A Primitive Landing-Place.
The Persian Embassy-Pera.
The most enjoyable excursion to be made in the environs of Constantinople is the sail of sixteen miles on the Bosporus, - from the Golden Horn to the Black Sea. It is a fascinating scene of brilliant colors and perpetual movement. Vessels from every quarter of the globe, steamers from various parts of Europe, and Turkish men-of-war bearing the crimson flag and crescent, - all these are anchored here, or passing to and fro. Around them, too, are little boats, which skim across the waves, as light and swift as seagulls, some bearing from shore to shore officers in uniform, others conveying richly-dressed pashas, or half-veiled ladies from a Turkish harem. Aside from all that man has done to give these shores immortal interest, the scenery which they disclose is most enchanting. The contour of the banks is as symmetrical and graceful as if delineated by an artist's hand.
A visitor from the provinces.
A Pleasure Party.
Eight promontories from the side of Asia, and just as many from the shore of Europe, project themselves into the sparkling waves, - an advancing headland on one continent always corresponding to a retiring bay upon the other, - till the observer cannot doubt that in some prehistoric age the Black Sea and the Mediterranean were entirely separate, and that an earthquake shock of fearful magnitude here tore apart the shores of the future Europe and Asia, and cleft between them this deep channel, down which the waters of the northern sea have never ceased to roll. At present, however, the site of that remote catastrophe is profoundly peaceful. Both shores are lined with pretty villages which rise in swift succession from the waves. In one place they form an almost unbroken continuity of buildings six miles long. They are exceedingly picturesque; for in contrast to the azure of the sea and the dark foliage of cypress-trees, are thousands of variously-colored houses, resembling in the distance bright parterres of flowers. Till recently, however, the Christian residents of these villages were forbidden to paint their houses, so that the dwellings of Mohammedans could be instantly distinguished. Some of these structures are the summer homes of wealthy Turks and foreigners. What charming residences they must be! For down the rapid current of the Bosporus sweeps usually a delightful breeze, and through these houses, even in the hottest weather, is wafted the invigorating freshness of the sea. And yet these dwellings on the Bosporus are not exempt from danger, - not, as one might expect, from inundation, for the level of this ocean-current rarely changes, - but from the fact that sailing vessels, failing to manoeuvre with sufficient alertness in these narrow limits, are sometimes driven by the wind or current against the houses with such violence as to break the windows with their yard-arms, or even to force their bowsprits into the parlors and sleeping-rooms of the astonished occupants.
A Highway Between Two Continents.
Along the Bosporus history and legend struggle for supremacy, succeeding one another like its rolling waves. Not far from the Asiatic shore, directly opposite Galata, there stands upon an isolated rock a lighthouse, ninety feet in height. The Turks call it the Maiden's Tower, in memory of a Sultan's daughter, lovely and attractive as an Oriental flower. She had been placed there by her father, whom a gipsy's prophecy had terrified; for it had been foretold that his beloved child would die in her eighteenth year, of a serpent's bit Within that tower he considered her secure. But, say the Moslems. " What is written, is written. It is impossible to avoid one's destiny." In fact, a Persian prince, hearing of this imprisoned beauty, sent her a basket of flowers, whose language was intended to declare his love. But, alas! among those flowers a deadly serpent had concealed itself, and as the fair girl bent above the roses, to inhale their perfume, the viper buried its fangs in her throat. Hence, on the morning of her eighteenth birthday, the Sultan's child was found (like Egypt's fascinating queen) dead on her couch, the basket of flowers by her side, the hideous reptile on her breast.