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The difficulties of travelling in Turkey have been much exaggerated, or rather have considerably dininished of late years.
The Mussulmans have been beaten into a kind of sullen civility, very comfortable to voyagers.
It is hazardous to say much on the subject of Turks and Turkey; since it is possible to live amongst them twenty years without acquiring in. formation, at least from themselves. As far as my own slight experience carried me I have no complaint to make; but am indebted for many civilities (I might almost say for friendship), and much hospitality, to Ali Pacha, his son Veli Pacha of the Morea, and several others of high rank in the provinces. Suleyman Aga, late Governor of Athens, and now of Thebes, was a bon vivant, and as social a being as ever sat cross. legged at a tray or a table. During the carnival, when our English party were masquerading, both himself and his successor were more happy to “receive masks » than any dowager in Grosvenor-sqnare.
On one occasion of his supping at the convent, his friend and visitor, the Cadi of Thebes, was carried from table perfectly qualified for any club in Christendom; while the worthy Waywode himself triumphed in his fall.
In all money transactions with the Moslems, I ever found the strictest honour, the highest disinterestedness. In transacting business with them, there are none of those dirty peculations, under the name of interest, difference of exchange, com. mission, etc. uniformly found in applying to a Greek consul to cash bills, even on the first houses in Pera.
With regard to presents, an established custom in the East, you will rarely find yourself a loser; as one worth acceptance is generally returned by another of similar value - a horse, or a shawl.
la the capital and at court the citizens and courtiers are fornsed in the same sehool with those of Christianity; but there does not exist a more honourable, friendly, and high-spirited character than the true Turkish provincial Aga, or Moslem country gentleman. It is not meant here to designate the governor of towns,
but those Agas who, by a kind of feudal tenure, possess lands and houses, of more or less extent, in Greece and Asia Minor.
The lower orders are in as tolerable discipline as the rabble in countries with greater pretensions to civilization. A Moslem, in walking the streets of our country.towns, would be more incommoded in England than a Frank in a similar situation in Turkey. Regimientals are the best travelling dress.
The best accounts of the religion, and different sects of Islamism, may be found in D'Olisson's French; of their manners, etc. perhaps in Thornton's English. The Ottomans, with all their de fects, are not a people to be despised. Equal, at least, to the Spaniards, they are superior to the Portuguese. If it be difficult to pronounce what they are, we can at least say what they are not : they are not treacherous, they are not cowardly, they do not burn heretics, they are not assassins, nor has an enemy advanced to their capital. They are faithful to their sultan till he becomes unfit to govern, and devout to their God without an in. quisition. Were they driven from St. Sophia to. morrow, and the French or Russians enthroned in their stead, it would become a question, whether Europe would gain by the exchange ? England would certainly be the loser.
With regard to that ignorance of which they are so generally, and sometimes justly, accused, it may be doubted, always excepting France and England, in what useful points of knowledge they are excelled by other nations. Is it in the common arts of life? In their manufactures? Is a Turkish sabre inferior to a Toledo? or is a Turk worse clothed or lodged, or fed and taught, than a Spaniard? Are their Pachas worse educated than a Grandee? or an Effendi than a Knight of St. Jago? I think not.
I remember Mahmout, the grandson of Ali Pa
cha, asking whether my fellow.traveller and myself were in the upper or lower House of Parliament. Now this question from a boy of ten years old proved that his education had not been ne glected. It may be doubted if an English boy at that age knows the difference of the Divan from a Coc lege of Dervises; but I am very sure a Spaniard does not. How little Mahmout, surrounded, as he had been, entirely by his Turkish tutors, had learned that there was such a thing as a Parliament it were useless to conjecture, unless we suppose that his instructors di not confine his stu. dies to the Koran.
In all the mosques there are schools establlshed, which are very regularly attended; and the poor are taught without the church of Turkey being put into peril. I believe the system is not yet printed (though there is such a thing as a Turkish press, and books printed on the late military in stitution of the Nizam Gedidd); nor have I heard whether the Mufti and the Mollas have subscribed, or the Caimacam and the Tefterdar taken the alarm, for fear the ingenuous youth of the turban should be taught not to “ pray to God their way. The Greeks also—a kind of Eastern Irish papists-have a college of their own at Maynooth — no, at Hai vali; where the heterodox receive much the same kind of countenance from the Ottoman as the Ca. tholic college from the English legislature. Who shall then affirm that the Turks are ignorant bigots, when they thus evince the exact proportion of Christian charity which is tolerated in the most prosperous and orthodox of all possible kingdoms? But, though they allow all this. they will not suffer 'the Greeks to participate in their privileges : no, let them fight their battles, and pay their haratch (taxes), be drubbed in this world, and damned in the next. And shall we then emancipate our Irish Helots? Mahomet forbid! We should then be bad Mussulmans, and worse Christians; at present we unite the best of both – jesuitical faith, and something not much inferior to Turkish toleration.
Amongst an enslaved people, obliged to have recourse to foreign presses even for their books of religion, it is less to be wondered at that we find so few publications on general subjects than that we find any at all. The whole number of the Greeks, scattered up and down the Turkish empire and elsewhere, may aniount, at most, to three millions; and yet, fór so scanty a number, it is impossible to discover any nation with so great a proportion of books and their authors, as the Greeks of the present century. “Ay,» but say the generous advocates of oppression, who, while they assert the ignorance of the Greeks, wish to prevent them from dispelling it, “ay, but these are mostly, if not all, ecclesiastical tracts, and consequently good for nothing. Well, and pray what else can they write about? It is pleasant enough to hear a Frank, particularly an Englishman,
who may abuse the government of his own country; or a Frenchman, who may abuse every government except his own, and who may range at will over every philosophical, religious, scienti. fic, sceptical, or moral subject, sneering at the Greek legends. A Greek must not write on politics, and cannot touch on science for want of instruction; if he doubts, he is excommunicated and damned; therefore his countrymen are not poisoned with modern philosophy; and as to morals, thanks to the Turks!, there are no such things. What then is left him, if he has a turn for scribbling? Religion, and holy biography: and it is natural enough that those who have so little in this life should look to the next. It is no great wonder then that in a catalogue now before me of fifty-five Greek writers, many of whom were
lately living, not above fifteen shonld have fouched on any thing but religion. The catalogue alluded to is contained in the twenty-sixth chapter of the fourth volume of Meletius's Ecclesiastical History. From this I subjoin an extract of those who have written on general subjects; which will be followed by some specimens of the Romaic.
LIST OF ROMAIC AUTHORS *). Neophitus, Diaconos (the deacon) of the Morea, has published an extensive grammar, and also some political regulations, which last' were left unfinished at his death.
Prokopius, of Moscopolis (a town in Epirus), has written and published a catalogue of the learned Greeks.
Seraphin, of Periclea, is the author of many works in the 'Turkish language, but Greek cha. racter; for the Christians of Caramania who do not speak Romaic, but read the character.
Kustathius Psalidas, of Bucharest, a physician, made the tour of England for the purpose of study (záplv ua Ińoews): but though his name is enu. merated, it is not stated that he has written any thing.
Kallinikus Torgeraus, Patriarch of Constantinople: many poems of his are extant, and also prose tracts, and a catalogue of patriarchs since the last taking of Constantinople.
Anastasius Macedon, of Naxos, member of the royal academy of Warsaw. A church biographer:
Demetrius Pamperes, a Moscopolite, has writ. ten many works, particularly «A Commentary on Hesiod's Shield of Hercules,» and two hundred tales (of what is not specified ), and has published his correspondence with the celebrated George of Trebizond, his cotemporary.
*) It is to be observed that the names given are not in chro.
nological order, but consist of some selected at a venture from amongst those who flourished from the taking of Constantinople to the time of Meletius,