« הקודםהמשך »
opium-eater.- Religious doctrines.-Subtlety of Moslims regarding the Paraclete.-Apostasy.--Execution of a renegade. — Prayers. — Fasts and festivals. — Pilgrimages. Priesthood. Dervéshes. Oolama. Sheik Islam. Oomra.—Grand vizir. — His power and office. Game of chess.-Déwan.-Unjust mode of taxation. - Marriage.Seclusion of females.-Desire for children.-Jealousies.Anecdotes.-Dress of men and women. Differences between Turkish and European customs.
Excursions in Constantinople are rendered disagreeable by the impossibility of procuring a carriage and by the nature of the streets, which are so narrow, ill paved, and dirty, that walking is irksome. The only vehicle to be seen is an arabah, or painted cart without springs, surmounted by a canopy on four poles, and drawn by two bullocks whose tails are tied to a stick fastened over their backs. In carts of this description the Turkish females occasionally ride; they seem, however, to prefer walking, and are to be met in every street with their faces veiled.
Passing several of these accompanied by their sable attendants, we inquired of our guide, himself a Turk, what power the master possesses over his slaves, and whether they are often punished to excess. His reply was characteristic of the Mohammedan and of his low estimate of human life; Suppose their
SLAVERY IN TURKEY.
masters do flog them to death, what does it matter? It is nobody's business but their own. Their own money is lost, not another's.” As we advanced, we met a man leading a long train of negresses, whose merry faces and gay chattering consorted ill with their name and condition; for they were slaves, returning unsold after the day's market, as no one had bidden for them. It was difficult to conjecture whether their hilarity arose from satisfaction at not having passed from the hands of a dealer into those of a new master, or from a conviction that they would prove more saleable the ensuing day.
Though the principle of slavery be absolutely indefensible, yet all degrees of it are not equally intolerable; and every one acquainted with the Turkish character and customs will admit that in no country is the slave placed in so favorable a position as in this.* Here he is eligible to the highest offices of the state; and, in fact, the present seraskier pasha, or commander-in-chief, was sold in the market, while Halil pasha, the sultan's son-in-law, was the slave of a slave, having been bought by the
* Perhaps in India, though not similarly promoted, they may be as kindly treated, for among the Moslims in that country slavery is more a name than a reality.
seraskier at Constantinople. The sultan's wives are all chosen from among his purchased females; so that every sovereign is himself the son of a bond-woman. Most of the foreigners brought here for sale are from childhood taught to regard their condition in Turkey as one leading to promotion and happiness: the few years they have passed in Georgia, Circassia, or Africa, have generally been so miserable, that they look forward to a master's, as to a father's, house, and are thankful when they exchange their first keepers for the probable contingency of a better home.
The market, where during certain hours the captives are submitted to inspection, is a square, in which the more valuable, that is, more beautiful, among the women have separate apartments; while the Egyptians are generally huddled together in an open verandah. When a purchaser arrives, an examination of the captives is permitted; but the whole transaction of transfer is said to be conducted with more propriety and consideration by Turks than by Christians. A day or two before our visit, some Englishmen had behaved in so unbecoming a manner towards one of these poor girls, that an order was issued, prohibiting all Franks from visiting the market : we were
consequently stopped at the gate by a sentinel, while Moslims of every age and rank were permitted to enter freely. Conduct of this kind is little calculated to raise Christianity or European civilization in the opinion of Turks ; and, unhappily for England, instances of violated decorum are not uncommon among her sons travelling abroad.
Another sad specimen of man's degradation is to be seen in the bedlam.* A number of cells faced with a broad verandah are ranged in a square, with a fountain in the centre: each cell has a window defended by an iron grating, through which passes a heavy chain, fixed to the wall on the outside and to the neck of a lunatic within. Some of these wrecks of human reason were asleep, but the majority were standing at the window, talking wildly to the surrounding spectators. From the large accommodation afforded to the patients, the smallness of the establishment, and its vicinity to a mosque, it seems probable that this bedlam is a private foundation, a last act of charity, intended by some Mussulman to
* Bedlam is contracted from Bethlehem, which is probably derived from the Arabic words fly (Beit-ool-rehem), “ The house of mercy,” a name peculiarly applicable to the site of the nativity of our Lord.
atone for a life of sin. Such endowments are held in high repute, being esteemed only less than a pilgrimage to Mecca which ensures to the “ hajee” a seat in paradise.
Death is seldom an object of terror to the disciple of Mohammed, who sees in God a being exclusively merciful and assures himself of an eternity of sensual enjoyment. To this view may be attributed the sort of pleasurable feeling with which he regards a burialground. A necropolis in Turkey, unlike the same in Christendom, is anything but a spot set apart for solemn reflection and sad reminiscences: here promenades, cafés, sherbet-booths, public thoroughfares, and festive parties intrude on the repose of the dead; and in every direction, whether in the centre of the city, in its immediate suburbs, or in its uninhabited outskirts, the traveller encounters a cemetery. Turkish tombstones are surmounted with turbans of different shapes and sizes, characterizing the trade or occupation of the deceased; some are of white marble, others painted; that of the janissaries is peculiarly high and stately; and those of women are distinguished by trencher-caps, such as are worn in our universities. In Greek and Armenian cemeteries likewise the profession of the deceased is denoted;