« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Nothing can be imagived better suited to theatrical representation than this chamber; and I regret the loss of the very accurate drawing which I caused Monsieur Preaus to complete upon the spot. It is exactly such an apartment as the best painters of scenic decoration would have selected, to afford a striking idea of the pomp, the seclusion, and the magnificence, of the Ottoman court. The stage is best suited for its representation; and therefore the reader is requested to have the stage in his imagination while it is described. was surrounded with enormous mirrors, the costly donations of infidel kings, as they are styled by the present possessors. These mirror's the women of the seraglio sometimes break in their frolicks.*At the upper end is the throne, a sort of cage, in wbich the sultana sits, surrounded by latticed blinds; for even here her person is held too sacred to be exposed to the common observation of slaves and females of the charem. A lofty fight of broad steps, covered with crimson cloth, leads to this cage, a3 10 a throne. Immediately in front of it are two burnished chairs of state, covered with crimson velvet and gold, one on each side the entrance. To the right and the left of the throne, and upon a level with it, are the sleeping apartments of the sultan mother, and her principal females in waiting. The external windows of the throne are all latticed: on one side they look toward the sea, and on the other into the quadrangle of the charem; the chamber itself occupying the whole breadth of the building, on the side of the quadrangle into wbich it looks. The area below the latticed throne, or the front of the stage (10 follow the idea before proposed,) is set a part for attendants, for the dancers, for actors, inusic, refreshments, and whatsoever is brought into the charem for the amusement of the court. This place is covered with Persian mats.; but these are removed when the sultana is here, and the richest carpets substituted in their place.
Beyond the great chamber of audience is the assembly room of the sultan, when he is in the charem.
Here ve observed the magnificent lustre before nientioned. Tlie sul. iap sometimes visits this chamber during the winter, to hear music, and to amuse bimself with his favourites. It is surrounded by mirrors. The other ornaments display tirat strange mixture of magnificence and wretchedness, which characterize all the state chambers of Turkish grandees. Leaving the assembly room, by the same door through which we enterer, and continuing along the passage as before, which runs parallel to the sea shore, we at length reached, what night be termer! the sanctum sanctorum of this paphian temple, the baths of tire sultan mother and the four principal sultanas.
* The mischief done in this way, by the grand signior's women, is so great, that some of the most costly articles of furniture are removed, when they come from their winter apartments to this palace. Among the number, was the large coloured lustre given by the Earl of Elgin: this was only suspended during their absence; and even iben by a common rope. We saw it in this state. The offending ladies, when'detected, are whipped by the black eupuchs, whom it is their chief amusement to elude and
These are small, but very elegant, constructed of white marble, and lighted by ground class above. At the upper end is a raised sudatory and bath for the sultan mother, concealed by lattice work from the rest of the apartmeut. Fountains play constantly into the floor of this bath, from all its sides; and every degree of refined luxury has been added to the work, which a people, of all others best versed in the ceremonies of the bath, have beeu capable of inventing or requiring.
Leaving the bath, and returning along the passage by which we came, we entered what is called the chamber of repose. Nothing veed be said of it, except that it commauds the finest view any where afforded from this point of the seraglio. It forms a part of the building well known to strangers, from the circumstance of its being supported, toward the sea, by twelve columns of that beautiful and rare breccia, the vivide Lacedæmonium of Pliny, called by Italians Il verde antico. These columns are of thie finest quality ever seen; and each of them consists of oue entire stone. The tiro interior pillars are of green Egyptian breccia, more beautiful than any specinien of the kind existing.
We now proceeded to that part of the charem which looks into the seraglio garden, and entered a large apartment, called chalvell yiertzy, or, as the French would express it, salle de promenade. Here the other ladies of the charem entertain themselves, by hearing and seeing comedies, farcical representations, dances, and music. We found it in the state of an old lumber room. Large dusty pier glasses, in heavy gilded frames, neglected and broken, stood, like the Vicar of Wakefield's family picture, leaning against the wall, the whole length of one side of the room. Old furniture; shabby burealis of the worst English work, made of oak, walnut, or mahogany ; inlaid broken cabinets, scattered fragments of chandeliers ; scraps of paper, silk rags, and empty confectionary boxes; were the only objects in this part of the palace.
From this room, we descended juto the court of the charem: and, having crossed it, ascended, by a flight of steps, to an upper parterre, for the purpose of examining a part of the building appropriated to the inferior ladies of the seraglio. Fioding it exacily upon the plan of the rest, only worse furnished, and in a more irretched state, we returned, to quit the charem entirely, and effect our retreat to the garden. The reader may imagine our consternation, on finding that the great door was closed upon us, and that we were locked in. Listening, to ascertaiu if any one was stirring, we discovered that a slave bad entered to feed some turkeys, who were gob. bling and making a great poise at a small distance. We profited by their tumult, to force back the liuge lock of the gate with a large stone, wliich fortunately yielded to our blows, and we made our escape.
We now quitted the lower garden of the seraglio, and ascended, by a paved road, toward the chamber of the garden of hyacinths. This promised to be interesting, as we were told the sultan passed almost all his private hours in that apartment, and the view of it might make us acquainted with occupations and amusements, which characterize the man, derested of the outward parade of the sultan. We presently turned from the paved ascent, toward the right, and entered a small garden, laid out into very neat oblong borders, edged with porcelain, or Dutch tiles. Here no plant is suffered to grow, except the hyacioth; whence the name of this garden, and the chamber it contains. We examined this apartment by looking through a window. Nothing can be more magnificeut. Three sides of it were surrounded by a divan, the cushions and pillow's of which were of black embroidered satin. Opposite the windows of the chamber was a fireplace, after the ordinary European fashion; and on each side of this, a door covered with hangings of crimson cloth. Between cach of these doors and the fireplace appeared a glass case, containing the sultan's private library ; every volume being in manuscript, and upon shelves, one above the other, and the title of eachi book written on the edges of its leaves. From the ceiling of the room, which was of burnished gold, opposite each of the doors, and also opposite to the fireplace, hung three gilt cages containing small figures of artificial birds : these sung by mechanism. In the centre of the room stood an enormous gilt brazier, supported, in an ever, by four massive claws, like vessels seen uuder sideboards in England. Opposite to the entrance, on oue side of the apartment, was a raised berich, crossing a door, ou which were placed an embroidered napkio, a vase and bason, for washing the beard aud hands. Over this bench, 11pon the wall, was suspended the large embroidered portefeuille, worked with silver thread on yellow leather, which is carried in procession when the sultan goes to mosque, or elsewhere in public, to contain the petitions presented by his subjects. In a book close to the door was also a pair of yellow boots; and on the bench, by the ewer, a pair of slippers of the same materials. These are placed at the entrance of every apartment frequented by the sultan. The floor was covered with-gebelins tapestry; and the ceiling, as before stated, maga nificeoily gilded and burnished. Groupes of arms, such as pistols, sabres, and poigoards, were disposed, 'with very singujar taste and effect, on the different compartments of the walls; the handles and scabbards of which were covered with dia. monds of very large size : these, as they glittered around, gave a nost gorgeous cffect to the splendour of this sumpluous chamber.
We had scarce ended our "survey of this costly scene, when, to our great dismay, a bostaughy made his appearance within the apartment; but, fortunately for us, his hear was turned from the window, and we immediately sunk below it, creeping upon our hands and knees, until we got clear of the garden of hyacinths. Thence, ascending to the upper walks, yre passed an aviary of nightingales.
The walks in tlie upper garden are very small, in wretched condition, and laid out in worse taste than the fore court of a Dutchman's house in the suburbs of the Hague. Small as they are, they constituted, until lately, the whole of the seraglio gardens near the sea; and from them may be seen the whole prospect of the entrance to the canal, and the opposite coast of Scutary. Here, in an old kiosk, is seen a very ordinary marble slab, supported on iron cramps: this, nevertheless, was a present from Charles the Twelfth of Sireden. It is precisely the sort of sideboard seen in the lowest inus of England: and, while it may be said no persou would pay half the amount of its freight to send it back again, it shows the nature of the presents then made to the Porte by foreign princes. From 'these formal parterres we descended to the gardener's lodge, and lest the gardens by the gate through which we entered.
I never should have offered so copious a detail of the scenery of this remarkable place, if I did not believe that an account of the interior of the seraglio would be satisfactory from the secluded nature of the objects to which it bears re ference, and the little probability tliere is of so savourable an opportunity being agaio granted, to any traveller, for its investigation.
CONSTANTINOPLE. Procession of the Grand Signior, at the opening of the Bairam
-Observations on the Church of St. Sophia-Other Mosques of Coustantinople—Dance of the Dervishes—Howling Dervishes-Cursory Observations-Basar of the BooksellersGreek Manuscripts—Exercises of the Athleta-Hippodrome Obelisk-Delphic Pillar.
One of the great sights in Constantinople is the procession of the grand signior, when he goes from the seraglio to one of the principal mosques of the city. At the opening of the bairam, this ceremony is attended with more than ordinary magnificence. We were present upon that occasion; and although a detail of the procession would occupy too much space in the text, it may be deemed unobtrusive, perhaps interesting, as a note.
Our ambassador invited us, on the preceding evening, to be at the British palace before sud-rise; as the procession was to take place the monient the sun appeared. We were punctual in our attendance; and being conveyed, with the ladies of the ambassador's family, and many persons attaclied to the embassy, in the small boats which ply at Toplana, landed in Constantinople; and were all stationed within the stall of a blacksmith's shop, which looked into one of the dirty, parrow streets near the hippodrome, through which the procession was to pass. It was amusing to see the representative of the king of Great Britain, with his family and friends, squatted upon little stools, among horse-shoes, apvils, old iron, and horse dung. Upon his first arrival, some cats, taking alarm, brought down a considerable portion of the tiling from the roof; and this, as it embarrassed his party, excited the laughter of the Turks in the neighbourbood, who seemed much amused with the huniliating figure presented by the groupe. of infidels in the smithy.