Title: The Diary of a Turk
Author: Çerkesseyhizade Halil Halit
Release date: September 24, 2015 [eBook #50048]
Credits: Produced by Turgut Dincer (This file was produced from
images generously made available by The Internet Archive
and Hathi Trust)
The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.
THE DIARY OF A TURK
HALIL HALID, M.A., M.R.A.S.
CONTAINING EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS
ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
TO THE MEMORY OF
E. F. W. GIBB
ORIENTAL SCHOLAR, AND THE AUTHOR OF "A HISTORY OF OTTOMAN POETRY"
Although no Western Power has ever played a greater part in the problems of the Ottoman Empire than Great Britain, yet in no other country in Western Europe is Turkey more grossly misunderstood. I have been many times asked by my English acquaintances to write a book on Turkey from a Turkish point of view, and two ways of writing were suggested to me: the one was to compile a detailed work, the other to write a small and light book. To take the former advice was not possible to me, as I found myself incapable of producing a great and technical work. Besides, I thought that after all a small and lightly written volume would have a larger circle of readers, and by its help I could to some extent correct some of the mistaken ideas prevailing in England about Turkey. Therefore I began to write this little volume in the form of a book of travel, and I now bring it out under the title of The Diary of a Turk. By this means I have been able to talk a little on many matters connected with Turkey. Let the critic find other points in this book on which to express his opinion, but do not let him charge me with ignorance of the fact that the somewhat unexciting experiences of an unknown man may be only of slight interest to the public.
In the chapter on women's affairs I have quoted a few paragraphs from two articles which I contributed some time ago to two London weeklies, the Queen and the Lady, I render my thanks to the Editors of these papers for kindly permitting me to reproduce them here.
|I.||MY HOME IN ASIA MINOR||1|
|II.||AT SCHOOL AND IN THE HAREM||23|
|III.||THE HAREM AND WOMEN IN THE EAST||46|
I GO TO CONSTANTINOPLE AND PURSUE MY STUDIES
A NEW PROFESSION AND THE QUESTION OF CONSCRIPTION
|VI.||TURKEY'S INTERNAL DANGERS||118|
|VII.||A NEW COSTUME AND A NEW CAREER||134|
|VIII.||THE SUBLIME PORTE AND YILDIZ KIOSK||150|
|IX.||THE CEREMONY OF THE SELAMLIK||164|
|X.||THE SULTAN'S POLICY||175|
|XI.||THE STRUGGLE WITH YOUNG-TURKEY||186|
|XII.||ENGLAND AND THE CALIPHATE||200|
|XIII.||A LAST VISIT TO ASIA MINOR||211|
|XIV.||A SPY IN A BATH||225|
|XV.||FLIGHT TO ENGLAND||238|
|XVI.||A RETURN AND A SECOND FLIGHT||253|
|PRINCES IN LANCERS' UNIFORM||Frontispiece|
|A PICKNICKING RESORT||To face page 54|
|A VILLAGE WEDDING PROCESSION||T"ace"xxx70|
|A TURKISH CEMETERY||T"ace"xxx84|
|OFFICERS OF LANCERS||T"ace"xx114|
|AN OLD SERAGLIO||T"ace"xx184|
|A WRESTLING MATCH IN OLDEN DAYS||T"ace"xx220|
THE DIARY OF A TURK
My Asiatic origin—My great-grandfather's religious order— His miracles—My grandfather and Sultan Mahmud II. —An ordeal by wine—My father's charitable extravagance—His death—Primitive surgery in Asia Minor— The original home of vaccination—My mother's European ancestors—Writing a forbidden accomplishment for women.
I was born in the ancient town of Angora, Asia Minor, famous not alone for its silky-haired cats and goats, but also for its historical and archæological importance, and with it my memories of early days, and therefore the pages of my desultory journal, naturally begin. Men of learning who have engaged in researches into the archæology and biblical history of Asia2 Minor have come to the conclusion that this town was once in the remote past the principal centre of a wandering branch of the Celtic peoples who ultimately settled in Asia Minor. Although, of course, it was conquered and held during later generations by the Eastern invaders, it is even nowadays noticeable that there is a difference, both of character and physique, between most of the inhabitants of our province and those of other provinces, more especially of Southern and Eastern Asia Minor. By remarking on this I do not wish to seem to be trying to trace my origin to a European race, though I am aware that many people in this country are unsympathetic, and even, perhaps, prejudiced, where Orientals are concerned. My paternal ancestors came across from Central Asia, and first settled in Khorassan, in Persia. But as they were devout followers of the orthodox creed of the Arabian Prophet they were subjected to the intolerant oppression of the Persian Moslems, between whom and the orthodox believers the history of Western Asia records many a sanguinary feud, the result of their doctrinal antagonism. My ancestors were compelled eventually to emigrate3 to Asia Minor over a hundred and fifty years ago, and there they found a more hospitable reception. My great-grandfather was the sheikh or head of a religious order called Halvati, or, to give the name an English equivalent, "those who worship in seclusion." The name arises from one of the strict rules of the order, that its rites must not be displayed to the outside public, doubtless a measure for the prevention of hypocrisy. Historical research has traced the foundation of the order to Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed. Shortly after settling in Asia Minor the disciples of the great sheikh increased to a number approaching eighty thousand, and pilgrims came to his monastic dwelling from all the neighbouring provinces. It was not only in Anatolia and Syria that his name was honoured; he is mentioned with reverence in the books written in Egypt at that time. It must not be imagined that he was a kind of Mahdi, a name which is familiar in England on account of its having been assumed by the late pretender in the Soudan. In the days gone by many such Mahdis, or "redeemers," appeared in Western Asia and the Northern half of Africa, disguis4ing under this apostolic name their ambition of attaining temporal power and worldly glory.
In spite of his having so great a number of disciples, my great-grandfather lived, together with his immediate devotees, in complete retirement. The Ottoman Sovereign of the time heard of him and sent a messenger informing him that he wished to grant certain pious endowments to his monastic institution in the little town of Tcherkesh, which is situated half-way between Angora and the Black Sea coast. My great-grandfather declined to receive such unnecessary worldly assistance, and, according to one of the traditions concerning his miraculous doings which used to be related in our family circle, he struck his staff against the wall in the presence of the envoy of the sovereign, and thereupon a stream of precious metal began to flow down. He said to the envoy (who became a devoted disciple later on) that he needed not such worldly things. There is another anecdote of him which was told in my younger days. There was in our house a large deerskin upon which my father used to prostrate himself during his prayers. I often heard it said that this was the skin of the5 deer upon which my great-grandfather, the holy hermit, was accustomed to ride every Friday, the Sabbath day of our people, from his home in Asia Minor to Mecca, in Arabia, to attend the Friday service in the sacred sepulchre of the Prophet (on whose shrine be blessing!). Of course, I quite believed these legends in my childhood. I can make no comment on them now. "The responsibility of vouching for the fact lies with the narrator," is an Arab saying often quoted by our Oriental historians in relating extraordinary events. I must follow their example. It has, however, always been a great grief to me that along with the deerskin we did not inherit that useful staff.
My grandfather, whose views in his early days on the religious orders did not coincide with those of his father, did not become a disciple of the great hermit-sheikh, so the latter had to point out to him that the rules of the order forbade his remaining any longer in the monastic institution. He left the place accordingly, and joined a small caravan which was starting off to the town of Angora, where he eventually settled. It was a distance of four days' journey on camel-back. This town was6 the centre of learning at that time, and there is there a well-known shrine of a saint, whose name is Haji Beiram. Many thousands of pilgrims visit his mausoleum every year. My grandfather did not know anyone in the town, and had no means of supporting himself. He went to the shrine, and after making a prayer at the graveside of the saint, he became absorbed in contemplation and eventually slumbered. In his dream he saw the saint, who asked him his name, and also whether he could read. The answer to the second question was unsatisfactory, and thereupon the saint gave him a lesson. On waking up my grandfather went out and saw several students entering the adjacent madrasseh or theological school. He followed them, and in the madrasseh he entered into conversation with one of the newly-made lecturers. In these old-fashioned centres of learning the reputation of a lecturer depends in great measure on the number of students who attend his lectures. The lecturer took my grandfather, who was then little more than a boy, into his class, and settled him in a room along with his few other pupils. He studied in this madrasseh very many years, and ulti7mately became himself a professor of theology, philosophy, and the temporal law of the Moslems. He made his fame largely by delivering addresses in different mosques on the commentaries of the Koran, which attracted large audiences. Many learned men, engaged in kindred studies throughout Asiatic Turkey, used to apply to him for the solution of difficult points. The representative of the sovereign in this town used to pay him visits of respect, but he himself never in his life crossed the threshold of a government office.
During the reign of Sultan Mahmud II., who ruled from 1808 till 1839, there took place an imperial wedding at Constantinople to which persons of distinction in all classes of society throughout the country were invited. The chief physician of the Sultan (whose grandson is at present attached as councillor to the Ottoman Embassy in London), who had been a pupil of my grandfather's, noticed that his name was not on the list, and strongly recommended his sovereign to invite him. A courier set out for Asia Minor at once, and brought my grandfather to the capital. A great banquet was given in the palace in8 honour of the event to all the religious dignitaries and principal Ulema, that is to say, the learned hierarchy of the realm. Mahmud II. devised a curious plan for testing the fortitude and strength of character of these pious people. During the banquet servants brought in bottles filled with a red-coloured liquid. Several guards with drawn swords in their hands followed the attendants, and stood in the entrance. The bewildered guests naturally did not know what to make of it, and awaited events in anxious silence. Then, to their consternation, it was solemnly announced that the liquid in the bottles was wine. Wine! an abominable intoxicant, of which it is strictly forbidden to the faithful to touch even a single drop! The pernicious fluid, which has received from the Prophet himself the name of the "mother of evils"! (I must explain, by the way, that Mahmud wished to remodel his empire. After getting rid of those formidable opponents, the Janissaries, he adopted not only some of the European methods of administration, but also some of the Western customs and modes of life, and among other things he ordered his officials and army to wear costumes9 and uniforms made after the European style. This policy had already occasioned disquietude and suspicion in the pious heads under turbans in Asia.) When the wine was brought before that religiously sober assembly, an announcement was made that "as the Sultan ruled on European soil he wished to bring his country more into harmony with the Franks (all the people of Western Europe are so called), and any unwillingness on the part of his subjects would possibly hasten the decay of his empire. It was, moreover, the desire of the sovereign that narrow-minded superstition and the dislike of new things, even though they were borrowed from the Franks, should disappear." The announcement was concluded by the warning that those guests who should refuse to drink wine would be regarded as rebellious against the will of their sovereign. Face to face with this somewhat startling alternative, the guests became pale of countenance and mute of tongue, for, be it remembered, he who gave this order was a real autocrat, who had even exterminated the awe-inspiring Janissaries. However, my grandfather sprang up from his seat and said, "could not our sovereign find any other virtues10 among the Franks worth imitating?" He pointed out, moreover, that the law against drinking wine, the ordinance of the faith, was given to them by an authority superior even to that of his Majesty. He then started to go out, and while he was forcing his way through the servants and guards, Sultan Mahmud, who was watching this comedy literally from behind the scenes, suddenly stepped in smiling, and, in order to dispel the fear of the white-bearded, green-turbaned gentlemen, he said he simply meant to test the fortitude and character of the people who were to guide his subjects in the paths of religion and rectitude.
The Sultan later granted an audience to my grandfather, and asked him to give lessons in the Arabic language to the imperial princes (among whom was Abdul Mejid, who was Sultan during the Crimean campaign), and urged him to settle in Constantinople, promising that he would eventually make him Sheikh-ul-Islam, that is, the head of the religious magistrates and learned hierarchy. But my grandfather prayed the sovereign to pardon him for not accepting this honour, saying that it was his earnest desire to pass his remaining11 days of life in retirement and study. He only requested one boon—that he might be granted the vacant headship of the madrasseh or college in which he had studied for so many years, and with this, the enjoyment of the lands devised to it by the Crown.
When my grandfather had returned to his own town, Sultan Mahmud, who understood and appreciated his quiet contentment, wrote out with his own hand a saying of the Prophet, had it illuminated, and sent it to him as a present Roughly translated it runs as follows:—"The Lord loveth the man of learning who is pious, contented, modest and retiring." Subsequently, too, he granted my grandfather's request, and, as an additional clause to the endowment, he made a provision that these lands should be inherited as real estate by his posterity, provided that they should, after attaining the age of twenty years, qualify themselves by an examination before the proper authorities on those subjects in which he was himself so well versed. The royal firmans, with the imperial signature on them, beautifully written on the finest vellum, are still in the possession of our family. These lands came down to me and to12 my brothers, but, in spite of all provisions to the contrary, they were confiscated during the reign of the present Sultan, a reign which has been so conspicuous for the suppression of the civil rights and the oppression of the person of the individual.
We sued the Government to get our property back, and spent all our money in different courts over lawsuits which lasted fifteen years, but we could not have expected to succeed, for, as a Turkish poet has written,—
When my grandfather died at the age of eighty-two my own father inherited the endowed estate; he was not so learned and able as his father. His only brother, having entered into the Government service, forfeited his share. My father suffered from an excess of charity, and in helping others he expended the greater portion of the revenue of his own estate as well as a part of my mother's private income. His charitable extravagance became at length so inordinate that he could not even dine without inviting every day many guests, no matter13 whether their position was humble or the reverse. When he died, killed by the murderous attack of a drunken Government official, he left us practically nothing but the endowed lands, which he could not have sold, and these lands, as I pointed out before, were taken over by the Government of the present Sultan. We were relieved from want by the fact that the bulk of my mother's property remained intact Fortunately my father had not been able to squander it.
I was nine years old when the drunken official attacked him, and so caused his death, which happened thus:—One evening a few women visitors came to call on my mother. As it is our custom in the East to keep our women strictly secluded, my father had to retire before these veiled visitors entered. He asked me to come out with him to spend the evening with some neighbouring friends, and there we saw the intoxicated man. My father had a very great abhorrence of drunkenness and drunkards, and he could not bear to be in the same room with the man, who was violently drunk and shouting and singing. A quarrel arose between them. The man attacked my father,14 and caught him by his long white beard. My father pushed the assailant back, and in doing so accidentally put his thumb into the drunkard's mouth, with the result that he was badly bitten. Although Asia Minor was the cradle of some of the ancient civilisations, it has not profited from the facilities afforded to mankind by modern discoveries. There was no surgeon in our town properly qualified by scientific training, and so my father's thumb lacked proper treatment.
The only medical men were, as a rule, barbers, who added to their proper profession that of letting blood for their customers when it was considered necessary. Bleeding of course used to be in favour in Europe generally, and it is still largely practised in the East. There are a great many people in my native country who think that a periodical loss of blood purifies the system, and have themselves bled accordingly. The early part of the summer is a favourite time for the operation, before the season for eating fresh fruit arrives. Blood is let either by a lancet, or else by means of leeches which are applied to the arms and legs. The men who were charged with my father's treatment were15 an old barber and a professional blood-letter. They used all their choicest ointments, making my father's thumb worse every day. They used to criticise each other's skill in surgery. The professional blood-letter told us that he was once an army surgeon, and it was his boast that during the Crimean War he had cut off the arms and legs of dozens of wounded soldiers. He doubtless facilitated the departure of these unfortunates to the place whither he ultimately sent my father. In spite of his experiences, however, he did not amputate my parent's arm, which might have prevented the gangrene which proved fatal. My mother's efforts to obtain the condemnation of the drunken official, as the murderer of her husband, failed. He was only sentenced to a few months of imprisonment, and to pay us an indemnity of about five hundred pounds.
Perhaps I shall be pardoned for a slight digression here. I laid some emphasis on the backward condition of the art of surgery in my native town, but I do not mean thereby that Turkey has been altogether behindhand in the art of medicine. In some particulars she has even led the way. For instance, she16 may claim the discovery of inoculation as a defence against smallpox, and it is worth while recalling the fact that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduced the treatment into England from Turkey many years before Jenner made his first experiment. As Lady Mary saw it, inoculation was performed with lymph taken from human beings, but according to the Tarikhi Jevdet (vol. ii., p. 341, press mark Turk. 9, British Museum Library), inoculation was also performed in a manner suggestive of calf-lymph. A Turkoman of the pastoral tribes in Asia Minor was paying a visit to Constantinople, and he saw the children being inoculated with other children's lymph. He said that in his own country the lymph was taken from the fingers of those who milked the cows. The book, moreover, states that Lady Mary heard of the Turkoman's statement, though she does not mention this in her letter.
The Circassians and some of the tribes of Caucasus are said to have been acquainted with the uses of inoculation in olden days. They were chiefly slave-dealers, and they had to take great care of their young girl-captives, more especially as regarded any sort of disfigurement 18which would destroy their good looks, and consequently their value. Of the early history of the sickness little is known, but it is a well-established fact that the symptoms were first clearly diagnosed by the ancient Arab physician, Rhazes, whose name is well known to Orientalists and students of medical history. His book is entitled Kitab-ul-Jederee Vel-Hassabeh, the translation of which is Treatise of Smallpox and Measles. This work was translated into English from a Latin version by T. Stark early in the eighteenth century.
The business-like European manner of investing money is not known among our people. Those who do not know what to do with their spare money, and who fear it may be stolen, or kindly taken charge of by the officials of the paternal Sultan, hide their cash by burying it in corners of their houses or fields. But we did not hide the five hundred pounds belonging to my mother. Someone suggested to us that we should buy mohair goats, of which the hair, cut every spring, would yield us an annual income.19 This was a little after the Russo-Turkish War, and in the consequent depression of trade even the silky-haired, valuable Angora goat was to be cheaply bought We purchased three hundred of these animals. But misfortunes never come alone. In a year's time a disease broke out among the greater part of the animals in our province, and almost all our goats died. My mother, in her simple faith, attributed this to kismet, and consoled herself and us accordingly.
My mother is a woman of tact and great natural intelligence, but owing to the backward condition of women in the East, due to their surroundings, her intelligence has not had the benefit of culture. She is, of course, a fatalist, and she believes all she is told by her religious teachers, who are not very learned themselves. She is not ignorant; on the contrary, she was in her time the most well-read woman of our town. Indeed, so far was she in advance of the other ladies, that they used to visit her for the purpose of hearing her read aloud from the books of sacred legends and hymns which are their principal literature. She cannot write at all. This perhaps requires some explanation.20 Formerly girls in Turkey were not allowed to learn the mystery of caligraphy. We have had some excellent poetesses in days gone by, but none of them could write—they dictated their inspirations. The common explanation given of this traditional prohibition—for it is a custom rather than a rule—was that if girls once learned writing they might have indulged in talismanic pastimes, and eventually have become witches. As a matter of fact, the real reason was quite different There was a fear, perhaps not ill-founded, that having once learned to write they might hasten to make use of the accomplishment by composing love-letters to young men with whom they could not otherwise communicate, for the strict seclusion of females cuts off all intercourse between young people of opposite sexes almost as soon as they have ceased to be infants. This absurd, in fact harmful, prohibition has of late, and for some time past, been losing its force. But it was still strictly observed in my mother's younger days, and so she was not allowed to learn to write. In spite, however, of her incomplete education, she kept us happy, and by her inborn tact preserved the appearance21 of our social standing. All members of my mother's family have a practical business-like instinct, a quality which is so conspicuously lacking in those Turks who have no strain of foreign blood. I am convinced that there is some European blood in the veins of my mother's ancestors. She belongs to a family of soldiers who for generations were charged by the Ottoman Sultans with the defence of the provinces and the frontiers of Bosnia and Herzegovina In those days the Turks used to make slaves of their captives in war, just as their enemies used to carry Turks into permanent captivity when invading their territory. The antecedents of the people so enslaved can be traced even now in Hungary and Austria by their Turkish names. But the captives of the Turks, as a rule, had to adopt Turkish names, and so the presence of European blood can only be determined in Turkey by the personal appearance and characteristics of the descendants of the captives. My mother's soldier-ancestors doubtless intermarried with European captives. I before disclaimed all pretensions or desire to pass myself off as a descendant of a European race when I was de22scribing the Asiatic origin of my forefathers. I am not, nevertheless, contradicting myself here; for when the pedigree of a person is being considered with us, it is only his ancestry on the father's side that counts.
My mother passes a most retired life in her town and summer houses. In town there is a market-place situated a few minutes' distance from our house, which she has never seen in her whole life. She went, however, to Mecca on a pilgrimage some five years ago.
My hatred of lessons—Compulsory attendance at school—The bastinado in schools—My own experience of it—How schoolgirls are punished—The old-fashioned implement for beating—"The rod is a gift from Heaven"—I help to kidnap a bride—My mother's grief at my behaviour—I am handed over to a stem uncle in consequence—My uncle's wives—Etiquette in the harem—A first cigarette—Bastinado again—I am shut out of the harem—The practice of polygamy—Its popularity estimated—The European system.
"Paradise is beneath the ground over which mothers walk," said Prophet Mohammed. This saying is to be thus construed: "If any man desires to gain paradise, let him obey and respect his mother." This precept I was taught to follow from my earliest childhood. But I fear I must be destined for some place other than paradise, for when I was a boy I frequently gave my mother much trouble and24 caused her great and many anxieties, for I found my conduct free from masculine control after my father's death, and made good, or bad, use of my opportunities. I was a child of unthinking and reckless nature. I had an intense horror of going to any school. At our summer residence I owned a flock of geese, and I loved to spend my time looking after them. I was therefore given the nickname of 'goose-herd,' which is tantamount in Turkish to 'idiot'. In our town-house I trained and reared pigeons, and I must say I had some excuse for this, as I have never seen such beautiful birds elsewhere. They were very small, and of a pure white hue. They would fly to an extraordinary altitude, and would remain out of sight for several hours. At other times they would suddenly let themselves fall, swooping and wheeling in mid-air, and then shoot upwards once more. Birds of this most intelligent and trainable breed have been frequently taken to Constantinople, but they cannot live in the climate of that town.
While I was wasting my time with dumb companions, my eldest brother and cousins were quite able to read and write, things which25 to my mind were absolutely past comprehension and belief. Unable to compel me to attend any school, my mother at last applied to an old negro servant of my grandfather's, who was then living close to us with his white wife and tawny children. When a boy he had been bought by my grandfather from the slave-dealers, and as the emancipation of slaves is considered the most pious act a Mohammedan can perform, my grandfather freed him soon after buying him, gave him some property, and arranged a marriage for him. This old man did not approve of my undutiful conduct towards my mother. In accordance with a promise which he willingly made to her, one morning he came to our house and gravely asked me to go with him to school. I excused myself on the plea that the books and papers previously procured for me had been eaten by rats. He said he would buy new ones for me in the school, and I told him it was no use buying them, because I did not understand them. Then the big black man, showing his white teeth angrily, moved towards me, and caught me by the ear with his rough, hard hand, and practically dragged me as far as the school,26 amidst the malicious chuckling of my brother and cousins. During lesson-times my thoughts flew after my geese and pigeons. Many a time was I led to school most unwillingly in the same fashion, and it took several months for the master to persuade me, by much corporal chastisement, to take the slightest interest in my lessons.
After a year or so I had to go to a higher school, where there were hundreds of boys, several teachers, and a headmaster of ruthless disposition. In those days flogging was the principal punishment for all offences of schoolboys. I have never seen or heard of any master who carried out his duty of not sparing the rod more conscientiously, more unbendingly, and with more self-satisfaction than that headmaster. Personally, however, I came off more easily than most, as during the two years of my attendance in the school I was only beaten three times. The beating took the usual form of bastinado, and in my three experiences I received fifty strokes on the soles of my feet, twenty of them for my ill-behaviour, fifteen for my stupidity, and fifteen for my incapacity to learn arithmetic. I had on several occasions27 played mischievous schoolboy tricks, which would have brought upon me many a flogging had I not been careful enough to hoodwink the watchful eyes of the headmaster and his attendants. But on the occasion when I received my twenty strokes, I was detected while rather irreverently playing pranks during prayer-time. It was the custom for the headmaster to take all the boys every afternoon to a special hall for prayer, and to conduct the service personally. In our places of worship people prostrate themselves by laying their foreheads on the floor, while they repeat again and again the name of Allah; everyone should then disengage his thoughts from all earthly things and fix them "on heaven." The whole service does not last more than fifteen minutes, and one prostration only lasts about a minute. One day, when the whole congregation were prostrate, I quickly got up and collected the fezzes of the boys who were near me, piled them in a heap, and at once re-prostrated myself. When the service was over, it was observed that several boys were bareheaded. The master was informed of the crime that had been committed, for a Mussulman always prays with covered head,28 and a searching inquiry began. One of the boys, who was a friend of mine, while going before the master to be interrogated, could not refrain from laughing at the remembrance of the fun. The master at once ordered his attendants to pull the boy down to be beaten. Seeing that my friend was crying, I went to the master and swore that the boy was innocent "How do you know?" he asked me. "Because he was next to me during the service; I should have observed him," said I. Then several boys got up and told the master that the boy was not at my side during the service, thus contradicting me unanimously. Whereupon two attendants were ordered to pull me down and hold my legs tightly. The master then gave me twenty fierce blows on my feet, which made me lame for several days. This was the last flogging I had in the school.
It may perhaps be of interest if I give some description of our methods of corporal punishment in schools, which are still, even the primitive ones, employed by some masters in the provinces. In our old schools there were two kinds of flogging—one for the girls and the other for the boys. Girls used to be beaten 29on the palms of their hands. There used to be an instrument in each school which was called the flaka. This was a long thick stick, to which was fastened a loop. The girl's wrists were fastened to the stick by means of twisting the loop round it, and the stick was held up by a person at either end. Then the master (there were no schoolmistresses), standing in front, used to inflict the punishment with a thin hard rod. The number of the strokes usually varied between five and ten. Laziness, much talking, and mischievous behaviour were the principal offences which brought about this punishment As I remarked before, boys used to be beaten on their feet—sometimes on the soles of their boots, in graver cases without them, and even sometimes without their socks. The boys had to be pulled down, and two persons held up their feet, and the master used to strike the feet with a thick rod. The number of blows only exceeded twenty in the case of a very bad offence, and flogging on the bare feet was generally the result of the master finding something inside the culprit's boots or socks to mitigate the force of the blows. It often happened that the boys, foreseeing their fate,30 used to place between their feet and socks such things as cotton handkerchiefs, and pieces of sheepskin. I remember I did not cry when I was beaten for the first time, as I thought it was very cowardly to cry in the presence of so many boys. But a boy who was sitting next to me said, "You silly! why did you not cry?" He then told me that each time he knew he was likely to be punished he placed some soft stuff inside his socks at once, and while he was being beaten cried out for mercy as loudly as possible. He said he made the master reduce the number of strokes by this plan.
In the old preparatory mixed schools there used to be another method of keeping children in order, which, I must admit, was decidedly barbarous. Those elementary schools for children consisted only of a large hall with two galleries in it. The smaller gallery was occupied by the master, and there he summoned the children in groups of two or three at a time to come and say their lessons. There was no division into classes. The larger gallery was used for the girls, the boys occupying the middle of the hall. Although the little scholars used to have low benches before them, they31 had to sit on the floor, each boy or girl having his or her own mattress or sheepskin, which the parents had to provide, to sit upon. Now the master used to have hanging on the wall by his side a long stick whose length was always in proportion to the size of the hall-that is to say, it reached from one end of the room to the other. Whenever the master observed any of his pupils not behaving well and not doing their work, he often did not take the trouble to call the delinquent up before him, but simply took down the long heavy rod, held it up by its thick end, and, with the thin end, struck at any part of his victim he could reach—head, shoulders, or back. Sometimes, if this did not do, he would poke them in the ribs instead. This punishment was very common in all the elementary schools in my time, and was not peculiar to our province, but practised throughout the country. I cannot remember whether I suffered under the long pole in my childhood, but I imagine I did not, as the masters of these schools used to spare the children of well-to-do people for fear of annoying their parents, and thus forfeiting the chance of getting a better fee.
The bastinado is regarded in England as a32 practice of peculiar barbarity, but in Turkey the belief in its good effects still largely prevails. "The rod is a gift from heaven" is a common saying in our language. This means that flogging inspires a desire in refractory people to do right I do not propose to enter into any argument on the merits or demerits of this subject. I consider personally that a beating which is well-deserved and reasonably inflicted often effects a marvellous improvement in a lawless character, awakes the sluggish conscience of ruffians, and tames unmanageable boys. It is doubtful, however, if it is very effective in inducing children at school to learn their lessons.
About the beginning of a summer season it was considered that I had been at the school in my native town long enough. I was then fourteen years old. My mother was looking forward to the arrival of the time when she could send me to Constantinople to complete my term of study. I left the school when summer had begun, and we went to our country-house to spend the summer.
Angora, our native place, has a well-deserved reputation throughout Asia Minor for its varied and extensive fruit-gardens. Almost all the families residing there have their own gardens a few miles outside the town, and most of them have their summer residence in the midst of their gardens. Three streams, flowing from different directions, join just below the town, and the valleys of these streams are covered with either fruit-trees or vineyards. Towards the beginning of May people begin to transport their provisions, furniture, and other household necessities in ox-waggons from the town-houses to the garden-cottages. They reside in the country five or six months, according to when the final harvesting of the autumn fruits takes place. The women and children stay in the country, and most of the men go to the town for their business every day before the heat of the sun becomes too great, and come back in the cool of the evening about sunset. In the middle of the day no one but hardy villagers can travel, for the heat of our climate is as excessive in summer as the cold is severe in winter. The journeys are made on horses, mules, and donkeys.
Like most children I used to feel an intense pleasure in getting away from the town at the beginning of the summer season, but this was not so much on account of my dislike of the town life as of my joy in getting rid of the horrors of pens and paper, and of the worrying schoolmaster. In addition to all the usual country pastimes, such as riding, swimming in the river, shooting, and fishing (which consists principally with us of what is known in England as 'tickling' fish, by putting the hands into the holes under willows which serve as lairs for fish, and grasping and throwing the prey on to the bank), I had a reprehensible way of amusing myself which is also not unknown to English boys. This was boldly trespassing into our neighbours' gardens to get fruit, an amusement which shocked my poor mother's feelings fearfully. I used to plunder more for the sake of the adventure than of eating the plundered fruit, as our own garden was the best, and our fruit was the envy of the neighbourhood.
During that summer I spent months on our country estate immune from the punishment I deserved, but at last I committed a crime which could not be overlooked by my people. I35 helped a lovesick swain, who had been refused, to carry off his lady-love vi et armis. Before I begin to relate the incident I should like to remark that the habit of marriage by abduction was not originally Turkish. It was introduced into Asia Minor by the Caucasian emigrants, and used to be occasionally practised by people of Circassian origin. Almost all Circassian marriages take place through kidnapping. It is the custom for a Circassian to carry off his bride, whether the families of both parties find the match suitable or not. It is expected that he shall prove his bravery by taking this step, and if he is considered by the girl's people to be a fitting suitor, things may afterwards be arranged in a friendly manner; if not, it becomes a question of honour, which ends in feud, and often in bloodshed. With our people this practice is viewed almost with horror, and my complicity in the affair I have referred to was considered by everyone a very grave misdemeanour.
In the kidnapping expedition in which I was implicated the members of the girl's family could not venture to fight to regain her, as the lover's family was stronger in male relations and friends, while on the other hand, to appeal to36 the law would cause them endless worries and expense. The abducted bride's people were by no means socially superior to those of the bridegroom, but they had refused the regular demand for marriage. The girl was born of a Circassian mother, and I believe she must have inherited the instinct of her race. She wished to marry her lover, so she managed to send word to him that she would appear in the garden adjacent to her house at an hour previously fixed. The expedition was composed of three men—myself, the lover, and a powerfully built man of Circassian descent, who had the best horse under him and who had to carry the girl. We started from our neighbourhood at dark, and after an hour and a half's ride on the main road we took a side-way on approaching the country residence of the girl's people. We tied up our horses to trees, and while creeping through the thickly planted fruit-gardens as quietly as possible, we saw someone moving, wrapped in a long white cloak. It was the girl, and she was shivering, even on that warm summer evening, when we approached her, and our big companion took her on his shoulders. The lover looked, it seemed to me, at this moment37 hopelessly stupid, possibly by reason of his mingled feelings of joy and anxiety. We went back to the place where our horses were. The captured bride was mounted on the big Circassian's horse, holding tightly to the man's shoulders. We started, and on regaining the main road we had to ride with moderate speed, as the girl could not stand the strain of violent galloping. The bridegroom and I were constantly looking behind, anticipating pursuit and a possible attempt at recapture. I was armed with a flint pistol and a club, formidably decorated with a cluster of nails at the thick end. We took the girl to the bridegroom's residence, where his people gave her the kindest possible reception, and where she was duly married to him next day.
On hearing of my share in this adventure my mother was overwhelmed with grief and indignation. However, I considered that I acted quite rightly in the matter, and that in helping on the marriage of a suffering fellow-man, which subsequently turned out admirably, I did a piece of good work.
The end of the autumn of this year was approaching, and we prepared to transfer our38 residence from the country to our town-house. My uncle, who represented our town in the short-lived Ottoman Parliament in Constantinople, had returned from that city just at the same time, the said Parliament having been prorogued indefinitely by the present Sultan, and he had decided to reside in Angora for some time. Hearing all about my conduct, he asked my mother to send my luggage to his house, so that I might live among his own children, and pursue my studies under his personal supervision. My mother, whose gentle soul had been much disturbed by my countless misdeeds, instead of being glad to see me go away, when she might find a little peace, sobbed on seeing my luggage removed from her house. My uncle, as I inferred before, was the first man in our family to enter the service of the Government After acting as Judge in the quasi-religious Mohammedan Courts of Aleppo, Damascus, Cairo, Medina and Mecca, and other centres of the Ottoman empire, for nearly forty years, he retired temporarily from the Government service. Although thoroughly honest, sober, and pious in the extreme, he had fallen into some of the old failings and habits 39of Constantinople officialdom, such as polygamy. When I went to his house he had three wives, all living together with their numerous children and many female attendants, in his harem—that is to say, in the ladies' section of his house. His wives were all Circassians. He bought, emancipated, and married them at different times, and, unlike some other polygamists, he kept them in one house. It was as wonderful as uncommon to see how they all obeyed him implicitly; and though a man of the sternest disposition, he treated them all kindly and with perfect fairness. They may have hated one another at heart, but etiquette and a strict ceremony of precedence were always observed by them. The children of the different wives were more markedly jealous of each other than were their mothers. Before marrying these three Circassian wives my uncle had been married to a lady in whose lifetime he could not take advantage of the existence of the system of polygamy, because she was the daughter of a family of social distinction.
I lived in my polygamist uncle's harem nearly two years. There was a marked con40trast between our own home life and that of my uncle's tumultuous abode. The children of his wives quarrelled with one another, his servants quarrelled with each other. Each wife looked after the comfort of her apartments and her own children. I was not attached to the department of any one of them, and felt very unhappy. In every boyish dispute the sons united and turned against me, and I was quite naturally envious of the affection lavished on them by their respective mothers. My uncle, though he treated me on a perfect equality with his own sons, was very strict He gave us no rest. I lost all my former amusements. We had to occupy ourselves continually either with lessons or with the prayers which he conducted five times a day in a large hall. The morning prayers, which have to be made about an hour before sunrise, annoyed me more than the others, as every day my uncle used to get up and go round knocking at the door of every bedroom, both in the harem and in the men's quarter, compelling everyone to get up for the early prayer. To have to get up and perform my prayer ablution on cold winter mornings often made me complain in 41terms that were hardly pious. Anyone among the numerous boys, girls, and servants who failed in getting ready for the prayer without being able to plead serious illness was sure to receive the bastinado or whip from my stem uncle. On several occasions, like his own sons, I also received punishment Feeling depressed in his house, I secretly started smoking, which is strictly prohibited for boys in my country. One of the sons, who disliked me much, one day spied on me, and informed his father that I was enjoying cigarettes in the stable in company with the groom, who bought and kept them for me, and shared them with me. My uncle sent two stalwart servants to catch me. They brought me before him, and he ordered them to take off my shoes and socks and hold my legs up. He gave me twenty strokes on my bare feet, and they hurt me so much that I howled for a long time afterwards. However, the punishment had its effect, for till within the last two years I have never been able to enjoy smoking.
One of my uncle's strictest orders was that his sons and I should remain on the men's side of the house every evening to read and write 42our lessons, and not retire to our rooms in the harem to bed until after the evening prayer, which takes place about ten o'clock. After I had been living in his harem some months, one night, at the moment when we were all preparing to go to bed, my uncle asked me to stop, and informed me, in his own grave manner, that as I was entering upon the stage of manhood, it was time that I should respect the rule of seclusion. According to this rule, a man can no longer live among the ladies of the harem, between whom and himself marriage would be legal. So the sons of my uncle retired to the harem, leaving me behind in the men's quarter of the house. I went to the room assigned to me, and found all my belongings had been brought out there. I have a vivid recollection of the depression and sadness I felt that night. I was not quite fifteen then. I wished to run away to our own house and throw myself into the arms of my mother, but I knew it was quite hopeless, as I had been legally placed under the guardianship of my uncle alone. Moreover, he was too powerful a man to be resisted, and his voice was supreme in all matters connected with our family circle. 43Seeing the hopelessness of my case, I wept long that solitary night The reason which necessitated my dismissal from my uncle's harem was that he had two daughters of about my own age. Some people, including my own mother, used to design one of them for my future wife, though I did not then appreciate the blessing of matrimony, nor had the girl the least liking for me. It is a curious fact that when there is such a scheme to marry two young people in the future, and even when they are actually engaged, their separation, instead of being relaxed, is more rigidly enforced.
While on the subject of my uncle's harem, it will not perhaps be amiss if I say something about the practice of polygamy in general. Much has been written in English about the Islamic polygamy, but little that is correct and authoritative, for those who are not Mohammedans are unreasonably prejudiced against it. Having more than one wife is not a Turkish, but a Moslem custom. Among the races of the Islamic faith the Turks indulge in polygamy least Scratch those unprincipled 44officials in Constantinople who may be polygamists, and you will find in them more foreign than Osmanli blood. There are many reasons for the justification of the plurality of wives in the Islamic books. I will give one of these reasons, which is historical. Before the time of Mohammed some Arab tribes, in order to check the increase of the female sex, used to bury alive some of their, so to say, 'surplus girls.' The appearance of Islam stamped out this most savage custom. After the foundation of Mohammedanism many sanguinary religious wars took place between Islamites and non-Islamites of Arabia, and a great number of men died in the battles. Therefore many women were left without husbands or unmarried. In those days this caused the increase of prostitution to an alarming degree, and this is a great 'crime' according to the Mohammedan law. Every fair-minded and impartial Christian will admit that Mohammed established many humane and just principles for his followers, and it might be expected that such a wise man would not have sanctioned the practice of polygamy. But what could have been done with those 'surplus women' in an age when 45women's services were not of any public good to the community? How could he check the "crime" of immorality? He had to permit the exercise of polygamy, which was the usual practice among other Semitic peoples; and he sanctioned a man's marrying two, three, or even four wives, according to his capability in health, wealth, and just treatment of them. "With the change of times laws must be altered," says a general rule of Islamic law. But polygamic law did not change. Some wealthy and influential rulers and persons have always favoured it. What surprises me most in this respect is the injudicious criticism of polygamy by some Europeans. Are there not many men in Europe who, besides their lawful wife at home, have paramours elsewhere? This is worse than the polygamy of the Moslem Orient, as in the one case the plurality of female companions of life has a legal aspect, and the issue of the union is considered legitimate, while, on the other hand, the unfortunate offspring of the union libre of Europe are disinherited outcasts, and their mothers can at any moment be thrown into prostitution.
True meaning of the word harem—Eastern houses divided into two parts—Male members of the family only allowed to enter the female quarter—Seclusion of women stricter among the well-to-do—Seclusion not wholly due to religion of Islam-Life in the harem—Occupations of its inmates—Misrepresentation of the system in England—Royal harems—Custom doomed to disappear—Circassian women—Reasons for their popularity as wives—How a woman gets engaged—Some marriage customs—Marriage a more civil proceeding than religious—The bridegroom—His too friendly friends—Shopping in the harems—Female pedlars—Some of them Europeans—A considerable trade.
There are many people in England whose ideas on the subject of the harem are but a confused misconception, based on what they may have heard about Eastern polygamy. In this chapter, that I may correct these mistaken conceptions, I will give some more exact 47information on the subject of the harem and its inmates, as well as on the position of women in Turkey in general.
Although the word harem is known and used by the people of Western Europe, the true meaning of the term is understood by but few persons in this country. As a matter of fact, many subjects concerning the East are much misunderstood in the West, just as there are certain manners and customs of Western Europe that cause prejudice in the Eastern mind. When an Englishman uses the word harem, he means thereby the numerous wives whom a man in our part of the East is supposed to shut up in his house. He, moreover, believes that every man in the Mohammedan East may marry as many women as he pleases. This idea is not only mistaken, but grotesque. There are thousands of men who would consider themselves fortunate if they could marry even a single woman; while, on the other hand, there are thousands who would be happy to get rid of the single wife they have. Any man who can manage to keep two, not to say more, wives in peace, and can cope with the requirements of each, must be an exceptionally brave 48person. Wives are not all religiously obedient in the East, just as all men are not tyrants. Religion, law, and custom impose upon men many duties to be discharged towards their wives. An honest man must discharge these duties, and indeed it is very difficult to find many men who are able to fulfil their obligations as husbands towards more than one wife. It has been proved that in many parts of the Ottoman empire the number of women does not exceed that of men, a fact which alone is enough to show the absurdity of the notion prevailing in England about the plurality of wives in that country. As a matter of fact, there is no law against the practice of polygamy, but the feeling of decent people condemns it A man who is once married to a gentleman's daughter would find it no light matter to add another wife to his home circle. There are nowadays many men of Western education who marry in order to find a life-companion, and they quite understand that were they so injudicious as to take another wife, they would very likely render their lives the reverse of peaceful.
After pointing out the absurdity of the notion 49that a man's harem is his collection of wives, I will now explain what it really is.
In Mohammedan countries, where the seclusion of women is a deeply rooted and religiously observed custom, every house is divided into two separate parts. In Turkey the section of a house where the ladies reside is called the harem, and the men's portion is named the selamlik—that is to say, the reception-place. Though the female inmates of a house are also collectively called the harem, this does not mean that they are all the wives of the master of the house. A man's wife, his mother, his sister, his daughter, and such other women as may lawfully appear unveiled in his presence, all belong to his harem.
The male members of a family who are permitted to enter the harem are the master of the house, his sons, his father, his father-in-law, and his wife's brother. In large cities such as Constantinople, Smyrna, and Adrianople, the advanced class of people may even permit their more distant relatives to enter. Those who adopt European customs may even admit their intimate friends. But in the old-fashioned families, such as form the great bulk of the 50population, no male relation of the master is allowed to enter the harem portion of his house after he has reached his thirteenth or fourteenth year if marriage between such male relation and the master's daughter, or other young marriageable inmates of his house, be possible.
The restrictions are greater in the house of the well-to-do. In these houses, all communication, and sending and receiving parcels and dishes between the inmates of the harem and male members of the household, are effected through a kind of turning cupboard. This contrivance is fixed in a hole in the wall which separates the harem apartments from the men's quarter. As another measure to ensure the seclusion of women, to the windows of all harems is fastened a lattice; so while the inmates can see everything outside from behind this barrier, no man in the neighbouring streets, gardens, and houses can see them. As boys above the age of thirteen or fourteen are not allowed to see any women except those very near relatives I have enumerated, so girls, after the same age, must not appear unveiled in the presence of men, excepting their very near relatives; and if they have been attending 51mixed schools, they will then be taken away; if they go to girls' schools, they must go there, as anywhere else, carefully veiled It must not be supposed that the veils used are similar to the light veils used by the ladies in this country. A woman must go out wrapped from head to foot in a long cloak, somewhat resembling a sheet.
The seclusion of women cannot be wholly attributed to the precepts of the religion of Islam. In the time of Prophet Mohammed, and for generations after, women used to accompany the armies to the battlefield, singing stirring melodies to encourage the fighting men, and tending those who were wounded. Even nowadays among the tribal people, such as nomadic Arabs, and among the Circassians, there is no such absurdly strict seclusion of women as is fostered by the harem system; yet those primitive people are much more earnestly devoted to that religion than the advanced Ottomans. According to some of my countrymen who are better judges than I am of these matters, the custom of veiling women's faces so thickly was adopted by the Ottomans from the Byzantine Greeks, and I think it was man's despotic jealousy in olden days which brought about 52the existing practice of covering up and veiling women out of doors, and also their strict seclusion in the houses.
The life in most Turkish harems is very simple, and, if we leave out the case of the few polygamists who still remain, very peaceful and happy. The absolute authority of the husband does not interfere with the recognised privileges of the wife; while the obedience of the wife, which is regarded by more advanced women in Western Europe with such contempt, in most cases strengthens the affection and respect of the husband for her. Wives are not slaves of their husbands, as some people in this country fancy them to be.2 The inmates of harems live 53mostly indoors, but they are not entirely shut up. They go out in groups of two, three, and more to pay visits to other harems, and they receive visitors from the harems of friends and relations. Of course their gatherings are almost always unmixed, but, like the women of other countries, some of them sing and play to entertain others. Dancing has been introduced recently, but it is confined only to very advanced private families. Among the people of the old school the dancing of young ladies in the presence of others is considered shocking. At weddings and other similar festivities only hired professional women amuse the guests by dancing, and these professional dancers are not regarded as respectable. In my time, reading aloud was a favourite pastime in many harems. The number of educated women was much less than it is now. The most learned among them used to read sacred legends, or religious tracts, or recite hymns to the other ladies, who would listen attentively for hours. I believe this social pastime is still in favour in the provinces.
Turkish women, according to their social position, have various duties to discharge. No 54qualities are so much sought after in an average marriageable woman as the domestic ones. In the provinces the peasant women, besides managing their humble domestic affairs, have to work in the fields, more especially when their brothers and husbands are away discharging their compulsory military service. The daughters of well-to-do people, besides attending to the business of their households, are indefatigable with their needles, and are always busy with needlework or embroidery; while the daughters of high dignitaries must, among other duties, learn what their instructors or governesses teach them.
It will be understood from the details I have given that the popular notion prevailing in this country of the harem and the life in the harem is much mistaken. Women in Turkish harems do not really pass their time lying on sofas or couches, eating sweetmeats and smoking water-pipes all day long. Of course they are as fond of sweetstuffs as most ladies of this country. But to lie down on a couch in presence of others is considered by Turkish women vulgarity of the most disgraceful kind.
The representation of harem life given in books and on the stage, or shown in exhibitions, is either the work of Turkey's detractors, or simply the work of imaginative persons who know nothing about it, and whose object is to attract the curiosity of English people by exhibiting grotesque sights, and thus to make money.
I should, however, agree with any English critic in condemning the custom of seclusion. The hopes which were entertained of checking romantic evils by the custom have hardly been realised; and on the other hand, the system has done a good deal of harm, because the seclusion of women means that a portion of the national intellect is kept uncultivated. Although many young ladies receive private tuition in the harems, and many of them are highly educated, yet this limited kind of education cannot meet the national requirements of Turkey. In my opinion, the strict seclusion of women is greatly responsible for the backward condition of most Eastern races; because if mothers are restricted in cultivating their natural intellect, they can give little if any help in the education of their children. The sons of such mothers cannot 56keep pace with the people of Europe in the path of progress. There are very many men in Turkey who know all these things, and who long for at least a partial emancipation. However, the emancipation must take place gradually, for if the liberty of men is given to the women of the harems without regard to existing social requirements, they themselves will not wholly appreciate it, while many of them might abuse its privileges; moreover, many men might take unchivalrous advantage of so new and sudden a social change.
I may be asked why, if the opinion of my country is ripe enough for at least a partial emancipation of women, it is necessary to withhold it now? The reason can easily be found when one reflects upon the political situation of Turkey. That unhappy country has been suffering for over twenty-six years from a tyranny almost unparalleled in the history of mankind. The Sultan understands perfectly well the influence women might have in educating and enlightening the rising generation. He therefore puts the more restrictions upon the movements of his women subjects.
I cannot say much about the harem quarters of princely palaces. It is well known, however, that the happy family life enjoyed in the harems of private gentlemen cannot be found in the overcrowded harem of a palace. But I can emphasise the fact that the numerous inmates are not all the wives of the lord of the palace. The vastness of domestic arrangements in such an establishment must necessitate the employment of many women as attendants. A sultan or prince, if he resorts to the old rules of polygamy, may marry two, three, and perhaps four wives, but no more, as four is the highest number allowed.
The wives of many well-to-do Ottomans and all the inmates of the royal palaces of Turkey are of Circassian origin. It may be asked why Circassian women find so much favour, and how it is these daughters of the Caucasus adorn the family circle of Turkey? I will give a brief account of them, which may explain these points.
The Circassians, the fine, alert, and powerfully built mountaineers who inhabit the most picturesque regions of the Caucasus, have a world-wide reputation for personal good looks, 58and especially for feminine beauty. Those, however, who have had any considerable experience of this famous race might hesitate to say that its women have really a larger share of beauty as a whole than other branches of the human race. What the Circassian women do possess in distinction from those of other races of Eastern Europe and Western Asia is a greater animation of face, to which may be added a figure uniformly handsome and a bolder demeanour. They are for the most part slender; a fat woman is quite uncommon among Circassians of unmixed blood. Their complexions are usually fair; and it is more on account of her fair skin that the Circassian woman is so much admired by the comparatively dark people of Western Asia and Egypt than for her other physical qualities. She is also very readily taught, and adapts herself quickly to her new surroundings; so that, rustic and clumsy in her manners to begin with, she picks up refined and elegant ways in a remarkably short time. I knew of a wealthy and kind lady who once obtained a young Circassian girl from her relations. Though of sympathetic appearance, this girl, whom I saw 59at the time, looked an untamed creature in her miserable ragged native dress. When I saw her on another occasion after a few years' interval, I found that the rough diamond had been charmingly polished, and now shone with refined beauty.
The Circassians are mostly Mohammedans. A small number of them have been made to accept the Russian religion, but these converts have always a strong tendency towards the faith of the Arabian Prophet; and it is only the fear of the wrath of their conquerors that prevents them from denouncing the doctrine of Holy Synod. This tendency is attributable either to the hatred burned into their hearts towards the Muscovite on account of the destruction of their national independence and the loss of their primitive happiness, which has resulted from the sanguinary and fiercely resisted Russian conquest, or to the reason that the precepts of Islam may perhaps suit their native simplicity better.
There is Circassian blood in the veins of almost all the members of the existing dynasties of the Mohammedan Orient. For many generations past the mothers of the Ottoman 60Sultans have been Circassians; just as in the bygone centuries, when the power and influence of Turkey were so great in Eastern Europe, the Sultanas were women mostly belonging to one or other of the Christian States which were tributary to the Ottoman empire. Many of the Mameluke rulers of Egypt were, as well as their wives, Circassians. The female members of the Khedivial harem have always been and are still of Circassian origin, and there are said to be Circassian ladies in the household of the Persian sovereign.
The Nizam of Hyderabad was at one time anxious to marry a Circassian woman. I heard this from a man whose name is widely known throughout India, and who, I believe, has been introduced to English readers in a well known novel under the fictitious name of 'Mr Isaacs.' This gentleman is a native of Diarbekir, in Asiatic Turkey. After living over thirty years in British India, he paid a visit to Constantinople some nine years ago. There, one day, he asked my advice as to how he might procure Circassian slave-girls, saying that he wished to buy one or two to be admitted to the household of His Highness the Nizam. 61This anglicised gentleman imagined, as many Englishmen do, that there is still a public market for slave traffic in Constantinople, and that anyone can go and purchase as many slave-women as he pleases.
It is true that some destitute parents among the refugees from the Caucasus are willing to part with their young girls for a reasonable sum of money, but only on obtaining a sufficient guarantee beforehand that these young girls will be adopted by the buyers (well-to-do families without daughters often adopt orphans and other poor girls), or else that the girls sold in this fashion will be married either by the buyers themselves or by some relation of theirs.
From the moment of the final conquest of their country by Russia up to the present time, thousands of these natives of the Caucasus have immigrated into the Sultan's dominions. A short time ago there appeared a piece of news in the papers, stating that an arrangement had been made between Russian and Ottoman authorities for the settlement in Turkey of about sixty thousand more Circassians who desired to leave the Caucasus 62en masse. Russia does not object to their emigration nowadays, as she wishes to colonise their land with peasants of the Russian race. On the other hand, the Turkish Government grants them facilities for settling in the thinly inhabited portions of Asia Minor. The Circassians are a healthy and hardy people, and they improve the physical constitution of races with whom they intermingle.
An English reader will naturally want to know how, in a state of affairs in which boys and girls never meet after about their thirteenth year, the matter of marriage is managed; I will therefore explain the system of matrimony.
As is the case in most parts of the world, in Turkish towns betrothal precedes marriage, but 'courtship' is hardly possible in that country. Young girls and men are not allowed to meet one another, and consequently anything in the way of flirting is out of the question. In some exceptional cases they may, perhaps, be able to get a glimpse of each other from a distance, possibly from the windows of neighbouring houses, and quietly exchange greetings 63or make signs of mutual admiration, but this is all they can ever do in the direction of flirtation. Of course, girls may see, though they do not speak with, the men whose wives they may be destined to become some day, but men are strictly prohibited from meeting the marriageable members of the secluded sex. It is scarcely possible for a man to admire and love a woman except on the testimony of others as to her good looks and good qualities. In the same way, the engagements must be made through the medium of the man's lady-relations, or through that of the professional marriage-brokers. The latter are mostly old women, who will endeavour to bring about marriages, not out of good-will to the young couple or for the sake of amusing themselves, but as a matter of business. They visit houses where there are girls suitable for a would-be bridegroom; they make their proposal on his behalf to the family of that young lady of whom they most approve, a proposal which is made in a most roundabout manner, and with great tact. The answer must not come from the prospective bride; that would be considered highly improper. The decision rests with her parents or guardians. 64She is, no doubt, consulted, but her voice in the matter is of secondary importance. Probably, too, she does not know her own mind so well as do her sisters in more advanced lands. The matrimonial agent often repeats her visits three or four times that the matter may be well talked over, as the girl's people need to reflect, and also to make a searching inquiry about the man. If the answer be in the negative, it must be made very tactfully and politely. In some parts of Turkey they have a curious way of letting the proposers know that their offer has been declined. Over their ordinary shoes people almost always wear goloshes, and on entering a house they take them off and leave them in the entrance-hall. The servants of the house make a point of arranging the goloshes heel outwards, in such a way that when the visitor goes out he can put his feet straight into them, without having the trouble of turning them round. Now, when the agent of suitor for a lady's hand, on leaving the house, finds that her goloshes are turned with the toes towards her, she knows that the proposal has been declined.
Thus a man gets betrothed to a woman with65out being permitted to see his beloved fiancée until the wedding formalities are over and the marriage ceremonies are completed. Astounding tales have been related of what has sometimes happened when a husband has thus seen his wife for the first time. In one town, a man who, from the reports he had heard, was deeply in love with his betrothed, actually left the house and ran away when he drew up the long and beautifully embroidered veil that covered the lady, now his wife, and discovered that she was the ugliest creature his imagination could picture. It is easy to conceive the feelings in such a case of a man who has, on the flattering descriptions of the professional marriage-brokers, been led to believe up to the last moment in the angelic appearance of his wife. How terrible must be his disappointment when, on the day of his marriage, he unveils his dreamt-of 'beauty' and beholds a face rough and painted in the vain endeavour to conceal the ravages of smallpox, or distinguished by an ultra-Israelitish nose and topped with a pretentious wig. The unhappy case of such a disappointed husband must not, however, be overstated. Fortunately for him he does not 66often see other female faces, and his notions on the subject of what real beauty is are necessarily restricted by his want of experience. He is naturally of a contented disposition, believes in kismet in this as in other things, and so these physical defects do not greatly disturb his peace of mind, and it is only very rarely that he runs away from his wife.
Such matters as courtship and engagements are quite different among the agricultural and tribal people, where the girls and boys work together in the fields, in the gardens and pastures, and thus pass their early years in each other's society; their marriage in later years is generally the outcome of natural affection, first awakened by that companionship. But even in the towns it is sometimes possible for a man to make the acquaintance of a woman before marrying her. This is done by the betrothed pair arranging a secret interview, which, it is said, is usually brought about with the kind assistance of old and trusted servants. Curiously enough, the professional marriage-broker is sometimes reported to be the person who arranges this private interview; but one thing is absolutely certain, namely, that unless 67she is handsomely tipped, it is to her own advantage to stick strictly to the good old custom.
The wedding of a young couple itself, like their betrothal, takes place in an indirect manner. They are married in a house privately, in the presence of persons closely related to them. They do not go to any place of worship. As I pointed out before, the houses in Turkey are divided into two parts, one reserved for the male, the other for the female members of the household, and there is a long passage between the two. On the wedding-day the ladies fill up the passage, having in front of them the bride, while all the gentlemen present go to the room in the men's department which opens on to the passage, the prominent figure among them being the bridegroom. The door between the passage and the room is closed, and the most profound silence must prevail both in the passage and the adjacent room. Among the gentlemen, the father of the bride, or, failing him, any elderly man under whose guardianship or protection she may be, gets up, knocks at the door, and most solemnly and impressively asks this question, "My daughter! we are about 68to marry you to Mr. So-and-so, in accordance with the will of Almighty God and the ordinances of the Prophet. Will you marry him?" She gives no answer. The old man repeats the question; still she does not utter a single syllable. He asks again in a wearied manner, and this time the question is followed by a sound of sobbing inside the passage. Whether the reason of this weeping be the pressure put upon the shy and inexperienced girl in that impressive moment, or whether it be the pinches she receives from that termagant, the professional marriage-broker, and from her mischievous girl-friends who urge her to speak out, I cannot tell.
Meanwhile the bridegroom grows impatient; everyone in the audience can notice the signs of anger and anxiety on his face. The old man repeats his question a fourth time, and at last the word of consent is uttered in a very low voice from behind the door. At the same moment the bridegroom shows his feelings of relief by some motions expressive of pleasure, or by looking more than usually gratified. The old gentleman turns to him and formally asks him whether he will marry Miss So-and-so. 69He makes no modest hesitation, as, in his opinion, modesty is quite uncalled for here, is, in fact, an unpleasant outcome of the organised hypocrisy of society. So he answers the old gentleman's question at once, with the unblushing boldness peculiar to his sex. After this all the audience bear witness to the legitimacy of the event. A brief prayer is then recited, after which all offer their congratulations to the bridegroom. They draw up and sign the wedding-contract immediately, that it may be certified by the semi-religious magistrate called the Kadi. But the young couple are not permitted to see each other till all the marriage ceremonies are completed, and that is not till several days have passed.
Another curious custom connected with marriage is that of a bridegroom's friends beating him on the back with their fists. This is commonly the case in Turkey. At the very moment when the bridegroom is going to see the face of his wife the first time, after all formalities of the wedding are over, intimate friends and relations collect just outside the door of the female portion of the house. After wishing him a happy life, they belabour him 70from behind as he hurries into the ladies quarter, a proceeding which no doubt considerably accelerates his movements. The punishment is supposed to be inflicted in a gentle manner, but it may perhaps be that some of the young bachelors relieve their feeling of jealousy by making the customary blows somewhat harder than absolutely necessary.
Before closing this chapter on the theme of the secluded sex, I ought to say something of the way in which it does its shopping, and give some description of the women-pedlars who visit the harems to display their wares. There are probably few people in this country, even among those who are interested in the world's trade, who know much about these female traders of the East. Nevertheless, in those vast tracts of the Orient where the female sex passes its life in strict seclusion, a considerable retail business of a primitive kind is transacted by wandering women-pedlars, who carry their goods round and display them in the houses of well-to-do families. Originally this trade was carried on entirely by native women, but of 71late a certain number of European women have embarked in it, either on their own account or as agents of small European houses. At a time when the question of spreading British commercial interests abroad is attracting so much attention, it may not be amiss to inquire into this method of trading, which, more than any other in the world, is the prerogative of women, for they alone can engage in it Of course, the business lies almost entirely among the families of Mohammedans, of whom it is estimated that Great Britain has nearly a hundred million among her subjects; it is also probable that the future will see this number largely increased. Moreover, in the territories of other powers, where the populations are largely Mohammedan, this country has vital trade interests. A lesson is to be learned from missionaries in pushing British commerce in the East. A very large proportion of the success in Oriental countries gained by missionaries is due to the ladies who assist them, for naturally they alone can get at the women of the East What applies to the spread of religion applies also to the spread of trade, and the work done by the Zenana 72Missions should be a sufficient indication of what a trading association on the same lines could effect. Equally it should show the British commercial houses which have considerable connections with the East that lady agents to display and sell their goods would be of great assistance to them. There are many Mussulman women who cannot go to markets and shops, and their custom would be practically assured to the firms which sent goods to their houses by lady agents, more especially such goods as are required for household use.
In Turkey, Roman Catholic nuns have already adopted this method of business, and they have numerous customers among Mohammedan women for the woollen stuffs, cloth, stockings, shawls, and such things, which they make in their own convents. The need felt by Mohammedan families for such means of doing their shopping is very great, and is rapidly becoming greater owing to the spread of European influence and refinement, which naturally necessitates an increase of household requirements and personal luxuries. This adoption of Western comfort and modes of life does not seem to affect the seclusion of 73Oriental women to the extent that was at one time expected. And in any case in the East women depend on others to a great extent for procuring all the things they require for themselves and their households.
It is true, of course, that husbands, brothers, and sons can be sent to buy these things, just as in England, but also, just as in England, husbands, brothers, and sons cannot always be relied upon either to get the right article, or even to remember to get anything at all. In any case the method has many disadvantages.
With the exception of villagers and the poorest classes, only women of advanced ideas ever go to market or to the shops in the large towns, and even they do not and cannot know the delights of shopping. They are veiled, to begin with; and being unaccustomed to talk to strangers, they are not at their ease or quite satisfied with the propriety of their proceedings. No; the woman of the East much prefers to do her shopping in her own house from a woman-pedlar, and there it is rumoured that she feels as much pleasure in it as her sister of the West
'The Unchanging East' is a phrase used 74often, and shows the user's ignorance, for the East is changing steadily. Western methods and ideas are gradually being accepted, and with them the everyday needs and requirements which accompany them. Home manufacture is unable to supply these needs, and there is a constant and growing demand for European products. We ourselves have often had to send from France and England to our friends in Turkey, Cyprus and Syria, such things as pocket-knives, scissors, housewives, and work-baskets, articles required for education, such as drawing-boxes, and last, but not least, children's toys. But this was not enough; our friends have generally written to us to get some more of these things for their friends.
No doubt such articles can be obtained in Oriental countries if you know where to look for them, but our friends do not know, and they are not to be found in the stock of the woman-pedlar. Here is an opening for the lady-trader.
The discomforts of travelling—Precautions against brigands —Village hospitality—Bad condition of inns and hotels—Broussa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire—Constantinople—The 'parish' of the conqueror— First impressions of the European quarter—The question of my education—Seats of learning, old and new—I am forced to choose the old—I become a sort of monk—The distinctive dress—Description of the old-fashioned colleges—The Ulema—Their position and influence.
My residence in my uncle's home in Asia Minor did not last very long after my removal from his harem, as he decided to go to Constantinople to live there again. Of course I was to go with his family, so that I might continue my education. Everyone in my uncle's house began to pack, and my mother prepared new clothes and all kinds of eatables for me for the 76journey, which would take seven days. My uncle did not permit me to go to my mother's house and spend my few remaining days with her. I only went to see her during the daytime, when I found her always in deep distress at the thought of our approaching separation. She had only one son remaining, a child of two years, my elder brother having been sent to the same place to which I was going for the same purpose two years previously. In those days there was no railway line between my native town and the Asiatic coast of the Sea of Marmora, so our journey had to be made in a kind of a four-wheeled travelling carriage, which was introduced into Turkey by the emigrant Crimean Tartars, and which much resembles the big vans employed for carrying parcels in London. Travelling in these coaches is an extremely uncomfortable proceeding. To guard against the jolting caused by the lack of adequate springs the floor of the vehicle is covered with mattresses, but even then the shaking is quite insufferable. In those days it was made worse by the primitive condition of the roads, which indeed are little better now. Some fifteen years ago the Government pro77mulgated a law ordering every able-bodied male throughout the country to work four days a year at making public roads between towns, or to pay a workman's wage for four days in default. Some well-meaning governors did their best to improve the roads, but officials nominated by the palace, who form the majority of officialdom, abused this law and pocketed the funds raised, and so a great part of the public roads were ultimately left unfinished, and no care was taken to keep in repair even the portions that were completed. Good roads, like other means of easy travelling, would facilitate the incursion of visitors and tourists into the interior of Asiatic Turkey, and nothing would be more repugnant to the Sultan than to see this; and again, nothing would be more undesirable for the Sultan and his entourage than to see parties of Englishmen and Americans wondering at the unopened, undeveloped spots of the country, coming directly into contact with his subjects, and contrasting their poverty-stricken and wretched condition with the natural beauty and richness of the land in which they live.
The appointed day at last arrived, and we 78started for Constantinople in the jolting van-like coaches, of which we hired twelve, seven being assigned to the ladies and their luggage, and five to the men. As is necessary for travellers of position who may carry valuables with them, we had three gendarmes put at our disposal by the local authorities. This was a precaution against brigands, who are to be met with every now and then in the thinly inhabited and mountainous regions of Asiatic Turkey. It hardly ever happens, however, that these brigands are Turks. Ever since the days of the Crusaders the ill-informed section of the European public has manifested a prejudice against the Turks, and as one result of this prejudice therefore, when reports are heard in Europe of cases of brigandage occurring in Turkey, it is unhesitatingly concluded that the brigands must be Turks. As a matter of fact, the provincial Turk is generally an honest fellow. It was not the Turkish villagers that we feared; nor did we fear the Kurds, who mostly infest the Eastern portion of Asia Minor; or the Greeks, of whom the provinces through which we had to pass were fairly clear. Our precautions were directed against any possible 79attack from the emigrant settlers, the majority of whom are Circassians.
According to our day's itinerary, we had to pass the first night in a small town which we expected to reach after thirteen hours' travelling. But before we had got half-way our drivers said that they did not want to over-fatigue their horses, and as the ladies expressed a wish not to journey after nightfall, we stopped at a small village. We found it difficult to get a sufficient number of rooms there, and we were too numerous to be the guests of any of the village dignitaries, who, though invariably hospitable, were not sufficiently well-off to maintain so large a party.
Hospitality is an inborn instinct in most of the Turkish villagers. They love entertaining passing strangers, and they expect nothing in return for the trouble they take on their visitors' behalf. This fact has often been mentioned by Europeans who have travelled in Asia Minor. But the inhabitants of the village where we passed our first night did not show us much sympathy. People in these parts, however, have good reason for not being very hospitable. All officials who are appointed to this province 80by the Sultan—and they have usually large families—claim hospitality for themselves and for their families as they travel to and fro from Constantinople, and they imagine that by so doing they force the "loyal slave-subjects" of the Sultan to perform their duty. Although my uncle was an official, he would not have dreamt of imposing any obligation upon poor villagers, for he was himself a native of Asia Minor, and naturally did not wish to inconvenience his compatriots. We induced, however, some of the villagers to spare a few rooms in their mud huts. I and three other men had to sleep in a dimly-lighted loft above a stable in which were several bullocks, calves, and donkeys. I think some English travellers have had the same experience before now in Asia Minor, and they generally complain of the unpleasantness of these lofts, and of the noise and effluvia from the animals. I did not object to these things much, as I was used to farm life; moreover, I have heard and almost believe that sleeping in stables is good for the health. Tired to death by journeying in a shaky van, I was ready to fall asleep at once, but hundreds of fleas, coming perhaps from the dusty floor of the loft or 81falling from the thatch above, made an assault on me, and rendered sleep impossible. I wanted to go out to our van, taking a carpet with me to lie on, but when I got out I saw three huge shepherd's dogs lying near the vans, so I did not dare to leave the stable door.
These fierce dogs are especially trained to be savage in order to guard the sheep and mohair goats against thieves and wolves. They would tear to pieces any stranger who might walk through the village at night. They are powerfully built animals, mostly light-yellow and grey in colour, with long silky coats. Mohair goat breeders always fasten round the neck of these dogs chain collars studded with sharp nails, because when wolves attack them they invariably try to seize the dogs by the neck or throat, and the studded collars act as preventive armour against the teeth of the assailant.
After passing the night in that most uncomfortable village, we started for the next town. We followed the travellers' custom in quartering at the house of one of the notables, and enjoying the national hospitality I have mentioned. In towns this sort of hospitality to travellers can only be given when host and 82guest are personally acquainted, or when the latter can produce letters of introduction from some friends of the host.
On the third night of our journey we had arranged to stay in a Turcoman village, but we found that the people of the village had shut up their huts, and had removed, with all their belongings, to some high pasture land in the vicinity, where there were several lovely springs. We went to this spot and spent the night there under three tents, which were woven from the hair of black goats, and which were lent to us by these quasi-nomadic people for the night. In return for this we tendered them money, but they were affronted by this offer, so we gave them 'some presents from town.'
We spent the fourth night in a large inn, for there was nothing there worthy of the name of hotel. As a matter of fact, except in a few big towns on the coasts and on the existing railway lines, there are no hotels where it is possible to be tolerably comfortable. The average houses calling themselves hotels, of which many are being built in the crowded centres, and conducted by native Christians, are in reality 83nothing more than taverns, where the appearance of drunkards is a continual shock to the feelings of sober Ottoman families who may need to put up at these places when travelling. If they cannot secure a letter of introduction to some dignitary of a town for the night, they would rather go to an old-fashioned khan, or inn, than to one of these modern taverns. Rooms in these inns are unfurnished, and usually filthy beyond description. All kinds of vermin may be expected, and even the visit of an occasional scorpion.
After passing two more nights on our journey, on the sixth evening we reached the town of Broussa, which is situated at the foot of the Asiatic Olympus. We stopped in Broussa several days, as the town is full of pretty mosques, shrines, and mausoleums, and large baths built over thermal springs, which are well worth seeing. Broussa is one of the largest towns in the Turkish empire. It served as capital for the first three Ottoman Sultans. It is said that when the Sultan Mohammed II. conquered Constantinople he brought nearly 50,000 Turkish families from Broussa to settle in the new capital. From Broussa we went 84down to the shore of Marmora, and there took boat for Constantinople.
The part of Stamboul in which my uncle took up his residence was in the neighbourhood of the great mosque of Mohammed II., the conqueror of Constantinople. This is the centre of the locality which is exclusively inhabited by Turkish families of the old-fashioned type. My cousins and I were given two weeks' holiday by my uncle in which to explore the city and see the sights. One day we were allowed to go over the Golden Horn to visit Pera, the European quarter of the capital, where we were amazed at the evident signs of the prosperity and richness of its population. While we were enviously imagining how happy these people must be, an old man, who was guiding our little party, warned us that to set our ambitions on such worldly progress was not in accordance with the ideals of contentment of the faithful, and reminded us that "This world is the heaven of infidels." This saying, which is wrongly attributed to the Prophet, is one of the principles of that fatalism, the firm belief in which is one of the chief reasons for the stationary condition and want of progress which 85distinguish the majority of Orientals. On coming back from Pera, however, we received quite a different impression, for we witnessed the seamy side of European life. The larger portion of the European quarter is inhabited by Greeks, Poles, Levantines, Italians and Maltese. Here may be seen dirty cut-throats with crime written large on their faces, and, above all, many an habitual drunkard, whose face tells the tale of his debauched life. Here, too, we saw disreputable houses, with half-naked and painted creatures sitting on their balconies or standing on the thresholds of their doors, and calling out invitations to all who passed by. Here we saw countless drink and dram shops, all filled with rough sailors, Greek thieves, quarrelsome Maltese, and the dregs of European society. They were all more or less drunk, most of them openly armed with daggers and revolvers. None of these ruffians would dream of obeying the law of the country and its police, for each of them enjoys his capitulation privileges, and thus is under the protection of the Embassy and Consulate of his country, whatever it may be. We were disgusted with such an exhibition of what most 86Moslems believe to be "Christian life." It is unfortunately a fact that all the bad points of European civilisation spread with ease and rapidity, while its good and useful points seem seldom to have any effect on life in Oriental countries.
After this excursion I was not permitted to revisit the European quarter of the capital for a considerable time. I had to resume the course of my education.
In what way my cousins and I should be educated in Constantinople was a question which had to be considered by my uncle. There are two kinds of higher education in Turkey. One of them is to receive instruction in the old-fashioned colleges or madrasseh, of which I have made mention before, and of which I will in this chapter give some further description. The other form of education is that now carried on in the modern schools and colleges. Of these there are many in Constantinople. They are modelled on the system of the educational institutions of some of the European countries. In these places of learning, unlike the old-fashioned madrasseh, all kinds of what I may call utilitarian subjects, 87necessitated by modern requirements, are taught In addition to the great military academy and preparatory military colleges, naval college, civil and military medical institutions, and the Imperial lycée, some of which are fifty or sixty years old, there are civil servants', law, civil-engineering, and several minor colleges of recent foundation. Two years ago an official project was in the air for creating a regular University in Constantinople. But the present Sultan is not likely to favour in earnest such a scheme, which would necessarily result in the increased popularity of European culture. Formerly those colleges of modern creation turned out men of marked ability in all branches of literature and science which existed in the country. But, unhappily, Abd-ul-Hamid's inflexible determination to suppress at any cost what are called 'young-Turkish ideas,' or liberalism, has seriously interfered with and paralysed the progress of these seminaries of culture and education.
My desire was to join one of these colleges, after having been prepared by private tuition to pass the obligatory entrance examination. But 88since my elder brother had already entered one of the modern colleges, my uncle urged me to affiliate myself to one of the old-fashioned madrassehs. As we had yet some hope of recovering our confiscated property, and as the right of holding the estates depended on the heir's following our grandfather's semi-theological profession, my uncle insisted that I should continue my studies in one of these quasi-theological madrassehs. Although I was most reluctant, I had to fall in with his wishes, so I prepared to go and live with a tutor who had his room in the madrasseh which is attached to the mosque of little St Sophia,3 a Byzantine building, which is as much visited by European tourists as the great St. Sophia. When one becomes a member of these old-fashioned institutions of learning, one must wear a professional turban and a long cloak, let the beard grow, if one is old enough to have one, and shave the hair off one's head. They procured for me a turban and cloak, and my uncle sent me with a manservant to a barber's shop to get my head shaved. The shaving of a thick head of hair is a most painful thing, and 89tears filled my eyes, partly from the pain caused by the razor on my unaccustomed head, and partly, I think, from the anticipation of the terrible monk-like existence I was about to pass in the madrasseh. Next day I went with my luggage to the school, but did not begin my studies until several months had passed away, as I caught cold by being shaved, and suffered in consequence from headache and ophthalmia. I shall never forget the miserable life I passed in that school. It will perhaps be of some interest if I give a description of a madrasseh, and the mode of life and study therein.
There are in Constantinople over a hundred of these theological colleges, or madrassehs. In the provinces each important town is provided with several. These seminaries of old Moslem culture are not peculiar to Turkey—they exist also in Egypt, Persia, and some other Oriental countries, and at one time they were the only places of instruction. They served not only as schools for religious teaching when they were originally founded in past days, but all branches of human knowledge known in the East were to be taught in them. In Constantinople some of them still retain their 90original names—'Madrasseh of Medicine,' 'Madrasseh of History,' and so on. The Moslem people were formerly divided into two distinct classes—the great illiterate mass, and the learned hierarchy known as Ulema. Although all instruction given in the madrasseh was formed on the basis of the faith of Islam, the Ulema were certainly not entirely theologians. They were certainly not priests, as Islam recognises no spiritual authority. Mohammed has stated distinctly that "there is no priesthood in Islam." With the lapse of time human knowledge advanced, and the high culture which existed among Moslems in mediæval times decayed; but still the Ulema continued to teach the Arabic language, with its literature and law, secular and spiritual. Ultimately countries like Turkey and Egypt felt the necessity of learning something from the progressive nations of Europe, and, in imitation of their educational institutions, began to establish schools and colleges for modern learning and science. In the Ottoman empire the Ulema, having nearly lost their occupations as professors and judges, now hold a peculiar position, which somewhat resembles a sort of 91priesthood. Of course, this class still retains its old professional titles, receives pensions, and lives on the revenues accruing from charitable endowments. Moreover, its members still have a greater influence over the ignorant masses than persons of modern education, but they are not now of much service to the State. The madrassehs are, notwithstanding, still full of students who wish to become members of that body, but the more intelligent of them, instead of attending the old course of lectures in the mosques, go to some modern college in order to qualify themselves for professions which will be of practical use to them. Many of them spend their time in the madrassehs idly, or simply live in them till they have passed an examination by which they are exempted from military service, and then return to their towns and villages. Again, some of these students who are really working, instead of attending one of the modern colleges, go to an institution founded for the training of the Kadis or semi-religious magistrates. These students are all called Softas. All the affairs of the madrassehs are under the control of the office of the Sheikh-ul-Islam, which, though it still forms a distinct 92ministry, and though the Sheikh-ul-Islam is still a member of the Cabinet of the Porte, has lost many of the important official functions it once had. The position of the Sheikh-ul-Islam, the head of the Ulema, at present resembles that of the ecclesiastical head of a Christian country, though, as I stated before, no ecclesiastics could be recognised as such in Islam. The number of the students in the madrassehs of Constantinople is estimated to be something between five and seven thousand.
Originally the madrassehs were founded on a system much resembling that of the colleges of the English Universities. They were built by the munificence of the Sultans and of private persons, and most of them were situated near mosques, to which they were attached, and were supported from the same endowments as the mosques themselves, for the charitable founders of these endowments aimed particularly at increasing the congregations that attend public worship, and devised that the students should also use the mosques as their lecture-halls. Even nowadays most lectures are given in the mosques. Each madrasseh was self-governing, and the principals, or, so to say, the 'fellows,' 93used to look after its interests and decide its rules. All the students used to be regularly supplied with soup, bread, and, on certain days, with cooked rice, and a kind of sweet made of saffron, and also with olive oil for their lamps, from a sort of kitchen endowed for the purpose. Free 'commons' of this sort for students are supplied only occasionally and sparsely nowadays, as the revenues of the endowed estates and properties have long been put under the care and control of officialdom, and the income from charities is now abused and illegally appropriated by the corrupt and impious hands through which it passes. In consequence, members of the madrassehs now can often not even raise funds to save their buildings from complete ruin. These buildings are mostly square in shape, with a courtyard in the middle, and have one and sometimes two stories. They are unhealthy, and cannot be properly ventilated. The students take their baths behind the doors of their rooms, cook their meals in the fireplace, and, as a rule, two or three sleep in one room, on the floor. The damp, fœtid smell in most of the rooms is terrible. My hard fate made94 me live five years in such a place, and they were the years which ought to be the best of one's youth.
The life of the students of these madrassehs resembles that of monks in monasteries of the Eastern Church. They prepare their own modest food, clean their own rooms, make their own beds, and wash their own clothes. A new student not only does all this for himself, but he has also to do it for the fellow or tutor of the madrasseh in whose room he is placed. Most of the students are very poor. They go every year during the ramadan—the month of fasting—to different provincial towns and villages to preach, to teach, and to do some writing for the illiterate villagers and provincials, and, after securing what fees, alms, and provisions they can get, they return to their respective madrassehs to resume their work.
The Softas played a conspicuous part in some of the revolutions, for if once they were roused and egged on by politicians, they would assemble in the courtyards of the great mosques, bearing yataghans and heavy clubs under their long cloaks, and numberless common people would follow them. The viziers who 95deposed the late Sultan Aziz had to get the support of the Softas. Midhat Pasha had to secure their assistance when he was urging the present Sultan to sanction the scheme for the new constitution. A certain Suavi Effendi, one of the founders of the young-Turkish movement, who had himself been a Softa, twenty-five years ago made an armed attack on the Sultan's palace; with him fought and fell many of the Softas. The Sultan, whose marvellous power and success in crushing everything which might endanger his despotic personal rule is undeniable, has paralysed the collective influence of the Softas, so that they can no longer be the political tools of any power that may arise to oppose him.
During my residence in the madrasseh my uncle used to give me as pocket-money twenty piastres (about 3s. 5d.) a month, and to the tutor of the madrasseh, in whose room I was a novice-disciple, eighty piastres, to cover the expenses of my maintenance. This was quite enough for a man who has to live as abstemiously and simply as a monk. Moreover, provisions in Constantinople are very cheap, a fact which is not known to European visitors, 96who are invariably cheated by the Levantine and Greek hotel-keepers and tradesmen. Secretly, however, I received further support from my affectionate mother, through an Armenian merchant who came from Angora.
First moderation of my prejudice against Europeans—The Levantine guide—The truth is not in him—I begin to wish to visit England—A summer trip to Asia Minor—A British consul—His wife and my mother—A trip in the Eastern Mediterranean—Thoughts of a more profitable career—I join a law college—The law of Turkey —Untrustworthiness of English books of reference—Turkish law courts—A quasi-religious magistracy—Palace influence over justice—I am called to serve in the army—I obtain exemption with much difficulty—Methods of conscription—Native Christians not allowed to serve—The wisdom of this policy.
After living the hard life of the madrasseh for three solitary years, I was permitted by my uncle to pay a visit to my native town during a vacation. It was at this time that my prejudice against the unbelievers of Europe first began to be moderated, and it came about in 98this way. During a summer afternoon, as I was walking in the garden of the madrasseh, a young European, accompanied by a pretty girl, was just coming out of the mosque of little St Sophia. They excited my curiosity, as the appearance of all Europeans who came to visit those ancient edifices always excites the curiosity of the people living near them. They both looked at a mulberry tree loaded with fruit, and the gentleman picked up a berry which had just fallen and gave it to the lady. I walked towards them, with what possibly was a rather forbidding air. They started, and appeared somewhat embarrassed. I signed to them to stop, and, taking off my shoes, climbed up the tree and picked a handful of the ripe fruit. I put the fruit on two large leaves of the tree and offered it to the lady. My action seemed to please them. They had no guide, which pleased me greatly, for there are no more shameless cheats than those ignorant interpreters, who are as a class one of the worst products of the non-Mussulman natives of the Levant Many Europeans who pay a flying visit to the Levant, and hasten to sit down and write a book about their experiences, derive 99all their information from these cicerones and interpreters. Probably it is on account of this that a countryman of mine once remarked, "When we read such books, especially those written in English, about ourselves, we always learn something from them which we never knew or heard of before." As the English were respected above all other European nations in those days in the Ottoman empire, and as everyone used to think every European visitor must be English, I took the couple for English people. Whether they were really British or not is an open question. We exchanged a parting greeting, but to my regret I did not speak any language then except my own, in which I might try to talk to them. From that moment, however, my mind was possessed by a desire to see England, though I could not mention it to anyone, because the people of the madrasseh would have been greatly shocked by such a suggestion, and would perhaps have brought a charge against me of wishing to turn myself into a Christian.
I started soon after this for home. The party with which I travelled took a route different from the one by which we had come 100three years previously to Constantinople. I therefore had the opportunity of visiting other towns of Asia Minor. When I reached our own town, I found that my mother had already moved to her summer house in the country. By a strange coincidence, the British Consul and his family were staying in a summer residence which they had hired close by our own. They were the only English people, and also the only Europeans, to be found in the town, as the Anatolian railway was not then even projected, and no European could possibly have found any employment there. I made the acquaintance of the Consul one day while shooting wild-duck on the shores of a neighbouring lake. The British Consul was able to make himself understood in Turkish, and we soon struck up an acquaintance. I made him promise to meet me again, so that we might go shooting together. When I became more intimate with him, I was privileged by an introduction to his wife, who did not associate at all with the ladies of the country. A wish crossed my mind soon after that my mother and she should meet. This was a most delicate matter, because, though I 101found the lady very charming, after all, from my mother's point of view, she was an 'infidel.' However, I secured her consent, and she met the English lady with a considerable amount of shyness. On account of the Englishwoman's inability to speak Turkish sufficiently, they talked very little. Notwithstanding this, my mother liked her visitor greatly, and she afterwards repeatedly expressed to me her regret that such a nice woman should not be a follower of 'the true religion of God,' that is to say, Islam. I used to ask many questions of the Consul about his country, and I think my inquiries must have been of the most ridiculous description, for while they answered me most kindly, wife and husband exchanged words in their own tongue and smiled the whole time. I was so afraid of the prejudices of my people that I did not even venture to express to the Consul my then most unrealisable desire of visiting England.
When the three months' vacation given to me that year came to an end, I started for Constantinople again. Having gained sufficient seniority in the madrasseh I was now free from serving any tutor. I had a room 102which I shared with an Albanian fellow-pupil. That year I made progress in the study of Mohammedan law, which is always taught in the Arabic language. Two more years passed. The next summer vacation I wanted to see some new country, so I took a French liner for Beyrout, where I had a relation. On my way I stayed at Smyrna, and visited the Turkish islands of Chios and Mitylene. During my travels I saw many young men who, having completed their studies in modern colleges, had been appointed by the Government to various posts in the provinces, with salaries which at that time seemed to me higher than could have been expected by any young man. An idea crossed my mind that I might change the course of the antiquated studies on which I was wasting my time. On making inquiries about a rational system of education to which I could devote myself, and by which I might eventually make a future career and earn a competence, I found that an entrance examination was going to take place in three months for the newly established law college. The Government wished to find trained officials for the new courts, and qualified advocates for 103the bar. I determined to try my luck; and a young officer from the military academy, who was residing close to our madrasseh, gave me, as a favour, some coaching for the examination in geography and arithmetic, the two subjects in which I was most backward. I passed the examination fairly well, and joined the law l institution.
As I said before, all the progress of the educational institutions of modern creation has of late been lamentably hampered by the interference of the Sultan's palace Government, whose principal desire is to crush the growing liberalism. I should, however, mention here, to the credit of the Porte, that these institutions were originally founded, and have always been maintained, at the expense of the State, and that they are mostly free and open to students of all classes of people, without distinction of race or faith. In our first year's class at the law college, in which there were about forty-five students, the number of Armenians alone reached thirteen.
By giving some account of the subjects taught us in the law college of Constantinople, I shall be able to state in brief the nature of 104the statutes and constitution of the Ottoman empire and its judiciary institutions.
Besides a few subjects which are of general interest to all trained lawyers and legal officers, there are various courses of lectures on the civil code and its procedure, criminal law and its procedure, land law, commercial and mercantile law, digest of administrative regulations, chapters on international law and capitulation treaties, and so forth. The civil code is based upon the rules established in succeeding centuries from the time of the Ommiade and Abbaside Caliphates down to the early days of the Ottomans, as set down by various Arabic books, which were compiled by the early Moslem jurists, who have made many commentaries on them. The civil code of Turkey, therefore, is based entirely upon the ordinances of the Mussulman secular law. It was framed by a board of men well versed in the literature and the jurisprudence of the Moslem East. This board was formed during the reign of the late Sultan, and it took nearly fifteen years to carry out the necessary researches and frame the code as it now exists. It is noteworthy that, as has been shown by competent author105ities, there are many essential points of resemblance between this code and the civil laws of some European nations which have borrowed their materials from the sources of Roman law. The procedure of the Turkish civil code is based partly on the French system and partly on the usages which existed in the ancient courts of Turkey. The land law is also based on the principles of the Mussulman secular law relating to land and estates, and on the established precedents existing in the empire. This law is of much interest to Europeans residing in Turkey, because while, so far as the criminal and civil cases are concerned, those Europeans enjoy the protection of their capitulation privileges, with regard to the land law they are subject to the complete jurisdiction of the Ottoman Government. The reason of this is that when the representatives of the Great Powers demanded that the Porte should grant to their subjects the right of acquiring property in the Ottoman dominions, the Porte insisted that, as a counter-concession, the Powers should renounce the capitulation privileges, and thus leave their subjects under the jurisdiction of Turkey, so far as the acquisition of land and 106cases arising from it were concerned. The criminal law and its procedure, the procedure concerning the formation of courts, and commercial law are almost entirely copied from the French judicial system, while the mercantile law is copied partly from France and partly from Holland. Most regulations of various kinds promulgated since the Treaty of Paris have been adopted from the State regulations of some of the Continental Powers, more especially of France. In many cases they have been adopted without much regard to the local requirements of the Levant. The pressure put upon the Porte by the Great Powers at different periods for the introduction of reforms is responsible for the hasty adoption of the least suitable of these legal and administrative laws.
The details I have given above will give some idea of the existing statutes and constitution of the Ottoman Empire. When you open your best books of reference to see what are the laws of Turkey, you will find in one this useful piece of information:—"The Koran is the legal and theological code upon which the fundamental laws of the Empire are based," 107while in another you will see the following illuminating passage:—".... Fundamental laws of the Empire are based upon the precepts of the Koran. The next to Koran the laws of Multeka" (!) I have no doubt this last bit of knowledge is borrowed from the meaningless writings of Canon McColl on Turkish matters. I have often pointed out to Englishmen of my acquaintance many of the mistaken notions prevailing in this country on the affairs of the nearer East. The answers and reasons given to me were always the same—namely, that Englishmen are not much interested in Turkish matters nowadays. This indifference on the part of Englishmen is the chief reason why the prestige of Great Britain is doomed to disappear in the Levant. If the editors or writers of such productions as those I have quoted are also of the opinion that Englishmen do not now take an interest in the Turkish empire, I should think that, instead of filling up their pages with ridiculous inaccuracies, they would be better advised not to write anything on Turkey at all.
As regards the law courts of Turkey, they can be divided into two main classes-the old 108courts and the reformed courts. The old courts form part of the office of the Sheikh-ul-Islam, and they have a half-religious complexion. Their functions are nowadays reduced to a few matters, such as the settling of inheritance, deciding on divorce actions, certifying marriages, and looking after such other cases as may arise among the members of a Mohammedan community. Questions of this nature among the native Christian communities are taken charge of by the Patriarchate of each community.
With the exception of the courts which are charged with the trial of all civil officials who may be accused of offences connected solely with their administrative duties, and which are attached to the Council of State Presidency, all the reformed courts form part of the Ministry of Justice. Like all the departmental bureaus of that Ministry, the central courts are situated in the huge buildings opposite St. Sophia, and just outside the gate of the ancient seraglio. Both criminal and ordinary civil courts are divided into three degrees—namely, preliminary, appeal, and cassation courts. Here there are also two commercial courts, one dealing with cases 109connected with the mercantile marine, the other with actions arising out of all commercial and trading matters. A section of the latter court has a mixed or international character; that is to say, among its members there are foreigners, not appointed by the Ottoman Government, but deputed by foreigners. This section deals with the commercial disputes between Ottoman and foreign subjects.
The old semi-ecclesiastical courts, from the time when they had to deal with every kind of lawsuit until now, have been conducted on what I may call a 'one-judge system,' that is to say, each court, like the English law courts, has a single judge to deal with the cases brought before it But each of the new or reformed courts has, besides the chief judge, several deputy judges; in other words, a president and members. This imitation of the legal arrangements of France has not proved the check on the perversions of justice charged against the old simple method which was expected. Experience has shown that as the population of Turkey is so widely heterogeneous, to have several judges in a court, who may belong to different nationalities and religions, 110gives rise to even more corruption and partiality than when there is one only.
The evils of the present Hamidian tyranny have destroyed all the confidence of the people in the new courts. Legal officers of capability and integrity are either exiled or appointed to courts in obscure corners of the empire, and the central courts are filled with the favourites of the Palace clique, and these creatures deal out 'justice' according to the will of the Palace. The Sultan has given them orders recently to condemn all opponents of his misrule. Lately about a hundred innocent men have been condemned to death or penal servitude, and their properties have been confiscated by the central criminal courts on the charge of 'high treason.'
Just about the time when I was preparing for my final examination, the director of my college informed me that he had received a communication from the War Office to the effect that I was among the list of men for the year's conscription. This was a very disturbing piece 111of news to me, as I had just decided to adopt a new profession, and had left my madrasseh. The students in madrassehs, who have passed an examination in Arabic and other subjects taught them in that language, are exempted from serving in the army. Although our college was one of the educational institutions of the State, the students of which are also exempted under certain conditions from military service, this exemption had only been recently granted, and the military authorities did not know much about it. Those who knew of it did not view it with favour, as they are very anxious to force rigid conscription upon everyone. They will not argue on this point, and will dispose of all arguments with military brusqueness. It took several months to get the military authorities at the Constantinople War Office and the officers of the division at my birthplace in Anatolia to exempt me from serving in the army, and my dispute with them interfered very seriously with my last and most difficult examination in the college, and as a result I had to content myself with a second-class diploma only. It was not because I was afraid of a soldier's life that I 112wanted to escape it; cowardice is not one of an Osmanli's failings. Indeed, when I first came to Constantinople my wish had been to go to a military school to be trained as an officer, but my uncle ignored it and sent me to the theological madrasseh. Now, after several years, to be sent compulsorily into the army as a private would have ruined all my chances in the new career I had mapped out for myself, and there is but little chance of promotion from the ranks.
The methods of conscription in Turkey differ from those of other military countries. Although military service is obligatory in the Turkish empire, conscription is not universal; that is to say, the privileged natives of Constantinople, the inhabitants of all frontier districts, such as the Albanians and Kurdish clans and Arab tribes, are not forced to serve in the army. Moreover, the Armenians, Greeks, and non-Mussulman natives of the country are completely exempted from military service, and instead of serving as soldiers, each male member of these peoples pays a yearly exemption tax, the amount of which, if I am not mistaken, is about five or six shillings. 113Many of these native Christians exercise an incredible amount of ingenuity to get out of paying the tax, and they all grumble incessantly at its tremendous heaviness. They always complain to their European sympathisers about this, and as a matter of fact some kind British politicians take this grievance of the 'oppressed Christian' in hand every now and then, and style it one of the numerous injustices committed against them by the Turks, and defend their cause vigorously in the press or on the platform, in the name of humanity and Christianity. Sometimes you will hear the native Christians of Turkey complain that they are not equally treated, because they are not admitted into the army. But it is easy to see that this half-hearted complaint is merely made for the sake of grumbling, as they are only too thankful for their exemption, knowing what hardships, misery, and material losses are caused by being away for years from home on active service, and they are not unaware that a community liable to stringent conscription is likely to have its numbers thinned. I am not one of those so-called enlightened people styled 'advanced' Turks, who advocate the admission 114of these Eastern Christians into the Turkish army. I may be called a fanatic; but so far as the interests of my nation are concerned, I do not mind being so called. What would become of the loyalty, supreme obedience to command, self-sacrificing devotion, and undaunted fighting capacity which distinguish our army, if the Eastern Christians were admitted into it?4 The Turkish army has always inspired fear in the ambitious and aspiring enemies of our territories, and if it were not for the Turkish army the remainder of the empire would have been divided up long ago. It has beaten a nation which had eighty thousand trained men in the field, and which 115 received moral and material support from all parts of Europe, in a month. It has made, by its heroic action in the field, an astonished German veteran jump up and exclaim enthusiastically—"What a brilliant army!" and a well known English war correspondent say—"If Alexander came out of his grave he would conquer the world with the Turkish army." This army performed so brilliant a feat as the defence of Plevna; fought, without allies, the greatest conquering nation of our time for nearly a year; and if it were not for the most calamitous mismanagement of the present Sultan, it could probably have pushed back the Russian invaders across the Danube twenty-five years ago. The apprehension of what would happen if Greeks, Armenians, and non-Moslem Syrians were admitted into the army is also justified by the fact that they could not be trusted in the event of a great struggle with, say, Russia. Of course, the Russian army has in it a large number of Mussulman soldiers, and these men fought desperately against us during the last Russo-Turkish War. But while Russia would punish severely any treason committed by them, Turkey could not punish these Eastern Chris116tians for the same offence. Europe would call that punishment persecution, and at once interfere on their behalf. We know the true feelings of these people well, and whatever concession is granted them, it is impossible to inspire in them any feeling of patriotism for the Ottoman empire in general. Those who advocate their inclusion in the army, moreover, say that it would increase the numerical strength of our fighting forces. But the Ottoman army would exceed a million men nowadays in the case of necessity, and for purposes of defence this would be fully a match for any enemy. Another plea for the admission of Christian subjects of Turkey into the army is that, as they are free from conscription, their men stay at home, work without hindrance, and look after the prosperity and welfare of their families uninterruptedly, and their number is on the increase as a consequence. It is quite true that compulsory military service is telling upon the Turkish nation alarmingly. A man is liable to fight from his twentieth year to his fortieth whenever he may be called upon to do so, and he is, of course, always liable to be killed. When he is called to arms, his business is paralysed and 117his poor family left without assistance. But these difficulties can be remedied if the general maladministration is improved, and I hope it will be improved as soon as the present regime is changed.
The anomalous position of foreigners in Turkey—Capitulation privileges—The Porte has no jurisdiction over foreign criminals—Attempts to modify the anomaly—Reason for their failure to be found in the Sultan's misrule—The independence of Turkey a mere fiction—The native Christians—Their separatist aspirations—Their treasonable acts—Their English apologists—Tolerant policy of the Turks—Dangers of this tolerance —The Armenians—Their ancient privileges—The massacres— Their present position.
In the preceding chapter I gave a summarised account of the jurisdiction of Turkey, and also made an allusion to the admission of the Armenians and other non-Mussulman natives of Turkey to the judicial institutions. Here I will say something on the position held by foreign subjects in regard to the law of the country, as well as on the disposition of the 119non-Mussulman population towards the Ottoman empire.
As a matter of fact, foreigners enjoy a most extraordinarily privileged position in Turkey, and their privileges are known as 'capitulations.'
Every foreign colony forms a distinct imperium in imperio more markedly in Constantinople than in any other city of the Ottoman empire. Every individual foreigner enjoys extra-territorial privileges, such as in other countries could only be afforded to the diplomatic representatives of Foreign Powers. Whatever crime a foreign subject may commit, he is not amenable to the authority of the Ottoman Government The capitulation privileges of the foreign subjects granted in bygone centuries by the Ottoman rulers to European visitors, who were then few in number, were in reality acts of hospitality. But they have been abused in later times by those in whose favour they were granted. I cannot here enter into the details of the capitulation privileges which5 fetter the hands of 120the Ottoman statesman, which create insurmountable difficulties for the thorough enforcement of the laws, and which seriously impede the adoption of progress and reforms. There was at one time a real possibility of the Porte getting rid, at least partially, of these capitulation privileges, which are really not justified by international law, and some friendly Powers, notably Great Britain, appeared well disposed to discuss the advisability of making some modification in them. In fact, certain concessions were made to the Porte in the carrying out of the sentences passed by it on foreign criminals. These modifications could still be successfully brought about if Turkey could earnestly set to work to reorganise the administration of the country, and to introduce such practical reforms as are necessitated by the actual requirements of the case, and then appeal to the justice and equity of the Great Powers not to insist upon exercising fully the capitulation privileges of their subjects. It was some thirty years ago that the statesmen of the Sublime Porte seriously meant to ac121complish this great task. But with the beginning of Abd-ul-Hamid's disastrous reign all the previous schemes of the Porte were brought to naught This capricious Sultan began to rule over an important empire, which required the most delicate handling, in a manner which has never before been seen in the history of any civilised or semi-civilised State, and which can only be paralleled by the mode of governing of some wild tribal chieftain. He proceeded, with a tyrant's zest, to crush the influence of Ottoman statesmen of capability and integrity, and handed over the most important offices of the State to ignorant fanatics and to cosmopolitan upstarts, whose one claim to notice was their dishonourable behaviour. One of the results of the present rule has been that foreign residents in Turkey have naturally clung more firmly to their extra-territorial privileges, and the old capitulation privileges have given rise to new privileges which are by no means based upon the stipulations of the ancient treaties. So one can now see in Constantinople the most amazing anomaly of many centres of Government, all distinct from one another, and all of them utterly unaffected by the sovereignty of 122the Porte. Thus the independence of Turkey is quite fictitious nowadays, and Abd-ul-Hamid can only satisfy his lust of tyranny by oppressing the section of his subjects who can expect no outside protection or sympathy.
Throughout these pages I have consistently condemned the misrule of the present Sultan. My feeling against his ways is the stronger because I am sure that, in spite of the ascendancy gained by foreigners in Turkey, she might yet assert and maintain an honest and sound administration, in place of the miserable tyranny which oppresses her now. But as it is, the Foreign Powers, taking advantage of the existing misrule, not only fetter the hands of Turkish statesmen by persistently demanding fresh extra-territorial privileges for their subjects, but also take up, some of them, the cause of those Eastern Christians who are under Ottoman rule, alleging that they are acting in the name of 'humanity.'
Their real motive, however, is that they may use them as a point d'appui for their political schemes and designs. Thus these subject populations of Turkey, whose true racial characteristics have often been made clear by 123Englishmen who have travelled in the Levant, form a great internal danger to the integrity of the Ottoman empire. The subject populations of Turkey are of course of various distinct nationalities, such as Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, non-Mohammedan Syrians, and so forth. Each of these large communities has its own quarter, churches and denominational schools, national aspirations and separatist ideas. Each community speaks its own language, each native Christian community entertains, nowadays more or less without disguise, sentiments of animosity towards the Osmanlis, and even sympathises with the enemies of the Turkish empire in time of international trouble or war. These sentiments of the Eastern Christians are known to many politicians in this country, and they excuse these treasonable sentiments of their 'Christian brethren' by maintaining that they are the natural outcome of long years of oppression and persecution. This apologetic contention is not based upon an intimate knowledge of the real state of things in the nearer East, nor is it at all justifiable. Of course, the Ottoman empire has long been suffering from intolerable 124oppression, but its Christian inhabitants have not been the only sufferers; on the other hand, many of them have allowed themselves to be the cause of oppression, and have even acted as the right-hand men of the oppressors. If there had ever been a serious persecution particularly directed against the native Christians, there would not now be many Armenians or Greeks left alive in Turkey. In past ages they were entirely at the mercy of the Ottomans; there was no European Power, and no Concert of Powers, strong enough to stop the conversion or extermination of the non-Mussulman population of the Ottoman empire. There could be no better proof of the tolerant policy of the Osmanlis towards their subject populations than the actual existence at the present day in that country of so many millions of native Christians of all denominations. Moreover, not only have native Christians had their existence assured to them, but also their freedom of conscience, which is amply proved by the fact that their ecclesiastical constitutions, their languages, and their national customs have been respected by the Turks. But this liberal treatment has been abused by the subject populations 125of Turkey. They have never done anything to show their gratitude, and have never displayed any patriotism towards the Ottoman empire. If they were to do so it might perhaps save Turkey from internal dissensions, and from consequent strife, anarchy, and the ruin which stares it in the face. The history of Turkey must have taught the Russians wisdom, for they are careful to insist upon the Russification of their conquered subject populations, and never risk grafting on to their stem a shoot which may turn out to have thorns. The fact is that tolerance towards subject populations of alien race and faith, as shown by Mussulmans, excellent as it may appear to sentimental humanitarians, is a sure way of imperilling the future independence of a nation.
Of all her non-Mussulman subjects Turkey has the greatest reason to be anxious about the Armenians and their separatist movement. The ambition of Armenian agitators is to form an independent State in an important portion of Asia Minor, the backbone of the Ottoman empire. I therefore wish to make a few remarks here on Armenian matters, in particular as, though Armenian affairs may seem to be in 126the background at present, political mischief makers will take up this plaything of theirs again sooner or later.
As I pointed out in the last chapter, among forty-five students of the faculty of law, thirteen were Armenians. Thirteen out of forty-five is proportionately a large number, considering the small number of Armenians relatively to other nationalities of the Ottoman empire. The Armenians are admittedly very industrious people. They won good marks in the entrance examination, and the authorities at the Ministry of Public Instruction would not affix a limit of number, but admitted as many as successfully passed the examination. I doubt, however, after those agitations, if such impartiality has been shown towards the members of that race in all Ottoman institutions. And if not it would not be a matter for surprise when one considers how the Armenians have conducted themselves towards the Empire and their Mussulman compatriots for some time past.
Yes, people in this country heard much about the massacres. Doubtless they were abominable, and doubtless many innocent persons were slaughtered. But it is only common justice 127that one should try to find out what were the reasons for attacking Armenians before one judges and condemns those who did so. It is a fact that there was never such an outburst of enmity to the Armenians before; if there had been, there would not be over two millions living in the Ottoman empire now. The Armenians are an adventurous race; they can go anywhere, settle anywhere, and become subject to any State. Some years before the troubles, many of the foreign subject Armenians came over to Turkey, styling themselves Frenchmen, Englishmen and Americans, sometimes in the shape of missionaries, sometimes as teachers. These adventurers, together with the revolutionary Russian subject Armenians, who came mostly from the Caucasus, began to stir up the people of their own race all over Asiatic Turkey in favour of a national independence. The younger generation of the Armenian people, becoming intoxicated with great ideas and dreams of a national kingdom, overlooked the impossibility of establishing any such thing in any particular part of the Ottoman dominions, and did not realise that their people formed a miserable minority everywhere. It 128has been maintained by their political sympathisers in England that their agitations were for the purpose of being better governed, and in no way a separatist movement; but this is absurd, and was merely an after-thought. As a matter of fact the Armenians gave loud expression to their new aspirations of having an independent kingdom in Eastern Asia Minor. We heard everywhere from them that the Christian Powers—above all, Great Britain were going to hand over that portion of the 'decaying' Ottoman empire to them, as they had handed over Ottoman territories before to other Christian races of the East They were simply awaiting the prophesied moment of the partition of Turkey to establish their independence on their share of the divided territory. I myself heard Armenians talking about who were to be the future rulers among their own people. The Turks began to ask themselves such questions as, "Why do these people revolt against us when we suffer from misrule much more than they do, and when, moreover, the official misdeeds are partly due to Armenian jacks-in-office?" The agitation among the Ar129menians grew worse and worse every day; the agitators resorted to the same old method, namely, they tried to provoke the Turkish populace to retaliate on its offenders, hoping that this would be represented in Europe as an outburst of Mussulman fanaticism, and would induce the Powers to intervene, and so hasten the partition. The Turks, or, more widely speaking, the Mussulman population of Asiatic Turkey, were gravely discussing what could be done to check this overbearing and mischievous behaviour. Turkish women and children were exposed to ill-treatment and insult throughout Asia Minor. The Turk's patience is almost inexhaustible, but when you attack his women and children his anger is roused, and nothing on earth can control it, 130and he saw that the Government of the Sultan was utterly powerless to punish the Armenian agitators and revolutionists of foreign nationality. Did the humanitarian British public know these things? No; it does not care to know anything which might be favourable to the Turks. Have the political journals of this country mentioned the facts. I have stated? Of course not, because—to speak plainly—they knew that in the Armenian pie there were the fingers of some of their own politicians. Shortly before the massacres, I heard many Turkish people, who had lived side by side with the Armenians for centuries, saying that it was a mistake to be angry with the Kurds for their treatment of the Armenians in Eastern Asia Minor, and that it was the right thing to crush these people. Then there came the dark days of those terrible massacres. The Armenian revolutionists, who ultimately managed to go abroad scot-free, gave great provocation by throwing dynamite bombs in many places and killing women and children of the Mussulman population. These people could no longer expect that the Government of the Sultan would do anything to settle the agitation and prevent further mischief, so at last 131they took the law into their own hands and put down the Armenian movement in the manner we all know. The Sultan, who was eating his heart out at his inability to punish the revolutionary Armenians of foreign extraction, simply connived at the doings of the enraged populace, if he did not actually instigate and encourage them; but, unfortunately, by his connivance, it was mostly innocent Armenians who perished at the hands of the mob, and only a very few of the guilty ringleaders suffered.
Although the Armenians are hard-working and energetic, they will never recover their former prosperity.
They have always had every opportunity of enriching themselves. They had a firm footing and influential positions in the royal establishments, which made them practically the trustees and paymasters of the revenues of the empire. Their opportunities began with the foundation of the Ottoman power in Asia Minor, which found them a scattered remnant of a race, with their political existence already stamped out by other conquerors, and which, though it did not restore their freedom politically, at least assured to them the advantages 132of individual prosperity, protection and toleration. As an instance of what the Turks have been willing to do for the Armenians, I may quote the religious difficulties early in the last century. It was at the beginning of the missionary movement in Europe, and both Protestant and Catholic missionaries poured into Turkey and set about proselytising the Armenians, with more zeal than discretion. The Armenian Patriarch appealed to the Turkish Government to expel these foreign missionaries who were causing trouble in his community, and in response to his appeal the Government at once put great restrictions upon the missionaries, and this in spite of the fact that by so doing it ran the risk of incurring European enmity. In mentioning this I do not say anything against mission work; I merely instance the circumstance to show the tolerance with which the Turks have always treated the Armenians and their religion, and how untrue is the accusation brought against them of systematic religious persecution.
However, I doubt if the Mussulman population will ever place the same confidence in the Armenians again. We do not see now so 133many of those flourishing Armenian Pashas in the high Government offices of Turkey as we did before, though they are regaining some of their old hold in Government circles. As a natural result of being out of favour, the race will not probably find it so easy a matter to gain admission to the educational institutions of the State.
I adopt European dress—The standard of civilisation—English clothes 'made in Austria'—European dress first adopted under Sultan Mahmud—My vain attempts to get an appointment—Requisite qualifications for Government employment, bribery and espionage—The only livelihood possible for educated men—I become a lawyer—I penetrate high official quarters.
When I had passed the final examination in the law college I began to attend the Courts to see and learn the actual working of the forms of the procedures. I now grew to dislike having to go to the Courts and Government offices in the Ulema costume, which I still wore. In fact, even in my class at the college there were only a few persons belonging to madrassehs, and they alone were attired in the semi-religious dress, and the contrast between 135our appearance and the rest in the class, who were attired in ordinary civilian dress, seemed to us to make us look old-fashioned. So, like most of my countrymen, I was seized with the ambition of appearing up-to-date, and of dressing in the more modern manner; that is to say, European costume in all but the fez. Before I could do this, however, and become, so to speak, an ordinary layman, I had to leave the life of the madrasseh altogether, for the people in those ancient institutions regard the discarding of the academical turban and long cloak, and the adoption of European clothes, as a renunciation of the profession. Anyone who ventures to do this forfeits his right to a lodging in the madrasseh. I did not know where to go after leaving my madrasseh, as Turkish families cannot take any stranger into their houses as a boarder, while to go into a Greek or Armenian family would not do for a young Mussulman, for many reasons. So I hired two rooms in an inn, which was as filthy as these inns always are. I went to the European quarter of Constantinople and bought a suit of clothes from one of the numerous clothiers, who are mostly Austrian Jews, and 136who bring the clothes ready-made from Austria. Their goods are ridiculously cheap, but the tailoring and the material are extremely bad. It is a proverb in Constantinople that when you buy a suit of clothes from these Austrian shops and put it on, it will be worn out before you can cross over the Golden Horn Bridge back to Stamboul. Curiously enough, some of these Austrians try to pass their goods off as of English manufacture, as the English-made goods have a better reputation than the Austrian even in Turkey.
But, bad though they were, I was well content with my new clothes, as this was a step forward in satisfaction of my craze to dress as the Europeans did. It is a fact that most people who adopt this form of dress in the nearer East look upon those who have not adopted it, or do not desire to adopt it, as incapable of acquiring 'civilised' habits. Snobbish as it is, no doubt, this idea is not without reason. A few years ago, when there was an anti-Turkish agitation in England, I observed in some of the Radical papers remarks to the effect that, while the Eastern Christians who had been liberated from the Turkish yoke had adopted civilised 137methods, the Turks themselves seemed to be incapable of progress or civilisation. In reality, these 'Europeanised' Eastern Christians are no more civilised than the turbaned villagers of Asia Minor; their imitation of civilised methods and habits is merely superficial; but they manage to make themselves look like Europeans; and the world passes its judgment on most matters by surface evidence. Not long ago I saw an article in the Spectator, dealing with the incapacity of dark races to adopt civilised manners, and, as one of the examples, it was cited that the late Midhat Pasha used to hate some aspects of European costume, especially evening dress. It was a revelation to me that Midhat and his nation were included in the category of the dark races, and it was also a surprise to me that the Spectator did not remember that many Englishmen of perfectly civilised habits and high culture hate some of the grotesque forms of European costume. It was, however, this sort of feeling among the majority of Europeans that made us wish to imitate them, at least outwardly, so that we might not be accused of being unfitted for civilised 138ways. If the Turkish Government would make the women of harems discard their 'barbarous' veils, and go about like European women, and urge all its subjects to put on European costumes, and also hats instead of the fez or turban, its action would doubtless be hailed in many quarters as the real beginning of the civilisation of Turkey.
Sultan Mahmud II., the exterminator of the Janissaries, was the first man who perceived this prejudiced feeling of Europe some eighty years ago. He knew that the undying hostility of the nations of Western Europe against his empire was simply because Turkey was not a Christian State.7 As he could not accept any form of the religions of Christendom, he thought 139he would lessen the old hostility of Europe which must be lessened if Turkey in Europe were to continue to exist—by imitating, at least outwardly, the other peoples of Europe. So he ordered all the officials of the State to adopt European attire, and himself was the first to give up the old head-dress or turban and the long robe, and to replace them by a modified kind of European uniform. The most conservative and religious section of the Turks raised a howl of protest against this measure, but they could not support their case by any valid canonical law. The tradition that "He who makes himself look like the infidels is one of them," which is attributed to the Prophet, was proved to be spurious. But, in spite of his innovations, Sultan Mahmud II. could not adopt the European hat, as his fanatical opponents discovered that the Prophet explicitly prohibited his followers from wearing the head-dress of unbelievers, which was at that time three-cornered in shape, the comers signifying the belief in the 'Trinity,' 140a belief which is repudiated by Unitarian Mohammedanism. The objectors, moreover, maintained that a man could not put his forehead on the ground in prostration during worship with any form of European hat. So the Sultan, instead of taking the European head-dress as well, adopted the fez, which was worn mostly by the Greeks of the Mediterranean Archipelago.
I do not say that Mahmud II. did unwisely in discarding his forefathers' turbaned crown and long, furred robe. But it was a great pity that he did not retain the ancient national costumes for special ceremonial occasions at least, if only for antiquarian interest. In looking at pictures and drawings illustrating the olden days, one cannot help admiring those gorgeous old Turkish dresses. Persons of every class and profession had their big turban of a particular shape, their long robe, wide trousers, and so forth, and in these costumes looked not only picturesque, but also imposing and dignified. Ever since the first change, people in Turkey have been adopting the European style of costume, and those who now retain the old attire are only the humbler 141class of people in the provinces, tradesmen, peasants, and the class of the Ulema.
Following my example, four other men among the students of the law college who came from madrassehs also changed their costume. Of course, they had also to leave their madrassehs on account of their conduct.
After I had secured my exemption from military service, and had got over the protracted final examination in the law college, I found that my real troubles in life were only just beginning, for the problem of making a position for myself lay before me. I was now entirely dependent upon my own labours to earn my bread. As I mentioned at the beginning of the book, we had no longer any hope of recovering our confiscated lands, and the little instalments advanced to me periodically out of the revenue of those lands during our lawsuit with the authorities, which lasted fifteen years, were now very irregularly paid. In fact, I was becoming thoroughly disgusted by the fact that we had to make the most 142humble entreaties to the arrogant officials of the Sultan in order to persuade them to advance the small sums they owed to us. I wished to obtain some appointment, either in the Courts or the Ministry of Justice, but there seemed little chance of my doing so. As I have been endeavouring to show throughout these chapters, the administration in the reign of Abd-ul-Hamid has been the most corrupt that our unfortunate country has ever known. No one, however highly qualified he may be, can get any employment in any Government department unless he is connected with some highly-placed creature of the Sultan, or unless he is able to bribe high officials, or is cunning enough to concoct some grave political charge against others and denounce them to the tyrant at Yildiz Kiosk. Those who do this last service are known as 'Palace spies.' I had no relation in the Sultan's palace who might have obtained a Government appointment for me; and had, of course, no money to lay out in bribery, and so purchase an appointment, while the trade of a spy was entirely repugnant to my feelings. I may be asked why, instead of striving to get official employment, I did not 143try to find other work. The fact is that official employment is nowadays the only way in Turkey in which persons of any education can earn a livelihood. In order to explain this I must give some account of the nature of officialdom under the Sultan's bureaucracy.
As the Sultan has never relaxed his determination to crush the power and the influence of the well-to-do families, an independent existence has now been made impossible for them. Therefore everyone of birth and education must depend upon a Government salary for his maintenance, and so be at the mercy of the Sultan, who has gradually and systematically obtained control of all the financial resources of Turkey. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing in Turkey as a distinct aristocracy. High titled officials of the State may impress foreign observers as being members of an aristocracy, but in reality those officials can be raised even from people of the lowest station in life. There have always been, nevertheless, good old families in the provinces, who, though they received the appreciation and respect of the masses, had no 144pretensions to any actual superiority over their dependants. The governing factions, who were appointed and promoted by the central Government, were quite distinct from either the rich or the poor populations of most Turkish provinces. This state of society existed up to the beginning of the present reign. When Abd-ul-Hamid began to establish his personal rule, and founded the present bureaucracy, he saw a danger in the independent manner of life of the old families, and in their democratic and friendly relations with the poorer classes.
At first he tried to demoralise those ancient families by conferring upon them official titles and decorations, hoping thus to impress them with an idea of rank, which would bring attendant jealousies, and make them strive hard to gain higher rank and decorations than the rest of their fellows. Besides this, the Sultan acquired large tracts of land in the fertile districts throughout the empire, and, as a step in his policy of wholesale acquisition, the lands and properties of the local magnates were gradually taken possession of on some pretext or other by the administrators of the Civil List. 145Thus it was that those who had once been independent landowners received official titles, and became part and parcel of the Palace official world. They now depend almost entirely for their living upon salaries paid out of the public treasury, which treasury is supplied for the most part by taxes extorted from the poorer provincials and peasant proprietors.
At present there are only two ways in which Turkish subjects can obtain a livelihood. Either they must be content to pocket their pride, and labour as workmen, small tradesmen, ordinary craftsmen, farm labourers, and so forth, or else they must somehow get a Government appointment A man of education must make a Government salary his ambition in life, and must direct all his energies to increasing it. It therefore follows that the number of unnecessary officials in Turkey is enormous, and consequently their salaries are small, and also constantly in arrears. Even the payment of a salary due to an official is a matter for an appeal to the Sultan's benevolence; any increase is naturally even more so. Only those who are able to show loyalty to the 146person of the Sultan get their salaries increased and their arrears paid. The best form of showing the required loyalty for an official is, as before stated, to spy upon others, and denounce them as intriguing against his sovereignty. Those who cannot or will not show their loyalty in this way are soon reduced to the point of starvation, if not exiled or imprisoned, or condemned to death. There is no other means of earning money for a Turk of education in his own country nowadays. No one can venture to carry on any commerce or any legitimate money-making enterprise independently, nor can he establish any business relations with the outside world. He would be instantly harassed by the lying and intriguing Palace spies, and denounced to the Sultan as carrying on some treasonable negotiations, under the guise of doing business. All kinds of industrial, commercial, and financial combinations are most stringently forbidden to Turks. Even two men cannot make an association for any innocent and reasonable business purpose, as such a proceeding would doubtless be reported as the promotion of a conspiracy. If a man is accused of doing such 147a thing, he has no chance of proving his innocence. The spies have a perfectly free hand, and nothing they may report is censured, however monstrous or improbable it may be; in fact, the more extraordinary and unlikely it is, the more the spy who brings it will be rewarded for his zeal.
There was therefore no way in which I could obtain official employment But my diploma from the law college qualified me to practise as a barrister, so to that profession I determined to devote my energies, although even in this liberal profession no independence is possible, on account of its being under the complete control of officialdom.
Among my fellow law students who received their diploma at the same time as myself only a few contemplated practising at the Bar; the remainder sought Government employment Those who wished to earn their living as lawyers had not the necessary private means for starting in that profession. I was, however, more fortunate than most. At this period of my career, when I enjoyed much leisure, I used to attend at the office of a well known Turkish publisher and littérateur, who has now been 148exiled to Konia, in Asiatic Turkey, whose office was called 'Imprimérie Ebuzzia,' after his own name. There I read and corrected proofs and contributed to his magazine. This was, of course, before the Sultan's great literary persecution, which resulted in the closing of several printing offices, the suppression of several journals, the burning of many books, and the banishment of many persons connected with the literary world. In this office I made the acquaintance of a European, who was an old resident in Constantinople, and was acting as correspondent to the Times. This gentleman and his European friends, who had some business in the matter of concessions to settle with the Turkish Government, occasionally entrusted me with the drawing up of their Turkish documents, and with interviewing officials on their behalf. The documentary work I received from them enabled me from time to time to have access not only to several high officials appointed by the Palace, but also to the Imperial Palace itself. I thus had many opportunities of observing closely the way in which the ruling clique in Constantinople performs its duties. I will now give some 149description of the real centre of authority in the Turkish empire, which, I fancy, has never been properly understood even by those English politicians who are interested in the eternal Eastern Question.
The Porte the old centre of authority—The Ministers' present degraded position—A conversational opening—Meaning of 'Yildiz Kiosk'—The Sultan's Armenian appearance—The reasons for his living at Yildiz—A fortified palace—Its gardens and forest—The 'Charitable Hotel-keeper'—The apartments of the palace— Governing bodies in it—A cosmopolitan crew— Expenses of the Household—The Sultan's Civil List managed by Armenians.
Before the reign of the present Sultan the centre of the ruling power in Turkey was the 'Sublime Porte' but since his accession, Yildiz Kiosk (his palace) has absorbed every scrap of authority in the country. Although, in diplomatic and journalistic language, the 'Porte' or 'Sublime Porte,' is still used as the name for the Government of Turkey, it can no longer be regarded as a correct one. Before describing Yildiz Kiosk, I should like to state what 151the 'Sublime Porte' means and represents. 'Sublime Porte' is the French translation of the Turkish term 'Babi Aali.' Bab means 'door,' and Aali 'superior.' Every Government seat is called the 'door' in Turkey, for the reason that the door of every office of the State is supposed to be always open to any who may wish to enter to seek justice and redress. The most important of all Government offices (that of the Grand Vizier and the three principal Ministers, who are the President of the Councils of State, the Foreign Minister, and the Minister of the Interior, with their respective departmental functionaries) is known as 'Sublime Porte'; whereas the offices of the other Ministers, such as Justice, Finance, Public Works, Public Instruction, War, etc., which are situated in separate localities, being considered comparatively less important, are only called the 'Door.'
The Council of the Ministers holds its meetings under the presidency of the Grand Vizier at the 'Sublime Porte.' Theoretically, the affairs of State are still superintended by the Ministers, but in reality nowadays they simply supervise such scraps of State business as may 152be handed over to them by the Palace. The present Cabinet Ministers of Turkey are either men whose principle and ability are not of the sort to inspire respect, or else weak nonentities, who are merely appointed to carry out without question the wishes of the Palace. They are all appointed and protected by some influential courtier of the Sultan. It is an open secret that beyond reading and talking over the papers sent to them by the Palace, the Cabinet Ministers dare not discuss or settle any matter affecting the vital interests of the country on their own account; and it is also a matter of common knowledge that the conversation of the Ministers in Council is chiefly about the weather and other safe, unexciting topics. The favourite conversational opening of the late Sheikh-ul-Islam in the Council, as is well known in Constantinople, was:-" Under the benevolent auspices of his Imperial Majesty, our august Master, the weather is fine to-day." None of the Ministers venture to make a statement or give an opinion on any political situation. Like their subordinates, the Ministers are in honour bound to spy on one another. In short, the Cabinet Ministers are now mere ciphers of the Court.
The 'Sublime Porte' was first recognised as the centre of the ruling power of the Ottoman empire when such statesmen were in power as Resheed Pasha (who was Grand Vizier during the Crimean campaign), Aali Pasha, Fuad Pasha (who accompanied the late Sultan Aziz when the latter visited this country), and Midhat Pasha, who compelled the Sultan to sanction a Representative Assembly, and who was afterwards done to death in his exile in Taif near Mecca. The reason why Abd-ul-Hamid preserved the 'Sublime Porte,' although he has deprived it of every vestige of authority, is that he found the Ministers useful as scapegoats at various periods of his reign, when he had to face important political crises. The Sultan has until quite recently succeeded in hoodwinking even the representatives of the European Powers, and making them believe that the authority which had to settle International disputes was the 'Sublime Porte.' Thus he has avoided the possibility of personal responsibility for his misrule being brought home to him, and causing diplomatic pressure to bear directly on himself. The buildings which contain the offices of the 'Sublime Porte' are 154situated in the Stamboul quarter of Constantinople, and are close to St Sophia
Having explained what the Sublime Porte once was and now is, and having also pointed out that it has ceased to be even in a figurative sense the Ottoman Government, I will now give an account of Yildiz Kiosk. Yildiz means 'star' in Turkish. The majestic hill which is situated on the European side of the Bosphorus near the Marmora end of the Strait is called the Yildiz. The word 'Kiosk,' or, as it is spelt in Turkish, 'Koshq,' means both castle and cottage. I believe it was Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid who built the castle on the summit of the hill and called it 'Yildiz Koshq.' The story runs that this castle was built as a residence for a favourite lady of that Sultan, to whose presence in the harem of the palace his wife and mother objected. Gossip also relates that she was an Armenian, and the present Sultan is said to be her son. Although the physiognomy of Abd-ul-Hamid is very similar to that of a typical Armenian, and his personal characteristics are more Armenian than Turkish, this story rests on a very slight foundation.
Twenty-six years ago the present Sultan 155transferred the royal seat to the house at Yildiz, which was then a mere cottage. Many reasons were adduced for his changing his dwelling so soon after his accession. The ostensible reason was that the air on the lofty Yildiz hill was much finer than that round the old palace, which lay on the damp shores of the Bosphorus. But the real reason was that Yildiz was impregnable, and that there his person would be safely protected against any attempt to overthrow him. During the last six-and-twenty years he has never relaxed his efforts to make his home at Yildiz safer and safer. The forest extending from the top of the Yildiz hill down to the shores of the Bosphorus is surrounded with high and massive walls. I have never had any opportunity of penetrating within the forest It is said to be perpetually guarded by numerous sentinels round the walls. Some years ago a whole battalion of sappers worked inside the forest of Yildiz Palace for months. According to what I gathered from the reports of the soldiers, the forest is mined in several directions, and there must be a thorough workable system of subterranean passages, for what purpose it is not difficult to surmise. 156I visited the outside of these walls at a time when it was occasionally possible for strangers to walk in the vicinity of the Yildiz Palace. There are many blocks of barracks, thirty or forty yards apart from one another, all along the line of the wall In these barracks are quartered troops of various nationalities—Arab, Albanian, and Turkish. There is little friendliness or intercourse between the men of the different battalions; but all these simple-minded privates of the guard have been so carefully and systematically inspired with unhesitating loyalty towards their 'father,' as they call the Sultan, that they would quite willingly sacrifice the last drop of their blood in the defence of his precious life. Beyond these barracks there are hills and valleys, which are also extensively guarded by blockhouses and sentinels. Some years ago, when the Turkish malcontents became restless, a young officer in the Sultan's guard drew a careful plan of the palace and its defences, in which he showed its vulnerable points. This plan was published some years ago by the Turkish agitators in Geneva, with the title "Instructions to be carried out in the assault on Yildiz Palace." It is said that the 157publication of this plan caused the Sultan to alter all the defences of Yildiz.
The harem apartments and various small but luxurious kiosks are situated in the interior of the forest, which is said to be laid out in beautiful flower-gardens, roads, lakes and canals. There are several detached pavilions in the palace gardens; one of the most splendid of them is said to be the one in which the Sultan entertains his princely foreign guests. The Emperor of Germany lodged in it during his two visits to Constantinople. The Sultan is always eager to accommodate his royal visitors within the establishment of Yildiz, so that he may not be compelled to leave the palace to call upon them. It is well known that he takes the utmost care to make them comfortable and to entertain them well. It is for this reason that he has obtained the nickname in certain discontented quarters of 'the Charitable Hotel-keeper.' The Sultan always enjoys his sport and takes his exercise in his palace forest One of his means of recreation is the Yildiz opera-house, in which he, with his children or with his foreign guests, patronises the drama, in which he takes 158a keen interest It is worthy of remark that, while a strict censorship and a rigorous police make the progress of dramatic art among his subjects almost impossible, the Sultan's own theatre is fitted with all the latest improvements.
The buildings in which the officials and officers of the court, and the army of household attendants (as we may call them) live, are situated at the highest part of the Yildiz forest, while at the opposite end, at the foot of the forest, almost on the shore, is the Tcharagan Palace, where ex-Sultan Murad, Abd-ul-Hamid's mysterious and strictly-guarded captive, is confined. No human being who is not attached to the guard of the captive can approach the latter palace. The bureaus of the officials and officers on the top of the hill are built just outside the walled garden. The passage between the official residences and offices and the Sultan's own quarters in the interior is called the 'Mabeyn,' an Arabic word, which means a space between two objects. It is for that reason that the seraglio of the Sultan is figuratively called the Mabeyn, so that it may be distinguished from those of other 159princely palaces. In front of these departmental offices there is another valley, which was formerly inhabited chiefly by Turkish and Armenian families. The houses of these people have all been appropriated by the Civil List, with the view of making the distance between the palace at Yildiz and the people's quarters as great as possible. Beyond this valley there is another high hill, which is covered with the private houses of the court dignitaries. The object of the Sultan in building these houses for his officials on his own account was that he might prevent the Europeans of Pera from coming into possession of land in the direction of Yildiz, and in this way extending their quarters into the vicinity of the palace.
With a few exceptions, the courtiers and principal secretaries of the Sultan receive any business connected with any branch of State affairs, and deal with it after submitting it to him. For instance, there is a military council in the palace consisting of highly-favoured staff officers, who decide on all important military matters, although there is still an over-staffed War Ministry, which, by the established statute of the Empire, has to look after the affairs of 160the army. In the palace a highly important espionage and police bureau is maintained, though the old Ministry of the Police, with its numerous officials, is still in existence. In the palace reside those advisers to the Sultan whose business it is to attend to matters connected with Mussulman affairs, and to see that the Sultan's position as Caliph in the Mohammedan world is maintained; yet the old office of the Sheikh-ul-Islam, which theoretically should be in charge of such religious matters, is still in existence, with its many officials. There is a political and translation department at Yildiz, which is entrusted with the examination of such of the contents of the political press and political literature of Europe as may deal with Turkish matters, and which makes suggestions on diplomatic affairs, though these things are supposed to be done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Sublime Porte. The postal and telegraphic office of Yildiz Palace is the greatest and busiest of all post-offices in Turkey. All governors, commanders, agents, ambassadors and emissaries communicate directly with the palace through this post-office.
The men who compose the Sultan's immedi161ate circle, and who are ruling the country, are of many nationalities; some of them are Europeans. Anyone who knows the origin of these people would not hesitate to agree with me when I say that in the present reign the power and rule of Turkey is not in the hands of real Turks.
Hundreds of officials, officers, and retainers actually live on the premises of the palace. On one occasion I saw dinner being served out to the household of the palace. Numerous servants hurried about in all directions, carrying on their heads large wooden trays full of dishes. The number of the chefs and assistant cooks is known to be over two hundred. The working expenses of the palace are roughly estimated to be somewhere about £5000 a day. This enormous sum is, of course, paid out of the Sultan's Civil List. The revenues of the Civil List are very great, and they are drawn from many sources. Nearly all the estates and farms of high value, and most of the fertile districts in Anatolia and Syria, and more especially in the provinces of Baghdad and on the Persian Gulf, are now entirely at the disposal of the Sultan, and constitute the source 162of his private income. Moreover, as every vestige of power is nowadays in his hands, he can draw as much money as he requires from the State exchequer at the Finance Ministry.
The fixed income of the sovereign is supposed to be £50,000 a month. The Sublime Porte had at one time the courage to reduce it to £30,000, but, as I explained before, the Porte is now only nominally existent For the last twenty years or more, during which the revenues of the Civil List have increased enormously, the officials at the head of the department have, without exception, been of Armenian nationality. The first of these Armenian officials, a certain Aghob Pasha, was the man who suggested to the Sultan the idea of appropriating the property of the prominent Mussulmans in the province. The Civil List is never in need of money, as is the public exchequer of Turkey, yet many officials who serve solely for the palace, and do practically nothing for the public welfare, get their salaries from the public exchequer. The sum which the exchequer has to contribute to the fund of the Palace espionage system alone is estimated to be £90,000 a year. Besides the expenses of the 163Imperial household, only the salaries of the immediate officials of the court, and the cost of the Sultan's largess of money, presents, and gifts, are defrayed by the Civil List Even the allowances of the Princes and Princesses of the Royal House are paid by the public exchequer, and it is for this reason that the members of the Dynasty (who, by the way, live in separate minor palaces, in compulsory seclusion, and whose intercourse with the nation the Sultan's jealousy and suspicion has cut off), like the officials of the State, always find their salaries in arrears, to their great inconvenience.
The old right of appeal to the Sultan's person a thing of the past—He only leaves his palace once a week—The selamlik—Religious ceremonies and the sacred caravan—Its departure for Mecca—A military display— Abd-ul-Hamid's mosque—Its convenient proximity to the palace—A study in precaution—Dwarfs in the palace.
As the Sultan has concentrated all governing power in his own palace, it might be thought that the palace was the place to which all who seek for justice and the redress of wrongs would come. This is far from being the case With the exception of the spies, no one can enter any of the palace departments unless he can give a good account of himself and the nature of his business. The unfortunate subjects of the Sultan who are not connected with the palace officials some way or other must waste time 165and money in frequenting the old ministerial offices, which are nowadays only nominally existent, to seek justice and to find redress for their cases. There is no hope for these millions of unhappy subjects in their appeal. Until about ten years ago anyone who wanted redress for wrongs and injustice done to him had a chance, however slender, of appealing to the Sultan personally, and this he used to do by forcing his way through the crowd and presenting a petition to him while he was driving to the mosque on the occasion of the selamlik, the only time when Abd-ul-Hamid ventures out of his fortified palace. But there is now no possibility of presenting a petition to the Sultan, as the ceremony of selamlik is conducted differently.
From time to time the Turkish term 'selamlik' may be seen in the English papers, but only those who are fortunate enough to travel in foreign countries, or those whose position affords them exceptional opportunities of acquiring information on matters concerning other lands, know what this term signifies. The selamlik is a great military ceremony which takes place when the head of the Ottoman 166empire goes forth from his palace to a place of worship, with pomp and circumstance, every Friday afternoon. 'Selam' means 'salutation,' and the 'selamlik' is the name given to the military honour rendered to the sovereign on that occasion.
Besides the usual selamlik, there are five annual occasions when the same pageant takes place; on these occasions, however, the ceremony is on a grander scale, and the sovereign meets all civil, military, religious and legal functionaries of the State who may at the time be residing in the capital. Two of these selamliks are held on two great yearly festivals, the third on the fifteenth of the month of the fast, when the whole body of Government, from the monarch downwards, pays homage to the relics of the Prophet, and the fourth on the Prophet's birthday, when the high State dignitaries assemble in one of the great mosques to listen to the choral recitation of the poem on the Nativity. The fifth is on the day of the 'sacred caravan,' when a grand pageant takes place to celebrate its starting. Although the Sultan does not come out, he is supposed to salute this quaint procession from the window of 167his palace, and the people greatly enjoy watching and following it, as it has more religious colour than the other royal processions. This sacred caravan starts from the Sultan's capital every year, about the middle of the Mohammedan lunar month of Ramazan. The boxes in which are contained the presents and gifts for the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are carried by camels with gorgeously ornamented saddles through the streets of Constantinople, while about a dozen Arabs, who are supposed to go with the caravan to Mecca, display their skill in swordsmanship in every crowded centre, their drummer playing rapidly and violently the while. Thousands of spectators watch the procession. Before the start of the caravan, well-to-do people get ready and send alms, presents and bakhsheesh for the guides, and gifts for the religious trustees of their respective families in the cities of the Holy Land. The most conspicuous features in this procession are the sedan-chair-like seats, which are screened with beautifully embroidered silk stuff, for the protection of the persons seated therein from the heat of the sun; these seats are fixed on the saddles of the camels.
The cavalcade is escorted by mounted troops, and is followed by an immense crowd. It is a really picturesque sight when the long train mounts the hills of Yildiz to proceed to the palace; the road leading to the palace is lined by the magnificent Imperial Guards, and the wooded hills on both sides of the road are crowded with a great multitude of lady spectators, clad in cloaks, umbrellas, and veils of every colour imaginable. This is an entirely Mohammedan gathering, and a very orderly one too; quarrelling, or even disputing between individuals, is hardly ever to be seen; profound silence prevails among the crowd; only a murmur here and there of someone praying for the success of the year's pilgrimage is now and then to be heard. After offering a public prayer in front of the palace of the Caliphate, the cavalcade proceeds downward to the shore, whence, in a special boat, it crosses the Bosphorus to the Asiatic side of the city.
In bygone ages this cavalcade used to proceed by land all the way from Scutari to Hijaz, but it is now despatched to Beyrout by steamer, and the real sacred caravan is not formed till the gifts reach Damascus, whither 169they are brought under the superintendence of a court official who is styled the Sorra Emini, that is to say, the Intendant of the Offering. Thousands of pilgrims await the starting of the caravan from Damascus, and go to Hijaz along with it; for, as the caravan is escorted by troops, they are thus securely protected against the attacks of the Bedouin brigands, the only enemies of the harmless and God-fearing pilgrims. Still, notwithstanding this protection, there are cases on record when the sharp and dexterous Bedouin thief, by approaching quietly at night and hiding himself behind the long legs of the camels, has succeeded in robbing and murdering poor pilgrims, and then disappearing amid the waves of sand. There are many pilgrims who prefer the desert route to the sea journey via Jeddah, not on account of any material advantage, but simply that they may suffer greater hardships, hoping that they will be more highly rewarded by Providence, for they imagine that their recompense will be proportionate to the suffering they endure in fulfilling their religious duties. This is the same spirit which moves many Russian devotees, who, when going to Jerusalem, do not take the 170train from Jaffa, but prefer walking all the way to the Holy City, carrying their sacks and bags on their shoulders. Besides these annual processions and the progress of the sacred caravan procession, there is, as I have said, the usual ceremony, which takes place every Friday. This ceremony is better known to Europeans. The Sultan usually receives the diplomatic representatives of the Powers, and any foreign dignitaries who may happen to be in Constantinople on a visit, after this Friday selamlik.
The procession of the sovereign from the palace to one or other of the great mosques every Friday afternoon, attended with an imposing military display, is a strictly observed ancient usage. The Sultan must go to the mosque in public unless prevented by some urgent matter over which he has no control. For dynastic considerations, however, even such urgent matter must, if possible, be set aside, as some suspicion as to the Sultan's being no longer alive might spread among the population, and might bring about a public restlessness not unfraught with danger, and perhaps some revolutionary complications. The present Sultan is much more careful than any of his 171immediate predecessors in fulfilling this obligation of going to the mosque on Fridays. Whenever a rumour gets abroad concerning his being indisposed, he promptly orders his representatives in foreign countries to contradict the report, and that immediately, lest the news should find its way back to Turkey, and spread among its population. He professes to be always in the best of health. But he is no doubt subject to the ailments that more or less beset all humanity, and it is probably these that make him every now and then look dreadfully pale and broken-down during the Friday ceremony. Still, he comes out on these occasions most regularly.
The former Sultans used to go to different great mosques of the capital on Fridays on horseback, amidst the acclamations not only of the guards but also of the people. But Sultan Hamid has had a mosque built for himself just outside the great walls of his fortified palace. Shortly before the time of the selamlik the troops of the first and second divisions of the army of the capital flood the neighbourhood of that mosque. First come the battalions of the Albanian Zouaves, now the Arab Zouaves, now 172the marines, and now the battalions of the Anatolian infantry. They form several lines deep along the short road. Cavalry regiments take up their positions in two lines just behind the infantry. Gendarmes form another line at the back of the horsemen, and behind them policemen stand in groups of two at every few steps. Spies, who may be recognised by their treacherous and suspicious appearance, wander about in the immediate neighbourhood. The wretched public can nowadays see nothing but the arrival and the return of the troops. Woe to any educated-looking 'Young-Turk' who may be suspected by these dirty spies of attempting to approach the lines! Students of the military colleges are ordered not to go to the neighbourhood of the palace on that day. All the officers commanding these battalions are raised from the ranks, because such ignorant officers recognise no one so sacred after Allah as the Caliph, whereas an educated and intelligent officer might in all probability be a 'Young-Turk.'
What goes on inside the walls formed by the bodies of so many thousand armed men? When the time approaches for the departure 173of the imperial carriage from the gates of the Yildiz Palace, a trumpet is blown, and all the troops simultaneously give three loud cheers. The words uttered are these: "Padishahim chok yasha," or long live the Emperor. Then the bands of the different regiments strike up one after another the Sultan's march. The Sultan drives in a light carriage drawn by four horses; occasionally the marshal of the palace sits on the front seat facing him, and sometimes he is accompanied by his youngest son. His carriage is immediately followed by a couple of hundred of the household officers and aides-de-camp. He salutes the troops calmly, but at the same time his grave face betrays nervousness, which he always feels when he is in public. At the moment of his passing between the lines of troops a deep silence reigns, and if any irregular movement, such as an attempt to present a petition to the Sultan by any individual soldier, occurs, several spies suddenly appear as it were from nowhere, and the most perfect order is resumed. When the Sultan arrives at the gate of the mosque, which it does not take him more than three or four minutes to reach, about half a dozen dwarfs, brought for the occasion 174from their residence in one of the ancient palaces, cry out in chorus: "Become not over-proud, my Padishah; there is one who rules over you also—that is Allah!" This is one of the few old customs which have been preserved to the present day. The Sultan remains in his private gallery in the mosque for the prayer, and from the window he views the march past of the troops, and then, after twenty minutes or so, returns to his palace with a little less pomp. No doubt he feels very happy when he has returned in safety to his fortress-palace, from which he will not issue till the dreaded Friday comes round once more, when he must, however unwillingly, venture out again.
The Sultan's personal power—The unimportance of territories—"Après moi le deluge"—Interested Europe—The poor native Christians—'Squeezability' of the Sultan—Every man has his price—Bakhsheesh and decorations—The Sultan's vast ability—His favourite literature.
The object of the Sultan in sacrificing so much money, and in making such strenuous efforts to concentrate all the ruling power in his own hands, is simply that he may satisfy his extraordinary and insatiable lust of tyranny. To gain this end he deceives, bribes, and intrigues, and to this end also he exiles, imprisons, and even makes away with anyone who seems likely to be an obstacle to his ambition of absolutism. He has lost the fairest provinces of his empire through persisting in carrying on his tyrannical 176misrule, and he will not mind losing more in the same manner so long as there are enough territories to keep him going during his lifetime, for his motto is "Après moi le deluge." He has destroyed all semblance of personal liberty in the country. There can be no longer any hope of checking his oppression, which is becoming more and more severe as the years go by, as any united movement of opposition is impossible among so many communities as are found in Turkey, whose aspirations, thoughts, and racial tendencies are so widely different. On the other hand, the Foreign Powers would not tolerate the outbreak of an open revolution in Constantinople, whatever the grounds or reason for it. Some of them even are much interested in assuring the existence of the Sultan's rule, and would probably actively interfere in case of a movement to upset it. For the purpose of Turkey's ruin this Sultan has been much more useful to Russia than, all her great armies of Cossacks.
There are now new factors in the old Eastern Question, which also serve the Sultan well in times of political trouble. That is, there are certain Powers which are much interested in 177the continuance of the Sultan's personal rule, and whatever the Turkish subjects lose through misgovernment is a gain for these interested friends of the present ruler. The Emperor of Germany, in one of his numerous friendly telegrams to the Sultan, prayed that the Almighty might preserve his 'precious person,' doubtless that the Teutonic concession-hunters and fortune-seekers in Turkey might continue to reap the harvest his life assures to them. If there is really any justice in heaven, I feel sure l that the Kaiser will be arraigned before the heavenly bar to answer for his responsibility in assisting Abd-ul-Hamid to increase the sufferings of Turkey. His telegrams and visits to Constantinople have been the principal factor in encouraging Abd-ul-Hamid in the continuance of his oppressive policy. These visits and telegrams have been purposely represented to the unenlightened population of Turkey, who have no longer any means of learning the real position of the Sultan, as the payment of homage due to their master's greatness. If the head of a great European nation pays homage to Abd-ul-Hamid, his simple-minded subjects will naturally be impressed by his 178mighty influence, and consequently submit to his autocratic will.
There are other Powers which are equally to be condemned for conniving at the Sultan's tyranny. From time to time they hypocritically take up the cause of this or that Christian population of Turkey for their own political purposes, and put pressure upon the Sultan, because they know well his 'squeezability,' as a London paper once termed his manner of receiving pressure. In individuals such conduct would be regarded as a species of black-mailing, but it is perhaps compatible with the political morality of civilised States. The conduct of France in the temporary occupation of Mitylene, and of Italy in making an intimidating naval display off Tripoli, in bombarding an Ottoman town on the Red Sea, and in forcibly opening Italian post-offices in Albania, are the most recent examples of this international morality. However, Abd-ul-Hamid will never be much affected by Turkey having to submit to such indignities so long' as his precious person is left untouched and his personal rule unchecked. Never did a self-respecting man carry selfishness so far!
The Sultan has many ways of making his person safe against responsibility and reproach. Among other things, I may mention here his employment of agents of many nationalities in Europe, who constantly write and say nice things about him. Even his oft-quoted presents to other Oriental dignitaries and his innumerable gifts to Europeans are offered from the same calculating motive; no sentimental generosity could be expected from so practical and selfish a man. In order to give an idea of how largely the Sultan employs this method, I will say something about the nature of his presents and gifts. From the moment of his accession up to the present time, Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid has constantly believed that he can win the golden opinions of the humbler and gain the sympathy of the higher members of the political circles with whom he is brought into contact by presenting them with some sort of grants or gifts. In fact, he is firmly of the opinion that everyone has his price, that every person may be bought, if not always by offers of gold, then indirectly by honours or gifts. In order to make his officials submissive, he gives some of them Government appointments 180of much higher grade than they really deserve; he grants them purses of bakhsheesh, and he decorates them lavishly. To gain some idea of how much the Sultan spends in keeping his creatures submissive, one would have to pay a visit of inspection to the Privy Purse Department at the imperial palace of Yildiz; there one could see greedy-eyed, yet gratified-looking individuals carrying away in white linen purses quantities of the precious metals. Then, if one glances at the pages of the Constantinople papers, one will see that dozens of unknown and probably undeserving creatures are decorated, promoted, or else appointed to some newly created posts. A correspondent of a certain French journal at the Turkish capital once counted the numbers of one particular order distributed, that called Shefekat Nishani, which, like many other decorations, has been created by the present Sultan, and is given to ladies of distinction, whether Ottoman or foreign. According to the Frenchman's reckoning, about twenty-five thousand gifts of this order have been made up till now. The old Turkish orders of the Medjidieh and Osmanieh are nowadays being so freely dis181tributed, that the breasts of even the most ordinary Government servants are ornamented by one or other of them.
Decorated people are so numerous among the members of the Sultanic bureaucracy that it is hardly possible to meet any official, high or low, without one decoration or more. It is not surprising, then, that there is a class of persons, honest, educated, and of good birth, outside the circle of the Palace favourites, who boast, and very rightly too, that "they are honoured by being undecorated."
Decoration and promotion are not the only methods by which his Majesty imagines that he can gain attachment to himself. He takes a different way when it is the sympathy of foreigners he desires to win. It may, perhaps, be possible for the Sultan to induce foreign correspondents and the editors of some Continental journals to write nice things about him by offering them bakhsheesh or stars, or by giving them commercial, industrial, or other concessions in Turkey. But how is he to gain the golden opinions of the foreign rulers and statesmen interested in the Eastern Question? Is it possible to make an incorruptible British 182Minister, for example, speak favourably of his Majesty's rule, by conferring on him some order set with brilliants, or by quietly offering him a big bakhsheesh? Certainly not But the Sultan has an unshakable belief in the wisdom of an Arab proverb, which says, "Man is the slave of favours"; and so, if he cannot offer money or decorations, he will request the acceptance of some keepsake, with a hypocritical affability peculiar to himself.
The presents of the Sultan vary, of course, both in quality and quantity. Decorations set in brilliants, gold snuff-boxes, cigarette-cases and holders, watches initialled and ornamented with precious stones, magnificent Arab horses, richly worked Oriental swords, daggers, and pistols from the imperial Treasury, which was most sacredly preserved intact by all the former Sultans of the House of Osman: such things form the greater part of the gifts sent to European potentates and notabilities. Others are made in the imperial factories.
Among the great personages who get presents from the Sultan, the German Emperor is the most highly favoured. Besides having received numerous and valuable 183keepsakes during his two visits to the Ottoman capital, the Kaiser gets from time to time Arab horses and objects of the rarest Eastern skill and art The Emperor of Russia also receives presents from the Sultan every now and then, but his Russian Majesty is generous in sending presents to the Sultan in return. A summer mansion on the Bosphorus was given by the Sultan to the Prince of Montenegro about ten years ago, and a steam-yacht, which was built in the State dockyards on the Golden Horn, was recently sent to the Adriatic for the use of the same petty ruler. Lord Salisbury received some two years ago a very large and magnificent vase, which was brought to England by a special aide-de-camp of the Sultan, and was presented to the Prime Minister by the late Turkish Ambassador.
Whether these various devices had any real effect or no, the Sultan has certainly succeeded in attaining the object he desired; he still remains on his throne, and his power is absolute. This alone, when one reflects upon the history of the reign of the present Sultan, makes one fully admit that he is a man of vast ability. His ability has, however, been 184productive solely of evil. If he were a good as well as an able man, his country would be powerful and prosperous. His indifference to insults and hatred, his calmness in dealing with difficulties of the most perplexing kind, and his tenacity of purpose are remarkable. Unlike many of his predecessors, he is not much under the influence of women; nor does he care for their company, though he still maintains m his palace the old system of the harem, with its numerous inmates and slaves, possibly only for the purpose of impressing the uncultivated section of his subjects with the sight of barbaric splendour. His phenomenal shrewdness is shown by his making the Mussulmans believe that the misfortunes endured by Turkey under his caliphate are entirely due to the hostile interference of grasping Europe with Turkish affairs. To Europeans, on the other hand, he often succeeds in conveying the impression that the people in whose name he rules are incapable of appreciating the value of progressive and constitutional government, and in order to justify this, he puts every obstacle in the way of their making progress in industry, science and literature. Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid, 185although he has played so notable a rôle in the preservation of his own personal sovereignty, is a man of but poor educational attainments. It is said by those who know him well that before his accession he was considered far inferior to the other royal princes of his house in attainments and culture. In spite of this drawback, he has for over twenty-six years shown himself superior to all opposition, rivalry, and attack.
There is no doubt that he works harder than any man in Turkey, and that he reads and makes his secretaries read to him a great deal; but what he reads principally consists of the reports of his spies and agents, which pour in in hundreds every day. Besides these, his favourite literature, which is translated from many languages and read aloud to him, is composed of biographies and historical sketches of the despotic sovereigns of the world and their doings, and also of their enemies, so that he is interested in accounts of the organisation of secret societies and conspiracies. He is also passionately fond of all kinds of detective stories.
The Sultan's opponents—His manner of dealing with them —The 'humanity' of Europe—Attempts on the Sultan's life—Lack of organisation in Young-Turkey— refuge for the reformers in England—The short-lived Parliament suppressed by the Sultan—Opposition of English Russophiles to Turkish schemes of reform—What Young-Turkey wanted—Persecution of Young-Turks—A long tale of victims—The possibility of a revival.
In spite of all the measures taken by the Sultan to preserve his personal rule, he has met at times with serious opposition from a section of his Turkish subjects, the only people in Turkey who see the state of affairs clearly and can read the signs of their country's decadence. They understand that, among the peoples of the Ottoman empire, the Turkish race, in whose name the misrule of a cosmopolitan Palace 187faction is maintained, suffer most from the existing tyranny. These men compose what is commonly known in Europe as 'the Young Turkish Party.' By them attempts have been made now and then to rid the throne of Abd-ul-Hamid, and for this reason there has been a constant struggle between them and the Sultan. He is aware that the Turks, unlike his non-Mohammedan subjects, would not allow themselves to be tools for the political designs of any European Power, and therefore would never be likely to receive foreign help against his tyranny. Consequently he feels at liberty to deal with them in a much more absolute fashion than with any of his other subjects. And so, with a relentless determination, he does all he can to crush any of the Turks who may attempt to check him. If they escape from his hands and fly to other countries, he will make almost any sacrifice to get hold of them again. It is said that he connived at the French designs on Tunis in order to get Midhat Pasha from the French consulate at Smyrna, when the latter took refuge there. Quite recently an Italian consul in Switzerland called on the late Mahmud Pasha, the Sultan's brother-in-law and enemy, 188who was staying at Lucerne, and requested him not to go to Italy, because the Government of that country wished to be on good terms with the Sultan; and this was at a time when Italy was making an intimidating naval show in the Albanian and Tripolitan waters. It is an open secret that the Sultan's representatives have often approached some European Foreign Offices with the promise of concessions to be granted on condition that the Turkish refugees in their territories were handed over to the Sultan, or at any rate expelled across the frontiers.
Yet, in spite of his uniform success in the struggle with his Turkish subjects, the Sultan has more than once been face to face with imminent danger owing to the efforts of this party. The most daring of these attempts was made by a certain Suavi Effendi, whose name I mentioned before, who was a very cultured as well as courageous member of the Ulema class, and was one of the organisers of the once powerful Young-Turkish movement Suavi Effendi was in London about thirty-five years ago, finding it safer to print here the political literature of the movement to be smuggled into Turkey, but before the fall of the late Sultan 189he went back to Constantinople, and was engaged in educational and journalistic work. Soon after the accession of Abd-ul-Hamid, Suavi collected a band of some hundreds of desperate refugees, who had flocked into the capital from the provinces which were lost as the consequence of the Russo-Turkish War, and with them he attacked the Sultan's palace. Before, however, they could release the ex-Sultan Murad from his captivity, to be reinstated in his place, they were overtaken by the guards in the palace garden, and, after a fearful struggle, Suavi and most of his followers perished. The mere rustic private who is credited with having cut Suavi Effendi himself down is now the all-powerful Hassan Pasha, the present head of the police guarding those quarters of the capital which border on Yildiz Kiosk. He is a man of great physical strength and ferocity. Most men who are denounced as being Young-Turkish adherents are handed over to him before being sent into exile, and terrible tales are related about his beating the prisoners. The Sultan not long ago conferred on him the rank of a Field-Marshal for his loyal service, though 190Hassan is so ignorant that he cannot even write his own name.
Another attempt to depose the Sultan was made some twenty years ago by a Circassian cavalry regiment which was quartered near Yildiz Kiosk. The men of the Circassian regiment, who evidently had lady friends in the harem of the palace, laid a plot against Abd-ul-Hamid. They also failed at the last moment in their attempt, and the regiment speedily and mysteriously disappeared. The last projected attempt of a serious nature was reported to have been nearly carried out during the Armenian troubles. At that time the door of the Sultan's room was guarded by two Kurds, and these men were the disciples of a religious order which prescribes to its followers a self-sacrificing devotion towards their sheikhs or chiefs. The sheikh of this order, who was won over by the adherents of the Reform Party, explained to his two Kurdish followers the true character of the man who occupied the office of the caliphate, and, according to the same report, they both bound themselves by an oath to get rid of him when their turn came to guard his room. Fate was, however, again on the 191side of Abd-ul-Hamid, and the plot failed in due course.
About the progressive element which has inspired and maintained so obstinate an opposition to the Sultan, much has been heard in England, but little is really known. I will therefore touch upon its history, aims, and present position.
The common name for this element, the 'Young-Turkish Party,' though widely used, is inaccurate, and I do not propose to use it myself in connection with these advocates of the progressive reform. There is no organised body such as could properly be called a 'party,' though on various occasions different societies have been formed by agitators for reform, whose chief aims and aspirations have been identical; namely, to check the Sultanic absolutism, to secure a representative mode of government, and introduce necessary reforms. The growth of the revolutionising element in Turkey cannot be traced to the influence of the French Revolution; it was due to the introduction, for the first time, of English ideas of liberty, and the spread of information about the English system of constitutional government It is 192perhaps known to few that the first Ottoman reformer was a member of the first Ottoman diplomatic mission to the Court of St James's. Agah Effendi, the first Turkish Ambassador who was accredited in England, some hundred years ago, was accompanied by a young man named Ra-if Mahmud Effendi, who acted as his private secretary. This young secretary remained in England many years and devoted himself to the study of scientific subjects, more especially geography, and afterwards published a translation of an English atlas into Turkish, the first ever prepared in that language. While in England, Mahmud Effendi used to send reports to the Sublime Porte on the forms of administration and system of government in this country. When Sultan Mahmud II. came to the throne, the young diplomatist was invited to Constantinople to assist in the work of reorganising the administration; but during one of the fanatical outbursts which preceded the extermination of the Janissary corps, this first modernised statesman of Turkey was accused of being a man of 'broad views,' and killed in a mélée. The seeds of reform sown by him, however, were not entirely destroyed; 193and it was chiefly owing to the work of the later Turkish statesmen, who followed his example in reorganising the system of their country, that the famous Hatt-i Sherif, or first reform charter of the Ottoman empire, was drawn up, and, with the assistance of the friendly Powers, proclaimed.
As I said before, it is not correct to call the Ottoman empire a part of the 'unchanging East'; Turkey has seen many essential changes during the last century, though not always for the better. Shortly after his accession to the throne, the late Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz attempted to disregard the newly established statutes of the empire, and to rule in a most unconstitutional fashion. Instead of following the constitutional methods of the country which had previously contributed to the consolidation of his empire, he adopted the absolutism of the Russian autocracy, and a Palace Party was formed to combat the then growing national liberalism. The young reformers of that period ventured to criticise vehemently the arbitrary conduct of the Sultan and his advisers. But the country was not sufficiently educated to give them support, so their 194remonstrances were severely punished by the Government. Some of the leaders were imprisoned in different citadels throughout the empire, but others managed to escape to Europe. Some of these fugitives settled in London. It is now more than thirty years since an active movement for reform was started by the 'Young-Turks,' as they were then first styled. The reformers published pamphlets and journals in England, and sent them out to Turkey by means unknown to the Sultan Aziz's officials. Being men of letters of recognised ability, they contributed considerably by their writings to the enlightenment of public opinion in their country, and did a good deal for the cause of education among their countrymen. The effects of their agitation began to be felt by the Palace Party and the corrupt officials of the old school in the Sublime Porte.
About the beginning of the unfortunate reign of the present Sultan, the reformers found so many adherents among the educated classes of the people, as well as in the army, that Abd-ul-Hamid thought it imperative to promise to Midhat Pasha, the chief reformer, that immediately after his coronation he would proclaim 195constitutional law, and sanction an assembly of the representatives of the various communities of the empire. He did as he said, but he was only waiting for an opportunity of making away with the leaders of the constitutional movement and of re-establishing the personal rule of the sovereign. The war with Russia in 1877 gave him his opportunity; as the Turkish people were suffering from the terrible results of the war, they were not in a position to forestall the evil designs of Yildiz Kiosk, and to make the friends of Turkey in Western Europe understand that the only way of preserving the integrity of the empire was through the formation of a responsible constitutional government. The short-lived Ottoman constitution, which Abd-ul-Hamid destroyed, was therefore the work of the Young-Turkish Party, who aimed at the regeneration of their country by founding a "reasonable representative Government," to quote a phrase of the late Mr Gladstone, and was not merely a ruse on the part of the Sultan whereby "he might throw dust into the eyes of the Western Powers," as the irreconcilable enemies of the Ottoman empire interpreted it Mr Gladstone and his 196political friends, however, never really sympathised with the attempts to establish such a government in Turkey. The late Duke of Argyll said, in one of his books on Eastern matters, "We in England laughed at their constitution." As a matter of fact, these politicians of England wanted reforms only for the Christian subjects of the empire.
Thus, after the Russo-Turkish war, the country was not able to give material support to the Reform 4 Party,' while, on the other hand, this party received no effective support from the well-wishers of the Ottoman empire in England. The Yildiz junta took full advantage of this, made the constitution a dead letter, got rid of the most powerful and most honest reformers by sending them as governors or mere exiles to distant provinces, and established a bureaucratic authority of the most intolerably oppressive kind, the misrule of which has caused the Ottoman empire irreparable harm. In the hope of preventing the formation of an opposition party, Abd-ul-Hamid began to stir up the old religious and racial hatreds, which were then almost dead, among the various nationalities of the empire, and to crush every 197sort of industrial energy and collective enterprise of the people. He further threatened private property, more especially of the reform adherents, with confiscation on the slightest excuse. In spite, however, of fiendish and systematic persecution of the reformers and their followers, the Sultan has never succeeded in entirely stamping out the reform movement He was too late in his attempt to suppress education, and the spread of Western learning among the Turkish people has brought about the dissemination of the ideas of Western Europe as to the legitimate liberty of the people and the responsibility of the government; hence, discontent among the more thoughtful of the community has steadily gone on increasing.
About the beginning of the Armenian revolt there was an energetic revival of the reform agitation. The would-be reformers earnestly tried to upset the misrule of the Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid. They wanted a brave Sultan to rule over a brave people; they wanted an honest sovereign, not an intriguer, clever enough when his personal safety is concerned, but otherwise a lunatic, who has shut himself 198up in his fortified palace for the last six-and-twenty years; they wanted a worthy Caliph, who would impress the Mohammedan world with the fact that as a Mohammedan power Turkey had a respectable position among the civilised powers of Europe; they wanted a responsible Turkish Ministry, not a cosmopolitan clique of adventurers, whose misrule brought the very name of the Turkish nation into contempt. Persecution of some twenty-five thousand Young-Turkish adherents did not prove sufficient to suppress this movement. Therefore the Sultan had to devise further ingenious means for bringing it to naught Many of his spies fled to Europe as though they were Young-Turks, and joined the different Young-Turkish committees; they reported secretly everything they discovered concerning them to the Sultan, and tried to sow discord among the members. As most of the fugitives depended for their livelihood on their resources in Turkey, the Sultan succeeded in driving them into the utmost destitution by cutting off these resources. Meanwhile his emissaries came forward with large sums of money and with promises of appointments in Government offices, to induce 199the refugees to return to Turkey. Some of them accepted the pecuniary assistance of his benevolent Majesty, and therefore lost the sympathy of the Turkish people. Certain office-seekers and concession-hunters, some of whom were not Turks at all, pretending to be Turkish reformers, published seditious papers in London and elsewhere in order to blackmail the Sultan, and in this way brought shame upon the honour of the Young-Turks.
Thus the Young-Turkish movement is disorganised, but it has not been wholly suppressed. It may reorganise its forces, and continue its campaign against the Yildiz monsters, though in a pacific manner; because an armed uprising against the tyranny of Abd-ul-Hamid by the Turks alone would be represented in Europe as prelude to a 'massacre of the Christians.' Moreover, such a revolution would be a bloody one, for Yildiz Kiosk is guarded by armed men of different races, hostile to one another. Besides, in case of an extreme danger to his person, the Sultan would open the gates of the capital to the forces of the traditional enemy of Turkey, as he has on more than one occasion hinted.
Abd-ul-Hamid's use of his power as Caliph—What the Moslems think of him—British Mohammedan subjects —The validity of the Ottoman claims to the Caliphate —The mistaken policy of British Statesmen in opposing them—Danger of alienating the Mohammedan world—The errors of English writers.
There can hardly be found in the history of nations a more fortunate tyrant than the autocrat of Yildiz Kiosk. Besides all the circumstances I have noted, Abd-ul-Hamid has at his back the authority of the Caliphate, which he can, when he chooses, ingeniously employ for his own ends. The devotion of the Mussulmans of Turkey and the respect of orthodox Mohammedans of other countries for the Caliph are very great, and becoming greater every day. As a matter of fact, the attachment 201of Mohammedans is to the office of the Caliph rather than to his person, and according to the qualities necessary for the man who holds it, a true Caliph must be a perfect specimen of humanity. If he cannot fulfil the prescribed conditions of the Islamic religious law, that law orders the faithful to depose him, and justifies the election of a proper Caliph. There are not lacking in the history of Islam instances in which the Caliph has been deposed solely on these religious grounds. It is almost impossible for these people to comprehend that the present Sultan does not possess any of these good qualities, and is therefore quite unworthy of his office. The Sultan employs subtle methods that he may pose before the Mohammedans as the true Caliph and the sole champion of the Islamic cause, and spends immense sums of money for the same purpose. In reality, however, he should be known as the worst enemy of Islam, as no Moslem ruler has ever brought by his misdeeds so much shame upon his faith as he has. Anyone who has observed his career closely knows that his actions are diametrically opposed to the principles of the Mussulman law and creed. But it is the 202hardest thing in the world to make Moslems understand this. Those in Turkey are just beginning to understand what he really is, but outside Turkey he is held in blind veneration by all Moslems. An Englishman, who had great experience of the East, and who followed the Prince of Wales during his tour round the Colonies, told me that the further you go away from Turkey the greater is the influence of the Sultan among the followers of Islam.
In pursuance of my remarks on the way in which the Sultan makes use of the influence of the Caliphate for his personal ends, it may perhaps be of some interest if I make some general remarks on the Caliphate, and the influence of the Caliph among the Mussulmans of the world. It must be remembered that Great Britain has under her rule or protection a very large number of the followers of Islam. Some authorities say that her Moslem subjects are five times as many as those who belong to Turkey itself. It follows that this immense Mohammedan population in Great Britain's Eastern dominions will some day prove of the highest importance in determining 203the direction of her policy in the East There are now symptoms of rivalry between the Sultan of Turkey and those British authorities whose business it is to maintain their country's prestige and influence in the Moslem world. It is on account of this rivalry that some British writers and politicians try to represent the religious influence of the Sultan as being less than it is, while others seek to deny the validity of the Ottoman Caliphate. That the present Sultan is unworthy of the title cannot be questioned; but the validity of the claim of the occupant of the Turkish throne to the office, quite apart from his character, is incontestable. Those who deny this, or seek to depreciate the influence of the Ottoman Sultanate on orthodox Mohammedans, periodically shower abuse on Turkey, as was done during the Armenian agitation, perhaps with the view of creating a breach between the Moslem populations of British territories and Turkey. And I cannot but think that this policy is having just the opposite effect. The study of the English language is increasing steadily but surely among the Mohammedan subjects of Great 204Britain, and so they read or hear many of the hostile sentiments published and uttered in England against the Ottoman Caliphate, and become suspicious and irritated. In fact, the more this hostility is displayed, the closer will become the attachment of the Moslem subjects of England towards the Ottoman Caliphate. Such alienation of feeling, which is at present latent, will be anything but favourable for England in case of international complications in some part of the Orient. There are European Powers who may take advantage of it, and use it against the interests of the British Government The speech of the Kaiser delivered at Damascus must still be fresh in the memory of many people. It was certainly with the object of increasing the influence of his country in the East that he said that he would stand side by side with the head of three hundred million Mohammedans. A highly connected Russian once told me that during Queen Victoria's reign Great Britain waged over fifty different wars, small and great, and added that most of these wars were carried on against Mohammedan peoples in different parts of Asia and Africa, in order to crush their independence 205and take their countries. Very likely he used to relate this to other compatriots or co-religionists of mine whom he met, so that the idea became popular, and would add to the belief that Great Britain is the worst enemy of the cause of Islam. "Supposing that the fanaticism of the Mohammedans under our rule were stirred up by Turkey, what could they do?" a proud Jingo once asked me, at a time when some persons were urging Lord Salisbury to send the British fleet over the mountains of Asia Minor to avenge the Armenian wrongs. "We could put them down," added this Jingo, with an increased air of proud confidence, "any time and anywhere." Yes, in the East we know England's might, and we all admire the Englishman's great tenacity in defence of the interests of his country. But there are instances in history of small and backward nations having inflicted irreparable damage on mighty Powers, and Mussulmans will not always fight—if it should, unfortunately, ever come to fighting—with spears and mediæval weapons. They will not easily be exterminated or subjugated; nor is it true that the Mohammedans will ever be won over by 206conversion, as the missionaries assert. These millions of Mohammedans will continue to exist, and some day there will certainly be a general awakening among them, which will make the adoption of modern methods and means of war imperative. I do not imagine that it would be to Turkey's interest to alienate Great Britain by attempting to stir up her Moslem subjects, and I am sure that when once the present regime is over, everyone in Turkey will heartily, welcome the re-establishment of England's prestige. There is, therefore, no sound reason for the attitude of malignant jealousy towards the Ottoman Caliphate which some Englishmen have chosen to adopt It seems to me that past generations of British statesmen must have had sounder statesmanlike qualities than the present generation, for they used to benefit their country by the influence of that Caliphate. For instance, during the earlier periods of the conquest of India, the English representative in Turkey requested the Porte to use its good offices in the court of certain Mohammedan rulers of India in favour of his country.
Leaving the political aspect, I will say something as to the validity of Turkey's claim to the Caliphate. In discussing this subject some English writers use such phrases as the "pretensions of the Ottoman Sultans" to the headship of Moslems. So long as the great bulk of those who profess that religion recognise that authority, what value can be attached to the attempts to question it on the part of prejudiced outsiders? It is argued that the sect of Shiites, or the unorthodox Moslems, do not recognise the Caliphate in question. But there are strong indications that they too will, sooner or later, recognise it for political if not religious reasons, as the danger threatening the remaining vestige of Islamic independence looms equally large before orthodox and unorthodox alike. One of the arguments brought forward against the Ottoman Caliphate is that the Caliph must be appointed from among the Koreish, the Prophet's own people, and must be his direct descendant. It is probable that the tradition related in connection with this argument is one of the many spurious sayings made up by individuals after the time of Mohammed, as such a just 208legislator would not show partiality towards his own family and people by restricting to them the privilege of being his Caliphs. According to his doctrine, community of faith is tantamount to community of race, and he founded a perfect democratic equality between his followers, whatever their race or colour, and called them all 'ommetee,' that is, 'my nation.' A Caliph, therefore, need not necessarily be a descendant of the Prophet Besides, he left no male issue; and according to the Moslem law, female issue has not the right of succession, the Caliph being a temporal and not a spiritual head.
Another strong argument is the length of time for which the Ottoman sovereigns have held the title of Caliph. This title was first assumed by the Ottomans during the conquest of Egypt by Sultan Selim I. in 1517 a.d., when the keys of the sacred places of Mecca and Medina were handed over to him at Cairo by a deputation which came from Hijaz expressly to accept him as Caliph. From that moment up till now the Ottoman sovereigns have uninterruptedly held the title, and have been the guardians of the standard of Mohammed. The pro209vinces of Mecca and Medina have ever since that time formed an integral part of the Ottoman empire. A Caliph must be an independent ruler, and must in particular be ruler over those holy places. It would certainly never do if an Arab were appointed as the spiritual head of Islam by a Power of alien faith. Such mischievous suggestions are merely an expression of the political hostility which is often shown by some individuals in England to the Turkish Caliphate. An ultra-patriotic evening paper once said that there could not be a better Caliph than the 'British Raj.' To make the Mussulmans recognise the 'British Raj.' as the supreme religious head of their community is as impossible and ridiculous as to attempt to convert this country to Islam. If Englishmen are really patriotic in guarding and promoting the interests and prestige of their country in the Islamic world, they should not attack the Ottoman Caliphate, but make good use of its influence. Such a suggestion as I have quoted would not appear to the Moslem mind to be a friend's advice, as the general tendency among the Mohammedans is to strengthen the position of the existing Cali210phate. This tendency is becoming so evident that some Continental journals have already believed it to be the result of Pan-Islamic organisation, though in reality there is no such organisation.
I become an object of interest to the Palace spies—I therefore leave Constantinople for a time—England and the Anatolian Railway—Prosperous whitewash and a deceitful governor—Bureaucratic changes in Asia MinorThe measures for restricting large gatherings of the people—Wedding entertainments diminished—The war-game of Jareed—My mother's objections to my visiting England—A perversion of the truth on my part.
At this time, when I was making a fair living by means of the business entrusted to me by those European concessionnaires whom I have mentioned, I thought it convenient to take up my residence in Pera, the European quarter of the capital. But my residing in Pera among foreigners must have made me an object on which some persons connected with the Palace deemed it worth while to keep an eye. I 212began to suspect that my movements were being shadowed by some mysterious individuals, though I could hardly be sure. I informed my English friend, the late correspondent of the Times, that I had reason to fear that the spies were after me, and that I thought the time had come to carry out my old intention of going to England. He agreed with me as to the advisability of my getting out of Turkey, but he warned me that unless I secured some means of livelihood beforehand, it was a most risky matter to give up my work, my hopes and probable chances at home, and go over to a country which was absolutely foreign to me. A strong presentiment, however, possessed my mind that I should, sooner or later, be added to the list of the victims of the prevailing tyranny. Taking advantage of the approach of the summer vacation, I thought it would be better at least to go away for some little time from Constantinople. My English friend recommended me to the director of the then newly opened Anatolian railways, and he gave me a first-class free ticket to Angora, which I had not seen for several years. A few days later I crossed over the harbour of Constantinople to 213the Asiatic shore, and from the Haidar Pasha terminus I took the train which carried me away at once towards the heart of Asia Minor. The distance between Haidar Pasha and Angora is shorter, I should say, than between London and Glasgow, yet the express train takes two whole days to cover it. The German Railway Company does not seem generous in affording facilities to the people of the country, and the customs officers and the rough inspectors employed by the Tobacco Régie Company (one of the European companies) give the traveller an intolerable amount of trouble by seizing and examining his belongings at different places on the journey. The train stops when it has gone half-way on the first evening, as it is not allowed to run at night The traveller's inland passport is examined, and he himself is subjected to a perfect inquisition of questionings, first in the capital, again on the first night, and finally on the second night, when he reaches his destination.
When the Anatolian line was first constructed as far as Angora, the general belief in the country was that the long projected trunk line from the Ottoman capital to the Persian Gulf 214would pass through Angora. This has not been the case, and the main line changes its course at Eski-Shehir, which is situated half-way between the capital and Angora, and runs to the south, towards Konia (ancient Iconium). It is no doubt within the recollection of many people that the scheme of shortening and facilitating communication between Europe and the nearer East and India by constructing a great line over Asiatic Turkey was first projected by English engineers, supported by the British Government. This enterprise, however, could not be realised. The Germans, ever ready to seize all commercial and political ground lost by the English in the nearer East, took the matter into their own hands, and are now going to have the control of what should have been essentially the British route to India through the friendly Ottoman empire. I do not know whether the possession of this line by Germans is a loss to England, but it is really a loss for my countrymen that this enterprise should not have been in the hands of an English company, because they are aware that in dealing with the English there is a fair possibility of mutual benefit; while in 215bargaining with Germans, the greediest of all grasping Europeans, Turkey has little to expect in return for what she has to give.
On the second evening after my departure the train arrived at Angora at the moment of sunset. I saw from the window of my carriage that some of the mud-walled houses of the town and the walls of the ancient citadel were white and glistening. At first I thought that they were some new buildings which had sprung up as a sign of the prosperity produced by the opening of the railway. But I soon discovered my mistake. The Governor-General had given orders that the municipal authorities were to whitewash the citadel and that many of the citizens were to do the same to their houses before the formal opening of the railway, so that the European visitors and official commissioners who should come to Angora for the first time might suppose that the town was as smart and prosperous as it looked. The governor must have learnt this mode of deception from the Yildiz authorities, who caused all the more ruinous quarters of Constantinople to be whitewashed or surrounded with high timber hoardings before the German Emperor 216first came to the city. I was particularly surprised that the great time-worn stones of the ancient citadel should have been so monstrously disfigured by a vulgar coat of whitewash. The governor was a certain Abideen Pasha, and he is now the Vali of the Turkish Archipelago. He is an Albanian by birth, and was first educated in Athens. He can write poems in ancient Greek, and is known to be a linguist and scholar. He had been governor of Angora for several years, yet he had done almost nothing to improve the condition of the province. In other countries such a man would perhaps have been given a professorial chair in some educational institution, but he would hardly have been put in a responsible government post which requires practical administrative capacity. Turkey cannot expect beneficial reforms from such learned theorists, any more than from the ignorant incapable officials who are still entrusted by the Palace with the administration of many of the important provinces.
Some years had elapsed between my last trip and the present one into Asia Minor, and during this period I found that serious changes 217had taken place in the state of the interior. Among other things, the number of useless officials sent by the central Government had increased alarmingly, to the detriment of the inhabitants of the provinces. For instance, there is no piece of land in Angora which could properly be called forest, yet a Department of Woods and Forests had been created there; directors, sub-directors, and several subordinate officials had been sent out by the central government, and in connection with this office new taxes and unaccustomed laws had been imposed upon the inhabitants. The fact is that, in order to show the Powers that it had been introducing reforms, the Government of the Sultan had adopted among other laws the French regulations relating to the management of forests, and a new department had been created in Constantinople. This central department had opened branch offices in all vilayets or counties, and many Palace favourites were sent to them as forest officials, without regard to the circumstances that in some vilayets there was not an acre which could be considered forest land. In order to crush local influence in the government of the provinces, the admin218istrative councils of the towns, on which the notabilities and religious heads of all communities in each locality, Mussulman and non-Mussulman, sit ex officio in company with the officials of the Sultan's Government, were discouraged from attending meetings.
Such events as would occasion the gathering of large crowds were either prohibited or restricted, after the custom of the capital. "He who is a traitor is also a coward," said the Prophet, and Abd-ul-Hamid, who has caused irreparable harm to Turkey, is afraid that such gatherings might be the prelude to a general uprising. I will mention here two things which used to cause great masses of people to collect. One was a wedding entertainment, and the other the war-game of jereed. The restriction of the former to a 'simpler' form was, according to the reasons openly given for it, one of the Sultan's so-called 'paternal' measures. It was alleged to be necessary because people on such occasions indulged in ruinous expenses, and thus fell into the hands of the Armenian and other money-lenders, and became victims of their extortions. As a matter of faot, to maintain a wife is not an expensive 219luxury in Asia Minor, but people are fond of grand wedding entertainments. Several days before a wedding, luncheons and dinners are given to large parties of rich and poor, who are entertained with string music and spectacles indoors. A great procession passes through the chief streets of a town bringing the bride and bridesmaids in closely shut palanquins, which are carried by mules or horses. At night there is a display of fireworks and illuminations composed of torches, and by day exhibitions of wrestling are given by local champions. (Wrestling is one of Turkey's most ancient and favourite pastimes, and in the provinces all schoolboys practise it, besides a large number of adults. It is of the greatest use in developing the physical strength of the provincial Turks.) Both the bride's procession and these outdoor entertainments are accompanied by the incessant beating of drums and blowing of long trumpets, or sometimes of a kind of bagpipe,8 the most favourite and in 220fact the only music of the humbler class of people and peasants. The old national game of jereed, which used to attract an immense crowd of spectators, was, I learned on this visit, also prohibited in Angora. This game 221used to be most popular in every town of Asiatic Turkey. On Fridays, in the afternoon, when the khutba or prayer-oration in the mosques was over, people used to hasten out of the towns, mounted on their trained horses, and armed with several long and heavy sticks. The jereed is a game for the able-bodied alone. Two things are essentially necessary for players —they must be first—rate horsemen, and must be skilled in throwing their sticks straight and hard while galloping. There are about twenty men on each side, and they take up their positions about fifty yards apart The spectators look on from some high ground, where there is no danger of their being trampled upon by the struggling horsemen. The game is opened by one man, who gallops forward from one side and throws one of his sticks at one of the enemy; as soon as he throws it he is pursued. The pursuers do the same in their turn, and so the game goes on. There must be no confusion or unfairness, and everyone must play his game 'bravely,' as they call it. The sticks must not wilfully be aimed at the heads of the enemy. The players are allowed to do any222thing to avoid being hit by the sticks, and in order to avoid it they play risky tricks, such as bending from the saddle down towards the neck and belly of their galloping horses. Anyone who has thrown away all his sticks is free to pick up any stick lying on the ground, with a pole which has a hook at the end, or by dexterously bending down and snatching it up with his hand as the horse gallops by. Sometimes, of course, the horses of two opponents collide, and then most likely both men fall in a heap, and very often under the horses. The most exciting way to play the game is that adopted by a man whose horse is unusually swift After throwing his stick at the enemy he does not hurry back towards his own line, but dashes away toward the open country and rides as fast as he can. Some of the enemy pursue him far away down the valley, until he is either caught up or escapes.
During this last visit the game was no longer played, because some serious accidents had happened and lives had been lost, and the kind Government accordingly prohibited it Seeing all these prohibitions, I was perhaps rather injudicious and outspoken in criticising 223the Government. So a relation of mine reminded me of the old proverb which runs, "A man's safety lies in holding his tongue." He, moreover, warned me that times were now different, and added, "If you are not careful you will go...." I understood what he alluded to. He meant, of course, that I should be sent into exile or thrown into prison if I went on criticising the existing regime. I did not stay long in Asia Minor during this last visit, and after settling my affairs I hastened my packing and returned to Constantinople, where it is, comparatively speaking, easier to find means of getting out of Turkey. With us there is filial obligation for a man of right feeling, no matter how old he may be, to secure his parents' consent to any venture on which he is going to embark. So, guardedly and in confidence, I broke to my mother my intention of going to the land of Ingliz. The poor Mussulman lady was terrified at the idea, and began to put to me such questions as—Who would look after me? Who would take care of me in case of my falling ill in that distant strange land? And if I died there, should I desire to be buried according to the rites of the 224infidels? It perhaps never occurred to her that there was a danger far greater than those she instanced—the danger of falling into destitution in a foreign land. This was the possibility which I dreaded most, as I knew that anyone who left the Sultan's dominions without his august permission could not depend for his living upon any resources he might have at home. So, while I was making ready to return to Constantinople, my mother entreated me to renounce the idea of going to England, and to calm her I was wicked enough to make some evasive promises, which to me meant nothing.
The Turkish bath—Some of its features—Great number of baths in Constantinople—Women's baths and a proverb—Evening parties at the bath—I encounter a spy in a bath—He is well informed about me—I am alarmed—I appeal to an Englishman for help in escaping—The 'cursed country.'
When I came back to Constantinople I decided to lead a more or less retired life, so that I might if possible avoid becoming a prey to the victim-hunting Palace spies. A year passed without fresh alarms, and meanwhile no easy opportunity of leaving the country presented itself. I was just beginning to feel satisfied that my caution was rendering any such disagreeable change in my career unnecessary when one night I was alarmed to discover that a spy was actually at work plotting my ruin. This happened in a Turkish bath. Before re226lating how this occurred, I will describe our baths. The Turkish baths are much favoured in England, and perhaps there may be some among the readers of this book who may like to know something about the baths in Turkey. "Is the Turkish bath known in Turkey?" This curious question is not infrequently put to travellers from the East by English people. It is true that there is not much resemblance between the external appearance and management of the so-called Turkish bath in England and those of the hammam in Turkey. Outwardly the hammam usually presents something of the appearance of a domed sepulchral edifice. Of the little domes or cupolas which rise from its roof, that in the middle is the highest, and is set with many small windows for the purpose of lighting the bath. The massive walls that form the sides of the hammam have no windows, as it is thought that if the walls were pierced the outside air would penetrate into the interior and cause variations in the evenness of temperature which it is held desirable to maintain. The interior thus often becomes very dose, as ventilation is very slow, being only through the 227opening by passers to and fro of the double doors of the passage which leads to the cool entrance-hall. Every now and then attendants burn frankincense in the interior of the bath with the idea of purifying the air. The great warm hall under the central dome has generally three large niches, two on each side and one in front, as well as two little chambers. Each of these niches and chambers has a roof in the shape of a half-hemisphere, which contains a few tiny glass apertures, and which is joined to the central dome roof. In all these niches and chambers there are, according to the size of the bath, one, two, or three marble basins, which are fixed to the low part of the wall, each basin being provided with hot and cold water taps. Round these basins people sit on marble or wooden seats, which are raised about five or six inches above the floor, and seated thereon they have their bath. The little chambers can be engaged for private use on application. One of these is excessively hot, being situated close to the hot-water reservoir. Some people go to this hottest chamber not only in order to perspire, more freely, but also for the purpose of washing themselves with the warmest water in the bath. 228In the hot hall just under the central roof there is a wide circular marble seat, raised about two feet above the floor. Every bather sits or lies on this seat before going up to one of the basins to have his bath, and he stays there till he has sufficiently perspired. While he is resting there an attendant comes forward and rubs him with a rough glove which is made of horse-hair; and also massages him, if this is required. After this operation the bather goes up to one of the fixed basins, and the attendant follows him with a large copper hand-basin and a big piece of Cretan soap. The attendant then turns on the hot and cold water taps, letting as much water as may be required run from both into the marble basin; he next proceeds to wash the customer by soaping him with his loofah, and then pouring water over him with the copper hand-basin. Most Mohammedans, after thus having a bath, make their ablution with the flowing water, as is prescribed by their religious law. When this is over the attendant claps his hands loudly enough to be heard in the entrance-hall, another bath-servant then enters and rubs the customer with one of the dry Brossa towels which he brings with him; 229then covering him up with others, he leads him out, holding him by the arm. In the bath everyone walks on high wooden pattens, as after having made the ablution one must not touch the floor over which the used water runs; moreover, it is somewhat dangerous to walk barefoot on the marble slabs with which the bath is paved, as they are very slippery. Between the warm hall and entrance-hall there is a large square room, round which are arranged several beds. The people sometimes dress and undress in this room, especially in winter, as, besides being free from draughts, this apartment is warmer in temperature than the entrance-hall. The latter is cool, and the air is not so close and stuffy as in the middle room.
The entrance-hall is also square, and has galleries running along on each side, in which are many beds. The bath-keeper is always to be seen in his place close to the door, smoking his pipe or narguileh, and saluting the customers who come and go. In the middle of the entrance-hall is a fountain, the pure and cold water of which is ceaselessly splashing into its marble tank. In this water fresh fruits and bottles of lemon squash are kept cool in summer 230time for the use of customers. Near it a man may be seen always busy making coffee on the charcoal fire; for most people are ready to take a tiny cup of coffee at almost any time during the day. There are some persons who stay in the bath for a very long time, and at the meal hours attendants may frequently be observed bringing trays covered with dishes from neighbouring restaurants.
The stove-room, where a huge fire is kept up day and night all the year round, is situated at the back of the bath building. It is underground, and a large portion of its floor is covered with piles of logs, the fuel used for heating the water of the bath. The furnace itself is very much like an oven upon which is placed a huge boiler. This boiler receives cold water from one side, and after heating it gives it to the reservoir. Many homeless young vagrants go to this underground place at night in winter and sleep on the heaps of dried horse droppings which are used as fuel along with the wood, and which are piled up opposite the fireplace. It is a dismal sight to see those poor young fellows lying in that foul and filthy place. They are allowed to shelter there by the fireman, 231because he employs them in the hardest part of his work without giving them any money.
Many of the Turkish baths are built double, one part being assigned for the use of ladies. In some places ladies go to the bath only on certain days of the week which are given up to them. Certain baths again are used by them every day up till seven o'clock in the evening, after which hour they are made over for the use of men. The charges are very reasonable. A man can have a complete bath, and may stay on the premises of the establishment as long as he pleases, by paying a sum of about is. 8d., and when going out, after paying this, he will be respectfully greeted by the bath-keeper and the attendants. Ladies pay much less than this sum; their expenses can hardly be much over sixpence, as they take all their own soaps, towels and clogs with them. What they pay is really the 'water fee' and a penny or two for the attendants.
Women go to the bath oftener than men, and they go in groups of three or four or more, always taking their children with them. Boys over eight or nine years of age are not allowed to go to the women's bath, and even tall boys 232under that age are sometimes pushed back from the door by the manageress, who is always a stern and unbending personage. She usually says to such tall boys, "Good heavens! Is your father coming too?" and she will listen to no expostulations from the boy's mother as to his real age. The women's bath is always crowded, and free fights for the fixed basins are of not unfrequent occurrence. Shrill voices, mingled with the howlings and cryings of children anxious to be taken out of the almost suffocating hot room, may sometimes be heard from outside. This has given rise to a well-known saying in Turkey which is used to describe a noisy gathering where many persons try to speak at the same time: "the place was turned into a women's bath." When women go to the bath they stay there all day long, and on such occasions the poor husbands do not get much to eat in the evening.
Men go to these establishments in order to have a complete bath at least once a fortnight; but they visit them oftener, especially in winter, for the purpose of performing the ablutionary washing ordained by the Mohammedan religion. It is said that once an Armenian was annoyed 233at seeing his Mussulman neighbours, besides washing their arms, faces and feet five times a day before the five canonical prayers, go to the bath so often. He thought this a fanatical religious fidgetiness. But when he went to Egypt and saw the dirty fellaheen and Arabs, he was obliged to confess that the Prophet was quite right to establish his strict ablution system.
The public baths in Turkey are mostly very old buildings, for, as in most towns, the Turkish population has not increased for many generations, only very few new baths have been erected. But in all the new houses of the well-to-do families there are miniature Turkish baths of two or three rooms. Still, notwithstanding their stuffy atmosphere, and the horrid-looking little vermin called 'bath locusts' that infest them, even rich people prefer to go to the large public baths. The baths in private houses are only occasionally heated, and so the temperature cannot be kept steady. They usually either get very hot throughout, or else some parts become so extremely hot that it is almost impossible to touch the wall or the floor, while in other places the marble is quite cold. Persons 234who wash themselves in these private baths in winter not unfrequently run the risk of taking a chill. A new feature which has been introduced into the old Turkish bath is the cold water douche, which it is becoming customary for the people to take after their hot bath. Whether the Turkish bath was originally modelled on the system used by Romans, or whether some of the bath-houses in Turkey were founded by the Byzantines, it is quite certain that all the good baths in large Turkish towns were constructed and organised by the Ottomans centuries ago; and although most of them are now owned by private persons, a certain portion of their revenue was originally assigned to mosques, schools, and other religious or charitable institutions. In Constantinople there are about seventy-five public baths.
I remarked that the first intimation of danger from the Palace espionage came to me in a bath. One night I happened to be in a public bath in Pera with a few friends. I must explain that some of the Turkish baths are opened at night, and so young men who work during the daytime make up parties to go to them then. There they eat, drink, and amuse themselves, 235and after the bath rest on the couches which are always ready in the cooler section of the bath-house. I was feeling particularly cheerful that evening; there were a few other men in the baths besides our party, and a short and feeble-looking man, who was sitting close to me on the raised marble in the centre of the hot chamber, entered into conversation with me. As it is usual in Turkish baths to take a lemon squash, he offered me one. He was very amusing, and talked of trivial matters at first; but presently his conversation turned upon other subjects, which were decidedly out of place. Not being able to draw from me easily any remarks on internal politics, he himself began to comment on the state of affairs in our country in a way which was unusually frank for a Turkish subject in the present reign. Of course, like most of my young countrymen, I was on the lookout for possible peril from spies, so I professed ignorance, and feigned to have little interest in the political situation which he wanted me to discuss. In spite of my reticence the man became annoyingly persistent, and said that I must be well-informed, because I was acquainted with several Europeans. This last 236remark disturbed me not a little. The man knew something about me. Although the aggressive attitude of the fellow was provoking, and although I was physically more than a match for him, I refrained from ejecting him from the baths, or thrashing him with a wooden bath patten. To chastise the Palace spies, as they deserve, is a very risky proceeding, for they are the most trusted servants of his Imperial Majesty. If I had given way to my then still excitable temper, and had thrashed my aggressor, I should certainly have been sent into exile on the usual 'political charges,' and the man himself would have been rewarded by his imperial master. I pretended to be very sleepy, and yawned constantly, thus eventually persuading him to give it up and leave me alone. As a matter of fact I was not sleepy, and I did not sleep that night at all. I did not tell my companions in the baths anything about my experience. Next morning, when I left the baths, my first business was to see my English friend. Seeing that I was in rather a nervous state of mind, he asked me what was the matter.
I requested him to help me to get out of 'this cursed country.' The old gentleman said, in a 237calm and compassionate manner, that I was a traitor to call my own country 'cursed.' He knew well that I was not a traitor, and that I belonged to a family whose sons had shed much blood in the defence of Turkey in the past. I was not the only man who would be happy to get away from his country. Not only the thousands of Young-Turks who are in exile and in prisons, but also many thousands who are actually in the service of the Government, would only be too glad to escape abroad if they could get a chance. There is not one of them who is for a moment safe from the spies, and their flimsy but deadly accusations. These people are not traitors, or even revolutionists, but law-abiding, educated, and patriotic men, who do not even wish for radical changes in the established laws of their country, which work satisfactorily if they are administered justly and honestly. But they suffer from the most capricious and cruel despotism of a single man, who has made their country an absolute hell for them.
I obtain a passage on a merchant vessel—A fortune of forty pounds—The people on board the ship—The difficulty of conversation—English cooking—Coffee and pig! Gibraltar, a first impression of British soldiers—From Hull to London—An instance of feminine courtesy—Lost in the Underground—Olympia—An interview with the Turkish Ambassador—A promise of justice conditional on my return to Turkey.
When I described my last night's experience, my English friend promised to see about getting me out of the country, and to let me know soon what he could do in the matter. A few days after this he sent word telling me to come and see him. I went, and he informed me that another English resident, who had something to do with the British steamers which pass through the Bosphorus, carrying cargoes between the Black Sea ports and England, 239would arrange with a captain to take me on board his ship, and after some days it was actually done. I must not give here the name of the latter gentleman, who is still in Constantinople, because he asked me not to tell anyone.
Forty pounds of ready money was all I possessed in the world. It was no longer possible for me to get any more money from my confiscated lands, and moreover, whatever the excuse, I felt ashamed to ask for any further help from my mother, now that I was of an age at which I ought to have been able to help her, and increase the comfort of her life. I think my venture in coming to the great capital of the British empire with forty pounds in my pocket was more risky than that of those who come to it with the proverbial half-crown, because they are at least either British-born or English-speaking people, whereas I was coming from an Eastern country, without knowing anyone in England, and without speaking English. However, I did not think much about what might happen to me. I eagerly hastened my departure from the capital of my country to England. I knew that there, whatever else might befall, the personal freedom of a law240-abiding individual was secure. My idea was to remain in England until a more tolerable state of things should be established in Turkey, when I would return to Constantinople; or, in case of not being able to remain in England, I would learn some English, and go to some British possession in the East where I should find myself more at home.
It was on the morning of April 22, 1894, that I was informed that an English steamer had just arrived from a Russian port on the Black Sea, and that she was going to leave the harbour of Constantinople the same afternoon. The English gentleman kindly spoke to the captain of the ship about me, and obtained his promise to take me on board if I paid him five pounds for the whole journey, everything included. Of course, I had been waiting for some days for the arrival of an English boat in which I could take my flight I had placed all the clothes and documents which I wanted to take with me in a portmanteau. As an additional kindness, the Englishman offered to bring my portmanteau to the ship, as in this case it would be free from examination by the customs and police officers in the port After 241sending my bag to him, I crossed over the Asiatic coast of the Constantinople harbour, where I engaged a boatman to take me across to the English ship. I had previously had her pointed out to me at her moorings. My object in going over to the Asiatic coast and then crossing back to the steamer was to avoid the suspicion and pursuit of the secret police, as I had no passport, and in fact could not have procured one. Indeed, very few Ottoman subjects are given passports for going abroad, and then only under special circumstances, and with the permission of the Palace. Happily, at that time the cargo ships bound for European ports were not much watched, though all passenger boats were rigidly inspected by the police before starting. So I got on board without any difficulty, though with much anxiety, and found that the Englishman was already there. He gave me my portmanteau, introduced me to the captain, and after bidding me good-bye went on shore. It was not long before the steamer started.
The steamer, on which I was the only passenger, was laden with wheat, and her destination was Hull. The captain, a middle-242aged man of somewhat stern appearance, had with him on board his wife and her sister, and they were all very kind to me. We were very cheerful, and the steward, who was an Irishman, was full of fun, and particularly fond of addressing me with what I imagined to be humorous remarks, and thus making me and the others laugh, though, unfortunately, I did not understand a word he said My English was as yet confined to a very limited number of words, and whenever they wanted to tell me something they wrote it down on a slip of paper, and with great labour I managed to translate their snatches of conversation by looking out every word in my pocket dictionary. Although there was no possibility of my learning any European language in my school days in Asia Minor, I had nevertheless picked up some French by reading a French grammar in Turkish while residing in Pera, and I thought that my French, little as it was, would be of some help to me in talking to the people of the ship, but not a single person on board seemed to know any French. My chief amusement on board was playing with the two baby daughters of the captain, who were typical specimens of 243the clean, healthy, and lovable children one so often sees in England. I spent hours every day with these two pretty babies, and my voluntary assistance must have been a great relief to their good-looking fair-haired nurse, who, while I was playing with the children, either read a book or amused herself by chatting and laughing with the officers of the ship. I could not understand their conversation, of course, but it was obvious that the men found the task of amusing her pleasant enough. The captain, who appeared to be part-owner of the boat, was a man who appreciated good living, and he supplied us with satisfactory food. The English cooking, which I tasted for the first time on this boat, seemed to me quite different from the European dishes to be obtained in the new restaurants and brasseries in Constantinople. It was also quite unlike Turkish cooking, which, though I lived in foreign countries and become accustomed to their food, I still maintain is excellent. Although I had no reason to be fastidious, and grumble about the food on board, which was decidedly superior to that which families of limited means and residents in boarding-houses get in 244England, there were two things I did not like. One of these was the English coffee, which was given to us both with breakfast and with the last meal, served out about six in the afternoon. I missed very much the coffee of my country.
The other was pork. The very sight of the fatty meat on the table was quite enough to destroy my appetite. It was not so much on account of the rules of the faith which I profess that I was horrified to see the flesh of the pig before me; drinking wine is as strictly forbidden to us as eating pork, but I had already transgressed the good rules of total abstinence. My invincible objection to pork is based upon my early impressions, when I was taught to look upon the pig as the dirtiest animal in creation, and I cannot even now get over that feeling of dislike, though I have been living among pig-eating Europeans for several years.
On the eleventh day after our departure from the Bosphorus we arrived at Gibraltar, where the ship stopped for a few hours, and taking advantage of this, I hailed a Spanish boatman and was rowed to the town. In the town I discovered a Moorish shop, in which an elderly white-turbaned Arab was sitting. Owing to my ignorance of English I had not been able to talk with anyone since our departure, and I was longing to find someone with whom I could have a chat, so I greeted him with a 246salaam and talked to him. At first he appeared rather reluctant to enter into conversation with me. I think he suspected me of being a fraud, posing as the follower of the same Prophet in order to cheat or swindle him. However, we parted on friendly terms. He entertained a poor opinion of the Spaniards, but liked the English. In this town I saw British soldiers for the first time. They were on parade. I admired the neatness and newness of their uniform, which was decidedly much superior to that of our troops; but, on the other hand, I thought the bearing of the Turkish soldiery was more naturally military than that of the Englishmen. But I was much struck by the appearance of some hardy, weather-beaten, and determined—looking blue jackets who were walking about. It may be that what I had already heard of the men who had helped to build up Great Britain's sea-power made me admire these brave sailors the more. After seeing one or two more of the sights of Gibraltar, I hurried back to our ship, which started about an hour later for England. How dreadfully slowly cargo boats move! It took seven days to go from Gibraltar to Hull.
On May 8th our boat reached Hull at dusk, but she could not enter the docks before the next morning. Next day, early in the morning, I landed, and the captain's sister-in-law kindly accompanied me, took me to the station, and put me into a train for London. On the journey I was delighted and wonderstruck with the beauty of the scenery, the high state of cultivation visible, the canals and the railways, with what seemed to me a prodigious number of trains constantly passing to and fro, the activity apparent at the crowded stations, and many signs of prosperity everywhere, all of which were then strange to me. Already I could perceive how great a difference existed between little England and large but poverty-stricken Asia Minor. If an Englishman of the eighteenth century could rise out of his grave and see what I saw on that day, his bewilderment at the advancement of his country would not, I think, be greater than was mine. At every large station I anxiously tried to find out whether we were in London. At one place, putting some of the few English words I knew together, I made up an interrogatory sentence, and addressed it to a 248middle-aged well-dressed lady who was sitting opposite me in the carriage. I wanted to ask her whether we were far from London. The lady could not understand my meaning, and turning her face towards the other people in the carriage she said, with a thoroughly unsympathetic air, "Foreigner!" I remember this word so well. I was sadly impressed by this lady's rudeness. She was quite right in saying I was a foreigner, but I was not one of those foreigners who are so narrow-minded as to think evilly of a whole nation because they have been treated rudely or without sympathy by one or more of its members. Happily she could not know I was a Turk, as, like most of her class, she would probably have taken for Turks those short, dark, shabby persons, with turban or fez, who occasionally come to this country from different corners of the vast Orient. If she had known I was a real Turk, a member of the much maligned nation, against which her Christian heart must needs have been full of mediæval prejudices, I fancy her rudeness towards me would probably have been still more marked.
At a huge station the train again stopped 249and everyone in the carriage got out I said to myself doubtfully that this must be London. A porter came to the door, looked round the carriage, and then stared at me. I said to him "Laundaun?" He said, "Yes, London." So I got out and he took my bag. Whither was I going now? I was going to a place of which the name was written in my pocket-book, no less a place than Olympia. It was the year that some enterprising Israelite gentlemen had undertaken to represent Constantinople in London, and they sent an agent to Constantinople to bring over some Turks as boatmen, and to perform other services in their show. The agent whom I met at the Turkish capital did not, however, succeed in bringing a single Turk, as the police, by order of the Sultan, would not allow any such men to leave Turkey. The agent therefore engaged some Greeks as boatmen, and some Jews came to set up stalls of embroidery and other things at Olympia. I hoped that some of these people would help me in finding a lodging. I said to the porter at King's Cross station "Olympia?" and he nodded and said "Yes, Kensington," and signed to me to follow him through a subterranean 250passage down to the Underground, and put me into a train which I believe was not going direct to Olympia I lost my way in the Underground, got out at many stations, changed often into many trains, and paid several fares. It was nearly dark by now, and the trains were all full. I mixed up Kensington, of which the porter had told me, with the somewhat similar name of Kennington. I found it very trying to rush in and out at every station with my heavy bag in my hand. Many people laughed at my stupid excitement, but some, better bred than the others, attempted to assist me, though their efforts were not of much use to a person who was practically speechless. At one station my French vocabulary came to my assistance, so I succeeded in hiring a boy to come with me, and at last I got to Addison Road station. Outside Olympia I saw a man with a red fez on his head, and wearing some sort of odd Oriental dress which I had never seen in Turkey. I spoke to this man in Turkish, and from his accent discovered that he was a Turkish Jew. Through this fellow I engaged a room in a neighbouring lodging-house.
On the day following my arrival in London I addressed a letter to the Sultan, explaining to him how I and my people had been ruined by our many years' lawsuit in his courts, agitating for the restoration of our property, and requesting him to issue an iradé granting us, if not all the rights we had lost, at least the income from our lands which had accumulated during our lawsuit, and was being misapplied by some of his officials. I based my appeal on the imperial firmans and legal documents of the case, and stuck to my point firmly. I learned the result of this petition a fortnight later, when I was invited to the Ottoman Embassy. The late Rustem Pasha, who was then Ambassador, received me with a cheerful courtesy which was, I thought, more than a private individual like myself could deserve. This was at a time when the Sultan was extremely anxious lest his discontented subjects should form revolutionary committees in Europe to stir up an agitation for general reforms in his dominions. He was particularly suspicious of those of his subjects who came to the free capital of Great Britain, as relations between this country and the Sultan were 252then anything but friendly. The Ambassador asked my object in coming to England, and I told him that I had merely desired to learn English and gain experience abroad which might be of use to me later in my own country. I said that all I wanted was the payment of my own money, so that I might devote myself to study. The old Ambassador said that most careful consideration would be given to my case, and that I should be given a suitable Government post if I would return to Constantinople at the Sultan's expense. I declined the offer.
Christian Ambassadors accredited to England by the Sultan—I am strongly urged to return—A question of money and health—I consent and go back to Constantinople—At the palace of Yildiz—A 'private salary' and an appointment—A suggestion of espionage work—A warning—Broken promises move me to try and escape again—My plan—I sign on before the mast at the British Consulate—On a paraffin boat without luggage—I reach Liverpool in safety.
About twenty days passed, and then I was again asked to go to the Embassy. Rustem Pasha told me that it was the desire of his Majesty that I should return and give a practical proof that I was not implicated in any plot against the person of the Sultan, and that in that case I should certainly be highly rewarded. He, moreover, assured me that I should be allowed to come to Europe 254again whenever I wished to do so. This offer was in reality an appeal to my vanity, for, humble individual though I was, I was now led to suppose seriously that I was becoming a more important person than I had suspected. The aged diplomatist was very emphatic in impressing me with the necessity of accepting the invitation. I asked him what guarantee I could have that I should be allowed to remain unmolested on entering Turkey, and to return to Europe when I wanted to do so. He gave me a distinct promise that my requests would be granted. The Pasha was one of the Ottomanised Europeans, was Catholic by religion, and was known to be a gentleman; if he had been a native Christian of the Levant I should most decidedly not have put faith in his words.
In this connection I should like to remark that for a good many years past the Ottoman Ambassadors to the British Court have been appointed from among the Christian subjects of Turkey. It is reported by the entourage of the Sultan that the reason for this was the objection of the British Government to the appointment of Mussulman Ambassadors. This report must 255have been purposely spread with a view to represent Englishmen to Moslems as hostile to Islam. The real reason must, I think, be, that as there are some bigoted politicians and publicists in this country who always cry out for the appointment of Christian officials at the head of all affairs in the Ottoman empire, the Sultan wishes to show them that he employs Christians even in important diplomatic posts. As a matter of fact, in days gone by there have been Mussulman Ambassadors accredited to the Court of St James's.
After my second interview with Rustem Pasha another fortnight elapsed, during which I considered anxiously what might happen to me if I returned; and what I should do if I remained in London. Meanwhile I was feeling very unwell, my money was rapidly decreasing, and there was not the slightest prospect of my finding suitable employment, and no possibility of my communicating with my people at home to ask for help, so I decided to return; I thought I now had a chance. As the Sultan knew me, I could get my money from the Government and come back to England. But I was sadly mistaken in my conjectures. It would have been impossible for any man who was not endowed by nature with that particular cunning so necessary for getting on in life to play such a rôle. I discovered my error to my sorrow when I arrived at Constantinople. A 257past master of the art of deception such as Abd-ul-Hamid was not easily to be outwitted. When I went to the Embassy for the third time I said I would return, so the officials telegraphed to Constantinople, and in three days a money order came. The sum was about seventy-five pounds, and I was urged to start at once by the Orient Express.
About the beginning of August 1894 I left England, stopping for two weeks on my journey in Paris, and a few days in Buda-Pesth, the capital of the people between whom and the Turks there is a community of origin, and whom we fought and subjugated for generations. On arriving at Constantinople the police officials sternly asked my name, whence I came, and where I was going to put up. I told them I was going direct to the imperial palace, whereupon they saluted me and I got out of the station with some feeling of relief. It was a foolhardy game I was attempting to play. I was now at the mercy of an autocrat who deals with his Osmanli subjects in his own well known fashion, and I was one of the few who was enlightened enough to see his true characteristics, and in consequence to detest his 258rule at heart In the Yildiz Palace I was really shivering with anxiety, knowing that here thousands of people who were denounced as 'Young-Turks' were imprisoned, examined, and tortured, and then sent into exile. While awaiting my fate in the palace, a certain Faik Bey, one of the Sultan's trusted courtiers, a man of no good repute, came to me with a very kind message from his Majesty. He was glad that I had obeyed him, and come back from the country which "is nursing hostility to Turkey, and plotting against the cause of the Caliphate." I am not certain whether these were the words of the Sultan, or whether his courtier made them up. The Sultan sent me twenty pounds as pocket-money and wished me to go home and rest. Well, this apparently kind treatment was consoling, but, however foolhardy, I had sense enough to see that it was not a good omen for the future. Just as I was leaving the palace I was ordered by the courtier not to mix with people much, and to live as quietly as possible. He also asked me to come and see him after two days. From the palace I went to Pera and engaged apartments. I was now afraid of going to see my relations and friends. I met 259some of them later on while going about in Constantinople, and we had to pass each other with a mere salute, as they were also afraid of being reported by the spies for talking to me, since they knew all about my escaping to England It is a very depressing and lonely condition to be in, to have to avoid one's friends and relations because a tyrant has issued a warning to that effect.
In compliance with the order, I went to the Palace again and saw the same chamberlain. He handed me over another twenty pounds as a mark of imperial benevolence, and said he would pay me the same amount every month as 'private salary.' And then he said in a low voice, coming nearer to me, "His Majesty, our benevolent master, commands me to ask you to write a report if you hear anything important on the political situation." My heart froze on hearing this contemptible proposal. By a monthly salary of twenty pounds the Sultan wanted to make me a Palace spy! A downright refusal would bring ruin on me, so I told the courtier that as I had been ordered not to come into intimate contact with other people, I could not hear anything of importance. He said there 260would be no harm in my meeting Europeans. I did not understand the significance of this last remark at the moment Proceeding in his talk, the courtier said that as I had graduated in law, the Minister of Justice would be ordered to make me a deputy prosecutor-general in the central criminal courts of Constantinople. I carefully avoided alluding to the promise of the Sultan made to me by his representative in London, that the income of my property would be given to me, and that I should be allowed to go to Europe. Nor did I express any desire to go to Europe again. I was made a deputy prosecutor-general in a few days by a special iradé. Before I went to England they would never have given me a post even inferior to this had I applied for it again and again for months. There are about a dozen deputy or assistant prosecutors like myself in these central courts, and each of them gets a salary of nearly £180 a year. As a rule, they are not very busy people. As my superiors could not urge me to attend the office, imagining I was highly in favour at the Sultan's palace, I did not care much about going to the court, and making one of the idle scamps there. I was hard at work 261devising a new plan of escaping once more from the hands of the Sultan.
At this time, when his Majesty appeared to be going to honour me so magnanimously with a Government appointment, as well as with that attractive 'private salary' in order to tempt me to acts of espionage, his spies kept an eye on my movements constantly. Every day I was watched, talked to, and even entertained by two or three of these creatures. I informed my old English friend of all that had happened to me of late. He reproached me for being so imprudent as to return to Turkey, and not going to Egypt if I had to leave England. However, what was done was done, and it was no good regretting it What I wanted now was to escape out of the country again as soon as I could get an opportunity. My friend seemed very sceptical as to my chances of success in running away a second time, as he thought, and rightly too, that the watch on my movements would be far stricter now than it was before.
While things were in this condition, I was one morning hurriedly summoned to the palace by a mounted messenger. Of course I had to go at once and saw the same courtier who had 262so suavely informed me of the imperial benevolence on the two former occasions. This time his manner seemed grave and cool, and so soon as I was seated he said that he was surprised that I should abuse the generous kindness of our august benefactor. On my anxiously asking him the nature of my fault, he said he had received a report (an espionage report, of course) that I was revealing confidential matters of State among the Europeans of Pera. He showed me the report, carefully hiding, however, the signature beneath it with his thumb. I at once discovered the author of the shameless document from the handwriting. The man, who never perhaps supposed that the report would have been shown to me, had hospitably invited me to dinner two days previously. The courtier gave me a sharp warning to avoid spreading the confidential matters of the Sultan's Government among foreigners. Although my safety seemed to be hanging on a thread at that time, I nevertheless collected my faculties and ventured on a bold stroke. I said that as he was the only court official I had had the honour of seeing, I asked him whether he would be good enough to tell 263me what were those secret matters which he had confided to me, and which I was accused of spreading among the Europeans. He appeared somewhat embarrassed by this, and his evident perplexity was a relief to me. We parted in a friendly manner, and as I was leaving he said, "Remember your private salary will be due in ten days." This was the monthly twenty pounds which he was going to pay me privately if I stained my honour by doing the dirty work of espionage.
On returning home in a great state of worry I had a tiny cup of Turkish coffee, which I used to find a great relief in times of trouble, and counted my fortune, which amounted to less than fifty pounds. This was, however, amply sufficient to carry me to England. The first difficulty before me was to find another English captain to take me, and then to succeed in getting on board his ship. All the boatmen in the harbour had been threatened with punishment if they carried suspicious persons to any foreign ships other than those passenger boats which are watched by the police. As a prelude to my plan of escaping, I thought it would be wise to take a boat and go for a row 264on the sea every day. I told everyone I met, including those Palace detectives who were always at my heels, that I had been advised by my doctor to get as much sea air as possible, and therefore was going for a row every day. On the next day after deciding to begin boating I went down to one of the many landing-places of the Golden Horn, where several boatmen are always in waiting to pick up passengers. I hailed one of these boatmen, and told him to take me for a row up the Bosphorus. After some time the boatman wanted to know where I wished to go. I told him curtly to go straight ahead, and he did so. When he stopped to light a cigarette I asked him how much he earned in a day, and he said that his profits fluctuated between seven and ten piastres. If a Turkish boatman gains ten piastres (about 1s. 8d.) a day he may consider himself lucky. I told him the same story of my medical prescription of sea air, and offered him fifteen piastres a day if he would take no other customers, but place himself at my disposal every day. As I expected, he readily agreed to this arrangement. My boating trips lasted a week. I went on the sea sometimes in the 265morning and sometimes in the afternoon. Sometimes I occupied myself with fishing, and sometimes with reading in the boat; occasionally, too, I approached and boarded the sailing crafts in the harbour, and watched them lading and unlading their cargoes. Besides his wages I used to give the boatman tobacco, which pleased him well. He did whatever I wanted him to do, and went wherever I ordered. I do not know if I was ever followed by the spies on the sea; anyhow, nothing occurred to rouse my suspicions.
After thus arranging the first part of my plan of flight, which was to find a boatman who would, consciously or unconsciously, take me to the prohibited foreign ships, I now came to the arrangement of the more important part, namely, finding a ship bound at once for England. By myself I could not have done this, so I took the liberty of again approaching that Englishman who was interested in shipping traffic, and who had helped me on my first voyage to this country. The excellent fellow said a steamer was due from Batoum on the Black Sea that very day, but she was to start on the same afternoon. I said I was quite ready to start; but he could only send me away on two con266ditions. One was, that this time I must see about conveying my luggage myself to the boat, because the Government supervision over the movements of English ships had become stricter, and so he would not compromise himself. I did not mind this at all But the second condition he laid down was alarming. He said that as the captain of this ship was not allowed to take any passengers, I must go to the British Consulate and sign my name in the captain's book as a seaman. Of course there was no harm in my doing this, as in reality I should not be expected to do a sailor's work; but an Ottoman subject, who has just become known to the Palace authorities, is not well advised to go to the British Consulate, for it is known to be watched by the spies, and he is certain to be seen. However, I ran the risk, went to the Consulate, and put down my name as a seaman. The captain directed me to the exact spot where his boat was anchored, and told me that in about three hours' time she was to start I did not go to my rooms where I had left all my belongings. The house in which I was living belonged to some Germans, who afterwards, without the slightest justification, refused to 267deliver up my property to the people who applied on my behalf for it until I had paid a considerable sum of money. Well, it is perhaps the policy of the Teutonic invaders of Turkey to rob the Turks as much as possible, as the price of their friendship to the precious person of the Sultan.
Immediately after getting out of the British Consulate I called a cab, and ordered the cabman to proceed to the palace of Yildiz as fast as he could. My object in going to the Palace in this critical moment was that I thought that if my entrance to the Consulate had been seen, the spies would imagine that I was in charge of an official message, and moreover they would not follow a man whose destination was the Palace, and who might in all probability turn out to be one of the Sultan's creatures like themselves. I reached the Yildiz Kiosk, and went up to the office of my friend the courtier. He was out, and his absence at that moment suited my purpose capitally, as the excuse which I should have had to concoct for this uncalled for visit would have been but weak. From Yildiz I took another cab and went down to the shore. My boatman was yawning, being 268tired of waiting inactive. I jumped into the boat and told him the direction in which he was to row, which was of course towards the steamer, though he did not know that I had determined to sail for England in it When we got near the steamer I observed to my boatman it seemed a peculiar vessel, having its funnel rather far back, and not in the middle of the deck as is usual. The boatman knew that it was an oil boat and that its engine was therefore constructed at the back. I pretended to be curious to see the ship, and the simple-minded boatman readily rowed to its side. I got on board with great relief.
I was now practically on British territory. After seeing the captain I went to the side and shouted down to the boatman that as I talked the language of the people of the ship they had asked me to stay a little while on board and 269have tea with them. I told him he need not wait in the strong current of water, as I could hail any passing boatman when I wanted to go ashore, and I threw him down his day's wage. He went away, and we started not long after. I should not have played all these tricks if the Sultan had kept his promise and treated me honourably.
This second departure from Constantinople took place on the 8th of November 1894, and the oil ship reached Liverpool eighteen days after, without stopping anywhere on the way. As I had not been able to take any extra clothes I suffered much from cold, and also from the rough sea all the way. The men on board the ship were rough sailors, and the captain himself was an extremely stingy person. He supplied us with abominably bad food. However, I arrived in England safely, and ever since that time have made this country my home, and during my periodical trips abroad I have never entered the territories of my own country, over which the tyranny of Abd-ul-Hamid still prevails.
1 Writing to England from Adrianople on April 1, 1717, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu says:—
"A propos of distempers, I am going to tell you a thing that I am sure will make you wish yourself here. The smallpox, so fatal and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the smallpox; they make parties for this purpose, and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch), and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell, and in this manner opens four or five veins.... The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in perfect health until the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them, and they keep their beds two days, or seldom three. They have rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in right days' time they are as well as before their illness.... There is no example of anyone that has died in it; and you may well believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of the experiment, since I intend to try it on my little son.
"I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England."
2 If the detractors of Islam would take the trouble to find out what is the exact position of women under Mohammedan law, they might feel ashamed of their contention that she is treated like a slave. Laws protecting the rights of women were promulgated under Islam when no such laws existed in Europe. As far back as five hundred years ago women in Turkey had begun to dispute men's superiority openly. As proof of this I will quote a few lines of the poetess Mihri, who lived in the last half of the fifteenth century:—
3 The ancient Church of Sergius and Bacchus.
4 In his book Civilisation des Arabes (p. 642), Dr Gustave le Bon, the eminent French savant, says: "Le paysan et l'ouvrier Turcs sont sobres, infatigables au travail, fort dévoués à leur famille.... Soldat, le Turc meurt à son poste sans reculer jamais. De solde, cependant, il n'en touche pas.... Ce que je viens de dire s'applique uniquement d'ailleurs aux Turcs proprement dits et non assurément à toutes les populations des provinces Asiatiques administrées par la Turquie. On y rencontre le plus souvent surtout dans les villes un melange de races diverses, résidu abâtardi de tous les envahisseurs qui depuis tant de siècles ont traverse ces contrées. Dans ce melange inferieur certaines quality subsistent encore, mais le niveau de la morality et de courage est descendu fort bas."
5 Under the title "International Fetters," Lord Milner gives a condensed account in his book England in Egypt of the working of these capitulation privileges, and the disgraceful abuse made of them by foreigners.
6 Many of the Sultan's highly placed officials and spies are of Armenian nationality. It is worthy of note that the Armenian revolutionaries directed their attacks against private individual Turks only; none of the Sultan's right-hand officials were hurt by them. The reason of this was that they wanted to provoke bloodshed, and by this means invite outside intervention. Moreover, it was manifestly to their advantage that the maladministration of the Sultan and his responsible officials should continue, as under it they were much more likely to find a favourable opportunity for this movement, to say nothing of being sure of external support.
7 In this connection an anecdote is related in Turkey which, whether true or not, I will quote here. A Turkish diplomatist of the past generation paid a visit to the Pope of his time. During the interview die Pope said, "I am aware of the good points of your people, yet you are so unpopular in Christendom. In every international dispute Europe always regards you as in the wrong. Do you understand the reason of this universal hostility?" The diplomatist replied, "Because we are not Christians." "Exactly," said the Pontiff. "Then why do you not embrace Christianity?" Upon this the diplomatist made the following undiplomatic remark, "The Christians believe in Trinity, and we believe in Unity. Some of us are growing tired of worshipping even one God. How, then, could you expect us to worship three?"
8 No European musical instrument is so much appreciated by Orientals as the bagpipe; it takes a long time to make the average Oriental understand and admire the masterpieces of the great musicians of the West played on any ordinary European instrument. But he takes to the bagpipes on the first hearing, and it is seldom that he gets tired of them. Of course there is much similarity both in the sound and in the manner of playing between bagpipes and a certain popular Oriental instrument which is played mostly by Turks, Arabs, Kurds, and Armenians. Although the tone and the style of playing this Oriental instrument resemble those of the bagpipes so much, there is considerable difference in the form and make. The bag of this instrument, which is called 'tooloom,' is made from a sheep's skin; besides the small mouthpiece there is only one large reedpipe from which the notes are obtained, and which thus replaces the chanter and the three drones of its Highland counterpart. The player, placing the blown-up sheepskin against his chest, and supporting it by the upper part of his left arm, moves his fingers up and down over the holes in the larger pipe. As a matter of fact, the sound of this instrument, like much other Oriental music, appears to European listeners dull and discordant, but it pleases the uncultivated taste of the ordinary Orientals. At the popular fêtes it is a very common thing to see many people, middle-aged as well as young, dancing together in a circle, while pipe and drum fill the air with ceaseless clamour. It is difficult to trace the original home of this instrument. It may be conjectured that it was brought from the West by the persons who went to the East with the Crusaders, or it may have been copied from them, with certain modifications in form, by the Eastern peoples.
9 Most people who have travelled in the Levant are enthusiastic in their praises of the Turkish coffee which they drank out there. There is no reason why coffee prepared in the Turkish style should not become popular here. There is no difficulty about making it That the coffee may have the delicious flavour it has in the Levant, the beans must be freshly roasted and ground very fine. The water must be boiled in a tin or copper coffee-pot To supply, say, four or five persons with coffee in tiny cups, two or three teaspoonfuls of the powder should be put into the pot while the water is actually boiling therein. Some people do not like sugar in their coffee, but if sugar is required it should be put into the boiling water and allowed to melt before the coffee is added. Great sweetness is not appreciated by connoisseurs in coffee drinking. When the ground coffee is added to the boiling water, the pot should be taken off the fire and the coffee stirred up in the water with a teaspoon. Then it should be put on the fire again until the froth rises up. It is then poured into the cups. It is better to pour out the coffee slowly, placing the pot on the fire at short intervals, and thus getting more froth for pouring out into the cups, as the taste of the coffee is supposed to be better with the yellowish froth on the surface. It is on account of this idea that greedy people in Turkey choose those cups that have the most froth when coffee is handed round on a tray, leaving those with less to the others who are waiting their turn to be served.
10 The first Turkish Ambassador in London was Agah Effendi, a Mussulman, who came over to this country in 1793. The following paragraph is translated from his memoirs:—
"We proceeded to the village of Chelsea, which is about an hour's distance from London. The King's Master of Ceremony came and felicitated us on our arrival, and conveyed the compliments of the King. The ceremony of our reception having been fixed for the following day, I sent on the presents. Next day the state carriages came. I entered one that was drawn by four horses; with me were a nobleman and the Master of the Ceremony. My suite were in the other carriages along with some court officials.
"When we were passing along the road called Piccadilly there were collected to see us so many people that never in my life had I seen so great a crowd; indeed I afterwards heard that several persons had been injured through the pressing of the crowd trying to get a glimpse of us. Our dress and our turbans must, I think, have appeared very curious to them. We arrived at St James's Palace, and after I had presented my credentials we were invited to dinner. What most impressed me was the charming manners and appearance of the ladies. Some young ladies belonging to the King's family bound round their heads the embroidered silk handkerchiefs I had offered on behalf of my sovereign, and said laughingly and with infinite grace, 'Now we belong to the harem of his Majesty the Sultan!'"
11 It may be said that vessels other than men-of-war could not, in international law, be exactly considered parts of the territory of the State to which they belong when they are in foreign ports. But owing to the privileged state of foreign ships in the Ottoman empire, the Sultan could not now, under any circumstances, have taken me back from this paraffin-oil ship, had he been informed of my taking refuge there.
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