James Henry Skene.

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population of the place, some on one side and some on
the other; if those aggrieved can obtain no redress
except at Stambul, why, they would all have to go
there as parties or as witnesses/'

" Then, by the holy name of the Prophet ! they shall
all go there together if I hear another word on the
subject!'' exclaimed the Pasha, whose . patience was
now quite exhausted, and whose appetite could no
longer be stayed. Turning to his servants, who stood
trembling before him, he shouted : — " Ghel, yemek
ghitir ! Come, food bring ! "

A forced journey of this kind would have been no

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small aggravation to the su£ferings of the Armenian
Protestants, and, as our intercession in their behalf was
merely a friendly expostulation requested of us by
fellow Protestants, there was nothing further to be
done for them. We took our leave accordingly.

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Amongst those present at our interview with the
Pasha, for it was by no means a private one, was a
very polite and intelligent Swiss merchant, who resides
here with the view of purchasing raw silk, the principal
produce of Amasia, which he sends to be manufactured
at BMe. He is the only European in the town, and, as
such, he insisted on our preferring his hospitaUty to
that of our khan. On going to his house near the
summit of one of the mountains enclosing the valley,
and a long pull it was to get up to it, we found
a complete Swiss chaht^ presided over by a well-
informed and agreeable Swiss lady, vnth four sweet
little fair-haired, blue-eyed, and most unmistakably
Swiss children, looking as if the entire establishment
had just been wafted hither body- whole from the Alps
by some such process as that which conveyed our
Lady's house from Palestine to Loretto, or the palace
of Aladdin of the Wonderfiil Lamp from China to

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Africa and back again. Excellent tea, and comfortable
beds ; what luxuries are these in Pontus ! And we
enjoyed them in exact proportion to the irksomeness of
having been for a time deprived of those domestic
advantages : to say nothing of intellectual converse in
a quiet family party.

A Idosque at the end of the garden offered on the
following morning the most delectable retreat with a
book after breakfast. Beside it trickled a tiny stream
which had been ingeniously coaxed into the refreshing
functions of a shower-bath in a wooden shed. But
hark ! the sound of merry female voices meets our
ears ; and they are emitting the soft velvety tones of
the noble Osmanli, that most melodious of all
languages. The rustling of branches in the thicket !
What means this 1 Being more or less aware of the
unfavourable ideas prevalent on such subjects in
Turkey, I was cautious with regard to showing myself
at the window, but I confess that I did take one Uttle
peep tlirough a chink. Two negro harem-slaves, well
. armed, sat on the boughs of a large fig-tree ; strange
unseemly fruit. Three old women, unveiled and with
bundles in their hands, stood beside it; looking
ominously important. And still the sweet soft voices
chattered at a little distance. How suggestive were
these premises. I took another glance ; but with great

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94 ANi^DOL,

circumspection, for I did not much like the looks of
the blackbirds in the tree, nor had I any very par-
ticular fancy for walking back to the Swiss cottage

with my head under my arm. I saw y Ah!

what did I see ? Was ever Eastern traveller in such


First came, with footsteps gentle and Hght as falling
snow, a young girl richly dressed. She had no veil.
Her face was an oval of the purest outline, with the
most loveable of dimples on the fairest of cheeks. Her
features were regular and finely formed, and her hair,
which fell in a perfect avalanche on her shoulders, was
of a rich light brown, evidently soft and silky. But such
eyes, such beaming eyes of tender hazel, when seen,
must rivet all attention, and once seen, can scarcely be
forgotten. There she stood some time before me, leaning
against a bank and waiting for others to join her ; and
so motionless that our busy pencil never had a better
model ; certainly never one so beautiful. A settled
shade of melancholy was on her lovely countenance, and
the merry sounds could not have issued from that pretty
but pensive mouth, but this did not detract from the
undefinable charm which stamped the fair apparition as
one of nature^s own nobility ; perhaps it heightened it.
In every movement, too, of her rather tall than short
figure, there was grace. The costume, to be sure, was

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eminently propitious. A paJe yellow silk robe, heavily
embroidered in gold, and lined with purple, was closed
at the waist by a splendid diamond brooch ; rose-
coloured satin trousers flowed wide beneath it ; and a
bright cashmere shawl hung, loosely thrown as a sash
around her. Yellow slippers, a green headkerchief with
golden fringe, and a costly necklace, completed her very
becoming attire. But this was nothing. A resistless
power of interesting those who crossed her path resided
in the deep attractive expression of her large eyes.
They were thoughtful, yet candid ; resigned, but afiec-
tionate ; and above all they were an unerring index that
the spirit within was superlatively endowed with that
heaven-bom faculty of feeling strongly, which must
necessarily make of this earth a paradise or a hades to
herself, according as it is developed by the fostering
hand of warm and real sympathy, or bUghted and
crushed by the withering storm that so often assails UU'
appreciated gentleness. There was a something in her
mild and dovelike glance, which miUtated powerfully
in favour of the latter category in this case, and we
had just come to that mournful conclusion when our
rough outline was about finished and new actors
appeared on the scene of our psychological re-

A nice little roundabout, laughing, black-eyed, bright-

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coraplexioned thing of sixteen, at most, came dancing
along. She was comely withal to look upon, but she
seemed in our dazzled oyes to owe her charms, like
Saturn's ring, to the vicinage of a brighter light, and
like the piece of clay, in the Persian apologue, that had
always been near the rose, to derive a faint transfusion
from another's sweetness. Gaily she gambolled towards
the bath, health^s mantling blush spread on her cheeks,
and the pure breeze fanning her open brow, as warbling
she raced on, or stooped o'er the streamlet's leaf-fringed
bank while zephyrs played with her jet-black tresses all
untied, or leaned against a moss-grown rock to; smooth
her truant curls and still her beating heart. Oh !
youth, thou art fair in thy spring, but how soon will the
roses be chased from thy cheeks, and the smile from thy
lips, by the wintry blast of life ? Its chilling breath had
tarnished the stately beauty of a dame, some five and
thirty summers aiding, who next appeared. Her tall
and once rounded form had lost its symmetry in the
sharpening angles of wasting disease, probably more
mental than bodily, for the sour expression of her noble
features and lustrous eyes told a tale of bad passions.
She smiled, however, when she spoke to the younger of
the two girls, though she looked not kindly on the other
who met her scornful frown with suppliant humility and
helpless resignation strongly depicted on her speaking

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countenance. The two, who came last, of these three
Turkish Graces, were not so sumptuously attired as the
first and most lovely of them, but this advantage was
apparently little prized by her, for it was abundantly
evident that a deep grief, a silent misery, lay rankKng
beneath her finery. No longer time was now aflForded
me for observation, as the three fair ladies and the old
woman soon entered the bath and carefully shut the
door, leaving the ugly negroes on their perches.

What a pity it was that my jfriend had not been there
to enjoy this rare spectacle. I could not go for him,
considering the fig-tree ; and the opportunity would
soon be lost too, for a very great amount of plashing
and pouring of water was going on in the bath, and it
could not possibly last much longer. I would have
delighted in seeing my grave magisterial companion
play the part of Peeping Tom of Coventry ; he would
have looked like a respectable Pyramus at the friendly
chink ; but how to get at him without giving the alarm
to the watchful slaves, was the question. There they
were sure enough ; I saw them but too well when I
again reconnoitred the enemy's position, and one of
them seemed to be trying to whistle with his great
fat beak — ^the brute. I waited ; but with Uttle hope.
The dashing and plashing of water was, if anything,
rather increasing, and it drowned every other sound.

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I looked once more. Hurra ! the negroes were gone,
now was the time. Softly stealing from the kiosque, I
skulked among the trees, and finally reached the house
unperceived. Nothing loth was the recruit on this
service of danger ; and soon we reached our hiding-place
in safety. The sounds of bathing gradually diminished,
and at length ceased altogether. Each of us was at
his respective post in breathless expectation. The door
of the bath was gently opened. Now look ! No. It
was quickly shut again. Twice, thrice, did this
manoeuvre baulk our culpable curiosity. It was clear
that our presence had been discovered. But the well-
armed slaves were nowhere to be seen, and it did not
matter ; we would keep guard, and tire out the ladies^
patience. In which ungenerous purpose we fully suc*
ceeded ; for, after some further delay, the bath was
suddenly thrown open, and there issued from it our
worthy hostess, wrapt in her virtue and a pink cotton
dressing-gown, and casting up at the window of the
kiosque the affrighted and indignant glance of Susanna
to the elders. As there was no one else in the bath, I
was immediately accused of having wished to amuse
myself at the expense of my friend ; and in vain I
repeated my assurances that I had really seen three
Moslem beauties, who had probably gone away and
been succeeded by the Swiss lady without my having

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heard them. It was all of no avail ; even the credi-
bility of my poor sketch was impugned ; and I was
found guilty of having played oflf a practical joke on
two good people who certainly had not any great wish
to snatch furtive prospects of each other in this way.
They both felt proportionately offended during the
whole ensuing day. It was ascertained, however, to
my justification, that a neighbouring kiosque and
garden were occupied by the Pasha's harem ; and
that the ladies composing it had applied for and
obtained permission to make use of the shower-bath,
when so disposed. It also appeared, on competent
evidence, that they daily availed themselves of the
favour, and had actually been there that morning, as
they thought, no doubt, that they could pass from the
one garden to the other without the risk of intrusive
observation such as ours had been.

When I at last succeeded in talking the kind Suissesse
into forgiveness of my error, amid the constant jesting
of her good-humoured husband, who laughed heartily
at the untoward event, and at her affronted dignity, I
learnt that she was on terms of intimacy with her
neighbours, having picked up the Turkish language
duiing her stay at Amasia. She said they were very
unhappy. The Pasha's wife was the lineal descendant
of Shahin Ghirai Khan, the last sultan of the Crimea,

H 2

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whose family are next heirs to the Ottoman throne,
faiKng the present dynasty (a curious fact, considering
that they are Russian subjects). She was therefore of
the noblest Tatar blood ; and being exceedingly proud
of this, while her lord and master was a mere soldier of
fortune, she had treated him with lofty contempt, until
he became exasperated and brutal. He then bought an
odaliky or drawing-room slave, for twenty purses (about
90/.) from a dealer at Samsoon; and this was the
beautiful young person I saw, the others being the
slighted Tatar Princess and a daughter of hers. Melech,
the slave, was a Circassian, a sweet-tempered and kind-
hearted creature ; anxious to spare the feehngs of her
supplanted rival, who was in the habit of beating her
with her slipper whenever she could find a safe oppor-
tunity, and that was not seldom, for they were much
together ; and Melech never complained. On the con-
trary, she would often plead with the Pasha for his
neglected wife and daughter, when they threw them-
selves weeping at his feet. The savage monster would
then curse all violent hysterical ecstasies and passionate
hypochondriacal eflfusions, take his stick to the Grim
Ghirai's posterity — both matron and maid, and apply
it to the fair shoulders of the generous Melech too.

What a satisfactory state of the domestic relations
exists in Turkey ! How admirably appreciated are the

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family ties ! It must all be so nice and comfortable !
I should not be at all astonished if the Pasha were to
go off some day in a fit after taking a cup of coffee in
his harem, as Ahmed Fevzi Pasha did when he had
given up the Turkish fleet to the Egyptians in 1839 ;
unless indeed he should at last, like Dan O'Connell,

" in his horror of slaughter,
Extend the Divine command.
And honor his wife and daughter.

That his days may be long in the land."

And yet this desecration of the holy temple, home,
whose priestess he torments, though possibly as much
averse to duelling as the Irish agitator proved himself
on the occasion when he earned that quatrain, has taken
the path that here more frequently ends in violent
death. His princess had all the look of a tigress roused
in her lair, and there was danger in that Tatar eye.
But the Pasha fears her not, it is said, and peremptorily
rejects, as cunningly-devised fables and popular Frank
delusions, all the good Swiss lady's theories of mutual
confidence. and esteem shedding on the peaceful hearth
the brightest rays of human bliss.

Perhaps this may be a Pasha's way of making him-
self happy. With us, happiness is generally first sought
either on the shrine which is covered with laurels, or
on that which is decked with flowers, and, finding on

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neither an idol worthy of our worship, we enter that
single gate of the temple bearing the inscription " knock,
and it shall be opened unto thee." There we find hap-
piness, but the Turks, who know not the truth, seek it,
some by the high road of natural instinct, some by the
short cuts of traditional wisdom, and some by a new
line of their own unassisted reason ; many by shutting
their eyes and following their noses, without inquiring
whither leads the path they are on, but vaguely hoping
that kizmit (fate) will make them happy ; well, of these
various classes, our experience in the East tends to
show that the latter is the more successful as far as out-
ward appearance can testify^ Such is the Mussulman
life, that comedy to those who think, that tragedy to
those who feel ; and this Pasha may haply drift with the
stream, or be cast by a storm, into the haven sought by
others in vain. His present dismissal from office is,
peradventure, that very squall. Poverty, its necessary
consequence, may re-establish peace in his harem. But
poor Melech ! what is to become of her ? She will
probably be sold ; at a reduced price, as a second-hand
article. Her name means Angel in Turkish. That is
surely worth half the money. .

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Another evening of our stay at Amasia was spent
in wandering about the valley of the Iris. Thickly planted
with dwarf mulberry trees, and well cultivated, it is
now irrigated by means of great groaning wooden wheels
that turn slowly with the stream to raise the water to
its banks. But we found an ancient aqueduct, hewn
in the rock and running for several miles along the base
of the cUff, which must formerly have served for that
purpose in greater perfection. It has been called the
conduit which Strabo mentions, but the Turkish guard,
who accompanied us, assigned to it a more recent and
also a romantic origin.

During the age of chivalry, that hen-pecked ado-
lescence of European society, fair ladies were wont to
carry on their Uttle flirtations by prescribing feats of
arms and high emprise with lance and rest. About the
same period, a Moslem maid of the royal Seldjukian
race imposed the laborious plying of a pickaxe as the

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price of her hand. A bold and loving youth had
popped the question to her at a fountain where she was
filling her jar with water, near her father's tent, during
the invasion of Pontus by the Turcoman tribes.

" I will wed thee,'' she replied, " when we meet at
Amasia, — I go thither vnth our conquering banner, but
thou shalt go with this little streamlet flowing in a
channel made by thy own hands.'*

The Turks soon took Amasia. It appears, however,
that the young woman had overlooked the rocky nature
of the country in her calculations, for when her swain
arrived with his rivulet to claim the reward of a long
labour of fidelity, he found that, though the watercourse
of true love ran smooth enough, she had departed this
life some few years previously, leaving several grand-
children to mourn her loss. He was no chicken himself
by that time, and, having dug a grave beside hers, he
lay down and died in it ; vrith his trusty pick-axe over
his shoulder.

Several tombs of those early Seldjukian Sultans, who
took this part of the country from the Byzantine
Emperors, are still to be found on the outskirts of the
town. They are Saracenic in style, built of sculptured
blocks of limestone, somewhat ruined, but all the more
picturesque on that account as objects in the striking
landscape offered us by Amasia. An old medresseh, or

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college, in one of the narrow streets, shows remnants of
Greek architecture and inscriptions, which have been
made use'of in erecting it, probably on the site of some
ancient monument to which they belonged. And one
of the four bridges across the Iris seems to be of
Roman construction. But the tombs of the kings are
by far the most interesting relics of the Pontian capital
that have been preserved. They are five in number,
and they display a singular mode of formation. An
open gallery, scooped out of the soUd rock, leads to a
smoothed perpendicular surface on which have been
excavated these grottoes. In each a central block has
been left standing, and a chamber, with a door and two
windows, hollowed out in it. The chambers are the
tombs, and, being detached from the sides and roof,
they have the appearance of buildings in natural
caverns, while the whole is in fact hewn in the cliflf.

The largest of the vaults (said to be that of Mithri-
dates the Great, who was also born at Amasia) was now
occupied by a Dervish. The Moslem hermit had been
here little more than a month. He stated that he had
come on foot all the way from the old Mohammedan
city of Samarcand in eastern Tartary to pray at this
place during the Turkish lenten season in compliance
with an injunction received from the prophet himself
by means of a dream in which he had seen the five

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caves towards the setting sun. He had walked in this
direction, and, his steps being miraculously guided, as
he said, he arriyed at last asd immediately recognised
the spot, though he had never before quitted his native
town. He wore a red striped enteriy and a heavy grey
woollen cloak turned up with green, pistols and daggers
in his sash, an amulet-case round his neck, red shoes
over yellow slippers, and a high conical cap embroidered
with blue and red. He was yoimg and handsome.
Though much bronzed, he did not look emaciated or in
any way reduced by his pedestrian feat ; nor were his
bright black eyes dimmed by abstemiousness ; nor did
his well-combed locks show the least Pharisaical want
of ointment ; and he was not of a sad countenance, as
the hypocrites who disfigure their faces that they may
appear unto men to fast. Yet of all the provisions,
brought to him by the pious Mussulmans of Amasia, he
had accepted only a small piece of bread every evening
when the sun had set, while money he had invariably
rejected with contempt. And his fingers never ceased
from turning his string of wooden beads, and his lips
were muttering corresponding prayers, even when we
met him at dusk on his way to the fountain to drink, for
the first time since sunrise. Was that hateful scowl at
the passing Franks inspired by the shade of him who
massacred 150,000 Romans in one night, and did the

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Scythian Dervish know that he had been praying over
the ashes of him whom his Scythian ancestors protected
in his ambition to overthrow the Roman Empire by
marching round the Euxine to Italy? Or is there
an unconscious sympathy between the Mussuhnan
enthusiast and the great enemy of ancient civiUsation
in Asia, and does he honour Mithridates merely
professionally, as a sort of royal pagan Dervish who
habitually made the bare earth and the frozen snow, as
we are told, his place of repose ? However this may
be, we were still at Amasia on the festival of the
Baaram, and it was remarked that the constant cry of
" Allah ! Allah ! Allah !" which had been heard day
and night issuing from the tombs of the kings, had
ceased ; several Turks, prompted by devout charity or
idle curiosity, went to see if the Dervish of Samarcand
had died of inanition, and found that he had disappeared
leaving no traces of his visit.

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After leaving Amasia we passed three diflFerent
places which ha^ve been identified with the important
city of ancient Tavium. Of course we formed an
opinion of our own, and mean to give it. On our way,
however, whose tenor was of a somewhat zigzag nature,
we came to one or two interesting spots, of which
Phazemon and Zela were the most remarkable. The
country, through which we travelled, was formed of a
continual succession of open plateaux, larger or
smaller, higher or lower, . without wood, not much
cultivated, and occasionally watered by tributaries of
the river Halys. Low treeless hills separated them,
and the horse-track usually wound through hot rocky
passes from one to another. Calcareous marls and
sands constitute the beds in which these great alluvial
deposits have been left ; schistose masses, varying
much in colour and consistency from argillaceous
and compact to talcose, thinly laminated and soft.

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encumber the mountains ; and broken fragments of
trap, and other igneous formations, ^re piled up in
bewildering confusion along the winding ravines.
The general aspect of nature was thus barren and
unfriendly. Villages were few and squaUd; flocks,
plentiful. Storks prowled about the plains in search
of snakes and other reptiles to disgorge for their
young on chimney-tops. Caravans of camels passed
in slow and weary solemnity ; their great meek faces
well expressing the most wonderful power of endur-
ance on earth. And low carts on two imshod soUd
'wheels, drawn by heavy truculent-looking buffaloes,
creaked on their dry wooden axles. Groups of black
tents were the nomadic homes of fierce Turcoman
and Kurdish shepherds, all bristling with swords,
daggers, pistols, guns, bows and arrows^ spears and
javelins ; thin sinewy mares stood picketted amongst
them ; and dark-eyed damsels of the desert, accus-
tomed to the use of every weapon in the forays of
their tribes, wild as gazelles, but unveiled, ran at our
approach, then turned to gaze at the strangers when
we galloped past their rude encampment.

In such wise reached we Marzevan, which must
be on the site of Phazemon, though nothing in the
shape of ruins is now extant here. It is a large village

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Online LibraryJames Henry SkeneAnadol; the last home of the faithful → online text (page 6 of 20)