Page images
PDF
EPUB

The old story of the ladies standing unblemished virginity, and what, in a row, and the sultan's throwing in many instances, may heighten his handkerchief to his choice, is the idea of perfect paradise to not true. His preference is always themselves, upt again to be united officially communicated by the kis. with their former earthly husbands, làr-agha.

but to be allotted to oiher true " Šo dependent is opinion upon musulmans by the benevolence of education and the early habits of the prophet. life, that the state of female society « The females of the seraglio in the seraglio, is to themselves that are chiefly Georgian and Circatian of the most perfect happiness. It flaves, selected from all that are ei. was ordained by Mahommed that ther privately bought, or exposed women thould not be treated as in- to sale in the Avrèt bazar *, and, tellectual beings, left they thould for many reasous, are admitted at an aspire to equality with men. This early age. We may readily conclude system be found already prevalent that an assemblage of native beauty in the East, and received by his so exquisite, does not exiit in any converts, and therefore cannot be other place. charged with having curtailed their “ The education of these girls is libertyard social intercourse. very scrupulously attended to; they Throughout Turkey, in every rank are taught to dance with more luxe of life, the women are literally chil- uriante than grace, to sing and to dren of larger growth, as trifling in play on the tambourio, a species of their amusements as unbounded in guitar; and some of them excel in their desires, and as absolutely at embroidery. This arrangement is the disposal of others, being confi- conducted solely by the elder wo. dered by the men merely as created men, though from the taste for Eu. for the purposes of nature, or sexual ropean fashions, which sultan se luxury. None of our mistakes con- lim openly avows, some Greek wo cerning the opinions of the Turks, men have been lately introduced to is more unjust than that which re- teach them the barp and piano-forte, spects the notion attributed to them, which they had learned for that that women have no souls ; on the purpose. Amongst the five hun. other hand, they are promised in dred already mentioned the killarthe Koràn to be restored with all agha precisely settles all precedence. the charms of eternal youth and Some are disqualified by age from

« * The Avrèt Bazar (woman market) confifts of an inclosed court, with a cloifer and small apartments surrounding it. It is fupplied by female flaves brought from Ægypt, Abysiinia, Georgia, and Circaflia, who are exposed to public iale every Friday morning. Those from ihe first mentioned countries are generally purchased for domestic services, which, in a monial capacity, no Turkish woran will condescend to per. form; their persons or countenances are rarely beautiful, and their price feldom excess forty pounds English. The exquitite beauty of the others is enhanced by every an of drei's and oriental accomplishments, and they are usually sold for several thoutand piastres. Many are reserved for the teraglio, where though they are considered as moft fortunate, they are most frequently facrificed. Intrigues are concealed by the application of poisonous drugs which often occasion death, and upon detection of pregnancy they are instantly drowned. Ore shudders to relate how many of these viêlims are taken out into the sea at the dead of the night, and committed to the deep. Formerly, the Avrèt Bazar was open to Franks, who were supposed to purchase llaves in order to redeem them, but they are now excluded, by order of the present fultan's father."

the

the notice of the Sultan, and of curate information concerning the those who are considered as wives interior palace must be collected, there are four; he is restricted to and to such I am, at present, inseven, but as to concubines there debted. is no legal limitation, and their “ The articles of female habili. number depends on the inclination ment are infinite, both as to cost of their sublime master. The size and number; but change of fashion periors spend their time in a series is adopted only for the head attire, of sedentary amusements. Dreis, which happens with scarcely less the most fumptuous that can be frequency than in the courts of Euimagined, changed frequently in rope. They are imitated by the the course of the day, the most Greek ladies, whose dress differs little magnificent apartments and furni- from theirs; but the original Greek ture, visits of ceremony with each dress, rather than of the Turkilh other, and the incessant homage of harèm, is that described by lady M. their subordinate companions, fill Wortley Montague. Both the style their minds with a sort of fupine of beauty and the idea of improv, happivels, :which indeed is all that ing its effect by ornament amongst molt Turkish women aspire to, or the Ottoman women, have much are qualified to experience. fingularity. Of the few I have

Sometimes, as an indulgence, seen with an open veil, or without they are permitted to go to the one, the faces were remarkable for kiosques near the sea, of which cir. their symmetry and brilliant com. cumstance the officers of police are plexion, with the nose straight and i formed, that no vessel should ap- small, the eyes vivacious, either proach too near the seraglio point. black or dark blue, having the eyeEvery summer the sultan visits his brows partly from nature, and as palaces in rotation for a short time much from art, very fuil and joining with his harèm, when every pass over the nose. They have a custom and avenue, within three or five too of drawing a black line with a miles distance, is guarded by fierce mixture of powder of antimony and boftandjis *, left the approach of oil, called Surmèh, above and unany male being should contaminate der the eye. Ialhes in order to give, them.

the eye more fire.

Of the shape “ They depend entirely upon and air little can be said from our their female Naves for amusemer's idea of loveliness. All the Levanwhich have any thing like gaiety tine women, from their mode for their object, and recline on their fitting on their sofa, stoop extremefufas for hours, whilst dancing, co- ly,and walk very awkwardly. Warm medy, and buffoor.ery, as indelicate baths used without moderation, and as our vulgar puppet show', are exhi- aprelieved idleness, spoil in most bited before them. Greek and instances, by a complete relaxation Frank ladies occasionally visit them, of the folids, forms that nature in. whose husbands are connected with tended fould rival the elegance of the Porte as merchants or interpre- their countenances. The nails both ters, under pretence of thewing of the fingers and feettare always them curiofities from Europe.- ftained of a rose colour. Sich is From such opportunities all the ac- the taste of Asiatics. The discri. The sultan's body guard.

minative

F 3

[ocr errors]

minative trait of beauty between and bazars in groupes of muffied the Circassian and Greek women, is figures, or go to the cemeteries, the more majestic air and stature of where, upon itated days, under prethe former, while the latter excel tence of laying prayers at the graves upon a smaller scale, no less in of deceased friends, they enjoy the brilliancy of complexion, that in shade of cypresses, whilft loiteriog syminetry and delicacy of forin. away many hours; and thew unreThe ftatues of Juno, Minerva, or ftrained happiness, by the most vethe Amazons, are contrasted by that hement loquacity. Several times a of the Metlicean Venus. Both very year they are drawn in arabahs, or generally answer to Homer's de. painted waggons with a coveriag fcription of the full-eyed,' and of red cloth, by buffaloes gaudily • the deep.bofomed.'

harnessed, to some favourite retreat “ In the streets of Constantino- in the country, but never attended ple no female appears without her by the men of their family. feradjè and mahramah; the former “ That love of fplendid dress

resembles a loose riding coat with which distinguishes the nations of - a large square cape, covered with the East, pervades every rank of fe

quilted Gik, and hanging down low males. Those connected with the behind, made universally amongit · meanest labourer occasionally wear the Turks of green cloth, and a brocade, rich furs and embroidery mongst the Greeks and Armenians of gold or fiiver, which are willingof brown, or some grave colour. ly supplied by his daily toil. In The mahramah is formed by two large harèins the number of chil. pieces of mutlin, one of which is dren is proportionably finall, where tied under the chin, enveloping the few women produce more than head, and the other across the three. Much has been said conmouth and half the nose, admitting cerning the infidelity of the Turk. space enough for fight. Yellow ith women belonging to haréms of boots are drawn over the feet; and quality; whoever has passed a few thus equipped a woman may meet years in this country, muft know the public eye without scandal. that any scheme of gallantry would This dress is of very ancient inven. be utterly impracticable, however tion, calculated for concealment of they may have been prompted, by the person, nor can there be a more personal vanity, to impose a false complete disguite.

opinion on the world. in complete " In every civilized country the establishments they are guarded by middle ranks in society enjoy the those unfortunate men truest comfort. Whift the ladies of the harèms of great or opulent

• Who youth ne'er loved, and beauty ne'er

enjoyed ; Turks, are confoling themselves with fastidious indulgence, in luxu. and in those of lefs expence, by old ry unknown to the vulgar, the wives women, whose ceaseless vigilance is and concubines of fober citizens are equally secure. allowed almost a free intercourse " If such things ever happen, with each other. The men, mer. may be supposed of those who are chants or mechanics, are engaged permitted to gad abroad: but this in their various occupations, leave privilege is conditional, and never ing the whole day at the disposal without a certain oumber of relas of the women, who'walk the streets tives or neighbours.

“ During

“ During my residence at Pera, “ The real state of female slaves I heard of but one circumstance in Turkey has been much misrepreonly. A young Venetian served in fented. I do not allude to it prethe shop of an apothecary at Con- viously to their establishment in stantinople, wliom a Turkish lady, fome harèm, when exposed to sale attended only by her slave, came to with -practices of their owners confult, and was thewn into another equally repugnant to humanity and room, leaving the apprentice and decency : but when they become the fair Circailian alone. It is said, private property, they are well that nothing then called between clothed, and treated with kindness them. In a few days returning by their mistresses. If the husband with her miftrefs, and the same op- presents his wife with a female portunity recurring, the opened her Nave, she becomes her fole property, Fieart, proposed elopement, and and he cannot cohabit with her promifed much treafure. She kept without legal complaint of the her word, and they disappeared wife, exceptiog with her consent, without fubsequent detection. Up- which prudence generally inclines on discovery the punishment of her to give. No woman of Turk. these lovers would have been hor- ish birth can be an odalik, or do rible; he would have been impaled mestic slave. Illegitimacy is unalive, and the drowned in a sack. known, for every child, born of the Such a penal code as that of the wife or concubine, has nearly equal Turks, has in no period of corrup- rights. The superior privilege of tion been adopted by any nation of the wife confifts only in the partiChristians.

tion of the husband's property on * Infidelity or licentiousness in his decease, and the difficulty of women, is a subject of the feverest procuring a divorce without her crimination amongst the Turks, and acquiescence.

Odaliks are

diftheir punishment of it borders up- misled and resold at pleasure, if on gross barbarity. That branch they have borne no child. But it of police is under the jurisdiction frequently happens that they become of the bostandji baflii, or captain of confidential with their miftreffes, the guard, with many interior of- are emancipated, and married to ficers. When any of these misera- husbands whom they provide for ble girls are apprehended, for the them. Few young men have more first time they are put tù hard la- than one wife, but the elder, if bour, and strictly confined; but for opulent, indulge themselves to the the second they are re-committed, extent of the prophet's licence. and many at a time tied up in facks, My fair countrywomen, from so and taken in a boat to the Seraglio. light a sketch of female economy point, where they are thrown into in this eccentric nation, niay forn: the tide. The Turks excuse this favonrable conclusions respecting Cruelty by pleading the law, and that of our own. They may rest adding that every woman has it in affured, that in no other country her power to be attached to one are the moral duties and rational man, by kebion, or contract for a liberty fo juftly appreciated, or fo certain term before the kady, which generally rewarded with happiceremony would exempt them from nels.” the cognizance of the police,

[blocks in formation]

OBSERVATIONS and ANECDOTES, illuftrative of the present POLICZ,
Commerce, State of Society, and MANNERS at ConstANTINOPLE.

[From the same Work.)
“THE greater part of the night prise; there is no noise of carri.
is little discrimina:ed from the of men' are scarcely different from
broad day in the bustle of crowded the abode of Glence.
fireets, but the last muezzin has “ Much of the romantie air
scarcelv called the hour of evening which pervades the domestic habits
prayer before each habitually fober of the persons described in the Ara-
musulman retires from public no- bian Nights' Entertainments, parti-
tice, and the resort of thousands cularly in inferior life, will be ob-
during a long day, from sun rise to served in passing through the street:.
sun set, becomes an unoccupied And we recur with additional plea-
space, like a defert. One hour af. sure to a remembrance of the de-
ter sun set every gate of the city is light with which we at first perused
Thut, and entrance strictly prohibit them, in finding them authentic
ed.

portraits of every oriental nation. 66 The houses of the opulent “ Some years ago no Frank could Turks are large, with the most con- walk in Constantinople without the venient part appropriated as the risque of incurring insult, and the harèm, which is usually surrounded merchants of Pera were usually with a court, be it ever so small, protected by a janissary. At this having a fountain in the midst. rime no molestation is to be feared, These apartments are remarkable at least by a person who is prudent for their neatness, and all the ac. enough to give the upper hand to commodation that the climate and a Turk. This favourable change architecture will admit: for it is has taken place only since the conhere only that the poffeffor displays clufion of the war in 1774. Many any expence in ornament, or furni- victories in succession had persuad.. ture. As to the houses in general, ed them of their superiority over they are mere comfortless wooden the Christians, of whom they have boxes, cool in summer, but ill several millions of subjects; till at adapted to wet or cold weather, the time above mentioned prince being full of unglazed windows, Repnin, attended by fix hundred and without fire-places; in winter soldiers, with their drawn swords,

supplied by earthen pans of char- paraded through the city, when he coal, which fuffocate wbilst they came to give them that peace, warm yoll. The ground floor is a which they had so humbiy begged continuation of the street, and the of the Russians. This circumstance staircase a dirty ladder, frequently has had a wonderful effect in rein darkness.

ducing the infolence and ferocity of “ That such a stillness should their national character. reign in the crowded streets of a “ Fires are so frequent that few capital, who ever has vilited those months pass without them, and of Europe, will observe with fur. they are generally fo furious, that

whole

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »