Графични страници
PDF файл

a heavy blow at the knavish caidjis (who for impudence and cheatery are co-equal with London cabbies), and conferring a proportionate boon on us poor “subs.” Be the weather fair or foul, no matter, the dingy little Nourmahal crossed and recrossed the straits with a motley mixture of Britishers on board. Talk of the varied costumes of the East indeed, why, we soldiers and civilian tourists beat them hollow. In re vestiaria wondrous conceits were frequently indulged in. He whose vivacious imagination devised the most heterogeneous apparel was, for the moment, the Beau Brummell à la militaire. Observe that swaggering :T. G. sucking a dudeen near the funnel, and admire his flowing bournous and plaid cricketing-cap. Let me introduce you to Sir John Falstaff in a fez! The worthy old soul yonder, with sack, tobacco, and benignity, blossoming on every ruby feature. Shake hands with this jolly captain, and admire the telling contrast between a shooting-jacket of Highland build and inexpressibles cut à la Zouave. Renew your acquaintance with that brace of lusty majors (sticklers for “ regulation”), and pity conscientious and out-of-shape veterans, whom the Clothing Board has doomed to an unmannerly display of alto-relievo proportions in the skrimpy " shell”—an abomination that causes the veiled matrons to turn aside, and (if the dragomans are to be trusted) to be the reverse of complimentary in their remarks.

By the French officers, on the other hand, no latitudinarian liberties were taken with the outward man. Wherever they went, on business or on pleasure (the chasse not excepted), our gallant friends appeared in their neat uniforms; thereby producing a very favourable impression on the Mussulmans, who used to remark that, although they preferred the British grenadier, brawny and stolid, to the lean and sprightly chasseur, the French asker-zabity (officer) had the advantage over his English comrade in matters relating to dress and military appearance.

After all, the affection of Captain Jones and Ensign Robinson for “mufti” was not to be wondered at. Were not their martial equipments cumbrous heirlooms of professional Toryism? Was not the whole apparatus of Albert shako, swallow-tailed coatee, and lavender continuations inconvenient to the wearer and sadly expensive to paterfamilias ? However, we may now solace ourselves with the hope that these fopperies, cum multis aliis, are-thanks to the press and Jacob Omnium-on the verge of extinction. Let us pray, too, that in the good time coming the private soldier may be more thought about than heretofore.


To gentlemen of our cloth, popularly supposed to

Spend half-a-crown

On sixpence a day, the great bazaar was a place of frequent resort. Externally this famous mart has little to boast of. Its huge, blank walls, crowned with an irruption of squat domes,-like the tops of a cruet-stand, -present a sombre, prison-like aspect. The interior is everything. There you have a regular

vaulted town, its streets, alleys, cafés, and fountains lit with brilliant flashes of sunshine flushing down through the skylights. What a light it is! what inky shades! what a soft, mysterious haze! Would that Turner had visited Stamboul !

Entering an arcade without any architectural pretension, we breathe an atmosphere loaded with voluptuous sweets, and the eyes feast on spangled bottles of “ atar-gull,” beads of amber, ivory, ebony, and coral, Persian mirrors, and enamelled combs. Before the counters on which these knick-knacks are displayed stand groups of Moslem women out shopping.". They lead by the hand the loveliest cherubs of children, and chaffer with the hairy, phlegmatic perfumers in the softest, most suasive of tones. How tantalising that voices so silvery should repudiate all converse with the giaour. The honey-tongued matrons are usually attended by negro duennas, whose dingy charms the veil also conceals-surely a superfluous wardship in their case, for what audacious son of Shitan would imagine evil against that grim and odorous virtue? Sometimes a lank-legged, pot-bellied, beardless Nubian eunuch acts the part of guardian angel, and it is laughable to note the hideous grimaces, the devilish scowls which the faithful shepherd casts on the masculine gender that dares to scrutinise his ewes too closely.

Every street in the bazaar has its special purpose. Here, for instance, is the shoemakers' alley, where yellow boots and embroidered slippers are to be seen in infinite variety of form and costliness. The artistic taste lavished on the slippers is remarkable. Morocco leather, silk, and velvet, cunning needlework, precious stones, even, are devoted to the manufacture of articles likely to attract the capricious fancies of the harem. Our officers eagerly purchased these pretty chaussures (for the enshrinement of absent little feet, of course), and many a private soldier hoarded his surplus pence

for the purpose of transmitting to “ the girl he left behind him ” a pair of fairy pumps no rustic Cinderella could expect to fit.

Turning into a neighbouring “row," we enter the corporation of dealers in caftans, pantaloons, &c., made of Damascus or of Broussa silk. The colours of these habiliments are of the richest, their patterns whimsical, and the cost moderate. No wonder, then, that our young muscadins much frequented the place. They sought after curious dressing-gowns and fashy smoking-drawers.

We next visit the jewellers, whose wares are so disposed in glass cases that the owners can keep an eye upon them without altering their own semi-horizontal posture on the dyspeptic divan. Much treasure is stored in the murky little shops.

Dishes of agat set in gold, and studded
With emeralds, sapphires, hyacinths, and rubies;

-spoons of amber, Headed with diamond and carbuncle, waste their resplendence in these gloomy cobwebbed cells. Gems are generally set uncut-roughly imbedded in the gold-Orientals objecting to rub away points and smooth off angles, for fear of lessening the carat value of the stones. They regard weight more than shape. The mountings are for the most part coarse and heavy, not an attempt at fine tooling. As our English sisters will have no difficulty in believing,

jewellery is the cardinal luxury in great men's harems, and vast riches of this kind are often accumulated on the persons of favourite wives. I am told that on the day subsequent to the marriage of the Sultan's daughter, Fatima, with a son of the late Redschid Pasha, that peerless princess received her female acquaintances to the customary bout at sweetmeats and conversation with fifty thousand pounds' worth of diamonds and emeralds sparkling on her royal bodice. It must be borne in mind, however, that in Turkey-a land unlearned in the theories of Adam Smith and Ricardo, unversed in the mysteries of railway stock and Scotch banking-precious stones perform duties more important than the mere decoration of the wrists and bosoms of Circassian odalisques. Indeed, containing as they do multum in parvo, being easily carried about and concealed, jewels constitute very desirable representatives of capital. Hence the Osmanli, with a few brilliants of pure water in a secret drawer of his family coffer, is quite as worshipful in the sedate circles of Stamboul as one of our large-acred squires at a county ball or on a quarter sessions' judgmentseat.

Perhaps the most interesting department of this marvellous emporium is the arms bazaar. There sit, cross-legged and supreme, merchants of the genuine old school--fine Tory ancients who ought to have flourished in the days of Mahomet II. Gazing on those expansive turbans, those passionless and bewhiskered countenances, those voluminous breeches and spangled sashes, we feel ourselves suddenly transported to the court of Haroun-al-Raschid, or into the presence chamber of Solyman the Magnificent. At noon this particular bazaar is closed, the opulent armourers retiring to their pretty kiosks (villas) at Kadi-koi and Bayukdere, where they pass the evening in the pleasures of the harem, or in sober denunciation of Frankish intervention ; for to true believers of their ultra temper, Constantinople turned topsy-turvy by the toss-pot western soldiery, and the Bosphorus groaning under heretic armadas, are humiliating spectacles. “God is great, and Mahomed is his prophet,” they say; "if we had yielded to the dog Menschikof, we could hardly have suffered greater defilement."

Their merchandise is curious and valuable, collected from all parts of Asia, and often of rare antiquity. On these dirty walls hang swords of Damascus, which were red in the wars of the Crusades ; daggers of that incomparable steel that pierces a coat of mail as easily as a cotton shirt; guns curiously painted and inlaid ; battle-axes which were wielded in the hosts of Timour the Tartar and of Genghis Khan. Here, too, are saddles of rich velvet, with embroidered housings of exquisite handiwork and beautiful design; spurs and stirrups of silver or of gold. In short, in this Faubourg St. Germain of Islam may be seen the whole gorgeous paraphernalia, which, in the mighty Turkish time passed away, constituted the “service” panoply of the Moslem warrior and of his faithful friend the Desert courser.

As soon as the novelty of the thing has worn off, bargaining in the bazaar is an exceedingly tiresome affair ; as the merchant invariably demands for his goods double the sum he means ultimately to accept, and as the value of time is unintelligible to the Oriental mind, the better half of a day is not unfrequently spent in the mere preliminaries of a purchase. The modus operandi is characteristic. The intending pur

chaser stops before a stall, removes the chibouk from his mouth, and, after a few minutes' deliberation, inquires the price of an article. The tradesman mumbles a preposterous amount of piastres; thereupon, the customer in esse shakes his stolid head, but, instead of going his way, coolly slips off his shoes, and plumps down on the sofa beside the imperturbable shopman. For a while the pair indulge in common-place chat about the tobacco crop in Macedonia, or the infidel tipplers playing the deuce at Haidar Pasha ; then coffee and pipes are served, an ample margin being allowed for their taciturn enjoyment; next, a question or two, respecting the real business on the tapis, is thrown in—as if by pure accident, but the replies continuing unsatisfactory, more “mocah," more chibouks, another edition of divan gossip, are submitted to with excellent grace by both parties ; again commerce turns up, and this time symptoms of a thaw on the vendor's side manifest themselves ; however, negotiation is by no means exhausted as yet; a fresh act of smoke, sherbet, small-talk, and higgle, must be waded through before the bargain is clenched.

At first our dealings were effected through the instrumentality of the Jewish terdjumans (interpreters); but a little while sufficing to make the vagabonds show true colours, we hit upon a plan plagiarised from the ordinary practice of the Yankee adventurer in foreign parts : we bought Turkish vocabularies, and, after learning the numerals and a useful phrase or two, commenced business on our own account.

With a little temper, and more perseverance, at the outset, the new system worked advantageously to ourselves, and, I believe, agreeably to the merchants, who abhor the very sight of the Israelite, in consequence of the heavy per-centage the roguish Judas charges them on sales completed by his assistance.



Death no skeleton resembles

Death is holy-Death is fair :
God's Great Angel round whose brow life faintly trembles

Like a glory in its hair.
Death, though dread, is ever tender

As a mother to her child ;
Spreading lovely tints of all unearthly splendour

Even on features most reviled.
Death exalts to something solemn

Even the visage of a clown:
As though o'er each shattered prostrate human column

Glimmered forth a spectral crown.
Death a progress grand and regal

Makes through all th' abodes of men-
Manumiting slaves-each like an eagle

Soaring sunward from earth's ken.

Death ne'er strikes but tear-drops trickle

Healing unction—where its sword
Through the ripened lives of ages like a sickle

Reaps the harvest of the Lord.
Death no iron javelin hurtles,

But with gentle touch reveals
Where beneath the linen shroud and fragrant myrtles

Pale decay o'er beauty steals.
Death no violating anger

Knows, but from divinest palm
Softly sprinkles o'er the awful couch of languor

Drops of consecrating calm.
Death's are not the Worm's dominions,

Though the charnel be its throne,
Whence each soul with solemn rush of angel-pinions

To eternal realms hath flown.
Death no grimly woe discloses

Through calm features of the dead,
Where celestial peace with heavenly smile reposes-

O’er white lips and brow disspread.
Death ev’n shows the soul's fair glory

Through the body's foul decay,
Where the fleshless skull proclaims the holy story,

As it laughs the world away.
Death hath splendours even when darkling

With dread gloom our final breath :
Star-like souls, unseen in life's broad noonday, sparkling

Visibly in the night of Death.
Death erases every sorrow

From each heart on which it falls;
The grand harbinger of heaven's resplendent morrow,

It consoles while it appals.
Death appears no dream of sadness-

Mark those rapturous lips the while
Through their wan cold lines a dumb but eloquent gladness

Hints the soul's angelic smile.
Death with magic hand can beckon

Through the lineaments of age
Childhood's innocent glances, loving gazers reckon

Past the grief those looks assuage.
Death yields bliss—though it hath blackened

On Earth's brink Life's crystal pool,
When, with uttermost stress, the silver cord is slackened-

Broken the golden bowl.
Death no skeleton resembles

Death is holy-Death is fair:
God's Great Angel round whose brow life faintly trembles

Like a glory in its hair.

« ПредишнаНапред »