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Mr. W., and myself-shall pay a visit to the “ Sweet Waters of Europe," a promenade on the European shore at the end of the Golden Horn.
Constantinople is a gala spectacle--at least for the traveller, who spends merely a few days there, not the least of which in beauty are the sunsets at this season of the year, when the windows of Scutari shine as if they were of fire and gold, reminding him of the old name, Chrysopolis, the Golden City, when the hills of the Bosphorus are tinged with purple, and the more distant heights of Asia, as far as the snowy mountains of Olympus, near the old Turkish capital, Broussa, stand forth in a flood of light. More than one evening have I contemplated this magnificent spectacle from the roof of the hotel, and seen the panorama of Constantinople in the golden glory of the evening sunlight.
18th July.- When the planets wheel their shining circles around their life-giving sun, then they beam in its light; when the spheres, inspired by an invisible central power, the fountain of all life-power, beauty, and gladness, again stream forth the life which they have received, then sing they in harmonious choirs, and, themselves intoxicated, they intoxicate all living with the fulness of life which they derived from the life-source of eternal existence. Something like this I imagined would be the interpretation of the ecstatic dances of the Oriental dervishes--a tradition as I have somewhere read from the world's most ancient worship in the Samothracian mysteries, and which are still continued in the great cities of the East, Cairo, Jerusalem-but there secretly in the great mosques-Damascus, Smyrna, and Constantinople. I was curious in the highest degree to see the dance of the dervishes. At two o'clock, therefore, on Sunday afternoon I found myself in their tekie at Pera. After waiting about an hour I was admitted with some other foreigners and a few Mussulmans, into a large light rotunda. Spacious galleries encircled an inner rotunda, within the low enclosure of which a number of human figures, in cloaks and yellowish-white felt hats, very much like upturned flower-pots in form, sat immoveable. They were dervishes. Several priests stood in the place, bowing and mumbling before the sacred gate to Kaaban. After some little time three men entered-two very old, and the third young, with a handsome, intellectual countenance.
They placed themselves at the lower end of the rotunda, with their faces towards the spectators, and the divine worship then began. First, a long monotonous, heavy prayer, repeated by a tall man dressed in black, with a black beard, a long bent neck, and nose to correspond. After this, at a given sign, all the dervishes arose who were sitting within the enclosure, and began to march in a circle with measured, noiseless steps. All wore long cloaks, and turned slowly from left to right with downcast eyes. They then paused, and dropped down upon hands and knees, with their faces to the ground. After this, they all sprang up at once ; the cloaks were cast aside, and in long white petticoats and short white jackets
with long sleeves, began to turn themselves round like tops, first one, then two, three, four, one after another, till the whole number, about thirty, were in motion, or wheeling round with outstretched arms, turning round themselves, but, at the same time, flying round the rotunda in circles, and invariably from left to right. The greater number are elderly men, most of whom have unpleasant countenances, with a dull, heavy expression, and who look as if they were performing a heavy day's work. Sweat-drops pearl the foreheads of many; the eyes are downcast, but the movement is nevertheless remarkably light and, as it were, natural. One only of the whirling dancers, a tall youth of about twenty years of age, has a handsome exterior; and his upturned countenance, with half-closed eyes, has a really ecstatic expression. One may very easily believe that he is drunken with the contemplation of Allah, and turns round without any longer knowledge or perception of earthly things. This may be, indeed, the significance of the dance; but such could not be supposed from the dancing of the rest; a clumsy figure, which would imitate the expression of the handsome youth, looked idiotic. During the whirling dances, the dark priest walks about with slow steps and downcast head, but, as it seems to me, not without taking secret care to avoid a box on the ear from the passing whirling hands. This catastrophe has happened sometimes.
After about a quarter of an hour, the dance ceases abruptly, the dancers standing immoveably in their places. Prayers succeed; spoken in part by the black-attired priest, and partly by the youngest of three men who hold the place of presidents, and stand at the lower end of the rotunda. To this the dancing again succeeds. And this alternation of dancing and prayer takes place five or six
Each division of the dance commences with singing, accompanied by a little drum, like that of a child, and a flute; but in concluding the flute alone warbles without melody, but in tolerable harmony with the soft-whirling dance, and this is the best and most agreeable part of it. Sometimes dancers quit the dance, and re-assume their cloaks, and others take their places. Some hold out from beginning to end, as the youth with the ecstatic smile ; and his cheeks became ever redder, whilst the others grew paler and paler. Finally, again, prayers succeeded, heavy prayers, as if crushed out of the heart, as if the subjecting, oppressive hand of a tyrant were weighing upon the heart of the supplicant. And with a loud cry, increasing, continuous, which then died away again, the service came to a close. This over, a general kissing succeeds ; first, of the three presidents' hands and cheeks, and then of all the dervishes, one after another; but frequently the kissing is a mere sham, hand and cheek just touching. The ceremony lacked earnest feeling and truth, as indeed the whole scene appeared to me to do. I was glad on account of the poor laborious dancers when it was all over (it had extended to two hours), and so evidently were most of the dervishes, who now leapt lightly over the enclosure, hurrying away to their dinners, as I supposed.
This costume and dance would produce a very good effect in a ballet; but as divine service, the impression it produced was sorrowful and depressing. The poor people had evidently never received the joyful tidings that God is a loving Father, a good and loving Father; and that a Saviour has been born who is Christ the Lord!
20th.—Rain and storm, which began yesterday, prevented us from undertaking anything to-day. The tempest—very unusual at this time of the year—is so violent that there is no venturing even out of doors, and the sky looks as it might have done at the time of the deluge. Not very agreeable is this for those who have but a few days to remain here, as is now my case. However, I have already seen Constantinople, Saint Sophia, the Sultan, and the Bosphorus. Thanks to my polite cavalier, Mr. W., who was careful to obtain the sight of every spectacle for my gratification, whilst he himself was perfectly indifferent to them, and did not turn his head to see either the Sultan or the Turkish beauties.
“ What does amuse and interest you, then?” I asked, a little impatient at his stoicism.
“Fishing and hunting," he replied. And for these he is now on his way to the Crimea.
Whilst the storm rages without, and rain and mist obscure the outer beauty of Constantinople, I will say a few words about its inner aspect. This is less beautiful, nay, sometimes very ugly and disgusting. Outwardly the stranger is struck with its glorious situation; by its mosques on the heights ; by several of its palaces ; by the richness of the verdure which, in the three great divisions of the city, shines out so agreeably amongst the masses of houses, and gives to them such a beautiful variety; by the number of vessels and boats of all sizes which swarm along the shores. In the streets of the city there are no longer either palaces or parks, with the exception, however, of the Seraglio Point, which is as beautiful as it is a peculiar portion of the city ; for the rest, you find yourself in a labyrinth of winding, narrow, and dirty streets, of irregularly-built and ill-kept houses. Often you have to pass through masses of street sweepings; sometimes dead cats and dogs lie in your way. Disorder and filth seem to be at home in most parts of the city. It is only near the mosques that you find open spaces, planted with trees, and only near the palaces that you meet with order and ornamentation. Yet I say what is not quite correct. In every part of the city, even in the worst and poorest parts, you find one place and one building which is never devoid of beauty and care, and that is the well or fountain. The Mahomedan holds these in peculiar regard. He encloses them with a wall of white marble, from which the water flows into marble basins; he covers the wall with beautiful arabesques and flowers in bas-relief, as well as with texts from the Koran, always in Arabic, which remind the passer by to be thankful for the gift of water. Small metal basins are secured to the wall by chains, so that all who require it can drink freely. Frequently an ornamental fountain-house of stone or marl·le. arches in the water; and this is usually the legacy of some deceased Jassulman, who wished to leave this benefit and this nemora beiratim, an l for the maintenance and repair of which he generally also leares a fund. This is the case at Sultan Mahmoud s grare, where there is a splendid fountain-house, and where a man always stards, ready to fll sone of the hundreds of small dishes for any who desire a draught of fresh water. Provision is also made, with equal solicitade. to supply the thirst of the animals; and upon the prostrate rarestones in the large grave-yard, or, more properly speaking, wo i at Suntari (for you wander through an immense forest of cypresses ard gares, for the most per, an actual wil. derress), vou find sma!) hollows hewn in the stone, in order that the rain water may collect there for the li tle birds to bathe in and to drink-a beautiful and touching pietT, of which I cannot prevent myself carrying away a grateful memory. Hommasis remember the fountain which the angel shoved to their ances: or in the desert, when her son was ready to perish of thirst, and she - lifted up her voice and wept !" But the boy drank out of the desert well, and grew and became a great people. Conscious or unconscious, it seems to me that the sons of the desert desire to perpetuate his memory by continuing the blessing. Would that every people acted in the same spirit! How great is the blessing of springs of fresh water can only be properly understood in the hot and thirsty land of the East.
After the fountain, the coffee-house is the Mussulman's place of refreshment. At the former, you find principally women and children, who fill their jugs and gossip ; at the latter, only men. They sit outside by dozens and scores, smoking their Varghilis or Tschibuck as if they had nothing else in the world to do, and drink their coffee to the dregs out of coffee-cups the size of halfeggshells ; and between the pipe and coffee keep up a busy talk or listen to tellers of tales and adventures. That is the Turks greatest enjoyment and felicity, his Kirt-which is the same, but af the same time something more than the Italian's doler-far-niente. In every market-place you find a fountain, and at least three coffeehouses ; and you meet with the coffee-honse even where there is no fountain, but everywhere wherever a company of Turks is to be found.
If the Turk cannot get his coffee and his pipe thus, take good care, for he is in that case Muckmurluck (a Persian expression which I learned from my erudite friend, Mr. Von Heidenstam, and which seems to me worthy of adoption to express a condition of discomfort and illhumour), and his coffee-cup then introluces him into his Kief, and he becomes the most peaceable and best man in the world. He is the very opposite of Muckmurluck; he is Marabuh-that is to sat, blessed.
The Bazaar of Constantinople is Constantinople in small : you find here beautiful squares and splendid shops; but at the same time filthy streets and lanes, with mouldiness and rubbish and rags.
The broader walks are thronged with Turks and Greeks and Persians, easily recognisable by their tall sheepskin caps, and all kinds of people from the East and from the West, moving about, together with crowds of Turkish ladies, in their white veils and yellow slippers, which they slide along the ground in order not to lose from their feet. The bazaar is a little town of shops and covered walks ; and these covered, cool walks, where one need fear neither heat, rain, nor wind, are a good institution for the trader, which seems to me deserving of imitation.
The dogs of Constantinople deserve a separate chapter, and are a regular town-plague, as is the case in all the large cities of the East. The Mussulman will not kill a dog-why, I know not. He feeds the dogs in the city, but otherwise takes no care of them, and they increase and live in a state of incessant warfare amongst themselves. One-eyed, blind, maimed, they are met with at every step, lying in the streets and lanes, where they do not trouble themselves to get out of anybody's way. They appear in the highest degree discontented and unhappy-nay, often most miserable. I cannot admire the humanity of the Turks in this respect, and should not be sorry to see my friend, Mr. W., Police-master, in Constantinople for a week.
On Saturday, I leave Constantinople and Turkey for Greece and Athens.
Incessant storm, rain, and bad weather, and as cold as .with us in October.
The first feeling which the death of our great historian excites in the minds of his fellow-countrymen is a sense of immeasureable loss. He had read enormously, and his memory retained all its impressions with marvellous vivacity. He had not been content inerely to travel on the highway of letters-he had investigated all the byeways of learning—he had loitered in its shady lanes and nooks, he had traced the path of its ditches as well as of its brooks; there was nothing, however minute and apparently unworthy which his curiosity had spumed, which his judgment and imagination could not turn to account, and which his memory refused to carry. It is natural, therefore, at first sight, to think of the loss we have sustained as illimitable, and especially when we remember two things that he commenced his history with the