HotFreeBooks.com
The Lands of the Saracen - Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain
by Bayard Taylor
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Turning westward, we crossed a high rolling tract, and entered a valley entirely covered with dwarf oaks and cedars. In spite of the dusty road, the heat, and the multitude of gad-flies, the journey presented an agreeable contrast to the great plains over which we had been travelling for many days. The opposite side of the glen was crowned with a tall crest of shattered rock, in which were many old Phrygian tombs. They were mostly simple chambers, with square apertures. There were traces of many more, the rock having been blown up or quarried down—the tombs, instead of protecting it, only furnishing one facility the more for destruction. After an hour's rest at a fountain, we threaded the windings of the glen to a lower plain, quite shut in by the hills, whose ribs of marble showed through the forests of oak, holly, cedar, and pine, which dotted them. We were now fully entered into the hill-country, and our road passed over heights and through hollows covered with picturesque clumps of foliage. It resembled some of the wild western downs of America, and, but for the Phrygian tombs, whose doorways stared at us from every rock, seemed as little familiar with the presence of Man.

Hadji Youssuf, in stopping to arrange some of the baggage, lost his hold of his mule, and in spite of every effort to secure her, the provoking beast kept her liberty for the rest of the day. In vain did we head her off, chase her, coax her, set traps for her: she was too cunning to be taken in, and marched along at her ease, running into every field of grain, stopping to crop the choicest bunches of grass, or walking demurely in the caravan, allowing the hadji to come within arm's length before she kicked up her heels and dashed away again. We had a long chase through the clumps of oak and holly, but all to no purpose. The great green gad-flies swarmed around us, biting myself as well as my horse. Hecatombs, crushed by my whip, dropped dead in the dust, but the ranks were immediately filled from some invisible reserve. The soil was no longer bare, but entirely covered with grass and flowers. In one of the valleys I saw a large patch of the crimson larkspur, so thick as to resemble a pool of blood. While crossing a long, hot hill, we came upon a little arbor of stones, covered with pine branches. It inclosed an ancient sarcophagus of marble, nearly filled with water. Beside it stood a square cup, with a handle, rudely hewn out of a piece of pine wood. This was a charitable provision for travellers, and constantly supplied by the Turcomans who lived in the vicinity.

The last two hours of our journey that day were through a glorious forest of pines. The road lay in a winding glen, green and grassy, and covered to the summits on both sides with beautiful pine trees, intermixed with cedar. The air had the true northern aroma, and was more grateful than wine. Every turn of the glen disclosed a charming woodland view. It was a wild valley of the northern hills, filled with the burning lustre of a summer sun, and canopied by the brilliant blue of a summer sky. There were signs of the woodman's axe, and the charred embers of forest camp-fires. I thought of the lovely canadas in the pine forests behind Monterey, and could really have imagined myself there. Towards evening we reached a solitary guard-house, on the edge of the forest. The glen here opened a little, and a stone fountain of delicious water furnished all that we wanted for a camping-place. The house was inhabited by three soldiers; sturdy, good-humored fellows, who immediately spread a mat in the shade for us and made us some excellent coffee. A Turcoman encampment in the neighborhood supplied us with milk and eggs.

The guardsmen were good Mussulmans, and took us for the same. One of them asked me to let him know when the sun was down, and I prolonged his fast until it was quite dark, when I gave him permission to eat. They all had tolerable stallions for their service, and seemed to live pleasantly enough, in their wild way. The fat, stumpy corporal, with his enormously broad pantaloons and automaton legs, went down to the fountain with his musket, and after taking a rest and sighting full five minutes, fired at a dove without hitting it. He afterwards joined us in a social pipe, and we sat on a carpet at the door of the guard-house, watching the splendid moonrise through the pine boughs. When the pipes had burned out I went to bed, and slept a long, sweet sleep until dawn.

We knew that the tombs of the Phrygian Kings could not be far off, and, on making inquiries of the corporal, found that he knew the place. It was not four hours distant, by a by-road and as it would be impossible to reach it without a guide, he would give us one of his men, in consideration of a fee of twenty piastres. The difficulty was evident, in a hilly, wooded country like this, traversed by a labyrinth of valleys and ravines, and so we accepted the soldier. As we were about leaving, an old Turcoman, whose beard was dyed a bright red, came up, saying that he knew Mr. H. was a physician, and could cure him of his deafness. The morning air was sweet with the breath of cedar and pine, and we rode on through the woods and over the open turfy glades, in high spirits. We were in the heart of a mountainous country, clothed with evergreen forests, except some open upland tracts, which showed a thick green turf, dotted all over with park-like clumps, and single great trees. The pines were noble trunks, often sixty to eighty feet high, and with boughs disposed in all possible picturesqueness of form. The cedar frequently showed a solid white bole, three feet in diameter.

We took a winding footpath, often a mere track, striking across the hills in a northern direction. Everywhere we met the Turks of the plain, who are now encamped in the mountains, to tend their flocks through the summer months. Herds of sheep and goats were scattered over the green pasture-slopes, and the idle herd-boys basked in the morning sun, playing lively airs on a reed flute, resembling the Arabic zumarra. Here and there was a woodman, busy at a recently felled tree, and we met several of the creaking carts of the country, hauling logs. All that we saw had a pleasant rural air, a smack of primitive and unsophisticated life. From the higher ridges over which we passed, we could see, far to the east and west, other ranges of pine-covered mountains, and in the distance the cloudy lines of loftier chains. The trunks of the pines were nearly all charred, and many of the smaller trees dead, from the fires which, later in the year, rage in these forests.

After four hours of varied and most inspiring travel, we reached a district covered for the most part with oak woods—a more open though still mountainous region. There was a summer village of Turks scattered over the nearest slope—probably fifty houses in all, almost perfect counterparts of Western log-cabins. They were built of pine logs, laid crosswise, and covered with rough boards. These, as we were told, were the dwellings of the people who inhabit the village of Khosref Pasha Khan during the winter. Great numbers of sheep and goats were browsing over the hills or lying around the doors of the houses. The latter were beautiful creatures, with heavy, curved horns, and long, white, silky hair, that entirely hid their eyes. We stopped at a house for water, which the man brought out in a little cask. He at first proposed giving us yaourt, and his wife suggested kaimak (sweet curds), which we agreed to take, but it proved to be only boiled milk.

Leaving the village, we took a path leading westward, mounted a long hill, and again entered the pine forests. Before long, we came to a well-built country-house, somewhat resembling a Swiss cottage. It was two stories high, and there was an upper balcony, with cushioned divans, overlooking a thriving garden-patch and some fruit-trees. Three or four men were weeding in the garden, and the owner came up and welcomed us. A fountain of ice-cold water gushed into a stone trough at the door, making a tempting spot for our breakfast, but we were bent on reaching the tombs. There were convenient out-houses for fowls, sheep, and cattle. The herds were out, grazing along the edges of the forest, and we heard the shrill, joyous melodies of the flutes blown by the herd-boys.

We now reached a ridge, whence we looked down through the forest upon a long valley, nearly half a mile wide, and bordered on the opposite side by ranges of broken sandstone crags. This was the place we sought—the Valley of the Phrygian Tombs. Already we could distinguish the hewn faces of the rocks, and the dark apertures to the chambers within. The bottom of the valley was a bed of glorious grass, blazoned with flowers, and redolent of all vernal smells. Several peasants, finding it too hot to mow, had thrown their scythes along the swarths, and were lying in the shade of an oak. We rode over the new-cut hay, up the opposite side, and dismounted at the face of the crags. As we approached them, the number of chambers hewn in the rock, the doors and niches now open to the day, surmounted by shattered spires and turrets, gave the whole mass the appearance of a grand fortress in ruins. The crags, which are of a very soft, reddish-gray sandstone, rise a hundred and fifty feet from their base, and their summits are worn by the weather into the most remarkable forms.

The principal monument is a broad, projecting cliff, one side of which has been cut so as to resemble the facade of a temple. The sculptured part is about sixty feet high by sixty in breadth, and represents a solid wall with two pilasters at the ends, upholding an architrave and pediment, which is surmounted by two large volutes. The whole face of the wall is covered with ornaments resembling panel-work, not in regular squares, but a labyrinth of intricate designs. In the centre, at the bottom, is a shallow square recess, surrounded by an elegant, though plain moulding, but there is no appearance of an entrance to the sepulchral chamber, which may be hidden in the heart of the rock. There is an inscription in Greek running up one side, but it is of a later date than the work itself. On one of the tombs there is an inscription: "To King Midas." These relics are supposed to date from the period of the Gordian Dynasty, about seven centuries before Christ.

A little in front of a headland, formed by the summit walls of two meeting valleys, rises a mass of rocks one hundred feet high, cut into sepulchral chambers, story above story, with the traces of steps between them, leading to others still higher. The whole rock, which may be a hundred and fifty feet long by fifty feet broad, has been scooped out, leaving but narrow partitions to separate the chambers of the dead. These chambers are all plain, but some are of very elegant proportions, with arched or pyramidal roofs, and arched recesses at the sides, containing sarcophagi hewn in the solid stone. There are also many niches for cinerary urns. The principal tomb had a portico, supported by columns, but the front is now entirely hurled down, and only the elegant panelling and stone joists of the ceiling remain. The entire hill was a succession of tombs. There is not a rock which does not bear traces of them. I might have counted several hundred within a stone's throw. The position of these curious remains in a lonely valley, shut in on all sides by dark, pine-covered mountains—-two of which are crowned with a natural acropolis of rock, resembling a fortress—increases the interest with which they inspire the beholder. The valley on the western side, with its bed of ripe wheat in the bottom, its tall walls, towers, and pinnacles of rock, and its distant vista of mountain and forest, is the most picturesque in Phrygia.

The Turcoman reapers, who came up to see us and talk with us, said that there were the remains of walls on the summit of the principal acropolis opposite us, and that, further up the valley, there was a chamber with two columns in front. Mr. Harrison and I saddled and rode off, passing along a wall of fantastic rock-turrets, at the base of which was a natural column, about ten feet high, and five in diameter, almost perfectly round, and upholding an immense rock, shaped like a cocked hat. In crossing the meadow we saw a Turk sitting in the sun beside a spring, and busily engaged in knitting a stocking. After a ride of two miles we found the chamber, hewn like the facade of a temple in an isolated rock, overlooking two valleys of wild meadow-land. The pediment and cornice were simple and beautiful, but the columns had been broken away. The chambers were perfectly plain, but the panel-work on the ceiling of the portico was entire.

After passing three hours in examining these tombs, we took the track which our guide pointed out as the road to Kiutahya. We rode two hours through the forest, and came out upon a wooded height, overlooking a grand, open valley, rich in grain-fields and pasture land. While I was contemplating this lovely view, the road turned a corner of the ridge, and lo! before me there appeared (as I thought), above the tops of the pines, high up on the mountain side, a line of enormous tents. Those snow-white cones, uprearing their sharp spires, and spreading out their broad bases—what could they be but an encampment of monster tents? Yet no; they were pinnacles of white rock—perfect cones, from thirty to one hundred feet in height, twelve in all, and ranged side by side along the edge of the cliff, with the precision of a military camp. They were snow-white, perfectly smooth and full, and their bases touched. What made the spectacle more singular, there was no other appearance of the same rock on the mountain. All around them was the dark-green of the pines, out of which they rose like drifted horns of unbroken snow. I named this singular phenomenon—which seems to have escaped the notice of travellers—The Titan's Camp.

In another hour we reached a fountain near the village of Kuembeh, and pitched our tents for the night. The village, which is half a mile in length, is built upon a singular crag, which shoots up abruptly from the centre of the valley, rising at one extremity to a height of more than a hundred feet. It was entirely deserted, the inhabitants having all gone off to the mountains with their herds. The solitary muezzin, who cried the mughreb at the close of the fast, and lighted the lamps on his minaret, went through with his work in most unclerical haste, now that there was no one to notice him. We sent Achmet, the katurgee, to the mountain camp of the villagers, to procure a supply of fowls and barley.

We rose very early yesterday morning, shivering in the cold air of the mountains, and just as the sun, bursting through the pines, looked down the little hollow where our tents were pitched, set the caravan in motion. The ride down the valley was charming. The land was naturally rich and highly cultivated, which made its desertion the more singular. Leagues of wheat, rye and poppies spread around us, left for the summer warmth to do its silent work. The dew sparkled on the fields as we rode through them, and the splendor of the flowers in blossom was equal to that of the plains of Palestine. There were purple, white and scarlet poppies; the rich crimson larkspur; the red anemone; the golden daisy; the pink convolvulus; and a host of smaller blooms, so intensely bright and dazzling in their hues, that the meadows were richer than a pavement of precious jewels. To look towards the sun, over a field of scarlet poppies, was like looking on a bed of live coals; the light, striking through the petals, made them burn as with an inward fire. Out of this wilderness of gorgeous color, rose the tall spires of a larger plant, covered with great yellow flowers, while here and there the snowy blossoms of a clump of hawthorn sweetened the morning air.

A short distance beyond Kuembeh, we passed another group of ancient tombs, one of which was of curious design. An isolated rock, thirty feet in height by twenty in diameter, was cut so as to resemble a triangular tower, with the apex bevelled. A chamber, containing a sarcophagus, was hewn out of the interior. The entrance was ornamented with double columns in bas-relief, and a pediment. There was another arched chamber, cut directly through the base of the triangle, with a niche on each side, hollowed out at the bottom so as to form a sarcophagus.

Leaving these, the last of the Phrygian tombs, we struck across the valley and ascended a high range of hills, covered with pine, to an upland, wooded region. Here we found a summer village of log cabins, scattered over a grassy slope. The people regarded us with some curiosity, and the women hastily concealed their faces. Mr. H. rode up to a large new house, and peeped in between the logs. There were several women inside, who started up in great confusion and threw over their heads whatever article was most convenient. An old man, with a long white beard, neatly dressed in a green jacket and shawl turban, came out and welcomed us. I asked for kaimak, which he promised, and immediately brought out a carpet and spread it on the ground. Then followed a large basin of kaimak, with wooden spoons, three loaves of bread, and a plate of cheese. We seated ourselves on the carpet, and delved in with the spoons, while the old man retired lest his appetite should be provoked. The milk was excellent, nor were the bread and cheese to be despised.

While we were eating, the Khowagee, or schoolmaster of the community, a genteel little man in a round white turban, came op to inquire of Francois who we were. "That effendi in the blue dress," said he, "is the Bey, is he not?" "Yes," said F. "And the other, with the striped shirt and white turban, is a writer?" [Here he was not far wrong.] "But how is it that the effendis do not speak Turkish?" he persisted. "Because," said Francois, "their fathers were exiled by Sultan Mahmoud when they were small children. They have grown up in Aleppo like Arabs, and have not yet learned Turkish; but God grant that the Sultan may not turn his face away from them, and that they may regain the rank their fathers once had in Stamboul." "God grant it!" replied the Khowagee, greatly interested in the story. By this time we had eaten our full share of the kaimak, which was finished by Francois and the katurgees. The old man now came up, mounted on a dun mare, stating that he was bound for Kiutahya, and was delighted with the prospect of travelling in such good company, I gave one of his young children some money, as the kaimak was tendered out of pure hospitality, and so we rode off.

Our new companion was armed to the teeth, having a long gun with a heavy wooden stock and nondescript lock, and a sword of excellent metal. It was, in fact, a weapon of the old Greek empire, and the cross was still enamelled in gold at the root of the blade, in spite of all his efforts to scratch it out. He was something of a fakeer, having made a pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem. He was very inquisitive, plying Francois with questions about the government. The latter answered that we were not connected with the government, but the old fellow shrewdly hinted that he knew better—we were persons of rank, travelling incognito. He was very attentive to us, offering us water at every fountain, although he believed us to be good Mussulmans. We found him of some service as a guide, shortening our road by taking by-paths through the woods.

For several hours we traversed a beautifully wooded region of hills. Graceful clumps of pine shaded the grassy knolls, where the sheep and silky-haired goats were basking at rest, and the air was filled with a warm, summer smell, blown from the banks of golden broom. Now and then, from the thickets of laurel and arbutus, a shrill shepherd's reed piped some joyous woodland melody. Was it a Faun, astray among the hills? Green dells, open to the sunshine, and beautiful as dreams of Arcady, divided the groves of pine. The sky overhead was pure and cloudless, clasping the landscape with its belt of peace and silence. Oh, that delightful region, haunted by all the bright spirits of the immortal Grecian Song! Chased away from the rest of the earth, here they have found a home—here secret altars remain to them from the times that are departed!

Out of these woods, we passed into a lonely plain, inclosed by piny hills that brightened in the thin, pure ether. In the distance were some shepherds' tents, and musical goat-bells tinkled along the edges of the woods. From the crest of a lofty ridge beyond this plain, we looked back over the wild solitudes wherein we had been travelling for two days—long ranges of dark hills, fading away behind each other, with a perspective that hinted of the hidden gulfs between. From the western slope, a still more extensive prospect opened before us. Over ridges covered with forests of oak and pine, we saw the valley of the Pursek, the ancient Thymbrius, stretching far away to the misty line of Keshish Dagh, The mountains behind Kintahya loomed up high and grand, making a fine feature in the middle distance. We caught but fleeting glimpses of the view through the trees; and then, plunging into the forest again, descended to a cultivated slope, whereon there was a little village, now deserted. The graveyard beside it was shaded with large cedar-trees, and near it there was a fountain of excellent water. "Here," said the old man, "you can wash and pray, and then rest awhile under the trees." Francois excused us by saying that, while on a journey, we always bathed before praying; but, not to slight his faith entirely, I washed my hands and face before sitting down to our scanty breakfast of bread and water.

Our path now led down through long, winding glens, over grown with oaks, from which the wild yellow honeysuckles fell in a shower of blossoms. As we drew near the valley, the old man began to hint that his presence had been of great service to us, and deserved recompense. "God knows," said he to Francois, "in what corner of the mountains you might now be, if I had not accompanied you." "Oh," replied Francois, "there are always plenty of people among the woods, who would have been equally as kind as yourself in showing us the way." He then spoke of the robbers in the neighborhood, and pointed out some graves by the road-side, as those of persons who had been murdered. "But," he added, "everybody in these parts knows me, and whoever is in company with me is always safe." The Greek assured him that we always depended on ourselves for our safety. Defeated on these tacks, he boldly affirmed that his services were worthy of payment. "But," said Francois "you told us at the village that you had business in Kiutahya, and would be glad to join us for the sake of having company on the road." "Well, then," rejoined the old fellow, making a last effort, "I leave the matter to your politeness." "Certainly," replied the imperturbable dragoman, "we could not be so impolite as to offer money to a man of your wealth and station; we could not insult you by giving you alms." The old Turcoman thereupon gave a shrug and a grunt, made a sullen good-by salutation, and left us.

It was nearly six o'clock when we reached the Pursek. There was no sign of the city, but we could barely discern an old fortress on the lofty cliff which commands the town. A long stone bridge crossed the river, which here separates into half a dozen channels. The waters are swift and clear, and wind away in devious mazes through the broad green meadows. We hurried on, thinking we saw minarets in the distance, but they proved to be poplars. The sun sank lower and lower, and finally went down before there was any token of our being in the vicinity of the city. Soon, however, a line of tiled roofs appeared along the slope of a hill on our left, and turning its base, we saw the city before us, filling the mouth of a deep valley or gorge, which opened from the mountains.

But the horses are saddled, and Francois tells me it is time to put up my pen. We are off, over the mountains, to the Greek city of OEzani, in the valley of the Rhyndacus.



Chapter XXIII.

Kiutahya and the Ruins of OEzani.

Entrance into Kiutahya—The New Khan—An Unpleasant Discovery—Kiutahya—The Citadel—Panorama from the Walls—The Gorge of the Mountains—Camp in a Meadow—The Valley of the Rhyndacus—Chavduer—The Ruins of OEzani—The Acropolis and Temple—The Theatre and Stadium—Ride down the Valley—Camp at Daghje Koei

"There is a temple in ruin stands, Fashioned by long-forgotten hands; Two or three columns and many a stone, Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown! Out upon Time! it will leave no more Of the things to come than the things before!"

Daghje Koei, on the Rhyndacus, July 6, 1852.

On entering Kiutahya, we passed the barracks, which were the residence of Kossuth and his companions in exile. Beyond them, we came to a broad street, down which flowed the vilest stream of filth of which even a Turkish city could ever boast. The houses on either side were two stories high, the upper part of wood, with hanging balconies, over which shot the eaves of the tiled roofs. The welcome cannon had just sounded, announcing the close of the day's fast. The coffee-shops were already crowded with lean and hungry customers, the pipes were filled and lighted, and the coffee smoked in the finjans. In half a minute such whiffs arose on all sides as it would have cheered the heart of a genuine smoker to behold. Out of these cheerful places we passed into other streets which were entirely deserted, the inhabitants being at dinner. It had a weird, uncomfortable effect to ride through streets where the clatter of our horses' hoofs was the only sound of life. At last we reached the entrance to a bazaar, and near it a khan—a new khan, very neatly built, and with a spare room so much better than we expected, that we congratulated ourselves heartily. We unpacked in a hurry, and Francois ran off to the bazaar, from which he speedily returned with some roast kid, cucumbers, and cherries. We lighted two lamps, I borrowed the oda-bashi's narghileh, and Francois, learning that it was our national anniversary, procured us a flask of Greek wine, that we might do it honor. The beverage, however, resembled a mixture of vinegar and sealing-wax, and we contented ourselves with drinking patriotic toasts, in two finjans of excellent coffee. But in the midst of our enjoyment, happening to cast my eye on the walls, I saw a sight that turned all our honey into gall. Scores on scores—nay, hundreds on hundreds—of enormous bed-bugs swarmed on the plaster, and were already descending to our beds and baggage. To sleep there was impossible, but we succeeded in getting possession of one of the outside balconies, where we made our beds, after searching them thoroughly.

In the evening a merchant, who spoke a little Arabic, came up to me and asked: "Is not your Excellency's friend the hakim pasha" (chief physician). I did not venture to assent, but replied: "No; he is a sowakh" This was beyond his comprehension, and he went away with the impression that Mr. H. was much greater than a hakim pasha. I slept soundly on my out-doors bed, but was awakened towards morning by two tremendous claps of thunder, echoing in the gorge, and the rattling of rain on the roof of the khan.

I spent two or three hours next morning in taking a survey of Kiutahya. The town is much larger than I had supposed: I should judge it to contain from fifty to sixty thousand inhabitants. The situation is remarkable, and gives a picturesque effect to the place when seen from above, which makes one forget its internal filth. It is built in the mouth of a gorge, and around the bases of the hills on either side. The lofty mountains which rise behind it supply it with perpetual springs of pure water. At every dozen steps you come upon a fountain, and every large street has a brook in the centre. The houses are all two and many of them three stories high, with hanging balconies, which remind me much of Switzerland. The bazaars are very extensive, covering all the base of the hill on which stands the ancient citadel. The goods displayed were mostly European cotton fabrics, quincaillerie, boots and slippers, pipe-sticks and silks. In the parts devoted to the produce of the country, I saw very fine cherries, cucumbers and lettuce, and bundles of magnificent clover, three to four feet high.

We climbed a steep path to the citadel, which covers the summit of an abrupt, isolated hill, connected by a shoulder with the great range. The walls are nearly a mile in circuit, consisting almost wholly of immense circular buttresses, placed so near each other that they almost touch. The connecting walls are broken down on the northern side, so that from below the buttresses have the appearance of enormous shattered columns. They are built of rough stones, with regular layers of flat, burnt bricks. On the highest part of the hill stands the fortress, or stronghold, a place which must have been almost impregnable before the invention of cannon. The structure probably dates from the ninth or tenth century, but is built on the foundations of more ancient edifices. The old Greek city of Cotyaeum (whence Kiutahya) probably stood upon this hill. Within the citadel is an upper town, containing about a hundred houses, the residence, apparently of poor families.

From the circuit of the walls, on every side, there are grand views over the plain, the city, and the gorges of the mountains behind. The valley of the Pursek, freshened by the last night's shower, spread out a sheet of vivid green, to the pine-covered mountains which bounded it on all sides. Around the city it was adorned with groves and gardens, and, in the direction of Brousa, white roads went winding away to other gardens and villages in the distance. The mountains of Phrygia, through which we had passed, were the loftiest in the circle that inclosed the valley. The city at our feet presented a thick array of red-tiled roofs, out of which rose here and there the taper shaft of a minaret, or the dome of a mosque or bath. From the southern side of the citadel, we looked down into the gorge which supplies Kiutahya with water—a wild, desert landscape of white crags and shattered peaks of gray rock, hanging over a narrow winding bed of the greenest foliage.

Instead of taking the direct road to Brousa, we decided to make a detour of two days, in order to visit the ruins of the old Greek city of OEzani, which are thirty-six miles south of Kiutahya. Leaving at noon, we ascended the gorge behind the city, by delightfully embowered paths, at first under the eaves of superb walnut-trees, and then through wild thickets of willow, hazel, privet, and other shrubs, tangled together with the odorous white honeysuckle. Near the city, the mountain-sides were bare white masses of gypsum and other rock, in many places with the purest chrome-yellow hue; but as we advanced they were clothed to the summit with copsewood. The streams that foamed down these perennial heights were led into buried channels, to come to light again in sparkling fountains, pouring into ever-full stone basins. The day was cool and cloudy, and the heavy shadows which hung on the great sides of the mountain gateway, heightened, by contrast, the glory of the sunlit plain seen through them.

After passing the summit ridge, probably 5,000 feet above the sea, we came upon a wooded, hilly region, stretching away in long misty lines to Murad Dagh, whose head was spotted with snow. There were patches of wheat and rye in the hollows, and the bells of distant herds tinkled occasionally among the trees. There was no village on the road, and we were on the way to one which we saw in the distance, when we came upon a meadow of good grass, with a small stream running through it. Here we encamped, sending Achmet, the katurgee, to the village for milk and eggs. The ewes had just been milked for the suppers of their owners, but they went over the flock again, stripping their udders, which greatly improved the quality of the milk. The night was so cold that I could scarcely sleep during the morning hours. There was a chill, heavy dew on the meadow; but when Francois awoke me at sunrise, the sky was splendidly clear and pure, and the early beams had a little warmth in them. Our coffee, before starting, made with sheep's milk, was the richest I ever drank.

After riding for two hours across broad, wild ridges, covered with cedar, we reached a height overlooking the valley of the Rhyndacus, or rather the plain whence he draws his sources—a circular level, ten or twelve miles in diameter, and contracting towards the west into a narrow dell, through which his waters find outlet; several villages, each embowered in gardens, were scattered along the bases of the hills that inclose it. We took the wrong road, but were set aright by a herdsman, and after threading a lane between thriving grain-fields, were cheered by the sight of the Temple of OEzani, lifted on its acropolis above the orchards of Chavduer, and standing out sharp and clear against the purple of the hills.

Our approach to the city was marked by the blocks of sculptured marble that lined the way: elegant mouldings, cornices, and entablatures, thrown together with common stone to make walls between the fields. The village is built on both sides of the Rhyndacus; it is an ordinary Turkish hamlet, with tiled roofs and chimneys, and exhibits very few of the remains of the old city in its composition. This, I suspect, is owing to the great size of the hewn blocks, especially of the pillars, cornices, and entablatures, nearly all of which are from twelve to fifteen feet long. It is from the size and number of these scattered blocks, rather than from the buildings which still partially exist, that one obtains an idea of the size and splendor of the ancient OEzani. The place is filled with fragments, especially of columns, of which there are several hundred, nearly all finely fluted. The Rhyndacus is still spanned by an ancient bridge of three arches, and both banks are lined with piers of hewn stone. Tall poplars and massy walnuts of the richest green shade the clear waters, and there are many picturesque combinations of foliage and ruin—death and life—which would charm a painter's eye. Near the bridge we stopped to examine a pile of immense fragments which have been thrown together by the Turks—pillars, cornices, altars, pieces of a frieze, with bulls' heads bound together by hanging garlands, and a large square block, with a legible tablet. It resembled an altar in form, and, from the word "Artemidoron" appeared to have belonged to some temple to Diana.

Passing through the village we came to a grand artificial platform on its western side, called the Acropolis. It is of solid masonry, five hundred feet square, and averaging ten feet in height. On the eastern side it is supported on rude though massive arches, resembling Etruscan workmanship. On the top and around the edges of this platform lie great numbers of fluted columns, and immense fragments of cornice and architrave. In the centre, on a foundation platform about eight feet high, stands a beautiful Ionic temple, one hundred feet in length. On approaching, it appeared nearly perfect, except the roof, and so many of the columns remain standing that its ruined condition scarcely injures the effect. There are seventeen columns on the side and eight at the end, Ionic in style, fluted, and fifty feet in height. About half the cella remains, with an elegant frieze and cornice along the top, and a series of tablets, set in panels of ornamental sculpture, running along the sides. The front of the cella includes a small open peristyle, with two composite Corinthian columns at the entrance, making, with those of the outer colonnade, eighteen columns standing. The tablets contain Greek inscriptions, perfectly legible, where the stone has not been shattered. Under the temple there are large vaults, which we found filled up with young kids, who had gone in there to escape the heat of the sun. The portico was occupied by sheep, which at first refused to make room for us, and gave strong olfactory evidence of their partiality for the temple as a resting-place.

On the side of a hill, about three hundred yards to the north, are the remains of a theatre. Crossing some patches of barley and lentils, we entered a stadium, forming an extension of the theatre—-that is, it took the same breadth and direction, so that the two might be considered as one grand work, more than one thousand feet long by nearly four hundred wide. The walls of the stadium are hurled down, except an entrance of five arches of massive masonry, on the western side. We rode up the artificial valley, between high, grassy hills, completely covered with what at a distance resembled loose boards, but which were actually the long marble seats of the stadium. Urging our horses over piles of loose blocks, we reached the base of the theatre, climbed the fragments that cumber the main entrance, and looked on the spacious arena and galleries within. Although greatly ruined, the materials of the whole structure remain, and might be put together again. It is a grand wreck; the colossal fragments which have tumbled from the arched proscenium fill the arena, and the rows of seats, though broken and disjointed, still retain their original order. It is somewhat more than a semicircle, the radius being about one hundred and eighty feet. The original height was upwards of fifty feet, and there were fifty rows of seats in all, each row capable of seating two hundred persons, so that the number of spectators who could be accommodated was eight thousand.

The fragments cumbering the arena were enormous, and highly interesting from their character. There were rich blocks of cornice, ten feet long; fluted and reeded pillars; great arcs of heavily-carved sculpture, which appeared to have served as architraves from pillar to pillar, along the face of the proscenium, where there was every trace of having been a colonnade; and other blocks sculptured with figures of animals in alto-relievo. There were generally two figures on each block, and among those which could be recognized were the dog and the lion. Doors opened from the proscenium into the retiring-rooms of the actors, under which were the vaults where the beasts were kept. A young fox or jackal started from his siesta as we entered the theatre, and took refuge under the loose blocks. Looking backwards through the stadium from the seats of the theatre, we had a lovely view of the temple, standing out clear and bright in the midst of the summer plain, with the snow-streaked summits of Murad Dagh in the distance. It was a picture which I shall long remember. The desolation of the magnificent ruins was made all the more impressive by the silent, solitary air of the region around them.

Leaving Chavduer in the afternoon, we struck northward, down the valley of the Rhyndacus, over tracts of rolling land, interspersed with groves of cedar and pine. There were so many branch roads and crossings that we could not fail to go wrong; and after two or three hours found ourselves in the midst of a forest, on the broad top of a mountain, without any road at all. There were some herdsmen tending their flocks near at hand, but they could give us no satisfactory direction. We thereupon, took our own course, and soon brought up on the brink of a precipice, overhanging a deep valley. Away to the eastward we caught a glimpse of the Rhyndacus, and the wooden minaret of a little village on his banks. Following the edge of the precipice, we came at last to a glen, down which ran a rough footpath that finally conducted us, by a long road through the forests, to the village of Daghje Koei, where we are now encamped.

The place seems to be devoted to the making of flints, and the streets are filled with piles of the chipped fragments. Our tent is pitched on the bank of the river, in a barren meadow. The people tell us that the whole region round about has just been visited by a plague of grasshoppers, which have destroyed their crops. Our beasts have wandered off to the hills, in search for grass, and the disconsolate Hadji is hunting them. Achmet, the katurgee, lies near the fire, sick; Mr. Harrison complains of fever, and Francois moves about languidly, with a dismal countenance. So here we are in the solitudes of Bithynia, but there is no God but God, and that which is destined comes to pass.



Chapter XXIV.

The Mysian Olympus.

Journey Down the Valley—The Plague of Grasshoppers—A Defile—The Town of Taushanlue—The Camp of Famine—We leave the Rhyndacus—The Base of Olympus—Primeval Forests—The Guard-House—Scenery of the Summit—Forests of Beech—Saw-Mills—Descent of the Mountain—The View of Olympus—Morning—The Land of Harvest—Aineghioel—A Showery Ride—The Plain of Brousa—The Structure of Olympus—We reach Brousa—The Tent is Furled.

"I looked yet farther and higher, and saw in the heavens a silvery cloud that stood fast, and still against the breeze; * * * * and so it was as a sign and a testimony—almost as a call from the neglected gods, that I now saw and acknowledged the snowy crown of the Mysian Olympus!" Kinglake.

Brousa, July 9, 1852.

From Daghje Kuei, there were two roads to Taushanlue, but the people informed us that the one which led across the mountains was difficult to find, and almost impracticable. We therefore took the river road, which we found picturesque in the highest degree. The narrow dell of the Rhyndacus wound through a labyrinth of mountains, sometimes turning at sharp angles between craggy buttresses, covered with forests, and sometimes broadening out into a sweep of valley, where the villagers were working in companies among the grain and poppy fields. The banks of the stream were lined with oak, willow and sycamore, and forests of pine, descending from the mountains, frequently overhung the road. We met numbers of peasants, going to and from the fields, and once a company of some twenty women, who, on seeing us, clustered together like a flock of frightened sheep, and threw their mantles over their heads. They had curiosity enough, however, to peep at us as we went by, and I made them a salutation, which they returned, and then burst into a chorus of hearty laughter. All this region was ravaged by a plague of grasshoppers. The earth was black with them in many places, and our horses ploughed up a living spray, as they drove forward through the meadows. Every spear of grass was destroyed, and the wheat and rye fields were terribly cut up. We passed a large crag where myriads of starlings had built their nests, and every starling had a grasshopper in his mouth.

We crossed the river, in order to pass a narrow defile, by which it forces its way through the rocky heights of Dumanidj Dagh. Soon after passing the ridge, a broad and beautiful valley expanded before us. It was about ten miles in breadth, nearly level, and surrounded by picturesque ranges of wooded mountains. It was well cultivated, principally in rye and poppies, and more thickly populated than almost any part of Europe. The tinned tops of the minarets of Taushanlue shone over the top of a hill in front, and there was a large town nearly opposite, on the other bank of the Rhyndacus, and seven small villages scattered about in various directions. Most of the latter, however, were merely the winter habitations of the herdsmen, who are now living in tents on the mountain tops. All over the valley, the peasants were at work in the harvest-fields, cutting and binding grain, gathering opium from the poppies, or weeding the young tobacco. In the south, over the rim of the hills that shut in this pastoral solitude, rose the long blue summits of Urus Dagh. We rode into Taushanlue, which is a long town, filling up a hollow between two stony hills. The houses are all of stone, two stories high, with tiled roofs and chimneys, so that, but for the clapboarded and shingled minarets, it would answer for a North-German village.

The streets were nearly deserted, and even in the bazaars, which are of some extent, we found but few persons. Those few, however, showed a laudable curiosity with regard to us, clustering about us whenever we stopped, and staring at us with provoking pertinacity. We had some difficulty in procuring information concerning the road, the directions being so contradictory that we were as much in the dark as ever. We lost half an hour in wandering among the hills; and, after travelling four hours over piny uplands, without finding the village of Kara Koei, encamped on a dry plain, on the western bank of the river. There was not a spear of grass for the beasts, everything being eaten up by the grasshoppers, and there were no Turcomans near who could supply us with food. So we dined on hard bread and black coffee, and our forlorn beasts walked languidly about, cropping the dry stalks of weeds and the juiceless roots of the dead grass.

We crossed the river next morning, and took a road following its course, and shaded with willows and sycamores. The lofty, wooded ranges of the Mysian Olympus lay before us, and our day's work was to pass them. After passing the village of Kara Koei, we left the valley of the Rhyndacus, and commenced ascending one of the long, projecting spurs thrust out from the main chain of Olympus. At first we rode through thickets of scrubby cedar, but soon came to magnificent pine forests, that grew taller and sturdier the higher we clomb. A superb mountain landscape opened behind us. The valleys sank deeper and deeper, and at last disappeared behind the great ridges that heaved themselves out of the wilderness of smaller hills. All these ridges were covered with forests; and as we looked backwards out of the tremendous gulf up the sides of which we were climbing, the scenery was wholly wild and uncultivated. Our path hung on the imminent side of a chasm so steep that one slip might have been destruction to both horse and rider. Far below us, at the bottom of the chasm, roared an invisible torrent. The opposite side, vapory from its depth, rose like an immense wall against Heaven. The pines were even grander than those in the woods of Phrygia. Here they grew taller and more dense, hanging their cloudy boughs over the giddy depths, and clutching with desperate roots to the almost perpendicular sides of the gorges. In many places they were the primeval forests of Olympus, and the Hamadryads were not yet frightened from their haunts.

Thus, slowly toiling up through the sublime wilderness, breathing the cold, pure air of those lofty regions, we came at last to a little stream, slowly trickling down the bed of the gorge. It was shaded, not by the pine, but by the Northern beech, with its white trunk and close, confidential boughs, made for the talks of lovers and the meditations of poets. Here we stopped to breakfast, but there was nothing for the poor beasts to eat, and they waited for us droopingly, with their heads thrust together. While we sat there three camels descended to the stream, and after them a guard with a long gun. He was a well-made man, with a brown face, keen, black eye, and piratical air, and would have made a good hero of modern romance. Higher up we came to a guard house, on a little cleared space, surrounded by beech forests. It was a rough stone hut, with a white flag planted on a pole before it, and a miniature water-wheel, running a miniature saw at a most destructive rate, beside the door.

Continuing our way, we entered on a region such as I had no idea could be found in Asia. The mountains, from the bottoms of the gorges to their topmost summits, were covered with the most superb forests of beech I ever saw—masses of impenetrable foliage, of the most brilliant green, touched here and there by the darker top of a pine. Our road was through a deep, dark shade, and on either side, up and down, we saw but a cool, shadowy solitude, sprinkled with dots of emerald light, and redolent with the odor of damp earth, moss, and dead leaves. It was a forest, the counterpart of which could only be found in America—such primeval magnitude of growth, such wild luxuriance, such complete solitude and silence! Through the shafts of the pines we had caught glorious glimpses of the blue mountain world below us; but now the beech folded us in its arms, and whispered in our ears the legends of our Northern home. There, on the ridges of the Mysian Olympus, sacred to the bright gods of Grecian song, I found the inspiration of our darker and colder clime and age. "O gloriosi spiriti degli boschi!"

I could scarcely contain myself, from surprise and joy. Francois failed to find French adjectives sufficient for his admiration, and even our cheating katurgees were touched by the spirit of the scene. On either side, whenever a glimpse could be had through the boughs, we looked upon leaning walls of trees, whose tall, rounded tops basked in the sunshine, while their bases were wrapped in the shadows cast by themselves. Thus, folded over each other like scales, or feathers on a falcon's wing, they clad the mountain. The trees were taller, and had a darker and more glossy leaf than the American beech. By and by patches of blue shone between the boughs before us, a sign that the summit was near, and before one o'clock we stood upon the narrow ridge forming the crest of the mountain. Here, although we were between five and six thousand feet above the sea, the woods of beech were a hundred feet in height, and shut out all view. On the northern side the forest scenery is even grander than on the southern. The beeches are magnificent trees, straight as an arrow, and from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet in height. Only now and then could we get any view beyond the shadowy depths sinking below us, and then it was only to see similar mountain ranges, buried in foliage, and rolling far behind each other into the distance. Twice, in the depth of the gorge, we saw a saw-mill, turned by the snow-cold torrents. Piles of pine and beechen boards were heaped around them, and the sawyers were busily plying their lonely business. The axe of the woodman echoed but rarely through the gulfs, though many large trees lay felled by the roadside. The rock, which occasionally cropped out of the soil, was white marble, and there was a shining precipice of it, three hundred feet high, on the opposite side of the gorge.

After four hours of steady descent, during the last hour of which we passed into a forest entirely of oaks, we reached the first terrace at the base of the mountain. Here, as I was riding in advance of the caravan, I met a company of Turkish officers, who saluted me with an inclination of the most profound reverence. I replied with due Oriental gravity, which seemed to justify their respect, for when they met Francois, who is everywhere looked upon as a Turkish janissary, they asked: "Is not your master a Shekh el-Islam?" "You are right: he is," answered the unscrupulous Greek. A Shekh el-Islam is a sort of high-priest, corresponding in dignity to a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. It is rather singular that I am generally taken for a Secretary of some kind, or a Moslem priest, while my companion, who, by this time, has assumed the Oriental expression, is supposed to be either medical or military.

We had no sooner left the forests and entered the copsewood which followed, than the blue bulk, of Olympus suddenly appeared in the west, towering far into the sky. It is a magnificent mountain, with a broad though broken summit, streaked with snow. Before us, stretching away almost to his base, lay a grand mountain slope, covered with orchards and golden harvest-fields. Through lanes of hawthorn and chestnut trees in blossom, which were overgrown with snowy clematis and made a shady roof above our heads, we reached the little village of Orta Koei, and encamped in a grove of pear-trees. There was grass for our beasts, who were on the brink of starvation, and fowls and cucumbers for ourselves, who had been limited to bread and coffee for two days. But as one necessity was restored, another disappeared. We had smoked the last of our delicious Aleppo tobacco, and that which the villagers gave us was of very inferior quality. Nevertheless, the pipe which we smoked with them in the twilight, beside the marble fountain, promoted that peace of mind which is the sweetest preparative of slumber.

Francois was determined to finish our journey to-day. He had a presentiment that we should reach Brousa, although I expected nothing of the kind. He called us long before the lovely pastoral valley in which we lay had a suspicion of the sun, but just in time to see the first rays strike the high head of Olympus. The long lines of snow blushed with an opaline radiance against the dark-blue of the morning sky, and all the forests and fields below lay still, and cool, and dewy, lapped in dreams yet unrecalled by the fading moon. I bathed my face in the cold well that perpetually poured over its full brim, drank the coffee which Francois had already prepared, sprang into the saddle, and began the last day of our long pilgrimage. The tent was folded, alas! for the last time; and now farewell to the freedom of our wandering life! Shall I ever feel it again?

The dew glistened on the chestnuts and the walnuts, on the wild grape-vines and wild roses, that shaded our road, as we followed the course of an Olympian stream through a charming dell, into the great plain below. Everywhere the same bountiful soil, the same superb orchards, the same ripe fields of wheat and barley, and silver rye. The peasants were at work, men and women, cutting the grain with rude scythes, binding it into sheaves, and stacking it in the fields. As we rode over the plain, the boys came running out to us with handfuls of grain, saluting us from afar, bidding us welcome as pilgrims, wishing us as many years of prosperity as there were kernels in their sheaves, and kissing the hands that gave them the harvest-toll. The whole landscape had an air of plenty, peace, and contentment. The people all greeted us cordially; and once a Mevlevi Dervish and a stately Turk, riding in company, saluted me so respectfully, stopping to speak with me, that I quite regretted being obliged to assume an air of dignified reserve, and ride away from them.

Ere long, we saw the two white minarets of Aineghioel, above the line of orchards in front of us, and, in three hours after starting, reached the place. It is a small town, not particularly clean, but with brisk-looking bazaars. In one of the houses, I saw half-a-dozen pairs of superb antlers, the spoils of Olympian stags. The bazaar is covered with a trellised roof, overgrown with grape-vines, which hang enormous bunches of young grapes over the shop-boards. We were cheered by the news that Brousa was only eight hours distant, and I now began to hope that we might reach it. We jogged on as fast as we could urge our weary horses, passed another belt of orchard land, paid more harvest-tolls to the reapers, and commenced ascending a chain of low hills which divides the plain of Aineghioel from that of Brousa.

At a fountain called the "mid-day konnak" we met some travellers coming from Brousa, who informed us that we could get there by the time of asser prayer. Rounding the north-eastern base of Olympus, we now saw before us the long headland which forms his south-western extremity. A storm was arising from the sea of Marmora, and heavy white clouds settled on the topmost summits of the mountain. The wind began to blow fresh and cool, and when we had reached a height overlooking the deep valley, in the bottom of which lies the picturesque village of Ak-su, there were long showery lines coming up from the sea, and a filmy sheet of gray rain descended between us and Olympus, throwing his vast bulk far into the background. At Ak-su, the first shower met us, pouring so fast and thick that we were obliged to put on our capotes, and halt under a walnut-tree for shelter. But it soon passed over, laying the dust, for the time, and making the air sweet and cool.

We pushed forward over heights covered with young forests of oak, which are protected by the government, in order that they may furnish ship-timber. On the right, we looked down into magnificent valleys, opening towards the west into the the plain of Brousa; but when, in the middle of the afternoon, we reached the last height, and saw the great plain itself, the climax was attained. It was the crown of all that we had yet seen. This superb plain or valley, thirty miles long, by five in breadth, spread away to the westward, between the mighty mass of Olympus on the one side, and a range of lofty mountains on the other, the sides of which presented a charming mixture of forest and cultivated land. Olympus, covered with woods of beech and oak, towered to the clouds that concealed his snowy head; and far in advance, under the last cape he threw out towards the sea, the hundred minarets of Brousa stretched in a white and glittering line, like the masts of a navy, whose hulls were buried in the leafy sea. No words can describe the beauty of the valley, the blending of the richest cultivation with the wildest natural luxuriance. Here were gardens and orchards; there groves of superb chestnut-trees in blossom; here, fields of golden grain or green pasture-land; there, Arcadian thickets overgrown with clematis and wild rose; here, lofty poplars growing beside the streams; there, spiry cypresses looking down from the slopes: and all blended in one whole, so rich, so grand, so gorgeous, that I scarcely breathed when it first burst upon me.

And now we descended to its level, and rode westward along the base of Olympus, grandest of Asian mountains. This after-storm view, although his head was shrouded, was sublime. His base is a vast sloping terrace, leagues in length, resembling the nights of steps by which the ancient temples were approached. From this foundation rise four mighty pyramids, two thousand feet in height, and completely mantled with forests. They are very nearly regular in their form and size, and are flanked to the east and west by headlands, or abutments, the slopes of which are longer and more gradual, as if to strengthen the great structure. Piled upon the four pyramids are others nearly as large, above whose green pinnacles appear still other and higher ones, bare and bleak, and clustering thickly together, to uphold the great central dome of snow. Between the bases of the lowest, the streams which drain the gorges of the mountain issue forth, cutting their way through the foundation terrace, and widening their beds downwards to the plain, like the throats of bugles, where, in winter rains, they pour forth the hoarse, grand monotone of their Olympian music. These broad beds are now dry and stony tracts, dotted all over with clumps of dwarfed sycamores and threaded by the summer streams, shrunken in bulk, but still swift, cold, and clear as ever.

We reached the city before night, and Francois is glad to find his presentiment fulfilled. We have safely passed through the untravelled heart of Asia Minor, and are now almost in sight of Europe. The camp-fire is extinguished; the tent is furled. We are no longer happy nomads, masquerading in Moslem garb. We shall soon become prosaic Christians, and meekly hold out our wrists for the handcuffs of Civilization. Ah, prate as we will of the progress of the race, we are but forging additional fetters, unless we preserve that healthy physical development, those pure pleasures of mere animal existence, which are now only to be found among our semi-barbaric brethren. Our progress is nervous, when it should be muscular.



Chapter XXV.

Brousa and the Sea of Marmora.

The City of Brousa—Return to Civilization—Storm—The Kalputcha Hammam—A Hot Bath—A Foretaste of Paradise—The Streets and Bazaars of Brousa—The Mosque—The Tombs of the Ottoman Sultans—Disappearance of the Katurgees—We start for Moudania—The Sea of Marmora—Moudania—Passport Difficulties—A Greek Caique—Breakfast with the Fishermen—A Torrid Voyage—The Princes' Islands—Prinkipo—Distant View of Constantinople—We enter the Golden Horn.

"And we glode fast o'er a pellucid plain Of waters, azure with the noontide ray. Ethereal mountains shone around—a fane Stood in the midst, beyond green isles which lay On the blue, sunny deep, resplendent far away."

Shelley.

Constantinople, Monday, July 12, 1852.

Before entering Brousa, we passed the whole length of the town, which is built on the side of Olympus, and on three bluffs or spurs which project from it. The situation is more picturesque than that of Damascus, and from the remarkable number of its white domes and minarets, shooting upward from the groves of chestnut, walnut, and cypress-trees, the city is even more beautiful. There are large mosques on all the most prominent points, and, near the centre of the city, the ruins of an ancient castle, built upon a crag. The place, as we rode along, presented a shifting diorama of delightful views. The hotel is at the extreme western end of the city, not far from its celebrated hot baths. It is a new building, in European style, and being built high on the slope, commands one of the most glorious prospects I ever enjoyed from windows made with hands. What a comfort it was to go up stairs into a clean, bright, cheerful room; to drop at full length on a broad divan; to eat a Christian meal; to smoke a narghileh of the softest Persian tobacco; and finally, most exquisite of all luxuries, to creep between cool, clean sheets, on a curtained bed, and find it impossible to sleep on account of the delicious novelty of the sensation!

At night, another storm came up from the Sea of Marmora. Tremendous peals of thunder echoed in the gorges of Olympus and sharp, broad flashes of lightning gave us blinding glimpses of the glorious plain below. The rain fell in heavy showers, but our tent-life was just closed, and we sat securely at our windows and enjoyed the sublime scene.

The sun, rising over the distant mountains of Isnik, shone full in my face, awaking me to a morning view of the valley, which, freshened by the night's thunder-storm, shone wonderfully bright and clear. After coffee, we went to see the baths, which are on the side of the mountain, a mile from the hotel. The finest one, called the Kalputcha Hammam, is at the base of the hill. The entrance hall is very large, and covered by two lofty domes. In the centre is a large marble urn-shaped fountain, pouring out an abundant flood of cold water. Out of this, we passed into an immense rotunda, filled with steam and traversed by long pencils of light, falling from holes in the roof. A small but very beautiful marble fountain cast up a jet of cold water in the centre. Beyond this was still another hall, of the same size, but with a circular basin, twenty-five feet in diameter, in the centre. The floor was marble mosaic, and the basin was lined with brilliantly-colored tiles. It was kept constantly full by the natural hot streams of the mountain. There were a number of persons in the pool, but the atmosphere was so hot that we did not long disturb them by our curiosity.

We then ascended to the Armenian bath, which is the neatest of all, but it was given up to the women, and we were therefore obliged to go to a Turkish one adjoining. The room into which we were taken was so hot that a violent perspiration immediately broke out all over my body, and by the time the delleks were ready to rasp me, I was as limp as a wet towel, and as plastic as a piece of putty. The man who took me was sweated away almost to nothing; his very bones appeared to have become soft and pliable. The water was slightly sulphureous, and the pailfuls which he dashed over my head were so hot that they produced the effect of a chill—a violent nervous shudder. The temperature of the springs is 180 deg. Fahrenheit, and I suppose the tank into which he afterwards plunged me must have been nearly up to the mark. When, at last, I was laid on the couch, my body was so parboiled that I perspired at all pores for full an hour—a feeling too warm and unpleasant at first, but presently merging into a mood which was wholly rapturous and heavenly. I was like a soft white cloud, that rests all of a summer afternoon on the peak of a distant mountain. I felt the couch on which I lay no more than the cloud might feel the cliffs on which it lingers so airily. I saw nothing but peaceful, glorious sights; spaces of clear blue sky; stretches of quiet lawns; lovely valleys threaded by the gentlest of streams; azure lakes, unruffled by a breath; calms far out on mid-ocean, and Alpine peaks bathed in the flush of an autumnal sunset. My mind retraced all our journey from Aleppo, and there was a halo over every spot I had visited. I dwelt with rapture on the piny hills of Phrygia, on the gorges of Taurus, on the beechen solitudes of Olympus. Would to heaven that I might describe those scenes as I then felt them! All was revealed to me: the heart of Nature lay bare, and I read the meaning and knew the inspiration of her every mood. Then, as my frame grew cooler, and the fragrant clouds of the narghileh, which had helped my dreams, diminished, I was like that same summer cloud, when it feels a gentle breeze and is lifted above the hills, floating along independent of Earth, but for its shadow.

Brousa is a very long, straggling place, extending for three or four miles along the side of the mountain, but presenting a very picturesque appearance from every point. The houses are nearly all three stories high, built of wood and unburnt bricks, and each story projects over the other, after the manner of German towns of the Middle Ages. They have not the hanging balconies which I have found so quaint and pleasing in Kiutahya. But, especially in the Greek quarter, many of them are plastered and painted of some bright color, which gives a gay, cheerful appearance to the streets. Besides, Brousa is the cleanest Turkish town I have seen. The mountain streams traverse most of the streets, and every heavy rain washes them out thoroughly. The whole city has a brisk, active air, and the workmen appear both more skilful and more industrious than in the other parts of Asia Minor. I noticed a great many workers in copper, iron, and wood, and an extensive manufactory of shoes and saddles. Brousa, however, is principally noted for its silks, which are produced in this valley, and others to the South and East. The manufactories are near the city. I looked over some of the fabrics in the bazaars, but found them nearly all imitations of European stuffs, woven in mixed silk and cotton, and even more costly than the silks of Damascus.

We passed the whole length of the bazaars, and then, turning up one of the side streets on our right, crossed a deep ravine by a high stone bridge. Above and below us there were other bridges, under which a stream flowed down from the mountains. Thence we ascended the height, whereon stands the largest and one of the oldest mosques in Brousa. The position is remarkably fine, commanding a view of nearly the whole city and the plain below it. We entered the court-yard boldly, Francois taking the precaution to speak to me only in Arabic, as there was a Turk within. Mr. H. went to the fountain, washed his hands and face, but did not dare to swallow a drop, putting on a most dolorous expression of countenance, as if perishing with thirst. The mosque was a plain, square building, with a large dome and two minarets. The door was a rich and curious specimen of the stalactitic style, so frequent in Saracenic buildings. We peeped into the windows, and, although the mosque, which does not appear to be in common use, was darkened, saw enough to show that the interior was quite plain.

Just above this edifice stands a large octagonal tomb, surmounted by a dome, and richly adorned with arabesque cornices and coatings of green and blue tiles. It stood in a small garden inclosure, and there was a sort of porter's lodge at the entrance. As we approached, an old gray-bearded man in a green turban came out, and, on Francois requesting entrance for us, took a key and conducted us to the building. He had not the slightest idea of our being Christians. We took off our slippers before touching the lintel of the door, as the place was particularly holy. Then, throwing open the door, the old man lingered a few moments after we entered, so as not to disturb our prayers—a mark of great respect. We advanced to the edge of the parapet, turned our faces towards Mecca, and imitated the usual Mohammedan prayer on entering a mosque, by holding both arms outspread for a few moments, then bringing the hands together and bowing the face upon them. This done, we leisurely examined the building, and the old man was ready enough to satisfy our curiosity. It was a rich and elegant structure, lighted from the dome. The walls were lined with brilliant tiles, and had an elaborate cornice, with Arabic inscriptions in gold. The floor was covered with a carpet, whereon stood eight or ten ancient coffins, surrounding a larger one which occupied a raised platform in the centre. They were all of wood, heavily carved, and many of them entirely covered with gilded inscriptions. These, according to the old man, were the coffins of the Ottoman Sultans, who had reigned at Brousa previous to the taking of Constantinople, with some members of their families. There were four Sultans, among whom were Mahomet I., and a certain Achmet. Orchan, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, is buried somewhere in Brousa, and the great central coffin may have been his. Francois and I talked entirely in Arabic, and the old man asked: "Who are these Hadjis?" whereupon F. immediately answered: "They are Effendis from Baghdad."

We had intended making the ascent of Olympus, but the summit was too thickly covered with clouds. On the morning of the second day, therefore, we determined to take up the line of march for Constantinople. The last scene of our strange, eventful history with the katurgees had just transpired, by their deserting us, being two hundred piastres in our debt. They left their khan on the afternoon after our arrival, ostensibly for the purpose of taking their beasts out to pasture, and were never heard of more. We let them go, thankful that they had not played the trick sooner. We engaged fresh horses for Moudania, on the Sea of Marmora, and dispatched Francois in advance, to procure a caique for Constantinople, while we waited to have our passports signed. But after waiting an hour, as there was no appearance of the precious documents, we started the baggage also, under the charge of a surroudjee, and remained alone. Another hour passed by, and yet another, and the Bey was still occupied in sleeping off his hunger. Mr. Harrison, in desperation, went to the office, and after some delay, received the passports with a vise, but not, as we afterwards discovered, the necessary one.

It was four o'clock by the time we left Brousa. Our horses were stiff, clumsy pack-beasts; but, by dint of whips and the sharp shovel-stirrups, we forced them into a trot and made them keep it. The road was well travelled, and by asking everybody we met: "Bou yol Moudania yedermi?" ("Is this the way to Moudania?"), we had no difficulty in finding it. The plain in many places is marshy, and traversed by several streams. A low range of hills stretches across, and nearly closes it, the united waters finding their outlet by a narrow valley to the north. From the top of the hill we had a grand view, looking back over the plain, with the long line of Brousa's minarets glittering through the interminable groves at the foot of the mountain Olympus now showed a superb outline; the clouds hung about his shoulders, but his snowy head was bare. Before us lay a broad, rich valley, extending in front to the mountains of Moudania. The country was well cultivated, with large farming establishments here and there.

The sun was setting as we reached the summit ridge, where stood a little guard-house. As we rode over the crest, Olympus disappeared, and the Sea of Marmora lay before us, spreading out from the Gulf of Moudania, which was deep and blue among the hills, to an open line against the sunset. Beyond that misty line lay Europe, which I had not seen for nearly nine months, and the gulf below me was the bound of my tent and saddle life. But one hour more, old horse! Have patience with my Ethiopian thong, and the sharp corners of my Turkish stirrups: but one hour more, and I promise never to molest you again! Our path was downward, and I marvel that the poor brute did not sometimes tumble headlong with me. He had been too long used to the pack, however, and his habits were as settled as a Turk's. We passed a beautiful village in a valley on the right, and came into olive groves and vineyards, as the dusk was creeping on. It was a lovely country of orchards and gardens, with fountains spouting by the wayside, and country houses perched on the steeps. In another hour, we reached the sea-shore. It was now nearly dark, but we could see the tower of Moudania some distance to the west.

Still in a continual trot, we rode on; and as we drew near, Mr. H. fired his gun to announce our approach. At the entrance of the town, we found the sourrudjee waiting to conduct us. We clattered through the rough streets for what seemed an endless length of time. The Ramazan gun had just fired, the minarets were illuminated, and the coffee-houses were filled with people. Finally, Francois, who had been almost in despair at our non-appearance, hailed us with the welcome news that he had engaged a caique, and that our baggage was already embarked. We only needed the vises of the authorities, in order to leave. He took our teskeres to get them, and we went upon the balcony of a coffee-house overhanging the sea, and smoked a narghileh.

But here there was another history. The teskeres had not been properly vised at Brousa, and the Governor at first decided to send us back. Taking Francois, however, for a Turk, and finding that we had regularly passed quarantine, he signed them after a delay of an hour and a half, and we left the shore, weary, impatient, and wolfish with twelve hours' fasting. A cup of Brousan beer and a piece of bread brought us into a better mood, and I, who began to feel sick from the rolling of the caique, lay down on my bed, which was spread at the bottom, and found a kind of uneasy sleep. The sail was hoisted at first, to get us across the mouth of the Gulf, but soon the Greeks took to their oars. They were silent, however, and though I only slept by fits, the night wore away rapidly. As the dawn was deepening, we ran into a little bight in the northern side of a promontory, where a picturesque Greek village stood at the foot of the mountains. The houses were of wood, with balconies overgrown with grape-vines, and there was a fountain of cold, excellent water on the very beach. Some Greek boatmen were smoking in the portico of a cafe on shore, and two fishermen, who had been out before dawn to catch sardines, were emptying their nets of the spoil. Our men kindled a fire on the sand, and roasted us a dish of the fish. Some of the last night's hunger remained, and the meal had enough of that seasoning to be delicious.

After giving our men an hour's rest, we set off for the Princes' Islands, which now appeared to the north, over the glassy plain of the sea. The Gulf of Iskmid, or Nicomedia, opened away to the east, between two mountain headlands. The morning was intensely hot and sultry, and but for the protection of an umbrella, we should have suffered greatly. There was a fiery blue vapor on the sea, and a thunder-cloud hid the shores of Thrace. Now and then came a light puff of wind, whereupon the men would ship the little mast, and crowd on an enormous quantity of sail. So, sailing and rowing, we neared the islands with the storm, but it advanced slowly enough to allow a sight of the mosques of St. Sophia and Sultan Achmed, gleaming far and white, like icebergs astray on a torrid sea. Another cloud was pouring its rain over the Asian shore, and we made haste to get to the landing at Prinkipo before it could reach us. From the south, the group of islands is not remarkable for beauty. Only four of them—Prinkipo, Chalki, Prote, and Antigone—are inhabited, the other five being merely barren rocks.

There is an ancient convent on the summit of Prinkipo, where the Empress Irene—the contemporary of Charlemagne—is buried. The town is on the northern side of the island, and consists mostly of the summer residences of Greek and Armenian merchants. Many of these are large and stately houses, surrounded with handsome gardens. The streets are shaded with sycamores, and the number of coffee-houses shows that the place is much frequented on festal days. A company of drunken Greeks were singing in violation of all metre and harmony—a discord the more remarkable, since nothing could be more affectionate than their conduct towards each other. Nearly everybody was in Frank costume, and our Oriental habits, especially the red Tartar boots, attracted much observation. I began to feel awkward and absurd, and longed to show myself a Christian once more.

Leaving Prinkipo, we made for Constantinople, whose long array of marble domes and gilded spires gleamed like a far mirage over the waveless sea. It was too faint and distant and dazzling to be substantial. It was like one of those imaginary cities which we build in a cloud fused in the light of the setting sun. But as we neared the point of Chalcedon, running along the Asian shore, those airy piles gathered form and substance. The pinnacles of the Seraglio shot up from the midst of cypress groves; fantastic kiosks lined the shore; the minarets of St. Sophia and Sultan Achmed rose more clearly against the sky; and a fleet of steamers and men-of-war, gay with flags, marked the entrance of the Golden Horn. We passed the little bay where St. Chrysostom was buried, the point of Chalcedon, and now, looking up the renowned Bosphorus, saw the Maiden's Tower, opposite Scutari. An enormous pile, the barracks of the Anatolian soldiery, hangs over the high bank, and, as we row abreast of it, a fresh breeze comes up from the Sea of Marmora. The prow of the caique is turned across the stream, the sail is set, and we glide rapidly and noiselessly over the Bosphorus and into the Golden Horn, between the banks of the Frank and Moslem—Pera and Stamboul. Where on the earth shall we find a panorama more magnificent?

The air was filled with the shouts and noises of the great Oriental metropolis; the water was alive with caiques and little steamers; and all the world of work and trade, which had grown almost to be a fable, welcomed us back to its restless heart. We threaded our rather perilous way over the populous waves, and landed in a throng of Custom-House officers and porters, on the wharf at Galata.



Chapter XXVI.

The Night of Predestination.

Constantinople in Ramazan—The Origin of the Fast—Nightly Illuminations—The Night of Predestination—The Golden Horn at Night—Illumination of the Shores—The Cannon of Constantinople—A Fiery Panorama—The Sultan's Caique—Close of the Celebration—A Turkish Mob—The Dancing Dervishes.

"Skies full of splendid moons and shooting stars, And spouting exhalations, diamond fires." Keats.

Constantinople, Wednesday, July 14, 1862.

Constantinople, during the month of Ramazan, presents a very different aspect from Constantinople at other times. The city, it is true, is much more stern and serious during the day; there is none of that gay, careless life of the Orient which you see in Smyrna, Cairo, and Damascus; but when once the sunset gun has fired, and the painful fast is at an end, the picture changes as if by magic. In all the outward symbols of their religion, the Mussulmans show their joy at being relieved from what they consider a sacred duty. During the day, it is quite a science to keep the appetite dormant, and the people not only abstain from eating and drinking, but as much as possible from the sight of food. In the bazaars, you see the famished merchants either sitting, propped back against their cushions, with the shawl about their stomachs, tightened so as to prevent the void under it from being so sensibly felt, or lying at full length in the vain attempt to sleep. It is whispered here that many of the Turks will both eat and smoke, when there is no chance of detection, but no one would dare infringe the fast in public. Most of the mechanics and porters are Armenians, and the boatmen are Greeks.

I have endeavored to ascertain the origin of this fast month. The Syrian Christians say that it is a mere imitation of an incident which happened to Mahomet. The Prophet, having lost his camels, went day after day seeking them in the Desert, taking no nourishment from the time of his departure in the morning until his return at sunset. After having sought them thus daily, for the period of one entire moon, he found them, and in token of joy, gave a three days' feast to the tribe, now imitated in the festival of Bairam, which lasts for three days after the close of Ramazan. This reason, however, seems too trifling for such a rigid fast, and the Turkish tradition, that the Koran was sent down from heaven during this month, offers a more probable explanation. During the fast, the Mussulmans, as is quite natural, are much more fanatical than at other times. They are obliged to attend prayers at the mosque every night, or to have a mollah read the Koran to them at their own houses. All the prominent features of their religion are kept constantly before their eyes, and their natural aversion to the Giaour, or Infidel, is increased tenfold. I have heard of several recent instances in which strangers have been exposed to insults and indignities.

At dusk the minarets are illuminated; a peal of cannon from the Arsenal, echoed by others from the forts along the Bosphorus, relieves the suffering followers of the Prophet, and after an hour of silence, during which they are all at home, feasting, the streets are filled with noisy crowds, and every coffee-shop is thronged. Every night there are illuminations along the water, which, added to the crowns of light sparkling on the hundred minarets and domes, give a magical effect to the night view of the city. Towards midnight there is again a season of comparative quiet, most of the inhabitants having retired to rest; but, about two hours afterwards a watchman comes along with a big drum, which he beats lustily before the doors of the Faithful, in order to arouse them in time to eat again before the daylight-gun, which announces the commencement of another day's fast.

Last night was the holiest night of Islam, being the twenty-fifth of the fast. It is called the Leilet-el-Kadr, or Night of the Predestination, the anniversary of that on which the Koran was miraculously communicated to the Prophet. On this night the Sultan, accompanied by his whole suite, attends service at the mosque, and on his return to the Seraglio, the Sultana Valide, or Sultana-Mother, presents him with a virgin from one of the noble families of Constantinople. Formerly, St. Sophia was the theatre of this celebration, but this year the Sultan chose the Mosque of Tophaneh, which stands on the shore—probably as being nearer to his imperial palace at Beshiktashe, on the Bosphorus. I consider myself fortunate in having reached Constantinople in season to witness this ceremony, and the illumination of the Golden Horn, which accompanies it.

After sunset the mosques crowning the hills of Stamboul, the mosque of Tophaneh, on this side of the water, and the Turkish men-of-war and steamers afloat at the mouth of the Golden Horn, began to blaze with more than their usual brilliance. The outlines of the minarets and domes were drawn in light on the deepening gloom, and the masts and yards of the vessel were hung with colored lanterns. From the battery in front of the mosque and arsenal of Tophaneh a blaze of intense light streamed out over the water, illuminating the gliding forms of a thousand caiques, and the dark hulls of the vessels lying at anchor. The water is the best place from which to view the illumination, and a party of us descended to the landing-place. The streets of Tophaneh were crowded with swarms of Turks, Greeks and Armenians. The square around the fountain was brilliantly lighted, and venders of sherbet and kaimak were ranged along the sidewalks. In the neighborhood of the mosque the crowd was so dense that we could with difficulty make our way through. All the open space next the water was filled up with the clumsy arabas, or carriages of the Turks, in which sat the wives of the Pashas and other dignitaries.

We took a caique, and were soon pulled out into the midst of a multitude of other caiques, swarming all over the surface of the Golden Horn. The view from this point was strange, fantastic, yet inconceivably gorgeous. In front, three or four large Turkish frigates lay in the Bosphorus, their hulls and spars outlined in fire against the dark hills and distant twinkling lights of Asia. Looking to the west, the shores of the Golden Horn were equally traced by the multitude of lamps that covered them, and on either side, the hills on which the city is built rose from the water—masses of dark buildings, dotted all over with shafts and domes of the most brilliant light. The gateway on Seraglio Point was illuminated, as well as the quay in front of the mosque of Tophaneh, all the cannons of the battery being covered with lamps. The commonest objects shared in the splendor, even a large lever used for hoisting goods being hung with lanterns from top to bottom. The mosque was a mass of light, and between the tall minarets flanking it, burned the inscription, in Arabic characters, "Long life to you, O our Sovereign!"

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse