H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

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

. (page 23 of 31)
Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 23 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Some years ago it was the custom that the heads of all those
who were executed in the yard of the Seraglio should be
thrown out into this place for the dogs ; now there was noth-
ing of the kind. Young Turks, who knew a little French or
Italian, entered into conversation with us and the other
Franks, and showed the greatest willingness to explain to us
whatever appeared to attract our attention.

Below the walls of the Seraglio lay extended the sunlit Sea
of Marmora, with its white sails, and Asia's mountains shin-


ing with their snowy tops high in the clear blue-green air. A
young Turk, who, as he told me, was born on the shores of
the Euphrates, said that the sky there often shone more green
than blue.

The firing of cannon was now heard in the garden of the
Seraglio, and the procession began. First came a band of
music on horseback ; even the cymbal player, and he with the
great drum, sat on horseback. The bridle hung loose around
the animal's neck whilst the cymbals glittered in the sun.
Then came the guards, who, in truth, looked as soldierly as
any guards in Christendom. Then came a troop of splendid
horses, all without riders, but ornamented with beautiful shab-
racks, red, blue, and green, and all as if sewed over with brill-
iants. The horses seemed to dance ; they threw up their
necks proudly ; and the long mane, the red nostrils, trembled
like the mimosa leaf, and an intellectual soul shone in the

A crowd of young officers on horseback followed, all in Eu-
ropean dresses, with surtout and fez. Men in office, both
civil and military, all in the same garb, came next ; and then
the Grand Vizier, a man with a large white beard.

Bands of music were stationed in different parts of the
street ; the one relieved the other. They played pieces from
Rossini's " William Tell." Suddenly they ceased, and the
young Sultan's favorite march began : it is composed by Doni-
zetti's brother, who is appointed leader of the bands here.
The Sultan approached ; before him was led a troop of Ara-
bian horses, with still more magnificent shabracks than those
we had before seen. Rubies and emeralds formed bows by the
horses' ears ; the morocco leather bridles were covered with
glittering stones, and the saddles and cloths embroidered with
pearls and jewels. It was a magnificence such as the geni of
the lamp had created for Aladdin.

Surrounded by a large company of young men, all on foot,
and handsome as if they were oriental women who had ven-
tured out unveiled, and each with a green feather-fan in his
hand, sat the young Sultan, Abdul Meschid, then nineteen
years of age, on a beautiful Arabian horse. He wore a green
surtout, buttoned over the breast, and without any sort of or-


nament, if we except a large jewel, and bird-of-paradise feather,
fixed in his red fez. He looked very pale and thin ; had fea-
tures that betrayed suffering ; and he fixed his dark eyes stead-
fastly on the spectators, particularly on the Franks. We took
our hats off, and saluted him. The soldiers cried aloud : " Long
live the Emperor ! " But he made not the least response to
the greeting. " Why does he not salute us ? " I asked of a
young Turk by my side. " He saw that we took our hats
off!" "He regarded you!" answered the Turk. "He
looked very closely at you ! " We were to be satisfied with
that ; it was as good as the best salutation. I told the Turk
that all the Prankish princes saluted with the head uncovered,
as we greeted him. It appeared to him like the tale of a
traveller. The Pashas and other great men of the empire
followed next ; then Frankish officers in the Turkish service ;
and then a crowd of Turks and women closed the procession.
There was a crowd and mud ! Half-naked street-boys, with
torn and worn turbans ; old beggar-wives, veiled with rags ;
men, in morocco slippers, and parti-colored trousers, forced
their way through the throng screaming. They bellowed out
" Allah Ekber " (God is great ! ) when the soldiers directed
the butt end of their muskets against them. The whole street
was a variegated river of fez, turban, and veil ; and on both
sides waved the shining bayonets, like the reeds and plants
on the shores of the river. Whenever the Franks desired to
pass through the ranks of the military, the officers came di-
rectly, with the greatest civility, and effected a passage ; they
drove their brother believers aside, who stared at the honored
Franks, as they repeated the exclamation, " Allah Ekber 1 "



I WAS furnished in Athens with several letters, which made
my stay in Pera extremely pleasant. I must particularly men-
tion the Austrian Ir.ternuncio. Baron Sturmer, the Greek Min
ister, Chrystides, and our Danish Consul, Romani.

254 A f OT'S BAZAAR.

The Austrian Minister's residence consists of several build
ings, inclosed by walls, and with a large handsome garden,
where, through roses and cypresses, there was a commanding
view over the lower part of the city, the Bosphorus, and the
Sea of Marmora. Here, in the lighted rooms which dispense
every European comfort and luxury, I felt quite at home.
German, French, and English journals lay on the tables ;
there were music and singing. A great number of the diplo-
matic world and several interesting families were present,
with whom I formed acquaintance, and the hours flew fast.
When the company broke up toward night, there was some-
thing peculiar in the tour home. Servants were waiting in
the corridor, with sedan chairs for the ladies ; the gentlemen
were accompanied through the streets with torches, or else
each one had his lantern with a candle in it.

I first saw the interior of a Turkish house at Ali Effendi's,
and the imperial interpreter, Saphet, who both live in the same
building, which bears the name of "The High Gate." On the
stairs and in the long passages, which were covered with rush
mats, there was a swarm of European and Asiatic Mussulmen,
as well as poor women with petitions in their hands, whilst
soldiers, with short heavy sabres, walked about Every one
that came had to take off his boots or shoes, and put on slip-

Armed servants stood guard before the entrance, which was
covered with long carpets. In the room there was a divan
along the walls ; this was the principal piece of furniture. Ali
Effendi entered into conversation with me about Lamartine's
** Travels in the East," and asked me if I intended to describe
my stay, and what impression the sight of Constantinople
had made on me. I told him that I thought the situation the
finest in the world ; that the view far surpassed that of Na-
ples, but that we had a city in the North, which offered some-
thing to the spectator akin to Constantinople. And I de-
scribed Stockholm to him, which, seen from the Mosebank,
has something of the appearance that Constantinople presents
from the tower of Pera, out toward "the sweet waters." That
part of Stockholm, which is called Sodermalmen, shows us red
painted, wooden houses, cupolas on the churches, pine-trees



and hanging birches, all is Turkish ; the minarets alone
are wanting.

During the course of conversation, he asked me how many
days' journey Stockholm was from the capital of my native
land, and what difference there was in the languages of the
two countries. Saphet EfFendi spoke but little, yet he was
highly attentive, and, as it seemed, quite Europeanized. Thick
coffee and pipes, with good tobacco, were presented. I, who
never smoke tobacco, was obliged, for politeness' sake, to
take a pipe in my mouth ; and this was the only unpleasant
thing in " The High Gate."

Romani told me that I had a fellow-countryman in Pera, a
shoemaker from Copenhagen, who was married and settled
there, and that his name was Herr Langsch, a complete Dan-
ish name, as he said ; but this I denied, and begged him to
conduct me to the man's house. We entered one of the most
frequented streets of Pera, and there hung over a door a real
Danish sign with a large boot, and underneath was written
the name "Lange." We entered the shop. " God dag ! jeg
har nok her en Landsmand!" "Good day, I have a coun-
tryman here, I see," said I ; and the man sprang up from his
stool with a face beaming with joy. I shook hands with him,
and we were soon deep in a Danish conversation. He told
me that it was nine years since he had left Denmark ; he had
travelled through the whole of Hungary and Wallachia ; had
worked long in Galitz, and had there married a Wallachian
girl ; they had a few years before come to Pera, where they
lived well, and gained a good livelihood ; he kept several
workmen, and was able to lay money by, so that he might
once again go home to Denmark, and then return to Turkey,
where he had succeeded so well. He bade me greet his
father, brothers, and sisters when I returned to Copenhagen.
His father, he told me, was also a shoemaker.

Our Danish Minister, Chamberlain Hiibsch, who was born
in Constantinople and has always resided there, has his resi-
dence in Bujukdere, which is situated at no great distance
from the Black Sea. A visit to him is always a little journey
from Pera, but it can be very conveniently managed in a boat
down the Bosphorus. Hiibsch was so obliging as to come to


fetch me to pass a few days with him ; but the Greek Ministei
Chrystides had invited me the same day to dine with him, as
there would be several Greeks at his house in whom I took
much interest ; and time and circumstances did not permit
me to make the excursion afterward ; for the Austrian steam-
vessel which sails from Constantinople over the Black Sea,
and is in connection with the steamers on the Danube, was
just going at that time, so that I should thereby have an
opportunity of seeing a great part of Bulgaria, Wallachia,
Servia, and Hungary, a passage which, in anticipation, inter-
ested me in a high degree. But there was a rebellion in Rou-
melia, and they feared that the movement would extend to
the neighboring lands. The Austrian post which goes by way
of Belgrade to Constantinople, had not arrived for three whole
weeks ; people were sure that the post-courier had been mur-
dered or imprisoned. No one here knew the particulars, no
measures had been taken ; the Austrian and Russian Minis-
ters sent estafettes to Adrianople and Balkan ; the news they
received was highly imperfect, but it was certain that the
Turkish tax collectors' harshness and injustice had caused
the Christian families in Nissa and Sophia to revolt. It was
said that during the Greek's Easter the Turks had forced
their way into the churches, and there grossly ill-treated
women ; above two thousand were said to have been mur-

One can make the voyage from Constantinople over the
Black Sea and up the Danube to Vienna every tenth day ; but
as matters now stood, it was to be feared that the longer the
voyage was put off, the more uncertain it became whether it
could be made at all, and whether I should not be obliged to
return, via Greece and Italy. In the hotel where I had put up,
there were two Frenchmen and an Englishman, whom I had
agreed to accompany in the voyage up the Danube to Vienna,
but they now quite gave it up, and chose to return home by way
of Italy ; they regarded the Danube voyage as a completely
foolisli undertaking, and had, as they said, been confirmed
in that opinion by good authorities. They thought that the
rebellious Bulgarians would scarcely respect the Austrian flag v
and that if we were not killed, we should at least expose our-
selves to a hundred annoyances.


I confess I passed an extremely unquiet and painful night,
for I could not decide on the course I should take ; on the
evening of the next day I must be on board, if I meant to go
by this vessel. Fear of the many dangers, which, according
to every one's account, were approaching, but, on the other
hand, my burning desire to see something new and interest-
ing, set my blood in a fever. I went to Baron Stunner early
next morning, explained my case to him, and begged his ad-
vice. He said that a Russian courier had arrived the evening
before, who had passed through the part of the country we
must traverse to reach the Danube from the Black Sea, but
that no disturbance was visible there ; he added, that two Aus-
trian officers, Colonel Philippovich and Major Tratner, who
were both returning home from the campaign in Syria, and
whom I already knew from having dined with them in his
house, were just going to make the home voyage up the Dan-
ube with the vessel that was to start early next morning. All
the dispatches and letters, as well as a considerable sum of
money, as the post could not go, were committed to the care
of Colonel Philippovich, who, in the event of the worst, could
demand all necessary protection, so that I could join these

The voyage was therefore now fixed, and from that moment
all fear was gone. The same hour, news arrived in Pera
which immediately supplanted the general conversation about
the revolt in the country ; it was the sorrowful account that
the steamship Stamboul, the largest that the Austrian company
possessed, had that morning, during the thick fogs which hover
over the Black Sea, run against a rock twelve miles east of
Amastra, and become a complete wreck, but that the passen-
gers were saved.

Toward evening I left Pera. From the high round tower in
the church-yard my eye once more drank in that great and
wondrously beautiful panorama of Constantinople, the Sea of
Marmora, and snow-covered Olympus.

It was the steamship Ferdinando the First that was to bear
me over Pontus Euxinus ; it was comfortable and well ar-
ranged on board, and in the first cabin there was, besides
Colonel Philippovich, Major Tratner, and myself, only one


passenger, Mr. Ainsworth, an Englishman, who had been
sent out on an expedition to Koordistan, and had now just
come from Babylon.

I found a whole crowd of deck-passengers on board ; Turks,
Jews, Bulgarians, and Wallachians, who made themselves
quite at home, boiled their coffee, and stretched themselves
out to sleep. Boats cruised round about our vessel ships
came and went There was life on the water, and a hum-
ming, and whistling, and bustling in Pera and Constantinople,
as if a crowd rushed through the streets. No, of such things
it is only lively Naples that can give one an idea !

Directly over the dark cypresses of the Seraglio stood the
moon round and large, but quite pale, in the shining blue air.
The sun went down, and its red beams fell on the windows in
Scutari. It looked exactly as if fire were kindled beside fire ;
it blinded the eye at once ; it was quenched, and evening
spread itself out over the clear surface of the water, over
cupolas and minarets ; large dolphins rolled about close to our
ship ; large gondolas darted like arrows over the bay from
the Seraglio's side, rowed by twelve or twenty gondoliers, all
with crape-like sleeves hanging down from their naked, mus-
cular arms ; the quick strokes of the oars kept measured time,
whilst a majestic Turk, with folded arms, sat near the rudder,
elevated on variegated cushions and carpets, which hung down
into the water. It was like a vision ! a scene in a fairy tale !
The stars twinkled, and the muezzin cried the time in hollow,
monotonous tones from the minarets.



THE Bosphorus is a river with the transparency of the sea ;
a salt-water river uniting two seas ; a river between two quar-
ters of the world, where every spot is picturesque, every place
historical. Here the East pays court to Europe, and dreams
that it is master. I know no extent of land like this, where
strength and mildness are so united as here. The shores of


the Rhine in all their autumnal beauty have not colors like
the shores of the Bosphorus ; the Rhine appears narrow com-
pared to the bed of these glass-green waters, and yet I must
think of the Rhine, I must think of Maelaren's shores between
Stockholm and Upsala, when the warm summer sun shines
between the dark firs and trembling birches.

The sea's width is in most places not so broad but that one
can clearly see everything on both coasts. This long stream
winds in seven turns between the Sea of Marmora and the
Black Sea, and almost throughout this extent the European
coast looks like one city one single street, behind which the
mountains raise their heads ; if not proudly, yet always so
that they may be called mountains, and on these the trees
were as rich as if they were a garden a real botanic gar-
den ! Here are birches as in Sweden and Norway ; groups of
beech-trees as in Denmark ; pines, plantains, and chestnuts
as we see them in Italy, and cypresses strong and large as the
cemeteries at Pera and Scutari alone possess ; and in this
green vegetation, the palm-tree rises with its broad capital, a
monument that tells us where in the world we really are.

The whole coast seems, as I have said, a town and yet no
town. Here street alternates with garden, with cemetery, and
vineyard ; here stands a mosque with its white, trim minarets ;
here a dingy, half-ruined fortress ; there a palace such as we
imagine one in the East ; here again red painted, wooden
houses, which appear to have been brought from Norway's
whistling fir woods.

Let us now turn our eyes toward the Asiatic side ; there
everything is just as rich, just as varying, only there is not
that mass of buildings which makes us regard the coast of
Europe as an endless city ; here the plains are longer, the
mountains higher, and more branching.

The fifth of May, the day of Napoleon's death, I was to
pass on the Black Sea. There are more spirits' feast-days
than those the almanacs point out as Sundays and holidays.
Our own life and the history of the world indicate some which
do not stand in the calendar. Often, on calling to mind such
remarkable days, I have felt in a lively manner, how prosaically
void they had passed away with me ; yet, this year, one of the


present age's famous days stood in a peculiar and holiday
manner before me. This morning, at half past four o'clock, I
sailed from the harbor of Constantinople through the Bos
phorus, and out into the Black Sea.

I was awakened by hearing the anchor fall ; I dressed in
haste, and went upon deck ; everything lay enveloped in thick
fog, but it was only for a moment, for with astonishing quick-
ness the mist rose to the summit of Pera's tower. This tower
with Galata and Topschana lay behind us ; the large barracks,
the high mosque in the suburb Fiindiiklu stood imposingly
forth, with the whole Turkish fleet, lately returned home from
Egypt, lying there. We glided close past ; Turkish soldiers
and sailors stuck their heads out from all the port-holes round
about : each of them could, in a few minutes, have told us
more truthful things, and those more poetically than Piickler
Muskau gives us in his far famed works ; but our steamer
was on its flight ; the fog was also on its flight, sometimes
touching the ship's chimney, and sometimes rising as if to
change into rain-bringing clouds. There was a life and a
movement over us, as if Darius with his army again passed
over the Bosphorus in these misty figures ; there was a life
and a movement about us with boats, those which came
from the vessels of war, large and well manned, and those
which came from the shores, thin, frail gondolas, where the
Turk lay at the bottom with crossed legs. But it was still on
board our vessel. The Turks had spread their carpets over the
deck : some of them slept, wrapped up in their furred cloaks ;
others drank their thick coffee or blew clouds from their long
pipes : the fog rose and fell as if the world had returned to
chaos ; the sun now broke forth, and now again it seemed to
have no power ; the ships lying at a distance had the appear-
ance of shadowy forms : I thought of the phantom ship and
the Flying Dutchman.

Topschana and Pera seemed to be one city with Constan-
tinople, and Scutari the suburb, which, with its white minarets,
red-brown houses, and green gardens, lay in the clearest sun-
shine, which streamed out over the whole Asiatic coast. We
saw the charming village of Kandelli, situated on an eminence,
rhe Imperial Gardens, the Grand Signer's extensive palaces.


What affluence, what natural splendor around tht shores of the
Bosphorus !

How often, when a boy, have my thoughts sailed through
" The Thousand and One Nights," and I saw strange palaces
of marble with hanging gardens and cooling fountains. Here
such a one as I had then mentally seen stood before me in
reality. It was the newly completed summer palace, on the
European side. Abdul Meschid was the first Sultan who had
resided there ; he had removed to this palace the previous
year. It is in the oriental style, of great proportions, with
marble pillars, and high terraces.

This is the scene for a young prince's love. Here, to speak
in the spirit of the Turkish poets, and with their words, here
the vernal season comes early and clothes the tulip in its red
mantle, which the dew ornaments with its silvery pearls ; and
the cypresses and plantains raise their arms, praying that they
may shelter their young prince for a long life-time ! But what
is a long life-time ? It is a happy life-time, and happy yes,
but what is happiness ? An immortal name or happiness in
love ? Ask the young ! Alas ! every one is not an Alexan-
der, who can win both, and win doubly, by dying in the midst
of victory.

The palace gardens extend to the village of Kurutscheme,
whose peculiar modern buildings alongside the water attract
particular attention. One story projects over the other, sup-
ported by slanting beams underneath. The room between the
buildings and the water is in a manner roofed by the jutting

Several of the elder Sultanas live here ; the windows out-
side, therefore, are well covered with screens, which certainly
do not want peep-holes, from whence the once beautiful and
mighty can look out upon the water and see the foreign vessels.
Alas ! each of these women was once a beautiful poem ; now
they are forgotten, and cannot console themselves with : " Ver-
gessne Gedichte sind neue I " (forgotten poems are new). The
long silken eye-lashes, once a row of arrows which pierced the
breast, now hang like weeping-willows over the eye's lake,
the only one in which a beauteous star is mirrored ; and they
draw the veil closer together, only not about the eye ; it dare


be seen, and it sees. Heaven knows what eye we and oui
ship were reflected in as we passed Kurutscheme. The helms-
man told us that the strongest currents in the Bosphorus are

The delightful valley of Bebek, with its summer palace,
opened to our view ; it is bounded by the dark cypresses of a
cemetery. These few words, however, convey no picture ; the
eye must see this valley which, like an English park in the
brightest sunshine, displays a variety of green, such as cannot
be mixed on the pallet : we must see these willows, whose
gently-waving branches seem to play with their shadows along
the ground ; these groups of leaf-trees, under whose shady
roof the wild turtle-dove has its seraglio ; these rich green
grass plains where the shining white oxen stand white as
the marble images of old half hid in the high grass. Here
are life, sunshine, and joyousness ; close by lies the bound-
ary, the dark cypress wood with the dead shadows and

We glided past the cemetery ; picturesque rocks arose ; we
were on the place where Androcles, from Samos, threw a
bridge across the Bosphorus, over which Darius led the Per-
sians into Europe against the Scythians ; one of the rocks
was transformed into a throne for Darius, from which he saw
his power pass away ; not a trace of it is now remaining.
The holy Osmans rest at the foot of the rock ; the ground
that the wild host has trod is now holy ; and the dark cy-
presses stand guard around the graves. The fugitive birds
of the Bosphorus, which the seamen call "the damned spirits,"
flew toward us, and were away again at the same moment.

Here, on the Asiatic and European sides, are the mighty
palaces, Anatoli Hissari, and Rumili Hissari, built to com-
mand the entrance ; but the port-holes are walled up, the
buildings have long since been transformed into prisons.
The palaces, where thousands of Christians have languished,

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 23 of 31)