A SEPULCHRE

The first visible annoyance in Constantinople is dogs, which Murray’s
guide says is nobody’s property. In a space of a rod I counted
seventy-four dogs, and not one respectable dog in the seventy-four!
fifteen or twenty of them were marked on different parts of the body
with scalds, some with only one ear, some blind, the streets were
lined with them, lying down, standing up, fighting, breeding, and
making love. The Turks are as particular about getting around and
through them, as a good man would be in a crowd of children; in fact,
I saw a Turk tread upon a child in an effort to pass around dogs.
They take no notice of persons passing to and fro, but if you touch
one, he jumps at you and lays hold.

During the night we have a long dog-note howl, from dark to daylight,
and there is no way to stop it; they have systematical skirmishes of
parties from different sections. Murray holds that they have
fundamental laws of infringement, and woe be to him that don’t
acknowledge their legality. The puppies, as soon as they open their
eyes, he observes, join in the first fight, and off goes his ear,
tail, or leg, and he grows up used to hardships, and the customs and
responsibilities of war; he is also taught the responsibility of
invasion. Before he learns the landmarks, he goes on another’s
territory, where he is picked up by some old sentinel and shook a
little, and thrown across the border, where he stands and barks a
little, in defiance of the old dog’s pluck and courage to come on
this “spot and do the like. In their hymenial adventures” they
frequently cross the borders, in pursuit of their object of
affection, when there is a free fight, that lasts until some devoted
amour falls a martyr to his sincerity, whilst the object of his
affection escapes, heedless of his fidelity, and his great care for
her and his posterity.

The virtue of keeping so many dogs in Constantinople, is to cleanse
the streets of offal, that is piled there by the citizens, who are
not blessed with sink holes under the streets, they empty their
swill, bad vegetables, and scraps of all corruption in the middle of
the streets, and the dogs act the buzzard’s part, or the cholera
would reign supreme all the year round. When the citizens are fearful
of hydrophobia, the Sultan orders the dogs to be driven in herds to a
lake a few miles from the city, and there to stay during the dog
days; but when they are brought back, the city is generally raging
with what they call in the east, the plague. If the city was blessed
with sink holes, they could then dispense with the nuisance of dogs
in such narrow streets, and the provocation of their efforts of
progeny. They are frequently so close together that a man hardly ever
takes notice of their condition to one another. I, trying to pass
through a group, got entangled between two and fell over them, as it
was impossible to get through, as one tried to go one way, and the
other another; I was so provoked when I got up, I did’nt look back to
see whether it was their legs or tails was tied together; I am sure
it was one or the other, from their magnanimous struggles to take one
another their own way.

Another source of low spirits to a man from off the waters, is to see
women moving about like spirits or shadows, and cannot be seen. The
promenades in Constantinople are the graveyards or any other sacred
site. The graveyards are like rustic parks with immense numbers of
tombstones denoting the head of the grave, and all are inclined to a
fall. The ladies go there and lean against them and talk with their
maids, and you can hear their sweet laugh, but see no smile. They sit
like a tailor, on the inside of their heels or ankles. You will see
five or six stand talking in their beautiful silk wrappers, and quick
as a fall they will sink down upon those little feet, like a blossom
sinking from its majesty of beauty to its downward decay. They seem
to get closer to the earth than any other people could. One
nymph-like lady was so wiry in her manner of talking to her black
maid, and so full of good humor, that I knew she must have been
pretty. I looked at her one hour, and she at me, through her eyelits.
I would have given five pds to lift her veil; I know she was pretty,
her voice was so fluty, and her hands so delicate, and her feet so
small, and her dress so gauzy; she was like an eel. I do not believe
she had any bones in her. I asked the guide if there was no way in
the world to get acquainted with her, and he said, none under heaven.
The guide and myself moved along to see some others, and something
new presented itself at every step. Vanity is reigning monarch in all
females. I had stopped in another part of the graveyard pleasure
ground, and whilst leaning against a tombstone, this Mohammedan maid
came up and seated herself as near to me as she was before. Her maid
had changed her veil, and was still fixing it on her mistress. This
veil was thin enough to make me believe I could see her figure of
countenance, and I swear she was pretty. The guide said that she was
for sale, I told him to go and buy her for me, and asked him who
owned her, he said, her mother, but I could not buy her because I was
no Mohammedan. I asked him what did he think she was worth, he said,
about a thousand Turkish piastres, a sum of about twenty-five
dollars. I told him if he could buy her for that I would give
twenty-five dollars for himself. This was a powerful engine on his
reflective powers. He said he did not know how it could be done. I
asked him if he thought the girl would admire me; he had no doubt
about that, and added, I need not have any uneasiness about that, as
I could make her love me after she was mine, she was obliged to obey
me according to the Turkish laws, and no man could change the laws
but Abdul Medjid, the Sultan.

Friday is a festive day with the citizens of Stamboul. It is
celebrated by gondolar rides along the canal called “sweet water.”
Males and females go up this canal, in all degrees of magnificence,
and it is nothing but the elite of the city. From thirty to forty
thousand assemble by eleven o’clock, the hour for the Sultan and his
seven Sultanas, to arrive. Just about this hour it is very gay. The
gentlemen are in groups of from two to ten, exercising on flageolets,
or wooden or iron musical instruments of some kind. The ladies come
some in Palanquins with strong Turks at each end, and others in a
golden gilt carriage, drawn by either oxen, camels, or men; if oxen,
their horns are decorated with ribbons and flowers, if camels no
decoration of beauty is needed as they are appreciated for their
capability of standing hardships and sufferings; if men, for their
masculine limbs and jocular songs, whilst pulling the beauties to the
festal scene.

Where I discovered the crowd thickest there I repaired, and the
Mohammedans, were standing around a very large man, from Nashville,
Tennessee, United States of America. His name was Frank Parish. He
had in his hand as large a hickory stick as ever a man carried to be
a stick; he wore Turkish costume from head to foot, and his Tarbouche
was of the best red, and he stood up with a Narghehly in his hand and
mouth, all cap a pie, _ala Turkoise_. Here the people began to give
way for the Sultan and his seven legitimate wives. Frank didn’t give
way an inch of territory for the Sultan. Two or three Pachas rode a
head of the Sultan seated on camels in their golden saddles. The
Sultan stopped every fifty yards and listened to the music. When he
stopped close to Frank, he cast his eyes on his great form, and
seemed to be interested; and Frank had brass enough to look at the
Sultan as he did at other people. Frank took his pipe from his mouth
and walked up to the Sultan’s carriage and offered his hand which the
Sultan took, to the approbation of all present. The seven Sultanas
were looking at Frank all the time through their eyelits as if they
liked the looks of him. Frank is a man about 45 or 50 years of age,
and looks like a man in every sense of the word. He is not a yellow,
or black man, but what we call ginger-bread color. He had come to
Constantinople, with a Mr. Ewing from Nashville, and was staying at
Constantinople to recover from wounds he had received from Arabs
that shot him through the shoulder with his own gun, whilst standing
over the body of Mr. Ewing, who the Arabs were trying to kill, and
thereby saved the life of Mr. Ewing. He was a free man and owned
property in Nashville. The Sultan could plainly see that his loyal
subjects were but as infants, by the giant-like man that stood over
them. Being surrounded by such dwarf-like men, he showed off to great
advantage. The Sultan is a weak looking man, and has the marks of
fatigue well written on his forehead and limbs; he also looks like a
man surfeiting on the fat of the world. He is a slow walking man, and
seems as if he experienced some weakness coming from a hidden source
which allowed its approach so gradually and agreeable that he is not
conscious of its fatality. He knows nothing of the rest of the world
nor cares for it, but believes that himself and Constantinople are
the wonders and powers of it.

He is only twenty-two years old, but never once has been out of his
Paradise, Shamboul. According to his opinion, he has no equals,
consequently he has no associates. He is uneducated, because no one
dare to instruct him. Such a man lives a Monarch and will die like a
fool. If the Czar of Russia were to pay him a visit, he might smile
with acknowledgement, but if Queen Victoria’s virtuous head would
call, she could not stop in his seraglio as quick as Madame Rachel or
Lolla Montez; and if General Zack Taylor called, his Pacha’s would
receive him, and a General Jackson would scare him to death, as he is
the most nervous man on a Throne.

As he is the descendant of Mahommed, it is admitted here that his
authority to govern the people is received on all emergencies from
God. He is incapable of fearing any nation on the earth, as he thinks
that his is head of all. If some day, the news went to his palace
that the Bosphorus was covered with a fleet, and that one ball had
already struck the dome of the mosque St. Sophia, he would, through
all his resolutions, break his haughty heart, and no doubt tremble
off his divan. They are talking about a war with Russia, and I can
find no man here that thinks Russia can begin to fight them.

The Sultan’s harems are numerous. While the occupants of the large
are removed to two small ones, we have permission to pass through it,
to see its magnificence, by paying the sum of five dollars a piece.
It is a government of itself. It has a large bath room of water, and
one of vapor. The girls are as pure as silvan nymphs, and some have
remained in this harem until they become old, on account of the
Sultan’s fancy to certain ones. They are carried to the baths by
black men, called eunuchs. They take their baths in all attitudes of
pleasure, while these eunuchs lean over the large, stationary stone
basins, and gaze at them in their Eve like costumes. But before these
men are placed in this important position of servitude, they are
privately handled to the disadvantage of displaying any
demonstrations of manly pride, towards these vexed reflections that
must naturally spring up in the reflective minds of virgins deprived
of the luxuries of a life, built upon the confines of clandestine
border thoughts of _sexes_.

Having seen the Sultan’s great City, mosques, ambers, sponges,
perfumeries and beads, I am now passing the Custom House, on my way
back to Greece.

In the front part of this vessel the cabin is all one, and whoever
gets any kind of a berth is lucky, as the passengers are numerous.
The beds or berths are one over the other, like our lake boats’
second class cabin. One berth is a little higher than the other, they
are three stories, and one person has to climb over another to get in
bed, and even then you are too close together. The second class
passengers find their own bedding, and sleep upon deck, and we have
some very rich Greecian families aboard, with their bedding and food,
who sleep on deck. Yesterday we passed by Smyrna, and stopped and
took aboard three beautiful Albanian girls. When you see a pile of
old rubbish lying about on these Dardanelle boats, there is always
some owner lying under it.

These Albanian girls were dressed very different from the Turkish
girls, and the pretty ones are not veiled. They had on a very pretty
costume, but over it they wore a very large and coarse cloak,
composed of either camel’s hair, or wool of some ugly animal. They
have a bonnet attached to it, that they can either throw back, or
wear on their heads, and this cloak drags the ground. On board of our
vessel was two young gentlemen from New York, trying to attract the
attention of these Albanian girls, though they had their beaux with
them. These young gents are very rich, their wholesale oil
establishment, in New York, is said to do a business of millions of
dollars per annum, and their names were Bridgers. They were seen to
follow these beauties wherever they promenaded the deck, still they
received no encouragement. Sometimes these girls would hide
themselves in their winding sheet, and throw the bonnet part over
their heads, and fall down upon the deck as singular and as natural
as an apple from a tree, and then they would appear as a pile of
rubbish of old sacks. At last the gay Messrs. Bridgers lost them, and
they hunted in all directions, but could not find these fairies. They
got tired hunting, and seated themselves to talk on some old piles of
blankets and quilts, but before he got seated. I mean only one, he
was thrown flat on his face by one of these pretty girls. In choosing
a comfortable seat, he picked the covered head of the prettiest girl.
He felt very bad about the mistake he had made, and I felt ashamed
for him, but worst of all, he could make no amends, as she spoke
nothing but Greek. He said “I wish I could apologize,” but he
could’nt. She did not seem to like it at all.

The first night out we had a good deal of contention about berths. We
had more passengers than the law of this company allows; they are not
allowed to take one passenger more than they can accommodate.

Among the passengers on board was the first dancer of Constantinople.
Those who had spoken for berths went to bed soon for fear disputes
would arise about the right of them. I made sure of mine by sitting
by it and watching it. After all the berthers had taken possession of
their respective places, I discovered many persons taking berths on
the sofas around the cabin; there were some curtains hanging about to
make screens, to dress and undress behind, and the lights always
burned dimly. These sofas were on a level with the lower berths,
consequently, whoever took a sofa berth, was almost sleeping with the
occupant of the lower berth.

There was some choice about them, inasmuch as some were wider than
others. I could see through my thin curtain that some one had picked
out X 31, my own doorway. I lay like a rock to find out who it was,
until I saw that everybody was in a resting attitude, after which I
quietly drew back my curtain, to see what my neighbor was like. I
knew it was some respectable person from the sweet smell of roses and
other eastern scents which I inhaled. I could dimly see a Madonna
figure of considerable size, and the figure was nearly touching me.
I did not get scared but lay as quiet as possible. I saw plainly that
sleep had sent in a regret for that night, the lamp flickered up and
went down, leaving a dark twilight perceptible around the cabin, and
I put my hand slowly out to see what my neighbor felt like, and I
felt the veritable prima donna of Constantinople, “_qu est ce que
vous voulez_,” said she, “_rien_,” said I, and shut my eyes and went
to sleep in a hurry, and slept as sound as any man could, by the side
of a live Prima Donna.

When Rome had a Cæsar and a Cicero, and a Cassius with a Brutus,
Athens dictated the arts and sciences for her. Though she cannot
claim the originality of them, she can the perfection of beautifying.
The conquest of Alexander the Great, in Egypt, among the Africans,
was considered the greatest triumph of conquest ever made by man,
because it enabled the warlike people of Greece, to adorn their
triumphs with the spoils of the vanquished. Egypt was a higher sphere
of artistical science than any other nation on the earth. This will
naturally convey an idea to the world that the black man was the
first skillful animal on the earth, because Homer describes the
Egyptians as men with wooly hair, thick lips, flat feet, and black,
and we have no better authority than Homer. We know not the exact
epoch of his time, but we know it was before any other authentic
chronicler, save the sacred book of Moses, by the fact that he
voyaged on the Nile before the pyramids were built, which we can
trace three thousand years.

On the 29th of May, 1852, as the sun was going down the blue arch of
the western sky, I reached the top of Mars Hill, in Athens, and
seated myself in the seat where St. Paul rested from his display of
power over a bigoted people, when he said, “I perceive that in all
things you are too superstitious.”

When St. Paul stood on Mars Hill, Athens was a voluptuous city to
look at. There was the white marble temple of Apollo, Jupiter,
Minerva, Juno and Mars, besides temples to the sun and moon, and one
to the “unknown god,” all of which were reared up in the most
conspicuous reigns of those gods over the minds of all the
inhabitants of Athens in a limited degree. As I descended Mars Hill,
I turned to the right and entered the temple of Bacchus, who is
described in the classical dictionary thus: “son of Jupiter and
Semele, and god of wine and drunkards, nourished till a proper time
of birth in his fathers thigh, after the death of his mother, whom
Jupiter, at her request, visited in all his majesty. Semele, who was
a mortal and unable to bear the presence of a god, was consumed to
ashes.” An old man was in the temple to keep people from breaking
pieces off from the beautiful temple’s treasure, which was the tomb
of Bacchus, with the god carved on the sides, drinking his delight. I
did not know what god’s temple this was, and enquired of the old man,
he could not speak any European language, but was quite successful
in conveying the information I wanted; he took an old gourd and
scooped some water up from the bottom of a bucket, and drank it with
great hilarity, at the same time pointing to Bacchus, as if he would
say, “he drank!” I said, “You mean to say this is the temple of
Bacchus, the god of wine and drunkards, do you?” he bowed towards his
toes and then stood erect, and tried to make me understand that the
rest of the tombs there were gods and goddesses, of which Apollo
loved either sexually or valorously. There were no windows to the
temple, the only inlet was the door, but though the door was shut, it
was as light inside as one would wish. The marble was transparent,
and when the sun shone upon its roof or walls, it forced its light
through in a determined way.

As I left this veritable tomb and sepulchre of the great god of wine
and drunkards, my guide pointed to an aperture from the heart of a
hill, and said, that entrance goes to the cave where Socrates was
poisoned. We then went up the most imposing ruins of Athens, the
Acropolis. The temples there looked down upon the rest of the temples
of Athens, like Jupiter would at the feast of gods, it was higher and
more stupendous than all. There was the seats of solid blocks of
white marble of the twelve judges. They were all in a row, and only
one broke. They were solid blocks with scooping apertures, for a man
to place his rotundity in comfortable quarters. Round about the
ruins were balls and cannon, grape, and several bursted shells, but
one half of this tremendous mass of splendid ruins stood upright, as
when it first took its stand among the wonders of the world, as a
temple of wisdom. This temple makes it impossible for us to pronounce
ourselves the “light of all ages.”

The great god of this temple was the Ammon of the Africans, the Belus
of the Babylonians and the Ossiris of the Egyptians; from him,
mankind receives his blessings, and their blessings of miseries, and
he is looked upon as one acquainted with everything, past, present
and future. Saturn was Jupiter’s father, and conspired against his
son and in consequence was banished from his kingdom. Now Jupiter
became ruler of the universe and sole master of the Empire of the
world, and divided with his brothers, reserving for himself the
kingdom of heaven, and giving the Empires of the sea to Neptune, and
that of the infernal regions to Pluto. The sea moved at his wrath,
and hell burned his opposers, and he looked down from heaven at the
commotion of his wrath till the men on earth considered their welfare
only secured by worshipping his smile. Athens and all her
superstition is gone now, and the godly man now laughs at the folly
of the wisdom that all talent of old times craved for. On Mars hill
where St. Paul thundered the decrees of God against gods, though
nothing to designate the spot, there the Christian of to-day would
rather stake his salvation than from the most sacred abode of Jupiter
and Juno. But there is still weak minds in Athens, for as I descend I
see on the side of a hill that celebrated stone where females used to
come from all parts of Italy as well as Greece to slide down on it,
as a true avoidance of barrenness. This stone is as slick as a piece
of soap, so slick a lizzard could not run down it. For nearly three
thousand years two and three thousand women per day have slid down it
in a sitting posture. The guide books call it the “substitute rock
for female barrenness.” Many a bruise has this rock given in
receiving its polish. Hundreds of boys and young men are here at
present, sliding down it for fun.

I see, seated about fifty feet away from it, the Tennessee negro I
described at Constantinople, Frank Parish. A Scotchwoman is seated
beside him, and seems to be proud of him as a beaux. She is a lady’s
maid that came here yesterday from the Sublime Porte with her
mistress and Frank. The Scotch lady insisted on Frank taking a slide
with the young men, but for Frank it was no joke, as he was an
extraordinary large man. But Frank, being as full of conspicuousness
as any other man, it only required a little coaxing to get him
started; at last he seated himself for a slide, but he did not much
like to let go lest there would be a crash up. He anchored himself
to the top and hesitated some, paused and looked like a fool. An
Irish servant that was with the same family as the Scotchwoman,
encouraged Frank, by saying, “be a marn,” Frank said, “if I am not a
man there is none about here,” just to fill up the pause of suspense;
but while Frank was looking and studying, the Irishman loosened his
hands, and he went down like a colossus; seeing that he had broke no
bones, he got up with a smile and felt himself all over to see if he
was safe and sound. The Irishman said, “how did it feel my marn?”
Frank pronounced it the most pleasant sensation he ever experienced.
“Then ye never dreamed that ye were married,” said the Irishman.
Frank said he had, but had forgot it. The Scotchwoman wished to know
if that was a pleasant dream; the Irishman said, “it was the most
pleasant dream a marn could have, and the most unpleasant was to find
it a lie.”

Starting from the “female substitute for barrenness,” we met a man
with a telescope, and we all wanted to take a fair view of Athens.
The Irishman borrowed it from the man and took the first squint. He
pointed to a fine house towards the Kings palace, and there he looked
alone. When I obtained it I looked there too, and saw a beautiful
Grecian maid combing her long black hair; gazing at her until she
finished, I got a most ungentlemanly view of a lady, from which, in
all due respect to her, I had to refrain, and took another direction
in search of fair views. We went down the hill, and as we moved
along the Grecian ladies’ and gentlemen’s walks, I, though mixed up
in a crowd of different people, was determined to hear Frank talk to
this Scotchwoman. He was telling her of his business, which was still
going on in Nashville, Tennessee, and of how many improvements he
intended to make in his bath house and barber shop, when he returned,
with things that he had already bought in Paris. She believed it all,
and Frank was in his glory. I noticed their actions particularly, and
was upon the eve of hearing their loveliest words, when she stopped
as if it was a great sacrifice to her to give up his company. They
lingered some time, as they would fain go on, but as she was going to
her mistress’ hotel, and Frank to his, they must part. Frank was well
versed for the occasion, in Byron. He took her by the hand and looked
her in the face affectionately, and said with emotion,

“Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh give me back my heart.”

As Frank was going to my hotel I thought it well to make his
acquaintance; he said he saw me at Constantinople, but as I was an
American, he did not deem it necessary to make my acquaintance, as I
knew that he was a mere barber from Tennessee. He also told me he had
been married several times, and was now engaged at home. The day
after this, I was outside of Athens at what is called “the amusement
grounds” of Athens, for the people repair there every evening to
hear the national band play. This band comes from Bavaria, where
Greece got her present king. King Otho is the son of the King of
Bavaria. Here the king rides out every evening, and here Frank took
another liberty with royalty. As the King and his wife rode up to the
band, his horses stopped just at Frank’s elbow, and Frank walked to
the carriage and offered his red hand to the king, and it was,
through courtesy, accepted. Athens is to-day a small town, and the
King lives here. The whole population of Greece is not quite a
million. Our slaves would make four kingdoms as powerful in
population as Greece. Oh, when will we be the “Freest government in
the world?” We looked from the Acropolis down upon a village, but in
old times we looked upon a town. “Ah! Greece, they love thee least
who owe thee most.” The women are still pretty, and what is like a
Grecian nose? Come, pilgrim, and see Athens in the days when it is
not even a shadow of its former greatness, and ask yourself if power
constitutes stability. Yes, go upon the Acropolis and gaze downward
to the top of Mars’ hill, and look at the council stand of St. Paul;
raise your eyes and turn them eastward, and if your imagination is as
good as your sight, you will see the sea that in old times was
covered over with the fleet of Alexander the Great. Further off from
the shore, in the year of our Lord 1191, Richard I. of England, the
lion-hearted, crusaded along with men, women, children, cattle and
dogs, to put down infidelity on the sacred plains of Palestine, where
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked as types of moral light for the
salvation of mankind. Now, as you stand there on the Acropolis, as
Cecrops himself has stood, be not disgusted at what you see below, of
the so much written of towns, for though now you see Athens, it is
true you do not see herself, but “Athens a sepulchre.”