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I chose a Friday for an excursion to Scutari, the celebrated burying-place of the Turks, in order that I might have an opportunity of seeing the “howling dervishes.”

In company with a French physician, I traversed the Bosphorus in a kaik. We passed by the “Leander’s Tower,” which stands in the sea, a few hundred paces from the Asiatic coast, and has been so frequently celebrated in song by the poets. We soon arrived at our destination.

It was with a peculiar feeling of emotion that for the first time in my life I set foot on a new quarter of the globe. Now, and not till now, I seemed separated by an immeasurable distance from my home. Afterwards, when I landed on the coast of Africa, the circumstance did not produce the same impression on my mind.

Now at length I was standing in the quarter of the earth which had been the cradle of the human race; where man had risen high, and had again sunk so low that the Almighty had almost annihilated him in his righteous anger. And here in Asia it was that the Son of God came on earth to bring the boon of redemption to fallen man. My long and warmly-cherished wish to tread this most wonderful of the four quarters of the earth was at length fulfilled, and with God’s help I might confidently hope to reach the sacred region whence the true light of the world had shone forth.

Scutari is the place towards which the Mussulman looks with the hope of one day reposing beneath its shade. No disciple of any other creed is allowed to be buried here; and here, therefore, the Mahometan feels himself at home, and worthy of his Prophet. The cemetery is the grandest in the world. One may wander for hours through this grove of cypresses, without reaching the end. On the gravestones of the men turbans are sculptured; on those of the women fruits and flowers: the execution is in most cases very indifferent.

Though neither the chief nor the tributary streets in Scutari are even, they are neither so badly paved nor quite so narrow as those at Pera. The great barracks, on a height in the foreground, present a splendid appearance, and also afford a delicious view towards the Sea of Marmora and the inimitably beautiful Bosphorus. The barracks are said to contain accommodation for 10,000 men.

The howling dervishes.

At two o’clock we entered the temple, a miserable wooden building. Every Mussulman may take part in this religious ceremony; it is not requisite that he should have attained to the rank and dignity of a dervish. Even children of eight or nine stand up in a row outside the circle of men, to gain an early proficiency in these holy exercises.

The commencement of the ceremony is the same as with the dancing dervishes; they have spread out carpets and skins of beasts, and are bowing and kissing the ground. Now they stand up and form a circle together with the laymen, when the chief begins in a yelling voice to recite prayers from the Koran; by degrees those forming the circle join in, and scream in concert. For the first hour some degree of order is still preserved; the performers rest frequently to husband their strength, which will be exerted to the utmost at the close of the ceremony. But then the sight becomes as horrible as one can well imagine any thing. They vie with one another in yelling and howling, and torture their faces, heads, and bodies into an infinite variety of fantastic attitudes. The roaring, which resembles that of wild beasts, and the dreadful spasmodic contortions of the actors’ countenances, render this religious ceremony a horrible and revolting spectacle.

The men stamp with their feet on the ground, jerk their heads backwards and forwards, and certainly throw themselves into worse contortions than those who are described as having been in old times “vexed with a devil.” During the exercise they snatch the covering from their heads, and gradually take off all their clothes, with the exception of shirt and trousers. The two high priests who stand within the circle receive the garments one after another, kiss them, and lay them on a heap together. The priests beat time with their hands, and after the garments have been laid aside the dance becomes faster and faster. Heavy drops of perspiration stand on every brow; some are even foaming at the mouth. The howling and roaring at length reach such a dreadful pitch, that the spectator feels stunned and bewildered.

Suddenly one of these maniacs fell lifeless to the ground. The priests and a few from the circle hurried towards him, stretched him out flat, crossed his hands and feet, and covered him with a cloth.

The doctor and I were both considerably alarmed, for we thought the poor man had been seized with apoplexy. To our surprise and joy, however, we saw him about six or eight minutes afterwards suddenly throw off the cloth, jump up, and once more take his place in the circle to howl like a maniac.

At three o’clock the ceremony concluded. I would not advise any person afflicted with weak nerves to witness it, for he certainly could not endure the sight. I could have fancied myself among raving lunatics and men possessed, rather than amidst reasonable beings. It was long before I could recover my composure, and realise the idea that the infatuation of man could attain such a pitch. I was informed that before the ceremony they swallow opium, to increase the wildness of their excitement!

The Achmaidon (place of arrows) deserves a visit, on account of the beautiful view obtained thence; the traveller should see it, if he be not too much pressed for time. This is the place which the Sultan sometimes honours by his presence when he wishes to practise archery.

On an open space stands a kind of pulpit of masonry, from which the Sultan shoots arrows into the air without mark or aim. Where the arrow falls, a pillar or pyramid is erected to commemorate the remarkable event. The whole space is thus covered with a number of these monuments, most of them broken and weather-stained, and all scattered in the greatest confusion. Not far from this place is an imperial kiosk, with a garden. Both promise much when viewed from a distance, but realise nothing when seen from within.

The tower in Galata.

Whoever wishes to appreciate in its fullest extent the charm of the views round Constantinople should ascend the tower in Galata near Pera, or the Serasker in Constantinople. According to my notion, the former course is preferable. In this tower there is a room with twelve windows placed in a circle, from which we see pictures such as the most vivid imagination could hardly create.

Two quarters of the globe, on the shores of two seas united by the Bosphorus, lie spread before us. The glorious hills with their towns and villages, the number of palaces, gardens, kiosks, and mosques, Chalcedon, the Prince’s Islands, the Golden Horn, the continual bustle on the sea, the immense fleet, besides the numerous ships of other nations, the crowds of people in Pera, Galata, and Topana all unite to form a panorama of singular beauty. The richest fancy would fail in the attempt to portray such a scene; the most practised pen would be unequal to the task of adequately describing it. But the gorgeous picture will be ever present to my memory, though I lack the power of presenting it to the minds of others.

Frequently, and each time with renewed pleasure, I ascended this tower, and would sit there for hours, in admiration of the works of the created and of the Creator. Exhausted and weary with gazing was I each time I returned to my home. I think I may affirm that no spot in the world can present such a view, or any thing that can be compared with it. I found how right I had been in undertaking this journey in preference to any other. Here another world lies unfolded before my view. Every thing here is new nature, art, men, manners, customs, and mode of life. He who would see something totally different from the every-day routine of European life in European towns should come here.

The bazaar.

In the town of Constantinople we come upon a wooden bridge, large, long, and broad, stretching across the Golden Horn. The streets of the town are rather better paved than those of Pera. In the bazaars and on the sea-coast alone do we find an appearance of bustle; the remaining streets are quiet enough.

The Bazaar is of vast extent, comprehending many covered streets, which cross each other in every direction and receive light from above. Every article of merchandise has its peculiar alley. In one all the goldsmiths have their shops, in another the shoemakers; in this street you see nothing but silks, in another real Cashmere shawls, etc.

Every dealer has a little open shop, before which he sits, and unceasingly invites the passers-by to purchase. Whoever wishes to buy or to look at any thing sits down also in front of the booth. The merchants are very good-natured and obliging; they always willingly unfold and display their treasures, even when they notice that the person to whom they are shewing them does not intend to become a purchaser. I had, however, imagined the display of goods to be much more varied and magnificent than I found it; but the reason of this apparent poverty is that the true treasures of art and nature, such as shawls, precious stones, pearls, valuable arms, gold brocades, etc., must not be sought in the bazaars; they are kept securely under lock and key in the dwellings or warehouses of the proprietors, whither the stranger must go if he wishes to see the richest merchandise.

The greatest number of streets occupied by the followers of any one trade are those inhabited by the makers of shoes and slippers. A degree of magnificence is displayed in their shops such as a stranger would scarcely expect to see. There are slippers which are worth 1000 piastres a pair and more. They are embroidered with gold, and ornamented with pearls and precious stones.

The Bazaar is generally so much crowded, that it is a work of no slight difficulty to get through it; yet the space in the middle is very broad, and one has rarely to step aside to allow a carriage or a horseman to pass. But the bazaars and baths are the lounges and gossiping places of the Turkish women. Under the pretence of bathing or of wishing to purchase something, they walk about here for half a day together, amusing themselves with small-talk, love-affairs, and with looking at the wares.

The mosques.

Without spending a great deal of money, it is very difficult to obtain admittance into the mosques. You are compelled to take out a firmann, which costs from 1000 to 1200 piastres. A guide of an enterprising spirit is frequently sufficiently acute to inquire in the different hotels if there are any guests who wish to visit the mosques. Each person who is desirous of doing so gives four or five colonati to the guide, who thereupon procures the firmann, and frequently clears forty or fifty guilders by the transaction. An opportunity of this description to visit the mosques generally offers itself several times in the course of a month.

I had made up my mind that it would be impossible to quit Constantinople without first seeing the four wonder-mosques, the Aja Sofia, Sultan Achmed, Osmanije, and Soleimanije.

I had the good fortune to obtain admittance on paying a very trifling sum; I think I should regret it to this day if I had paid five colonati for such a purpose.

To an architect these mosques are no doubt highly interesting; to a profane person like myself they offer little attraction. Their principal beauty generally consists in the bold arches of the cupolas. The interior is always empty, with the exception of a few large chandeliers placed at intervals, and furnished with a large number of perfectly plain glass lamps. The marble floors are covered with straw mats. In the Sofia mosque we find a few pillars which have been brought hither from Ephesus and Baalbec, and in a compartment on one side several sarcophagi are deposited.

Before entering the mosque, you must either take off your shoes or put on slippers over them. The outer courts, which are open to all, are very spacious, paved with slabs of marble, and kept scrupulously clean. In the midst stands a fountain, at which the Mussulman washes his hands, his face, and his feet, before entering the mosque. An open colonnade resting on pillars usually runs round the mosques, and splendid plantains and other trees throw a delicious shade around.

The mosque of Sultan Achmed, on the Hippodrome, is surrounded by six minarets. Most of the others have only two, and some few four.

The kitchens for the poor, situated in the immediate neighbourhood of the mosques, are a very praiseworthy institution. Here the poor Mussulman is regaled on simple dishes, such as rice, beans, cucumbers, etc., at the public expense. I marvelled greatly to find no crowding at these places. Another and an equally useful measure is the erection of numerous fountains of clear good water. This is the more welcome when we remember that the Turkish religion forbids the use of all spirituous liquors. At many of these fountains servants are stationed, whose only duty is to keep ten or twelve goblets of shining brass constantly filled with this refreshing nectar, and to offer them to every passer-by, be he Turk or Frank. Beer-houses and wine-shops are not to be found here. Would to Heaven this were every where the case! How many a poor wretch would never have been poor, and how many a madman would never have lost his senses!

Not far from the Osmanije mosque is the


I entered it with a beating heart, and already before I had even seen them, pitied the poor slaves. How glad, therefore, was I when I found them not half so forlorn and neglected as we Europeans are accustomed to imagine! I saw around me friendly smiling faces, from the grimaces and contortions of which I could easily discover that their owners were making quizzical remarks on every passing stranger.

The market is a great yard, surrounded by rooms, in which the slaves live. By day they may walk about in the yard, pay one another visits, and chatter as much as they please.

In a market of this kind we, of course, see every gradation of colour, from light brown to the deepest black. The white slaves, and the most beautiful of the blacks, are not however to be seen by every stranger, but are shut up in the dwellings of the traffickers in human flesh. The dress of these people is simple in the extreme. They either wear only a large linen sheet, which is wrapped round them, or some light garment. Even this they are obliged to take off when a purchaser appears. So long as they are in the hands of the dealers, they are certainly not kept in very good style; so they all look forward with great joy to the prospect of getting a master. When they are once purchased, their fate is generally far from hard. They always adopt the religion of their master, are not overburdened with work, are well clothed and fed, and kindly treated. Europeans also purchase slaves, but may not look upon them and treat them as such; from the moment when a slave is purchased by a Frank he becomes free. Slaves bought in this way, however, generally stay with their masters.

THE OLD Sérail

is, of course, an object of paramount attraction to us Europeans. I betook myself thither with my expectations at full stretch, and once more found the reality to be far below my anticipations. The effect of the whole is certainly grand; many a little town would not cover so much ground as this place, which consists of a number of houses and buildings, kiosks, and summer-houses, surrounded with plantains and cypress-trees, the latter half hidden amid gardens and arbours. Everywhere there is a total want of symmetry and taste. I saw something of the garden, walked through the first and second courtyard, and even peeped into the third. In the last two yards the buildings are remarkable for the number of cupolas they exhibit. I saw a few rooms and large halls quite full of a number of European things, such as furniture, clocks, vases, etc. My expectations were sadly damped. The place where the heads of pashas who had fallen into disfavour were exhibited is in the third yard. Heaven be praised, no severed heads are now seen stuck on the palings.

I was not fortunate enough to be admitted into the imperial harem; I did not possess sufficient interest to obtain a view of it. At a later period of my journey, however, I succeeded in viewing several harems.


is the largest and finest open place in Constantinople. After those of Cairo and Padua, it is the most spacious I have seen any where. Two obelisks of red granite, covered with hieroglyphics, are the only ornaments of this place. The houses surrounding it are built, according to the general fashion, of wood, and painted with oil-colours of different tints. I here noticed a great number of pretty children’s carriages, drawn by servants. Many parents assembled here to let their children be driven about.

Not far from the Hippodrome are the great cisterns with the thousand and one pillars. Once on a time this gigantic fabric must have presented a magnificent appearance. Now a miserable wooden staircase, lamentably out of repair, leads you down a flight of thirty or forty steps into the depths of one of these cisterns, the roof of which is supported by three hundred pillars. This cistern is no longer filled with water, but serves as a workshop for silk-spinners. The place seems almost as if it had been expressly built for such a purpose, as it receives light from above, and is cool in summer, and warm during the winter. It is now impossible to penetrate into the lower stories, as they are either filled with earth or with water.

The aqueducts of Justinian and Valentinian are stupendous works. They extend from Belgrade to the “Sweet Waters,” a distance of about fourteen miles, and supply the whole of Constantinople with a sufficiency of water.

Coffee-houses story-tellers.

Before I bade farewell to Constantinople for the present and betook me to Pera, I requested my guide to conduct me to a few coffee-houses, that I might have a new opportunity of observing the peculiar customs and mode of life of the Turks. I had already obtained some notion of the appearance of these places in Giurgewo and Galatz; but in this imperial town I had fancied I should find them somewhat neater and more ornamental. But this delusion vanished as soon as I entered the first coffee-house. A wretchedly dirty room, in which Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and others sat cross-legged on divans, smoking and drinking coffee, was all I could discover. In the second house I visited I saw, with great disgust, that the coffee-room was also used as a barber’s shop; on one side they were serving coffee, and on the other a Turk was having his head shaved. They say that bleeding is sometimes even carried on in these booths.

In a coffee-house of a rather superior class we found one of the so-called “story-tellers.” The audience sit round in a half-circle, and the narrator stands in the foreground, and quietly begins a tale from the Thousand and One Nights; but as he continues he becomes inspired, and at length roars and gesticulates like the veriest ranter among a company of strolling players.

Sherbet is not drunk in all the coffee-houses; but every where we find stalls and booths where this cooling and delicious beverage is to be had. It is made from the juice of fruits, mixed with that of lemons and pomegranates. In Pera ice is only to be had in the coffee-houses of the Franks, or of Christian confectioners. All coffee-house keepers are obliged to buy their coffee ready burnt and ground from the government, the monopoly of this article being an imperial privilege. A building has been expressly constructed for its preparation, where the coffee is ground to powder by machinery. The coffee is made very strong, and poured out without being strained, a custom which I could not bring myself to like.

It is well worth the traveller’s while to make an

Excursion to Ejub,

the greatest suburb of Constantinople, and also the place where the richest and most noble of the Turks are buried.

Ejub, the standard-bearer of Mahomet, rests here in a magnificent mosque, built entirely of white marble. None but a Mussulman may tread this hallowed shrine. A tolerably good view of the interior can, however, be obtained from without, as the windows are lofty and broad, and reach nearly to the ground. The sarcophagus stands in a hall; it is covered with a richly embroidered pall, over which are spread five or six “real” shawls. The part beneath which the head rests is surmounted by a turban, also of real shawls. The chief sarcophagus is surrounded by several smaller coffins, in which repose the wives, children, and nearest relations of Ejub. Hard by the mosque we find a beautiful fountain of white marble, surrounded by a railing of gilded iron, and furnished with twelve bright drinking-cups of polished brass. A Turk here is appointed expressly to hand these to the passers-by. A little crooked garden occupies the space behind the mosque. The mosques in which the dead sultans are deposited are all built in the same manner as that of Ejub. Instead of the turban, handsome fez-caps, with the heron’s feather, lie on the coffins. Among the finest mosques is that in which repose the remains of the late emperor. In Ejub many very costly monuments are to be seen. They are generally surrounded by richly-gilt iron railings, their peaks surmounted by the shining crescent, and forming an arch above a sarcophagus, round which are planted rose-bushes and dwarf cypresses, with ivy and myrtle clinging to their stems. It would, however, be very erroneous to suppose that the rich alone lie buried here. The poor man also finds his nook; and frequently we see close by a splendid monument the modest stone which marks the resting-place of the humble Mussulman.

On my return I met the funeral of a poor Turk. If my attention had not been attracted to the circumstance, I should have passed by without heeding it. The corpse was rolled in a cloth, fastened at the head and at the feet, and laid on a board which a man carried on his shoulder. At the grave the dead man is once more washed, wrapped in clean linen cloths, and thus lowered into the earth. And this is as it should be. Why should the pomp and extravagance of man accompany him to his last resting-place? Were it not well if in this matter we abated something of our conventionality and ostentation? I do not mean to say that interments need be stripped of every thing like ornament; in all things the middle way is the safest. A simple funeral has surely in it more that awakes true religious feeling than the pomp and splendour which are too frequently made the order of the day in these proceedings. In this case are not men sometimes led away to canvass and to criticise the splendour of the show, while they should be deducing a wholesome moral lesson for themselves, or offering up a fervent prayer to the Almighty for the peace of the departed spirit?

Houses theatres carriages.

The houses in the whole of Constantinople, in which we may include Pera, Topana, etc., are very slightly and carelessly put together. No door, no window, closes and fits well; the floorings frequently exhibit gaps an inch in breadth; and yet rents are very high. The reason of this is to be found in the continual danger of fire to which all towns built of wood are exposed. Every proprietor of a house calculates that he may be burnt out in the course of five or six years, and therefore endeavours to gain back his capital with interest within this period. Thus we do not find the houses so well built or so comfortably furnished as in the generality of European towns.

There is a theatre in Pera, which will hold from six to seven hundred spectators. At the time of my sojourn there, a company of Italian singers were giving four representations every week. Operas of the most celebrated masters were here to be heard; but I attended one representation, and had quite enough. The wonder is that such an undertaking answers at all, as the Turks have no taste for music, and the Franks are too fastidious to be easily satisfied.

The carriages which are, generally speaking, only used by women are of two kinds. The first is in the shape of a balloon, finely painted and gilt, and furnished with high wheels. On each side is an opening, to enter which the passenger mounts on a wooden stool, placed there by the coachman every time he ascends or descends. The windows or openings can be closed with Venetian blinds. These carriages contain neither seats nor cushion. Every one who drives out takes carpets or bolsters with him, spreads them out inside the coach, and sits down cross-legged. A carriage of this description will hold four persons. The second species of carriage only differs from that already described in having still higher wheels, and consisting of a kind of square box, covered in at the top, but open on all sides. The passengers enter at the back, and there is generally room for eight persons. The former kind of vehicle is drawn by one horse in shafts, and sometimes by two; the latter by one or two oxen, also harnessed in shafts, which are, however, furnished in addition with a wooden arch decorated with flowers, coloured paper, and ribbons. The coachman walks on foot beside his cattle, to guide them with greater security through the uneven ill-paved streets, in which you are continually either ascending or descending a hill.

Wagons there are none; every thing is carried either by men, horses, or asses. This circumstance explains the fact that more porters are found here than in any other city. These men are agile and very strong; a porter often bears a load of from one hundred to a hundred and fifty pounds through the rugged hilly streets. Wood, coals, provisions, and building-materials are carried by horses and asses. This may be one reason why every thing is so dear in Constantinople.