bosom of the Sea of
Marmora; at the same instant a voice seemed to murmur in my ear,
“The Castle of the Seven Towers,” arresting me in the middle of the
road with a vague feeling of inquietude; but, presently resuming my
walk, I passed first the ancient gate of Deuterou, and farther on
the Melandesias Gate,[C] coming at last face to face with the castle
itself. This place of ill omen, erected by Muhammad II. on the site
of the ancient Kyklobion of the Greeks[D] to defend the city at that
point where the sea and land walls join, was later, when further
victories had rendered Stambul secure from danger of attack, and it
was consequently no longer required as a fortress, converted into a
prison. To-day it is merely the skeleton of a castle guarded by a
handful of soldiers--a hated ruin, whose dark and gloomy associations
and sinister history are bywords among the people of Constantinople,
although strangers seldom see more of it than the fleeting glimpse to
be had from the decks of the steamer which bears them to the mouth of
the Golden Horn. By the Turks it is called Yedi Kuleh, and they regard
it much as the French did the Bastile and the English the Tower of
London--a monument recalling the most oppressive days of the tyranny of
the sultans.

    [C] The Melandesias Gate is the same as the Silivri Gate,
        mentioned above.--TRANS.

    [D] Some authorities place the site of the Greek citadel
        outside of the walls, on the Sea of Marmora.--TRANS.

Looking at it from the road, the walls hide all but two of the great
towers which gave it its name, only four of which are now standing.
Two Corinthian columns indicate the ancient Golden Gate through which
Heraclius and Narsetes made their triumphal entry: according to a
legend common to Turk and Greek alike, it is through this gate that the
Christians will come on that day when they once more take possession of
the City of Constantine. A postern beneath a small square tower gives
admittance to the interior, and the sentinel in slippers who drowses
without usually permits the simultaneous entry of a visitor into the
castle and a coin into his pocket. This successfully accomplished, I
found myself in a large enclosure combining lugubriously the aspect of
a cemetery with that of a prison. All around rose massive blackened
walls, forming a pentagon crowned by heavy towers, square and round,
high and low, some tottering to pieces, others intact and topped
by high conical roofs, overlaid with lead; innumerable flights of
half-ruined stairs led to the battlements and loopholes. A thick,
tangled growth of vegetation was overshadowed by a group of cypress and
plane trees, above whose summits the minaret of a little mosque could
be seen, and beneath, half hidden by the undergrowth, a group of small
huts occupied by the soldiers; in the centre of the enclosure stood
the tomb of a vizier strangled in the castle; here and there appeared
traces of an ancient redoubt, while beneath the underbrush and along
the walls were fragments of bas-reliefs, shafts of broken columns, and
capitals half buried in the earth and covered with moss and slime--a
strange, melancholy chaos, forbidding and oppressive, which made
me hesitate about exploring farther. After a momentary indecision,
however, I proceeded, circumspectly though, as if afraid that a false
step might land me in a pool of blood. The huts were shut up, the
mosque closed--everything as still and solitary as in some abandoned
ruin. On the walls may still be found traces of Greek crosses, the
Constantinian monogram, the spread wings of the Roman eagle, and
discolored bits of the decorations of the earlier Byzantine building.
Some rough inscriptions on the stones in minute Greek characters bear
witness to the presence of Constantine’s soldiers stationed here under
the command of the Florentine Giuliani to defend the citadel; they were
evidently executed on the day preceding the fall of Constantinople,
and the poor fellows, reconciled to death for themselves, request only
that Heaven may preserve their city from pillage and their families
from slavery. One of the two towers flanking the rear of the Golden
Gate is the dungeon tower, in which the sultan used to confine
ambassadors from those countries with which he was at war: a number
of Latin inscriptions may be seen upon the walls traced by the hands
of the prisoners, the most recent being those of the Venetian envoys
confined during the reign of Ahmed III., when the Morean War broke out.
The other is that far-famed tower around which cluster all the most
horrid traditions of the castle--that tower within whose gloomy walls
were perpetrated countless deeds of blood and treachery, where viziers
and once-powerful ministers raised their last prayers to Heaven for aid
while the steps of the executioner were without the door, or, driven
crazy by loneliness and despair, beat their heads against the stones.
In one of these living sepulchres stood the great mortar in which the
bones and flesh of the ulemas were pounded: on the first floor is the
circular room, called the Bloody Prison, where the condemned were
secretly beheaded and their heads thrown down a well called the Well
of Blood, whose mouth may still be seen in the centre of the uneven
floor covered with two slabs of stone. Beneath is the so-called Rocky
Cavern, lighted by a lantern hung from the roof, where the skin of
those sentenced to be tortured was cut into strips, or boiling pitch
poured into the wounds left by the lash, and their hands and feet
pounded with clubs, the agonized shrieks of these victims rising faint
and muffled to the ears of the prisoners in the tower above. In one
corner of the enclosure portions remain of the inner courtyard, where
common criminals were beheaded by night, near to which there stood
until comparatively recent times a wall of human bones reaching nearly
to the ramparts of the castle. Near the entrance is the prison of Osman
II., the first imperial victim of the vengeance of the Janissaries.
Here the unhappy sultan, only eighteen years of age, his strength
redoubled by despair, held his four executioners at bay until the hand
of one cowardly ruffian, seizing him unawares, elicited a piercing cry,
quickly choked by the fatal noose.

Throughout all the towers, and parts of the walls themselves, is a
network of dark corridors, secret stairways, low, ponderous doors
secured with heavy bars and beams, beneath which many a haughty head
of pasha or chamberlain, governor or imperial prince, has bent for the
last time, hurled in the flower and vigor of youth from the height of
power and success to a dark and ignominious death, their life-blood
often staining the castle-walls, while their wives, arrayed in their
richest robes, wondered as they sat expectantly amid the splendors
of the harem why their lord delayed his coming. Along those narrow
passage-ways reeking with moisture, down those steep, uneven stairs,
soldiers and executioners with blood-stained hands have passed by
night, guided by the uncertain rays of a lantern, or messengers from
the Seraglio bringing a faint tantalizing gleam of hope to some poor
wretch or else the final “No” of the Sultan, and dead bodies with
staring eyes and the horrible silken cord still hanging from the neck
been carried in the arms of panting sciaus, exhausted with their long
silent struggle in the dim, uncertain light with the fury born of

[Illustration: View from Interior of the Seven Towers.]

At the opposite end from Stambul, on the Seraglio Hill, was that
terrible Tribunal of the Court, and hard by it the huge executioner’s
machine, surmounted by seven great stone gallows, to which living
victims were transported by sea and land to be offered up beneath the
moon, and brought forth again into the sunlight, mere heads and trunks;
from the heights of the tower beside it, in which he was to die, the
lonely prisoner could see by night the brilliant lights of the Seraglio
where the imperial kiosks were all illuminated for a fête. It gives
one a positive sensation of pleasure to see that infamous pile so
transformed, as though all its victims, unable to revenge themselves
on man, had come to life again on purpose to rend and tear it with
teeth and nails. The mighty monster, decrepit and disarmed, gapes with
its hundred mouths of ruined doorways and disused loopholes, a mere
empty scarecrow, while rats, snakes, and yellow scorpions eat like
worms at its very vitals and swarm through its great spent body, and
an insolent vegetation decks it out as if in mockery with leafy
garlands and radiant bloom. After glancing in through several doorways,
and seeing nothing but flying troops of rats, I mounted a grass-grown
stair leading to one of the curtains on the western side, whence a view
can be had of the entire building--a vast extent of ruined towers and
battlements, stairways and ramparts, dark red or blackened with age,
surrounding a mass of vivid green, and beyond them more towers and
battlements, stretching on, on, on, belonging to the eastern walls of
Stambul; so that by half closing the eyes one seems to be looking out
over one prodigious abandoned fortress outlined against the blue waters
of the Sea of Marmora: to the left a large part of Stambul is visible,
cut up into long, winding streets, disappearing from view in the
direction of the ancient triumphal way of the Byzantine emperors, which
led from the Golden Gate by the forums of Arcadius and Constantine
all the way to the royal palace. This broad and smiling view threw
the dark, forbidding pile at my feet into sharp contrast. Leaning
there against one of the battlements, warmed by the sun, bathed in the
flood of vivid light, I gazed for a long time at the great uncovered
sepulchre below with something of the same hesitating curiosity with
which one looks at the scene of a recently-committed crime: everywhere
there reigned a profound stillness; big lizards slid across the walls;
below, in the ditch, a toad might occasionally be seen hopping about,
and above the tower ravens were flying and cawing to each other.
Clouds of insects rose from the damp ruins and buzzed around my head,
and presently, as a light breeze stirred the air, my nostrils were
saluted with the horrible odor of a dead horse thrown in the moat
outside. A feeling of loathing and abhorrence seized me, yet I seemed
rooted to the spot, as though detained there by magic. A dull sense of
drowsiness crept over me; through the death-like noonday hush and the
monotonous buzzing of the insects I seemed to hear the splash of each
head as it fell into the Well of Blood; muffled dying cries rose from
the dungeons, and the voice of Brancovano’s younger son shrieking,
“My father! my father!” as he felt the halter about his neck; and,
being weary and half blinded by the glare, my eyes gradually closed,
and as I lost consciousness for a moment all these frightful fancies
crowded into my brain with terrifying distinctness. Fortunately, at
that instant I was aroused by a clear, piercing cry, and looking down I
saw the muezzin of the castle mosque standing upon the balcony of the
little minaret. That voice, so solemnly sweet, so tranquil, speaking
to man of his God, heard in that spot and at that moment, stirred me
to the very depths of my being: it seemed to proclaim in the name of
all who had died within those walls that their sufferings had not been
for nothing; that their tears had been caught, their miseries been
rewarded; that since they had forgiven it became us to do the same;
and that prayer and utter trust in God, even though the whole world
may forsake you, are indeed the only paths to peace, while all outside
the infinite love and pity is but worse than vain. And then, moved and
touched, I left the castle.

Taking the road again and skirting the walls of Stambul, I walked
toward the sea, passing close by the Adrianopolis station. Here
several railroad lines cross each other, and I found myself among a
number of long strings of dusty, travel-stained-looking cars. No one
was in sight, and had I been one of those fanatic Turks hostile to
all European innovations, I might easily have set fire, one after
another, to all those cars, and then proceeded leisurely on my way
quite unmolested. Starting to walk along the track, I expected every
moment to hear the cry of some guard or other warning me off the
premises, but nothing of the sort happened, and before long I reached
the end of the land-walls, where I supposed I would be able to enter
Stambul. In this, however, I was doomed to disappointment. The sea- and
land-walls join each other on the shore without any sign of gateway;
so, climbing a ruined mole which runs out into the water at this point,
I seated myself on a large stone and proceeded to look about me. In
front lay the Sea of Marmora, beyond which rose the mountains of Asia,
and farther still the blue heights of Skutari, looking very far away
indeed. The shore was utterly deserted, and I seemed to occupy the
universe alone. The waves broke at my feet, dashing their spray up into
my face. I sat there for some time, turning over all manner of vague
fancies in my mind: first, I saw myself come out of the Caligarian
Gate and proceed slowly down the deserted road between the towers and
cemeteries--a lonely figure, which I followed with some curiosity as
though it had been some one else; then I amused myself with trying to
trace out Yunk through the mazes of the great city; then I watched the
waves as one after another they broke upon the shore with a murmuring
sound, and one after another melted away in silence, seeing in them
a figure of all those peoples and armies which from age to age had
successfully hurled themselves against the walls of Byzantium. The
phalanxes of Pausanius and Alcibiades, the legions of Maximus and
Severus, the Persian bands and hordes of Avars, and the Sclavs, Arabs,
Bulgarians, and Croats, the armies of Michael Palæologus and Comnenus,
and those of Bayezid Ilderim, of the second Murad, and of Muhammad the
Conqueror, vanished one after another into the infinite silence of
death, until I felt the same vague, oppressed sensation of melancholy
as that which swept over the soul of Leopardi in the “_Sera del di’
di Festa_” when the solitary song of the laborer died away little
by little, speaking to him with the voice of the ancient peoples,
reminding him that everything on earth must pass away like the shadow
of a dream.

Returning thence by the way I had come, I entered the city through the
gate of the Seven Towers, in order to skirt along the entire outer edge
of Stambul on the shore of the Sea of Marmora. To tell the truth, I
was pretty well tired out by this time, but on these long excursions
which have some settled object a kind of dogged obstinacy usually comes
to the rescue and revives one’s flagging energies. I can see myself
now, walking, walking, walking along that lonely high-road, beneath
the burning sun, in a sort of waking dream crowded with familiar Turin
friends, characters in novels, views of distant countries, and vague
reflections upon human life and the immortality of the soul, and,
crowning them all, the round dinner-table of the Hôtel de Byzance,
brilliant with crystal and lights, afar off on the heights of a city
many times the size of Stambul, and already half buried in the shades
of evening. Crossing a large Mussulman quarter, apparently uninhabited,
and which breathed something still of the sadness and desolation of the
Castle of Seven Towers, I came to the vast Psamatia quarter, inhabited
by Greeks and Armenians, also quite deserted and forlorn. A long,
winding, wretched-looking street, from which the black battlemented
walls could be seen below on the right standing out against the water’s
vivid blue, brought me to the Psamatia Gate, emerging from which I
again found myself in a Mussulman quarter, among grated windows,
closed doors, little mosques, walled gardens, moss-grown cisterns,
and abandoned fountains. I crossed the open space formerly the Cattle
Forum: below me, on the right, was the same unbroken line of wall
and tower, tower and wall, around me the same solitude and apparent
desertion; occasionally a dog would stop and eye me suspiciously, or a
youngster seated on the ground stare at me round-eyed, revolving some
piece of impertinence in his mind, or the sudden opening and shutting
of a window close by reveal for an instant a hand or the edge of a
woman’s sleeve. Making a circuit around the large Vlanga gardens, which
surrounded the ancient Theodosian Gate, I came upon a vast tract of
desolate-looking ground showing traces of a recent fire. Then the city
seemed to fade and die away in spots and melt into country. Dervish
convents, Greek churches, and queer little open squares broke up the
line of the streets; occasionally an old Turk would be seated beneath
the shade of a great plane tree, dozing with the mouthpiece of the
narghileh clasped between his fingers. Proceeding on my way, I came to
a Turkish café, and stopped to get a glass of the water which I could
see displayed in the window, but, after calling and knocking for some
time in vain, I gave it up and went on.

Next I came to the Greek quarter of Yeni Kapu, then to another
Mussulman quarter, then back again among the Greeks and Armenians of
the Kuni Kapu quarter, but all the time never losing sight of the dark
battlements and blue sea on my right, and never meeting any living
creatures but dogs, beggars, and boys. At last the voice of the muezzin
sounded through the lonely streets announcing the hour of sunset, and
before long the shadows began to deepen and evening set in, but still
the never-ending succession of little houses, melancholy mosques,
ugly, deserted streets, and the dark openings of side lanes and byways
continued, until I began to feel my strength giving out, and was just
on the point of deciding to throw myself down on the mat before the
next café I came to, when, quite unexpectedly, the huge mass of St.
Sophia loomed up before me through the gloom. Oh joyful sight! My
spirits rose at once, my strength revived, and, quickening my steps, I
soon reached the harbor, crossed the bridge, and, behold! there before
the brightly illuminated entrance to the principal café of Galata, were
Yunk, Rosasco, Santoro, all my little Italy, coming to meet me with
beaming faces and outstretched hands; and I heaved as long and deep a
sigh of satisfaction as ever filled the lungs of a tired, hungry man.


At Granada one feels as though his sightseeing had hardly begun until
he has been to the Alhambra, and it is the same way at Constantinople
so long as the interior of the Old Seraglio has not been explored.
Twenty times a day, wherever you may be on sea or land, that hillside
covered with vivid green starts into view, tantalizing you with
suggestions of what it has to disclose, forcing itself upon your
attention, riveting the mind upon itself when you would fain think of
other things--an unsolved enigma, a haunting mystery, which gives you
no peace until at last you yield and go there before the appointed day,
more to have done with it than for the purpose of enjoying the sight.

There is, in fact, not another spot of earth in Europe whose mere
name calls into life such an extraordinary mixture of awful and
pleasing associations, about which so much has been talked and thought
and written and guessed, which has given rise to so many vague and
contradictory rumors--been the object of so much insatiate curiosity,
of so many stupid mistakes and extravagant tales. Now-a-days any one
can go there, and many who do so come away quite unimpressed; but of
one thing we may be quite certain, and that is that when centuries
shall have elapsed, when possibly the Ottoman power will be only a
memory in Europe, and that exquisite hill be crowned by the busy
streets of a new and populous city, no traveller will pass through them
without seeing again, in fancy, the imperial kiosks of former days,
and thinking enviously of us in the nineteenth century who can still
behold the speaking, breathing records of that storied habitation of
the Ottomans. Who knows how many archæologists will concentrate their
painstaking research upon the identification of a doorway or portion of
a wall discovered in the courtyard of some modern building--how many
poets will break forth into verse over a few heaps of stones scattered
along the shore? On the other hand, it may be that hundreds of years
from now those walls will still be jealously preserved, and scholar,
lover, and artist, flocking to see them, that strange picturesque
life which was led there for four hundred years be resuscitated and
spread over the entire surface of the globe in hundreds of volumes and

It is not owing to any architectural beauty that the interest of the
whole world is directed toward the Seraglio. Unlike the Alhambra, it
is not a great artistic monument: the Court of the Lions alone in the
Arabian palace is worth all the kiosks and towers of the Turkish one
put together. No, the value of the Seraglio lies wholly in its great
historic interest: it illustrates and gives life to almost the entire
history of the Ottoman dynasty; upon its walls and the trunks of its
century-old trees are engraved the most secret and intimate records
of the empire. Nothing but the period covered by the past thirty[E]
years and the two centuries preceding the conquest of Constantinople
are wanting to complete the chronicle. From Muhammad II., who laid
its foundations, to Abdul-Megid, who abandoned it to take up his
residence in the palace of Dolmabâghcheh, twenty-five sultans have
dwelt there. Hardly had the dynasty conquered its European metropolis
when it planted its foot upon this spot; here it climbed to the apex
of its glory, and here its decadence began. It was at once a palace,
a fortress, and a sanctuary; here was the brain of the empire and
the heart of Islamism; it was a city within a city, an imposing
and magnificent stronghold, inhabited by a people, guarded by an
army, embracing within its walls an infinite variety of buildings,
pleasure-grounds, and prisons, city, country, palaces, arsenals,
schools, offices, and mosques, where fêtes, executions, religious
ceremonies, love affairs, state functions, and wild revels succeeded
one another with startling rapidity; here sultans were born, elevated
to the throne, deposed, imprisoned, strangled; here were woven the
tangled webs of every conspiracy that threatened the empire; here
resounded the hoarse cry of every popular tumult; hither flowed the
purest gold and bluest blood of the Turkish dominions; here was
wielded that shining blade that flashed above the heads of a hundred
different peoples; and upon this spot, for nearly three centuries, was
concentrated the gaze of uneasy Europe, suspicious Asia, and cowering
Africa, as upon some smoking crater which threatened at any moment to
overflow and engulf the whole earth.

    [E] This was written in 1874.--TRANS.

This huge royal residence is situated upon the most eastern of
Stambul’s seven hills, the one which inclines gently to the edge of
the Sea of Marmora, the mouth of the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn.
It is the site formerly occupied by the Acropolis of Byzantium, a part
of the ancient city and one wing of the great imperial palace, and
is by far the most beautiful hill in Constantinople, as well as the
promontory most favored by nature of the whole European shore. Here
converge as to a common centre two seas and two straits; to this spot
led all the great military and commercial high-roads of Eastern Europe;
torrents of water poured into it through the aqueducts constructed by
the Byzantine emperors; the hills of Thracia protect it from the north
winds; the sea bathes it on three sides; Galata watches over it from
the harbor; Skutari mounts guard from across the Bosphorus; and
the snow-crowned heights of Bithynia close in the Asiatic horizon.
Standing alone at the extreme end of the great metropolis in an almost
isolated position, in its beauty and strength it seems formed by nature
to act as the pedestal of a great monarchy, and to encircle and screen
the life of those princes who were half gods.

[Illustration: Panorama of the Seraglio.]

The entire hill is surrounded at its base by a high battlemented wall
flanked by massive towers. On the sides toward the Sea of Marmora and
the Golden Horn this is identical with the city wall. On the land side
it was erected by Muhammad II., and shuts the Seraglio Hill off from
that one on which the mosque of Nûri Osmaniyeh stands. Describing a
right angle near the Sublime Porte, it passes in front of St. Sophia,
and then, making a wide outward curve, joins the walls of Stambul
on the shore. This is the outer enclosure of the Seraglio. Properly
speaking, what is meant by the Seraglio is only that part which
occupies the summit of the hill, shut in behind high walls of its
own--the central redoubt, as it were, of the great fortress of the hill.

It would be, however, nothing but wasted time and energy to enter into
a detailed description of this spot such as it is at present. The
railroad crosses its outer walls; a disastrous fire destroyed many of
the buildings in 1865; the gardens are largely despoiled of their
beauty; hospitals, barracks, and military schools have been established
within its precincts; and of the old buildings which are still standing
many have been either so altered or their original function so changed
that, although the most salient features still remain, and one finds
the outline of the Old Seraglio clearly defined, yet the number and
nature of the minor alterations and the abandonment and neglect of the
past thirty years have so changed the character of the whole place that
it would be impossible to render a faithful description of it as it now
appears without disappointing even the most modest expectations.

It will, then, be better for his sake who writes, as well as his who
reads, to describe this famous Seraglio such as it was at the most
glorious period of the Ottoman power.

Any one who in those old days--say from a lofty tower or one of the
minarets of St. Sophia--could take in the entire Seraglio Hill must
have enjoyed a sight of extraordinary beauty. Framed by the deep blue
of the sea, the Bosphorus, and the harbor, with their semicircle of
white sails, arose the great green mass of the hill, girdled by walls
and towers and crowned by guns and sentinels. From the centre of this
forest of lofty trees, through which innumerable footpaths glistened
and flower-beds flaunted their gay colors, rose the vast rectangle
of the Seraglio buildings, divided into three large courtyards, or
rather little towns, built around three irregular squares, whose roofs
showed in a confused, many-colored mass--terraces filled with flowers,
gilded cupolas, white minarets, airy pinnacles of kiosks, great arched
doorways, alternating with gardens and groves, and half buried in
foliage. It was a little white metropolis, glittering, irregular, light
as an encampment of tents, through which there breathed a spirit at
once voluptuous, pastoral, and warlike. In one part it was all life and
movement, in another silent and deserted as a necropolis; here open and
bathed in sunlight, there plunged in perpetual gloom and hidden from
human gaze. A thousand zephyrs fanned it, while its unending succession
of contrasting lights and shadows, its brilliant coloring, and subdued
tints of blue and gray were alike reflected in its marble buildings and
tiny lakes, above which soared flocks of doves and swallows.

Such was the external aspect of the imperial city, not, perhaps, so
very large to the eye of one overlooking it from above, but within
so divided and subdivided, so intricate and irregular, that servants
familiar with its inner courts for upward of fifty years would still
grow confused and take the wrong turn, and the Janissaries when they
invaded it for the third time again lost their way.

The principal entrance then, as now, was the Bâb-i-Humayûn, or Imperial
Gate, opening on the little square in which stands the fountain
of Sultan Ahmed, back of St. Sophia. It is a lofty portal of white
and black marble, richly adorned with arabesques and crowned by a
high superstructure with eight windows and a spreading roof, the
architecture being that mixture of the Arabian and Persian styles by
which almost everything erected by the Turks in the years immediately
following the conquest can be so readily distinguished, before they
began to copy the Byzantine architecture around them. Above the
entrance, on a marble scroll, are the inscriptions of Muhammad II.:
“May Allah preserve the glory of its possessor for ever! May Allah
strengthen its buildings! May Allah establish its foundations!”[F]
Before this gate the populace of Stambul used to assemble in the
morning to see which of the great men of the court or state might have
been decapitated during the previous night, it being customary in such
cases to either suspend the heads in the niches which may still be seen
almost intact to right and left of the entrance, or else place them in
a silver basin, with the accusation and sentence exhibited alongside,
the bodies of those victims who were sentenced to be strangled being
thrown out into the square. Here detachments of troops from far-off
armies awaited the necessary permission to enter the outer court
bearing their victorious trophies and heaping on the imperial threshold
arms, flags, the skulls of vanquished enemies, and magnificent uniforms
stained with blood.

    [F] The present gate is built upon the site of (but is not) the
        original gate of Muhammad II.--TRANS.

The entrance was guarded by a powerful band of _kapuji_, the sons of
beys and pashas, gorgeously arrayed, who, from the windows and summits
of the towers overlooked the continual procession of people coming and
going below, or held back with their great cimeters the silent curious
throng collected without in the hope of catching, through some crack, a
fleeting glimpse of the courtyard, a brief view of the second gateway,
a suggestion at least of that enormous and mysterious abode which was
the object of so much conjecture and dread. Passing by, the devout
Mussulman would pause to murmur a prayer for his sublime lord; the
poor and ambitious youth picture to himself the day when he too might
possibly cross that threshold to receive the horse-tail; the pretty
ragged little maid of the street dream gorgeous dreams, not unmixed
with hope, of the splendid existence of a kadyn; and the relatives
of state victims avert their heads and shudder; while throughout the
entire square a strict silence was observed, broken only three times a
day by the muezzin’s voice on St. Sophia.

From the Humayûn Gate one enters the so-called Court of the
Janissaries, which was the first enclosure of the Seraglio. This large
courtyard is still surrounded by various long, irregular buildings and
shaded by groups of trees, among the latter of which the huge plane
tree of the Janissaries is conspicuous with its mighty trunk, which
the outstretched arms of ten men cannot span. On the left as you enter
stands the church of St. Irene, founded by Constantine the Great, and
converted into an armory by the Turks; all around stood the Seraglio
hospital, the treasury, the orange storehouses, imperial stables,
kitchens, the barracks of the kapuji, the mint, and the residences of
high officials of the court. Beneath the plane tree may still be seen
the two small stone pillars which mark the spot where public executions
took place. Through this enclosure every one had to pass on his way
either to the Divân or the presence of the Pâdishah: it was like a
great open anteroom, always crowded with people and filled with bustle
and confusion. In the enormous kitchens two hundred cooks with their
assistants presided over a hundred and fifty ovens, preparing all
the food consumed by that vast family “who ate the bread and salt of
the Grand Seignior,” while opposite crowds of guards and attendants,
feigning illness, tried to gain admission to the luxurious and
sumptuous hospital, in which twenty physicians and an army of slaves
were kept constantly employed. Long files of mules and camels brought
provisions for the kitchens, or arms taken from victorious battlefields
to the church of St. Irene, where, with the sword of Muhammad II., was
that of Skanderbeg and the armlet of Tamerlane. Tax-collectors went by,
followed by slaves laden with gold for that treasury which already,
according to Sokolli, grand vizier under Suleiman the Magnificent,
contained money enough to pay for the construction of an entire fleet
of vessels, with silken rigging and anchors of silver; and handsome
Bulgarian grooms led up and down the nine hundred horses of Murad
IV., which fed out of mangers of solid silver. All day long there was
a never-ceasing flash and glitter of gorgeous uniforms. Here towered
the high white turbans of the Janissaries, and there the heron-quills
of the _solaks_ or silver helmets of the _peiks_; members of the
sultan’s guard lounged about in their golden tunics fastened about
the waist with jewelled belts; the _zuluftu-baltagé_, employed under
the officials of the bed-chamber, could be distinguished by the tuft
of wool hanging from their caps; the _kasseki_ carried their wands
of office, and the _balta-gi_ their axes; while the grand vizier’s
pages were furnished with whips ornamented with silver chains. Then
there were members of the _bostangi_, or guards of the gardens, in big
purple caps--the _courageous guard_, the _impetuous guard_, archers,
lancers, treasury guards, a countless variety of colors and devices;
white eunuchs and black, esquires, and sciaus; tall, ponderous men,
whose haughty bearing savored of the atmosphere of the court, while
their scented garments filled the air with heavy perfume. Confused and
disorganized as this vast throng may have appeared to the onlooker,
it was, in reality, governed by a strict and minute schedule. Every
individual who came and went through that courtyard was something
like an automaton, moved about on a board by an unseen but powerful
mechanism. At daybreak there arrived the thirty muezzins of the court,
selected from among the sweetest singers in Stambul, who on their way
to announce the sunrise from the minarets of the Seraglio mosques
would encounter parties of astronomers and astrologers descending
from lofty terraces where they had passed the night in studying the
heavenly bodies with a view to determining what hours would be most
propitious for the Sultan’s various undertakings. Next to arrive would
be the head physician of the Seraglio to inquire touching the health
of his lord, and after him a member of the _ulema_ charged with the
religious instruction of his illustrious pupil. Next the private
secretary would come to read all the petitions received in the course
of the preceding day. Professors of the arts and sciences passed
through on their way to instruct the imperial pages, and one after
another, each at his appointed hour, every individual in the personal
service of the Grand Seignior presented himself to receive the orders
for the day. The _bostangi-basci_, general of the imperial guard and
governor of the Seraglio and of all the Sultan’s villas scattered
along the shores of the Bosphorus and Propontis, came to inquire if
his mighty lord proposed to make an expedition by water, as in that
case to him belonged the honor of steering, and to his _bostangi_
that of rowing, the boat. The master of the hunt, head falconer, and
chiefs of the vulture, white falcon, and hawk-hunt came to inquire
the Pâdishah’s will. Then all the superintendents of the kitchens,
storehouses, mint, and treasury, and the superintendent-general of the
city, arrived, each one in his appointed order, with his memoranda,
his set speech, his train of servants, and his distinctive style
of dress. Later, the viziers of the cupola, followed by a crowd of
secretaries and hangers-on, would be seen on their way to the Divân,
while every grade of official, up to the very highest, would alight
from horse or chair or carriage at the second gate, beyond which no one
was permitted to go except on foot. In some way the position, rank,
or office of every individual in all that great crowd was so plainly
indicated as to be instantly distinguishable. The shape of the turban,
fashion of the sleeves, quality of the furs, color of the facings,
ornamentation of the saddle, the wearing of moustaches only or of a
beard in addition,--each and all gave the clue, and there was not the
smallest room for confusion or mistake. The _mufti_ were dressed in
white, the viziers in pale green, the chamberlains in scarlet; dark
blue indicated one of the six chief justices, the chief of the _emirs_,
and the judges of Mecca, Medina, and Constantinople; the head _ulema_
wore violet, the _murdâs_ and _sheikhs_ light blue, while pale sky-blue
denoted a feudal _sciaù_ or vizier’s _agha_; deep green was reserved
for the aghas of the imperial staff and sacred standard-bearers; Nile
green was the uniform of the imperial stables; generals of the army
wore red shoes, officials of the Porte yellow, members of the _ulema_
turquoise-blue. To all this careful scale of color exactly corresponded
the degree of reverence shown in the obeisances. The _bostangi-basci_,
chief of the Seraglio police force and commander of an army of jailors
and executioners, the mere sound of whose name or echo of whose
footfall spread terror and consternation, strode across the courtyard
between two ranks of heads bowed to the very earth; the chief eunuch
and grand marshal of the court, both internal and external, approached,
and down went all those turbans, plumes, and helmets as though struck
by a hundred invisible hands. The grand almoner made his progress
amid a flutter of obsequious bows. Every one in personal attendance
upon the Sultan--such as the master of the stirrup, who assisted him
to mount; master of the bed-chamber, who brought him his sandals; the
_silidar agha_, who cleaned his armor; the white eunuch, who licked the
pavement before spreading out his lord’s rug; the page, who poured
out the water for his ablutions; he who handed him his arquebuse
during the hunt; and those who had charge of his turbans and robes of
black fox skin and dusted off his jewelled plumes--were the objects of
special curiosity and veneration. A subdued murmur of voices preceded
and followed the passage of the _imâm_ of the court, and the grand
master of the wardrobe, who was charged with the distribution of money
among the people during the imperial fêtes; while envious glances
followed that fortunate Mussulman to whose lot it fell every ten days
to shave the head of the Sultan of sultans. The crowd fell back with
marked alacrity before the head surgeon, who circumcised the imperial
princes; the chief oculist, who prepared washes and unguents for the
eyelids of the _kadynas_ and odalisques; and the grand master of the
flowers, whose life was passed in carrying out the capricious fancies
of a hundred spoiled beauties, and who carried beneath his caftan his
diploma of poetry ornamented with gilded roses. The head cook received
his adulatory greetings, while smiles and salutations were showered
upon the keeper of the nightingales and parrots, to whom the doors of
the most secret kiosks were thrown open.

It was a vast hierarchy, composed of thousands of persons, subject to
a ceremonial filling fifty volumes, and clad in an endless variety of
picturesque costume, which thronged the great courtyard, intermingling
and separating every moment. From time to time all the heads would
turn to look after the hurrying form of a special emissary: now it
was the vizier _khara khulak_, despatched by the Sultan to hold a
secret consultation with the grand vizier; now a kapuji, hastening to
the palace of a pasha fallen under suspicion to acquire his instant
attendance before the Divân; or the _bearer of good tidings_ on his
way to announce to the Pâdishah the safe arrival of the great caravan
at Mecca. Other special messengers employed between the Sultan and
chief officials of the state, each one distinguished by a title and
some peculiarity of attire, would traverse the space cleared before him
by the crowd at a run, and disappear through one or other of the two
gateways. Files of _kahveji_ (coffee-bearers) passed through to the
kitchens; troops of imperial huntsmen bending beneath the weight of
their gilded gamebags; porters laden with rich stuffs preceded by the
Grand Merchant, purchaser for the Sultan; and bands of galley-slaves
led by other slaves to perform the heavier kinds of work in the
Seraglio,--all could be seen intent upon their several duties. Twice
daily the doors of the kitchens opened to emit processions of scullions
bearing huge pyramids of rice, and sheep roasted whole, which they
distributed among the guards and attendants scattered about beneath
the plane trees, under the arcades, and all along the walls, so that
the great courtyard presently assumed the festive appearance of an
encampment of the army holding a revel. By and by the scene would
change, and now it was a foreign ambassador who would make his stately
progress between _two walls of gold and silk_ to that presence to
which, as Suleiman the Magnificent wrote to the Shah of Persia, “flowed
the entire universe.” Side by side with ambassadors from Charles V.
were those of Francis I.; envoys from Hungary, Servia, and Poland
entered with representatives of the Genoese and Venetian republics.
The _peskesdgi-basci_, who received all the gifts, would go as far as
the Bâb-i-Humayûn to meet the foreign caravans, and return, amidst the
curious gaze of thousands of spectators, accompanied by elephants with
gold thrones on their backs, enormous gazelles, lions in cages, Tartary
horses, and steeds of the desert laden with tiger-skins or shields made
out of elephants’ ears; envoys from Persia brought vases of costly
porcelain, and those from the sultans of India golden boxes filled
with jewels; African kings sent rugs made out of the skins of young
camels torn from their mothers’ bodies, and pieces of silver brocade
which the backs of ten slaves could barely carry; and ambassadors from
northern kingdoms brought gifts of rare furs and valuable weapons.
After a successful campaign conquered generals, laden with chains,
would be led through for exhibition before the Pâdishah, and captive
princesses veiled and followed by their mournful little company of
disarmed and helpless attendants; eunuchs of all colors and ranks,
seized as spoils of war or offered as gifts to the victorious princes;
and in the mean time officers of the conquering army crowded to the
treasury doors to deposit rich booty in the shape of sabres studded
with pearls and magnificent brocades taken in the sack of some Persian
city, the gold and jewels of the vanquished Mamelukes of Egypt, cups
of gold found among the treasures of the chevaliers of Rhodes, statues
of Diana and Apollo brought from Greece and Hungary, and the keys of
conquered cities and strongholds; and others still, led the youths
and maidens stolen from the isle of Lesbos into the inner court. All
the enormous quantities of stores of every description brought to the
Seraglio from the various ports of Africa, Morea, Caramania, and the
Ægean Sea were either received between those walls or flowed through
them to the inner courts, and an army of majordomos and clerks were
kept constantly occupied in registering what was brought, giving
receipts, paying out money, and arranging audiences. Merchants from the
slave-markets of Brusa and Trebizond would await their turn to enter
with poets come from Bagdad to recite their verses in the presence of
the Sultan. Governors fallen into disgrace, bearing basins full of
gold coins wherewith to purchase pardon, stood side by side with the
messenger of a pasha bringing a beautiful girl of thirteen, found,
after months of careful search, in a cabin in Anatolia, as a present
to the Grand Seignior, and with them emissaries returned from the
farthermost confines of the empire, tired little family groups just
arrived from some far-off province to seek justice at the hands of
their lord, and women and children of the lowest orders in Stambul come
to present their grievances before the Divân. On those days when the
Divân was to hold its sessions ambassadors from rebel provinces would
be seen passing slowly through the curious and mocking crowd, mounted
upon asses, with shaven faces and women’s caps upon their heads, or
the too insolent envoys of some Asiatic prince with their noses split
open by the cimeters of the _sciaùs_. Sometimes state officials would
pass out bearing a magnificent shawl which they were to take to a
distant governor as a present from the grand vizier, quite unconscious
that their own death-sentence was concealed within its folds. Now the
radiant face of some ambitious schemer showed that his plots had been
so far successful, and a _sanjak_ was his, while the pallid countenance
of another proved all too plainly that he had heard in the Divân the
first dark rumors of approaching disgrace. Messengers went by with
those inexorable _hattiscerifs_ which they were to carry in their
saddle-croups three hundred miles for the purpose of spreading ruin and
death through the palace of a viceroy, and those terrible court-mutes
sent to strangle illustrious prisoners in the subterranean dungeons of
the Castle of Seven Towers. Crowds of _beys_, _mollahs_, and _emirs_
passed back and forth, to and from audiences, with bent heads, eyes on
the ground, and hands hidden in their big sleeves; viziers who made
it a habit to carry a copy of the Koran about with them, so as to be
prepared at a moment’s notice to read the office of the dead; the
despotic grand vizier, constantly shadowed by an executioner, who never
went abroad without a copy of his will concealed somewhere about his
person, so as to be ready to face death at any moment.

And all of them maintained the most perfect decorum, passing by with
measured steps and serious mien, either silent or else conversing
only in undertones and in such circumspect and correct language as
was suitable to the sacred precincts of the Seraglio. There was a
constant interchange of grave, scrutinizing looks; hands were laid on
the forehead or breast, and momentary breaks occurred in the murmured
conversations--a discreet rustling and patter of slippers and long
cloaks, a subdued clanking of cimeters, a something monastic and
mournful, which contrasted strangely with the haughty, warlike faces,
pompous coloring, and splendid armor seen on all sides. In every eye
could be read the reflection of the same ruling idea, on every brow
was written the awe and dread of a single man, high above them all,
wielding an absolute power over each and every one of them, and before
whom all were ready to bow down, cringe, crawl, efface themselves; it
seemed as though every object bore the imprint of his image, every
sound carried the echo of his name.

From this court the Bâb-el-Selam,[G] Gate of Health, gives access to
the second court. It is still standing intact, flanked by two massive
towers, and can only be passed even now on presenting a firman or order
from the Sultan. Formerly the great doors which shut it on either side
enclosed a space between them which was used as a chamber of execution,
where persons could be detained and secretly despatched. The cell of
the executioner was just below, and communicated by secret passage-ways
with the hall of the Divân. Persons of rank who had incurred the
displeasure of the Divân would be detained there while awaiting their
sentence, which not infrequently was first made known to them by being
carried out. At other times a suspected governor or vizier, summoned
to the Seraglio on some pretext or other, came, passed unsuspiciously
beneath that sinister roof, entered the council hall, and, being
received with benevolent smiles or such mitigated severity as laid his
fears to rest, would pass tranquilly forth again, to suddenly feel a
knife beneath his shoulders or a cord about his neck, and sink to the
ground without seeing any one or being able so much as to make one
effort at resistance. At the sound of his dying cry a hundred heads
in the outer court would turn quickly, but in an instant every one
would have resumed his occupation in perfect silence. Presently the
head would be carried out to the Bâb-i-Humayûn, the body thrown to the
ravens on the shore near St. Stephen’s, the news sent to the Sultan,
and the whole matter be finished.

    [G] The name of this gate is the Orta Kapu, or Middle

To the right and under the roof can be seen the small iron doorway of
the chamber into which those victims were cast whose death-sentence
had been recalled just in time, or others whose agony it was wished to
prolong or who were to be sent into exile instead.

Passing beneath the gateway, you enter the second court, and begin to
breathe more unmistakably the sacred atmosphere which surrounded the
lord “of the two seas and two worlds.” Entering there for the first
time, one pauses involuntarily on the threshold, held back by feelings
of awe and veneration and fear. It was a huge, irregular courtyard, a
sort of enormous open hall, surrounded by graceful buildings with gold
and silver domes: here and there were groups of tall trees, while two
avenues crossed each other, flanked by great cypresses. All around it
ran a low gallery, supported on graceful marble columns and protected
by a spreading roof covered with lead. To the left as you enter was
the hall of the Divân, surmounted by a glittering dome, and beyond
it the reception chamber, before which stood six huge columns of
Marmora marble supporting a wide roof with undulating border. Bases
and capitals, walls, roofs, doorways, arches, all were embossed,
carved, chiselled, painted, and gilded, and as light and graceful
as pavilions made of lace and encrusted with gems, while a group of
superb plane trees cast their shadows over it all. On the other side
were the apartments where the robes of state were kept, the archives,
the tents, the residence of the chief of the black eunuchs, and the
kitchens of the court. Here was to be found that intendant on whom far
more devolved than on one of the ministers of state, under whom were
employed fifty sub-lieutenants and a whole army of cooks, supplemented
on great occasions by chefs collected from every corner of the empire.
On the days of the Divân, dinner was served here for all the viziers,
and, when such functions as imperial weddings or circumcisions were
in progress, were prepared those far-famed pastry gardens, sugar
swans, giraffes, falcons, and camels; and roasted sheep from which
flocks of birds issued, to be carried later on in great pomp to the
Hippodrome square; here too were manufactured those sweetmeats of every
conceivable form and flavor designed to melt away in the thousand
greedy little mouths of the harem. On fête-days eight hundred workmen
swarmed close by the kitchens, occupied in getting out the Sultan’s
tents and those of the harem, which they were to erect all about the
Seraglio gardens and on the hillsides overlooking the Bosphorus;
and when even these apparently inexhaustible storehouses gave out,
pavilions were constructed from the sails of the fleet, and cypress
trees taken up by the roots from the gardens of the imperial villas.

The residence of the chief eunuch near by was a small royal palace in
itself, between which and the third court flowed a constant stream
of black eunuchs, slaves, and servants. Foreign ambassadors passed
through on their way to the reception-chamber of the Sultan, and then
the gallery would be hung from one end to the other with scarlet cloth,
while the walls and pavements were as polished and glittering as the
floor of a room. Two hundred Janissaries, spahis, and silidars, members
of the Divân guard, would stand drawn up in the shade of the cypress
and plane trees, dressed and armed like princes, while troops of
white and black eunuchs, perfumed and anointed, flanked the entrance.
Everything within this second enclosure indicated the vicinity of the
Grand Seignior: voices were pitched in a lower key, steps were more
measured, and all noises which indicated labor or toil, and the sounds
of horses’ hoofs, were rigorously banished. Soldiers and servants alike
went back and forth in silence, and a certain sanctuary-like stillness
reigned over the entire courtyard, broken only from time to time by
the sudden cry of a bird winging its way among the high branches of the
trees or the resounding clang of the great iron doors being swung to by
the kapuji.

The only one of the buildings in this court visited by me was the hall
of the Divân, which is almost precisely as it was in the days when the
deliberations of the chief assemblage of the state were held within its
walls. It is a large, vaulted apartment, lighted from above by small
Moorish windows, lined with marbles, covered with gold arabesques, and
without other furniture save the long divan upon which the members of
the council took their seats. Directly above the grand vizier’s place
may still be seen the small window covered with a gilded lattice from
behind which first Suleiman I., and after him all the other pâdishahs,
took part unseen, or at all events were supposed to take part, in the
sessions.[H] A secret passageway led from this hidden recess to the
imperial apartments in the third enclosure. Here the great assembly,
composed of all the chief ministers of the empire, met five times a
week, presided over by the grand vizier. It was a most impressive
sight: facing the entrance sat the grand vizier, and near him the
viziers of the dome, the _kapudan pasha_, or chief admiral, the two
chief justices of Anadoli and Rumili, representing the judiciary of
the provinces of Asia and Europe; on one side the imperial treasurers,
on the other the _nisciandgi_, whose duty it was to affix the Sultan’s
seal to all decrees; beyond, to the right and left, two long lines
of ulemas and chamberlains, and in the angles the sciaùs to whom
were assigned the duties of bearing the orders and despatches of the
assembly and carrying out the sentences, and who were trained to
comprehend at once the exact significance of every look and gesture.
Before this gathering the boldest quailed and the most innocent began
to fearfully interrogate their own consciences. Every one sat with
immovable countenance, crossed arms, and hands concealed in the folds
of his garment; from overhead a flood of pale golden light fell upon
the white turbans, long beards, rich furs, jewelled dagger-hilts, and
motionless figures of the council, lending them a death-like pallor,
as though a row of statues had been dressed and colored in imitation
of life. Thick matting muffled the footfall of all who came and went,
heavy perfumes filled the air from the rich furs of the ministers, and
the green branches of the trees in the court without were reflected
in the polished marbles of the walls, while from time to time the
silence was broken by bursts of melody from the birds, which echoed
and re-echoed beneath the gilded roof. All the surroundings of that
awful tribunal were graceful, charming, delicate. One at a time the
different voices of the members could be heard, subdued, monotonous,
like the murmur of a brook, so that the accused, standing erect in the
centre of the hall, would not know even from which particular mouth
the sounds issued. A hundred great eyes were fixed with penetrating
scrutiny upon a single face, whose every shade of expression was noted,
and every smallest word that dropped from whose lips was taken account
of. The deepest, most hidden secrets of the heart were guessed from a
change of countenance. Sometimes the death-sentence would be pronounced
in a few calm words after long dialogues carried on in subdued tones
and listened to in sepulchral silence; or, again, it would fall
suddenly, unexpectedly, like a clap of thunder, having its echoes in
the passionate remonstrances of a tortured soul in its supreme moment,
cut suddenly short when, at a sign from the vizier, a cimeter would
descend, cleaving the skull in twain and staining the marbles and
matting with blood. Aghas of spahis and Janissaries would fall to the
earth, thrust through with daggers; governors and _kaimacan_ sink with
staring eyes, the noose drawn tight about their necks. In a few moments
the body would have been laid beneath the plane trees with a green
cloth thrown over it, the blood have been wiped up, the air perfumed
afresh, and, the executioner having returned to his post, the council
would resume its deliberations with countenances unmoved, hands still
concealed, and unruffled, monotonous voices, while from the little
Moorish windows above the same long, slanting rays of pale yellow light
fell upon the same white turbans and black beards. It was those haughty
judges’ turn to tremble, however, when, the Divân having incurred the
displeasure of Murad IV. or the second Selim by some of its measures,
the gilded grating which concealed the imperial recess was suddenly
heard to resound beneath the furious fist of their supreme lord; even
then, after a long and profound silence, during which terrified eyes
furtively took counsel of one another, the deliberations were resumed
in solemn tones and with impassive faces, but their icy fingers
trembled beneath the great sleeves and their souls they commended to
the mercy of God.

    [H] The sultans sat behind this lattice when giving audience to
        foreign ambassadors.--TRANS.

At the end of this second courtyard, which may be called, in a certain
sense, the diplomatic court of the Seraglio, stood the third gate,
flanked by marble columns and covered by a wide, overhanging roof,
before which, night and day, a troop of white eunuchs and a band
of kapuji, armed with sabres and daggers, stood on guard. This was
the famous Bâb-i-Sâdet, or Gate of Felicity, leading to the third
and innermost enclosure--that sacred portal which for nearly four
centuries remained obdurately closed to every Christian who was not the
representative of a reigning sovereign or a state; that door at which
the supplicating curiosity of thousands of celebrated and influential
travellers has knocked in vain; that door from out of which flowed,
to spread abroad through every country on the surface of the earth,
so many wild and fantastic and romantic tales, so many strange and
mournful rumors, so many recitals of love and adventure and shadowy
whispers of intrigues and dark conspiracies--so many volumes of poetry,
voluptuous, fantastic, and horrible. It was the sacred threshold of
the sanctuary of the king of kings, whose name was only pronounced
by the common people with bated breath and feelings of secret awe
and terror, as though it were the portal leading to some region of
enchantment, passing which a profane mortal might suddenly find himself
turned to stone or else behold sights which human language would be
powerless to express--a door, in short, before which even now the most
matter-of-fact, unimaginative traveller pauses with some slight feeling
of awe, while his incredulous glance rests upon the lengthened shadow
of his own stiff hat as it falls athwart the heavy half-closed doors.

And yet even this sacred precinct was not respected by the mad billows
of military revolt. Indeed, it may be said that this particular corner
of the great courtyard, situated between the hall of the Divân and the
Bâb-i-Sâdet, is the precise spot in which the blind fury of rebellion
has committed some of its most daring acts of insubordination. The
vicar of God sometimes beheld that gleaming sword with which he ruled
the world turned against himself, and that despotism which so jealously
guarded every approach to the Seraglio was the very same which, on
occasion, violated its most secret recesses. Once the dazzling blades
of the cimeters were withdrawn from around that threatening colossus,
it was easily seen upon how fragile a support its power rested. Armed
hordes of Janissaries and spahis, pounding down the first and second
doors with clubs, poured through in the dead of night, waving lighted
torches and brandishing on the points of their gleaming blades the
names of those ministers upon whom they were determined to wreak
their vengeance, while their fierce shouts, reaching far beyond those
invulnerable walls, spread terror and dismay in the very innermost
recesses of their sovereign’s abode. In vain were bags of gold and
silver coins thrown down from the summits of the walls; in vain did
terrified muftis, sheikhs, ulemas, and all the most powerful and
influential members of the court plead, reason, implore, promise, try
by every means their fears or ingenuity could suggest to lower those
brawny arms rigid with rage and fury; in vain the validéh sultans, half
dead with fright, appeared at the grated windows holding up to view
their little innocent children. The blind beast with a thousand heads
was unchained, and nothing would satisfy it but living human victims,
flesh to tear, blood to pour out, heads to carry stuck on the points
of spears; and then the Sultan would appear in person between the
battlements, even adventure as far as the barricades of the gateway,
surrounded by trembling eunuchs and terrified pages armed with useless
daggers, and, one by one, plead for each victim, promising, weeping,
begging for mercy in the name of his mother, his sons, the Prophet,
for the glory of the empire, the peace of the world; but nothing would
avail. A fresh outburst of insults and threats, a waving of torches and
brandishing of cimeters, was the only response to all entreaties; and
so at last forth from the Gate of Felicity were led ministers, viziers,
generals, eunuchs, favorites, one after another, cowering, shrieking,
swooning with terror, and on the instant were torn in pieces by the
howling pack, hacked by a hundred blades, trodden underfoot, mangled
past recognition. Thus Murad III. surrendered his favorite falconer
to be torn in pieces before his very eyes, as did Muhammad III. the
kislaraghà Otman, and Ghaznèfer, chief of the white eunuchs, being
moreover forced to salute the troops in the actual presence of their
bleeding and mutilated corpses. And Murad IV. cast down the shrinking
form of his grand vizier, Hafiz, into which seventeen daggers were
instantly buried to the hilt, while Selim III. sacrificed his entire
ministry to the fury of the mob; and then, as these weak pâdishahs
returned to their own apartments beside themselves with shame and
impotent rage, the triumphant rebels paraded the streets of Stambul,
the lights from thousands of torches falling upon the torn and bleeding
bodies of their victims dragged in brutal exultation in their midst.

The Gate of Felicity, like the Bâb-el-Selam, is a sort of passageway
out of which one issues directly into that mysterious enclosure, the
abode of the “brother of the sun.”

For my description to be effective, or for it to give a really good
idea of the character of this part of the Seraglio, it should have
a running accompaniment of subdued music full of sudden breaks and

This small enchanted city, with its strange, confused architecture,
whimsical, graceful, charming, was buried in a forest of great plane
trees and cypresses, whose mighty branches stretched far above the
roofs, casting their thick shade over an intricate labyrinth of gardens
filled with roses and verbenas, courtyards reached by small, heavy
doorways, and narrow streets flanked by rows of pavilions and Chinese
kiosks. Footpaths led off under the trees to little lakes fringed with
myrtle, in whose sparkling bosoms were reflected tiny white mosques and
the silver domes of buildings built to resemble temples and cloisters,
connected by covered galleries and long files of airy columns, and
wooden roofs, inlaid and painted, overhanging arabesqued doorways,
and flights of stairs leading to balconies furnished with carved
balustrades. In every direction were long, dim perspectives, through
which fountains could be seen sparkling in the distance, while glimpses
of marble arch and column and terrace alternated with broad views
of the Sea of Marmora, two shores of the Bosphorus, the harbor, and
Stambul, all framed in by the deep green of the pines and sycamores;
and spreading above this paradise that wonderful sky.

The buildings had been added on to one another without any settled plan
or design, just as the needs or whims of the moment might dictate,
both imposing and flimsy, like a stage-setting, and fairly bristling
with secret passage-ways and hidden chambers, planned by a childish
jealousy which, unseen itself, desired to see and hear everything.
Although swarming with life, this little imperial city looked almost
deserted upon the surface, as though the contemplative, pastoral
character of the ancient Ottoman princes still brooded over the abode
of their descendants--an encampment of stone, which, with all its
pomp and splendor, still brought to mind that other one of canvas of
the wandering tribes of Tartary; a great, spreading royal residence
composed of a hundred little princely dwellings hiding behind one
another, combining something of the confinement and melancholy of a
prison with the decorum of a temple and the gay abandonment of the
country. Before this spectacle, so full of princely magnificence and
fantastic ingenuity, the new-comer pauses to ask himself what country
he lives in or if he has fallen into another world.

This was the heart of the Seraglio, whence all the arteries of the
empire drew their life, and to which all its veins led back.

The first building you see on entering is the throne-room, which
is open to visitors. It is a small square edifice, surrounded by a
beautiful marble portico, entered through a richly ornamented doorway
flanked by two charming fountains. The roof is covered with gold
arabesques, and the walls are lined with slabs of marble and faïence
set in a symmetrical design: in the centre is a marble fountain, and it
is lighted by means of lofty windows of stained glass. At the farther
end stands the throne, fashioned like a great bedstead, covered by
a canopy edged with pearls and supported on four slender columns of
gilded copper, ornamented with arabesques and precious stones, and
surmounted by four golden balls and crescents, from which horses’
tails--the emblem of the military power of the pâdishahs--are suspended.

Here the supreme lord held his solemn receptions of state in the
presence of the assembled court, and here at the feet of the
newly-installed Sultan were thrown the bodies of his brothers and
nephews murdered to secure his reign from plots and conspiracies. My
first thought on entering that room was of the nineteen unfortunate
brethren of Muhammad III. The sound of the guns which announced their
father’s death to Europe and Asia was heard in their prisons as well,
where it meant the death-knell of them all, and soon after the Seraglio
mutes threw them in one ghastly heap at the foot of the throne:
young and old, it made no difference--some babies whose golden heads
rested upon the sturdy chests of grown men, while even grizzled locks
flowed over the pavement beneath the feet of boys of ten or twelve,
rough prison caftans and muslin swaddling-bands all alike enwrapping
stiffened limbs and staring faces. What rivers of blood have been
reflected in those polished marbles and beautiful porcelains in this
spot where the savage fury of Selim II., of Murad IV., of Ahmed I.,
and of Ibrahim burst all bounds, and they stood exulting witnesses of
their victims’ agonies! Here viziers have been beaten down and trodden
under foot by the sciaùs, their brains dashed out beneath the marble
fountain, and governors conducted all the way from Syria or Egypt, tied
to an agha’s saddle, to have their heads struck off at last; any one
whose conscience accused him did well to turn on this threshold and bid
an everlasting farewell to the blue sky and beautiful hills of Asia,
while he who came forth alive greeted the sunshine with the feelings of
a man who had just escaped death.

The throne pavilion is not the only building to which the public is
now admitted. On coming out from thence we pass through a number of
flower-gardens and courtyards surrounded by small buildings and Moorish
archways supported upon slender marble columns. Here stood the college
where the imperial pages received such instruction as should fit them
for the highest offices of the state and court, and their princely
residences and recreation halls; troops of servants waited upon them,
and their masters were selected from among the most gifted and learned
men of the empire. In the centre stood the library, consisting of a
row of graceful Saracenesque kiosks with open peristyles; one of these
is still standing, and is chiefly noticeable for its great bronze
door ornamented with reliefs in jasper and lapis lazuli and covered
with marvellous arabesques of foliage, stars, and figures of every
conceivable device, so intricate and so delicately executed as to
hardly seem like the work of mortal hands. Not far from the library
stands the treasury, glistening with tiles, once the repository of
fabulous riches, consisting for the most part of weapons seized by, or
presented to, victorious sultans, and preserved by them as curiosities;
but Muhammad II., who prided himself upon his skilful penmanship, left
his inkstand studded with diamonds to the collection. The greater part
of these treasures have now passed, converted into gold coins, into the
coffers of the public treasury, but in the great days of the empire
this pavilion contained a glittering array of Damascus cimeters whose
hilts were solid masses of pearls and precious stones; huge pistols,
their handles studded with as many as two hundred diamonds; daggers,
a single one of which was worth a year’s tribute from an Asiatic
province; massive silver and steel clubs, whose hand-pieces were of
solid crystal, all chased and gilded; and among them the jewelled
aigrettes of the Murads and Muhammads, the agate goblets in which once
sparkled the wines of Hungary at imperial banquets, cups hollowed out
of a single turquoise which once graced the tables of shahs of Persia,
necklaces of Caramanian diamonds the size of walnuts, pearl-studded
belts, saddles overlaid with gold, rugs glittering with gems; so that
the whole building seemed to be on fire and one’s sight and reason
alike became dazed. A little farther on, in the middle of a lonely
garden, is the famous “cage” in which, from the fourth Muhammad’s[I]
time on, those of the imperial princes whose liberty seemed to offer a
menace to the peace of the throne were kept in confinement, until, on
the death of the reigning monarch, the shouts and acclamations of the
Janissaries should call one of them to succeed him, or the appearance
of the executioner warn them to prepare for death. It is built in the
form of a small temple, with massive walls unbroken by windows, and
lighted from above. Against the single door, made of iron, a heavy
stone was always rolled. Here Abdul-Aziz passed the few days which
elapsed between his downfall and death. Here the Caligula of Ottoman
history, Ibrahim, met his horrible and wretched end, and his image
is the first which rises to confront the visitor as he pauses at the
entrance to that necropolis of the living. The military aghas, having
torn him from the throne, dragged him hither like any common criminal,
and imprisoned him with two of his favorite odalisques. After the first
wild paroxysms of despair he grew resigned. “This doom,” said he, “was
written upon my forehead; it is the will of God.” Of all his great
empire and that vast harem, the scene for so many years of such acts of
mad folly, nothing remained to him but a prison-cell, two slaves, and
the Koran. Believing his life, at all events, to be safe, his mind was
at rest, and he even cherished a hope that his boon-companions of the
barracks and taverns of Stambul might bring about a popular reaction
in his favor. But, unfortunately, if he had forgotten that admonition
in the Koran, “When there are two khalifs, kill one of them,” the
muftis, their memories jogged by the aghas and viziers, had not. And
so it came to pass that he sat one day upon a mat in a corner of his
prison reading aloud from the Koran to the two slaves who stood erect
before him, their arms crossed upon their breasts; he wore a black
caftan fastened about the waist with a tattered scarf, and upon his
head a red woollen cap, while a ray of pale light falling from above
upon his face showed it to be wasted and waxen, but composed. Suddenly
there was a dull, hollow noise without, and, leaping to his feet as the
door opened, he confronted a sinister group upon the threshold whose
significance he understood at once. Raising his eyes to a small grated
balcony extending out from the wall near the roof, he could distinguish
the impassive faces of a group of muftis, aghas, and viziers upon which
his doom was plainly written. Beside himself with terror, he poured out
a torrent of prayers and supplications: “Mercy! mercy for the Pâdishah!
spare my life! If there be any among you who have eaten my bread, save
me now in God’s name! You, Mufti Abdul-rahim, be careful of what you
are about to do; you will see very soon that people are not all blind
and stupid. I will tell you now that Insuf-pasha advised me to have
you executed for a traitor, and I refused, and now you want to kill
me! Read the Koran, as I am doing; read the word of God, and see how
ingratitude and injustice are condemned! Let me live, Abdul-rahim!
Life! life!”

    [I] It was during the reign of Muhammad III., 1595-1603, that
        the custom of confining the imperial princes in the kafess,
        or cage, was first introduced.--TRANS.

The trembling executioner raised his eyes inquiringly toward the
gallery; but a hard, dry voice was heard issuing from among those calm
faces as unmoved and devoid of all expression as so many statues.
“Kara-ali,” it said, “perform your duty.” The executioner at once
attempted to seize Ibrahim by the shoulders, but he, uttering a loud
shriek, flung himself into a corner behind the two slaves. Kara-ali,
assisted by the sciaùs, however, threw the women aside, and again laid
hold of the Pâdishah. There was an outburst of curses and maledictions,
the sound of a heavy body being thrown violently to the ground, a
piercing cry which ended in a dull rattle, and then profound silence. A
bit of silken cord had launched the eighteenth sultan of the house of
Osman into eternity.

Other buildings, in addition to the ones already described and those
of the harem, were scattered here and there throughout the woods
and gardens; as, for instance, the baths of Selim II., comprising
thirty-two vast apartments, a mass of marbles, gilding, and painting,
and every variety of kiosk, round and octagonal, surmounted by domes
and fantastic roofs, and enclosing rooms lined with mother-of-pearl and
decorated with Arabian inscriptions. In every window hung a parrot’s
or nightingale’s cage, and the light streamed through stained-glass
panes in floods of blue or rose color. In some of these kiosks the
pâdishahs were wont to have the _Thousand-and-One Nights_ read aloud
to them by old dervishes; in others the little princes would receive
their first lessons in reading with appropriate solemnities. There
were little kiosks designed for meditation, and others for nocturnal
meetings; nests and graceful little prison-houses erected and destroyed
in obedience to some passing fancy, and commanding the most exquisite
views of Skutari empurpled by the setting sun, or the Olympus bathed
in silver by the rays of the moon, while the soft winds from the
Bosphorus, heavy with perfume, made the golden crescents tremble and
sway from the summit of each slender pinnacle.

At last we come to where, in the most retired part of the harem, stands
the Temple of Relics, or _apartment of the robes of state_. It was
built in imitation of the Golden Room of the Byzantine emperors, and
closed with a door of silver. Here were preserved the mantle of the
Prophet, solemnly exhibited once a year in the presence of the entire
court, his staff, the bow enclosed in a silver case, the relics of the
Kaaba, and that awful and highly venerated standard of the Holy War
enveloped in no less than forty silken wrappings, upon which should
any infidel be daring enough to fix his eyes, he would be struck with
instant blindness as from a stroke of lightning. All the most sacred
possessions of the race, the most precious belongings of the royal
house, the most valuable treasures of the empire, were preserved in
that retired spot, that little veiled shrine toward which every portion
of the huge metropolis seemed to converge, as a vast multitude turns
to prostrate itself in adoration before some common centre.

In one corner of the third enclosure, that one where the shade of the
trees was thickest, the murmur of the fountains most musical, the
twittering of the birds loudest, rose the harem, like a little separate
district of the imperial city, composed of a great number of small
white buildings surmounted by leaden domes, shaded by orange trees and
umbrella pines, and divided from one another by little walled gardens
overrun with ivy and eglantine and interspersed with footpaths covered
with tiny shells laid out in mosaic patterns, which wound out of sight
among roses, ebony, and myrtle trees. Everything was on a small scale,
enclosed, divided up, and subdivided, the balconies roofed, windows
grated, loggias hidden behind rose-colored hangings, the windows of
stained glass, doors barred, and streets open at one end only. Over
all there brooded a soft twilight, the freshness of the forest, and
a dreamy sense of mystery and calm. Here lived and loved, suffered
and obeyed, all that great female family of the Seraglio, constantly
changing and being reinforced. It was like some large conventual
establishment whose religion consisted in pleasure, and whose god was
the Sultan. Here were the imperial apartments; here dwelt the kadyns,
those four members of the imperial harem who had a recognized position
and rank, each one with her own kiosk, her little court, her state
officials, her barges hung with satin, her gilded coach, her eunuchs
and slaves, and her _slipper-money_, which consisted of the entire
revenue of a province. Here too dwelt the validéh sultan with her
innumerable court of _ustàs_, divided into companies of twenty, each
one charged with a special duty, and all the female relatives of the
Sultan, aunts, sisters, daughters, nieces, who, with the royal princes,
formed a court within the court. Then there were the _gheduelùs_,
the twelve most beautiful of whom, having each her special title and
duty, were selected for personal attendance upon the Sultan; and the
_shaghirds_, or novices, undergoing the necessary course of instruction
in order to fit them for the vacant posts among the _ustàs_; and a
swarm of slaves gathered from all lands, of every shade of complexion
and type of beauty; carefully selected from among thousands of others,
who filled the hive-like compartments of that huge gynæceum with a rush
and stir of eager, radiant youth, a hot breath of Asiatic and African
voluptuousness, which, mounting to the head of the god of the temple,
expended itself in his fierce passions throughout the entire empire.

[Illustration: A Turkish Woman.]

What associations are connected with the trees of those gardens and the
walls of those little white kiosks! How many beautiful daughters of
the Caucasus, the Archipelago, the mountains of Albania and Ethiopia,
the desert and the sea, Mussulman, Nazarene, idolator, conquered by
pashas, bought by merchants, presented by princes, stolen by corsairs,
have passed like shadows beneath those silver domes! Can these be the
selfsame walls and gardens amid which Ibrahim, his head crowned with
flowers, his beard glittering with jewels, committed his mad acts of
folly--he who raised the price of slaves in every market in Asia, and
caused Arabian perfumes to increase to double their usual value; which
witnessed the frantic orgies of the third Murad, father of a hundred
sons, and of Murad IV., worn out by excesses at the age of thirty-one,
and which re-echoed to the delirious ravings of Selim II.? Here were
celebrated those strange nocturnal revels when ships and vases of
flowers were traced in fiery outlines upon the domes and trees and
roofs, their dancing flames reflected in innumerable little mirrors
like a great burning flower-garden. Crowds of women pressed around the
bazârs overflowing with precious objects, while eunuchs and slaves
went through the swaying measures of the dance half hidden in clouds
of burning spices and perfumes, which the breezes from the Black Sea
wafted over the entire Seraglio, and accompanied by strains of barbaric
and warlike music.

Let us try to bring it all to life again, just as it appeared on some
soft April day during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent or the
third Ahmed.

The sky is clear, the atmosphere heavy with the odors of spring,
the gardens a mass of bloom. Through the network of paths still wet
with dew black eunuchs wearing gold-colored tunics and slaves clad
in garments of every hue carry baskets and dishes covered with green
cloths back and forth between the kitchens and the various kiosks.
Ustàs of the validéh, coming hurriedly out of the little Moorish
doorways, run against the Sultan’s _gheduclùs_, passing by with haughty
mien and followed by novice slaves carrying the imperial linen. All
eyes follow the youngest of all the _gheduclùs_, the cup-bearer, a
Syrian child, singled out by Allah, since she has found such favor
in the eyes of the Grand Seignior that he has bestowed upon her the
title of “_daughter of felicity_,” and the sable mantle will follow
so soon as she shall have given signs of approaching maternity. In
the distance the Sultan’s jesters are playing in the shade of the
sycamores dressed in harlequin costumes, and with them a number of
dwarfs with huge turbans on their heads, while beyond them, again,
half concealed by a hedge, a gigantic eunuch with a slight movement
of head and hand directs five mutes charged with the duty of carrying
out punishments to present themselves before Kizlar-aghàsi, who needs
them for a secret affair. Youths of an ambiguous beauty and clad in
rich feminine-looking garments run and chase one another among the
borders of a garden shaded by a single huge plane tree. At another
place a troop of slaves suddenly pause, and, separating in two lines,
bow low before the khasnadâr, superintendent of the harem, who returns
their greetings with a stately wave of her staff adorned with tiny
silver blades and terminating in the imperial seal. At the same moment
a door opens, and out comes one of the _kadyns_, dressed in pale blue
and enveloped in a thick white veil. She is followed by her slaves,
and is on her way to take advantage of the permission obtained from
the superintendent on the previous day to play at battledore and
shuttlecock with another _kadyn_. Turning down a shady alley, she meets
and exchanges soft greetings with one of the Sultan’s sisters going to
the bath accompanied by her children and maid-servants. At the end of a
sequestered path a eunuch stands before the kiosk of another _kadyn_,
awaiting permission to admit a Hebrew woman with her wares consisting,
though not entirely, of precious stones. She has only obtained the
right of entrance to the imperial harem after endless wirepulling
and scheming, and now carries concealed among her jewels more than
one secret missive from an ambitious pasha or daring lover. At the
extreme end of the harem enclosure the hanum charged with the duty
of examining slaves for admission is looking for the superintendent
to inform her that the young Abyssinian brought in the day before
is, in her opinion, worthy of being admitted among the _gheduclùs_,
if a tiny lump on the left shoulder-blade may be overlooked. In the
mean time, the twenty nurses of the little princes born in the course
of the current year are assembled beneath a high arbor in a pasture
planted with myrtles; a group of slaves play upon flutes and guitars
surrounded by a party of children, dressed in blue velvet and crimson
satin, who jump and dance about or scramble merrily for the sugarplums
which the validéh sultan throws from a neighboring terrace. Up and down
the shady avenues pass teachers of music, dancing, and embroidery, on
their way to give instruction to the _shaghirds_; eunuchs carrying
great platters heaped with sugar parrots and lions and sweetmeats of
various fantastic shapes; slaves clasping vases of flowers or rugs in
their arms, the gifts of a _kadyn_ to a sultana or the validéh, or
from the validéh to a granddaughter. Presently the treasurer of the
harem arrives, accompanied by three slaves, and wearing the look of
one who has welcome news to communicate. Sure enough, word has been
received that the imperial ships sent to intercept a fleet of Genoese
and Venetian galleys came up with them twenty miles from the port of
Sira, and succeeded in buying up the entire cargo of silk and velvet
for the Pâdishah’s harem. A eunuch, arriving breathless to announce to
a trembling sultana that her son’s circumcision has been successfully
accomplished, is followed by two others bearing upon silver and gold
dishes to the mother and validéh respectively the instruments used
by the surgeon. There is a continual opening and shutting of doors
and windows, a raising and dropping again of curtains, that messages,
letters, news, gossip may pass in and out.

Any one whose gaze could have pierced through those different roofs and
domes would have looked upon many a contrasting scene. In one apartment
a sultana, leaning against the window, gazes mournfully between the
satin curtains at the blue mountains of Asia, thinking, possibly, of
her husband, a handsome young pasha, governor of a distant province,
who, in accordance with a certain practice, had been torn from her arms
after six short months of happiness, so that he might have no sons. In
another small room, entirely lined with marble and looking-glasses, a
pretty fifteen-year-old _kadyn_, who expects to receive a visit from
the Pâdishah during the day, is frolicking with the slaves who are
engaged in perfuming and anointing her, setting off her charms to the
very best advantage, and raising little flattering choruses of delight
and surprise at every fresh revelation of her beauty. Youthful sultanas
run up and down the walled gardens, chasing each other around gleaming
marble basins filled with goldfish, and making the shells with which
the paths are laid rattle beneath their tiny flying feet encased in
white satin slippers; others, shrinking back in the farthest corner
of darkened rooms with pale set faces and averted looks, seem to be
brooding over some act of despair or revenge. In one apartment, hung
with rich brocades, children who from the hour of their birth have
been condemned to death nestle upon satin cushions striped with gold
beneath walls of mother-of-pearl; beautiful princesses lave their
shapely limbs in baths of Paros marble; _gheduclùs_ lie stretched full
length upon rugs fast asleep; groups of slaves and servants and eunuchs
pass back and forth through covered galleries and dim corridors and
secret stairways and passages; and everywhere curious faces peering
from behind grated windows, mute signs interchanged between terrace
and garden, furtive signals from behind half-drawn curtains, low
conversations carried on in monosyllables in the shadow of a wall or
archway, broken by a ripple of half-suppressed laughter, followed by
the swish of feminine garments and patter of flying slippers dying away
among those cloister-like walls.

But lovers’ intrigues and childish escapades were not the only
pursuits which occupied the time and attention of the occupants of
that labyrinth of gardens and temples. Politics crept in through the
cracks of doors and between window-bars, and the power exercised
there by beautiful eyes over affairs of state was not one whit less
far-reaching than in any other royal palace of Europe; indeed, the very
monotony and seclusion of the life led by the inmates gave an added
force to their jealousies and ambitions. Those little jewel-crowned
heads from their perfumed and luxurious prisons bent the court, the
Divân, the entire Seraglio, to their will. By means of the eunuchs they
were enabled to hold direct communication with the muftis, viziers,
and the aghas of the Janissaries, and, as they were allowed to have
interviews with the administrators of their personal property from
behind a curtain or through a grating, they had opportunities of
keeping themselves thoroughly informed as to every minutest detail of
the court and city, knew what especial dangers threatened them, and
were perfectly familiar with the name and character of every official
from whom they had anything to hope or fear. Thus equipped, they move
with a sure hand and infinite patience all the tangled threads of those
conspiracies by which they compassed the overthrow of their enemies
and the elevation of their especial favorites. Every department of the
court, every corner of the empire, had a root, a hundred roots, in
the harem, nourished in the hearts of the validéh sultan, the sisters
of the Pâdishah, the _kadyns_ and odalisques. There was a continual
plotting and scheming for the education of this one’s son, the marriage
of that one’s daughter, to secure a dowry, to obtain precedence at
the fêtes, or the royal succession for one of the princes--to bring
about war or peace. The whims of these spoiled beauties sent armies
of thirty thousand Janissaries and forty thousand spahis to strew
the banks of the Danube with dead bodies, and fleets numbering a
hundred sails to dye the blue waters of the Archipelago and Black Sea
with blood. European princes provided themselves with letters to the
harem in order to ensure the success of their missions. Little white
hands assigned the government of provinces and positions of rank in
the army. It was the caresses of Roxalana which drew the noose about
the necks of the viziers Ahmed and Ibrahim, and the kisses of Saffié,
the beautiful Venetian, “pearl and shell of the khalifate,” that
maintained for so many years friendly relations between the Porte and
the Venetian republic. Murad III.’s seven _kadyns_ ruled the empire for
the last twenty years of the sixteenth century, while the beautiful
Makpeiker, “image of the moon,” the _kadyn_ of the two thousand seven
hundred shawls, held undisputed sway over two seas and two worlds
from the reign of Ahmed I. to the accession of the fourth Muhammad.
Rebia Gulnuz, the odalisque of the hundred silver carriages, ruled
the imperial Divân for the first ten years of the latter half of the
seventeenth century, and Shekerbuli, the “_little lump of sugar_,” kept
the sanguinary Ibrahim travelling back and forth between Stambul and
Adrianople like an automaton to suit her own ends.

[Illustration: Gateway of the Imperial Palace at the Sweet Waters of

What opposing interests, what an intricate web of jealousy, suspicion,
intrigue, and petty ambition, must have been drawn close about
that omnipotent and voluptuous little city! Wandering up and down
those paths and alley-ways, I seemed to hear all about me the
murmur of female voices, now rising high and shrill, now dying
away in the distance--expostulations, questionings, explanations,
supplications--the entire secret chronicle of the Seraglio; and a
varied and curious one it must have been, treating of such questions
as--which of the _kadyns_ had been chosen by the Sultan to accompany
him in the summer to his kiosk at the Sweet Waters; what dot the
Pâdishah’s third daughter, who was to marry the grand admiral,
would have; if it were really true that the herbs procured by the
superintendent Raazgié from the magician Sciugaa for the third
_kadyn_, childless these five years, had been the cause of her having
a son; if it were settled that the favorite, Giamfeda, was to have
the governorship of Caramania for the governor of Anatoli. From one
kiosk to another the news flew that the first _kadyn_ had a child,
and that the new grand vizier, in order to outshine his predecessor,
had presented her with a cradle of solid silver set with emeralds;
that the Sultan’s favorite was not the slave sent by the governor
of Caramania at all, but the one presented by the Kiaya-harem: that
the chief of the white eunuchs was about to die, and that in order
to obtain the long-coveted position the young page Mehemet was to
sacrifice his manhood: it was whispered about that the plan
proposed by the grand vizier Sinau for a canal in Asia Minor was to be
abandoned, so that the progress of the work on the new kiosk building
for Baffo Sultan might not be kept back; that _kadyn_ Saharai, who
was thirty-five years old, had been crying her eyes out for the past
forty-eight hours for fear she was going to be put in the Old Seraglio;
that the buffoon Ahmed had sent the Sultan off into such a hearty
fit of laughter that he had made him an agha of Janissaries on the
spur of the moment. And then there would be thousands of choice bits
of gossip and news to exchange in connection with the approaching
nuptials of Otman Pasha with Ummetulla Sultan, when a bronze dragon
was to vomit fire in the At-Meidan; and about the validéh sultan’s
sable robe, whose every button was a jewel valued at a hundred golden
scudis; or the new carriage of _kadyn_ Kamarigé, “moon of beauty;” or
the tribute from Wallachia; or the little blood-colored rose found on
the neck of the _Shamas-hirusta_, care-taker of the Sultan’s linen;
or the pretty, curly, golden hair of the Genoese ambassadress; or the
wonderful letter written with her own hand by the first wife of the
Shah of Persia in reply to one sent her by Sultana Khurrem, “_the
joyous one_.” All the news received in the city, every topic discussed
by the Divân, every rumor afloat in the Seraglio, was talked over
and commented upon in each individual kiosk and garden among groups
of busy, inquisitive little heads. Anonymous madrigals written by
pâdishahs were passed about from mouth to mouth--the independent
and melancholy verses of Abdul-Baki, the _immortal_; the sparkling
poems of Abu-Sud, whose “every word was a diamond;” Fuzuli’s songs,
redolent of wine and opium; and the licentious verses of Gazali. The
whole character and life of the place, however, would change according
to the tastes of the reigning Pâdishah. Now a current of tenderness
and melancholy would creep across the face of that little world,
leaving the imprint of a certain gentle dignity upon every brow;
the passion for ease and luxury would subside; morals and customs
undergo a process of reformation; language become purified; a taste
for devotional reading, meditation, and religious exercises come into
fashion; the very fêtes themselves, although conducted upon the same
scale of royal magnificence, assume more the character of gay but
dignified ceremonials. And then a prince ascends the throne trained
from infancy in every form of vice and dissipation, and immediately
the scene changes: the god of self-indulgence regains his kingdom;
veils are thrown back, noisy laughter, free language, and shameless
immodesty prevail; messengers travel the length and width of Georgia
and Circassia in search of beauty; a hundred slaves boast of the Grand
Seignior’s preference; the kiosks are crowded, the gardens overrun with
children; the public treasury pours out rivers of gold; the wines of
Cyprus and Hungary sparkle on flower-bedecked tables; Sodom raises its
head, Lesbos is triumphant; faces lit up by great black eyes become
paler and more wasted; the entire harem--mad, fevered, glutted with
self-indulgence, intoxicated with the fumes of that heavy, sensual
perfumed air, awakes one night dazed and helpless to find itself
confronted by the vengeance of God under the form of the flashing
cimeters of the Janissaries. It was indeed too true that those nights
of horror fell upon the little flower-imbedded Babylon as well. Revolt
respected that sacred third enclosure no more than it did the other
two, and, beating down the Gate of Felicity, poured even into the harem
itself. A hundred armed eunuchs, fighting desperately with daggers at
the doors of the kiosks, beheld the Janissaries climb upon the roofs
and break open the cupolas, from whence, leaping into the rooms below,
they tore the infant princes from their mothers’ arms; validéhs were
dragged feet foremost from their hiding-places, fighting furiously
with teeth and nails, to be overpowered finally, pinned to the floor
by a _baltagi’s_ knee, and strangled with the silken cords of the
window-curtains. Sultanas returning to their apartments would utter a
piercing shriek at sight of the empty cradle, and, turning wildly to
interrogate their slaves, read the answer in an ominous silence, which
meant, “Go seek your son at the foot of the throne.” Terrified eunuchs
would bring word to a favorite, whom the sound of distant tumult had
already rendered uneasy, that her head was demanded by the mob, and
she must at once prepare for death. The third Selim’s three _kadyns_,
condemned to the noose and sack, were aroused one after another in the
dead of night and heard each other’s screams, dying in the darkness
in the convulsive grasp of the mutes. Vindictive jealousy and bitter
revenge filled the kiosks with tragedies and spread terror and dismay
throughout the entire harem. The Circassian mother of Mustafa tore
Roxalana’s face; rival favorites cuffed and boxed Shekerbuli; Tarkan
Sultan beheld the dagger of Muhammad IV. flash above the head of her
offspring; the first _kadyn_ of Ahmed I. strangled the slave who
dared to be her rival with her own hands, and in her turn fell at the
Pâdishah’s feet stabbed in the face and uttering shriek on shriek of
rage and pain. Jealous _kadyns_ lay in wait for one another in dark
passage-ways, flinging out the insulting words “bought flesh” as they
pounced like tigresses and tore their victims’ skin or buried poisoned
stilettos in their backs. Who can form any idea of the number of secret
unrecorded tragedies?--slaves held in the fountains until they were
drowned, struck down by a blow on the temple from a dagger-hilt, beaten
to death by the eunuch’s _colbac_, or crushed in the deadly embrace and
arms of steel of a dozen jealous furies. Veils choke the cries of the
dying, flowers cover up the blood-stains, and two dusky figures, moving
down the dimly-lighted path, carry a sinister something between them.
The sentinels pacing up and down upon the battlements which overlook
the Sea of Marmora are startled for a moment by the sound of a heavy
splash; then all is still, and the dawn, awakening the harem to another
day of laughter and pleasure, whispers no tales of that one among its
thousand rooms found empty.

Such fancies as these kept crowding through my mind as I wandered
about that famous spot, raising my eyes from time to time to the
grated windows of one or another of those kiosks, now as mournful and
neglected-looking as sepulchres. And yet, notwithstanding all the
horrible associations of the place, one is conscious of a thrill of
delicious excitement, a throbbing of the pulses, a languid, voluptuous,
half-melancholy sense of pleasure, at the thought of all the youth
and beauty and loveliness which once had its being here. These little
stairways, up and down which I pass, once felt the pressure of their
flying feet; these shady alleys, through which I walk, have heard the
soft rustle of their garments; the roofs of these little porticoes,
against whose pillars I brush in passing, have echoed the sound of
their infantile laughter. It seems as though some actual token of their
presence must still linger within those walls, hover in the very air,
and I long to search for it, to cry aloud those famous names, one
after another, over and over again, when surely some voice, faint,
distant, ghostly, will reward my efforts, some shadowy white-robed
figure flit across a lofty terrace or appear for a moment at the end
of a dim, leafy vista. What would I not have given, as I scanned each
barred door and grated window, to have known behind which of them the
widow of Alexius Comnenus was confined--the most beautiful of all the
fair Lesbos prisoners, as well as the most fascinating Grecian of her
time--or where the beloved daughter of Errizo, governor of Negropont,
had been stabbed for preferring death to the brutal caresses of
Muhammad II.! And Khurrem, Suleiman’s favorite, at what window did she
linger, graceful, languid, her great black eyes fixed upon the Sea
of Marmora beneath their veil of silken lashes? How often must this
very path have felt the light pressure of that fascinating Hungarian
dancer’s feet who effaced the image of Saffié from the heart of Murad
III., slipping like a blade of steel between the imperial arms! Above
this flowery bank must Kesem, that beautiful Grecian and jealous fury
who beheld the reigns of seven sultans, have bent her pale proud face
to pluck a flower in passing. And that gigantic Armenian who drove
Ibrahim insane for love of her, has she not plunged her great white
arms into the cool depths of this very fountain? And whose feet were
the smaller? The fourth Muhammad’s “_little favorite_,” two of whose
slippers together did not measure the length of a stiletto, or Rebia
Gulnuz, “_she who drank of the roses of spring_”? And who had the
prettiest blue eyes in the Archipelago? And whose foot left no trace
on the white sand of the garden-walk? Was the hair of Marhfiruz, “_the
favorite of the stars of the night_,” thicker and more golden than that
of Miliklia, the youthful Russian odalisque, who kept the ferocity of
the second Osman in check? And those Persian and Arabian children who
lulled Ibrahim to sleep with their fairy-tales, and the forty maidens
who drank the third Murad’s blood, is there nothing left of them
all--not so much as a tress of hair, a thread from a single veil, an
imprint on the walls? For answer I saw a strange, weird vision far off
where the great trees grew thickest. Beneath the long shadowy arcades
I beheld a mournful procession: one after the other, in ghostly,
never-ending succession, they filed by--validéh sultans, sisters of
pâdishahs, _kadyns_, odalisques, slaves, children hardly arrived at
womanhood, middle-aged, old and white-haired, timid young maidens,
faces contorted with savage jealousy, rulers of an empire, favorites of
a single day, playthings of an hour, representatives of ten generations
and a hundred peoples--leading their children by the hand or clasping
them convulsively to their breasts. Around this one’s neck the noose
is still hanging; from that one’s heart sticks a dagger-hilt; the salt
waters of the Sea of Marmora drip from another’s clothes. Brilliant
with jewels, covered with dagger-thrusts, their faces contorted from
the action of poison or the long-drawn-out agonies of the Old Seraglio,
on they came, an interminable, mute, but eloquent procession, fading
away one after another in the gloom of the cypress trees, leaving
behind them a trail of faded flowers, of tears, and of drops of blood,
which swept over my heart in a great wave of indescribable horror and

Beyond the third enclosure there extends a long level stretch of
ground covered with a luxuriant vegetation and dotted over with pretty
little buildings, in the midst of which rises the so-called Column
of Theodosius, of gray granite, surmounted by a beautiful Corinthian
capital and supported upon a large pedestal, on one side of which may
still be traced the last two words of a Latin inscription which ran as
follows: “_Fortunæ reduci ob devictos Gothos_.” Here the elevated plain
upon which stands the great central rectangle of the Seraglio buildings
comes to an end; beyond, as far as Seraglio Point, and covering the
entire space between the walls of the three courts and the outer
boundary-walls, rose a great forest of plane trees, cypresses, pines,
laurels, and terebinths, all along the hillsides, and poplars draped
with vines and creepers, shading a succession of gardens filled with
roses and heliotropes, and laid out in the form of terraces, from which
wide flights of marble stairs led down to the shore.

Along the walls facing Skutari rose the new palace of Sultan Mahmûd,
opening out on the water by a great door of gilded copper. Near
Seraglio Point stood the summer harem, a vast semicircular building,
designed to accommodate five hundred women, with its great courtyards
and magnificent baths and gardens--the scene of those ingenious
illuminations which under the name of “_tulip festivals_” became so
famous. Beyond the walls, opposite the harem and just above the shore,
was placed the celebrated Seraglio Battery, consisting of twenty guns
of different designs and covered with sculptures and inscriptions: each
of these was captured on some battlefield and from Christian armies in
the course of the earlier European wars. The walls were furnished with
eight gates, three of them on the city side and five facing toward the
sea. Great marble terraces extended from the walls along the banks, and
subterranean passage-ways leading from the royal palace to the gates on
the Sea of Marmora offered a means of escape to the sultans, who could
thus take ship for Skutari or Topkhâneh in case they were besieged from
the land.

Nor yet was this all of the Seraglio. Near the outer walls and all
along the sides of the hills there arose numberless other kiosks,
built to imitate little mosques or forts or tunnels, each one of which
communicated by a narrow footway, concealed behind lofty screens of
foliage, with the smaller gates of the third court. There was the Yali
Kiosk, now destroyed, which was reflected in the waters of the Golden
Horn; there stands to-day, almost intact, the New Kiosk, a little
royal residence in itself, circular and covered with gilt ornaments
and paintings, to which the sultans used to repair at sunset to feast
their eyes upon the spectacle of the thousand ships riding at anchor in
the port. Near the summer harem stood the Looking-glass Kiosk, where
the treaty of peace by which Turkey ceded the Crimea to Russia was
signed in 1784, and the kiosk of Hassan Pasha, all resplendent with
gilding, its walls covered with mirrors which threw back fantastic
reflections of the fêtes and nocturnal orgies of the sultans. The
Cannon Kiosk, out of whose windows bodies were thrown into the Sea
of Marmora, stood hard by the battery on Cape Seraglio. The Kiosk of
the Sea, where the validéh of Muhammad IV. held her secret councils,
overhung the spot where the waters of the Bosphorus mingle with those
of the Sea of Marmora. The Kiosk of Roses looks out upon the esplanade
where the pages were exercised, and it was here that in 1839 the new
constitution of the empire, embodied in the Hatti Sherif of Gül-Khâneh,
was signed. Some of the kiosks on the other side of the Seraglio which
are still standing are the Review Kiosk, from which, himself unseen,
the Sultan could watch all who passed by to the Divân; the Alai Kiosk,
at that angle of the walls near St. Sophia whence Muhammad IV. flung to
his mutinous soldiers his favorite Meleki, together with twenty-nine
officials of his court, to be torn to pieces before his eyes; and at
the far end of the wall the Sepedgiler Kiosk, near which the sultans
gave final audiences to their admirals about sailing for the seat of

Thus the huge palace spread out and down from the summit of its
hills--where were gathered and carefully defended all its more vital
parts--to the seashore crowned with towers, bristling with cannon,
decked with flowers, its gilded barges shooting across the waters
in all directions, its thousand perfumes floating heavenward in a
great cloud as from some huge altar; the myriad torches of its fêtes
reflected in the placid waters; flinging from its battlements gold to
the people, dead bodies to the waves--yesterday the plaything of a
slave, to-day the sport of a maniac, to-morrow at the mercy of the mob,
beautiful as an enchanted island and forbidding as a living sepulchre.

The night is far advanced: each glittering star is reflected in the
calm bosom of the Sea of Marmora, while the moon turns the Seraglio’s
thousand domes to silver and whitens the tips of the cypress and
plane trees. Deep shadows are cast across the open spaces below, and,
one by one, the lights in all those innumerable little windows are
extinguished. Mosque and kiosk rise white as snow against the dark
background of the woods, and each spire and pointed minaret, aërial
crescent, door of bronze, and gilded grating shines and sparkles among
the trees as though part of a golden city. The imperial residence
sleeps, the last of the three great gates has just been closed, and
the far-off rattle of its huge keys can be heard as the kapuji turns
away. In front of the Gate of Health a troop of kapujis stand watch
beneath the lofty roof, while stationed along the wall by the Gate of
Felicity, their faces in the shadow, immovable as so many bas-reliefs,
thirty white eunuchs mount guard. From the walls and towers hundreds of
hidden sentinels keep an active watch upon all the approaches, the sea
and harbor, the deserted streets of the city, and the huge silent pile
of St. Sophia. An occasional light still gleams in the huge kitchens
of the first court, where some belated worker is finishing his task;
then that too disappears, and the building becomes dark. Lights are
still burning, though, in the houses of the Veznedar Agha and the
Defterdar Effendi, and there seems to be some stir about the residence
of the chief of the black eunuchs. Eunuchs patrol the deserted paths
and wander in and out among the dark and silent kiosks, hearing no
sounds save the sighing of the trees rocked by the sea-breeze and
the monotonous murmur of the fountains. Perfect peace seems to enfold
all that little world in its calm embrace, but only seemingly, for
underneath those myriad roofs a tide of passionate life is stirring.
That vast family of slaves, soldiers, prisoners, and servants, with
their ambitions and heart-burnings, their loves and hates, let loose
into the stillness of the night a brood of restless longings, dreams,
and visions, which, scaling the Seraglio walls, find their way to every
corner of the globe, seeking out homes of childhood, mothers lost in
infancy, resuscitating half-forgotten scenes of horror. Prayers and
supplications mingle with plots of vengeance in the moonlit walks
and the overmastering impulses of secret ambition. The great palace
sleeps, but it is a restless, disturbed sleep, interrupted by sudden
fearful visions of alarm and terror; mutterings in a hundred different
languages mingle with the voices of the night. Close together, divided
by but a few walls, sleep the dissolute page, the imâm who has preached
the word of God, the executioner who has strangled the innocent,
the imprisoned prince awaiting death, and the enamored sultana on
the eve of her nuptials. Unhappy wretches, stripped of everything
they possessed in the world, find themselves side by side with the
possessors of fabulous riches. Beauty which is almost divine, absurd
deformity, every form of vice and misfortune, every prostitution of
soul and body, are to be found shut in between the same walls.

Against the starlit sky are outlined the bizarre shapes of Moorish
tower and roof, and shadows of garlands and leafy festoons play over
the walls; the fountains shimmer in the moonlight like cascades of
diamonds and sapphires; and all the perfumes of the gardens, gathered
into one powerful odor, are swept by the breeze through every open
lattice, every crack and crevice, leaving in their wake soft,
intoxicating dreams and memories.

At such an hour as this the eunuch seated in the shadow of the trees,
his eyes fixed upon the soft light issuing from a neighboring kiosk,
gnaws out his heart and touches with trembling fingers his dagger hilt,
and the poor little maid, stolen and sold into bondage, gazes from the
window of her lofty cell with streaming eyes upon the serene horizon of
Asia, thinking with unutterable longing of the cabin where she was born
and the peaceful valley where her fathers lie buried. At this hour,
too, the galley-slave laden with chains, the mute stained with blood,
the despised miserable dwarf, reflect with a thrill of dismay upon the
infinity of space which separates them from that being before whom
they all must bow, and passionately interrogate the “_hidden powers_”
as to why they must be deprived of liberty, speech, and the ordinary
shape of the human form, while everything is given to one man. And
this, too, is the hour in which the neglected and unhappy weep, while
those who are great and successful are haunted with misgivings as they
think uneasily of the future. In some of the buildings lights are still
burning, illuminating the pale, anxious brows of the treasurers bending
over their accounts. Odalisques, embittered by neglect, toss restlessly
among their pillows, vainly seeking sleep. Janissaries lie stretched
out upon the ground, the savage smile upon their bronzed faces telling
of dreams of carnage and plunder. Through those thin walls come
voluptuous sighs, sobs, broken expostulations. In one kiosk flows the
accursed liquor amid a circle of dishevelled revellers; in another a
wretched sultana, mother for but one short moment, stifles her shrieks
beneath the pillows that she may not see her child’s life-blood
flowing from the artery opened by order of the Pâdishah; and in the
marble niches of the Bâb-i-Humayûn blood is still dropping from the
heads of beys executed at nightfall. Within the loftiest kiosk of the
third enclosure there is a room hung with crimson brocade and flooded
with soft radiance from a Moorish lamp of chased silver suspended
from the cedar-wood roof. Upon a sable-covered couch, surrounded by a
magnificent disorder of pearl-embroidered cushions and velvet draperies
worked in gold, there sits a beautiful brunette, enveloped in a great
white veil, who not many years before conducted her father’s herds
across the plains of Arabia. Bending her timid gaze upon the pallid
countenance of the third Murad, who reclines half asleep at her feet,
she begins in gentle murmuring tones: “Once upon a time there lived in
Damascus a merchant named Abu-Eiub, who had accumulated great riches
and lived in honor and prosperity. He had one son, who was handsome
and who knew all sorts of wonderful things, and his name was Slave of
Love, and a daughter who was very beautiful, and she was named Power
of Hearts. Now, it came to pass that Abu-Eiub died, and he left all
his possessions and all his wealth wrapped up and fastened with seals,
and upon everything was written ‘For Bagdad.’ So, then, Slave of Love
said to his mother, ‘Why is “For Bagdad” written on everything my
father left?’ And his mother replied, ‘My son----’” But the Pâdishah
has fallen asleep, and the slave lets her head sink gently down among
the cushions, and sleeps as well. Every door is closed, every light
extinguished, a hundred cupolas gleam like silver in the moonlight,
crescents and gilded lattices shine through the foliage; the fountain’s
splash and gurgle are heard through the stillness, and at last the
entire Seraglio slumbers.

And so for thirty years has it slept the sleep of neglect and decay
upon its solitary hill. Those verses of the Persian poet which came
into the mind of Muhammad the Conqueror when he first set foot in the
despoiled palace of the emperors of the East are equally appropriate
here: “In the dwellings of kings see where the loathsome spider weaves
her busy web, while from Erasciab’s proud summit is heard the raven’s
hoarse cry.”


At this point I find that the chain of my reminiscences is broken. I
can no longer recollect clearly what I did and saw, nor give those
long, minute descriptions which flowed so readily from my pen when
writing of the earlier part of my visit. It was nothing now but a
succession of hurried expeditions back and forth across the Golden
Horn, and from Europe to Asia and back again, followed in the evening
by visions of populous towns, throngs of people, forests, fleets,
hills, all tinged with a faint touch of melancholy by the ever-present
shadow of the day of departure now drawing rapidly near, as though
already these sights were only memories of what had been. And yet
through all the sense of hurry and confusion which the thought of those
last days is sure to bring up, certain objects stand out clearly in
my memory. I remember, for instance, very distinctly that beautiful
morning on which I visited for the first time the greater number of
the imperial mosques, and at the mere thought of it I seem instantly
to find myself surrounded by an immense space and a solemn stillness.
The tremendous impression made upon one’s mind by St. Sophia does not
seem to detract from the effect produced by the first sight of those
titanic walls. Here, as elsewhere, the religion of the conquerors has
appropriated to itself the religious art of the conquered. Almost all
the other mosques are built in imitation of Justinian’s great basilica,
with huge domes and semi-domes, courts, and porticoes, some even having
the form of a Greek cross. But Islamism has tinged everything with a
light and color all its own, which, joined to these familiar features,
results in an altogether different style of building, where one sees,
as it were, the horizon of an unknown world and breathes the atmosphere
surrounding a strange God.

These mosques have enormous naves, white, austere, majestic in their
simplicity, over which a flood of soft, uniform light pours from
numberless windows; every object stands out distinctly from one
extremity to the other, and mind and sight seem lulled to sleep by a
dreamy sense of utter peacefulness and calm, as though in some misty
valley surmounted by a serene white heaven; only the reverberation of
your own footsteps recalls the fact that you are in an enclosure. There
is nothing to distract the mind; the imagination, spanning directly
and without effort the intervening space and light, arrives at once
before the object of adoration. There is nothing to suggest either
melancholy or terror--no illusions, no mysteries, no shadowy corners
in which the symbols of a complicated hierarchy of supernatural beings
glimmer vaguely before the confused senses. There is the one clear,
distinct, all-compelling idea of a sole and omnipotent God, who demands
in his temple the severe nakedness of the sunlit desert, and permits
no likeness or image of himself other than the sky. All the imperial
mosques of Constantinople possess these common characteristics--a
majesty which uplifts and a simplicity which concentrates upon one
single object the mind of the worshipper, differing so little from one
another, even in the matter of detail, that it is difficult to preserve
any distinct recollection of them.

The Ahmediyeh has a peculiarly graceful and pleasing exterior,
possessing, notwithstanding its great size, the airy lightness of a
fabric built of clouds; its dome is supported on enormous white marble
piers around which four small mosques could be built, and it is the
only one in Stambul which can boast of the glorious girdle of six
minarets. The mosque of Suleiman, more like a little sacred city than a
single temple, where a stranger might readily lose his way, has three
great naves, and its dome, higher than that of St. Sophia,[J] rests
upon four marvellous columns of red granite, suggesting the trunks
of those gigantic trees in California. The mosque of Muhammad is a
white and radiant St. Sophia; that of Bayezid has the pre-eminence
for elegance of outline; that of Osman is built entirely of marble;
the Shazadeh mosque possesses the two most exquisite minarets in
Stambul; that in the Ok Serai quarter is the most charming example
of the renaissance of Turkish art. The Selimiyeh is the most severe,
the mosque of Mahmûd the most elaborate, the Validéh Sultan the most
ornate. Each one has some peculiar beauty of its own, or else a legend
or special privilege attached to it. The Ahmediyeh guards the standard
of the Prophet; the Bayezidiyeh is crowned by clouds of pigeons; the
Suleimaniyeh can boast of inscriptions written by the hand of Kara
Hissari; in the mosque of the Validéh Sultan is the imitation gold
column which cost the conqueror of Candia his life. Sultan Muhammad
sees, “eleven imperial mosques bow their heads around him, even as
the sheafs of Joseph’s brothers bowed themselves before his sheaf.”
In one may be seen the columns carried away from the imperial palace
and Augusteon of Justinian which formerly supported statues of Venus,
Theodora, and Eudoxia; in others are marbles from the ancient churches
of Chalcedon, pillars from the ruins of Troy, columns from Egyptian
temples, precious stained glass stolen from Persian palaces, building
materials, the plunder of circus and forum, aqueduct and basilica,
all engulfed and lost sight of in the white immensity of the religious
art of the victors.

    [J] “The dome itself is 86 feet in diameter internally and
        156 feet in height. At St. Sophia the dome is 108 feet
        in diameter and 175 feet in height, or 22 and 19 more,
        respectively.”--Fergusson, _Hist. Architecture_.--TRANS.

[Illustration: Panorama of Mosque of Bayezid.]

The interiors differ from one another even less than the exteriors.
At the farther end is a marble pulpit, facing it, the Sultan’s seat
enclosed within a gilded lattice; beside the _mihrab_ stand two huge
candelabra supporting tapers which look like the trunks of palm trees;
innumerable lamps composed of large crystal globes are disposed about
the nave in so singular a manner as to seem more fitting adjuncts of a
grand ball than of religious solemnities. Inscriptions encircling the
columns, doorways, and windows, friezes painted in imitation of marble,
and floral designs executed in stained glass are the sole attempts at
ornamentation which break the white monotony of those lofty walls. The
marble treasures of the pavements in the vestibules, the galleries
surrounding the courtyards, the ablutionary fountains, and minarets do
not impair at all the character of charming yet severe simplicity which
marks those great white fabrics, framed in verdure, whose lofty domes
stand out clear and sparkling against the blue sky.

And, after all, the _jami_--that is, the mosque proper--covers only
a minor part of the enclosure which goes by its name, the rest being
taken up by a labyrinth of courtyards and buildings, consisting of
auditoriums, where the Koran is read; treasuries, where private
individuals deposit their valuables for safe-keeping; academies,
medical colleges, children’s schools, quarters for students, and
soup-kitchens for the poor; insane asylums, hospitals, khâns for
travellers, and baths--a little philanthropic settlement nestling at
the base of the lofty temple as at that of a mountain, and shaded by
mighty trees.

Now, however, all these things have faded into one another in my
memory. I only see the tiny black speck of my own insignificant self
wandering like a detached atom up and down those vast naves, between
two lines of diminutive Turks prostrated at their devotions. As I
move on, dazzled by the pervading whiteness, stupefied by the strange
light, awed and subdued by the immensity around me, dragging my worn
slippers--and my humbled pride as a descriptive writer as well--it
seems as though one mosque melted into another, and that all around
me in every direction there arose interminable ranks of roofs and
pilasters, a white illimitable throng in which sight and sense are
swallowed up.

My recollections of how I passed another day are full of mystery and
crowded with phantom shapes. Entering the courtyard of a Mussulman
private house, and descending by the light of a torch to the very
lowest of a flight of damp, mouldy stairs, I found myself beneath
the vaulted roof of the Yeri Betan Serai, the great cistern basilica
of Constantine, whose confines, according to vulgar belief in
Constantinople, are unknown; the greenish waters lose themselves in the
distance beneath the black roof, lit up here and there by a vivid ray
of light, which seems only to increase the horror of the surrounding
darkness. The crimson flame from our torch throws a lurid glare over
the arches nearest to us, falls in slanting rays upon the dripping
walls, and brings into view dim, confused tiers of columns intercepting
the perspective in all directions like the tree-trunks of some vast
submerged forest. The imagination, drawn on in spite of itself by a
sort of horrible fascination, penetrates those sepulchral galleries,
hovers above the face of those gloomy waters, and finally loses itself
amid the intricate windings of those endless columns. Meanwhile the
dragoman is murmuring in one’s ear blood-curdling tales of adventurous
persons who have embarked upon those waters and started off with the
intention of exploring their farthermost limits, only to return, long
hours afterward, with blanched faces and hair on end, while behind
them could be heard boisterous shouts of mocking laughter and piercing
shrieks, which echoed and re-echoed beneath the vaulted roof; and
others, again, who never returned at all, having met their end--who
knows how?--driven insane, perhaps, by terror, or possibly starved
to death, or drawn by mysterious currents to some unknown abyss far
away from Stambul, God only can tell where. Issuing once more into the
broad, sunny light of the At-Meidan square, all these gloomy fancies
at once take flight, and a few minutes later we again descend, and find
ourselves surrounded by the two hundred pillars of the dry cistern of
Binbûr, where a hundred Greek silk-spinners are singing a martial song
as they work in the pale, unearthly light broken by interlacing lines
of arches, while from overhead comes the dull, confused rumble of a
passing caravan. Then fresh air and sunlight again, followed by another
plunge into semi-obscurity, more rows of columns and vaulted roofs, and
the stillness of the tomb broken by far-away voices; and so on until
evening--altogether a mysterious, unearthly sort of pilgrimage, which
left a haunting mental impression for long after of a vast subterranean
sea which, having already engulfed the Greek empire, was destined one
day to draw gay, thoughtless, unheeding Stambul into its shadowy depths
as well.

[Illustration: Ancient fountain at Scutari.]

These depressing fancies, however, were entirely dispelled by the
gay image of Skutari. Whenever we went there, embarking upon one of
the crowded little steamers for the purpose, my friend and I used
invariably to get into a discussion as to which ranked first in
point of beauty--Skutari or the two banks of the Golden Horn. Yunk
preferred the former, but I held out for Stambul. Nevertheless, Skutari
captivated me by its sudden, unexpected changes of aspect: it seems to
mock all those who approach it by water. From the Sea of Marmora
it is only a big village scattered over a hillside; from the Golden
Horn you realize that it is a town; but when the steamboat, after
rounding the most advanced point on the Asiatic shore, proceeds in a
straight line toward the harbor, the little town spreads out in the
most astounding fashion; other hills, quite covered with buildings,
come into sight, rising one behind the other; the valleys are filled
with houses; villas crown the heights; the outskirts stretch away
along the shore as far as the eye can reach; and you find that you
are approaching a great city, which in the course of a few minutes
has come into view from some obscure hiding-place, much as though a
huge curtain had been rolled back, and you gaze stupidly at it, half
expecting to see it disappear at any moment with the same suddenness
with which it came. Landing by means of a wooden gang-plank, and amid
the shouts and vociferations of boatmen, dragomen, and others with
horses to hire, we mount the principal street, which winds up the
hillside among yellow and red houses decked with vines and creepers,
and between garden-walls, over which a mass of verdure trails and
clambers: overhead tall trellisworks and lofty plane trees cast their
shade, the latter so large as to sometimes nearly close the street. As
we go on we pass Turkish cafés, before which lounges the usual crowd
of Asiatic idlers, smoking, stretched out at full length, their gaze
fixed on no one knows what. Then we meet a herd of goats; heavy country
carts jolt slowly by, drawn by oxen with wreaths of flowers on their
heads; peasants, some in fez and others in turban, pass us on the road;
Mussulman funeral processions, and groups of _hanums_, spending the
summer in their country-houses, carrying great bunches of flowers or
sprays of blossoms in their hands. We seem to be in another Stambul,
less mysterious, but gayer and more cheerful than she of the Seven
Hills. This one is more like a great city of villas into which the
country is making inroads on every side. The little back streets lined
with stables rise and descend again over hill and valley, swallowed up
at last by the green of park and garden. On the heights the profound
peace of the country still reigns, but lower down there is all the stir
and activity of a seaport town. From the huge barracks which rise here
and there comes a confused sound of bugle-calls, snatches of songs, and
the beating of drums, while clouds of birds fly about and settle in the
quiet lanes and byways.

Following in the wake of a funeral procession, we finally leave the
town, and, entering the famous cemetery, are soon lost in that vast
forest of mighty cypress trees which extends in one direction toward
the Sea of Marmora and in the other toward the Golden Horn, covering
a large area of undulating ground. On all sides there is nothing but
group on group, row on row, of glimmering white tombstones outlined
against the turf and gay colors of the wild flowers, and an intricate
network of footpaths winding in and out among the trunks of the trees,
crowded so closely together as barely to allow any view of the horizon
stretching away in a long shimmering line. We wander aimlessly among
the little painted and gilded columns, some erect, others toppling over
or fallen flat, and between railings of family sepulchres, mausoleums
of dead pashas, rude tombstones of the poor. Here and there lie bunches
of faded flowers, and sometimes, where the earth has been disturbed,
the light falls upon a half-buried skull; on and on, no sound save the
cooing of doves concealed overhead amid the branches of the cypress
trees; and the farther we go the more does the forest seem to expand,
the tombstones multiply, the paths increase in number, the shining
strips of the horizon recede into the distance, and the reign of death
keeps pace with us step by step, until at length, just as we begin to
despair of ever finding our way out, we issue quite unexpectedly upon
the wide avenue leading to the vast open plain of Haidar Pasha, where
the Mussulman troops once assembled preparatory to setting out for
the Asiatic wars. The view from thence, embracing the Sea of Marmora,
Stambul, the mouth of the Golden Horn, Galata, and Pera, all veiled
beneath the light morning mist and tinted with the colors of paradise,
is so exquisitely lovely that we catch our breath with something of the
same incredulous wonder with which we first beheld those shores.


Another morning we found ourselves seated in a tram-car between two
colossal black eunuchs charged by one of Abdul Aziz’s aides-de-camp
with the duty of escorting us over the imperial palace of Cheragan,
situated on the Bosphorus just below Beshiktash. I recall distinctly
the mingled feeling of curiosity and repulsion with which I looked out
of the corner of my eye at the eunuch beside me, towering above me by
nearly a head, and with one mighty hand resting open upon his knee.
Every time I turned I could catch the faint perfume of essence of
bergamot with which his sleek, correct court costume was scented. When
the car stopped I put my hand in my pocket to draw out my purse, but
the enormous hand of the eunuch closed upon my own like a steel vise,
and his great eyes met mine with a warning look, as who should say,
“Christian, refrain from offering me such an insult, or I will break
every bone in your body.”

Alighting before a small door covered with arabesques, we entered a
long corridor, where we were presently met by a party of servants in
livery, who conducted us up a wide stairway leading to the royal
apartments. Here, at all events, there was no need to recall historical
associations in order to obtain a vivid and life-like impression.
The air was still warm with the breath of the court. The wide divans
covered with satin and velvet which extended along the walls were the
very same upon which but a few weeks before the Sultan’s odalisques
had reclined: a vague suggestion of warm, sensuous life still floated
in the air. We walked through a long succession of gorgeous rooms,
some decorated after the European fashion, others after the Moorish,
all rich and beautiful, but possessing a sort of stately simplicity
which awed us, making us talk in subdued tones, while all the time the
eunuchs, muttering a string of unintelligible remarks and explanations,
pointed out now a certain corner, now a doorway, with the wary gestures
of those who reveal something secret and mysterious. Silken hangings,
many-hued carpets, mosaic tables--rich oil paintings hung where the
light could fall upon them--graceful archways of the doors, divided
in the middle by little Arabian pillars, lofty candelabra--resembling
crystal trees--which tinkled musically as we shook them in
passing,--all these things followed so close upon one another that
they became a confused medley almost as soon as seen, our minds being
more intent upon visions of possible flying odalisques taken by
surprise. The only thing of which I retained any distinct impression
was the Sultan’s bath-room, of white marble and carved to represent
stalactites, hanging flowers, lace, and delicate fretwork, all so
airy and light that one feared to touch it with so much as the point
of a finger for fear of its breaking. The arrangement of the rooms
reminded me a little of the Alhambra. We passed through them hurriedly,
noiselessly over the thick carpets, almost furtively. From time to time
a eunuch would pull a cord, a green curtain would roll up, and through
a wide window would be seen the Bosphorus, Asia, hundreds of vessels,
floods of light; then it would all disappear, and we would be left
dazed and blinded as though a lamp had been flashed in our eyes. From
one window we caught sight of a little garden the high blank walls of
which, as bare and forbidding-looking as those of a convent, suggested
at once all sorts of fancies about beautiful women deprived of love and
liberty, and then it was suddenly shut out of view by the dropping of
the curtain. The rooms seemed unending, and at the sight of each new
doorway we would quicken our steps, hoping this time to enter before we
were expected; but all in vain: not so much as the flutter of a garment
rewarded our efforts; every odalisque had vanished, and a profound and
death-like stillness hung over the entire building. That rustling sound
which made us turn and glance back so quickly was but the noise of
the heavy brocade curtain as it fell back in place, while the silvery
tinkle of the crystal candelabras mocked us by its resemblance to
the light laughter of some hidden fair one.

[Illustration: Cemetery of Eyûb and View of the Golden Horn.]

And so at last we became utterly wearied out by this never-ending
progress through the silent palace and amid that lifeless
magnificence--tired of seeing the black faces of the eunuchs, the
watchful, sedate crowd of servants, and our own incongruous Bohemian
countenances reflected in the huge mirrors which lined the walls; and,
reaching the last door almost on a run, we breathed a sigh of heartfelt
satisfaction at finding ourselves once more in the open air surrounded
by the miserable dwellings and ragged, clamorous population of the
Topkhâneh quarter.


And can I ever forget the necropolis of Eyûb? We went there one evening
at sunset, and I always think of it just as it looked at that time,
lit up by the last gleams of daylight. A small käik landed us at the
farther end of the Golden Horn, and we climbed up to the “consecrated
ground” of the Osmans by a steep, narrow path lined with sepulchres.
At that hour the stone-cutters who work at the tombstones during the
day, making the vast cemetery resound beneath the sharp blows of
their hammers, had dispersed to their homes, and the whole place was
completely deserted. We moved forward circumspectly, peering cautiously
around to see if we could detect the menacing form of imâm or dervish,
as the profane curiosity of a _giaour_ is less tolerated there than
in almost any other sacred spot; but, seeing neither turban nor stiff
hat, we finally reached the mysterious Eyûb mosque, whose shining
domes and airy minarets we had so often beheld from the hilltops of
the opposite shore, as well as from every little bay and inlet in the
Golden Horn. In the court, shaded by a mighty plane tree, stands the
kiosk-shaped mausoleum of the famous standard-bearer of the Prophet,
Abu Eyûb, perpetually lit up by a circle of lamps. He lost his life
when the Arabs first besieged Byzantium, and his place of sepulture
having been discovered eight centuries later by Muhammad the Conqueror,
he consecrated this mosque to his memory; and it is there that each
successive sultan presents himself on his accession to be girded
with the sword of Osman. It is considered the most sacred mosque in
Constantinople, just as the cemetery which surrounds it is more highly
revered than any other. In the shade of the great trees which surround
the mosque stand türbehs of sultanas, viziers, and distinguished
officials of the court, encircled by flowers, gorgeous with marbles
and gilt arabesques, and covered with pompous inscriptions. On one
side is the small mortuary temple of the muftis, surmounted by an
octagonal dome, beneath which repose the bodies of great ecclesiastics
in enormous catafalques ornamented with huge muslin turbans. It is a
city of tombs, white, shaded, whose sedate beauty combines a religious
melancholy with a breath of worldliness, like a very aristocratic
neighborhood whose well-bred quiet proceeds from pride. The paths run
between white walls and graceful railings, over which vines trail and
clamber from the little gardens surrounding the graves; acacia trees
stretch forth their branches to meet and mingle overhead with those
of oak and myrtle, and through the gilded latticework of the arched
windows of the türbehs may be seen, in the dim, soft light within,
marble mausoleums tinged with green from the reflections of the trees.
In no other place in Stambul is seen to such advantage the Mussulman
art of rendering the idea of death agreeable and robbing it of all its
terrors. It is at once a necropolis, a royal dwelling-place, a garden,
a pantheon, full of gentle melancholy and charm, and simultaneously
with the prayer which rises to your lips there comes a smile. On all
sides extends the cemetery, shaded by the hundred-year-old cypresses,
crossed by winding paths, white with innumerable tombstones, which seem
to be hurrying down the hillside to dip themselves in the sparkling
water or pressing forward curiously to the pathways to watch the
passage of phantom shapes. And from any number of secluded little
nooks, through the spreading branches of the trees, confused glimpses
are caught--far off to the right--of Stambul, looking like a succession
of blue towns detached from one another; and below--the Golden Horn,
reflecting the last rays of the sun, while opposite lie Sudlujè, Kaliji
Oghlu, Piri Pasha, Haskeni; and beyond--the large district of Kassim
and the vague profile of Galata, fading away in the wonderful blending
of soft, tremulous tints which hardly seem as though they belonged to
this world.


All these impressions have been temporarily effaced, and I find
myself marching through a long suite of bare rooms between two rows
of immovable, staring figures, which are like those of so many
corpses fastened upright against the walls. I never remember to have
experienced so decided a feeling of shrinking anywhere else, unless it
was in the last room of Mme. Tussaud’s exhibition in London, where,
in the somewhat subdued light, you are confronted with the life-like
presentments of all of England’s most notorious criminals. This,
however, is like a museum of spectres, or rather like an open sepulchre
in which you behold the mummified forms of all the most famous
personages of that magnificent, savage, ferocious Turkey which no
longer exists, save in the memory of a few old men or the imaginative
brain of some poet. There are a hundred large wooden figures colored
like life and clad in various styles of ancient costume, standing
erect in stiff, haughty attitudes, with heads thrown back and blank
staring eyes, and hands resting upon their sword-hilts, as though only
awaiting the word to draw and begin shedding human blood, just as in
the good old times. First, there is the household of the Pâdishah--the
chief eunuch and grand vizier, the muftis, chamberlains, and head
officials--wearing turbans upon their heads of every color, pyramidal,
round, square, huge, exaggerated; long caftans of every conceivable
hue, made out of brocade and covered with embroidery; tunics of
white or crimson silk, bound about the waist with Cashmere scarfs;
gold-embroidered waistcoats, the breasts all glittering with gold and
silver medals; and magnificent armor--two long, spectral files, at once
fantastic and gorgeous, from which a pretty fair idea may be obtained
of the character of the ancient Ottoman court with its savage pomp and
haughty pride. Next come the pages bearing the Pâdishah’s furs, his
turbans, stool, and sword; then the guards of the gardens and gates,
the Sultan’s guard, and the white and black eunuchs, with faces like
Magi or idols, glittering, plumed, their heads covered with Persian
fur, or wearing metal helmets or purple caps, or odd-looking turbans
shaped like crescents, cones, and reversed pyramids: they are armed
with steel clubs, murderous-looking daggers, and whips, like a band of
cut-throats and assassins. One regards you with a look of suspicious
contempt; another grinds his teeth; another gazes straight ahead of
him, with eyes grown callous from the sight of blood; while a fourth
wears upon his lips a smile that is truly devilish. After these follows
the corps of the Janissaries, accompanied by its patron saint, Emin
Baba, an emaciated individual clad in a white tunic, and officers of
every grade, each personating some office connected with the kitchen:
all the ranks of the soldiers are represented, wearing the various
uniforms and emblems of that insolent corps which finally met its end
under the grape-shot of Mahmûd. The childishness, at once grotesque and
puerile, of these costumes, combined with the ferocious memories they
evoke, produces the impression of a savage Carnival. No artist, however
unbridled his imagination might be, could ever succeed in portraying
such a mad confusion of royal costumes, ecclesiastical vestments, and
garments suitable for brigands and buffoons. The “water-carriers,” the
“soup-makers,” the “chief cooks,” the “head of the scullions,” soldiers
to whom were assigned all sorts of special duties, succeed one another
in long lines, with brushes and ladles fastened to their turbans, bells
hung from their tunics, carrying leather bottles and the famous kettles
which sounded the signal for revolt, clad in large fur caps and long
cloaks falling from neck to heels like magicians’ mantles, with their
wide belts made of round disks of engraved metal, their huge sabres,
their fishy eyes, their enormous chests, and faces set in every
variety of derision, menace, and insult. Last of all come the Seraglio
mutes, silken noose in hand, and the dwarfs and buffoons, with cunning,
spiteful faces, and mock crowns on their heads.

[Illustration: Türbeh of the Mosque Shabzadeh.]

The great glass cases in which all these worthies are enclosed lend
something of the look of an anatomical museum to the place, and
increase their likeness to mummified human beings, so that from time
to time you are conscious of a disagreeable creeping sensation down
your backbone, or feel as though you might just have passed through a
room of the Old Seraglio in the presence of the entire court whom some
threatening outburst from the Pâdishah has frozen stiff with terror.
When you at last come out upon the square of the At-Meidan, and your
eye falls upon pashas clad all in sombre black, and nizams modestly
attired in the uniform of zouaves, oh how gentle, amiable, almost
timid, does the Turk of our day and generation appear!

[Illustration: Tombs of Sultan Mahmûd II and of his Son, Abdul Aziz.]

An irresistible attraction calls me back once more among the tombs:
this time it is those numberless imperial türbehs scattered throughout
the Turkish city, those charming examples of the Mussulman’s art and
philosophy, which occupy so conspicuous a place in our recollections
of the East. By means of a firman we gained admission, first of all,
to the türbeh of Mahmûd the Reformer, which stands in a garden full
of roses and jasmine not far from the At-Meidan. It is a beautiful
circular building of white marble, whose leaden dome is supported upon
Ionic pilasters:[K] there are seven windows, furnished with gilded
gratings, some of which overlook one of the principal streets of
Stambul. Inside, the walls are ornamented with bas-reliefs and covered
with silken and brocade hangings. In the centre stands the tomb,
covered with costly Persian shawls, and lying on it is the imperial
fez, emblem of reform, with its plume and diamond aigrette, and within
the enclosure, which is surrounded by a graceful railing inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, are placed four massive silver candlesticks. The tombs
of seven sultans stand along the walls; costly rugs and carpets of
many hues cover the pavement; and here and there rare MSS. copies of
the Koran with gold lettering lie upon rich reading-desks. A silver
case contains a curiosity connected with Mahmûd’s youth, which he
directed should be placed on his tomb at his death. It consists of a
long strip of muslin covered with minute Arabian characters, extracts
from the Koran, which with infinite patience the Sultan traced when he
was confined as a prisoner in the Old Seraglio before his accession.
From the interior of the türbeh glimpses are caught through the window
gratings of branches of trees without, the scent of roses pours in, and
the little building is filled with light and the stir and movement of
the city, as though it were an open gallery. Women and children
pause as they go by to look through the windows and murmur a prayer.
There is something primitive and very sweet about it all that touches
the heart, as though, not the skeleton, but the soul of the dead
sultan lay within those walls, listening to his people who greet him
in passing; in dying he has merely exchanged his kiosk in the Seraglio
for this one, which is no less cheerful than the other; he is still
in the sunlight, in the noise and bustle of Stambul; still among his
children--nearer to them, indeed, than before; just on the edge of
life and in sight of all; still exhibiting before their eyes his plume
glittering as it was ever wont to do when he appeared before them,
glowing with life and magnificence, on his way to the mosque to pray
for the prosperity of the empire. And it is the same with all the other
türbehs--that of Ahmed, of Bayezid (whose head rests upon a brick made
of the dust collected from his clothing and slippers), of Suleiman,
of Mustafa, and Selim III., of Abdul-Hamid, and of Roxalana: they are
small temples whose pillars are of white marble and porphyry, and which
glitter with amber and mother-of-pearl. Some of them have openings
in the roof through which the rain falls upon the flowers and turf
which surround the tombs, all hung with lace and velvet; ostrich eggs
and gilded lamps hang from the roofs, lighting up the tombs of the
various princes which encircle the paternal sarcophagus, and on them
are exposed the handkerchiefs which were used to strangle infants
and little children, possibly with a view to impressing upon the
minds of the faithful, together with a natural sense of pity for the
victims, the fatal necessity for such crimes. I well remember how I,
myself, by force of constantly picturing such deaths as these, began
at last to be conscious of a certain acquiescence, in my own mind,
with the iniquitous reasons of state which sanctioned them--how by
dint of seeing ever before me in mosques and fountains and türbehs,
and under every conceivable form, the glorification and worship of one
man, of one absolute and supreme power, something within me too began
to yield itself up to that power; and how, at last, after wandering
very frequently in the shaded cemeteries and fixing my attention for
long periods on tombs and sepulchres, I came to regard death in a new
and much more tranquil light, to experience a certain indifference
toward life, and to drift half unconsciously into a state of sluggish
philosophy and vague indifference, in which the highest good seemed to
consist in dreaming away one’s life, allowing what is written to be
accomplished without let or hindrance. And thus it came about that I
found myself, quite unexpectedly, seized with a feeling of weariness
and aversion when, in the midst of these peaceful reveries, something
would recall to my mind our toiling cities, our dark churches, and
walled and dreary cemeteries.

    [K] The pilasters are Corinthian.--TRANS.


I am reminded, too, of the dervishes when I recall those last days.

The Mevlevi--or dancing dervishes (the most celebrated of the
thirty-two orders)--have a well-known fekkeh on the Grande Rue de Pera.
We proceeded thither prepared to behold rapt, saintly countenances
lit up by celestial visions. But our minds were quickly disabused
of all such ideas. Alas! among dervishes as well the flame of faith
“laps a dry wick,” and the celebrated holy dance appeared to me to
be nothing more than a cold and formal theatrical performance. It is
unquestionably both curious and interesting to watch them as they
enter the circular mosque in single file, each one enveloped in a long
dark mantle, with arms concealed and head bowed, to an accompaniment
of savage music, monotonous and sweet, which resembles the sound
made by the wind among the cypress trees of the Skutari cemetery,
soothing one into a sort of waking slumber. And when they begin to
turn, prostrating themselves two by two before the mihrab with dreamy,
languid movements which arouse sudden doubts as to their sex: there
is something fascinating too in the way in which, with a sudden rapid
movement, they fling aside their cloaks and appear all in white,
with long woollen skirts, and, opening their arms with an amorous
gesture and inclining their heads to one side, abandon themselves
one after another to the evolutions of the dance, as though pushed
forward by an invisible hand, and when they all whirl around in the
centre of the mosque together and at equal distances from one another,
without diverging from their respective posts by so much as a hair’s
breadth, as though each one were on a pivot, white, rapid, light,
with waving, inflated skirts and half-closed eyes; and when with a
sudden simultaneous movement, as though overpowered by some superhuman
vision, they cast themselves upon the ground with a thundering cry
of “Allah!” or when, commencing again, they bend low and kiss one
another’s hands, then circle around once more, close to the wall, with
a light, tripping step, between walking and dancing,--all of this, I
acknowledge, makes a beautiful and entertaining performance, but the
ecstasies, the transports, the transfigured faces, seen and described
by so many enthusiastic travellers, I failed to discover. All I saw
was a number of extraordinarily agile and indefatigable dancers, who
went through their task with the most utter indifference, sometimes
even with suppressed smiles. One young dervish was manifestly pleased
at finding himself observed by an English girl in the gallery just
opposite him, and I detected more than one in an attempt to bite
instead of kiss his neighbor’s proffered hand, the other retaliating
with a sharp pinch--the hypocrites! What struck me most was that every
one of those men--and they were of all ages and conditions--possessed
a grace and elegance of movement and pose which might well arouse
envy in the breasts of many of the frequenters of our ball-rooms, and
which I take to be a natural attribute of the Oriental races, due, no
doubt, to certain peculiarities in their structure and build. I had an
opportunity of observing this still more closely on another occasion,
when I visited one of them in his cell just at the hour when he was
preparing to take part in the dance. He was a tall, slender youth,
with a beardless and somewhat effeminate face: when we entered he was
standing before a mirror in the act of fastening on his white cassock.
Greeting us with a smiling glance, he continued his toilet, passing his
hand lightly over his slim figure, adjusting rapidly, but at the same
time tastefully and with the sure eye of an artist, all the various
parts of his costume, just as a lady gives the finishing touches to her
dress; and, really seen from behind with his trailing gown, he did look
very much indeed like a pretty slip of a girl who, all dressed for the
ball, gazes in the mirror to judge of the effect. And he was--a monk!

       *       *       *       *       *

But among all my last memories there are none so beautiful as those
of the summit of Mount Chamlejah, which rises up above Skutari. It
was there that I gave Constantinople my final greeting, and, as it
was the last, so was it also the most superb of all my great visions
of the metropolis. We crossed ever to Skutari at daybreak one foggy
morning: when we arrived at the top of the mountain the fog was still
there, and, though the appearance of the sky gave promise of a clear
day, everything below us was hidden. It was an extraordinary sight. An
immense gray curtain was spread between us and Skutari, the Bosphorus,
the Golden Horn, all of Constantinople, completely concealing them,
just as though the great city with its harbors and outskirts had been
blotted out of existence. It was like an ocean of mist, from out of
which the summit of Chamlejah arose like a lonely island. As we gazed
down at the gray sea at our feet we pretended that we were two poor
pilgrims from the interior of Asia Minor, who, having reached that
spot before daybreak, were looking at the mist below them without any
idea that it covered the mighty metropolis of the Ottoman empire;
and then we amused ourselves greatly by picturing what their growing
sensations of wonder and bewilderment would have been as, little by
little, the rising sun rolled back the veil and exposed the marvellous
and unlooked-for spectacle to view. The thick clouds began to break
away at various points at the same moment; here and there on the great
gray surface little groups of houses appeared like tiny islands--an
archipelago of small towns, floating in the mist and scattered far
away from one another. These were the peaks of Stambul’s seven hills,
the heights of Pera, the highest villages along the European shore
of the Bosphorus, the crest of Kassim Pasha, a confused suggestion
of the more distant suburbs along the Golden Horn near Eyûb and
Haskeui--twenty little Constantinoples, rosy, airy, bristling with
innumerable white, green, and silver points. Then each began to grow
larger and larger, as though slowly arising from that vaporous sea, and
on all sides thousands of roofs, domes, towers, and minarets floated
gayly into sight, crowding close together or chasing after one another
as though each were skurrying to take his place before being caught by
the sun. Already Skutari lay exposed to view, as well as nearly all of
Stambul; on the other bank of the Golden Horn we could see the higher
parts of all those outskirts which stretch from Galata to the Sweet
Waters; and on the European shore of the Bosphorus, Topkâneh, Fundukli,
Dolmabâghcheh, Beshiktash, and so on, as far as the eye could reach,
village after village, great tiers of buildings, and still more distant
towns, of which only the roofs could be seen, bathed in a soft pink
glow. But the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, the sea were still invisible.
Our two pilgrims would have been completely puzzled: apparently it was
an immense city built above two deep valleys, perpetually enveloped in
fog, one opening into the other; and they might well have wondered
what those two mysterious abysses could possibly contain. But, behold!
Yet a few moments and the dull gray of the remaining clouds begins to
melt into blue; then a shimmer appears. Water? a bay? No, a strait, a
sea, two seas! All of Constantinople at length stands forth revealed,
bathed in light, framed in blue and green, looking as though she might
just have left the hands of the Creator. Oh the beautiful vision!
What avails it that we have already gazed enraptured upon you from a
hundred different heights, examined your every minutest detail, and
given voice over and over again to our wonder and admiration? Once
more we must engage in the vain struggle to express our sense of your
all-inexpressible loveliness; and this time it is with the knowledge
that yet a few short days and you are destined to fade for ever from
our eyes, henceforth to be only a vague, confused memory; the veil of
mist will settle down, to lift again no more for ever; the moment of
parting is at hand. I know not why, but it is as though we were going
into exile, and the horizon of our lives seems to grow indistinct.

       *       *       *       *       *

And yet even in Constantinople, and when there are only a few days
left, one is sometimes bored. The mind, completely wearied out, refuses
to receive any more new impressions. We would cross the bridge without
turning our heads: everything seemed to be the same color; we
wandered aimlessly about, yawning and uninterested like a couple of
idle vagabonds; spent hour after hour sitting in front of a Turkish
café staring at the ground, or lounging at the hotel windows watching
the cats climb over the opposite roofs. We were satiated with the
Orient, and felt within us a growing desire for work and activity.

[Illustration: Coffee-Maker.]

Then came two days of steady rain. Constantinople became one huge
mud-puddle and turned gray all over. That was the final stroke. We
plunged head foremost into outrageously bad humors, abused the whole
place, grew rude and stupid, and assumed no end of conceited European
airs. Who on the day of our arrival would ever have imagined such a
condition of things? And to think of the lengths to which it carried
us!--actually to the point of holding high festival on the day when
we came out of the Austrian Lloyds with a couple of tickets for Varna
and the Danube in our pockets! But there was one feature that dampened
our rejoicings, and that was the approaching parting from our kind
friends in Pera, with whom we passed all our last evenings in the
most cordial and friendly fashion. How depressing this everlasting
saying good-bye becomes--this continual breaking of pleasant ties, and
leaving a fragment of one’s heart wherever one may go! Is there nowhere
to be found on the surface of the earth a magic wand by whose aid I
shall one day be enabled, at a given moment, to assemble around some
well-spread board all my friends scattered at present over the surface
of the globe--you, Santoro, from Constantinople; you, Selam, from the
coast of Africa; and Ten Brink from the dunes of Holland; and Segovia
from the Guadalquivir; and Saavedra from the banks of the Thames--that
I may tell you how ever-present you all are in my thoughts and in my
heart? Alas! the wand is not yet found, and in the mean time the years
go by and one’s dreams fade away.


And now, before embarking upon that Austrian boat which is getting up
steam in the Golden Horn opposite Galata, preparatory to sailing for
the Black Sea, it remains for me to set forth, modestly as becomes
a simple traveller, certain general observations bearing upon the
question, “What did you think of the Turks?”--observations altogether
spontaneous in themselves, and wholly uninfluenced by current events,
resting, in short, entirely upon my personal recollections of those
days. At that question, “What did you think of the Turks?” the first
thing that comes into my mind is the impression made upon me from the
moment I set foot in Constantinople to the last day of my stay there
by the outward appearance of the male population of Stambul. Setting
aside all merely physical differences, this impression is something
altogether unlike that produced upon one by the men of any other city
of Europe: it is as though they were all--I am at a loss how to express
my meaning more clearly--thinking of precisely the same thing. Now,
this idea might occur to a Southerner as he observed superficially
and for the first time the inhabitants of a city of Northern Europe,
but that is not the same thing at all. With them it is the seriousness
and preoccupation of a busy people who are thinking of actual things,
while the Turks all seem to be considering something intangible and
remote: they have the air of philosophers possessed by a fixed idea,
or of somnambulists unconscious of their whereabouts, gazing ahead of
them with far-seeing eyes, as though accustomed to contemplate distant
horizons, while in the expression of the eyes and lines of the mouth
there is that look of vague melancholy noticeable in people who live
shut up in themselves. In all there is the same gravity, the same
composed manner, the same reserve of language, look, and gesture.
They seem all to be gentlemen educated after one pattern, from the
pasha to the shopkeeper, and animated in common by a certain well-bred
dignity, which, wore it not for the differences in dress, would lead
one to suppose that Stambul had no plebeians. The expression is almost
universally cold, revealing nothing of the soul and mind within, it
being exceedingly rare to come across one of those open countenances
so common among us which reflect, like mirrors, the passionate or
loving or spiteful nature below, and lend themselves to a quick and
accurate reading of the man. Among the Turks, on the contrary, every
face is an enigma; their look interrogates, but never responds, and
their mouths betray nothing of the impulses of the heart within. It
is impossible to convey any idea of the depressing effect made upon a
stranger by these expressionless faces, this coldness, this statuesque
uniformity of attitude and bearing, and the steady, passionless gaze
which seems to see nothing. Sometimes you are seized with an insane
desire to shout aloud in the middle of the crowd: “Rouse yourselves
just once--wake up, speak out, tell what you are thinking of, what you
are, what you see, staring ahead of you, with those great glass eyes!”
At first it seems all so unnatural that you cannot realize that it is
a normal condition, and fancy that this manner must have been assumed
by common consent, or else result from some moral malady by which
all the Mussulmans are temporarily afflicted. There is a variation,
though, and a remarkable one, in the general uniformity, which strikes
you at once: the original physical traits of the Turkish race--a race
both handsome and robust--are now preserved only by that portion of
the population which, either from necessity or religious enthusiasm,
follows the same simple and austere manner of life as their forefathers
did. Their characteristics are--a spare, vigorous build, well-formed
head, bright eyes, aquiline nose, prominent jawbone, and general
air of activity and strength. The Turk of the upper classes, on the
contrary, where vice has long prevailed and the mixing of alien blood
is much more common, has usually a fat, overgrown body, small head,
low forehead, dull eyes, and drooping lips. A correspondingly great,
or even greater, moral divergence exists between the true, pure Turk
of a former generation and that colorless nondescript being calling
himself “a reformed Turk.” Hence, any one who may desire to study the
characteristics of what may, in general terms, be called the Turkish
people, is confronted by a serious difficulty at the outset, since with
that half of it which has preserved intact the national traits there is
either no way of mixing or no medium of communication, while the other
half, while they offer every facility for intercourse and observation,
do not faithfully represent either the national character or aims.
Neither corruption nor the modern coloring of European civilization,
however, has yet deprived the upper-class Turk of that indefinable air,
at once severe and melancholy, which is seen in the lower classes as
well, and which, not considered individually, but in the general mass
of the people, produces an undeniably favorable impression. In fact,
judging only from appearances, one would be inclined to pronounce the
Turkish population the most civilized and well-behaved of any city in
Europe. Even in the most deserted quarters of Stambul a stranger never
is in danger of being insulted: he may frequent the mosques, even
during the hours of prayer, with much greater certainty of meeting
with respectful treatment than if he were a Turk visiting one of our
churches; one never encounters a look that is, not insolent,--but so
much as disagreeably curious; in the crowded streets it is rare to hear
a laugh, and very rare to see a street-row in which blows are given and
received; there are no bold glances from women at doors or windows or
in the shops, no open indecency. The market-place is but little less
dignified than the mosque, and everywhere the utmost restraint is put
upon both language and gesture--no singing, no loud laughter, no vulgar
scuffling, no importunate rabble blocking up the way; clean faces,
hands, and feet; rarely is any one to be seen ragged, still more rarely
dirty; there is no brawling, and a universal and reciprocal respect
exists between all classes of society.

But all this is merely what appears upon the surface; the dry rot is
covered up; the separation of the sexes prevents the corruption from
being apparent. Sloth wears the mask of leisure, dignity is a cloak for
pride. That well-bred composure which seems to indicate a thoughtful
nature hides in reality a mortal intellectual inertia; what appears to
be sombre moderation in their manner of life is nothing in the world
but an utter absence of any life at all. The character and philosophy,
the entire life, of this people may be understood by a particular
condition of the body and spirit called _kief_, which represents their
ideal of supreme happiness. This is it, after partaking sparingly of
food, drinking a glass of water from the fountain, and saying some
prayers, to establish yourself, with the body thus satisfied and the
conscience at ease, in some spot from whence a wide stretch of the
horizon may be seen, and there, beneath the shade of a tree, to remain,
following the movements of the pigeons in the opposite cemetery, the
distant ships, the insects close at hand, the clouds in the sky, and
the smoke from your narghileh, reflecting the while vaguely on God
and death, on the vanity of earthly things, and the sweetness of the
eternal repose and the other life. That is _kief_; in other words, to
be an idle spectator in the world’s great theatre is the Turk’s most
lofty aspiration toward which he is impelled by the originally pastoral
temperament of his race, at once slow and contemplative, his religion,
which ties men’s hands in committing all to God, and his traditions as
a soldier of Islamism for whom there exists no other really great or
necessary sphere of action but that of the battlefield, upon which he
must gain the mastery for his own faith; that done, every duty has been
performed. His point of view is that of the fatalist: man is merely an
instrument in the hands of Providence, and it is quite useless for him
to attempt to alter the course of events as it has been prescribed in
heaven; this world is but a caravansary, through which man has been
created by God to pass, praying and admiring His works: leave all to
God; let what is dying, die, what is passing away, pass; why should we
trouble ourselves to restore or preserve? The supreme desire of the
Turk is for peace, and he protects himself with the utmost care from
all that threatens the calm monotony of his existence; consequently,
no thirst for knowledge disturbs him, no passion for gain, no vague,
unsatisfied longings either of love or ambition. The utter absence
of those innumerable intellectual and physical tastes, in order to
satisfy which we are willing to labor so incessantly, prevents him
from being able to so much as understand why we do it, and he sees in
it only an indication of a morbid aberration of mind. The final aim
of all endeavor being, in his judgment, the attainment of that peace
which he enjoys without being at any trouble to obtain, it seems to him
self-evident that his course is the most sensible. The most stupendous
intellectual and physical achievements of the other European nations
seem to him nothing more than the results of a puerile restlessness,
since they fail to gain for them an increased possession of his ideal
of happiness. Never working himself, he has no sense of the value
of time, and so neither desires nor appreciates all those fruits of
human ingenuity which tend to quicken and facilitate the progress of
the human race: he is quite capable of questioning the benefits to be
derived from a railroad unless it could transport you to a place where
you would be happier than you were before. This fatalistic belief,
which leads him to condemn as useless any taking of thought for the
future, is the cause of his utter disregard of everything apart from
the certain and immediate advantage it may bring him. Thus a European
who looks ahead and plans and schemes, and lays the foundations of
enterprises whose completion he cannot hope to see, exhausting his
powers and sacrificing his ease for a distant and uncertain end, he
regards in the light of a visionary. We seem to him to be a frivolous
people, despicable, presumptuous, degenerate, whose only boast lies
in a sort of science of those earthly things which he scorns just as
far as he is able to without allowing them to get the better of him.
And how he despises us! For my own part, I am convinced that this is
the ruling sentiment with which we inspire those real Turks who still
constitute the large majority of the nation: one may deny or pretend
not to believe this, but any one who has lived among them more or less
cannot fail to be conscious of it. This feeling of disdain comes from
various causes: first of all--and this, from their standpoint, is a
most significant circumstance--they have maintained their supremacy
over a large tract of Europe, whose population is of a different faith
from their own, for more than four centuries, notwithstanding their
comparatively small numbers and in the teeth of all that has happened
and is still happening. To a small number of Turks this is merely
to be attributed to the rival jealousies and discords of the great
European powers, but the rest of the nation see in it only additional
proof of their own superiority and our degradation. Indeed, it has
never entered the mind of a Turk of the lower orders that Islam Europe
ever could or would submit to the affront of Christian conquest from
the Dardanelles to the Danube. To the boasts of our civilization they
oppose the fact of their dominion. Naturally haughty, their pride fed
and strengthened by the habit of ruling, accustomed to being assured
in the name of God that they belong to a race of conquerors, born to
fight, but not to work, and wont to subsist off the labors of the
vanquished, they cannot so much as take in the idea that the people
subdued by their arms could ever lay claim to the right of civil
equality with themselves. Possessed as they are by a blind faith in
the visible overrulings of Providence, their conquest of Europe was
but a fulfilment of the will of God, and it is God who invested them,
as a mark of His power, with this earthly sovereignty. The fact of
His continuing to maintain them in it in the face of so many hostile
forces is an incontestable proof of their divine right and of the
truth of their religion. Against this line of argument the claims of
civilization for human rights and equality are urged in vain. For
them civilization means nothing but a hostile force which is trying
to disarm them without coming to an open fight: little by little, and
stealthily, it would lower them in the estimation of their own subjects
and steal away their ascendency. So, in addition to despising it as
a vain thing, they fear it as an enemy, and, unable to oppose it by
force, they offer the resistance of their own invincible inertia. To be
transformed, civilized, is to put themselves on an equality with the
people they have conquered, to endeavor to emulate them in intellectual
achievements, study, work, acquire a new superiority, win again, this
time with the mind, the victory already gained by their swords. To such
an enterprise as this is opposed, apart from their natural interests
as rulers, their religious contempt for unbelievers, their military
pride, their indolence, which is second nature, and the character of
their intellect, entirely wanting as it is in the creative faculty and
dulled and blunted by the continued iteration of those same few ideas
which form the entire intellectual patrimony of their nation. Moreover,
those among themselves who have adopted what they are pleased to call
European civilization, and represent the state to which they believe
Europe would like to see all the sons of Osman brought,--those of their
brethren who wear long coats and gloves and chatter French and neglect
the mosque, hardly set such an example as might reasonably be expected
to convert the others. In what way has the so-called civilization
affected them? On this point at least there is little difference of
opinion: the new Turk is not worth as much as the old; he has adopted
our dress, our conveniences, our vices, and our vanity, but thus far
neither our beliefs nor our ideas, and has succeeded, moreover, in the
course of this partial transformation, in losing whatever good points
he may once have possessed in the depths of his genuine Ottoman nature.
Thus far, the only fruits of civilization evident to the conservative
Turk is a more widely diffused _peste dicasterica_, an innumerable
host of idle, inefficient, discreditable, rapacious officials, wearing
the mask of Europeans and despising all the ancient traditions of the
nation, and a sort of _jeunesse dorée_, corrupt and shameless, who
give promise of being many degrees worse than their fathers were. To
live and dress as they do is, in the opinion of the real Turk, to be
civilized, and as a matter of fact he calls it doing or thinking or
living, as the case may be, like the Frank whenever it is a question
of anything which not only the conscience of a strict Mohammedan would
condemn, but that of any decent man of whatever religion. And so the
“uncivilized,” instead of looking upon these others as enlightened
Mussulmans who have gained certain advantages in advance of their
fellow-countrymen, regard them as degenerate beings, led astray, hardly
less than apostates, traitors to the nation; and they fear and resist
everything like change with all the force they possess, if for no other
reason than because it proceeds from that quarter where its fatal
results are daily before their eyes. Every European innovation means
to them simply a fresh attempt upon their national life and interests.
The government is revolutionary, the people conservative; the seed of
the new ideas falls upon a dry, compact soil, which refuses to yield
up the necessary moisture for its nutriment; he who rules the nation’s
affairs draws and manipulates the hilt, but the blade merely spins
around in the haft. That is why all those efforts at reform which have
been started during the past fifty years have never penetrated farther
than the national skin; if in some instances names have been changed,
the things have remained the same. What little has been accomplished
has been by force, and at its door the people lay the increasing
audacity of the unbelievers, the corruption which is eating away the
heart of the empire, and all the national misfortunes. Why, they ask,
should we change our institutions, since they are the same with which
we have prevailed against and overcome our enemies for centuries? Why
adopt those of the people who were unable to withstand the power of our
sword? The organism, life, and traditions of the Turkish people are
like those of a victorious army encamped upon European soil, enjoying
the idleness and privileges, wielding the authority, and exhibiting
the pride of conquerors, and, like all armies, they prefer that iron
discipline which accords the pre-eminence to them over the vanquished,
to a milder rule which would restrict their arbitrary rights. Now,
the idea that this state of things, which has existed unchanged for
centuries, can be altered in the course of a few years is simply an
idle dream. The light vanguard of the “civilized” may march ahead as
rapidly as they choose, but the body of the army, laden still with the
ponderous armor of mediæval times, either remains stationary or else
follows at a great distance and with hardly perceptible steps.

Blind despotism, the corps of the Janissaries, the Seraglio adorned
with human heads, a firm belief in the invincibility of the Osman
dynasty, the _rayâh_ regarded as an unclean being, the French
ambassadors dressed and fed at the confines of the throne-room to
symbolize the miserable poverty of the unbeliever in the eyes of the
supreme lord,--all of these, it must be remembered, are but things
of yesterday, and, as a matter of fact, I suppose there is not much
divergence of opinion on this head, even between Europeans and the
Turks themselves: that about which there is the greatest disagreement,
and consequently great difficulty for a stranger who wishes to arrive
at a correct judgement, is the estimation in which the private and
personal characteristics of the individual Turk is held. If you
question a _rayâh_, you hear only the complaints of the oppressed
against the oppressor, while from the free European colonists, who have
no cause either to dislike or fear the Ottomans, but, on the contrary,
every reason for congratulating themselves on the existing condition
of things, you get nothing, as a rule, but opinions which are possibly
sincere, but certainly are excessively favorable. The majority of
these last agree in pronouncing the Turk to be frank, loyal, honest,
and sincerely religious; but in crediting him with this sentiment
of religion, it must always be borne in mind that the faith which
he upholds so loyally does not interfere with any one of his tastes
or interests; in fact, it caters to his sensual nature, justifies
his indolence, upholds his rule: he clings to it tenaciously because
his national life is in its dogmas and upon belief in it depends his
fate. With regard to his probity, many individual cases are brought
forward of the same kind as hundreds of others which might be cited
with equal force about the most corrupt peoples of Europe; and it must
be remembered in this connection that the Turk in his dealings with
Christians often assumes a sort of ostentatious honesty, acting, out of
sheer pride, in a manner which he would never dream of doing if he were
influenced by his conscience alone; he simply cannot bear to appear
of small account in the eyes of those whom he considers his inferiors
both in race and in moral worth. Hence his attitude as a ruler gives
birth to certain characteristics, praiseworthy enough in the abstract,
such as frankness, pride, and dignity, but which he would certainly
never have developed had he been subjected to the same conditions as
the people under his sway. At the same time, though, he undoubtedly
possesses some admirable qualities, such, for instance, as liberality
in the giving of alms, which, even though it does encourage sloth and
thus add to the general wretchedness, constitutes almost the sole
alleviation for the innumerable miseries of his ill-ordered society;
and he has other traits indicative of a kindly spirit, such as his
undying gratitude for the smallest act of kindness, his reverence for
the dead, his cordial hospitality, and his gentleness toward animals;
then his attitude in regard to the equality of all classes of society
is admirable, and there is no denying that there is a sort of severe
moderation in his character, which crops out in innumerable proverbs
full of wisdom and sagacity; a certain patriarchal simplicity, a
dreamy love of solitude, and a vague melancholy which tend to rid the
soul of vulgarity and vice. All these qualities float, as it were, on
the surface as long as the tranquillity of his ordinary life remains
undisturbed, but below them sleep his violent Asiatic nature, his
fanaticism, his warlike ardor, and barbarous ferocity, ready to blaze
forth and transform him into another being. Thus the saying that the
Turk is the most amiable of men except when he cuts off people’s heads
is really quite correct. The Tartar, chained and sleeping, is in him
still, and his natural vigor too, rather preserved than otherwise
by the slothful ease of his habit of life, which only makes demands
upon it at some great crisis. He has preserved his physical courage
intact, not having loosened its springs by the cultivation of the
intellect, which raises the value of human life and makes men less
willing to throw it away, as it offers them more to live for. In him
the sentiment both of religion and warfare finds a field unspoiled by
doubts or the spirit of rebellion or clashing beliefs; it is a soil
which can be instantly set fire to--a man cut out of a single block,
who needs but a touch to unsheathe his sword and strike out in all
directions, while upon its blade is inscribed the name of but one God
and one sovereign. Social life has worked but very little change in
him from the ancient inhabitant of the steppe and hut: in the city
he still leads, in spirit, much the same sort of life as he formerly
led among his tribe--surrounded, that is, by people, but alone with
his thoughts. And there is really no social life among the Turks. The
existence of the two sexes suggests the idea of two rivers which run
parallel to one another, their waters never mingling except here and
there in some subterranean passage-way. The men meet together, but
there is no actual intimacy between them; they approach, but obtain no
hold on one another, each one preferring what a great poet has called
the _vegetazione sorda delle idee_ to the expansion of himself. Our
conversations, rapid, varied, playful, instructive, or humorous, our
demand for the interchange of ideas, for human intercourse, for the
spur to our intellects and warmth for our hearts which are obtained by
association with others, are hardly known among them. Their discourse
is all of earthly things, comprehending only the material necessities
of life; love is excluded from it, literature is the privilege of
the few, science is a myth, politics but little more than a question
of names, and business occupies but a very small place in the lives
of most of them. The nature of their intellect prohibits discussions
upon abstract topics, as they can only grasp clearly the idea of such
things as they are able to see and touch, their language itself giving
proof of this in its inability to express an abstraction. When such a
necessity arises the learned Turk has recourse to the Arabic or Persian
or some European language. They see, moreover, no necessity for making
any mental effort in order to understand what lies outside their own
immediate sphere: the Persian is inquiring, the Arabian curious. As
for the Turk, he experiences only the most supreme indifference toward
all he does not know, and, as he has no ideas to interchange, he
naturally does not care for the society of Europeans, disliking their
interminable and subtle discussions, and, still more, themselves. There
cannot, in the nature of things, be anything like confidence between
them, since the Turk resolutely keeps back all that part of himself
which relates to his household, his pleasures, his closest ties, and,
what is still more important, the real nature of his feeling for the
other, which is nothing less than an invincible distrust. He tolerates
the Armenian, despises the Jew, hates the Greek, distrusts the Frank.
Generally speaking, he puts up with them all in much the same spirit
that a big animal will allow a swarm of flies to alight on his back,
contenting himself with giving an occasional sweep with his tail when
they begin to sting; he lets them interfere and change his surroundings
as much as they want to; knows how to value those Europeans who can
be of use to him; accepts such innovations in material things as can
offer some palpable advantage; listens without a tremor of the eyelid
to all the lectures on civilization which are read to him; alters
laws, customs, and ceremonials, learns by heart and repeats fluently
the sayings of our philosophers; allows himself to be travestied,
caricatured, burlesqued; but at bottom he remains immutably, hopelessly
the same.

And yet reason refuses to believe that the slow onward march of
civilization will not eventually succeed in implanting a spark of new
life in this gigantic Asiatic soldier who lies sprawling fast asleep
across two continents, only arousing to brandish the sword. But when
we consider the efforts which have been made as compared with the
results obtained up to the present time, that day appears to be so
very distant, especially in view of the needs and the impatience of
the Christian population of the East, that it seems vain to hope that
the question which is occupying the mind of all Europe can have for
its solution the progressive and orderly civilization of the Turkish
people. Such, at all events, is the conclusion arrived at by me in the
course of my brief sojourn in Constantinople. What other solution is
there? Ah, gentlemen, that is a question which you must really excuse
me if I decline to answer. Were I to do so, it would seem as though I
were giving advice to Europe, an idea which shocks my modesty. And,
moreover, as I have already mentioned, there is a certain Austrian boat
getting up steam down there in the Golden Horn off Galata, which is
ready to start for the Black Sea, and the reader knows very well what
that boat is going to pass through.


Hardly were we well on board when a gray curtain seemed to stretch
itself over Constantinople, upon which were portrayed the outlines of
the Morravian and Hungarian Mountains and the Alps of Lower Austria.
Such rapid changes of scene occur not infrequently upon the decks of
outgoing steamers, where one is apt to recognize the features and
hear beforehand the language of the country for which he is bound.
On this occasion we found ourselves hemmed in by a circle of German
faces and felt a premonitory breath of the cold and dampness of the
North. Our friends have left us. Three white handkerchiefs fluttering
from a distant käik show where they are threading their way through
the dark mass of boats coming and going in front of the custom-house.
We are in the same spot as that in which our Sicilian boat anchored
on the day of our arrival. It is a lovely autumnal evening, clear and
warm, and Constantinople has never appeared so vast nor so radiantly
beautiful. Yet once again we endeavor to imprint upon our memories her
mighty outlines, her matchless coloring, like that of an enchanted
city, and for the last time drink in the unutterable beauties of the
Golden Horn, so soon to be for ever hidden from our gaze. Now the white
handkerchiefs have disappeared and our boat is in motion. Everything
seems to have moved out of place: Skutari has come forward, Stambul
stepped back, while Galata revolves around in a circle as though
trying to see the last of us. Farewell to the Golden Horn! One forward
bound of the vessel robs us of Kassim-Pasha, another carries off Eyûb,
another the sixth hill of Stambul; then the fifth disappears, the
fourth is hidden, the third vanishes, the second fades away; only the
Seraglio Hill is left, and that--Heaven be praised!--will still remain
to us for a little longer at least. Already we are in mid stream,
advancing rapidly up the Bosphorus; Topkhâneh flies by, then Fundukli,
then the white and sculptured façades of Dolmabâghcheh; Skutari
presents to us for the last time her amphitheatre of hills covered with
gardens and villas.

[Illustration: Bosphorus: View of Shores of Asia and Europe.]

Farewell, Constantinople, vast and dearly-loved city, dream of my
childhood, desire of my youth, and unfading memory of my life!
Farewell, exquisite and immortal queen of the Orient! May time soften
thy lot without impairing thy beauty, and may my children one day greet
thee with the same ecstasy of youthful enthusiasm with which I bid thee

The sadness of parting was, however, soon forgotten in the delight of
finding a new Constantinople, even larger and more exquisitely lovely
than the one we had left upon the banks of the Golden Horn, extending
for about sixteen miles along the two most beautiful shores on earth.

The first village to come into sight upon our left--that is, upon
the European shore--is Beshiktash, a large Turkish suburb of
Constantinople, lying at the foot of a hill and enclosing a small
harbor; behind it a charming valley--the ancient valley of the _allori
di Stefano_ of Byzantium--ascends in the direction of Pera; a group
of plane trees rising in the midst of the houses marks the sepulchre
of the famous corsair Barbarossa; and a large café, always crowded,
extends out over the water supported on piles; the harbor is gay with
käiks and other boats, the shore covered with people, the hillsides
with verdure, and the valley filled with houses and gardens; but it
is no longer like a suburb of Constantinople: already we note the
distinctive character, the matchless radiance and charm peculiar to
the villages along the Bosphorus; the objects are smaller, the foliage
thicker, the coloring more brilliant: it is like a nest of smiling
little houses suspended between sky and water, a tiny city inhabited
by lovers and poets, only designed to last as long as the fires of
passion or genius may burn, and placed there to gratify a whim on some
fair summer’s night. Hardly have our eyes rested well upon it than it
is already gone, and we find ourselves opposite the Cheragan palace,
or rather row of white marble palaces, at once chaste and magnificent,
adorned with long lines of columns and crowned with terraces and
balconies, above which floats an airy cloud of innumerable white birds
of the Bosphorus, standing out clearly against the brilliant foliage of
the hillsides.

But now a most tantalizing experience begins. While our attention
is concentrated upon one beautiful sight we are missing a thousand
others. While we stand gazing at Beshiktash and Cheragan, the Asiatic
shore, whose charming villages tempt one to buy and carry them off like
jewels, is flying by. Kuzgunjik disappears, tinted with every color of
the rainbow, where tradition says the heifer Io landed after swimming
the Bosphorus in order to escape from the gad-flies of Hera; and
Istavros, with its beautiful mosque and two minarets; and the imperial
palace of Beylerbey, with its conical and pyramidal roofs and its gray
and yellow walls, wearing the same strange, mysterious look that a
convent of princesses might have; and then Beylerbey village, reflected
in the water, with Mount Bûlgurlû rising behind it; and all those
other villages, with houses grouped closely together or else scattered
about at the foot of little bright green hills, and so overgrown
with vegetation that it seems as though they would sink out of sight
altogether. Long garlands of villas and little houses, and avenues
of trees connect them, running along the bank or descending in
zigzag lines from the neighboring heights to the water’s edge, through
numberless flower and vegetable gardens, and meadows laid out in
squares, connected by little flights of stone steps and bright with
every conceivable shade of green.

[Illustration: Mosque of Validêh at Ak Serai.]

Well, there is no help for it; we must resign ourselves to catching
nothing more than a flying glimpse of it all, and can only get that by
turning our heads from side to side with the monotonous regularity of

After leaving Cheragan behind, we see on our left the large village
of Orta, above which appears the shining dome of the mosque erected
by the Validéh Sultan, mother of Abdul-Aziz, and the graceful roofs
of the palace of Riza-Pasha at the foot of a hill from whose summit
the light and shining walls of the imperial kiosk of the Star peep out
from amid a dense mass of foliage. Orta Keui contains the residences of
a number of Greek, Armenian, and Frankish bankers, and as we passed,
the Constantinople boat was in the act of landing her passengers. A
crowd of persons went ashore, other crowds stood waiting to embark;
there were Turkish and Armenian gentlemen, officers, monks, eunuchs,
dandies, fezzes, turbans, hats like bushel-measures, little caps, all
jumbled together--a scene similar to that which may be witnessed at any
one of the twenty boat-landings along the Bosphorus, more especially
toward evening. Opposite Orta Keui is the gay little village of
Chengel--village of the _anchor_; from an old iron anchor found on its
shore by Muhammad II.[L] It is surrounded by villas, while on the shore
stands that imperial kiosk of infamous celebrity from which Murad IV.,
transported with envious rage, ordered the execution of those groups of
country-people whom he saw passing happily through the fields singing
as they went.

    [L] Chengel Keui takes its name from the bend in the shore at
        that point.--TRANS.

Turning again toward the shore of Europe, we find ourselves on a line
with the pretty village and charming harbor of Kuru Chesmeh, the
ancient Anaplus.[M] Here Medea landed with Jason and planted the famous
laurel tree. Then, looking back again to Asia, we see the smiling
villages of Kulehli and Vani spread out along the shore to right and
left of a huge barrack whose reflection in the water resembles more
that of a royal palace. Back of the two villages rises a hill whose
summit is crowned by a large garden, in the midst of which, barely
discernible among the branches of the trees, glimmers the white kiosk
where Suleiman the Great passed three years of his life, hidden away
in a little tower, to escape the spies and executioners of his father,
Selim. While we are trying to identify the tower amid the trees the
steamer has passed Arnaût-Keui--the Albanian village--now peopled by
Greeks, whose houses surround a small bay in the European shore full of
sailing vessels. But there is no use in attempting to see everything.
One village draws away our attention from another; a beautiful mosque
distracts us from an exquisite landscape; and while we are gazing
at villages and harbors we have missed palaces of viziers, pashâs,
sultans, chief eunuchs, and other prominent persons; yellow, blue,
and purple houses hung with vines and creepers, seeming to float upon
the top of the waves or overflow with bloom, half buried in groves of
cypress, laurel, and orange trees; buildings with Corinthian façades
ornamented with rows of white marble columns; Swiss châlets, Japanese
huts, little Moorish palaces, Turkish kiosks, whose three stories
project one beyond the other, the grated galleries of their harems
overhanging the Bosphorus, while little flights of stairs lead down
to gardens washed by the waves. All the buildings are small, light,
unsubstantial, corresponding precisely to the nature of the power
wielded by those who inhabit them--the triumph of youth, the success of
an intrigue, a high office which may be forfeited to-morrow, a glory
doomed to end in exile, a fortune destined to evaporate, a greatness
which will crumble away. There is hardly an unoccupied spot on the
Bosphorus: it is like a sort of Grand Canal running through a huge
rural Venice. Villas, kiosks, and palaces rise one behind the other,
so placed as to leave the façade of each in view, those in the rear
seeming to perch upon the roofs of those in front, while between and
behind them is a mass of green, the tops and points of oaks, plane
trees, maples, poplars, pines, and fig trees, through whose branches
may be seen sparkling fountains and the gleaming domes of lonely
türbehs and solitary mosques.

    [M] Arnaût-Keui, the next village, is the Anaplus of the

Looking back at Constantinople, we can still make out, indistinctly,
the Seraglio Hill and the huge dome of St. Sophia rising darkly
against the gold and limpid background of the evening sky; meanwhile,
Arnaût-Keui, Vani, Kulehli, Chengel, Orta have all disappeared, and
our surroundings undergone an entire change. We now seem to be on an
immense lake; to right and left on either shore there opens a little
bay; around that on our left lies in a semicircle the pretty Greek town
of Bebek shaded by lofty trees, among which stand a fine old mosque and
the imperial kiosk of Humayun-Habad, where in former days the sultans
used to grant secret audiences to foreign ambassadors; on one side the
town is buried in the thick foliage of a little valley, on the other it
climbs the steep ascent of a hill covered with oak trees and crowned
by a grove famous for its echo, where the noise of a single horse’s
hoofs resounds like the tramp of a regiment. The view here would throw
a queen into raptures, and yet it is straight-way forgotten when we
turn to look at the opposite shore. There, indeed, it is a veritable
earthly paradise which is spread out before our eyes. Kandili,
variegated as a town of Holland, with its white mosque and train of
villas, describes a wide arc upon a bold promontory; behind it rises
the flowery hill of Igiadié, crowned by a battlemented tower where a
watchman is stationed to keep a lookout for any appearance of fire on
either shore. Two valleys open on the bay to the right of Kandili, and
quite close together, called respectively Big and Little _Blue River_,
and between them are the charming grounds of the Sweet Waters of Asia,
planted with sycamore, oak, and plane trees, above which stands the
magnificent kiosk erected by the mother of Abdul-Mejid in the style
of the Dolmabâghcheh palace, surrounded by its gardens all red with
roses. Beyond the “Large Blue River” may be seen the brilliant colors
of Anadoli Hissar, built upon the side of a hill upon whose summit rise
the graceful towers of the Bayezid Ilderim, which exactly faces the
castle of Muhammad II. on the opposite shore.

At that hour this enchanting part of the Bosphorus is full of life
and movement; hundreds of little boats cover the bays and inlets of
the European shore; steamers and sailing vessels pass, bound for the
harbor of Bebek; Turkish fishermen busy themselves with their nets
suspended over the water from lofty poles and cross-beams; a throng
of passengers disembark from the Constantinople boat upon the stairs
of the European town--Greek gentlemen, Lazarists, students from the
American Protestant college, and family parties laden with shawls and
wraps. On the other side we can see with the aid of the glass parties
of Mussulman ladies walking about beneath the trees of the Sweet Waters
or seated in little groups on the banks of the “Blue Water,” while
numberless käiks and small boats with awnings, filled with Turkish
men or women, come and go along the shore. It is all so festive, so
Arcadian, so irresistibly charming, that I feel as though I must fling
myself overboard, and, swimming to one or the other of the two banks,
plant myself there with the fixed determination, come what may, to
live and die in the midst of that Mussulman paradise. All at once,
with a new change of scene, such ideas take flight: the Bosphorus now
stretches away directly ahead of us, with something of the look of the
Rhine, only it is a modified, softened Rhine, decked with the gorgeous
and varied coloring of the Orient. On the left a cemetery shaded by
groves of cypresses and pines forms the first break in the hitherto
uninterrupted chain of villages, and immediately after it, on the rocky
sides of Mount Hermæon, rise the three large towers of Rumili Hissar,
the Castle of Europe, surrounded by battlemented walls and lesser
towers, covering the incline to the water’s edge with picturesque
ruins. This is the renowned fortress erected by Muhammad II. a year
before the conquest of Constantinople in defiance of the indignant
remonstrances of Constantine, whose envoys, as every one knows, were
sent back threatened with death by way of reply. This is the narrowest
part of the Bosphorus, it being here only eight hundred and ten yards
wide, and the current is consequently so swift that it has obtained the
name of the “Great Current” from the Greeks and the “Devil’s Current”
from the Turks. It was here that Mandrokles of Samos constructed
the bridge of boats across which Darius conducted his seven hundred
thousand soldiers, and, as it is supposed, that the “Ten Thousand”
crossed on their return from Asia; but no trace can now be found either
of the two pillars of Mandrokles nor of the rock-hewn throne of Mount
Hermæon from whence the Persian king watched the passage of his army.
A little Turkish village nestles at the foot of the castle, and the
Asiatic shore stretches away in the distance, ever greener and more
picturesque. There is an unbroken succession of boat-landings, little
houses, gardens, tiny valleys overflowing with vegetation, small inlets
across which the limbs of the gigantic trees which line their banks
nearly meet, while beneath white-sailed fishing-boats pass slowly along
on the placid surface of the water, and charming pleasure-grounds, gay
with flowers, shelve gently down to the shore, or terraced gardens
framed in verdure, while from the summits of the neighboring hills
gleam the white stones of little cemeteries.

[Illustration: Sweet Waters of Europe.]

Next Kaneijeh comes unexpectedly into view, its red houses covering
two rocky promontories on the Asiatic shore, against whose bases
the waves break with a musical sound, while above, the minarets of
its two charming mosques glisten among a dark mass of cypress trees
and umbrella pines. Along here the gardens rise one above the other
like terraces, and the villas recommence, among the latter being the
marvellously beautiful palace of the celebrated Fuad Pâsha, poet and
diplomat, vain, voluptuous, and charming, who has been called the
Ottoman Lamartine. A little farther on we come to the pretty village of
Balta Limân, situated at the opening of a small valley on the European
shore, through which a narrow stream flows, emptying itself into
the harbor. Above rises a hill whose sides are covered with villas,
conspicuous among which is the ancient palace of Reshid Pâsha. Then
comes the bay of Emir Ghian Oghlu Bagche, whose waters look green from
the surrounding cypress trees, among which gleams, white as snow, a
solitary mosque surmounted by a great globe with golden rays. The boat
meanwhile approaches first one shore and then the other, close enough
for us to distinguish clearly all the little details of the landscape.
Now it is the vestibule of the _selamlik_ of a wealthy Turk, opening
on the water, in front of which a big majordomo is stretched upon
a divan smoking; then a eunuch who stands upon the lowest step of a
landing-stair assisting two veiled Turkish ladies into a käik; farther
on an old Turk is seated cross-legged, meditating upon the Koran, at
the foot of an immense plane tree, which shades a garden enclosed
between green hedges; family parties are assembled upon the terraces
of their country-houses; herds of sheep and goats feed upon high
pasture-lands; horsemen gallop along the shore, and strings of camels
pass across the brows of the hills, their strange, unfamiliar shapes
outlined against the clear sky.

All at once the Bosphorus widens out, and the aspect of everything
changes anew. Again we are between two bays, in the centre of a large
lake: that on the left is narrow and deep, and around it lies the
little Greek city of Stenia, formerly called Sosthenius from the temple
and winged statue placed there by the Argonauts in honor of their
tutelary genius, who had awarded them the victory in their encounter
with Amycus, king of Bebryces. Thanks to the inward course of the
steamer at this point, we are able to distinguish quite clearly the
cafés and small, closely-built houses along the shore, the villas
scattered about among their vineyards and olive trees, the valley
opening up from the harbor, the cascade which falls from a neighboring
height, and the celebrated Moorish fountain of pure white marble,
shaded by a group of huge maple trees, from whose branches fish-nets
are suspended above the groups of Greek women who pass back and forth
carrying amphora upon their heads. Opposite Stenia, on the bay in the
Asiatic coast, is the Turkish village of Chibûkli, where the famous
Monastery of the Sleepless once stood, whence prayer and praise
ascended to Heaven without interruption day and night. Both shores
of the Bosphorus from one sea to the other teem with associations
connected with those fanatical monks and anchorites of the fifth
century, who wandered over the hills and valleys laden with crosses
and chains, wore hair-cloth and iron collars, and remained immovable
for weeks and months at a time in the branches of a tree or upon the
summit of a column, while princes, magistrates, soldiers, and churchmen
prostrated themselves at their feet, fasting, praying, beating their
breasts, imploring advice or a blessing as though seeking a favor from

The Bosphorus has, however, one striking characteristic, that of
drawing away the thoughts of the traveller who passes through it for
the first time, from the past to the present. All the associations,
dreams, fancies, memories awakened by familiarity with its history or
legends are put to flight, driven back by the extraordinary richness of
the vegetation, the pomp of color, exuberance of life, and magnificent
abandonment of nature, in which everything appears as though it
were wreathed in smiles and decked for a fête. It is even difficult
to realize that these same waters, these enchanting scenes, were the
witnesses of those furious sea-battles when Bulgarians and Goths,
Byzantines, Russians, and Turks fell upon one another, fought, bled,
and were vanquished or overcame in turn; the very fortresses which
frown from the heights fail to awaken a spark of that romantic horror
which such ruins always inspire when seen at other places; they seem
more like artificial adjuncts to the landscape than the stern and
actual records of a past which has seen them vomit fire and death. Over
all there hangs a veil of languor and quiescence which suggests no
thoughts other than dreams of idleness and an immense longing for peace.

Beyond Stenia the Bosphorus becomes still wider, and in a few moments
we are greeted with the finest of any of the views we have had up
to this time. Looking toward Europe, we see directly before us the
little Greek and Armenian city of Yeni, built upon the side of a
hill covered with vineyards and groves of pine trees, and extending
around in the shape of a bow above a rocky shore against which the
current sweeps with great violence; a little beyond is the beautiful
bay of Kalender, crowded with boats, surrounded by small houses with
gardens; and garlanded with luxuriant vegetation, while overhanging it
are the aërial terraces of an imperial kiosk. Turning to the other
shore, we find it curving in a large semicircle, above which rises
a hill, and in the natural amphitheatre thus formed are a number of
villages and harbors: Injir Keui--the Fig village--set in a circle of
gardens; Sultanieh, half hidden in a forest; and the large village of
Beikos, surrounded by kitchen-gardens and vineyards and shaded by tall
walnut trees, whose buildings are reflected in the waters of the most
beautiful gulf in the whole Bosphorus, the very spot on which the king
of Bebryces was defeated by Pollux, and where the enchanted laurel tree
stood whose branches caused all who touched them to become insane.
Some distance beyond Beikos may be seen Yali, the ancient village of
Amea, looking like a bunch of red and yellow flowers thrown down on a
great green carpet. All of this, however, is but the merest sketch of
that wonderful picture; to which must be added the indescribably soft
lines of those lovely hills, looking as though made to stroke with the
hand; the innumerable little nameless villages, which seem to have
been thrown in here and there as the artist had need of them; that
vegetation belonging to every climate; that architecture representing
every land; those terraced gardens and cascades of water; the dark
shadows, shining mosques, deep blue sea dotted with white sails, and
over all that sky flushed by the setting sun.

At this point, however, I was seized with that sensation of weariness
and satiety which at some part or other of the Bosphorus is pretty
sure to attack the traveller. The endless succession of soft lines and
brilliant colors becomes tiresome, the very monotony of its beauty
dulling one’s sense of enjoyment. You feel at last that it would
be a relief to come upon some huge, rugged, misshapen mass of rock
sticking out from the land, or even a long desert strip of coast,
wild, desolate, strewn with the fragments of a wreck. There is nothing
to do, then, but turn your attention to the water. The Bosphorus is
like an enormous port: we pass close beneath the shining guns of the
Ottoman men-of-war, through fleets of merchantmen from every country in
the world, with sails of all colors, queerly-shaped bows, and crowds
of foreign-looking men upon their decks; we meet and pass outlandish
craft from the Asiatic ports of the Black Sea; beautiful little sloops
belonging to the various embassies; gentlemen’s yachts shoot by like
arrows from the bow, taking part in races which are witnessed from
the shore by crowds of spectators; rowboats of every pattern, filled
with persons of all colors, push off from the shore or draw up at the
thousand landing-stairs of the two continents; käiks dart in and out
among long lines of barges, heavily laden with merchandise, towing
slowly up the stream; navy-launches flying flags from their sterns;
fishermen’s rafts; gilded käiks belonging to wealthy pashas; and
steamboats from Constantinople filled with turbans, fezzes, and veils,
which zigzag back and forth from one continent to the other in order
to touch at every landing. All these sights seem to revolve around
us as the steamer pursues its winding course; the promontories shift
their positions; the hills unexpectedly change their outlines; villages
glide out of sight, to suddenly reappear with an entirely new aspect;
and both in front and back of us the Bosphorus keeps altering its
character: now it is shut in like a big lake; now it opens out into a
long chain of smaller lakes, with hills in the distance; then suddenly
the hills close in again before and behind, and we are encircled by a
green basin from which there is no apparent outlet, but before there
is time to exchange more than half a dozen words with a neighbor the
basin has disappeared in its turn, and once again we find ourselves
surrounded by new heights, new towns, new harbors.

We are now between the two bays of Therapia--formerly Pharmakia,
from Medea’s poisons--and Hunkiar Iskelesi, or Landing-place of the
Sultan, where the famous treaty of 1833 was signed which closed the
Dardanelles to foreign fleets. At this spot the spectacle of the
Bosphorus reaches the penultimate stage of its beauty. Therapia is the
finest of the towns which grace its banks, after Buyukdereh, while the
valley which extends behind Hunkiar Iskelesi is the greenest, most
charming and romantic valley to be found from the Sea of Marmora to
the Black Sea. Therapia is built partly upon a level strip of shore
at the foot of a large hill, and partly around a deep bay, which
forms its harbor and is filled with small boats and shipping. Back of
it opens the narrow valley of Krio-nero, where more of the town is
squeezed in between the green sides of the hills. The shore is dotted
with picturesque-looking cafés extending out over the water, handsome
hotels, gay little houses, and groups of lofty trees which shade open
squares and marble fountains; back of these are the summer residences
of the French, Italian, and English ambassadors, and beyond these,
again, stands an imperial kiosk. All up the hillsides are terrace upon
terrace, garden upon garden, villa upon villa, grove upon grove; people
dressed in vivid colors crowd in and out of the cafés, stream over the
harbor and shore and up the paths leading to the tops of the hills,
just as though some great fête were in progress. The Asiatic shore, on
the contrary, is tranquillity itself. The little village of Hunkiar
Iskelesi, a favorite place of residence among the wealthy Armenians of
Constantinople, sleeps quietly among its plane and cypress trees and
about its diminutive harbor, on the bosom of whose waters a few boats
may be seen gliding peacefully along. High above the village, upon the
summit of a vast incline of terraced gardens, towers the solitary and
magnificent kiosk of Abdul-Aziz, beyond which, again, extends the
favorite valley of the pâdishahs half hidden under dense masses of
tropical vegetation and surrounded by a dreamy mystery.

All of this marvellous beauty, however, fades into nothing a mile
farther on, when, the steamer having arrived off the Bay of Buyukdereh,
we are confronted by the crowning, the supreme glory of the Bosphorus.
Here he who has become weary of its beauty, and possibly allowed
himself to give utterance to some irreverent criticism, is forced to
bow his head and humbly beg for pardon. We are in the centre of a large
lake, so surrounded and hemmed in by marvels of every description that
there seems nothing for it but to begin spinning around in the bow,
like dervishes, so as to see all the shore and all the hills at once.

On the European side, extending around a deep bay where the swift
current dies away in gentle little waves, and below a large hill whose
sides are dotted with innumerable villas, lies the town of Buyukdereh,
large, colored like a huge bed of flowers, and entirely composed of
small palaces, kiosks, and villas planted in the midst of a mass of
vegetation of the most vivid green imaginable, which seems to pour out
over the roofs and walls and overflow into the streets and squares.
To the right the town extends as far as an inlet like a smaller bay
in the large one, surrounded by the village of Kefeli; behind this a
wide valley opens, green with meadows and sprinkled with white houses,
following which one can reach the aqueduct of Mahmûd and the forest of
Belgrâd. Tradition says that the armies of the first Crusaders encamped
in this valley in 1096, and one of the seven gigantic plane trees
for which the spot is famous is called the plane tree of Godfrey de
Bouillon. Beyond Kefeli Keni is still another small bay, colored with
white and green reflections from the neighboring houses and trees, and
beyond this, again, Therapia is visible scattered along the base of her
dark-green hills.

Having allowed our gaze to wander thus far, we turn once more toward
Asia, and find with astonishment that we are opposite the loftiest
hill on the Bosphorus, the Giant’s Mountain, shaped like a huge green
pyramid, on whose summit is the celebrated grave to which three
separate legends have given the names, respectively, of “The Couch
of Hercules,” “The Grave of Amycus,” and “The Tomb of Joshua.” It is
now guarded by a couple of dervishes and visited by sick Mussulmans,
who carry thither the rags of their clothing according to a practice
in vogue among them. The forest-clad and vine-decked sides of the
mountain extend to the very water’s edge, where, between two bright
green promontories, lies the pretty bay of Umur Yeri, all streaked
with the hundred different colored reflections of a Mussulman village
on its shore, from which strings of villas and houses extend like
wings across the adjoining fields or like masses of flowers thrown
about at random. But the entire view is not confined to this body of
water: directly ahead of us glimmers the Black Sea, and looking back
toward Constantinople, we behold on the other side of Therapia, in the
dim purple distance, the bay of Kalender, Yeni Keui, Injir Keui, and
Sultanieh, looking far more like imaginary scenes from some dream-world
than actual towns and villages.

The sun is setting: a delicate veil of pale blue and gray begins to
fall over the European shore, but Asia is still bathed in golden
light; across the sparkling water numbers of boats filled with married
couples and lovers, excursionists from Constantinople, press toward
the European shore, meet and stop one another, and overtake others
filled with parents and children from the neighboring villas. Bursts of
music and song come from the cafés of Buyukdereh; eagles circle above
the summit of Giant’s Mountain, the white lights on the shore fly by,
kingfishers gleam through the water, dolphins swim about the ship, the
fresh wind of the Black Sea blows in our faces. Where are we? whither
are we bound? It is a moment of rapture, of intoxication, in which the
sights of the past two hours, both shores of the Bosphorus, all that we
have felt and seen, melt and blend together in one glowing, rapturous
vision of a single vast city ten times the size of Constantinople,
peopled by all the nations of the earth, visited by every blessing from
the Almighty, and given over to an endless series of feastings and
merrymakings, the contemplation of which fills one with despairing envy.

[Illustration: Entrance to the Black Sea.]

This is our last vision. The steamer issuing rapidly from the bay of
Buyukdereh, we see on our right a small inlet formed by the ancient
promontory of Simas, upon which rose the temple of Venus Meretricia,
for whom Greek sailors had an especial veneration; then comes the
village of Yeni Mahalleh; then the fort of Deli Tabia, facing another
small fort which is stationed on the opposite shore at the foot of
Giant’s Mountain; next is the castle of Rumili Kavak, whose rugged
outlines are clearly defined against the rosy sky tinged by the
setting sun. Opposite Rumili Kavak stands another fort, crowning the
point upon which rose the temple of the Twelve Gods erected by the
Argive Phrygos near to one dedicated to Jupiter, the “distributor of
favorable winds,” by the Chalcedons, and converted by Justinian into
the church of Michael the Archangel. Here the Bosphorus narrows in for
the last time between the outer spur of the Bithynian mountains and the
extreme point of the Hemus chain. This was always considered the first
place of importance in the strait to be defended from the north, and
consequently has been the scene of many hard-fought battles between
Byzantine and barbarian, Venetian, and Genoese fleets. Two ruined
towers can be made out indistinctly marking the sites of the Genoese
castles, which faced each other here, and between which an iron chain
was stretched to stop the passage of unfriendly fleets. From this point
the Bosphorus widens out to the sea, the banks grow high and steep
like two huge ramparts, bare apparently, save for occasional groups of
poor-looking houses, a solitary tower or two, the ruins of a monastery,
or remains of some ancient mole. After proceeding for some distance we
again see the gleaming lights of a village, Beuyük Limân, and opposite
it others shine from the fort which stands upon the promontory of the
Elephant. On our left is the great mass of rock called by the ancients
Gypopolis, upon which rose the palace of Phineas infested by the
Harpies, and on the right Poiras Point shows dim and indistinct against
the gray sky. The two shores are now far apart, and the strait seems
more like a wide gulf. Night is falling, and the sea-breeze whistles
through the rigging, while the broad surface of the melancholy _Mare
Cimmerium_ stretches away before us gray and restless; and still we are
unable to detach our minds from those wonderful scenes through which we
have just passed, so crowded with romantic and historical associations,
especially now, when our senses are no longer overpowered by the sight
of their natural beauties. In fancy we explore that left shore as far
as the foot of the Little Balkans, search for Ovid’s tower of exile
and the marvellous Anastasian Wall; then, crossing to Asia, wander over
a vast volcanic tract of land, through forests infested by wild boars
and jackals, amid the huts of a savage and cruel people, whose sinister
shadows we seem to see as they congregate upon the precipitous bank
invoking disaster for us on the _fera litora Ponti_. The darkness is
broken for the last time by two flaming points looking like the fiery
eyes of two Cyclops set to guard the approach to that enchanted strait;
they are Anadoli Fanar, the lighthouse on the Asiatic side, and Rumili
Fanar, at whose feet the rugged profile of the Symplegades can be dimly
discerned in the shadow of the banks. Then the coasts of Asia and
Europe are merely two black lines, and then, _Quocumque adspicias nihil
est nisi Pontus et aer_, as poor Ovid sang.

But I see her still, my beloved Constantinople, beyond those two fading
shores. I see her larger and more radiant than she ever appeared when
I gazed upon her from the Validéh Sultan bridge or from the heights
of Skutari, and I talk with and salute and adore her as the last and
fondest dream of a youth which is passing away. But a dash of salt
water, striking me full in the face and knocking off my hat, rouses
me abruptly from my dreams. I look around: the bow is deserted, the
sky obscured, a raw autumnal wind chills me to the bone; poor Yunk,
attacked by sea-sickness, has withdrawn; nothing is heard but the
rattle of the ship’s lanterns and creaking of the vessel as she flies
along, rocked and beaten by the waves, into the darkness of the night.
My beautiful Oriental dream is ended.




  Abd-el-Murad, warrior dervish, 146.

  Adul-Aziz, at fire of 1870, ii. 84;
    confined in cage, ii. 180;
    conspiracies against, 291;
    early tastes, 288;
    extravagance, 289;
    fears poison and fire, 290;
    greed for money, 287;
    hopes built upon, 288;
    influence of mother, 290;
    kiosk of, ii. 289;
    mosque erected by mother of, ii. 275;
    personal appearance, 292;
    removes pavement, 90;
    strength of will, 290;
    studies, 288;
    violent temper, 288.

  Abdul-Baki, “the Immortal,” verses of, ii. 196.

  Abdul-Mejid, abandons Seraglio, ii. 145;
    kiosk erected by mother of, ii. 279;
    mosque of, 281;
    transports dogs, 174.

  Abu Eyûb, mausoleum of, standard-bearer of the Prophet, ii. 230.

  Abu-sud, poems of, ii. 196.

  Acheenese, war of the, with Holland, 78.

  Acropolis of Byzantium, 69;
    site of the, ii. 146.

  Admiral Balta-Ogli, ii. 112.

  Admiralty building, 105.

  Adrianopolis, gate, ii. 109;
    station, ii. 135.

  Ahmed, mosque of Sultan, 29;
    situation, 69;
    standard of the Prophet, ii. 218.

  Ahmed I., efforts to suppress drinking, 216;
    first kadyn of, strangles her rival, ii. 198.

  Ahmed II., stupidity of, 169.

  Ahmed III., confines Venetian envoys, ii. 130;
    fountain of, description, 251, ii. 150.

  Alai kiosk, ii. 205.

  Albanian village, ii. 277.

  Alexius Comnenus, enters by Charsian gate, ii. 108;
    widow of, ii. 200.

  Alhambra theatre, 211.

  Ali the Fat, grand vizier, 169.

  Ali of Tepelen and the dervish, 287;
    burial-place of head, ii. 123;
    inscription to, ii. 124.

  Allori di Stefano, ancient valley of the, ii. 273.

  Ambassadors confined in dungeon tower, ii. 130;
    pinioned in presence of sultan, 166.

  Amycus, king of Bebryces, defeated by Argonauts, ii. 283;
    grave of, ii. 291.

  Anadoli Fanar, ii. 295.

  Anadoli Hissar, ii. 279.

  Anaplus, ii. 276.

  Anastasian Wall, ii. 295.

  Anatolia, ancient, 18.

  Anchor, village of the, ii. 276.

  Andronicus Palæologus, 123.

  Anthemius of Tralles, architect of St. Sophia, 271.

  Anthemius, towers erected by the prefect, 120.

  Apollo, statue of, 70.

  Apostles, Church of the Holy, 71.

  Aqueduct of Valens, 70.

  Arcadeus, baths of, 69;
    column of, 72;
    forum of, 72;
    pedestal of the column of, 74.

  Archers, the three hundred Genoese, ii. 117.

  Architects of St. Sophia, 271.

  Argonauts, temple and statue of the, ii. 283.

  Armenian cemetery, 98;
    gravestones, 98.

  Armenians, the, 228;
    appearance 229;
    character, 229;
    dress, 229;
    habits, 230;
    intelligence, 230;
    strength, 230;
    women, 231.

  Army of Muhammad III., 192.

  Army, recruits, 190;
    single picturesque feature of Turkish, 190;
    uniform, 188.

  Arnaût-Keui, ii. 277.

  Arsenal of Tersâne, 105.

  Art, examples of renaissance of Turkish, 96, ii. 218.

  Associations, 165.

  At-Meidan, situation of the, 69.

  Augusteon of Justinian, ii. 218.

  Avars besiege Constantinople, ii. 109.

  Ayesha, favorite wife of the Prophet, 168.


  Bâb-el-Selam, Gate of Health, ii. 163.

  Bâb-i-Humayûn, Imperial Gate, ii. 149.

  Bâb-i-Sâdet, Gate of Felicity, ii. 170.

  Balat, 72, 234.

  Balkans, the Little, ii. 294.

  Balta-Ogli, Admiral, ii. 112.

  Balukli cemetery, burial-place of head of Ali Pasha, ii. 123;
    church, 167;
    holy well, 167, ii. 124;
    monastery, ii. 123.

  Bandits of Hassin the Mad, 190.

  Barbarossa, tomb of, ii. 273.

  Barrack built by Shalil Pasha, 96.

  Bath, abuse of the, ii. 13;
    the Turkish, 237;
    women at the, ii. 62.

  Bath-houses, 237.

  Bath-room of the Sultan, ii. 227.

  Baths of Muhammad, 71;
    of Selim II., ii. 182.

  Battery, the Seraglio, ii. 203.

  Battle-cry, the Mussulman, ii. 116.

  Bayezid I., first to use wine, 215;
    surnamed the Thunderbolt, 212.

  Bayezid II., intemperance of, 216.

  Bayezid Ilderim, ii. 279.

  Bayezidiyeh, ii. 218.

  Bazâr, the Great, 129.

  Bazârs, armory, 145;
    Baluk, 123;
    bargaining in the, 137;
    cutlery, 150;
    china, 150;
    embroidery, 150;
    Egyptian, 126;
    fez, 149;
    fur, 150;
    gold thread, 150;
    household utensils, 150;
    jewelry, 135;
    old clothes, 148;
    perfumery, 134;
    pipe, 133;
    shoe, 142;
    slave, 71;
    tailors, 150;
    Valley of, 70.

  Beauty of Turkish women, ii. 13.

  Bebek, ii. 278.

  Bebryces, king of, defeated by Pollux, ii. 283, ii. 286;
    grave, ii. 291.

  Beikos, ii. 286.

  Belle Vue, café. 97.

  Belgrâd, forest of, ii. 291.

  Beshiktash, ii. 273.

  Beuyük Limân, ii. 294.

  Beylerbey, palace and village of, ii. 274.

  Binbûr, dry cistern of, 222.

  Birds, 164;
    how regarded by the Turks, 165;
    influences ascribed to, 165;
    legacies for support of, 164.

  Bishop, legend of the Greek, 272.

  Blachernæ, palace and suburb, 72.

  Blood, Well of, ii. 130.

  Bloody Prison, ii. 130.

  Blue River, 279.

  Boatmen, 118;
    keep the feast of Ramazân, 220.

  Bochiardi, Paolo and Antonino Troilo, ii. 109.

  Bosphorus, crowning glory of the, ii. 290;
    important point on the, ii. 293;
    narrowest part of the, ii. 281.

  Bow of the Prophet, ii. 183.

  Brancovano, family of, executed, 166;
    younger son of, in Castle of Seven Towers, ii. 134.

  Breaches, Muhammad II. makes three in the walls, ii. 123.

  Bread kissed before meals, 215.

  Brick under head of Bayezid, ii. 237.

  Bricks used in construction of dome of St. Sophia, 261.

  Bridge constructed by Mandrokles, ii. 281.

  Bridge, the Galata, 45;
    amusing incidents, 51;
    contrasts of dress, 55;
    foot-wear, 48;
    nakedness, 53;
    religions represented, 50;
    situation, 45;
    spectacle afforded by, 46;
    sunrise from, ii. 75;
    variety of nationalities, 46, 53, 54.

  Bridge Sirat, the, 170.

  Bridges formerly across the Golden Horn, 114, 116.

  Brusa, the great scholar of, 168.

  Bûlgurlû, Mt., ii. 274.

  Burnt Column of Constantine, 70.

  Buyukdereh, bay and town of, ii. 290.

  Byzantium, ancient, cemetery of, 88;
    citadel of, ii. 127;
    confines of, 69.


  Café Belle Vue, 97.

  Cafés, Turkish, 106.

  Cage, the, ii. 179.

  Cambronne’s word, 204.

  Cannon Gate, ii. 114.

  Cannon Kiosk, ii. 204.

  Caristo, Teodoro di, ii. 108.

  Carriages, odalisque of the hundred silver, ii. 193.

  Castles, Genoese, ii. 294;
    of the Seven Towers, ii. 127.

  Cavern, the Rocky, ii. 130.

  Cemeteries, Armenian, 98;
    Galata, 91;
    largest Jewish, 116;
    Skutari, ii. 224.

  Chalcedon founded by the Megarians, 25.

  Chalcedons erect temple to Jupiter, ii. 293.

  Chamlejah, view from Mount, ii. 241.

  Champs, Grands, des Morts, 97.

  Character, the Turkish, ii. 254.

  Charsian Gate, used by Justinian and Alexius Comnenus, ii. 108.

  Charsiou Gate, 72.

  Chateaubriand, on arrival at Constantinople, 12.

  Cheating, how formerly punished, 225.

  Chengel, Village of the Anchor, ii. 276.

  Cheragan Palace, ii. 226, ii. 274.

  Chibûkli, ii. 284.

  Children, illegitimate, ii. 37;
    in the harem, ii. 48.

  Chio, scented gum of, 134.

  Christian settlements, encroachments of, 39.

  Christianity and Islamism, differences between, 217;
    the struggle between, 38.

  Churches, Balukli, 167;
    that erected by Empress Pulcheria, 72;
    St. Irene, 74, ii. 152;
    of the Holy Apostles, 71.

  Cisterns, of Constantine, 74, ii. 220;
    Binbûr, ii. 222;
    St. Peter, 71.

  Citadel of ancient Byzantium, ii. 127.

  Civilization, how regarded by the Turks, ii. 257;
    the effects of, ii. 259;
    progress of, ii. 266.

  Coffee, use of, in Constantinople, 106.

  College, American Protestant, ii. 280;
    for imperial pages, ii. 178.

  Colors, law prescribing the use of, 222.

  Columns, Augusteon and palace of Justinian, 218;
    the Burnt, of Constantine, 70;
    Granite, of Marcian, 71;
    Golden in Validêh Sultan mosque, ii. 218;
    serpentine, 167;
    St. Sophia, 262;
    Theodosius, ii. 202.

  Constantine at San Romano Gate, ii. 117;
    death of, ii. 119;
    remonstrates with Muhammad II., ii. 281;
    inscriptions of soldiers of, in Castle of Seven Towers, ii. 129.

  Constantine, Ciro, inscription of, ii. 121;
    towers erected by, ii. 120.

  Constantine the Great, Burnt Column of, 70;
    cistern, 74, ii. 220;
    cohorts, 71;
    founds St. Irene, ii. 152;
    likeness of, 70.

  Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Turkish name for palace of, 72.

  Constantines, site of ancient palace of the, 70.

  Constitution, the new, signed, ii. 204.

  Cooking, Turkish, 212.

  Corruption of Turkish _vs._ European society, ii. 38.

  Costumes, 169;
    articles of Turkish ladies’, 132.

  Coswa, camel of Mohammed, 169.

  Cottaneo, Maurizio, ii. 123.

  Court of the Janissaries, ii. 151.

  Crimea, ceded to Russia, ii. 204;
    frigates of the, 105.

  Criminals, state, heads exhibited, ii. 150.

  Crusaders, encampment on the Bosphorus, ii. 291.

  Current, Devil’s, ii. 281;
    great, ii. 281.

  Customs of modern _vs._ old-time Turk, 170.


  Darius crosses the Bosphorus, ii. 281.

  David, quotation from, stamped;
    on bricks of St. Sophia, 261.

  Death, idea of rendered agreeable, ii. 231.

  Deli Tabia, fort of, ii. 293.

  Delphic Oracle names the Megarians “the Blind,” 25.

  Demonisi of the ancients, 17.

  Dervishes, description of the dancing, ii. 239;
    fekkeh, ii. 239.

  Devil’s Current, ii. 281.

  Dignity of Turkish men, ii. 252.

  Divân, hall of the, ii. 167;
    sessions of the, ii. 167.

  Divorce, facility of, ii. 37;
    law about remarriage, ii. 55.

  Djiemal-eddin, the scholar of Brusa, 168.

  Dmitri, San, 101.

  Dogs, cruel custom regarding, 180;
    hunting, of Bayezid, 179;
    legacies for support of, 174;
    laziness, 175;
    pronounced unclean, 174;
    transported from Constantinople, 174;
    why protected by the Turks, 174.

  Door, bronze, of Seraglio library, ii. 178.

  Dress, laws controlling, 223;
    of modern and old-fashioned Turk, 170;
    of women, ii. 24.

  Drinking, common among the Sultans, 215;
    efforts to suppress, 216.

  Drowning of members of Mustafa’s harem, 166.

  Dwelling, divisions of the Turkish, ii. 29.


  Echo, a famous, ii. 278.

  Egri Kapou, ii. 105, ii. 108.

  Egyptian Bazâr, 126.

  Elephant, Promontory of the, ii. 294.

  Emin Baba, patron saint of the Janissaries, ii. 234.

  Ensign of the Prophet, green, 194, ii. 183, ii. 218.

  Epepolin, the, ii. 112.

  Erizzo, governor of Negropont, daughter of, stabbed, ii. 200.

  Et-Meidan, scene of massacre of the Janissaries, 71.

  Eunuchs, 181;
    anecdote, 187;
    character, 186;
    dress, 182, 183;
    names, 185;
    never seen to laugh, 183;
    marriages, 186;
    miseries, 185;
    striking a French officer, 185;
    personal appearance, 182, 183;
    power waning, 182;
    traffic denounced by Koran and prohibited by law, 181;
    unwilling victims, 182.

  Europeans, how regarded by Turks, ii. 256.

  Existence in Constantinople, 204;
    freedom of, 206.

  Eyûb, 73, 117, ii. 229;
    mausoleum of Abu, ii. 230;
    mosque, ii. 230;
    sword of Osman, ii. 230.


  Fall of Constantinople described, ii. 115.

  Family, the, ii. 33.

  Fekkeh of dancing dervishes, ii. 239.

  Ferajah, ii. 11.

  Fez, bazâr, 149;
    disadvantages of the, 189;
    emblem of reform, ii. 236;
    of Mahmûd, ii. 236.

  Fighani, the poet, punished for a lampoon, 169.

  Fire, alarm of, from Galata Tower, ii. 80;
    from Serasker Tower, 242, ii. 80;
    from Topkhâneh, ii. 80;
    causes of, ii. 97;
    description of the, of 1870, ii. 73;
    former law about extinction of, ii. 79;
    how formerly announced to the Sultan, ii. 99;
    in the Seraglio, ii. 147;
    lookout for, on Galata Tower, 90;
    of 1756, ii. 92.

  Fire-brigade, ii. 96.

  Firemen, appearance, ii. 76;
    want of discipline, ii. 80.

  Fish, the miraculous, of Balukli, 167, ii. 124;
    still plentiful, 123;
    varieties of, 124.

  Fish-market, 123.

  Flag of the Prophet, the sacred, 194, ii. 183, ii. 218.

  Fortifications, ii. 106.

  Fortress of Muhammad II., ii. 281.

  Forum, Cattle, ii. 138.

  Forum, centre of the, marked by a column, 70.

  Forum of Arcadeus, 72.

  Fountain of Ahmed III., 251, ii. 150;
    inscription of, 252.

  Fountains of Pera, kept locked, ii. 79.

  Francesco di Toledo, ii. 117.

  Frank, language, 209;
    shops, 137.

  Fuad Pasha, called the Ottoman Lamartine, ii. 282;
    villa of, ii. 282.

  Funeral, Greek, 100.

  Fuzuli, songs of, ii. 196.


  Galata, 88;
    the Genoese in, 88;
    street-cries, 89;
    the tower of, 90.

  Gardens, Vlanga, ii. 138.

  Gates, Adrianopolis, ii. 109;
    Bâb-el-Selam, 163;
    Bâb-i-Humayûn, 149;
    Blachernæ, ii. 117;
    Cannon, ii. 114;
    Charsian, ii. 108;
    Charsiou, 72;
    Deuterou, ii. 127;
    Egri Kapou, ii. 105, ii. 108;
    Golden, ii. 117;
    Heptapyrgion, ii. 117;
    Melandesias, ii. 127;
    Pempti, ii. 114;
    Polyandrion, ii. 109;
    Psmatia, ii. 138;
    Rusiou, ii. 117;
    San Romano, ii. 118;
    Selymbria, ii. 117;
    Silivri, ii. 123;
    Tetarte, ii. 120;
    Theodosian, 72, ii. 138;
    Tou Tritou, ii. 117, ii. 122;
    Yeni Mevlevi, ii. 120.

  Gautier, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Gazali, the verses of, ii. 196.

  Genoese archers, ii. 117;
    castles on the Bosphorus, ii. 294;
    in Galata, the, 88;
    tower erected in memory of the, 91.

  Ghaznefér Agha, chief of White Eunuchs, 182.

  Ghetto of Balat, 72, 234;
    of Haskeui, 114.

  Giants’ Mountain, ii. 291.

  Giuliani the Florentine defends citadel, ii. 129.

  Giusti, ii. 17.

  Godfrey de Bouillon, plane tree of, ii. 291.

  Gods, temple of the Twelve, ii. 293.

  Golden Gate legend, ii. 128;
    used by Heraclius and Narsetes, ii. 128.

  Golden Horn, along the, 87;
    why so called, 18.

  Golden Room of Byzantine emperors, ii. 183.

  Goths, Constantine’s forty thousand, 71;
    seventh cohort, 71.

  Grave of Amycus, ii. 291.

  Graves formerly dug everywhere, 225;
    Mussulman, 92.

  Gravestones, Armenian, 98;
    Mussulman, 91.

  Greant, Giovanni, ii. 108.

  Greek funeral, 100;
    women, 233.

  Greeks, the, 231.

  Green ensign of the Prophet, 194, ii. 183, ii. 218.

  Gül-Khâneh, Hatti Sherif of, ii. 204.

  Guns, Orbano’s, ii. 107, ii. 108.

  Gustinian di Toledo, ii. 117;
    wounded, ii. 118.

  Gypopolis, rock of, ii. 294.

  Gypsy encampment in the walls, ii. 114.


  Hafiz, murder of, grand vizier of Murad IV., ii. 173.

  Haidar Pasha, plain of, ii. 225.

  Hall of the Divân, ii. 165;
    described, ii. 167.

  Hanum, a, shopping, 144.

  Harem, children in the, ii. 48;
    decorations, ii. 27;
    husbands in the, ii. 30;
    imperial, ii. 184;
    monotonous life of the, ii. 44;
    of a conservative Turk, ii. 51;
    of a liberal Turk, ii. 49;
    peaceful, ii. 44;
    summer, ii. 203;
    stormy, ii. 47;
    visit to a, ii. 43;
    with several wives, ii. 47.

  Harpies in palace of Phineas, ii. 294.

  Haskeui, 113.

  Hassan d’Olubad, the Janissary, first to scale the walls, ii. 118.

  Hassan Pasha, kiosk of, ii. 204.

  Hassin the Mad, 190.

  Hatti Sherif, signed, ii. 204.

  Hebdoman quarter, origin of name, 71.

  Hebrews, 234;
    degradation, 235;
    early marriages, 236;
    filthy habits, 236;
    laziness, 236.

  Helena, Empress, founds Church of Holy Apostles, 71.

  Hera, the gad-flies of, ii. 274.

  Heraclius, ii. 109.

  Hercules, the couch of, ii. 291.

  Hermæon, Mt., ii. 280.

  Hippodrome, the, now a horse-market, 74;
    site, 69.

  Holidays, 198.

  Holy War, standard of the, ii. 183.

  Horn, the Golden, 87;
    name, 18.

  Horse-tail, significance of the, ii. 176.

  Hotel, at the, 74;
    dinner at the, 76.

  Houses, construction, ii. 96;
    divisions of Turkish, ii. 29;
    elegant, ii. 27;
    plain, ii. 28.

  Hugo, Victor, ballads of, ii. 10.

  Humayûn-Habid, kiosk of, ii. 278.

  Hunkiar Iskelesi, ii. 288, ii. 289.

  Husbands, intercourse between, and wives, ii. 29.


  Ibrahim, chief eunuch of, 186;
    death, ii. 180;
    extravagant acts, ii. 186;
    grand vizier of, lampooned, 169;
    love for Armenian slave, ii. 200;
    tomb, 255.

  Igiadié, hill of, ii. 279.

  Ilderim, Bayezid, ii. 279.

  Illegitimate children, ii. 37.

  Imperial Gate of Seraglio, ii. 149.

  Indolence of the Turk, 199.

  Injir Keui, the fig village, ii. 286.

  Inkstand of Muhammad II., 178.

  Inscriptions by Kara Hissari, ii.218;
    in St. Sophia, 260;
    of Justinian II. and Sophia, ii. 121;
    on fountain of Sultan Ahmed, 252;
    on gate of Muhammad II., 150.

  Insurrections of the Janissaries, ii. 172.

  Intellect of the Turk, ii. 265.

  Io, the heifer, ii. 274.

  Irene, church of St., 74;
    founded by Constantine, ii. 152.

  Isidorus of Miletus, architect of St. Sophia, 271.

  Islamism and Christianity, differences between, 217;
    struggle between, 38.

  Istavros, ii. 274.

  Italian language, 208;
    literature, 210;
    newspapers, 207;
    population, 207.

  Italians, the, 207.


  Jami, the mosque proper, ii. 219.

  Janissaries, Court of the, ii. 151;
    exterminated by Mahmûd, ii. 234;
    museum, ii. 232;
    plane tree, ii. 152;
    patron saint, ii. 234;
    revolts of the, ii. 172;
    scene of massacre of, 71.

  Janissary, Hassan d’Olubad the, first to scale the walls, ii. 118.

  Jason, ii. 276.

  Jewish cemetery, view from the, 116.

  Jews, the, 234.

  Joshua, tomb of, ii. 291.

  Judge, anecdote of a Turkish, 204;
    village of the, 25.

  Jupiter, temple of, turned into a church, ii. 293;
    temple of, in Byzantium, 69.

  Justinian builds St. Sophia, 261;
    converts temple of Jupiter into a church, ii. 293;
    exclamation on completion of St. Sophia, 266;
    palace of, ii. 218;
    paving laid by, ii. 123;
    victorious entry through Charsian Gate, ii. 108.

  Justinian II. and Sophia, inscription of, ii. 121.


  Kaaba, relics of the, ii. 183.

  Kadi-Keui, 25.

  Kadyns, execution of the three, of Selim III., ii. 198;
    power of the seven, of Murad III., ii. 193;
    recognized position of, ii. 184.

  Käiks, 118;
    a cure for low spirits, 246.

  Kalender, bay of, ii. 285.

  Kaliji Oghlu, 115.

  Kandili, ii. 279.

  Kaneijeh, ii. 282.

  Kara-Abderrahman, the handsome Turk, 168.

  Kara-bulut, charger of Selim, 169.

  Kara-Gyuz, 211;
    the performance of, 212, ii. 49, ii. 59.

  Kara-Hissari, inscriptions of, ii. 218.

  Kassim Pasha, 104;
    view from, 105.

  Kefeli, village, ii. 290.

  Kesem, the beautiful Grecian, ii. 200.

  Khalifs, advice of Koran when there are two, ii. 180.

  Khurrem, the favorite of Suleiman, ii. 200.

  Kibab, a Turkish dish, 213.

  Kief, described, ii. 253.

  Kiosks, Abdul-Aziz, ii. 289;
    Alai, ii. 205;
    Cannon, ii. 204;
    Hassan Pasha, ii. 204;
    Humayûn-Habad, ii. 278;
    looking-glass, ii. 204;
    mother of Abdul-Mejid, ii. 279;
    Murad IV., ii. 276;
    new, ii. 204;
    review, ii. 205;
    roses, ii. 204;
    sea, ii. 204;
    Seped Giler, ii. 205;
    Yali, ii. 204.

  Koran, on Stambul, 15;
    on treatment of animals, 174;
    pronounces dogs unclean, 174;
    where there are two khalifs, ii. 180.

  Krio-Nero, valley of, ii. 289.

  Kulehli, ii. 276.

  Kuni Kapu quarter, ii. 139.

  Kuru Chesmeh, village, ii. 276.

  Kuzgunjik, ii. 274.

  Kyklobion, the, ii. 127.


  La Croix, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Lamartine, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Lamartine, the Ottoman, ii. 282.

  Language, flowers, ii. 23;
    gestures, ii. 24;
    limitations of the Turkish, ii. 265;
    objects, ii. 23.

  Laurel tree, planted by Medea, ii. 276;
    the enchanted, ii. 286.

  Legend of the Greek bishop, 272.

  Legions elevate emperors on their shields, 73.

  Leopardi, reference to a poem by, ii. 136.

  Library, Seraglio, ii. 178.

  Looking-glass Kiosk, ii. 204.

  Love-making among the Turks, ii. 22.

  Lycus, the river, point at which it enters the city, 72, ii. 114.


  Mad, Hassin the, bandits of, 190.

  Madman of Pera, 95, ii. 77.

  Mahmûd, mosque of, ii. 218.

  Mahmûd new palace of Sultan, ii. 203.

  Mahmûd II., builds Serasker Tower, 242;
    rebuilds Galata Tower, 91.

  Mahmûd, the Reformer, 212;
    destroys corps of Janissaries, ii. 234;
    fez on tomb of, ii. 236;
    kills the dervish, 167;
    türbeh of, ii. 235;
    relic of imprisonment of, ii. 236.

  Mahmûd Pasha strangles Suleiman’s son, 169.

  Maiden’s Tower, 80.

  Makpeiker, kadyn of the 2700 shawls, ii. 193.

  Mandrokles of Samos, ii. 281.

  Mandsacchio, ancient bay of, 105.

  Mantle of the Prophet, ii. 183.

  Marcellus, Viscount de, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Marcian, granite column of, 71.

  Mare Cimmerium, ii. 294.

  Marhfiruz, ii. 201.

  Marmora, dogs sent to island of, 174.

  Massacre of the Janissaries, scene of the, 71.

  Mausoleum of Abu Eyûb, ii. 230.

  Mecca, witch of, 168.

  Medea, landing-place, ii. 276;
    laurel tree, ii. 276;
    poisons, ii. 288.

  Megarians surnamed “the Blind,” 25.

  Men, Turkish, ii. 249;
    behavior in public, ii. 252;
    belief in their national superiority, ii. 257;
    character, 211;
    courage, ii. 264;
    dignity, ii. 250;
    fatalism, ii. 254, ii. 256;
    gratitude, ii.263;
    hospitality, ii. 263;
    how esteemed by Europeans, ii. 262;
    ideal state of happiness, ii. 254;
    intellect, ii. 265;
    intercourse with Europeans, ii. 265, ii. 266;
    kindness to animals, 174, ii. 263;
    liberality, ii. 263;
    never seen with women, 211, ii. 18;
    opinion of civilization, ii. 257;
    of Europeans, ii. 256;
    physical traits, ii. 251;
    religious feeling, ii. 262;
    reserve about private life, 211;
    reverence for the dead, ii. 263;
    savage nature, ii. 263;
    sensuality, 211;
    social life, ii. 264.

  Menelaos, ii. 59.

  Meretricia, temple of Venus, ii. 293.

  Mevlevi, or dancing dervishes, ii. 239.

  Michael the Archangel, church of St., ii. 293.

  Mihrab, 259.

  Miliklia, influence over Osman II., ii. 201.

  Minarets, 111;
    Ahmediyeh, ii. 217;
    Shazadeh mosque, ii. 218;
    St. Sophia, 254, 255.

  Mohammed, 217;
    appearance, 217;
    camel, 169;
    character, 217;
    paradise, 218;
    polygamy, 218, ii. 67;
    chooses human voice, 110;
    three preferences, 134;
    sayings of, paraphrased, 134.

  Monasteries, Balukli, ii. 123;
    of the Sleepless, ii. 284;
    Yeni Mevlevi, ii. 120.

  Montague, Lady Mary Wortley, on Constantinople, 12;
    on liberty of Turkish _vs._ European women, ii. 17.

  Morean War, ii. 130.

  Mount Chamlejah, view from, ii. 241.

  Mountain, the Giants, ii. 291.

  Mosque proper, jami, the, ii. 219.

  Mosques, Ahmediyeh, 69, ii. 217;
    Abdul-Mejid, 218;
    Bayezid, ii. 218;
    Eyûb, ii. 230;
    Mahmûd, ii. 218;
    Muhammad, 71, ii. 218;
    Nûri Osmaniyeh, 70;
    Ok Serai, ii. 218;
    Osman, ii. 218;
    Selimiyeh, 71, ii. 218;
    Shazadeh, ii. 218;
    St. Sophia, 249;
    Suleiman, 70, ii. 217;
    Validêh Sultan, ii. 218.

  Mosques, characteristics, ii. 216;
    copies of St. Sophia, ii. 216;
    interiors, ii. 219.

  Mosques of the Sultans, 66.

  Muezzins, 109.

  Muftis, mortuary temple of the, ii. 230.

  Muhammad II. at Adrianople, 16;
    banners, 259;
    baths, 71;
    castle, ii. 279;
    discovers grave of Eyûb, ii. 230;
    dogs escort, 174;
    erects Castle of Seven Towers, ii. 127;
    fortress of Rumili Hissar, ii. 281;
    minaret of St. Sophia, 255;
    finds anchor, ii. 276;
    headquarters during siege, ii. 110;
    imprint of hand in St. Sophia, 272;
    inkstand, ii. 178;
    inscriptions on Seraglio gate, ii. 150;
    lays foundations of Seraglio, ii. 145;
    mosque, 29, 71, ii. 218;
    takes possession of St. Sophia, 277;
    quotes Persian poet, ii. 210;
    sabre-stroke on Serpentine Column, 167;
    sends back envoys of Constantine, ii. 281;
    successful assault, ii. 114;
    sword, ii. 153.

  Muhammad III. denounces drinking, 216;
    description of army of, 192;
    murder of brothers, ii. 177;
    yields to soldiers’ demands, ii. 173.

  Muhammad IV., secret councils of Validêh, ii. 204;
    surrenders officials of his court, ii. 205;
    tiny feet of favorite, ii. 201.

  Munkir the angel, 92.

  Murad III. brings jars from Pergamum, 259;
    erects minarets of St. Sophia, 255;
    Hungarian dancer, ii. 200;
    orgies, ii. 186;
    surrenders falconer to the mob, ii. 173.

  Murad IV., a drunkard, 216;
    displeased with Divân, ii. 170;
    excesses, ii. 186;
    horses, ii. 153;
    inspects cafés, 106;
    kiosk, ii. 276;
    punishes drinking, 216;
    surrenders vizier, ii. 173.

  Murder of male relatives of the sultans, ii. 176.

  Museum, the Janissary, ii. 232.

  Mussulmans, apathy, ii. 265;
    character of belief, 68;
    examples of true, 147;
    graves, 92, 99;
    shopkeepers, 139;
    tombstones, 92, 99.

  Mustafa, members of harem drowned, 166;
    Circassian mother, ii. 198;
    tomb, 255.


  Nekir the angel, 92.

  New kiosk, ii. 204.

  Night, Constantinople by, 201.


  Oath, ancient formula of imperial, ii. 288.

  Odalisques, ii. 68.

  Ok Meidan, Place of Arrows, 111.

  Ok Serai, mosque, ii. 218.

  Orbano, death of, ii. 112;
    guns, ii. 107, ii. 108, ii. 112.

  Oriental, indifference of the, ii. 95.

  Orientals, dervish of the, and Ali Pasha, 287.

  Orta, ii. 275.

  Orta Kapu, ii. 63.

  Osman, sword of, ii. 230.

  Osman II., first imperial victim of the Janissaries, ii. 131;
    prison of, ii. 131.

  Osman III., fire in reign of, ii. 92.

  Osmaniyeh Nûri, 70, ii. 218.

  Ovid, quotation from, ii. 295;
    tower of, ii. 295.


  Palaces, Beylerbey, ii. 274;
    Constantine Porphyrogenitus, 72;
    Cheragan, ii. 226, ii. 274;
    Dolmabâghcheh, 281;
    Justinian, ii. 218;
    Phineas, ii. 294;
    Reshid Pasha, ii. 282;
    Riza Pasha, ii. 275;
    Sultan Mahmûd, ii. 203.

  Pankaldi, 100.

  Pastilles, Seraglio, 134.

  Pempti, military gate of, ii. 114.

  Pensions for widows and orphans, ii. 38.

  Pera, 93;
    houses, ii. 96;
    fountains, ii. 79;
    madman of, 95;
    water-supply, ii. 96.

  Perthusier, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Peter, cistern of St., 71.

  Phanar, scene of carnage of 1821, 71;
    seat of Patriarch, 71.

  Pharmakia or Therapia, ii. 288.

  Phineas, palace of, ii. 294.

  Phrygos the argive erects temple of Twelve Gods, ii. 293.

  Physique of upper _vs._ lower class Turk, ii. 251.

  Piale Pasha mosque, 108.

  Pilav, a Turkish dish, 213.

  Piri Pasha quarter, 112;
    seen from Balat, 113.

  Placida, palace of Empress, 69.

  Plain of Dahûd-Pasha, ii. 110;
    of Haidar Pasha, 225.

  Plan of Constantinople, 18.

  Plane tree of Godfrey de Bouillon, ii. 291;
    of the Janissaries, ii. 152.

  Podesta, residence of the, 89.

  Poiras Point, ii. 294.

  Police, leniency of the, ii. 98;
    regulations regarding women, ii. 61.

  Politics in the harem, ii. 191.

  Pollux defeats Amycus, ii. 286.

  Polygamy, chief vice of Mohammedanism, 218;
    declining, ii. 67;
    effects of, 218;
    how regarded by Turks, ii. 67;
    by women, ii. 34;
    Mohammed on, ii. 67.

  Population, absence of curiosity of the, 104.

  Porte, the Sublime, 69.

  Pouqueville, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Prayer, call to, 110.

  Priapus, 212.

  Princes, imperial, education, 291;
    difficulties besetting, 291.

  Princes, Isles of the, 17.

  Prison, the Bloody, ii. 130.

  Prophet, bow of the, ii. 183;
    favorite wife, 168;
    green ensign, 194;
    mantle, ii. 183;
    prayer-carpets, 259;
    saying paraphrased, 134;
    staff, ii. 183;
    standard-bearer, ii. 230;
    three preferences, 134.

  Proverb, Turkish, ii. 34.

  Psmatia Gate, ii. 138;
    quarter, ii. 137.

  Pulcheria, church built by Empress, 72.

  Pumps, inefficiency of the, ii. 97.

  Punchinello, the Turkish, 212.


  Railroad, underground, 88.

  Ramazan, anecdote of, 219;
    feast of, 219.

  Rebia Gulnuz, ii. 193, ii. 201.

  Reception chamber, ii. 165.

  Relics, temple of, ii. 183.

  Resemblances, 167.

  Reshid Pasha, palace of, ii. 282.

  Restaurants, 103.

  Revels, imperial, 227;
    in the harem, ii. 186.

  Review Kiosk, ii. 205.

  Revolts of the Janissaries, ii. 197.

  Rhatib, the, 259.

  Riza Pasha, palace of, ii. 275.

  Robes of state, apartment of, ii. 83.

  Rocky cavern, ii. 130.

  Romano, gate of San, ii. 118.

  Roses, kiosk of, ii. 204.

  Rosh’ab, a Turkish drink, 213.

  Roxalana, influence of, ii. 193;
    maltreated by Validêh, ii. 198.

  Rumili Fanar, ii. 295;
    Hissar, fortress of, ii. 280;
    Kavak, ii. 293.

  Russian embassy, 93.


  Saccard, Eugène, tombstone of, ii. 113.

  Saffié the Venetian, influence of, ii. 193.

  Saint, the patron, of the Janissaries, ii. 234.

  Samos, Mandrokles of, ii. 281.

  Santoro, view from terrace of, 202;
    evenings with, 203.

  Scanderbeg, sabre of, 146, ii. 153.

  Sea, kiosk of the, ii. 204.

  Selamlik, the, ii. 29.

  Selim I., charger of, 169;
    displeased with Divân, ii. 170;
    memorable words of, ii. 84;
    son hides for three years, ii. 276;
    vizier, 112.

  Selim II., the Sot, 216;
    baths, ii. 182;
    debauches, 216;
    drinking under, 216;
    erects minaret of St. Sophia, 255;
    ravings, ii. 186.

  Selim III. restores Galata Tower, 91;
    surrenders ministry, ii. 173.

  Selimiyeh, 29, 71, ii. 218.

  Sepedgiler kiosk, ii. 205.

  Seraglio, the old, ii. 143;
    abandoned by Abdul-Mejid, ii. 145;
    Bâb-el-Selam, ii. 163;
    Bâb-i-Humayûn, ii. 149;
    Bâb-i-Sâdet, ii. 170;
    baths of Selim II., ii. 182;
    battery, ii. 203;
    cage, ii. 179;
    contrasted with Alhambra, ii. 144;
    college, ii. 178;
    foundations laid by Muhammad II., ii. 145;
    gates, ii. 203;
    hall of the Divân, ii. 165;
    harem, ii. 184;
    historic interest, ii. 145;
    kiosks, ii. 204, ii. 205;
    library, ii. 178;
    present aspect, ii. 147;
    reception chamber, ii. 165;
    situation, ii. 146;
    summer harem, ii. 203;
    temple of relics, ii. 183;
    throne-room, ii. 176;
    treasury, ii. 178;
    walls, ii. 147.

  Seraglio, Cape, situation, 19.

  Seraglio Hill from the steamer, 22.

  Seraglio for old sultanas, 70.

  Seraglio pastilles, 134.

  Serasker Tower, 29, 242;
    fire-alarms from, 242;
    view from, 243.

  Serpentine Column, 167.

  Servants, evil geniuses of Constantinople, ii. 97.

  Seven Towers, Castle of, ii. 127;
    ambassadors confined in, ii. 130;
    bloody prison, ii. 130;
    built by Muhammad II., ii. 127;
    Brancovano’s son in the, ii. 134;
    dungeon tower, ii. 129;
    inscriptions made by Constantine’s soldiers, ii. 129;
    muezzin of the, ii. 134;
    prison of Osman II., ii. 131;
    rocky cavern, ii. 130;
    site of ancient Kyklobion, ii. 127;
    tribunal of the court, ii. 132;
    Turkish name for, ii. 128;
    Venetian envoys confined in, ii. 130;
    view from, ii. 133;
    Well of Blood, ii. 130.

  Sévigné, Mme. de, on Turkish women, ii. 40.

  Shalil Pasha, barrack built by, 96.

  Shawls, kadyn of the 2700, ii. 193.

  Shazadeh mosque, ii. 218.

  Shekerbuli ill-treated by rivals, ii. 198;
    influence over Ibrahim, ii. 193.

  Siege of Constantinople, traces of the, ii. 114.

  Silivri Gate, ii. 123.

  Silk-spinners in cistern of Binbûr, ii. 222.

  Simas, ancient promontory of, ii. 293.

  Sirat, the Bridge, 170.

  Skutari, approach by water, ii. 223;
    beauty of, ii. 222;
    cemetery, ii. 224;
    first view of, 23.

  Slave bazâr, 71.

  Sleepless, monastery of the, ii. 284.

  Social life, absence of, among Turks, ii. 264.

  Sofia Hagia, Greek name of St. Sophia, 21.

  Sokolli, grand vizier of Suleiman, ii. 153.

  Soldiers, appearance, 189;
    recruits, 190;
    training, 189;
    uniform, 188.

  Soliman, the fat admiral, 169.

  Sophia and Justinian II., inscription of, ii. 121.

  Sophia, St., 29, 249;
    account of, taking of, 274;
    architects, 271;
    baptistery, 255;
    chapels, 270;
    columns, 262;
    construction, 261;
    dome, 260;
    eso-narthex, 256;
    exterior, 254;
    first impression, 256;
    first sight of, 21;
    former aspect, 266;
    Greek account of, 271;
    Greek name, 21;
    Greek titles, 249;
    gynæconitis, 264;
    imperial functions, 269;
    inscription, 260;
    legend of Greek bishop, 272;
    life in the mosque, 265;
    marbles, 262;
    materials used in building, 261;
    plan, 257;
    present aspect, 258;
    situation, 69;
    Turkish account of, 272;
    view from gallery, 264.

  Sosthenius, temple of, ii. 283.

  Staël. Mme. de, on dome of St. Peter’s, 260;
    on travelling, 57.

  Staff of the Prophet, ii. 183.

  Stambul, 61;
    Russian name of, 15.

  Standard-bearer of the Prophet, ii. 230.

  Standard of the holy war, ii. 183.

  Star, imperial kiosk of the, ii. 275.

  Stefano, ancient valley of the Allori di, ii. 273.

  Stenia, ii. 283.

  Strangers free from insult in Constantinople, ii. 252.

  Street-cries of Galata, 89.

  Sublime Porte, 69.

  Sudludji, 116.

  Sunbullin, Ilrahim’s chief eunuch, 186.

  Sunrise from the bridge, ii. 75.

  Suleiman I., at sessions of the Divân, ii. 167;
    favorite of, ii. 200;
    dies intoxicated, 216;
    tries to suppress drinking, 216;
    son of, strangled, 169.

  Suleiman, the Magnificent, grand vizier of, ii. 153;
    indulgent decree of, ii. 15;
    tower where he hid, ii. 276;
    vizier who educated, 112;
    writes of his court, ii. 159;
    turbans of time of, 140.

  Suleimaniyeh, 29, 70;
    description, ii. 217;
    inscriptions, ii. 218.

  Sultanieh, ii. 286.

  Sultan Moussa, yataghan of, 146.

  Sultans, girded with sword of Osman, ii. 230;
    the early, ii. 298, ii. 303;
    modern, 294;
    personally inspect weights and measures, 226;
    practise shooting, 111;
    public appearance, 286;
    twenty-five successive, in Seraglio, ii. 145.

  Sweet Waters of Asia, 167, ii. 21;
    of Europe, ii. 20, ii. 54.

  Symplegades, ii. 295.


  Table habits, 214.

  Tamerlane, armlet of, ii. 153.

  Tekyr, seraglio of, 29.

  Temple of the Muftis, the mortuary, ii. 230;
    of Relics, ii. 183;
    of the Twelve Gods, ii. 293.

  Tepelen, Ali Pasha of, tombstone, ii. 124.

  Tersâne, arsenal of, 105.

  Tetarte gate, ii. 120.

  Theatres, 210;
    Alhambra, 211.

  Theodosius, bastions of, ii. 120;
    column of, ii. 202;
    gate of, 72, ii. 138;
    rebuilds church of Holy Apostles, 71.

  Therapia, ancient Pharmakia, ii. 288.

  Thrace, ancient, 18.

  Throne-room, ii. 176.

  Tobacco, displayed for sale, 125;
    use of, formerly forbidden, 125;
    varieties of, 125.

  Tomb of Joshua, ii. 291.

  Topkhâneh, guns fired for fire alarm, ii. 80.

  Totaola, 103.

  Tournefort, on arrival at Constantinople, 11.

  Ton Tritou gate, ii. 122.

  Tower, dungeon, ii. 129;
    Galata, 90;
    Leander’s, 166;
    Maiden’s, 80;
    of Christ, 91;
    of Minister of War, 70;
    Ovid’s, ii. 295;
    Serasker, 242.

  Towers, Castle of the Seven, ii. 127.

  Treasury, ii. 178.

  Treaty of peace between Turkey and Russia, ii. 204.

  Tribunal of the court, ii. 132.

  Triumphal way of Byzantine emperors, ii. 133.

  Tulip festivals, ii. 203.

  Tulumbadgi (firemen), ii. 76.

  Turbans of time of Suleiman the Magnificent, 140.

  Türbehs, the imperial, ii. 235.

  Turi, the famous monk, 95.

  Tussaud, collection of Mme., ii. 232.


  Umm Djiemil, witch of Mecca, 168.

  Ummelunia, name for Constantinople, 15.

  Umur Yeri, bay of, ii. 291.

  Uniform of the army, 188.


  Valens, aqueduct of Emperor, 70.

  Validêh Sultan, court of the, ii. 185;
    mosque, ii. 218;
    mosque built by, ii. 275.

  Vani, ii. 276.

  Veils, ii. 10;
    graceful adjustment of, ii. 12;
    quotation from the Koran concerning, ii. 10;
    use of, ii. 61.

  Venetian, envoys confined, ii. 130;
    influence of Saffié the, ii. 193.

  Venus Meretricia, temple of, ii. 293.

  View from Mt. Chamlejah, ii. 241;
    from Sudludji, 116.

  Vlanga gardens, ii. 138.


  Walls, Anastasian, ii. 295;
    of Byzantium, 69;
    of Constantinople, ii. 103;
    of Genoese Galata, 90;
    of Seraglio, ii. 147.

  War Office, courtyard of the, 242.

  Water-supply, insufficiency of the, ii. 80, ii. 96.

  Well of Blood, ii. 130.

  Well, the Holy, 167.

  Wine, Bayezid I. the first to use, 215;
    drinking considered a sin, 215;
    growing use of, 215.

  Women, Turkish, ii. 8;
    abuse of the bath, ii. 13;
    absence from bazârs, 150;
    alone in public, ii. 18;
    apartments, ii. 26;
    at the bath, ii. 62;
    beauty defined, ii. 13;
    character, ii. 39;
    coarse language, ii. 41;
    coquetry, ii. 16;
    day’s excursion, ii. 19;
    desire to meet Europeans, ii. 64;
    dress indoors, ii. 24;
    dress in public, ii. 11;
    friendships, ii. 42;
    games, ii. 40;
    gossip, ii. 53;
    grace, ii. 44;
    indiscretions, ii. 59;
    Lady Montague on liberty of, ii. 17;
    legal rights, ii. 36;
    liberty, ii. 17;
    longing for European life, ii. 66;
    Mme. de Sévigné on, ii. 40;
    manners, ii. 42;
    manner of sitting down, ii. 43;
    never seen with men, 211, ii. 18;
    never mentioned in public, ii. 30;
    occupations, ii. 44;
    opinion of Europeans, ii. 65;
    places frequented by, ii. 18;
    police regulations concerning, ii. 61;
    respect shown in public, ii. 36;
    schemes of, ii. 52;
    shoes, ii. 13;
    shopping, 144;
    social privileges _vs._ European women, ii. 38;
    visit to, ii. 43.


  Yali, ancient village of Amea, ii. 286.

  Yali kiosk, ii. 204.

  Yanghen Vahr, ii. 73;
    meaning of cry, ii. 80.

  Yashmac, arrangement of the, ii. 10, ii. 12.

  Yataghan of Sultan Moussa, 146.

  Yedi Kuleh, Turkish name for Castle of Seven Towers, ii. 128.

  Yeni, ii. 285.

  Yeni Kapu quarter, ii. 139.

  Yeni Mahalleh, village of, ii. 293.

  Yeni Mevlevi, gate and monastery of, ii. 120.

  Yeri Betan Serai, ii. 220.


  Zavegorod, Russian name of Stambul, 15.


Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Index not systematically checked for proper alphabetization or
correct page references. This is the second volume of a two-volume
set. Index references to pages in this volume are preceded by “ii.”,
while references to the first volume are NOT preceded by “i.”, as
that is the way the original book was printed. In versions of this
eBook that support links, the links to pages in the first volume are
double-underlined and may or may not work, depending on the method used
to display the text and whether or not Doctrine Publishing Corporation, where both of
these volumes reside, accepts such links.

Volume I of this eBook is available at no charge from Doctrine Publishing Corporation

Text uses “sciaùs” and “sciaus”; both retained.

Page 77: “venders” was printed that way.

Page 271: “Morravian” was printed that way.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Constantinople, Vol. II (of 2)" ***

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