RELIGION, MORALS, MANNERS, AND CUSTOMS OF THE TURKS.
Physical constitutions and general habits.- Moral and religious education.- Popular belief and practice.- Priests.- Dervishes.- Emirs.- Pilgrimage to Mecca.- Predestination.- Invocation of saints.- Belief in the efficacy of amulets, relics, and enchantments.- Faith in omens and dreams.- Prejudice against pictures.- Punishment of apostacy.- Morality.- Proselytism.- Modes of proposing the faith to unbelievers.- Public charities.- Hospitality and alms.- Tenderness towards brute animals.- Character of the Turks;- their austerity,- irritability of temper,- intemperance in the use of wine- and opium,- covetousness,- ambition,- hypocrisy,- behaviour to strangers.- Virtues of the middles class.- Clothing of the Turks.- The warm bath.- Turkish luxuries and amusements;- conversation,- story-telling,- ombres chinoises,- dancers and gladiators,- athletic exercises.- General health.- The plague.- Mourning.- Interments and funeral monuments.Physical constitutions and general habits.
105 The Turks are of a grave and saturnine cast; they are in general well made and robust, patient of hunger and privations, capable of enduring the hardships of war, but not much inclined to habits of industry. 106 The early hours and the regular lives of their mothers, their own habitual temperance an general freedom from violent passions, contribute to the preservation of their health, and the regularity of their features. Their way of living is simple and domestic: they prefer apathy and indolence to active enjoyments; but when moved by a powerful stimulus they sometimes indulge in pleasures to excess1.
1"Pauci exercendo agro vel aliis artibus tolerare vitam. Non enim arare terram aut expectare annum tam facile persuaseris, quam vocare hosstes, et vulnera mereri. Pigrum et iners omnino videtur sudore acquirere quod possit sanguine parari." (Montalban. ap. Elzevir. p.24.) Denon, in his review of the different physiognomies of the inhabitants of Egypt, says, "Les Turcs ont des beautés plus graves avec des formes plus molles; leurs paupières épaisses laissent peu d'expression à leurs yeux: le nez gras, de belles bouches bien bordées, et de longues barbes touffues, un teint moins basané, un cou nourri, toute l'habitude du corps grave et lourde.- A parler en artiste on ne peut faire de leur beauté que la beauté d'un Turc." (Voyage, &c. t.i, p.140.) De Tott, in his preliminary discourse, supposes, that their fibres are relaxed and their bodies enfeebled by the heat of the climate. Can the climate of Thrace, the country which produced the gigantic Maximin, whose extraordinary strength and courage procured to him from the Roman armies the names of Ajax and Hercules, and even the imperial dignity, be supposed to relax the fibres of its inhabitants? What more convincing proof can be given of the natural strength of their constitution, than the instance, which De Tott relates, of a Turk drinking off two bottles of lavender water without intoxication or injury to himself? (See Memoirs, v.i, p.3.)Moral and religious education.
107 The moral character is fundamentally formed in infancy and childhood, not by precept, so much as by the absence of evil; for the Turks receive their early education under the care of their mothers and their female attendants, who are secluded from the promiscuous society of men, and removed from the contagion of vicious example. Their religion, which is simple, is taught them by their parents in the harem. The minds of the children, as in other countries, are moulded into the dogmas of a particular system; they are inflated with the idea of their own religious superiority; and they are taught to cherish the delusion, till they regard the religionists of other denominations with feelings of contempt or even of abhorrence.Popular belief and practice.
The revelations of heaven, and the precepts of the prophet equally inculcate on the minds of Mussulmans this exalted idea of themselves, and this sentiment of disdain and aversion for those who are strangers to their faith. "The prayers of the infidel are not prayers, but wanderings," says the koran. "I withdraw my foot, and turn away my face," says Mahomet, "from a society in which the faithful are mixed with the ungodly." Nor is the uncharitableness of the sentiment extinguished, 108 nor even weakened, by the death of its object. "Pray not for those whose death is eternal," is a precept of the Mahometan church, "and defile not thy feet by passing over the graves of men, the enemies of God and his prophet2." These commandments are precise and positive: they regulate principles and the conduct of all classes of Mussulmans. It is vain to suppose their pernicious and uncharitable tendency counteracted by passages of scripture which breathe a milder spirit, or by the example of the prophet, who is known to have frequented the society of unbelievers. The Mahometan, who has risen above the prevailing prejudices of his religion and country, will alone appeal to these more tolerant precepts, in order to justify his conduct to his own heart, or to sanction it in the eyes of the public: but the vulgar mind, the great majority of the nation 109 in every class of society, will always give a scrupulous preference to those parts of religion in a which there is the greatest mixture of human imperfection; where savage intolerance furnishes an excuse for malice or for pride3.
2"It is not allowed unto the prophet, nor unto those who are true believers, that they pray for idolaters, although they be of kin, after it is become known unto them, that they are inhabitants of hell. Neither did Abraham ask forgiveness for his father, otherwise than in pursuance of a promise which he had promised unto him: but when it became known unto him, that he was an enemy unto God, he desisted from praying for him. Verily Abraham was pitiful and compassionate." Koran, chap.ix, ver.115,116. Sale's translation, v.i, p.263. Maracci, p. 317.
3In the reign of Abdullah the Third, surnamed Meemounn, Bagdad was afflicted with a great drought. The caliph enjoined a public penance, and went himself in procession, at the head of his Mussulman subjects, to perform, in the neighbouring plains, the prayers prescribed by religion on such occasions. The ceremony was repeated on three succeeding days, but without effect. Heaven withheld its blessings, and rejected their petitions. The caliph then ordered the Jews and Christians to unite their supplications with those of the faithful; when lo! to the great scandal of Islamism, the rain fell in abundance, the earth was refreshed, but the caliph was astounded. He felt the affront even more than he acknowledged the favour, and his faith staggered with resentment. The ulema were assembled, and the caliph proposed his doubts; when a reverend doctor, no less learned than pious, arose, and enforcing his reasoning with the seductions of eloquence, calmed his disquietude, and brought him back into the stedfastness of truth. The Mahometan doctors attribute to inspiration the discourse which he pronounced. "What is there," said the holy man, "so extraordinary in this event, or so inimical to the religion of Mahomet. God," continued he, "so loves the Mussulmans his chosen people, their prayers and their petitions are so grateful to his ear that he even abstains from an immediate compliance with their requests, in order to compel them to renew their pious addresses: but the voice of infidels is harsh and dissonant: and if he grant their petitions, it is from disgust at their nauseous supplications, and to rid himself of their importunities." (Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.250.)
110 The namaz, the prayer the most obligatory on Mussulmans, and the most pleasing to the Supreme Being, is chiefly a confession of the divine attributes, and of the nothing-ness of man; a solemn act of homage and gratitude to the eternal majesty. The faithful are forbidden to ask of God the temporal blessings of this frail and perishable life: the only legitimate object of the namaz is to adore the Supreme Being, by praying for spiritual gifts and the ineffable advantages of eternal felicity4. Confident in the efficacy of belief and the virtue of prayer and legal purification, the Mussulmans feel no humility on account of the imperfections of human nature, and no repentance on account of actual transgressions5. The unity of the Supreme Being, and the divine mission of the prophet, are all that are insisted on as necessary to justification with God6; and as these 111 imply no contradiction, and involve no mystery, the mind seems to comprehend both points without an effort, and to hold them with steadiness. Hence their consciences are never alarmed at the weakness or insufficiency of their faith; nor can they ever doubt of their acceptance with God. Their religion consoles and elevates them through life, and never disturbs their dying moments7.
4See Tableau Général, t.ii, p.70-99. "The prophet himself was so filled with divine love, when he performed his devotions, that his pure and holy heart was said to boil like water in a cauldron on a strong fire." (Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.76.)
5That is, no repentance considered as an act of the mind, for they have many penitential rites and ceremonies.
6"Nous croyons, nous confessons, nous attestons, qu'il n'y a de Dieu que Dieu seul, Dieu unique, lequel n'admet point d'association en lui; croyance heureuse à laquelle est attachée la béatitude céleste.- D'après ce principe, quiconque meurt dans la foi Musulmane est sûr de gagner le ciel. Est-il chargé de péchés, a-t-il transgressé la loi, a-t-il negligé le culte et la pratique des bonnes œuvres, il ne s'expose qu' à des peines toujours soumises à la volonté suprême du Créateur, qui est le maître de pardonner entièrement les plus grands crimes, comme de punir sévèrement les moindres fautes. Or le Musulman pécheur venant à être rangé dans la classe des enfans rebelles qui lui sont destinés pour l'expiation de ses péchés. Ainsi purifié par le feu de Penfer, il se trouve en état de paroître devant la face de son créateur, et de jouir dans la société des élus, du bonheur qui leur appartient." (Tab. Gén. t.i, p.146. t.ii, p.214.) The heresy of the Kharidjys, against which the caliph Ali displayed a zeal which occasioned his death, consisted chiefly in the doctrine, that enormous sins counteract, and even annul, faith, which can only be meritorious when accompanied with the constant practice of morality.
7The death of the vizir Ahmed Pasha by order of Sultan Soliman, as related by Baron Busbeck (Epist.ii, p.90), is a remarkable instance of Turkish fortitude. "Cum mane in divanum venisset, mox affuit qui ei regis nomine mortem indiceret, qui nuncius Achomatem haud multo magis commovit, ut erat incredibili magnitudine animi, quam si nihil ad ipsum pertineret. Carnificem tantum munus suum exequi parantem, a se repulit, haud convenire existimans tanto honore modo usum pollutis illius manibus attrectari: cumque oculos ad eos qui adstabant circumtulisset, hominem honestum, sibi amicum, oravit, ut hoc sibi daret, ut ejus manibus necaretur, futurum id sibi magni et postremi muneris loco; quod ille, etiam atque etiam rogatus, non recusavit. Verum Achomates eum monuit, ne statim atque una vice astricto nervo se suffocaret, sed eo remisso, semel respirare pateretur; quo facto, nervum adduceret donec exanimaretur."
112 The general opinion among Mussulmans is, that the koran is uncreated, that it has existed from eternity, either in the divine essence, or in tablets of immense magnitude laid up in the throne of God, in which the complete and perpetual series of events is described. Mahomet himself was to convinced of its superiority to all human productions that he declares, in the seventeenth chapter, that if the whole race of men and dæmons were to unite in order to produce something similar to the excellences of the koran, they could never succeed. A difference of opinion on this subject has, however, in former ages, disturbed the peace of the Mahometan church, perverted the judgment even of the commanders of the faithful, and given rise to controversy and persecution. Hannbel, the founder of one of the orthodox sects, resisted the heresy of the caliphs, and 113 was a martyr to the doctrine of the divinity of the koran. Mahomet the Third was present at his execution, and beheld with astonishment the constancy of his faith, and his insensibility to bodily pain during the infliction of the torture8.
8See Maracci, de alcorano, p.38. Sale's koran, v.ii, p.108. Tab. Gén. t.i, p.91. "Tutissime illi incedebant, qui verbis Corani adherentes dicebant illum esse positum, vel demissum, et de creatione ejus silebant." (Reland, de religione Mohammedica, l.i, p.18, n.) The learned father Maracci (de alcorano, p.41,42) delivers it as his serious opinion, that the koran is the work of the devil. A discovery to which he was led by observing its resemblance with the style and manner of the same author in other more openly avowed performances.
Many of the learned Turks are said to refuse an implicit belief to all the miracles recorded in the koran9; but none of them so far contradict the national prejudices as publicly to withhold their assent10. An effendi, skilled in mathematics, was asked, how he 114 could believe, that Mahomet broke the star of the moon, and caught half of it falling from heaven in his sleeve. He replied, that indeed it was not only not agreeable, but contrary, to the course of nature; but that, as the koran affirmed the truth of the miracle, he could not refuse it his assent; for, added he, God can do whatever he pleases11. They admit with equal facility the wonderful stories related by Christians, and on some occasions conform to the popular prejudices even of this despised sect; as in the instance given by Cantemir, of the lord of a village, who suffered no work to be done on St. Phocas's day, because formerly the saint, in revenge for the profanation of his festival, had burnt their standing corn12. The opinion, 115 that sanctity of life, independently of any particular religious persuasion, is sufficient for salvation, is silently embraced by a few liberal Turks, though it is condemned by the Mahometan church as a heresy13.
9The minutiæ of Turkish belief are indeed as little reconcileable to common sense as the fables of ancient mythology. But as Voltaire justly observes, "les Turcs sensés rient de ces bêtises subtiles; les jeunes femmes n'y pensent pas; les vieilles dévotes y croient."
10Khodjea Behhay'ud-dinn Nakschibendy, the greatest saint of Turkistan, bequeathed to the faithful this maxim for the regulation of their conduct: "the exterior for the world, the interior for God." (Tab. Gén. t.i, p.307.)
11The story is from Cantemir, who affirms (Ottoman history, p.31, note 7), that he himself held this conversation with the effendi; and his general veracity is proved from the internal testimony of his writings. Cantemir, however, shows himself in this, as well as in other instances, to be but superficially acquainted with the koran, or at least to have read it under that prejudice of which a Greek can never divest himself. The story of the fraction of the moon is in the 54th chapter of the koran; and it is alluded to in the Tableau Général, t.i, p.199, and t.iii, p.295. See also Gibbon's Roman history, v.ix, p.272.
12"Ils ne se livrent à aucun acte extérieur de dévotion envers(?) Jésus Christ; mais aussi ne se permettent-ils jamais la moindre irrévérence, ni même le déplacement d'aucune relique Chrétienne. Ce seroit, disent-ils, attirer sur nous la colère et la malédiction de (?)ce grand prophète." (Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.401.)
13See Busbeq. Epist. iii, p.126. Reland, de relig. Moham., l.ii, sec.2.
It has been observed, that, in all ages, those who are satiated with enjoyments are most inclined to become atheists, and that superstition is most apt to make those its prey who are oppressed with misery and want. But atheism, whether speculative or practical, is rare among the Turks; for when the doctrines of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul have been implanted in the mind by early education, they cannot be eradicated, unless, perhaps, by intense and perverted study and reflection, of which the Turks, from habitual indolence, are incapable14. The terrors of conscience, which 116 generate in the vicious and profligate a wish to disbelieve, and at last, perhaps, a wavering consciousness, that they do disbelieve these doctrines, operate but little on the minds of men who are firmly convinced, that the divine favour is never a withdrawn from those who are stedfast in their profession of faith, and constant in their practice of 117 religious rites. The belief and the performance of both are simple and easy, and not only may exist unconnected with virtue, but may even seem to expiate vicious conduct. Hence that tranquillity with respect to futurity which never abandons the Turk; and hence his neglect of palliatives for an evil, of which, so far as regards himself as a believer, he cannot consistently suspect the existence.
14"Ceux même qui ne sont pas bien convaincus de l'apostolat du prophète, n'en sont pas moins attachés au dogme de l'unité de l'être suprême, ni moins pénétrés de son existence et de ses attributs infinis." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.464.) I find myself at variance, both in my assertions and my reasoning, with Sir James Porter, who says (p.39), "that it is certain there are among the Turks many philosophical minds:- that they have the whole systems of the Aristotelian and Epicurean philosophy translated into their own language; and finding the latter, which they call the Democritic, to cut more effectually at the root, and to be more conformable to their present indolence, ease, and security, they generally adopt it; so that, perhaps without their knowing it, they are at once perfect atheists and professed Mahometans. Superstition, and its train," continues Sir James Porter, "are a true basis for atheism; there is no medium; from the one extreme the mind is forcibly, though imperceptibly, driven to the other: hence the Turks easily plunge into it." Sir James Porter, who was so little acquainted with the Turkish language as to assert, "that it is composed of the very dregs of the Persian and Arabian tongues," cannot be supposed to have derived his information from the purest sources. It appears indeed to have been communicated to him by his dragomans (mere men of words, who are always prepared to answer every question, on every subject, rather than confess their ignorance, and who always accommodate their answers to the wishes of the inquirer), and as such, it may be dismissed without further remark. I am much disposed to doubt, that superstition necessarily leads to atheism; but it is unnecessary to discuss the merits of the position, as fanaticism, and not superstition, is the prominent feature of the Mahometan religion.
The popular religion of the Turks consists in belief, prayers, ablutions, and fastings at stated periods.
They are called to namaz (prayers) five times a day, by the muezzinn (chanter), who recites, from the highest tower of the jami, the hymn ezann, containing a confession of faith, in the following form. "God most high! I bear witness, that there is no God but God. I bear witness, that Mahomet is prophet of God. Come to prayer; come to the asylum of salvation. Great God! There is no God but God."
The canonical hours for the morning prayer are from the first dawning of the day to sunrise. This prayer was first performed by Adam on his expulsion from Paradise, when he returned thanks to God on being delivered 118 from the darkness of night, and again permitted to behold the approach of day. Towards the conclusion of the morning ezann, the muezzinn exhorts the faithful to be diligent in their devotions, by repeating, immediately after the words, come to the asylum of salvation, "prayer is preferable to sleep, prayer is preferable to sleep15." The namaz of noon, which may be said at any period of the interval between the meridian and the next succeeding namaz, was instituted by Abraham after his purposed sacrifice of his son Isaac. The afternoon namaz, in which the prophet Jonas first expressed his gratitude on being cast up from the belly of the whale, begins when the shadow projected on the dial is of twice the length of the gnomon, and it may be said as long as the sun continues above the horizon. The evening prayer is believed by Mahometans to have been instituted by Jesus Christ: the hours appointed for the performance of this namaz 119 are from the setting of the sun to the extinction of the twilight, when the night-prayer is performed, in imitation of Moses. On Friday, which is consecrated to public worship commemoration of the creation of man, the Mahometans recite an additional namaz, and a prayer salath' ul-djuma between sunrising and noon.
15Enthymius accuses the Mahometans of worshipping the morning star under the name of cobar; "which," says Sir William Jones (who is merciless towards those who write on such subjects without possessing the Oriental languages), "is a palpable lie, arising from the ignorance of the writer, who heard the criers on the mosques calling the people to morning prayers by the words allah acbar."(Works, v.v, p.546.)
In the namaz there are several prostrations, some of which must not on any account be omitted, being farz, or the immediate command of God: others may be omitted, though not without some degree of sin, being sunneth, institutions of the prophet, or rather an imitation of his practice16.
16Busbequius misrepresents the devotions of the Turks, when he says, (Epist.iii, p.178) "Sacerdote Mahumetis nomen pronunciante, pariter una omnes capita ad genua usque submittebant. Cum nomen Dei proferetur, in faciem venerabundi procidebant, et terram deosculabantur."
The Turks admit of purgatory, araf, in which the believer is to repeat the prayers which he omitted in his life, or neglected to say at the appointed times. Even martyrs, according to the most prevailing opinion of Mussulmans, are doomed to expiate in purgatory the sin of disrespect towards their parents17. They assert, that the sinful soul 120 is greatly benefited by the prayers of the living, and still more so by the reading of the koran, whereby the angel Gabriel is assisted in guarding the soul from the devils, during the forty days of its hovering about the grave wherein the body is laid.
The abdest, or ablution of the hands, face, mouth, head, neck, arms, and feet, accompanied with suitable prayers, is performed by the Turks in a. particular manner to distinguish them from the Persians, and is an indispensable preparation to the namaz or prayer*17a. Ghoussoul is the purification of the whole body, in cases which are specified, in the religious code of the Mahometans. Ghassl, or simple washing, is ordered for 121 removing any visible or substantial impurity, from the clothes or the person, of a nature to invalidate or annul the virtue of prayer.
The fast of the month of ramazan consists in abstaining from food or drink, or any gratification of the senses, during the whole time of the sun's continuance above the horizon.
The immediate ministers of religion make
The priests in their habits of life are not distinguished from other citizens; they live in the same society and engage in the same 122 pursuits18: they sacrifice no comforts, and are compelled to no acts of self-denial: their influence on society is entirely dependent on their reputation for learning and talents, or on their gravity and moral conduct. They are seldom the professed instructors of youth, much less of men, and they are by no means considered as the directors of conscience. They merely chant aloud the church service, and perform offices, which the master of a family or the oldest person in company, as frequently, and as consistently, performs as themselves. The Turks know nothing of those expiatory ceremonies which give so much influence to the priesthood: all the practices of their religion can be, and are, performed without the interference of the priests19.
17See Tab. Gén. t.i, p.142.
18When Baron de Tott was fortifying the Dardanelles, the pasha strongly recommended to his notice a muezzinn, or crier of a mosque, as a man who had a surprising genius for throwing bombs, and to whom he intended to give the post of first bombardier. (Memoirs, v.ii, p.51.)
19"On entretient dans les hôtels publics, dans les grandes maisons, des imamset des muezzinns particuliers, à titre de chapelains ou d'aumôniers. Ces muezzinns annoncent l'ezann sur le haut de l'escalier ou vers la porte de la pièce destinée à la prière, se mettent ensuite dans une des lignes de l'assemblée, où ils récitent la seconde annonce, ikameth; après quoi l'imam, placé comme dans les temples à la tête du corps, commence le namaz. Ces ministres particuliers n'ont rien de commun avec les ministres publics voués au service des mosquées. Ce sont de simples citoyens, nommés par les chefs des familles, sous le nom et l'autorité desquels ils président à ce religieux exercise, comme ayant eux-mêmes le droit de s'en acquitter en personne. Cette prérogative est commune à tout Musulman dans les assemblées particulières." (Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.175.)Dervishes.
123 The institution of the different orders of dervishes is foreign to the genuine spirit of the Mahometan religion. Some of the Ottoman ministers have even attempted their suppression; but the vulgar, who certainly consider their ceremonies to possess the force of incantation, submit to their caprices, and court their benediction by respect and liberality.
I apply the epithet vulgar to the character the mind, the constituent part of the man, rather than to the rank in life; for Selim the First, the conqueror of Egypt, was himself no less a slave to this absurd superstition than the meanest of his subjects. When he had made himself master of Syria, his greatest anxiety was to seek out, and heap presents and benefits on, the sheïks and dervishes, in hopes of being aided in his future expeditions by their blessings and prayers. His devotion led him to visit an anchorite, 124 who dwelt in a corner of the mosque of Damascus. The sultan bowed himself down before the saint, and stood in the humblest attitude, not daring to break silence: the pious solitary, on the other hand, held his peace from respect for the monarch. After a long pause an officer of the court broke the charm, and relieved them both from this ridiculous state of suspense: but Selim, before he dared to solicit the prayers of the sheïk for the prosperity of the Ottoman arms, severely rebuked the favourite for his unholy impatience20.
20See Tableau Général, t.i, p.312. Gibbon finds this superstitious reverence for saints and astrologers so little reconcileable with the possession of a sound understanding on matters of mere human concern that, notwithstanding the many examples which the histories of Europe as well as Asia furnish of their actual union in the same person, he supposes it to be affected as an instrument of policy. (See vol. xii, p.43.)
The word dervish, derived from the Persian and signifying the threshold of a door, the spirit of humility, has been improperly translated monk, since some of the orders are allowed to marry, and none profess celibacy. In the Ottoman empire there are thirty-two distinct orders. Hagi Bektash, a sheïk of distinguished piety, founded among the Turks the order which still bears his 125 name: the institution and the memory of the saint are in high repute in Turkey, from their connexion with the military order of the janizaries, who were consecrated and named by Hagi Bektash. Eight dervishes of this order are lodged and maintained in the barracks at Constantinople: their office is to offer up prayers every night and morning for the prosperity of the empire and the success of its arms. In public ceremonies they march on foot before the horse of the janizar aga, the chief of them constantly repeating with a loud voice kerim ullah, (merciful God), to which the others reply in chorus by the word hou, one of the ninety-nine names, or attributes, of God, an acknowledgment of his eternal existence, of the same signification as Jehovah among the Hebrews21. The mevlevi turn round in their dances for a long continuance22, and cultivate vocal and instrumental 126 music: their neïh (a pipe made of an Indian reed) is exceedingly sweet. The cadri, or howling dervishes, repeat the name of God so long, and with such vehemence, that at last they fall down, exhausted with fatigue and foaming at the mouth. The novitiate of these fellows is degrading and painful. Uveïs, the founder of a sect in the first century of the hegira, required of his followers to draw all their teeth, in honour of the prophet, who lost two of his teeth at the battle of Ohud23. So severe a probation left no room for hypocrisy, and the weakness of human nature gradually operated the extinction of this sect; but the institutions of the dervishes are upheld and perpetuated by the generally received opinion, that there exists continually among Mussulmans the legion of three hundred and fifty-six saints, which is composed of the members of these different fraternities, and which constitutes, in an invisible manner, that spiritual and celestial order which is consecrated under the august name of ghavs alem, refuge of the 127 world. Enthusiastic and pious Mahometans apprehend, that the abolition of the order of dervishes would draw down upon the empire and the faithful the curses of this holy association; and the boldest free-thinkers consider this mixture of austerity and immorality, of devotion and profaneness, as a mystery which the Mussulman should adore in silence.
21See Reland, de relig. Moham. l.ii, p.156. See in Toderini (t.i, p.20) a list of those names, which compose the tespih, or Mussulman rosary.
22Volney asserts, that "the sacred dances of the dervishes are an imitation of the movements of the stars." (See Voyages en Syrie, et en Egypte, t.ii, p.289, note.) The Turks, however, certainly do not think so, or they would be guilty of idolatry in being spectators of them. The dances of the dervishes more aptly represent the confusion of an enthusiast's ideas, than the order of the heavenly bodies, which indeed may, with no greater impropriety, be considered as the prototype of our national hornpipe.
23Tableau Général, t.iv, p.620.Emirs.
The emirs derive their descent from Fatima, the daughter of Mahomet: they are sometimes called evladi resul allah, sons of prophet of God, and in their pilgrimage to his shrine at Medina, they invoke him by the name of their ancestor. They are dispersed all over the empire, through every rank in society, and are distinguished by wearing a green turban. Cantemir relates, that "a circumstance hardly credible, but however true, is observed in this family. The emirs before their fortieth year are men of the greatest gravity, learning, and wisdom; but after that, if they are not quite fools, yet they discover some sign of levity and stupidity24." Our countryman Sandys too asserts, "that there lives not a race of 128 ill-favoureder people, branded, perhaps by God, for the sinne of their seducing ancestor, and their own wicked assuming of hereditary holiness25." The Turks, on the contrary, believe, that a true emir can have no corporal defect nor blemish, as the whole race is constantly favoured with the grace and protection of the prophet. I am compelled, however, to declare, that the emirs differ neither in intellects nor features, nor any other mark of distinction, except their head-dress, from their fellow-citizens: the miracle would therefore be contradicted by the observation of the present day, and to admit its authenticity at any period, we are reduced to the dilemma of allowing a still greater miracle, the undeviating fidelity of all the mistresses of this ill-favoured race since the days of the incense-breathing Fatima26.
24Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.94, note 50.
25Sandys's Travels, p.64.
26"Le prophète au retour de ses expéditions guerrières ne manquoit jamais de donner à Fathima, sa fille, des marques de sa tendresse, et de lui baiser le front, en disant chaque fois qu'il sentoit en elle l'odeur du paradis." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.264.) "Accepimus per traditionem a patribus nostris" (says an Arabian author of the life of Mahomet, quoted by Marracci, in vita et rebus gestis a Mahumeto, p.31), "legatum Dei Mahumetum consuevisse multiplicare oscula in ore Phatemæ (filie sua), dominæ mulierum omnium sæculorum: ita ut dixerit ei Aisa (uxor ejus, zelotypia tacta): O legate Dei, ego video te valde frequenter osculari os Phatemæ, et intrudere linguam tuam in buccam ejus. Respondit ille: ita est, O Aisa; nam postquam nocturno tempore translatus fui in cœlum, introduxit me Gabriel, cui sit pax, in Paradisum, et adduxit me ad arborem Tuba et præbuit mihi unum ex pomis ejus, et comedi illud, et conversum est in sperma in lumbis meis. Cum autem descendissem in terram, concubui cum Chadige, quæ concepit Phatemam. Quotiescumque ergo subit mihi desiderium Paradisi, osculor illam, et ingero linguam meam in os ejus, et sentio ex ea auram Paradisi, et odorem arboris Tuba, qui est mixtus ex terreno et cœlesti."Pilgrimage to Mecca.
129 The hadj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is the principal act of devotion, and is accounted so meritorious as to cancel, and obtain a remission of, even the greatest sins. All Mussulmans, both male and female, of free condition, having attained the age of majority, and being in health both of body and mind, are commanded by the koran to undertake this journey once in their lives, and that at a time when their substance is such that half of it will suffice for the expense of the pilgrimage, and the other half is to be left behind for an honest subsistence at their return. The koran declares, that the performance of the pilgrimage to the temple of the Lord is a duty imposed on all Mussulmans. "Those who neglect it hurt themselves alone, for the defection of the universe cannot 130 diminish the happiness of the Self-existent." Mahomet enforces this duty on his followers by pronouncing, that those who die in the wilful neglect of it are no less liable to perdition than Jews and Christians; and the caliph Omar was so firmly persuaded of its indispensable necessity that he not only refused the name of Mussulmans to those who neglected to perform their pilgrimage, but even declared, that if the wretches were known to him, he would burn their property, their houses, and their persons, as a punishment for their impiety. There are, however, certain impediments which are acknowledged to be legitimate: the slave, the minor, the infirm, the insane, and the poor, are justified before God for the non-performance of this religious duty. Nor is the believer compelled to expose himself to imminent danger; nor the woman allowed to undertake the journey, except under the guardianship of her husband or near relation, who may defend her honour and her person from insult or attack27.
27Mr. Eton complains, that the Turks do not travel. He says (p.196), "this great source of expansion and improvement to the mind is entirely checked by the arrogant spirit of their religion." But does not their religion, on the contrary, by enjoining the pilgrimage to Mecca, promote travelling, and bring Mahometans, even from India and the extremities of Africa, to meet in one great assembly in that city?
131 The black stone, the chief object of the pilgrimage to Mecca, is called by the prophet a ruby of Paradise. "Verily," says he, "it shall be called upon at the last day; it shall see; it shall speak, and bear witness of those who shall have touched it in truth and sincerity of heart." This stone is the pledge of that covenant which was entered into between the great creator, and all the orders of spiritual existence. "Am not I your God?" said the Supreme Being at the moment of the creation, and all replied, "yes, thou art." This act of universal faith was deposited in the centre of the stone; and at the last judgment its testimony will confound those who have slighted, or have corrupted the purity of their original belief.
Thus, say the Mahometan doctors, it is demonstrated, that Islamism is congenial to the nature of man; and human reason, unsubdued by human sophistry, must yield immediate assent to the divinity of its doctrines. But happy, in the opinion of the faithful, are those who have confirmed by the devout kisses of their lips; their strict 132 adherence to the first and most holy of their engagements. They are honoured, during the remainder of their lives, with the veneration of their fellow-citizens; they are distinguished by the appellation of hagi; and their beards, consecrated by their devotion, are carefully nourished in their full growth, visible tokens of their obedience to the precepts, and respect for the example, of the prophet. These advantages, which the frigid devotion of Europeans is almost incapable of appreciating, can be conceived only when we estimate the exertions employed to obtain the m; when we consider the nature and extent of the country which the pilgrims are obliged to traverse, the sufferings and privations which they must undergo in their long and terrible journies, and the mental energies which must be excited in order to rouse oriental indolence to such a perilous and fatiguing enterprise. The African pilgrims returned through Cairo while the French were in possession of the country, worn to the bones with hunger and misery, so that one could with difficulty be distinguished from the other; as meagre as the deserts were arid, as extenuated as prisoners forgotten in their dungeons28.
28See Denon, voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte, t.i, p.144.Predestination.
133 Every person is believed to bear on his forehead, in characters not legible indeed man, but inscribed by the finger of God, the accidents of his life, and the appointed time of his death; and nothing, good or evil, can happen contrary to the divine decree. Hence their common sayings, such as, acajak can damarda dourmaz, "the blood predestined to flow will not remain in the artery." Yet they allow a free-will in man, in order that infidels may be left without excuse at the last judgment. "All," they say, "may be saved who will; but no man is saved, whom God has not destined to salvation.29."
29"Le Musulman qui voit sa fortune réduite en cendres on enlevée par une main avide, l'individu frappé de la contagion, le marin qui périt au pied d'un rocher par l'inhabileté du pilote, le malade victime de l'ignorance d'un empirique, le sujet enfin qui se voit écrasé sous le poids d'une autorité arbitrairem tous se soumettent à leur malheuréux sort avec une égale résignation. Le moindre murmure est taxé d'irréligion, d'attentat, de doute criminelle contre les décrets célestes. Ils regardent leur meurtrier, l'auteur de leur infortune, comme un instrument entre les mains de la Providence, qui exerce sur eux l'arrêt irrévocable de leur destinée, arrêt, disent-ils, écrit sur leur front dès avant leur naissance, et dont l'événement est par-là même au dessus de toute sagesse et de toute prévoyance humaine. Ce fatalisme est consacré sous le nom de takdir ou kissmeth; dans tous les événemens de la vie, heureux ou malheureux, ces mots sont toujours dans la bouche des Musulmans de toutes les (?)classes et de toutes les conditions." (Tab.Gén. t.i, p.169.) "Que le musulman essuye une grande perte; qu'il soit dépouillé, ruiné, il dit tranquillement: C'étoit écrit, et avec ce mot il passe sans murmure de l'opulence à la misère: qu'il soit au lit de la mort, rien n'altère sa sécurité; il fait son ablution, sa prière; il a confiance en Dieu et au prophète; il dit avec calme à son fils: Tourne-moi la tête vers la Mekke, et il meurt en paix." (Volney, voyages en Syrie et en Egypte, t.ii, p.331.) "Though the Mahometan law obliges them not to abandon the city, nor their houses, nor to avoid the conversation of men infected with the pestilence where their business or calling employs them, yet they are counselled not to frequent a contagious habitation, where they have no lawful affair to invite them." (Rycaut, p.116.)
134 The doctrine of fatalism, which is sufficiently powerful, when combined with their natural indolence, to prevent their taking the necessary precautions for guarding against the infection of the plague, is however weak too weak to withstand actual and imminent danger. They expose themselves to contagion with indifference; but have precipitated themselves into impassable torrents, and even into the sea, to avoid the fire or the bayonet of their enemies.
It is difficult to ascertain their precise opinion of this fatality. They say it an overrules human purposes, and seem to think, that it blindly follows the direction which it has received, overturning or disregarding circumstances, which in the natural order of 135 events should have diverted its course; and that it sometimes adheres so closely to the letter of the sentence which it is commissioned to execute, as to mistake the real spirit and intent. My house was burnt down; and a Turk of my acquaintance made me a visit of condolence. "A misfortune," said he, "was predestined to you. Thank God. It was directed against your head; but it has fallen only on your property." A pasha, to whom mischief seemed to be portended, has been removed from his office, in order that the threatened calamity might affect only himself, and be averted from the public30.
30"Constat aliquando amotos ab officio bassas propter equi lapsum, ac si magni alicujus infortunii id portentum esset, quod abrogatione officii a publica calamitate in caput privatum averruncaretur." (Busbeq, Epist. i, p.54.)
The doctrine of predestination obtained much credit as the nurse of heroism, while success was its concomitant in the Ottoman armies, and it was considered as being peculiarly calculated to inspire and perpetuate military ardour. It is indeed true, that, in countries where it prevails, it must be a powerful engine in the hands of government for raising or recruiting armies, as it supplies unanswerable arguments to call men 136 into the field; but I doubt its efficacy to convince the coward, that he is not more exposed to danger or death in the front of battle than in camp or in quarters. In the heat of action, while flushed with success, their situation alone is fully sufficient to inspire soldiers with all the necessary impetuosity. If predestination could urge motives for unceasing exertion, when they are dejected by misfortune and dispirited by unconquerable resistance, the national prejudice would indeed be most valuable. But, on the contrary, the certainty of dying, the firm persuasion, that we are arrived at the term of life, so far from preparing us for resisting death, only relaxes our endeavours to protract our existence. Religion, indeed, teaches, that the sentence inscribed on men's foreheads is illegible to themselves and to their fellow-mortals; but, in the moment of despondency, all pretend to decypher it. The janizaries, after three unsuccessful attacks, are persuaded, that they are fighting against providence, and cannot legally be compelled to attempt a fourth31. The timid sultan, alarmed at the progress and insolence of rebellion, imagines, that he hears the decree 137 of God in the voice of popular tumult: and a treacherous courtier, who has succeeded in effecting the ruin of a colleague, produces the order of the sovereign for his death as the appointment of divine providence, which a Mussulman, instead of querulously resisting, should patiently adore.
31Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.310, note 55.Invocation of saints.
The Turks acknowledge it to be meritorious and becoming to reverence all departed saints, and religiously visit their monuments: but they are chiefly commanded by their law to invoke the names of Mahomet and the four caliphs his immediate successors, and to write them in neat characters on tablets, which they hang up in the mosques and other buildings. The blessings of paradise they suppose to be in common, and therefore assign no particular station to their saints; and they deny to all, except Mahomet himself, any compassion for human miseries, as thinking it would be a hindrance to the perfect felicity at which they are arrived32: 138 yet the weak and the vulgar admire in living idiots an enthusiastic devotion, an insensibility to the enjoyments and conveniences of life, and the voluntary adoption of evil. After the decease of these imaginary favourites of heaven, they hang about their tombs their votive offerings for the cure of diseases, and the removing of sterility and impotence33.
32Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.81, note 7. p.124, note 22. Such indeed appears to be the popular opinion: and the Mahometan pronounces neither the election nor the reprobation of any mortal, except those whom the prophet himself has declared to be in the enjoyment of beatitude. These are ten persons, who were co-operators with the prophet, his apostles or his scribes, and chiefly the four caliphs, his immediate successors. On them, indeed, he has conferred a weight of glory, sufficient to make the stoutest of them tremble. "Ils ont pour partage les régions les plus élevées et les plus enchantées du ciel. La félicité, dont ils jouissent dans ce séjour ravissant, est au dessus de l'intelligence humaine. L'Eternel a destiné à chacun d'eux soixantedix pavillons superbes, tous éclatans d'or et de pierreries: chacun de ces pavillons immenses est garni de sept cents lits éblouissans, et chaque lit est entouré de sept cents hourys ou vierges célestes." (Tab. Gén. t.i, p.318.)
33Locke, in his essay concerning human understanding (book i, ch.3, §9), has quoted from the voyage of Baumgarten, in the language in which it was published, a passage concerning the saints who are canonized among the Turks, similar to the following story from Leunclavius, which Mr. Eton has presented to his readers in all the nudity of the English idiom; and yet, I must confess, I doubt the accuracy of the information. The indecencies of the Egyptian saints (and those sufficiently disgusting) are indeed mentioned by modern travellers, but it would require undeniable testimony to reconcile me to the belief, that such depravity is not only tolerated but approved. "Veniebant ad nos Constantinopolim ex Ægypto, Sebastianus ab Haunsperg, et Johannes a Salagasto, viri nobiles. Horum alter Salagastius nobis narrabat, Alexandriæ, quum istic ipse degeret, hujusmodi quemdam sanctum virum opinione Mahumetanorum, quum præ foribus balnei muliebris stans exeuntem e balneo fœminam quandam attentius intuitus esset, in eam furore quasi quodam correptum involasse, ac protinus humi prostratam, nec admodum fortasse repugnantem, in oculis omnium compressisse. Maritum eo facto se beatum duxisse, quod vir sanctus, impulsu divino, præ aliis cum uxore sua coïvisset." It must be recollected, that the manners of the Orientals are less changeable than those of the European nations, so that what was true in the time of Leunclavius would still be found to exist with little or no modification: now Denon, who had the best opportunities of observing the manners of the Egyptians, and who certainly would not have passed over so striking a peculiarity, gives us however reason to suspect, from his silence on the subject, that both Locke and Leunclavius have been misled by inaccurate or exaggerated information. "The greatest part of the santons," says Denon, "pass their lives crouched in the angle of a wall, incessantly repeating the word allah, and receiving, without returning thanks, the means of subsistence. Others beat themselves on the head with stones: others again only tell their beads and sing hymns; while the most fanatic remain motionless, naked without being indecent, exposed to the violent rays of the sun without showing any feeling of uneasiness, and receiving charity without expressing satisfaction." (See voyage, &c. t.i, p.231. t.iii, p.45.)Belief in the efficacy of amulets, relics, and enchantments.
139 They have confidence in amulets and charms for preventing or delivering from mischief; and as they sometimes charitably recommend the use of them to strangers, they must suppose their virtue to operate independent of belief in Islamism34.
34Among the ignorant inhabitants of Turkey there seems to be a community of the advantages of talismans. I have known a Jew apply a Venetian sequin to an obstinate ulcer; a remedy which had been recommended to him by a Greek Christian out of respect for the figures of the Virgin and the Infant.
140 That virtue may be communicated to inanimate matter from its contact with the persons of saints, or from having been used for the purposes of religion, has been an opinion universally received among Christians and Turks. The sanjac sherif, or standard of Mahomet, which no unbeliever should look upon with impunity, is considered as the palladium of the empire. In time of peace it is deposited in a kind of chapel within the seraglio, and religiously guarded, together with the other relics of the prophet. When the sultan in person, or the grand vizir, leads the armies against the enemies of the faith, the sanjac sherif is taken out of its shrine with great ceremony and many prayers, and carried to the camp, where a superb tent is erected for its reception, and forty officers, chosen from the capigis, or chamberlains of the palace, are appointed to carry it by turns. It is placed order the protection of all the possessors of military fiefs, and more especially confided to the care of four regiments, which derive their name from the performance of this service. The whole Mussulman population poured out from the city to salute it, on its safe return from the late Russian war. I was deterred from going 141 myself on account of the danger which had attended some Christian spectators on a former occasion; but I was desirous of learning from a Turk, with whom I was acquainted, what this famous standard was. He evaded my question by assuring me, that he was seized with a tremor when he beheld it, so as not to be able to gaze stedfastly upon it; and was displeased with my rallying him on the firmer nerves of the enemies of the Mussulman faith35. The veil which is annually sent by the sultan for covering the caaba of Mecca, becomes intrinsically holy, and is distributed over the empire as most valuable gift. A slip of it is sewed into the pall which is furnished from the mosques at funerals. Pieces of it are worn by the faithful, as one of the means of grace and an assurance of the divine protection; and these perishable materials accompany their fond possessors to the grave, as tokens of undeviating attachment to Islamism.
35I confess I do not feel less respect for this sacred standard from knowing, that, in its original destination, it served as the curtain of the chamber-door of Aïsché, the favourite wife of the uxorious Mahomet. (Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.379.)
The belief of the baneful effects of the evil eye and of envious commendation, is prevalent 142 among all ranks and sects of people; and as it has reigned from remote antiquity in the countries which the Ottomans possess, they may be supposed rather to have adopted than introduced it. Virgil's shepherd attributes to the malicious glances of an enemy the diseased appearance of his flock; and Pliny relates, that the Thessalian sorcerers destroyed whole harvests by speaking well of them. In Turkey, the barge of state of the sultan, as well as the pile of firewood in the court-yard of a public bath, is preserved from accident by a head of garlick. Every object, which can possibly attract attention or excite jealousy, is secured by some counteracting influence. The eye of the malicious observer is seduced into benediction by the sacred exclamation masch-allah, written in conspicuous characters, and placed the most obviously to view in the front of a house. The horse carries his rider with safety among the envious populace, while a string of blue beads dangles on his chest36. 143 But the anxious mother doubts even the effect of the talisman, and spits in her infant's face, that it may escape unhurt from the admiration of the childless, or the jealousy of less happy parents37.
36"Omnibus (pullis equinis) cervicem ambit, veluti monile, fascia amuletis plena, adversus fascinium quod præcipue metuitur." (Busbeq. Epist.iii, p.110.) A French writer, pleasantly enough, compares these talismans to the conductors placed on buildings in order to carry off lightning.
37It is an opinion in Turkey (more common, indeed, among the Greek islanders), that a rival, by repeating certain mystical words, or performing certain magical ceremonies, at the moment of the celebration of marriage, can disappoint the wishes of the parties by suspending the exercise of virility.Faith in omens and dreams."Ami lecteur, vous avez quelquefois Ouï conter qu'on nouait l'aiguillette. C'est une étrange et terrible recette."Such opinions have been adduced in all countries, in order to account for the temporary embarrassment, sometimes occasioned by the novelty of situation. I knew an instance of a young and vigorous Turk, who, imputing the insipidity of his honeymoon to the influence of sorcery, crossed the Bosphorus, in order to consult a dervish, renowned for his skill in baffling the arts of the devil. Unfortunately the success of the experiment could never be known. A sudden squall of wind overset the boat, within sight of his native village, and left his unfortunate widow to bewail her virginity.
Islamism, which operated such astonishing revolutions in the moral and political state of society, was nevertheless forced to bend under the influence of the irrational opinions which had immemorially prevailed among the nations of Arabia; and Mahomet, the destroyer of idolatry, fulminated in vain against the illusions of magic, and dreams, 144 and augury. The Turks are superstitious observers of omens, and think, that the pure soul of a Mussulman foresees, and is admonished of, future events in his dreams38. They carefully notice the first expressions, or the first action, of their new sultan on his accession to the throne, and thence predict his character and future government. Murad the Third, having heard of his father's death, set out from Magnesia, the capital of the province which he governed, and arrived in the night at the seraglio. The officers of the court and the ministers of state did homage before his throne, and listened with anxiety to the first words which he might utter. "I am hungry," said the sultan, "let me have something to eat." Every one was immediately seized with horror and dismay, an foresaw, at the very commencement of so inauspicious a reign, the famines, the wars, and civil dissensions, which disturbed and desolated the empire during the whole period of its continuance.
38The same opinion appears to be equally prevalent among the Persians. The historian of the life of Nader Shah (book i, chap.13) relates a dream of his Highness, when his soul, delivered from the incumbrance of the body, received in the region of sleep illuminations of the divinity, which showed on the mirror of the vision the face of truth.Prejudice against pictures.
145 The Persians paint whole pictures, and commonly insert them in their historical writings. But the Turks, in general, consider it unlawful to paint, though not to describe in words, any other parts of the human body than the hands and feet of Mahomet, the body of the prophet being always concealed by the wings of legions of angels; and they firmly believe, that angels can enter no house where there are portraits of men39. The Mussulman, in the performance of the namaz, is ordered to throw off any parts of his dress which are made of stuffs on which are represented the figures of men or other animals, and to turn his face, during his devotions, from the sight of portraits or 146 pictures, unless they describe only the heads of irrational animals, or pieces of inanimate nature; but foreign coin, though bearing the impression of human figures, does not invalidate their prayers, and may be carried about them even during their journey to the holy city of Mecca. The standards of many of the companies of janizaries, the ships of war, and even the coffee-houses and shops of tradesmen, are decorated with rude and grotesque representations of birds and quadrupeds, and the barge of the sultan supports a golden eagle on its prow40. We have the authority of Prince Cantemir and the Chevalier d'Ohsson for the existence of a regular series of the portraits of all the Ottoman sovereigns in the seraglio; and I have seen a pocket-book belonging to the present sultan, containing engraved portraits of the most distinguished characters of our own time. It was sent to Sir Sidney Smith, that 147 he might communicate some historical anecdotes of Admiral Lord Nelson; and I remarked among the prints the likenesses of Lewis the Sixteenth, Catherine the Second, and Marshal Suwarow.
39"The Mahometan religion," says Mr. Eton, "has no medium of communication with the arts, and is fundamentally gloomy." (p.194, 196.) If Mr. Eton means the arts of painting and statuary, he is right; for they are banished from the mosque as rigorously as from the synagogues of the Jews, or the churches of several denominations of Christians. But, as the subjects, on which these arts are generally exercised in the churches of the Christians who admit the use of them, are tortures and death, it may be apprehended, that they throw somewhat of gloom, even upon our holy religion. Architecture and the ornamental arts are consecrated as much to Islamism as to Christianity. But such is the connexion between the arts that all become vitiated in practice from the partial exclusion of any one of them.
40"Nous citerons encore l'usage constant et général des ombres chinoises, et le débit continuel, quoique toujours clandestin, de figures d'hommes et de femmes dessinées sur du papier. Les obscénités qu'elles représentent sont tellement du goût de la nation, que ceux qui paroissent avoir le plus de répugnance pour les productions du pinceau, ne se font pas scrupule de remplir leurs porte-feuilles de ces dessins scandaleux." (Tab. Gén, t.iv, p.440.)Punishment of apostacy.
The Turks are not only encouraged to persevere in the profession of the orthodox faith by civil distinctions and the assurance of paradise, but are deterred from apostacy by the temporal punishments denounced against it. Those who abjure the Mahometan faith are stigmatized by the law with the appellation of murtedds, and to them no clemency can be shown: they cannot sink into the class of zimmys or tributary subjects, and redeem their fault by the payment of the capitation-tax. Nothing can deliver them from death but the abjuration of their errors, and a renewal of their faith in the doctrines of Islamism. "If the rites of the established religion are performed, and a convenient conformity observed, the Turks inquire no further about it," and an inclination to change is indeed so rarely avowed as almost to authorize the assertion, that "executions, tortures, pains, and penalties, inflicted on account of religion, are never 148 heard of among them."41 The loss of the apostate's head has, however, in some rare instances, been the penalty of preferring the gospel to the koran42.
41Observations on the religion, &c. of the Turks, p.33.
42See Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.181.- Tableau Général, t.i, p.153.- See also (in t.iii, p.175) the history of the punishment of the first apostate Abd'ullah ibn-Hélal by order of Mahomet himself.Morality.
Lessons of morality are communicated to the Turkish youth in proverbs and parables; a mode of instruction than which nothing can he conceived more equivocal and injudicious. An infinite number of sayings have obtained credit and authority among the Turks; and though abstractedly good, a colour may be given, under their sanction, to actions the most perverse tendency. The conciseness of a proverb occasions the wrong application of it more easily to escape detection: it dazzles by the neatness of its expression; and the opponent, perplexed and unable to reply, finds himself outwitted, and imagines himself to be convinced43. The mischief is greater when the quotation is from scripture, whose authority is too sacred to be 149 questioned; and few suspect, that a sentence may bear a contrary signification when separated from the content. The Turkish morality, however, though imperfect and limited, is not fundamentally perverted, except with respect to unbelievers.
43I might quote the example of Sancho Pança, to show of how little use is this concentrated wisdom of ages in the conduct of common life.Proselytism.
Of all good works, zeal for the propagation of the faith seems to be esteemed the most meritorious. No requiem is necessary for the souls of men slain in war, for they have conquered paradise by martyrdom. Their funeral rites are different from those of men deceased according to the order of nature: they require neither ablution nor burying sheet: the blood with which they are covered stands in the stead of legal purifications. "Wash not their bodies," says the prophet, "every wound which they bear will smell sweeter than musk in the day of judgment."
"If a man's feet have been sprinkled with dust in the path of the Lord, him will God preserve from hell-fire," is one of the hadiss or oracular sayings of the prophet. Bajazet the Second, understanding the passage in its literal sense, carefully collected the dust which had adhered to his clothes during his military expeditions, and in his last moments 150 conjured the by-standers to make a brick of it, and place it in his coffin under his right arm, instead of a cushion44.
44Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.142.Modes of proposing the faith to unbelievers.
If to the duty of extending Mahometanism were added the vanity of making converts, and if the Turks had possessed the same spirit of loquacity and argumentation as the Greeks, the situation of those who survived the independence of their empire would have been deplorable indeed. In the ordinary commerce of life, every question among the Greeks, during their domestic discussions of the subtleties of their faith, was answered by an exposition of some mysterious and intricate doctrine45. But how much more would such impertinence, on the part of the Turks, have been aggravated by the political superiority of the teacher to his scholar! Fortunately, the contemplation of his own excellence gives the Mahometan only the sentiment of pride: he performs an act of charity in proposing his faith to the acceptance of 151 the uninitiated; but his confidence in it is too firm for any vanity to be gratified by multiplying its adherents. "The conversion of the heart," say the Mussulmans, "belongs to God alone:" and though, from motives of duty, they hold out to strangers the advantages of their faith, they do not disturb the harmony of social intercourse by disputation on its superiority, or by sophistry in its defence. They think, that they have done enough when they have cast the seed; and they leave it to produce fruit in its own good time46.
45"If you desire a man to change a piece of silver, he informs you, wherein the Son differs from the Father: if you ask the price of a loaf, you are told, by way of reply, that the Son is inferior to the Father; and if you inquire whether the bath is ready, the answer is, that the Son was made out of nothing." (Jortin's Remarks on Eccles. hist. v.iv, p.71.)
46"Turcæ pietati et officio suo convenire existimant, ut homini Christiano, de quo bene sentiant, sacrorum et religionis suæ communionem semel deferant, ut servent, si possint, certo exitio de stinatum." (Busbeq. Epist. iii, p.126.)
In their public prayers the Mahometans never ask of God the conversion of other people: but in private it frequently happens, that a pious Turk, instigated by zeal or by personal attachment to a Christian or a Jew, lifts up his hands, and exclaims, "Great God! enlighten this infidel, and graciously dispose his heart to embrace thy holy religion." When devout persons, from a sense of duty, propose their faith to the acceptance of a youth whom they esteem for 152 his talents or his knowledge, they do it with a smiling air, and in words carefully studied so as not to give offence. The zeal of the missionary is bounded by the rules of good breeding, and a vague answer, or the abstaining from a reply, is received as an indication, that the subject ought not to be resumed. The doctrine of Mahomet owes its progress less to persuasion than to force. The scimitar was the powerful instrument employed for extending it. The Jews and Christians are distinguished by the name of kitaby (people of the book or possessors of scripture) from the idolater, whether worshipper of the heavenly bodies, or of fire, or of idols. The operation of the scimitar, with respect to them, extended no further than to overcome the stubbornness of their hearts, and to dispose them to listen with submission, if not with conviction, to the reasoning of the doctors. Only the heathen and the idolater were threatened with extermination; while the writings of the old and new testament, revered even by Mahometans, were sacred titles, which established a distant relationship between the disciples of the law and the gospel, and their conquerors47. The 153 Doric dimensions of the Jewish column are first to be lengthened according to the rules of evangelical proportion, in order to be fitted to receive the Corinthian capital of Mahometan perfection; but the spot, on which it is to be erected, must first be cleared by fire and the sword from the rank luxuriance of polytheism48.
47"The prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and men, of stars and planets, on the rational principle, that whatever rises must set, that whatever is born must die, that whatever is corruptible must decay and perish." - "The chain of inspiration was prolonged from the fall of Adam to the promulgation of the koran. During that period - six legislators of transcendent brightness have announced to mankind the six successive revelations of various rites, but of one immutable religion. The authority and station of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and Mahomet, rise in just gradation above each other; but whosoever hates or rejects any one of the prophets is numbered with the infidels." (Gibbon's Rom. hist. v.ix, p.262, 263, 264.) The stranger, and even the Mussulman, who utters blasphemy against either Moses or Jesus Christ, is sentenced to death by the law. (See a fetwa to this effect, extracted by D'Ohsson from the collection published by the mufti Behhdjé Abd'ullah Effendi, in the Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.520.) The conversion of a Jew is not reputed sincere and real; "because," say the Mussulman doctors, "he rejects Jesus Christ, which alone constitutes an act of heinous impiety."
48"Kill and exterminate all the muschrikinns" is a precept of the koran. Muschrikinn is an Arabic word, signifying worshippers of plurality. Where Islamism is predominant, the command has sometimes been executed literally and to the full extent of its meaning. But where the Mahometan church bends under a foreign yoke, the meaning is restricted to the Arabian pagans.
154 A difficulty which checked, in some instances, the progress of Christianity among the barbarians, was ingeniously eluded by the author of Islamism. In the moment of agony, when the powers of the body and the faculty of speech can no longer be exerted, it is still allowed, that a sudden ray of divine inspiration may break in, and dispose the soul to a mental acknowledgment of the truth; which tardy conversion effectually secures the proselyte from final perdition49. No convert is called upon to suppose, or to admit, the damnation of his ancestors: the Jew and the Christian are spared the mortification of recanting former errors, or making retrograde motions, the most difficult of any in matters of religion50. The alternative offered to the 155 nations who had submitted to the sabre, was, either conversion to the religion of the conquerors, or tribute as the price of retaining their own. Only the idolaters, the Sabians, and the disciples of Zoroaster were excluded from the indulgence granted to the professors of every other religion. No community of opinion or belief connected them with the Mahometans; and extirpation appeared the only security against the propagation of their infectious doctrines.
49"C'est l'état où se trouvent les hommes au moment de leur mort, qui met le sceau à leur caractère de fidélité ou d'infidélité. Quelle qu'ait été leur vie passée, elle n'y influe pour rien. Ainsi quiconque auroit vécu toute sa vie infidèle, s'il se convertit, est dès-lors réputé fidèle." - "La récitation de la confession de foi (qu'il suffit que l'agonisant fasse d'intention) met le sceau au salut éteernel, selon cet oracle du prophète: Celui dont ces paroles, Il n'y a point de Dieu si non Dieu, sont les dernières que sa bouche profère, a certainement le paradis pour partage." (Tab. Gén, t.i, p.165. t.ii, p.296.)
50"The heroes of the North had submitted, with some reluctance, to believe, that all their ancestors were in hell:" but "Radbod,king of the Frisons, was so much scandalized by this rash declaration of a missionary that he drew back his foot, after he had entered the baptismal fount." (Gibbon's Rom. hist. v.vi, p.278.)Public charities.
The professors of Islamism, in the genuine spirit of piety, consider, that religion is best characterized by acts of public utility. They have been accused of ostentation in their charities, and of being actuated only by the spirit of pride or superstition; but if we judge of their motives by their own declarations we shall be surprised at the injustice and uncharitableness of this censure. Charity is compared by the poet Jami to musk, whose substance, though concealed from the sight, is discovered by the grateful odour which it diffuses: another Turkish poet has left the 156 following precept. "Let the stream of liberality flow so silently from your hand that its sound may not reach even to your ears." It is, however, a pardonable, if not even a laudable, superstition, to suppose the author of all good looking with complacency on the humble imitation of his perfections; and a justifiable pride, to feel the heart swell upon seeing the weary and the hungry fed and refreshed, the ignorant instructed, and the sick healed, by our beneficence. A khan or caravanserai for the accommodation of travellers51, a mosque with its schools and hospitals, 157 a fountain, a bridge, or a public road, cannot be unostentatiously established without abridging their utility. "We must not attribute their erection," says Mr. Eton, "to patriotism or public spirit52." Be it so: but I have galloped across a scorching desert in hopes of discovering a fountain to allay thirst of myself and my horse, and have blessed the philanthropy which had searched out, and erected a monument on, the only spot which furnished water. One of the fountains in Constantinople bears the following inscription. "This fountain tells thee its age in verses composed by Sultan Ahmed. Unlock my pure and inexhaustible stores and call upon the name of God: drink of my limpid and untroubled waters and pray for Sultan Ahmed." The namaz giahs, or places for ablution and prayer erected on the road side, consist of a kind of altar, a monument of stone decorated with the figure 158 of a lamp, in colours or in low relief, which serves to point out the direction of the temple of Mecca, the kebla or visible point of the horizon to which the eye and the thought should be directed during the exercise of prayer. These signals, erected in imitation of those which regulate the positions of the faithful in every mosque and almost in every private house, are usually elevated on a platform or terrace, adjoining to a well or a fountain, and shaded with trees. I can assert from my own experience, that the traveller in Turkey meets with no objects which excite in him more agreeable sensations than these pious or philanthropic establishments. De Tott asserts, that "they are worth a great number of indulgences, for which the Turks, who obtain them, find a ready sale53." But the Turks are unacquainted with indulgences: they indeed allow, that the merit of good works may be transferred or sold; and their historians relate, that Sultan Bajazet, after vainly endeavouring to prevail on a pasha to yield to him the merit of having erected a bridge over a torrent which interrupted the communication between Constantinople and 159 Adrianople, struck off the pasha's head, swam across the torrent at the hazard of his life, and ordered his army to halt till the waters had abated54.
51The best description of the public buildings called caravanserais is given by Busbequius. (Epist. i, p.17.) "Diverti in diversorium publicum. Caravansarai Turcæ vocant. Hoc genus in ea regione usitatissimum. Vastum est ædificium, longius aliquanto quam latius, in cujus medio patet area ponendis sarcinis, et camelis, mulis, carrisque collocandis. Hanc aream plerumque circumcirca murus ambit, tres plus minus pedes altus, parieti, quo totum ædificium clauditur, hærens et inædificatus. Ejus muri summa superficies æqua est; patetque in latitudinem pedes circiter quatuor. Hic Turcarum cubilia sunt; hic cœnacula; hic rem expediunt culinariam (nam in pariete, quo totum ædificium contineri dixi, foci subinde sunt inædificati) nulla re a camelis, equis, reliquisque jumentis, alia sejuncti, quam ejus muri spatio, quinimo ad muri pedem ita ligatos habent equos, ut capite et tota cervice supra eum emineant; dominisque se calefacientibus aut etiam cœnantibus adstent, veluti ministri; interdum panem vel malum, sive quid aliud, de manu corum capiunt. In codem muro lectos sibi sternunt. Tapetem in primis explicant, quem oa de causa aptatum ephippiis fere circumferunt: huic injiciunt penulam: cervical præbet equestris sella. Veste talari pellibus suffulta, qua vestiuntur diu, teguntur noctu. Sic illi somnum capiunt nullis lacessitum blandimentis. Nihil ibi secreti: omnis fiunt in propatulo, neque quicquam ab omnium conspectu, nisi noctis tenebris, submovetur."
52Survey of the Turkish empire, p.121.
53De Tott's memoirs, v.i, p.154.
54Cantemir's Ottoman history, p.171.Hospitality and alms.
Hospitality to strangers and giving alms to the poor, are virtues to which the oriental nations are much habituated. In imitation of the patriarchs, and with unaffected simplicity, the tables of the rich and great are daily open to all who can with propriety present themselves; while inferior persons of every class range themselves around the tables of the officers of their household and their domestics, and the fragments are distributed at the door to the poor and the hungry. A servant would blush at the idea of making a perquisite of them: even the peasant will offer the of his hut to the traveller, and rather than refuse him a welcome, will put himself to considerable inconvenience to entertain him. The right of proprietorship is seldom exerted to exclude from a garden, an orchard, or a vineyard, any person who may choose to enter them, and to pluck and eat the herbs or the fruit.Tenderness towards brute animals.
160 I will not wholly attribute to the same principle their tenderness to the inferior classes of animals, as in some cases they seem to be restrained from molesting or destroying them as much by indolence as humanity55. The dog, as an unclean animal whose contact produces legal defilement, is rigorously excluded from their dwellings and the courts of their mosques. But they allow dogs to increase in their streets till they become an intolerable nuisance, even in the day time, and are really a formidable evil to those who have occasion to pass through the Turkish quarter of the town at night. These animals have divided the city into districts. They jealously guard 161 from encroachment the imaginary line which bounds their native territory, and they never transgress it, either in their pursuit of an invading dog, or in their attack on the passenger, whom they deliver over at their frontier to be worried by the neighbouring pack56. Constantinople may be considered as the paradise of birds: the doves feed unmolested on the corn which is conveyed in open lighters across the harbour, and they luxuriate in such security that they scarcely yield a passage to the boatmen or labourers. The confused noise of the harbour is increased by 162 the clang of sea-birds: to shoot at them in the neighbourhood of the city, would be rash; and even in the villages on the Bosphorus inhabited by Franks, where the Turks can only censure, they never fail to reprobate the destruction of them as an act of wanton cruelty57. The hog, alone of all animals, excites in the Turks a sense of loathing 163 and abhorrence; and though permitted in the infidel quarters of some provincial towns, is scrupulously banished from the capital and its suburbs58. The hog, however, is a creature destined by nature to live in filth and mire, and to cleanse the neighbourhood of the habitations of men; and it may be worth inquiry, whether the absence of so useful an animal, by deranging the order of nature, may not tend to the production, or facilitate the progress, of the plague.
55The question scarcely appears deserving of a controversy. De Tott, whose object in writing his memoirs was to debase the Turkish character, imputes to a childish fondness for amusement their care of providing food for cats and dogs. (See Memoirs, v.i, p. 212.) D'Ohsson, on the other hand, asserts (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.25), "that they are restrained from ill-treating brute animals by a principle of compassion, the influence of which is so prevalent among them that, according to the Turkish historians, many of the earlier princes, who were unable to resist their inclination for hunting, condemned themselves, from a scruple of conscience, to give away in alms to the poor the value of the game which they killed." Certain it is, that no one is allowed to overload beasts of burthen, or to use them with cruelty. Every person who has lived in Constantinople must have remarked, that the city guards frequently interfere (and have a right to do so), and insist upon an overloaded horse or a mule being eased of his burthen.
56The law of the koran prohibits the slaughter of dogs and other domestic animals, except such as are fit for food. But, as I have observed also in Tartary and in several cities of Russia, that the streets are filled with filthy and unowned dogs, I suppose, that the Turkish toleration of them proceeds rather from custom than precept. In the capital of Turkey dogs are not without their use: they devour every digestible offal, with which the streets would otherwise be contaminated. Indeed, it is chiefly owing to them, and the declivities on which the city is built, that some degree of exterior cleanliness is preserved. The ordure of dogs is an useful article in the manufacture of Morocco leather. All the supposed causes of canine madness seem to exist in the greatest abundance in Turkey, yet that dreadful calamity is entirely unknown. Nassuh Pasha, grand vizir to Ahmed the First, from some motive of superstition which he never chose to explain, removed all the dogs from the streets of Constantinople, and sent them over by boat-loads to the opposite coast of Asia.
57"Ils regardent comme une inhumanité criminelle, non seulement l'action de tuer les animaux, mais encore celle de les priver de leur liberté, sur-tout ceux dont la chair est interdite sur leur sable. Plusieurs les achètent et les villes des cages remplies d'oiseaux que l'on vend sous le nom d'azad-couchlery, c'est-à-dire, oiseaux à affranchir, dont les dévots paient la valeur pour les remettre en liberté." (Tab.Gén. t.iv, p.309.) "Est e regione diversorii nostri procera platanus, amplitudine ramorum et opacitate frondium spectanda: sub ea interdum consistunt aucupes, cum magno avicularum numero: accedunt multi, et parvo ære captivas redimunt, quas singulatim deinceps manu emittunt. Illæ fere in platanum subvolant, ubi se a carceria squallore et sordibus purgant, pinnasque explicant, pipilantes interim. Tum Turcæ qui redemerunt, audin', inquiunt alter alteri, ut sibi gratulatur, et mihi gratias agit? Quid ergo? Adeone Pythagoræi Turcæ ut omne animal apud cos sacrosanctum sit, nulloque vescantur? Minime, imo fere a nullo abstinent, quod sit appositum, sive elixo sive assato. Ovem quidem lanienæ nasci dicunt, sed non ferunt ex earum cruciatu et tormento voluptatem quæri. Minores quidem aves, quarum cantu rura campique celebrantur, sunt qui nulla ratione adduci queant ut interficiant, imo ut caveis inclusas teneant, nimiam libertati earum injuriam sic fieri existimantes. Sed non est omnibus una sententia." (Busbeq. Epist. iii, p.119.)
58An exception is made in favour of the "corps diplomatique," to whom a firman is granted for the admission of hogs into the district of Pera during the Carnival. But they make their entry at midnight, and by the light of torches.Character of the Turks;
The physical effect of climate upon the character, trough its operation cannot be wholly denied, is yet so much over-ruled by moral causes that they alone form the line of demarcation between the different inhabitants of this great empire.their austerity,
The austerity of Mahometan religion gives to its votaries a certain moroseness of character, which, towards persons of a different persuasion, is heightened into superciliousness. The gravity of deportment which such a religion necessarily generates, is left without its proper corrective, the gayety inspired by the presence 164 and conversation of women.irritability of temper,
The Turk is usually placid, hypochondriac, and unimpassioned; but, when the customary sedateness of his temper is ruffled, his passions, unmitigated by the benign influence of female manners, are furious and uncontrollable. The individual seems possessed with all the ungovernable fury of a multitude; and all ties, all attachments, all natural and moral obligations, are forgotten or despised, till his rage subsides59. De Tott represents them as "seeking celebrity by murder, without having courage to commit it deliberately, and deriving only from intoxication sufficient resolution for such a crime60." But intoxication itself is a vice so rare among the Turks 165 that it is evident De Tott must have drawn his general conclusion from some particular instance. It has been asserted with more truth by a more ancient author than De Tort, that "brawls and quarrels are rare among the Turks: assassinations are unheard of: and though among men striving onward in the same career there must necessarily exist a spirit of envy and secret rancour, yet the base means of supplantng a rival candidate by slander and detraction are seldom resorted to61." The point of honour so much insisted upon, and so pernicious in its consequences, among Europeans, exerts a very feeble influence over the minds of the Turks. De Tott's observation applies rather to the Italians or the Greeks of the Ionian islands62 than to the Turks, among whom it is certain, that anger generally evaporates in abuse. The practice of duelling is confined to the soldiers and galiongis (or marines), if a combat can deserve the name of duel which 166 for the most part is decided on the spot where the offence was given, and with such weapons as are nearest at hand, or the parties may happen to wear. The man of rank may insult his inferior by words or even blows; and as the one derives impunity from his situation, so the other feels no further than the real, or physical, extent of the injury. An affront received from an equal is retorted without any variation of form, and is almost immediately forgotten, if the friends of the parties interfere and propose a reconciliation. There must indeed be some exceptions to this remark, though they occur so rarely that I cannot recollect a single instance which can justify the general assertion of Sir James Porter, that "they are vindictive beyond conception, perpetuating revenge through successive generations63: "and indeed we may appeal to the general experience of human nature, whether such a temper be not inconsistent with the constitutional apathy of the Turks; or whether the resentment which explodes in sudden fury, be not generally of very short duration. D'Ohsson indeed asserts, that individuals have exhibited 167 such depravity of heart as to cherish their projects of vengeance, and sacrifice with unrelenting barbarity the object of their resentment after an interval of forty years64. I cannot question a fact supported by such respectable testimony; neither can I consider it as an illustration of the national character, but rather as a departure from that conduct which the Mussulman law, and the manners of the Ottoman people, more naturally generate. If the circumstances of the case had been more minutely detailed, I have little doubt but we should discover, that this long continued anger of the Turk had been first excited by the insolence of a rayah, the creature or the favourite of a man in power. An affront of this nature is seldom forgotten, but is indeed as rarely given; for the rayah, however puffed up with arrogance towards his fellows, cautiously avoids the expression of superiority towards a Turk even in the humblest situation, as knowing, that in the ordinary course of events he may be raised to posts of the highest dignity. But if we admit among the features of the national character an 168 cability of temper, we may oppose to it, what is more frequently exhibited, the exercise of gratitude. A benefit conferred on a Turk is seldom forgotten: the greater his elevation, the more does he feel and acknowledge the desire and the duty of repaying benefits. "I have received kindness from him in the days of humiliation and distress: I have eaten his bread and his saltand the obligation, so simply yet so energetically expressed, is too sacred ever to be annulled.
Drunkenness is condemned by the Mussulman law and the customs of the Ottoman nation. It is, however, considered but as a venial crime, and has been indulged in by some of their greatest sultans. Selim the Second was so addicted to it that he even obtained the surname of Mest, or the Drunkard; but the Turkish historians observe, in extenuation of his excesses, that they never caused him to omit his daily prayers. Intemperance in wine had come to such an ungovernable excess among the Turks in the reign of Soliman the First, that that virtuous prince, says D'Ohsson, was obliged to check the use of it by the most rigorous penalties. He even carried his severity so 169 far as to order melted lead to be poured down the throats of .the obstinate transgressors of the precepts of the koran. But, as a Turkish writer has well observed, "the religion of a nation is as the religion of the monarch:" for Selim the Drunkard, the son and immediate successor of Soliman, seduced the nation by his example into the most unblushing debauchery. "Let others put their trust in man," said the jovial sultan, "I throw myself into the arms of the Almighty, and resign myself to his immutable decrees. I think only of the pleasures of the day, and have no care for futurity." Murad the Fourth, seduced by the gayety and example of Becri Mustafa, not only drank wine in public, but allowed the free use of it to his subjects, and even compelled the mufti and cazyaskers to drink with him.
The practice of drinking wine, is generally reprobated; but as drinking a large quantity entails no greater curse than moderation, those who have once transgressed, proceed without further scruple to perfect ebriety. Busbequius saw an old man at Constantinople, who, when he took the glass in his hand, summoned his soul to take refuge in some corner of his body, or to quit it entirely, 170 and thus avoid the participation or pollution of his crime. I have frequently observed an habitual drunkard carefully remove his mustaches from defilement, and, after a hearty draught, distort his face, as though he had been taking medicine. The prophet has declared, that the pens of the two recording angels are unemployed upon the actions men in certain situations of life; of those who sleep, until they awake, of minors, until the full maturity of their reason, and of madmen, until they be restored to their senses. I conclude, rather indeed from the conduct of the Turks than from the glosses of the Mussulman doctors, that the drunkard, the voluntary madman, is also considered as not morally accountable for his conduct until his phrenzy be dispersed65.
59"Dans tous, ce caractère fier et hautain se porte, à la moindre occation, à une pétulance incroyable. Rien chez eux n'arrête les élans de la nature, même parmi les hommes de la plus grande distinction. Dans son emportement le père, le mari, le maître, le patron, le général, l'officier, l'homme public, l'homme privé, se fait le plus souvent justice lui-même, soit en frappant de la main ou du bâton l'objet de sa colère, soit en l'effrayant par des menaces accompagnées d'injures les plus atroces. C'est alors qu'ils prodiguent sans ménagement les épithètes de dinnsiz, imannsiz, homme sans foi, sans loi; de keavour et de keafir, infidèle, blasphémateur; de kiopek et de domouz, chien, porc; mais sur-tout le jurement national anassiny sikéim, que la décence ne nous permet pas de traduire," (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.371.)
60Memoirs, v.i, p.14.
61Montalbanus, apud Elzevir. p.39.
62"The Greeks of Zante in habit imitate the Italians, but transcend them in their revenges - they make more conscience to break a fast, than to commit a murther. - But cowardice is joined with their cruelty, who dare do nothing but suddenly, upon advantages, and are ever privately armed." (Sandys's travels, p.7.)
63Observations on the religion, &c. of the Turks, p.5.
64Tableau Général, t.iv, p.474.
65Sir John Mandevil, who tells a ridiculous story of Mahomet's extravagant conduct during a drunken fit as his motive for forbidding the use of wine to his followers, is seriously angry with the prophet for imposing a restraint, of which, during his Turkish campaigns, he must have frequently felt the inconvenience. "Cujus maledictio convertatur in caput ejus, et in verticem ipsius iniquitas ejus descendat, cum de vino scriptum constet quod Deum et homines lætificet." (Mandevil, ap. Hakluyt. cap.xxiii, p.44.)and opium,
Those who intoxicate themselves with opium are stigmatized with the appellation of teriaki. 171 The lavish use of that drug seems successively to exhilarate, to lull, to depress, and to accelerate both corporal and mental decay. To some it is by habit rendered so necessary that the fast of the month ramazan, during which they are deprived of it in the day time, becomes a serious penance. I have been assured by a Turk, but I do not warrant his assertion, that, in order to alleviate their sufferings, they swallow, besides their usual pill at the morning ezann, a certain number of pills wrapt up in several folds of paper, which will, as they suppose, resist the powers of the stomach for different lengths of time, and be dissolved in due rotation, so as to correspond with their usual allowance. Dr. Pouqueville cites a still more remarkable fact, which, although he omitted to confirm it by his own inquiries, he says, cannot reasonably be questioned since everybody agrees in asserting its truth. M. M. Ruffin and Dantan (both dragomans attached to the service of the French legation, and both worthy members of the corps to which they belong), assured him, that in the year 1800 there existed in Constantinople a Turk known to the whole town under the name of Suleyman yeyen, or Soliman the taker of corrosive sublimate. 172 "This man," says Dr. Pouqueville, "was a rare instance of longevity. He was nearly an hundred years old when I was in Constantinople. In his early youth he had habituated himself to take opium, till at last, though he augmented his dose, it failed in producing its effect. He had heard of corrosive sublimate, and substituted the daily use of it to that of opium: his dose exceeded a drachm, and he had regularly taken it for upwards of thirty years." I am less acquainted than Dr. Pouqueville with the effects commonly produced by corrosive sublimate; but without indulging in scepticism as to the marvellous part of the story, I cannot persuade myself (unless it be an acknowledged quality of corrosive sublimate to exhilarate in the manner of opium), that even a Turk could persist for thirty years in the daily custom of swallowing such a fiery and poisonous draught66.
66Voyage en Morée, &c. t.ii, p.125. I ought not however to omit pointing out some inconsistences in the story, which are so glaring that it is wonderful how they could have escaped Dr. Pouqueville's notice. "The first essay of this taker of corrosive sublimate was made in the shop of a Jewish apothecary. Soliman called for a drachm of the mineral, diluted it in a glass of water, and drank it off, to the astonishment and terror of the apothecary, who was alarmed lest lest he should be accused of poisoning a Turk: he shut up his shop, and was filled with anxiety when he reflected on the consequences which he expected must necessarily ensue. But the next day, great was his surprise at the re-appearance of Soliman, who came to his shop for a repetition of his dose." Now the shutting up of his shop must be understood as the act of absconding, for if it mean, that he merely closed his window-shutters to open them again the next morning, this circumstance indicated no apprehension of danger, neither can it be considered as a precautionary measure, and should not have been mentioned. But how can we reconcile the circumstance of the apothecary's flight with that of his personal attendance in the shop on the very next morning? This absurd story gives me an opportunity, not only of showing, that Dr. Pouqueville has listened with too much credulity to the idle tales of dragomans, but also that he has listened with too much complacency to the suggestions of vanity, in over-rating his own acquirements. Dr. Pouqueville takes occasion (t.ii, p.218) in relating another story (which in my conscience I believe to be no less false than this of Soliman), to insinuate, that he speaks the Turkish language with so much fluency as to astonish even the natives. But in the story of the taker of corrosive sublimate he evidently demonstrates, that he is wholly ignorant of the Turkish language. Suleyman yeyen, he tells us, means Soliman the taker of corrosive sublimate. To the reader unskilled in eastern literature it must appear no less curious than it did to Moliere's "bourgeois gentilhomme," that the Turkish language should be so concise and comprehensive as to express in a single word a whole complex sentence. Suleyman is the proper name of the hero of the farce, so that consequently the secret of this extraordinary strength of stomach must be sought after in a careful analysis of the word yeyen. Now yeyen is the participle present of the active verb yemek, "to eat," and simply signifies "eating". "Soliman the eater, or the glutton," is the only interpretation which the words will admit of, but even that is ill-expressed in Turkish by Suleyman yeyen.
The custom of receiving and making presents is consecrated among the oriental
"Whoever has dealings with the Turks," says Busbequius, " must open his purse from the first moment of his passing their frontiers, and keep it in constant activity during his residence in their country. By no other means can the Turkish austerity be relaxed, nor their aversion to foreigners be removed. Without this charm it would be a vain attempt to sooth or to render them tractable. The stranger owes his safety among them only to the influence of money: without it, he would experience as few comforts as in traveling over solitudes condemned by nature to the extremes of heat or cold*."66c The judgment of Busbequius has, in this instance, submitted to the sway of his fancy, and he has indulged in rhetorical exaggeration. Foreign ministers of the present day express, less disapprobation of the gentle importunities of the Turks, and feel less regret at the necessity of keeping their coffers continually open. An Englishman can, indeed, scarcely read, without blushing for the honour of his country, the long detail and wearisome repetition of presents recorded in Dr. Wittman's journal; of snuff boxes and pelisses, of shawls and gown pieces, of sheep and even of money, which, in some instances, appear to have been expected with a greater degree of confidence than is consistent with the nature of a free gift.
The custom of making presents before admission to a public audience of the grand signor, has induced some authors to assert, not only that the Turks consider it as the payment of tribute, but that it is actually the price of the commercial privileges and advantages which the subjects of the European states enjoy in Turkey. When, however, it is considered, that the same custom was always observed by the Ottoman ambassadors who were sent to foreign courts, of which many instances occur in the diplomatic relations of the porte with the courts of Ispahan and Vienna, even after the termination of a successful war67, it will appear, that the eastern governments by no means consider the offering of gifts as the avowal of inferiority. When M. de Feriol, ambassador from Lewis the Fourteenth, refused, even at the threshold of the audience chamber, to comply with the long established custom of taking off his sword before entering into the presence of the grand signor, his presents were sent back as a mark of the sultan's disapprobation of his conduct and dislike of his person, but he continued to 177 reside at Constantinople, during ten years, the acknowledged and accredited agent of the king of France68.
67See Mignot, t.ii, p.250. De la Motraye, t.i, p.222.
68See Cantemir, p.423, note 33.
Among the Turks, presents from a person of equal rank or fortune are considered to denote pure and disinterested affection: the great receive them from their inferiors as marks of homage and respect, and confer them in token of favour or beneficence69.
69"Tous les sujets de l'emir me connoissoient. Dès qu'ils apprirent mon retour, ils vinrent en foule me rendre visite et m'apporter des présens, et voyant que je ne voulois pas les recevoir, ils les laissoient auprès de ma tente et s'en alloient en publiant le bien que je leur avois fait. Le prince le sçût, et me dit qu'il étoit bien aise que ses sujets eussent de la reconnoissance, et que je les attristois en refusant quelques bagatelles qu'ils m'offroient comme une marque de leur affection; de sorte que je fus obligé de les contenter, et de recevoir leurs présens; mais en échange, je leur en faisois d'autres que je les priois de garder pour se souvenir de moi." (D'Arvieux, t.iii, p.131.)
The political institutions of the Ottomans suppose the venality of every subdivision of the government; and hence avarice is ascribed to the national character. The subjection of the rayahs furnishes the Turks with the means of satisfying this passion70; 178 hence they consider their influence, their authority, the powers of their mind, and the force of their arm, as proper objects of barter in affairs between or against infidels, without regarding the action in a moral point of view71; and if Aristotle's judgment could be so biassed by the corrupt institutions of Greece as to conclude, that nature had ordained the barbarians to be slaves, can we wonder, that such shallow reasoners as the Turks should consider the actual abuse of their power as a proof that it is sanctioned by the deity, and should exercise it to their own advantage, whenever the weaknesses and vices, the follies and crimes, of the rayahs afford them the means of acquiring wealth? It is in these instances, that they show their hypocrisy, and that they will express all the benevolence of virtue while they are acting only from sordid and selfish motives. In higher life and public stations these vices prevail to a greater extent; and the crimes which flow from them sometimes excite horror in the auditors, but never produce remorse in the perpetrators72.
70"Si, à une époque quelconque, un musulman a reçu un bienfait ou une marque de générosité, il s'en fait un droit pour l'avenir, et crie à l'injustice si l'on vient à changer de conduite dans une autre occasion." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.313.)
71"Tantos longinqui temporis felicitas huic genti spiritus fecit, ut nihil iniquum putet quod velit, nihil æquum quod nolit." (Busbeq. Epist.ii, p.79.)
72Petraichi, a Greek banker, had so far insinuated himself into the good graces of the court that he was permitted to have access to the sultan. The celebrated Hassan, the capudan pasha, had a dragoman named Mavroyeni, a native of one of the islands in the Archipelago, whom he wished to promote to the principality of Wallachia. As Mavroyeni was of plebeian birth, the Greek nobility violently opposed the innovation, and they prevailed upon Petraichi to exert his influence to avert an appointment so degrading to them, and so injurious to their interests. But the power of Hassan Pasha prevailed, and the unfortunate Petraichi was beheaded in the outer court of the seraglio, while clinging to the stirrup of Mavroyeni, and soliciting his interposition for a pardon, which is never refused to a prince on the day of his inauguration.ambition,
179 The lure of personal interest exercises the sagacity, and stimulates the industry of the Turks. But in general it may be observed, that the interest of the moment, and not the permanent good of themselves nor of society, is the standard of their actions. The ambitious man, cautious, cunning, and persevering, moves forward to the attainment of his object with undivided attention, without being checked in his progress by the inferior considerations of consanguinity, of friendship, or of gratitude. Such, however, is the character of ambition in all countries; and it is not in Turkey alone, that power has been raised on the ruin of a patron or a benefactor.hypocrisy,
The Turk, uncorrupted by public 180 employments, considers sincerity as the basis of virtue, and his word as sacred. But the Turkish courtier veils his purposes with the most impenetrable dissimulation, and the keenest observation cannot detect the tumult of his mind, in the interval between the first project and the commission of crime on which his life or his fortune depends73.
73The late lord high admiral, Hussein Pasha, commanded the expedition against the rebel governor of Viddin, and failed, as Olivier justly observes, "because he was in want of men capable of directing a siege, and of soldiers better disposed for supporting the cause." It was thereupon determined, that Alo Pasha, who had joined the army with his feudal and provincial troops, should be accused before the sultan as a traitor, and the want of success in the war be imputed to him. Hussein invited him to dinner; and while the unfortunate Alo was washing his hands after the repast, and the servant was spreading out a napkin before him, Hussein took up a short carabine, which was ready loaded, and shot him dead upon the sopha.behaviour to strangers.
The Mussulmans, courteous and humane in their intercourse with each other, sternly refuse to unbelievers the salutation of peace. "Hence," says Cantemir, "Christian princes may easily imagine how infirm is the peace they can promise themselves from the Turks74." But the conclusion is erroneous; for they do not refuse temporal peace, but that "which the world cannot give," and which, consistently with their religious opinion, they must 181 suppose to be exclusively attached to a belief in Islamism. The common people, more bigoted to their dogmas, express more bluntly their sense of superiority over the Christians; but it is false, that even they return the address of a Christian with insult. The formulary of compliments is indeed different: believers recognize each other by the benediction, sanctified by the arch-angel Rafaël in his address to Mahomet, selam aleykum, the peace of God he upon thee; but they reply to the civilities of an unbeliever by the polite and charitable expression, ahbetin hayr ola, may thy end be happy. Dr. Dallaway says, "I have observed a Turk lay aside his moroseness, and become affable and communicative, when he can do so without stepping from his dignity." I think, indeed, it would be difficult to produce, from the history of any people, an instance of more dignified courtesy than was exhibited in the reception given by Ised Bey to Baron de Tott. Ised Bey was promoted to the rank of grand vizir; and on the third day after his installation the baron went to the porte to pay his respects. They had served together in the army, and were familiarly acquainted; but De Tott, instead of presuming 182 upon former intimacy, placed himself upon the sopha at a respectful distance. "How, my old friend," said the vizir, "are you afraid to approach me?" Then opening his pelisse, and spreading it on the sopha, "sit down," said he, "on that fur; that is your proper place: though you have forgotten, it ought not to escape my memory." The multitude, says De Tott, who always act from first impressions, immediately exclaimed, with a kind of enthusiasm, "long live our new master75." Mr. Eton, pleasantly and accurately enough, compares the general behaviour of a Turk to a Christian with that of a German baron to his vassal. But when a Turk, as not unfrequently happens, rises above the prejudices and institutions of his country, he divests himself in his intercourse with infidels of his predominant passions, and practises towards them the same mild virtues which regulate his transactions with men of his own religion76.
74Cantemir, p.76, note 17.
75De Tott's memoirs, v.iii, p.201.
76Mr.Eton relates a story, calculated, in his opinion, to expose the incorrigible boorishness of the Turks, and their contempt of foreign nations. "A Turkish prisoner met a Russian officer in the streets of Cherson, and, as the dirt in the streets was over the shoes, made signs for the officer to make way for him on the pavement. The officer, not being a violent man, only beckoned to a soldier, who pushed him headlong off the pavement. The governor of the town, who saw the whole, reprimanded the Turk, and threatened him with the same treatment as the Russian prisoners endure at Constantinople. The Turk's answer was, 'they are infidels, but I am a Mussulman;' and this procured him an additional drubbing." (Survey, p.117.) To me, who have lived familiarly with the Russian officers, who know Cherson and know that there is no pavement there, the whole story appears rather "un conte en l'air" than a picture of manners. Yet if it be not absolutely an inventions I apprehend the Turk intended to reproach his countrymen with behaving to their prisoners unlike Mussulmans. His answer was probably onlar ghiaour dourlar, ben musluman em which indeed is literally such as Mr. Eton has represented it, yet it admits more naturally of the interpretation which I have supposed: for had the Turk meant to insult the Russians, he would have said, "you" (and not they) "are infidels," siz ghiaour sounouz.
183 The external modes of good breeding among the Turks differ entirely from those established in the other countries of Europe. The uncovering of the head, which with us is considered as the expression of reverence and respect, is ridiculed or reprobated among them as an act of folly, or as indicating a contempt of propriety and decency. These and similar opinions are universal; hence they are invincibly attached to the observance of their own peculiar customs.
Their usual form of salutation is natural and graceful. In greeting an equal, they 184 put the hand on the heart: in addressing a superior, they apply the right hand first to the mouth and then to the forehead: when a Turk presents himself before a man of rank and dignity, he makes a profound inclination of his body, extends his right hand first towards the ground, and then raises it to his mouth and forehead: in the presence of the sovereign, he must oven touch the ground before lifting the hand to the head. The air of gravity and decorum of exterior, which are common to the Ottomans, give considerable dignity to this ceremonious expression of homage or civility; and its effect is further improved by the grandeur of their ample and flowing garments. Children and subalterns express submission to their parents and chiefs by kissing their robe: if the superior withdraws his robe and presents his hand, and more especially the palm of his hand, it is received as a mark of distinguished favour. The kiss of religious fraternity is interchanged only at the two festivals of baïram. At other times, they figuratively express parental or filial affection by extending the hand toward the chin or the beard of the person, and then applying it to their own mouths. The 185 father of a family and the man of elevated rank never rise from their seats to receive either their children or inferiors: and by parity of reasoning, no Mussulman rises to salute an infidel whatever be his situation in life. A guest of distinction is received at the foot of the stairs by two officers of the household, who support him under the arm as far as the entrance of the visiting chamber, where the master of the house advances to meet him, if his rank entitles him to such marks of respect. At his departure, the master of the house rises with him and accompanies him to the door of the apartment, walking, not on his right or left side, but a few paces before him. After exchanging compliments, the stranger is reconducted by the pages to his horse or his barge.
Every traveller must have noticed (though Dumont appears to be the first who has recorded the observation), that the Turkish usages are strikingly contrasted with our own. This dissimilitude, which pervades the whole of their habits, is so general, even in things of apparent insignificance, as almost to indicate design rather than accident. The whole exterior of the Oriental is different 186 from ours. The European stands firm and erect, his head drawn back, his chest protruded, the point of the foot turned outwards, and the knees straight. The attitude of the Turk is less remote from nature, and in each of these respects approaches nearer to the models which the ancient statuaries appear to have copied. Their robes are large and loose, entirely concealing the contour of human form, encumbering motion, and ill-adapted to manly exercise. Our close and short dresses, calculated for promptitude of action, appear in their eyes to be wanting both in dignity and modesty. They reverence the beard as the symbol of manhood and the token of independence77, but they practise depilation of the body from motives of cleanliness. In performing their devotions, or on entering a dwelling, they take off their shoes. In inviting a person to approach them, they use what with us is considered as a repulsive motion of the hand. In writing, they trace the lines from right to left. The master of a house does the honours 187 of his table by serving himself first from the dish: he drinks without noticing the company, and they wish him health when he has finished his draught. They lie down to sleep in their clothes. They affect a grave and sedate exterior: their amusements are all of the tranquil kind: they confound with folly the noisy expression of gayety: their utterance is slow and deliberate; they even feel satisfaction in silence: they attach the idea of majesty to slowness of motion: they pass in repose all the moments of life which are not occupied with serious business: they retire early to rest; and they rise before the sun.
77See in the memoirs of the Chevalier d'Arvieux (t.iii, p.204-223), a curious and correct account of the respect which the Arabs and the Orientals in general have for the beard.
Much speculation has been exercised to discover whence such a total diversity of customs and ceremonies could originate among creatures possessing the same common nature, placed under similar circumstances, feeling the same wants, and actuated by the same appetites and passions. To some it appears to constitute the grand characteristic of the two separate classes which may be distinguished among the inhabitants of the earth. The great family of mankind has been considered as susceptible of being divided into Europeans and Asiatics, rather 188 from the discriminative appearances of their habits and moral qualities than from the position of the countries which they inhabit on the surface of the globe; and it is perhaps from respect for the authority on which this opinion is founded, that Dr. Pouqueville determines the Turks to belong in no respect to Europe, except from the corner of it which they occupy78. His assertion is indeed further corroborated by the modes of speech which are familiar among the Frank inhabitants of Constantinople, who feel themselves seduced, or compelled, from the irreconcileable nature of the objects which surround them with those in the west of Europe, to apply the adjective European almost exclusively to those countries which are more correctly denominated Christian. The observation itself evinces nicety of discernment, as well as extensive experience of men and manners; but the expression appears to be incorrect, inasmuch as it seems to attribute to climate and geographical situation what should rather be sought in social institutions; in government, religion, and domestic economy, which exert a more general and uniform influence.
78See Voyages en Morée, &c. t.ii, p.142.
189 The nations of antiquity, if compared with those of modern Europe, will be found to possess many of those peculiarities which we have chosen to consider as exclusively characteristic of the Asiatics. The loose garments, the long beards, the gravity of manners, the custom of reclining upon couches during meals, the habitual use of the warm bath, and several other instances of similarity, may be traced among the Greeks and the Romans. European manners have not till of late years been partially blended with those of Russia. The Polish and Hungarian nations still exhibit traces of their Asiatic origin. It is only among the unmixed Celtic and Teutonic nations, that we discover a distinct and peculiar system of manners. It is evident therefore, since we find, even in many countries of Europe, the manners of both continents thus combined, that the great characteristical distinction which has been observed, is independent of the arbitrary arrangements of geographers, and not less, of the natural divisions of latitudes and climates.
The theory of Montesquieu, that not only inertness of body and indolence of mind, but also that a spirit of submission to injury and 190 of obedience to tyranny, are naturally and necessarily induced by the heat of the climate, is sufficiently refuted by history, by actual observation, and by reason. The first and most powerful incentives to action are the wants of human nature: if the savage live in a country in which these may be easily supplied, his activity will relax, unless new desires provoke new exertions. For natural wants have their limits, and, in the midst of abundance, the primary motives to the exercise of the mental or bodily faculties must cease to operate on the accomplishment of their object. If it require unremitting exertion to assure a scanty subsistence, greater industry will indeed be employed, but the labouring savage will scarcely attain to any mental superiority over his more indolent associate: the latter can be animated to thought or labour only by factitious desires or artificial wants; and these must owe their creation and development to the influence of female society. But if, by the civil institutions, women are condemned to a subordinate rank and an insulated situation, if they be confined to their respective families, and subjected to the arbitrary control of the other sex, their influence on the national 191 manners will be partial, limited, and barren of improvement. Such however was the state of women throughout the whole of Asia, whether in the burning peninsula of India, or on the bleak and frozen platform of Tartary79. Such too it was, though in a less degree, in Greece and in Rome80, and such it still subsists in a great part of Russia. In the Sarmatian and Hunnish nations some traces of the system may even now be discovered among the people; and the Spaniards, though of European origin, resemble in many respects the Asiatic family, by having adopted from the Arabs their system of secluding women from mixed society. The ancient Germans, on the contrary, respected and honoured women. The development 192 of this principle produced the almost idolatrous gallantry of the chevaliers; the influence of it has extended to the present day, and by supplying an endless motive to exertion, has produced the modern European character. This cause indeed appears adequate to the production of that peculiar cast of character which distinguishes the European from the Asiatic. We court the attention of women by contrasting our appearance with theirs. The muscular strength of the man is not to be concealed under a load of effeminate drapery: the guardians and protectors of women should display superior strength. We sacrifice to their taste or caprice the beard, the distinctive ornament of our sex, the pride and boast of manhood; we assume a form less calculated to inspire respect and awe, but more compatible with feminine playfulness; and we endeavour, even in advanced age, to exhibit some faint resemblance of that happier and earlier period of life, which is peculiarly devoted to the service, and which is most blessed with the approbation, of the ladies. While in Turkey the naked front of age is imposed even upon the young men, with us the borrowed locks of youth conceal the ravages of 193 time, and the venerable graces of old age yield to the vain attempt (absurd were it not ennobled by the motive) of still continuing to please. The sportiveness of youth is mimicked till it becomes ridiculous, because the temper of women is averse from gravity. It would be unnecessary to notice through all its effects the habitual intercourse of men with women. Whatever distinguishes the European from the Asiatic may be traced to this source. Hence even that cleanliness of anticipation which prevails in Europe, for which a periodical lustration from accumulated defilement is substituted in Asia.
79See in Hakluyt's voyages, ed. 1589 (p.346), a description of the manners of Russia, and the state of female society in 1567; also "certaine letters in verse, written by Master George Tubervile, out of Muscovia, which went as secretarie thither with Master Tho. Randolph, her majesties embassadour to the emperour 1568, to certaine friends of his in London, describing the manners of the country and people." (p.408, 409.)"For seldome when, unlesse on church or marriage day, A man shall see the dames abroade, that are of best aray. The Russie meanes to reape the profit of her pride, And so he mews her to be sure, she lye by no man's side."
80See Philelph. Epist. ad ann. 1451, apud Hodium, p.188, 189. Gibbon, v.xii, p.116,117.
It has been already shown, that erroneous regulations concerning women had introduced into Europe the manners of Asia, and we may observe from history, that in those cities of Asia where the rigour of these institutions had been unseasonably relaxed, a dissoluteness of manners prevailed, the necessary consequence of adopting, without due preparation, European manners, which can only be preserved in their purity when they are the natural result of refinement. In Antioch, the capital of the East, a contempt for female modesty and reverend age (the extremes into which European manners are 194 most liable to fall) announced the general corruption. The beard of the emperor Julian became the subject of derision. The love of spectacles was the taste: private luxury and public amusements consumed the fortunes of the citizens and the public revenues. The licentiousness of the Greek was blended with the hereditary softness of the Syrian, and the natives indulged in the most intemperate enjoyment of tranquillity and opulence81.
81See Gibbon's Roman history, v.iv, p.144.
The preposterous civilization introduced into Russia generated similar consequences, and the court of Catherine the Second can be distinguished from the capital of Syria only by the grosser character of its debaucheries. In Russia the restraints under which women had lived for ages were suddenly broken down: the inconsiderate zeal of the reformers forced them into public life, and imposed on them the task of tempering correcting the boorishness of men. But that superiority of reason which women, from their natural delicacy and temperance, are observed to retain in countries where the immoderate use of intoxicating liquors is the 195 habitual vice of men; that harmless purity of conduct which seclusion tends to produce no less than virtuous principles; those mild virtues by which domestic life is purified and adorned; were unequal to stem the torrent of public corruption. The women, without principles of conduct adapted to public life or the new situation in which they were placed, without combination of means or concert among themselves, necessarily sunk under the influence of the general contagion; and the secret history of St. Petersburg presents us with a disgusting assemblage of the most degrading vices of men, rendered more odious from being exhibited under a female form.
In all climates and all countries where women exert their due influence, urbanity and civilization will be carried to the highest possible pitch. The improvement of society will always be adequate to the justice and wisdom of its institutions respecting women. In Lacedæmon, alone of all the states of Greece, the women were peculiarly honoured; and Xenophon declares, that the Spartans were superior to other men in the excellencies of mind and body. Where women are degraded from their rank in society, the European sinks into the Turk. Where the 196 morality of women is perverted, the serious and manly virtues become the subject of ridicule. We triumph in our acknowledged superiority over the Asiatics, but we must, in justice, lay down our laurels, like the heroes of chivalry, at the feet of our mistresses. If we are destined by nature to advance nearer towards perfection, our energies can be excited only by the hope of gaining their favour and meriting their esteem.
It is in the middle rank of life, among men subsisting by their own industry, and equally removed from poverty and riches, that we must look for the national character: and among the Turks of this class, the domestic and social virtues are united with knowledge adequate to their wants, and with patriarchal urbanity of manners. Honesty is the characteristic of the Turkish merchant, and distinguishes him from the Jew, the Greek, and the Armenian, against whose artifices no precaution can suffice. In the Turkish villages, where there is no mixture of Greeks, innocence of life and simplicity of manners are conspicuous, and roguery and deceit are unknown.
Intolerance is necessarily connected with a religion that is founded on dogmas which arrogate the honour of being infallibly true*81a. The haughty conceit of superiority appears as strong in the abject Jew, or in the Christian puritan, as in the most bigoted Turk: and if in our own country it now protrude itself chiefly above the surface of vulgar life, we must attribute its disappearance in other situations rather to the influence of manners and philosophy than to the spirit of religion, however mild.
The Turks of the capital are somewhat re-
82Doctor Buchan says, in his Domestic Medicine, that "almost nine tenths of mankind are troubled with corns: a disease that is seldom or never occasioned but by strait shoes." It is certain, that no such trouble is known in Turkey, where a disproportionate smallness of the foot is so far from being thought beautiful that everybody has shoes much larger than his feet, and thereby preserves through life the proper form and free use of his toes; advantages which, according to Doctor Buchan, the natives of this country enjoy only for a few months after their birth.
83For a particular description of the Turkish costume, see Tab. Gén. t.iv, chap.ii, §2. "Le turban dont on se couvre la tête, sert à caractériser les diverses classes de la nation, et les fonctions des officiers publics." "Les citoyens de Constantinople et ceux des provinces Européennes n'emploient communément à leurs turbans que de la mousseline blanche. Les Arabes se servent d'une toile bigarrée ou teinte d'une seule couleur, ainsi que les Egyptiens, les Syriens et les habitans de quelques contrées Asiatiques. Les Barbaresques s'en tiennent de préférence à une étoffe de soie garnie de fils d'or. Les Tatars n'ont jamais porté qu'un bonnet de drap vert, avec une bordure de peau d'Astracan. Enfin dans quelques cantons de l'empire, les Mahométans se couvrent la tête d'un bonnet de drap garni de coton, sans mousseline. Quant aux sujets étrangers à l'Islamisme, ils sont tous obligés de porter un grand bonnet de peau de mouton noir, calpack, ou de se couvrir la tête d'une toile de couleur foncée. Cette dernière coëffure est presque générale en Egypte, en Syrie, et dans la plupart des provinces Asiatiques. Les insulaires Grecs de l'Archipel portent communément un bonnet de laine rouge ou blanc."The warm bath.
199 The use of the warm bath is universal among persons of both sexes and all classes, as well for the purposes of purification from worldly and carnal stains as for cleanliness and health. Some writers are of opinion, that it induces debility among the women. But in the men it certainly develops and invigorates the powers of the body. The Russians are wont to plunge themselves into cold water immediately on coming out of the hot bath; which I have seen them do (and I must confess with some degree of astonishment) in the severest winter, and exposed to the blast of the north-east. Busbequius's physician, an Hungarian, practised the same method as a medicine at Constantinople84; but such custom, if at all practised, is not usual among the Turks.
84"Idem me a balneo exeuntem frigida (aqua) perfundebat; quæ res, etsi erat molesta, magnopere juvabat." (Busbeq. Epist.i, p.68.)
200 The habitual use of the vapour bath is peculiar to that great Scythian family from the Tartar branch of which the Turks derive their origin. The Greeks and Romans, whose language from its resemblance to the modern Russian in terms essential to the very existence of society, proves a preceding relationship85, used the warm bath, as it is still used in the Russian and Turkish empires, from the northern extremities of Europe to the neighbourhood of the tropic; while the Gothic families, who overspread the western empire, suffered the vapour baths to fall into disuse86. But the custom itself is certainly derived from the north: the inhabitants of the temperate climates, and still more those in the southern latitudes, would naturally 201 prefer the refreshment of cold bathing. The Turks, however, whether they adopted or inherited the custom, found it established in the eastern empire, and perpetuated the use.
85See the preface to L'Evêque's history of Russia. In addition to his examples, I need only mention the word hostis, which, as we learn from Cicero (Offic. l.i, c.12), had formerly signified a stranger; and in the Russian language it is still used, with a guttural sound of the h, in the same sense. The English word guest seems to be derived from the same source. (See Bernardi Etymologicon, vo. guest)
86The country of the ancient Germans is described by Tacitus as covered with woods and marshes, and the climate humid and unpleasant. The inhabitants on rising from sleep washed themselves with warm water because of the long duration of the winter: but in a moist and foggy country, where the body is naturally saturated with humidity, the use of the vapour bath is necessitated neither by luxury nor utility.
The public baths are elegant and noble structures, built with hewn stones: the inner chambers are capacious, and paved with slabs of the rarest and most beautiful marble. Savary has described the luxuries of an oriental bath, with an enthusiasm which nothing that I have experienced enables me to account for. A very comfortable sensation is communicated during the continuance in the heated rooms, and it is heightened into luxury when the bather reposes himself on a couch after the ablution. But delicious repose, though the highest gratification to a Turk, can be considered by the European only as rest from pain, and can never excite the raptures of actual pleasure.
A Turkish bath consists of several apartments: the entrance is into a spacious and lofty hall, lighted from above: round the sides are high and broad benches, on which mattresses and cushions are arranged: here the bather undresses, wraps a napkin about his waist, and puts on a pair of wooden 202 sandals, before going into the bathing rooms.
The first chamber is but moderately warm, and is preparatory to the heat of the inner room, which is vaulted, and receives light from the dome. In the middle of the room is a marble estrade, elevated a few inches: on this the bather stretches himself at full length, and an attendant moulds or kneads the body with his hand for a considerable length of time. After this operation the bather is conducted into one of the alcoves or recesses, where there is a basin, supplied by pipes with streams of hot and cold water: the body and limbs are thoroughly cleansed by means of friction with a horse-hair bag, and washed and rubbed with a lather of perfumed soap. Here the operation ends: the bather stays a few minutes in the middle chamber, and covers himself with dry cotton napkins: thus prepared he issues out into the hall, and lies down on his bed for about half an hour.Turkish luxuries and amusements.
The Turk, stretched at his ease in his pavillion on the banks of the Bosphorus, glides down the stream of existence without reflection on the past, and without anxiety for the future. His life is one continued and unvaried reverie. To his imagination the 203 whole universe appears occupied in procuring him pleasure. The luxuriance of nature, and the labours of a tributary people spread out before him whatever can excite or gratify the senses; and every wind wafts to him the productions of the world, enriched by the arts, and improved by the taste, of industrious Europeans.
The luxuries of a Turkish life would sink however in the estimation of most people, on a comparison with the artificial enjoyments of Europe. The houses of the Turks are built in contempt of the rules of architecture: their gardens are laid out without order, and with little taste: their furniture is simple, and suited rather to the habits of a military or vagrant people, than to the usages of settled life: their meals are frugal, and neither enlivened by wine nor conversation. Every custom invites to repose, and every object inspires an indolent voluptuousness. Their delight is to recline on soft verdure under the shade of trees, and to muse without fixing their attention, lulled by the tinkling of a fountain or the murmuring of a rivulet, and inhaling through their pipe a gently inebriating vapour. Such pleasures, the highest which the rich can enjoy, are equally 204 within the reach of the artisan or the peasant. Under their own vines and their own fig-trees, they equally feel the pride of independence, and the uninterrupted sweets of domestic comfort. If they enjoy not the anxieties of courtship, and the triumph over coyness and modesty, their desires are inflamed and their passions are heightened by the grace of motion, the elegance and suppleness of form, and the beautiful symmetry of shape and features. The education and modes of life of their women, though certainly too confined and too limited to domestic objects for the cultivation of talents which exercise and invigorate the powers of the mind, yet leave them all the charms which can result from nature, from sentiment, and truth.Conversation.
The Turks particularly delight in conversation; and their colloquial intercourse is ornamented with all the graces of a manly and polished style. Nothing can convey a more favourable idea of Turkish urbanity than to observe the natural and becoming gravity, the decent raillery, the sprightly turns of expression, and the genuine wit, with which they carry on discourse.Story-telling.
In the long evenings of ramazan a professed story-teller, meddhé, 205 will entertain a large company in private assemblies, or in coffee-houses, with histories, which sometimes one pleasingly marvellous, as those of the Arabian nights, sometimes a ludicrous representation of foreign or rustic manners, and sometimes a political satire. Even the common people listen to them with pleasure, and criticise with taste and judgment the construction of the fable, intricacy and development of the intrigue, the style and sentiments, the language and the elocution.Ombres Chinoises.
The standard of delicacy varies so much in different countries, and even among the same people at different times, that it may be unfair to judge of past ages, or of foreign manners, by a strict comparison with our own established maxims. The ombres Chinoises, which in Turkey supply the want of dramatic exhibitions, are chiefly reserved for the entertainment of retired leisure. I have also seen them sometimes from the window of a coffee-house in a public street; though I confess I did not partake of the satisfaction which the populace so repeatedly expressed, at indecencies too ludicrously absurd to excite any other feeling than derision or disgust.Dancers and gladiators.
206 Young men, born in the Greek islands of the Archipelago, exercise the infamous profession of public dancers: they chiefly perform in the wine houses in Galata; but they, as well as public gladiators, who attack and defend themselves with a sword and a shield, are frequently hired to enliven the entertainment given at a marriage or a circumcision. The female dancers are Turkish women, of whom I know nothing but from description, and the imitation of their manner by other women87.
87"Les baladins tschennguy font consister leur talent, non à varier et à perfectionner leurs pas, mais à prendre différentes attitudes des plus obscènes. Plus ils y excellent, plus ils sont distingués dans la troupe et recherchés par la multitude." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.424) "La danse n'étoit ni la peinture de la joie ni celle de la gaieté, mais celle d'une volupté qui arrive très rapidement à une lasciveté d'autant plus dégoûtante, que les acteurs, toujours masculins, expriment de la manière la plus indécente les scènes que l'amour même ne permet aux deux sexes que dans l'ombre du mystère." (Denon, voyage en Egypte, t.i, p.135.) "Les danseuses,- vêtues assez lestement, la tête toujours à demi couverte d'un voile, des castagnettes à la main, et les yeux tantôt étincelans,- se livrent avec plus d'expression encore que les jeunes baladins aux attitudes les plus libres et les plus obscènes." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.426.) "Leur danse (celle des femmes almés) fut d'abord voluptueuse: mais bientôt elle devint lascive: ce ne fut plus que l'expression grossière et indécente de l'emportement des sens. Une scène d'ivresse termina la danse." (Denon, t.i, p.154.)Athletic exercises.
Of other public amusements of which the Turks are willing spectators, the chief is 207 wrestling. Sandys describes this game as he saw it at Acre in Syria. "Here wrastle they in breeches of oyled leather, close to their thighs: their bodies naked and anointed according to the ancient use, derived, as it should seem by Virgil, from the Trojans88. They rather fall by consent than by slight or violence. "In Turkey the contest in wrestling is not, however, decided by a fall: the victory is determined by one of the parties being thrown on his back, and held in that posture while his adversary recovers his feet. When the wrestlers have finished the combat, or exhausted their strength, they give each other the kiss of peace.
88"Exercent patrias oleo labente palæstras Nudati socii." (Æn. l.iii, v.281.)
To ride on horseback and to throw the djerid, a sort of light javelin, are considered as the necessary accomplishments of a Turkish gentleman. They are excellent horsemen, and throw the djerid with admirable dexterity and force. I know of no exercises fitter to give grace, strength, and agility to the body89. The young men contend with each 208 other for superiority in exercises of force or address. A common amusement is to lift a weighty stone on the palm of the hand, and after running with it a few paces, to throw it to the greatest possible distance.
89"Djerid signifie proprement roseau: ce nom se donne en Général à tout bâton qu'on lance à la main, selon des principes qui ont dû être ceux des Romains pour le pilum.- Armés de ce trait, les cavaliers entrent en lice, et courant à toute bride, ils se le lancent d'assez loin. Sitôt lancé, l'agresseur tourne bride, et celui qui fuit, poursuit et jette à son tour. Mais ce plaisir est dangereux, car il y a des bras qui lancent avec tant de roideur, que souvent le coup blesse, et même devient mortel." (Volney, voyage en Syrie et en Egypte, t.i, chap.x, §4.)General health.
Physicians have observed, that "with no people is longevity more common or extended, nor health more constant;" and if we except the plague, that "Constantinople is not exposed to local disorders90."
90Dr. Dallaway, p.16. Dr. Olivier, v.i, p.157. "The Turks are certainly not subject to the multitude of diseases which infest some other nations. Sores and wounds are managed and healed with more facility." (Dr. Wittman's travels, p.48.) See also an observation to the same effect in Dr. Pouqueville's travels, t.ii, p.128.)The plague.
It may, however, be observed, that the symptoms of the plague are so inaccurately defined that it would be a source of endless error to attempt to relate all the appearances which it assumes. For my own part, without being so sceptical as Busbequius's physician, I am convinced, that, in nine instances out of ten, the reported cases of plague are a confession 209 of ignorance on the part of the physician, or an over-anxiety on the part of the master of a family who is desirous of removing a diseased servant, of the nature of whose malady he is ignorant, and consequently apprehensive. It would be superfluous for me to attempt to add anything to the observations of the physicians who have studied this disorder in Turkey or Egypt: though I may truly assert, that at Constantinople it excites but little alarm. I have myself, inadvertently however, made a visit to a person who was afterwards pronounced to have died of the plague. I sat for some time by his bed-side, and even took him by the hand; and as I gave way to no apprehension, I escaped without inconvenience.
A curious fact accidentally came to my knowledge, and if the conduct be not considered as the effect of blind inconsiderate resentment and thirst of revenge, it may serve to illustrate, though it cannot explain, the Turkish opinion of the doctrine of predestination. Major General Stuart had executed the orders of General Hutchinson, in expressing to the capudan pasha, more forcibly than by words, the resentment which honourable men must have felt at so flagrant a violation of the most sacred obligations as 210 the murder of the beys of Egypt, for whose safety the British honour had been pledged. After the termination of the war, General Stuart was again sent by the British government on a mission to Egypt; and on passing through Constantinople he had an audience of the principal officers of state, and among others of the capudan pasha. Hussein had not forgotten the discipline which he underwent in Egypt, and in appointing a day for the reception of General Stuart at the arsenal, he meditated a singular scheme of vengeance. The plague raged with some violence, and the pasha ordered two persons dangerously ill to be brought to die in a small chamber, which was kept closely shut up till General Stuart should come. In this room the pasha received his visitors, with a confidence, as to himself, in over-ruling fatalism which it is difficult to account for. He was, however, disappointed in the event; for his preparations produced no further mischief than alarm to the Greek prince Callimachi, who, being acquainted with the circumstance, reluctantly performed the office of interpreter. I learned the story on the following day from a lady who visited 211 the prince's family and had heard it from his own mouth91.
91There still hangs over this infamous transaction, the murder of the Mameluke beys, a cloud of mystery which time perhaps will dispel. Dr. Wittman's journal exculpates the capudan pasha from being the sole author of this treachery: it was done as he learned at Cairo, by order of the sultan. Certain it is, that the scheme was laid at Constantinople. On its failure, Mr. Straton, secretary of the British embassy at Constantinople, went to Egypt with a view to the reconciliation of the Turks and Mamelukes; but the latter thwarted the intentions of the negociators, by privately quitting Giza, and removing, for greater safety, to Upper Egypt. (See Dr. Wittman's travels, p.381, 383, 386, 394, 395.)
A person infected with the plague should endeavour to remove from his mind all vain terrors and pusillanimous apprehensions. For in no disease is the agency of the imagination more powerful to avert, or to induce, the greatest danger. I knew a lady who sickened immediately, and died with all the symptoms of the plague, on being informed, that a person, whom she had visited several days before, was dead of that disorder. The Turks, from temperance, from consequent robustness of constitution, and from firmness of mind, frequently escape after infection92. 212 In the Greek hospital, which is served by priests, the patient receives no assistance, unless from the consolations of religion. Various methods of treatment have been used with different success; but no medicine, nor mode of treatment, has yet gained an established reputation. Busbequius's physician, who indeed seems to have doubted of the existence of the plague as a distinct disorder, considered scordion, or wild garlick, as a sovereign remedy, and applied it efficaciously as such. Mr. Baldwin recommended friction with oil, and an oiled shirt93. Dr. Valli, a 213 Mantuan, who obtained a more intimate acquaintance with the plague by inoculating himself observed, that indigo operated as a preventive. Whatever researches, however, are made, must come from foreigners. The indifference of the Turks counteracts all efforts to subdue the plague, and there is no interference of the police, even to prevent the Greek priests of the hospital from continuing the infamous traffic of selling the clothes of the persons who have died under their care94.
92"Fortem posce animum, et mortis terrore carentem," should be the advice of the physician to a patient attacked by the plague. Fear not only disposes the body to the influence of the contagion, but counteracts all the means of cure. "La crainte et la contagion sont une même chose, dit Vanhelmont. Gaubius met en doute si les peureux seuls ne sont pas exposés aux épidémies." (Pouqueville, voyage en Morée, &c. t.i, p.402.) The particular example adduced by Dr. Pouqueville in confirmation of this theory (t.i, p.417) I consider rather as a prolongation of his dedicatory epistle, than as an historical fact; although instances of such conduct, which the doctor challenges history to parallel, are so common in Turkey as to occur daily, and to pass unobserved.
93"A copious and comfortable perspiration was the result of this friction."- "Although I have to lament the failure of the oil in the cure of the plague, in the case of Gunner Cowden the artillery-man, yet I am induced to think it was useful in preventing infection to the three men confined in the lazaretto tent." (Dr. Wittman's travels, p.487,488.) Mr. Jackson, in his history of the commerce of the Mediterranean (p.64), says, that "the coolies, or porters employed in the oil stores in the kingdom of Tunis, seldom eat anything but bread and oil: they smear themselves all over with oil, and their coat is always well soaked with it. Though the plague frequently rages in Tunis in the most frightful manner, destroying many thousands of the inhabitants, yet there never was known an instance of any of the coolies being affected by it."
94"Garlick, vinegar, opium, laundanum, mercury, perfumes, and, according to some, wine and strong liquors, are preservatives against the plague. Panadas, cordials, a light vegetable diet, and a strict regimen are usually employed as the means of cure. Broth is pernicious, and bleeding is almost always fatal. The patient seldom suffers beyond the third or fourth day; and out of an hundred infected persons, scarcely eight or ten escape death." (Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.386.)
Europeans have sometimes ascribed the frequent appearance of the plague to a neglect of cleanliness. On the contrary I have always observed among the Turks the greatest attention to the performance of this duty, and am surprised to find in the writings of 214 some respectable travellers, accusations of the contrary habit. When attention to personal cleanliness is prescribed by religion, we do indeed observe, that, although the letter of the precept be not transgressed, it is seldom strictly complied with, according to the intention of the lawgiver. It is, however, difficult to suppose, that the charge of filthiness can really attach to persons who wash their faces and limbs five times every day, and perform the ablution of the whole body once at least in every weeks95. In the interior of the Turkish houses the greatest attention is paid to cleanliness; the chamber floors are carpeted, or covered with Egyptian matting; and though it be a general custom to leave at the foot of the staircase the boots or sandals, so that the halls and galleries are seldom soiled or dirtied, yet the floorings of the houses are regularly washed every week. A traveller (who it may be supposed has taken up the opinion too hastily, since he describes the habits of the Turks from state of a muddy Thracian village in the 215 winter season) concludes, that they live in the midst of filth, breathing the very miasmata of the plague; and that the cause of this disease need not be sought for elsewhere than in their abominable negligence and nastiness96. A judgment so rash would seem scarcely to deserve the labour of confutation, were it not, that the charge which it contains is implied in some degree by D'Ohsson himself, who arranges his observations respecting the plague under the head of "cleanliness," and it is more directly countenanced by his admitting the suggestion that "in Thrace this epidemical scourge may derive its existence from the unwholesome food and uncleanly habits of the people97." I can account for the seeming incongruity 216 of D'Ohsson's remarks in the chapter to which I allude, only from the circumstance of his work having been prepared for publication by a native Frenchman, who has incorporated, in the general plan, opinions on this subject gathered from his own studies, without sufficiently attending to their incoherency with the result of D'Ohsson's observations98.
95"It is however to be wished," says D'Ohsson (t.iv, p.382), "that they would more frequently change their linen, and employ for some other parts of their dress only such stuffs as are capable of being washed."
96See Voyage à Constantinople, p.143.
97After having asserted, that "rien n'égale leur attention, dans l'un et l'autre sexe à se laver et à se baigner presque tous les jours, tant pour satisfaire leur gout particulier que pour obéir à la loi des lustrations;"- that "les maisons, les hôtels publics, les cafés, les boutiques, les magazins, les ateliers, les bains, &c. présentent par-tout un air de propreté;" D'Ohsson expresses a natural astonishment, that Europeans should judge so unfavourably of the Ottomans as to attribute to their inattention to cleanliness the periodical return of the plague and other epidemical distempers; and yet, in the very next page, the sentence occurs which I have inserted in the text. "Il n'entre pas dans le plan de notre travail, et les bornes de nos connoissances ne nous le permettent pas d'ailleurs, d'examiner si dans la Thrace cette funeste épidémie n'auroit pas pour principle la mauvaise nourriture et la mal-propreté des habitans." (See Tab. Gén. t.iv, p.382,383,384.)
98I have been informed, though I do not recollect by whom, that the unfortunate Rabaut de Saint-Etienne revised the 'Tableau général de l'empire Othoman.' He has indeed inscribed his name, as it were, in the preliminary discourse, where he particularly alludes to the favourite hypothesis of M. Bailly and himself, the existence of that primitive people from whom the most ancient nations, whose memorials or whose names have been transmitted to the present age, collected the fragments of science, which it is probable themselves had not discovered, since they were unable to reconstruct them, and which their predecessors alone seem to have formed into a connected system. "On admire," says the author of the Discours Préliminaire (whom no one that knows, can suspect to be, D'Ohsson), "On admire les progrès rapides de l'Europe Chrétienne dans toutes les parties des sciences. Elle a répandu la lumière sur les âges les plus reculés de l'antiquité, dissipé les ténèbres qui couvroient le berceau des anciens peuples: &c."
If the cause of the plague could be accurately ascertained, reason and nature would 217 point out the means of prevention and cure. The ancients, both Jews and Gentiles, confessed their ignorance of its origin, by calling it "the sacred malady," and considering it as an emanation of the divine wrath. The modern Greeks call the plague thanatiko, "the deadly," and the Turks, from an opinion, that its true name is an unlucky omen, more frequently call it mubarek, "the propitious," from the same motive that the Greeks denominated the Furies Eumenides, a name of similar signification. Volney, though he knew no parts of the Turkish empire besides Egypt and Syria, asserts, that Constantinople is the birth place and principal seat of the plague, where it is perpetuated by the blind negligence of the Turks. But this opinion is controverted by the fact, that many of the French soldiers fell victims to the ravages of the plague during the period when Egypt remained in the power of the French, when its ports were blockaded, and all communication with other nations was cut off; while Constantinople was at the same time, in a great measure, free from the infection. The insalubrious state of a country and the impurity of the atmosphere seem best to account for the existence, or introduction, 218 of the plague: but in inhabited countries, these physical evils are induced chiefly from moral causes. If the error of Agamemnon, the crime of a moment, drew down upon the Grecian army the vengeance of Apollo; if the sin of David brought pestilence upon the innocent house of Israel; how much more must the despotism of the Turkish government, a system at which nature revolts, excite the anger of heaven, and provoke the infliction of augmented evil! On every page of the Ottoman history is inscribed this instructive lesson, that not only the moral happiness of a nation is diminished, but even the sources of physical blessings are contaminated, in exact proportion to the injustice of its political institutions. "General health," says Raimond, "is inconsistent with extreme servitude." Under a tyrannical or vitiated government the culture of the earth is in a great degree neglected, the morasses are undrained, and the stagnant waters generate and diffuse corruption; the labour of the people is limited to procure only the necessary means of supporting animal life; their food is insufficient and unwholesome; their cottages are low and humid; their habitations are lurking places, 219 chosen with no regard to healthiness of situation. It is in such countries, that we find the plague and the leprosy, with all their horrible concomitants, raised to an eminence superior even to that of the tyrant, and subjecting alike to their sway the oppressor and the oppressed. In Greece, while its inhabitants breathed freedom, the plague was transient or unknown. In Egypt, while wisdom tempered the harshness of its laws, the wind of the desert blew only temporary destruction99; and though the periodical inundations of the Nile covered the whole surface of its valley, yet human industry, stimulated and encouraged by a provident government, drew fatness from its luxuriance, but averted the noxious effects of its exhalations. It has been calculated, that during the existence of the Roman republic, a mean period of twenty-one years elapsed between each return of those epidemical distempers, which, from their general diffusion over Italy and Europe, and their fatal consequences, may in some degree be denominated 220 pestilential. From Augustus Cæsar to the year of Christ 1680, there were ninety-seven plagues; but the mean interval between each is reduced to the term of seventeen years. Since that period, the progress of civilization among the states of Europe has re-established order in government, and opposed a barrier to epidemical disorders. The period in the history of Europe the most fertile in calamities, lies between the years 1060 and 1480, and is marked with thirty-two destructive plagues: their common internal is twelve years. But in the fourteenth century, the age when disorder and distress had attained their greatest height, Europe had been wasted with fourteen fatal and almost universal plagues. In the two next succeeding centuries governments began to re-assume their vigour, and removed to a greater distance this common curse of the human race, the scourge of tyranny in governors, no less than of slavish submission in the people. In the seventeenth century the plague became still less frequent, until at length it has entirely disappeared from civilized and Christian Europe: and if Europeans still possess wisdom and virtue sufficient to secure their liberties on a solid basis, we may confidently 221 hope, that its ravages will be eternally removed from our borders. May Englishmen at least, since Liberty has fixed her favourite residence in this happy island, still listen to her salutary admonitions, and cherish, in its first principles, that vigour of mind and body which she alone can bestow. Hygeia herself is but the handmaid of Liberty. The sacrifice which she requires, the incense whose fragrance she most delights in, is the happiness of her votaries; the gayety of youth, the temperate cheerfulness of manhood, and the serene comforts of declining life. It is Liberty alone, whose breath disperses the noxious vapours, whose smile dispels contagion from the atmosphere, who spreads her plentiful table, and invites her children to that temperate luxury, that semi-epicurism which best contributes to habitual cheerfulness, and is the acknowledged preventive of infection and disease100.
99"Seroit-il hors de vraisemblance de dire que la peste est une émanation mortifère du vent de samm." (Pouqueville, t.i, p.406.)
100I am chiefly indebted to Raimond, as well for the facts as the reasoning respecting the origin of the plague. (See Histoire de l'éléphantiasis, page 104, quoted by Dr. Pouqueville in his chapter "De la peste," t.i, p.419.)Mourning.
Mourning, or any external expression of grief, is considered as a murmuring against the dispensations of Providence, and reprobated 222 by law and custom. The mother, however, is allowed to lament the death of her son, and to mourn for three days; and though all restrain their feelings, and at most indulge in melancholy, yet they decorate the tombstones of their parents, their children, or their friends, with epitaphs which express their fondness and affection, the regret which they feel, and the disconsolate situation in which they are left. They divert their melancholy by prayers, and other acts of devotion, for the relief of the departed soul; and are frequently seen kneeling by the side of a new made grave, and performing their pious supererogations101.
101The prayer peculiarly consecrated to the burial service of the Mahometans is as follows. "Have mercy, O God, on the living and dead, the present and absent, the great and small, the males and females, among thy servants. May those to whom thou hast given life, live and die in the belief and profession of Islamism. May this thy servant deceased enjoy, through thy mercy, peace and rest. Pour upon him the blessings of thy grace and favour. Increase the merit of his good deeds if he be found in the number of the just, and blot out his iniquities if he have sinned before thee. Grant him, O God, peace and salvation; let him approach, and continually dwell before, thy eternal throne. Save him from the torments of the tomb, and the punishment of everlasting fire. Let him be numbered among the blessed in Paradise. Let his tomb be a place of refreshment and delight. Have mercy upon him, O thou whose attribute is mercy."Interments and funeral monuments.
223 They hasten to relieve the sufferings of the soul on its quitting the body, by almost immediate interment, and never willingly defer the burial till the morrow of the decease102. Such precipitation must sometimes be productive of the most dreadful consequences; and the evil is further extended by the practice being imitated by the Jews, and by the Greek and Armenian Christians.
102"On ne doit pas différer la sépulture d'un fidèle décédé; et cela en vertu de ces paroles divines: 'Hâtez-vous d'inhumer vos morts, pour qu'ils puissent jouir aussitôt de la béatitude éternelle, s'ils sont décédés dans la vertu et dans l'élection; et qu'au contraire, s'ils sont morts dans le vice et dans la réprobation, vous écartiez loin de vous des ames condamnées au feu de l'enfer.'" (Tab. Gén. t.ii, p.298.)
The Turks conceal the body, during its passage to the place of interment, under a shell or coffin, called tabut, at the head of which is the turban, or muslin, denoting the rank, or sex, of the person. It is carried to the grave by the friends of the deceased; a duty enjoined by the prophet, who has declared, that he who carries a dead body the space of forty paces, procures for himself the expiation of a great sin. The graves are shallow, and the body is protected from the immediate pressure of the earth by thin 224 boards placed over it obliquely. The Greeks and Armenians carry the body through the streets dressed up in its greatest finery, and on the burying ground enfold it in a winding sheet. I have myself met a procession returning with the body of a Greek exposed on a bier, which, on the brink of the grave, had given signs of life; and I have heard of bodies being interred notwithstanding unequivocal symptoms of animation. De Tott, with his usual levity and exaggeration, says, that "in the Turkish burying grounds the voices of some unhappy people have been heard front beneath; and they were left to perish for want of immediate relief, which was withheld that the fees of interment might not be restored."
The tomb-stone at the head of a man's grave is erect, and decorated with a turban carved in stone, which distinguishes it from that of a woman. The cemetery is a wood of cypresses, as a tree is planted near every new grave. All persons, except the sultan's families and some few of high rank, are buried without the cities; and as a grave is never opened a second time, a vast tract of the country is occupied by the burying fields, among which one at the head of the 225 harbour, supposed to contain the remains of Ayub, a companion of Mahomet, who fell in the first siege of Constantinople by the Arabs, and was esteemed a saint and martyr, is distinguished by a great number of elegant mausolea, turbé. Those on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus are preferred by many persons, because the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, and Damascus, are situated in that quarter of the world.
The epitaphs contain the name and quality of the deceased, the day of his death, an exhortation to the passenger to repeat the introductory chapter of the koran, fatihha: they represent death as the term of human misery, congratulate the deceased on his happiness, and compare his soul to a nightingale of paradise. "May the Eternal deign to envelop his soul in a cloud of mercy and gladness, and cover his tomb with brightness of divine light." On the tomb-stones of their children, the parents bewail their affliction, and complain, that death has plucked the rose from the garden of beauty, has torn the tender branch from the parent stock, and left a father and a mother to consume the remainder of their lives in bitterness and wo.
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