Narrative Of The United States Expedition To The River Jordan And The Dead Sea/4
FRIDAY, FEB. 18. At 6, P.M., embarked in the Austrian steamer Prince Metternich, for Constantinople. When fairly under way, her decks presented as motley an assemblage as I ever beheld. Abaft, on the larboard side, near the helmsman, were two groups of females, consisting of five Asiatics and two Africans. All, mistresses and slaves (for they bore that relation to each other), had the upper and the lower parts of their faces concealed by the “yashmak,” a thin, white muslin veil, so arranged as to leave only the eyes and the upper part of the nose exposed to view. Their bodies were enveloped in the “ferejeh,” a narrow-skirted cloak, of a thin worsted material, with a cape extending down behind, the full length and breadth of the body; five of them were yellow, and two a dingy purple, the colour irrespective of mistress or slave.
One of the groups consisted of an Armenian family, and on this occasion their dress, in no particular, varied from that of the Turks. It is said, however, that in the capital the Turkish female may be distinguished by the red or yellow ferejeh, and the invariable yellow boot or slipper. In this group there was little distinction in the quality of dress, and there seemed to be very little reserve in the demeanour of the whites towards the blacks.
Certainly the latter conceal their faces as studiously as their mistresses. They were all seated upon rugs, placed on boards elevated a few inches above the deck, and were busied making preparations to pass the night in the positions they occupied.
In advance of them, extending to the break of the quarter-deck, were various groups of the most respectable class of male passengers; and beyond them, on both sides of the deck, for two-thirds the length of the ship, was clustered a heterogeneous assemblage of lower grade, consisting, like that on the quarter-deck, of Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and Syrians. Many wore the turban either white or variously coloured, except the despised Jew, whose brows were enveloped in sable. But most of them had on the crimson tarbouch, with a long blue or black silken tassel pendent from the crown. Their underdress was wholly concealed by the universal “Grego,” a long, heavy, brown woolen coat, with a hood, and ornamented with scarlet cord and facings.
With their feet drawn beneath them, they were, like tailors, squatted (those who had them) upon rugs, with their baggage piled around them, and each with the stem of a chibouque, or a narghile, in his mouth.
There is no bar for the sale of intoxicating liquors on board. All is orderly and quiet, and there is neither quarrelling nor loud discussion. In sobriety, at least, the Turk is a fit model for imitation.
We swept with great rapidity up the beautiful Gulf of Smyrna, and early in the night entered the channel of Mitylene, between the Island of Mitylene (the ancient Lesbos) and the main. This large and fertile island, placed at the mouth of the Adramatic Gulf, derived its ancient name from one of its kings, who reigned before the Deucalion flood. It is the birth-place of Sappho, and was considered by the ancients the seventh in the Agean Sea.
First governed by its own kings, and then by a democracy, it has been subject to the Persians, the Athenians, the Macedonians, the Romans, the Venetians, and the Turks.
11 P.M. Enveloped in their Gregos, their cloaks and various coverings, the deck passengers, screened from the sight, sleep profoundly.; arid, from sheer weariness, we retired below to enjoy “the balmy blessings of the night.”
FEB. 19. This morning, the deck presented a singular scene. Its whole surface was one uninterrupted range of tumuli, beneath each one of which reposed a human being. Not having been sheltered by awnings, their clothing, saturated by the rain which had fallen during the night, was reeking from animal heat, and rising and falling with the light or heavy breathing of the sleeper beneath.
Rest on the summit of each tiny hill."
As the day dawned they severally arose, and the first act of each one was to throw himself on his knees, with his face, as he supposed, towards the Kebla of Mecca (some sadly erring in the quarter of the compass), and with many prostrations, which from time to time were repeated, commenced the morning prayer, a series of recitations from the Koran. Some stuck their daggers into the deck, a short space before them, which was respected as sacred by those who, having finished their devotions, wandered about the ship. The most of them were seemingly abstracted, but it was evident that some were satisfactorily conscious of being observed. One thing may be said of the benighted Turk: he is never ashamed of his religion. No human respect influences him to shrink from an open avowal of his worship; and if outward observance be indicative of inward piety, the Turk is the most devout of human beings. His first act, when he awakes in the morning, is prayer; at three other stated intervals during the day, it is repeated; and with the descending sun, for the fifth time, he prostrates himself in prayer. Every public and private deed of record begins with “Bismillah,” “in the name of Him;” and the salute of a Turk, when he meets a friend, is neither the “How are you?” “How d’ye do?” “How d’ye find yourself?” “How d’ye carry yourself?” and “How d’ye stand?” of the American, the Englishman, the German, the Frenchman, the Italian, and the Spaniard, but simply “God preserve you!”
“A Turk, with beads in hand and pipe in mouth,
Immediately after their devotions, they resorted to their inseparable chibouque; but, as it is difficult to describe we turned to the east, and beheld Mount Ida, capped with snow, and its tributary range, which, in a graceful sweep, embraces the valleys of the Thymbrek and the Mendere, the Simois and the Scamander of the Iliad. A short distance from Eski Stambhol, are the ruins of Alexandria Troas, screened from the view by a thick growth of stunted trees and shrubbery. At Lesbos and here, St. Paul has been. On the left, bearing west, is the Isle of Tenedos, in one of the ports of which the Greeks concealed their fleet when they pretended to have abandoned the siege of Troy. Tenedos, more frequently even than Lesbos, has fallen a prey to the conqueror. As we advanced to the north, with the coast of Phrygia on the right, we soon beheld that of Thrace in Europe before us, with the islands of Lemnos and Imbros to seaward. Immediately on the Phrygian shore, facing the broad expanse of the Mediterranean, are two conspicuous tumuli, pointed out by tradition as the tombs of Achilles and Patroclus. The requiem of the heroic friends is sung by the surging waves, which break against the abrupt and precipitous shore.
 It was here that, in a vision, St. Paul was called to Macedonia — here he restored the dead to life — and here left his cloak, parchments, and books.—Acts, xvi. 9; xx. 9 and 10.;2 Tim. iv. 13
To the north-east, on the extremity of the Phrygian shore, is the Sigaean Promontory, crowned with a castle, and disfigured with a town. On the opposite, or Thracian shore, with the Dardanelles between, is Cape Helles, with a corresponding fortress, and its unprepossessing town attendant. Near the European cape, was fought the great naval battle so fatal to the Athenians.
Turning to the east, we rounded Cape Janissary (the Sigaean Promontory), and entering the strait, saw the supposed bed of the Scamander, between which and the promontory, the Grecian fleet was hauled up, and the Grecian hosts encamped. A little beyond, is another barrow, said to be that of Hecuba; yet further is the Rhaetian promontory, on which also is a mound, called the tomb of Ajax.
The plain of Troy, so familiar to every classic reader, now barren and unattractive, save in its associations, presents nothing to the eye until it rests upon Mount Olympus; and, in the distance, the imagination, fixing upon the spot where “Silver Simois and Scamander join,” fills the circumjacent plain with the lofty towers of “wide extended Troy,” the beleaguring hosts and their dismantled ships. Passing a point on the left, designated as the first in Europe whereon was raised the banner of the Saracen, we came to that part of the strait whence its other name of Hellespont is derived.
The strait, about five miles wide at its mouth, narrows gradually as we ascend, until, near the town of Dardanelles, the lofty, but gently swelling shores compress the stream within the narrowest limits, and then receding, leave two prominent points, Sestos and Abydos, obliquely facing each other.
The Hellespont teems with more poetic and classic associations than any other stream on earth. Its shores were the chosen scenes of the greatest and most wondrous epic produced in any age or clime; and, separating two great continents, its swollen and impetuous waters have been repeatedly crossed by invading armies; by two Persian monarchs, by Philip’s warlike son, by the crusading hosts of Europe, and by the Muhammedan conqueror of Constantinople.
Its rushing flood engulfed Leander within hearing, perhaps, of the thrilling shriek of the watchful and agonized Hero: and it is left to the imagination to decide whether the lover, paralyzed by fear, yielded unresistingly, or, with all that he coveted on earth in view, grappled with fate, and struggled manfully, until, with the water drumming in his ear and gurgling in his throat, he sank beneath the surface as the last heart-rending cry swept across the angry tide.
Here, too, turning from poetic fiction to prosaic fact, the noble bard of England successfully rivalled the feat of Leander; but for his reward, instead of the arms of a blooming Hero, found himself grappled in the chill embrace of a tertian ague.
We stopped, for a short time, at Sestos for the purpose of landing a number of passengers, and the scene was extremely amusing, although it rained incessantly. Numerous Turks, in the crimson tarbouch, or capacious turban, and yet more capacious breeks, with a miscellaneous crowd of Armenians, Greeks, Smyrniotes, and Syrians, were, together with their motley piles of baggage, huddled in seemingly inextricable confusion at the gangway, whence the Italian baggage-master, swearing “Per corpo di Bacco,” was endeavouring to drive them into the boats. In clamorous confusion it surpassed the richest scenes of Billingsgate.
In Mitylene, we received on board a dandy, who, in dress and smirking self-conceit, scarce fell short of the exquisite fop of Broadway in sustaining the delineation of the insect. His tarbouch was higher, and the long, blue silk tassel pendent from it was more flowing and redundant, his purple vest was more richly embroidered, his trowsers more capacious, and his red morocco boots more pointed, than any we had seen.
At Tenedos, where we had also stopped, we received on board a Turkish effendi (gentleman), chief of customs in the island. He had a large retinue of servants, who obsequiously attended upon him. He was now playing backgammon with a Greek officer in a faded uniform, who sported the largest, fiercest, and most fiery moustache we had ever seen. The Turk had a pleasing countenance, and although dignified, was sociable. He was dressed in an azure silk tunic, trimmed with fur, and his head was covered by the tarbouch worn by all officials, beneath which escaped a short crop of hair. His air was gentle, and his person clean. His pipe-bearer had brought him a superb narghile, a silver vase eighteen inches high, with a flexible tube twelve or fifteen feet long, wound round with silver wire, and having a costly amber mouth-piece at the end. He politely passed it round, and we each in turn took a puff. The substance smoked was not tobacco, although, as prepared, it resembled the stem of that weed finely chopped. It was called “Tombec,” a product mostly of Syria and Mesopotamia. The present specimen was from Bagdad, and its flavour was aromatic and agreeable.
But while we were sheltered below, the deck-passengers were exposed to the storm: among them were several females, besides those I have mentioned.
The town of Dardanelles (Abydos), situated on the Asiatic side, is unattractive in its appearance, but a mart of considerable commerce. A number of consular flags wave along the water-front, and here, vessels bound to Constantinople, or to any of the ports of the Euxine, must await their firman or permit. The castles of the Dardanelles are formidable — the one on the Asiatic side especially so, from its heavy water-battery.
A little after sunset, we entered the sea of Marmara (White Sea). The mist and clouds, which during the afternoon had gathered on the hills of Thrace, were now swept towards us, and discharged copious showers as they passed. The sea and its surrounding shores were soon shrouded in obscurity, and we retired below, first lending our only umbrella to a group of females, to shield them, in part, from the driving rain. Nor could we suppress our indignant remarks on the neglect of the officers of the boat, when we looked upon so many human beings exposed to the inclemency of such a night, without even the protection of an awning.
When we retired, we were told that the steamer would stop until morning at the village of San Stefano, four leagues this side of Constantinople, and we anticipated enjoying the matchless view which this city is said to present from the sea of Marmara; but a bitter disappointment awaited us. On first awaking in the morning, we felt that the boat was not in motion, and hastening immediately to the deck, discovered that we were anchored in the “Golden Horn,” or harbour of Constantinople.
On our left was the Seraglio, with the city of Stambhol (or Constantinople proper) stretching to the north and west, with a multitudinous collection of sombre houses, the dull, brown surfaces of their the-roofs interrupted frequently by the swelling domes of mosques, with their tall and graceful minarets beside them.
The “Golden Horn,” three miles in length, was filled with ships and vessels of every class, and rig, and nation; and hundreds of light and buoyant caiques flitted to and fro among them. In the far distance, above the two bridges, the upper one resting on boats, flanking the harbour in an oblique line, were the heavy ships of war of the Turkish fleet. To the right, on the opposite side of the harbour, were the suburbs of Pera, Tophana, and Galata (each of them, elsewhere a city), with the tower of the last springing shaft-like to the skies. To the east, across the sea of Marmara, where it receives the Bosporus, was the town of Scutari (the ancient Chalcedon), where the fourth general council of the Christian church was held. Near Scutari, is a spacious grove of cypress, shading its million dead; and a high mountain behind it overlooks the cities, the harbour, the sea, the Bosporus, and the surrounding country. But, wearied with the very vastness of the field it is called upon to admire, the eye reverts with renewed delight to the beautiful point of the Seraglio.
A graceful sweep of palaces, light in their proportions and oriental in their structure, washed by the waters of the Sea of Marmara and the “Golden Horn,” look far up the far-famed Bosporus. Here and there, upon the ascending slope, clustering in one place, and dispersedly in. another, many a cypress shoots up its dark green pyramidal head, between the numerous and variegated roofs. The shaft-like form of the minaret seems to have been borrowed from the cypress, and they both exquisitely harmonize with oriental architecture. On the summit is a magnificent mosque, its roof a rounded surface of domes, the central and largest covered with bronze, and glittering in the sun, with a light and graceful minaret springing from each angle of its court. The pen cannot describe, nor can the pencil paint, the beauties of the scene: I will not, therefore, attempt it.
We landed at Tophana and, passing a marble Chinese fountain, elaborately carved, and between two mosques, an ancient and a modern one, struck directly into the narrow and tortuous streets that wind up the steep ascent towards the Frank quarter in Pera. The houses are mostly of wood, rudely constructed, rarely exceeding one story in height, and covered with a dark-brown, clumsy tile. The shops, for they are no more, are open to the street, each with a slightly-elevated platform, upon which the shopkeeper and his workmen are seated à la Turque.
We did not anticipate seeing so many Turkish females in the streets. It seems that, like many of their sex in our own country, they spend a great deal of their time in shopping. When abroad, they invariably wear the yashmak, the ferejeh, and the clumsy red or yellow morocco boot and slipper. The dress of the Armenian woman is almost exactly the same, and the Greek women wear the Frank costume. The last is making rapid encroachments, although many are bitterly opposed to it. A Frank lady recently visited one of the Sultanas, when there were other female visitors present; one of the latter, not knowing that the Frank lady understood the Turkish language, said to another, “See how shamelessly the Frank lady exposes her face!”
“Do you know,” replied the one addressed, “it is said that, before long, we shall do so, too?”
“Allah forbid!” exclaimed the first.
 Except the nearest relatives, males never visit females in Turkey.
MONDAY, FEB. 21. Took a caique for San Stefano, the residence of our Minister, twelve miles distant, on the Sea of Marmara. Differing in its construction from other boats, except, in some points, the American canoe and the Malay proa, the breadth of the calque rarely exceeds one-fourteenth of its length. The bow and stern rise high and curvilinear, and these boats are so easily careened that passengers are compelled to recline upon the bottom. In consequence of their extreme buoyancy, they are propelled with great rapidity when the water is smooth, but when it is ruffled, they are exceedingly unsafe, and at times, when a squall sweeps across the harbour, they are to be seen like affrighted wild fowl, flitting before it. The greatest number of them are rowed by two men, with two oars each. The latter are not very long, but have wide blades, with concave ends, and heavy looms, caused by their being nearly three times the usual diameter. This swelling, as it may be termed, is intended as a counterbalancing weight; but, instead of the clumsy lozenge-like protuberance, a band of lead or iron, of moderate thickness, would better answer the purpose.
We could not have wished a more delightful day. The sky was serene, the surface of the sea undisturbed by a ripple, and unchequered by the shadow of a cloud. With great rapidity we swept by the wall of the Seraglio and the sea-wall of the city, both, throughout their whole extent, seemingly Grecian, with more modern props and repairs, for which purpose, intermixed with Roman brick and cement, marble slabs, pilasters and columns have been indiscriminately used. From one position I counted fifty minarets in Stambohl alone, omitting Scutari on one side, and Tophana, in full view, on the other. We soon rowed past the Seven Towers, the slaughterhouse of the days of despotism, which overlooks the western wall, and, with the aid of the current, made a speedy passage. San Stefano is a paltry village, but delightfully situated on the margin of the sea, with Princes’ Islands towards the southern shore, and the snow-crowned summit of Mount Olympus beyond it. This village possesses two things in its near vicinity, of peculiar interest to an American — a model farm and an agricultural school.
The farm consists of about two thousand acres of land, especially appropriated to the culture of the cotton-plant. Both farm and school are under the superintendence of Dr. Davis, of South Carolina; a gentleman who, in the estimation of Armenians, Turks and Franks, is admirably qualified for his position. He is intelligent, sustains a high character, and has many years’ experience in this branch of cultivation. Already he has made the comparatively acid fields to bloom; and besides the principal culture, is sedulously engaged in the introduction of seeds, plants, domestic animals, and agricultural instruments. The school is held in one of the kiosks of the sultan, which overlooks the sea.
Dr. Davis has brought some of his own slaves from the United States, who are best acquainted with the cotton culture. So far from being a mere transposition of slavery from one country to another, the very act of removal is a guaranty of emancipation to the slave. By a law of the Ottoman Empire, no one within its limits can be held in slavery for a period exceeding seven years.* Should the culture of the cotton-plant succeed in this region, many, very many, thousands of additional hands will be required. In that event, the Ottoman Empire will present a most eligible field for the amelioration of the condition of the free negro of our own country.
[1*] Can this ordinance, like the prohibition of pork, be traced to the Jews under the Theocracy? “And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years, then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee?” — Deut. xv. 12.
In Turkey, every coloured person employed by the government receives monthly wages; and if a slave, is emancipated at the expiration of seven years, when he becomes eligible to any office beneath the sovereignty. Many of the high dignitaries of the empire were originally slaves; the present Governor of the Dardanelles is a black, and was, a short time since, freed from servitude. There is here no prejudice founded on distinction of colour. The avenues of preferment are open to all, and he who is most skilful, accomplished and persevering, be his complexion ruddy, brown or black, is most certain of success.
With us, it is manifest that the distinctive character of the Israelite does not so effectually cut him off from a full assimilation with the human family, as does the prejudice arising from distinction of colour separate the Anglo-Saxon from the African. No matter whether this prejudice be implanted for wise and holy purposes, or whether it be the curse of the age. It exists, its roots are deeply planted, it is a part of ourselves, and he is a shallow observer of man, blind and bigoted, who will overlook or despise this pervading and resistless feeling, originate where it may.
Denied with us, the protecting care which the interest, if not the humanity, of the owner extends to the slave, the free negro is subject to all the prejudices of colour, with some of the rights of a freeman, and many of the sentiments of a slave. They constitute an intermediate class; having no bonds of common interest, no ties of sympathy to sustain it, often too indolent to labour, and too insolent to serve, it is, collectively, the most depraved and unhappy race in the western hemisphere.
The only hope of the free negro, is in his removal beyond the barriers of prejudice. A plan of colonization, connected with this country, would present a broad platform upon which the friends of this unhappy race may meet in soberness and truth. The moral and the physical condition of the free negroes among us; the frequent conflicts between them and the whites in our principal cities, show that to them, on our soil, freedom carries no healing on its wings, and liberty, that blesses all besides, has no blessings for them.
As the consumption of the necessaries of life ever increases in proportion to the facility of their production, and as Turkey cannot, for a century to come, under any possibility, raise sufficient cotton for one-half of her population, she cannot become a rival in the cotton-market. On the contrary, its general introduction, as a fabric for domestic wear, would create a demand far. transcending the home supply, and another mart be thereby opened to the cotton-planters of the southern and south-western states. Already, cotton is fast superseding silk, as an article of domestic apparel in the Turkish dominions.
It is said, but untruly, that the slave-market of Constantinople has been abolished. An edict, it is true, was some years since promulgated, which declared the purchase and sale of slaves to be unlawful. The prohibition, however, is only operative against the Franks, under which term the Greeks are included. White male slaves are purchased for adopted sons, and female ones for wives or adopted daughters. Nubians are bought as slaves, to serve the allotted term. Young females, of the principal families of Georgia or Circassia, are often entrusted to commissioners, who are responsible for their respectful treatment. They are only purchased with their own consent, and when so purchased; are recognised by the Muhammedan law as wives; the portion is settled upon them by law, and if the husband misuses them, or proves unfaithful, they can sue for divorce, and recover dowry. But, unfortunately, the husband has the power of divorce at will, without resorting to any tribunal; and the words, “I divorce you,” from his lips, is, to the poor woman, the sentence of dismissal from her husband’s roof, and from the presence of her children. If dismissed without good cause, however, she has a right to dowry, but is ever after debarred from appeasing that mighty hunger of the heart, the yearning of a mother for her children.
The female slaves, bought for servitude, are subject to the wife, and not to the husband. He has no property in them, but is bound to protect and to aid them in their settlement.[1*] The males rise in condition with their masters: several pashas have been bondmen, and Seraskier Pasha was once a Georgian slave.
[1*] “And when thou sendest him out from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty.” — Deut. xv. 13.
In a ramble to and from the slave-market, yesterday, I saw two females, whose lots in life are now widely different. The first was a Circassian slave, young and interesting, but by no means beautiful, attired plainly in the Turkish costume, and her features exposed by the withdrawal of the yashmak. She walked a few paces behind her owner, who passed to and fro about the market. Stopping occasionally, and again renewing his walk, he neither by word nor gesture sought to attract a customer. When he was accosted, she quietly, but not sadly, submitted to the inspection, and listened in silence, and without perceptible emotion, to the interrogatories of the probable customer.
The second female to whom I have alluded was an Armenian bride being escorted to the residence of her husband. There were three arabas, or clumsy carriages of the country, drawn by two oxen each. The panels of the second one were richly carved and blazoned, and its roof was supported on upright gilt columns, with richly embroidered curtains, and fringes of silk. The concave bottom had no seats, but was covered with cushions, upon which, at half length, reclined the bride, with a female attendant beside her. On the backs of the oxen were four or five stakes diverging outwards, like radii from a centre, with long hearse-like purple plumes drooping from them. The bride was gorgeously dressed, but her head and its appendage riveted my attention. From it hung a veil (I can call it nothing else), composed of long strings of bright gold beads, spanning from temple to temple, and reaching from the forehead to the waist. With the motion of the araba, it swayed to and fro in gently waving lines, but without disparting, and my scaravan ed vision could not penetrate the costly screen. I have heard of the man in the iron mask, but never before of a woman in a golden one.
The husband, who is yet as ignorant as myself, may, like the Prince of Arragon, find only the blank countenance of a blinking idiot beneath it, and discover, when too late, that the
Veils but an Indian beauty?”
They were both destined victims to the matrimonial customs of the country; and perhaps the sacrifice of this poor Circassian may not be more venal than the mercenary marriage of the other.
The conditions of the two females are now widely different; but, such are the peculiar customs of this people, that it is by no means impossible, indeed is far within the range of probability, that the slave of whom I have spoken, may yet be elevated to a sphere more exalted than that of the wealthy Armenian. If every good has its attendant evil, every evil has its antidote; and in this clime of despotism the fetters of slavery are less galling than in our own more favoured land. The slave has here a voice in his own disposal, and his consent is necessary to make a transfer legal. The female slave therefore may, and doubtless does, reject the ill-favoured or tyrannical, and yield her assent only to the comely or the wealthy purchaser, perchance a bey or a pasha, and become the favourite wife of a future governor of an extensive province.
Besides Dr. Davis and family, including his intelligent brother, we here met Dr. Smith, who holds the important office of geologist to the Ottoman government, to whom we are indebted for many excellent scientific suggestions. From Bishop Southgate, of the American Episcopal mission, we received many kind offices, including a present of his work on Armenia, Persia, and Mesopotamia. By the gentlemen of the Evangelical Mission, and their families, we were also welcomed with cordial hospitality.
TUESDAY, FEB. 24. We embarked with our minister, Mr. Carr, in his sixteen-oared caique, for a trip up the Bosporus. The lovely and meandering Bosporus, ever at the ebb, but rarely turbulent, for the last five miles before it becomes merged in the Sea of Marmara, flows between almost uninterrupted ranges of mosques, palaces, gardens, and it was in vain to attempt to describe it. I only noted such prominent places as, from time to time, we passed.
First, on the left, or European shore, was a beautiful mosque, erected by the late Sultan Mahmoud, in commemoration of the extinction of the Janissaries. Next, an immense cannon foundry, with a spacious “Caserne,” or barracks, on the hill behind it; then the palace of Beschiktasche, and the one built by Mahmoud for the heir apparent, the present sultan, and another mosque, all with gardens and their kiosks between. We also passed the tomb of the great admiral Barbarossa, with the name “Wao” (Jehovah), in large Arabic characters, inscribed upon it. Near the palace, stood the column of Simeon and Daniel Stylites, two saintly men, who spent most of their lives upon its summit, sixty feet above the ground, and
The tomb marks the spot where Muhammed II., during the siege of Constantinople, transported a fleet of galleys overland to the “Sweet Waters,” the head of the “Golden Horn.”
We then rowed by the stairs, beneath the windows of “Cherighan,” the palace where the reigning monarch holds his court. Like the one below, it fronts upon the Bosporus. It is of wood, neatly constructed, and painted a light stone-colour. Its form is a hollow square, with handsomely laid-out gardens in the centre, and a guard house beside it. It is a fine, rich building, but, for a royal palace, quite an unpretending one. Its style of architecture is oriental, and presents to the eye a light and graceful appearance.
On the opposite, or Asiatic side, from Scutari up; is a like continuous line of gardens, kiosks, and palaces. The swelling hills on each side of the Bosporus alternately approach and recede, so that the banks of this meandering and beautiful stream form seven promontories, and as many corresponding inlets to each shore.
At the narrowest part of the strait, is Roumelia Hissar, or castle of Roumelia. Here, was the bridge over which Darius led his army into Scythia, and the overlooking hill is thence called the throne of Darius. The castle was built by Muhammed II., prior to the conquest of Constantinople; and, from a whim of that monarch, the walls run in the form of the Arabic characters of the word Muhammed.
At the foot of each inlet of the Bosporus, is a valley, now luxuriant in its verdure. That of Buyukdere, about midway, was, at the same time, the most extensive and the most beautiful. Hither, in the summer, resort the Frank ambassadors and their families. A short distance up this valley, is Belgrade, with its extensive forest, and where once resided the celebrated Mary Montagu. We did not stop at Buyukdere, although it looked inviting, for other beauties were around, and the Euxine was before us.
Passing along the base of the Giants’ mountain, and by a modern battery, with the ruins of a Genoese tower high on the hill above it, and by the ancient Pharos, on the European side, and by the upper forts, with their contiguous light-houses, we swept rapidly into
“ The Pontic sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne’er feels retiring ebb; but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont” —
and beheld in the distance the Symplegades, so familiar to the classic reader for the perilous passage of Jason, when in search of the Golden Fleece. Beyond, the left-hand shore extended north-west and north, to the mountains of the Balkan, “the sentinels of an enchanted land,” and thence to the dark, swift rolling Danube. To the right, the mountainous shores stretched in a continuous range towards the site of Sinope, the ancient capital of Pontus and the birth-place of Diogenes. Towards the north and north-east was one broad expanse of water, which, so far from presenting a gloomy appearance, rippled its tiny waves before the breath of a gentle breeze, and basked in the rays of an unclouded sun. A number of vessels bound to the Danube, to Odessa, to Trebizond, and to other ports of this inland sea, were stretching away, under full sail, towards their respective destinations.
We looked long and earnestly, first to the left, where the mind’s eye followed the course of the Danube to the lands of civilization and refinement; to the north, across the barren steppes, to the frozen limits of inhospitable and semi-barbarous Russia; to the north-east and east, over the range of the Caucasus and along the shores of the almost unknown Caspian, and thence southwardly, through Persia and India, to Hindostan and the Ganges. Warned by the lapse of time, we reluctantly forbore to visit the Semplygades, on the largest of which a fragment of a pillar, supposed to be part of an altar to Apollo, was distinctly visible.
Returning along the Asiatic shore, we stopped near the fortress which lies below the Genoese ruin, and ascended the Giants’ mountain. On the summit is a mound twenty feet long and five feet high, called the tomb of Joshua. On the bushes around it are hung shreds and patches of clothing, votive offerings for the recovery of the sick. All Muhammedan visitors dissolve a little of the superincumbent earth in water, and drink it as an antidote of the fever; and to those who are diseased, it is conveyed as a certain remedy.
Another tradition maintains that the tomb contains only the head of a being so gigantic, that when seated on the summit of the mountain, he had one foot immersed in the Bosporus and the other in the Euxine. The first tradition is most credited, and a mosque is erected contiguous to the tomb, which a dervish guards from profanation. The view from this mountain height surpasses all that in my wandering life I have ever seen. The Black Sea, its surface dotted with many sails, stretched in a boundless expanse to the north; nearer were the Symplegades and the mouth of the strait, and nearer yet the Genoese ruin on the site of the temple of Serapis, and over against it the ancient Pharos, or light-house of the strait. Before us was the great valley of Buyukdere, which, as its name imports, is broad, beautiful and luxuriant, with its river, its port, its shipping and its houses; an acqueduct near, and Belgrade, with its forest, in the distance; while sweeping between, and stretching its meandering length along as far as Constantinople, is the palace-crowned, the indescribably beautiful Bosporus. The promontories, bold, but not rugged, gracefully swelling into the air, and covered with verdure; and the valleys, so inviting as to create a longing desire to erect in each successive one a bower for those we love most dearly.
A little below Buyukdere, on the Asiatic shore, there is a rude granite column upon a projecting point, which indicates the last encampment of ten thousand Russians, on the march to succour Constantinople, when threatened by Mehemet Ali, of Egypt. When Constantinople was rescued from the clutches of this rebellious pasha by the interposition of the European powers, he came as a tributary to render homage to the sultan. While here, he selected, as the site of the palace he was required to build, the promontory immediately below and in full sight of the one upon which the Russian column is erected, as if to intimate to posterity that if the Russians came thus far, he had preceded them, and that it was the fear of him that brought them.
These are ominous signs, the first especially; for, if a Russian army can so speedily and unexpectedly (it came without a summons) reach the environs of Constantinople, what is to prevent the same rapid movement of a hostile and yet more powerful force? Of their danger the Turks are well aware, but instead of preparing to resist, in the spirit of fatalism they supinely await the dread event. There is a tradition among them that they are to be driven from Europe by a light-haired race from the north, and their fears have settled upon the Russians. The prediction will work its own accomplishment: the unhappy presentiment of the Turk, (for the feeling amounts to such,) will be more than embattled hosts against him, and the dispassionate observer can already predict not only his expulsion from Europe, but the downfall of the Ottoman empire. The handwriting is on the wall, and it needs not a Daniel to interpret it. Under present auspices, this country must ere long attain her destiny; and her decline and fall will add another to the many lessons of experience, to instruct future generations and furnish another proof of the perishable nature of all human institutions. Could Christianity but shed its benign influence over this misguided people, their national existence might be prolonged, and the sad catastrophe averted. One crying evil pervades the land, and while it exists, there can be no hope.
In this country, from the hovel to the palace, woman is in a state of domestic servitude. It is unnecessary to dwell upon the degradation of the female sex here, in India, and among all barbarous nations. The fact is clearly established, that everywhere, in all nations and among every people, beyond the pale of Christianity, woman is deplorably debased. Christianity has ever expressed the deepest solicitude for the female; for the inordinate authority of man over woman, or the undue subjection of the female to the male, tends to the debasement of the morals of each. Woman, even when invested with the plenitude of her rights and mistress of her own actions, is but too often the feeble victim of the seducements which surround her. How utterly helpless is she, therefore, when her will is not her own. The very idea of resistance vanishes, vice becomes a seeming duty, and man, gradually debased by the facility with which his irregular appetites are indulged, plunges into the lowest depths of sensuality. Woman, whose influence over the heart of man is irresistible, whenever she is debased, revisits her corruption upon man; and thus this pervading influence of the sexes over each other, by a species of mutual contamination, moves from generation to generation in one vicious circle, from which they can only be delivered by the supernatural and refining influence of Christianity.
Christianity acts first upon woman, because, from the gentleness and tractability of her nature, she is more susceptible of the influence of its law of purity and love; and when she is thus regenerated, who shall declare the extent of her chastening influence over the sons of the children of men? Under the elevating and benign influences of Christianity, she proceeds to subdue, to reform, to ennoble, and perfect everything around her; and, by this supernatural power, she so softens the affections and refines the feelings of the lord of creation, as to dispose him to prefer the purity and confidence of domestic love, to the selfish and utter isolation of a life of sensual indulgence.
But, alas! Christianity, all lovely and gentle as she is, can find no entrance here; for bigotry, with sneering lip and contracted brow, stands at the portal.