From Pole to Pole - A Book for Young People
by Sven Anders Hedin
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A Book for Young People



The MacMillan Co. of Canada, Ltd. Toronto

MacMillan and Co., Limited St. Martin's Street, London 1914

Copyright First Edition 1912 Reprinted 1914


This translation of Dr. Sven Hedin's Fran Pol till Pol has, with the author's permission, been abridged and edited for the use of English-speaking young people.



















IX. IN THE FORBIDDEN LAND (1901-2, 1906-8)—








XIII. JAPAN (1908)—




















Dr. Sven Hedin in Tibetan Dress Frontispiece

I. Berlin 6

II. Constantinople 13

III. Oil-Well at Balakhani 36

IV. A Persian Caravanserai 43

V. The Author's Riding Camel, with Gulam Hussein 46

VI. Tebbes 51

VII. A Baluchi Nomad Tent 76

VIII. Srinagar and the Jhelum River 87

IX. Digging for Water in the Takla-makan 94

X. The Author's Boat on the Yarkand River 102

XI. Tashi-lunpo 125

XII. Simla 131

XIII. The Taj Mahal 134

XIV. Benares 136

XV. Tame Elephants and their Drivers 147

XVI. On the Canton River 159

XVII. The Great Wall of China 165

XVIII. Gate in the Walls of Peking 176

XIX. A Japanese Ricksha 189

XX. Fujiyama 190

XXI. The Great Buddha at Kamakura 192

XXII. A Sedan-Chair in Seoul 199

XXIII. The Kremlin, Moscow 208

XXIV. Paris 216

XXV. Napoleon's Tomb 219

XXVI. The Colosseum, Rome 228

XXVII. Pompeii 233

XXVIII. The Great Pyramids at Ghizeh 238

XXIX. A Hippopotamus 254

XXX. The Fight on the Congo 294

XXXI. A Group of Beduins 300

XXXII. "Sky-Scrapers" in New York 323

XXXIII. Niagara Falls 331

XXXIV. Canons on the Colorado River 339

XXXV. Cotopaxi 344

XXXVI. Indian Huts on the Amazons River 353

XXXVII. A Coral Strand 369

XXXVIII. Country near Lake Eyre 373

XXXIX. The "Fram" 393



1. Map showing journey from Stockholm to Berlin 2

2. Map showing journey from Berlin to Constantinople 10

3. Plan of Constantinople 13

4. Map showing journey from Constantinople to Teheran, latter part of journey to Baku, and journey from Baku across Persia to Baghdad and back to Teheran 30

5. Map showing journey from Orenburg to the Pamir 56

6. Map showing journey from Teheran to Baluchistan 73

7. Map of Northern India, showing rivers and mountain ranges 82

8. Map of Eastern Turkestan 90

9. Tibet 112

10. Map of India, showing journey from Nushki to Leh, and journey from Tibet through Simla, etc., to Bombay 132

11. The Sunda Islands 154

12. Map showing voyage from Bombay to Hong Kong 158

13. Map of Northern China and Mongolia 174

14. Map showing journey from Shanghai through Japan and Korea to Dalny 184

15. The Trans-Siberian Railway 203

16. Map showing journey from Stockholm to Paris 216

17. Map showing journey from Paris to Alexandria 230

18. Map of North-Eastern Africa, showing Egypt and the Sudan 237

19. Livingstone's Journeys in Africa 262

20. North-West Africa 298

21. Toscanelli's Map 308

22. North America 325

23. South America 343

24. The South Seas 366

25. The North Polar Regions 378

26. The South Polar Regions 405





Our journey begins at Stockholm, the capital of my native country. Leaving Stockholm by train in the evening, we travel all night in comfortable sleeping-cars and arrive next morning at the southernmost point of Sweden, the port of Trelleborg, where the sunlit waves sweep in from the Baltic Sea.

Here we might expect to have done with railway travelling, and we rather look for the guard to come and open the carriage doors and ask the passengers to alight. Surely it is not intended that the train shall go on right across the sea? Yet that is actually what happens. The same train and the same carriages, which bore us out of Stockholm yesterday evening, go calmly across the Baltic Sea, and we need not get out before we arrive at Berlin. The section of the train which is to go on to Germany is run by an engine on to a great ferry-boat moored to the quay by heavy clamps and hooks of iron. The rails on Swedish ground are closely connected with those on the ferry-boat, and when the carriages are pushed on board by the engine, they are fastened with chains and hooks so that they may remain quite steady even if the vessel begins to roll. As the traveller lies dozing in his compartment, he will certainly hear whistles and the rattle of iron gear and will notice that the compartment suddenly becomes quite dark. But only when the monotonous groaning and the constant vibration of the wheels has given place to a gentle and silent heaving will he know that he is out on the Baltic Sea.

We are by no means content, however, to lie down and doze. Scarcely have the carriages been anchored on the ferry-boat before we are on the upper deck with its fine promenade. The ferry-boat is a handsome vessel, 370 feet long, brand-new and painted white everywhere. It is almost like a first-class hotel. In the saloon the tables are laid, and Swedish and German passengers sit in groups at breakfast. There are separate rooms for coffee and smoking, for reading and writing; and we find a small bookstall where a boy sells guidebooks, novels, and the Swedish and German newspapers of the day.

The ferry-boat is now gliding out of the harbour, and every minute that passes carries us farther from our native land. Now the whole town of Trelleborg is displayed before our eyes, its warehouses and new buildings, its chimneys and the vessels in the harbour. The houses become smaller, the land narrows down to a strip on the horizon, and at last there is nothing to be seen but a dark cloud of smoke rising from the steamers and workshops. We steam along a fairway rich in memories, and over a sea which has witnessed many wonderful exploits and marvellous adventures. Among the wreckage and fragments at its bottom sleep vikings and other heroes who fought for their country; but to-day peace reigns over the Baltic, and Swedes, Danes, Russians, and Germans share in the harvest of the sea. Yet still, as of yore, the autumn storms roll the slate-grey breakers against the shores; and still on bright summer days the blue waves glisten, silvered by the sun.

Four hours fly past all too quickly, and before we have become accustomed to the level expanses of the sea a strip of land appears to starboard. This is Ruegen, the largest island of Germany, lifting its white chalk cliffs steeply from the sea, like surf congealed into stone. The ferry-boat swings round in a beautiful curve towards the land, and in the harbour of Sassnitz its rails are fitted in exactly to the railway track on German soil. We hasten to take our seats in the carriages, for in a few minutes the German engine comes up and draws the train on to the land of Ruegen.

The monotonous grind of iron on iron begins again, and the coast and the ferry-boat vanish behind us. Ruegen lies as flat as a pancake on the Baltic Sea, and the train takes us through a landscape which reminds us of Sweden. Here grow pines and spruces, here peaceful roe-deer jump and roam about without showing the slightest fear of the noise of the engine and the drone of the carriages.

Another ferry takes us over the narrow sound which separates Ruegen from the mainland, and we see through the window the towers and spires and closely-packed houses of Stralsund. Every inch of ground around us has once been Swedish. In this neighbourhood Gustavus Adolphus landed with his army, and in Stralsund Charles XII. passed a year of his adventurous life.

In the twilight the train carries us southwards through Pomerania, and before we reach Brandenburg the autumn evening has shrouded the North German lowland in darkness. The country is flat and monotonous; not a hill, hardly even an insignificant mound, rises above the level expanse. Yet the land has a peculiar attraction for the stranger from Sweden. He thinks of the time when Swedish gun-carriages splashed and dashed through the mud before the winter frost made their progress still more difficult and noisy. He thinks of heroic deeds and brave men, of early starts, and horses neighing with impatience at the reveille; of victories and honourable peaces, and of the captured flags at home.

If he is observant he will find many other remembrances in the North German low country. Boulders of Swedish granite lie scattered over the plain. They stand out like milestones and mark the limits of the extension of the Scandinavian inland ice. During a colder period of the world's history all northern Europe was covered with a coat of ice, and this period is called the Ice Age. No one knows why the ice embraced Scandinavia and the adjacent countries and swept in a broad stream over the Baltic Sea. And no one knows why the climate afterwards became warmer and drier, and forced the ice to melt away and gradually to leave the ground bare. But we know for a fact that the boulders in northern Germany were carried there on the back of an immense ice stream, for they are composed of rocks which occur only in Scandinavia. The ice tore them away from the solid mountains; during its slow movement southwards it carried them with it, and when it melted the blocks were left on the spot.

At last points of light begin to flash by like meteors in the night. They become more and more numerous, and finally come whole rows and clusters of electric lamps and lighted windows. We are passing through the suburbs of a huge city, one of the largest in the world and the third largest in Europe—Berlin.


If we spread out on the table a map of Europe on which all the railways are indicated by black lines, the map will look like a net with irregular meshes. At all the knots are towns, large centres of population which are in constant communication with one another by means of the railways. If we fix our eyes on North Germany, we see what looks like an enormous spider's web, and in the middle of it sits a huge spider. That spider is called Berlin. For as a spider catches its prey in an ingeniously spun net, so Berlin by its railways draws to itself life and movement not only from Germany but from all Europe—nay, from the whole world.

If we could fly some hundreds of miles straight up into the air and had such sharp eyes that we could perceive all the coasts and boundaries of Europe, and plainly distinguish the fine lines of the railways, we should also see small, dark, short forms running backwards and forwards along them. We should see, as it were, a teeming ant-hill, and after every ant we should see a small puff of smoke. In Scandinavia and Russia the bustle would seem less lively, but in the centre of Europe the ants would scurry about with terrible activity.

Whether it was winter or summer, day or night, the bustle would never grow less. From our elevated point of view we should see innumerable trains flying in the night like glow-worms in every direction. Ceaselessly they rush between cities and states, between the sea-coast and the inland districts, and to and from the heart of Europe. For during the last twenty years Berlin has become the heart of Europe. London is situated on an island, and Paris is too near the margin of the Continent. But in Berlin several of the greatest railway routes meet, and whether the traveller goes from Paris to St. Petersburg, from Stockholm to Rome, or from Hamburg to Vienna, he has always to pass through Berlin.

In the city which is "the heart of Europe" we must expect to find the main thoroughfares crowded with foot-passengers of all nationalities, and vehicles of every conceivable kind—motor cars, electric trams, horse omnibuses, vans, cabs, carts, and so on. Yet in spite of their endless streams of traffic, the streets of Berlin are not noisy—not nearly so noisy as those of Stockholm—for they are paved with asphalt and wood, and most of the conveyances have rubber tyres on their wheels. As in other large cities, the streets are relieved of a great deal of traffic by trains which run right through the town and round its suburbs, either up in the air on viaducts, or underground in tunnels lighted by electricity. At the Frederick Street Station of the City Railway, which lies in the centre of the town, a train arrives or departs every other minute of the day and of a good part of the night as well.

Not far off is a square—the "King's Place"—where a monument to commemorate the victory of the Germans over the French, in 1871, lifts its spire above the city, with three rows of cannon captured in France in its recesses. Close at hand, too, are the shady walks in the "Tiergarten" (Park), where all Berlin is wont to enjoy itself on Sundays. When we turn eastwards, we have to pass through a great colonnade, the Brandenburg Gate, with Doric pillars supporting the four-horsed chariot of the goddess of victory in beaten copper. Here the German army entered Berlin after the conquest of France and the founding of the German Empire.

On the farther side of this gate stretches one of the most noted streets in Europe. For if Berlin is the heart of Germany, so is the street called "Unter den Linden" (Under the Lime-Trees) the centre and heart of Berlin. There are, indeed, streets which are longer, for this extends only two-thirds of a mile, but hardly any which are broader, for it is 66 yards across. Between its alternate carriage-roads and foot-walks four double rows of limes and chestnuts introduce a refreshing breath of open country right into the bosom of the great town of stone, with its straight streets and heavy, grey square houses. As we wander along "Unter den Linden" we pass the foreign embassies and the German government offices, and, farther on, the palace of the old Kaiser Wilhelm, which is unoccupied and has been left exactly as it was in his lifetime. He used to stand at a corner window on the ground floor, and look out at his faithful people.

It is now just noon. Splendid carriages and motor cars sweep past, and the crush of people on the pavements is great. We hear the inspiriting music of a military band, and the Imperial Guard marches down the street, followed by crowds of eager sightseers. Keeping time with the music we march with them past the great Royal Library to where Frederick the Great looks down from his tall bronze horse on the children of to-day. On the one side is the Opera House, on the other is the University, with its ten thousand students, and farther on the Arsenal, with its large historical collections of engines of war. We cross over the "Schlossbruecke" (Palace Bridge), which throws its arch over the River Spree, and follow the parade into the "Lustgarten" (Pleasure Garden). The band halts at the foot of the statue of Frederick William III. and the people crowd round to listen, for now one piece is played after another. Thus the good citizens of Berlin are entertained daily.

There are several noteworthy buildings round the Lustgarten, among them many art museums and picture galleries, as well as the Cathedral and the Royal Palace (Plate I.). It looks very grand, this palace, though it does not stand, as it should, in the middle of a great open space, but is hemmed in by the streets around it.

Perhaps it would interest you to hear about a ball at the Imperial Court of Germany. At the stroke of nine our carriage drives in under the archway of the Palace. The carpeted staircases are lined by "Beef-eaters," in old-fashioned uniforms, as motionless as if they were cast in wax. They do not turn even their eyes as the guests pass, much less their heads. Now we are up in the state rooms, and move slowly over the brightly polished floor through a suite of brilliant apartments glittering with electric light. Pictures of the kings of Prussia stand out against the gilt leather tapestry. At last we reach the great throne-room, which takes its name from the black eagles on the ceiling.

What a varied scene awaits us here! Great ladies in costly dresses adorned with precious stones of great value, diamonds flashing and sparkling wherever we look, generals and admirals in full dress, high officials, ambassadors from foreign lands, including those of China and Japan. Here comes a great man to whom all bow; it is the Imperial Chancellor.

Chamberlains now request the guests to range themselves along the walls of the throne-room. A herald enters and strikes his silver staff against the floor, calling out aloud "His Majesty the Emperor!" All is silent as the grave. Followed by the Empress, the princes and princesses, William II. passes through the room and greets his guests with a manly handshake. He begins with the ladies and then passes on to the gentlemen and speaks to every one. The Swedish Minister presents me, and the Emperor begins immediately to ask about Asia. He speaks of Alexander's great campaign through the whole of western Asia, and expresses his astonishment that a man's name can live with undiminished renown through two thousand years. He points to the eagles on the ceiling, and asks if I do not see a resemblance to the Chinese dragon. He talks of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and of the great stillness in the heart of the desert.

Soon the orchestra strikes up and the guests begin to dance. The only one who seems unconcerned is the Emperor himself. An expression of deep seriousness lies like a mask on his powerful face. Is it not enough to be the Emperor of the German federation, with its four kingdoms, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Wuertemberg, its six grand duchies, its many duchies and electorates, its imperial territory, Alsace-Lorraine, and its three free towns, Hamburg, Luebeck, and Bremen? Does he not rule over sixty-five million people, over 207 towns of more than 25,000 inhabitants, and seven of more than half a million, namely Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Dresden, Leipzig, Breslau, and Cologne? Has he not by the force of his own will created a fleet so powerful as to arouse uneasiness in England, the country which has the sole command of the sea? And is he not the commander-in-chief of an army which, on a war footing, is as large as the whole population of Scotland? All this might well make him serious.


The next stage of our journey is from Berlin to Vienna, the capital of Austria. The express train carries us rapidly southward through Brandenburg. To the west we have the Elbe, which flows into the North Sea at Hamburg; while to the east streams the Oder, which enters the Baltic Sea at Stettin. But we make closer acquaintance only with the Elbe, first when we pass Dresden, the capital of Saxony, and again when we have crossed the Austrian frontier into Bohemia, where in a beautiful and densely-peopled valley clothed with trees the railway follows the windings of the stream. When the guard calls out at a large and busy station "Prague," we are sorry that we have no time to stay a few days and stroll through the streets and squares of one of the finest and oldest towns of Europe. The engine's whistle sounds again and the train carries us swiftly onwards to Vienna, the capital of the Emperor Francis Joseph, who alone is more remarkable than all the sights of the city.

Vienna is a fine and wealthy city, the fourth in Europe, and, like Berlin, is full of centres of human civilisation, science and art. Here are found relics of ancient times beside the grand palaces of the present day, the "Ring" is one of the finest streets in the world, and the tower of St. Stephen's Church rises up to the sky above the two million inhabitants of the town. Vienna to a greater extent than Berlin is a town of pleasure and merry genial life, a grand old aristocratic town, a town of theatres, concerts, balls, and cafes. The Danube canal, with its twelve bridges, passes right through Vienna, and outside the eastern outskirts the Danube itself, in an artificial bed, rolls its dark blue waters with a melodious murmur, providing an accompaniment to the famous Viennese waltzes.

If Vienna is, then, one of the centres of human knowledge and refinement, and if there are a thousand wonderful things to behold within its walls, yet it contains nothing more remarkable than the old Emperor. Not because he is so old, or because he still survives as one of the last of an almost extinct generation, but because by his august personality he keeps together an empire composed of many different countries, races, and religious sects. Fifty millions of people are ranged under his sceptre. There are Germans in Austria, Chechs in Bohemia, Magyars in Hungary, Polacks in Galicia, and a crowd of other peoples; nay, even Mohammedans live under the protection of the Catholic throne.

His life has abounded in cares and vicissitudes. He has lived through wars, insurrections, and revolutions, and with skill and tact has held in check all the contending factions which have striven and are still striving to rend asunder his empire. It is difficult to imagine the Austro-Hungarian monarchy without him. With him it perhaps stands or falls; therefore there is no one in the present day whose life is of greater importance to humanity. He has been the object of murderous attempts: his wife was assassinated, his only son perished by a violent death. He is now eighty-two years old, and he has worn the imperial crown for sixty-four years. Since 1867 he has been king of Hungary. During his reign the industry, trade, agriculture, and general prosperity of his dominions have been enormously developed. And the most remarkable of all is that he still carries his head high, is smart and upright, and works as hard as a labourer in the Danube valley.

The fortunes of Austria and Hungary are still more closely united with and dependent on the great river Danube. Certainly in the north we have the Elbe and the Dniester, and in the south several small rivers which enter the Adriatic Sea. But otherwise all the rivers of the monarchy belong to the Danube, and collect from all directions to the main stream. The Volga is the largest river of Europe and has its own sea, the Caspian. The Danube is the next largest and has also its sea, the Black Sea. Its source is also "black," for it takes its rise in the mountains of the Black Forest in Baden, and from source to mouth it is little short of 1800 miles.

The Danube flows through Bavaria, Austria, and Hungary, forms the boundary between Rumania and Bulgaria, and touches a small corner of Russian territory. It has sixty great tributaries, of which more than half are navigable. Step by step the volume of the main stream is augmented. We can see that for ourselves on our way through Europe. At Budapest, which is cut in two by the river, and where five handsome bridges connect the banks, we seem almost to be on a lake. The Elizabeth Bridge has a span of 950 feet. Farther down, on the frontier of Wallachia, the river is nearly two-thirds of a mile wide; but here the current is slow; creeks of stagnant water are formed, and marshes extend far along the banks. And at the point where the Rumanian railway crosses the Danube, we find at Chernovodsk a bridge over the river which is nearly 2-1/2 miles long and is the longest in all the world. Not far from here the waters of the Danube part into three arms and form a broad delta at the mouth. There grow dense reeds, twice as high as a man, on which large herds of buffaloes graze, where wolves still seek their prey, and where water-fowl breed in millions. If we look carefully at the map, we shall see that Central Europe is occupied mostly by the Danube valley, and that this valley, with its extensive lowlands, is bounded by the best-known mountains of Europe; in the north by the mountains of South Germany and Bohemia and the Carpathians, in the south by the Alps and the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula.

From Budapest the train takes us over the Hungarian plain, a very singular country, like a trough, for it is surrounded by mountains on all sides. There is abundance of rain, especially up on the mountain slopes. The winter is cold and the summer warm, as is always the case in countries far removed from the sea. Dust and sand storms are common, and in some parts blown sand collects into dunes. Formerly the Hungarian lowland was a fertile steppe, where Magyar nomads roamed about on horseback and tended their cattle and their enormous flocks of sheep. But now agriculture is extended more and more. Wheat, rye, barley, maize, rice, potatoes, and wine are produced in such quantities that they are not only sufficient for the country's needs, but also maintain a considerable export trade. Round the villages and homesteads grow oaks, elms, lime-trees, and beeches; poplars and willows are widely distributed, for their light seeds are carried long distances by the wind. But in the large steppe districts where marshes are so common the people have no other fuel but reeds and dried dung.

Cattle-raising has always been an important occupation in Hungary. The breed of cows, oxen, and buffaloes is continually being improved by judicious selection, and all kinds of sheep, goats, and pigs are kept in great numbers, while the rearing of fowls, bee-keeping, the production of silk from silkworms, and the fishing industry are also highly developed. To the nomads, who wander from one locality to another with their herds, horses are necessary, and it is therefore quite natural that Hungary should be rich in horses—splendid animals of mixed Tatar and Arabian blood.

This country, where all wealth grows and thrives, and where the land, well and uniformly watered, contributes in such a high degree to the well-being of man, is flat and monotonous when viewed from the train. We see herds with their mounted herdsmen, we see villages, roads and cottages, but these do not give us any very clear conception of the country. Therefore it is advisable to spend a few hours in the agricultural exhibition at Budapest, where we can see the most attractive models illustrating Hungarian rural life, from pastures and farmyards to churned butter and manufactured cheeses, from the silk-worm in the chrysalis to the valuable silken web. We can see the life of farmers in the country homesteads, in simple reed huts or tents, the various crops they grow on their fields, the yellow honeycombs taken from the hives in autumn, tanned leather and the straps, saddles, and trunks that are made of it. We can see the weapons, implements, and spoil of the Hungarian hunter and fisherman, and when we come out of the last room we realise that this country is wisely and affectionately nursed by its people, and therefore gives profit and prosperity in exchange.

With unabated speed the train rushes on over the plain, and at length rattles across a bridge over the Danube into Belgrade, the capital of Servia. Here we bid good-bye to the Danube and follow the Morava valley upwards. The Servian villages of low white houses, with pyramidal roofs of tiles or thatch, are very pretty and picturesquely built; and above them, green heights, wooded slopes, flocks and herds, and peasants in bright-coloured motley clothes following the plough. Small murmuring brooks dance in merry leaps down to the Morava, and the Morava itself flows to the Danube. We are still in the drainage basin of this river, and, when we have crossed the whole of Servia, passed over a flat mountain ridge and left Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, behind us and have come to another stream, even this is one of the affluents of the Danube.

During a large part of our journey we are therefore strongly impressed by this mighty stream, and perceive that it is a condition of existence to whole peoples and States. Innumerable boats navigate its channel—from rowing-boats, ferries, and barges to steamers of heavy freight. They maintain communication between the series of towns with walls and houses reflected in the gliding water. Their wharves are frequently in connection with trains; and many railways have been built with an eye to the traffic on the Danube. In early times, when the migrations of people from the east streamed over Europe, the Danube valley was generally utilized; and still at the present day the river affords an advantageous channel of communication between the western and eastern parts of the Continent.

Night jealously conceals from our eyes the kingdom of Bulgaria, as we travel through its southern part along the river Maritza, which flows southwards. We do not leave its valley until we are beyond the Turkish frontier and Adrianople. Here we are in the broadest part of the Balkan Peninsula; and amidst the regular swaying of the train we lie thinking of the famous Balkan lands which extend to the south—Albania, with its warlike people among its mountains and dales; Macedonia, the country of Alexander the Great; Greece, in ancient times the centre of learning and art. When day dawns we are in Turkey, and the sun is high when the train comes to a standstill in Constantinople.


From the highest platform of the lofty tower which rises from the square in the centre of the promontory of Stambul a wonderful view can be obtained of the city and its surroundings—a singular blending of great masses of houses and glittering sheets of blue water. Stambul is the Turkish quarter. It consists of a sea of closely-built wooden houses of many colours. Out of the confusion rise the graceful spires of minarets and the round domes of mosques (Plate II.). Just below your feet is the great bazaar—the merchants' town; and farther off is St. Sophia, the principal mosque. Like Rome, the city is built on seven hills. In the valleys between, shady trees and gardens have found a site. Far to the west are seen the towers on the old wall of Stambul.

Before you to the north, on the point of a blunt promontory, stand the two quarters called Galata and Pera. There Europeans dwell, and there are found Greeks and Italians, Jews and Armenians, and other men of races living in the adjacent countries—in the Balkan Peninsula, in Asia Minor and Caucasia.

Between this blunt peninsula and Stambul an inlet runs north-westwards deep into the land. Its name is the Golden Horn, and over its water priceless treasures have from time immemorial been transported in ships.

Turn to the north-east. There you see a sound varying little in breadth. Its surface is as blue as sapphire, its shores are crowned by a whole chaplet of villages and white villas among luxuriant groves. This sound is the Bosporus, and through it is the way to the Black Sea. Due east, on the other side of the Bosporus, Scutari rises from the shore to the top of low hills. Scutari is the third of the three main divisions of Constantinople. You stand in Europe and look over the great city intersected by broad waterways and almost forget that Scutari is situated in Asia.

Turn to the south. Before your eyes lies the Sea of Marmora, a curious sheet of water which is neither a lake nor a sea, neither a bay nor a sound. It is a link between the Black and Aegean Seas, connected by the Bosporus with the former, and by the Dardanelles, the Hellespont, with the latter. The Sea of Marmora is 130 miles long. Seven miles to the south the Princes' Islands float on the water like airy gardens, and beyond in the blue distance are seen the mountains of Asia Minor.

You will acknowledge that this view is very wonderful. Your eyes wander over two continents and two seas. You are in Europe, but on the threshold of Asia; and when you look down on the Turks swarming below, and at the graceful white boats darting across the sound, you may almost fancy that you are in Asia rather than in Europe. You will also notice that this fairway is an important trade route. Innumerable vessels pass daily through the Bosporus to the coasts of Bulgaria, Rumania, Russia, and Asia Minor, and as many out through the Dardanelles to Greece and the Archipelago and to the coasts of the Mediterranean.

Close beneath you all the colours and outlines are distinct. The water of the Bosporus is vividly blue, and the villas dazzlingly white. On the Asiatic side stand woods of dark-green cypresses, and outside the western wall Turks slumber in the deepest shade; cypresses, indeed, are the watchmen of the dead. And all round the horizon this charming landscape passes into fainter and lighter tones, light-blue and grey. You cannot perceive clearly where the land ends and sea and sky begin. But here and there the white wings of a sailing vessel flutter or a slight puff of smoke floats above a steamer.

A continuous murmur reaches your ears. It is not wind, nor the song of waves. It is the combined voice of nature and human labour. It is like the buzzing round a beehive. Now and then you distinguish the cry of a porter, the bell of a tramcar, the whistle of a steamer, or the bark of a dog. But, as a rule, all melt together into a single sound. It is the ceaseless noise that always hovers over the chimneys of a great city.


Let us now go down to the great mosque on the point. On the top of the principal dome we see a huge gilded crescent. This has glittered up there for 450 years, but previously the cupola was adorned by the Christian Cross. How came the change about?

Let us imagine that we are standing outside the church and let the year be 548 A.D. One of the finest temples of Christendom has just been completed by the first architect of his time from Asia Minor. The work has occupied sixteen years, and ten thousand workmen have been constantly engaged at it. But now it is finished at last, and the Church of the Divine Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, is to be consecrated to-day.

The great Emperor of the Byzantine realm, Justinian, drives up in a chariot drawn by four horses. He enters the temple attended by the Patriarch of Constantinople. The building is as large as a market-place, and the beautiful dome, round as the vault of heaven, is 180 feet above the floor. Justinian looks around and is pleased with his work. The great men of the church and empire, clad in costly robes, salute him. He examines the variegated marble which covers the walls, he admires the artistically arranged mosaic on the gold groundwork of the dome, he is amazed at the hundred columns which support the cupolas and galleries, some of dark-green marble, others of dark-red porphyry. The Emperor's wealth is inexhaustible. Has he not presented to the church seven crosses of gold, each weighing a hundred pounds? Does not the Church of the Divine Wisdom possess forty thousand chalice veils all embroidered with pearls and precious stones? Are there not in the sacristy twenty-four Bibles, which in their gold-studded cases weigh two hundred pounds each? Are not pictures of the Redeemer, of the Mother of God, of angels, prophets and evangelists suspended between the twelve columns of solid silver which are the Holy of Holies in the temple? Are not the faithful moved to tears at the sight of the crucifix and at the remembrance that the gilded cross of silver is an exact copy of that which, more than five hundred years ago, was set up by Roman barbarians at Jerusalem?

Justinian turns round and examines the panels of the three doors which are said to have been made of wood from Noah's ark. The doors of the main entrance are of solid silver, the others are beautifully inlaid with cedar-wood, ivory, and amber. Above his head silver chandeliers swing in chains; some of them form together a cross, and are a symbol of the light of heaven hovering over the darkness of earthly life. The vault is flooded with light; and in the mosaic he sees the meek saints kneeling before God in silent supplication. Below the vault he sees the four cherubims with two pairs of wings. He thinks of the first chapter of Ezekiel: "And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal ... and I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters." He also calls to mind the book of Exodus, ch. xxxvii.: "Even to the mercy-seatward were the faces of the cherubims." It was the same here in his own church.

Inspired by humility before God and pride before his fellowmen, the Emperor Justinian moves to his prie-dieu. He falls on his knees and exclaims: "God be praised who has thought me worthy to bring such a work to completion! I have surpassed thee, O Solomon."

Then the pipes and drums strike up, and the glad songs of the people echo among the houses, which are decorated by webs of costly brocade hanging from the windows. The festival is prolonged for fourteen days; casksful of silver coins are distributed among the multitude, and the Emperor feasts the whole city.

Then follow new centuries and new generations in the footsteps of the old. The bones of Christians moulder under the grave mounds, but still the temple remains as before. There priests and patriarchs and fathers of the Church assemble to Church Councils, and the great festivals of the year are celebrated under its vault. Nearly a thousand years of the stream of time have passed away, and we come to May 29, 1453.

May is a fine month in Constantinople. The summer is in all its glory, the gardens are gorgeous in their fresh verdure, the clear waters of the Bosporus glitter like brightly polished metal. But what a day of humiliation and terror was this day of May, 1453! In the early morning tidings of misfortune were disseminated among the citizens. The Turkish Sultan had stormed in through the walls with his innumerable troops. Beside themselves with fright, men, women, and children fled to St. Sophia, leaving their homes and goods to be plundered. A hundred thousand persons rushed in and locked and barred all the church doors behind them. They trusted that the conqueror would not dare to desecrate so holy a place. Abashed before the holiness of God, he would bow down in the dust and leave them in peace. And according to a prophecy the angel of God would descend from heaven in the hour of need and rescue the church and the city.

The Christians waited, praying and trembling. Then the wild fanfares of the Mohammedan trumpets were heard from the nearest hills. Piercing cries of anguish echoed from the vaulting, mothers pressed their children to their hearts, husbands and wives embraced each other, galley slaves with chains still on their wrists tried to hide themselves in the darkness behind the pillars.

The axes of the Mohammedans ring against the doors. Splinters of costly wood fly before the blows. Here a gate cracks, there another is broken in. The janissaries rush in, thirsting for blood. The Prophet has commanded that his doctrines shall be spread over the earth by fire and sword. They are only too ready to obey this order. Already steeped in blood from the combat outside the walls, they continue to gather in the harvest with dripping scimitars. The defenceless are fastened together with chains and driven out like cattle.

Then comes the turn of the holy edifice. The mosaics are hacked to pieces with swords and lances, the costly altar-cloths are taken from their store-room, the church is plundered of its gold and silver, and rows of camels and mules are led in on to the temple floor to be laden with the immense treasures. Full of fanatical religious hatred, swarms of black-bearded Turks rush up to the figure of the crucified Redeemer. A Mohammedan presses his janissary's cap over the crown of thorns. The image is carried with wild shrieks round the church, and presumptuous voices call out scornfully, "Here you see the God of the Christians."

At the high altar a Greek bishop stood in pontifical robes and read mass over the Christians in a loud and clear voice. His voice never trembled for a moment. He wished to give his flock heavenly consolation in earthly troubles. At last he remained alone. Then he broke off the mass in the middle of a sentence, took the chalice, and ascended the steps leading to the upper galleries. The Turks caught sight of him and rushed after him like hungry hyaenas.

He is already up in the gallery. He is surrounded on all sides by soldiers with drawn swords and lowered spears. Next moment he must fall dead over the communion chalice. No escape, no rescue is possible. Before him stands the grey stone wall.

But, lo! a door opens in the wall, and when the bishop has gone in the wall closes up again. The soldiers stand still in astonishment. Then they begin to attack the wall with spears and axes. But it is no use. They renew their efforts, but still in vain.

Four centuries and a half have passed since then, and still the Greeks cherish a blind faith that the day will come when St. Sophia will be restored to Christian uses, when the wall will open again and the bishop will walk out with the chalice in his hand. Calm and dignified he will descend the stairs, cross the church, and mount up to the high altar to continue the mass from the point where he was interrupted by the Turks.

Let us return to the savage soldiery. All the doors stand open, and the midday sun shines in through the arched windows. The pillage and tumult have reached their height when a fiery horse carries a rider up to the main entrance. He is attended by Mohammedan princes, generals, and pashas.[1] His name is Mohammed II., the Conqueror, the Sultan of the Turks. He is young and proud and has a will of iron, but he is solemn and melancholy. He dismounts and passes on foot over this floor, over the marble slabs trodden a thousand years ago by the Emperor Justinian.

The first thing he sees is a janissary maliciously aiming his axe at the marble pavement. The Sultan goes up to him and asks, "Why?" "In the cause of the faith," answers the soldier. Then the Sultan draws his sabre, and, cutting the man down, exclaims, "Dogs, have you not loot enough? The buildings of the city are my property." And, kicking the dying man aside, he ascends a Christian pulpit, and in a thundering voice dedicates the Church of the Holy Wisdom to Islam.

Four and a half centuries have passed down the stream of time since the day when the cross was removed and the crescent raised its horn above the Church of the Holy Wisdom. The Turks have erected four minarets round the dome, and every evening from the platforms of these minarets sounds the voice of the muezzin, summoning the faithful to prayer. He wears a white turban and a long mantle down to his feet. To all four quarters of the city the call rings out with long, silvery a-sounds and full, liquid l's: "God is great (four times repeated). I bear witness that there is no god but God (twice repeated). I bear witness that Mohammed is the Apostle of God (twice repeated). Come to prayers! Come to prayers! Come to salvation! Come to salvation! God is great. There is no god but God."

Now the sun sinks below the horizon, and a cannon shot thunders forth. We are in the month of fasting, during which the Mohammedans do not eat, drink, or smoke each day so long as the sun is up. Thus the Prophet commands in the Koran, their holy book. The firing of the gun proclaims the end of the fast for to-day, and when the faithful have refreshed themselves with the smoking rissoles and rice puddings, or fruit, coffee, and water-pipes which stand ready, they turn their steps to the old Church of the Divine Wisdom, which still retains its Greek name. Round the minarets thousands of lamps are lighted, and between the towers the sacred names hang in flaming lights. Inside the mosque, on chains fifty feet long, hang chandeliers, full of innumerable oil-lamps in small round glass bowls, and on extended lines hang other lamps as close as the beads of a rosary. The floor of the mosque is a sea of light, but the interior of the dome is hid in gloom. Huge green shields affixed to the columns bear in golden letters the names of Allah, Mohammed and the saints, and the characters are thirty feet high.

The faithful have already filled the floor, which is covered with straw matting. Shoes must be left outside on entering the mosque, and a man must wash his arms, hands, and face before he goes in. Now the Turks stand in long rows, white and green turbans and red fezes with black tassels all mixed together. All turn their faces towards Mecca. All hands go up together to the height of the face and are stretched out flat, the thumbs touching the tip of the ear. Then they bend the body forward, resting their hands on their knees. Next they fall on their knees and touch the floor with their foreheads. "Prayer is the key to Paradise," says the Koran, and every section of the prayer requires a certain posture.

A priest stands in a pulpit and breaks in on the solemn silence with his clear musical voice. The last word dies away on his lips, but the echo lingers long in the dome, hovering like a restless spirit among the statues of the cherubim.

Among us at home there are people who are ashamed of going to church. A Mohammedan may neglect his religious duties, but he always regards it as an honour to fulfil them. When we come to Persia or Turkestan we shall often see a caravan leader leave his camels in the middle of the march, spread out his prayer-mat on the ground, and recite his prayers. They do not do it thoughtlessly or slovenly: you might yell in the ear of a Mohammedan at prayer and he would take no notice.

"There is no god but God!" The words sound like a trumpet-blast, as a summons over boundless regions of the Old World. From its cradle in Arabia, Islam has spread over all the west and centre of Asia, over the southern parts of the continent, over certain regions in south-eastern Europe, and over half Africa. It is no wonder that Mohammedan missionaries find it easy to convert the blacks of Africa. Mohammed promises them Paradise after death, and Paradise is only a continuation of worldly pleasures—a place where the blessed dwell under palms which continually bear fruit, where clear springs leap forth, and where flutes and stringed instruments make music in eternal summer.


As a child Fatima Hanum played in one of the narrow streets of Stambul. When she was old enough, her parents betrothed and married her to Emin Effendi, the son of an influential pasha. She knew little of him beyond that he was rich and was considered a good match. His house was situated in one of the larger streets of Scutari, and consisted of two wings completely cut off from each other. In the one the husband had his apartments, in the other lived the women. For Fatima is not alone; her husband has three other wives, and all four have male and female slaves who guard them strictly.

Poor Fatima is thus unfortunate from the first. She cannot live happily with a man whose affection is not hers alone, and it is difficult for her to live in peace with the three other women who have the same rights as herself. Her life is empty and wearisome, and her days are passed in idleness. For hours she stands behind the lattice in the oriel window which projects over the street and watches the movement going on below. When she is tired of this she goes in again. Her room is not large. In the middle splashes a small fountain. Round the walls extend divans. She sinks moodily on to one of them and calls a female slave, who brings a small table, more like a stool. Fatima rolls a cigarette, and with dreamy eyes watches the blue rings as they rise to the ceiling. Again she calls the slave. A bowl of sweets is brought, she yawns, takes a bit of sweetmeat, and throws herself on the soft cushions.

Then she drinks a glass of lemonade and crosses the room to a leather trunk, which she unlocks. In the trunk lie her ornaments: bracelets of gold, pearl necklaces, earrings of turquoise, and many cloths of coloured silk. She puts a necklace round her neck, adorns her fingers with rings, and winds thin silken veils round her head. When she is ready she goes up to the mirror and admires her own beauty. She is really handsome. Her skin is white and soft, her eyes are black, her hair falls in dark waves over her shoulders. She is not pleased with the colour of her lips. The slave brings out a small pot of porcelain and with a pencil paints Fatima's lips redder than the coral which the Hindu dealers sell in the bazaar. Then the eyebrows are not dark enough, so they are blackened with Indian ink.

When Fatima is tired of examining her own features in the mirror she puts back her ornaments into the chest and locks it securely. A staircase leads down from her room to the garden. There she saunters for a time, enjoying the perfume of roses and jasmine, and stands before the cage of singing birds to amuse herself with them. One of the other wives comes down to the harem garden and calls out to her: "You are as ugly as a monkey, Fatima; you are old and wrinkled and your eyes are red. Not a man in all Stambul would care to look at you." Fatima answers: "If Emin Effendi had not been tired of you, old moth-eaten parrot, he would not have brought me to his harem." And then she hurries up to her room again to ask the mirror if it is true that her eyes are red.

In order to forget her vexation she decides to go over to the great bazaar in Stambul. The slave envelops her in a voluminous kaftan[2] in which her white hands with yellow-stained nails disappear among the folds. She slips into her shoes, which are like slippers with turned-up points, and puts on the most important garment of all—the veil. Its upper part covers the head and the forehead down to the eyebrows, while the lower part hangs down over the chin, mouth, and part of the nose. A woman does not show her face to any man but her husband. Of late years many women transgress this rule and let the lower part of the veil fall so low that most of the face is seen. Fatima, however, does not go with the new fashion. She shows only her eyes, but her glances are enough to let the man in the street perceive that she is beautiful. None of them is so impertinent as to look at her or speak to her. Only Europeans she meets turn round.

The slave does not go with her. She stops at the quay where the caiques, or long rowing-boats, lie. The boatmen rise and scream together. Each one extols with words and gestures the excellences of his boat. She makes her choice, and steps in and sits down on the cushions. The caique is narrow and sharp as a canoe, painted white, with a gold border on the gunwale. Two powerful men take their oars, and the caique darts over the blue waters of the Bosporus. Half-way between Scutari and Stambul, Fatima looks eagerly down the Sea of Marmora. She longs for an hour of freedom, and orders the boatmen to change the direction. The wind is fresh, so they pull in their oars and hoist the sail, and the boat glides southward at a rapid pace. But Fatima is capricious, and is soon tired of the Sea of Marmora, and orders the men to steer to the nearest quay in Stambul. She gives them two silver coins, which they take without a word of thanks or civility. She hastens up to the great bazaar and steps from the hot sunlight of the streets into cool shade and gloom.

For the bazaars are like tunnels. They are streets and lanes covered with vaults of stone, where daylight penetrates sparingly through the cupolas in the roof. Here the heat of summer is not felt, and you can walk dry-shod on stormy and rainy days. You are soon accustomed to the darkness, but have great difficulty in finding the way unless you have been born in Stambul and have often passed through this labyrinth. The passages are quite narrow, but yet wide enough to allow droshkies[3] and carts to pass through.

The bazaar, then, is an underground town in itself, a town of tradesmen and artisans. On either side of every street is an endless row of small open shops, the floors of which are raised a little above the level of the street, and serve also as counters or show stands. The shops are not mixed up together, but each industry, each class of goods, has its own street. In the shoemakers' street, for example, shoes of all kinds are set out, but the most common are slippers of yellow and red leather, embroidered and stitched with gold, for men, women, and children, for rich and poor. For a long distance you can see nothing but slippers and shoes right and left.

You are very glad when the shoe department comes to an end and you come to a large street where rich shopkeepers sell brocades of silver, gold, and silk. It is best not to take much money with you to this street, or you will be tempted to buy everything you see. Here lie mats from Persia, embroidered silken goods from India, shawls from Kashmir, and the finest work of southern Asia and northern Africa. Poor Fatima! Her husband is wealthy enough, but he has no mind to let her scatter his money about in the great bazaar. With sad looks she gazes at the turquoises from Nishapur, the rubies from Badakshan, the pearls from the coast of Bahrein, and the corals from the Indian Ocean.

When she has spent all the silver coins she has with her, she turns to leave, but it is a long way to the entrances of the bazaar. She passes through the street of the metalworkers and turns off at the armourers' lane. There the noise is deafening: sledge hammers and mallets hammer and beat, for the shops of the bazaar are workshops as well.

Again she turns a corner. Evidently she has lost her way, for she stands and looks about in all directions. She has now come to a passage where water-pipes and all articles connected with smoking are sold. Then she turns in another direction. An odour tells her a long distance off that she is coming to the street of spice-dealers. She has to ask her way almost at every step.

Not only in Constantinople but in all parts of the Turkish Empire, and all over the Mohammedan world, goods are bought and sold in these half-dark tunnels which are called bazaars. It is the same in the Mohammedan towns of North Africa, in Arabia, Asia Minor, Persia, Caucasia, Afghanistan, India, and Turkestan. Wherever minarets rise above the dwellings of men and the muezzin sings out his everlasting "There is no god but God," the exchange of wares and coin is carried on in dark bazaars. The great bazaar in Stambul is one of the richest, but even where the bazaars are small and insignificant the same order prevails, the same mode of life. Among Turkish men and women of high rank stroll poor ragamuffins and dervishes or begging monks. A caravan of camels moves slowly through the crowd, bringing fresh supplies to the tradesmen from a steamboat quay or from the railway station. The camels have scarcely disappeared in the darkness before a train of mules with heavy bales follows in their track. A loud-voiced man offers for sale grapes and melons he carries in a basket, while another bears a water-bottle of leather.

And all the races which swarm here! The great majority are, of course, Turks, but we also see whole rows of shops where only Persians trade. We see Hindus from India, Egyptians from Cairo, Arabs from the coasts of the Red Sea, Circassians and Tatars from the Caucasus and the Crimea, Sarts from Samarkand and Bokhara, Armenians, Jews, and Greeks, and not infrequently we meet a negro from Zanzibar or a Chinaman from the farthest East.

It is a confusion of shopmen and customers, brokers and thieves from all the East. A noise and bustle, a deafening roar which never ceases all day long, a hurrying, a striving and eagerness to clear the stock and gain money. If the prices were fixed, business would soon be done. But if you have taken a fancy to a Kurdish mat and ask the price, the tradesman demands a quite absurd sum. You shrug your shoulders and go your way. He calls out another, lower price. You go on quietly, and the man comes running after you and has dropped his price to the lowest. In every shop bargains are made vociferously in the same way. There is a continual buzz of voices, now and then interrupted by the bells of caravans.

The illumination is dim. The noonday sun penetrates only through openings in the vault and forms patches of light. Dust floats about in the shafts of light, mixed with smoke from water-pipes. The greater the distance the dimmer this confined air appears. There is also an indescribable odour. The smell of men and animals, of dusty goods, of rank tobacco, of rotting refuse, strong spices, fresh, juicy fruit—all mixed together into a peculiar odour which is characteristic of all Oriental bazaars.

The bazaar of Stambul contains a great deal besides. On the northern side is a line of old caravanserais, massive stone buildings of several storeys, with galleries, passages, and rooms, and with a large open court in the centre. Here resort the wholesale merchants, and here are their warehouses and stocks. Lastly, cafes and eating-houses are found in the tunnelled streets, baths and small oratories, so that a man can pass his whole day in the bazaar without needing to go home. He can obtain all he wants in the vicinity of his shop.


[1] "Pasha" is an honorary title given to officials of high rank in Turkey and Egypt, as to governors of provinces, military commanders, etc.

[2] A garment worn throughout the Levant, consisting of a long gown fastened by a girdle and having sleeves reaching below the hands.

[3] A "droshky" is a low, four-wheeled, open carriage, plying for hire. The word is Russian.




Attended by the cavass[4] of the Swedish Embassy, old Ali, I drove down to the quay on a fresh, sunny October morning, loaded all my boxes on board a caique, and was rowed by four men out to the Bosporus between anchored sailing vessels, steamers, and yachts. On arriving at the gangway of a large Russian steamer, I waited until all my luggage was safe on board and then followed it.

The anchor is weighed, the propeller begins to turn, and the vessel steers a course northwards through the Bosporus. With my field-glasses I settle down on a bench in the stern and take farewell of the Turkish capital. How grand, how unforgettable is this scene! The white, graceful minarets shoot up to heaven from the sea of houses, and the cypresses—tall, grave, and straight as kings—also seem to point out to the children of earth the way to Paradise. Everywhere the houses mount up the hills, ranged like the rows of seats in a theatre. The whole is like a gigantic circus with an auditorium for more than a million Turks, and the arena is the blue water of the Bosporus.

The steamer carries us away relentlessly from this charming picture. As dreams fade away in the night, so the white city is concealed by the first promontories. Then I change my place and look ahead. Perhaps the view is even more beautiful in this direction. The sound is like a river between steep, rocky shores, but in the mouth of every valley, and wherever the margin of the shore is flat, stand white villas and mansions, villages, walls and ruins, gardens and groves. The Bosporus is barely twenty miles long. In some places its breadth is less than a third of a mile, in others two-thirds. Old plane-trees spread their crowns over fresh meadows, and laurels, chestnuts, walnuts, and oaks afford deep shade. White dolphins skim along the water, and a school of porpoises follows in the wake of the boat, waiting for the refuse from the cook's galley. They are dark, soft, and smooth, their backs shining like metal, and they can easily be seen several feet below the surface. A single flap of the tail fin gives them a tremendous impulse, and they come up to the surface like arrows discharged by the gods of the sea, and describe beautiful somersaults among the waves. They could easily overtake us if they liked, but they content themselves with following close behind us hour after hour.

To the left we have the European coast, to the right the Asiatic. The distance is always so small that the Europeans can hear the bark of the Asiatic dogs. Here is Terapia, with the summer villas of Christians and the ambassadors' palaces. Turkish coffee-houses are erected on the shore, and their balconies hang over the water. Farther on there is a large valley with an ancient plane-tree with seven trunks which are called "the seven brothers." According to tradition Godfrey de Bouillon with his crusaders reposed under its shade in the winter of 1096-1097, when he marched to recover the holy sepulchre and win the sounding title of "King of Jerusalem."

Now the channel widens out and the coasts of the two continents diverge from each other. We see the horizon of the Black Sea opening before us, and the vessel begins to pitch. Lighthouses stand on either side of the entrance, which is commanded by batteries high above it. We roll out into the sea, and half an hour later we can hardly see the break in the coast-line which marks the end of the Bosporus.

We make straight for Sebastopol, near the southernmost point of the Crimea. This is the station of the Russian Black Sea fleet, but the Russians have little pride in it, for the Turks control the passage to the Mediterranean, and without the consent of the other great Powers the Russian warships cannot pass through. The Black Sea is, of course, open to the mercantile vessels of all nations.

You know, of course, that Europe has four landlocked seas, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Black and Caspian Seas. The Baltic is enclosed all round by European coasts; the Black and Caspian Seas belong to both Europe and Asia; while the Mediterranean lies between the three continents of the Old World—Europe, Asia, and Africa. Now the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Seas are of about the same size, each having an area about three times that of England and Wales. The Baltic is connected with the Atlantic by several sounds between the Danish islands and Scania. The Black Sea has only one outlet, the Bosporus. The Caspian Sea has no outlet at all, and is really a lake.

The Baltic is very shallow, its maximum depth, south-east of the Landsort lighthouse, being 250 fathoms. Next comes the Caspian Sea with a depth of 600 fathoms. The singular feature of this, the largest lake in the world, is that its surface lies 85 feet below that of the Black Sea. This last is the deepest of the three, for in it a sounding of 1230 fathoms has been taken.

All three seas are salt, the Baltic least and the Caspian most. Four great rivers enter the Black Sea, the Danube, Dniester, Dnieper, and Don. It therefore receives large volumes of fresh water. But along the bottom of the Bosporus an undercurrent of salt water passes into the Black Sea, which is compensated for by a surface stream of less salt and therefore lighter water flowing to the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea is not blacker than any other sea, nor is the White Sea white, the Yellow Sea yellow, or the Red Sea red. And so no faith should be accorded to the story of a captain in the Mediterranean who wished to sail to the Red Sea but went to the Black Sea—because he was colour-blind!

But now we can continue our heaving course, still accompanied by dolphins and porpoises. We look in at the harbour of Sebastopol, we anchor in open roadsteads off Caucasian towns, we moor our cables to the rings on the quay of Batum, and finally drop our anchor for the last time at a short distance from the coast of Asia Minor.

Proud and bright, with forest-clad heights in the background, Trebizond bathes in the rays of the midday sun. Small rowing-boats come out from the land to take passengers and goods to the quay. The Turkish boatmen scream all together, but no one listens to them. Every one is glad to be landed safe and sound with his baggage.


Trebizond was a Greek colony seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, and from time immemorial Persian trade has made its way to the Black Sea by the road which still runs through Tabriz to Teheran, a distance of 800 miles. This traffic is now on the decline, for modern means of communication have taken the place of the old caravans, and most of their trade has been diverted to the Suez Canal and the Caucasian railways. Many large caravans, however, still journey to and fro along this road, which is so well made that one can drive not only to Tabriz, but still further to Teheran. It may, indeed, be softened by autumn rains or frozen hard on the high plateaus of Turkish Armenia, and the speed is not great when the same horses have to be used for distances of 160 miles.

It was a lively cavalcade that pounded and rattled over the Turkish and Persian roads in November, 1905. I was by no means alone. The Governors of Trebizond and Erzerum were so good as to provide me with an escort of six armed troopers on sturdy horses. In front rides a Turkish soldier on a piebald horse, carrying his carbine in a sling over his back, his sabre and dagger hanging at his side, and wearing a red fez with a white pagri[5] wound round it as a protection from sun and wind. Then I come in my carriage, drawn by three horses. Old Shakir, the coachman, is already my friend; it is he who prepares my meals and looks after me generally. I am well wrapped up in a Caucasian cloak, with a bashlik[6] over my cap, and lean back comfortably and look at the country as we drive along. Behind the carriage ride two soldiers on brown horses, engaged in a lively conversation and wondering whether they will be well tipped. Then come two clumsy carts, on which all my baggage is firmly secured. They have their own drivers and men, and are escorted by three troopers.

In this manner I travelled from Trebizond to Teheran. To the ceaseless rattle of the wheels and the heavy tramp of the horses' hoofs, I plunged day by day deeper into Asia. Soon the blue expanse of the Black Sea passed out of sight, as the road with many steep and sudden bends wound up to the top of a pass. On the other side it descended with as many windings to the bottom of a valley. And thus we went up and down till we were up at length on the level Armenian tableland.

Here there is a complete change. During the first days after leaving the coast, we had driven through a beautiful and constantly changing landscape. We had passed through woods of coniferous trees and among rustling foliage of yellow leaves. Sometimes we had been hundreds of feet above an abyss, at the foot of which a bluish-green stream foamed between rounded rocks. Beside the road we had seen rows of villages and farms, with houses and verandahs of wood, where Turks sat comfortably in their shops and cafes; and we had met many small caravans of horses, asses, and oxen carrying hay, fruit, and bricks between the villages. We always began our day's march in the early morning, for the nights were mild and the sun had scarcely risen before it felt pleasant.

But up here on the plateau it is different. No firs adorn the mountain flanks, no foliaged trees throw their shade over the road. No creaking carts, laden with timber and drawn by buffaloes and oxen, enliven the way. The villages are scattered, and the houses are low cabins of stone or sun-dried clay. The Turkish population is blended with Armenians. The road becomes worse and more neglected as the traffic falls off. The air is cool, and there are several degrees of frost in the night.

When we have passed Erzerum, where the Christian churches of the Armenians stand side by side with the mosques of the Turks, we journey, as it were, on a flat roof sloping down slightly on three sides, each with a gutter leading into its own water-butt. These water-butts are the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and they are always big enough to hold all the water, however hard it may rain on the stony roof which rises between Caucasia, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia. The gutters are, of course, the rivers, the greatest of which is the Euphrates.

Now the road is very bad. There has been rain in the autumn; and now that it is freezing, the mud, all cut up by deep wheel-ruts, is as hard as stone. My vehicle shakes and jolts me hither and thither and up and down, and when we arrive at the village where we are to pass the night, I feel bruised all over. Shakir makes tea and boils eggs, and after supper I roll myself in my cloak and go to sleep.

It is pitch-dark when I am called, and still dark when we make a start by the light of lanterns. After a little a curious sound is heard across the plain. The clang becomes louder, coming nearer to us, and tall, dark ghosts pass by with silent steps. Only bells are heard. The ghosts are camels coming from Persia with carpets, cotton, and fruit. There are more than three hundred of them, and it is a long time before the road is clear again. And all the time there is a ringing as from a chime of bells.

For many thousands of years the same sound has been heard on the caravan routes. It is the same with the roar of the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris. Mighty powers have flourished and passed away on their banks, whole peoples have died out, of Babylon and Nineveh only ruins are left; but the waters of the rivers murmur just the same, and the caravan bells ring now as in the days when Alexander led the Macedonian army over the Euphrates and Tigris, when the Venetian merchant Marco Polo travelled 620 years ago between Tabriz and Trebizond by the road we are now driving along, when Timur the Lame defeated the Turks and by this road carried the Sultan Bayazid in an iron cage to exhibit him like a wild beast in the towns of Asia.

A white morning cloud seems to be floating over the grey mountains to the east, but when the sun rises it is seen to be a cone as regular as the roof of an Armenian church. It is the snow-capped top of Mount Ararat, where the ark landed when the great flood went down. The summit is always covered with snow, for the mountain is a thousand feet higher than Mont Blanc.

Now we are not far from the frontier, where Kurdish brigands render the country unsafe, but once over the border into Persian territory there is no danger. We are now in the north-western corner of Persia, in the province of Azerbeijan, which is populated mainly by Tatars. The capital of the province is Tabriz, once the chief market for the trade of all northern Persia with Europe. Here goods were collected from far and near, packed in mats of bast and bound with ropes so as to form bales, which were laden on fresh camels and carried in fourteen days to Trebizond.

Now not more than a fifth part of this trade remains, but still the caravan life is the same, and as varied as ever. The Tatar leader rides in front; beside every seventh camel walks a caravan man, who wears a black lambskin cap, a blue frockcoat, a girdle round the waist, and pointed shoes. Each is armed with a dagger, for the Tatars are often at feud with the Turks and Armenians, and the dagger has a groove on each side of the blade to allow the blood of the victim to run off. Many a caravan leader has spent the greater part of his life in travelling to and fro between Tabriz and Trebizond. On every journey he has seen Ararat to the north of the road, like a perpetually anchored vessel with its mainsail up; and he knows that the mountain is a gigantic frontier beacon which marks the spot where Russia, Turkey, and Persia meet.

On December 13 I arrived at Teheran, having driven 800 miles in a month. India was still 1500 miles off, and the route lies almost entirely through deserts where only camels can travel. I therefore bought fourteen fine camels, and took six Persians and a Tatar into my service.


[4] A government servant or courier.

[5] A light scarf wound round a hat or helmet in tropical countries, especially India.

[6] A kind of cloth hood covering the ears.




On August 15, 1885, I went by steamer to St. Petersburg. There I entered a train which ran south-eastwards through Moscow to Rostov, at the mouth of the Don, and thence on to the Caucasus; and for four days I sat in my compartment, letting my eyes rove over the immense steppes of Russia. Hour after hour the train rolled along. A shrill whistle startles the air when we come to a station, and equally sharply a bell rings once, twice, and thrice when our line of carriages begins to move on again over the flat country. In rapid course we fly past innumerable villages, in which usually a whitewashed church lifts up its tower with a green bulb-shaped roof. Homesteads and roads, rivers and brooks, fruitful fields and haystacks, windmills with long revolving arms, carts and wayfarers, all vanish behind us, and twilight and night four times envelop huge Russia in darkness.

At last the mountains of the Caucasus appear in front of us, rising up to the clouds like a light-blue wall. The whole range seems so light and impalpable that we can scarcely believe that the very next day we shall be driving up its valleys and over heights which are more than 16,000 feet above the sea-level. The distance is still great, but the white summit of Mount Kazbek shines out amidst the blue.

At length we arrive at Vladikavkas, the end of the railway,[7] and begin our journey of 130 miles over the mountains. My travelling companions hired a carriage, and at every stage we had to change horses. I sat on the box, and at the turns I had to hold on lest I should be thrown off down into the abyss at the side of the road.

We constantly meet peasants with asses, or shepherds with flocks of goats and sheep. Now comes a group of Caucasian horsemen in black sheepskin coats and armed to the teeth; then the post-cart, packed full of travellers; then again a load of hay drawn by oxen or grey buffaloes.

The higher we ascend, the grander and wilder the mountains become. Sometimes the road is blasted out of perpendicular walls of rock, and heavy masses of mountain hang like a vault above us. At dangerous slopes, where the road is exposed to avalanches in spring, it runs through tunnels of masonry. When an avalanche dashes furiously down the mountain it leaps over these tunnels and continues down on the other side without doing the road any harm.

We have now reached the highest point of the road, and after a journey of twenty-eight hours we arrive at Tiflis, the largest town in Caucasia, and one of the most curious towns I have seen. The houses hang like clusters of swallows' nests on the slopes on both sides of the Kura River, and the narrow, dirty streets are crowded with the fifteen different tribes who dwell in Caucasia.

While the road leading to Tiflis over the mountains is grand, a more dreary country can hardly be conceived than that crossed by the railway between Tiflis and Baku: endless steppes and deserts, greyish-yellow and desolate, with occasionally a caravan of slowly moving camels. A violent storm arose as we drew near the sea. Dust rose up in clouds and penetrated through all the chinks of the compartment, the air became thick, heavy, and suffocating, and outside nothing could be seen but a universal grey veil of impenetrable mist. But the worst was that the storm struck the train on the side, and at last the engine was scarcely able to draw the carriages along. Twice we had to stop, and on an ascent the train even rolled back a little.

However, in spite of all, we at last reached the shore of the Caspian Sea, where clear green billows rose as high as a house and thundered on the strand. At seven o'clock in the evening we were at Baku, and drove ten miles to Balakhani, where I remained seven months.

I remember that time as if it were yesterday. I struggled hopelessly with the Russian grammar, but made great progress in Persian, and learned to talk the Tatar language without the least difficulty. Meanwhile I indulged in plans for a great journey to Persia. How it was to be managed I did not know, for my means were not large. But I made up my mind that through Persia I would travel, even if I went as a hired servant and drove other people's asses along the roads.

The whole country round Baku is impregnated with petroleum, which collects in vast quantities in cavities in the earth. To reach the oil a tower of wood 50 to 65 feet high is erected, and a line with a powerful borer runs over a block at the top. A steam-engine keeps the line in constant motion, perpendicularly up and down, and the borer eats deeper and deeper into the earth. The first section of piping which is forced down into the bore-hole is about 40 inches in diameter. When this can go no farther the boring is continued with a smaller borer, and a narrower tube is thrust down within the first. And so the work is continued until the petroleum level is reached and the valuable oil can be pumped up.

But it often happens that the oil is forced up through the pipe by the pressure of gas in the bowels of the earth, and when I was at Balakhani we often used to go out and look at this singular display. With a deafening roar, a thick greenish-brown jet shot up out of the ground and right through the derrick (Plate III.). It was visible from a long distance, for it might be as much as 200 feet high, and the oil was collected within dams thrown up around. If there was a strong wind the jet would be dispersed, and a dark mist would lie like a veil over the ground to leeward. In Balakhani one can hardly look out of the door without one's clothes being smeared with oil, and the odour can be perceived a dozen miles away. Not a blade of grass grows in this neighbourhood; all that one sees is a forest of derricks. Lines of pipes convey the oil from the borings to the "Black Town" of Baku, which is full of oil refineries (over 170 in all) emitting vast volumes of smoke, black and greasy buildings, and pools of oil refuse. When the crude natural oil is purified, it is distributed far and wide in special railway trucks like cisterns, and in special tank steamers, into which the petroleum is pumped, and which carry nothing else.

In the Baku oil-fields there are now (1910) no fewer than 4094 bores, of which 2600 are productive. Last year they yielded about eight million tons of raw petroleum, some of them having sometimes given nearly 300 tons in twenty-four hours by pumping, and 2000 when the oil shot out of the ground itself. The value on the spot is now about 20 shillings a ton. The deepest boring is sunk 2800 feet into the earth.

Late one evening in February, 1886, the dreadful cry of "Fire! Fire!" was heard outside our house. The very thought of fire is enough to raise terror and consternation throughout this oil-soaked district. We hurry out and find the whole neighbourhood illuminated with a weird, whitish light, as bright as day. The derricks stand out like ghosts against the light background. We make for the place and feel the heat increasing. Bright white flames shoot up fantastically into the air, sending off black clouds of smoke. One derrick is in flames and beside it a pool of raw petroleum is burning. A Tatar had gone to the derrick with a lantern to fetch a tool. He lost his lantern, and only just escaped with his life before the oil-soaked derrick took fire.

It is vain to fight against such a fire. The fire-engine came, and all the hoses were at work, but what was the use when the jets of water were turned to steam before they reached the burning surface of the oil pool? The chief thing is to keep the fire from spreading, and if that is done, the oil is left to bubble and burn until not a drop is left.


It was an adventurous journey that I commenced from Baku on April 6, 1886. I had a travelling companion, a young Tatar, Baki Khanoff, about L30 in my pocket, two changes of clothes and underclothing, a warm coat, and a rug—all, except what I wore, packed in a Tatar bag. In a small leather bag suspended by a strap from the shoulder I kept a revolver, a sketch-book, a note-book, and two maps of Persia. Baki Khanoff had a large cloak, a silver-mounted gun, and a dagger. Half the money we had was sewed up in belts round our waists. The equipment was therefore small for a journey of 2000 miles, through Persia and back.

For two days and a night we were compelled by a violent storm on the Caspian Sea to wait on board before the vessel could take us to the Persian coast. As soon as we landed we were surrounded by Persians, who, with loud voices and lively gestures, extolled the good qualities of their horses. After a cursory examination we chose two small, squat steeds, secured our baggage behind the saddles, mounted, and rode through dark woods and fragrant olive groves higher and higher towards the Elburz Mountains.

We passed a night up on the heights in a village called Karzan. When we set out next day it was snowing fast, and had snowed so thickly all night that all the country was buried under deep drifts. We muffled ourselves up as well as we could, mounted our horses, and rode on, accompanied by their owner.

The snow fell silently in large, whirling flakes. Down in the valley it melted off our clothes, but higher up on the open, windy heights it froze to a cake of ice, and before long our clothes on the windward side were converted into a thick cuirass which prevented every movement. At last we were practically frozen fast in the saddle. Our hands were benumbed, the reins fell on the horses' necks, our eyes were sore from the snowstorm which dashed straight into our faces. I was so stiff that I lost all feeling in my arms and legs, tumbled off my horse, and went on foot, but I had to hold on to the animal's tail lest I should lose my way in the blinding snow.

We could not go on long in this way, for we could not see where we were going, so we decided to turn in at the first village on the road. Some squalid huts soon came in sight through the snow. Outside one of them we tied up our horses, shook off the snow, and entered a dark cabin with an earthen floor. Here a large fire was lighted, and we sat down beside it in a close circle with some other travellers who arrived at the same time. The place had a low roof and was small, damp, and full of vermin, but at any rate it was pleasant to warm ourselves and dry our clothes. When Baki Khanoff had made tea, cooked eggs, and brought out bread and salt, it was almost cosy. The company consisted of four Tatars, two Persians, and myself, and the seven of us had to share the space for the night. When the fire died down the close heat was succeeded by a damp coolness, but at twenty-one years of age one is not particular.

Eventually we reached Teheran, the capital of Persia, safe and sound, and there I stayed a short time as the guest of a fellow-countryman. When I continued my journey southwards I had to travel alone, for Baki Khanoff had caught fever and had to turn back to Baku.

Our journey to Teheran had been very expensive, but my good countryman replenished my purse, so that I had again about L30 sewed up in my waistbelt when I started off once more on April 27. The road is divided by stations where horses are changed and you can pass the night if you wish. A man accompanies you on every stage, and for a small silver coin you can buy eggs and bread, a chicken, melons and grapes.

Sometimes the stable-boy who accompanies a traveller takes the best horse for himself and gives the other to the traveller. This happened to me on the road between the town of Kashan and the mountain village of Kuhrud. As soon as I became aware of the trick, I exchanged horses with my attendant, who dropped behind after some hours' journey, for his sorry jade could go no farther. For four hours I rode along narrow paths in complete darkness. I feared that I had gone astray, and, tired and sleepy, I was on the point of coming to a halt, intending to tie the horse to a tree and roll myself up in my rug for the night, when I saw a light gleam through the darkness. "Hurrah! that is the station-house of Kuhrud." But when I came nearer I perceived that the light came from a nomad's tent. I rode up and called out to the people. No one answered, but I could see by the shadows on the cloth that the tent was inhabited. After shouting again without receiving an answer, I tied up the horse, lifted up the tent-flap, and asked my way to Kuhrud. "Cannot one sleep in peace in the middle of the night?" came a voice from inside. "I am a European and you must show me the way," I returned sharply. Then a man came out; he was as silent as a dummy, but I understood that I was to follow him, leading my horse by the rein. He wound about in the dark among bushes, and when he had led me to a brook a foot deep, skirted on both sides by thick olive woods, he pointed uphill and vanished in the darkness without saying a word. I mounted again and let the horse take care of himself, and two hours later he stopped all right before the station-house. It was pleasant to have reached my journey's end at last, for I had been riding for fifteen hours, and the evening meal tasted better than usual. Then I lay down full length on the floor, with the saddle for a pillow and the rug over me. I made use of no other bed on this journey.

A few days more on the great caravan road and we rode into the old capital of Persia, Ispahan, with its many memorials of departed greatness, its mosques with tall, graceful minarets, and its bazaars full of the products of Persian handicrafts and industries—carpets, silken materials, embroideries, shawls, lacquered work, water-pipes, porcelain, and bronze vessels representing peacocks and elephants.

Farther south I came to Persepolis, so famous in ancient times, where the great Persian kings, Xerxes and Darius, had their palaces. The country round about is now inhabited only by some poor shepherds and their flocks, but fine remains of the palaces still stand, in spite of the 2400 years which have passed over them. Not far from Persepolis lies one of the most noted towns of Persia, Shiraz, abounding in rose gardens and country-houses, spring water and canals. The town is famous above all, because here the immortal poets of Persia sang their most beautiful songs.

When we came near the Persian Gulf the climate became hotter, and one day the temperature was 102 deg. in the room where I was staying. People therefore travel in the night. On the last stage the groom, who was an old man, could not keep up with me, for I rode fast; so I went on all night alone, keeping my revolver handy in case robbers showed themselves. I was glad when the sun rose, lighting up the smooth mirror of the Persian Gulf, and on May 22 I arrived at the town of Bushire, on its eastern coast.

The Persian Gulf is an inlet of the Indian Ocean, and is enclosed between Persia and Arabia. The island of Bahrein on the Arabian coast is well known; it is under British protection, and here in summer and autumn pearl fishing is carried on, the annual export of these beautiful precious stones being now about L900,000. As many as a thousand boats, with crews of thirty thousand men, are engaged in the industry. The owner of each boat engages a number of divers, who work for him, and he sells his pearls to the Indian markets. The diver seldom goes down to a greater depth than seven fathoms, and remains at most fifty seconds under water. He has wax in his ears, his nose is closed by a clip, and with a stone at his feet and a rope round his waist he jumps overboard and disappears into the depths. When he reaches the bottom of the sea he gathers into a basket tied in front of him as many shells as he can get hold of, and at a given signal is hauled up by the rope to the surface again. Then the owner of the boat opens the shells and takes out the costly pearls, which are of different values, according to their size and other qualities.


Between the Persian Gulf on the north-east and the Red Sea on the south-west, the Mediterranean on the north-west and the Indian Ocean on the south-east, lies the long, bulky peninsula which is called Arabia, and is as large as a third of Europe. Most of the coast-land is subject to the Sultan of Turkey, but the people in the interior are practically independent. They are a wild and warlike pastoral people, called Beduins. Only certain parts of the country are inhabited, the rest being occupied by terrible deserts and wastes, where even now no European has set his foot.

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