H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

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saved the hero ! I do not remember it ! but I have heard it ;
a little bird has sung about it ! "



WE sailed into the Dardanelles, the Hellespont of the
ancients, early in the morning. On the European side lay a
town which seemed to have but one temple for God, but
several for the stomach ; here stood one minaret and five
windmills. Close to the town was a pretty, nay, as it seemed,
a handsome fortress ; on the Asiatic side was a similar one ;
the distance between the two appeared to me to be about
three quarters of a sea mile. Each coast was of a gravelly
slope, behind which appeared flat, green fields. On the
European side, at some distance from each other, lay some
wretched stone cabins where the doors and windows were only
holes in the walls ; here and there grew a pine bush, and a
few Turks were wandering on the solitary path along the
strand. On the Asiatic side it appeared more inviting, more
like summer ; green fields with rich, umbrageous trees lay ex-
tended there.



Before us we saw Abydos in Asia, and Sestos in Europe,
between which Leander swam over the stream that separated
him from Hero. The burning lamp, held by love, was ex-
tinguished in the storm, and in the storm a burning heart be-
came icy cold. The same swimming exploit was performed
by Byron and Lieutenant Ekenhead, R. N., in March, 1810.

The distance here between the coasts of these two parts of
the world appeared to me not great ; at least, I saw with the
naked eye every single bush and every person ; yet the trans-
parency of the air must not be forgotten. Both the small
towns had brown roofs, high, slender minarets, and before
each house was a green, flourishing garden.

The tide was against our steamer ; but with about a two
hundred horse-power we get forward in the world.

We steered over toward the coast of Asia and the great city
of the Dardanelles, on the fortress of which one great cannon
was ranged by the side of the other : they did not salute us.
Soldiers in European uniform, yet with red, high-crowned fez,
peeped forth from between the port-holes. Boats with Turks
and Turkish women rowed round our steamer. All the ves-
sels in sight carried the flag with the Crescent on it ; even the
steam-vessel that passed us was Turkish. The deck was
filled with Mussulmen, and their veiled women. The wind
and tide were in their favor ; the mainsail was hoisted ; the
smoke whirled thick and black out of the chimney, and the
ship, with its motley passengers, shot forward at a rapid rate
between the green coasts.

Some of our passengers left us here, but new guests took
their places: there was above a hundred, all Turks, with fez
or turban, and armed with pistols and guns. An officer, per-
haps between twenty and thirty years of age, had all his se-
raglio with him. The women and their servants filled a whole
boat when they came. I placed myself by the steps where
they ascended to the deck ; three wives, three black female
slaves, two children, and an attendant constituted the family.
The women at once drew the veil over their faces, even
the black slaves hid their dark beauty. Their attendant,
dressed like the master himself, in military frock, fez on his
head, and slippers on his boots, spread cushions out by the


gunwale. The women laid themselves down on them with
their backs to us, and their faces toward the balustrade : all
had yellow morocco boots with red slippers over them ; they
wore spacious silk trousers, a short, variegated skirt, and a
conical-shaped cloak with black border ; a large white muslin
veil covered the breast, neck, chin, and mouth, and hung for-
ward over the head to the eyebrows. The nose and eyes
were thus exposed ; the long dark eyelashes heightened the
lustre of their black eyes, the whites of which were rather blu-
ish ; the muslin sat so tight and was so transparent, that one
could distinctly trace the form of the countenance. I after-
ward learned in Constantinople that it is only when they are
old and ugly that the veil is made of less penetrable stuff.
We can see the form, the color, the red lips, and the shining
white teeth when they laugh ; the youngest of the females was
very pretty.

Before we sailed, all the Turks we had on board were
obliged to discharge their pistols and guns ; they cracked
merrily, and gave an echo from Abydos and Sestos. All the
weapons were laid in a heap in the middle of the vessel, which
in a few minutes was covered from the bowsprit to the rudder
with variegated cushions and carpets, on which the many
Asiatic guests stretched themselves along ; some smoked to-
bacco, others drank coffee, and others again opened the han-
dles of their daggers, in which was an inkhorn and reed to
write with, and composed long Turkish notes ; but whether
they were in verse or prose, I cannot say.

There still lay four sacks with coals by the engine chimney,
and on one of these sat a merry young Turk, dressed in a
dark-blue fur-bordered cloak, and with a splendid shawl tur-
ban. He improvised verses, and told stories to a whole
crowd, who had sat down around him. They laughed, and ap-
plauded him ; here were mirth and hilarity quite different from
what I had imagined in the grave Turks. The captain and
a few other Franks stood on the paddle-boxes and viewed
the coasts.

A burial-ground, with white monuments, lay on the Eu-
ropean side : it might have been taken for a large bleaching-
fold. On the Asiatic side there was a charming appearance


of spring. I took my place amongst the Turks, who listened
to the improvisatore ; and they showed me how far more con-
venient their clothes were than mine to lie down in. The
trousers, fitted close about the ankles, but toward the knees
they were like wide sacks ; and their jackets sat upon them
just as easily. I presented some fruit to the young Turk who
improvised, and he thanked me with a happy friendly face.
His eyelashes were dark and long, but his eyes of a very
light-blue : there was in them an expression of much good-
nature, mixed with cunning. He seized his reed, tore a leaf
of paper out of a pocket-book, and wrote, all the time nod-
ding and smiling to me. He then gave me the leaf, on which
was a Turkish verse. I showed it to a Frank who knew
Turkish, and he translated it for me : at the bottom was the
young Turk's name. He was going to Wallachia to buy some
splendid horses ; but he would first see Stamboul. He had
made the voyage on board the excellent steamship Rhamses ;
and on it he had met with me, who came from a greater dis-
tance than three times to Mecca. I thanked him for the
verse, and he begged me to write him a few words in my lan-
guage. I wrote a short Danish verse for him, and it was
twisted and turned by him and his comrades just as I had
twisted and turned his Turkish poem up and down.

I afterward placed myself by the gunwale of the vessel,
where the Turkish women sat, for I wished to see the coast ;
but I also looked at the women. They were eating, and had
therefore taken the veil from their mouths. They also re-
garded me. The youngest and prettiest seemed to be a
merry soul : she certainly made remarks about me, and whis-
pered them to an elder one, who observed the greatest grav-
ity, and only answered with a nod. During this mutual exam-
ination and regarding of each other, a young Turk came up,
and entered into conversation with me in French, in the
course of which he said, in a half-jesting tone, that it was con-
trary to the custom of the country for people to see their
women without veils ; and asked me if I did not think the
husband regarded me with a serious mien. His eldest little
daughter waited on him with his pipe and coffee ; the younger
one ran between him and the women.


If a man would be on good terms with parents, he must
make friends with the children. This is a wise rule : and
one that I have always found a good one. I wished to get
hold of the younger of the two girls, to give her fruit, and play
with her ; but she was like a wild kid ; she darted away to
one of the black girls, clung fast to her, and hid herself, ex-
cept the face, with the long veil. The merry little creature
laughed from her place of security, and stretched her mouth
out as if to kiss ; then whimpered aloud, and rushed toward
her father. The elder sister, apparently about six years old,
and extremely pretty, was more tame. She was a charming
little unveiled Turkish girl, with red morocco slippers ovei
her yellow boots, light-blue silk trousers, like bags, around her
legs, a red flowered, short tunic, and a black velvet jacket
over it, which descended around the hips ; her hair hung over
her shoulders in two long plaits, in which were golden coins,
and on her head she wore a little cap of gold stuff. She en-
couraged her little sister to eat some of the fruit I offered ;
but she would not I ordered the servant to bring some pre-
serves, and the eldest and I soon became the best of friends.
She showed me her plaything ; it was a clay jug to drink out
of, formed like a horse, and with a little bird behind each ear.
Had I been able to speak Turkish with her, I should at once
have made a story about it for her. I placed her on my lap,
and she took hold of my cheeks with her small hands, and
looked up in my eyes so affectionately and confidentially, that
I was obliged to speak to her. I spoke Danish, and she
laughed so that her little heart hopped within her : she had
never before heard so strange a speech. She certainly
thought that it was some Turkish gibberish I had put together
for her amusement Her fine small nails were painted, like
the women's, quite black ; a black stripe was traced across
the centre of the palm of her hand. I pointed to it, and she
took one of her fine, long hair plaits and laid it in my hand,
to form a similar stripe across it, then winked to her younger
sister, who talked with her, but always at a respectable dis-
tance. Her father called her, and as, with the most friendly
expression of face, he put his hand to his fez, in the manner
of the Franks, and greeted me, he whispered a few words ic


the child's ear. She nodded knowingly, took a cup of coffee
out of the servant's hand, and brought it to me. A large
Turkish pipe was next presented to me, but as I do not smoke
tobacco, I accepted the coffee, and lay down on the cushion
with the friendly husband, whose little daughter's heart I had
already won. That pretty child's name was Zuleika ; and I
can say with truth, that as I sailed from the Dardanelles into
the Sea of Marmora, I got a kiss from one of Asia's daugh-

The town of Gallipoli lay to the left : it appeared singularly
dark, and had quite the character of a northern Swedish town,
if I except the tall, white minarets. All the houses close
to each house was a little garden had pointed red roofs,
just like ours in the North ; and they all appeared dark and
old-fashioned, with wooden balconies, and porches painted
red. There was something dark and ruinous in the appear-
ance of the whole city. Several buildings hung over the sea
where the waves ran strong ; it blew desperately cold. During
my whole voyage in the South I never experienced it so cold.
I felt the icy coldness of marble. A light-house was built
on the Asiatic and one on the European side ; low, but wild
and naked rocks extended along the coast by Gallipoli ; then
came flat green fields as in Denmark : on the Asiatic coast
several mountains arose behind each other. The wind and
stream were against us ; the Sea of Marmora looked dark and
foaming ; the waves struck against the prow of the vessel, and
splashed over the Turks who had taken their places there ;
one of them got a fine sousing. He shook his red mantle,
and took his three head-coverings off; the outside one was
quite filled with water. All the Turks have, as is well known,
the hair of their heads shaved off, except a long tuft, by which
the angel of life is to drag them out of the grave on the day
of judgment. This Turk had on, first a white night-cap ;
over this was a little red fez, and on this again a larger fez
with a silk tuft. I, however, felt myself able to bear the sea,
but the wind was intolerably cold, as in the North. We
were soon out of sight of the coasts both of Europe and Asia,
and steered our course directly toward the marble island,
which arose picturesquely grand in the midst of the troubled


sea. After dinner, we were under its coast, where the sea
was not running so strong. The sun was going down, and it
lighted up the beautiful island with its green trees and shin-
ing white marble rocks. I thought of the Arabian Nights'
tales, and although it was so cold, I felt myself here amid the
scenes of its strange adventures. I believe it would not have
astonished me much if the little clay horse with a bird behind
its ear had received life, and swelled into a large horse which
might have borne me and little Zuleika, and flown with us
over to the marble island ; and when we touched the earth
there amongst myrtles, that she had become a full grown girl,
charming as she was in childhood, and glowing as the sun that
had poured his beams into her dark eyes ; but the clay horse
was not animated, and there was no flight.

The sea ran stronger and stronger : I was obliged to lie
down in my hammock, though it was not more than half-past
seven in the evening. The cold Sea of Marmora so assailed
the ship that its side bones cracked, making us fancy that the
planks would be separated from each other. The time crept
on at a snail's pace ; whenever I looked at the clock, the
hands had scarcely advanced half an hour. " O, it will
be a long night ! " said I, and then I slept, whilst the ship
danced over the foam of la mare di Marmora /



THE whole night had been one of storm and rain ; in the
morning the sunshine combated against clouds and mist ; be-
hind us rolled the dark-green foamy waves of the Sea of Mar-
mora ; but before us we saw, like a Venice built by the fancy,
the Stamboul of the Turks, the immense city of Constan
tinople. Dark cypresses and light-green trees peeped forth,
arabesque-like, between that stone-sea of dark red buildings,
where the cupolas of the mosques, with golden balls and cres-
cents, rested each like a Noah's ark ; and where the high
column-like minarets, with their pointed towers, shone by
hundreds against the gray, cloudy air.



The Bosphorus was not to be seen ; Asia's mountainous
eoast melted together with Europe's. The sunlight fell over
a great part of the cypress forest the Asiatic burial-ground
of the Turks of which they say that its surface is so great
that it could furnish Constantinople with corn, and its coffins
are so many that they could build new walls around the city
with them. 1

We sailed directly in under the old walls, which were built so
as to be joined to the first building we saw there, the fortress,
the seven towers, in Turkish " Jedi Kulelev ; " many an
earthquake has shaken this building, but not destroyed it
Foliage of ivy and wild plants hung down from the walls ;
dark and dingy was this inhabited ruin, the place of execu-
tion for political prisoners, in the yard of which the well of
blood swallows up the heads of the state criminals who are
put to death here.

From the " Seven Towers," past the gardens of the Seraglio
which form the point of the Golden Horn, 2 a road extends
along by the sea under the walls of the city. Small houses
and hanging gardens are erected on them, where Turkish boys
ran playing and screaming.

Under the gardens of the Seraglio the road became smaller,
but the walls higher and quite white, with small overhanging
houses, the railed-in windows of which shone with gold and
silver; the whole garden and walls lay fairy like, like what we
may have seen in a dream. The old Seraglio is a dark-red,
noble-looking pile, but somewhat heavy in comparison with
the rest of the environs.* The new Seraglio looks handsome,
and invites the eye. Round about stand splendid kiosks,
where rich marble columns support the glittering spiral roofs.

1 The promontory here at Scutari is the place where Mythology states
nat lo landed, when, fleeing from Juno, she was turned into a heifer.

3 Constantinople is built entirely in the form of a horn of plenty, and
from thence it has the name of "The Golden Horn."

8 On the place where Byzas erected temples to Neptune and Aphro-
dite, Constantine built churches to the Virgin and St. Barbara. Where
these temples and the churches stood there is now the Seraglio. A
holy spring for the Christians bubbles forth from the garden through the



We swept round the Golden Horn, past Leander's To wet, 1
and now lay in the harbor, which extends into the sweet
waters ; 2 on the left side Constantinople greeted us, on the
right lay Galata, and higher up Pera, the round tower of
which stood high in air where the clouds floated. Large ves-
sels formed a forest of masts in the broad bay. A mass
of boats, most of them narrow and small like the canoes of
the savages, with the rowers and passengers lying at the bot-
tom, flew past like arrows. There was such a-screaming and
shouting, whistling and humming, compared with which the
noise in the Bay of Naples appeared to me as a solemn festival.

Old brown-yellow Turks, with large variegated turbans and
naked arms, lifted their voices one above the other, swung
their oars about, and invited us to enter their boats. I had my
things thrown down into one, followed after myself, and away
we went with rapid strokes toward the shore, which was gar-
nished with boats and small vessels. We landed over these,
and stood on the jetty. I offered the waterman a silver coin,
the value of which I did not rightly know : he shook his head,
took a very small coin from his pocket, and showed it to me,
assuring me that a greater payment was not due to him. So
honest are the Turks ; and every day, during my stay there, I
had fresh proofs of their honesty. The Turks are the most
good-natured and fair dealing people I have ever encountered.

A ruddy-brown muscular Arabian offered himself to carry
my luggage. He put a cord hastily round my portmanteau,
trunk, and hat-box, threw the burden over his shoulders, and
walked on, only nodding when I named the hotel where I
wished to stay.

We came into a crooked street, or rather maze, where every
house was a shop with vegetables, bread, meat, or clothes ;
and where we met men of all nations. The way was through
the narrow gate of Galata into Pera. No one asked me for a

1 The Turks call it the Maiden's Tower, and connect with it a story of
a Greek princess, who was kept imprisoned here by her father, but was
liberated by the Arabian hero, Heschan. It is now used as a light-

1 So the Franks call this beautiful valley, which borders on the northern
part of the harbor, and is a place of amusement for the inhabitants of
Constantinople and the suburbs.



passport. 1 The street ran steep upward, and was just as small,
and with just as bad a pavement as at Galata. We went past
a guard of young yellow-brown lads, in tight blue jackets and
trousers, with white bandolier and red fez. They lay almost
on their stomachs along the street and read their prayers.
An hour-glass stood beside them.

Under the tower of Pera, in the moat, there lay flayed and
bleeding horses. We passed Turkish cafes where the foun-
tains splashed in the open room. The Dervises' cloister,
with golden inscriptions of the Alcoran, placed in the wall
above the gate, lay on our way through the principal street,
which is very small. The houses have two and three stories,
and there are porches before them all. The side-streets are
still narrower ; the buildings appear to meet above, so that in
rainy weather one scarcely needs an umbrella here.

What a swarm of beings ! In the midst of the crowd
there was a Bulgarian peasant dancing, with a calot on his
head, miserable sandals on his feet, and a long sheepskin
jacket on his back. He danced like a bear springing up on
its hind legs. Another Bulgarian played the bagpipes for
him. Six or eight brown, muscular fellows were dragging
along large blocks of marble, which were placed on round
pieces of timber. They continually cried out their " Make
way ! " We met Armenian priests with crape fluttering from
their hats. Now sounded a mumbling song ; a young Greek
girl was borne along to be buried ; she lay in her customary
clothes, and with her face uncovered in the open coffin, which
was ornamented with flowers. Three Greek priests and two
little boys, with lighted candles, walked before.

What a crowd ! what tumult ! Parti-colored carriages, look-
ing like small alcoves made of card-board, gilded before and
behind, with long fluttering curtains, from behind which veiled
women peeped out, rocked over the uneven pavement. Horses
and asses laden with beams and planks forced their way
through the crowd.

At length we came to the Hotel de la France, kept by Mr.

1 The same was the case on my arrival in Greece ; on the contrary, on
my departure from Piraeus, mine and every passenger's trunk were exam-
ined to see if we did not take away any rtatues.


Blondel ; and, no sooner were we within the door, than every-
thing gave signs of European arrangement and convenience.
French and Italian waiters ran up and down stairs, comfort-
able rooms were before us, and at the table (Thfae we dined
as well as in any good hotel in the larger cities of Europe.
The company was much diversified. The chief portion were
Franks, who came from their travels in Asia Minor, and had
retained their Asiatic dress, in which they were most secure.
A few Prussian officers, in the Sultan's army, were in Turkish
military surtouts, and with the high-crowned fez. The noise
from the street ascended to us in a sort of mitigated hiss.
The Bulgarian's bagpipes sounded ; a snuffling song, executed
by the poor, unveiled women from the mountains, outroared
these tones, and then blared the noisy martial music, as the
soldiers came home from parade. I knew the melody ; it was
the gallopade in Auber's opera, " Gustavus III."



THE stranger ought first of all to visit the bazaars * in Con-
stantinople. To do so is to enter into that enormous city at
once : one is overwhelmed with the sight, the splendor, and
the tumult. Each is a city of bees that we enter ; but every
bee is a Persian, an Armenian, an Egyptian, or a Greek.
The East and West hold a great fair here. No other city can
show such a crowd, such a variety of costumes, or such a
grouping of articles of trade.

When one goes over the bay in a boat from Pera to Con-
stantinople, the street that leads to the bazaars is throughout
on the ascent. It is narrow, winding, and crooked. The
ground-floors of the houses on each side resemble the wooden
shops in our markets. We can see directly into the workshop
of the shoemaker and carpenter ; we fancy that we go right

1 Besestan, that is to say, covered market-places, are here called the
bazaars. There are, properly, three. The side-streets may be regarded
as entrance halls.



through the kitchen and bakehouse, there is such a cooking,
and baking ; such a steam and odor from the ovens and chim-
neys in the open houses. Bread, and all kinds of victuals,
are exhibited for sale.

We now stand outside the great bazaar, around which small
half-covered streets branch off in different directions. One
quarter offers all kinds of fruit and vegetables, both fresh and
preserved ; another has shell-fish, and fish of the most differ
ent colors and forms. Large pieces of sail-cloth, or old car-
'pets, are drawn across the street from shop to shop, like a
roof. The pavement is very bad, and the gutter is in the
middle of the street.

A long hall, formed, for the most part, of planks, and quite
filled with pipe-heads, pipe-tubes, and mouth-pieces of amber,
leads into the bazaar, which is built with thick fire-proof walls.
It is an entire roofed town ; every nation has its separate quar-
ter : the Jews theirs, the Egyptians theirs, etc., etc. Every sort
of article of trade has its street ; every particular trade its de-

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 20 of 31)