GENERAL VIEW OF THE MANNERS, ARTS, AND GOVERNMENT OF THE TURKS
National character.—Conduct compared with that of the Romans; —and of the Arabs.—Foreign learning and arts adopted and imitated.—The Ottoman sultans patrons of learning.—Estent and imperfection of Turkish knowledge.—Language.—Literature.—Printing.—Husbandry and productions.--Manufactures.---Architecture.—Sculpture.— Painting.— Chronology. —Geography.—Astrology.—Medicine.--Surgery.—Navigation.—Commerce.—Roads and travelling.— Couriers.—Abuse of power.—Evils of despotism,—Practicability of improvement.
1 THE character of the Turks, as it has been , observed in different points of view, has either been extolled as a pattern for imitation, or reprobated as an object of abhorrence. We have been invited to emulate their military virtues, and to copy them in their administration of justice ; we have also been called 2 upon to detest their undistinguishing severity, and to ridicule their efforts for opposing their enemies.. Their government has been envied by Christian monarchs, as pursuing its object with the fewest deviations; and it has been decried by philosophers, as the exercise of unorganized power.
The genius of a people, and the spirit of their institutions, are best learned from the study of their history ; and the annals of the Ottoman nation represent this horde of Tartars issuing from the deep forests which skirt the Caucasus, impelled by their native turbuIence and love of war; inflamed with the thirst of universal conquest by the precepts of their religion ; terrible to their neighbours, but restrained in their domestic excesses by veneration for the law, which enforces reverence for the state, though it fail in insuring respect for the monarch.. For amidst the most outrageous exertions of violence against individuals, the sovereign power, the rights of the military and the great body of the people have always been sacred. The maxims. of Turkish government, like those of more polished nations, are rather the dictates of caprice than the deductions of reason; and the soil of the most fertile countries in the 3 World, wetted with the tears and the blood of the inhabitants, reproaches the legislators with their barbarity and their ignorance.
To describe with impartiality a people among whom every thing is contradictory to our usages, though not perhaps more, repugnant to reason, requires a superiority to prejudice, a sobriety of observation, and a patience of inquiry, which few travellers possess. In the scarcity of information we have not hesitated to receive, as the authentic history of an illustrious nation, anecdotes collected by chance, assertions unsupported by evidence, and facts perverted by design.1
The national character of the Turks is a composition of contradictory qualities. We find them brave and pusillanimous ; gentle and ferocious; resolute and inconstant; active and indolent; passing from devotion to obscenity, from the rigor of morality to the grossness of sense ; at once delicate and coarse ; fastidiously abstemious and indiscriminately indulgent. The great are alternately haughty and humble ; arrogant and cringing; liberal and sordid : and in general it must be confessed, that the qualities, which least deserve our approbation, are the most predominant. On comparing their limited acquirements with the learning of the Christian nations of Europe, we are surprised at their ignorance : but we must allow that they have just and clear ideas of whatever falls within the contracted sphere of their observation. What would become of the other nations of Europe, if, in imitation of the Turkish government, the highest offices in the state were filled by men taken from the lowest rank in society, and unprepared by education or habit to discharge their important duties2?
1 consider the Chevalier D'Ohsson as a native historian; for he is an Armenian, born in Turkey, and a tributary subject of the Porte. His general description of the Ottoman empire, of which the religious code is the only part yet published, gives a correct account of the ceremonies and customs of the Turkish nation. But their morality, it must be allowed, is in many in-stances represented rather as it ought to be in conformity with their religious precepts, than as it is actually found to exist. The passages of the koran inculcating the fundamental virtues of men in society, because they are continually in the mouths of the Turks, are asserted by D'Ohsson to be deeply engraven on their hearts, and so to regulate their conduct, as to make them the most humane and the most charitable of all the people of the earth. (Tableau General de 1'empire Ottoman, t. iv, p. 302.) Foreigners indeed run into the opposite extreme, and describe them as universally savage and barbarous, " Monstrum nulla virtute redemptum A vitiis," on account of the cruelties and excesses committed by the soldiery is time of war. 2Leunclavius (procem. de prxsenti rerum Turcicarum statu) says, " Est in hisce barbaris pudenda quxdani minim barbara, tam ex usu, quam memoria rerun comparata;"
5 The Romans, when they had subdued the states of Greece, were not insensible to the charms of Grecian literature ; and the hither— mans, to unconquered warriors confessed the superior force of science and of art. The Romans were already illustrious in domestic and military virtues, renowned for the gravity of their manners and the severity of their practical morality : their republic was founded on law, and was rich with the spoils of conquered nations, though temperate in the use of them ; and if the citizens disregarded the productions of elegance and taste, it was less from ignorance of their value, than from observing in other nations their fortuitous connection with effeminacy and vice. The Turks, though, previously to their emigration, they must have possessed, in common with other savage nations, a probity natural to their simple modes of life and the absence of temptation, yet suddenly becoming masters of some of the richest countries of the earth, they soon rioted in enjoyment with the keenness of newly excited appetite. If the adoption of a common religion promoted intercourse between them and the inhabitants of the kingdom of Persia, the profession of jarring and mutually intolerant opinions prevented communication with the Christian subjects of the Eastern empire; and the knowledge which the Greeks possessed was beheld by the conquerors with the same con-tempt as their persons. They conquered to inherit; but they knew no honourable means of subsistence besides arms, and left to slaves and cowards the cultivation of the earth and the practice of the arts. The indefinite extension of their empire, and the universal propagation of their faith, were the avowed objects of their warfare; and they had consequently a sufficient number of enemies to exercise their courage. The intervals of peace were the seasons of unrestrained indulgence; but these were too frequently interrupted to allow them to sink into effeminacy : thus, they passed from idleness to rapine, and, under different circumstances, they alternately exhibited the ferociousness of barbarian courage, and the vices of luxury.
6 The conduct of the Turks has also been Contrasted with that of the Arabs, who, after extending their conquests to the western boundaries of Europe and Africa, cultivated the sciences with success, and preserved a ray of literature, which was almost extinguished among Christian nations. But the Arabs, long before the age of Mahomet, were a polished and learned nation; and the attention which they paid to science, when they rested from their conquests, was merely the resumption of their ancient habits.
7 The intermarriages between the Moors and the Christian women, which it is sair Atinanzor encouraged in Spain, have, with much gallantry and ingenuity, been regarded as the cause of that taste for literature which distinguished the Arabs of the eighth century3; but as the same taste prevailed in all the conquests of the Moors throughout the three divisions of the ancient continent, and as their acquirements in literature kept pace with the progress of their arms, it may be doubted, whether it be not more just to attribute the invention of algebra and the improvement of medicine, as well as the establishment of colleges in Arabia, Syria, Persia, 8 Africa, and Spain, where the sciences were s5 successfully cultivated, rather to the refine-merit of the court of Baghdad, and the encouragement which learning received from the Caliphs, than to the connubial happiness which the Spanish ladies conferred on their unchristian husbands 4. The Turks indeed cannot be accused of having neglected these extraordinary aids of science ; for, after the siege of Nice, when the Grecian ladies, in the presence of Sultan Orkhan, bewailed the loss of their husbands, the generous conquerer, appointed honourable successors from among 'tie officers of his court and army, and the grateful widows spread the fame of his humanity over the neighbouring regions5.
3 Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 14.
The peculiar ferocity of the Turks has been rashly attributed to the arrogant and barbarous dictates of their religion. The leading features of the Mahometan religion are, however, very much misrepresented by such expressions. Mahomet not only permitted, 9 but advised, his followers, both male and female, to apply themselves to learning. He even seems to have considered its acquisition as the performance of a religious6 duty, for among his sayings, which were preserved by his companions, is this remarkable one, that the ink of the learned, and the blood of the martyrs are of equal value in heaven." The historian D'Ohsson, who had at least as good an opportunity of knowing the true character of the Turks as any other writer, says, that the humanity, the beneficence, and the hospitality, which, during so many ages, have been the characteristic distinction of the nations, which are subject to the law of Islamism, are the necessary consequence of the precepts of the koran7 ; and though, from a ridiculous opinion, which still prevails in Europe, that ignorance is the groundwork of Mahometanism, we persist in considering the Turks as rude and savage, not only unacquainted with the advantages of learning, but even avowedly persecuting it in obedience to the precepts of their religion ; yet we cannot deny that the Arabs, a people equally favoured 10 by both Minervas, professed the same religion, and probably with more ardent zeal, as new converts, and with stronger attachment, from the circumstance of its being first propagated in their own country. We know the Persians to have been, from remote antiquity, a polite and ingenious people ; and we find, that as soon as they had recovered from the first shock of the Mahometan arms, and had embraced the religion of their conquerors, they followed their natural bent, and resumed their former studies, which were chiefly poetry and the improvement of their language. The introduction of the Mahometan religion into India did not diminish in any degree the reputation of that wise and inventive nation. Even the Tartarian princes, and chiefly Tamerlane who was a patron of the poet Hafez, were so far from discouraging polite letters, like the Goths and Huns, that while they adopted the religion and the language of the conquered country, they promoted the fine arts with a boundless munificence8. " This prejudice against the Turks, absurd as it may seem, is of very ancient growth : it was first brought into Europe at 11 that memorable period when letters began to revive in the West, and has continued to this day without any diminution. It was the fashion of that age to look upon every person as barbarous who did not study the philosophy of the old academy ; and because the Turks had driven the Greeks from their country, it was immediately concluded, that they persecuted even the language, and learning of that nation9."
4 See note A. at the end of the volume.
5Cantemir, p. 26. I may also instance the conduct of Sultan Orkhan himself, who married the daughter of the Byzantine emperor, and that of his son Murad, who married the daughter of the prince of Servia. See Mignot, Hist. Ottom. t. xy j. 110, 118.
6See D'llerbelot bibliothcque Orientale, roc. elm, p. 312.
7See Tab. Gen. t. iv, p. 301.
8See Hist. of the Persian language, by Sir William Jones: `Vorks, V. ii, p. 325.
9 See prefatory discourse to an essay on the history of the Turks, by Sir William Jones, in the appendix to his memoirs published by Lord Teignmouth, p.607.—Sir William Jones's conjecture as to the origin of this prejudice, (which is also suggested by D'Herbelot,) is strengthened by the testimony of Sir John Mandevil, whose travels were undertaken in the century preceding the conquest of Constantinople; at which time no opinion was prevalent in Europe, that the pursuit of knowledge was restrained by the precepts of the Mahometan religion. Man-devil served in the army of the Saracen sultan of Egypt, with whom he enjoyed such intimacy, as frequently to be admitted to private and familiar conversation. On one occasion the sultan pronounced a severe, but, in Mandevil's opinion, a just, censure on the civil and ecclesiastical government, and the manners of Europe at that period. The traveller was surprised at the ex-tent and accuracy of the sultan's information, and naturally inquired whence he could have obtained it.—" Domine, salva reverentia, qualiter potestis ita plane hoc noscere? De hominibus (ait) meis interdum mitto ad modum mercatorum per terraset regiones Christianorum, cum balsamo, gemmis, sericis, ac aromatibus, ac per illos singula exploro, tam de statu imperatoris, ac pontificum principum ac sacerdotum, quam pralatorpm, nec non aquora, provincial ac distinctions earum. Igitur peracta collocutione nostra satis producta, egressos principes in eameram revocavit, ex quibus quatuor de majoribus juxta nož advocans, fecit eos expresse ac &bite, per singulas divisiones in lingua gallicana distinguere per partes, et singularum nomina partium, omnem regionem terra Anglia, ac alias Christianorum terras multas, ac si inter nostros fuissent nati, vel niulto tempore eonversati. Nam et ipsum soldanum audivi cum cis bene et directe loquentep idioma Francorum."—Mandevil, ap. Hakluyt. cap. 23, p. 45. An instance of similar conduct is recorded by Timour in his Its, atitutes.
12 The antiquity of the Arabic language, and its superiority to all others in copiousness and elegance, have been demonstrated by men of the greatest erudition among Europeans ; some of whom have even thought, that if the works of Arabian writers were alone preserved in the otherwise universal destruction of literature, every kind of useful learning might thence be sufficiently restored. Of this opinion were Clenardus, Postellus, and Scaliger. Nor will their opinion be censured with extraordinary severity by those who reflect upon the progress which the Arabians have made iii almost every department of literature. The excellence of the Arabic language is confessed by all who are able to comprehend its copiousness and extent, the precision of its expressions, and the nice distinctions of its meanings. Some idea may be formed of its 13 richness from the testimony of Pocock, who tells us, that to enumerate and define the diversified appellations of a single idea or object would, in some instances, furnish matter for a volume : and in corroboration of his assertion may be cited a learned grammarian, Ibn Chalevaih, who composed a whole chapter on the names of a lion, which are five hundred, and another on those of a serpent, which are two hundred. Firuzabad mentions his having written a book on the names and properties of honey, and says, that he had not completed his task, though he had enumerated upwards of eighty. The same author asserts, that there are in Arabic a thousand distinct names for a sword.
The Arabic language had reached this state of improvement rather by use than by any established method. Its historians relate, that it was not subjected to grammatical rules until the first century of the hegira, when the Caliph All, son of Abu Taleb, the fifth in order of succession, a prince equal in virtues and accomplishments (according to Reiskius10) to any whom Rome can exhibit, appointed Abul Kswed El Dull to compose a 14 grammar, in order to prevent the language from becoming corrupted in consequence of its wide diffusion among nations which professed the religion of the koran. The Arabic dictionary was compiled in the first century of the hegira, and was gradually improved by succeeding lexicographers, particularly by Firuzabad, who has deservedly acquired the highest reputation by the excellence of the plan and the ability of the execution. The words are carefully deduced from their origin, and not only are their various significations accurately described, and their uses illustrated by passages from the best authors, but the nature and properties of the things themselves are investigated into and explained, after the manner of an encyclopedia. When thus in the very infancy of Islamism, while the propagation of its doctrines and the increase of their empire were the chief cares of the successors of Mahomet, the rules of the Arabic language were so elaborately discussed, and the meanings of its words so accurately defined, is it to be wondered, that a superstructure of knowledge should be erected on foundations so firmly established, and that the value of learning should be acknowledged throughout the Mahometan world, as 15 soon as foreign conquest had secured internal tranquillity ?
10In dissertatione de principibus Mohammedans, qui aut ab amore literarum ab ansore literarunt et literatorum, claruerunt, clatileruat. Lipsize 1746.14 grammar, in order to prevent the language from becoming corrupted in consequence of its wide diffusion among nations which professed the religion of the koran. The Arabic dictionary was compiled in the first century of the hegira, and was gradually improved by succeeding lexicographers, particularly by Firuzabad, who has deservedly acquired the highest reputation by the excellence of the plan and the ability of the execution. The words are carefully deduced from their origin, and not only are their various significations accurately described, and their uses illustrated by passages from the best authors, but the nature and properties of the things themselves are investigated into and explained, after the manner of an encyclopaedia. When thus in the very infancy of islamism, while the propagation of its doctrines and the increase of their empire were the chief cares of the successors of Mahomet, the rules of the Arabic language were so elaborately discussed, and the meanings of its words so accurately defined, is it to be wondered, that a superstructure of knowledge should be erected on foundations so firmly established, and that the value of learning should be acknowledged throughout the Mahometan world, as
The reign of Abulgiafar Almansur, the second caliph of the family of the Abassides, was the epoch not only of the restoration of Arabic learning, but of a new direction and wider extension in the pursuits of the learned11. The seventh caliph, Abd'ullah Almansur, son of Haroun el Raschid, perfected the plan which his predecessors had described. This illustrious protector of the sciences and patron of learned men, in obedience to the precept of Mahon-let, who orders his disciples to seek learning though it be in China, dispatched his ambassadors to foreign courts, and his emissaries to distant countries, for the purpose of collecting, from whatever source and at what-ever expense, the treasures of learning and philosophy which were dispersed, or hoarded up, in Persia, Chaldala, Armenia, Greece, Syria, and Egypt. From so vast a collection whatever was judged to be useful was not only translated into Arabic, under the care of the most learned of his doctors, but illustrated and commented upon by them ; 16 so that whatever learning or philosophy the Greeks possessed, or whatever discoveries had been made in knowledge by foreign nations, were transfused by the Arabs into their own language, and thus became naturalized among them. Under such encouragement, and with such ample means of gratifying the thirst after knowledge, learning necessarily flourished; and Erpenius asserts, that Athens itself could scarcely boast of having possessed, at orLe time, more eminent scholars, in the department either of the elegant or severer sciences, than Arabia, in his time, could. produce. It is indeed true, that the application of the Arabs to general learning declined with the power of their caliphs, and though the works of preceding authors were preserved, the study of them was, in a great degree, discontinued ; so that, in process of time, few books were valued or understood except those which relate to medicine or jurisprudence.
11Abulfaragius in hist. dynast.—Leo Afer, in libello de viris yuibusdam. illustribus spud Arabes, iu biblio. Grxca Joannis Alberti Fabricii, lib. 6, cap. 9.
Persia, whose tranquillity was overturned., whose ancient language and literature were confounded and obliterated, by the irruptions of the Arabs, and the introduction of the Arabic language together with the religion of Nahomet, did not recover from the disorders, which were occasioned by the evils 17 of conquest, till the age of Mamum, when the governors of the Persian provinces, shaking off the yoke of the caliphs, established new dynasties. The Persian language awed its restoration to the poets, who, by correcting its irregularities and enriching it with the treasures of the Arabic, have brought it to its present state of perfection. Scientific pursuits did not accord with the lively genius of Persia, so much as poetry. Its poets were indeed so numerous, that, according to Reviczki12, there is not a province which cannot boast of having given birth to some illustrious poet; but the district of Fars, or Persia proper, which gave its name to the whole kingdom, was unequalled in the number of its native poets, and the unrivalled excellency of their performances. The genius of the Persians was not, however, wholly employed in so seductive a study : philosophy and the sciences obtained some share of their attention. Even in the reign of Chosroes, one of the kings of Persia before the age of Islamism13, the writings of Plato and Aristotle were made familiar to the Persians ; and Mohammed, the son of Mahmud, published a 18 comprehensive, scientific work, in which the principles of an hundred and twenty liberal arts and sciences were explained.
12 In specirn. Poes. Pers. Vindobonae, 1711. 13Agatia. 1.2.
The Turks, possessed of Arabian and Persian literature, even at so early a period as that of their initiation into the doctrines of Mahometanism,- do not perhaps deserve severe reproach for having overlooked, on their conquest of the eastern empire, the chaster beauties of Greek and Roman learning, which were concealed from their research by the obscurity of an unknown language. They indeed rejected, as useless, the dogmatical knowledge on which the Greeks valued themselves : but, unless we suppose them to have been previously instructed, they learned all that the Greeks could teach them of agriculture, of navigation, of mechanics, and of those arts which are subservient to . the purposes of utility, or even of luxury.
The destruction of the ancient monuments of art is not to be imputed to the Turks. Soliman, says Leunclavius, paused at Troas, and admired the remains of stately edifices which had been destroyed by the irruption of the Goths14. Preceding irruptions had in 19 like manner annihilated the celebrated labours of Phidias and Praxiteles ; and the Turks are blameable only for having completed the work of destruction, by employing the fragments of ancient buildings in modern edifices, or for common purposes.
The Turks are reproached have, not having imitated the architecture of ancient Greece, and with not having corrected one fault, or conceived any idea of proportion, from the perfect models which they have daily before their eyes15. But a slight recollection of history must convince us, that in the capital the Turks could have found no remains of ancient Greek architecture. They have however copied the most perfect model existing there, and have built all their principal mosques in close imitation of the cathedral of Sancta Sophia16. Statuary and painting, it 20 is true, are discouraged by the spirit of their religion ; and to their intemperate zeal we must attribute the destruction, or. defacing, of all the monuments of ancient art which the Greek emperors had collected for the ornament of the metropolis, which had been spared by the rage of faction and the pillage of the crusaders.17
14 Leunclavius, Hiet. Musul. Turc. lib. iv, p. 206. edit. 1591, Gibbon's Rom. Hist. v.i, chap. 10, p. 431.
15Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 208. 16" Ad hujus templi formam omnia fere Turcarum templa stint constructa." (Bu,bequii Epist. i, p. 27.) " If they have fine mosques, it is because they had a fine model before their eyes, the church of Sancta Sophia." (Tournefort, V. ii, p. 181.) " There are even mosques, particularly those of Sultan Ahmed in the Hippodrome, and of Shahzade, which are of a lighter construction than Sancta Sophia; and though built on the plan of that ancient Greek church, have surpassed their madel. This model, indeed, is far from being a msster-piece." (De .Ott, V. i, p. 228.)
Though war and conquest were the chief occupations of the Ottomans, the early sultans do not appear to have been wholly insensible to the advantages of learning. Sultan Orkhan, in the year thirteen hundred and thirty-six of the Christian sera, founded an academy at Brusa, which became so illustrious by the learning of its professors, that students, even from Arabia and Persia, did not disdain to become the disciples of the 21 Othmanidae18. It is remarked by their own historians, that the monarchs of this dynasty, from Osman its founder to Ahmed the First, though they did not all equally illustrate their reigns by their achievements and their virtues, yet were all distinguished by their erudition, and the encouragement which they gave to learning19. The Augustan age of Turkish literature was the reign of Soliman, surnamed the Lawgiver, the great-grandson of Mahomet the Second whose victories terminated the Roman empire. This prince also was a protector of the Persian poets. Under his patronage was composed the poem on the loves of Joseph and Zelihka, the work of Noureddinn Jami, which is considered by competent judges of oriental literature to be the finest composition extant in the East, and scarcely inferior to the most polished productions of Europe. The conqueror of . Constantinople was renowned among the nations of the East for his piety, his learning, his knowledge of foreign languages, and his acquirements in general science It is recorded in the history of his life, that, when 22 he entered the deserted palace of the last of the Caesars, he repeated an elegant and appropriate Persian distich on the instability of human grandeur.
17" On sait que long-temps avant la chute du bas-empire, les fureurs des Iconoclastes, soutenues par le fanatisme de Leon l'Isauricn, et du prince Theophile, avoient pone les coups les plus funestes a is peinture et a la sculpture." (Tab. Gen. t, iv, p. 457.) A minute and curious description of the ancient statues destroyed by the crusaders, when they took and pillaged Constantinople in the year 1204, is given by Nicetas, an historian who held several important offices in the court of the Greek emperor at the time. (Nicet. ap. Fabricii Bib. Gra:e. V. vi, p, 405. See also Gibbon's Roman History, V. xi, p. 239.) 18Cantemir, p. 26. 19 Tab. Gen. t. ii, p. 478.
"Perde dary mikuried ber kysr Kaisar ankebut ; " Bumy neubet mizened her kunbeti Efrasiab." The spider holds the veil in the palace of Ciesar ; The owl stands sentinel on the watch-tower of Efrasiab20."
Christian writers have, notwithstanding, represented him as cruel, perfidious, and bloody ; without faith, humanity, or religion ; and considering piety and justice as virtues belonging to the vulgar. He is accused of having defaced, with a single stroke of his battle-axe, in proof of his 23 extraordinary strength, an ancient monument, which is still to be seen in the Hippodrome of Constantinople ; a brazen column, formed by three serpents twisted spirally, whose heads, spreading on the sides, composed a kind of capital. It is supposed to have been brought from Delphi, where it supported the famous golden tripod which the Greeks, after the battle of Platwa, found in the camp of Mardonius21. Nor is this the most serious accusation which is alleged against Mahomet the Second, on the credit of popular and 24 uncertain tradition, and in defiance of the testimony of contemporary historians. His victory over the Greeks, and the sack of their capital, are said to have been stained with the commission of all the crimes which unbridled cruelty could have suggested.
20Cantemir, p. 102, note 16.. Sir William Jones translated these lines before he was acquainted with the customs of eastern courts, or he would have preserved in his translation the characteristic }figures which constitute the chief beauty of the original. Perde is the curtain which is spread before the throne, or at the entrance of the hall of state, which the pages draw aside when strangers are admitted to all audience: but here the office of chamberlain is assigned to the spider. Neubet, the martial music, which from the turrets of the imperial residence announces the evening re-treat, is replaced by the screechings of the owl. (See Tab. Gen. t. iii, p. 49, for the introduction of the neubet by L'"rtogrul, father of Osman the First, at that time governor of Angora.) 21See Gibbon, Rom. Kist. v. xii, p. 239, " The three en-twisted bodies only of the serpents now remain; one of the heads was broken off by Mahomet the Second." Dallaway, Constantinople ancient and modern, p.168. It is curious that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in her account of this column, should describe the serpents as, at that time, with their mouths gaping ;" (V. ii, p. 2.50.) particularly as Tournefort, who preceded her ladyship in his visit to Constantinople, expressly says, " that the remaining two heads were taken away in 1700." (Vol. ii, p. 196.) Fie accuses Sultan Murad of having broken off the first head. Lord Sandwich says (p. 128.), that " Sultan Amurath, one day passing this way, to make an experiment of the strength of his arm, beat off the head of pne of the serpents with his topouz, after which his followers, in imitation of their sovereign, destroyed the remaining two." From these examples it may be seen, how little the traditions of Constantinople are deserving of credit ; and they may serve to guide our judgment, in determining upon other crharges which rest upon similar testimony.
Mr. Eton, in his historical account of the siege and taking of Constantinople, says, that the Greeks who fled for safety to the church of Sancta Sophia were all slain, and the church was converted into a stable. Three long days and three long nights the air was shaken with the cries of the vanquished. The sultan heard it in his camp, and it lulled him to sleep. The dogs ran into the fields howling with compassion, or leaped into the sea." After three days the sultan entered the city. He made a sumptuous feast for his pashas and officers in the holy temple of Sancta Sophia ; and as he sat banqueting he caused to be killed, for his diversion and that of his guests, great numbers of his prisoners of the first distinction for birth, eminence and learning, among whom were many of the late emperor's relations ; and these feasts he repeated daily, till he had destroyed all the Grecian, nobility, priests, and persons of learning who 25 had fallen into his hands, of both sexes, and of all ages22.
Cantemir, the Turkish historian, was ignorant of the commission of these horrible enormities : and even Gibbon had not the advantage of consulting the documents, whence Mr. Eton has collected the materials for so pathetic a picture. I must confess however, that the effect of this history is somewhat weakened by the knowledge we have, that the church of Sancta Sophia was converted into a mosque on the very day of the conquest of the city, and that, consequently, the sultan was not lulled to sleep during three days in his camp, while his soldiers were slaughtering the citizens ; that the church was not converted into a stable, or a wine-house ; and what is still more consolatory, that it needed no purification from pollution by human blood2324. It is indeed difficult to imagine, that a mind furnished like that of Mahomet the Second, which, in the midst of slaughter, and the exultation of victory, could pause from a generous feeling, at reflections se humiliating to imperial greatness, should either wantonly indulge in the unprovoked murder of his newly conquered subjects, or in the destruction and mutilation of the most venerable monuments of antiquity24.
22Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 145. 23 See Tab. Gen. t. iv, p. 589. Gibbon, v. xii, p. 240. 2 See Tab. Gen. t. ii, sec. 2, liv. i, chap. i. des purifications.26
A natural consequence of that love of learning which distinguished many of the Arabian caliphs and Mahometan potentates of different families, was the desire to diffuse and perpetuate knowledge by multiplying copies of the works of their most esteemed authors, and depositing their collections in public libraries, which they endowed with funds for the salary of the librarians and the support of the edifices. The example of these princes has been imitated by the Ottoman sultans, and by several of their grand vizirs. A medresse, or college for the education of students, and a kitab khans, or library, are considered as append-ages indispensably necessary to a janti, or 27 mosque of the first order. In the metropolis of the Turkish empire there are reckoned thirty-five public libraries, famous for the number of their scarce and valuable manuscripts ; in the least considerable of which the number of volumes exceeds a thousand. The books are written with great care on vellum paper; the text of each page is enclosed in an highly ornamented frame-work, and the beginning of each chapter or section is splendidly illuminated. Each volume, besides being bound in morocco leather, is preserved from the dust and worms by a leathern case, on the outside of which, as well as on the edges of the leaves of the work itself, the title is written in a large and legible character. All these libraries are open to the inspection of the public. There are, besides, within the walls of the seraglio, two libraries for the use of the imperial household, founded by Ahmed the Third, and Mustafa the Third, and enriched with books of their own acquisition, and that of all their successors, obtained by purchase, plunder, contribution, or confiscation.25
24 The memory of this cruel sultan, according to Tourneffort, continues to spread terror through the Seraglio ; and " the pages dare not enter the kitchen gardens, ever since Mahomet tke Second caused seven of them to be ript up, to discover who had eaten one of his cucumbers." (V. ii, p. 246.) Gibbop (V. xii, p. 184.) calls it a melon, and 'has fourteen pages. 25Tab. Gen. t. ii, pp. 488, 498. The public library founded under Mustafa the Third, by the vizir Raghib Pasha, is the most modern; and yet De Tott says, that before it there was no such tieing at Constantinople. (V. i, p. 146.)
28 The Abbe Sevin, who was sent by Lewis the Fifteenth into the Levant for the purpose of collecting manuscripts, was so little curious as to desist from making any inquiry into the state of these libraries, because some persons assured him, that Murad the Fourth had burned all the Greek manuscripts which they contained28. Other travellers, relying up-on assurances equally undeserving of credit, have asserted, that in them were preserved the ancient collections of the Greek emperors. But the Abbe Toderini, a learned Venetian, who occupied himself, during his residence in Turkey, exclusively, and successfully, with researches into the Turkish literature, pro-cured a catalogue of the books in the imperial library ; among which it appears, that there are indeed Greek and Latin manuscripts, but no trace of the lost decades of Livy, nor of such parts as are wanting to complete the works of other ancient authors27.26 Mem. de l'acad. des belles lettres, t. vii, p. 334. 27 Toderini, de la litterature des Turcs, t. ii, p. 49. Paris, 1789.
In thee public libraries at Constantinople 29 there are catalogues giving the title, and a short account of the subject, of each volume which they contain : but a more curious work is a general catalogue executed on the same plan, which comprehends, under the name of essami'y kutub, all the works in literature of any celebrity in the three learned languages of the country ; the subjects of which are, for the most part, theology, jurisprudence, moral philosophy, medicine, rhetoric, history, and poetry28.
If we call the Turks an illiterate people, it is not because learning is universally neglected by individuals : for, on the contrary, the ulema, or theological lawyers, undergo a long and laborious course of study ; the Turkish gentlemen are all taught certain necessary, and even ornamental, parts of learning ; and few children, at least in the capital, are left without some tincture of education29.
28 Tab. Gen. t. ii, p. 491. 29 The studies in the medrersh, or public colleges, are con-ducted with much order and method. `They are divided into tea classes under the common denomination of ilm, which signifies science or knowledge; that is, grammar, ilm-rarf; syntax, ilmnahhw ; logic, ilm-manntik; morals, ilm-adab; the science of allegories, (which is in the stead of rhetoric) i1m-meuny; theology, Um-he/am, or ilm-illahy; philosophy, iln-hikmeth; jurisprudence, ilrmfikihh ; the koran and its commentaries ilm- tefrir; the oral laws of the prophet, ilm-Nadirs. Most of the works in which these sciences are studied are written in the Arabic language, the knowledge of which is indispensably necessary, and can be learned only by a constant application for many years. The private studies of the children of the ,demd are conducted on the same plan as in the colleges: those, of persons of quality are confined to oriental history, and such, philosophy, as is in vogue in the Ottoman empire. (See Tab. Gen. t. ii, p. 467.)30 It must be acknowledged, however', that the objects of Turkish study the rhetoric and logic, the philosophy and metaphysics, of the dark ages, do in reality only remove men further from real knowledge. The instruments, without which the researches of the acutest natural philosopher would be imperfect, are either entirely unknown in Turkey, or known only as childish playthings to excite the admiration of ignorance, or to gratify a vain curiosity. The telescope, the microscope, the electrical machine, and other aids of science, are unknown as to their real uses. Even the compass is not universally employed in their navy, nor are its common purposes thoroughly understood. Need it then be observed, that navigation, astronomy, geography, agriculture, chemistry, and all the arts which have been, as it were, created anew since the grand discoveries of the two 31 last centuries, are either unknown, or practised only according to a vicious and antiquated routine.
The Turks possess, in their own language or in Arabic, the philosophy of Aristotle and the works of Plato, together with innumerable. treatises on astronomy and chemistry, as well as on astrology and alchymy30. But they have no books calculated to advance their progress in the arts, nor to teach them the rudiments of science: and a skill in jurisprudence, founded, not on reason and nature, but on positive and imperfect precept ; a knowledge of controversy, and the imaginary capacity of ascertaining with precision whether Abubelir, Omar, and Othman were impostors and robbers, or the true successors of the prophet ; the being able to determine whether it be necessary, on rising from bed, to wash the feet with water, or only to rub them with the bare hand ; though in Turkey they are thought to involve the dearest interests, yet attract from strangers as little respect, as the intricate and inexplicable difficulties which occupy the leisure and disturb the peace of our own domestic sectaries.
30Peyssonnel, response a M. de Volney, p. 14.
32 Elementary knowledge, so highly appreciated by their ancestors, was already lost to the Greeks before their necks had bowed to a barbarian yoke : and it requires historical testimony to convince us, that the descendants of the people, whom we respect as the inventors of all that is exquisite in the fine arts, could be guilty of so wide a deviation from the principles of taste, as we see in the design and execution of the paintings, the coinage, the sculpture, the architecture, the writings, and even the amusements, of the later Greeks. At the period of the con-quest of Constantinople elementary know-ledge had not revived in the west of Europe: in Arabia it had never existed. Whence then could the Turks have derived it ? They looked around for instruction ; but there was no one to teach them : and yet we reproach them for not having restored what the Greeks had shamefully suffered to perish31.
31 The Greek prince Cantemir tells us, (p. 99.) " We are not to imagine, with the generality of Christians, that Greece is so far sunk in barbarism, as not in these later ages to have pro. duced men little inferior to the most learned of her ancient sages:" and he proceeds to enumerate a long list of persons who flourished in his time, famous for their learning, doctors of great piety, preachers, divines, controvertists, and philosophers of all the old uncorrupted Greek sects; men, whose doubtful utility was bounded by their parishes, and whose names have not outlived their anniversaries. In his zeal for the vindication of the honour of modern greece, he gives an instance of the bathes, which outrivals even Blackmore. "The Greeks," said a Persian courtier to Sultan Murad, "who now obey your sceptre were once our lords, and I have this day found, they justly deserved that honour I had heard of their fame in our historians, but never happened to meet with any one of that nation worthy the character formerly given them. But it has been my fortune today to know a Greek, whom if the rest are like, that race was truly deserving as well of our empire as of your service. For though I am second to none among our countrymen in music, I am scarce worthy to be called the scholar of this Greek." (Cantemirk p.247.)
33 The government of the Turks has been accused of extinguishing the light of science, and forcing their subjects to decline in rational improvement and mechanical skill. But I doubt the truth of the assertion; and I do not hesitate to believe, that, with the single exception of Grecian literature, knowledge is as successfully cultivated and the rules of art as accurately observed, as on their first invasion of the metropolis, The minarets of Sancta Sophia, erected immediately after the conquest of Constantinople, are of less elegant construction than others of more modern date. The early imperial mosques, built by Greek architects, are in no respect superior to the alter ones; and men may at this day be found in Constantinople 34 capable of equalling whatever monument was erected by the lower Greek emperors. The Turks still possess whatever knowledge they once inherited : their patrimony is still unimpaired in their hands : nor are they averse from improvement. Their friendly reception of intelligent foreigners might be adduced as a 'proof of their docility ; and if the instructions which they have occasionally received from them have not produced their full effect, it is because the principle of the improvement introduced was never sufficiently explained : the work was left unfinished, and no successor was appointed in the school to continue the instruction.
The improved state of the mechanical arts in Christendom, where they are cherished and extended by the rapid communication of the discoveries of innumerable professors of science, makes us regard with contempt the condition of them in Turkey, where they are neither founded on principles, nor connected with each other, but appear merely as the fragments of a dilapidated system, while their practice is a servile imitation, rather than a process of art conducted by any intellectual rule. In a country which is destitute of theoretical .or speculative know ledge, 35 we look in vain for architects, for navigators, for mechanicians, for agriculturists. But it would be rash to presume an inferiority in their capacity from the imperfection of their knowledge ; or to conclude, that they are so besotted by ignorance as even to be vain of it, and because they possess not, that they therefore despise foreign improvements. Though, indeed, there be wanting the mind to guide, we must not think, that mental superiority would be despised ; though there be no judgment to direct their operations, we must not sup-pose, that such a director would be treated with neglect. The Turks, on the contrary, are deficient neither in capacity to comprehend instruction, nor in docility to adopt'-it. If we find a skilful mason, can we suppose, that he would execute the plans of genius with more difficulty than the rude conceptions of ignorant caprice? If the plough-man can draw out his furrow, in an uncurved line, for a quarter of a league, would he unwillingly pursue an improved system of husbandry?32 If the mariner have the courage and the skill to conduct his vessel through
32De Tott, v. iv, p. 118.36 the dangers of navigation by the mere in-formation of his senses, would he become less capable if his efforts were aided by principle, and directed by science ? If the mechanic, with a rude instrument, can fashion matter so as to answer useful purposes, would he relax in his ingenuity if the difficulties of labour were removed by better-adapted methods ? Their aptitude for improvement is unquestionable : the industry which can persevere through rugged paths beset with brambles, would move on with increased rapidity over a smooth and level road. Let it not then be said, that because the Turks believe in predestination33 they necessarily resist instruction ; nor let us suppose, that' because they find their way in the dark, they must necessarily become blind upon the approach of light.
Such has been, and still continues to be, the contrariety of opinion on this subject, from which however we must form our judgment as to the rank which the Ottomans
33" Perpetually heated with the fever of predestination, they despise whatever is not agreeable to the manners of their nation the necessary result of which is pride and ignorance." (De Tott. Preliminary Discourse.)37 hold in the scale of civilization, that it be-comes, not merely a matter of curious inquiry, but of indispensable necessity, to re-view the progress which they have made in the various branches of learning, to examine into the actual state of their literature, the theory and practice of the elegant and useful arts, and to survey the establishments existing among them for the improvement, the advantage, or the convenience, of life. Candour will perhaps compel us to acknowledge, that, though they be confessedly inferior to the Europeans in the severer sciences, which indeed have remained among them in the same state of infancy as among the Arabs from whom they received them, yet their literature is far from contemptible, their knowledge, though superficial, is general ; and though in every department of art or .of science there be much to improve, there is no one with which they are wholly unacquainted.
If there exist among the civilized nations of Christendom a sincere desire of introducing improvement into the institutions of the Turks, it is essential, that their prejudices be respected, however their errors may be la, rented. Let their religion and their customs 38 remain unchanged ; let them but be taught principles, in order to correct and methodize what they already know, and the great work of civilization is performed. If, on the contrary, the study of principles be neglected, or overlooked, in the eagerness to introduce civilization, it is to be apprehended, that, instead of attaining the object, we shall but see a second instance of the desire of stational improvement giving more development to vicious habits, than to the useful or liberal arts.
The Turkish language, considered in its greatest purity, unmixed with the Arabic or Persian, is only of secondary formation : it wants the essential characteristic of a primitive language, that of being intelligible in itself and reducible to its own simple elements. Its .expression is soft and musical, arising from the harmonious arrangement of the vowels, which are so modulated in the oblique cases and the other inflections, la to decline gradually according to,. a scale of proportions34. In its construction it is 39 artificial and laboured, and its transpositions are more remote from the natural order of ideas than even. Latin or German35. Its grammar 40 is combined with such art as to appear the result of a profound knowledge of the principles of general language, and seems formed rather from the reasonings of philosophers than the casual combinations of a rude and savage race36.
34 The radical syllables of a word, or those syllables which remainhar unchanged through all its inflections, are those alone in which the vowels are ever written. The vowels expressed in the inflections are dependent upon the radical vowel immediately anterior, with which they are made to accord, conformably to those fundamental maxims of harmony wonehich regulate the pronunciation of the Turkish language. This language admits of eight distinct vocal sounds, which may be expressed by the following letters of the French alphabet, a, e, r`, 4 o, it, ou, eu : their harmonic combinations take place in the relation of four to one or of two to one. Thus a, e, o, ou, relate to the vowel a ; and e, i, eu, u, to the vowel e ; a and e to the vowel e; o and ou to the vowel ou ; e and i to the vowel i ; eu aad u to the vowel u which the following examples will sufficiently explain : Zeman, time, Lech, winter; col, the arm, boulout, a cloud, have respectively in the dative case zcmana, kecha, cola, boafouta : e2, a house, kilid, a lock, guieuz, the eye, yuz, the face, have in the dative iv?, kiJidt, guieuz?, yuz?. In the accusative zeman and leech make zemane and Leche; col and holdout, colossi) and bouloutou ; ev and kilid, ?vi and kilidi ; guieuz and yuz, guicuxu and ruzu. This harmony of the vowels is observed not only in the declension of nouns and pronouns, but also in the conjugation of verbs, and in the postpositions : it is evident, that without an accurate knowledge of its rules, the reading or pronunciation of the Turkish language, must present only intricacies and difficulties. 35An example from familiar conversation will show the difficulty of Turkish construction : Sans guiel demeyen adca:in ardesera duchm?, Tibi, adesto, non dicentis hominis post (tergum) ne cadas. A general rule of construction is to place the word governed before the governing word ; the nominative at the beginning of a phrase, and the verb at the end; the adjective before the subs ctantive, and the oblique cases before the word on which they depend. 36 Sce Elemens de la Iangue Turque, par le pere Viguier, p. ix. Constantinople, 1790.
The Turkish language discriminates with great nicety between certain and positive knowledge, or only conjectural and unauthenticated information, concerning the circumstances of an event or an action. One of the tenses in the conjugation of their verbs supposes in the speaker an absolute and precise knowledge of the truth of his assertion, unrestricted in any of its relations by doubt or uncertainty : if, on the contrary, the knowledge of the fact be merely acquired from report, and though supported by testimony or its own probability, be not known to the speaker from the evidence of his own senses or experience, he -expresses, by a different inflection, the modification with which his report is to be received. I think it not unreasonable to presume from this peculiarity in their language, that the 41 primitive Turks felt the same reverence for truth as the Tartars and the Huns from whom they descended, and whose inviolable attachment to this fundamental virtue is so highly celebrated by historians37.
The common Turkish language, though sufficiently copious for the purposes of ordinary intercourse, is defective in terms of art, and expressions adapted to philosophical ideas.
The natural barrenness of their language was not, however, the only cause that the Turks borrowed so freely from the Arabians and Persians. When the religion and language of Mahomet were spread over the greatest part of Asia, it became a fashion for the poets of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Mauritania, and even of Tartary, to write in Arabic38. The Persians and Turks have reciprocally enriched and improved each other's language ; and as the Persian language was cultivated and spoken by the Ottoman sultans, so the princes of Persia, and especially the family of Sefi, adopted the Turkish, which still continues to be the language of their court. 39
37See Sir William Jones's discourse on the Tartars. Works, V. i, p. 65. 38 See Jones's Essay on the poetry of the Eastern nations. Works, V. iv, p. 538.42
The written Turkish language, from the mixture of unnaturalized exotics, necessarily exhibits the harshnesses of pedantry : but the language, as spoken in good company by men of learning, even by those accustomed to the study of the Persian and Arabian dialects, is free from those forced turns of expression which are admitted into, and even admired in, composition. Men of the greatest erudition, when conversing with their families or their friends, instead of those revolting difficulties which seem to indicate a barbarous idiom, not guided by rules or principles, adopt a language full of charms, whether considered as to the delicacy and nicety of its expressions, or the majestic fullness and regulated cadence. of its sounds. No language is indeed better suited for colloquial purposes ; but it is from the conversation of polished society alone, that a clear, just, and precise idea can be formed of the genius of the genuine Turkish language. The Turks, the Arabs, and the Persians use characters fundamentally the same to 43 represent their different languages ; but the mere knowledge of these common characters by no means enables the Arab or the Persian to pronounce, or to connect them together in a Turkish manuscript, if he be not previously instructed in the meaning of the terms of this latter language. The. continued mission of the points and stops ; a single, word of w,-hick the letters are separated with-put even any regard to the syllables ; several words of different or contradictory meaning united and confounded so as to appear but one word ; the vowels frequently suppress-,ed, or when written, not having a constant sound, or even constantly the power of a vowel ; the same character employed to ex-press consonants which have not the least analogy, and are perfectly distinct in their pronunciation :--such are the difficulties which embarrass and discourage the student in his first attempts to obtain a knowledge of Turkish letters : but the Turk, in reading his mother-tongue, or the stranger who has familiarized himself with the language of conversation, discovers readily, and almost without effort, the vowels which are omitted, fixes the variable pronunciation of the written vowels and the consonants, reunites a 44 termination which is often separated from the principal word, distinguishes the line of demarcation between several expressions which appear to be connected together, marks the different members of a period, though it be not divided by stops or points, and comprehends the whole arrangement of a discourse. On the contrary, when he peruses the more laboured compositions, which are enriched with pure Arabic or Persian words, and some-times even with whole sentences, he pauses not only to collect the meaning, but the true pronunciation, of the words : he feels the same difficulty which the Arabs and Persians experience in reading Turkish, and he hesitates and deliberates as he proceeds. The mere reading of the characters employed by these three nations pre-supposes therefore, without distinction of nations, an acquaintance with their respective idioms. 40
39 See Jones's History of the Persian language, V. ii, p. 32S. 40 The characters of the English alphabet are insufficient to express the various sounds and powers of Turkish vowels and consonants, which, though only twenty-eight in number, possess thirty-six distinct sounds. They may be sufficiently represented by means of the letters of the French alphabet, partly in conformity with the usual French orthography, and partly according to a conventional modification of them. The necessity for such an extension of their powers must be apparent when it is considered, how impossible it would be to mark, by any character known in Europe, the power of the letter air:, which Meninski attempts to explain by describing it as the bleating of a calf: " vox vituli matrem vocantis." In the Turkish alphabet there are five vowels, and of these, two only, elf and an, are always and without exception vowels; and so variable are their powers that troth of them are made to express no less than eight distinct sounds. Vav and ye, when employed as consonants, are like our v and y, but, as vowels, they are each susceptible of four distinct sounds. He sometimes expresses a or e and sometimes at or it. The consonants themselves are of so unfixed a nature, that the letter kef represents either k, g, gui, y, nasal n, or n.45 Mr. Eton says " it is astonishing that they have not perfected their alphabet :" but this reproach does not justly attach to the Turks ; they have- adopted the Arabian alphabet, which, for ages before the emigration of the Turkish nation, had been found sufficient for all the purposes of science and literature. The oriental scholar will exculpate the Turks from the charge of being farther removed from perfection in their alphabet than any other nation, and will not' expect from them an effort to improve it41.
41 See Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 212. I venture to pronounce that De Tott, though he resided twenty-three years its Turkey, and was able to express himself in Turkish with tolerable fluency, yet possessed but a superficial knowledge of the language. His proficiency may be judged of by his own declarations; and there are many oriental scholars in England, who will easily detect the ignorance, or the exaggeration, of the following passages.—"When hen the whole life of a man is scarcely sufficient to learn to read well, little time remains to choose what he shall read for his instruction and advantage." (V. i, p. 9.) " No care can effect the improvement of the Turk , while the difficulties of their language confine all their learning to reading and writing." (V. i, p. 146.) D'Ohssou, a professed oriental scholar, in speaking of the Turkish language, and the difficulties of learning it, observes, that " an application of four months is sufficient for learning both to read and to write it, the Turkish orthography being much more simple and more conformable to the pronunciation than either the French or the English." See Tab. Gen. t. ii, p. 474. See also Sir W. Jones's opinion on this subject in the " dissertation sur la litterature orientale. Works, V. v, p. 525, 526.46 A critic, deeply versed in oriental literature, has pronounced the languages of Asia to be no less suited to poetry than the genius of the inhabitants. The three learned languages of western Asia, while they differ essentially from each other in their formation and the order of their construction, are all distinguished by a peculiar character of beauty. The Persian excels in sweetness and melody : the Arabic in copiousness and strength : the Turkish in gravity and dignity. The first seduces and delights : the second is more vehement in its expression, and rises to greater sublimity ; whilst the third attains and supports a graceful elevation. The Persian is more fit for the expression of dalliance and love : the Arabic for heroic poetry and the 47 higher kinds of eloquence : the Turkish for didactic and historical composition.42
It is remarked by Lord Bacon, that the fundamental difference of character observable in the history of the two most celebrated nations of antiquity, the Greeks and the Romans, is also discoverable in the peculiarities of their respective languages43. Latin was the language of a people chiefly conversant in war and public business, and, therefore, it is in its genius averse from the use of those compound words which are so frequent in the language of the Greeks. The habitual occupations of the Greeks, a people of great ingenuity and lively imagination, were the study of philosophy and the principles of the elegant and mechanical arts, which must necessarily occasion a multiplicity of compound terms ; whereas a. language more de-void of artificial combinations was better adapted to those civil and military trans-actions which constituted the highest employment of the Roman people. A similar characteristic difference may be observed not only in the language, but in the disposition and manners, of the. Persians and Turks. Lady MaryWortley Montagu indeed remarks, 48 that our language is deficient in those compound words which are very frequent and forcible in the Turkish. The remark has been even praised for its justness44 ; though to me it appears inaccurate, not less in its character of the English language, which is rich in compound expressions, than of the Turkish, which is distinguished by the great simplicity of all its words which are really of Scythian extraction. Lady M. W. Montagu, whose knowledge of the Turkish idiom must be estimated less from her 'own report than from the contradictory evidence contained in her writings, was not capable of discriminating, in the Turkish compositions of which she has given translations, the native from the foreign expressions ; and Sir William Jones's opinion, decisive as it must be on questions of Arabian and Persian literature, can scarcely be considered, in the present instance, as coinciding with hers, for his notice of it is slight, and apparently introduced for the sole purpose of suggesting an amendment of some expressions in her translation. I venture therefore to oppose to it my own imperfect knowledge 49 of oriental literature, which is little blended with either Arabian or Persian ; and it is of the unmixed Turkish language that I mean to speak, when I assert the simplicity of its expressions.
42 See goes. Asiat. Comment. 1. i, c. i, p. 360. 43De Augm. Scient. vi, i. 44 See Essay on the poetry of the eastern nations. Jones's Works, V. iv, p. 545.
The polite literature of the oriental nations, whether considered in the original compositions of the Arabians and Persians, or in those of the Turks, which are modelled from them with such scrupulous fidelity as to appear mere translations, is not to be appreciated by our rules. European writers principally study ease and perspicuity. They copy nature rather in her habitual operations, than in her occasional excentricities. In European poetry, those figures or metaphors which are introduced for the sake of ornament or illustration must be sparingly used, must be unforced in their application, and demonstrate genius in selecting, rather than diligence in discovering, or difficulty in appropriating, them. The Asiatics, on the contrary, impelled at pleasure by the capricious wantonness of a luxuriant imagination, form the most heterogeneous combinations, and bring the most remote and discordant imagery into a reluctant union in their compositions. The distinguishing 50 features of the Asiatic style must of course be so modified, by a translation into languages so ill-adapted as ours to their expression, that hardly .any idea can be formed of their characteristic peculiarities. The sumptuous variety of the diction, the subtle texture of the phrases, the elaborate disposition of the words, are lost in the transmutation. Nor is a knowledge of the language the only requisite to a competent judgment of oriental poetry : the European must carry to the perusal the views and the sentiments of an Asiatic. Indeed when all the sources of poetical imagery are so essentially different from those of Europe, it must be rash in any one to attempt a criticism on the subject, unless he have previously instructed himself, by experience or by study, in the natural history of Asia, the modes of life of the Asiatics, their civil and religious institutions, and the chief events of their history ; to all which such frequent allusions are made by their poets and historians! Without this knowledge it is obvious, that the more recondite beauties, the intuitive observance of ,which exalts the interest and multiplies the charms of poetical composition, must entirely disappear. When it is 51 recollected, that the Asiatics live in a coun2 try abounding in productions and phenomena which are in a great degree confined to their own continent, and that not only the properties of nature, but the customs and habits of the people, differ so essentially from those which our peculiar civilization has introduced among us, it must be evident, that many images which are distinct to them, may appear confused to us ; that what they deem apt and familiar, we may think incoherent and remote ; what they prize as bold, we may consider rash ; what they admire as accurate, regular, gay, or sublime, we may reject as extravagant, abrupt, luxuriant, or hyperbolical. A comparison which frequently occurs in Persian poetry is that of the slender form of a young girl with the box-tree, which, to those who have formed their idea of this tree from the stinted shrub which creeps round the borders of a parterre in English gardens, must appear unnatural and ridiculous, though highly appropriate to the Asiatics, who see it rise in their forests into the most graceful and delicate proportions45. Amriolkais, an Arabian
45See Roes. Asiat. comment. cap. vii. Jones's Works, V. If, p. 439.52 poet, describes " the taper and delicate fingers of his mistress, sweetly glowing at their tips, like the worm of Dabia creeping in the sand." But who can understand these allusions, unless he be informed, that it is a general custom with the women in the East to tinge the extremities of their fingers with a dye called henna, and that hence arises the propriety of comparing them with the crimson head and long white body of the sand-worm ?
"Many of the Eastern figures are common to other nations, but some of them receive a propriety from the manners of the Arabians who dwell in plains and woods, which would be lost if they came from the inhabitants of cities : thus, the dew of liberality, and the odour of reputation, are metaphors used by most people, but they are wonderfully proper in the mouths of those who have so much need of being refreshed by the dews, and who gratify their sense of smell by the sweetest odours in the world.46 Some of their similitudes, which are drawn from natural objects, even Europeans must confess to be just and elegant.
46See Essay on the poetry of the Eastern stations. Jones's works, V. iv, p. 530.53 Hafez, with the same enthusiasm as Shakspeare's Romeo, compares the ringlets of his mistress to the night, and her cheeks to the morn. " She shines through the darkness of the night like the lamp of the religious solitary." The blue eyes of a beautiful woman bathed in tears remind the Persian poet of a violet dropping with dew. They are not, however, so correct in all their allusions, for as they eagerly catch at objects of comparison, they often employ those in which there is scarcely any general similitude ; as Hafez resembles the down forming about the lips of a beautiful youth, to the hours of Paradise sitting round the fountain Salsabil.
In love-poetry they delight in similitudes taken from nature. They compare the curling locks of their young girls to hyacinths, their cheeks to roses, their eyes, sometimes, because of their colour, to violets, and, some-times, because of their sweet languor, to narcissuses, their teeth to pearls, their breasts to pomegranates, their caresses to wine and to honey, their lips to rubies, their stature to lofty shoots, their face to the sun, their hair to the night, their forehead to the dawn, and the girls themselves, from their graceful attitudes and motions, to antelopes and fawns47.
47See Poes. Asiat. Comment. cap. Vii.54 It would be a task of no difficulty to select from the works of the oriental poets instances of all those beauties, whether of sublime description or of delicate allusion, which we admire in our best writers. Both the Greeks and the Orientals describe the beauties of nature, with which they are surrounded, with a vivacity which equals the original. They both drew from this source, instead of catching ideas from reflection ; and both possessed, in a high degree, that fertile invention, that creative genius, which is the soul of poetry. If the observation be just, that whatever delights the senses must please in description, and that in describing what is agreeable, agreeable words present them selves of their own accord, it is not surprising, that poets, surrounded with all the luxuriance of nature, under the influence of an ardent imagination, should sometimes transgress those limits, which the severity, of European criticism has prescribed even to the flights of poetical enthusiasm.
Hafez, in a strain of extravagance which the wildest passion of love can scarcely justify, says to his mistress ; " If I might sleep for one night on thy bosom I would strike the heavens themselves with my lofty 55 head : I would break the arrows in the hands of Sagittarius ; I would snatch the crown from the head of the moon : I would trample on the globe of the earth with the foot of arrogance, and would ascend in the pride of my strength to the ninth heaven. But if, when there, I possessed thy beauty, if, in heaven, I could resemble thee, lovers destitute of help would pray to me for protection, and wretches worn with care should receive from me relief."
In some of the countries where the Persian language has been adopted for works of literature, and the Persian models have been imitated, the imitators have far out-stepped the boldest strides of their prototypes. A poet of India, in addressing a Mogul prince, used the following bombastic expressions : " Whenever thou pressest the back of thy swift courser, the affrighted earth begins to tremble, and the eight elephants, the columns of the world, bend under the weight of thy ascent." Bernieri, an European, who was physician to the prince, and who had the honour to be near his per-son at the time, advised his highness to abstain from an exercise so prejudicial to the happiness of his subjects, who must 56 necessarily feel alarm at such a frequency of earthquakes. You are in the right," re-plied the prince, and it is indeed for their sakes that I generally prefer taking the air in a palanquin. 48
Personification, and that of the boldest kind, is the figure in which the Asiatics principally delight. In their writings every natural object assumes the powers and faculties of rational beings. Flowers, trees, and birds discourse familiarly together : the meadows laugh, the woods sing, the heavens are glad. The rose commissions the zephyr to bear her message of love to the nightingale, and the enamoured nightingale warbles back his affection for the rose, Not only such abstract notions as beauty, justice, joy, and sorrow, are embodied, but even the scimitar of a conqueror, studded with diamonds, addressing itself to the moon, says, " thou art my crown ; and to the pleiads, you are my garment." Thus the immensity of nature is but as a vast theatre, in which every thing, however re-mote from sense and life, occasionally assumes a person, occupies the stage, and speaks with the human voice.
48See Bernieri de statu Imp. Mogolici. ap. Jones, V. p. 552.
57 Some of the more scrupulous Mahometans, offended at the wanton imaginations of their poets, in whose verses are so constantly repeated not only the delights of love, with all its desires, with its concomitants of anxiety and grief, of hope and joy, but also the pleasures of odours, of wine, and of feasting, have however reconciled themselves to the perusal by supposing in them an occult and mysterious signification. " If I am inebriated," says Hafez, what remedy can be proposed? Bring me another cup that my senses may be wholly absorbed : whether it be a sin or a meritorious action, bring it." Of the true meaning of this and similar pas-sages there is a great variety of opinion. Some maintain, that the extacy of divine love, from the inadequacy of human language to its expression, is compelled to borrow those images which have the greatest affinity with its conceptions; for since those who are inflamed with divine love are abstracted from the sense of the mind, nothing can more aptly represent such a state than intoxication by wine. The poets themselves give a colour to this interpretation in several passages of their works. " Thy head is not affected with the ebriety of love," says Hafez 58 to the profane. " Hence! thou art drunk with the juice of the grape." It is, however, difficult to understand for what reasons the poets should wish to conceal virtue under such immoral disguises, and veil the beauty of piety and religion under the mask of gross and libidinous depravity.
It is not, however, wholly under such disguises that moral and religious instruction is conveyed in the poetical compositions of the Eastern writers. Reviczki highly commends the satirical works of Ruhi Bagdady, a Turkish poet; and from many others may be selected passages highly valuable for their morality and their elegance. The praises of the prophet Mahomet are described, in the be-ginning of the book Bustan, with a grandeur and brevity of expression truly sublime, and under images which offer to the mind an uncertain idea of something awful, magnificent, and infinite, which the narrowness of the human intellect can with difficulty conceive. " He was carried in one night high above the aetherial regions, there where the angels themselves are unable to ascend: He halted not in his celestial journey, even where Gabriel was compelled to pause. Keep on thy course, said the lord of the temple of 59 Mecca to the bearer of the divine oracles, thou host merited my perfect friendship; why dost thou hesitate to accompany me, and why breakest thou off our conference ? There is- no longer any footing for my steps, replied the arch-angel with humility, I- stop there where my wings want power to carry me onwards. Should I dare presumptuously . to proceed further, they would dissolve like wax before the brightness of thy glory. Can believers," says the devout poet, " who have so great a prophet for their guide, remain long immersed in the pollution of sin ?"
" Human life," says one of their moral writers, " is but as the fever of ebriety, whose sweetness quickly evaporates, and nothing remains but its nausea."
"The ignorant die even before death : their bodies, though not inhumed, are but the sepulchres of their souls."
"There is nothing more great and useful than travelling. Leave therefore your country and travel. Water, unless it flow, cannot long retain its sweetness. Gold in the mine is only a clod of earth, and aloe-wood, in the forest where it grows, is but an ordinary tree."
Asia has been the theatre of the most 60 memorable events, and is been illustrated by a great number of experienced warriors, of wise counsellors, and of virtuous kings, whose actions, real or fabulous, are recorded in the writings of Asiatic historians, but in a style rather of mystic allegory than of simple truth. The Mahometans in general, and more especially the Turks, are passionately fond of history. The Ottoman historians, who have compiled their works from the authentic records of their own nation, however they may deviate in their style and manner from the more correct standard which has been established by European nations, have deserved the first praise which can be be-stowed on historical compositions, that of fidelity and impartiality. They seem to have aspired rather at being useful to their fellow-citizens, than at gaining the favour of their princes by flattery and misrepresentation for they ingenuously expose, and unreservedly censure, the vices of their sultans, and the rash counsels and injurious measures of their ministers. The Turks are not even destitute of books, in their own language, which treat of the history of foreign nations. Leunclavius mentions a work of Ahmed Molla, who lived in the reign of Soliman 61 Chelebi, in which the actions of Alexander, king of Macedon, are recorded in measured stanzas. Much praise cannot however be bestowed on their communications in this department of literature, on account of the scantiness and confusion of their geographical and chronological information. Their acquaintance with dates is indeed so imperfect, that the Asiatics in general do not distinguish between the son of Philip, and a more ancient, or wholly imaginary, king, called Skender, whose marvellous exploits they ridiculously confound with those of Alexander the Great49. The Turks, as well as all other Mahometans, are unrestrained by their religion or the laws of their country in the pursuit of any study to which their inclination may lead them. The wisest perhaps are those who adopt the counsel which Abet Yusef, a learned Arabian, gave to his children on his death-bed, when he advised them to regulate themselves in the choice of their studies by their taste and inclination, and to avoid only judicial astrology, alchemy, and controversy ; for the anxious anticipation of
49See Memoirs of the life, writings, and correspondence, of Sur W. Jones, 8vo, p. 544.61 the future serves only to aggravate the actual evils of life ; riches are dissipated in the pursuit of an ideal source of wealth, and a captious investigation of truth itself, by encouraging the growth of scepticism, tends to subvert the security and to destroy the comfort of religious belief50.
Enough, it is hoped, has been said to demonstrate, that the Turks are not withheld from useful learning either by the principles of their religion, or an innate propensity to barbarism of which they have falsely been accused; and that, so far from contemning literature or the arts, there is perhaps no people among whom superior acquirements in general knowledge obtain greater distinction51. If this assertion be thought to re-quire further proof, it may be found in the opinion of a Turkish poet on the subject. Nabi Effendi, an esteemed writer, who died about a century ago, and whose works have been translated by M. Cardonne and inserted in his miscellanies of Oriental literature, in a poem, addressed to his son, advises him to " consecrate the dawn of reason to the study of the sciences.
50 See D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. von. elm, p. 312. 51See Todorini, de la litterature des Tura, t.1, p. 4.63 They are of infinite re. source," he says, " in all the occurrences of life. They form the heart, refine the under-standing, and instruct men in their duties. It is by them that we arrive at dignities' and honours. They delight us in prosperity and console _us under adversity. It would be impossible to enumerate their advantages, or to possess them without exertion and assiduity. They are the daughters of labour, and it is through him alone that you can hope to obtain them. Endeavour therefore to adorn your mind with all kinds of know-ledge. How immense is the distance between the learned and the ignorant ! The. brightest light compared with the thickest darkness, death compared with life, or existence with annihilation, , express but feebly the interval which separates the man of instruction from the ignorant. Ignorance is the poisoned source of all the evils which afflict the universe. Blind superstition, irreligion, and barbarity, the destructress of the arts, march by her side, and baseness, shame, and contempt, follow in her train."
A renegado of the name of Ibrahim, encouraged' by the grand vizir Ibrahim Pasha and the mufti Abd'ullah Effendi, first intro- Priutii 64 duced a printing press at Constantinople, in the year 1727. The fetwa of the mufti, corroborated by the opinion of the first magistrates and most distinguished doctors, declares the undertaking to be of the highest public utility; but the khatt'y sherif of the sultan, Ahmed the Third, or letters-patent authorizing the establishment, spew a per-feet conviction of the advantages of printing. The sultan felicitates himself that Providence has reserved so great a blessing to illustrate his reign, and to draw upon his august person the benedictions of his subjects and of Mussulmans to the end of time52. M. Ruffin, in the dissertation which he has prefixed to the memoirs of De Tott, asserts, that, " the ulema. oppose printing, jealous of that pre-eminence which their science, such as it is, secures them over the people ;" and that, " from this cause the nation is kept in ignorance, as the elementary manuscripts in every branch, from the dearness of copies and their small number, are insufficient to enlighten them." It is however a most certain fact, that the ulema53 publicly testified their approbation of the new establishment, and imposed no 65 restrictions on the press, except such as would naturally operate to the advancement of learning. Only the koran, and books treating of the law and the doctrines of. the prophet, were forbidden to be printed ; a useful and salutary prohibition, which, at the same time that it preserves religion in its purity, stifles, even in embryo, that jealousy with which M. Ruffin upbraid4, the ulema". In Turkey there is no scarcity of manuscripts ; the great number of them, on the contrary, is supposed to operate as an impediment to printing : but the rudiments of knowledge do not yet exist there. Let these first be naturalized, or printing itself will be . attended with no utility.
Turkey depends upon no foreign country for its subsistence. The labour of its inhabitants produces, in an abundance unequalled in the' other countries of Europe, all the alimentary productions, animal and vegetable,
52Tab. Gen. t. ii, p. 500. 53M. Ruffin's remark is the more ridiculous,' as the manuscripts containing that science, which gives the ulema their supposed pre-eminence, are not written in sacred and unintelligible characters, nor is the perusal of them forbidden to the people. The war against their pre-eminence may be even now carried on, without imposing a heavier tax on the public than the difference of price between a manuscript and a printed book.66 whether for use or enjoyment. The corn countries, in spite of the impolitic restrictions of the government, besides pouring plenty over the empire, secretly export their superfluities to foreign countries. Their agriculture, therefore, though neglected and discouraged, is still above their wants. Their corn, their maize, their rice, are all of superior quality : their wine and oil, though deprived of half their excellence by the unskilfulness and negligence of preparation, are sufficient, not only for the demands of an extensive consumption, but for the supply of several foreign markets. The large exportation of the most valuable merchandize, which they possess beyond the demand for the internal trade of the country, sufficiently pro-claims their industry. Their silk, cotton, wool, flax, drugs, coffee, sugar, wax, honey, fruits, hides, tobacco, and other articles of commerce are distributed over the continents of either hemisphere ; and the produce of their toil supports and embellishes the existence of those who reproach them with idleness. The capital of the empire, as the soil in its immediate vicinity is barren and ungratefull54, receives from the neighbouring 67 villages, and from the surrounding coasts of both the seas which it commands, all the culinary herbs and fruits of exquisite flavour, which the most fastidious appetite can re-quire ; and from the Asiatic coasts of the Black Sea, all materials necessary for fuel, or for the construction of ships and houses.
I know not whether turope can equal, but certainly it cannot surpass, them in several of their manufactures. The satins and silk stuffs, the velvets of Brusa and Aleppo, the serges and camelots of Angora, the crapes and gauzes of Salonica, the printed muslins of Constantinople, the carpets of Smyrna, and the silk, the linen, and the cotton stuffs of Cairo, Scio, Magnesia, Tocat and Castambol, establish a favourable, but not an unfair, criterion of their general skill 68 and industry55. The workmen of Constantinople, in the opinion of Spon, excel those of France in many of the inferior trades. They still practise all that they found practised ; but, from an indolence with respect to innovation, they have not introduced or encouraged several useful or elegant arts of later invention. They call in no foreign assistance to work their mines of metal, or mineral, or fossile substances. From their own quarries their own labour extracts the marble and more ordinary stone, which is employed in their public buildings. Their marine architecture is by no means con. temptible, and their barges and smaller boats are of the most graceful constructiont.56. Their 69 foundery of brass cannon has been admired57, and their musquet and pistol barrels, and particularly their sword blades, are held in great estimation, even by foreigners.
54See Dr. Wit man's Travels, p. 20, Olivier's Travels, v.i,p. 63. The circumstance of the poorness of the soil is not sufficiently attended to by travellers, who are offended at the negexeelect of agriculture on the land ride of the city of Constantinople. t' Voila comme sont, et contme doivent titre les avenues de la principale residence d'un peuple, aussi paresseux et aussi ignorant, clue devastateur." (Voyage a Constantinople, p. 147,) The shores on both sides the Bosphorus ?resent a very different scene: the ground forms a chain of schistose hills, covered with vineyards and gardens, and beautiful trees and shrubs; and the vallies, which are exceedingly fertile, are in the highest state of cultivation. Mandfatv, tares. 55" Is it not matter of astonishment," says Mr. Eton, " that, since the first establishment of their manufactory of carpets, they have not improved the designs, and particularly as they are not forbidden to imitate flowers? The same may be said of their embroidery, and of the stuffs made at Brusa, Aleppo, and Damascus." (p.208.) It must however afford equal matter of astonishment, that the designs of Turkey carpets are copied in England; and that, in our imitations of the Cachemire shawls, we should still adhere to the designs of flowers as grotesque as those on Turkey carpets. 56" We went on board the Sultan Selim with Mr. Spurring, the English ship-builder at Constantinople, and found her to be a remarkably fine vessel." (Dr. Wittman's Travels, p. 37.) Dr. Wittman was present at the launch of a seventy-four-gun ship, which, he says, "being conducted in a very masterly manner, afforded us much pleasure." (p. 96.) 57Olivier says, that they were taught by the French to cast cannon; but Tournefort, a century before, had pronounced their cannon to be good. a They use good stuff, and observe a just proportion; but their artillery is as plain as possible, without the least ornament." (Vol. ii, p, 191.)
The degradation of the arts into mechanical trades, from ignorance or neglect of scientific principles, is in no instance more discover-able than in their architecture. Their buildings are rude incoherent copies, possessing neither the simplicity nor unity of original invention. They are the attempts of admiration, ignorant of method, to emulate perfection and sublimity ; and not the effect of that combination of results, into which a creative people have been successively led by a series of reasoning. Heavy in their pro-portions, they are imposing only from their bulk : the parts do not harmonize, nor are they subservient to one leading principle : the details are bad, both in taste and execution : the decorations, which are fantastical and directed neither by reason nor nature, have no use, no meaning, no connexion with 70 the general design : there is nothing which indicates the conceptions of genius. But in these masses of monstrous magnificence, though we discover the vast inferiority' of un: principled practice to scientific method, we must still admire the skill and industry which have reared and constructed them. The builder may merit our approbation, though we ridicule the architect.58The superiority 71 of their workmen is chiefly apparent in the construction of the minarets, the shafts of which are surmounted by a gallery whence the people are summoned to public prayer. They do not indeed convey the idea of strength or solidity, the chief end of architecture, yet they please from their picturesque lightness, and the graceful boldness of their elevation.
The monotony of Turkish habits, and the austerity of their customs, chill and repress the energies of genius. Their cities are not adorned with public monuments, whose object is to enliven or to embellish. The circus, the forum, the theatre, the pyramid, the obelisk, the column, the triumphal arch, are interdicted by their prejudices. The ceremonies of religion are their only public pleasures. Their temples, their baths, their fountains, and sepulchral monuments, are the only structures on which they bestow any ornament. Taste is rarely exerted in other edifices of public utility, khans and bezestins, bridges and aqueducts.
58 Cantemir says, " that in the mosque of Sultan Selim elegance and art so shine, that to describe its proportions must he acceptable to the sons of Daldalus. It is square and built with square stones, the length of the side being fifty, and the height seventy, cubits. The roof contains the same space with the floor. No arches are drawn from the angles, but the round-peas of the roof rises from the walls themselves, so that from the point of the angles is drawn the arch of a circle almost horizontal." (p. 182.) " Sulimanie is built with so much art and elegance, that no structure deserves to be compared with it. This I have heard affirmed not only by Turks, but by foreigners of several nations." (Cantemir, p. 215.) " Sultan Ahmed excels Sancta Sophia in magnificence, though not in largeness." (Cantemir, p. 297.) But these are the descriptions of a Greek. The mosque of Sultan Ahmed is more correctly described by Lord Sandwich, who says, " It might justly be esteemed a most magnificent edifice, if it were built more according to the rules of architecture, of which the Turks have not the least knowledge. The figure of this mosque is a square, the roof of it composed of one large flat dome, and four of a less size ; the large one is sup-ported on the inside by four marble columns of an immense thickness, being more in circumference than height ; which, though fluted, cannot be reckoned an imitation of any of the orders of architecture. All are much of the same model, differing only is extent and magnificence." (Travels, p. 128.) See a description of the Sulimanie in Grelot. Relation d'uu voyage de Constant. p. 330. Paris 1681.72
Sculpture in wood or in stucco, and the en. graving of inscriptions on monuments or seals, are performed with neatness and admirable precision. The cielings and wainscoting of rooms, and the carved ornaments in the interior of Turkish houses spew dexterity and even taste. Their paintings, limited to landscape or architecture, have little merit either in design or execution : proportion is ill observed, and the rules of lineal and aerial perspective are unknown.
They reckon time by lunar revolutions, so that in the space of thirty-three years the Turkish months pass through every season. In religious affairs they are restricted to this mode ; but in order to conciliate it with the revolutions of the sun, they are reduced to use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes. As clocks were unknown at the birth of Mahometanism, the hours of prayer were regulated according to the diurnal course of the sun ; and the custom is religiously pre-served among the Turks, though the use of watches has become general. The civil day begins at sunset, so that the hours which indicate mid-day and midnight continually carry. To remedy this inconvenience, and to ascertain the hours of prayer, the faithful 73 make use of almanacs, which calculate, ac-cording to the degree of longitude of every province, the precise time of the hours of prayer.
Their knowledge of geography does not extend beyond the frontiers of their empire. Men in high public offices scarcely know the relative situation of their immediate neighbours, and have no conception that astronomy may be applied to ascertain geographical positions.59
59 It has been said, that " it is an article of faith, from the mufti to the peasant, that Palmyra and Balbec were built by spirits, at the command of Solomon." (Survey of the Turkish Empire, p. 200.) The eccentricities of error are indeed infinite, and even greater absurdities have entered the heads of several half-learned Turks : but with respect to this particular article of belief, though I believe Wood mentions it as prevalent among the Arabs who had built their huts among the ruins of Palmyra, yet I may say, that the Turks are entirely ignorant of the existence of these cities. Dr. Wittman's Journal, so far as relates to what he himself saw and understood, is a valuable collection of facts ; and it is to be regretted, that he has admitted some anecdotes upon the authority of vague and popular report. I do not particularly allude in this remark to the following one, though I question the accuracy of it, from knowing that the interpreter, Mr. Vinchenzo, was too ignorant, even of the Turkish language, to communicate intelligibly the substance of such a conversation as General Koehler held with the grand vizir.—" The general told his Highness, among other particulars, that the earth was round. This information caused no small degree of surprise to the Turkish minister; and it appeared, by his reply, that he was disposed to doubt the truth of the assertion. ' If,' he observed, ' the earth is round, how can the people, and other detached objects on the half beneath, be prevented from falling off ?' When he was told, that the earth revolved round the sun, he displayed an equal degree of scepticism, observing, that if that was the case, the ships bound from Jaffa to Constantinople, instead of proceeding to that capital, would be carried to London, or elsewhere." " So much," con cludes Dr. Wittman, rather too generally perhaps, -'" so much for the astronomical and geographical knowledge of a Turkish states-man." (Travels, p. 133.)74 Astrology. Astrology, even 'in the estimation of the common people of most countries in Europe, is expunged from the list of. sciences. This phantom, which has so frequently in former ages drawn men from the blameless tenor of life, and allured them to the commission of crimes, still influences the public councils, and interrupts the private happiness of all classes in this nation60. The munedjim bashi, chief of the astrologers, is an officer of the seraglio, or sultan's household, and is consulted on all occasions which relate to the health, the safety, or the convenience, of the 75 sultan. It is even considered essential to the public welfare to follow his opinion in determining the day, or the precise instant, when any important public business is to be under-taken ; such as the march of an army, the fitting out or the sailing of a fleet, the launching of a ship of war, the laying of the foundation-stone of a public building, the confer-ring of any new dignity, and especially the appointment of a grand vizir, The Ottoman sultans religiously perpetuate this custom, which was delivered down to them by the ;caliphs, notwithstanding its repugnance with the general spirit and positive institutions of the doctrine and law of the prophet, who expressly denominates astrology a false science, and stigmatizes its professors as liars.61
60I remember that the Abbe Beauchamp mentioned, in a company where I was present, that, when passing through Aleppo on his return from Bagdad, the pasha, having heard of his arrival, and knowing his reputation for astronomical learning, sent to in-quire what means might be employed with success for the recovery of a favourite horse, which had wandered into the desert a few weeks before. 61 See Tab. Gen. t. i, p. 416. Dr. Wittman asks, " Can such a people be formidable ?" To which I do not scruple to answer affirmatively: for the greatest and most formidable nations, even to no very remote period in modern history, have believed in the influence of the stars on human in actions.
It is an acknowledged fact, that astronomy was extended and improved from the studies and observations of the Arabian philosophers, who, as is evident from existing monuments, inquired into the magnitudes, the intervals, the courses and wanderings, of the heavenly 76 bodies ; yet perhaps their principal inducement to the pursuit was not so much a scientific spirit of discovery as a desire to unravel, together with the intricacies of the planetary system, the order of providence. in the moral government of the universe, Many of the caliphs are famed for their attainments in astronomical learning, but from their imperfect and unsteady views of the nature and limits of the human intellect, they were less anxious to ascertain the revolutions of the heavenly bodies and to discover the laws of their motions, than to predict from their changes and aspects the fate of kingdoms and monarchs, and even of families and individuals. The Turks possess at least sufficient astronomical knowledge to enable them to indicate in their almanacs the courses, revolutions, and eclipses, of the sun and moon ; and it must he imputed to a stubbornness of zeal, that their theologians have decided, that, in a religion which is sup-ported rather by testimony than its own intrinsic evidence, any improvements in science do not obviate the necessity of living witnesses to determine the appearance of the new moon which regulates the ramazan, and the principal festivals of the Mahometan church.
77 I have constantly observed, that they consider the skill of a physician as of the nature of sorcery, and expect from him solutions of difficulties which could be obtained only by supernatural means. I have read of a physician, who acquired great reputation with his patient from ascertaining the nature of his food by the motion of his pulse : and every pretender to medicine is expected to announce, from the first visit, with the precision of a soothsayer, the minute when death, or a favourable crisis, is to relieve his patient.
Their surgery is rude, from want of science, of skill, and of instruments. But though Christian surgeons are in general employed by persons of rank, there is a Persian at Constantinople, who has acquired great reputation, even among the Franks, for setting dislocated bones.62
In navigation the Turks are, in my opinion, equal to the Greeks in address, and superior 78 to them in courage and perseverance63. f judge of both, not from their evident inability to conduct their ships of war, a task to which neither of them are equal, but from their management of the smaller coasting vessels, to which both are familiarized, and in which they are by no means inexpert. I have at different times crossed the Black Sea and the Archipelago in Greek and Turkish boats, and have observed the character of both people in danger and in escapes, in seasons of fair and tempestuous weather. I have admired the equanimity of the Turk ; but should be cautious of trusting my safety another time to the bragging temerity and 79 unavailing despondency of a Greek reis. I embarked for Constantinople, with two other gentlemen, at the port of Varna on the Black Sea, in the month of November. Our voyage was tedious, but attended with no danger, till we incautiously made towards the mouth of the Bosphorus on a stormy night. I cannot describe the consternation and the dismay of the crew, when, soon after midnight, they observed the land at no great distance ahead. We might have avoided it by the common manoeuvre of going about ; but the sea ran high, and every object was seen through the medium of their fears : confusion prevented the execution of the necessary orders ; their intercessions to heaven were interrupted by curses on the passengers, to whose bad for-tune they attributed the effects of their own negligence. The pilot was the only Turk on board ; and he alone was steady : he alone animated the people to exertion by example and authority, and in a single tack we found ourselves out of danger64.
62" Sitot qu'un barbier sait un secret, it s'erige en medecin." (Spon, Voyage, p. 205. ) The bastinadoe, according to De Tott, enters into the Turkish pharmacopeia. A pasha had honoured a European merchant with his intimate friendship : the merchant had a fit of the gout ; the pasha had studied a little physic, and desirous of curing his friend, directed two of his domestics to give him fifty blows on the soles of his feet. The merchant, though he would willingly have dispensed with the administration of the medicine, found it deserving praise, for it soon effected a perfect cure. (Memoirs, V. iv, p. 109.) Since the former edition of this work, I have been so fortunate 43 to meet with a more correct copy of the prescription in the memoirs of the Chevalier d'Arvieux. (t. i,p. 72. Paris 1735.) 63The propriety of my assertion on this subject has been questioned. It is, however, confirmed by the testimony of Dr. Pouqueville, who was passenger on board a Greek vessel, commanded by Captain Guini, of the island of Spezzia, whose in-habitants, and those of Hydra, have the reputation of being the best sailors in the Archipelago. fi Tant est grande la maladresse des matelots Grecs, qui ne le cedent presqu'en rien aux Turcs ea fait de navigation." (Voyage en Moree, t. i, p. 580.) 64They had undertaken the voyage with some unwillingness, as the Black Sea, during the winter, is much more stormy than the Propontis and Archipelago. From Eneada to the Capes of the Bosphorus there is no harbour, so that many of the boats of those who dare to navigate during the five winter months, are dashed by the north-north-east and north-west winds against the rocks and sands of the southern coast. Their vessels are of the kind called saiques, which are so constructed as not to be able to keep the sea when the wind is strong ; and they are obliged to bear away right before the wind, and run for a harbour.80
On a former occasion I had crossed the Black Sea, from Odessa to Constantinople, in a Greek passage-boat. As we approached the promontory of the Hcemus, a thick fog arose from the vallies and defiles of that chain of mountains, and spread over the sea, so as to prevent our ascertaining the bearings of the coast. In this state of anxious uncertainty an expedient was resorted to, which, I apprehend, is peculiar to the Greek nation. The cabin-boy, the youngest, and therefore probably the most innocent, person in the vessel, brought a censer with incense, and visited every corner of the boat, and perfumed every passenger, calling for the interference of heaven in our behalf, by incessantly repeating the kyrie eleyson. The clavous, or pilot, was appointed, because of his age and experience, to lower down into the sea a hollow gourd, or pumpkin, in which was fixed a lighted taper ; and we looked, with devout confidence, for the miraculous dispersion of, the fog. The approach of evening prevented 81 the full effect of the miracle ; but, providentially, it was calm, and the sea was smooth. Our refs, a profligate scoundrel in fair weather, chid the boy with some severity for omitting to light the lamp which ought to have been burning in the cabin before the tutelary saint of the vessel. " I am the more attentive to this duty," said he, " since a circumstance happened to me, which 1 shall never forget. I was sleeping on the deck, in a harbour, with my people all round me. In the middle of the night I was awakened by some smart blows applied to my shoulders: I started up, and saw a venerable personage, with a flowing beard as white as snow, whose countenance expressed anger, and who continued beating me, in spite of my tears and intreaties, till my body was one continued bruise, and I fainted under the discipline with anguish and terror. When I recovered I found the people still sleeping ; they had heard no noise, and had seen nobody ; and it was not till I went into the cabin to restore myself by a glass of raki, that I discovered the lamp untrimmed, and confessed the justice of the punishment inflicted upon me." Devotion immediately became the order of the day ; and every one 82 doubled his evening prayers, and multiplied his crossings and prostrations. An unfortunate " esprit fort," who, while we were at., anchor in smooth water, had quoted Voltaire, a name of the same import as Antichrist, was shunned as infectious, and left to perform his solitary, but sincere, penance ; whilst the pious circle hung upon the lips of his opponent, listened with edification to the crudity of his reasonings, and evinced their faith by a submission to all the absurdities of his legendary histories.
When the minister Colbert inquired of the French merchants in what manner government could best interpose for the benefit of commerce, they advised him to leave to their own management the care of their own interests. `The maxim which that enlightened statesman adopted, from a conviction of its utility and its importance, is followed, unconsciously indeed, by the Turks, from its coincidence with their inertness and apathy. No restrictions are laid on commerce, except in the instance of a general prohibition of ex-porting the articles necessary for the support ░of human life to foreign countries, especially from the capital, where alone it is rigorously 83 enforced ; and this impolitic restraint will no doubt be removed, when the Turkish government shall become sensible, that what is intended as the means of securing abundance, is in fact the sole cause of that scarcity which is sometimes experienced. With this one exception, commerce is perfectly free and unfettered. Every article of foreign, or domestic, growth or manufacture is conveyed into every port, and over every province, without any interference on the part of the magistrates, after payment of the duties. On this subject I speak from actual experience, and may appeal to every foreign or native merchant in Turkey for its general truth.
The ideas relative to trade, entertained by all ranks in Turkey, if they are truly represented by Mr. Eton, would appear no less narrow and absurd than all their other opinions. " We should not trade," say they, " with those beggarly nations who come to buy of us rich articles of merchandize and rare commodities, which we ought not to sell to them : but with those who bring to us such articles without the labour of manufacturing, or the trouble of importing them on our part. Upon this principle it is, that Mocha coffee is prohibited to be sold to 84 infidels." Without presuming to question the accuracy of this representation (of which indeed it is difficult to ascertain the precise meaning) we may be allowed to ask, who among the Turks have ever held such language.--Is it the law? The law interdicts commerce with no nation.---Is it the goner nors or magistrates? They exclude no foreigner from their markets.---Is it the Turkish proprietor ? He confounds all Europeans under the general name of Frank, and knows no other distinction.
The high roads in Turkey are rarely traversed by individuals for other purposes than those of business. The caravans of merchants, both in Europe and Asia, are composed of horses and camels ; and merchandize is transported, by these conveyances, from the Hungarian frontiers to the Persian gulph. Wheel carriages are not unknown, but are disused from their not being adapted to the nature of the country.
The Tartars are public couriers, much respected for their good conduct and fidelity' Their name by no means indicates their origin, as they are taken indifferently from Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 268. 85 all the provinces in the empire, and are distinguished by the Tartar calpac, which they wear instead of the turban. They are strong and hardy ; and perform their journies with remarkable celerity. As there is no such establishment as a general post, a certain number of these Tartars are attached to the court, to the army, and to the governors of provinces, and are occasionally despatched to all parts of the empire. The post-houses in the European part of the empire, through which I have travelled, are well served with horses, and every requisite accommodation is afforded to the Tartars, which their habits of life require.65
65 Mr. Griffiths, in order to obtain a knowledge of genuine Turkish manners, travelled in the character of a Greek. He complains of the boorish behaviour of these Tartar guides ; but he should not complain, since he chose to assume a character as little respectable as that of a wandering Jew in our country. A gentleman, who in travelling supported the dignity of his character, speaks of them as I have always found they deserved. " La bonne foi avec laquelle ce Turc fit accord avec nous m'a frappe." Il mettoit a nous procurer ce qu'il nous falloit un zele incroy. able, ctant plus ache que nous, lorsqu'il nous manquoit quelque chose." " Les Turcs offrent milk traits de probite pareille II y a desprofessions, ou elle est comme un esprit de corps. Les kiradjis de Salonique transportent sur leurs chevaux 50, 60 mile piastres sans donner de recus, et paient sans difficulte ce qui se perd eq themin." (Voyage a Constantinople, F. 13 .)86 Abuse of The most prominent feature in the Turkish power. establishments, and that which first forces itself upon the attention of the observer, is the abuse of power. Whether this abuse be moulded into that perfection of tyranny which is denominated despotism, has been. differently determined by different authors Their disagreement, however, arises rather from different conceptions of the meaning o the term, than from any variety of opinion as to the nature of Turkish policy. With us the word despotism has so odious a signification, that we connect with it, almost involuntarily, the ideas of violence and injustice : but despotism, considered abstractedly and in itself, is neither more nor less than pure monarchy, one of the three regular modes of administering government, not necessarily including any abuse of authority, or cruelty of proceeding, and differing from the most perfect system of liberty only the circumstance of the legislative and executive authorities being both vested in one person, instead of flowing from the general will and collected wisdom of the society.66 The 87 objects, however, which the law and the power tend to promote, are, professedly at least, in both cases, the happiness of the community ; calculated, in one instance, according to the nature and habits of the people, and in the other, rendered subservient, in a chief degree, to the maintenance and support of the monarchical establishment. Yet " under governments of this latter species, unless when some frantic tyrant happens to hold the sceptre, the ordinary administration must be conformable to the principles of justice ; and if not active in promoting the welfare of the people, cannot certainly have their destruction for its object`.67
" A despotism," says Sir James Porter, " I take to be a government in which there exists neither law nor compact, prior to the usurped power of the sovereign ; a sovereign, on whose arbitrary will the framing or the execution of laws depends, and who is bound neither by divine positive injunction, nor compact with the people." And comparing the Turkish
66 Je suppose trois definitions, ou plutot trois faits : Pun que le gouvernennent republicain est celui ou le peuple en corps, ou seulement une partie du peuple, a la souveraine puissance; le monarchique, celui oir un seul gouverne, mais par des loix fixes et etablies ; au lieu que, dans le despotique, un seul, sans loi et sans regle, entraine tout par sa volonte et par sec caprices." (Esprit des loix, liv. ii, ch. 1.) 67 Robertson's History of Charles the Fifth, p. 388, note88 government with this standard, though he admit, that it is not perfect, or totally exempt from despotism," yet he asserts it " to be much more perfect and regular, as well as less despotic, than most writers have represented it; in a word, to be much superior with regard to the regularity of its form, and the justness of its administration, as well as much less despotic, than the government of some Christian states.68
But though we admit this definition, as descriptive of despotism in theory, to be sufficiently correct, and allow to the full extent of the assertion, that it is moderated in its general practice by regularity of form and justness of proceeding, yet we can distinguish the Turkish government by no other name than that of despotism.Despotism is in the nature and principle of a government, rather than in its actual and general practice69. The power of the monarch
68Observations on the religion, laws, government of the Turks, Preface, p. 14, 19. 69 The nature of a government, is that which constitutes it what it is. Thus in a despotic state, it is essential that there be no law besides the will of the tyrant. The principle of a government, is that which supports and actuates it; and this in despotism is fear: for it can neither use, nor listen to, modification or remonstrance ; it can only command and threaten, and muse be obeyed.89 is not continually exerted in acts of violence: the great, in some degree above the reach of common law, are indeed exposed to all the caprices of the prince ; but to the body of the people laws must be administered, con-formable to the great principles of justice, or the state itself will be involved in dangerous confusion.70
Pure despotism, unmitigated in its exercise by any species of moral or physical restraint, to the honour of human nature be it said, is but an ideal existence, a meta-physical abstraction. AEsop the fabulist, and the president Montesquieu, when they would raise our abhorrence of so degrading a system, are obliged to delineate it, not as it is observed to subsist in human society, but by comparisons drawn from the ignorant or savage abuse of power over brutes or inanimate matter71. It would therefore be an 90 unfair conclusion, that, because we characterize the Turkish government as a despotism, from an examination both of its nature and principle, we should therefore admit all its possible atrocities as really existing in practice.
70Il faut que 1e peuple soft juge par les loix, et les grands par la fantaisie du prince ; que la tote du dernier sujet soit en surete, et celle des bachas toujours exposee." (Esprit des loix, 1w. iii, chap. 9.) 71See Phardrus's fables, book i, fab. 3. The following is the chapter in 1'esprit des loix, entitled " idee du despotisme." " Quand les sauvages de la Louisiane veulent avoir du fruit, its coupent 1'arbre au pied, et cueillent le fruit. Voila 1c gouverAemeut despoticjue." (Liv. v, c. 13.)
If by despotism," says Mr. Eton, " be meant a power originating in force, and upheld by the same means to which it owed its establishment; a power scorning the jurisdiction of reason, and forbidding the temerity of investigation ; a power calculated to cramp ' the growing energies of mind, and annihilating the faculties of man, in order to insure his-dependence ; the government of Turkey may be most faithfully characterized by that name."72 It is almost unnecessary to point out the incorrectness of this passage. The Ottoman national power indeed originated in force, was founded on conquest, and must still be upheld by force. But the power of the Ottoman sultans over their subjects, whit is the matter of the present discussion, is a8 legitimate in its origin and its progress, as that of every other sovereign in the world. In its present state, so far from supporting itself by force, it appeals only to reason ; the 72 reason indeed of the nation, which bounds investigation by the precepts of the koran. Mr. Eton's representation of its effects may perhaps be thought exaggerated, upon a more familiar acquaintance with the nation which is governed by it.
72Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 17.The Turkish government has been said to be free from despotism, because, in a despotic state, the law can be nothing but the will of the master, and because universal fear of the monarch is essential to its existence ; whereas the sultan is bound by paramount religious law, and the army exerts a power which the sultan himself is constrained to fear. But the law, as it is called in Turkey (improperly, so far as it regards the monarch, unless we really deceive ourselves into the opinion of its divine origin), is but a code of maxims promulgated by the first despot, and transmitted to his successors, as necessary to uphold the existence of that species of tyranny which he himself had usurped. It is still the will of the despot, rendered permanent as an inheritance to his posterity, and it does not diminish or change the character of despotism. The mere terror of a name could never hold a people in subjection : an armed force at the disposal of the 92 sovereign is necessary to insure its efficacy. But, because an army, however nearly it m approach to it, can never become merely passive instrument in the hands of a monarch, is it therefore to be considered as counteracting or restraining his power, though it cliff from other instruments only in its capacity being seduced by selfish motives to saver from the object of its institution? In t ordinary acts of government neither religion or the army are any restraints upon despotism, and certainly not so much so, as t aversion to oppression and spirit of resistance implanted in the nature of man would be, these restraints were removed. They do ii then even mitigate despotism, except on themselves, and in no respect in its exert over the people. But when these powers feel the oppression of tyranny, and interfere to alleviate it, despotism itself is overthrow and a temporary anarchy is introduced.73
73" Un gouvernement modere peut, tant qu'il veut et s peril, reacher ses ressorts ; it se maintient par ses loix et par force meme. Mais lorsque, clans le gouvernement despotiq le prince cease un moment de lever le bras ; quand it ne p pas aneantir a 1'instant ceux qui ont les premieres places, tout perdu : car le ressort du gouvernement, qui eat la crainte, tant plus, le peuple n' a plus de protecteur." (Esprit des 10 !ir. iii, chap. 9.)
93 Dr. Robertson says, " there can indeed be no constitutional restraints on the will of a prince in a despotic government ; but there may be such as are accidental. Absolute as the Turkish sultans are, they feel themselves circumscribed both by religion, the principle on which their authority is founded, and by the army, the instrument which they must employ73 Montesquieu also is of opinion, that religion may sometimes be success-)ally opposed to the will of an arbitrary prince." " The subject," he says, " will abandon his farther, he will even murder him, if the despot orders it : but the bigot will not drink wine, however his prince may threaten or command him. The laws of religion are of paramount authority : they are imposed equally on the prince and on his subjects.74"
But what is the whole weight of the restriction which religion imposes on the actions of princes? It requires from them conformity to established rites and ceremonies. It in-deed preaches virtue ; but no religion sub-jests the moral conduct of governors to the judgment of the people. It addresses itself 94 to the conscience of the individual, directl and immediately. Its language, to those who would interfere with its august functions, is, " let him among you, who is with-out sin, east the first stone."
The Mahometan religion inculcates the reciprocal duties to be observed by the prince and his subjects ; but though it teaches, it cannot enforce, a just administration of, government. The only conditions imposed upon the sultan are the profession of the Mahometan faith, and conformity to the ceremonial of the Mahometan church ; and though the practice of every regal virtue be more consistent with these duties, yet they are not incompatible with the exercise of the-most atrocious tyranny.
The army, though it be granted, that it curbs the authority which it supports, yet re-strains it only in the commission of such acts as immediately concern its own welfare or. ambition. The praetorian bands in Rome, and the janizaries in Constantinople, though both in the most wanton manner have dethroned, murdered, and exalted princes, have never by their interference, either designedly or accidentally, mitigated the violence, or softened the severity of despotism.
73History of Charles the Fifth, p. 189. 74 Esprit des loix, liv. iii, chap. 10.
95 De Tott, in compliment to the theory of Montesquieu (a flattery which that dignified author would have disdained), has distorted even the hideousness of arbitrary power. Fear is the principle of a despotic government ; and " the Turk, incited to violence by despotism, wishes, but fears, to commit murder, until intoxication puts' him on a level with the despot.." The indolent Turk indulges in the natural taste of reclining under the shade of great trees, because despotism," which suffers him to pass on almost unwrinkled from infancy to decrepitude, " will not allow him to wait the growth of trees." " " His compassion for brutes arises from the pride of despotism, which, while it confounds all beings, chooses its favourites from among the weakest." Thus we see. the same person, alternately, the tyrant, and the slave of despotism; incited to violence by the possession of power, and deterred from exerting it by that very power, to which at the same time he himself is preposterously subject.
Honour, the leading principle in a monarchy, is unknown under despotism ; and be Tott, in contradiction, I may say, to his ░'vn positive knowledge, denies even the 96 existence of' the word in the Turkish vocabulary.
De Tott seems desirous of paving such a compliment to Montesquieu, as that which the French philosophers, sent by the court of Versailles to measure an arch of the meridian in different parts of the world, paid to Newton on their return, when they had ascertained, by their labours, the accuracy of his theory respecting the true figure of the earth.
Our respect for Montesquieu cannot be diminished by an exposure of the disingenuousness of De Tott's admiration. The name and reputation of Montesquieu must be immortal ; but our deference for hiss system, however ingenious, however reason-able, should never tempt us to abuse it like the bed of Procrustes, or to forswear the evidence of our senses in obedience to his authority75.
Montesquieu, probably misled by an author of the name of Perry, indeed says, that. honour is unknown in despotic states, 97 where frequently there is no word even to express it." With respect to Turkey, the position is false. D'Ohsson, in refutation of De Tott, says, those who pretend, that the word honour does net exist in the language of the Ottomans, prove only their own imperfect acquaintance with the idiom, and the manners, of this people. Otherwise how could they have been ignorant of those words which correspond with honour, dignity, reputation, consideration, and which are constantly used by the Turks in any discussion which relates to probity, honesty or justice.76
75 Compare Esprit des loix, Iiv. iii, chap. 9, with Memoirs of `, Baron de Ton, Preliminary discourse, p. 8; Esprit des loix, liv. iii, chap. 8, with Memoirs, V. iii, p. 140. See also Men] oit4' V. i, p. 62 and 907. 76Irz, namouz, schann, scheuhhreth. See Tab. Gen. t.. iv, p.374.
So much for the existence of the word : as for the sentiment of honour, as existing among the Turks, I would beg to know of those who do not admit its influence in a despotic country, upon what other principle they can account for the conduct of, the Turks, in an instance related by Dr. Witt-man. " On the 17th of June, discontents broke out among the janizaries, on account of the British troops under Colonel Stewart, and the corps of Turks commanded by Taher Pasha, being advanced in their front." If 98 this be not honour, I am at a loss to characterize it. But indeed wherever there is a sense of pride or shame, there must be a feeling of honour; and to suppose, that an army can exist without it, that men who are urged on to perform great actions without other recompence than the fame of their exploits should be insensible to honour, is too gross a contradiction, to need refutation. The Prussian officer, who discharged his one pistol at the feet of the king, and shot himself with the other, rather than survive the infamy of a blow; expressed in the same moment an absolute submission to despotism, and the quickest sense of honour. The sentiment of honour, which is the rule of private conduct, is as pure and sacred in retired life, and under republican or despotical governments, as in monarchies. It however appears to me, that by honour, of which Montesquieu denies the existence under despotism, he means a principle different from those which I have described. He calls it the public virtue of a monarchy, the source of all vigour and all action, inherent in the very nature of limited government ; which prompts men to support the privileges of their hereditary nobility, as of equal sanctity with the prerogative of the sovereign, 99 and which urges others to claim distinction of rank and pre-eminence from their own personal merit. This kind of honour could not indeed be suffered in despotic countries, and it would disturb the economy of a democracy. Philosophically speaking, how-ever, this sentiment of personal preference, notwithstanding its utility, is but a false honour : the principle of true honour, which leads to virtue from a contempt of vice, is not less pure from being wholly unconnected with it, and is not confined to any climate or any system of government.
One of the evils, and by no means the least those necessarily accompanying despotism is, that it represses the spring of improvement, which there is in society. 'Whatever talents may have been called forth, during the struggle which despotism was making to establish its dominion, become stationary at best, or more probably retrograde, when once it has perfected its plan, and stretched itself out to repose on the summit of its power. We behold with wonder in the history of the world the empire of China, which has been arrested many centuries ago in its career of improvement, still resting upon its plan of imagined perfection, occupied only in 100 supporting the sameness of its existence, and surveying with indifference the superior elevation of foreign knowledge. In every country where despotism is established, every art and every useful institution date from a period antecedent to its introduction. In no one, is it possible to trace the rays of science to one common centre in the zenith : the source of light is sunk beneath the horizon, and only a few scattered rays faintly point out some partial and imperfect method, followed without being understood. In process of time the evil becomes incurable ; those who should apply the remedy are themselves contaminated.77 " See," says Montesquieu, " with what eagerness the Russian government endeavours to throw off its despotism, which is become more oppressive to itself than to the people.78 In despotic' countries,
77"Toute la diferencs est que, clans la monarchie, Is prince a des lumieres, et que les ministres y sent infiniment plus habiles et plus rompus aux affaires que clans Past despotique." (Esprit des loix, liv. iii, chap. 10.) 78The memoirs of Baron de Tott present us with an interesting picture, in the fruitless attempts of Sultan Mustafa to arnelio' rate the system of his government. He was sensible of the existing evils : a wonderful progress, when we consider how far he was removed from information by his rank and education. u Had he lived," says De Tott, " he would have sacrificed even his despotism," but is the disease of despotism the patient cannot minister is himself; he flounders under his own u mess, but he cannot shake it off: he may scarify his bloated substance, but he deforms instead of healing it.101 if arts continue to be practised, there is no Science in the method : the artisan knows not the principles on which he proceeds ; he gropes on in routine, but stumbles into the most ridiculous absurdities when he quits the beaten track. To the inherent quality of despotism itself, and not to any natural incapacity, we are to attribute all that is incoherent and grotesque in Turkish knowledge.
D'Ohsson, having observed the mischievous tendency of some of the ramifications of despotism, attributes to them the evils which afflict the Turkish empire, and does not penetrate as far as the radical cause. " The law," he says, " which subjects the minor princes of the blood to a state of imprisonment, enervates all the elasticity of the heart and the mind. Its influence extends to the people, and strikes all with sterility ; suspending, as well with the subjects as the prince, all progress in the arts and sciences." But this cause is evidently inadequate to the effects produced : for, in a despotic country, the public conduct, even of a reigning prince, 102 can never operate as an example to his subjects; and still less can the conduct, observed towards him during his minority, influence the public manners. The assertion is further disproved by an appeal to history ; for the evils which oppress the "country, and which D'Ohsson enumerates as originating in a law made under Soliman the First, did equally exist in all the preceding reigns79.
The Roman empire groaned under the same evils, and sunk to the same debility. En-lightened and virtuous despotism may pro-cure a transient felicity ; but at the same time when the Roman historians were celebrating the blessings of Trajan's government, " the splendour of the cities, the beautiful face of the country, cultivated and adorned like an immense garden," the latent cause of decay and corruption, " the uniform government of the Romans" was gradually reducing the minds of men to the same level, 103 extinguishing the fire of genius, and causing even the military spirit to evaporate.80
79Tab. Gen. t. ii, p. 483. a Hence, continues D'Ohsson, popular prejudices, or rather the superstitious respect of the nation for its ancient customs ; the want of communication with Europeans ; the slow progress of the press ; the prejudice against foreign languages ; the neglect of translating the works of European writers ; the aversion to travel beyond their empire, and the System of not sending ambassadors to foreign courts." 80Hadrian and the Antonines were themselves men of learning and curiosity, and the love of letters was fashionable among their subjects ; yet, " if we except the inimitable Lucian, this age of indolence passed away without having produced a single writer of original genius, or who excelled in the arts of elegant composition." The long festival of peace contributed less to damp the military ardour, and stop the growth of military talents, than the natural jealousy of despotism, " Germanicus, Suetonius Paulinus, and Agricola, were checked and recalled in the course of their victories. Corbulo was put to death. Military merit, as it is admirably expressed by Tacitus, was in the strictest sense of the word, imperatoria virtu.." (Gibbon, V. i) p. 5.)
In Turkey, even the most worthy members of society perform their duty coldly and officially ; all tremble at the public censure, and dare not aspire to innovation or reform, lest they should expose themselves to the shafts of envy and calumny. Under despotism talents must remain insulated, the very nature of the government militates against the idea of an aggregation of knowledge, or a national fund of acquirements. That the Turks labour under no natural inferiority, there needs no argument to prove; and a testimony, by no means to be suspected when it condescends to praise, assures us, that 104 they possess " the bold and vigorous grasp of native genius."81
De Tott found in the Turks an aptitude and an eagerness for mathematical know 105 ledge ; and if domestic tranquillity and external peace allowed an extensive and well directed study of the mathematics, they would, in a few years, be little inferior to any nation in Europe. No branch of science is of such universal application and such general utility, and no study so effectually roots out prejudices and inculcates method, On the mathematics depends the first great science without which all others are useless, the science of national defence : from the mathematics flow all public and private works, all that distinguish civilization from barbarism ; and by them men are prepared for all situations in life. Without them even learning bewilders itself in the mazes of subtlety, and philosophy wastes itself in conjectures82.
81 Survey of the Turkish empire, p. 87.-Climate and the government, in the opinion of De Tott, have formed this people such as he describes them. " The power of moral causes predominates over that of physical;" but, " under the yoke of actual tyrants, physical causes must regain their influence. The climate which the Turks inhabit relaxes the fibres and perverts the effect of their prejudices, so far as even to make them rash, from a cause which, in a cold country, would have made them brave." (Memoirs, Preliminary discourse, p. 4.) It cannot certainly be thought unfair to confront with De Tott's reasoning, the moral and physical portrait of a Turkish subject of Upper Egypt, taken from common life.—" On peut dire qu'individuellement 1'Egyptien est industrieux et adroit, et que manquant, a 1'egaI du sauvage, de toute espece d'instrument, on doit s'etonner de ce qu'ils font de leurs doigts, auxquels ils sont rcduits, et de leurs pieds, dont ils s'aident merveilleusement. Its ont, comme ouvriers, une grande qualite, celle d'etre sans presomption, patients, et de recommencer jusqu'a ce qu'ils aient fait a-peu-pres ce que vous desirez d'eux. Je ne sais jusqu'a quel point on pourroit les rendre braves; mais nous ne devons as voir sans effroi toutes les qualites de soldats qu'ils possedent; eminemment sobres, pietous comme des coureurs, ecuyers comme des centaures, nageurs comme des tritons: et cependant c'est a une population de plusieurs millions d'individus, qui possedent ter qualites, que quatre mille Fran pis isoles commandoient imperieusement sur deux cents lieues de pays! Tant 1'habitude d'obeir est une maniere d'etre comme celle de commander, jusqu'a ce que Ies uns s'endormant dans 1'abus du pouyoir, les autres soient reveilles par le bruit de leur chaine." (Devon, t. i, p. 822.) 82Mathematical knowledge must indeed hare been in a degraded state, if we are implicitly to credit De Tott's account of the conference, which he held by command of the sultan, with the chief of the geometricians. " I modestly asked them, what was the value of the three angles of a triangle, I was requested to Propose the question once more, and, all the learned having looked on each other, the boldest among them replied with firmness, " It is according to the triangle." " The ignorance of these pretended mathematicians," continues he, " needed no demonstration; but I must do justice to their zeal for the sciences they all requested to be received into the new school, and 106 nothing was now thought of but its establishment." His scholars were " captains of ships, with white beards, and others of mature age;" and yet these men, though the charge of indocility is so unsparingly cast on the whole nation, " were able, at the end of three months, to work, in the field, all the problems which result from the four theorems of plane trigonometry; which was as much of this kind of knowledge as was required." The affectionate parting of the baron and his scholars does equal honour to both, and who, on reading it, will not spurn at the insinuation that the Turks are inferior to those men " whom Peter Great taught to conquer the Swedes." " The vessel," says De Tott, "that was to convey me to Smyrna, had already weighed anchor, and set her sails, when several boats came about us, I saw myself surrounded by all my pupils, with each a book or an instrument in his hand. Before you leave us, said they, with much emotion, give us, at least, a parting lesson: it will be more deeply impressed on our memories than all the rest. One opened his book to explain the square of the hypothenuse; another with a long white beard elevated his sextant to take an altitude; a third asked me questions concerning the use of the sinical quadrant; and all accompanied me out to sea for more than two leagues; where we took leave of each other with a tenderness the more lively, as it was unusual, and to me unexpected (Memoirs, V. i, p. 204.)
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