The Galata Bridgb.
Gate Of Dolma Baghtcheh.
The first object of interest that the visitor to Constantinople should inspect is the famous Galata bridge, which crosses the Golden Horn.
This is, par excellence, the place of all others in which to study the cosmopolitan life of this strange city; for on this long, connecting link between Stamboul and Galata, two ceaseless currents of humanity sweep past each other from the rising to the setting of the sun, exhibiting a variety of costumes, races, and complexions such as no other city in the world (not even Bombay or Cairo) can present.
At intervals, on either side of this thoroughfare, like exclamation-points of misery, are human beings that resemble animated rag-bags, or Oriental scare-crows. They are beggars. Their garments are usually zoological hanging-gardens. Their outstretched hands suggest two rusty dippers. Their feet may be compared to snapping-turtles, of which the heads arc the great toes, sometimes encased, sometimes protruding from the shell. They speak not, but their silence is understood by all; - it is the language of distress. Before them, meantime, sweeps along a perfect masquerade of nations. First comes, perhaps, a howling dervish on his way to a performance, where, with his fellows, he will hurl himself about and howl the name of Allah, until, with foaming lips, protruding eyes, and matted hair, he falls exhausted, as if convulsed with epilepsy. Following him, one may behold, within five minutes, a richly-turbaned Arab, with gold-embroidered jacket; a tattooed Nubian from the upper Nile; a Jew with a long, yellow coat and corkscrew curls; a group of Persians bedizened with cheap jewelry; a black eunuch escorting a carriage of veiled ladies; groups of Bohemians; venders of melons, dates, apples, and pop-corn; a florid-faced English merchant; a Roman Catholic priest; a Damascus camel-driver; a pilgrim just returned from Mecca; a Chinaman with his queue; a missionary of the American Board, and even a "personally conducted" party of excursionists. Pick up a hand-bill dropped here by a passer-by, and you will find it printed in five or six different languages. As many more strange tongues may possibly be overheard by you while walking from Stamboul to Galata. Such at least has been my experience at this point where two worlds meet, - the Orient and the Occident, - the pontoon bridge of the Golden Horn.
A Howling Dervish.
Vender Of Melons.
An Apple Merchant.
Another character frequently observed here is a man who carries on his back a cask. In Germany we might suspect its contents to be beer, - in France wine, - in England Bass' Ale, - in America whiskey, - but in the land of the Prophet the only beverage offered for sale by Moslems is either lemonade or water. For all intoxicating drinks are forbidden by the Koran; and it is one of the most astonishing proofs of the restraining power of the Mohammedan religion, that one hundred and eighty millions of Moslems still faithfully obey that law, as they have done for thirteen hundred years. To the Turk is often applied the epithet "unspeakable," but he has some virtues that speak for themselves, of which the chief perhaps is abstinence from intoxicating liquors. Drunkenness among the followers of the Prophet is practically unknown.
From this scene of cosmopolitan activity it is not far to the Seraglio Point. On our way thither, we came upon a gateway of the ancient wall, which stretched across the promontory from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmora.
A Water Seller.
Within the area thus enclosed, the Sultans held for centuries their splendid court. This belt of masonry was pierced with many gates, and in the days when the Sultan's will was absolute, the people approached these portals every morning and scrutinized them, much as we read our bulletin - boards today. The news they received frequently told them what prominent men had lost their heads the previous night. It must have been an impressive style of object-teaching, for the heads themselves were displayed on spikes between the towers, and as business in the line of decapitation was usually pretty brisk, lovers of novelty in the way of skulls were seldom disappointed.