John L. (John Lawson) Stoddard.

John L. Stoddard's lectures : illustrated and embellished with views of the world's famous places and people, being the identical discourses delivered during the past eighteen years under the title of the Stoddard lectures (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJohn L. (John Lawson) StoddardJohn L. Stoddard's lectures : illustrated and embellished with views of the world's famous places and people, being the identical discourses delivered during the past eighteen years under the title of the Stoddard lectures (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 12)
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ful. Both shores are lined with pretty villages which rise


in swift succession from the waves. In one place they form
an almost unbroken continuity of buildings six miles long.
They are exceedingly picturesque; for in contrast to the
azure of the sea and the dark foliage of cypress-trees, are
thousands of variously-colored houses, resembling in the dis-
tance bright parterres of flowers. Till recently, however, the
Christian residents of these villages were forbidden to paint


their houses, so that the dwellings of Mohammedans could
be instantly distinguished. Some of these structures are the
summer homes of wealthy Turks and foreigners. What
charming residences they must be ! For down the rapid cur-
rent of the Bosporus sweeps usually a delightful breeze, and
through these houses, even in the hottest weather, is wafted
the invigorating freshness of the sea. And yet these dwell-
ings on the Bosporus are not exempt from danger, not, as
one might expect, from inundation, for the level of this
ocean-current rarely changes, but from the fact that sailing
vessels, failing to manoeuvre with sufficient alertness in these




narrow limits,
are sometimes
driven by the
wind or cur-
rent against the
houses with such
violence as to
break the win-
dows with their
yard-arms, or
even to force their bowsprits into the parlors and sleeping-
rooms of the astonished occupants.

Along the Bosporus history and legend struggle for
supremacy, succeeding one another like its rolling waves.
Not far from the Asiatic shore, directly opposite Galata, there
stands upon an isolated rock a lighthouse, ninety feet in
height. The Turks call it the Maiden's Tower, in memory
of a Sultan's daughter, lovely and attractive as an Oriental
flower. She had been placed there by her father, whom a
gipsy's prophecy had terrified; for it had been foretold that




his beloved child would die in her eighteenth year, of a ser-
pent's bite. Within that tower he considered her secure.
But, say the Moslems, " What is written, is written. It is
impossible to avoid one's destiny." In fact, a Persian prince,
hearing of this imprisoned beauty, sent her a basket of flow-
ers, whose language was intended to declare his love. But,
alas! among those flowers a deadly serpent had concealed
itself, and as the fair girl bent above the roses, to inhale their


perfume, the viper buried its fangs in her throat. Hence,
on the morning of her eighteenth birthday, the Sultan's child
was found (like Egypt's fascinating queen) dead on her
couch, the basket of flowers by her side, the hideous reptile
on her breast.

Not far from this, one sees the largest and most imposing
of all the Sultan's palaces, known as Dolma Baghtcheh. This
splendid edifice, constructed two score years ago by Sultan
Abd-ul Medjid, borders the Bosporus for more than a third
of a mile. It might be called an imperial village, rather than
a palace. As many as seven hundred persons have at one
time lived beneath its roof. Its long facade is of spotless




marble, and from its snow-white terrace broad stairways of
the same material descend to meet the sea. It faces the
east, and when the
rising sun illumines
it, the palace's im-
mense expanse
gleams like a wall
of polished silver, in
striking contrast to
the azure of the
foreground and the
green foliage of the
hills beyond. The
sole condition im-
posed upon its archi-
tect was that, when
completed, it should exceed in splendor any imperial resi-
dence that Abd-ul Medjid had beheld. As one can easily
suppose, therefore, the decorations of the building are of

almost incred-
ible magnifi-
cence. The fur-
nishings are part-
ly European and
partly Asiatic.
Its wonderful
inlaid work in
wood and pre-
cious stones, and
its luxurious rugs
and tapestries
from Teheran
and Bagdad, are suggestive of the Orient. But frescoes by
French artists, a number of fine paintings, candelabra of




cut glass, tables and urns of malachite
and porphyry, and the largest plate-
glass mirrors in the world, are contri-
butions from the Occident. It is a
striking commentary on the mutability
of earthly grandeur that this magnifi-
cent palace, though so recent in its
origin, is now practically tenantless.
It is true, its wonderful throne-room
is still used for ceremonies of state,
but the present sovereign will not re-
side therein. Sinister memories haunt its gilded halls, ill-
calculated to promote undisturbed sleep or peaceful dreams.
For it was from Dolma Baghtcheh, on the morning of May
29, 1876, that Abd-ul Aziz, the uncle of the reigning Sultan,
was forcibly removed to his mysterious and tragic death ; and
a few weeks later, the present sovereign's elder brother,
the successor to Abd-ul Aziz, here became insane, a circum-
stance that enabled the actual ruler, Abd-ul Hamid II, to
ascend the throne.

Not far from this, another palace rises from the waves,
dainty and beautiful
with marble balco-
nies and columns.
This is as small and

iiilHlllSillll Ilk .;;:;,!(




graceful as the preceding one is massive and imposing. Sur-
rounded by a stately grove, with gardens stretching far out
on the adjoining hills, it is a favorite resort in summer for
the Sultan and his family. Here, no doubt, are enacted
scenes like those which, centuries ago, were wont to take
place on the Seraglio Point. For here
the favorite Sultanas pass their time in
listening to music, wandering through


the grove, sailing upon the little river which here joins the
Bosporus, or gazing through their gilded lattice-work
upon the ever-changing beauty of the sea.

But the charms of the Bosporus are not reserved for
Sultanas only. Ottoman ladies are very fond of making
excursions to its banks in summer, particularly to a lovely
spot known as the " Sweet Waters of Asia." Here, as in
a similar locality on the Golden Horn, called the " Sweet
Waters of Europe," one may behold, discreetly, thousands
of Mohammedan women, all clad in brightly colored silken
mantles. They are usually seated on rugs, or resting on soft
cushions, in the shade of noble trees. Most of them laugh


and talk incessantly, while eating sweetmeats and ice-cream
served by obsequious domestics; but some are silent and
reserved as statues. Turkish gentlemen are also often
visible, but they always keep by themselves, rarely, if ever,
speaking to their ladies, although the venders of sherbet and
confectionery sell their wares indiscriminately to both sexes.
Meantime many children run about, and play upon the car-


pet of soft grass, filling the air with shouts of laughter, and
receiving the admiration and caresses of all.

Like the Rhine, the Bosporus is not without its ruins.
The most picturesque, and, at one time, the most massive of
them all, is known as the Castle of Europe. Four hundred
and fifty years have come and gone since this was built here
by Mohammed II. It was his first important step toward the
great object of his life, the capture of Constantinople.
His predecessor, Mohammed I, had already erected a men-
acing fortress on the opposite Asiatic promontory, but
this one was a step in advance, and, more significant still,
a step on European soil. The stronghold was, for that
age, marvelous. A thousand laborers toiled upon its walls
like galley slaves. Altars and columns, plundered from



Christian churches, were used in its construction. Its lofty
walls were thirty feet in thickness, and on their summits were
placed heavy
cannon, by
which the Mos-
lems held the
Bosporus com-
pletely at their
mercy, prevent-
ing any food-
supplies from
coming by way
of the Black Sea


to the Christians,
and making them practically prisoners in their capital. It is
said also, that, partly from caprice, partly from enthusiasm,
Mohammed II so arranged the towers of this castle, that
they should trace against the sky the Arabic letters which

expressed not
only his own
name, but that
of the Prophet.
Now the old
fortress is in
ruins. The
foremost actor
in a great trag-
edy performed
here half a cen-
tury before
America was


discovered, it

now lags superfluous on the stage, from which it will event-
ually disappear beneath the unsparing tooth of time.



Almost within the shadow of these ruined battlements, the
steamer brings us to the place where the two continents most
closely approach each other. Here Europe and Asia advance
as if to cast themselves into each other's arms, yet on the
brink stand pausing,
allowing only white-
winged messengers to
pass between. The
space which intervenes
is only sixteen hun-

dred feet in breadth.
Here, standing on one
continent, one can dis-
tinguish voices on the other. Between these headlands,
fourteen centuries before the birth of Christ, sailed the ex-
plorer Jason with his Argonauts, returning with the Golden
Fleece. Five hundred years before the Christian era, Darius
stretched here, from one shore to the other, a bridge of boats,
on which were led from Asia into Europe his host of seven
hundred thousand men. Here, too, the Bosporus was
crossed by the ten thousand Greeks whom Xenophon led
back from Persia, in that retreat of which all boys who enter
college still read in Xenophon 's " Anabasis."

Between these headlands, sailing northward on his way to
exile, came the illustrious poet Ovid, banished from Rome
and destined never again to behold the city on the Tiber so
imperishably connected with his verse.


In Christian centuries, the hosts of the Crusaders repeatedly
crossed this narrow strait, in their enthusiastic march to
rescue the Holy Sepulchre from the Saracens; while, at the
time of the Crimean war, the united fleets of France and
England passed between these promontories to reduce Sebas-

Eight thousand British victims of that conflict now repose
in Asiatic soil on a magnificently situated height overlooking
the blue Bosporus. Above them is the noble monument by


Marochetti, commemorative of their courage and fidelity.
At each of the four corners of the structure stands a colossal
angel, pen in hand, as if about to write upon the scroll of
immortality the names of the heroic dead, who nevertheless
rest here in nameless graves. Mute though they are, these
sculptured seraphs call to mind one who was here an angel
of tenderness and mercy to the suffering and dying, the
woman loved and reverenced throughout the world, Flor-
ence Nightingale.

The Black Sea is the cradle of the Bosporus, .as the Sea of
Marmora is its grave. Where the great northern ocean sends
its mighty volume into this narrow channel, the current is so
strong that it is called the Devil's Stream. Beyond it is that


vast, imprisoned sea, still formidable even to modern navi-
gators, and fairly awe-inspiring to the ancients, whose ships
were ill-adapted to resist its winds and waves. Hence, in
former times, every one. who entered it was wont to drop

into its inky depths a coin, to
propitiate its angry deities.

Along the northern shore
of the Black Sea its waves re-


fleet the Russian cross, as on its southern coast still flaunts
the Moslem crescent. To sweep across this ocean barrier, to
make of it a Russian lake, and finally to seize the Turkish
capital, has been from the foundation of the Russian
Empire the constant aspiration of its Czars. Time and
again Muscovite armies have advanced to do this, and
once, in 1877, came within a day's march of Stamboul.
But they have always been compelled to halt by the
prompt action of the other Powers. That Russia will even-
tually control the Bosporus and have free exit for her war-
ships into the Mediterranean there can be little doubt. It




is the logical outcome of the Eastern question. The wonder-
ful expansive power of the Russian empire requires that
southern gateway, and will surely have it in fact, if not in
name in the inevitable sequence of events. How much the
Turks may do to resist the giant of the north, it is difficult to
estimate, for they are both fanatical and brave. With them
religion takes the place of patriotism. The world has not
forgotten their defense of Plevna, in 1877. For five long
months the Russians tried in vain to capture it, until, at last,
starvation (aided, it is said, by Russian gold used freely in the
form of bribes) achieved what no artillery could accomplish.
But Plevna alone had cost the Russians fifty thousand men.

The recent war with Greece has also once more shown the
military prowess of the Sultan's troops, and was a startling
reminder of the fact that only three hundred years ago
the balance of
power in Eu-
rope was very
different. For
then the Sul-
tan's ships were
masters of the
the Black Sea
was a Turkish
lake; the Mos-
lem empire in-
cluded, with
the exception

ii in: ii II ill fin

H }1IS !J II! II Illl


the great sacred and historic cities of antiquity, Ephesus,
Smyrna, Antioch, Damascus, Athens, Jerusalem, and Alex-
andria; and the Crescent had expanded till one point rested
on the Golden Horn, while the other glittered opposite the


Moorish towers of Granada. Even to-day the Holy Sepulchre
is still in Moslem hands, and still the Crescent floats above the
Temple of Justinian. Moreover, as if this were not enough,
the Turks swept up the Danube with resistless force, captured
Belgrade and Budapest, besieged Vienna, and made of Hun-
gary a ^^^- Turkish

province for one

hundred and forty years.

Even as re- cently as two

hundred years THE QUEEN OF THE HAST, ago, Vienna

was a second time exposed to their attack. But since that
day the Ottoman empire has steadily diminished. Bulgaria,
Greece, Roumania, Servia, Algiers, Tunis, and now virtually
Egypt, too, have one by one been torn from her enfeebled
hands. In Europe alone, where she once held a territory of
two hundred and thirty thousand square miles, she now has
but sixty thousand, and her European population of twenty
millions has been reduced to five. This, probably, is but the
beginning of the end. The Turk, by nature and religion, be-
longs not to Europe, but to Asia ; and when sufficient unanimity
is found among the jealous European nations to insure united
action, to Asia will the Sultan and his evil government depart.
Such thoughts recurred to me with special force, as, on a
recent visit to the Bosporus, I saw again the form of fair



Stamboul, stretched out in indolent repose, like ancient
Rome, upon her seven hills. For, whether it be Russia,
Austria, Germany, England, or a joint protectorate of
nations, some Christian power must ere long occupy this site,
and lift it to the rank designed for it by destiny, that of the
immortal Queen of the East, throned on the Eden of the
world, and holding as a sceptre in her hand the Golden Horn.
Already the air is tremulous with coming change. Aside
from what may soon transpire here in politics through the
astonishing diplomacy of Russia, many material improve-
ments of great value have been planned. A railway has been
partially surveyed, which is to extend from Constantino-
ple east and south down the valley of the Euphrates, and
which will open a direct route by rail from Paris through to
Persia. With such facilities for commerce on the land, joined
to her natural advantages by sea, under a liberal and pro-
gressive gov-
ernment, what
boundless pos-
sibilities await

Filled with
such dreams of
ple's future, I
stepped one af-
ternoon upon a
steamer bound
for Italy, and
sailed out southward on the Sea of Marmora. The sun was
sinking fast behind the Moslem minarets. To me the city of
the Bosporus had never seemed so beautiful. In such a
light her evil qualities all vanished ; her degradation disap-
peared. She stood transfigured in the sunset of a brilliant




past and in the dawn of a more brilliant future. For Con-
stantinople has a future. She never can revert to impotence,
like Ephesus and Palmyra. Her peerless site makes such a
fate impossible. Though built upon the ashes of dead
empires, she nevertheless survives them all, and, centuries
hence, will no doubt smile as magically as she does to-day in
her eternal youth. No, while the world shall last, the Sover-
eign of the Black Sea and the Marmora can never be
dethroned, for God Himself has set upon her brow the seal
of immortality.


PALESTINE has an area only a little larger than the
State of Massachusetts, while Russia occupies one-
seventh of the habitable globe; yet in the scales of
intellectual and moral value the little province of Judaea out-
weighs beyond comparison the empire of the Czar. There
was a time when, even from a material point of view, Syria
could not be despised. Rome counted it her richest prov-
ince. One of the choicest gifts which Antony bestowed on
Cleopatra was the magnificent Palm Grove on the plain of
Jericho, of which at present not a trace remains. Even



to-day, with proper irrigation, some districts of the Holy
Land could offer to the Syrian sun as splendid fields of grain
as ever fringed the Nile with green and gold. But man's
envy of the beauty and fertility of Palestine produced its ruin.
Lying midway between Assyria and Egypt, and bordered
on the east by deserts swarming with nomadic warriors, this


land has lain for ages like a beautiful slave in the market-
place, contended for by wrangling rivals. All the great
powers of antiquity, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, Egypt,
and Arabia, have in turn possessed it ; and billows of destruc-
tive conquest have rolled over it like tidal-waves, wrecking its
architectural glories, and sweeping much of its historic
splendor into oblivion.

Association with the past, therefore, is everything in Pal-
estine. Without that charm, of all the countries in the world
it is perhaps the least attractive. But invoke the aid of mem-


ory and imagination here, and its once fertile plains will be
adorned with splendid cities, while over its historic landscapes
will be hung a veil of romance. Summon from its hills the
echoes of the past, and every stone will seem a monument and
every ruined wall a page of history.

The usual approach to Palestine, it must be said, is not
romantic. It was early in the morning when the steamer
which had brought us from Port Said, in Egypt, halted before
that celebrated seaport of the Holy Land, now called Jaffa,
but known in ancient times as Joppa. The city rises almost
perpendicularly from the sea, and if that sea be rough, no
traveler will forget his landing there ; for, although one of the
oldest cities in the world, Jaffa has as yet no harbor, and
half a mile from shore, passengers are lowered from the
steamer into little boats, manned by gesticulating, howling
natives. These boats are then with difficulty guided through
a semi-circular belt of rocks, some of which lift their savage
tusks above the waves, while others lurk below the surface,
ready to tear the keel from any vessel that encounters them.
To one of these rocks, according to mythology, Andromeda
was chained, until released by her deliverer, Perseus.

We found the surf which beat upon these reefs even more
violent than our boatmen. There was continual danger of
capsizing, a fate which, just at this particular place, appeared



especially uninviting, since here it was that Jonah, when
ejected from the ship, is said to have been swallowed by
the whale. The previous stormy night, however, had so

appealed to
everything with-
in us that we
gladly ran all
risks, and even
Jonah's brief
seclusion in the
camera obscura
he was forced to
occupy, seemed
not much worse
than what we
had endu red
while in our lit-



At last the ordeal was over, and we found ourselves a
trifle pale from our exciting advent through the breakers
within a market-place abounding in all kinds of fish and
fruits, including the unrivaled "Jaffa Oranges." Among
the traders' booths and a variety of primitive vehicles moved
representatives of half a dozen different nationalities. Never
again shall I be heartless enough to say of my worst enemy
"I wish he were in Joppa." Life is too short for such
severity. I still recall that walk to our hotel, when, hollow-
hearted from a night of sea-sickness, and moist and mucilag-
inous from the spray that had dashed over us in the boats,
we picked our way through mud and filth, now dodging
to avoid a donkey, now almost rubbing noses with a camel,
and ever and anon inhaling odors which proved that, even
in this land of sanctity, "cleanliness is" not always "next
to godliness."



It was in Joppa that Dorcas lived, the good woman who
was so skilful with her needle; but judging from the ragged
clothing of the people here, she has had no successors. It
would be hard to find a place where Dorcas Societies are
more needed than in Jaffa.

Nor were the faces that we saw around us calculated to com-
mand either our confidence or admiration. Two men who
were grinding corn between flat stones looked more like anthro-
poid apes than human beings. One appeared decidedly sad,
the other jovial, like the familiar portraits of babies "before
and after using Pitcher's Castoria." The first possessed a
face as thickly lined with wrinkles as a piece of corrugated iron,
and we felt sure that in a storm the rain must run in regular
channels down his cheeks; while his companion's countenance
wore a smile which cut his features into two black hemi-
spheres, leaving his curly beard to wag beneath his chin like a
small shopping-bag of Astrachan fur. Two other character-
istic specimens of humanity were lounging on the steps of
the "Twelve Tribes' Hotel." One was a Greek, the other
(several shades
darker in com-
plexion) was an
Arab. Both
were so fanci-
fully dressed,
that a new-
comer might
suppose them
to be singers in
a comic opera.
Put Francis
Wilson in the streets of Jaffa, wearing his make-up as the
" Merry Monarch," or the "Oolah," and he would seem
to a tourist just landed there a sight no stranger than most



of the eight thousand souls that
constitute the population of this
Syrian seaport.

Yet the historical associations
of Jaffa render it worthy of re-
spectful interest. For ages it has
been the ocean-gateway to Jeru-
salem. To its portals, in King
Solomon's time, was brought the
wealth of Tyre and Sidon; and on

the very waves through which our boats had struggled to the

land, floated, three thousand years ago, the famous cedars of

Mount Lebanon, sent by a Syrian monarch for the Hebrew

temple. Jaffa has been possessed successively by Jews,

Phoenicians, Romans, Moslems, and

Crusaders, and even the first Napo-
leon left here dark traces of his path

of conquest; while, century after

century, pilgrims from every quar-
ter of the globe have made their

way through this old war-scathed

city toward the Holy Sepulchre.
The place in Jaffa most visited

by these pilgrims is the reputed

house of Simon the Tanner. There

are, it is true, two other houses

which dispute this claim, but this,

for some cause, is the one exhibited

by the guides, and thus a handsome

revenue rewards its owner; for, when

properly recompensed, he graciously

conducts all visitors to the flat roof

on which Saint Peter is alleged to

have had that dream which warned





him to regard
no people as
unclean, but to
proclaim his
message of good
tidings to the
world at large,
not merely to
the Jew, but also
to the Gentile.
There is, of
course, little
probability that
this is really the
house where

Peter lodged nineteen centuries ago, though possibly the orig-

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Online LibraryJohn L. (John Lawson) StoddardJohn L. Stoddard's lectures : illustrated and embellished with views of the world's famous places and people, being the identical discourses delivered during the past eighteen years under the title of the Stoddard lectures (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 12)