« VorigeDoorgaan »
The Armory, which we next visited, is one immense repository of arms. Multiplied stacks of long guns, short guns and pistols, were arranged in regular figures of squares and pyramids. Here was the ancient mail-clad knight, with his jointed armor and the long spear which the lancer poised mid air, before sending t to the heart. Here, too, was the sabre and kettle-drum. The room containing the keys to the different towns and cities owning the sway of the Sultan, was quite apart. The keys were gold and silver mounted, and were neatly arranged in a case. The key of Jerusalem, and that of Mecca, shone conspicuously. These keys in the armory finely symbolize the power of the Moslem, as it sweeps over the Orient, entering each city's portal, and controlling the wild Arabs of the desert.
The Sultan Mahmoud's tomb was a gorgeous affair, and peculiar as the home of the royal dead. Here it was necessary to go through the same formula of exchanging shoes, although the floor was covered with matting. The tomb is in the centre of the temple, surrounded by those of two sisters and three daughters. Each tomb is made in a sort of square pyramidical form, with a railing of most beautiful inlaid pearl-wood. Velvet cloths and elegant cashmere shawls were flung over these. Huge massive silver candelabras, and massive tapers of wax, stand at the head and foot of each, connected by a silver chain to the pillared corners. Over the taper was an extinguisher, figuring Death! The book-stands of inlaid white pearl, holding the richly bound Koran, and glistening in the sunlight, stood open near each tomb, with the gold embroidered cloth thrown lightly over them. This pearl work gave a brilliancy to the tomb more than I ever imagined could be displayed even by Oriental regality.
But our most charming visit, and the only ride we indulged in, was to the "Sweet waters of Europe." Our Consul's kind invitation had been accepted to ride thither in his carriage. The streets are horribly paved. A corduroy road at home would have been far preferable. Out of curiosity, I inquired the length
of time a carriage would last here; the answer was two years. At the edge of the city we came upon the Sultan's favorite drive, which, consequently, is an open road, and as finely graded as any in England. We passed the writing school, the Polytechnic Institute, and the Barracks. The soldiers seem to have the most elegant residences, save the Sultan's palaces, and the villas. A long steep hill descended, led us into the valley, which is some two miles in length. The waters of this vale are quite sweet. The view is called finer than that of the sweet waters of Asia, on the Asiatic side. The road winds with the stream, and beneath the shade of numerous groves of sycamores, with a leaf like our oak, and elms, with leaves, looking like our maples. These groves are filled of a festal Friday, and upon every evening, when music and gayety prevail; but now in Ramazan, it was lone and deserted. No voice is heard, save that of the harsh croaking frog.
In this delightsome vale the Sultan has one of his summer residences; but we saw only the exterior. A marble Kiosk (summer-house) is just at the base of a dashing waterfall. The water plays all around it, while a bridge spans the stream below. The stream gradually widens, until it forms the Golden Horn, flowing through and dividing the city. As we ascended the hill, leaving the vale behind us, we came upon the Jews' burying ground, which is a sea of white stones, all plain, and lying flat or standing up, with not a tree or shrub to relieve the barenness of the spot. Our Consul remarked, that it was strange the Jews cared so little for the adornment of their cemeteries, and he wondered why it should be so. One of our party assigned as the reason, their strange belief, that the body did not rise where buried, but walked in agony underground to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where it was judged; hence no associations of life and beauty clustered around the burial spot, and hence no adornment. When, Oh! shall I speak it? Yankeeism to the last, another suggests, "what a capital speculation it would be to run from this spot, an underground railroad." Truly there would be no
lack of passengers, judging by the infinity of stones, and the natural desire to finish so unpleasant a journey!
An old Greek priest came trotting by with great gravity, but as soon as he had passed us, spurred his horse into a wild gallop. How funny it looked-a priest playing mad John Gilpin over the grave-yard of the Jew, his full black robe and flying veil dancing at right angles before the wind.
As we neared the city, the sunlight played upon the windows in flames of living fire-no wonder when the houses are almost all windows.
How out of place a Cemetery would appear to us, as a resort for pleasure and promenade, a place for eating, drinking, smoking, and musical performances. But so it is here, where Fatalism buries her dead without a tear, and the mourner, bowing to the blow, strokes his beard and ejaculates, "God is great;" "God is great ;" and retires stoically to his ordinary pursuits. Chairs and tombstones furnish the seats, and the cypress tree the canopy, for these evening and midnight carousals, which are even more frequent during the Ramazan. We reached the Hotel at nine o'clock, two hours after the customary dinner time here.
Passing by our delightful sail over the Bosphorus, past villas and palaces-our lucky sight of Mahomet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt of the prophet of Mecca with his strange, solemn countenance, and more than all, of the Sultan himself—a gorgeous Oriental pageantry; passing by the rich and ever-variant scenes of the streets, the busy bazaars and prayerful mosques, I may not forget to mention one most especial peculiarity of this city, and that is its-dogs. They lie at every turn in mosque and market, in door and out, in the path of man and beast, and only answer to the tapping boot, trampling donkey, or nudging cane, by a squeak or growl. They are incorrigible, never moving for man or beast. They belong to no one; but each has his partic ular home-quarter, where he lives-a pauper on the public who hold him sacred.
But I think we have almost exhausted the city. As we pass out of the Golden Horn into the Bosphorus, we make our Salaam to the Orient. Farewell, old city! with your spires, and domes glittering in the setting sun! It will be long ere we see thee again, for the pathway hither is over troublous seas, troublous for a man even, how much more troublous for one of the other sex.
Che Turkish Body Politic in its Picturesque Dress.
"Know ye the land where the cypress and myrtle,
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime?"
Bride of Abydos.
OULD that I had the magic bow of the Scythian Abaris to give it a twang, and that I could ride on the arrow with telegraphic velocity to our western clime, there to see what chances and changes have occurred since we left. We have not heard from home for two months. I suppose that Ohio has a new constitution adopted by this time. Constitutions-how different they are here from those in the States. Even Turkey has a constitution, adopted in 1840, by which certain rights are guarantied to all-Armenian and Jew, Christian as well as Turk. But like the other constitutions of Europe, it is just so much parchment, to be "dispensed" with by the government, just when it pleases. The popular spirit must constitute the last analysis of the State-the elemental organic law. In the fire of the popular heart, lies the warm and the only healthy glow of the body politic. If this be extinguished or smothered, constitutions are but paper nothings. Now the constitution of Turkey was a voluntary renunciation of absolute power by the Sultan, for the purpose of reform and the happiness of all. It was called the Hatti Sherif of Gulkenah, or imperial charter. It was named after a kiosk called Gulkenah, the Runnymede of the Turkish Magna Charta, where, in presence of the principal Pasha and the diplomatic corps, Reschid Pasha read the constitution. It was drawn up by Reschid, who is the Grand Vizier. It mitigates many of the old punishments of the Turk, and thus con