תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

III.

are

disdain,

THE EASTERN QUESTION.

but I struck a very sympathetic cord when "Is this your first visit to Constanti I asked him where he learned to speak nople?" was the question of a Bohemian such good English. He had picked it to the writer, as he stood on board a up in New York, and when I assured Russian ship at l'arna, a Bulgarian town him that although his accent would not on the Black Sea. “I'm a musikus," bealtogether appreciated by a'cockney," said the gentlemen in his broken German, it was musical to me, he gave with “and am taking a troupe along with me egotistical pride full play to his English, to see if I cant please the Turks with and explained all that lay along the something European." A short time Bosphorus for a distance of fifteen miles, after our arrival in Constantinople, I met from its opening into the Black Sea to my Bohemian friend, and when I asked Constantinople, where its waters him how he was getting along with the mingled with those of the Marmora. Turks, he gave his head a significant Following this tortuous water-way, we nod, and declared they had no sense of were soon before the celebrated Beyukappreciation, but regretted greatly that dere, a small village of palaces, where sli ch a city should not be in the hands of notables of Constantinople seek during Christians. The latter remark was not the hot summer months the cool winds of at

all original with the credulous and the Euxine. There, too, on Sunday di Sappointed musikus, still he wished to afternoons along the beach in front of shu ow that he fully appreciated the situa ambassadors' palaces, the high life of tion. That the city is a prize which even Constantinople resort to enjoy fashionthe most orthodox Christians need not able promenade à la Francaise. Further

we were both agreed, the mo on we passed the seven huge trees, Jedi ment we caught sight of its environs. Kardasch, under which Godfrey of

Taking the route by way of Bourghas Bouillon pitched his tent at the head of a in East Rumelia, we were treated to a crusading army on the way to the Holy two nights rough shaking up on the Land. A few minutes later, we reach Euxine of the ancients, whose familiarity Therapia to view the English and Gerwith the terrible storms that sweep over man palaces used as summer resorts. its waters, has suggested the characteris

Soon we pass the narrowest point of tic name of “The Inhospitable.” Be the Bosphorus where ancient towers, now fore sunrise we were on deck observing in a ruinous state, designate the rethe contour of the land near the mouth sources of ancient defense; and where of the Bosphorus, as the ship slowly ap Darius led over his army of seven hunproached the channel that was to lead dred thousand men. Near this point, us to the city of the Sultan. The steamer on an eminence which overlooks the must wait, however, till sunrise, as no Bosphorus and the villages along the ship can enter either of the great chan Asiatic coast, stands the American nels save between the rising and setting “Robert College,” a most elegant and of the sun, and then only by means of a costly structure. practique, an order issued by the Turkish We are now within half an hour of authorities stationed near the fortresses Constantinople. The beautiful royal which guard the entrances to the famous marble palaces hard on the water's edge, city

the rolling hills, the towering cypresses, After the formalities of obtaining a prac the stately mosques with their slender tique had permitted the steamer to minarets, announce our approach to the enter the Bosphorus, I began to rake City of the Crescent. The Bosphorus, up a friendship with the first-mate, who just before pouring its waters into the stood at the prow of the ship. I knew I Marmora sea, extends a watery arm to was trespassing on forbidden ground, the right, on the European side, in the

shape of a horn, styled by the imaginative Greek, because the wealth of three continents flowed into its ports, the Golden Horn.

Besides the historical, political, and picturesque features of this great waterway, which has brought us from the Black Sea before the coveted prize of the ancient and modern world, there is a strange physical feature. The surface current of the Bosphorus flows toward the Marmora, but if a bottle be let down with a rope it is found that there exists a bottom current, which flows in an opposite direction Persons, also, who are drowned in the harbor, instead of being carried with the surface current into the Marmora, sink and are taken by the under-current in the direction of the Black Sea and are fished out at the "bends.” As the Caspian, as well as the Mediterranean, is lower than the Black Sea, this curious phenomenon is explained by the theory that, between the Black and Caspian seas, a subterranean water passage exists, which influences the under-current of the Bosphorus.

We had found ourselves in the harbor at the mouth of the Golden Horn, where it opens both into the Bosphorus and Marmora. The anchor went down and there came a rush of caiukes-small boats. A thousand voices rang out at once, and then from all directions men and boys began scrambling up the sides of the vessel, each grabbing for the passengers' luggage, which is contended for like a bone by a host of hungry dogs. The passenger may push and kick and expostulate, but all to no purpose, he is literally captured. The prices for rowing one to shore, if arranged before hand, are extortionate enough; but if the bill is first asked for on shore, it is enough to make one's hair stand on end. Orientals have the strange idea that all Europeans come from where money grows. The process through which a man goes before he finds himself a free man in the city, has so exhausted all indulgence and forbearance, that he is ready to exclaim with the musikus, that the city should "be in the hands of Christians;"although perhaps the greater

number of those who have worried and dogged him every step are either Oriental Christians or Jews.

The verdict is well nigh universal that no city in the world is at once so picturesque, so strange, so odd and so romantic, when viewed from without, as Constantinople; yet the process of getting in so robs one of all sentiment, that to again enjoy the delightful enthusiasm of an external view, he must again take to the water. South of the Golden Horn and skirting the shores of the Marmora, with apex converging in the Bosphorus, where it meets these waters, is a triang. ular area of land known to-day as Stamboul. In the year 667 B. C., not a hundred years after the foundation of Rome, a colony of Greeks from Megara, an ancient city between Athens and Corinth, located on this tempting spot of earth, which for centuries was known as Greek Byzantium. When Roman arms subjugated the East, it became a part of the empire, and when Constantine the Great conceived the idea of changing the capital of his empire, he selected Byzantium, which was to be styled New Rome, but was subsequently called the city of Constantine or Constantinople. It was the purpose of the emperor to make it the rival of old Rome, and he devoted great energy in advancing the new capital by the importation of artizans from all parts of the empire, as well as by the expenditure of great sums of money from the public treasury. During the dark periods of Western Europe, Constantinople was really the only city that maintained any semblance of ancient learning and grandeur. It was indeed a lone star in the constellation of Greek and Roman civilization, and its commercial wealth excited the admiration of all nations. From A. D. 330 to A. D. 1453, Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman empire, and its history, like that of all Europe, was one of devastating

Great sums had been expended in the early period in works of art, which were swept away by the civil and religious wars of the later period.

It is well to know something of the condition of this imperial city, during

wars.

the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, before the Mohammedan conquest, for many writers censure the Turks for all that has happened to efface the grandeur that once made Constantinople the envy of the world. In the early part of the thirteenth century, great hordes of Christians left western Europe, and set out for the Holy Land, to conquor the city of Jerusalem, and recover the tomb of the Savior, then in the possession of Moslems. Plunder and personal ambition were great factors in the movement, just as they are among many who are playing the role of crusaders in our own times. They saw thousands of miles away the splinter in the Moslem's eye, but failed to discover the beam in their own. On their way, they stopped before Constantinople, laid seige to the city, confiscated its wealth, and laid waste so many parts of it, that it never regained anything of its former greatness and beauty. They set up a government of their own, known in its history as the Latin Empire. Such was the anarchy which prevailed before the crusaders entered, that it is said five emperors were deposed in six months.

Of the Latin conquest, the historian says: “The city was in the hands of the Western Christians. They behaved as Christian soldiers, whether of the East or of the West, always have behaved; they pillaged, destroyed, burned, outraged, and murdered.” Of the end of the Latin Empire, the same writer further remarks: “It began with violence and injustice; it ended as it began.” The reader may well imagine the desolation that came over this once magnificent city, after a great part of it had been burned to the ground, its metal works of art melted, and the wealth of its costly decorated churches confiscated. It never regained a shadow of its former greatness, under subsequent Greek rule. Civil strife continued to paralyze the energies of the inhabitants, and the most hideous crimes made it a suitable prey to

it became the city of the Sultan. Of its last conqueror, whose soldiers also committed great depredations, it is written: “Mahomet, it is said, was profoundly impressed with the spectacle of the fallen city. Cruel and perfidious, he may have been, but he would allow no wanton destruction, and he reproved with a blow of his scimeter, a barbarous Turk whom he saw breaking marble mosaics of the church of St. Sophia.”

This celebrated Christian church, in which it is said twenty thousand people could be crowded, and which was ornamented in the most magnificent and costly style of the times, was suddenly converted into a Mohammedan mosque. This mosque of St. Sophia is that upon which, to-day, zealous Christians and more zealous politicians so long to plant a Christian banner. Fancy Mr. James Bryce's anguish, when either as a firstrate Christian or orthodox politician, he gives expression to his sentiments in the following manner: “Looking around this noble monument of Christian art, it was impossible not to wish for the speedy advent of the day, when the fierce faith of Arabia shall be driven out, and the voice of Christian worship be heard once more beneath this sounding dome." Suicidal Christianity had desolated the land, when Moslem arms brought a halt to the devastation. Civil wars raging, and anarchy was the order of the day, and yet the following, from the same author, shows how writers are prone to lay all the misfortunes of the land at the door of the Turks: “Seeing the misery Turkish rule has brought upon these countries, it is impossible not to wish for its speedy extinction;": and again to the country he applies a very well devised, if borrowed, metaphor; “But the blight of Turkish rule has passed over it like a scorching wind.”

At any rate, outside of political and religious zeal, one may safely conclude from a purely historical source, that the Turks have planted themselves upon the ruins of a civilization, which, up to the present, they have been wholly unable to restore. What the Turk may be able in the future to accomplish, is still an

were

the enemy.

In 1453, Mohammed II, after his famous siege, entered Constantinople on the twenty-ninth of May, and henceforth

open question. In the middle ages, the Italians were active in extending their commerce to the shores of the Bosphorus, and Constantinople was to them the great commercial emporium of the East. Just opposite what was anciently known as Byzantium, subsequently Constantinople, and at present Stamboul, they planted an important colony, and to-day, among the relics which come down to us from their time, stands the great Genoese tower, on the hill above the Golden Horn. To-day, all that part just opposite Stamboul, on the water's edge, is known as Galata, and the city extending on the hill beyond and further to the north as Pera, or the European part of Constantinople. While, therefore, ancient Constantinople was designated by what the Turks have been pleased to call Stamboul; in its modern sense it incorporates Pera on the hill, Galata on the port, and Stamboul—the latter being connected with the former by two bridges, on the south side of the Golden Horn. Some also include Scutari, on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus. The city is built on hills and in hollows, so that all that is seen from any side without, is picturesque in the extreme.

The contour of the land which skirts the waters of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Marmora is so beautifully, so perfectly, and with such pleasing variety, drawn by nature's artist, that it is difficult to imagine not only how it could have been executed, but that it could have been executed at all. There is no distant view about all Constantinople that does not call forth wonder and admiration. The houses climb one above another to the summit of the rolling hills and reflect a multitude of fantastic colors from the distance. Approach, from any direction, that which has called forth so much enthusiasm for the romantic and picturesque, and it is like the disappointed awakening from dreams of fairy land;narrow, dirty streets, too crooked for the most crooked ways of the most crooked people in the world, too odd not to be curious, too strange not to attract, but too real to be forgot

ten. You climb one minute into active life, and descend the next into obscurity. You make your way for what appears a business part, but have met a donkey with two huge baskets thrown across his back and coming in an opposite direction, so you have to back out to make room for him to pass. You have just knocked your head against a Turkish veranda, and shut your eyes to kill the pain and bite your lips to keep back an evil species of hiccoughs, when you step on one of the dogs curled up on the stones, and he sets up such a howlinghis best method of taking revenge-as to almost drive you wild. You declare you will get out of this—it is easy said, but how? If you succeed it is only to be entrapped again by your curiosity. You have found some handsome buildings and make up your mind to follow them up; but in ten minutes you run into a grave yard with headstones scattered in all directions. You are in the shade of a cypress grove and sit down on a tombstone á la Turque, and watch the boys spin fish lines. In short you have traveled all day long and have not been anywhere. Constantinople is beautiful, lovely, attractive, picturesque, magnificent; dirty, odd, strange, disagreeable, nasty and abominable—it is the most charming and most repulsive city in the world.

One may observe from a map what an unique and remarkable position the city occupies. It is the great highway for all that commerce which floats on the Danube, and the great rivers of southern Russia. When the railroads open the rich countries around the Caspian Sea, and in Asia Minor, as well as the fertile lands of Macedonia, it will, standing as it does with a foot on each continent, command all that immense commerce which must roll into its harbor from both land and sea. The great waterways, the Bosphorus on the north and the Dardanelles on the south, are so narrow that by the erection of batteries or laying down of torpedoes, it may be rendered impregnable to naval attack. The waters, too, of its splendid harbors, land-locked and tideless, are deep enough

tion, that the musikus should lament that such a city is not in the hands of Christians?

J. M. Tanner.

to float the largest vessels. The long lines of hills and ravines with intervening marshes on both land sides, favor the erection of fortifications for the most effectual defense. There is no such site in the world for an imperial city. Is it any wonder, then, with the immense commerce which must pass beneath its walls or roll into its magnificent harbor, with the beauty and strength of its loca

Conversion is repairing of the old building; but it takes all down and erects a new structure. The sincere Christian is quite a new fabric, from the foundation to the top-stone all new.-Alleine.

distant meadows,

THE MISSION SCHOOL. "Miss BERTHA, we have had a delight- , cerning the bugs and butterflies, and ful walk," said a chorus of school girls taught them to distinguish many of the to their teacher, as they parted from her ordinary rocks; she told them of the at the door of her lodgings. It was a

geological history of the earth, and, beautiful day in the beginning of June in her explanations, launched forth to a day calculated to render a walk agree the confines of the solar system, and able under the most ordinary circum out into the realms of space, where each stances. The sun seemed to shine more of the fixed stars represents the central radiantly, the flowers came forth more sun of other revolving worlds. boldly under the cheerful influence of The teacher was the possessor of the the advancing season; the birds chattered complete heart of each of her scholars; more noisily, or drew forth from their she had won it by a studious interest in melodious throats higher, deeper, purer their welfare and pleasure, that seemed notes, in the ecstacy of joy, while all to be untiring. It was a love born of animated nature seemed to have caught respect, for they found in her a skillful the inspiration of the day, and joined, in teacher, whose enlightened mind seemed this way or that, in its celebration; the to them to contain exact information lowing of the herds came from the concerning all things in the heavens

above and the earth below, "While the ploughman near at hand

Bertha Somerville was, by no means, Whistled o'er the furrowed land."

an ordinary young woman; neither ordiBut this had been no ordinary occa nary in appearance, in attainments, nor sion. Miss

Bertha Somerville, the in the romance of her history. She teacher of the Mission School, had would not in the common acceptation of invited the larger girls of her classes the word, be called a beautiful girl. to meet her on this bright Saturday

There was none of that coquetry of morning, for the purpose of strolling word or action, which serves to make along the lanes and through the mead far less handsome girls appear attractive ows. It had been Miss Bertha's object and even beautiful. Her good qualities to combine the amusement of her pupils were not on the surface; at first glance, with their instruction; and certainly one would say that she was not beautinature and education had well qualified ful, at a moment's acquaintance, you her to act in both capacities. She would perhaps pronounce her to be compointed out to them the different varieties mon place. But after knowing her a time of trees, with their peculiarities, she tore long enough for that beauty of countento pieces the many flowers and grasses ance, and that magnetism of manner, that were brought to her by the emulous which comes from sly ways and coquetschool girls, in explaining their construc tish words, to have perished, you then tion; she told them many things con begin to awaken to that more permanent

« הקודםהמשך »