תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

298

REFORMS OF THE SOOLTAN.

created a new order of things, and commenced an era of civilization in Turkey ; whereas, in reality, little more has been effected than the destruction of the Janizaries, and the establishment of the new military force. The former was a useful and important act, for which the Sooltan is deserving of the highest praise; but the troops by which the Janizaries have been replaced, are far from realizing the hopes that were conceived of them ; and as to the boasted reforms, they bear only on matters of a frivolous nature, such as the change of titles or of dress—thus the turban has been proscribed, the Reis Effendi has changed his name to that of ‘Minister for Foreign Affairs,' the power of the Grand Vizier has been curtailed, the extent of some of the provinces altered, and the army is recruited by conscription, according to the arbitrary will of the Pachas.

“The great Timars, or Fiefs, which existed in Asia, and were wisely governed, furnished the empire in time of war with twenty thousand good cavalry ; but the Sooltan has destroyed those fiefs, and as his agents cannot exercise over the population the same degree of authority that the original owners possessed, he neither receives troops nor money from these districts, which are a prey to disorder ; every thing, in short, exhibits weakness, and the elements of dissolution are spreading in all directions.” Even those changes, insignificant as they appear, are being done away with by the present young Sooltan, who is said to be particularly wedded to all the forms of Mohammadanism, which he is re-introducing, in order, if possible, to become popular, to allay the present ferment in Constantinople, and win back the affections of the people to his government, which had been estranged through the reforms attempted to be introduced by his father, who wanted however the energy

and decision of Mohammad Alee to carry them into effect. In fact, whatever were the improvements of the late Sooltan Mahmoud, he was in them but a copyist of his viceroy, to meet whom upon equal grounds he introduced them, and not from any wish to serve his people by the change.

The states of Europe, jealous of every effort at the destruction of ancient monarchies, and anxious to maintain the peace of the world, have refused to acknowledge the independence of Mohammad Alee, who naturally desires to see the kingdom he has raised up pass into the possession of his family, for whom he bears a very strong affection. Were that independence now acknow

FULFILMENT OF THE AUTHOR'S PREDICTIONS.

299

ledged, it would bring back to the fertile plains of Egypt and Syria at least one hundred thousand men, the majority of a force he is now obliged to retain, to hold that position which he has assumed. Should Egypt alone become an independent kingdom, what influence will it have upon England ? how will it bear upon our Indian frontier, or alter our passage by the Red Sea ? Certainly, as beneficially as while in the possession of a government whose counsels are so swayed by Russia, that in violation of all her ancient treaties with England, she consented, at the treaty of Unkar Skelessi, to prevent all English men-of-war from passing through the Bosphorus, so that to reach the Russian capital, the ambassador of Great Britain has to lower the pennant of a line-ofbattle ship, withdraw her guns, shut up her port-holes, and enter the Black Sea as a yacht!

Finally, let me observe that, to prevent war between Mohammad Alee and the Porte there is one remedy: let his kingdom remain dependent on Turkey at a stated tribute, but make it hereditary in the family of its present governor.

1844.—We have lived to witness the fulfilment of many of the predictions on which I ventured in the foregoing chapter. The event of the Syrian campaign has restored that portion of the Mohammadan territory to the Porte; Acre has been demolished, and the Turkish fleet sent back to the Golden Horn; but Mohammad Alee and his family remain hereditary lords of Egypt, as I hoped they might, four years ago. It would be out of place, in the revision of a second edition, to notice all the effects of the late war in the Levant; there are, however, two circumstances connected with it which I cannot omit mentioning :—the one, as highly characteristic of the Básha's mind, and the present state of civilization in Egypt; the other, as a specimen of Turkish courtesy towards England, and the mode the Sooltan has taken of offering a return for our loss of life, and expenditure of specie in reconquering Syria for the Porte.

The first is, that while we were at war with the so-called savage Mohammad Alee, blockading his ports, levelling his strongholds, and either annihilating or dispersing the flower of his army, he was permitting a free passage to—nay, was actually transmitting our Indian mails, containing diplomatic dispatches, valuable commercial intelligence, money, and private domestic letters, through the heart of his dominions; and every British subject was per

300

PREVENTION OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH.

fectly secure in Egypt! This is a fact-call it a policy if

you will—that not only redounds to the immortal honour of the Básha, but is, I believe, unparalleled in the history of the world.

The second circumstance is, the stop put by the Sooltan to the completion of the Anglo-Prussian Christian church at Jerusalem within the last year. This building had been permitted by the Egyptian viceroy, whose law-whose word, more potent than the prejudices of the Mohammadan hierarchy, was a sufficient guarantee to the undertakers of the work; yet although a promise of undisturbed possession was given to the English by the Porte, no sooner is the Sooltan's power re-established in Judea, and a new Básha takes possession of the Holy City, than a fanatic war is waged against the Frank Christians; our countrymen are insulted and beaten in the open streets by the Turkish soldiers ; and the crection of the church, over which an English and Prussian bishop is to preside, prevented!

Besides all this, there is scarcely an oriental traveller with whom I have communicated for the last two years, who has not had reason to regret the alteration in government in those provinces over which the Básha formerly ruled.

CHAPTER XV.

ASIA MINOR.

Departure for Rhodes—A Hurricane–The Gulf of Symi-Its Scenery- Description of the Bay

-The Island of Vurnos-Greek Colony-Island of Patelina-Remains of the Knights of St. John-Village of Darachia-Water Tortoises-Climate-Rhodes--Its Harbour-The Knight's Tower-Fortifications The Strada Cavaliere-Its Council Hall-Escutcheons-A Dream of the Past - The Burial Ground-Ancient Guns-Inhabitants-Greek Quarter-Coudition of he Island-Cause of its Decay- Auction of Bashalicks-Effect upon the People-The late Reforms Climate-Leprosy--Zoology-The Colossus and Ancient Harbour-The Basha-His Residence and Costume--Troops-Petrified Beach-A funeral- A Launch-Visit to Marmorice-Its Scenery-Town- A Serenade-Neighbouring Valleys-Summer Houses-Inhabitants -- Bees-Mountain Vegetation-Land Tortoises—The Ancient Physcus--Grave-yards--Fattailed Shep-Bay of Karagateh-The Surrounding Country-Plane Trees—Turkomans-A Shooting Excursion-Proceed to the Gulf of Glaucus,

We left Alexandria with a fair wind, on the morning of the 7th of February, and sailed for Rhodes, whose snug harbour promised us secure head-quarters for some time, and whose climate was said to be particularly mild at this season of the year.

In the commencement of this, as in nearly all our other voyages, we encountered a gale of wind shortly after setting out. On the 8th it blew a perfect hurricane, and towards evening the jib-boom was snapped across! At day-light on the morning of the 9th, the island was in sight, but the breeze continuing with unabated violence, and there being a sea of great fury breaking at the narrow entrance to the harbour, it was deemed more prudent not to attempt it, so we shot past with the swiftness of an arrow, and steering to the north-west, made for the Gulf of Symi, on the opposite coast of Asia Minor.

Accurate information concerning this extensive bay is much wanted, as both the present charts and sailing directions are lamentably deficient. Passing the high rocky island of Symi, that stands at the entrance, we pursued our course along the western shore, keeping as near the land as possible, and sounding as we went along, but the cry was still “no bottom at twenty.”

[blocks in formation]

The wind, though somewhat less violent within this deep gulf, was still very high ; the clouds low, and coursing through the dark gloomy atmosphere with great velocity. A more inhospitable shore I never beheld ; wild barren rocks rose abruptly from the water, now standing out in bold relief, as if opposing our further

progress, and now shrouded in the drifting mist; with deep hollow gorges through which the wind howled, and into which the swollen angry water rolled its foaming waves ; with nothing of life, no trace or appearance of man—all combined to give these regions an air of stern grandeur, heightened by the hour and the tempest. The night promised to be one of great severity, and the thought of again “beating" out of this bay, to seek safety in the confined sea-room of this part of the Mediterranean, and with so dangerous and unknown a lee-shore, was any thing but cheering. At length, however, upon rounding one of the numerous headlands, a narrow strait suddenly opened to us, towards the extreme end of the bay; we entered, and in a few minutes were in a secure harbour, and cast anchor in seven fathoms water, amidst some of the most magnificently grand and wild mountain

scenery

I have ever witnessed. As this part of the bay of Symi is almost unknown to modern travellers, I may be excused for dwelling a little longer on its description than I have done in other parts of our voyage. On the north-east is a long narrow island, rising in a slope from the water's edge, to the height of about 400 feet, and stretching to the north for about three-fourths of a mile, with very

little

vegetation; and composed as is all this part of the coast, of compact grey limestone, veined with red. This island walls off an extensive, secure, and land-locked bay, in which there is anchorage for vessels of at least five hundred tons burthen. As we lay but a short way off the shore, we soon perceived that it was inhabited, and on landing found a small community of Greeks, who informed us that this part of the bay, between the island and the mainland, was called the bay of Vavarra, and the island itself Vurnos. The head of this little settlement was a fine patriarchal old man of eighty, the father of nineteen living children. The colony then consisted of about twelve persons, and a more primitive, simple race I do not think there could be found ; quiet and inoffensive, completely ignorant of, and perhaps caring little about what the rest of the world were doing. These simple, pastoral people live

« הקודםהמשך »