Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Lands of the Saracen by Bayard Taylor

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

region was ravaged by a plague of grasshoppers. The earth was black with
them in many places, and our horses ploughed up a living spray, as they
drove forward through the meadows. Every spear of grass was destroyed, and
the wheat and rye fields were terribly cut up. We passed a large crag
where myriads of starlings had built their nests, and every starling had a
grasshopper in his mouth.

We crossed the river, in order to pass a narrow defile, by which it forces
its way through the rocky heights of Dumanidj Dagh. Soon after passing the
ridge, a broad and beautiful valley expanded before us. It was about ten
miles in breadth, nearly level, and surrounded by picturesque ranges of
wooded mountains. It was well cultivated, principally in rye and poppies,
and more thickly populated than almost any part of Europe. The tinned tops
of the minarets of Taushanlue shone over the top of a hill in front, and
there was a large town nearly opposite, on the other bank of the
Rhyndacus, and seven small villages scattered about in various directions.
Most of the latter, however, were merely the winter habitations of the
herdsmen, who are now living in tents on the mountain tops. All over the
valley, the peasants were at work in the harvest-fields, cutting and
binding grain, gathering opium from the poppies, or weeding the young
tobacco. In the south, over the rim of the hills that shut in this
pastoral solitude, rose the long blue summits of Urus Dagh. We rode into
Taushanlue, which is a long town, filling up a hollow between two stony
hills. The houses are all of stone, two stories high, with tiled roofs and
chimneys, so that, but for the clapboarded and shingled minarets, it would
answer for a North-German village.

The streets were nearly deserted, and even in the bazaars, which are of
some extent, we found but few persons. Those few, however, showed a
laudable curiosity with regard to us, clustering about us whenever we
stopped, and staring at us with provoking pertinacity. We had some
difficulty in procuring information concerning the road, the directions
being so contradictory that we were as much in the dark as ever. We lost
half an hour in wandering among the hills; and, after travelling four
hours over piny uplands, without finding the village of Kara Koei, encamped
on a dry plain, on the western bank of the river. There was not a spear of
grass for the beasts, everything being eaten up by the grasshoppers, and
there were no Turcomans near who could supply us with food. So we dined on
hard bread and black coffee, and our forlorn beasts walked languidly
about, cropping the dry stalks of weeds and the juiceless roots of the
dead grass.

We crossed the river next morning, and took a road following its course,
and shaded with willows and sycamores. The lofty, wooded ranges of the
Mysian Olympus lay before us, and our day's work was to pass them. After
passing the village of Kara Koei, we left the valley of the Rhyndacus, and
commenced ascending one of the long, projecting spurs thrust out from the
main chain of Olympus. At first we rode through thickets of scrubby cedar,
but soon came to magnificent pine forests, that grew taller and sturdier
the higher we clomb. A superb mountain landscape opened behind us. The
valleys sank deeper and deeper, and at last disappeared behind the great
ridges that heaved themselves out of the wilderness of smaller hills. All
these ridges were covered with forests; and as we looked backwards out of
the tremendous gulf up the sides of which we were climbing, the scenery
was wholly wild and uncultivated. Our path hung on the imminent side of a
chasm so steep that one slip might have been destruction to both horse and
rider. Far below us, at the bottom of the chasm, roared an invisible
torrent. The opposite side, vapory from its depth, rose like an immense
wall against Heaven. The pines were even grander than those in the woods
of Phrygia. Here they grew taller and more dense, hanging their cloudy
boughs over the giddy depths, and clutching with desperate roots to the
almost perpendicular sides of the gorges. In many places they were the
primeval forests of Olympus, and the Hamadryads were not yet frightened
from their haunts.

Thus, slowly toiling up through the sublime wilderness, breathing the
cold, pure air of those lofty regions, we came at last to a little stream,
slowly trickling down the bed of the gorge. It was shaded, not by the
pine, but by the Northern beech, with its white trunk and close,
confidential boughs, made for the talks of lovers and the meditations of
poets. Here we stopped to breakfast, but there was nothing for the poor
beasts to eat, and they waited for us droopingly, with their heads thrust
together. While we sat there three camels descended to the stream, and
after them a guard with a long gun. He was a well-made man, with a brown
face, keen, black eye, and piratical air, and would have made a good hero
of modern romance. Higher up we came to a guard house, on a little cleared
space, surrounded by beech forests. It was a rough stone hut, with a white
flag planted on a pole before it, and a miniature water-wheel, running a
miniature saw at a most destructive rate, beside the door.

Continuing our way, we entered on a region such as I had no idea could be
found in Asia. The mountains, from the bottoms of the gorges to their
topmost summits, were covered with the most superb forests of beech I ever
saw--masses of impenetrable foliage, of the most brilliant green, touched
here and there by the darker top of a pine. Our road was through a deep,
dark shade, and on either side, up and down, we saw but a cool, shadowy
solitude, sprinkled with dots of emerald light, and redolent with the odor
of damp earth, moss, and dead leaves. It was a forest, the counterpart of
which could only be found in America--such primeval magnitude of growth,
such wild luxuriance, such complete solitude and silence! Through the
shafts of the pines we had caught glorious glimpses of the blue mountain
world below us; but now the beech folded us in its arms, and whispered in
our ears the legends of our Northern home. There, on the ridges of the
Mysian Olympus, sacred to the bright gods of Grecian song, I found the
inspiration of our darker and colder clime and age. "_O gloriosi spiriti
degli boschi!_"

I could scarcely contain myself, from surprise and joy. Francois failed to
find French adjectives sufficient for his admiration, and even our
cheating katurgees were touched by the spirit of the scene. On either
side, whenever a glimpse could be had through the boughs, we looked upon
leaning walls of trees, whose tall, rounded tops basked in the sunshine,
while their bases were wrapped in the shadows cast by themselves. Thus,
folded over each other like scales, or feathers on a falcon's wing, they
clad the mountain. The trees were taller, and had a darker and more glossy
leaf than the American beech. By and by patches of blue shone between the
boughs before us, a sign that the summit was near, and before one o'clock
we stood upon the narrow ridge forming the crest of the mountain. Here,
although we were between five and six thousand feet above the sea, the
woods of beech were a hundred feet in height, and shut out all view. On
the northern side the forest scenery is even grander than on the southern.
The beeches are magnificent trees, straight as an arrow, and from a
hundred to a hundred and fifty feet in height. Only now and then could we
get any view beyond the shadowy depths sinking below us, and then it was
only to see similar mountain ranges, buried in foliage, and rolling far
behind each other into the distance. Twice, in the depth of the gorge, we
saw a saw-mill, turned by the snow-cold torrents. Piles of pine and
beechen boards were heaped around them, and the sawyers were busily plying
their lonely business. The axe of the woodman echoed but rarely through
the gulfs, though many large trees lay felled by the roadside. The rock,
which occasionally cropped out of the soil, was white marble, and there
was a shining precipice of it, three hundred feet high, on the opposite
side of the gorge.

After four hours of steady descent, during the last hour of which we
passed into a forest entirely of oaks, we reached the first terrace at the
base of the mountain. Here, as I was riding in advance of the caravan, I
met a company of Turkish officers, who saluted me with an inclination of
the most profound reverence. I replied with due Oriental gravity, which
seemed to justify their respect, for when they met Francois, who is
everywhere looked upon as a Turkish janissary, they asked: "Is not your
master a _Shekh el-Islam_?" "You are right: he is," answered the
unscrupulous Greek. A Shekh el-Islam is a sort of high-priest,
corresponding in dignity to a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. It is
rather singular that I am generally taken for a Secretary of some kind, or
a Moslem priest, while my companion, who, by this time, has assumed the
Oriental expression, is supposed to be either medical or military.

We had no sooner left the forests and entered the copsewood which
followed, than the blue bulk, of Olympus suddenly appeared in the west,
towering far into the sky. It is a magnificent mountain, with a broad
though broken summit, streaked with snow. Before us, stretching away
almost to his base, lay a grand mountain slope, covered with orchards and
golden harvest-fields. Through lanes of hawthorn and chestnut trees in
blossom, which were overgrown with snowy clematis and made a shady roof
above our heads, we reached the little village of Orta Koei, and encamped
in a grove of pear-trees. There was grass for our beasts, who were on the
brink of starvation, and fowls and cucumbers for ourselves, who had been
limited to bread and coffee for two days. But as one necessity was
restored, another disappeared. We had smoked the last of our delicious
Aleppo tobacco, and that which the villagers gave us was of very inferior
quality. Nevertheless, the pipe which we smoked with them in the twilight,
beside the marble fountain, promoted that peace of mind which is the
sweetest preparative of slumber.

Francois was determined to finish our journey to-day. He had a
presentiment that we should reach Brousa, although I expected nothing of
the kind. He called us long before the lovely pastoral valley in which we
lay had a suspicion of the sun, but just in time to see the first rays
strike the high head of Olympus. The long lines of snow blushed with an
opaline radiance against the dark-blue of the morning sky, and all the
forests and fields below lay still, and cool, and dewy, lapped in dreams
yet unrecalled by the fading moon. I bathed my face in the cold well that
perpetually poured over its full brim, drank the coffee which Francois had
already prepared, sprang into the saddle, and began the last day of our
long pilgrimage. The tent was folded, alas! for the last time; and now
farewell to the freedom of our wandering life! Shall I ever feel it again?

The dew glistened on the chestnuts and the walnuts, on the wild
grape-vines and wild roses, that shaded our road, as we followed the
course of an Olympian stream through a charming dell, into the great plain
below. Everywhere the same bountiful soil, the same superb orchards, the
same ripe fields of wheat and barley, and silver rye. The peasants were at
work, men and women, cutting the grain with rude scythes, binding it into
sheaves, and stacking it in the fields. As we rode over the plain, the
boys came running out to us with handfuls of grain, saluting us from afar,
bidding us welcome as pilgrims, wishing us as many years of prosperity as
there were kernels in their sheaves, and kissing the hands that gave them
the harvest-toll. The whole landscape had an air of plenty, peace, and
contentment. The people all greeted us cordially; and once a Mevlevi
Dervish and a stately Turk, riding in company, saluted me so
respectfully, stopping to speak with me, that I quite regretted being
obliged to assume an air of dignified reserve, and ride away from them.

Ere long, we saw the two white minarets of Aineghioel, above the line of
orchards in front of us, and, in three hours after starting, reached the
place. It is a small town, not particularly clean, but with brisk-looking
bazaars. In one of the houses, I saw half-a-dozen pairs of superb antlers,
the spoils of Olympian stags. The bazaar is covered with a trellised roof,
overgrown with grape-vines, which hang enormous bunches of young grapes
over the shop-boards. We were cheered by the news that Brousa was only
eight hours distant, and I now began to hope that we might reach it. We
jogged on as fast as we could urge our weary horses, passed another belt
of orchard land, paid more harvest-tolls to the reapers, and commenced
ascending a chain of low hills which divides the plain of Aineghioel from
that of Brousa.

At a fountain called the "mid-day _konnak_" we met some travellers coming
from Brousa, who informed us that we could get there by the time of
_asser_ prayer. Rounding the north-eastern base of Olympus, we now saw
before us the long headland which forms his south-western extremity. A
storm was arising from the sea of Marmora, and heavy white clouds settled
on the topmost summits of the mountain. The wind began to blow fresh and
cool, and when we had reached a height overlooking the deep valley, in the
bottom of which lies the picturesque village of Ak-su, there were long
showery lines coming up from the sea, and a filmy sheet of gray rain
descended between us and Olympus, throwing his vast bulk far into the
background. At Ak-su, the first shower met us, pouring so fast and thick
that we were obliged to put on our capotes, and halt under a walnut-tree
for shelter. But it soon passed over, laying the dust, for the time, and
making the air sweet and cool.

We pushed forward over heights covered with young forests of oak, which
are protected by the government, in order that they may furnish
ship-timber. On the right, we looked down into magnificent valleys,
opening towards the west into the the plain of Brousa; but when, in the
middle of the afternoon, we reached the last height, and saw the great
plain itself, the climax was attained. It was the crown of all that we had
yet seen. This superb plain or valley, thirty miles long, by five in
breadth, spread away to the westward, between the mighty mass of Olympus
on the one side, and a range of lofty mountains on the other, the sides of
which presented a charming mixture of forest and cultivated land. Olympus,
covered with woods of beech and oak, towered to the clouds that concealed
his snowy head; and far in advance, under the last cape he threw out
towards the sea, the hundred minarets of Brousa stretched in a white and
glittering line, like the masts of a navy, whose hulls were buried in the
leafy sea. No words can describe the beauty of the valley, the blending of
the richest cultivation with the wildest natural luxuriance. Here were
gardens and orchards; there groves of superb chestnut-trees in blossom;
here, fields of golden grain or green pasture-land; there, Arcadian
thickets overgrown with clematis and wild rose; here, lofty poplars
growing beside the streams; there, spiry cypresses looking down from the
slopes: and all blended in one whole, so rich, so grand, so gorgeous, that
I scarcely breathed when it first burst upon me.

And now we descended to its level, and rode westward along the base of
Olympus, grandest of Asian mountains. This after-storm view, although his
head was shrouded, was sublime. His base is a vast sloping terrace,
leagues in length, resembling the nights of steps by which the ancient
temples were approached. From this foundation rise four mighty pyramids,
two thousand feet in height, and completely mantled with forests. They are
very nearly regular in their form and size, and are flanked to the east
and west by headlands, or abutments, the slopes of which are longer and
more gradual, as if to strengthen the great structure. Piled upon the four
pyramids are others nearly as large, above whose green pinnacles appear
still other and higher ones, bare and bleak, and clustering thickly
together, to uphold the great central dome of snow. Between the bases of
the lowest, the streams which drain the gorges of the mountain issue
forth, cutting their way through the foundation terrace, and widening
their beds downwards to the plain, like the throats of bugles, where, in
winter rains, they pour forth the hoarse, grand monotone of their Olympian
music. These broad beds are now dry and stony tracts, dotted all over with
clumps of dwarfed sycamores and threaded by the summer streams, shrunken
in bulk, but still swift, cold, and clear as ever.

We reached the city before night, and Francois is glad to find his
presentiment fulfilled. We have safely passed through the untravelled
heart of Asia Minor, and are now almost in sight of Europe. The camp-fire
is extinguished; the tent is furled. We are no longer happy nomads,
masquerading in Moslem garb. We shall soon become prosaic Christians, and
meekly hold out our wrists for the handcuffs of Civilization. Ah, prate
as we will of the progress of the race, we are but forging additional
fetters, unless we preserve that healthy physical development, those pure
pleasures of mere animal existence, which are now only to be found among
our semi-barbaric brethren. Our progress is nervous, when it should be

Chapter XXV.

Brousa and the Sea of Marmora.

The City of Brousa--Return to Civilization--Storm--The Kalputcha
Hammam--A Hot Bath--A Foretaste of Paradise--The Streets and Bazaars of
Brousa--The Mosque--The Tombs of the Ottoman Sultans--Disappearance of
the Katurgees--We start for Moudania--The Sea of
Marmora--Moudania--Passport Difficulties--A Greek Caique--Breakfast with
the Fishermen--A Torrid Voyage--The Princes' Islands--Prinkipo--Distant
View of Constantinople--We enter the Golden Horn.

"And we glode fast o'er a pellucid plain
Of waters, azure with the noontide ray.
Ethereal mountains shone around--a fane
Stood in the midst, beyond green isles which lay
On the blue, sunny deep, resplendent far away."


Constantinople, _Monday, July_ 12, 1852.

Before entering Brousa, we passed the whole length of the town, which is
built on the side of Olympus, and on three bluffs or spurs which project
from it. The situation is more picturesque than that of Damascus, and from
the remarkable number of its white domes and minarets, shooting upward
from the groves of chestnut, walnut, and cypress-trees, the city is even
more beautiful. There are large mosques on all the most prominent points,
and, near the centre of the city, the ruins of an ancient castle, built
upon a crag. The place, as we rode along, presented a shifting diorama of
delightful views. The hotel is at the extreme western end of the city, not
far from its celebrated hot baths. It is a new building, in European
style, and being built high on the slope, commands one of the most
glorious prospects I ever enjoyed from windows made with hands. What a
comfort it was to go up stairs into a clean, bright, cheerful room; to
drop at full length on a broad divan; to eat a Christian meal; to smoke a
narghileh of the softest Persian tobacco; and finally, most exquisite of
all luxuries, to creep between cool, clean sheets, on a curtained bed, and
find it impossible to sleep on account of the delicious novelty of the

At night, another storm came up from the Sea of Marmora. Tremendous peals
of thunder echoed in the gorges of Olympus and sharp, broad flashes of
lightning gave us blinding glimpses of the glorious plain below. The rain
fell in heavy showers, but our tent-life was just closed, and we sat
securely at our windows and enjoyed the sublime scene.

The sun, rising over the distant mountains of Isnik, shone full in my
face, awaking me to a morning view of the valley, which, freshened by the
night's thunder-storm, shone wonderfully bright and clear. After coffee,
we went to see the baths, which are on the side of the mountain, a mile
from the hotel. The finest one, called the Kalputcha Hammam, is at the
base of the hill. The entrance hall is very large, and covered by two
lofty domes. In the centre is a large marble urn-shaped fountain, pouring
out an abundant flood of cold water. Out of this, we passed into an
immense rotunda, filled with steam and traversed by long pencils of light,
falling from holes in the roof. A small but very beautiful marble fountain
cast up a jet of cold water in the centre. Beyond this was still another
hall, of the same size, but with a circular basin, twenty-five feet in
diameter, in the centre. The floor was marble mosaic, and the basin was
lined with brilliantly-colored tiles. It was kept constantly full by the
natural hot streams of the mountain. There were a number of persons in the
pool, but the atmosphere was so hot that we did not long disturb them by
our curiosity.

We then ascended to the Armenian bath, which is the neatest of all, but it
was given up to the women, and we were therefore obliged to go to a
Turkish one adjoining. The room into which we were taken was so hot that a
violent perspiration immediately broke out all over my body, and by the
time the _delleks_ were ready to rasp me, I was as limp as a wet towel,
and as plastic as a piece of putty. The man who took me was sweated away
almost to nothing; his very bones appeared to have become soft and
pliable. The water was slightly sulphureous, and the pailfuls which he
dashed over my head were so hot that they produced the effect of a
chill--a violent nervous shudder. The temperature of the springs is 180 deg.
Fahrenheit, and I suppose the tank into which he afterwards plunged me
must have been nearly up to the mark. When, at last, I was laid on the
couch, my body was so parboiled that I perspired at all pores for full an
hour--a feeling too warm and unpleasant at first, but presently merging
into a mood which was wholly rapturous and heavenly. I was like a soft
white cloud, that rests all of a summer afternoon on the peak of a distant
mountain. I felt the couch on which I lay no more than the cloud might
feel the cliffs on which it lingers so airily. I saw nothing but peaceful,
glorious sights; spaces of clear blue sky; stretches of quiet lawns;
lovely valleys threaded by the gentlest of streams; azure lakes, unruffled
by a breath; calms far out on mid-ocean, and Alpine peaks bathed in the
flush of an autumnal sunset. My mind retraced all our journey from
Aleppo, and there was a halo over every spot I had visited. I dwelt with
rapture on the piny hills of Phrygia, on the gorges of Taurus, on the
beechen solitudes of Olympus. Would to heaven that I might describe those
scenes as I then felt them! All was revealed to me: the heart of Nature
lay bare, and I read the meaning and knew the inspiration of her every
mood. Then, as my frame grew cooler, and the fragrant clouds of the
narghileh, which had helped my dreams, diminished, I was like that same
summer cloud, when it feels a gentle breeze and is lifted above the hills,
floating along independent of Earth, but for its shadow.

Brousa is a very long, straggling place, extending for three or four miles
along the side of the mountain, but presenting a very picturesque
appearance from every point. The houses are nearly all three stories high,
built of wood and unburnt bricks, and each story projects over the other,
after the manner of German towns of the Middle Ages. They have not the
hanging balconies which I have found so quaint and pleasing in Kiutahya.
But, especially in the Greek quarter, many of them are plastered and
painted of some bright color, which gives a gay, cheerful appearance to
the streets. Besides, Brousa is the cleanest Turkish town I have seen. The
mountain streams traverse most of the streets, and every heavy rain washes
them out thoroughly. The whole city has a brisk, active air, and the
workmen appear both more skilful and more industrious than in the other
parts of Asia Minor. I noticed a great many workers in copper, iron, and
wood, and an extensive manufactory of shoes and saddles. Brousa, however,
is principally noted for its silks, which are produced in this valley,
and others to the South and East. The manufactories are near the city. I
looked over some of the fabrics in the bazaars, but found them nearly all
imitations of European stuffs, woven in mixed silk and cotton, and even
more costly than the silks of Damascus.

We passed the whole length of the bazaars, and then, turning up one of the
side streets on our right, crossed a deep ravine by a high stone bridge.
Above and below us there were other bridges, under which a stream flowed
down from the mountains. Thence we ascended the height, whereon stands the
largest and one of the oldest mosques in Brousa. The position is
remarkably fine, commanding a view of nearly the whole city and the plain
below it. We entered the court-yard boldly, Francois taking the precaution
to speak to me only in Arabic, as there was a Turk within. Mr. H. went to
the fountain, washed his hands and face, but did not dare to swallow a
drop, putting on a most dolorous expression of countenance, as if
perishing with thirst. The mosque was a plain, square building, with a
large dome and two minarets. The door was a rich and curious specimen of
the _stalactitic_ style, so frequent in Saracenic buildings. We peeped
into the windows, and, although the mosque, which does not appear to be in
common use, was darkened, saw enough to show that the interior was quite

Just above this edifice stands a large octagonal tomb, surmounted by a
dome, and richly adorned with arabesque cornices and coatings of green and
blue tiles. It stood in a small garden inclosure, and there was a sort of
porter's lodge at the entrance. As we approached, an old gray-bearded man
in a green turban came out, and, on Francois requesting entrance for us,
took a key and conducted us to the building. He had not the slightest idea
of our being Christians. We took off our slippers before touching the
lintel of the door, as the place was particularly holy. Then, throwing
open the door, the old man lingered a few moments after we entered, so as
not to disturb our prayers--a mark of great respect. We advanced to the
edge of the parapet, turned our faces towards Mecca, and imitated the
usual Mohammedan prayer on entering a mosque, by holding both arms
outspread for a few moments, then bringing the hands together and bowing
the face upon them. This done, we leisurely examined the building, and the
old man was ready enough to satisfy our curiosity. It was a rich and
elegant structure, lighted from the dome. The walls were lined with
brilliant tiles, and had an elaborate cornice, with Arabic inscriptions in
gold. The floor was covered with a carpet, whereon stood eight or ten
ancient coffins, surrounding a larger one which occupied a raised platform
in the centre. They were all of wood, heavily carved, and many of them
entirely covered with gilded inscriptions. These, according to the old
man, were the coffins of the Ottoman Sultans, who had reigned at Brousa
previous to the taking of Constantinople, with some members of their
families. There were four Sultans, among whom were Mahomet I., and a
certain Achmet. Orchan, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, is buried
somewhere in Brousa, and the great central coffin may have been his.
Francois and I talked entirely in Arabic, and the old man asked: "Who are
these Hadjis?" whereupon F. immediately answered: "They are Effendis from

We had intended making the ascent of Olympus, but the summit was too
thickly covered with clouds. On the morning of the second day, therefore,
we determined to take up the line of march for Constantinople. The last
scene of our strange, eventful history with the katurgees had just
transpired, by their deserting us, being two hundred piastres in our debt.
They left their khan on the afternoon after our arrival, ostensibly for
the purpose of taking their beasts out to pasture, and were never heard of
more. We let them go, thankful that they had not played the trick sooner.
We engaged fresh horses for Moudania, on the Sea of Marmora, and
dispatched Francois in advance, to procure a caique for Constantinople,
while we waited to have our passports signed. But after waiting an hour,
as there was no appearance of the precious documents, we started the
baggage also, under the charge of a _surroudjee_, and remained alone.
Another hour passed by, and yet another, and the Bey was still occupied in
sleeping off his hunger. Mr. Harrison, in desperation, went to the office,
and after some delay, received the passports with a vise, but not, as we
afterwards discovered, the necessary one.

It was four o'clock by the time we left Brousa. Our horses were stiff,
clumsy pack-beasts; but, by dint of whips and the sharp shovel-stirrups,
we forced them into a trot and made them keep it. The road was well
travelled, and by asking everybody we met: "_Bou yol Moudania yedermi_?"
("Is this the way to Moudania?"), we had no difficulty in finding it. The
plain in many places is marshy, and traversed by several streams. A low
range of hills stretches across, and nearly closes it, the united waters
finding their outlet by a narrow valley to the north. From the top of the
hill we had a grand view, looking back over the plain, with the long line
of Brousa's minarets glittering through the interminable groves at the
foot of the mountain Olympus now showed a superb outline; the clouds hung
about his shoulders, but his snowy head was bare. Before us lay a broad,
rich valley, extending in front to the mountains of Moudania. The country
was well cultivated, with large farming establishments here and there.

The sun was setting as we reached the summit ridge, where stood a little
guard-house. As we rode over the crest, Olympus disappeared, and the Sea
of Marmora lay before us, spreading out from the Gulf of Moudania, which
was deep and blue among the hills, to an open line against the sunset.
Beyond that misty line lay Europe, which I had not seen for nearly nine
months, and the gulf below me was the bound of my tent and saddle life.
But one hour more, old horse! Have patience with my Ethiopian thong, and
the sharp corners of my Turkish stirrups: but one hour more, and I promise
never to molest you again! Our path was downward, and I marvel that the
poor brute did not sometimes tumble headlong with me. He had been too long
used to the pack, however, and his habits were as settled as a Turk's. We
passed a beautiful village in a valley on the right, and came into olive
groves and vineyards, as the dusk was creeping on. It was a lovely country
of orchards and gardens, with fountains spouting by the wayside, and
country houses perched on the steeps. In another hour, we reached the
sea-shore. It was now nearly dark, but we could see the tower of Moudania
some distance to the west.

Still in a continual trot, we rode on; and as we drew near, Mr. H. fired
his gun to announce our approach. At the entrance of the town, we found
the sourrudjee waiting to conduct us. We clattered through the rough
streets for what seemed an endless length of time. The Ramazan gun had
just fired, the minarets were illuminated, and the coffee-houses were
filled with people. Finally, Francois, who had been almost in despair at
our non-appearance, hailed us with the welcome news that he had engaged a
caique, and that our baggage was already embarked. We only needed the
vises of the authorities, in order to leave. He took our teskeres to get
them, and we went upon the balcony of a coffee-house overhanging the sea,
and smoked a narghileh.

But here there was another history. The teskeres had not been properly
vised at Brousa, and the Governor at first decided to send us back. Taking
Francois, however, for a Turk, and finding that we had regularly passed
quarantine, he signed them after a delay of an hour and a half, and we
left the shore, weary, impatient, and wolfish with twelve hours' fasting.
A cup of Brousan beer and a piece of bread brought us into a better mood,
and I, who began to feel sick from the rolling of the caique, lay down on
my bed, which was spread at the bottom, and found a kind of uneasy sleep.
The sail was hoisted at first, to get us across the mouth of the Gulf, but
soon the Greeks took to their oars. They were silent, however, and though
I only slept by fits, the night wore away rapidly. As the dawn was
deepening, we ran into a little bight in the northern side of a
promontory, where a picturesque Greek village stood at the foot of the
mountains. The houses were of wood, with balconies overgrown with
grape-vines, and there was a fountain of cold, excellent water on the very
beach. Some Greek boatmen were smoking in the portico of a cafe on shore,
and two fishermen, who had been out before dawn to catch sardines, were
emptying their nets of the spoil. Our men kindled a fire on the sand, and
roasted us a dish of the fish. Some of the last night's hunger remained,
and the meal had enough of that seasoning to be delicious.

After giving our men an hour's rest, we set off for the Princes' Islands,
which now appeared to the north, over the glassy plain of the sea. The
Gulf of Iskmid, or Nicomedia, opened away to the east, between two
mountain headlands. The morning was intensely hot and sultry, and but for
the protection of an umbrella, we should have suffered greatly. There was
a fiery blue vapor on the sea, and a thunder-cloud hid the shores of
Thrace. Now and then came a light puff of wind, whereupon the men would
ship the little mast, and crowd on an enormous quantity of sail. So,
sailing and rowing, we neared the islands with the storm, but it advanced
slowly enough to allow a sight of the mosques of St. Sophia and Sultan
Achmed, gleaming far and white, like icebergs astray on a torrid sea.
Another cloud was pouring its rain over the Asian shore, and we made haste
to get to the landing at Prinkipo before it could reach us. From the
south, the group of islands is not remarkable for beauty. Only four of
them--Prinkipo, Chalki, Prote, and Antigone--are inhabited, the other five
being merely barren rocks.

There is an ancient convent on the summit of Prinkipo, where the Empress
Irene--the contemporary of Charlemagne--is buried. The town is on the
northern side of the island, and consists mostly of the summer residences
of Greek and Armenian merchants. Many of these are large and stately
houses, surrounded with handsome gardens. The streets are shaded with
sycamores, and the number of coffee-houses shows that the place is much
frequented on festal days. A company of drunken Greeks were singing in
violation of all metre and harmony--a discord the more remarkable, since
nothing could be more affectionate than their conduct towards each other.
Nearly everybody was in Frank costume, and our Oriental habits, especially
the red Tartar boots, attracted much observation. I began to feel awkward
and absurd, and longed to show myself a Christian once more.

Leaving Prinkipo, we made for Constantinople, whose long array of marble
domes and gilded spires gleamed like a far mirage over the waveless sea.
It was too faint and distant and dazzling to be substantial. It was like
one of those imaginary cities which we build in a cloud fused in the light
of the setting sun. But as we neared the point of Chalcedon, running along
the Asian shore, those airy piles gathered form and substance. The
pinnacles of the Seraglio shot up from the midst of cypress groves;
fantastic kiosks lined the shore; the minarets of St. Sophia and Sultan
Achmed rose more clearly against the sky; and a fleet of steamers and
men-of-war, gay with flags, marked the entrance of the Golden Horn. We
passed the little bay where St. Chrysostom was buried, the point of
Chalcedon, and now, looking up the renowned Bosphorus, saw the Maiden's
Tower, opposite Scutari. An enormous pile, the barracks of the Anatolian
soldiery, hangs over the high bank, and, as we row abreast of it, a fresh
breeze comes up from the Sea of Marmora. The prow of the caique is turned
across the stream, the sail is set, and we glide rapidly and noiselessly
over the Bosphorus and into the Golden Horn, between the banks of the
Frank and Moslem--Pera and Stamboul. Where on the earth shall we find a
panorama more magnificent?

The air was filled with the shouts and noises of the great Oriental
metropolis; the water was alive with caiques and little steamers; and all
the world of work and trade, which had grown almost to be a fable,
welcomed us back to its restless heart. We threaded our rather perilous
way over the populous waves, and landed in a throng of Custom-House
officers and porters, on the wharf at Galata.

Chapter XXVI.

The Night of Predestination.

Constantinople in Ramazan--The Origin of the Fast--Nightly
Illuminations--The Night of Predestination--The Golden Horn at
Night--Illumination of the Shores--The Cannon of Constantinople--A Fiery
Panorama--The Sultan's Caique--Close of the Celebration--A Turkish
Mob--The Dancing Dervishes.

"Skies full of splendid moons and shooting stars,
And spouting exhalations, diamond fires." Keats.

Constantinople, _Wednesday, July_ 14, 1862.

Constantinople, during the month of Ramazan, presents a very different
aspect from Constantinople at other times. The city, it is true, is much
more stern and serious during the day; there is none of that gay, careless
life of the Orient which you see in Smyrna, Cairo, and Damascus; but when
once the sunset gun has fired, and the painful fast is at an end, the
picture changes as if by magic. In all the outward symbols of their
religion, the Mussulmans show their joy at being relieved from what they
consider a sacred duty. During the day, it is quite a science to keep the
appetite dormant, and the people not only abstain from eating and
drinking, but as much as possible from the sight of food. In the bazaars,
you see the famished merchants either sitting, propped back against their
cushions, with the shawl about their stomachs, tightened so as to prevent
the void under it from being so sensibly felt, or lying at full length in
the vain attempt to sleep. It is whispered here that many of the Turks
will both eat and smoke, when there is no chance of detection, but no one
would dare infringe the fast in public. Most of the mechanics and porters
are Armenians, and the boatmen are Greeks.

I have endeavored to ascertain the origin of this fast month. The Syrian
Christians say that it is a mere imitation of an incident which happened
to Mahomet. The Prophet, having lost his camels, went day after day
seeking them in the Desert, taking no nourishment from the time of his
departure in the morning until his return at sunset. After having sought
them thus daily, for the period of one entire moon, he found them, and in
token of joy, gave a three days' feast to the tribe, now imitated in the
festival of Bairam, which lasts for three days after the close of Ramazan.
This reason, however, seems too trifling for such a rigid fast, and the
Turkish tradition, that the Koran was sent down from heaven during this
month, offers a more probable explanation. During the fast, the
Mussulmans, as is quite natural, are much more fanatical than at other
times. They are obliged to attend prayers at the mosque every night, or to
have a _mollah_ read the Koran to them at their own houses. All the
prominent features of their religion are kept constantly before their
eyes, and their natural aversion to the Giaour, or Infidel, is increased
tenfold. I have heard of several recent instances in which strangers have
been exposed to insults and indignities.

At dusk the minarets are illuminated; a peal of cannon from the Arsenal,
echoed by others from the forts along the Bosphorus, relieves the
suffering followers of the Prophet, and after an hour of silence, during
which they are all at home, feasting, the streets are filled with noisy
crowds, and every coffee-shop is thronged. Every night there are
illuminations along the water, which, added to the crowns of light
sparkling on the hundred minarets and domes, give a magical effect to the
night view of the city. Towards midnight there is again a season of
comparative quiet, most of the inhabitants having retired to rest; but,
about two hours afterwards a watchman comes along with a big drum, which
he beats lustily before the doors of the Faithful, in order to arouse them
in time to eat again before the daylight-gun, which announces the
commencement of another day's fast.

Last night was the holiest night of Islam, being the twenty-fifth of the
fast. It is called the _Leilet-el-Kadr,_ or Night of the Predestination,
the anniversary of that on which the Koran was miraculously communicated
to the Prophet. On this night the Sultan, accompanied by his whole suite,
attends service at the mosque, and on his return to the Seraglio, the
Sultana Valide, or Sultana-Mother, presents him with a virgin from one of
the noble families of Constantinople. Formerly, St. Sophia was the theatre
of this celebration, but this year the Sultan chose the Mosque of
Tophaneh, which stands on the shore--probably as being nearer to his
imperial palace at Beshiktashe, on the Bosphorus. I consider myself
fortunate in having reached Constantinople in season to witness this
ceremony, and the illumination of the Golden Horn, which accompanies it.

After sunset the mosques crowning the hills of Stamboul, the mosque of
Tophaneh, on this side of the water, and the Turkish men-of-war and
steamers afloat at the mouth of the Golden Horn, began to blaze with more
than their usual brilliance. The outlines of the minarets and domes were
drawn in light on the deepening gloom, and the masts and yards of the
vessel were hung with colored lanterns. From the battery in front of the
mosque and arsenal of Tophaneh a blaze of intense light streamed out over
the water, illuminating the gliding forms of a thousand caiques, and the
dark hulls of the vessels lying at anchor. The water is the best place
from which to view the illumination, and a party of us descended to the
landing-place. The streets of Tophaneh were crowded with swarms of Turks,
Greeks and Armenians. The square around the fountain was brilliantly
lighted, and venders of sherbet and kaimak were ranged along the
sidewalks. In the neighborhood of the mosque the crowd was so dense that
we could with difficulty make our way through. All the open space next the
water was filled up with the clumsy _arabas_, or carriages of the Turks,
in which sat the wives of the Pashas and other dignitaries.

We took a caique, and were soon pulled out into the midst of a multitude
of other caiques, swarming all over the surface of the Golden Horn. The
view from this point was strange, fantastic, yet inconceivably gorgeous.
In front, three or four large Turkish frigates lay in the Bosphorus, their
hulls and spars outlined in fire against the dark hills and distant
twinkling lights of Asia. Looking to the west, the shores of the Golden
Horn were equally traced by the multitude of lamps that covered them, and
on either side, the hills on which the city is built rose from the
water--masses of dark buildings, dotted all over with shafts and domes of
the most brilliant light. The gateway on Seraglio Point was illuminated,
as well as the quay in front of the mosque of Tophaneh, all the cannons of
the battery being covered with lamps. The commonest objects shared in the
splendor, even a large lever used for hoisting goods being hung with
lanterns from top to bottom. The mosque was a mass of light, and between
the tall minarets flanking it, burned the inscription, in Arabic
characters, "Long life to you, O our Sovereign!"

The discharge of a cannon announced the Sultan's departure from his
palace, and immediately the guns on the frigates and the batteries on both
shores took up the salute, till the grand echoes, filling the hollow
throat of the Golden Horn, crashed from side to side, striking the hills
of Scutari and the point of Chalcedon, and finally dying away among the
summits of the Princes' Islands, out on the Sea of Marmora. The hulls of
the frigates were now lighted up with intense chemical fires, and an
abundance of rockets were spouted from their decks. A large Drummond light
on Seraglio Point, and another at the Battery of Tophaneh, poured their
rival streams across the Golden Horn, revealing the thousands of caiques
jostling each other from shore to shore, and the endless variety of gay
costumes with which they were filled. The smoke of the cannon hanging in
the air, increased the effect of this illumination, and became a screen of
auroral brightness, through which the superb spectacle loomed with large
and unreal features. It was a picture of air--a phantasmagoric spectacle,
built of luminous vapor and meteoric fires, and hanging in the dark round
of space. In spite of ourselves, we became eager and excited, half fearing
that the whole pageant would dissolve the next moment, and leave no trace

Meanwhile, the cannon thundered from a dozen batteries, and the rockets
burst into glittering rain over our heads. Grander discharges I never
heard; the earth shook and trembled under the mighty bursts of sound, and
the reverberation which rattled along the hill of Galata, broken by the
scattered buildings into innumerable fragments of sound, resembled the
crash of a thousand falling houses. The distant echoes from Asia and the
islands in the sea filled up the pauses between the nearer peals, and we
seemed to be in the midst of some great naval engagement. But now the
caique of the Sultan is discerned, approaching from the Bosphorus. A
signal is given, and a sunrise of intense rosy and golden radiance
suddenly lights up the long arsenal and stately mosque of Tophaneh, plays
over the tall buildings on the hill of Pera, and falls with a fainter
lustre on the Genoese watch-tower that overlooks Galata. It is impossible
to describe the effect of this magical illumination. The mosque, with its
taper minarets, its airy galleries, and its great central dome, is built
of compact, transparent flame, and in the shifting of the red and yellow
fires, seems to flicker and waver in the air. It is as lofty, and
gorgeous, and unsubstantial as the cloudy palace in Cole's picture of
"Youth." The long white front of the arsenal is fused in crimson heat, and
burns against the dark as if it were one mass of living coal. And over all
hangs the luminous canopy of smoke, redoubling its lustre on the waters of
the Golden Horn, and mingling with the phosphorescent gleams that play
around the oars of the caiques.

A long barge, propelled by sixteen oars, glides around the dark corner of
Tophaneh, and shoots into the clear, brilliant space in front of the
mosque. It is not lighted, and passes with great swiftness towards the
brilliant landing-place. There are several persons seated under a canopy
in the stern, and we are trying to decide which is the Sultan, when a
second boat, driven by twenty-four oarsmen, comes in sight. The men rise
up at each stroke, and the long, sharp craft flies over the surface of
the water, rather than forces its way through it. A gilded crown surmounts
the long, curved prow, and a light though superb canopy covers the stern.
Under this, we catch a glimpse of the Sultan and Grand Vizier, as they
appear for an instant like black silhouettes against the burst of light on

After the Sultan had entered the mosque, the fires diminished and the
cannon ceased, though the illuminated masts, minarets and gateways still
threw a brilliant gleam over the scene. After more than an hour spent in
devotion, he again entered his caique and sped away to greet his new wife,
amid a fresh discharge from the frigates and the batteries on both shores,
and a new dawn of auroral splendor. We made haste to reach the
landing-place, in order to avoid the crowd of caiques; but, although we
were among the first, we came near being precipitated into the water, in
the struggle to get ashore. The market-place at Tophaneh was so crowded
that nothing but main force brought us through, and some of our party had
their pockets picked. A number of Turkish soldiers and police-men were
mixed up in the melee, and they were not sparing of blows when they came
in contact with a Giaour. In making my way through, I found that a
collision with one of the soldiers was inevitable, but I managed to plump
against him with such force as to take the breath out of his body, and was
out of his reach before he had recovered himself. I saw several Turkish
women striking right and left in their endeavors to escape, and place
their hands against the faces of those who opposed them, pushing them
aside. This crowd was contrived by thieves, for the purpose of plunder,
and, from what I have since learned, must have been very successful.

I visited to-day the College of the Mevlevi Dervishes at Pera, and
witnessed their peculiar ceremonies. They assemble in a large hall, where
they take their seats in a semi-circle, facing the shekh. After going
through several times with the usual Moslem prayer, they move in slow
march around the room, while a choir in the gallery chants Arabic phrases
in a manner very similar to the mass in Catholic churches. I could
distinguish the sentences "God is great," "Praise be to God," and other
similar ejaculations. The chant was accompanied with a drum and flute, and
had not lasted long before the Dervishes set themselves in a rotary
motion, spinning slowly around the shekh, who stood in the centre. They
stretched both arms out, dropped their heads on one side, and glided
around with a steady, regular motion, their long white gowns spread out
and floating on the air. Their steps were very similar to those of the
modern waltz, which, it is possible, may have been derived from the dance
of the Mevlevis. Baron Von Hammer finds in this ceremony an imitation of
the dance of the spheres, in the ancient Samothracian Mysteries; but I see
no reason to go so far back for its origin. The dance lasted for about
twenty minutes, and the Dervishes appeared very much exhausted at the
close, as they are obliged to observe the fast very strictly.

Chapter XXVII.

The Solemnities of Bairam.

The Appearance of the New Moon--The Festival of Bairam--The Interior of
the Seraglio--The Pomp of the Sultan's Court--Rescind Pasha--The
Sultan's Dwarf--Arabian Stallions--The Imperial Guard--Appearance of the
Sultan--The Inner Court--Return of the Procession--The Sultan on his
Throne--The Homage of the Pashas--An Oriental Picture--Kissing the
Scarf--The Shekh el-Islam--The Descendant of the Caliphs--Bairam

Constantinople, _Monday_, _July_ 19, 1852.

Saturday was the last day of the fast-month of Ramazan, and yesterday the
celebration of the solemn festival of Bairam took place. The moon changed
on Friday morning at 11 o'clock, but as the Turks have no faith in
astronomy, and do not believe the moon has actually changed until they see
it, all good Mussulmen were obliged to fast an additional day. Had
Saturday been cloudy, and the new moon invisible, I am not sure but the
fast would have been still further prolonged. A good look-out was kept,
however, and about four o'clock on Saturday afternoon some sharp eyes saw
the young crescent above the sun. There is a hill near Gemlik, on the Gulf
of Moudania, about fifty miles from here, whence the Turks believe the new
moon can be first seen. The families who live on this hill are exempted
from taxation, in consideration of their keeping a watch for the moon, at
the close of Ramazan. A series of signals, from hill to hill, is in
readiness, and the news is transmitted to Constantinople in a very short
time Then, when the muezzin proclaims the _asser_, or prayer two hours
before sunset, he proclaims also the close of Ramazan. All the batteries
fire a salute, and the big guns along the water announce the joyful news
to all parts of the city. The forts on the Bosphorus take up the tale, and
both shores, from the Black Sea to the Propontis, shake with the burden of
their rejoicing. At night the mosques are illuminated for the last time,
for it is only during Ramazan that they are lighted, or open for night

After Ramazan, comes the festival of Bairam, which lasts three days, and
is a season of unbounded rejoicing. The bazaars are closed, no Turk does
any work, but all, clothed in their best dresses, or in an entire new suit
if they can afford it, pass the time in feasting, in paying visits, or in
making excursions to the shores of the Bosphorus, or other favorite spots
around Constantinople. The festival is inaugurated by a solemn state
ceremony, at the Seraglio and the mosque of Sultan Achmed, whither the
Sultan goes in procession, accompanied by all the officers of the
Government. This is the last remaining pageant which has been spared to
the Ottoman monarchs by the rigorous reforming measures of Sultan Mahmoud,
and shorn as it is of much of its former splendor, it probably surpasses
in brilliant effect any spectacle which any other European Court can
present. The ceremonies which take place inside of the Seraglio were,
until within three or four years, prohibited to Frank eyes, and travellers
were obliged to content themselves with a view of the procession, as it
passed to the mosque. Through the kindness of Mr. Brown, of the American
Embassy, I was enabled to witness the entire solemnity, in all its

As the procession leaves the Seraglio at sunrise, we rose with the first
streak of dawn, descended to Tophaneh, and crossed to Seraglio Point,
where the cavass of the Embassy was in waiting for us. He conducted us
through the guards, into the garden of the Seraglio, and up the hill to
the Palace. The Capudan Pasha, or Lord High Admiral, had just arrived in a
splendid caique, and pranced up the hill before us on a magnificent
stallion, whose trappings blazed with jewels and gold lace. The rich
uniforms of the different officers of the army and marine glittered far
and near under the dense shadows of the cypress trees, and down the dark
alleys where the morning twilight had not penetrated. We were ushered into
the great outer court-yard of the Seraglio, leading to the Sublime Porte.
A double row of marines, in scarlet jackets and white trowsers, extended
from one gate to the other, and a very excellent brass band played "_Suoni
la tromba_" with much spirit. The groups of Pashas and other officers of
high rank, with their attendants, gave the scene a brilliant character of
festivity. The costumes, except those of the secretaries and servants,
were after the European model, but covered with a lavish profusion of gold
lace. The horses were all of the choicest Eastern breeds, and the broad
housings of their saddles of blue, green, purple, and crimson cloth, were
enriched with gold lace, rubies, emeralds and turquoises.

The cavass took us into a chamber near the gate, and commanding a view of
the whole court. There we found Mr. Brown and his lady, with several
officers from the U.S. steamer San Jacinto. At this moment the sun,
appearing above the hill of Bulgaria, behind Scutari, threw his earliest
rays upon the gilded pinnacles of the Seraglio. The commotion in the long
court-yard below increased. The marines were formed into exact line, the
horses of the officers clattered on the rough pavement as they dashed
about to expedite the arrangements, the crowd pressed closer to the line
of the procession, and in five minutes the grand pageant was set in
motion. As the first Pasha made his appearance under the dark archway of
the interior gate, the band struck up the _Marseillaise_ (which is a
favorite air among the Turks), and the soldiers presented arms. The
court-yard was near two hundred yards long, and the line of Pashas, each
surrounded with the officers of his staff, made a most dazzling show. The
lowest in rank came first. I cannot recollect the precise order, nor the
names of all of them, which, in fact, are of little consequence, while
power and place are such uncertain matters in Turkey.

Each Pasha wore the red fez on his head, a frock-coat of blue cloth, the
breast of which was entirely covered with gold lace, while a broad band of
the same decorated the skirts, and white pantaloons. One of the Ministers,
Mehemet Ali Pasha, the brother-in-law of the Sultan, was formerly a
cooper's apprentice, but taken, when a boy, by the late Sultan Mahmoud, to
be a playmate for his son, on account of his extraordinary beauty. Rescind
Pasha, the Grand Vizier, is a man of about sixty years of age. He is
frequently called Giaour, or Infidel, by the Turks, on account of his
liberal policy, which has made him many enemies. The expression of his
face denotes intelligence, but lacks the energy necessary to accomplish
great reforms. His son, a boy of about seventeen, already possesses the
rank of Pasha, and is affianced to the Sultan's daughter, a child of ten,
or twelve years old. He is a fat, handsome youth, with a sprightly face,
and acted his part in the ceremonies with a nonchalance which made him
appear graceful beside his stiff, dignified elders.

After the Pashas came the entire household of the Sultan, including even
his eunuchs, cooks, and constables. The Kislar Aga, or Chief Eunuch, a
tall African in resplendent costume, is one of the most important
personages connected with the Court. The Sultan's favorite dwarf, a little
man about forty years old and three feet high, bestrode his horse with as
consequential an air as any of them. A few years ago, this man took a
notion to marry, and applied to the Sultan for a wife. The latter gave him
permission to go into his harem and take the one whom he could kiss. The
dwarf, like all short men, was ambitious to have a long wife. While the
Sultan's five hundred women, who knew the terms according to which the
dwarf was permitted to choose, were laughing at the amorous mannikin, he
went up to one of the tallest and handsomest of them, and struck her a
sudden blow on the stomach. She collapsed with the pain, and before she
could recover he caught her by the neck and gave her the dreaded kiss. The
Sultan kept his word, and the tall beauty is now the mother of the dwarfs

The procession grows more brilliant as it advances, and the profound
inclination made by the soldiers at the further end of the court,
announces the approach of the Sultan himself. First come three led horses,
of the noblest Arabian blood--glorious creatures, worthy to represent

"The horse that guide the golden eye of heaven,
And snort the morning from their nostrils,
Making their fiery gait above the glades."

Their eyes were more keen and lustrous than the diamonds which studded
their head-stalls, and the wealth of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires that
gleamed on their trappings would have bought the possessions of a German
Prince. After them came the Sultan's body-guard, a company of tall, strong
men, in crimson tunics and white trousers, with lofty plumes of peacock
feathers in their hats. Some of them carried crests of green feathers,
fastened upon long staves. These superb horses and showy guards are the
only relics of that barbaric pomp which characterized all State
processions during the time of the Janissaries. In the centre of a hollow
square of plume-bearing guards rode Abdul-Medjid himself, on a snow-white
steed. Every one bowed profoundly as he passed along, but he neither
looked to the right or left, nor made the slightest acknowledgment of the
salutations. Turkish etiquette exacts the most rigid indifference on the
part of the Sovereign, who, on all public occasions, never makes a
greeting. Formerly, before the change of costume, the Sultan's turbans
were carried before him in the processions, and the servants who bore them
inclined them to one side and the other, in answer to the salutations of
the crowd.

Sultan Abdul-Medjid is a man of about thirty, though he looks older. He
has a mild, amiable, weak face, dark eyes, a prominent nose, and short,
dark brown mustaches and beard. His face is thin, and wrinkles are already
making their appearance about the corners of his mouth and eyes. But for a
certain vacancy of expression, he would be called a handsome man. He sits
on his horse with much ease and grace, though there is a slight stoop in
his shoulders. His legs are crooked, owing to which cause he appears
awkward when on his feet, though he wears a long cloak to conceal the
deformity. Sensual indulgence has weakened a constitution not naturally
strong, and increased that mildness which has now become a defect in his
character. He is not stern enough to be just, and his subjects are less
fortunate under his easy rule than under the rod of his savage father,
Mahmoud. He was dressed in a style of the utmost richness and elegance. He
wore a red Turkish fez, with an immense rosette of brilliants, and a long,
floating plume of bird-of-paradise feathers. The diamond in the centre of
the rosette is of unusual size; it was picked up some years ago in the
Hippodrome, and probably belonged to the treasury of the Greek Emperors.
The breast and collar of his coat were one mass of diamonds, and sparkled
in the early sun with a thousand rainbow gleams. His mantle of dark-blue
cloth hung to his knees, concealing the deformity of his legs. He wore
white pantaloons, white kid gloves, and patent leather boots, thrust into
his golden stirrups.

A few officers of the Imperial household followed behind the Sultan, and
the procession then terminated. Including the soldiers, it contained from
two to three thousand persons. The marines lined the way to the mosque of
Sultan Achmed, and a great crowd of spectators filled up the streets and
the square of the Hippodrome. Coffee was served to us, after which we were
all conducted into the inner court of the Seraglio, to await the return of
the cortege. This court is not more than half the size of the outer one,
but is shaded with large sycamores, embellished with fountains, and
surrounded with light and elegant galleries, in pure Saracenic style. The
picture which it presented was therefore far richer and more
characteristic of the Orient than the outer court, where the architecture
is almost wholly after Italian models. The portals at either end rested
on slender pillars, over which projected broad eaves, decorated with
elaborate carved and gilded work, and above all rose a dome, surmounted by
the Crescent. On the right, the tall chimneys of the Imperial kitchens
towered above the walls. The sycamores threw their broad, cool shadows
over the court, and groups of servants, in gala dresses, loitered about
the corridors.

After waiting nearly half an hour, the sound of music and the appearance
of the Sultan's body-guard proclaimed the return of the procession. It
came in reversed order, headed by the Sultan, after whom followed the
Grand Vizier and other Ministers of the Imperial Council, and the Pashas,
each surrounded by his staff of officers. The Sultan dismounted at the
entrance to the Seraglio, and disappeared through the door. He was absent
for more than half an hour, during which time he received the
congratulations of his family, his wives, and the principal personages of
his household, all of whom came to kiss his feet. Meanwhile, the Pashas
ranged themselves in a semicircle around the arched and gilded portico.
The servants of the Seraglio brought out a large Persian carpet, which
they spread on the marble pavement. The throne, a large square seat,
richly carved and covered with gilding, was placed in the centre, and a
dazzling piece of cloth-of-gold thrown over the back of it. When the
Sultan re-appeared, he took his seat thereon, placing his feet on a small
footstool. The ceremony of kissing his feet now commenced. The first who
had this honor was the Chief of the Emirs, an old man in a green robe,
embroidered with pearls. He advanced to the throne, knelt, kissed the
Sultan's patent-leather boot, and retired backward from the presence.

The Ministers and Pashas followed in single file, and, after they had
made the salutation, took their stations on the right hand of the throne.
Most of them were fat, and their glittering frock-coats were buttoned so
tightly that they seemed ready to burst. It required a great effort for
them to rise from their knees. During all this time, the band was playing
operatic airs, and as each Pasha knelt, a marshal, or master of
ceremonies, with a silver wand, gave the signal to the Imperial Guard, who
shouted at the top of their voices: "Prosperity to our Sovereign! May he
live a thousand years!" This part of the ceremony was really grand and
imposing. All the adjuncts were in keeping: the portico, wrought in rich
arabesque designs; the swelling domes and sunlit crescents above; the
sycamores and cypresses shading the court; the red tunics and peacock
plumes of the guard; the monarch himself, radiant with jewels, as he sat
in his chair of gold--all these features combined to form a stately
picture of the lost Orient, and for the time Abdul-Medjid seemed the true
representative of Caliph Haroun Al-Raschid.

After the Pashas had finished, the inferior officers of the Army, Navy,
and Civil Service followed, to the number of at least a thousand. They
were not considered worthy to touch the Sultan's person, but kissed his
golden scarf, which was held out to them by a Pasha, who stood on the left
of the throne. The Grand Vizier had his place on the right, and the Chief
of the Eunuchs stood behind him. The kissing of the scarf occupied an
hour. The Sultan sat quietly during all this time, his face expressing a
total indifference to all that was going on. The most skilful
physiognomist could not have found in it the shadow of an expression. If
this was the etiquette prescribed for him, he certainly acted it with
marvellous skill and success.

The long line of officers at length came to an end, and I fancied that the
solemnities were now over; but after a pause appeared the _Shekh
el-Islam,_ or High Priest of the Mahometan religion. His authority in
religious matters transcends that of the Sultan, and is final and
irrevocable. He was a very venerable man, of perhaps seventy-five years of
age, and his tottering steps were supported by two mollahs. He was dressed
in a long green robe, embroidered with gold and pearls, over which his
white beard flowed below his waist. In his turban of white cambric was
twisted a scarf of cloth-of-gold. He kissed the border of the Sultan's
mantle, which salutation was also made by a long line of the chief priests
of the mosques of Constantinople, who followed him. These priests were
dressed in long robes of white, green, blue, and violet, many of them with
collars of pearls and golden scarfs wound about their turbans, the rich
fringes falling on their shoulders. They were grave, stately men, with
long gray beards, and the wisdom of age and study in their deep-set eyes.

Among the last who came was the most important personage of all. This was
the Governor of Mecca (as I believe he is called), the nearest descendant
of the Prophet, and the successor to the Caliphate, in case the family of
Othman becomes extinct. Sultan Mahmoud, on his accession to the throne,
was the last descendant of Orchan, the founder of the Ottoman Dynasty, the
throne being inherited only by the male heirs. He left two sons, who are
both living, Abdul-Medjid having departed from the practice of his
predecessors, each of whom slew his brothers, in order to make his own
sovereignty secure. He has one son, Muzad, who is about ten years old, so
that there are now three males of the family of Orchan. In case of their
death, the Governor of Mecca would become Caliph, and the sovereignty
would be established in his family. He is a swarthy Arab, of about fifty,
with a bold, fierce face. He wore a superb dress of green, the sacred
color, and was followed by his two sons, young men of twenty and
twenty-two. As he advanced to the throne, and was about to kneel and kiss
the Sultan's robe, the latter prevented him, and asked politely after his
health--the highest mark of respect in his power to show. The old Arab's
face gleamed with such a sudden gush of pride and satisfaction, that no
flash of lightning could have illumined it more vividly.

The sacred writers, or transcribers of the Koran, closed the procession,
after which the Sultan rose and entered the Seraglio. The crowd slowly
dispersed, and in a few minutes the grand reports of the cannon on
Seraglio Point announced the departure of the Sultan for his palace on the
Bosphorus. The festival of Bairam was now fairly inaugurated, and all
Stamboul was given up to festivity. There was no Turk so poor that he did
not in some sort share in the rejoicing. Our Fourth could scarcely show
more flags, let off more big guns or send forth greater crowds of
excursionists than this Moslem holiday.

Chapter XXVIII.

The Mosques of Constantinople.

Sojourn at Constantinople--Semi-European Character of the City--The
Mosque--Procuring a Firman--The Seraglio--The Library--The Ancient
Throne-Room--Admittance to St. Sophia--Magnificence of the Interior--The
Marvellous Dome--The Mosque of Sultan Achmed--The Sulemanye--Great
Conflagrations--Political Meaning of the Fires--Turkish Progress--Decay
of the Ottoman Power.

"Is that indeed Sophia's far-famed dome,
Where first the Faith was led in triumph home,
Like some high bride, with banner and bright sign,
And melody, and flowers?" Audrey de Vere.

Constantinople, _Tuesday, August_ 8, 1852.

The length of my stay in Constantinople has enabled me to visit many
interesting spots in its vicinity, as well as to familiarize myself with
the peculiar features of the great capital. I have seen the beautiful
Bosphorus from steamers and caiques; ridden up the valley of Buyukdere,
and through the chestnut woods of Belgrade; bathed in the Black Sea, under
the lee of the Symplegades, where the marble altar to Apollo still invites
an oblation from passing mariners; walked over the flowery meadows beside
the "Heavenly Waters of Asia;" galloped around the ivy-grown walls where
Dandolo and Mahomet II. conquered, and the last of the Palaeologi fell; and
dreamed away many an afternoon-hour under the funereal cypresses of Pera,
and beside the Delphian tripod in the Hippodrome. The historic interest
of these spots is familiar to all, nor; with one exception, have their
natural beauties been exaggerated by travellers. This exception is the
village of Belgrade, over which Mary Montague went into raptures, and set
the fashion for tourists ever since. I must confess to having been wofully
disappointed. The village is a miserable cluster of rickety houses, on an
open piece of barren land, surrounded by the forests, or rather thickets,
which keep alive the springs that supply Constantinople with water. We
reached there with appetites sharpened by our morning's ride, expecting to
find at least a vender of _kibabs_ (bits of fried meat) in so renowned a
place; but the only things to be had were raw salt mackerel, and bread
which belonged to the primitive geological formation.

The general features of Constantinople and the Bosphorus are so well
known, that I am spared the dangerous task of painting scenes which have
been colored by abler pencils. Von Hammer, Lamartine, Willis, Miss Pardoe,
Albert Smith, and thou, most inimitable Thackeray! have made Pera and
Scutari, the Bazaars and Baths, the Seraglio and the Golden Horn, as
familiar to our ears as Cornhill and Wall street. Besides, Constantinople
is not the true Orient, which is to be found rather in Cairo, in Aleppo,
and brightest and most vital, in Damascus. Here, we tread European soil;
the Franks are fast crowding out the followers of the Prophet, and
Stamboul itself, were its mosques and Seraglio removed, would differ
little in outward appearance from a third-rate Italian town. The Sultan
lives in a palace with a Grecian portico; the pointed Saracenic arch, the
arabesque sculptures, the latticed balconies, give place to clumsy
imitations of Palladio, and every fire that sweeps away a recollection of
the palmy times of Ottoman rule, sweeps it away forever.

But the Mosque--that blossom of Oriental architecture, with its crowning
domes, like the inverted bells of the lotus, and its reed-like minarets,
its fountains and marble courts--can only perish with the faith it
typifies. I, for one, rejoice that, so long as the religion of Islam
exists (and yet, may its time be short!), no Christian model can shape its
houses of worship. The minaret must still lift its airy tower for the
muezzin; the dome must rise like a gilded heaven above the prayers of the
Faithful, with its starry lamps and emblazoned phrases; the fountain must
continue to pour its waters of purification. A reformation of the Moslem
faith is impossible. When it begins to give way, the whole fabric must
fall. Its ceremonies, as well as its creed, rest entirely on the
recognition of Mahomet as the Prophet of God. However the Turks may change
in other respects, in all that concerns their religion they must continue
the same.

Until within a few years, a visit to the mosques, especially the more
sacred ones of St. Sophia and Sultan Achmed, was attended with much
difficulty. Miss Pardoe, according to her own account, risked her life in
order to see the interior of St. Sophia, which she effected in the
disguise of a Turkish Effendi. I accomplished the same thing, a few days
since, but without recourse to any such romantic expedient. Mr. Brown, the
interpreter of the Legation, procured a firman from the Grand Vizier, on
behalf of the officers of the San Jacinto, and kindly invited me, with
several other American and English travellers, to join the party. During
the month of Ramazan, no firmans are given, and as at this time there are
few travellers in Constantinople, we should otherwise have been subjected
to a heavy expense. The cost of a firman, including backsheesh to the
priests and doorkeepers, is 700 piastres (about $33).

We crossed the Golden Horn in caiques, and first visited the gardens and
palaces on Seraglio Point. The Sultan at present resides in his summer
palace of Beshiktashe, on the Bosphorus, and only occupies the Serai
Bornou, as it is called, during the winter months. The Seraglio covers the
extremity of the promontory on which Constantinople is built, and is
nearly three miles in circuit. The scattered buildings erected by
different Sultans form in themselves a small city, whose domes and pointed
turrets rise from amid groves of cypress and pine. The sea-wall is lined
with kiosks, from whose cushioned windows there are the loveliest views of
the European and Asian shores. The newer portion of the palace, where the
Sultan now receives the ambassadors of foreign nations, shows the
influence of European taste in its plan and decorations. It is by no means
remarkable for splendor, and suffers by contrast with many of the private
houses in Damascus and Aleppo. The building is of wood, the walls
ornamented with detestable frescoes by modern Greek artists, and except a
small but splendid collection of arms, and some wonderful specimens of
Arabic chirography, there is nothing to interest the visitor.

In ascending to the ancient Seraglio, which was founded by Mahomet II., on
the site of the palace of the Palaeologi, we passed the Column of
Theodosius, a plain Corinthian shaft, about fifty feet high. The Seraglio
is now occupied entirely by the servants and guards, and the greater part
of it shows a neglect amounting almost to dilapidation. The Saracenic
corridors surrounding its courts are supported by pillars of marble,
granite, and porphyry, the spoils of the Christian capital. We were
allowed to walk about at leisure, and inspect the different compartments,
except the library, which unfortunately was locked. This library was for a
long time supposed to contain many lost treasures of ancient
literature--among other things, the missing books of Livy--but the recent
researches of Logothetos, the Prince of Samos, prove that there is little
of value, among its manuscripts. Before the door hangs a wooden globe,
which is supposed to be efficacious in neutralizing the influence of the
Evil Eye. There are many ancient altars and fragments of pillars scattered
about the courts, and the Turks have even commenced making a collection of
antiquities, which, with the exception of two immense sarcophagi of red
porphyry, contains nothing of value. They show, however, one of the brazen
heads of the Delphian tripod in the Hippodrome, which, they say, Mahomet
the Conqueror struck off with a single blow of his sword, on entering

The most interesting portion of the Seraglio is the ancient throne-room,
now no longer used, but still guarded by a company of white eunuchs. The
throne is an immense, heavy bedstead, the posts of which are thickly
incrusted with rubies, turquoises, emeralds, and sapphires. There is a
funnel-shaped chimney-piece in the room, a master-work of Benevenuto
Cellini. There, half a century ago, the foreign ambassadors were
presented, after having been bathed, fed, and clothed with a rich mantle
in the outer apartments. They were ushered into the imperial presence,
supported by a Turkish official on either side, in order that they might
show no signs of breaking down under the load of awe and reverence they
were supposed to feel. In the outer Court, adjoining the Sublime Porte, is
the Chapel of the Empress Irene, now converted into an armory, which, for
its size, is the most tasteful and picturesque collection of weapons I
have ever seen. It is especially rich in Saracenic armor, and contains
many superb casques of inlaid gold. In a large glass case in the chancel,
one sees the keys of some thirty or forty cities, with the date of their
capture. It is not likely that another will ever be added to the list.

We now passed out through the Sublime Porte, and directed our steps to the
famous _Aya Sophia_--the temple dedicated by Justinian to the Divine
Wisdom. The repairs made to the outer walls by the Turks, and the addition
of the four minarets, have entirely changed the character of the building,
without injuring its effect. As a Christian Church, it must have been less
imposing than in its present form. A priest met us at the entrance, and
after reading the firman with a very discontented face, informed us that
we could not enter until the mid-day prayers were concluded. After taking
off our shoes, however, we were allowed to ascend to the galleries, whence
we looked down on the bowing worshippers. Here the majesty of the renowned
edifice, despoiled as it now is, bursts at once upon the eye. The
wonderful flat dome, glittering with its golden mosaics, and the sacred
phrase from the Koran: "_God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth_,"
swims in the air, one hundred and eighty feet above the marble pavement.
On the eastern and western sides, it rests on two half domes; which again
rise from or rest upon a group of three small half-domes, so that the
entire roof of the mosque, unsupported by a pillar, seems to have been
dropped from above on the walls, rather than to have been built up from
them. Around the edifice run an upper and a lower gallery, which alone
preserve the peculiarities of the Byzantine style. These galleries are
supported by the most precious columns which ancient art could afford:
among them eight shafts of green marble, from the Temple of Diana, at
Ephesus; eight of porphyry, from the Temple of the Sun, at Baalbek;
besides Egyptian granite from the shrines of Isis and Osiris, and
Pentelican marble from the sanctuary of Pallas Athena. Almost the whole of
the interior has been covered with gilding, but time has softened its
brilliancy, and the rich, subdued gleam of the walls is in perfect harmony
with the varied coloring of the ancient marbles.

Under the dome, four Christian seraphim, executed in mosaic, have been
allowed to remain, but the names of the four archangels of the Moslem
faith are inscribed underneath. The bronze doors are still the same, the
Turks having taken great pains to obliterate the crosses with which they
were adorned. Around the centre of the dome, as on that of Sultan Achmed,
may be read, in golden letters, and in all the intricacy of Arabic
penmanship, the beautiful verse:--"God is the Light of the Heavens and the
Earth. His wisdom is a light on the wall, in which burns a lamp covered
with glass. The glass shines like a star, the lamp is lit with the oil of
a blessed tree. No Eastern, no Western oil, it shines for whoever wills."
After the prayers were over, and we had descended to the floor of the
mosque, I spent the rest of my time under the dome, fascinated by its
marvellous lightness and beauty. The worshippers present looked at us with
curiosity, but without ill-will; and before we left, one of the priests
came slyly with some fragments of the ancient gilded mosaic, which, he was
heathen enough to sell, and we to buy.

From St. Sophia we went to Sultan Achmed, which faces the Hippodrome, and
is one of the stateliest piles of Constantinople. It is avowedly an
imitation of St. Sophia, and the Turks consider it a more wonderful work,
because the dome is seven feet higher. It has six minarets, exceeding in
this respect all the mosques of Asia. The dome rests on four immense
pillars, the bulk of which quite oppresses the light galleries running
around the walls. This, and the uniform white color of the interior,
impairs the effect which its bold style and imposing dimensions would
otherwise produce. The outside view, with the group of domes swelling
grandly above the rows of broad-armed sycamores, is much more
satisfactory. In the tomb of Sultan Achmed, in one corner of the court, we
saw his coffin, turban, sword, and jewelled harness. I had just been
reading old Sandys' account of his visit to Constantinople, in 1610,
during this Sultan's reign, and could only think of him as Sandys
represents him, in the title-page to his book, as a fat man, with bloated
cheeks, in a long gown and big turban, and the words underneath:--
"_Achmed, sive Tyrannus._"

The other noted mosques of Constantinople are the _Yeni Djami,_ or Mosque
of the Sultana Valide, on the shore of the Golden Horn, at the end of the
bridge to Galata; that of Sultan Bajazet; of Mahomet II., the Conqueror,
and of his son, Suleyman the Magnificent, whose superb mosque well
deserves this title. I regret exceedingly that our time did not allow us
to view the interior, for outwardly it not only surpasses St. Sophia, and
all other mosques in the city, but is undoubtedly one of the purest
specimens of Oriental architecture extant. It stands on a broad terrace,
on one of the seven hills of Stamboul, and its exquisitely proportioned
domes and minarets shine as if crystalized in the blue of the air. It is a
type of Oriental, as the Parthenon is of Grecian, and the Cologne
Cathedral of Gothic art. As I saw it the other night, lit by the flames of
a conflagration, standing out red and clear against the darkness, I felt
inclined to place it on a level with either of those renowned structures.
It is a product of the rich fancy of the East, splendidly ornate, and not
without a high degree of symmetry--yet here the symmetry is that of
ornament alone, and not the pure, absolute proportion of forms, which we
find in Grecian Art. It requires a certain degree of enthusiasm--nay, a
slight inebriation of the imaginative faculties--in order to feel the
sentiment of this Oriental Architecture. If I rightly express all that it
says to me, I touch the verge of rapsody. The East, in almost all its
aspects, is so essentially poetic, that a true picture of it must be
poetic in spirit, if not in form.

Constantinople has been terribly ravaged by fires, no less than fifteen
having occurred during the past two weeks. Almost every night the sky has
been reddened by burning houses, and the minarets of the seven hills
lighted with an illumination brighter than that of the Bairam. All the
space from the Hippodrome to the Sea of Marmora has been swept away; the
lard, honey, and oil magazines on the Golden Horn, with the bazaars
adjoining; several large blocks on the hill of Galata, with the College of
the Dancing Dervishes; a part of Scutari, and the College of the Howling
Dervishes, all have disappeared; and to-day, the ruins of 3,700 houses,
which were destroyed last night, stand smoking in the Greek quarter,
behind the aqueduct of Valens. The entire amount of buildings consumed in
these two weeks is estimated at between _five and six thousand_! The fire
on the hill of Galata threatened to destroy a great part of the suburb of
Pera. It came, sweeping over the brow of the hill, towards my hotel,
turning the tall cypresses in the burial ground into shafts of angry
flame, and eating away the crackling dwellings of hordes of hapless Turks.
I was in bed; from a sudden attack of fever, but seeing the other guests
packing up their effects and preparing to leave, I was obliged to do the
same; and this, in my weak state, brought on such a perspiration that the
ailment left me, The officers of the United States steamer _San Jacinto_,
and the French frigate _Charlemagne_, came to the rescue with their men
and fire-engines, and the flames were finally quelled. The proceedings of
the Americans, who cut holes in the roofs and played through them upon the
fires within, were watched by the Turks with stupid amazement.
"Mashallah!" said a fat Bimbashi, as he stood sweltering in the heat; "The
Franks are a wonderful people."

To those initiated into the mysteries of Turkish politics, these fires are
more than accidental; they have a most weighty significance. They indicate
either a general discontent with the existing state of affairs, or else a
powerful plot against the Sultan and his Ministry. Setting fire to houses
is, in fact, the Turkish method of holding an "indignation meeting," and
from the rate with which they are increasing, the political crisis must be
near at hand. The Sultan, with his usual kindness of heart, has sent large
quantities of tents and other supplies to the guiltless sufferers; but no
amount of kindness can soften the rancor of these Turkish intrigues.
Reschid Pasha, the present Grand Vizier, and the leader of the party of
Progress, is the person against whom this storm of opposition is now

In spite of all efforts, the Ottoman Power is rapidly wasting away. The
life of the Orient is nerveless and effete; the native strength of the
race has died out, and all attempts to resuscitate it by the adoption of
European institutions produce mere galvanic spasms, which leave it more
exhausted than before. The rosy-colored accounts we have had of Turkish
Progress are for the most part mere delusions. The Sultan is a
well-meaning but weak man, and tyrannical through his very weakness. Had
he strength enough to break through the meshes of falsehood and venality
which are woven so close about him, he might accomplish some solid good.
But Turkish rule, from his ministers down to the lowest _cadi_, is a
monstrous system of deceit and corruption. These people have not the most
remote conception of the true aims of government; they only seek to enrich
themselves and their parasites, at the expense of the people and the
national treasury. When we add to this the conscript system, which is
draining the provinces of their best Moslem subjects, to the advantage of
the Christians and Jews, and the blindness of the Revenue Laws, which
impose on domestic manufactures double the duty levied on foreign
products, it will easily be foreseen that the next half-century, or less,
will completely drain the Turkish Empire of its last lingering energies.

Already, in effect, Turkey exists only through the jealousy of the
European nations. The treaty of Unkiar-iskelessi, in 1833, threw her into
the hands of Russia, although the influence of England has of late years
reigned almost exclusively in her councils. These are the two powers who
are lowering at each other with sleepless eyes, in the Dardanelles and the
Bosphorus. The people, and most probably the government, is strongly
preposessed in favor of the English; but the Russian Bear has a heavy paw,
and when he puts it into the scale, all other weights kick the beam. It
will be a long and wary struggle, and no man can prophecy the result. The
Turks are a people easy to govern, were even the imperfect laws, now in
existence, fairly administered. They would thrive and improve under a
better state of things; but I cannot avoid the conviction that the
regeneration of the East will never be effected at their hands.

Chapter XXIX.

Farewell to the Orient--Malta.

Embarcation--Farewell to the Orient--Leaving Constantinople--A
Wreck--The Dardanelles--Homeric Scenery--Smyrna Revisited--The Grecian
Isles--Voyage to Malta--Detention--La Valetta--The Maltese--The
Climate--A Boat for Sicily.

"Farewell, ye mountains,
By glory crowned
Ye sacred fountains
Of Gods renowned;
Ye woods and highlands,
Where heroes dwell;
Ye seas and islands,
Farewell! Farewell!"

Frithiof's Saga.

In The Dardanelles, _Saturday, August_ 7, 1852.

At last, behold me fairly embarked for Christian Europe, to which I bade
adieu in October last, eager for the unknown wonders of the Orient. Since
then, nearly ten months have passed away, and those wonders are now
familiar as every-day experiences. I set out, determined to be satisfied
with no slight taste of Eastern life, but to drain to the bottom its
beaker of mingled sunshine and sleep. All this has been accomplished; and
if I have not wandered so far, nor enriched myself with such varied
knowledge of the relics of ancient history, as I might have purposed or
wished, I have at least learned to know the Turk and the Arab, been
soothed by the patience inspired by their fatalism, and warmed by the
gorgeous gleams of fancy that animate their poetry and religion. These
ten months of my life form an episode which seems to belong to a separate
existence. Just refined enough to be poetic, and just barbaric enough to
be freed from all conventional fetters, it is as grateful to brain and
soul, as an Eastern bath to the body. While I look forward, not without
pleasure, to the luxuries and conveniences of Europe, I relinquish with a
sigh the refreshing indolence of Asia.

We have passed between the Castles of the two Continents, guarding the
mouth of the Dardanelles, and are now entering the Grecian Sea. To-morrow,
we shall touch, for a few hours, at Smyrna, and then turn westward, on the
track of Ulysses and St. Paul. Farewell, then, perhaps forever, to the
bright Orient! Farewell to the gay gardens, the spicy bazaars, to the
plash of fountains and the gleam of golden-tipped minarets! Farewell to
the perfect morn's, the balmy twilights, the still heat of the blue noons,
the splendor of moon and stars! Farewell to the glare of the white crags,
the tawny wastes of dead sand, the valleys of oleander, the hills of
myrtle and spices! Farewell to the bath, agent of purity and peace, and
parent of delicious dreams--to the shebook, whose fragrant fumes are
breathed from the lips of patience and contentment--to the narghileh,
crowned with that blessed plant which grows in the gardens of Shiraz,
while a fountain more delightful than those of Samarcand bubbles in its
crystal bosom I Farewell to the red cap and slippers, to the big turban,
the flowing trousers, and the gaudy shawl--to squatting on broad divans,
to sipping black coffee in acorn cups, to grave faces and _salaam
aleikooms_, and to aching of the lips and forehead! Farewell to the
evening meal in the tent door, to the couch on the friendly earth, to the
yells of the muleteers, to the deliberate marches of the plodding horse,
and the endless rocking of the dromedary that knoweth his master!
Farewell, finally, to annoyance without anger, delay without vexation,
indolence without ennui, endurance without fatigue, appetite without
intemperance, enjoyment without pall!

La Valetta, Malta, _Saturday, August_ 14, 1852.

My last view of Stamboul was that of the mosques of St. Sophia and Sultan
Achmed, shining faintly in the moonlight, as we steamed down the Sea of
Marmora. The _Caire_ left at nine o'clock, freighted with the news of
Reschid Pasha's deposition, and there were no signs of conflagration in
all the long miles of the city that lay behind us. So we speculated no
more on the exciting topics of the day, but went below and took a vapor
bath in our berths; for I need not assure you that the nights on the
Mediterranean at this season are anything but chilly. And here I must note
the fact, that the French steamers, while dearer than the Austrian, are
more cramped in their accommodations, and filled with a set of most
uncivil servants. The table is good, and this is the only thing to be
commended. In all other respects, I prefer the Lloyd vessels.

Early next morning, we passed the promontory of Cyzicus, and the Island of
Marmora, the marble quarries of which give name to the sea. As we were
approaching the entrance to the Dardanelles, we noticed an Austrian brig
drifting in the current, the whiff of her flag indicating distress. Her
rudder was entirely gone, and she was floating helplessly towards the
Thracian coast. A boat was immediately lowered and a hawser carried to her
bows, by which we towed her a short distance; but our steam engine did
not like this drudgery, and snapped the rope repeatedly, so that at last
we were obliged to leave her to her fate. The lift we gave, however, had
its effect, and by dexterous maneuvering with the sails, the captain
brought her safely into the harbor of Gallipoli, where she dropped anchor
beside us.

Beyond Gallipoli, the Dardanelles contract, and the opposing continents
rise into lofty and barren hills. In point of natural beauty, this strait
is greatly inferior to the Bosphorus. It lacks the streams and wooded
valleys which open upon the latter. The country is but partially
cultivated, except around the town of Dardanelles, near the mouth of the
strait. The site of the bridge of Xerxes is easily recognized, the
conformation of the different shores seconding the decision of
antiquarians. Here, too, are Sestos and Abydos, of passionate and poetic
memory. But as the sun dipped towards the sea, we passed out of the narrow
gateway. On our left lay the plain of Troy, backed by the blue range of
Mount Ida. The tamulus of Patroclus crowned a low bluff looking on the
sea. On the right appeared the long, irregular island of Imbros, and the
peaks of misty Samothrace over and beyond it. Tenedos was before us. The
red flush of sunset tinged the grand Homeric landscape, and lingered and
lingered on the summit of Ida, as if loth to depart. I paced the deck
until long after it was too dark to distinguish it any more.

The next morning we dropped anchor in the harbor of Smyrna, where we
remained five hours. I engaged a donkey, and rode out to the Caravan
Bridge, where the Greek driver and I smoked narghilehs and drank coffee in
the shade of the acacias. I contrasted my impressions with those of my
first visit to Smyrna last October--my first glimpse of Oriental ground.
Then, every dog barked at me, and all the horde of human creatures who
prey upon innocent travellers ran at my heels, but now, with my brown face
and Turkish aspect of grave indifference, I was suffered to pass as
quietly as my donkey-driver himself. Nor did the latter, nor the ready
_cafidji_, who filled our pipes on the banks of the Meles, attempt to
overcharge me--a sure sign that the Orient had left its seal on my face.
Returning through the city, the same mishap befel me which travellers
usually experience on their first arrival. My donkey, while dashing at
full speed through a crowd of Smyrniotes in their Sunday dresses, slipped
up in a little pool of black mud, and came down with a crash. I flew over
his head and alighted firmly on my feet, but the spruce young Greeks,
whose snowy fustanelles were terribly bespattered, came off much worse.
The donkey shied back, levelled his ears and twisted his head on one side,
awaiting a beating, but his bleeding legs saved him.

We left at two o'clock, touched at Scio in the evening, and the next
morning at sunrise lay-to in the harbor of Syra. The Piraeus was only
twelve hours distant; but after my visitation of fever in Constantinople,
I feared to encounter the pestilential summer heats of Athens. Besides, I
had reasons for hastening with all speed to Italy and Germany. At ten
o'clock we weighed anchor again and steered southwards, between the groups
of the Cyclades, under a cloudless sky and over a sea of the brightest
blue. The days were endurable under the canvas awning of our quarter-deck,
but the nights in our berths were sweat-baths, which left us so limp and
exhausted that we were almost fit to vanish, like ghosts, at daybreak.

Our last glimpse of the Morea--Cape Matapan--faded away in the moonlight,
and for _two_ days we travelled westward over the burning sea. On the
evening of the 11th, the long, low outline of Malta rose gradually against
the last flush of sunset, and in two hours thereafter, we came to anchor
in Quarantine Harbor. The quarantine for travellers returning from the
East, which formerly varied from fourteen to twenty-one days, is now
reduced to one day for those arriving from Greece or Turkey, and three
days for those from Egypt and Syria. In our case, it was reduced to
sixteen hours, by an official courtesy. I had intended proceeding directly
to Naples; but by the contemptible trickery of the agents of the French
steamers--a long history, which it is unnecessary to recapitulate--am left
here to wait ten days for another steamer. It is enough to say that there
are six other travellers at the same hotel, some coming from
Constantinople, and some from Alexandria, in the same predicament. Because
a single ticket to Naples costs some thirty or forty francs less than by
dividing the trip into two parts, the agents in those cities refuse to
give tickets further than Malta to those who are not keen enough to see
through the deception. I made every effort to obtain a second ticket in
time to leave by the branch steamer for Italy, but in vain.

La Valetta is, to my eyes, the most beautiful small city in the world. It
is a jewel of a place; not a street but is full of picturesque effects,
and all the look-outs, which you catch at every turn, let your eyes rest
either upon one of the beautiful harbors on each side, or the distant
horizon of the sea. The streets are so clean that you might eat your
dinner off the pavement; the white balconies and cornices of the houses,
all cleanly cut in the soft Maltese stone, stand out in intense relief
against the sky, and from the manifold reflections and counter
reflections, the shadows (where there are any) become a sort of milder
light. The steep sides of the promontory, on which the city is built, are
turned into staircases, and it is an inexhaustible pastime to watch the
groups, composed of all nations who inhabit the shores of the
Mediterranean, ascending and descending. The Auberges of the old Knights,
the Palace of the Grand Master, the Church of St. John, and other relics
of past time, but more especially the fortifications, invest the place
with a romantic interest, and I suspect that, after Venice and Granada,
there are few cities where the Middle Ages have left more impressive
traces of their history.

The Maltese are contented, and appear to thrive under the English
administration. They are a peculiar people, reminding me of the Arab even
more than the Italian, while a certain rudeness in their build and motions
suggests their Punic ancestry. Their language is a curious compound of
Arabic and Italian, the former being the basis. I find that I can
understand more than half that is said, the Arabic terminations being
applied to Italian words. I believe it has never been successfully reduced
to writing, and the restoration of pure Arabic has been proposed, with
much reason, as preferable to an attempt to improve or refine it. Italian
is the language used in the courts of justice and polite society, and is
spoken here with much more purity than either in Naples or Sicily.

The heat has been so great since I landed that I have not ventured outside
of the city, except last evening to an amateur theatre, got up by the
non-commissioned officers and privates in the garrison. The performances
were quite tolerable, except a love-sick young damsel who spoke with a
rough masculine voice, and made long strides across the stage when she
rushed into her lover's arms. I am at a loss to account for the exhausting
character of the heat. The thermometer shows 90 deg. by day, and 80 deg. to 85 deg. by
night--a much lower temperature than I have found quite comfortable in
Africa and Syria. In the Desert 100 deg. in the shade is rather bracing than
otherwise; here, 90 deg. renders all exercise, more severe than smoking a
pipe, impossible. Even in a state of complete inertia, a shirt-collar will
fall starchless in five minutes.

Rather than waste eight more days in this glimmering half-existence, I
have taken passage in a Maltese _speronara_, which sails this evening for
Catania, in Sicily, where the grand festival of St. Agatha, which takes
place once in a hundred years, will be celebrated next week. The trip
promises a new experience, and I shall get a taste, slight though it be,
of the golden Trinacria of the ancients. Perhaps, after all, this delay
which so vexes me (bear in mind, I am no longer in the Orient!) may be
meant solely for my good. At least, Mr. Winthrop, our Consul here, who has
been exceedingly kind and courteous to me, thinks it a rare good fortune
that I shall see the Catanian festa.

Chapter XXX.

The Festival of St. Agatha.

Departure from Malta--The Speronara--Our Fellow-Passengers--The First
Night on Board--Sicily--Scarcity of Provisions--Beating in the Calabrian
Channel--The Fourth Morning--The Gulf of Catania--A Sicilian
Landscape--The Anchorage--The Suspected List--The Streets of
Catania--Biography of St. Agatha--The Illuminations--The Procession of
the Veil--The Biscari Palace--The Antiquities of Catania--The Convent of
St. Nicola.

"The morn is full of holiday, loud bells
With rival clamors ring from every spire;
Cunningly-stationed music dies and swells
In echoing places; when the winds respire,
Light flags stream out like gauzy tongues of fire."--Keats.

Catania, Sicily, _Friday_, _August_ 20, 1852.

I went on board the _speronara_ in the harbor of La Valetta at the
appointed hour (5 P.M.), and found the remaining sixteen passengers
already embarked. The captain made his appearance an hour later, with our
bill of health and passports, and as the sun went down behind the brown
hills of the island, we passed the wave-worn rocks of the promontory,
dividing the two harbors, and slowly moved off towards Sicily.

The Maltese _speronara_ resembles the ancient Roman galley more than any
modern craft. It has the same high, curved poop and stern, the same short
masts and broad, square sails. The hull is too broad for speed, but this
adds to the security of the vessel in a gale. With a fair wind, it rarely
makes more than eight knots an hour, and in a calm, the sailors (if not
too lazy) propel it forward with six long oars. The hull is painted in a
fanciful style, generally blue, red, green and white, with bright red
masts. The bulwarks are low, and the deck of such a convexity that it is
quite impossible to walk it in a heavy sea. Such was the vessel to which I
found myself consigned. It was not more than fifty feet long, and of less
capacity than a Nile _dahabiyeh_. There was a sort of deck cabin, or crib,
with two berths, but most of the passengers slept in the hold. For a
passage to Catania I was obliged to pay forty francs, the owner swearing
that this was the regular price; but, as I afterwards discovered, the
Maltese only paid thirty-six francs for the whole trip. However, the
Captain tried to make up the money's worth in civilities, and was
incessant in his attentions to "your Lordships," as he styled myself and
my companion, Caesar di Cagnola, a young Milanese.

The Maltese were tailors and clerks, who were taking a holiday trip to
witness the great festival of St. Agatha. With two exceptions, they were a
wild and senseless, though good-natured set, and in spite of sea-sickness,
which exercised them terribly for the first two days, kept up a constant
jabber in their bastard Arabic from morning till night. As is usual in
such a company, one of them was obliged to serve as a butt for the rest,
and "Maestro Paolo," as they termed him, wore such a profoundly serious
face all the while, from his sea-sickness, that the fun never came to an
end. As they were going to a religious festival, some of them had brought
their breviaries along with them; but I am obliged to testify that, after
the first day, prayers were totally forgotten. The sailors, however, wore
linen bags, printed with a figure of the Madonna, around their necks.

The sea was rather rough, but Caesar and I fortified our stomachs with a
bottle of English ale, and as it was dark by this time, sought our
resting-places for the night. As we had paid double, _places_ were assured
us in the coop on deck, but beds were not included in the bargain. The
Maltese, who had brought mattresses and spread a large Phalansteriau bed
in the hold, fared much better. I took one of my carpet bags for a pillow
and lay down on the planks, where I succeeded in getting a little sleep
between the groans of the helpless land-lubbers. We had the _ponente_, or
west-wind, all night, but the speronara moved sluggishly, and in the
morning it changed to the _greco-levante,_ or north-east. No land was in
sight; but towards noon, the sky became clearer, and we saw the southern
coast of Sicily--a bold mountain-shore, looming phantom-like in the
distance. Cape Passaro was to the east, and the rest of the day was spent
in beating up to it. At sunset, we were near enough to see the villages
and olive-groves of the beautiful shore, and, far behind the nearer
mountains, ninety miles distant, the solitary cone of Etna.

The second night passed like the first, except that our bruised limbs were
rather more sensitive to the texture of the planks. We crawled out of our
coop at dawn, expecting to behold Catania in the distance; but there was
Cape Passaro still staring us in the face. The Maltese were patient, and
we did not complain, though Caesar and I began to make nice calculations as
to the probable duration of our two cold fowls and three loaves of bread.
The promontory of Syracuse was barely visible forty miles ahead; but the
wind was against us, and so another day passed in beating up the eastern
coast. At dusk, we overtook another speronara which had left Malta two
hours before us, and this was quite a triumph to our captain, All the oars
were shipped, the sailors and some of the more courageous passengers took
hold, and we shot ahead, scudding rapidly along the dark shores, to the
sound of the wild Maltese songs. At length, the promontory was gained, and
the restless current, rolling down from Scylla and Charybdis, tossed our
little bark from wave to wave with a recklessness that would have made any
one nervous but an old sailor like myself.

"To-morrow morning," said the Captain, "we shall sail into Catania;" but
after a third night on the planks, which were now a little softer, we rose
to find ourselves abreast of Syracuse, with Etna as distant as ever. The
wind was light, and what little we made by tacking was swept away by the
current, so that, after wasting the whole forenoon, we kept a straight
course across the mouth of the channel, and at sunset saw the Calabrian
Mountains. This move only lost us more ground, as it happened. Caesar and I
mournfully and silently consumed our last fragment of beef, with the
remaining dry crusts of bread, and then sat down doggedly to smoke and see
whether the captain would discover our situation. But no; while we were
supplied, the whole vessel was at our Lordships' command, and now that we
were destitute, he took care to make no rash offers. Caesar, at last, with
an imperial dignity becoming his name, commanded dinner. It came, and the
pork and maccaroni, moistened with red Sicilian wine, gave us patience for
another day.

The fourth morning dawned, and--Great Neptune be praised!--we were
actually within the Gulf of Catania. Etna loomed up in all his sublime
bulk, unobscured by cloud or mist, while a slender jet of smoke, rising
from his crater, was slowly curling its wreaths in the clear air, as if
happy to receive the first beam of the sun. The towers of Syracuse, which
had mocked us all the preceding day, were no longer visible; the
land-locked little port of Augusta lay behind us; and, as the wind
continued favorable, ere long we saw a faint white mark at the foot of the
mountain. This was Catania. The shores of the bay were enlivened with
olive-groves and the gleam of the villages, while here and there a single
palm dreamed of its brothers across the sea. Etna, of course, had the
monarch's place in the landscape, but even his large, magnificent outlines
could not usurp all my feeling. The purple peaks to the westward and
farther inland, had a beauty of their own, and in the gentle curves with
which they leaned towards each other, there was a promise of the flowery
meadows of Enna. The smooth blue water was speckled with fishing-boats. We
hailed one, inquiring when the _festa_ was to commence; but, mistaking our
question, they answered: "Anchovies." Thereupon, a waggish Maltese
informed them that Maestro Paolo thanked them heartily. All the other
boats were hailed in the name of Maestro Paolo, who, having recovered from
his sea-sickness, took his bantering good-humoredly.

Catania presented a lovely picture, as we drew near the harbor. Planted at
the very foot of Etna, it has a background such as neither Naples nor
Genoa can boast. The hills next the sea are covered with gardens and
orchards, sprinkled with little villages and the country palaces of the
nobles--a rich, cultured landscape, which gradually merges into the
forests of oak and chestnut that girdle the waist of the great volcano.
But all the wealth of southern vegetation cannot hide the footsteps of
that Ruin, which from time to time visits the soil. Half-way up, the
mountain-side is dotted with cones of ashes and cinders, some covered with
the scanty shrubbery which centuries have called forth, some barren and
recent; while two dark, winding streams of sterile lava descend to the
very shore, where they stand congealed in ragged needles and pyramids.
Part of one of these black floods has swept the town, and, tumbling into
the sea, walls one side of the port.

We glided slowly past the mole, and dropped anchor a few yards from the
shore. There was a sort of open promenade planted with trees, in front of
us, surrounded with high white houses, above which rose the dome of the
Cathedral and the spires of other churches. The magnificent palace of
Prince Biscari was on our right, and at its foot the Customs and Revenue
offices. Every roof, portico, and window was lined with lamps, a triumphal
arch spanned the street before the palace, and the landing-place at the
offices was festooned with crimson and white drapery, spangled with gold.
While we were waiting permission to land, a scene presented itself which
recalled the pagan days of Sicily to my mind. A procession came in sight
from under the trees, and passed along the shore. In the centre was borne
a stately shrine, hung with garlands, and containing an image of St.
Agatha. The sound of flutes and cymbals accompanied it, and a band of
children, bearing orange and palm branches, danced riotously before. Had
the image been Pan instead of St. Agatha, the ceremonies would have been
quite as appropriate.

The speronara's boat at last took us to the gorgeous landing place, where
we were carefully counted by a fat Sicilian official, and declared free
from quarantine. We were then called into the Passport Office where the
Maltese underwent a searching examination. One of the officers sat with
the Black Book, or list of suspected persons of all nations, open before
him, and looked for each name as it was called out. Another scanned the
faces of the frightened tailors, as if comparing them with certain
revolutionary visages in his mind. Terrible was the keen, detective glance
of his eye, and it went straight through the poor Maltese, who vanished
with great rapidity when they were declared free to enter the city. At
last, they all passed the ordeal, but Caesar and I remained, looking in at
the door. "There are still these two Frenchmen," said the captain. "I am
no Frenchman," I protested; "I am an American." "And I," said Caesar, "am
an Austrian subject." Thereupon we received a polite invitation to enter;
the terrible glance softened into a benign, respectful smile; he of the
Black Book ran lightly over the C's and T's, and said, with a courteous
inclination: "There is nothing against the signori." I felt quite relieved
by this; for, in the Mediterranean, one is never safe from spies, and no
person is too insignificant to escape the ban, if once suspected.

Calabria was filled to overflowing with strangers from all parts of the
Two Sicilies, and we had some difficulty in finding very bad and dear
lodgings. It was the first day of the _festa,_ and the streets were
filled with peasants, the men in black velvet jackets and breeches, with
stockings, and long white cotton caps hanging on the shoulders, and the
women with gay silk shawls on their heads, after the manner of the Mexican
_reboza_. In all the public squares, the market scene in Masaniello was
acted to the life. The Sicilian dialect is harsh and barbarous, and the
original Italian is so disguised by the admixture of Arabic, Spanish,
French, and Greek words, that even my imperial friend, who was a born
Italian, had great difficulty in understanding the people.

I purchased a guide to the festa, which, among other things, contained a
biography of St. Agatha. It is a beautiful specimen of pious writing, and
I regret that I have not space to translate the whole of it. Agatha was a
beautiful Catanian virgin, who secretly embraced Christianity during the
reign of Nero. Catania was then governed by a praetor named Quintianus,
who, becoming enamored of Agatha, used the most brutal means to compel her
to submit to his desires, but without effect. At last, driven to the
cruelest extremes, he cut off her breasts, and threw her into prison. But
at midnight, St. Peter, accompanied by an angel, appeared to her, restored
the maimed parts, and left her more beautiful than ever. Quintianus then
ordered a furnace to be heated, and cast her therein. A terrible
earthquake shook the city; the sun was eclipsed; the sea rolled backwards,
and left its bottom dry; the praetor's palace fell in ruins, and he,
pursued by the vengeance of the populace, fled till he reached the river
Simeto, where he was drowned in attempting to cross. "The thunders of the
vengeance of God," says the biography, "struck him down into the
profoundest Hell." This was in the year 252.

The body was carried to Constantinople in 1040, "although the Catanians
wept incessantly at their loss;" but in 1126, two French knights, named
Gilisbert and Goselin, were moved by angelic influences to restore it to
its native town, which they accomplished, "and the eyes of the Catanians
again burned with joy." The miracles effected by the saint are numberless,
and her power is especially efficacious in preventing earthquakes and
eruptions of Mount Etna. Nevertheless, Catania has suffered more from
these causes than any other town in Sicily. But I would that all saints
had as good a claim to canonization as St. Agatha. The honors of such a
festival as this are not out of place, when paid to such youth, beauty,
and "heavenly chastity," as she typifies.

The guide, which I have already consulted, gives a full account of the
festa, in advance, with a description of Catania. The author says: "If thy
heart is not inspired by gazing on this lovely city, it is a fatal
sign--thou wert not born to feel the sweet impulses of the Beautiful!"
Then, in announcing the illuminations and pyrotechnic displays, he
exclaims: "Oh, the amazing spectacle! Oh, how happy art thou, that thou
beholdest it! I What pyramids of lamps! What myriads of rockets! What
wonderful temples of flame! The Mountain himself is astonished at such a
display." And truly, except the illumination of the Golden Horn on the
Night of Predestination, I have seen nothing equal to the spectacle
presented by Catania, during the past three nights. The city, which has
been built up from her ruins more stately than ever, was in a blaze of
light--all her domes, towers, and the long lines of her beautiful palaces
revealed in the varying red and golden flames of a hundred thousand lamps
and torches. Pyramids of fire, transparencies, and illuminated triumphal
arches filled the four principal streets, and the fountain in the
Cathedral square gleamed like a jet of molten silver, spinning up from one
of the pores of Etna. At ten o'clock, a gorgeous display of fireworks
closed the day's festivities, but the lamps remained burning nearly all

On the second night, the grand Procession of the Veil took place. I
witnessed this imposing spectacle from the balcony of Prince Gessina's
palace. Long lines of waxen torches led the way, followed by a military
band, and then a company of the highest prelates, in their most brilliant
costumes, surrounding the Bishop, who walked under a canopy of silk and
gold, bearing the miraculous veil of St. Agatha. I was blessed with a
distant view of it, but could see no traces of the rosy hue left upon it
by the flames of the Saint's martyrdom. Behind the priests came the
_Intendente_ of Sicily, Gen. Filangieri, the same who, three years ago,
gave up Catania to sack and slaughter. He was followed by the Senate of
the City, who have just had the cringing cowardice to offer him a ball on
next Sunday night. If ever a man deserved the vengeance of an outraged
people, it is this Filangieri, who was first a Liberal, when the cause
promised success, and then made himself the scourge of the vilest of
kings. As he passed me last night in his carriage of State, while the
music pealed in rich rejoicing strains, that solemn chant with which the
monks break upon the revellers, in "Lucrezia Borgia," came into my mind:

"La gioja del profani
'E un fumo passagier'--"

[the rejoicing of the profane is a transitory mist.] I heard, under the
din of all these festivities, the voice of that Retribution which even now
lies in wait, and will not long be delayed.

To-night Signor Scavo, the American Vice-Consul, took me to the palace of
Prince Biscari, overlooking the harbor, in order to behold the grand
display of fireworks from the end of the mole. The showers of rockets and
colored stars, and the temples of blue and silver fire, were repeated in
the dark, quiet bosom of the sea, producing the most dazzling and
startling effects. There was a large number of the Catanese nobility
present, and among them a Marchesa Gioveni, the descendant of the bloody
house of Anjou. Prince Biscari is a benign, courtly old man, and greatly
esteemed here. His son is at present in exile, on account of the part he
took in the late revolution. During the sack of the city under Filangieri,
the palace was plundered of property to the amount of ten thousand
dollars. The museum of Greek and Roman antiquities attached to it, and
which the house of Biscari has been collecting for many years, is probably
the finest in Sicily. The state apartments were thrown open this evening,
and when I left, an hour ago, the greater portion of the guests were going
through mazy quadrilles on the mosaic pavements.

Among the antiquities of Catania which I have visited, are the
Amphitheatre, capable of holding 15,000 persons, the old Greek Theatre,
the same in which Alcibiades made his noted harangue to the Catanians, the
Odeon, and the ancient Baths. The theatre, which is in tolerable
preservation, is built of lava, like many of the modern edifices in the
city. The Baths proved to me, what I had supposed, that the Oriental Bath
of the present day is identical with that of the Ancients. Why so
admirable an institution has never been introduced into Europe (except in
the _Bains Chinois_ of Paris) is more than I can tell. From the pavement
of these baths, which is nearly twenty feet below the surface of the
earth, the lava of later eruptions has burst up, in places, in hard black
jets. The most wonderful token of that flood which whelmed Catania two
hundred years ago, is to be seen at the Grand Benedictine Convent of San
Nicola, in the upper part of the city. Here the stream of lava divides
itself just before the Convent, and flows past on both sides, leaving the
building and gardens untouched. The marble courts, the fountains, the
splendid galleries, and the gardens of richest southern bloom and
fragrance, stand like an epicurean island in the midst of the terrible
stony waves, whose edges bristle with the thorny aloe and cactus. The
monks of San Nicola are all chosen from the Sicilian nobility, and live a
comfortable life of luxury and vice. Each one has his own carriage,
horses, and servants, and each his private chambers outside of the convent
walls and his kept concubines. These facts are known and acknowledged by
the Catanians, to whom they are a lasting scandal.

It is past midnight, and I must close. Caesar started this afternoon,
alone, for the ascent of Etna. I would have accompanied him, but my only
chance of reaching Messina in time for the next steamer to Naples is the
diligence which leaves here to-morrow. The mountain has been covered with
clouds for the last two days, and I have had no view at all comparable to
that of the morning of my arrival. To-morrow the grand procession of the
Body of St. Agatha takes place, but I am quite satisfied with three days
of processions and horse races, and three nights of illuminations.

I leave in the morning, with a Sicilian passport, my own availing me
nothing, after landing.

Chapter XXXI.

The Eruption of Mount Etna.

The Mountain Threatens--The Signs Increase--We Leave Catania--Gardens
Among the Lava--Etna Labors--Aci Reale--The Groans of Etna--The
Eruption--Gigantic Tree of Smoke--Formation of the New Crater--We Lose
Sight of the Mountain--Arrival at Messina--Etna is Obscured--Departure.

-------"the shattered side
Of thundering AEtna, whose combustible
And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,
And leave a singed bottom." Milton.

Messina, Sicily, _Monday, August_ 23, 1852.

The noises of the festival had not ceased when I closed my letter at
midnight, on Friday last. I slept soundly through the night, but was
awakened before sunrise by my Sicilian landlord. "O, Excellenza! have you
heard the Mountain? He is going to break out again; may the holy Santa
Agatha protect us!" It is rather ill-timed on the part of the Mountain,
was my involuntary first thought, that he should choose for a new eruption
precisely the centennial festival of the only Saint who is supposed to
have any power over him. It shows a disregard of female influence not at
all suited to the present day, and I scarcely believe that he seriously
means it. Next came along the jabbering landlady: "I don't like his looks.
It was just so the last time. Come, Excellenza, you can see him from the
back terrace." The sun was not yet risen, but the east was bright with
his coming, and there was not a cloud in the sky. All the features of Etna
were sharply sculptured in the clear air. From the topmost cone, a thick
stream of white smoke was slowly puffed out at short intervals, and rolled
lazily down the eastern side. It had a heavy, languid character, and I
should have thought nothing of the appearance but for the alarm of my
hosts. It was like the slow fire of Earth's incense, burning on that grand

Book of the day: