Page images
PDF
EPUB

626. Manners and Customs of the Circassians. Among the Circassians, it is remarkable that princes cannot possess land, and the nobles are chosen by the princes from their vassals. Public measures are proposed by the prince, but debated by the nobles and deputies of the people, so that they enjoy a sort of freedom under Turkish dominion. Before marriage, the youth of both sexes see each other at their festivals. Before a dance, the young men exhibit seats of activity and military skill, in . presence of the ladies, and the best performers have the privilege of chusing their partners. Females, when married, wear a vail; they pride themselves in the bravery of their husbands, and polish their arms. Widows tear their hair, and disfigure themselves with scars, at the death of their husbands. The husband and wife have each a separate hut for a dwelling, but they eat at the same table, so that the number of families is reckoned according to the number of kettles. 627. Chief Towns. Alessio. The principal town in this division of Turkey is Aleppo, or IIaleb, containing: 250,000 inhabitants, but some accounts state the number not higher than 100,000. It is situated on a small stream seventy miles east of Scandaroon, or the shore of the Mediterranean. North latitude 36, 12–east longitude 37, 40. The streets are well paved, and the houses large and commodious, with sky-lights and terraces, and being of nearly equal highth, they afford pleasant walks upon the top from house to house. The mosks are numerous and magnificent, and their minarets, intermingled with tall cypress trees, give the city a picturesk appearance. The caravanseras are spacious squares, with rooms on the ground floor for warehouses or stables, and in the second story is a colonade or gallery, from which doors lead to apartments in which merchants transact their business. 628. Trade of Alef/0. Aleppo is the residence of the Pasha of Syria, and the center of the commerce, not only of Syria, but of Armenia and Diarbekar. By means of caravans, it interchanges commodities with Bagdad and Bassora, with Egypt and Mecca ; and by Scanderoon it communicates with Europe. It exports raw or

spun cottons, coarse cloths, silk stuffs and shawls, goats hair, gall-nuts and India goods. It receives from Europe cloths, cochineal, indigo, sugar, and other groceries. The inhabitants are composed of Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Jews and Syrians. The common language is the vulgar Arabic, but the higher ranks speak the Turkish ; and the Armenian, Syriac and Hebrew, are spoke by other classes of people. The people are esteemed polite and affable. 629. Damascus. To the southward of Aleppo, at the distance of 210 miles, lies Damascus, in a fertile, well watered country, 50 miles from the sea. It is one of the most ancient cities in the world, being built, as is supposed, by Uz, the grandson of Shem, and it is called by the Arabs, El Shem. It contains about 180,000 inhabitants, but some authors estimate them at no more than 80,000. Most of these are Arabs and Turks. The houses are built with brick, and many of them have gates and doors adorned with marble portals, carved and inlaid with great beauty. Within these are large square courts ornamented with fragrant trees and marble fountains, encompassed with splendid apartments, The ceilings are richly painted and gilt, and on the sides are low seats spread with carpets, and furnished with cushions and bolsters, on which the Turks eat, sleep, and say their prayers. 630. Manufactures and Trade of Damascus. Damascus is the emporium of the south part of Syria, as Aleppo is of the north. Formerly Damascus was celebrated for the manufacture of the best sabers in the world, which were made of alternate thin layers of iron and steel, so as to bend to the hilt without breaking, but the art is lost. When Timur subdued Syria in the 15th century, he ordered all the artisans in steel to remove to Persia. The manufactures consist now of silk and cotton, and excellent soap made of olive oil, with kali and chalkFrom this city the silk cloth called damask takes its name, as also the species of plum called damson, which is a contraction of Damascene. This city sends caravans to Cairo, as in the times of the patriarchs, and carries on commerce with Persia and Europe. It is also the rendezvous of the pilgrims who go from the northern provinces to visit the tomb of Mahomet at Mecca. These amount to 30, 40 or 50,000 in a year, and during their stay they enliven the trade of Damascus. 63 I. Smyrna. Smyrna, now called Isomir, lies at the head of a bay, on the coast of Natolia, the ancient Ionia, in the 39th degree of north latitude, about 180 miles southward of Constantinople. The town is situated on a declivity, in front of a bay, which is a fine capacious harbor; and next to the water runs an elegant street, inhabited only by Franks or European merchants. The town is of a triangular form, about four miles in circumference, and contains about 100,000 souls, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews and Franks. It is very subject to vi-olent earthquakes, and has frequently been nearly ruined, but rebuilt on account of its excellent harbor. It is also frequently infested with the plague. But the trade of Smyrna is extensive, and groves of orange and lemon -trees, with hills covered with vines and olives, render it a delightful situation. 632. Prusa and Angora. Prusa, at the bottom of Olympus, is a beautiful city, in a romantic situation, enlivened by numerous rivulets which descend from the mountain. It contains about 60,000 inhabitants, and is celebrated for its hot baths. Angora, which is supposed to contain 80,000 inhabitants, is distinguished for breeding the finest goats in the world, and for stuffs made of the hair, which is white, and fine as silkThe cats of this place are also of a peculiar species. This city, formerly called Ancyra, is full of antiquities of great magnificence, among which are pillars of jasper and porphyry, some cylindrical, others with spiral channels, and some oval with plate bands from the top to the bottom of the pedestal. 633. Tokat and Bassora. Tokat is a city containing About 60,000 inhabitants, 280 miles north of Aleppo, near the foot of the Taurian chain of mountains. It is situated among ragged rocks of marble, with paved streets, and an abundant supply of water from springs. Its manufactures are silk, lether, and copper utensils, such as kettles, cups and candlesticks. Bassora, on an

estuary of the Euphrates, or navigable canal, is not strictly a city of Turkey, but closely connected with it in tradelt contains about 50,000 inhabitants, having been almost depopulated 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 Furope. 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 years it remained the seat of the powerful Saracenic cmpire. It was asterwards taken by the Tartars and Turks, and has since dwindled to a town of about 20,000 inhabitants. It still, }:owever, 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 inhabitants. The manufactures consist of copper, and considcrable commerce is herc carricq on between Persia and the Turkish dominions. - 635. Jerusalem. This celebrated city was originally called Salem, and is supposed to have been built by Melchisedick. When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, it was in possession of the Jebusitcs. 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 Romans 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 thc 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 dav. - 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 declivities except to the north. The soil near the city is stony, but produces olives, grapes and corn. A To the traveller it appears like a barren spot, yet it was once very populous 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. Tyre. 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 inhabitants 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 considerable 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 earthquakes, and other disasters, to a miserable village.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »