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In the foreground lay Scutari
2016/06/07 17:41
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We took a carriage and ascended through the city to the mountain of Boolgoorloo. On the slopes above the town are orchards and vineyards and pretty villas. The last ten minutes of the climb was accomplished on foot, and when we stood upon the summit the world was at our feet. I do not know any other view that embraces so much and such variety. The swelling top was carpeted with grass, sprinkled with spring flowers, and here and there a spreading pine offered a place of shade and repose. Behind us continued range on range the hills of the peninsula; to the south the eye explored Asia Minor, the ancient Bithynia and Mysia, until it rested on the monstrous snowy summits of Olympus, which rears itself beyond Broussa, city famed for its gauzy silk and the first capital of the Osman dynasty. There stretches the blue Sea of Marmora, bearing lightly on the surface the nine enchanting Princes'
Islands, whose equable climate and fertile soil have obtained for them the epithet of the Isles of the Blest. Opposite, Stamboul rises out of the water on every side; in the distance a city of domes and pinnacles and glass, the dark-green spires of cypress tempering its brilliant lustre; there the Golden Horn and its thronged bridges and its countless masts and steamers' funnels; Galata and Pera, also lifted up into nobility, and all their shabby details lost, and the Bosphorus, its hills, marble palaces, mosques, and gardens, on either side.

I do not know any scene that approaches this in beauty except the Bay of Naples, and the charm of that is so different from this that no comparison is forced upon the mind. The Bay of New York has many of the elements of this charming prospect, on the map. But Constantinople and its environs can be seen from many points in one view, while one would need to ascend a balloon to comprehend in like manner the capital of the Western world. It is the situation of Constantinople, lifted up into a conspicuousness that permits no one of its single splendors to be lost in the general view, that makes it in appearance the unrivalled empress of cities.

In the foreground lay Scutari, and in a broad sweep the heavy mass of cypress forest that covers the great cemetery of the Turks, which they are said to prefer to Eyoub, under the prophetic impression that they will one day be driven out of Europe. The precaution seems idle. If in the loss of Constantinople the Osmanli sultans still maintain the supremacy of Islam, the Moslem capital could not he on these shores, and the caliphate in its migrations might again he established on the Nile, on the Euphrates, or in the plains of Guta on the Abana. The iron-clads that lie in the Bosphorus, the long guns of a dozen fortresses that command every foot of the city and shore, forbid that these contiguous coasts should fly hostile flags.

We drove down to and through this famous cemetery in one direction and another. In its beauty I was disappointed. It is a dense and gloomy cypress forest; as a place of sepulture, without the architectural pretensions of P鑢e-la-Chaise, and only less attractive than that. Its dark recesses are crowded with gravestones, slender at the bottom and swelling at the top, painted in lively colors,—green, red, and gray, a necessary relief to the sombre woods,—having inscriptions in gilt and red letters, and leaning at all angles, as if they had fallen out in a quarrel over night. The graves of the men are distinguished by stones crowned with turbans, or with tarbooshes painted red,—an imitation, in short, of whatever head-dress the owner wore when alive, so that perhaps his acquaintances can recognize his tomb without reading his name. Some of the more ancient have the form of a mould of Charlotte Busse. I saw more than one set jauntily on one side, which gave the monument a rakish air, singularly d閎onnaire for a tombstone.

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