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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. X. by Kuno Francke

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_Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a Future Existence_,
which he laid down as the last literary utterance of his full and
eventful career. But this is not all; for most astonishing of all in
the richness of this well-rounded harmony of over ninety years of life
is a lively source of humor, due more to endowment and inheritance
from his mother than to her influence, as his letters to her bear
witness. When war is declared in 1870 he remarks that a new vitality
has entered his carcass, and, on the very eve of his demise, when in
the morning he had attended a session of the Upper House of the
Prussian Diet, loyal to his work and task to the very last moment, he
closed the last and winning game of whist he played with the quotation
of that grim bit of humor characteristic of Frederick the Great and
his soldiery: "_Wat seggt hei nu to sine ollen Suepers_?"

In Moltke, if in any one, the character of the man reveals the
character and style of his writing. Mommsen, in his address mentioned
above, characterizes him as "the man who knew how to describe, as well
as how to win, battles, the master of style in his rare speeches, the
clever and sympathetic investigator of and writer on manifold ethnic
life, the scientific explorer of the regions on the rivers Tigris and
Euphrates." It is obvious, though, that this mastery of style, this
superb union of form and content, was not attained miraculously and
from the start. Still, his first production, published in 1827, a tale
(_Novelle_) in the style of Tieck and his followers, shows distinctive
talent, and a tendency toward brevity as well as adequacy of
expression, not to mention a sustained sense of harmony and
proportion. The young lieutenant also published, anonymously, some
poetry, and showed a clever hand in translating from foreign poets. It
is a pity that most of these attempts are buried in inaccessible
periodicals and have never been republished. But he left the field of
poetry and fiction, so far as we know, forever with his next work, the
first published under his name and in pamphlet form, a work which,
though of genuine political interest and love, was at the same time
intended to increase his income to the level of a living wage:
_Holland and Belgium in their mutual relations; from their separation
under Philip II., till their re-union under William I_. He read more
than five thousand pages of sources for the preparation of this small
pamphlet. It was published in 1831, and followed within a year by
another one: _An account of the internal state of affairs and of the
social condition of Poland_. Both writings, as in fact everything else
from his pen since about 1830, had a more or less direct bearing on
his military vocation; since war, according to Clausewitz, is nothing
but the continuation of politics by other than diplomatic means.

But the height of his literary mastery is reached in 1841 by the
publication of the _Letters on the condition and events in Turkey from
the years_ 1835 _till_ 1839, the matured fruit of those eventful and
adventurous but, at the same time, constructive years in the Orient.
They have been likened to Goethe's _Italian Journey_. The comparison
is justified by striking resemblances. Both works have resulted from
diaries and letters actually kept, Moltke's work, however, more
faithfully retaining and professing its formal nature. But the
resemblance is much closer, arising, in the so-called inner form, from
a similarity of attitude, the same wide extent of interests which may
be briefly called "kulturgeschichtlich," and, above all, the
scientific concern in the country and its inhabitants, to which both
brought the most solid and methodical qualifications. It is true, the
wealth of Italy, both of antiquity and of the Renaissance, in matters
literary and artistic, so exuberantly mirrored in Goethe's book of
travel, is not to be found in Moltke's work. But this lack is
counterbalanced by those portions dealing with historical events which
Moltke actually experienced and even influenced; events, though then
unsuccessful, as far as his intentions were concerned, yet important
and significant for our own time, as the recent developments on the
Balkan peninsula bear ample evidence. Both, Goethe as well as Moltke,
are clever and artistic in handling pencil and brush as well as their
descriptive pen.

And now the style, in the narrower sense. It is natural, limpid, free
from all rhetorical flourishes and wordiness, placing the right word
in the right place. Xenophon, Caesar, Goethe, come to mind in reading
Moltke's descriptions, historical expositions, reflections. Bookish
terms and unvisual metaphors, which occur in the preceding pamphlets,
though rarely enough, are entirely absent. The tendency toward
military brevity and precision is everywhere obvious. The omission of
the cumbersome auxiliary, wherever permissible, already
characteristically employed in his tale, is conspicuous, as in all his
writings and letters. The words are arranged in rhythmical groups
without falling into a monotonous sing song. Participial
constructions, tending toward brevity, are more in evidence than in
ordinary German prose. Sparingly, but with good reason and excellent
handling, periodic structure is employed. Still another point is
significant, showing the writer to be of born artistic instinct. In a
letter to his brother Ludwig, who was to take from Moltke's
overburdened shoulders part of his laborious task of translating
Gibbon, he cleverly remarks on the exuberant use of adjectives by the
historian as being sometimes more obscuring than elucidating, and he
simply advises the omitting of some. It is a pity that the translation
seems to be lost, and with it an insight into Moltke's elaboration of
his style, which a translation would reveal better than original
composition. In one respect these letters about Turkey were never
equalled by Moltke. Henceforth, he turned absolutely matter-of-fact, a
military writer _par excellence_. Even in his letters those nice bits
of humor and incidental manifestations of a subtle and fine nature
sense grow scarcer and scarcer. There are two essays--_The Western
Boundary_, and _Considerations in the Choice of Railway Routes_--both
published in the _Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift_, in 1841, and 1843
respectively, that demonstrate this tendency toward specialization.
The bulk of his writings from then on falls into that technical series
reserved for, and interesting chiefly to, the military man. Even his
speeches in the Reichstag, few and far between, considering the extent
of years over which they are spread, with all their excellent
"Sachlichkeit," their directness and clearness, concern matters and
problems that affect, more or less directly, his comprehensive duties
as chief intellect of the military organization of his country. So,
quite naturally, we see him very reluctantly yield to a gentle but
persistent pressure to use his great literary talent for setting down
some reminiscences from his life. He declined to publish personal
memoirs, however, saying: "All that I have written about actual and
real things ('Sachliches') which is worth preserving is kept in the
archives of the General Staff. My personal reminiscences are better
buried with me." He had turned objective in the highest possible
degree, leaving behind all vanities and petty subjective points of
view. But after his retirement he wrote, in 1887, on the basis of the
great work on that subject by the General Staff and partly managed by
himself, that short _History of the Franco-German War of_ 1870-71,
which his nation cherishes as a precious inheritance. It is "sachlich"
throughout. Starting with a brief reflection on the origin of modern
wars he relates the events from the point of view of the directing
chief of staff of the army, closing the whole by one impressive
sentence: "Strassburg and Metz, estranged from our country in times of
weakness, had been regained, and the German Empire had come to a
renewed existence." The work is a consummation, in literary form, of
his motto "Erst waegen, dann wagen!" From the very threshold of his
death we possess as the sum total of his philosophy of life those
already mentioned _Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a
Future Existence_. From the point of composition and style these are
highly interesting because of the fact that, beside the final version,
three extant parallel versions show the gradual working out of form
and thought.

Something remains to be said about Moltke the correspondent. The
letters preserved or published fully justify his being ranked among
the best letter writers in German literature. Here, more than
elsewhere, the subtle and finer characteristics of the man, the son,
the brother, the friend, the gentle and always kindly responsive
nature of a thoroughly human and Christian soul are revealed. Above
all, however, and side by side with Bismarck's noble letters to his
fiancee and wife, stand Moltke's charming and devoted letters to Mary
Burt von Moltke. I shall not venture to describe their wealth of
sentiment, of charm, of love, of interest in matters big and small.
One of the long series, however, stands conspicuous among them; it is
addressed to his fiancee, dated Berlin, February 13, 1842. Charming in
its combination of a protective, paternal, and instructive attitude
with that of the lover and prospective husband, it is unique also
because of the advice given about the gentle art of writing letters,
an art in which the great modern strategist excelled.


* * * * *



[Moltke spent four years, from 1836 to 1839, in Turkey, and, as was
his habit, sent detailed accounts of his experiences to his family.
After his return to Prussia, he collected his material, revised it,
omitted all intimate family references, and published it under the
title _Letters Concerning Conditions and Events in Turkey_. The book
contained sixty-seven letters. The following is the tenth letter,
dated from Pera, April 7, 1836.]

For a long time it was the task of the armies of western Europe to set
bounds to the Turkish sway. Today the powers of Europe seem anxious to
keep the Turkish state in existence. Not so very long ago serious
concern was felt lest Islam gain the upper hand in a great part of the
West, as it had done in the Orient. The adherents of the prophet had
conquered countries where Christianity had been rooted for centuries.
The classic soil of the apostles, Corinth and Ephesus, Nicea (the city
of synods and churches), also Antioch, Nicomedia, and Alexandria had
yielded to their strength. Even the cradle of Christianity and the
grave of the Saviour, Palestine and Jerusalem, did homage to the
Infidels, who held their possessions against the united armies of the
western knights.

It was left to the Infidels to put an end to the long existence of the
Roman Empire, and to dedicate St. Sophia, where Christ and the saints
had been worshipped for almost one thousand years, to Allah and
his prophet. At the very time when people were wrangling about
religious dogmas in Constance, when the reconciliation between the
Greek and the Catholic churches had failed, and the defection of forty
million people from the rule of the Pope was threatening, the Moslems
advanced victoriously to Steiermark and Salzburg. The noblest prince
of Europe at that time, the Roman King, fled from his capital before
them; and St. Stephen in Vienna came near being turned into a mosque,
like St. Sophia in Byzantium.

At that time the countries from the African desert to the Caspian Sea,
and from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, obeyed the orders of the
Padisha. Venice and the German Emperors were registered among the
tributaries of the Porte. From it three quarters of the coastlands of
the Mediterranean took their orders. The Nile, the Euphrates, and
almost the Danube had become Turkish rivers, as the archipelago and
the Black Sea were Turkish inland waters. And after barely two hundred
years this same mighty empire reveals to us a picture of dissolution
which promises an early end.

In the two old capitals of the world, Rome and Constantinople, the
same means have been employed to the same ends, the unity of the dogma
to obtain unrestricted power. The vicar of St. Peter and the heir of
the calif have fallen thereby into identical impotency.

Since Greece has declared her independence, and the principalities of
Moldavia, Wallachia, and Servia are offering only a formal recognition
to the Porte, the Turks are as if banished from these, their own
provinces. Egypt is a hostile power rather than a subject country;
Syria with her wealth, Adana (the province of Cilicia), and Crete,
conquered at the cost of fifty-five attacks and the lives of seventy
thousand Mussulmans, have been lost without one sword-thrust, the
booty of a rebellious pasha. The control in Tripolis, hardly
recovered, is in danger of being lost again. The other African states
of the Mediterranean have today no real connection with the Porte;
and France in her hesitation whether she should keep the most
beautiful of them as her own is looking to the cabinet of St. James
rather than to the Divan at Constantinople. In Arabia finally, and in
the holy cities themselves, the Sultan has had no actual authority for
a long time.

Even in those countries which are left to the Porte the supreme power
of the Sultan is often restricted. The people on the banks of the
Euphrates and the Tigris show little fidelity; the _Agas_ on the Black
Sea and in Bosnia obey the dictates of their personal interests rather
than the orders of the Padisha; and the larger cities at a distance
from Constantinople are enjoying oligarchical municipal institutions,
which render them almost independent.

The Ottoman monarchy, therefore, consists today of an aggregation of
kingdoms, principalities, and republics which are kept together only
by habit and the communion of the Koran. And if a despot is a ruler
whose words are law, then the Sultan in Constantinople is very far
from being a despot.

The diplomacy of Europe has long engaged the Porte in wars which are
not in its interest, or has forced it to make treaties of peace in
which it has lost some of its provinces. During all this time,
however, the Ottoman Empire had to deal with an enemy at home who
seemed more terrible than all the foreign armies and navies. Selim
III. was not the first Sultan to lose his throne and his life in his
struggle against the Janizaries, and his successor preferred the
dangers of a reformation to the necessity of trusting himself to this
society. Through streams of blood he reached his end. The Turkish
Sultan gloried in the destruction of the Turkish army, but he had to
crave the help of an all-too-powerful vassal in order to suppress the
insurrection on the Greek peninsula. At this juncture three Christian
powers forgot their ancient feuds. France and England sacrificed their
ships and men to destroy the Sultan's fleet, and thus laid open to
Russia the way to the heart of Turkey, and brought about what they
had most wished to avoid.

The country had not yet recovered from these many wounds, when the
Pasha of Egypt advanced through Syria, threatening destruction to the
last descendant of Osman. A newly levied army was sent against the
insurgents, but the generals fresh from the harem led it to
destruction. The Porte applied to England and France, who were calling
themselves its oldest and most natural allies, but received from them
only promises. At this juncture Sultan Mahommed invoked the help of
Russia, and his enemy sent him ships, money, and an army.

Then the world saw the remarkable spectacle of fifteen thousand
Russians encamped on the Asiatic hills overlooking Constantinople,
ready to protect the Sultan in his seraglio against the Egyptians.
Among the Turks dissatisfaction was rampant. The Ulemas saw their
influence wane; the innovations had hurt countless interests, and the
new taxes incommoded all classes. Thousands of Janizaries, who were no
longer permitted to call themselves such, and the relatives and
friends of thousands of others who had been throttled, drowned, or
shot down, were scattered through the country and the capital. The
Armenians could not forget the persecution which they had recently
suffered, and the Greek Christians, who constituted half of the
populace of the original Turkish empire, looked upon their rulers as
their enemies, and upon the Russians as fellow-believers in the same
religion. Turkey at that time could not raise another army.

And just then France was laboring with her great event, England was
carrying a load in her public debts, while Prussia and Austria had
attached themselves more intimately than ever before to Russia,
compelled to do so by the conditions of Western Europe.

Foreign armies had brought the empire to the brink of destruction; a
foreign army had saved it. For this reason the Turks wished above
everything else to possess an army of their own of seventy thousand
regular troops. The inadequacy of this force for the protection of the
extensive possessions of the Porte is apparent after one glance at the
map. The very dimensions preclude the concentration of the troops,
scattered through so many places, when one particular spot is in
danger. The soldiers in Bagdad are 1,600 miles distant from those at
Ushkodra in Albania.

This shows the great importance of establishing in the Ottoman Empire
a well arranged system of militia. It presupposes, of course, that the
interests of those who rule and those who are ruled are not at

The present Turkish army is a new structure on an old and battered
foundation. At present the Porte would have to look for its safety to
its treaties rather than to its army; and the battles which will
decide the survival of this State may as well be fought in the
Ardennes or in the Waldai Mountains as in the Balkans.

The Ottoman monarchy needs above everything else a well ordered
administration, for under present conditions it will scarcely be able
to support even this weak army of seventy thousand men.

The impoverished condition of the country shows only too clearly in
the lessened income of the State. In vain a number of indirect taxes
have been introduced. A kind of tax on meat and meal is levied in a
very primitive way on the street corners of the capital. The fishermen
pay 20 per cent, of the catch in their nets. Weights and measures must
be stamped anew every year; and all products of industry, from
silverware and shawls to shoes and shirts, are stamped with the
imperial seal. But the proceeds from these taxes are enriching only
those who collect them. The riches melt before the avaricious eye of
the administration, and the ruler of the most beautiful lands in three
continents is drawing water with the leaky pots of the daughters of

For the payment of its necessities the government must rely on the
confiscation of property, as it passes to new heirs or outright, on
the sale of offices, and finally on presents and the miserable means
of adulterating the currency.

In regard to the confiscation of money inherited by State officials,
the present Sultan has declared that he will do without it. This
edict, however, instead of abolishing the practice, acknowledges the
correctness of the principle. Formerly the edicts of confiscation were
accompanied by the death warrants of those who were to be robbed.
Today there are gentler means in use for relieving people of the
surplus of their wealth.

The sale of offices continues to be the chief source of income of the
State. The candidates borrow the money at a high rate of interest from
some Armenian business house, while the government permits these
"lease-holders" to recoup themselves by the exploitation of their
provinces to whatever extent they wish. Withal, they must fear either
a higher bidder, who leaves them no time to get rich, or the State, if
they happen to have grown rich. The provinces know beforehand that the
new pasha has come to rob them. They, therefore, prepare themselves.
Interviews are held, and if no agreement is reached, war is waged, or
if an agreement is broken a revolution takes place. As soon as the
pasha has settled with the _Agas_, he stands in fear of the Porte. He,
therefore, combines with other pashas for mutual protection, and the
Sultan must negotiate with the future neighbors of a new pasha before
he can appoint him. In a very few _pashaliks_, to be sure, the
beginning of a better order of things has been made, the
administrative and military powers have been separated, and the
taxpayers themselves have agreed to higher taxes, provided they are
permitted to pay them directly into the State treasury.

Presents are as customary here as everywhere in the Orient. Without a
present the man of lower station is not permitted to approach his
superior. If you ask justice of a judge you must take him a gift.
Officials and officers in the army are given tips, but the man who
receives most presents is the Sultan himself. The expedient of
adulterating the currency has been used to the point of exhaustion.
Twelve years ago the Spanish dollar was worth seven piasters; today it
is bought for twenty-one. The man who then possessed one hundred
thousand dollars has discovered that today he has only thirty-three
thousand. This calamity has hit Turkey worse than it would have
affected any other country, because very little money is here invested
in land, and most fortunes consist of cash capital. In the civilized
countries of Europe a fortune is the result of having created
something of real worth. The man who wins his wealth in this way is
increasing at the same time the wealth of his State. His money merely
represents the abundance of goods at his disposal. In Turkey the coin
itself is the thing of value, and wealth is nothing but the accidental
accumulation of money within the possession of an individual. The very
high rate of interest, which is here legally 20 per cent, is far from
indicating any great activity of capital. It only indicates the great
danger of letting money out of one's immediate possession. The
criterion of wealth is the ease of its removal. The _Rajah_ will
probably buy jewelry for one hundred thousand piasters in preference
to investing his money in a factory, a mill, or a farm. Nowhere is
jewelry better liked than here, and the jewels which, in rich
families, even children of tender years are wearing are a glaring
proof of the poverty of the country.

If it is one of the first duties of every government to create
confidence, the Turkish administration leaves this task entirely
unperformed. Its treatment of the Greeks, its unjust and cruel
persecution of the Armenians, those faithful and rich subjects of the
Porte, and other violent measures, are so fresh in everyone's memory
that no one is willing to invest his money where it will pay interest
only after many years. In a country where industry is without the
element on which it thrives, commerce also must largely consist of the
exchange of foreign merchandise for raw home products. The Turk
actually gives ten _occas_ of his raw silk for one _occa_ of
fabricated silk, the material for which is produced on his own soil.

Agriculture is even in a worse state. One often hears the complaint
that the cost of all the necessities of life has increased in
Constantinople fourfold since the annihilation of the Janizaries, as
if heaven had decreed this punishment on those who exterminated the
"soldiers of Islam." The fact, while true, should probably be
explained differently, for, since the events referred to, the great
granaries of the capital, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Egypt, which
formerly had to send half of their harvests to the Bosphorus, have
been closed. In the interior nobody will undertake the growing of
grain on a large scale, because the government makes its purchases
according to prices of its own choosing. The forced purchases by the
government are a greater evil for Turkey than her losses by fire and
the plague combined. They not only undermine prosperity, but they also
cause its springs to dry up. As a result the government must buy its
grain in Odessa, while endless stretches of fertile land, under a most
benignant sky and at only an hour's distance from a city of eight
hundred thousand people, lie untilled.

The outer members of this once powerful political body have died, and
the heart alone has life. A riot in the streets of the capital may be
the funeral procession of the Ottoman Empire. The future will show
whether it is possible for a State to pause in the middle of its fall
and to reorganize itself, or whether fate has decreed that the
Mohammedan-Byzantine Empire shall die, like the Christian-Byzantine
Empire, of its fiscal administration. The peace of Europe, however, is
apparently less menaced by the danger of a foreign conquest of Turkey
than by the extreme weakness of this empire, and its threatened
collapse within itself.



[This is the fourteenth of the Letters Concerning Conditions and
Events in Turkey. It is dated from Pera, June 16, 1836.]

Yesterday I returned from a short excursion to Asia, which I really
should describe for you in poetry, because I ascended Mount Olympus.
But since I did not reach the summit, and did not climb farther than
the foot, or more properly speaking the toe, of the giant you will get
off with prose.

I embarked on the eleventh, in the afternoon, in a small Turkish
vessel, and a fresh north wind carried us in four hours to the rocky
promontory of Posidonium (today Bosburun, the point of ice), a
distance of eight miles. Here the sea was running very high, and our
_reis_, or helmsman, who was squatting on the high and delicately
carved stern of the ship, was beginning to chant his _Allah
ekber_--God is merciful--when the wind died down so completely toward
dusk that we did not reach Mudania before eight o'clock next morning.

The horses were soon ready, and up to Brussa I passed through a
country that was doubly charming after the lonesomeness of Roumelia,
which had been all I had seen for six months. Everything is under
cultivation, planted less with corn than with vines and mulberry
trees. The latter, which serve as food for the silkworms, are trimmed
low like bushes, with the crowns cut off, as we do with willows. Their
large bright green leaves cover the fields far and wide. The olive
trees grow here in groves of no mean size, but they have to be
planted. The whole richly cultivated country reminds one of Lombardy,
especially of the hilly landscape near Verona The distant view is as
magnificent as the foreground is lovely. On one side you see the Sea
of Marmora and the Princess Islands, and on the other the glorious
Mount Olympus, whose snow-clad peak rises above a broad girdle of
clouds. The flowering vineyards filled the air with rich scent,
assisted by caprifolium blossoms in luxuriant growth, and a yellow
flower the name of which I do not know.

When we had crossed a ridge of low hills, we saw Brussa stretched out
before us in a green plain at the foot of Mt. Olympus. It is indeed
difficult to decide which one of the two capitals of the Ottoman
rulers is more beautifully situated, the oldest or the newest, Brussa
or Constantinople. Here the sea and there the land bewitches you. One
landscape is executed in blue, the other in green. Relieved against
the steep and wooded slopes of Mt. Olympus, you see more than one
hundred white minarets and vaulted domes.

The mountain rises to the regions of almost perpetual snow, and
supplies the inhabitants of Brussa with wood to warm themselves in
winter and with ice for their sherbet in summer. A river, called
Lotos, winds its course through rich meadows and fields of mulberry
trees, where giant nut trees with dark foliage and light green planes,
white minarets and dark cypress trees rise to the sky. Vines climb up
the mighty trunks and attach themselves to the branches, whence they
droop again to earth, while Caprifolium plants and thriving creepers
superimpose themselves on the vines. Nowhere have I seen such a wide
and thoroughly green landscape, except from the tower of Luebbenau,
overlooking the woods along the Spree. But here you have in addition
the richer vegetation and the glorious mountains which surround the
plain. The abundance of water is surprising; everywhere brooks are
rushing along and springs are gushing from the rocks, ice cold and
boiling hot, side by side. In every part of the city, even in the
mosques, water is bubbling from countless fountains.

As is the case with all Turkish cities, the beautiful picture vanishes
the moment you enter Brussa. The smallest German town surpasses
Constantinople, Adrianople, or Brussa in the charm of its buildings
and still more in comfort. Only the mosques and the _Hanns_, or
caravansaries, the fountains and public baths are magnificent. In the
earlier times of the Ottoman monarchy no ruler was permitted to build
a mosque before he had won a battle against the infidels. The mosques
in Brussa are smaller and less beautiful than those which were built
later, but they possess the added interest of historical memories.
There you find such names as Orchan, Suliman, Murad, in short, all the
heroes of the victorious period of Islam.

The mosque of Bajasid attracted me most because of its excellent
architecture. Bajasid is the man whom the Turks call Ilderim, or the
Lightning. The monument of the mighty conqueror, who himself was
conquered and died in a cage according to the legend, stands alone in
the shadow of mighty cypress trees. The largest of the mosques used to
be a Christian cathedral. It is lighted from above, the middle vault
having been left open. The beautiful Asiatic starry sky itself has
become its vault. The opening is covered with a wire screen, and below
it in a wide basin a fountain is playing.

I will not say that even the largest mosques, the Sultan Selim, for
instance, in Adrianople, or Sulamanich in Constantinople, make the
same impression or inspire the same reverence as St. Stephan's in
Vienna, or the cathedrals of Freiburg and Strassburg. But every
mosque, even the smallest, is beautiful. There is nothing more
picturesque than the semi-circular, lead-covered domes and the
slender, white minarets rising above the mighty planes and cypresses.
When the Ottomans conquered the provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire
they preserved the Greek Church architecture, but they added the
minarets, which are of Arabian origin.

[Illustration: COUNT MOLTKE]

The _Hanns_ are the only stone dwelling-houses to be found. They are
built in the shape of rectangles with an open court. Here, at least in
the larger ones, you will find a mosque, a fountain, a small kiosk for
noble travelers, and a few mulberry trees or plane trees. All about
the court there is a colonnade with pointed arches; and, beyond that,
rows of cells, each one with its individual vault. A mattress of straw
is the only furniture for the traveler, who finds neither service nor
food in these _Hanns_.

We dined in thoroughly Turkish fashion at the _Kiebabtshi_. After our
hands had been washed we sat down, not at but on the table, where my
legs were terribly in the way. Then the _Kiebab_, or small piece of
mutton, broiled on the spit and rolled in dough, was served on a
wooden platter. It is very good and tasty. It was followed by salted
olives, which are wonderful, by the _helva_, i. e., the favorite sweet
dish, and by a bowl of sherbet. This consists of water poured over
grapes and thoroughly iced. The whole dinner for two hearty eaters
cost one hundred and twenty paras, or five shillings.

The comforts of the Turkish baths I have described to you in an
earlier letter. The baths of Brussa are distinguished, because they
are not artificially but naturally heated, and so much so that you
would not think it possible, at first, to enter the great basin of
clear water without being parboiled before you could leave it again.
From the terrace of our bath we had a beautiful view, and it was so
comfortable there that we hated to leave.

On the thirteenth we rode to Kemlik, at the end of the Bay of Mudania,
where there is a dockyard. This is the most beautiful spot I have
seen. The clear surface of the sea is lost here between the high and
steep mountains, which leave just enough space for the little town and
the olive woods. Twilight is very brief in this country, and night had
come when we reached the town gate, but what a night! Although the
moon happened to be new, objects were distinguishable at a
considerable distance, while the evening star shines here so brightly
that shadows are cast by its light.

At three o'clock in the morning we were again in the saddle, riding
toward the East through a valley and between high mountains, along the
same road which Walther von Habenichts once followed with his twelve
thousand crusaders. The hills were covered with olive trees and
flowering bushes filled with nightingales. At sunset we reached the
extensive lake of Isnik. The gigantic walls and towers on the opposite
shore used to protect a powerful city, for which the crusaders often
fought. Today they surround the few miserable huts and rubbish heaps
which centuries ago were Nicea. It was here that an assembly of one
hundred learned bishops expounded the mystery of the Trinity, and
decided to burn all who held a different view. What would these proud
prelates have said if a man had prophesied to them that the time would
come when their rich and mighty city would be a rubbish heap, and
their cathedral the ruins of a Turkish mosque; when the empire of the
Greek emperors would be destroyed, and their own exegesis, yes, even
their entire religion, would have disappeared from these parts, and
when for hundreds of miles and through hundreds of years the name of
the camel-driver of Medina would be the only one in the mouths of the

The Moslems, who abhor all pictures, have covered with whitewash the
paintings in the Greek churches. In the Cathedral of Nicea, where the
famous council was held, there glistens even today through the white
coating of the wall, where the high altar used to be, the proud
promise, I.H.S. (_in hoc signo_, i. e., under this sign, the cross,
you will win). But directly over it is written the first dogma of
Islam, "There is no God but God." There is a lesson of tolerance in
these faded inscriptions, and it seems as if Heaven itself wished to
listen as well to the _Credo_ as to the _Allah il allah_. One of the
chief pursuits of the honest Turks is what they call _Kief etmek_,
literally "creating a mood." It consists of drinking coffee in a
comfortable place and smoking. Such a place _par excellence_ I found
in the village where we made a stop. Imagine a plane which extends its
colossal branches horizontally for almost one hundred feet, burying in
its deep shadow the nearest houses. The trunk of the tree is
surrounded by a small terrace of stone, below which water is gushing
from twenty-seven pipes in streams as thick as your arm, and rushing
off as a lively brook. Here, with their legs crossed, the Turks sit,



[This is the forty-third letter of Moltke's Letters from Turkey, and
is dated from Dshesireh on the Tigris, May 1, 1838.]

I told you in my last letter that we should be going on an expedition
against the Arabs. This did not materialize. Nevertheless, I had the
opportunity of making the acquaintance of a very interesting part of
the country. On April 15, von Muehlbach, I, and two fully armed _agas_
of the pasha, together with our servants and dragomans, embarked on a
vessel built in a style well known even in the times of Cyrus, a raft
supported by inflated sheep-skins. The Turks look upon hunting as a
sin, they despise venison and beef, but eat an enormous quantity of
sheep and goats. The skins of these animals are cut in front as little
as possible and removed from the carcass with great care. Then they
are sewed up and the extremities tied up. When the skin is inflated
(which is done quickly and without touching the skin to the mouth) it
is exceedingly buoyant and can hardly be made to sink. From forty to
sixty such bags are tied together in four or five rows under a light
framework of branches. There generally are eight skins in front and
eighteen in the back. The whole is covered with a litter of leaves
over which rugs and carpets are spread. Taking your seat on these you
glide downstream with utmost comfort. Because the current is swift,
oars are not needed for progress, but only for steering the raft,
keeping it in the middle of the course, and avoiding the dangerous
rapids. On account of these rapids we had to tie up every night
until the moon was up, but in spite of this we covered the distance,
which by land would have taken us eighty-eight hours, in three and
one-half days. The river, therefore, must flow with an average
velocity of almost four miles per hour. In places it is much swifter,
and in others decidedly slower.

The Tigris leaves the mountains near Argana-Maaden, and flows past the
walls of Diarbekir, where it is apt to cause slight inundations in
summer time. It then receives the Battman river flowing in a southerly
direction from the high Karsann-Mountains and carrying more water into
the Tigris than this river contained before. Immediately after the
union of these two rivers the Tigris enters another mountainous
territory formed of sandstone. The gentle curves of the broad and
shallow river are transformed into the sharp criss-cross angles of a
ravine. The banks are abrupt, often vertical on both sides; and on top
of some steep, rocky slopes your eye may discover groves of dark-green
palms, and in their shadows the settlements of tribes of Kurds, who in
this region are mostly cave-dwellers.

The town of Hassn-Kejfa (Hossu-Keifa), situated on a high rock whence
a narrow staircase descends to the river, offers a most unusual
aspect. The old city below has been destroyed, and only a few minarets
still pointing to the sky indicate that mosques and houses once stood
here. The inhabitants were obliged to retreat to the top of the cliff,
where they built a wall of defence on the only accessible side. In the
narrow ravine I discovered huge blocks which had rolled down from
above. People have hollowed them and are using them as dwelling
places. These "huts" today make up a small, very irregular town,
which, however, possesses even a bazaar. By far the most noteworthy
remains are the ruins of a bridge which used to cross the Tigris.
There was one gigantic arch with a span of between eighty and one
hundred feet. I do not know whether the credit for such a daring
structure should be given to the Armenian kings or the Greek
emperors, or perhaps even to the califs.

It is impossible to travel more comfortably than we did. Stretched out
on downy pillows, and provided with victuals wine, tea, and a charcoal
basin, we moved down the stream with the rapidity of an express coach
and without the least exertion. But the element which propelled us
persecuted us in another form. Rain poured from the sky incessantly
after our departure from Diarbekir. Our umbrellas no longer protected
us, and our cloaks, garments and carpets were soaked. On Easter day,
just as we were leaving Dshesireh, the sun broke through the clouds,
warming our stiffened limbs. About two miles below the city the ruins
of another bridge across the Tigris are still in existence, and one of
its piers creates a fierce whirlpool whenever the water is high. The
exertions of the men at the oars were of no avail, and irresistibly
our small ark was attracted by this charybdis. With the speed of an
arrow we were sucked down below the surface, and a big comber broke
over our heads. The water was icy cold, and when in the next moment
our raft, which had not capsized, continued its way downstream as
innocently as if nothing had happened we could not help laughing at
one another, for we were a sad looking sight, everyone of us. The
charcoal basins had gone overboard, a boot swam alongside, while each
one of us hastened to fish out some little object. We made a landing
on a small island, and since our bags were as thoroughly soaked as we
were ourselves, we had to disrobe and spread our entire toilet in the
sun to dry as well as possible. At some distance a flock of pelicans
were taking their rest on a sandbank and sunning their white plumage
as if in derision of our plight. Suddenly we saw that our raft had got
loose and was floating off. One of the _agas_ immediately jumped after
it and fortunately reached it. If he had failed we should have been
left on a desert island in nothing but nature's own garb.

When we were tolerably dry we continued our journey, but renewed
downpours spoiled the moderate results of our previous efforts. The
night was so dark that we had to tie up, for fear of being drawn into
other whirlpools. In spite of the biting cold, and although we were
wet to the skin, we did not dare to light a fire which might have
attracted the Arabs. We silently pulled our raft into the shelter of a
willow tree and waited longingly for the sun to appear from behind the
Persian frontier mountains and to give us warmth.

Not far from Dshesireh the Tigris enters another plain and leaves
behind the high and magnificent Dshudid mountains on whose bright and
snow-clad peaks Noah and his mixed company are said to have
disembarked. From here on the scenery is very monotonous; you rarely
see a village, and most of those you see are uninhabited and in ruins.
It is apparent that you have entered the country of the Arabs. There
are no trees, and where a small bush has survived it is a _siareth_ or
sanctuary, and is covered with countless small rags. The sick people
here, you must know, believe they will recover when they sacrifice to
the saint a small part of their garments.

On the top of an isolated mountain of considerable height we could see
at a great distance the ruins of an old city. When we approached it we
actually passed along three sides of this mountain, on the north, east
and south. The city was, I suppose, the ancient Bezabde of which the
records say that it was situated in the desert and surrounded on three
sides by the Tigris. Sapor laid siege to it after he had taken Amida
and, when he had captured its three legions, gave it a Persian

Gliding past the ruins of the so-called old Mossul we discovered
toward evening the minarets of Mossul. This is the most easterly point
which I have visited, and my Turkish companions had to face west when
they offered their evening prayer, while in Constantinople the moslems
are looking for the _Kibla_ in the southeast.

Mossul is the important half-way station for the caravans from Bagdad
to Aleppo. Being situated in an oasis of the desert the city must at
all times be on the lookout against the Arabs. The walls which
completely surround the city are weak but high, and offer sufficient
protection against the irregular bands of mounted Bedouins. The
Bab-el-amadi gate, mentioned in the time of the crusaders, is still
standing, although it has been walled up. Most of the dwellings are
built of sun-dried bricks and a kind of mortar which hardens within a
few seconds. Following an Oriental custom great weight is attached to
beautiful and large entrance doors (_Bab_). You can see arched portals
of marble (which is quarried immediately outside the city gates) in
front of houses and mudhuts the roofs of which scarcely reach to the
points of the arches. The roofs are flat, made of stamped earth
(_Dam_), and are surrounded by low walls and parapets. In most of the
larger houses you can see traces of their having been hit by bullets,
and the fortress-like aspect of these dwellings reminds you of the
palaces of Florence, except that here everything is smaller, humbler
and less perfect.

The inhabitants of Mossul are a remarkable mixture of the original
Chaldean populace and the Arabs, Kurds, Persians and Turks who
successively have ruled over them. The common speech is Arabic.

Indshe-Bairaktar, the governor, received us with great courtesy and
had us quartered with the Armenian Patriarch. The Nestorian and
Jacobite Christians of Mossul have the most beautiful churches I have
seen in Turkey, but they are living in discord and hatred. One of
these churches happened to belong, I do not know why, to two
congregations, and since everything which the one did in these sacred
halls was an abomination in the eyes of the other, the beautiful vault
had been divided by a brick wall directly in the centre.

Our Jacobite Patriarch was greatly troubled about having to house
heretics, but he much preferred us to Nestorians or Greeks. Since no
Christians, moreover, had ever been received with so much honor by
the Pasha, and the most important Mussulmans came to pay us their
respects, he treated us well, and even sold me a Bible in Arabic and
Syrian (Chaldean).

In the northwesterly corner of the city the plateau falls off abruptly
toward the river. Here the water of the Tigris is raised by a
contrivance, which makes use of a high kind of derrick, leathern hose,
and a rope which is pulled by a horse. The long nozzle of the hose
empties into huge brick basins whence the water is distributed over
fields and gardens. But only the empty areas within the walls and the
fields adjacent to the city are cultivated. If only a fraction of all
the water rushing past Mossul could be used for irrigation purposes
this whole country would be one of the most fertile of the world. This
idea undoubtedly induced the people ages ago to build the powerful
stone dikes which hem in the course of the river a few hours above the
city. Surely, it would not be difficult to irrigate all the fields
from there, but the Arabs hovering about the city make the harvesting
of the crops too uncertain.

There is a bazaar especially for the Arabs immediately outside the
walls of Mossul, built there for the purpose of keeping these
suspicious characters from entering the city proper. Over the
confusion of many small mud-huts some slender palm trees rise to
majestic heights, the last ones of the desert. These palms are like
reeds grown to the proportions of trees. They are typical of the
south, and give confidence to the Arabs who seem to feel that they are
way up north and yet still in the land of the myrrh and the incense.
Here the children of the desert congregate and, pushing their
bamboo-spears into the sand--point down, squat on the ground to admire
the glory of a city--even though it be a city which affects the
European with the very opposite of glory, but which for hundreds of
miles has no equal.

Perhaps no people have preserved their character, customs, morals, and
speech as unchanged through centuries as the Arabs, and have done so
in spite of the most manifold changes in the world at large. They were
nomads, shepherds and hunters roving over little-known deserts, while
Egypt and Assyria, Greece and Persia, Rome and Byzantium rose and
fell. And then, inspired by one idea, these same nomads suddenly rose
in their turn and for a long time became the masters of the most
beautiful valley of the old world, and were the bearers of the then
civilization and science. One hundred years after the death of the
Prophet, his first followers, the Sarazenes, ruled from the Himalayas
to the Pyrenees, and from the Indies to the Atlantic Ocean. But
Christianity and its higher spiritual and material perfection, yes
even its intolerance, which its high morality should have made
impossible, drove the Arabs back again from Europe. The rude force of
the Turks undermined their rule in the Orient, and for the second time
the children of Ishmael saw themselves driven out into the desert.

Those Arabs who had reached a higher state of culture, and had settled
down to the pursuit of agriculture, commerce, or industry, had to sink
the lower before the oppression of a rule of iron. The artificial
dealings of a government trying to imitate European methods, and the
assistance of the Franks, the introduction of the census and of taxes,
of duties and monopolies, standing armies and conscriptions, the
barter of offices and the leasing of custom houses, slavery and the
vices of the east, together with the energy, indomitable will and
marvelous luck of Mehmet Ali, all combined in one grand achievement--I
mean the monumental tyranny, never yet equalled, under which the
fellahs today are groaning in Egypt and the Arabs in Syria, and under
which a whole country has been transformed into a private domain, and
a whole people into personal slaves.

By far the greater part of the Arabic nation, however, had remained
true to its old customs, and no despotism could get hold of them. The
extent of the Asiatic and African deserts, their fiery sky and parched
soil, and the poverty of the inhabitants have ever been the
protection of the Arabs. The rule of the Persians, the Romans, and the
Greeks was never more than partial, and often existed only in name.
The Bedouin today, like his fathers of old, is still living the life
of want, care, and independence, roving through the same steppes as
they, and watering his herds from the same wells as they did in the
time of Moses or of Mahomet.

The oldest descriptions of the Arabs fit the Bedouins of our day.
Unquenchable feuds are still dividing the several tribes, the
possession of a pasturing place or of a well still determines the
welfare of many families, and blood-feuds and hospitality still are
the vices and virtues of this people of nature. Wherever along their
frontiers the Arabs come in contact with foreign nations war is the
result. The children of Abraham divided among themselves the rich and
fertile countries, while Ishmael and his tribe were cast out into the
desert. Shut off from all the other people the Arabs consider
foreigners and foes to be identical and, unable to procure for
themselves the products of industry, they believe they are justified
in appropriating them wherever they find them.

The pashas of the frontier provinces repay these constant depredations
with repressive measures on a big scale and are not concerned about
the individuals who are made to suffer. When they saunter forth with a
few regiments of regular cavalry and a field gun they are sure to
scatter even the biggest _ashiret_ or encampment. The Arab does not
like to stand his ground against gun-fire and never resists an
artillery-attack which he cannot of course return. He does not fear so
much for his own life, as for that of his horse, for a full blooded
mare often makes up the whole wealth of three or four families. Woe to
the horse which with us is owned by three or four masters. With the
Arabs it has as many friends to take care of it.

When the Turks succeed in surprising an _ashiret_ they take away the
herds of sheep and goats, a few camels, and possibly some hostages
whom they keep in miserable bondage. In a small hut or stable of the
serail of Orfa I found nine old men. A heavy chain attached to rings
around their necks fastened the one to the other, and twice daily they
were driven to the watering trough just like cattle. The Turks had
demanded of their tribe the exorbitant ransom of 150,000 piasters, of
which one third had actually been offered. When I saw the old men,
there was little chance of their ever being ransomed at all. The
pasha, however, promised me that he would set them free. I do not know
whether he kept his word.

Such examples do not deter the Arabs, and, as far as their horses are
able to go, no settlement can endure. The entire southern slope of the
Taurus, the ancient Oszoene, is dotted with indications of their
devastation. Here wonderful brooks are flowing from the mountains, and
a superabundant supply of water, a hot and ever bright sky, and a most
fertile soil have combined in creating a paradise, if only men would
not always destroy it. Snow is unknown here, and olive-trees, vines,
mulberry trees, palms and pomegranate trees spring up wherever you
guide a stream of water, however small, while the yield of grain,
rice, and cotton is phenomenal. But of Karrat, now Harran, the seat of
Abraham, only a mound of earth and a few crumbled walls remain. Dara,
the magnificent creation of Justinian, lies in ruins, and on the site
of Nisibin, which had been completely destroyed, Hafiss-Pasha has
built only recently some new cavalry barracks, under whose protection
the city and the surrounding villages have taken a new lease of life.
Orfa and Mossul finally, the only large cities, appear like outposts
of Mesopotamia.

In their robber-expeditions the Arabs have the hope of booty before
them and behind them the assurance of a safe retreat. They alone know
the pasturing grounds and the hidden wells of the desert, they alone
can live in these regions, and do so by the help of the camel. This
animal, which can carry a load of from five hundred to six hundred
pounds, takes all their property, their wives, children, and old men,
their tents, provisions and water from one place to another. It can
make six, eight, even ten days' marches without drinking, and a fifth
stomach keeps a final draft in reserve in case of greatest need. Its
hair is made into garments and cloth for the tents; its urine yields
salt, its droppings are used for fuel and, in caves, are transformed
into saltpeter from which the Arabs make their own gunpowder. The milk
of the camel serves as food not only for the children, but also for
the colts, which grow thin but strong like our horses when they are in
training. Camel meat is tasty and wholesome, and even the skin and the
bones of a camel are good for something. The most wretched feed, dry
grass, thistles and brambles, satisfies this patient, strong, helpless
and most useful of all animals. Next to the camels, which even the
poorest Arab owns in almost incredible numbers, the horses represent
the chief wealth of these children of the desert. It is well known
that these animals grow up in the tents together with the children of
the family with whom they share food, deprivations and hardships, and
that the birth of a colt of fine lineage marks a day of joy in the
whole _ashiret_.

In Europe the Arabian horses are classified according to an erroneous
and incomplete system. I am thinking especially of their division into
_Kohilans_ and _Nedshdis_. This latter name designates the numerous
tribe of Arabs inhabiting the high plateau of the interior of Arabia,
and breeding, it is true, excellent horses. But just as little as
every Arabian horse is full blooded, just as little every _Nedshdi_ is
a _Kohilan_. This is the whole matter: _Kohilan_ was the favorite
horse of Hasaret-Suleiman-Peigamber (His Highness Solomon the
Prophet). It is, moreover, true and no legend that the better horses
receive at birth their family-tree, in which their parents, and often
their grandfathers, are mentioned, and which they carry through life,
generally in a triangular capsule, by a string around their neck. In
the course of centuries several of Kohilan's descendants have so
greatly distinguished themselves that they have become sires of note
in their own name. Among the most notable descendants of Kohilan I
heard mentioned the colts of Meneghi, and next of Terafi, Djelevi,
Sakali, and many more. Mahomet himself rode a Kohilan of the family of
Meneghi on his flight from Medina. You understand, therefore, that not
every Nedshdi has to be full-blooded, and that a Kohilan may be as
well an Aenesi or Shamarly as a Nedshdi.

The Arabs of the race of Shamarr who camp in the country between
the two rivers, and who can muster ten thousand mounted men, had
recently been guilty of many robberies, and had refused to
recognize the new sheikh whom the Porte had appointed over them.
Hafiss-Pasha, therefore, decided to give them a most thorough
chastisement. The pashas of Orfa and of Mardin were to march
against them, and he wanted to have the pasha of Mossul, who is
not under his jurisdiction, do the same. If this had been done,
the Arabs would have been forced back against the Euphrates,
beyond which the Aenesi Arabs live who are hostile to them. But
Indshe-Bairaktar did not fancy an expedition which was expensive
and promised little booty. When finally definite orders came from
the Bagdad-Valesi, the other pashas had already scared away the
enemy, who had disappeared into unknown regions.

After a brief and interesting sojourn, therefore, we decided to return
through the desert with a caravan which was on the point of starting.
Since the Arabs had been greatly incensed by the recent attacks, the
expedition was increased by forty horsemen. We joined it toward
evening in its encampment, about two hours from Mossul, near the
Tigris where everybody wished to have one more last good fill of
water. The _Kyerwan-Bashi,_ or leader of the caravan, whom the pasha
had notified of our arrival, at once made his appearance and had his
tent made ready for us. He also presented us with a goat for supper.

For five days we traversed the _Tsull,_ or desert of northern
Mesopotamia, without seeing any human habitations. You must not think
of this desert as a sea of sand, but as an interminable green plain
with only occasional, very slight undulations. The Arabs call it
_Bahr,_ the sea, and the caravans proceed in an absolutely straight
line, taking their direction from artificial mounts which rise above
the plain like prehistoric graves. They indicate that once upon a time
a village existed here, and that, therefore, a well or a spring must
be nearby. But the mounts often are six, ten or even twelve hours
distant the one from the other. The villages have disappeared, the
wells have gone dry, and the rivulets are bitterly salt. A few weeks
later this green plain which now is nourished by copious daily dews
will be a wild waste parched by the sun. The luxuriant growth of grass
which today reaches to our stirrups will be withered and every
water-course run dry. Then it will be necessary to follow the Tigris
in a wide detour, and none but the ships of the desert, the camels,
will be able to traverse this plain, and they only by night.

Our caravan consists of six hundred camels and four hundred mules. The
big bags carried by the former contain almost exclusively palm-nuts
for the dye houses of Aleppo, and cotton. The more valuable part of
the freight, silk from Bagdad and shawls from Persia, pearls from
Bassora, and good silver money which in Constantinople will be
recoined into bad piasters, is small in proportion to the bulk

The camels go in strings of from ten to twenty, one behind the other.
The owner rides ahead on a small donkey, and although his stirrups are
short his feet almost touch the ground. He is continually shoving his
pointed slippers into the flanks of his poor beast and placidly
smoking his pipe. His servants are on foot. Unless the donkey leads,
the camels refuse to stir. With long thoughtful strides they move
along, reaching the while with their thin restless necks for thistles
or thorns by the roadside. The mules are walking at a brisk pace.
They are decorated with little bells and beautiful halters gaily set
with shells.

When the caravan has come to the place where the night is to be spent,
the _Kjerwan-Bashi_ canters ahead and designates the exact spot for
the camp. The beasts of burden are unloaded as they arrive, and the
huge bags are placed together as a kind of fortification in the shape
of a quadrangle, within which each one prepares himself a place of
rest. Our tent, which was the only one in the caravan, stood outside
and was given a special guard of _Bashi-Bazouks_. The camels and mules
were turned loose in the high grass where they were expected to look
also for all the water they needed.

As soon as it grows dark the camels, which have roved often at half an
hour's distance, are collected. The leaders call to them, and since
each one knows his master's poah! poah! they obediently come home.
They are arranged in rows within the quadrangle. The smallest boy can
control these big, strong, yet harmless and helpless animals. He
calls: Krr! krr! and the huge beasts patiently sink to their knees.
Then they fold their hind legs, and after a series of strange,
undulating movements all are lying in regular rows, moving their long
necks in every direction and looking about. I have always noticed the
resemblance of a camel's neck with that of an ostrich, and the Turks
call these birds _deve-kush_, the camel-birds. A thin cord is then
tied around one bent knee of each camel. If it should rise it would
have to stand on three legs, and would be unable to move.

On this evening we were visited by several friendly Arabs, short and
thin, but strong and sinewy people. Their complexion was
yellowish-brown, their eyes were small and vivacious. An assumed
dignity barely disguised their native vivacity, and their guttural
speech reminded us very strongly of the Jews. Their dress consisted of
a rough cotton shirt, a white woolen cloak and a red and yellow
kerchief, half-silk, which each man had fastened about his head
with a string, just as you see it on the Egyptian statues.


Hunting-in the _Tshull_ is highly successful. There are countless
gazelles, pheasants and partridges hiding in the tall grass. On the
third day we were just on the point of following some bustards, which
clumsily rise on their wings and after some time descend again to the
ground, when a general alarm arose in the caravan. "The Arabs are
coming!" was shouted everywhere. A throng had been noticed in the
distance approaching very rapidly. The head of our column stopped, but
since our whole caravan was stretched out to the length of
approximately four miles, there was little hope of protecting it with
a guard of some sixty armed men. The horsemen galloped ahead to an
artificial mount, where the Arabs were pointed out to me. There were
indeed numerous black spots moving rapidly through the plain, but
since I had a small telescope with me I could quickly convince my
companions that what we saw before us was nothing but a huge herd of
wild boars bearing down upon us. Soon the beasts could be recognized
with the naked eye.

Tonight the _Kjerwan-Bashi_ told me a characteristic story of an Arab
which I had heard before in Orfa.

A Turkish general of cavalry, Dano-Pasha at Mardin, had been
negotiating for some time with an Arab tribe concerning the purchase
of a full-blooded mare of the Meneghi breed. Finally a price of sixty
bags or almost fifteen hundred dollars was agreed upon. At the
appointed hour the sheikh of the tribe arrives with his mare in the
courtyard of the pasha. The latter is still trying to bargain, when
the sheikh proudly replies that he will not take one _para_ less. The
Turk sulkily throws him the money saying that thirty thousand piasters
are an unheard of price for a horse. The Arab looks at him in silence,
and ties the money very complacently in his cloak. Then he descends to
the courtyard to take leave of his mare. He mutters some Arabic words
in her ear, strokes her eyes and forehead, examines her hoofs, and
walks all around her, carefully studying the attentive horse. Suddenly
he jumps on her bare back, and, in the same instant, off she shoots
like a dart out of the courtyard.

In this country the horses generally stand ready with their _palans_
or felt saddles on, day and night. Every distinguished man has at
least one or two horses in his stable ready to be mounted as soon as
they have been bridled. The Arabs, however, ride without bridles. The
halter serves to check the horse, and a gentle tap with the open hand
on the neck makes it go to the right or the left. Not more than a few
seconds, therefore, elapsed before the _agas_ of the pasha were
mounted and in hot pursuit of the fugitive.

The unshod hoofs of the Arabian mare had never yet trodden cobble
stones, and very carefully she picked her way while she hastened down
the steep, uneven road leading from the castle. The Turks, on the
other hand, galloped over the steep descent with its loose pebbles
just as we often gallop up a sandy slope. Thin, circular shoes, forged
cold, kept all harm from the feet of their horses, which were
accustomed to such trips and made no false steps.

Where the village ends the _agas_ have almost caught up with the
sheikh, but now they are in the plain, the Arabian mare is in her
element, off she darts, straight ahead, for here there are neither
ditches nor fences, neither rivers nor mountains to delay her course.
Like a clever jockey who leads a race, the Arab wishes to ride as
slowly and not as quickly as possible. Constantly looking back at his
pursuers, he keeps out of gunshot. When they approach he pushes on;
when they fall behind, he slows the pace of his horse; when they stop,
he walks his mare. Thus the chase continues till the fiery orb of the
sun verges toward the horizon. Then for the first time the Arab
demands of his horse every ounce of her strength. Crouching over her
neck he drives his heels into her flanks, and with a loud "Jellah!" is
gone. The sod resounds under powerful hoof-beats, and soon only a
cloud of dust indicates to his pursuers the course he has taken.

Here where the sun descends to the horizon almost in a vertical line
the twilight is exceedingly brief and soon dark night had swallowed up
every trace of the fugitive. The Turks, without provision for
themselves or water for their horses, realized that they were some
twelve or fifteen hours away from home and in an unknown locality.
What could they do but return and bring to their irate master the
unwelcome news that both the horse and the rider with the money were
gone? Not until the third evening did they reach Mardin, half dead of
exhaustion and with horses hardly able to put one foot ahead of the
other. Their only consolation was that here there was another instance
of Arabian perfidy for them to revile. The traitor's horse, to be
sure, they were obliged to praise, and they had to confess that such
an animal could hardly be paid for too dearly.

Next day, just when the _Imam_ is calling to morning prayer, the pasha
hears hoofbeats under his window, and into the courtyard the sheikh is
riding entirely unabashed. "Sidi," he calls up, "Sir, do you want your
money or my horse?"

Somewhat less quickly than the Arab had ridden we reached on the fifth
day the foot of the mountain and near a clear rivulet the large
village of Tillaja (Tshilaga), doubtless the ancient Tilsaphata, where
the starving army of Jovian on its retreat from Persia to Nisibin
found its first provisions. There I learned that on that very morning
Mehmet-Pasha had started with an army on an expedition against the
Kurds in the north. I at once decided to join him and, leaving the
caravan, arrived at his camp that same evening. There I was told that
Hafiss-Pasha had sent a guard of fifty horsemen to meet us, whom we
had missed, because they had looked for us in the direction of



[From a letter written by Moltke to his brother Fritz and dated
October 28, 1846.]

My most interesting experience was a bullfight. At three in the
afternoon my Frenchman and I betook ourselves to the circular arena
where twelve thousand people were assembled to watch the _Corrida de
Toros_. There are about twenty stone steps on which the people take
their places, just as in the ancient amphitheatres, and on top there
are two tiers of boxes, of which the one in the centre is reserved for
the queen. The arena proper where the fight is to take place is
perfectly empty, and is separated from the spectators by a barrier of
beams and planks seven feet in height. A small platform makes it
possible for those who fight on foot to vault safely from the arena
when they can avoid the bull in no other way.

After some delay the gates opened and the _alguazil_, some kind of a
higher official clad in old-fashioned garb, rode in and announced that
the game was about to begin. He was everywhere greeted with hoots,
ridicule and disrespectful whistling; I do not know why. But he seemed
to know what to expect, for he apparently did not mind his reception
in the least. The Romans in the circus made sport of their consuls and
emperors, and the Spaniards at a bullfight are permitted an equal
latitude of behavior.

Then the _chulos_ entered--on foot, with gay hangings draped over
their right arms. They were followed by six _picadores_ on horseback,
dressed in leather jerkins and breeches, protected on the right side
with bands of iron. They wore Spanish hats and carried each a heavy
spear on which there was an iron point only half an inch long. Their
saddles were of the high cowboy type, and they sat their horses well.
Under the accompaniment of deafening applause the _matador_
(literally, the murderer) took his place at their head. His name was
Cuchiera, and he was a famous and celebrated hero of the arena. Thus
this phalanx advanced toward the royal box, where Queen Christine,
wife of Munoz, Duke of Rianzares, was seated, and dropped to their
knees to offer her the royal salute; whereupon twelve thousand people

At last the chief actor entered, a powerful black bull with sharp
horns and fiercely glistening eyes. He had been in a room with holes
in the ceiling through which he had been poked with pointed sticks. He
was, therefore, tolerably ill-humored before he entered the arena. As
soon as the doors of his prison were opened he shot forward to the
centre of the field, looked fiercely about him, greatly astonished,
pawed the sand with his feet, and then hurled himself upon the nearest
_picador_. This man held his ground, and permitted the maddened bull
to rush against his pointed spear. The horse had his right eye
bandaged lest he see the bull and bolt. The attack, however, was so
fierce, and the rider so firmly seated in his saddle, that both he and
his horse were lifted up and thrown over backwards. At the same moment
the sharp horns of the bull were fastened in the horse's belly. A
stream of blood, thick as your finger, spurted out directly from the
horse's heart. The _picador_ was lying under his charger, and was
prevented by his costume from freeing himself. His certain end was at
hand if the _chulos_ had not come to his assistance with their gay
draperies. The bull immediately let go his prey and hurled himself
upon the men on foot, or rather upon their gaudy cloaks. He chased one
the entire length of the arena and, when his foe had escaped him by
jumping the barrier, he made the stout fence tremble under his
hammering horns. At the disappearance of his enemy the bull stood
stock still, as if dumfounded, until a second _picador_ met his
glance. This horseman had the same experience as his predecessor, but
before the _chulos_ could bring help the bull buried his horns a
second time in the belly of the convulsed horse and carried it high up
in the air through half the length of the arena. The third horse was
ripped open in a trice. The wretched animal actually caught his feet
in his own entrails and dragged them from his body bit by bit. In this
condition he was beaten and given the spurs and was forced to await a
second attack by the infuriated bull.

Since the bull each time had received a terrific thrust on his left
shoulder from the spear, he finally refused to charge another one of
the _picadores_. Their places, therefore, had to be taken by the
_banderilleros_. These gay-looking people are men on foot with arrows
two feet long, each with a hooked point. On the other end these arrows
are decorated with little flags, brass foil, tinsel, and even bird
cages whence gaily decked birds are permitted to escape. With these
arrows the _banderilleros_ walk right up to the bull, and, when he is
ready to charge, jump to one side and thrust their weapons deep into
his neck, halfway between his ears and his horns. Then the beast grows
altogether mad and furious, and often chases a whole band of _chulos_
in wild flight over the barrier, which calls for noisy shouts of
ridicule from the crowd. Once the bull straddled the fence, and there
have been times when he has succeeded in scaling it. One of the
_chulos_ was so bold as to put his gaudy cloak over his shoulders, so
that the bull charged straight at him. But as the beast lowered his
head and threw himself forward with closed eyes, the man jumped over
him and stood by his side.

When finally the rage of the bull is at its height, but his strength
is waning, the _matador_ faces him, all alone. At once a hush falls
over the spectators, who sit in rapt attention, for the _matador's_
work is by far the most dangerous.

He is a fine-looking man, in shoes and white stockings. His silk coat
and breeches are sky blue; his hair is tied in a net, in his left hand
he carries a small scarlet cloak, and in his right a diamond-shaped
blade of sharp Toledo steel, four feet in length. It is necessary to
drive this into the neck of the bull at a very definite point, for if
it hits him elsewhere he can shake it off and break it into splinters.
In order to hit the right spot the man must let the bull pass him at a
distance of only two or at best three inches. Everything is based on
the assumption that the bull will attack the red cloth rather than the
man, and will continue his course in an absolutely straight line.
There are exceptions, and then the _matador_ is lost.

Very deliberately the _caballero_ walked up to his black antagonist
and shook his red cloth at him. Twice he let him pass under his arm.
At the third attempt he thrust his blade up to the hilt into the neck
of the beast. For another minute perhaps the bull rages, then he
begins to bleed from his mouth, he totters and then collapses.
Immediately a kind of hangman's assistant sneaks up from behind and
plunges a dagger into the neck of the bull, who expires on the spot.

At this juncture five mules decorated with ribbons and tinkling bells
came trotting into the arena; they were hitched up to the horses and
then to the bull, and at a fast clip carried the corpses away. Some
sand was then sprinkled on the puddles of blood, and a new bull
brought out. In this way eight bulls were driven to death. Twenty
horses fell dead, while several more were led away mortally wounded. A
single bull killed eight horses. No men were seriously hurt.

The horses, it is true, are of such a quality that, if they are not
killed today, they will be taken to the horse-butcher tomorrow. Good
horses would not only be too expensive, but they would also refuse to
await the attack of the bull without shying or offering resistance,
even if their right eyes were bandaged. The more horses the bull has
killed and the more dangerous to the men he has become, the louder is
the applause. One bull persistently refused to attack the _picadores_.
He ran up and down the arena, trembling with fear, while the crowd
shrieked curses and imprecations. At last they yelled: _Los perros_!
(the dogs!) When the dogs arrived in the arena they could hardly be
restrained. Madly they rushed upon the bull, who at once gored one of
them and tossed him high in the air. The others, however, fastened on
him, one of them seizing his tongue so firmly that he was swung high
up in the air and down again. You could have torn him to pieces before
he would have let go. Finally four dogs had the bull in a position
where he could not free himself, and the matador struck him down.

While this butchery was at its height, the young queen with the
Infanta entered, accompanied by Don Francesco, her husband, and the
Duke of Montpensier. Aumale had arrived earlier. The queen looked very
happy and is by no means so ugly as the papers say. She is blonde,
rather stout, and not at all plain. The Infanta is small, extremely
dark and thin. The queen was greeted by the _matador_ just as her
mother had been, but by the spectators with much enthusiasm. When the
eighth bull was killed, it began to grow dark, but all the people
yelled "_un otro toro_," and the ninth bull was hunted down almost in
darkness--which is very dangerous for the _matador_.

This, then, is the spectacle which the Spaniards love better than
anything else, which is watched by the tenderest of women, and which
brought a smile to the face of the Infanta, a recent bride. So far as
I am concerned, one bullfight was quite enough for me, and its
description, I fancy, will be enough for you.



Thursday, August 28th

The City of Moscow takes it for granted that the Emperor has not yet
arrived. A few assert that he has been since yesterday at the Castle
Petrofskoy, an hour's ride from here, where he is holding court and
reviewing a hundred thousand Guards; but that is his incognito;
officially, he is not yet here.

The Holy City is preparing for the reception that is to take place
tomorrow. They are hammering and pounding in all the streets and on
all the squares. Most of the houses here stand alone, in the centre of
a garden or court. Large tribunes for spectators have been erected in
these spaces. In several of these I counted three thousand numbered
seats. Before the houses themselves, moreover, small platforms with
chairs have been erected, protected by linen awnings, decorated with
tapestries, carpets and flowers. There must be at least several
hundred thousand seats, so that there can be no crowd. Only those who
cannot pay the few kopecks,[39] the Tschornoi Narod, or "the black
brood of the people," will form the movable mass, and the police will
have to restrain them.

All palaces and churches have laths nailed on their architectonic
lines, upon which the lamps for the festive illuminations are to be
fastened. The Giant Ivan, which will speak from the mouths of
twenty-five large bells, bears upon its golden dome a crown formed of
lamps, surmounted by the great glittering cross, which the French
pulled down with immense toil and danger, and which the Russians
victoriously reinstated. As an atonement for the offense, they laid
one thousand guns of the godless enemy at the feet of Ivan, where
Count Morny can see them to this day.

Half of the population of the city are in the streets, looking about,
and they are allowed to go everywhere, even in the Kremlin.

Every day six-and eight-horse teams, mostly dark gray and black, which
are going to convey the state coaches of the Empress and the
Grand-Duchesses, are going to and fro from the Kremlin to Petrofskoy.
Strangely enough, the outriders sit on the right front horses. An
equerry of the Guards walks by each horse and leads it by the bridle.
Yesterday their Excellencies carried a fearfully heavy canopy,
supported by thick gold posts, through the salons and over the stairs
of the palace. The aides-de-camp walk by the side of it, and balance
it by golden cords.

The state coaches, most wonderful products of former centuries, have
been drawn out of their semi-obscurity in the Arsenal, where they have
rested twenty-eight years. The oldest are entirely without springs,
are suspended by leather straps six feet long over a tongue twenty
feet long and correspondingly thick, which is so bent that the coach
almost reaches the ground. Those of the Empresses are ornamented with
diamonds and jewels. It will hardly be possible to use the oldest.
There is, further, a kind of house on wheels, made of gold, velvet,
and crystal, which Peter the Great received as a present from England,
and compared to which a thirty-six pounder is but a child's toy. In
short, everything is life and activity here, in expectation of the
volleys of cannon which will announce tomorrow from the old gate
towers of the Kremlin the solemn entrance of the Czar.

Yesterday the Emperor wished to ride through the camp of the Guards,
whom he has not seen since he ascended the throne, because, in
consequence of the war, they had been removed to Lithuania and Poland,
and are now encamped at an hour's distance on a vast plain. A solemn
mass, at which the Empress was also present, preceded this. We drove
out in complete gala dress through thick clouds of dust. The Emperor
rode with his suite. He looked very well on horseback. At this moment
it began to rain, and poured uninterruptedly. Fortunately we found
shelter under the open tent in which the altar was, and in which the
mass was said, or, rather, sung. All further inspection was
countermanded, and we returned home.

In the evening I drove to Petrofskoy. It lies in the midst of a wood,
and has a very odd appearance. The castle proper is a three-storied
quadrangle with a green cupola. The entrances are supported by the
most singular bottle-shaped bulging columns, and the whole is
surrounded by a turreted wall, with battlements and loopholes. This
red-and white-painted fortress, the light of which radiates from the
high windows through the dark forest, recalls a fable of the _Arabian
Nights_. All monasteries and castles here are fortified. They were the
only points capable of holding out when the Golden Tribe rushed upon
them with twenty or thirty thousand horses, and devastated all that
flat country. Long after their yoke was broken, the Khans of Tartary
in the Crimea were formidable enemies. The watchmen from the highest
battlements of the Kremlin were continually observing the wide expanse
toward the south; and when the dust-clouds rose thence, and the great
bell (kolokol) of Ivan Welicki rang the alarm, every one fled behind
the walls of the Czar's palace or to the monasteries, upon whose walls
the infuriated horsemen struck and dashed in vain. The Christianity,
science, and culture of the Russian nation sought shelter in the
cloisters, and from them started afterward Russia's deliverance from
the domination of the Mongolians and Poles.

Today there was again mass in the open air, and five battalions
received new flags, which in addition were blessed by the priests;
then the Metropolitan Archbishop walked the length of the front and
sprinkled the troops thoroughly with holy water; some of the men were
practically soaked to the skin. The Emperor and both Empresses not
only kissed the cross, but the archbishop's hand. Then the Emperor
passed the front of every battalion, and, with a true military
attitude, spoke a few words to the men, which were received with
endless applause. He was an excellent rider, and rode a well-trained
horse. Then he inspected the front of the whole camp--one and a half
German miles. There were seventy-four battalions, with eight hundred
men apiece--about sixty thousand men in all. They stood unarmed and in
caps, all of them old, bearded, and dark-faced.

I care nothing for the deafening hurrahs that lasted two hours; but
these old, mustached men show how glad they are to see their Czar.

The Emperor spoke to some of them. They answered their Batuschka
(little father) without embarrassment. In Russia the family is the
microcosm of the State. All power rests with the father. All theories
of representative government in Russia are pure nonsense. "How can
human statutes circumscribe the divine right of a father?" asks the
Russian. So that the unlimited power in the hands of the Emperor is
necessary and beneficial in a land where nothing is done that is not
ordered from above.

Whoever should gaze, as I have done, on a warm, sunny day, upon the
city of Moscow for the first time from the height of the Kremlin would
certainly not think that he was in the same latitude in which the
reindeer graze in Siberia, and the dogs drag the sleighs over the ice
in Kamtchatka. Moscow reminds one of the South, but of something
strange never seen before. One seems to be transported to Ispahan,
Bagdad, or some other place--to the scene of the story of the
Sultaness Scheherezade.

Although Moscow does not count more than three hundred thousand
inhabitants, it covers two square miles with its houses, gardens,
churches, and monasteries. In this flat region one can hardly see
beyond the extreme suburbs, and houses and trees extend to the

No city in the world, with the exception of Rome, has so many
churches as the holy Stolitza of Russia. It is affirmed that Moscow
boasts of forty times forty churches. Each one has at least five, and
several even sixteen, cupolas that are brilliantly painted, and
covered with colored glazed bricks, or richly silvered and gilded,
glittering in the blue atmosphere like the sun when it is half above
the horizon. Even the graceful towers, rising sometimes to
considerable heights from the immense mass of houses and gardens, are
similarly ornamented, and neither do the larger ones among the palaces
lack the addition of a cupola.

The dwelling houses are almost always in gardens, and are distinctly
outlined against the dark background of trees by their white walls and
flat iron roofs painted light green or red. The oldest part alone,
close to the Kremlin--the Kitai-Gorod, or the Chinese quarter--forms a
city according to our notions, where the houses touch each other, and
are carefully enclosed by a beautiful turreted wall, here, of course,
painted white. All the rest seems to be a large collection of country
houses, between which the Moskwa winds its way.

The Kremlin contains (besides the palaces of the Czars and the
Patriarchs) the Arsenal and the treasures of the church. Here are
concentrated the highest civil and religious powers. The cloisters,
mostly at the extremities of the city, are fortresses in themselves.

It was in the Kitai-Gorod that the commercial guild established
itself, needing for its wares, imported from China, Bucharia,
Byzantium, and Novgorod, the protection of walls. The rest, and by far
the larger part of Moscow, was built by the nobility for themselves;
and long after the first Emperor had raised a new capital upon the
enemy's ground it was looked upon with contempt by the grandees of the
Empire, still faithfully clinging to the customs of their fathers.

The venerable city of Moscow, with its ancient, sacred relics and
historical reminiscences, still remains an object of veneration and
love to every Russian; and, often coming from a distance of hundreds
of miles, when getting a glimpse of the golden cross on the Church of
Ivan Welicki, he falls on his knees in reverence and patriotic
fervor. St. Petersburg is his pride, but Moscow is nearer to his
heart. And, in truth, Moscow has no resemblance to St. Petersburg.
There is no Neva here, no sea, no steamers; nowhere a straight street,
a large square, or a wooded island. But Moscow has as little
resemblance to any other city. The cupolas, the flat roofs and the
trees remind one of the East; but there the cupolas are more curved,
covered with gray lead, and surmounted by delicate minarets; the
houses show no windows toward the street; and the gardens are enclosed
by high, dead, monotonous walls. Moscow has a character of its own;
and if one wishes to compare it with anything, it must be called
Byzantine-Moresque. Russia received her Christianity and first
civilization from Byzantium. Until of late years she remained
completely shut off from the East, and what culture she once adopted
became rapidly nationalized. The heavy scourge of the Mongolian and
Tartar domination, which burdened this country for nearly three
centuries, prevented for a long time any further progress. All culture
was confined to the monasteries, and to these they afterward owed
their deliverance. The Khans of Tartary never required their
submission to Islam; they satisfied themselves with the tribute. In
order to raise this, they had recourse to native authority. They
supported the power of the Grand Dukes and of the priesthood; and the
despotism of the Golden Tribe, much as it circumscribed further
improvement, strengthened the oppressed in their faith in their
religion, fidelity to their rulers, and love to their mutual

These are still the characteristics of the people; and when
one reflects that the embryo of this nation, the Great
Russians--thirty-six million people of one root, one faith, and one
language--forms the greatest homogeneous mass of people in the world,
no one will doubt that Russia has a great future before her.

It has been said that with an increase of population this boundless
empire must fall to pieces. But no part of it can exist without the
other--the woody North without the fertile South, the industrial
centre without both, the interior without the coast, nor without the
common joint stream, navigable for four hundred miles--the Volga. But,
more than all this, the national spirit unites the most distant

Moscow is now the national centre not only of the European Empire, but
of the ancient and holy kingdom of the Czars, from which the
historical reminiscences of the people spring, which, perhaps, is big
with the destinies of the future empire in spite of a deviation of two

The foreign civilization which was forced upon them has never
penetrated the mass of the people. The national peculiarity has
remained complete in language, manners, and customs, in a highly
remarkable municipal constitution, the freest and most independent
existing anywhere; and, finally, in their architecture. The last can,
of course, only be applied to the churches. In Russia nearly
everything is new. What is older than a hundred years is looked upon
as an antiquity. The Russian dwelling-house is of wood, and therefore
never reaches that age, unless, like the one of Peter the Great, it be
encased by a stone one. Even the palaces of the Emperor are new, and
only here in Moscow can be found a ruin of the old Dworez of the
Czars. There are churches in existence of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries (a great age for Russia), and the strictly conservative
spirit of the priesthood has been instrumental in retaining the same
style of architecture in the later buildings.

The St. Sophia, in Constantinople, is the model upon which all Russian
churches are built. It was imitated everywhere, but never equalled,
not even by St. Mark's in Venice. There was lack both of material and
skill to build an arch with a span of one hundred and twenty-six feet.
What could not be accomplished in width was attempted in height. The
domes became narrow and tall, like towers. The rough stone, handled
without art, rendered clumsy pillars and thick walls necessary, in
which the windows, like embrasures, are cut narrow and deep. The
brightest light falls through the windows in the thinner wall which
supports the cupolas. Nearly all churches are higher than they are
long and wide. The clumsy tetragonal pillars contract the already
narrow space. One has nowhere a free view, and a mystic twilight
reigns everywhere. The most famous Russian churches can only
accommodate as many hundreds as a Gothic cathedral can thousands. It
is true most of them were built by Italian masters; but the latter
were obliged to conform to the rules and forms already in use.

Since the architectonic conditions were unfavorable to the creation of
a magnificent whole, an attempt was made to ornament the individual
parts with brilliancy and magnificence. Not contented to gild the
churches inside and out, the floors were paved with half-precious
stones, and the pictures (of no artistic value) were covered with
jewels, diamonds, and pearls. Only the faces and hands are painted;
the garments, crown, and all else are plated with silver, gold, and

Sculpture is entirely prohibited, as far as representing the human
form is concerned; but they do not hesitate to represent God himself
on canvas. The gilt background is of itself disadvantageous for the
carnation of the pictures, and added to this are the long-drawn
outlines of the Byzantine and old German schools, without the genuine
feeling of the latter. Gigantic scarecrows gaze down from the cupolas,
meant to represent the Virgin Mary, Christ, St. John, or God the
Father. A Russian buys no holy picture that is not quite black or
faded out. A lovely Madonna of Raphael, or a fine Sebastian of
Correggio, does not seem to him expressive. His creed needs the
obscurity of his church--the clouds of incense which at every mass
veil the mysterious movements of the priests.

The Byzantine element in the Russian architecture is then historically
easy to explain. The Moresque originated with the necessity of
decorating the individual parts, and relates only to these.

The railings of the Ikonostase are interlaced with vines, garlands,
and animal forms. The flat walls, principally where they are not gilt,
are decorated with leafwork, rosettes, and twining vines. Where
this could not be cut in stone it was painted, and the deficiency in
drawing was supplied by a variety of the most glaring colors. Of
course, they remained far behind the tasteful, artistic arabesques of
the Alhambra and the Alcazar.

The craziest thing in the way of architecture is the Church of Ivan
Blajennoj, on the Red Square before the Kremlin. It cannot be
described. This building stands on uneven ground, although the fine
level Place is before it. It crouches on the edge of the hill, and
leaves one leg hanging down. There is no trace of any symmetry. It has
no central point, and no one part is like another. One cupola looks
like an onion, another like a pineapple, an artichoke, a melon, or a
Turkish turban. It contains nine different churches, each having its
own altar, Ikonostase, and sanctuary. You enter several of these on
the ground floor. To reach others, you ascend a few steps. Between
these is a labyrinth of passages so narrow that two people can with
difficulty pass each other. Of course, all these churches are very
narrow. The one in the main tower can scarcely contain more than
twenty or thirty persons, and yet its vaulted roof reaches into the
tower at a height of over a hundred feet. This church is painted with
all the colors of the rainbow, inside and out, and plated with silver
and gold. The cupolas shine with red, green, and blue glazed bricks,
and even the masonry has been colored by the artist.

This monstrosity emanated from the brain of Ivan Hrosnoj, "the
Terrible John." When he saw the architect's work complete he was
delighted, loaded him with praise, embraced him, and then ordered his
eyes to be put out, that no such second masterpiece should be
attributed to him.

But, with all its singularity, this church does not produce a
disagreeable impression. It cannot be denied that it is at least

Everything, on the contrary, left from the old Dworez (palace) is
really beautiful. There is a strange four-story building narrowing
toward the top. There is a balcony formed by each receding story,
from which there is a fine view. The second story contains, besides
the rich but small chapel, a banquet-hall, like the Kanter's,[40] in
Marienburg, only that there the entire vaulted roof is borne by a
slender column, and here by a thick pillar. The entrance is in one
corner; the throne stands diagonally opposite in the other. At
present, the walls are covered with splendid tapestries, and the great
throne draped with _drap d'or,_ lined with real ermine. This drapery
cost forty thousand rubles. The small but exquisite rooms in the third
story are charming. The fourth story is only one large room. It was
the Terima, or dwelling of the women--the room in which Peter I. grew

At the parole delivery all the regiments were represented, the cavalry
mounted. It was beautiful to see specimens of all these dazzling
uniforms: the Cuirassiers, with the Byzantine double eagle upon their
helmets, something like our Garde du Corps, but with lances; the
Uhlans, almost exactly like ours; the Hussars, in white dolmans with
golden cords; the line Cossacks, with fur caps and red caftans; the
Tschernamorskish Cossacks, in dark blue coats with red jackets over
them; and the Ural ones with light blue--all with lances, on little
horses and high saddles. The Tartars are nearly all heathen or Moslem.
The Circassians appeared in scaly coats of mail and helmets. They
showed off their equestrian accomplishments, fired from the horse with
their long guns, shielded themselves from their pursuers by their
kantschu,[41] concealed themselves by throwing their bodies on one
side so that they touched the ground with their hands; others stood
upright in the saddle--all done at full gallop and amidst fearful

A regiment of Drushins,[42] an Imperial militia levied on the
Imperial apanage estates, pleased me well. They wore a cap with
the cross of St. Andrew, bare neck; the native caftan, only
shorter and without a button; very wide trousers, the shirt over
them (as with all common Russians), and the end of their trousers
tucked into their high boots. Such is the uniformed Mujik
(peasant). This dress is national, becoming and useful. The men
can wear their furs (which are here indispensable) underneath;
and I will venture to say that the entire Russian infantry will
adopt a similar costume. "_Les proverbes sont l'esprit des
peuples_," and the national dress is the result of the experience
of centuries in regard to what is becoming and appropriate.

The Austrian uniform is white in Moravia and brown in the Banat,
because the sheep there are of that color. The Spaniard wears the
tabarra, as he receives the material from the goat. The Arabian is
white from head to foot, because the heat of his climate requires it;
and the Mujik does not wear his caftan from caprice, but because it
suits him best.

The Emperor's cortege is truly imposing--about five hundred horses.

If I only had a better memory for persons and names! I have made the
acquaintance of a number of interesting men; that is, I have been
presented to them: Prince Gortschakoff, Lueders, Berg, and
Osten-Sacken, who commanded in the last war; Orloff, Mentschikoff,
Alderberg, Liewen, the Governor of Siberia, and the commandant of the
Caucasus; then a lot of aides-de-camp, the foreign princes, and their

One can be truly thankful if one rides a strange horse without causing
or experiencing some disaster. A bad rider comes up from behind; a
horse sets himself in your way; here a mare kicks up behind; there a
stallion kicks up in front. It is but a small affair to ride alone,
but in the confusion of such a train, in a short trot on a lively
beast, one must keep one's eyes open. Suddenly the Emperor stops, and
there is a general halt; or he turns to one side, and then there is
great confusion; he gallops forward, and all plunge after him, while
the head of the column has again taken a short movement. With all
this the flags are flying, the trumpets are blowing, the drums are
beating, and there are endless hurrahs. But one must also see
something. I rode a little black horse that I would like to possess;
he goes like an East Prussian, but is very spirited, and I constantly
found myself in the front among the grand dukes. But I shall get on
well with him when we know each other better. He needs a quiet rider
with a firm seat, and a light hand on the reins.

This evening at sunset, I again ascended the Kremlin. _"Diem perdidi"_
I should say of the day of my sojourn there in which I did not visit
this wonderful structure.

I descended to the Moskwa, and, from under the fine quay, examined the
massive white walls, the towers and the gate forts which surround the
Czar's palace, and a whole town of churches of the strangest
structure. Tonight the city gives a grand entertainment, from which I
shall absent myself to write. One receives so many impressions that it
is impossible to digest them all and collect one's thoughts.

I am trying to understand this architecture. In Culm, in West Prussia,
I saw last year in the marketplace such a curious City Hall that I
could not reconcile it in my mind; now I understand that it is
Moscovite architecture. The Knights of the Sword of Liefland were in
intimate connection with the German Knights in Prussia, and one of
their architects may have repeated on the Vistula what he had seen on
the Moskwa.

The fountains here remind one of the East; little, round covered
houses on the principal squares, which are constantly surrounded by
men and beasts supplying themselves with water. At first they seem
rude and awkward when compared with the fine style, the rich
sculpture, the golden railings, and the perforated marble walls of the
Tschesmas of Constantinople. There are here, as in the mosques, swarms
of doves that are so bold that they scarcely leave room for carriages
and foot-passengers. They are often chased out of the shops like a
brood of chickens, and they go everywhere for food. No one does them
any harm, and the Russians think it a sin to eat them. The Gostinoy
Dwor (the merchants' court) is especially a repetition of the Oriental
Tschurchi. One booth is next to the other, and the narrow passages
that separate them are covered; therefore the same dim light and the
same smell of leather and spices exist as at the Missir, or Egyptian
market, in Constantinople. The wares here, however, are mostly
European, and cheaper at home, so that we are not much tempted to buy.

If I had my choice, I would rather live in Moscow than in St.

Peter the Great found an island without any seacoast. He could look
upon the Black Sea or the Baltic as a communication with the civilized
world; but one or the other must first be conquered. The hot-headed
King of Sweden pressed him to a Northern war, and, besides, the
Southern Sea was inhabited by barbarians. His original intention, it
is said, was to build his new capital on the Pontus, and that he even
had selected the spot. The one coast, indeed, is not much farther from
the centre of the empire than the other.

How would it have been had he built his St. Petersburg on the
beautiful harbor of Sebastopol, close to the paradisiac heights of the
Tschadyr Dagh, where the grape grows wild and everything flourishes in
the open air that is forced through a greenhouse on the Neva; where no
floods threaten destruction; where the navy is not frozen fast during
seven months of the year; and where steam power makes an easier
communication with the most beautiful countries of Europe than the
Gulf of Finland does?

What a city would St. Petersburg have been, did her wide streets
extend to Balaklava and did the Winter Palace face the deep blue
mirror of the Black Sea; if the Isaac Church stood at the height of
Malakoff; if Aluschta and Orianda were the Peterhof and Gatschina[43]
of the Imperial family!



[Professor Bluntschli had sent the manual of the Institute of
International Law to Count Moltke, and expressed the hope, in a letter
dated November 19, 1880, that it would meet with his approval. Count
Moltke replied as follows:]

My dear Professor:

You have been good enough to send me the manual published by the
Institute of International Law, and you ask for my approval. In the
first place, I fully recognize your humane endeavors to lessen the
sufferings which war brings in its train.

Eternal peace, however, is a dream, and not even a beautiful dream,
for war is part of God's scheme of the world. In war the noblest
virtues of man develop courage and renunciation, the sense of duty and
abnegation, and all at the risk of his life. Without war the world
would be swallowed up in the morass of materialism.

With the principle stated in the preface, that the gradual advance of
civilization should be reflected in the conduct of war, I fully agree;
but I go further, and believe that civilization alone, and no codified
laws of warfare, can have the desired result.

Every law necessitates an authority to watch over it and to direct its
execution, but there is no power which can enforce obedience to
international agreements. Which third state will take up arms because
one--or both--of two powers at war with each other have broken the
_loi de la guerre?_ The human judge is lacking. In these matters we
can hope for success only from the religious and moral education of
the individuals, and the honor and sense of right of the leaders, who
make their own laws and act according to them, at least to the extent
to which the abnormal conditions of war permit it.

Nobody, I think, can deny that the general softening of men's manners
has been followed by a more humane way of waging war.

Compare, if you will, the coarseness of the Thirty Years' War with the
battles of recent dates.

The introduction in our generation of universal service in the army
has marked a long step in the direction of the desired aim, for it has
brought also the educated classes into the army. Some rough and
violent elements have survived, it is true, but the army no longer
consists of them exclusively.

The governments, moreover, have two means at hand to prevent the worst
excesses. A strong discipline, practiced and perfected in times of
peace, and a commissariat equipped to provide for the troops in the

Without careful provision, discipline itself can be only moderately
well enforced. The soldier who suffers pain and hunger, fatigue and
danger, cannot take merely _en proportion avec les ressources du
pays,_ but he must take whatever he needs. You must not ask of him
superhuman things.

The greatest blessing in war is its speedy termination, and to this
end all means must be permitted which are not downright criminal. I
cannot at all give my approval to the _Declaration de St.
Petersbourg_, that "the weakening of the hostile army" is the only
justifiable procedure in war. On the contrary, all resources of the
hostile government must be attacked--its finances, railways,
provisions, and even its prestige.

The last war against France was waged in this way, and yet with
greater moderation than any earlier war. The campaign was decided
after two months; and fierceness became characteristic of the fighting
only when a revolutionary government continued the war through four
more months, to the detriment of the country.

I am glad to acknowledge that your manual, with its clear and short
sentences, does greater justice than former attempts to what is needed
in war. But even the acceptance of your regulations by the governments
would not ensure their observance. It has long been a universally
accepted rule of warfare that no messenger of peace should be shot at.
But in the last campaign we frequently saw this done.

No paragraph learned by heart will convince the soldier that the
unorganized natives who _spontanement_ (that is, of their own free
will) take up arms and threaten his life every moment of the day and
night should be recognized as lawful opponents.

Certain requests of the manual, I fear, cannot be put in force. The
identification, for instance, of the dead after a big battle. Others
are subject to doubt, unless you insert _"lorsque les circonstances le
permettent, s'il se peut, si possible, s'il-y-a necessite,"_ or the
like. This will give them that elasticity without which the bitter
severity of actual warfare will break through all restrictions.

In war, where everything must be treated individually, only those
regulations will work well which are primarily addressed to the
leaders. This includes everything that your manual has to say
concerning the wounded and the sick, the physicians and their
medicines. The general recognition of these principles, and also of
those which have to do with the prisoners of war, would mark a notable
step in advance and bring us nearer the end which the Institute of
International Law is pursuing with such admirable perseverance.

Very respectfully,



[Footnote 38: From _Count Moltke's Letters from Russia_, permission
Harper & Brothers, New York.]

[Footnote 39: Kopecks are equal to about one cent each.]

[Footnote 40: A part of the castle in Marienburg, Prussia, containing
the hall where the knights of the German order, "Deutsche Ritter,"
held their conclaves; also the hall itself, one of the showplaces of
Eastern Prussia.--TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 41: A whip with short handle and long thong.--TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 42: Militia of the Emperor, but differently constituted from
the American militia or Prussian Landwehr.--TRANSLATOR.]

[Footnote 43: One of the summer palaces of the Emperor.]




The days are gone by when, for dynastical ends, small armies of
professional soldiers went to war to conquer a city, or a province,
and then sought winter quarters or made peace. The wars of the present
day call whole nations to arms, there is scarcely a family that does
not suffer by them. The entire financial resources of the State are
appropriated to the purpose, and the different seasons of the year
have no bearing on the unceasing progress of hostilities. As long as
nations continue independent of each other there will be disagreements
that can only be settled by force of arms; but, in the interest of
humanity, it is to be hoped that wars will become less frequent, as
they have become more terrible.

Generally speaking, it is no longer the ambition of monarchs which
endangers peace; the passions of the people, its dissatisfaction with
interior conditions and affairs, the strife of parties, and the
intrigues of their leaders are the causes. A declaration of war, so
serious in its consequences, is more easily carried by a large
assembly, of which none of the members bears the sole responsibility,
than by a single man, however high his position; and a peace-loving
sovereign is less rare than a parliament composed of wise men. The
great wars of the present day have been declared against the wish and will
of the reigning powers. Now-a-days the Bourse has assumed such influence
that it has the power to call armies into the field merely to protect its
interests. Mexico and Egypt have been swamped with European armies simply
to satisfy the demands of the _haute finance_. Today the question, "Is a
nation strong enough to make war?" is of less importance than that, "Is
its Government powerful enough to prevent war?" Thus, united Germany has,
up to now, used her strength only to maintain European peace; a weak
Government at the head of our neighboring State must, on the other
hand, be regarded in the light of a standing menace to peace.

The war of 1870-71 arose from just such relations. A Napoleon on the
throne of France was bound to establish his rights by political and
military success. Only for a time did the victories won by French arms
in distant countries give general satisfaction; the triumphs of the
Prussian armies excited jealousy, they were regarded as arrogant, as a
challenge; and the French demanded revenge for Sadowa. The liberal
spirit of the epoch was opposed to the autocratic Government of the
Emperor; he was forced to make concessions, his civil authority was
weakened, and one fine day the nation was informed by its
representatives that it desired war with Germany.


The wars carried on by France on the other side of the ocean, simply
for financial ends, had consumed immense sums and had undermined the
discipline of the army. The French were by no means _archiprets_ for a
great war, but the Spanish succession to the throne, nevertheless, had
to serve as a pretext to declare it. The French Reserves were called
to arms July 15th, and only four days later the French declaration of
war was handed in at Berlin, as though this were an opportunity not to
be lost.


One Division was ordered to the Spanish frontier as a corps of
observation; only such troops as were absolutely necessary were left
in Algiers and in Civita Vecchia; Paris and Lyons were sufficiently
garrisoned. The entire remainder of the army: 332 battalions, 220
squadrons, 924 cannon, in all about 300,000 men, formed the army of
the Rhine. This was divided into eight Corps, which, at any rate in
the first instance, were to be directed by one central head, without
any kind of intervention. The _Imperator_ himself was the only person
to assume this difficult task; Marshal Bazaine was to command the army
as it assembled, until the Emperor's arrival.

It is very probable that the French were counting on the old
dissensions of the German races. True, they dared not look upon the
South Germans as allies, but they hoped to reduce them to inactivity
by an early victory, or even to win them over to their side. Prussia
was a powerful antagonist even when isolated, and her army more
numerous than that of the French, but this advantage might be
counterbalanced by rapidity of action.

The French plan of campaign was indeed based on the delivery of
unforeseen attacks. The strong fleets of war and transport ships were
to be utilized to land a considerable force in Northern Prussia, and
there engage a part of the Prussian troops, while the main body of the
army, it was supposed, would await the French attack behind the
fortresses on the Rhine. The French intended to cross the Rhine at
once, at and below Strassburg, thus avoiding the great fortresses; and
also, at the start, preventing the South-German army, which was
destined to defend the Black Forest, from uniting with the
North-Germans. To execute this plan it would have been imperative to
assemble the main forces of the French army in Alsace. Railway
accommodation, however, was so inadequate that in the first instance
it was only possible to carry 100,000 men to Strassburg; 150,000 had
to leave the railways near Metz, and remain there till they could be
moved up. Fifty thousand men were encamped at Chalons as reserves,
115 battalions were ready to march as soon as the National Guard had
taken their places in the interior. The various corps were distributed

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