Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/240

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206

CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

[CANTO II.

The best accounts of the religion and different sects of Islamism may be found in D'Ohsson's[1] French; of their manners, etc., perhaps in Thornton's English. The Ottomans, with all their defects, are not a people to be despised. Equal at least to the Spaniards, they are superior to the Portuguese. If it be difficult to pronounce what they are, we can at least say what they are not: they are not treacherous, they are not cowardly, they do not burn heretics, they are not assassins, nor has an enemy advanced to their capital. They are faithful to their sultan till he becomes unfit to govern, and devout to their God without an inquisition. Were they driven from St. Sophia to-morrow, and the French or Russians enthroned in their stead, it would become a question whether Europe would gain by the exchange. England would certainly be the loser.

With regard to that ignorance of which they are so generally, and sometimes justly accused, it may be doubted, always excepting France and England, in what useful points of knowledge they are excelled by other nations. Is it in the common arts of life? In their manufactures? Is a Turkish sabre inferior to a Toledo? or is a Turk worse clothed or lodged, or fed and taught, than a Spaniard? Are their Pachas worse educated than a Grandee? or an Effendi[2] than a Knight of St. Jago? I think not.

I remember Mahmout, the grandson of Ali Pacha, asking whether my fellow-traveller and myself were in the upper or lower House of Parliament. Now, this question from a boy of ten years old proved that his education had not been neglected. It may be doubted if an English boy at that age knows the difference of the Divan from a College of Dervises; but I am very sure a Spaniard does not. How little Mahmout, surrounded as he had been entirely by his Turkish tutors, had learned that there was such a thing as a Parliament, it were useless to conjecture, unless we suppose that his instructors did not confine his studies to the Koran.

In all the mosques there are schools established, which

  1. [Mouradja D'Ohsson (1740-1804), an Armenian by birth, spent many years at Constantinople as Swedish envoy. He published at Paris (1787-90, two vols. fol.) his Tableau général de l'empire Othoman, a work still regarded as the chief authority on the subject.]
  2. ["Effendi," derived from the Greek αὐθέντης, through the Romaic ἀφέντης, an "absolute master," is a title borne by distinguished civilians.

    The Spanish order of St. James of Compostella was founded circ. A.D. 1170.]