A Visit to the Holy Land
by Ida Pfeiffer
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

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.


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.


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


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?


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.


Walks and drives of the townspeople—The "Sweet Waters"— Chalcedonia—Baluklid—The great and little Campo—Feasts in Constantinople—Anniversary of Mahomet's death—Easter holidays of the Greeks—Gladiators and wrestlers—Excursion to Brussa—Olive- trees—Mosques at Brussa—Stone bridge—Wild dogs—Baths and mineral springs—Return to Constantinople.

On Sundays and holydays the "Sweet Waters" of Europe are much frequented. One generally crosses the Golden Horn, into which the sweet water runs, in a kaik. There is, however, another way thither across the mountains.

A large grass-plat, surrounded by trees, is the goal towards which the heaving multitude pours. Here are to be seen people from all quarters of the globe, and of all shades of colour, reclining in perfect harmony on carpets, mats, and pillows, and solacing themselves, pipe in mouth, with coffee and sweetmeats. Many pretty Jewesses, mostly unveiled, are to be seen among the crowd.

On Friday, the holiday of the Turks, the scene in the Asiatic Sweet Waters is just as animated; and here there is much more to interest us Europeans, as the company consists chiefly of Turks, male and female. The latter have, as usual, their faces covered: the most beautiful feature, the flaming eye, is, however, visible.

The trip across the sea to the Asiatic Sweet Waters is incomparably more beautiful and interesting than the journey to the European. We travel up the Bosphorus, in the direction of the Black Sea, past the splendid new palace of the Sultan. Though this palace is chiefly of wood, the pillars, staircases, and the ground-floor, built of marble of dazzling whiteness, are strikingly beautiful. The great gates, of gilded cast-iron, may be called masterpieces; they were purchased in England for the sum of 8000 pounds. The roof of the palace is in the form of a terrace, and round this terrace runs a magnificent gallery, built only of wood, but artistically carved. We also pass the two ancient castles which command the approach to Constantinople, and then turn to the right towards the Sweet Waters. The situation of this place is most lovely; it lies in a beautiful valley surrounded by green hills.

Very interesting is also an excursion to Chalcedonia, a peninsula in the Sea of Marmora, on the Asiatic side, adjoining Scutari. We were rowed thither in a two-oared kaik in an hour and a quarter. The finest possible weather favoured our trip. A number of dolphins gambolled around our boat; we saw these tame fishes darting to and fro in all directions, and leaping into the air. It is a peculiar circumstance with regard to these creatures, that they never swim separately, but always either in pairs or larger companies.

The views which we enjoy during these trips are peculiarly lovely. Scutari lies close on our left; the foreground is occupied by mountains of moderate elevation; and above them, in the far distance, gleams the snow-clad summit of Olympus. The uninhabited Prince's Island and the two Dog Islands are not the most picturesque objects to be introduced in such a landscape. To make up for the disadvantage of their presence we have, however, a good view of the Sea of Marmora, and can also distinguish the greater portion of the city of Constantinople.

On Chalcedonia itself there is nothing to be seen but a lighthouse. Beautiful grass-plats, with a few trees and a coffee-house, are the chief points of attraction with the townspeople.

An excursion by sea to Baluklid is also to be recommended. You pass the entire Turkish fleet, which is very considerable, and see the largest ship in the world, the "Mahmud," of 140 guns, built during the reign of the late Sultan Mahmud. Several three-deckers of 120 guns, some of them unrigged, and many men-of-war mounting from forty to sixty cannons, lie in the harbour. For an hour and a half we are riding through the Sea of Marmora, to the left of the great quay which surrounds the walls of Constantinople. Here, for the first time, we see the giant city in all its magnificent proportions. We also passed the "Seven Towers," of which, however, only five remain standing; the other two, I was told, had fallen in. If these towers really answer no other purpose than that of prisons for the European ambassadors during tumults or in the event of hostilities, I think the sooner the remaining five tumble down the better; for the European powers will certainly not brook such an insult from the Turks, now in the day of their decline.

We disembarked immediately beyond the "Seven Towers," and walked for half an hour through long empty streets, then out at the town-gate, where the cypress-grove for a time conceals from our view a large open space on which is built a pretty Greek church. I was told that during the holidays at Easter such riotous scenes were here enacted that broken heads were far from being phenomena of rare occurrence. In the church there is a cold spring containing little fishes. A legend goes, that on the high days at Easter these poor little creatures swim about half fried and yet alive, because once upon a time, when Constantinople was besieged, a general said that it was no more likely that the city could be taken than that fishes could swim about half fried. Ever since that period the wonderful miracle of the fried fish is said to occur annually at Easter.

On our return to our kaik, we saw near the shore an enormous cuttle- fish, more than fourteen feet in length, which had just been taken and killed. A number of fishermen were trying with ropes and poles to drag the monster ashore.

The walks in the immediate neighbourhood of Pera are the great and little Campo, and somewhat farther distant the great bridge which unites Topana with Constantinople; the latter is a most amusing walk, during which we can view the life and bustle on both shores at the same time. In the little Campo are two Frankish coffee-houses, before which we sit quite in European fashion on handsome chairs and benches, listening to pleasant music, and regaling ourselves with ices.


During my residence in Constantinople I had the good fortune to be present at some very entertaining festivities. The most magnificent of these took place on the 23d of April, the anniversary of Mahomet's death.

On the eve of this feast we enjoyed a fairy-like spectacle. The tops of all the minarets were illuminated with hundreds of little lamps; and as there are a great many of these slender spires, it can be readily imagined that this sea of light must have a beautiful effect. The Turkish ships in the harbour presented a similar appearance. At every loop-hole a large lamp occupied the place of the muzzle of the cannon. At nine o'clock in the evening, salvoes were fired from the ships; and at the moment that the cannons were fired, the lamps vanished, flashes of light and gunpowder-smoke filled the air; a few seconds afterwards, as if by magic, the lamps had reappeared. This salute was repeated three times.

The morning of the 23d was ushered in by the booming of the cannon. All the Turkish ships had hoisted their flags, and garlands of coloured paper were twined round the masts to their very tops.

At nine o'clock I proceeded in the company of several friends to Constantinople, to see the grand progress of the Sultan to the mosque. As with us, it is here the custom to post soldiers on either side of the way. The procession was headed by the officers and government officials; but after every couple of officers or statesmen followed their servants, generally to the number of twelve or fifteen persons, in very variegated costumes, partly Turkish, partly European, and withal somewhat military; in fact, a perfect motley. Then came the Emperor's state-horses, splendid creatures, the majority of them of the true Arabian breed, decorated with saddle-cloths richly embroidered with gold, pearls, and precious stones, and proudly moving their plumed heads. Their spirited appearance and beautiful paces excited the admiration of all the learned in such matters. They were followed by a number of pages on foot; these pages are not, however, youths, as in other countries, but men of tried fidelity. In their midst rode the youthful Emperor, wrapped in his cape, and wearing in his fez-cap a fine heron's plume, buckled with the largest diamond in Europe. As the Sultan passed by, he was greeted by the acclamations of the military, but not of the people. The soldiers closed the procession; but their bearing is not nearly so haughty as that of the horses. The reason of this is simple enough—no one dares look upon the Arabians with an evil eye, but the soldiers are entirely subject to the caprice of their officers. I would certainly rather be the Sultan's horse than his soldier.

The uniforms of the officers, in their profusion of gold embroidery, resemble those of our hussars. The privates have very comfortable jackets and trousers of blue cloth with red trimmings; some have jackets entirely of a red colour. The artillerymen wear red facings. Their chaussure is pitiable in the extreme: some have boots, not unfrequently decorated with spurs; others have shoes, trodden down at heel and terribly tattered; and some even appear in slippers. All are without stockings, and thus naked feet peer forth every where. The position of the men with regard to each other is just as irregular; a little dwarf may frequently be seen posted next to a giant, a boy of twelve or fourteen years near a grey-headed veteran, and a negro standing next to a white man.

At this feast a great concourse of people was assembled, and every window was crowded with muffled female heads.

We had been advised not to be present at this ceremony, as it was stated to be of a purely religious nature, and it was feared we should be exposed to annoyance from the fanaticism of the Mussulmen. I am glad to say, however, that the curiosity of my party was stronger than their apprehensions. We pushed through every where, and I had again occasion to feel assured that grievous wrong is frequently done the good Turks. Not only was there no appearance of a disposition to annoy us, but we even obtained very good places without much trouble.

On their Easter days the Greeks have a feast in the great Campo. On all the three holidays, the hamaks (water-carriers and porters), after the service is over, march in large numbers to the Campo with songs and music, with noise and shouting, waving their handkerchiefs in the air. Arrived at their destination, they divide into different groups, and proceed to amuse themselves much after the manner of other nations. A number of tents are erected, where a great deal of cooking and baking is carried on. Large companies are sitting on the ground or on the tombstones, eating and drinking in quiet enjoyment. We see a number of swings laden with men and children; on this side we hear the squeaking of a bagpipe, on that the sound of a pipe and drum, uttering such dismal music that the hearer instinctively puts a finger into each ear. To this music a real bear's dance is going on. Six or eight fellows stand in a half circle round the musician, and two leaders of these light-toed clodhoppers continually wave their handkerchiefs in the air as they stamp slowly and heavily round in a circle. The women are allowed to appear at this feast, but may neither take part in the swinging nor in the dancing. They therefore keep up a brave skirmishing with the sweetmeats, coffee, and delicacies of all kinds. The more wealthy portion of the community employ these days in riding to Baluklid, to gaze and wonder at the miracle of the half-baked and yet living fishes.

As the Greeks are not so good-natured as the Turks, the latter seldom take part in their festivities. Turkish women never appear on these occasions.

On the 8th of May I saw a truly Turkish fete in the neighbourhood of the Achmaidon (place of arrows).

In a plain surrounded on all sides by hills, men of all nations formed a large but closely-packed circle. Kavasses (gens d'arme) were there to keep order among the people, and several officers sat among the circle to keep order among the kavasses. The spectacle began. Two wrestlers or gladiators made their appearance, completely undressed, with the exception of trousers of strong leather. They had rubbed themselves all over with oil, so that their joints might be soft and supple, and also that their adversary should not be able to obtain a firm hold when they grappled together. They made several obeisances to the spectators, began with minor feats of wrestling, and frequently stopped for a few moments in order to husband their strength. Then the battle began afresh, and became hotter and hotter, till at length one of the combatants was hailed as victor by the shouting mob. He is declared the conqueror who succeeds in throwing his opponent in such a manner that he can sit down upon him as on a horse. A combat of this kind usually lasts a quarter of an hour. The victor walks triumphantly round the circle to collect his reward. The unfortunate vanquished conceals himself among the spectators, scarcely daring to lift his eyes. These games last for several hours; as one pair of gladiators retire, they are replaced by another.

Greek, Turkish, and Armenian women may only be spectators of these games from a distance; they therefore occupy the adjoining heights. For the rest, the arrangements are the same as at the Greek Easter feast. People eat, drink, and dance. No signs of beer, wine, or liqueur are to be discovered, and consequently there is no drunkenness.

The Turkish officers were here polite enough to surrender the best places to us strangers. I had many opportunities of noticing the character of the Mussulman, and found, to my great delight, that he is much better and more honest than prejudices generally allow us to believe. Even in matters of commerce and business it is better to have to do with a Turk than with a votary of any other creed, not even excepting my own.

During my stay at Constantinople (from the 5th of April until May 17th) I found the weather just as changeable as in my own country; so much so, in fact, that the temperature frequently varied twelve or fourteen degrees within four-and-twenty hours.


The two brothers, Baron Charles and Frederick von Buseck, and Herr Sattler, the talented artist, resolved to make an excursion to Brussa; and as I had expressed a similar wish, they were obliging enough to invite me to make a fourth in their party. But when it came to the point, I had almost become irresolute. I was asked by some one if I was a good rider; "for if you are not," said my questioner, "it would be far better for you not to accompany them, as Brussa is four German miles distant from Gemlek, and the road is bad, so that the gentlemen must ride briskly if they wish to reach the town before sundown, starting as they would at half-past two in the afternoon, the general hour of landing at Gemlek. In the event of your being unable to keep up with the rest, you would put them to great inconvenience, or they will be compelled to leave you behind on the road."

I had never mounted a horse, and felt almost inclined to confess the fact; but my curiosity to see Brussa, the beautiful town at the foot of Olympus, gained the day, and I boldly declared that I had no doubt I should be able to keep pace with my companions.

On the 13th of May we left Constantinople at half-past six in the morning, on board a little steamer of forty-horse power. Passing the Prince's and Dog Islands, we swept across the Sea of Marmora towards the snow-crowned Olympus, until, after a voyage of seven hours, we reached Gemlek.

Gemlek, distant thirty sea miles from Constantinople, is a miserable place, but nevertheless does some trade as the harbour of Bithynia. The agent of the Danube Navigation Company was civil enough to procure us good horses, and a genuine, stalwart, and fierce-looking Turkoman for a guide. This man wore in his girdle several pistols and a dagger; a long crooked scimitar hung at his side; and instead of shoes and slippers, large boots decked his feet, bordered at the top by a wide stripe of white cloth, on which were depicted blue flowers and other ornaments. His head was graced by a handsome turban.

At half-past two o'clock the horses arrived. I swung myself boldly upon my Rosinante, called on my good angel to defend me, and away we started, slowly at first, over stock and stone. My joy was boundless when I found that I could sit steadily upon my horse; but shortly afterwards, when we broke into a trot, I began to feel particularly uncomfortable, as I could not get on at all with the stirrup, which was continually slipping to my heel, while sometimes my foot slid out of it altogether, and I ran the risk of losing my balance. Oh, what would I not have given to have asked advice of any one! But unfortunately I could not do so without at once betraying my ignorance of horsemanship. I therefore took care to bring up the rear, under the pretence that my horse was shy, and would not go well unless it saw the others before it. My real reason was that I wished to hide my manoeuvres from the gentlemen, for every moment I expected to fall. Frequently I clutched the saddle with both hands, as I swayed from side to side. I looked forward in terror to the gallop, but to my surprise found that I could manage this pace better than the trot. My courage brought its reward, for I reached the goal of our journey thoroughly shaken, but without mishap. During the time that we travelled at a foot-pace, I had found leisure to contemplate the scenery around us. For half the entire distance we ride from one valley into another; as often as a hill is reached, there is a limited prospect before the traveller, who has, however, only to turn his head, and he enjoys a beautiful view over the Sea of Marmora. After a ride of two hours and a half we arrived at a little khan, {71a} where we rested for half an hour. Proceeding thence a short distance, we reached the last hills; and the great valley, at the end of which Brussa is seen leaning against Olympus, lay stretched before our eager eyes, while behind us we could still distinguish, far beyond hill and dale, the distant sea skirting the horizon. Yet, beautiful as this landscape undoubtedly is, I had seen it surpassed in Switzerland. The immense valley which lies spread out before Brussa is uncultivated, deserted, and unwatered; no carpet of luxuriant verdure, no rushing river, no pretty village, gives an air of life to this magnificent and yet monotonous region; and no giant mountains covered with eternal snow look down upon the plain beneath. Pictures like these I had frequently found in Switzerland, in the Tyrol, and also near Salzburg. Here I saw, indeed, separate beauties, but no harmonious whole. Olympus is a fine majestic mountain, forming an extended barrier; but its height can scarcely exceed 6000 feet; {71b} and during the present month it is totally despoiled of its surface of glittering snow. Brussa, with its innumerable minarets, is the only point of relief to which the eye continually recurs, because there is nothing beyond to attract it. A little brook, crossed by a very high stone bridge, but so shallow already in the middle of May as hardly to cover our horses' hoofs; and towards Brussa, a miserable village, with a few plantations of olives and mulberry-trees,—are the only objects to be discovered throughout the whole wide expanse. Wherever I found the olive-tree—here, near Trieste, and in Sicily,— it was alike ugly. The stem is gnarled, and the leaves are narrow and of a dingy green colour. The mulberry-tree, with its luxuriant bright green foliage, forms an agreeable contrast to the olive. The silk produced in this neighbourhood is peculiarly fine in quality, and the stuffs from Brussa are renowned far and wide.

We reached the town in safety before sunset. It is one of the most disagreeable circumstances that can happen to the traveller to arrive at an Oriental town after evening has closed in. He finds the gates locked, and may clamour for admittance in vain.

In order to gain our inn, we were obliged to ride through the greater part of the town. I had here an opportunity of observing that it is just as unsightly as the interior of Constantinople. The streets are narrow, and the houses built of wood, plaster, and some even of stone; but all wear an aspect of poverty, and at the same time of singularity;—the gables projecting so much that they occupy half the width of the street, and render it completely dark, while they increase its narrowness. The inn, too, at which we put up, looked far from inviting when viewed from the outside, so that we had some dark misgivings respecting the quality of the accommodation that awaited us. But in proportion as the outside had looked unpropitious, were we agreeably surprised on entering. A neat and roomy courtyard, with a basin of pure sparkling water in the midst, surrounded by mulberry-trees, was the first thing we beheld. Round this courtyard were two stories of clean but simply-furnished rooms. The fare was good, and we were even regaled with a bottle of excellent wine from the lower regions of Olympus.

May 14th.

Next morning we visited the town and its environs, under the guidance and protection of a kavasse. The town itself is of great extent, and is reported to contain above 10,000 houses, inhabited exclusively by Turks. The population of the suburbs, which comprise nearly 4000 houses, is a mixed one of Christians, Jews, Greeks, etc. The town numbers three hundred and sixty mosques; but the greater portion of them are so insignificant and in such a dilapidated condition, that we scarcely observed them.

Strangers are here permitted to enter the mosques in company of a kavasse. We visited some of the principal, among which the Ulla Drchamy may decidedly be reckoned. The cupola of this mosque is considered a masterpiece, and rests upon graceful columns. It is open at the top, thus diffusing a chastened light and a clear atmosphere throughout the building. Immediately beneath this cupola stands a large marble basin, in which small fishes swim merrily about.

The mosque of Sultan Mahomed I. and of Sultan Ildirim Bojasid must also be noticed on account of their splendid architecture; the latter, too, for the fine view which is thence obtained. In the mosque of Murad I. visitors are still shewn weapons and garments which once belonged to that sultan. I saw none of the magnificent regal buildings mentioned by some writers. The imperial kiosk is so simple in its appearance, that if we had not climbed the hill on which it stands for the sake of the view, it would not have been worth the trouble of the walk.

A stone bridge, roofed throughout its entire length, crosses the bed of the river, which has very steep banks, but contains very little water. A double row of small cottages, in which silk-weavers live and ply their trade, lines this bridge, which I was surprised to see here, as its architecture seemed rather to appertain to my own country than to the East. During my whole journey I did not see a second bridge of this kind, either in Syria or Egypt.

The streets are all very dull and deserted, a fact which is rather remarkable in a town of 100,000 inhabitants. In most of the streets more dogs than men are to be seen. Not only in Constantinople, but almost in every Oriental town, vast numbers of these creatures run about in a wild state.

Here, as every where, some degree of bustle is to be found in the bazaars, particularly in those which are covered in. Beautiful and durable silk stuffs, the most valuable of which are kept in warehouses under lock and key, form the chief article of traffic. In the public bazaar we found nothing exposed for sale except provisions. Among these I remarked some small, very unpalatable cherries. Asia Minor is the fatherland of this fruit, but I did not find it in any degree of perfection either here or at Smyrna.

Brussa is peculiarly rich in cold springs, clear as crystal, which burst forth from Mount Olympus. The town is intersected in all directions by subterranean canals; in many streets, the ripple of the waters below can be distinctly heard, and every house is provided with wells and stone basins of the limpid element; in some of the bazaars we find a similar arrangement.

On a nearer approach, the appearance of Mount Olympus is not nearly so grand as when viewed from a distance. The mountain is surrounded by several small hills, which detract from the general effect.

The baths, distant about a mile from the town, are prettily and healthfully situated, and, moreover, abundantly supplied with mineral water. Many strangers resort thither to recruit their weakened frames.

The finest among these baths is called Jeni Caplidche. A lofty circular hall contains a great swimming bath of marble, above which rises a splendid cupola. A number of refracting glasses (six hundred, they told me) diffuse a magic light around.

Our journey back to Constantinople was not accomplished entirely without mishap. One of the gentlemen fell from his horse and broke his watch. The saddles and bridles of hired horses are here generally in such bad condition that there is every moment something to buckle or to cobble up. We were riding at a pretty round pace, when suddenly the girths burst, and the saddle and rider tumbled off together. I arrived without accident at my destination, although I had frequently been in danger of falling from my horse without its being necessary that the girth should break.

The gentlemen were satisfied with my performance, for I had never lagged behind, nor had they once been detained on my account. It was not until we were safely on board the ship that I told them how venturesome I had been, and what terror I had undergone.


Contradictory reports—Departure from Constantinople on board the Archduke John—Scene on the steamer—Galipoli—The Dardanelles— Tschenekalesi and Kilidil Bahar—The field of Troy—Tenedos—Smyrna— Halizar—The date-palm—Burnaba—The Acropolis—Female beauty— Rhodes—Strong fortifications—Deserted appearance of the town— Cyprus.

The extremely unfavourable reports I heard from Beyrout and Palestine caused me to defer my departure from day to day. When I applied to my consul for a "firmann" (Turkish passport), I was strongly advised not to travel to the Holy Land. The disturbances on Mount Lebanon and the plague were, they assured me, enemies too powerful to be encountered except in cases of the most urgent necessity.

A priest who had arrived from Beyrout about two months previously affirmed positively that, in consequence of the serious disturbances, even he, known though he was far and wide as a physician, had not dared to venture more than a mile from the town without exposing himself to the greatest danger. He advised me to stay in Constantinople until the end of September, and then to travel to Jerusalem with the Greek caravan. This, he said, was the only method to reach that city in safety.

One day I met a pilgrim in a church who came from Palestine. On my asking his advice, he not only confirmed the priest's report, but even added that one of his companions had been murdered whilst journeying homeward, and that he himself had been despoiled of his goods, and had only escaped death through the special interposition of Providence. I did not at all believe the asseverations of this man; he related all his adventures with such a Baron Munchausen air, assumed probably to excite admiration. I continued my investigations on this subject until I was at length fortunate enough to find some one who told an entirely different tale. From this I felt assured at least of the fact, that it would be almost impossible to learn the true state of the case here in Constantinople, and at length made up my mind to avail myself of the earliest opportunity of proceeding as far as Beyrout, where there was a chance of my getting at the truth.

I was advised to perform this journey in male attire; but I did not think it advisable to do so, as my short, spare figure would have seemed to belong to a youth, and my face to an old man. Moreover, as I had no beard, my disguise would instantly have been seen through, and I should have been exposed to much annoyance. I therefore preferred retaining the simple costume, consisting of a kind of blouse and wide Turkish trousers, which I then wore. The further I travelled, the more I became persuaded how rightly I had acted in not concealing my sex. Every where I was treated with respect, and kindness and consideration were frequently shewn me merely because I was a woman. On

May 17th

I embarked on board a steamboat belonging to the Austrian Lloyd. It was called the Archduke John.

It was with a feeling of painful emotion that I stood on the deck, gazing with an air of abstraction at the preparations for the long voyage which were actively going on around me. Once more I was alone among a crowd of people, with nothing to depend on but my trust in Providence. No friendly sympathetic being accompanied me on board. All was strange. The people, the climate, country, language, the manners and customs—all strange. But a glance upward at the unchanging stars, and the thought came into my soul, "Trust in God, and thou art not alone." And the feeling of despondency passed away, and soon I could once more contemplate with pleasure and interest all that was going on around me.

Near me stood a poor mother who could not bear to part with her son. Time after time she folded him in her arms, and kissed and blessed him. Poor mother! wilt thou see him again, or will the cold ground be a barrier between you till this life is past? Peace be with you both!

A whole tribe of people came noisily towards us;—they were friends of the crew, who bounced about the ship from stem to stern, canvassing its merits in comparison with French and English vessels.

Suddenly there was a great crowding on the swinging ladder, of chests, boxes, and baskets. Men were pushing and crushing backwards and forwards. Turks, Greeks, and others quarrelled and jostled each other for the best places on the upper deck, and in a few moments the whole large expanse wore the appearance of a bivouac. Mats and mattresses were every where spread forth, provisions were piled up in heaps, and culinary utensils placed in order beside them; and before these preparations had been half completed the Turks began washing their faces, hands, and feet, and unfolding their carpets, to perform their devotions. In one corner of the ship I even noticed that a little low tent had been erected; it was so closely locked, that for a long time I could not discern whether human beings or merchandise lay concealed within. No movement of the interior was to be perceived, and it was not until some days afterwards that I was informed by a Turk what the tent really contained. A scheick from the Syrian coast had purchased two girls at Constantinople, and was endeavouring to conceal them from the gaze of the curious. I was for nine days on the same vessel with these poor creatures, and during the whole time had not an opportunity of seeing either of them. At the debarcation, too, they were so closely muffled that it was impossible to discover whether they were white or black.

At six o'clock the bell was rung to warn all strangers to go ashore; and now I could discover who were really to be the companions of my journey. I had flattered myself that I should find several Franks on board, who might be bound to the same destination as myself; but this hope waxed fainter and fainter every moment, as one European after another left the ship, until at length I found myself alone among the strange Oriental nations.

The anchor was now weighed, and we moved slowly out of the harbour. I offered up a short but fervent prayer for protection on my long and dangerous voyage, and with a calmed and strengthened spirit I could once more turn my attention towards my fellow-passengers, who having concluded their devotions were sitting at their frugal meal. During the whole time they remained on the steamer these people subsisted on cold provisions, such as cheese, bread, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, olives, walnuts, a great number of onions, and dried "mishmish," a kind of small apricot, which instead of being boiled is soaked in water for a few hours. In a sailing vessel it is usual to bring a small stove and some wood, in order to cook pilau, beans, fowls, and to boil coffee, etc. This, of course, is not allowed on board a steamboat.

The beauty of the evening kept me on deck, and I looked with a regretful feeling towards the imperial city, until the increasing distance and the soft veil of evening combined to hide it from my view, though at intervals the graceful minarets were still dimly discernible through the mist. But who shall describe my feelings of joy when I discovered a European among the passengers? Now I was no longer alone; in the first moments we even seemed fellow-countrymen, for the barriers that divide Europeans into different nations fall as they enter a new quarter of the globe. We did not ask each other, Are you from England, France, Italy; we inquired, Whither are you going? and on its appearing that this gentleman intended proceeding, like myself, to Jerusalem, we at once found so much to talk about concerning the journey, that neither of us thought for a moment of inquiring to what country the other belonged. We conversed in the universal French language, and were perfectly satisfied when we found we could understand each other. It was not until the following day that I discovered the gentleman to be an Englishman, and learned that his name was Bartlett. {79}

In Constantinople we had both met with the same fate. He had been, like myself, unable to obtain any certain intelligence, either at his consul's or from the inhabitants, as to the feasibility of a journey to Jerusalem, and so he was going to seek further information at Beyrout. We arranged that we would perform the journey from Beyrout to Jerusalem in company,—if, indeed, we found it possible to penetrate among the savage tribes of Druses and Maronites. So now I no longer stood unprotected in the wide world. I had found a companion as far as Jerusalem, the goal of my journey, which I could now hope to reach.

I was well satisfied with the arrangements on board. I had made up my mind, though not without sundry misgivings, to take a second- class berth; and on entering the steamer of the Austrian Lloyd, I discovered to my surprise how much may be effected by order and good management. Here the men and the women were separately lodged, wash-hand basins were not wanting, we fared well, and could not be cheated when we paid for our board, as the accounts were managed by the first mate: on the remaining steamers belonging to this company I found the arrangements equally good.

Crossing the Sea of Marmora, we passed the "Seven Towers," leaving the Prince's Islands behind us on the left.

Early on the following day,

May 18th,

we reached the little town of Galipoli, situate on an eminence near the Hellespont. A few fragments of ruins in the last stage of dilapidation cause us to think of the ages that have fled, as we speed rapidly on. We waited here a quarter of an hour to increase the motley assemblage on deck by some new arrivals.

For the next 20 miles, as far as Sed Bahe, the sea is confined within such narrow bounds, that one could almost fancy it was a channel dug to unite the Sea of Marmora with the Archipelago. It is very appropriately called the STRAIT of the Dardanelles. On the left we have always the mainland of Asia, and on the right a tongue of land belonging to Europe, and terminating at Sed Bahe. The shores on both sides are desert and bare. It is a great contrast to former times, a contrast which every educated traveller must feel as he travels hither from the Bosphorus. What stirring scenes were once enacted here! Of what deeds of daring, chronicled in history, were not these regions the scene! Every moment brought us nearer to the classic ground. Alas, that we were not permitted to land on any of the Greek Islands, past which we flew so closely! I was obliged, perforce, to content myself with thinking of the past, of the history of ancient Greece, without viewing the sites where the great deeds had been done.

The two castles of the Dardanelles, Tschenekalesi and Kilidil Bahar, that on the Asiatic shore looking like a ruin, while its European neighbour wore the appearance of a fortress, let us steam past unchallenged. And how shall I describe the emotions I felt as we approached the plains of Troy?

I was constantly on deck, lest I should lose any portion of the view, and scarcely dared to breathe when at length the long-wished- for plain came in sight.

Here it is, then, that this famous city is supposed to have stood. Yonder mounds, perchance, cover the resting-places of Achilles, Patroclus, Ajax, Hector, and many other heroes who may have served their country as faithfully as these, though their names do not live in the page of history. How gladly would I have trodden the plain, there to muse on the legends which in my youth had already awakened in me such deep and awe-struck interest, and had first aroused the wish to visit these lands—a desire now partially fulfilled! But we flew by with relentless rapidity. The whole region is deserted and bare. It seems as if nature and mankind were mourning together for the days gone by. The inhabitants may indeed weep, for they will never again be what they once were.

In the course of the day we passed several islands. In the foreground towered the peak of the Hydrae, shortly afterwards Samothrace rose from the waves, and we sailed close by the island of Tenedos. At first this island does not present a striking appearance, but after rounding a small promontory we obtained a view of the fine fortress skirting the sea; it seems to have been built for the protection of the town beyond.

After passing Tenedos we lost sight of the Greek islands for a short time (the mainland of Asia can always be distinguished on our left), but soon afterwards we reached the most beautiful of them all— Mytelene, which has justly been sung by many poets as the Island of the Fairies. For seven hours we glided by its coast. It resembles a garden of olives, orange-trees, pomegranates, etc. The view is bounded at the back by a double row of peaked mountains, and the town lies nearly in the midst. It is built in a circular form, round a hill, strengthened with fortifications. In front the town is girded by a strong wall, and in the rear extends a deep bay. A few masts peered forth and shewed us where the bay ended. From this point we saw numerous villages prettily situated among the luxuriant shade of large trees. It must be a delightful thing to spend the spring-time on this island.

I remained on deck till late in the night, so charming, so rich in varied pictures of verdant isles is this voyage on the AEgaean Sea. Had I been a magician, I would have fixed the sun in the heavens until we had arrived at Smyrna. Unfortunately many a beauteous island which we next morning contemplated ruefully on the map was hidden from us by the shades of night.

May 19th.

Long before the sun was up, I had resumed my post on deck, to welcome Smyrna from afar.

A double chain of mountains, rising higher and higher, warned us of our approach to the rich commercial city. At first we can only distinguish the ancient dilapidated castle on a rock, then the city itself, built at the foot of the rock, on the sea-shore; at the back the view is closed by the "Brother Mountains."

The harbour is very spacious, but has rather the appearance of a wharf, with room for whole fleets to anchor. Many ships were lying here, and there was evidently plenty of business going on.

The "Franks' town," which can be distinctly viewed from the steamer, extends along the harbour, and has a decidedly European air.

Herr von Cramer had been previously apprised of my arrival, and was obliging enough to come on board to fetch me. We at once rode to Halizar, the summer residence of many of the citizens, where I was introduced to my host's family.

Halizar is distant about five English miles from Smyrna. The road thither is beautiful beyond description, so that one has no time to think about the distance. Immediately outside the town we pass a large open place near a river, where the camels rest, and where they are loaded and unloaded; I saw a whole herd of these animals. Their Arab or Bedouin drivers were reclining on mats, resting after their labours, while others were still fully employed about their camels. It was a truly Arabian picture, and moreover so new to me, that I involuntarily stopped my long-eared Bucephalus to contemplate it at my leisure.

Not far from this resting-place is the chief place of rendezvous and pastime of the citizens. It consists of a coffee-booth and a few rows of trees, surrounded by numerous gardens, all rich in beautiful fruit-trees. Charming beyond all the rest, the flower of the pomegranate-tree shines with the deepest crimson among the green leaves. Wild oleanders bloomed every where by the roadside. We wandered through beautiful shrubberies of cypress-trees and olives, and never yet had I beheld so rich a luxuriance of vegetation. This valley, with its one side flanked by wild and rugged rocks, in remarkable contrast to the fruitful landscape around, has a peculiar effect when viewed from the hill across which we ride. I was also much amazed by the numerous little troops of from six to ten, or even twenty camels, which sometimes came towards us with their grave majestic pace, and were sometimes overtaken by our fleet donkeys. Surrounded on all sides by objects at once novel and interesting, it will not be wondered at that I found the time passing far too rapidly.

The heat is said not to be more oppressive at Smyrna during the summer than at Constantinople. Spring, however, commences here earlier, and the autumn is longer. This fact, I thought, accounted for the lovely vegetation, which was here so much more forward than at Constantinople.

Herr von Cramer's country-house stands in the midst of a smiling garden; it is spacious and built of stone. The large and lofty apartments are flagged with marble or tiles. In the garden I found the first date-palm, a beautiful tree with a tall slender stem, from the extremity of which depend leaves five or six feet in length, forming a magnificent crown. In these regions and also in Syria, whither my journey afterwards led me, the date-palm does not attain so great a height as in Egypt, nor does it bear any fruit, but only stands as a noble ornament beside the pomegranate and orange trees. My attention was also attracted to numerous kinds of splendid acacias; some of these grew to an immense size, as high as the walnut-trees of my own country.

The villas of the townspeople all strongly resemble each other. The house stands in the midst of the garden, and the whole is surrounded by a wall.

In the evening I visited some of the peasants, in company with Herr von C. This gentleman informed me that these people were very poor, but still I found them decently clad and comfortably lodged in large roomy dwellings built of stone. Altogether, the condition of affairs seems here vastly superior to that in Galicia and in Hungary near the Carpathian mountains.

I reckoned the day I spent with this amiable family among the most pleasant I had yet passed. How gladly would I have accepted their hearty invitation to remain several weeks with them! But I had lost so much time in Constantinople, that on the morning of

May 20th

I was compelled to bid adieu to Frau von C. and her dear children. Herr von C. escorted me back to Smyrna. We took the opportunity of roaming through many streets of the Franks' quarter, which I found, generally speaking, pretty and cheerful enough, and moreover level and well paved. The handsomest street is that in which the consuls reside. The houses are finely built of stone, and the halls are tastefully paved with little coloured pebbles, arranged in the form of wreaths, stars, and squares. The inhabitants generally take up their quarters in these entrance-halls during the day, as it is cooler there than in the rooms. To nearly every house a pretty garden is attached.

The Turkish town is certainly quite different; it is built of wood, and is angular and narrow; dogs lie about in the streets, just as at Brussa and Constantinople. And why should it be otherwise here? Turks live in all this quarter, and they do not feel the necessity of clean and airy dwellings like the fastidious Franks.

The bazaars are not roofed; and here also the costlier portion of the wares is kept under lock and key.

It is well worth the traveller's while to make an excursion to Burnaba, a place lying on the sea-coast not far from the town, and serving, like Halizar, as a retreat for the townspeople during the summer. The views in this direction are various, and the road is good. The whole appearance of the place is that of a very extended village, with all its houses standing in the midst of gardens and surrounded by walls.

From the Acropolis we have a fine view in every direction, and find, in fact, a union of advantages only met with separately elsewhere.

In Smyrna I found the most beautiful women I had yet seen; and even during my further journey I met with few who equalled, and none who surpassed them. These fairy forms are, however, only to be sought among the Greeks. The natural charms of these Graces are heightened by the rich costume they wear. They have a peculiarly tasteful manner of fastening their little round fez-caps, beneath which their rich hair falls in heavy plaits upon their shoulders, or is wound with a richly embroidered handkerchief round the head and brow.

Smyrna is, however, not only celebrated as possessing the loveliest women, but also as the birthplace of one of the greatest men. {85} O Homer, in the Greece of to-day thou wouldst find no materials for thine immortal Iliad!

At five o'clock in the afternoon we quitted the harbour of Smyrna. In this direction the town is seen to much greater advantage after we have advanced a mile than when we approach it from Constantinople; for now the Turks' town lies spread in all its magnitude before us, whereas on the other side it is half hidden by the Franks' quarter.

The sea ran high, and adverse winds checked the speed of our good ship; but I am thankful to say that, except when the gale is very strong, it does not affect my health. I felt perfectly well, and stood enjoying the aspect of the waves as they came dancing towards our vessel. In Smyrna our company had been augmented by the arrival of a few more Franks.

May 21st.

Yesterday evening and all this day we have been sailing among islands. The principal of these were Scio, Samos, and Cos, and even these form a desolate picture of bare, inhospitable mountains and desert regions. On the island of Cos alone we saw a neat town, with strong fortifications.

May 22d.

This morning, shortly after five o'clock, we ran into the superb harbour of Rhodes. Here, for the first time, I obtained a correct notion of a harbour. That of Rhodes is shut in on all sides by walls and masses of rock, leaving only a gap of a hundred and fifty to two hundred paces in width for the ships to enter. Here every vessel can lie in perfect safety, be the sea outside the bar as stormy as it may; the only drawback is, that the entering of this harbour, a task of some difficulty in calm weather, becomes totally impracticable during a storm. A round tower stands as a protection on either side of the entrance to the harbour. The venerable church of St. John and the palace of the Komthur can be distinguished towering high above the houses and fortifications.

Our captain imparted to us the pleasant intelligence that we might spend the hours between this and three o'clock in the afternoon on shore. Our ship had for some time lain surrounded by little boats, and so we lost no time in being conveyed to the land. The first thing we did on reaching it was to ask questions concerning the ancient site of the celebrated Colossus. But we could gain no information, as neither our books nor the people here could point out the place to us with certainty; so we left the coast, to make up for the disappointment by exploring the ancient city.

Rhodes is surrounded with three rows of strong fortifications. We passed over three drawbridges before entering the town. We were quite surprised to see the beautiful streets, the well-kept houses, and the excellent pavement. The principal street, containing the houses of the ancient Knights of St. John, is very broad, with buildings so massively constructed of stone as almost to resemble fortresses. Heraldic bearings, with dates carved in stone, grace many of the Gothic gateways. The French shield, with the three lilies and the date 1402, occurs most frequently. On the highest point in the city are built the church of St. John and the house of the governor.

All the exteriors seem in such good preservation, that one could almost fancy the knights had only departed to plant their victorious banner on the Holy Sepulchre. They have in truth departed—departed to a better home. Centuries have breathed upon their ashes, scattered in all the regions of the earth. But their deeds have been chronicled both in heaven and among men, and the heroes still live in the admiration of posterity.

The churches, the house of the governor, and many other buildings, are not nearly so well preserved inside as a first glance would lead us to imagine. The reason of this is that the upper part of the town is but thinly inhabited. A gloomy air of silence and vacancy reigns around. We could wander about every where without being stared at or annoyed by the vulgar and envious. Mr. Bartlett, the Englishman, made a few sketches in his drawing-book of some of the chief beauties, such as the Gothic gateways, the windows, balconies, etc., and no inhabitant came to disturb him.

The pavement in the city, and even in the streets around the fortifications, consists wholly of handsome slabs of stone, often of different colours, like mosaic, and in such good preservation that we could fancy the work had been but recently concluded. This is certainly partly owing to the fact that no loaded wagon ever crushes over these stones, for the use of vehicles is entirely unknown in these parts; every thing is carried by horses, asses, or camels.

Cannons dating from the time of the Genoese still stand upon the ramparts. The carriages of these guns are very clumsy, the wheels consisting of round discs without spokes.

From our tower of observation we can form a perfect estimate of the extent and strength of the fortifications. The city is completely surrounded by three lofty walls, which seem to have been calculated to last an eternity, for they still stand almost uninjured in all their glory. In some places images of the Virgin, of the size of life, are hewn out of the walls.

The neighbourhood of Rhodes is most charming, and almost resembles a park. Many country houses lie scattered throughout this natural garden. The vegetation is here no less luxuriant than in Smyrna.

The architecture of the houses already begins to assume a new character. Many dwellings have towers attached, and the roofs are flat, forming numerous terraces, which are all built of stone. Some streets in the lower part of the town, inhabited chiefly by Jews, are bordered with cannon-balls, and present a most peculiar appearance.

I was also much struck with the costumes worn by the country-people, who were dressed quite in the Swabian fashion. It was in vain that I inquired the reason of this circumstance. The books we had with us gave no information on the subject, and I could not ask the natives through my ignorance of their language.

By three o'clock in the afternoon we were once more on board, and an hour afterwards we sailed out into the open sea. To-day we saw nothing further, except a high and lengthened mountain-range on the Asiatic mainland. It was a branch of the Taurus. The highest peaks glistened like silver in the evening light, enveloped in a garment of snow.

May 23d.

To-day our organs of vision had a rest, for we were sailing on the high seas. Late in the evening, however, the sailors descried the mountains of Cyprus looming in the far distance like a misty cloud. With my less practised eyes I could see nothing but the sunset at sea—a phenomenon of which I had had a more exalted conception. The rising and setting of the sun at sea is not nearly so striking a spectacle as the same phenomenon in a rocky landscape. At sea the sky is generally cloudless in the evening, and the sun gradually sinks, without refraction of rays or prismatic play of colours, into its ocean-bed, to pursue its unchanging course the next day. How infinitely more grand is this spectacle when seen from the "Rigi Kulm" in Switzerland! There it is really a spectacle, in contemplating which we feel impelled to fall on our knees in speechless adoration, and admire the wisdom of the Almighty in his wondrous works.

May 24th.

On mounting to the deck this morning at five o'clock I could distinguish the island of Cyprus, which looks uglier the nearer we approach. Both the foreground and the mountain-peaks have an uncomfortable barren air. At ten o'clock we entered the harbour of Larnaka. The situation of this town is any thing but fine; the country looks like an Arabian desert, and a few unfruitful date- palms rise beside the roofless stone houses.

I should not have gone on shore at all, if Doctor Faaslanc, whose acquaintance I had made at Constantinople, and who had been appointed quarantine physician here four weeks before my departure, had not come to fetch me. The streets of Larnaka are unpaved, so that we were obliged literally to wade more than ankle-deep in sand and dust. The houses are small, with irregular windows, sometimes high and sometimes low, furnished with wooden grated shutters; and the roofs are in the form of terraces. This style of building I found to be universal throughout Syria.

Of a garden or a green place not a trace was to be seen. The sandy expanse reaches to the foot of the mountains, which viewed from this direction form an equally barren picture. Behind these mountains the appearance of the landscape is said to be very fruitful; but I did not penetrate into the interior, nor did I go to Nikosia, the capital of the island, distant some twelve miles from Larnaka.

Doctor Faaslanc took me to his house, which had an appearance of greater comfort than I had expected to find, for it consisted of two spacious rooms which might almost have been termed halls. An agreeable coolness reigned every where.

Neither stoves nor chimneys were to be seen, as winter is here replaced by a very mild rainy season. The heat in summer is often said to be insupportable, the temperature rising to more than 36 degrees Reaumur. To-day it reached 30 degrees in the sun.

We drank to my safe return to my country, in real old Cyprian wine. Shall I ever see it again? I hope so, if my journey progresses as favourably as it has begun. But Syria is a bad country, and the climate is difficult to bear; yet with courage and perseverance for my companions, I may look forward to the accomplishment of my task. The good doctor seemed much annoyed that he had nothing to offer me but Cyprian wine and a few German biscuits. At this early season fruit is not to be had, and cherries do not flourish here because the climate is too hot for them. In Smyrna I ate the last for this year. When I re-embarked in the afternoon, Mr. Bartlett came with the English consul, who wished, he said, to make the acquaintance of a lady possessing sufficient courage to undertake so long and perilous a journey by herself. His astonishment increased when he was informed that I was an unpretending native of Vienna. The consul was kind enough to offer me the use of his house if I returned by way of Cyprus; he also inquired if he could give me some letters of recommendation to the Syrian consuls. I was touched by this hearty politeness on the part of a perfect stranger—an Englishman moreover, a race on whom we are accustomed to look as cold and exclusive!


Arrival at Beyrout—Fellahs—Backsheesh—Uncomfortable quarters— Saida—Tyre—St. Jean d'Acre—Caesarea—Excursion among the ruins— Jaffa—An eastern family—The Indian fig-tree—An Oriental dinner— Costume of the women of Jaffa—Oppressive heat—Gnats—Ramla—Syrian convents—Bedouins and Arabs—Kariet el Areb, or Emmaus—The Scheikh—Arrival at Jerusalem.

May 25th.

This morning I could discern the Syrian coast, which becomes more glorious the nearer we approach. Beyrout, the goal of our voyage, was jealously hidden from our eyes to the very last moment. We had still to round a promontory, and then this Eden of the earth lay before us in all its glory. How gladly would I have retarded the course of our vessel, as we passed from the last rocky point into the harbour, to have enjoyed this sight a little longer! One pair of eyes does not suffice to take in this view; the objects are too numerous, and the spectator is at a loss whither he should first direct his gaze,—upon the town, with its many ancient towers attached to the houses, giving them the air of knights' castles— upon the numerous country-houses in the shade of luxurious mulberry plantations—upon the beautiful valley between Beyrout and Mount Lebanon—or on the distant mountain-range itself. The towering masses of this magnificent chain, the peculiar colour of its rocks, and its snowclad summits, riveted my attention longer than any thing else.

Scarcely had the anchor descended from the bows, before our ship was besieged by a number of small boats, with more noise and bustle than even at Constantinople. The half-naked and excitable Arabs or Fellahs are so ready with offers of service, that it is difficult to keep them off. It almost becomes necessary to threaten these poor people with a stick, as they obstinately refuse to take a gentler hint. As the water is here very shallow, so that even the little boats cannot come quite close to shore, some others of these brown forms immediately approached, seized us by the arms, took us upon their backs amidst continual shouting and quarrelling, and carried us triumphantly to land.

Before the stranger puts himself into the hands of men of this kind, such as captains of small craft, donkey-drivers, porters, etc., he will find it a very wise precaution to settle the price he is to pay for their services. I generally spoke to the captain, or to some old stager among the passengers, on this subject. Even when I gave these people double their usual price, they were not contented, but demanded an additional backsheesh (gratuity). It is therefore advisable to make the first offer very small, and to retain something for the backsheesh. At length I safely reached the house of Herr Battista (the only inn in the place), and was rejoicing in the prospect of rest and refreshment, when the dismal cry of "no room" was raised. I was thus placed in a deplorable position. There was no second inn, no convent, no place of any kind, where I, poor desolate creature that I was, could find shelter. This circumstance worked so much on the host's feelings, that he introduced me to his wife, and promised to procure me a private lodging.

I had now certainly a roof above my head, but yet I could get no rest, nor even command a corner where I might change my dress. I sat with my hostess from eleven in the morning until five in the afternoon, and a miserably long time it appeared. I could not read, write, or even talk, for neither my hostess nor her children knew any language but Arabic. I had, however, time to notice what was going on around me, and observed that these children were much more lively than those in Constantinople, for here they were continually chattering and running about. According to the custom of the country, the wife does nothing but play with the children or gossip with the neighbours, while her husband attends to kitchen and cellar, makes all the requisite purchases, and besides attending to the guests, even lays the tablecloth for his wife and children. He told me that in a week at furthest, his wife would go with the children to a convent on the Lebanon, to remain there during the hot season of the year. What a difference between an Oriental and a European woman!

I still found the heat at sea far from unendurable; a soft wind continually wafted its cooling influence towards us, and an awning had been spread out to shelter us from the rays of the sun. But what a contrast when we come to land! As I sat in the room here the perspiration dropped continually from my brow, and now I began to understand what is meant by being in the tropics. I could scarcely await the hour when I should be shewn to a room to change my clothes; but to-day I was not to have an opportunity of doing so, for at five o'clock a messenger came from Mr. Bartlett with the welcome intelligence that we could continue our journey, as nothing was to be feared from the Druses and Maronites, and the plague only reigned in isolated places through which it was not necessary that we should pass. He had already engaged a servant who would act as cook and dragoman (interpreter); provisions and cooking utensils had also been bought, and places were engaged on an Arab craft. Nothing, therefore, remained for me to do but to be on the sea-shore by six o'clock, where his servant would be waiting for me. I was much rejoiced on hearing this good news: I forgot that I required rest and a change of clothes, packed up my bundle, and hurried to the beach. Of the town I only saw a few streets, where there was a great bustle. I also noticed many swarthy Arabs and Bedouins, who wore nothing but a shirt. I did not feel particularly anxious to see Beyrout and its vicinity, as I intended to return soon and visit any part I could not examine now.

Before sunset we had already embarked on board the craft that was to carry us to the long-wished-for, the sacred coast of Joppa. Every thing was in readiness, and we lacked only the one thing indispensable—a breeze.

No steamers sail between Joppa and Beyrout; travellers must be content with sailing vessels, deficient alike as regards cleanliness and convenience; they are not provided with a cabin, or even with an awning, so that the passengers remain day and night under the open sky. Our vessel carried a cargo of pottery, besides rice and corn in sacks.

Midnight approached, and still we were in harbour, with not a breath of wind to fill our sails.

Wrapping my cloak tightly round me, I lay down on the sacks, in the absence of a mattress; but I was not yet sufficiently tired out to be able to find rest on such an unusual couch. So I rose again in rather a bad humour, and looked with an evil eye on the Arabs lying on the sacks around me, who were not "slumbering softly," but snoring lustily. By way of forcing myself, if possible, into a poetical train of thought, I endeavoured to concentrate my attention on the contemplation of the beautiful landscape by moonlight; but even this would not keep me from yawning. My companion seemed much in the same mood; for he had also risen from his soft couch, and was staring gloomingly straight before him. At length, towards three o'clock in the morning of

May 26th,

a slight breath of wind arose, we hoisted two or three sails, and glided slowly and noiselessly towards the sea.

Mr. B. had bargained with the captain to keep as close to the shore as possible, in order that we might see the towns as we passed. Excepting in Caesarea, it was forbidden to cast anchor any where, for the plague was raging at Sur (Tyre) and in several other places.

Bargains of this kind must be taken down in writing at the consulates, and only one-half of the sum agreed should be paid in advance; the other half must be kept in hand, to operate as a check on the crew. After every precaution has been taken, one can seldom escape without some bickering and quarrelling. On these occasions it is always advisable at once to take high ground, and not to give way in the most trifling particular, for this is the only method of gaining peace and quietness.

Towards seven o'clock in the morning we sailed by the town and fortress of Saida. The town looks respectable enough, and contains some spacious houses. The fortress is separated from the town by a small bay, across which a wooden bridge has been built. The fortress seems in a very dilapidated condition; many breaches are still in the same state in which they were left after the taking of the town by the English in 1840, and part of the wall has fallen into the sea. In the background we could descry some ruins on a rock, apparently the remains of an ancient castle.

The next place we saw was Sarepta, where Elijah the prophet was fed by the poor widow during the famine.

The Lebanon range becomes lower and lower, while its namesake, the Anti-Lebanon, begins to rise. It is quite as lofty as the first- named range, which it closely resembles in form. Both are traversed by fields of snow, and between them stands a third colossus, Mount Hermon.

Next came the town of Tyre or Sur, now barren and deserted; for that mighty scourge of humanity, the plague, was raging there to a fearful extent. A few scattered fragments of fortifications and numerous fallen pillars lie strewed on the shore.

And now at length I was about to see places which many have longed to behold, but which few have reached. With a beating heart I gazed unceasingly towards St. Jean d'Acre, which I at length saw rising from the waves, with Mount Carmel in the background. Here, then, was the holy ground on which the Redeemer walked for us fallen creatures! Both St. Jean d'Acre and Mount Carmel can be distinguished a long distance off.

For a second time did a mild and calm night sink gently on the earth without bringing me repose. How unlucky it is that we find it so much harder to miss comforts we have been used to enjoy, than to acquire the habit of using comforts to which we have been unaccustomed! Were this not the case, how much easier would travelling be! As it is, it costs us many an effort ere we can look hardships boldly in the face. "But patience!" thought I to myself; "I shall have more to endure yet; and if I return safely, I shall be as thoroughly case-hardened as any native."

Our meals and our beverage were very simple. In the morning we had pilau, and in the evening we had pilau; our drink was lukewarm water, qualified with a little rum.

From Beyrout to the neighbourhood of St. Jean d'Acre, the coast and a considerable belt of land adjoining it are sandy and barren. Near Acre every thing changed; we once more beheld pretty country-houses surrounded by pomegranate and orange plantations, and a noble aqueduct intersects the plain. Mount Carmel, alone barren and unfruitful, stands in striking contrast to the beauteous landscape around; jutting boldly out towards the sea, it forms the site of a handsome and spacious convent.

The town of St. Jean d'Acre and its fortifications were completely destroyed during the last war (in 1840), and appear to sigh in vain for repairs. The houses and mosques are full of cannon-balls and shot-holes. Every thing stands and lies about as though the enemy had departed but yesterday. Six cannons peer threateningly from the wall. The town and fortifications are both built on a tongue of land washed by the sea.

May 27th.

During the night we reached Caesarea. With the eloquence of a Demosthenes, our captain endeavoured to dissuade us from our project of landing here; he pointed out to us the dangers to which we were exposing ourselves, and the risks we should run from Bedouins and snakes. The former, he averred, were accustomed to conceal themselves in hordes among the ruins, in order to ease travellers of their effects and money; being well aware that such spots were only visited by curious tourists with well-filled purses, they were continually on the watch, like the robber-knights of the good old German empire. "An enemy no less formidable," said the captain, "was to be encountered in the persons of numerous snakes lurking in the old walls and on the weed-covered ground, which endangered the life of the traveller at every step." We were perfectly well aware of these facts, having gleaned them partly from descriptions of voyages, partly from oral traditions; and so they were not powerful enough to arrest our curiosity. The captain himself was really less actuated by the sense of our danger, in advising us to abandon our undertaking, than by the reflection of the time it lost him; but he exerted himself in vain. He was obliged to cast anchor, and at daybreak to send a boat ashore with us.

Our arms consisted of parasols and sticks (the latter we carried in order to beat the bushes); we were escorted by the captain, his servant, and a couple of sailors.

In the ruins we certainly met with a few suspicious-looking characters in the shape of wandering Bedouins. As it was too late to beat a retreat, we advanced bravely towards them with trusting and friendly looks. The Bedouins did the same, and so there was an end of this dangerous affair. We climbed from one fragment to another, and certainly spent more than two hours among the ruins, without sustaining the slightest injury at the hands of these people. Of the threatened snakes we saw not a single one.

Ruins, indeed, we found every where in plenty. Whole side-walls, which appeared to have belonged to private houses, but not to splendid palaces or temples, stood erect and almost unscathed. Fragments of pillars lay scattered about in great abundance, but without capitals, pedestals, or friezes.

It was with a feeling of awe hitherto unknown to me that I trod the ground where my Redeemer had walked. Every spot, every building became invested with a double interest. "Perchance," I thought, "I may be lingering within the very house where Jesus once sojourned." More than satisfied with my excursion, I returned to our bark.

By three o'clock in the afternoon we were close under the walls of Joppa. To enter this harbour, partially choked up as it is with sand, is described as a difficult feat. We were assured that we should see many wrecks of stranded ships and boats; accordingly I strained my eyes to the utmost, and could discover nothing. We ran safely in; and thus ended a little journey in the course of which I had seen many new and interesting objects, besides gaining some insight into the mode of life among the sailors. Frequently, when it fell calm, our Arabs would recline on the ground in a circle, singing songs of an inconceivably inharmonious and lugubrious character, while they clapped their hands in cadence, and burst at intervals into a barking laugh. I could not find any thing very amusing in this entertainment; on the contrary, it had the effect of making me feel very melancholy, as displaying these good people in a very idiotic and degrading light.

The costume of the sailors was simple in the extreme. A shirt covered them in rather an imperfect manner, and a handkerchief bound round their heads protected them from a coup de soleil. The captain was distinguished from the rest only by his turban, which looked ridiculous enough, surmounting his half-clad form. Their diet consisted of a single warm meal of pilau or beans, eaten in the evening. During the day they stayed their appetites with bread. Their drink was water.

The town of Joppa, extending from the sea-shore to the summit of a rather considerable and completely isolated hill, has a most peculiar appearance. The lower street is surrounded by a wall, and appears sufficiently broad; the remaining streets run up the face of the hills, and seem at a distance to be resting on the houses below. Viewing the town from our boat, I could have sworn that people were walking about on flat house-tops.

As Joppa boasts neither an inn nor a convent which might shelter a traveller, I waited upon the Consul of the Austrian Empire, Herr D—-, who received me very kindly and introduced me to his family, which comprised his lady, three sons, and three daughters. They wore the Turkish costume. The daughters, two of whom were exceedingly beautiful, wore wide trousers, a caftan, and a sash round the waist. On their heads they had little fez-caps, and their hair was divided into fifteen or twenty narrow plaits, interwoven with little gold coins, and a larger one at the end of each plait. A necklace of gold coins encircled their necks. The mother was dressed in exactly the same way. When elderly women have little or no hair left, they make up with artificial silk plaits for the deficiencies of nature.

The custom of wearing coins as ornaments is so prevalent throughout Syria, that the very poorest women, girls, and children strive to display as many as possible. Where they cannot sport gold, they content themselves with silver money; and where even this metal is not attainable, with little coins of copper and other baser metals.

The Consul and his son were also clothed in the Turkish garb; but instead of a turban the father wore an old cocked hat, which gave him an indescribably ludicrous appearance. A son and a daughter of this worthy patron of the semi-Turkish, semi-European garb, had but one eye, a defect frequently met with in Syria. It is generally supposed to be caused by the dry heat, the fine particles of sand, and the intense glare of the chalky hills.

As I reached Joppa early in the afternoon, I proceeded in company of the Consul to view the town and its environs. In dirt, bad paving, etc., I found it equal to any of the towns I had yet seen. The lower street, near the sea, alone is broad and bustling, with loaded and unloaded camels passing continually to and fro. The bazaar is composed of some miserable booths containing common provisions and a few cheap wares.

The neighbourhood of Joppa is exceedingly fertile. Numerous large gardens, with trees laden with all kinds of tropical fruits, and guarded by impenetrable hedges of the Indian fig-tree, form a half- circle round the lower portion of the town.

The Indian fig-tree, which I here saw for the first time, has an odd appearance. From its stem, which is very dwarfish, leaves a foot in length, six inches in breadth, and half an inch in thickness, shoot forth. This tree seldom sends forth branches; the leaves grow one out of another, and at the extremity the fruit is formed. Its length is about two or three inches. Ten or twenty such figs are frequently found adhering to a single leaf.

I could not conceive how it happened that in these hot countries, without rain to refresh them, the trees all looked so healthy and beautiful. This fact, I found, was owing to the numerous channels cut through the gardens, which are thus artificially irrigated. The heavy dews and cool nights also tend to restore the drooping vegetation. One great ornament of our gardens was, however, totally wanting—a lawn with wild flowers. Trees and vegetables here grow out of the sandy or stony earth, a circumstance hardly noticed at a distance, but which produces a disagreeable effect on a near view. Flowers I found none.

The whole region round Joppa is so covered with sand, that one sinks ankle-deep at every step.

Consul D—- fulfils the duties of two consulates, the Austrian and the French. From both these offices he derives no benefit but the honour. By some people this honour would be highly valued, but many would rate it at nothing at all. This family, however, seems to have a great idea of honour; for the consul's office is hereditary, and I found the son of the present dignitary already looking forward to filling his place.

In the evening I was present at a real Oriental entertainment in the house of this friendly family.

Mats, carpets, and pillows were spread out on the terrace of the house, and a very low table placed in the centre. Round this the family sat, or rather reclined, cross-legged. I was accommodated with a chair somewhat higher than the table. Beside my plate and that of the Consul were laid a knife and fork, that appeared to have been hunted out from some lumber closet; the rest ate with a species of natural knife and fork, namely—fingers.

The dishes were not at all to my taste. I had still too much of the European about me, and too little appetite, to be able to endure what these good people seemed to consider immense delicacies.

The first dish appeared in the form of a delicate pilau, composed of mutton, cucumbers, and a quantity of spice, which rendered it more unpalatable to me than common pilau. Then followed sliced cucumbers sprinkled with salt; but as the chief ingredients, vinegar and oil, were entirely wanting, I was obliged to force down the cucumber as best I could. Next came rice-milk, so strongly flavoured with attar of roses, that the smell alone was more than enough for me; and now at length the last course was put on the table—stale cheese made of ewe's milk, little unpeeled girkins, which my entertainers coolly discussed rind and all, and burnt hazel-nuts. The bread, which is flat like pancakes, is not baked in ovens, but laid on metal plates or hot stones, and turned when one side is sufficiently done. It tastes better than I should have expected. {101}

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse