Page images

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 in 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, burdets, waxed linen, shagreen skins, blue, red and yellow morocco lether. The principal exports are coffee, rhubarb, turpentine, storax, gums, opium, galls, mastic, emery, lemnian bole, pomegranateshells, 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 dominions, 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 carried 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 traveilers 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 Joseph was sold by his brethren. 643. Rhodes. 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 convey 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. 6 4. Cyfrus. 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 formerly afforded. The soil is fertile, but agriculture is neglected. The inhabitants are computed at 50,000Its 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. -o-o-oRUSSIAN DOMINIONS IN ASIA. 645. Situation and Eartent. 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 presents some stefis, as they are called, which are vast elewated 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

i. to the 70th degree, is bound in almost perpetual - o 647. A sountains. The vast Altaic chain runs along -- the southern border of Russian Asia, in the direction of cast and west, to the Yenesee ; then running a more northerly direction, it takes the name of Sayansk; but beyond the lake, Baikal, it runs a north easterly course, under the names of Yablonnoy, Nershinsk and Stanovoi, to Ockosk. From this chain proceed inferior ridges in various directions. On the west is the Uralian chain, which divides Asia from Europe; and between the CasPian and Euxine, the chain of Caucasus, about 400 miles in length, presents summits clothed with perpetual Shovy. - - 648. Rivers. The Oby, or Ob. The Ob has two main branches, the Shabekan and the Irtish, which have their sources in Tartary, and penetrating the Altaic mountains, they unite below Samarof. Before it reaches - the ocean, it forms a large estuary, which discharges the waters into the Northern or Arctic Ocean. Its whole course is about 1900 miles. It abounds with fish, and is navigable almost to the lake Altyn, on the north of the Altaic mountains. - 649. The Yenesee. The Yenesee has its sources in the mountains of Altai and Sayansk, on the south of the great chain, and passing between two ridges, runs northerly, till it unites with another main branch called Angara, and afterwards Tunguska, which proceeds from the lake of Baikal. The river discharges its waters into the Arctic Ocean, after a course of 1750 miles. This river is also navigable, with some interruptions by rapids — The Angara is said to be a mile in bredth at its egress from the Baikal, and the channel is full of rocks, over which a rapid current dashes the waters with a tremendous roaring, like that of the sea in a tempest. a 650. The Lena. The third river in magnitude in Siberia is the Lena, which arises on the west of the Baikal, and receives, from the east of that lake, the Witim, another main branch, and Olekma, from the Yablonnoy mountains. Its course is north east and north, to the Arctic Ocean, and its length 1570 miles. It is very broad, and full of islands, its current gentle and bottorn sandy, and furnishing extensive inland navigation. These

[ocr errors]

three rivers, the Ob, the Yenesee and Lena, are among the largest on the globe. 651. Inferior Rivers. The secondary rivers in Siberia, which deserve notice, are the Selinga, which receives many considerable streams, as the Orchon, Tula, and others, and flows into the Baikal. The Yaik, or Ural, whose sources are in the Uralian mountains, flows into the Caspian. The Terek flows into the Caspian on the west, and the Kuban runs westerly into the Euxine. The Tobal is a large branch of the Ob. The Onon, or Shilka, a branch of the Amur, of 500 miles in length, is in Asiatic Russia. These, and numerous other rivers, are too little known to be described. 652. Lakes. The principal lake in Siberia is the Baikal, which extends from the 51st to the 55th degree of north latitude, about 350 miles, but its bredth of about 35 miles does not correspond with its length. It receives the large river, Selinga, and discharges its water by the Angara, a main branch of the Yenessee. Its water is clear, fresh and transparent, abounding with fish, especially a species of herring, called omuli, and containing some islands. Like the great lakes in the United States, it is subject to sudden and violent storms. To this may be added the lakes Piazinsko, in the north; the Bagdo, a salt lake, north of the Caspian; the Altan Nor, or Golden Lake, which is also salt; and the Altyn, on the north of the Altaic chain, which is about 40 miles in length. 653. Forests and Stefts. The northern border of Siberia is beyond the latitudes which produce timber, but the southern parts abound with forests. Among the singular features of Asiatic Russia, are the steps, so called, or extensive level plains, resembling the sandy deserts of Arabia. In general they are barren, or produce only thin grass and shrubby trees. Between the mouths of the Don and Volga is one of these steps, which has salt lakes, but no fresh water. The step of Issim, north east of the Caspian, with that of the Kalmuks, is 700 miles in length. The step of Barabin, northwest of Omsk, is 400 miles in length and 300 in bredth ; and between the

« PreviousContinue »