« PreviousContinue »
estuary of the Euphrates, or navigable canal, is not strictby a city of Turkey, but closely connected with it in trade. It contains about 50,000 inhabitants, having been almost de populated by the plague in 1773. It is a place of extensive trade, by means of the caravans from Turkey, and by the ships of India and Europe.
634. Bagdad and Erzerum. Bagdad, on the Tigris, was built in the 8th century, by Mohammed II. caliph of the Saracens, and for about 500 vears it remained the seat of the powerful Saracenic cmpire. It was after. wards taken by the Tartars and Turks, and has since dwindled to a town of about 20,000 inhabitants. It stiil, However, is the center of a considerable trade. Erzerum, the capital of Armenia, at the foot of a mountain, near the head of the Euphrates, contains about 25,000 inhahitants. The manufactures consist of copper, and considerable commerce is here carried on between Persia and the Turkish dominions.
635. Jerusalem. This celebrated city was originally called Salem, and is supposed to have been buiit by Mel. chisedick. When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, it was in possession of the Jebusites. David expelled the Jebusites from the upper town, and the city arose to distinguished splendor under his son Solomon. After various revolutions, it was conquered by the Roc mans under Vespasian, A. D. 71, and the Jews dispersed. In 614, it was taken by the Persians, and 90,000 inhabitants enslaved, sold to the Jews, and put to death, In 636 the Saracens took Jerusalem, which was wrested from them by the Turks in the year 1076. The oppression the christians suffered by the Turks, inflamed the Christians of Europe to march to their relief, under Peter the Hermit. Then began the crusades, which, for two centuries, impoverished and depopulated Europe. Jerusalem was rescued from the Turks, but again fell under their dominion, and continues under it to this day.
636. Present state of Jerusalem. The Turks, whose ambition seems to be to destroy whatever is useful, and deface every thing elegant, have reduced Jerusalem to a small town, containing 10 or 12,000 inhabitants, who subsist chiefly by mechanical employments, and by selling beads, relics and other trinkets to strangers. The city is situated on a rocky mountain, with steep declivi. ties except to the north. The soil near the city is stony, but produces olives, grapes and corn. To the traveller it appears like a barren spot, yet it was once very popu. lous and fruitful. Jerusalem contains some good buildings, among which is the church of the sepulcher, erected by the empress Helena, in which is a sepulcher cut out of a rock, which is visited, with great veneration, by christian pilgrims. In the chapel of the crusifixion is shown, as the people alledge, the very hole in the rock in which the cross was fixed.
637. Ture. Tyre, an ancient commercial city of great celebrity, is situated on the Syrian coast, in the 32d degree of north latitude. The old town stood on the continent, and being besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, it resisted his attacks for 13 years. At length the inhabi: tants left the city, and built a new town on an island. The new city resisted Alexander the Great for seven months, but this prince filled up the channel with earth and stones, and finally took the city. It underwent various revolutions, and was at last destroyed by the sultan of Egypt, in 1289, never more to rise from its ruins. It is now the residence of a few fishermen only, and Ezekiel's prophesy, that it should be “ a place to spread nets on," is literally fulfilled. It is now called Isour or Sour.
638, Other Towns. Tripoli, on the sea coast, 90 miles from Damascus, is an ancient town, carrying on consia derable commerce, and containing 60,000 inhabitants. The houses are low, the streets narrow, and the air unhealthy. But the adjacent country furnishes, a plenty of fruits, and the mulberry tree is cultivated for the sake of the silk manufacture. Sidon, the ancient city, famous for its commerce, is reduced to a small town, containing about 5000 inhabitants, Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians, once a populous city, on the bank of the Orontes, has been reduced by terrible earth quakes, and other disasters, to a miserable village. :
639. Character of the Turks. The Turks are generally robust men, with regular features, and a fair complexion. They are mostly grave and sedate, but suspicious, vindictive, and given to dissimulation. Their bigoted attachment to their faith leads them to assume a superiority over other men, and to treat the adherents to other religions with extreme contempt. They are however charitable to each other, just in their dealings, and in many places hospitable to strangers. They seldom travel or use any exercise or rural sports, but sometimes play at chess. They, however, never hazard money at games, as this is forbid by the koran. They swallow opium to enjoy pleasant sensations, and spend much time m smoking and drinking coffee. When they eat, they sit or recline on sofas, a practice which prevailed in the earliest ages.
640. Females. The Turkish women are generally handsome, with regular features, black eyes and hair, and an admirable chest. They bathe often, and are remarkable for cleanliness; nor are they deficient in wit and vivacity ; but they are subject to rigorous confinement, and their faces are never seen abroad, being carefully vailed. It has been the practice from the earliest times among the oriental nations, for men to keep as many wives as they can maintain, and the princes keep a haram or seraglio of many hundred beautiful females, who are taught music, dancing, and other accomplishments, to render them agreeable.
641, Manufactures and Commerce. Among the most valuable of the Turkish manufactures are the carpets, which are celebrated for their durability and beauty, Other articles are silks, cloths of goats and camel's hair, woollens, dimity, burdețs, waxed linen, shagreen skins, blue, red and yellow morocco lether. The principal exs ports are coffee, rhubarb, turpentine, storax, gums, opium, galls, mastic, emery, lemnian bole, pomegranate. shells, spunges, dates, almonds, raisins, wine, oil, figs, mother of pearl, saffron, and various drugs. The inland trade is carried on chiefly by Jews and Armenians. The Turks send ships to countries under their own domina ions, but seldom to christian states. . On the other hand,
the commercial nations of Europe and America send ships to their dominions, and have consuls in their principal towns.
642. Caravans. The inland trade of the east is car. ried on by caravans, consisting of large companies of merchants, travellers and pilgrims, who march together over the sandy desarts of Arabia, Egypt, and through other countries. This mode of travelling and trading seems to have originated from the nature of the country of Arabia, and its neighborhood, which being mostly a a sandy plain, destitute of water, makes it necessary to use camels and dromedaries, animals which will pass many days without water, except what they carry ; a country too barren to support men in towns, for which reason the Arabs do not live in societies and become civilized like other men, but live dispersed, and roam about for plunder. Hence it become necessary for travellers to march in great numbers, and go armed to prevent the attacks of the Arabs; and as there can be no inns in such a country, travellers must carry with them their provisions and drink. Their water is carried in skins* on camels. This mode of travelling and trading has subsisted from the earliest antiquity, for it was to a caravan that Josep&was sold by his brethren.,
643. Rhades. In addition to the islands in the Egean Sea, which have been mentioned, there are two in the Mediterranean, belonging to Turkey, which deserve to be noticed, Rhodes and Cyprus. Rhodes is situated about 20 miles from the continent, or the ancient Caria, now Natolia. Its length is about 36 miles, its bredth about 15, and its population is estimated at 30,000 souls. This island produces excellent wheat, and the fruits of the climate. It is often mentioned in history as a place of importance. Its school was resorted to by the most distinguished Romans, its maritime power was equally feared and respected by the greatest nations of antiquity, and its maritime regulations acquired the force of laws. among the neighboring states. Here was erected a gigantic brazen statue, called Colossus, and deemed one
* Called in scripture bottles, but the translation does not cona yey to us the true idea of the original. Matth. ix. 17.
of the wonders of the world. It was 105 feet high, and vessels are said to have passed between its legs, but it was thrown down by an earthquake 224 years before Christ.
614. Cyprus. Near the coast of Syria is Cyprus, an island of 160 miles in length and 70 in bredth, whose name is supposed to be derived from the copper it for merly afforded. The soil is fertile, but agriculture is neglected. The inhabitants are computed at 50,000.Its chief productions are silk, cotton, wines, turpentine, timber and fruits. It affords also valuable minerals, as jasper, agate, amianth, and the Paphian diamond, a rock crystal. It formerly afforded gold, silver and emerald. A chain of mountains runs through this island, one of which is called Olympus. This was the birth place of Venus; two temples were dedicated to that goddess, and the ancient inhabitants were given to dissipation.
RUSSIAN DOMINIONS IN ASIA. 645. Situation and Extent. The empire of the Russians in Asia comprehends the whole northern portion of that division of the globe. It extends in length from Europe on the west to the Pacific Ocean, a distance of more than 5000 miles ; and in bredth, from the Caucasian and Altaic chains to the Northern Ocean, a distance of nearly 2000 miles. The Asiatic dominions of Russia are therefore of greater extent than all Europe. This country is commonly called Siberia.
646. Face of the Country and Climate. The northern and eastern parts of this extensive tract are said to present vast marshy plains, in cold regions, covered with snow a great part of the year. The southern part preo sents some steps, as they are called, which are vast elevated plains, almost peculiar to Asia. The country is not mountainous, but contains some of the largest rivers on the globe. The whole of Asiatic Russia is north of the 50th degree of latitude, and while the southern region enjoys a temperate climate, the northern, which extends to the 70th degrees is bound in almost perpetual frost.