This abridgment is about half the length of the original text; although I've removed entire letters, I haven't cut anything within letters. Otherwise I've made minimal changes: I've regularized the usage of dashes, and have numbered the paragraphs within each letter for ease of reference. Footnotes from the original text are indicated with an asterisk, and are indented in the paragraph below the reference. The unabridged text is also available; full details on the copytext appear there.
[P.1] I was going, like common editors, to advertise the reader of the beauties and excellencies of the work laid before him: To tell him, that the illustrious author had opportunities that other travellers, whatever their quality or curiosity may have been, cannot obtain; and a genius capable of making the best improvement of every opportunity. But if the reader, after perusing one letter only has not discernment to distinguish that natural elegance, that delicacy of sentiment and observation, that easy gracefulness, and lovely simplicity, (which is the perfection of writing) and in which these Letters exceed all that has appeared in this kind, or almost in any other, let him lay the book down, and leave it to those who have.
[P.2] The noble author had the goodness to lend me her MS. to satisfy my curiosity in some inquiries I had made concerning her travels; and when I had it in my hands, how was it possible to part with it? I once had the vanity to hope I might acquaint the public, that it owed this invaluable treasure to my importunities. But, alas! the most ingenious author has condemned it to obscurity during her life; and conviction, as well as deference, obliges me to yield to her reasons. However, if these Letters appear hereafter, when I am in my grave, let this attend them, in testimony to posterity, that among her contemporaries, one woman, at least, was just to her merit.
[P.3] There is not any thing so excellent, but some will carp at it; and the rather, because of its excellency. But to such hypercritics I shall not say ************.
[P.4] I confess, I am malicious enough to desire, that the world should see to how much better purpose the Ladies travel than their Lords; and that, whilst it is surfeited with Male travels, all in the same tone, and stuffed with the same trifles; a lady has the skill to strike out a new path, and to embellish a worn-out subject with variety of fresh and elegant entertainment. For, besides the vivacity and spirit which enliven every part, and that inimitable beauty which spreads through the whole; besides the purity of the style, for which it may justly, be accounted the standard of the English tongue; the reader will find a more true and accurate account of the customs and manners of the several nations with whom this lady conversed, than he can in any other author. But, as her ladyship's penetration discovers the inmost follies of the heart, so the candour of her temper passed over them with an air of pity, rather than reproach; treating with the politeness of a court, and the gentleness of a lady, what the severity of her judgment could not but condemn.
[P.5] In short, let her own sex at least, do her justice; lay aside diabolical Envy, and its brother Malice* with all their accursed company, sly whispering, cruel back-biting, spiteful detraction, and the rest of that hideous crew, which, I hope, are very falsely said to attend the Tea-table, being more apt to think, they frequent those public places, where virtuous women never come. Let the men malign one another, if they think fit, and strive to pull down merit, when they cannot equal it. Let us be better natured, than to give way to any unkind or disrespectful thought of so bright an ornament of our sex, merely because she has better sense; for I doubt not but our hearts will tell us, that this is the real and unpardonable offence, whatever may be pretended. Let us be better Christians, than to look upon her with an evil eye, only because the giver of all good gifts has entrusted and adorned her with the most excellent talents. Rather let us freely own the superiority, of this sublime genius, as I do, in the sincerity of my soul; pleased that a woman triumphs, and proud to follow in her train. Let us offer her the palm which is so justly her due; and if we pretend to any laurels, lay them willingly at her feet.
* This fair and elegant prefacer has resolved that Malice should be of the masculine gender: I believe it is both masculine and feminine, and I heartily wish it were neuter.
December 18. 1724.
Charm'd into love of what obscures my fame,
If I had wit, I'd celebrate her name,
And all the beauties of her mind proclaim.
Till Malice, deafen'd with the mighty sound,
Its ill-concerted calumnies confound;
Let fall the mask, and with pale envy meet,
To ask and find, their pardon at her feet.
[P.6] You see, Madam, how I lay every thing at your feet. As the tautology shews the poverty of my genius, it likewise shews the extent of your empire over my imagination.
May 31. 1725.
Rotterdam, Aug. 3. O. S. 1716.
[1.1] I flatter myself, dear sister, that I shall give you some pleasure in letting you know that I have safely passed the sea, though we had the ill fortune of a storm. We were persuaded by the captain of the yacht to set out in a calm, and he pretended there was nothing so easy as to tide it over; but, after two days slowly moving, the wind blew so hard, that none of the sailors could keep their feet, and we were all Sunday night tossed very handsomely. I never saw a man more frighted than the captain. For my part, I have been so lucky, neither to suffer from fear nor seasickness; though, I confess, I was so impatient to see myself once more upon dry land, that I would not stay till the yacht could get to Rotterdam, but went in the long-boat to Helvoetsluys, where we had voitures to carry us to the Briel. I was charmed with the neatness of that little town; but my arrival at Rotterdam presented me a new scene of pleasure. All the streets are paved with broad stones, and before many of the meanest artificers doors are placed seats of various coloured marbles, so neatly kept, that, I assure you, I walked almost all over the town yesterday, incognito, in my slippers without receiving one spot of dirt; and you may see the Dutch maids washing the pavement of the street, with more application than ours do our bed-chambers. The town seems so full of people, with such busy faces, all in motion, that I can hardly fancy it is not some celebrated fair; but I see it is every day the same. 'Tis certain no town can be more advantageously situated for commerce. Here are seven large canals, on which the merchants ships come up to the very doors of their houses. The shops and warehouses are of a surprising neatness and magnificence, filled with an incredible quantity of fine merchandise, and so much cheaper than what we see in England, that I have much ado to persuade myself I am still so near it. Here is neither dirt nor beggary to be seen. One is not shocked with those loathsome cripples, so common in London, nor teased with the importunity of idle fellows and wenches, that chuse to be nasty and lazy. The common servants, and little shop-women, here, are more nicely clean than most of our ladies; and the great variety of neat dresses (every woman dressing her head after her own fashion) is an additional pleasure in seeing the town. You see, hitherto, I make no complaints, dear sister; and if I continue to like travelling as I do at present, I shall not repent my project. It will go a great way in making me satisfied with it, if it affords me an opportunity of entertaining you. But it is not from Holland that you may expect a disinterested offer. I can write enough in the stile of Rotterdam, to tell you plainly, in one word that I expect returns of all the London news. You see I have already learnt to make a good bargain; and that it is not for nothing I will so much as tell you,
I am your affectionate sister.
Nuremberg, Aug. 22. O. S. 1716.
[5.1] After five days travelling post, I could not sit down to write on any other occasion, than to tell my dear lady, that I have not forgot her obliging command, of sending her some account of my travels. I have already passed a large part of Germany, have seen all that is remarkable in Cologn, Frankfort, Wurtsburg, and this place. 'Tis impossible not to observe the difference between the free towns and those under the government of absolute princes, as all the little sovereigns of Germany are. In the first, there appears an air of commerce and plenty. The streets are well-built, and full of people, neatly and plainly dressed. The shops are loaded with merchandise, and the commonalty are clean and cheerful. In the other you see a sort of shabby finery, a number of dirty people of quality tawdered out; narrow nasty streets out of repair, wretchedly thin of inhabitants, and above half of the common sort asking alms. I cannot help fancying one under the figure of a clean Dutch citizen's wife, and the other like a poor town lady of pleasure, painted and ribboned out in her head-dress, with tarnished silver-laced shoes, a ragged under-petticoat, a miserable mixture of vice and poverty. — They have sumptuary laws in this town, which distinguish their rank by their dress, prevent the excess which ruins so many other cities, and has a more agreeable effect to the eye of a stranger, than our fashions. I need not be ashamed to own, that I wish these laws were in force in other parts of the world. When one considers impartially, the merit of a rich suit of clothes in most places, the respect and the smiles of favour it procures, not to speak of the envy and the sighs it occasions (which is very often the principal charm to the wearer), one is forced to confess, that there is need of an uncommon understanding to resist the temptation of pleasing friends and mortifying rivals; and that it is natural to young people to fall into a folly, which betrays them to that want of money which is the source of a thousand basenesses. What numbers of men have begun the world with generous inclinations, that have afterwards been the instruments of bringing misery on a whole people, being led by vain expence into debts that they could clear no other way but by the forfeit of their honour, and which they never could have contracted, if the respect the multitude pays to habits, was fixed by law, only to a particular colour or cut of plain cloth! These reflections draw after them others that are too melancholy. I will make haste to put them out of your head by the farce of relicks, with which I have been entertained in all Romish churches.
[5.2] The Lutherans are not quite free from these follies. I have seen here, in the principal church, a large piece of the cross set in jewels, and the point of the spear, which they told me very gravely, was the same that pierced the side of our Saviour. But I was particularly diverted in a little Roman Catholic church which is permitted here, where the professors of that religion are not very rich, and consequently cannot adorn their images in so rich a manner as their neighbour. For, not to be quite destitute of all finery, they have dressed up an image of our Saviour over the altar, in a fair full-bottomed wig very well powdered. I imagine I see your ladyship stare at this article, of which you very much doubt the veracity; but, upon my word, I have not yet made use of the privilege of a traveller; and my whole account is written with the same plain sincerity of heart, with which I assure you that I am, dear Madam,
yours, &c. &c.
Vienna, Sept. 20. O. S. 1716.
[10.1] I am extremely rejoiced, but not at all surprised, at the long, delightful letter, you have had the goodness to send me. I know that you can think of an absent friend even in the midst of a court, and you love to oblige, where you can have no view of a return; and I expect from you that you should love me, and think of me, when you don't see me. I have compassion for the mortifications that you tell me befel our little old friend, and I pity her much more, since I know, that they are only owing to the barbarous customs of our country. Upon my word, if she were here, she would have no other fault but that of being something too young for the fashion, and she has nothing to do but to transplant herself hither about seven years hence, to be again a young and blooming beauty. I can assure you, that wrinkles, or a small stoop in the shoulders, nay, even gray-hairs, are no objection to the making new conquests. I know you cannot easily figure to yourself, a young fellow of five and twenty, ogling my lady S—ff—k with passion, or pressing to hand the countess of O——d from an opera. But such are the sights I see every day, and I don't perceive any body surprized at them but myself. A woman, till five and thirty, is only looked upon as a raw girl, and can possibly make no noise in the world, till about forty. I don't know what your ladyship may think of this matter; but 'tis a considerable comfort to me, to know there is upon earth such a paradise for old women; and I am content to be insignificant at present, in the design of returning when I am fit to appear no where else. I cannot help, lamenting, on this occasion, the pitiful case of too many English ladies, long since retired to prudery and ratafia, who, if their stars had luckily conducted hither, would shine in the first rank of beauties. Besides, that perplexing word reputation, has quite another meaning here than what you give it at London; and getting a lover is so far from losing, that 'tis properly getting reputation; ladies being much more respected in regard to the rank of their lovers, than that of their husbands.
[10.2] But what you'll think very odd, the two sects that divide our whole nation of petticoats, are utterly unknown in this place. Here are neither coquettes nor prudes. No woman dares appear coquette enough to encourage two lovers at a time. And I have not seen any such prudes as to pretend fidelity to their husbands, who are certainly the best natured set of people in the world, and look upon their wives' gallants as favourably as men do upon their deputies, that take the troublesome part of their business off their hands. They have not however the less to do on that account; for they are generally deputies in another place themselves; in one word, 'tis the established custom for every lady to have two husbands, one that bears the name, and another that performs the duties. And the engagements are so well known, that it would be a downright affront, and publicly resented, if you invited a woman of quality to dinner, without, at the same time, inviting her two attendants of lover and husband, between whom she sits in state with great gravity. The sub-marriages generally last twenty years together, and the lady often commands the poor lover's estate, even to the utter ruin of his family. These connections, indeed, are as seldom begun by any real passion as other matches; for a man makes but an ill figure that is not in some commerce of this nature; and a woman looks out for a lover as soon as she's married, as part of her equipage, without which she could not be genteel; and the first article of the treaty is establishing the pension, which remains to the lady, in case the gallant should prove inconstant. This chargeable point of honour, I look upon as the real foundation of so many wonderful influences of constancy. I really know some women of the first quality, whose pensions are as well known as their annual rents, and yet nobody esteems them the less; on the contrary, their discretion would be called in question, if they should be suspected to be mistresses for nothing. A great part of their emulation consists in trying who shall get most; and having no intrigue at all, is so far a disgrace, that, I'll assure you, a lady, who is very much my friend here, told me but yesterday, how much I was obliged to her for justifying my conduct in a conversation relating to me, where it was publicly asserted, that I could not possibly have common sense, since I had been in town above a fortnight, and had made no steps towards commencing an amour. My friend pleaded for me, that my stay was uncertain, and she believed that was the cause of my seeming stupidity; and this was all she could find to say in my justification. But one of the pleasantest adventures I ever met with in my life was last night, and it will give you a just idea in what a delicate manner the belles passions are managed in this country. I was at the assembly of the countess of ——, and the young count of —— leading me down stairs, asked me how long I was to stay at Vienna? I made answer, that my stay depended on the emperor, and it was not in my power to determine it. Well, madam, (said he) whether your time here is to be longer or shorter, I think you ought to pass it agreeably, and to that end you must engage in a little affair of the heart. ——— My heart, (answered I gravely enough) does not engage very easily, and I have no design of parting with it. I see, madam, (said he sighing) by the ill nature of that answer, I am not to hope for it, which is a great mortification to me that am charmed with you. But, however, I am still devoted to your service; and since I am not worthy of entertaining you myself, do me the honour of letting me know whom you like best amongst us, and I'll engage to manage the affair entirely to your satisfaction. You may judge in what manner I should have received this compliment in my own country; but I was well enough acquainted with the way of this, to know that he really intended me an obligation, and I thanked him with a very grave courtesy for his zeal to serve me, and only assured him, I had no occasion to make use of it. Thus you see, my dear, that gallantry and good-breeding are as different, in different climates, as morality and religion. Who have the rightest notions of both, we shall never know till the day of judgment; for which great day of eclaircissement, I own there is very little impatience in
your, &c. &c.
Vienna, Oct. 1. O. S. 1716.
[12.1] You desire me, madam, to send you some accounts of the customs here, and at the same time a description of Vienna. I am always willing to obey your commands; but you must, upon this occasion, take the will for the deed. If I should undertake to tell you all the particulars, in which the manners here differ from ours, I must write a whole quire of the dullest stuff that ever was read, or printed without being read. Their dress agrees with the French or English in no one article, but wearing petticoats. They have many fashions peculiar to themselves; they think it indecent for a widow ever to wear green or rose colour, but all the other gayest colours at her own discretion. The assemblies here are the only regular diversion, the operas being always at court, and commonly on some particular occasion. Madam Rabutin has the assembly constantly every night at her house; and the other ladies, whenever they have a mind to display the magnificence of their apartments, or oblige a friend by complimenting them on the day of their saint, they declare, that on such a day the assembly shall be at their house in honour of the feast of the count or countess —— such a one. These days are called days of Gala, and all the friends or relations of the lady, whose saint it is, are obliged to appear in their best clothes, and all their jewels. The mistress of the house takes no particular notice of any body, nor returns any body's visit; and, whoever pleases, may go, without the formality of being presented. The company are entertained with ice in several forms, winter and summer; afterwards they divide into several parties of ombre, piquet, or conversation, all games of hazard being forbid.
[12.2] I saw t'other day the Gala for Count Altheim, the emperor's favourite, and never in my life saw so many fine clothes ill-fancied. They embroider the richest gold stuffs; and provided they can make their clothes expensive enough, that is all the taste they shew in them. On other days, the general dress is a scarf, and what you please under it.
[12.3] But now I am speaking of Vienna, I am sure you expect I should say something of the convents; they are of all sorts and sizes, but I am best pleased with that of St Lawrence, where the ease and neatness they seem to live with, appears to be much more edifying than those stricter orders, where perpetual penance and nastiness must breed discontent and wretchedness. The Nuns are all of quality. I think there are to the number of fifty. They have each of them a little cell perfectly clean, the walls of which are covered with pictures more or less fine, according to their quality. A long white stone gallery runs by all of them, furnished with the pictures of exemplary sisters; the chapel is extremely neat and richly adorned. But I could not forbear laughing at their shewing me a wooden head of our Saviour, which, they assured me, spoke during the siege of Vienna; and, as a proof of it, bid me mark his mouth, which had been open ever since. Nothing can be more becoming than the dress of these Nuns. It is a white robe, the sleeves of which are turned up with fine white callico, and their head-dress the same, excepting a small veil of black crape that falls behind. They have a lower sort of serving Nuns, that wait on them as their chambermaids. They receive all visits of women, and play at ombre in their chambers, with permission of their abbess, which is very easy to be obtained. I never saw an old woman so good-natured; she is near fourscore, and yet shews very little sign of decay, being still lively and cheerful. She caressed me as if I had been her daughter, giving me some pretty things of her own work, and sweetmeats in abundance. The grate is not of the most rigid; it is not very hard to put a head through, and I don't doubt but a man, a little more slender than ordinary, might squeeze in his whole person. The young count of Salamis came to the grate, while I was there, and the abbess gave him her hand to kiss. But I was surprised to find here, the only beautiful young woman I have seen at Vienna, and not only beautiful but genteel, witty, and agreeable, of a great family, and who had been the admiration of the town. I could not forbear shewing my surprise at seeing a Nun like her. She made me a thousand obliging compliments, and desired me to come often. It will be an infinite pleasure to me, (said she, sighing) but I avoid, with the greatest care, seeing any of my former acquaintance, and whenever they come to our convent, I lock myself in my cell. I observed tears come into her eyes, which touched me extremely, and I began to talk to her in that strain of tender pity she inspired me with; but she would not own to me, that she is not perfectly happy. I have since endeavoured to learn the real cause of her retirement, without being able to get any other account, but that every body was surprised at it, and no body guessed the reason. I have been several times to see her; but it gives me too much melancholy to see so agreeable a young creature buried alive. I am not surprised that Nuns have so often inspired violent passions; the pity one naturally feels for them, when they seem worthy of another destiny, making an easy way for yet more tender sentiments. I never in my life had so little charity for the Roman Catholick religion, as since I see the misery it occasions; so many poor unhappy women! and then the gross superstition of the common people, who are some or other of them, day and night, offering bits of candle to the wooden figures that are set up almost in every street. The processions I see very often, are a pageantry, as offensive, and apparently contradictory to common sense, as the pagods of China. God knows whether it be the womanly spirit of contradiction that works in me; but there never before was such zeal against popery in the heart of,
Dear madam, &c. &c.
Belgrade, Feb. 12. O. S. 1717.
[24.1] I did verily intend to write you a long letter from Peterwaradin, where I expected to stay three or four days; but the bassa here was in such haste to see us, that he dispatched the courier back (which Mr W—— had sent to know the time he would send the convoy to meet us) without suffering him to pull off his boots. My letters were not thought important enough to stop our journey; and we left Peterwaradin the next day, being waited on by the chief officers of the garrison, and a considerable convoy of Germans and Rascians. The emperor has several regiments of these people; but, to say the truth, they are rather plunderers than soldiers; having no pay, and being obliged to furnish their own arms and horses; they rather look like vagabond gypsies, or stout beggars, than regular troops. I cannot forbear speaking a word of this race of creatures, who are very numerous all over Hungary. They have a patriarch of their own at Grand Cairo, and are really of the Greek church; but their extreme ignorance gives their priests occasion to impose several new notions upon them. These fellows, letting their hair and beard grow inviolate, make exactly the figure of the Indian bramins. They are heirs-general to all the money of the laity; for which, in return, they give them formal passports signed and sealed for heaven; and the wives and children only inherit the house and cattle. In most other points they follow the Greek church. —— This little digression has interrupted my telling you we passed over the fields of Carlowitz, where the last great victory was obtained by prince Eugene over the Turks. The marks of that glorious bloody day are yet recent, the field being yet strewed with the skulls and carcasses of unburied men, horses, and camels. I could not look, without horror, on such numbers of mangled human bodies, nor without reflecting on the injustice of war, that makes murder not only necessary but meritorious. Nothing seems to be a plainer proof of the irrationality of mankind (whatever fine claims we pretend to reason) than the rage with which they contest for a small spot of ground, when such vast parts of fruitful earth lie quite uninhabited. 'Tis true, custom has now made it unavoidable; but can there be a greater demonstration of want of reason, than a custom being firmly established, so plainly contrary to the interest of man in general? I am a good deal inclined to believe Mr Hobbs, that the state of nature is a state of war; but thence I conclude human nature, not rational, if the word reason means common sense, as I suppose it does. I have a great many admirable arguments to support this refection; I won't however trouble you with them, but return, in a plain style, to the history of my travels.
[24.2] We were met at Betsko (a village in the midway between Belgrade and Peterwaradin) by an aga of the janizaries, with a body of Turks, exceeding the Germans by one hundred men, though the bassa had engaged to send exactly the same number. You may judge by this of their fears. I am really persuaded, that they hardly thought the odds of one hundred men set them even with the Germans; however, I was very uneasy till they were parted, fearing some quarrel might arise, notwithstanding the parole given. We came late to Belgrade, the deep snows making the ascent to it very difficult. It seems a strong city, fortified on the east side by the Danube; and on the south by the river Save, and was formerly the barrier of Hungary. It was first taken by Solyman the Magnificent, and since by the emperor's forces, led by the elector of Bavaria. The emperor held it only two Years, it being retaken by the grand vizier. It is now fortified with the utmost care and skill the Turks are capable of, and strengthened by a very numerous garrison of their bravest janizaries, commanded by a bassa seraskier (i.e. general) though this last expression is not very just; for, to say truth, the seraskier is commanded by the janizaries. These troops have an absolute authority here, and their conduct carries much more the aspect of rebellion, than the appearance of subordination. You may judge of this by the following story, which, at the same time, will give you an idea of the admirable intelligence of the governor of Peterwaradin, though so few hours distant. We were told by him at Peterwaradin, that the garrison and inhabitants of Belgrade were so weary of the war, they had killed their bassa about two months ago, in a mutiny, because he had suffered himself to be prevailed upon, by a bribe of five purses (five hundred pounds sterling) to give permission to the Tartars to ravage the German frontiers. We were very well pleased to hear of such favourable dispositions in the people; but when we came hither, we found the governor had been ill-informed, and the real truth of the story to be this. The late bassa fell under the displeasure of his soldiers; for no other reason, but restraining their incursions on the Germans. They took it into their heads, from that mildness, that he had intelligence with the enemy, and sent such information to the grand signior at Adrianople; but, redress not coming quick enough from thence, they assembled themselves in a tumultuous manner, and by force dragged their bassa before the cadi and mufti, and there demanded justice in a mutinous way; one crying out, Why he protected the infidels? Another, Why he squeezed them of their money? The bassa easily guessing their purpose, calmly replied to them, that they asked him too many questions, and that he had but one life, which must answer for all. They then immediately fell upon him with their scimitars (without waiting the sentence of their heads of the law) and in a few moments cut him in pieces. The present bassa has not dared to punish the murder; on the contrary, he affected to applaud the actors of it, as brave fellows, that knew to do themselves justice. He takes all pretences of throwing money among the garrison, and suffers them to make little excursions into Hungary, where they burn some poor Rascian houses.
[24.3] You may imagine, I cannot be very easy in a town which is really under the government of an insolent soldiery. —— We expected to be immediately dismissed, after a night's lodging here, but the bassa detains us till he receives orders from Adrianople, which may, possibly be a month a-coming. In the mean time, we are lodged in one of the best houses, belonging to a very considerable man amongst them, and have a whole chamber of janizaries to guard us. My only diversion is the conversation of our host, Achmet Beg, a title something like that of count in Germany. His father was a great bassa, and he has been educated in the most polite eastern learning, being perfectly skilled in the Arabic and Persian languages, and an extraordinary scribe, which they call effendi. This accomplishment makes way to the greatest preferments; but he has had the good sense to prefer an easy, quiet, secure life, to all the dangerous honours of the Porte. He sups with us every night, and drinks wine very freely. You cannot imagine how much he is delighted with the liberty of conversing with me. He has explained to me many pieces of Arabian poetry, which, I observe, are in numbers not unlike ours, generally of an alternate verse, and of a very musical sound. Their expressions of love are very passionate and lively. I am so much pleased with them, I really believe I should learn to read Arabic, if I was to stay here a few months. He has a very good library of their books of all kinds; and, as he tells me, spends the greatest part of his life there. I pass for a great scholar with him, by relating to him some of the Persian tales, which I find are genuine. At first he believed I understood Persian. I have frequent disputes with him concerning the difference of our customs, particularly the confinement of women. He assures me, there is nothing at all in it; only, says he, we have the advantage, that when our wives cheat us, nobody knows it. He has wit, and is more polite than many Christian men of quality. I am very much entertained with him. —— He has had the curiosity to make one of our servants set him an alphabet of our letters, and can already write a good Roman hand. But these amusements do not hinder my wishing heartily to be out of this place; though the weather is colder than I believe it ever was, any where, but in Greenland. —— We have a very large stove constantly kept hot, and yet the windows of the room are frozen on the inside. — God knows when I may have an opportunity of sending this letter: but I have written it, for the discharge of my own conscience and you cannot now reproach me, that one of yours makes ten of mine. Adieu.
Adrianople, April 1. O. S. 1717.
[25.1] I have now, madam, finished a journey that has not been undertaken by any Christian since the time of the Greek emperors: and I shall not regret all the fatigues I have suffered in it, if it gives me an opportunity of amusing your R. H. by an account of places utterly unknown amongst us; the emperor's ambassadors, and those few English that have come hither, always going on the Danube to Nicopolis. But the river was now frozen, and Mr W—— was so zealous for the service of his Majesty, that he would not defer his journey to wait for the conveniency of that passage. We crossed the deserts of Servia, almost quite over-grown with wood, through a country naturally fertile. The inhabitants are industrious; but the oppression of the peasants is so great, they are forced to abandon their houses, and neglect their tillage, all they have being a prey to the janizaries, whenever they please to seize upon it. We had a guard of five hundred of them, and I was almost in tears every day, to see their insolencies in the poor villages through which we passed. —— After seven days travelling through thick woods, we came to Nissa, once the capital of Servia, situated in a fine plain on the river Nissava, in a very good air, and so fruitful a soil, that the great plenty is hardly credible. I was certainly assured, that the quantity of wine last vintage was so prodigious, that they were forced to dig holes in the earth to put it in, not having vessels enough in the town to hold it. The happiness of this plenty is scarce perceived by the oppressed people. I saw here a new occasion for my compassion. The wretches that had provided twenty waggons for our baggage from Belgrade hither for a certain hire, being all sent back without payment, some of their horses lamed, and others killed, without any satisfaction made for them. The poor fellows came round the house weeping and tearing their hair and beards in a most pitiful manner, without getting any thing but drubs from the insolent soldiers. I cannot express to your R. H. how much I was moved at this scene. I would have paid them the money out of my own pocket, with all my heart; but it Would only have been giving so much to the aga, who would have taken it from them without any remorse. After four days journey from this place over the mountains, we came to Sophia, situated in a large beautiful plain on the river Isca, and surrounded with distant mountains. 'Tis hardly possible to see a more agreeable landscape. The city itself is very large, and extremely populous. Here are hot baths, very famous for their medicinal virtues. —— Four days journey from hence we arrived at Philippopolis, after having passed the ridges between the mountains of Hæmus and Rhodope, which are always covered with snow. This town is situated on a rising ground near the river Hebrus, and is almost wholly inhabited by Greeks; here are still some ancient Christian churches. They have a bishop; and several Of the richest Greeks live here; but they are forced to conceal their wealth with great care, the appearance of poverty [which includes part of its inconveniencies] being all their security against feeling it in earnest. The country from hence to Adrianople, is the finest in the world. Vines grow wild on all the hills; and the perpetual spring they enjoy makes every thing gay and flourishing. But this climate, happy as it seems, can never be preferred to England, with all its frosts and snows, while we are blessed with an easy government, under a king, who makes his own happiness consist in the liberty of his people, and chuses rather to be looked upon as their father than their master. —— This theme would carry me very far, and I am sensible, I have already tired out your R. H.'s patience. But my letter is in your hands, and you may make it as short as you please, by throwing it into the fire, when weary of reading it.
I am, madam,
With the greatest respect, &c.
Adrianople, April 1. O. S. 1717.
[26.1] I am now got into a new world, where every thing I see appears to me a change of scene; and I write to your ladyship with some content of mind, hoping, at least, that you will find the charms of novelty in my letters, and no longer reproach me, that I tell you nothing extraordinary. I won't trouble you with a relation of our tedious journey; but must not omit what I saw remarkable at Sophia, one of the most beautiful towns in the Turkish empire, and famous for its hot baths, that are resorted to both for diversion and health. I stopped here one day, on purpose to see them; and, designing to go incognito, I hired a Turkish coach. These voitures are not at all like ours, but much more convenient for the country, the heat being so great, that glasses would be very troublesome. They are made a good deal in the manner of the Dutch stage-coaches, having wooden lattices painted and gilded; the inside being also painted with baskets and nosegays of flowers, intermixed commonly with little poetical mottos. They are covered all over with scarlet cloth, lined with silk, and very often richly embroidered and fringed. This covering entirely hides the persons in them, but may be thrown back at pleasure, and thus permits the ladies to peep through the lattices. They hold four people very conveniently, seated on cushions, but not raised.
[26.2] In one of these covered waggons, I went to the bagnio about ten o'clock. It was already full of women. It is built of stone, in the shape of a dome, with no windows but in the roof, which gives light enough. There were five of these domes joined together, the outmost being less than the rest, and serving only as a hall, where the portress stood at the door. Ladies of quality generally give this woman a crown or ten shillings; and I did not forget that ceremony. The next room is a very large one paved with marble, and all round it are two raised sofas of marble, one above another. There were four fountains of cold water in this room, falling first into marble basons, and then running on the floor in little channels made for that purpose, which carried the streams into the next room, something less than this, with the same sort of marble sofas, but so hot with steams of sulphur proceeding from the baths joining to it, 'twas impossible to stay there with one's cloaths on. The two other domes were the hot baths, one of which had cocks of cold water turning into it, to temper it to what degree of warmth the bathers pleased to have.
[26.3] I was in my travelling habit, which is a riding dress, and certainly appeared very extraordinary to them. Yet there was not one of them that shewed the least surprise or impertinent curiosity, but received me with all the obliging civility possible. I know no European court, where the ladies would have behaved themselves in so polite a manner to such a stranger. I believe, upon the whole, there were two hundred women, and yet none of those disdainful smiles, and satirical whispers, that never fail in our assemblies, when any body appears that is not dressed exactly in the fashion. They repeated over and over to me; "Uzelle, pek uzelle," which is nothing but, Charming, very Charming. —— The first sofas were covered with cushions and rich carpets, on which sat the ladies; and on the second, their slaves behind them, but without any distinction of rank by their dress, all being in the state of nature, that is, in plain English, stark naked, without any beauty or defect concealed. Yet there was not the least wanton smile or immodest gesture amongst them. They walked and moved with the same majestic grace, which Milton describes our general mother with. There were many amongst them, as exactly proportioned as ever any goddess was drawn by the pencil of a Guido or Titian, — and most of their skins shiningly white, only adorned by their beautiful hair divided into many tresses, hanging on their shoulders, braided either with pearl or ribbon, perfectly representing the figures of the Graces.
[26.4] I was here convinced of the truth of a reflection I have often made, That if it were the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observed. I perceived, that the ladies of the most delicate skins and finest shapes had the greatest share of my admiration, though their faces were sometimes less beautiful than those of their companions. To tell you the truth, I had wickedness enough, to wish secretly, that Mr Gervais could have been there invisible. I fancy it would have very much improved his art, to see so many fine women naked, in different postures, some in conversation, some working, others drinking coffee or sherbet, and many negligently lying on their cushions, while their slaves (generally pretty girls of seventeen or eighteen) were employed in braiding their hair in several pretty fancies. In short, 'tis the women's coffee-house, where all the news of the town is told, scandal invented, &c. —— They generally take this diversion once a-week, and stay there at least four or five hours, without getting cold by immediate coming out of the hot bath into the cold room, which was very surprising to me. The lady, that seemed the most considerable among them, entreated me to sit by her, and would fain have undressed me for the bath. I excused myself with some difficulty. They being however all so earnest in persuading me, I was at last forced to open my shirt, and shew them my stays; which satisfied them very well; for, I saw, they believed I was locked up in that machine, and that it was not in my own power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my husband, —— I was charmed with their civility and beauty, and should have been very glad to pass more time with them; but Mr W—— resolving to pursue his journey next morning early, I was in haste to see the ruins of Justinian's church, which did not afford me so agreeable a prospect as I had left, being little more than a heap Of stones.
[26.5] Adieu, madam, I am sure I have now entertained you with an account of such a sight as you never saw in your life, and what no book of travels could inform you of, as 'tis no less than death for a man to be found in one of these places.
Adrianople, April 1. O. S. 1717.
[27.1] You see I am very exact in keeping the promise you engaged me to make. I know not, however, whether your curiosity will be satisfied with the accounts I shall give you, though I can assure you, the desire I have to oblige you to the utmost of my power, has made me very diligent in my enquiries and observations. 'Tis certain we have but very imperfect accounts of the manners and religion of these people; this part of the world being seldom visited, but by merchants, who mind little but their own affairs; or travellers, who make too short a stay, to be able to report any thing exactly of their own knowledge. The Turks are too proud to converse familiarly with merchants, who can only pick up some confused informations, which are generally false; and can give no better account of the ways here, than a French refugee, lodging in a garret in Greek-street, could write of the court of England. The journey we have made from Belgrade hither, cannot possibly be passed by any out of a public character. The desert woods of Servia, are the common refuge of thieves, who rob fifty in a company, so that we had need of all our guards to secure us; and the villages are so poor, that only force could extort from them necessary provisions. Indeed the janizaries had no mercy on their poverty, killing all the poultry and sheep they could find, without asking to whom they belonged; while the wretched owners durst not put in their claim, for fear of being beaten. Lambs just fallen, geese and turkies big with egg, all massacred without distinction! I fancied I heard the complaints of Melibeus for the hope of his flock. When the bassas travel, 'tis yet worse. These oppressors are not content with eating all that is to be eaten belonging to the peasants; after they have crammed themselves and their numerous retinue, they have the impudence to exact what they call teeth-money, a contribution for the use of their teeth, worn with doing them the honour of devouring their meat. This is literally and exactly true, however extravagant it may seem; and such is the natural corruption of a military government, their religion not allowing of this barbarity, any more than ours does.
[27.2] I had the advantage of lodging three weeks at Belgrade, with a principal effendi, that is to say a scholar. This set of men are equally capable of preferments in the law or the church, these two sciences being cast into one, and a lawyer and a priest being the same word in the Turkish language. They are the only men really considerable in the empire; all the profitable employments and church revenues are in their hands. The grand signior, though general heir to his people, never presumes to touch their lands or money, which go, in an uninterrupted succession, to their children. 'Tis true, they lose this privilege, by accepting a place at court, or the title of Bassa; but there are few examples of such fools among them. You may easily judge of the power of these men, who have engrossed all the learning, and almost all the wealth of the empire. 'Tis they that are the real authors, though the soldiers are the actors of revolutions. They deposed the late sultan Mustapha; and their power is so well known, that 'tis the emperor's interest to flatter them.
[27.3] This is a long digression. I was going to tell you, that an intimate daily conversation with the effendi Achmet-beg, gave me an opportunity of knowing their religion and morals in a more particular manner than perhaps any Christian ever did. I explained to him the difference between the religion of England and Rome; and he was pleased to hear there were Christians that did not worship images, or adore the Virgin Mary. The ridicule of transubstantiation appeared very strong to him. —— Upon comparing our creeds together, I am convinced that if our friend Dr —— had free liberty of preaching here, it would be very easy to persuade the generality to Christianity, whose notions are very little different from his. Mr Whiston would make a very good apostle here. I don't doubt but his zeal will be much fired, if you communicate this account to him; but tell him, he must first have the gift of tongues, before he can possibly be of any use. —— Mahometism is divided into as many sects as Christianity; and the first institution as much neglected and obscured by interpretations. I cannot here forbear reflecting on the natural inclination of mankind, to make mysteries and novelties. — The Zeidi, Kudi, Jabari, &c. put me in mind of the Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, and are equally zealous against one another. But the most prevailing opinion, if you search into the secret of the effendis, is, plain deism. This is indeed kept from the people, who are amused with a thousand different notions, according to the different interest of their preachers. —— There are very few amongst them (Achmet-beg denied there were any) so absurd, as to set up for wit, by declaring they believe no God at all. And Sir Paul Rycaut is mistaken (as he commonly is) in calling the sect muterin, (i.e. the secret with us) atheists, they being deists, whose impiety consists in making a jest of their prophet. Achmet-beg did not own to me that he was of this opinion; but made no scruple of deviating from some part of Mahomet's law, by drinking wine with the same freedom we did. When I asked him how he came to allow himself that liberty? He made answer, that all the creatures of God are good, and designed for the use of man; however, that the prohibition of wine was a very wise maxim, and meant for the common people, being the source of all disorders amongst them; but, that the prophet never designed to confine those that knew how to use it with moderation; nevertheless, he said, that scandal ought to be avoided, and that he never drank it in public. This is the general way of thinking amongst them, and very few forbear drinking wine that are able to afford it. He assured me, that if I understood Arabic, I should be very well pleased with reading the alcoran, which is so far from the nonsense we charge it with, that it is the purest morality, delivered in the very best language. I have since heard impartial Christians speak of it in the same manner; and I don't doubt but that all our translations are from copies got from the Greek priests, who would not fail to falsify it with the extremity of malice. No body of men ever were more ignorant, or more corrupt; yet they differ so little from the Romish church, that, I confess, nothing gives me a greater abhorrence of the cruelty of your clergy, than the barbarous persecution of them, whenever they have been their masters, for no other reason than their not acknowledging the pope. The dissenting in that one article, has got them the titles of heretics and schismatics; and, what is worse, the same treatment. I found at Philippopolis, a sect of Christians that call themselves Paulines. They shew an old church, where, they say, St Paul preached; and he is their favourite saint, after the same manner that St Peter is at Rome; neither do they forget to give him the same preference over the rest of the apostles.
[27.4] But of all the religions I have seen, that of the Arnounts seems to me the most particular; they are natives of Arnountlich, the ancient Macedonia, and still retain the courage and hardiness, though they have lost the name of Macedonians, being the best militia in the Turkish empire, and the only check upon the janizaries. They are foot soldiers; we had a guard of them, relieved in every considerable town we passed; they are all cloathed and armed at their own expence, dressed in clean white coarse cloth, carrying guns of a prodigious length, which they run with upon their shoulders, as if they did not feel the weight of them, the leader singing a sort of rude tune, not unpleasant, and the rest making up the chorus. These people living between Christians and Mahometans, and not being skilled in controversy, declare, that they are utterly unable to judge which religion is best; but, to be certain of not entirely rejecting the truth, they very prudently follow both. They go to the mosques on Fridays, and to the church on Sunday, saying, for their excuse, that at the day of judgment they are sure of protection from the true prophet; but which that is, they are not able to determine in this world. I believe there is no other race of mankind, who have so modest an opinion of their own capacity.
[27.5] These are the remarks I have made, on the diversity of religions I have seen. I don't ask your pardon for the liberty I have taken in speaking of the Roman. I know you equally condemn the quakery of all churches, as much as you revere the sacred truths, in which we both agree.
[27.6] You will expect I should say something to you of the antiquities of this country; but there are few remains of ancient Greece. We passed near the piece of an arch, which is commonly called Trajan's Gate, from a supposition, that he made it to shut up the passage over the mountains, between Sophia and Philippopolis. But I rather believe it the remains of some triumphal arch, (tho' I could not see any inscription;) for if that passage had been shut up, there are many others that would serve for the march of an army; and, notwithstanding the story of Baldwin earl of Flanders being overthrown in these straits, after he won Constantinople, I don't fancy the Germans would find themselves stopped by them at this day. 'Tis true, the road is now made (with great industry) as commodious as possible, for the march of the Turkish army; there is not one ditch or puddle between this place and Belgrade, that has not a large strong bridge of planks built over it; but the precipices are not so terrible as I had heard them represented. At these mountains we lay at the little village Kiskoi, wholly inhabited by Christians, as all the peasants of Bulgaria are. Their houses are nothing but little huts, raised of dirt baked in the sun; and they leave them and fly into the mountains, some months before the march of the Turkish army, who would else entirely ruin them, by driving away their whole flocks. This precaution Secures them in a sort of plenty; for such vast tracts of land lying in common, they have the liberty of sowing what they please, and are generally very industrious husbandmen. I drank here several sorts of delicious wine. The women dress themselves in a great variety of coloured glass beads, and are not ugly, but of a tawny complexion. I have now told you all that is worth telling you, and perhaps more, relating to my journey. When I am at Constantinople, I'll try to pick up some curiosities, and then you shall hear again from
Adrianople, April 1. O. S. 1717.
[29.1] I wish to God, dear sister, that you were as regular in letting me know what passes on your side of the globe, as I am careful in endeavouring to amuse you by the account of all I see here, that I think worth your notice. You content yourself with telling me over and over, that the town is very dull: it may, possibly, be dull to you, when every day does not present you with something new; but for me that am in arrears, at least two months news, all that seems very stale with you, would be very fresh and sweet here. Pray let me into more particulars, and I will try to awaken your gratitude, by giving you a full and true relation of the novelties of this place, none of which would surprise you more than a sight of my person, as I am now in my Turkish habit, though I believe you would be of my opinion, that 'tis admirably becoming. —— I intend to send you my picture; in the mean time accept of it here.
[29.2] The first part of my dress is a pair of drawers, very full that reach to my shoes, and conceal the legs more modestly than your petticoats. They are of a thin rose-coloured damask, brocaded with silver flowers. My shoes are of white kid leather, embroidered with gold. Over this hangs my smock, of a fine white silk gauze, edged with embroidery. This smock has wide sleeves hanging half way down the arm, and is closed at the neck with a diamond button; but the shape and colour of the bosom is very well to be distinguished through it. —— The antery is a waistcoat, made close to the shape, of white and gold damask, with very long sleeves falling back, and fringed with deep gold fringe, and should have diamond or pearl buttons. My caftan, of the same stuff with my drawers, is a robe exactly fitted to my shape, and reaching to my feet, with very long strait falling sleeves. Over this is my girdle, of about four fingers broad, which, all that can afford it, have entirely of diamonds or other precious stones; those who will not be at that expence, have it of exquisite embroidery on sattin; but it must be fastened before with a clasp of diamonds. —— The curdee is a loose robe they throw off, or put on, according to the weather, being of a rich brocade (mine is green and gold) either lined with ermine or sables; the sleeves reach very little below the shoulders. The head dress is composed of a cap, called talpock, which is, in winter, of fine velvet embroidered with pearls or diamonds, and in summer, of a light shining silver stuff. This is fixed on one side of the head, hanging a little way down with a gold tassel, and bound on, either with a circle of diamonds (as I have seen several) or a rich embroidered handkerchief. On the other side of the head, the hair is laid flat; and here the ladies are at liberty to shew their fancies; some putting flowers, others a plume of heron's feathers, and, in short, what they please; but the most general fashion is a large bouquet of jewels, made like natural flowers; that is, the buds, of pearl; the roses, of different coloured rubies: the jessamines, of diamonds; the jonquils, of topazes, &c. so well set and enamelled, 'tis hard to imagine any thing of that kind so beautiful. The hair hangs at its full length behind, divided into tresses braided with pearl or ribbon, which is always in great quantity. I never saw in my life so many fine heads of hair. In one lady's, I have counted a hundred and ten of the tresses, all natural; but it must be owned, that every kind of beauty is more common here than with us. 'Tis surprising to see a young woman that is not very handsome. They have naturally the most beautiful complexion in the world, and generally large black eyes. I can assure you with great truth, that the court of England (though I believe it the fairest in Christendom) does not contain so many beauties as are under our protection here. They generally shape their eye-brows, and both Greeks and Turks have the custom of putting round their eyes a black tincture, that, at a distance, or by candle-light, adds very much to the blackness of them. I fancy many of our ladies would be overjoyed to know this secret, but 'tis too visible by day. They dye their nails a rose colour; but, I own, I cannot enough accustom myself to this fashion, to find any beauty in it.
[29.3] As to their morality or good conduct, I can say, like Harlequin, that 'tis just as 'tis with you; and the Turkish ladies don't commit one sin the less for not being Christians. Now, that I am a little acquainted with their ways, I cannot forbear admiring, either the exemplary discretion, or extreme stupidity of all the writers that have given accounts of them. 'Tis very easy to see, they have in reality more liberty than we have. No woman, of what rank soever, is permitted to go into the streets without two murlins, one that covers her face all but her eyes, and another, that hides the whole dress of her head, and hangs half way down her back. Their shapes are also wholely concealed, by a thing they call a serigee, which no woman of any sort appears without; this has strait sleeves, that reach to their fingers-ends, and it laps all round them, not unlike a riding-hood. In winter, 'tis of cloth; and in summer, of plain stuff or silk. You may guess then, how effectually this disguises them, so that there is no distinguishing the great lady from her slave. 'Tis impossible for the most jealous husband to know his wife, when he meets her; and no man dare touch or follow a woman in the street.
[29.4] This perpetual masquerade gives them entire liberty of following their inclinations, without danger of discovery. The most usual method of intrigue, is, to send an appointment to the lover to meet the lady at a Jew's shop, which are as notoriously convenient as our Indian-houses; and yet, even those who don't make use of them, do not scruple to go to buy pennyworths, and tumble over rich goods, which are chiefly to be found amongst that sort of people. The great ladies seldom let their gallants know who they are; and 'tis so difficult to find it out, that they can very seldom guess at her name, whom they have corresponded with for above half a year together. You may easily imagine the number of faithful wives very small in a country where they have nothing to fear from a lover's indiscretion, since we see so many have the courage to expose themselves to that in this world, and all the threatened punishment of the next, which is never preached to the Turkish damsels. Neither have they much to apprehend from the resentment of their husbands; those ladies that are rich, having all their money in their own hands. Upon the whole, I look upon the Turkish women, as the only free people in the empire; the very divan pays respect to them; and the grand signior himself, when a bassa is executed, never violates the privileges of the haram, (or womens apartment) which remains unsearched and entire to the widow. They are queens of their slaves, whom the husband has no permission so much as to look upon, except it be an old woman or two that his lady chuses. 'Tis true, their law permits them four wives; but there is no instance of a man of quality that makes use of this liberty, or of a woman of rank that would suffer it. When a husband happens to be inconstant, (as those things will happen) he keeps his mistress in a house apart, and visits her as privately as he can, just as it is with you. Amongst all the great men here, I only know the testerdar, (i.e. a treasurer) that keeps a number of she slaves, for his own use, (that is, on his own side of the house; for a slave once given to serve a lady, is entirely at her disposal) and he is spoke of as a libertine, or what we should call a rake, and his wife won't see him, though she continues to live in his house. Thus you see, dear sister, the manners of mankind do not differ so Widely, as our voyage-writers would make us believe. Perhaps, it would be more entertaining to add a few surprising customs of my own invention; but nothing seems to me so agreeable as truth, and I believe nothing so acceptable to you. I conclude therefore with repeating the great truth of my being,
Dear sister, &c.
Adrianople, April 1. O. S.
[31.1] In my opinion, dear S. I ought rather to quarrel with you, for not answering my Nimeguen letter of August, till December, than to excuse my not writing again till now. I am sure there is on my side a very good excuse for silence, having gone such tiresome land-journies, though I don't find the conclusion of them so bad as you seem to imagine. I am very easy here, and not in the solitude you fancy me. The great number of Greeks, French, English, and Italians that are under our protection, make their court to me from morning till night; and, I'll assure you, are, many of them, very fine ladies; for there is no possibility for a Christian to live easily under this government, but by the protection of an ambassador —— and the richer they are, the greater is their danger.
[31.2] Those dreadful stories you have heard of the plague, have very little foundation in truth. I own, I have much ado to reconcile myself to the sound of a word, which has always given me such terrible ideas; though I am convinced there is little more in it, than in a fever. As a proof of this, let me tell you that we passed through two or three towns most violently infected. In the very next house where we lay, (in one of those places) two persons died of it. Luckily for me I was so well deceived, that I knew nothing of the matter; and I was made believe, that our second cook had only a great cold. However, we left our doctor to take care of him, and yesterday they both arrived here in good health; and I am now let into the secret, that he has had the plague. There are many that escape it, neither is the air ever infected. I am persuaded, that it would be as easy a matter to root it out here, as out of Italy and France; but it does so little mischief, they are not very solicitous about it, and are content to suffer this distemper, instead of our variety, which they are utterly unacquainted with.
[31.3] A propos of distempers, I am going to tell you a thing that will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal, and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless, by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women, who make it their business to perform the operation, every autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the small-pox: they make parties for this purpose, and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together) the old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of small-pox, and asks what vein you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her, with a large needle, (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch) and puts into the vein as much matter as can ly upon the head of her needle, and after that, binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the superstition of opening one in the middle of the forehead, one in each arm, and one on the breast, to mark the sign of the cross; but this has a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not done by those that are not superstitious, who chuse to have them in the legs, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them, and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in eight days time they are as well as before their illness. Where they are wounded, there remain running sores during the distemper, which I don't doubt is a great relief to it. Every year thousands undergo this operation; and the French ambassador says pleasantly, that they take the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it; and you may believe I am well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son. I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England; and I should not fail to write to some of our doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of their revenue, for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too beneficial to them, not to expose to all their resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live to return, I may, however, have courage to war with them. Upon this occasion, admire the heroism in the heart of
Your friend, &c. &c.
Adrianopolis, April 18. O. S.
[33.1] I wrote to you, dear sister, and to all my other English correspondents, by the last ship, and only Heaven can tell, when I shall have another opportunity of sending to you; but I cannot forbear to write again, though perhaps my letter may ly upon my hands this two months. To confess the truth, my head is so full of my entertainment yesterday, that 'tis absolutely necessary, for my own repose, to give it some vent. Without farther preface, I will then begin my story.
[33.2] I was invited to dine with the grand vizier's lady, and it was with a great deal of pleasure I prepared myself for an entertainment, which was never before given to any Christian. I thought I should very little satisfy her curiosity, (which I did not doubt was a considerable motive to the invitation) by going in a dress she was used to see, and therefore dressed myself in the court habit of Vienna, which is much more magnificent than ours. However, I chose to go incognito, to avoid any disputes about ceremony, and went in a Turkish coach, only attended by my woman, that held up my train, and the Greek lady, who was my interpretess. I was met at the court door by her black eunuch, who helped me out of the coach with great respect, and conducted me through several rooms, where her she-slaves, finely dressed, were ranged on each side. In the innermost, I found the lady sitting on her sofa, in a sable vest. She advanced to meet me, and presented me half a dozen of her friends, with great civility. She seemed a very good woman, near fifty years old. I was surprised to observe so little magnificence in her house, the furniture being all very moderate; and, except the habits and number of her slaves, nothing about her appeared expensive. She guessed at my thoughts, and told me she was no longer of an age to spend either her time or money in superfluities; that her whole expence was in charity, and her whole employment praying to God. There was no affectation in this speech; both she and her husband are entirely given up to devotion. He never looks upon any other woman; and, what is much more extraordinary, touches no bribes, notwithstanding the example of all his predecessors. He is so scrupulous on this point, he would not accept Mr W——'s present, till he had been assured over and over, that it was a settled perquisite of his place, at the entrance of every ambassador. She entertained me with all kind of civility, till dinner came in, which was served, one dish at a time, to a vast number, all finely dressed after their manner, which I don't think so bad as you have perhaps heard it represented. I am a very good judge of their eating, having lived three weeks in the house of an effendi at Belgrade, who gave us very magnificent dinners, dressed by his own cooks. The first week they pleased me extremely; but, I own, I then began to grow weary of their table, and desired our own cook might add a dish or two after our manner. But I attribute this to custom, and am very much inclined to believe, that an Indian, who had never tasted of either, would prefer their cookery to ours. Their sauces are very high, all the roast very much done. They use a great deal of very rich spice. The soup is served for the last dish; and they have, at least, as great a variety of ragouts as we have. I was very sorry I could not eat of as many as the good lady would have had me, who was very earnest in serving me of every thing. The treat concluded with coffee and perfumes, which is a high mark of respect; two slaves kneeling censed my hair, clothes, and handkerchief. After this ceremony, she commanded her slaves to play and dance, which they did with their guitars in their hands, and she excused to me their want of skill, saying she took no care to accomplish them in that art.
[33.3] I returned her thanks, and, soon after, took my leave. I was conducted back in the same manner I entered, and would have gone straight to my own house; but the Greek lady with me, earnestly solicited me to visit the kahya's lady, saying, he was the second officer in the empire, and ought indeed to be looked upon as the first, the grand vizier having only the name, while he exercised the authority. I had found so little diversion in the vizier's haram, that I had no mind to go into another. But her importunity prevailed with me, and I am extremely glad I was so complaisant. All things here were with quite another air than at the grand vizier's; and the very house confessed the difference between an old devotee, and a young beauty. It was nicely clean and magnificent. I was met at the door by two black eunuchs, who led me through a long gallery, between two ranks of beautiful young girls, with their hair finely plaited, almost hanging to their feet, all dressed in fine light damasks, brocaded with silver. I was sorry that decency did not permit me to stop to consider them nearer. But that thought was lost upon my entrance into a large room, or rather pavilion, built round with gilded sashes, which were most of them thrown up, and the trees planted near them gave an agreeable shade, which hindered the sun from being troublesome. The jessamines and honey-suckles that twisted round their trunks, shed a soft perfume, increased by a white marble fountain playing sweet water in the lower part of the room, which fell into three or four basins, with a pleasing sound. The roof was painted with all sorts of flowers, falling out of gilded baskets, that seemed tumbling down. On a sofa, raised three steps, and covered with fine Persian carpets, sat the kahya's lady, leaning on cushions of white sattin, embroidered; and at her feet sat two young girls about twelve years old, lovely as angels, dressed perfectly rich, and almost covered with jewels. But they were hardly seen near the fair Fatima, (for that is her name) so much her beauty effaced every thing I have seen, nay, all that has been called lovely either in England or Germany. I must own, that I never saw any thing so gloriously beautiful, nor can I recollect a face that would have been taken notice of near hers. She stood up to receive me, saluting me after their fashion, putting her hand to her heart with a sweetness full of majesty, that no court breeding could ever give. She ordered cushions to be given me, and took care to place me in the corner, which is the place of honour. I confess, though the Greek lady had before given me a great opinion of her beauty, I was so struck with admiration, that I could not, for some time, speak to her, being wholly taken up in gazing. That surprising harmony of features! that charming result of the whole! that exact proportion of body! that lovely bloom of complexion unsullied by art! the unutterable enchantment of her smile! —— But her eyes! —— large and black, with all the soft languishment of the blue! every turn of her face discovering some new grace.
[33.4] After my first surprise was over, I endeavoured, by nicely examining her face, to find out some imperfection, without any fruit of my search, but my being clearly convinced of the error of that vulgar notion, that a face exactly proportioned, and perfectly beautiful, would not be agreeable; nature having done for her, with more success, what Appelles is said to have essayed, by a collection of the most exact features, to form a perfect face. Add to all this, a behaviour so full of grace and sweetness, such easy motions, with an air so majestic, yet free from stiffness or affectation, that I am persuaded, could she be suddenly transported upon the most polite throne of Europe, no body would think her other than born and bred to be a queen, though educated in a country we call barbarous. To say all in a word, our most celebrated English beauties would vanish near her.
[33.5] She was dressed in a caftan of gold brocade, flowered with silver, very well fitted to her shape, and shewing to admiration the beauty of her bosom, only shaded by the thin gauze of her shift. Her drawers were pale pink, her waistcoat green and silver, her slippers white sattin, finely embroidered: her lovely arms adorned with bracelets of diamonds, and her broad girdle set round with diamonds; upon her head a rich Turkish handkerchief of pink and silver, her own fine black hair hanging a great length, in various tresses, and on one side of her head some bodkins of jewels. I am afraid you will accuse me of extravagance in this description. I think I have read somewhere, that women always speak in rapture when they speak of beauty, and I cannot imagine why they should not be allowed to do so. I rather think it a virtue to be able to admire without any mixture of desire or envy. The gravest writers have spoken with great warmth, of some celebrated pictures and statues. The workmanship of Heaven, certainly excels all our weak imitations, and, I think, has a much better claim to our praise. For my part, I am not ashamed to own, I took more pleasure in looking on the beauteous Fatima, than the finest piece of sculpture could have given me. She told me, the two girls at her feet were her daughters, though she appeared too young to be their mother. Her fair maids were ranged below the sofa, to the number of twenty, and put me in mind of the pictures of the ancient nymphs. I did not think all nature could have furnished such a scene of beauty. She made them a sign to play and dance. Four of them immediately began to play some soft airs on instruments, between a lute and a guitar, which they accompanied with their voices, while the others danced by turns. This dance was very different from what I had seen before. Nothing could be more artful, or more proper to raise certain ideas. The tunes so soft! —— the motions so languishing! — accompanied with pauses and dying eyes! half-falling back, and then recovering themselves in so artful a manner, that I am very positive, the coldest and most rigid pride upon earth, could not have looked upon them without thinking of something not to be spoke of. —— I suppose you may have read that the Turks have no music, but what is shocking to the ears; but this account is from those who never heard any but what is played in the streets, and is just as reasonable, as if a foreigner should take his ideas of English music, from the bladder and string, or the marrow-bones and cleavers. I can assure you that the music is extremely pathetic; 'tis true, I am inclined to prefer the Italian, but perhaps I am partial. I am acquainted with a Greek lady who sings better than Mrs Robinson, and is very well skilled in both, who gives the preference to the Turkish. 'Tis certain they have very fine natural voices; these were very agreeable. When the dance was over, four fair slaves came into the room, with silver censers in their hands, and perfumed the air with amber, aloes-wood, and other scents. After this, they served me coffee upon their knees, in the finest japan china, with soucoups of silver, gilt. The lovely Fatima entertained me, all this while, in the most polite agreeable manner, calling me often uzelle sultanam, or the beautiful sultana; and desiring my friendship with the best grace in the world, lamenting that she could not entertain me in my own language.
[33.6] When I took my leave, two maids brought in a fine silver basket of embroidered handkerchiefs; she begged I would wear the richest for her sake, and gave the others to my woman and interpretess. —— I retired through the same ceremonies as before, and could not help thinking, I had been some time in Mahomet's paradise; so much was I charmed with what I had seen. I know not how the relation of it appears to you. I wish it may give you part of my pleasure; for I would have my dear sister share in all the diversions of,
Adrianople, May 17. O. S.
[34.1] I am going to leave Adrianople, and I would not do it without giving you some account of all that is curious in it, which I have taken a great deal of pains to see. I will not trouble you with wise dissertations, whether or no this is the same city that was anciently called Orestesit or Oreste, which you know better than I do. It is now called from the emperor Adrian, and was the first European seat of the Turkish empire, and has been the favourite residence of many sultans. Mahomet the fourth, and Mustapha, the brother of the reigning emperor, were so fond of it, that they wholly abandoned Constantinople; which humour so far exasperated the janizaries, that it was a considerable motive to the rebellions that deposed them. Yet this man seems to love to keep his court here. I can give you no reason for this partiality. 'Tis true, the situation is fine, and the country all round very beautiful; but the air is extremely bad, and the seraglio itself is not free from the ill effect of it. The town is said to be eight miles in compass, I suppose they reckon in the gardens. There are some good houses in it, I mean large ones; for the architecture of their palaces never makes any great shew. It is now very full of people; but they are most of them such as follow the court, or camp; and when they are removed, I am told, 'tis no populous city. The river Maritza (anciently the Hebrus) on which it is situated, is dried up every summer, which contributes very much to make it unwholesome. It is now a very pleasant stream. There are two noble bridges built over it. I had the curiosity to go to see the exchange in my Turkish dress, which is disguise sufficient. Yet I own, I was not very easy when I saw it crowded with janizaries; but they dare not be rude to a woman, and made way for me with as much respect as if I had been in my own figure. It is half a mile in length, the roof arched, and kept extremely neat. It holds three hundred and sixty-five shops, furnished with all sorts of rich goods, exposed to sale in the same manner as at the new exchange in London. But the pavement is kept much neater; and the shops are all so clean, they seem just new painted. —— Idle people of all sorts walk here for their diversion, or amuse themselves with drinking coffee, or sherbet, which is cried about as oranges and sweet-meats are in our play-houses. I observed most of the rich tradesmen were Jews. That people are in incredible power in this country. They have many privileges above all the natural Turks themselves, and have formed a very considerable commonwealth here, being judged by their own laws. They have drawn the whole trade of the empire into their hands, partly by the firm union amongst themselves, and partly by the idle temper and want of industry in the Turks. Every bassa has his Jew, who is his homme d'affaires; he is let into all his secrets, and does all his business. No bargain is made, no bribe received, no merchandise disposed of, but what passes through their hands. They are the physicians, the stewards, and the interpreters of all the great men. You may judge how advantageous this is to a people who never fail to make use of the smallest advantages. They have found the secret of making themselves so necessary, that they are certain of the protection of the court, whatever ministry is in power. Even the English, French, and Italian merchants, who are sensible of their artifices, are, however, forced to trust their affairs to their negotiation, nothing of trade being managed without them, and the meanest amongst them being too important to be disobliged, since the whole body take care of his interests, with as much vigour as they would those of the most considerable of their members. They are many of them vastly rich, but take care to make little public shew of it, though they live in their houses in the utmost luxury and magnificence. This copious subject has drawn me from my description of the exchange, founded by Ali Bassa, whose name it bears. Near it is the sherski, a street of a mile in length, full of shops of all kind of fine merchandise, but excessive dear, nothing being made here. It is covered on the top with boards, to keep out the rain, that merchants may meet conveniently in all weathers. The besiten near it, is another exchange, built upon pillars, where all sorts of horse-furniture is sold: glittering every where with gold, rich embroidery, and jewels, it makes a very agreeable shew. From this place I went, in my Turkish coach, to the camp, which is to move in a few days to the frontiers. The sultan is already gone to his tents, and all his court; the appearance of them is, indeed, very magnificent. Those of the great men are rather like palaces than tents, taking up a great compass of ground, and being divided into a vast number of apartments. They are all of green, and the bassas of three tails, have those ensigns of their power placed in very conspicuous manner before their tents, which are adorned on the top with gilded balls, more or less, according to their different ranks. The ladies go in coaches to see the camp, as eagerly, as ours did to that of Hyde-park; but 'tis very easy to observe, that the soldiers do not begin the campaign with any great cheerfulness. The war is a general grievance upon the people, but particularly hard upon the tradesmen, now that the grand signior is resolved to lead his army in person. Every company of them is obliged, upon this occasion, to make a present according to their ability.
[34.2] I took the pains of rising at six in the morning to see the ceremony which did not, however, begin till eight. The grand signior was at the seraglio window, to see the procession, which passed through the principal streets. It was preceded by an effendi, mounted on a camel, richly furnished, reading aloud the alcoran, finely bound, laid upon a cushion. He was surrounded by a parcel of boys, in white, singing some verses of it, followed by a man dressed in green boughs, representing a clean husbandman sowing seed. After him several reapers, With garlands of ears of corn, as Ceres is pictured, with scythes in their hands, seeming to mow. Then a little machine drawn by oxen, in which was a wind-mill, and boys employed in grinding corn, followed by another machine, drawn by buffaloes, carrying an oven, and two more boys, one employed in kneading the bread, and another in drawing it out of the oven. These boys threw little cakes on both sides amongst the crowd, and were followed by the whole company of bakers, marching on foot, two by two, in their best clothes, with cakes, loaves, pasties, and pies of all sorts on their heads, and after them two buffoons, or jack-puddings, with their faces and clothes smeared with meal, who diverted the mob with their antic gestures. In the same manner followed all the companies of trade in the empire; the nobler sort, such as jewellers, mercers, &c. finely mounted, and many of the pageants that represent their trades, perfectly magnificent; amongst which, that of the furriers made one of the best figures, being a very large machine, set round with the skins of ermines, foxes, &c. so well stuffed, that the animals seemed to be alive, and followed by music and dancers. I believe they were, upon the whole, twenty thousand men, all ready to follow his highness, if he commanded them. The rear was closed by the volunteers, who came to beg the honour of dying in his service. This part of the shew seemed to me so barbarous, that I removed from the window upon the first appearance of it. They were all naked to the middle. Some had their arms pierced through with arrows, left sticking in them. Others had them sticking in their heads, the blood trickling down their faces. Some slashed their arms with sharp knives, making the blood spring out upon those that stood there; and this is looked upon as an expression of their zeal for glory. I am told that some make use of it to advance their love; and, when they are near the window where their mistress stands, (all the women in town being veiled to see this spectacle) they stick another arrow for her sake, who gives some sign of approbation and encouragement to this gallantry. The whole shew lasted for near eight hours, to my great sorrow, who was heartily tired, though I was in the house of the widow of the captain bassa (admiral) who refreshed me with coffee, sweetmeats, sherbet, &c. with all possible civility.
[34.3] I went two days after, to see, the mosque of sultan Selim I. which is a building very well worth the curiosity of a traveller. I was, dressed in my Turkish habit, and admitted without scruple; though I believe they guessed who I was, by the extreme officiousness of the door-keeper, to shew me every part of it. It is situated very advantageously in the midst of the city, and in the highest part of it, making a very noble show. The first court has four gates, and the innermost three. They are both of them surrounded with cloisters, with marble pillars of the Ionic order, finely polished, and of very lively colours; the whole pavement is of white marble, and the roof of the cloisters divided into several cupolas or domes, headed with gilt balls on the top. In the midst of each court, are fine fountains of white marble; and, before the great gate of the mosque, a portico, with green marble pillars, which has five gates, the body of the mosque being one prodigious dome. I understand so little of architecture, I dare not pretend to speak of the proportions. It seemed to me very regular, this I am sure of, it is vastly high, and I thought it the noblest building I ever saw. It has two rows of marble galleries on pillars, with marble balusters; the pavement is also marble, covered with Persian carpets. In my opinion, it is a great addition to its beauty, that it is not divided into pews, and incumbered with forms and benches like our churches; nor the pillars (which are most of them red and white marble) disfigured by the little tawdry images and pictures, that give Roman-catholic churches the air of toy-shops. The walls seemed to be inlaid with such very lively colours, in small flowers, that I could not imagine what stones had been made use of. But going nearer, I saw they were crusted with japan china, which has a very beautiful effect. In the midst hung a vast lamp of silver, gilt; besides which, I do verily believe, there were at least two thousand of a lesser size. This must look very glorious, when they are all lighted; but being at night, no women are suffered to enter. Under the large lamp is a great pulpit of carved wood, gilt; and just by, a fountain to wash, which, you know, is an essential part of their devotion. In one corner is a little gallery, inclosed with gilded lattices, for the grand-signior. At the upper end, a large niche, very like an altar, raised two steps, covered with gold brocade, and standing before it, two silver gilt candlesticks, the height of a man, and in them white wax candles, as thick as a man's waist. The outside of the mosque is adorned with towers, vastly high, gilt on the top, from whence the imaums call the people to prayers. I had the curiosity to go up one of them, which is contrived so artfully, as to give surprise to all that see it. There is but one door, which leads to three different stair-cases, going to the three different stories of the tower, in such a manner, that three priests may ascend, rounding, without ever meeting each other; a contrivance very much admired. Behind the mosque, is an exchange full of shops, where poor artificers are lodged gratis. I saw several dervises at their prayers here. They are dressed in a plain piece of woolen, with their arms bare, and a woolen cap on their heads, like a high crowned hat without brims. I went to see some other mosques, built much after the same manner, but not comparable in point of magnificence to this I have described, which is infinitely beyond any church in Germany or England; I won't talk of other countries I have not seen. The seraglio does not seem a very magnificent palace. But the gardens are very large, plentifully supplied with water, and full of trees; which is all I know of them, having never been in them.
[34.4] I tell you nothing of the order of Mr W—— 's entry, and his audience. These things are always the same, and have been so often described, I won't trouble you with the repetition. The young prince, about eleven years old, sits near his father, when he gives audience: he is a handsome boy; but, probably, will not immediately succeed the sultan, there being two sons of sultan Mustapha (his eldest brother) remaining; the eldest about twenty years old, on whom the hopes of the people are fixed. This reign has been bloody and avaricious. I am apt to believe, they are very impatient to see the end of it.
I am, Sir, yours, &c. &c.
[34.5] P.S. I will write to you again from Constantinople.
Constantinople, May 29. O. S.
[35.1] I have had the advantage of very fine weather, all my journey; and as the summer is now in its beauty, I enjoyed the pleasure of fine prospects; and the meadows being full of all sorts of garden flowers, and sweet herbs, my berlin perfumed the air as it pressed them. The grand signior furnished us with thirty covered waggons for our baggage, and five coaches of the country for my women. We found the road full of the great spahis and their equipages coming out of Asia to the war. They always travel with tents; but I chose to ly in houses all the way. I will not trouble you with the names of the villages we passed, in which there was nothing remarkable, but at Ciorlei, where there was a conac, or little seraglio, built for the use of the grand signior, when he goes this road. I had the curiosity to view all the apartments destined for the ladies of his court. They were in the midst of a thick grove of trees, made fresh by fountains; but I was most surprised to see the walls almost covered with little distiches of Turkish verse, wrote with pencils. I made my interpreter explain them to me, and I found several of them very well turned; though I easily believed him, that they had lost much of their beauty in the translation. One was literally thus in English:
We come into this world; we lodge, and we depart;
He never goes, that's lodged within my heart.
[35.2] The rest of our journey was through fine painted meadows, by the side of the sea of Marmora, the ancient Propontis. We lay the next night at Selivrea, anciently a noble town. It is now a good sea-port, and neatly built enough, and has a bridge of thirty-two arches. Here is a famous ancient Greek church. I had given one of my coaches to a Greek lady, who desired the conveniency of travelling with me; she designed to pay her devotions, and I was glad of the opportunity of going with her. I found it an ill-built edifice, set out with the same sort of ornaments, but less rich, as the Roman-catholic churches. They shewed me a saint's body, where I threw a piece of money; and a picture of the virgin Mary, drawn by the hand of St Luke, very little to the credit of his painting; but, however, the finest Madona of Italy, is not more famous for her miracles. The Greeks have a monstrous taste in their pictures, which, for more finery, are always drawn upon a gold ground. You may imagine what a good air this has; but they have no notion, either of shade or proportion. They have a bishop here, who officiated in his purple robe, and sent me a candle almost as big as myself for a present, when I was at my lodging. We lay that night at a town called Bujuk Cekmege, or Great Bridge; and the night following, at Kujuk Cekmege, or Little Bridge; in a very pleasant lodging, formerly a monastery of dervises; having before it a large court, encompassed with marble cloisters, with a good fountain in the middle. The prospect from this place, and the gardens round it, is the most agreeable I have seen; and shews, that monks of all religions know how to chuse their retirements. 'Tis now belonging to a hogia or schoolmaster, who teaches boys here. I asked him to shew me his own apartment, and was surprised to see him point to a tall cypress tree in the garden, on the top of which was a place for a bed for himself, and a little lower, one for his wife and two children, who slept there every night. I was so much diverted with the fancy, I resolved to examine his nest nearer; but after going up fifty steps, I found I had still fifty to go up, and then I must climb from branch to branch, with some hazard of my neck. I thought it therefore the best way to come down again.
[35.3] We arrived the next day at Constantinople; but I can yet tell you very little of it, all my time having been taken up with receiving visits, which are, at least, a very good entertainment to the eyes, the young women being all beauties, and their beauty highly improved by the high taste of their dress. Our palace is in Pera, which is no more a suburb of Constantinople, than Westminster is a suburb to London. All the ambassadors are lodged very near each other. One part of our house shews us the port, the city, and the seraglio, and the distant hills of Asia; perhaps, all together, the most beautiful prospect in the world.
[35.4] A certain French author says, Constantinople is twice as big as Paris. Mr W——y is unwilling to own 'tis bigger than London, though I confess it appears to me to be so; but I don't believe it is so populous. The burying fields about it are certainly much larger than the whole city. 'Tis surprising what a vast deal of land is lost this way in Turkey. Sometimes I have seen burying places of several miles, belonging to very inconsiderable villages, which were formerly great towns, and retain no other mark of their ancient grandeur, than this dismal one. On no occasion do they ever remove a stone that serves for a monument. Some of them are costly enough, being of very fine marble. They set up a pillar, with a carved turbant on the top of it, to the memory of a man; and as the turbants, by their different shapes, shew the quality or profession, 'tis in a manner putting up the arms of the deceased; besides, the pillar commonly bears an inscription in gold letters. The ladies have a simple pillar without other ornament, except those that die unmarried, who have a rose on the top of their monument. The sepulchres of particular families are railed in, and planted round with trees. Those of the sultans, and some great men, have lamps constantly burning in them.
[35.5] When I spoke of their religion, I forgot to mention two particularities, one of which I have read of, but it seemed so odd to me, I could not believe it; yet 'tis certainly true; that when a man has divorced his wife, in the most solemn manner, he can take her again, upon no other terms, than permitting another man to pass a night with her; and there are some examples of those who have submitted to this law, rather than not have back their beloved. The other point of doctrine is very extraordinary. Any woman that dies unmarried is looked upon to die in a state of reprobation. To confirm this belief, they reason, that the end of the creation of woman is to increase and multiply; and that she is only properly employed in the works of her calling, when she is bringing forth children, or taking care of them, which are all the virtues that God expects from her. And indeed, their way of life, which shuts them out of all public commerce, does not permit them any other. Our vulgar notion, that they don't own women to have any souls, is a mistake. 'Tis true, they say, they are not of so elevated a kind, and therefore must not hope to be admitted into the paradise appointed for the men, who are to be entertained by celestial beauties. But there is a place of happiness destined for souls of the inferior order, where all good women are to be in eternal bliss. Many of them are very superstitious, and will not remain widows ten days, for fear of dying in the reprobate state of an useless creature. But those that like their liberty, and are not slaves to their religion, content themselves with marrying when they are afraid of dying. This is a piece of theology, very different from that which teaches nothing to be more acceptable to God than a vow of perpetual virginity: which divinity is most rational, I leave you to determine.
[35.6] I have already made some progress in a collection of Greek medals. Here are several professed antiquaries, who are ready to serve any body that desires them. But you cannot imagine how they stare in my face, when I enquire about them, as if no body was permitted to seek after medals, till they were grown a piece of antiquity themselves. I have got some very valuable ones of the Macedonian kings, particularly one of Perseus, so lively, I fancy I can see all his ill qualities in his face. I have a prophyry head finely cut, of the true Greek sculpture; but who it represents, is to be guessed at by the learned when I return. For you are not to suppose these antiquaries (who are all Greeks) know any thing. Their trade is only to sell; they have correspondents at Aleppo, Grand Cairo, in Arabia and Palestine, who send them all they can find, and very often great heaps, that are only fit to melt into pans and kettles. They get the best price they can for them, without knowing those that are valuable from those that are not. Those that pretend to skill, generally find out the image of some saint in the medals of the Greek cities. One of them, shewing me the figure of a Pallas, with a victory in her hand on a reverse, assured me, it was the Virgin, holding a crucifix. The same man offered me the head of a Socrates, on a sardonyx; and, to enhance the value, gave him the title of saint Augustine. I have bespoke a mummy, which I hope will come safe to my hands, notwithstanding the misfortune that befel a very fine one, designed for the king of Sweden. He gave a great price for it, and the Turks took it into their heads, that he must have some considerable project depending upon it. They fancied it the body of, God knows who; and that the state of their empire mystically depended on the conversation of it. Some old prophecies were remembered upon this occasion, and the mummy committed prisoner to the Seven Towers, where it has remained under close confinement ever since, I dare not try my interest in so considerable a point, as the release of it; but I hope mine will pass without examination. I can tell you nothing more at present of this famous city. When I have looked a little about me, you shall hear from me again. I am, Sir,
Your's, &c. &c.
Belgrade Village, June 17 O. S.
[37.1] I heartily beg your ladyship's pardon; but I really could not forbear laughing heartily at your letter, and the commissions you are pleased to honour me with. You desire me to buy you a Greek slave, who is to be mistress of a thousand good qualities. The Greeks are subjects, and not slaves. Those who are to be bought in that manner, are either such as are taken in war, or stolen by the Tartars from Russia, Circassia, or Georgia, and are such miserable, awkward, poor wretches, you would not think any of them worthy to be your house-maids. 'Tis true, that many thousands were taken in the Morea; but they have been, most of them, redeemed by the charitable contributions of the Christians, or ransomed by their own relations at Venice. The fine slaves that wait upon the great ladies, or serve the pleasures of the great men, are all bought at the age of eight or nine years old, and educated with great care, to accomplish them in singing, dancing, embroidery, &c. They are commonly Circassians, and their patron never sells them, except it is as a punishment for some very great fault. If ever they grow weary of them, they either present them to a friend, or give them their freedom. Those that are exposed to sale at the markets, are always either guilty of some crime, or so entirely worthless, that they are of no use at all. I am afraid you will doubt the truth of this account, which, I own, is very different from our common notions in England; but it is no less truth for all that. —— Your whole letter is full of mistakes, from one end to the other. I see you have taken your ideas of Turkey, from that worthy author Dumont, who has wrote with equal ignorance and confidence. 'Tis a particular pleasure to me here, to read the voyages to the Levant, which are generally so far removed from truth, and so full of absurdities, I am very well diverted with them. They never fail giving you an account of the women, whom, 'tis certain, they never saw, and talking very wisely of the genius of the men, into whose company they are never admitted; and very often describe mosques, which they dare not even peep into. The Turks are very proud, and will not converse with a stranger they are not assured is considerable in his own country. I speak of the men of distinction; for, as to the ordinary fellows, you may imagine what ideas their conversation can give of the general genius of the people.
[37.2] As to the balm of Mecca, I will certainly send you some; but it is not so easily got as you suppose it, and I cannot, in conscience, advise you to make use of it. I know not how it comes to have such universal applause. All the ladies of my acquaintance at London and Vienna, have begged me to send pots of it to them. I have had a present of a small quantity (which, I'll assure you, is very valuable) of the best sort, and with great joy applied it to my face, expecting some wonderful effect to my advantage. The next morning, the change indeed was wonderful; my face was swelled to a very extraordinary size, and all over as red as my lady H——'s. It remained in this lamentable state three days, during which, you may be sure, I passed my time very ill. I believed it would never be otherways; and to add to my mortification, Mr W——y reproached my indiscretion, without ceasing. However, my face is since in statu quo; nay, I am told by the ladies here, that it is much mended by the operation, which, I confess, I cannot perceive in my looking-glass. Indeed, if one was to form an opinion of this balm from their faces, one should think very well of it. They all make use of it, and have the loveliest bloom in the world. For my part, I never intend to endure the pain of it again; let my complexion take its natural course, and decay in its own due time. I have very little esteem for medicines of this nature, but do as you please, madam; only remember, before you use it, that your face will not be such as you will care to shew in the drawing-room for some days after. If one was to believe the women in this country, there is a surer way of making one's self beloved, than by becoming handsome; though, you know that's our method. But they pretend to the knowledge of secrets, that, by way of inchantment, give them the entire empire over whom they please. For me, who am not very apt to believe in wonders, I cannot find faith for this. I disputed the point last night with a lady, who really talks very sensibly on any other subject; but she was downright angry with me, in that she did not perceive, she had persuaded me of the truth of forty stories she told me of this kind; and, at last, mentioned several ridiculous marriages, that there could be no other reason assigned for. I assured her, that, in England, where we were entirely ignorant of all magic, where the climate is not half so warm, nor the women half so handsome, we were not without our ridiculous marriages; and that we did not look upon it as any thing supernatural, when a man played the fool, for the sake of a woman. But my arguments could not convince her against (as she said) her certain knowledge. To this she added, that she scrupled making use of charms herself; but that she could do it whenever she pleased; and, staring me in the face, said, (with a very learned air) that no enchantments would have their effects upon me; and that there were some people exempt from their power, but very few. You may imagine how I laughed at this discourse; but all the women are of the same opinion. They don't pretend to any commerce with the devil; but only that there are certain compositions adapted to inspire love. If one could send over a ship-load of them, I fancy it would be a very quick way of raising an estate. What would not some ladies of our acquaintance give for such merchandize? Adieu, my dear lady ——. I cannot conclude my letter with a subject that affords more delightful scenes to the imagination. I leave you to figure to yourself the extreme court that will be made to me, at my return, if my travels should furnish me with such a useful piece of learning.
I am, dear madam, yours, &c. &c.
Pera of Constantinople, Jan. 4. O. S.
[38.1] I am infinitely obliged to you, dear Mrs T—— for your entertaining letter. You are the only one of my correspondents that have judged right enough, to think I would gladly be informed of the news amongst you. All the rest of them tell me, (almost in the same words) that they suppose I know every thing. Why they are pleased to suppose in this manner, I can guess no reason, except they are persuaded, that the breed of Mahomet's pigeon still subsists in this country, and that I receive supernatural intelligence. I wish I could return your goodness with some diverting accounts from hence. But I know not what part of the scenes here would gratify your curiosity, or whether you have any curiosity at all for things so far distant. To say the truth, I am at this present writing, not very much turned for the recollection of what is diverting, my head being wholly filled with the preparations necessary for the increase of my family, which I expect every day. You may easily guess at my uneasy situation. But I am, however, comforted in some degree, by the glory that accrues to me from it, and a reflection on the contempt I should otherwise fall under. You won't know what to make of this speech; but, in this country, 'tis more despicable to be married and not fruitful, than 'tis with us to be fruitful before marriage. They have a notion, that whenever a woman leaves off bringing forth children, 'tis because she is too old for that business, whatever her face says to the contrary. This opinion makes the ladies here so ready to make proofs of their youth, (which is as necessary, in order to be a received beauty, as it is to shew the proofs of nobility, to be admitted knights of Malta) that they do not content themselves with using the natural means, but fly to all sorts of quackeries, to avoid the scandal of being past childbearing, and often kill themselves by them. Without any exaggeration, all the women of my acquaintance have twelve or thirteen children; and the old ones boast of having had five and twenty, or thirty a-piece, and are respected according to the number they have produced. —— When they are with child, 'tis their common expression to say, They hope God will be so merciful as to send them two this time; and when I have asked them sometimes, How they expected to provide for such a flock as they desire? They answered, That the plague will certainly kill half of them; which, indeed, generally happens, without much concern to the parents, who are satisfied with the vanity of having brought forth so plentifully. The French ambassadress is forced to comply with this fashion as well as myself. She has not been here much above a year, and has lain in once, and is big again. What is most wonderful, is, the exemption they seem to enjoy from the curse entailed on the sex. They see all company on the day of their delivery, and, at the fortnight's end, return visits, set out in their jewels and new clothes. I wish I may find the influence of the climate in this particular. But I fear I shall continue an English woman in that affair, as well as I do in my dread of fire and plague, which are two things very little feared here. Most families have had their houses burnt down once or twice, occasioned by their extraordinary way of warming themselves, which is neither by chimnies nor stoves, but by a certain machine called a tendour, the height of two feet, in the form of a table, covered with a fine carpet or embroidery. This is made only of wood, and they put into it a small quantity of hot ashes, and sit with their legs under the carpet. At this table they work, read and very often, sleep; and, if they chance to dream, kick down the tendour, and the hot ashes commonly set the house on fire. There were five hundred houses burnt in this manner about a fortnight ago, and I have seen several of the owners since, who seem not at all moved at so common a misfortune. They put their goods into a bark, and see their houses burn with great philosophy, their persons being very seldom endangered, having no stairs to descend.
[38.2] But, having entertained you with things I don't like, 'tis but just I should tell you something that pleases me. The climate is delightful in the extremest degree. I am now sitting, this present fourth of January, with the windows open, enjoying the warm shine of the sun, while you are freezing over a sad sea-coal fire; and my chamber is set out with carnations, roses, and jonquils, fresh from my garden. I am also charmed with many points of the Turkish law, to our shame be it spoken, better designed, and better executed than ours; particularly, the punishment of convicted liars (triumphant criminals in our country, God knows:) They are burnt in the forehead with a hot iron, when they are proved the authors of any notorious falsehoods. How many white foreheads should we see disfigured! How many fine gentlemen would be forced to wear their wigs as low as their eye-brows, were this law in practice with us! I should go on to tell you many other parts of justice, but I must send for my midwife.
Pera of Constantinople, March 10. O. S.
[39.1] I have not written to you, dear sister, these many months —— a great piece of self-denial. But I know not where to direct, or what part of the world you are in. I have received no letter from you since that short note of April last, in which you tell me, that you are on the point of leaving England, and promise me a direction for the place you stay in; but I have, in vain, expected it till now; and now I only learn from the gazette, that you are returned, which induces me to venture this letter to your house at London. I had rather ten of my letters should be lost, than you imagine I don't write; and I think it is hard fortune, if one in ten don't reach you. However, I am resolved to keep the copies, as testimonies of my inclination, to give you, to the utmost of my power, all the diverting part of my travels, while you are exempt from all the fatigues and inconveniences.
[39.2] In the first place, then, I wish you joy of your niece; for I was brought to bed of a daughter* five weeks ago. I don't mention this as one of my diverting adventures; though I must own, that it is not half so mortifying here as in England; there being as much difference, as there is between a little cold in the head, which sometimes happens here, and the consumption cough, so common in London. No body keeps their house a month for lying in; and I am not so fond of any of our customs, as to retain them when they are not necessary. I returned my visits at three weeks end; and, about four days ago, crossed the sea, which divides this place from Constantinople, to make a new one, where I had the good fortune to pick up many curiosities. I went to see the sultana: Hafiten, favourite of the late emperor Mustapha, who, you know, (or perhaps you don't know) was deposed by his brother, the reigning sultan, and died a few weeks after, being poisoned, as it was generally believed. This lady was, immediately after his death, saluted with an absolute order to leave the seraglio, and chuse herself a husband among the great men at the Porte. I suppose you may imagine her overjoyed at this proposal. — Quite the contrary. —— These women, who are called, and esteem themselves queens, look upon this liberty as the greatest disgrace and affront that can happen to them. She threw herself at the sultan's feet, and begged him to poniard her, rather than use his brother's widow with that contempt. She represented to him, in agonies of sorrow, that she was privileged from this misfortune, by having brought five princes into the Ottoman family; but all the boys being dead, and only one girl surviving, this excuse was not received, and she was compelled to make her choice. She chose Bekir Effendi, then secretary of state, and above four score years old, to convince the world, that she firmly intended to keep the vow she had made, of never suffering a second husband to approach her bed; and since she must honour some subject so far, as to be called his wife, she would chuse him as a mark of her gratitude, since it was he that had presented her, at the age of ten years, to, her last lord. But she never permitted him to pay her one visit; though it is now fifteen years she has been in his house, where she passes her time in uninterrupted mourning, with a constancy very little known in Christendom, especially in a widow of one and twenty, for she is now but thirty-six. She has no black eunuchs for her guard, her husband being obliged to respect her as a queen, and not to inquire at all into what is done in her apartment.
* The present Countess of Bute.
[39.3] I was led into a large room, with a sofa the whole length of it, adorned with white marble pillars like a ruelle, covered with pale blue figured velvet, on a silver ground, with cushions of the same, where I was desired to repose, till the sultana appeared, who had contrived this manner of reception, to avoid rising up at my entrance, though she made me an inclination of her head, when I rose up to her. I was very glad to observe a lady that had been distinguished by the favour of an emperor, to whom beauties were, every day, presented from all parts of the world. But she did not seem to me, to have ever been half so beautiful as the fair Fatima I saw at Adrianople; though she had the remains of a fine face, more decayed by sorrow than time. But her dress was something so surprisingly rich, that I cannot forbear describing it to you. She wore a vest called dualma, which differs from a caftan by longer sleeves, and folding over at the bottom. It was of purple cloth, strait to her shape, and thick set, on each side, down to her feet, and round the sleeves, with pearls of the best water, of the same size as their buttons commonly are. You must not suppose, that I mean as large as those of my Lord ——, but about the bigness of a pea; and to these buttons large loops of diamonds, in the form of those gold loops, so common on birth-day coats. This habit was tied, at the waist, with two large tassels of smaller pearls, and round the arms embroidered with large diamonds. Her shift was fastened at the bottom with a great diamond, shaped like a lozenge; her girdle as broad as the broadest English ribband, entirely covered with diamonds. Round her neck she wore three chains, which reached to her knees; one of large pearl, at the bottom of which hung a fine coloured emerald, as big as a turkey-egg; another, consisting of two hundred emeralds, close joined together, of the most lively green, perfectly matched, every one as large as a half-crown piece, and as thick as three crown pieces, and another of small emeralds, perfectly round. But her ear-rings eclipsed all the rest. They were two diamonds, shaped exactly like pears, as large as a big hazle-nut. Round her talpoche she had four strings of pearl —— the whitest and most perfect in the world, at least enough to make four necklaces, every one as large as the duchess of Marlborough's, and of the same shape, fastened with two roses, consisting of a large ruby for the middle stone, and round them twenty drops of clean diamonds to each. Besides this, her head-dress was covered with bodkins of emeralds and diamonds. She wore large diamond bracelets, and had five rings on her fingers (except Mr Pitt's) the largest I ever saw in my life. 'Tis for jewellers to compute the value of these things; but, according to the common estimation of jewels, in our part of the world, her whole dress must be worth a hundred thousand pounds sterling. This I am sure of, that no European queen has half the quantity; and the empress's jewels, though very fine would look very mean near her's. She gave me a dinner of fifty dishes of meat, which (after their fashion) were placed on the table but one at a time, and was extremely tedious. But the magnificence of her table answered very well to that of her dress. The knives were of gold, and the hafts set with diamonds. But the piece of luxury which grieved my eyes, was the table-cloth and napkins, which were all tiffany, embroidered with silk and gold, in the finest manner, in natural flowers. It was with the utmost regret that I made use of these costly napkins, which were as finely wrought as the finest handkerchiefs that ever came out of this country. You may be sure, that they were entirely spoiled before dinner was over. The sherbet (which is the liquor they drink at meals) was served in china bowls; but the covers and salvers massy gold. After dinner, water was brought in gold basons, and towels of the same kind with the napkins, which I very unwillingly wiped my hands upon, and coffee was served in china, with gold soucoups.*
[39.4] The sultana seemed in a very good humour, and talked to me with the utmost civility. I did not omit this opportunity of learning all that I possibly could of the seraglio, which is so entirely unknown amongst us. She assured me, that the story of the sultan's throwing a handkerchief, is altogether fabulous; and the manner, upon that occasion, no other than this: He sends the kyslir aga, to signify to the lady the honour he intends her. She is immediately complimented upon it, by the others, and led to the bath, where she is perfumed and dressed in the most magnificent and becoming manner. The emperor precedes his visit by a royal present, and then comes into her apartment: neither is there any such thing as her creeping in at the bed's foot. She said, that the first he made choice of was always after the first in rank, and not the mother of the eldest son, as other writers would make us believe. Sometimes the sultan diverts himself in the company of all his ladies, who stand in a circle round him. And she confessed, they were ready to die with envy and jealousy of the happy she that he distinguished by any appearance of preference. But this seemed to me neither better nor worse than the circles in most courts, where the glance of the monarch is watched, and every smile is waited for with impatience, and envied by those who cannot obtain it.
[39.5] She never mentioned the sultan without tears in her eyes, yet she seemed very fond of the discourse. "My past happiness, said she, appears a dream to me. Yet I cannot forget, that I was beloved by the greatest and most lovely of mankind. I was chosen from all the rest, to make all his campaigns with him; and I would not survive him, if I was not passionately fond of the princess my daughter. Yet all my tenderness for her was hardly enough to make me preserve my life. When I left him, I passed a whole twelvemonth without seeing the light. Time has softened my despair; yet I now pass some days every week in tears, devoted to the memory of my sultan." There was no affectation in these words. It was easy to see she was in a deep melancholy, though her good humour made her willing to divert me.
[39.6] She asked me to walk in her garden, and one of her slaves immediately brought her a pellice of rich brocade lined with sables. I waited on her into the garden, which had nothing in it remarkable but the fountains; and from thence she shewed me all her apartments. In her bed-chamber, her toilet was displayed, consisting of two looking-glasses, the frames covered With pearls, and her night talpoche set with bodkins of jewels, and near it three vests of fine sables, every one of which is, at least, worth a thousand dollars, (two hundred pounds English money.) I don't doubt but these rich habits were purposely placed in sight, though they seemed negligently thrown on the sofa. When I took my leave of her, I was complimented with perfumes, as at the grand vizier's, and presented with a very fine embroidered handkerchief. Her slaves were to the number of thirty, besides ten little ones, the eldest not above seven years old. These were the most beautiful girls I ever saw, all richly dressed; and I observed that the sultana took a great deal of pleasure in these lovely children, which is a vast expence; for there is not a handsome girl of that age to be bought under a hundred pounds sterling. They wore little garlands of flowers, and their own hair, braided, which was all their head-dress; but their habits were all of gold stuffs. These served her coffee kneeling; brought water when she washed, &c. —— 'Tis a great part of the work of the older slaves to take care of these young girls, to learn them to embroider, and to serve them as carefully as if they were children of the family. Now, do you imagine I have entertained you, all this while, with a relation that has, at least, received many embellishments from my hand? This, you will say, is but too like the Arabian tales. — These embroidered napkins! and a jewel as large as a turkey's egg! — You forget, dear sister, those very tales were written by an author of this country, and (excepting the enchantments) are a real representation of the manners here. We travellers are in very hard circumstances: If we say nothing but what has been said before us, we are dull, and we have observed nothing. If we tell any thing new, we are laughed at as fabulous and romantic, not allowing either for the difference of ranks, which affords difference of company, or more curiosity, or the change of customs, that happen every twenty years in every country. But the truth is, people judge of travellers, exactly with the same candour, good nature, and impartiality, they judge of their neighbours upon all occasions. For my part, if I live to return amongst you, I am so well acquainted with the morals of all my dear friends and acquaintances, that I am resolved to tell them nothing at all, to avoid the imputation (which their charity would certainly incline them to) of my telling too much. But I depend upon your knowing me enough, to believe whatever I seriously assert for truth; though I give you leave to be surprised at an account so new to you. But what would you say if I told you, that I have been in a haram, where the winter apartment was wainscoted with inlaid work of mother of pearl, ivory of different colours, and olive wood, exactly like the little boxes you have seen brought out of this country; and in whose rooms designed for summer, the walls are all crusted with japan china, the roofs gilt, and the floors spread with the finest Persian carpets? Yet there is nothing more true; such is the palace of my lovely friend, the fair Fatima, whom I was acquainted with at Adrianople. I went to visit her yesterday; and, if possible, she appeared to me handsomer than before. She met me at the door of her chamber, and, giving me her hand With the best grace in the world; You Christian ladies (said she, with a smile that made her as beautiful as an angel) have the reputation of inconstancy, and I did not expect, whatever goodness you expressed for me at Adrianople, that I should ever see you again. But I am now convinced that I have really the happiness of pleasing you; and, if you knew how I speak of you amongst our ladies, you would be assured, that you do me justice in making me your friend. She placed me in the corner of the sofa, and I spent the afternoon in her conversation, with the greatest pleasure in the world. —— The sultana Hafiten is, what one Would naturally expect to find a Turkish lady, willing to oblige, but not knowing how to go about it; and 'tis easy to see, in her manner, that she has lived excluded from the world. But Fatima has all the politeness and good breeding of a court, with an air that inspires, at once, respect and tenderness; and now, that I understand her language, I find her wit as agreeable as her beauty. She is very carious after the manners of other countries, and has not the partiality for her own, so common in little minds. A Greek that I carried with me, who had never seen her before, (nor could have been admitted now, if she had not been in my train,) shewed that surprise at her beauty and manners, which is unavoidable at the first sight, and said to me in Italian, —— This is no Turkish lady, she is certainly some Christian. —— Fatima guessed she spoke of her, and asked what she said. I would not have told her, thinking she would have been no better pleased with the compliment, than one of our court beauties to be told she had the air of a Turk; but the Greek lady told it to her; and she smiled, saying, It is not the first time I have heard so: my mother was a Poloneze, taken at the siege of Caminiec; and my father used to rally me, saying, He believed his Christian wife had found some gallant; for that I had not the air of a Turkish girl. — I assured her, that if all the Turkish ladies were like her, it was absolute necessary to confine them from public view, for the repose of mankind; and proceeded to tell her, what a noise such a face as hers would make in London or Paris. I can't believe you, replied she agreeably; if beauty was so much valued in your country, as you say, they would never have suffered you to leave it. — Perhaps, dear sister, you laugh at my vanity in repeating this compliment; but I only do it, as I think it very well turned, and give it you as an instance of the spirit of her conversation. Her house was magnificently furnished, and very well fancied; her winter rooms being furnished with figured velvet, on gold grounds, and those for summer, with fine Indian quilting embroidered with gold. The houses of the great Turkish ladies are kept clean with as much nicety as those in Holland. This was situated in a high part of the town; and from the window of her summer apartment, we had the prospect of the sea, the islands, and the Asian mountains. — My letter is insensibly grown so long, I am ashamed of it. This is a very bad symptom. 'Tis well if I don't degenerate into a downright story-teller. It may be, our proverb, that knowledge is no burden, may be true, as to one's self but knowing too much, is very apt to make us troublesome to other people.
I am, &c, &c.
Pera, March 16. O. S.
[40.1] I am extremely pleased, my dear lady, that you have, at length, found a commission for me, that I can answer, without disappointing your expectations; though I must tell you, that it is not so easy as perhaps you think it; and that if my curiosity had not been more diligent than any other stranger's has ever yet been, I must have answered you with an excuse, as, I was forced to do, when you desired me to buy you a Greek slave. I have got for you, as you desire, a Turkish love-letter, which I have put into a little box, and ordered the captain of the Smyrniote to deliver it to you with this letter. The translation of it is literally as follows: The first piece you should pull out of the purse, is a little pearl, which is in Turkish called Ingi, and must be understood in this manner:
| Sensin Uzellerin gingi
| Fairest of the young.
| Caremfilsen cararen yok
| Conge gulsum timarin yok
Benseny chok than severim
Senin benden, haberin yok.
You are as slender as the clove!
You are an unblown rose!
I have long loved you, and you have not known it!
| Derdime derman bul
| Have pity on my passion!
| Birlerum sahat sahat
| I faint every hour!
| Ver bixe bir umut
| Give me some hope.
| Derdinden oldum zabun
| I am sick with love.
| Ben oliyim size umur
| May I die, and all my years be yours!
| Ben aglarum sen gul
| May you be pleased, and your sorrows mine!
| Oliim sana yazir
| Suffer me to be your slave.
| Ustune bulunmaz pahu
| Your price is not to be found.
| Sen ghel ben chekeim senin hargin
| But my fortune is yours.
| Esking-ilen oldum ghira
| I burn, I burn! my flame consumes me!
| Uzunu benden a yirma
| Don't turn away your face.
| Bazmazum tatch
| Crown of my head!
| Benim iki Guzum
| My eyes!
| Ulugorum tez ghel
| I die — come quickly.
[40.2] And, by way of postscript:
| Bize bir dogm haber
| Send me an answer.
[40.3] You see this letter is all in verse, and I can assure you, there is as much fancy shewn in the choice of them, as in the most studied expressions of our letters; there being, I believe, a million of verses designed for this use. There is no colour, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble, or feather, that has not a verse belonging to it; and you may quarrel, reproach, or send letters of passion, friendship, or civility, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers.
[40.4] I fancy you are now wondering at my profound learning; but, alas! dear madam, I am almost fallen into the misfortune so common to the ambitious; while they are employed on distant insignificant conquests abroad, a rebellion starts up at home; —— I am in great danger of losing my English. I find 'tis not half so easy to me to write in it, as it was a twelvemonth ago. I am forced to study for expressions, and must leave off all other languages, and try to learn my mother tongue. —— Human understanding is as much limited as human power, or human strength. The memory can retain but a certain number of images; and 'tis as impossible for one human creature to be perfect master of ten different languages, as to have, in perfect subjection, ten different kingdoms, or to fight against ten men at a time; I am afraid I shall at last know none as I should do. I live in a place, that very well represents the tower of Babel: in Pera they speak Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Russian, Sclavonian, Walachian, German, Dutch, French, English, Italian, Hungarian; and, what is worse, there are ten of these languages spoken in my own family. My grooms are Arabs; my footmen French, English, and Germans; my nurse an Armenian; my house-maids Russians; half a dozen other servants, Greeks; my steward an Italian; my janizaries Turks; so that I live in the perpetual hearing of this medley of sounds, which produces a very extraordinary effect upon the people that are born here; for they learn all these languages at the same time, and without knowing any of them well enough to write or read in it. There are very few men, women, or even children here, that have not the same compass of words in five or six of them. I know, myself, several infants of three or four years old, that speak Italian, French, Greek, Turkish, and Russian, which last they learn of their nurses, who are generally of that country. This seems almost incredible to you, and is, in my mind, one of the most curious things in this country, and takes off very much from the merit of our ladies, who set up for such extraordinary geniuses, upon the credit of some superficial knowledge of French and Italian.
[40.5] As I prefer English to all the rest, I am extremely mortified at the daily decay of it in my head, where I'll assure you (with grief of heart) it is reduced to such a small number of words, I cannot recollect any tolerable phrase to conclude my letter with, and am forced to tell your ladyship very bluntly, that I am,
Your's, &c. &c.
[41.1] At length I have heard from my dear Lady B——, for the first time. I am persuaded you have had the goodness to write before, but I have had the ill fortune to lose your letters. Since my last, I have staid quietly at Constantinople, a city that I ought in conscience to give your ladyship a right notion of, since I know you can have none but what is partial and mistaken from the writings of travellers. 'Tis certain, there are many people that pass years here in Pera, without having ever seen it, and yet they all pretend to describe it. Pera, Tophana, and Galata, wholly inhabited by French Christians (and which, together, make the appearance of a very fine town,) are divided from it by the sea, which is not above half so broad as the broadest part of the Thames; but the Christian men are loth to hazard the adventures they sometimes meet with amongst the levents or seamen, (worse monsters than our watermen) and the women must cover their faces to go there, which they have a perfect aversion to do. 'Tis true, they wear veils in Pera, but they are such as only serve to shew their beauty to more advantage, and would not be permitted in Constantinople. These reasons deter almost every creature from seeing it; and the French ambassadress will return to France (I believe) without ever having been there. You'll wonder, madam, to hear me add, that I have been there very often. The asmack, or Turkish veil, is become not only very easy, but agreeable to me; and, if it was not, I would be content to endure some inconveniency, to gratify a passion that is become so powerful with me, as curiosity. And, indeed, the pleasure of going in a barge to Chelsea, is not comparable to that of rowing upon the canal of the sea here, where, for twenty miles together, down the Bosphorus, the most beautiful variety of prospects present themselves. The Asian side is covered with fruit-trees, villages, and the most delightful landskips in nature; on the European, stands Constantinople, situated on seven hills. — The unequal heights make it seem as large again as it is, (though one of the largest cities in the world) shewing an agreeable mixture of gardens, pine and cypress-trees, palaces, mosques, and public buildings, raised one above another, with as much beauty and appearance of symmetry, as your ladyship ever saw in a cabinet, adorned by the most skilful hands, where jars shew themselves above jars, mixed with canisters, babies and candlesticks. This is a very odd comparison; but it gives me an exact idea of the thing. I have taken care to see as much of the seraglio as is to be seen. It is on a point of land running into the sea; a palace of prodigious extent, but very irregular. The gardens take in a large compass of ground, full of high cypress-trees, which is all I know of them. The buildings are all of white stone, leaded on the top, with gilded turrets and spires, which look very magnificent; and, indeed, I believe there is no Christian-king's palace half so large. There are six large courts in it, all built round, and set with trees, having galleries of stone; one of these for the guard, another for the slaves, another for the officers of the kitchen, another for the stables, the fifth for the divan, and the sixth for the apartment destined for audiences. On the ladies side, there are, at least, as many more, with distinct courts belonging to their eunuchs and attendants, their kitchens, &c.
[41.2] The next remarkable structure is that of St Sophia which is very difficult to see. I was forced to send three times to the caimairam, (the governor of the town) and he assembled the chief effendis, or heads of the law, and enquired of the mufti, whether it was lawful to permit it. They passed some days in this important debate; but I insisting on my request, permission was granted. I can't be informed why the Turks are more delicate on the subject of this mosque, than on any of the others, where what Christian pleases may enter without scruple. I fancy they imagine, that, having been once consecrated, people, on pretence of curiosity, might profane it with prayers, particularly to those saints, who are still very visible in Mosaic work, and no other way defaced but by the decays of time; for it is absolutely false, though so universally asserted, that the Turks defaced all the images that they found in the city. The dome of St Sophia is said to be one hundred and thirteen feet diameter, built upon arches, sustained by vast pillars of marble, the pavement and stair-case marble. There are two rows of galleries, supported with pillars of party-coloured marble, and the whole roof Mosaic work, part of which decays very fast, and drops down. They presented me a handful of it; its composition seems to me a sort of glass, or that paste with which they make counterfeit jewels. They shew here the tomb of the emperor Constantine, for which they have a great veneration.
[41.3] This is a dull, imperfect description, of this celebrated building; but I understand architecture so little, that I am afraid of talking nonsense, in endeavouring to speak of it particularly. Perhaps I am in the wrong, but some Turkish mosques please me better. That of sultan Solyman is an exact square, with four fine towers in the angles, in the midst is a noble cupola, supported with beautiful marble pillars; two lesser at the ends, supported in the same manner; the pavement and gallery round the mosque, of marble; under the great cupola is a fountain, adorned with such fine coloured pillars, that I can hardly think them natural marble; on one side is the pulpit, of white marble, and on the other, the little gallery for the grand signior. A fine stair-case leads to it, and it is built up with gilded lattices. At the upper end is a sort of altar, where the name of God is written; and before it stand two candlesticks, as high as a man, with wax candles as thick as three flambeaux. The pavement is spread with fine carpets, and the mosque illuminated with a vast number of lamps. The court leading to it is very spacious, with galleries of marble, of green columns, covered with twenty-eight leaded cupolas on two sides, and a fine fountain of basins in the midst of it.
[41.4] This description may serve for all the mosques in Constantinople. The model is exactly the same, and they only differ in largeness and richness of materials. That of the sultana Valida is the largest of all, built entirely of marble, the most prodigious, and, I think, the most beautiful structure I ever saw, be it spoken to the honour of our sex, for it was founded by the mother of Mahomet IV. Between friends, Paul's church would make a pitiful figure near it, as any of our squares would do near the atlerdan, or place of horses, (at signifying a horse in Turkish). This was the hippodrome, in the reign of the Greek emperors. In the midst of it is a brazen column, of three serpents twisted together, with their mouths gaping. 'Tis impossible to learn why so odd a pillar was erected; the Greeks can tell nothing but fabulous legends, when they are asked the meaning of it, and there is no sign of its having ever had any inscription. At the upper end is an obelisk of porphyry, probably brought from Egypt, the hieroglyphics all very entire, which I look upon as mere ancient puns. It is placed on four little brazen pillars, upon a pedestal of square free stone, full of figures in bas-relief on two sides; one square representing a battle, another an assembly. The others have inscriptions in Greek and Latin; the last I took in my pocket-book, and it is as follows:
Difficilis quondam, dominis parere serenis
Jussus, et extinctis palman portare tyrannis
Omnia Theodosio cedunt, sobolique perenni.
[41.5] Your lord will interpret these lines. Don't fancy they are a love-letter to him.
[41.6] All the figures have their heads on; and I cannot forbear reflecting again on the impudence of authors, who all say they have not; but I dare swear the greatest part of them never saw them; but took the report from the Greeks, who resist, with incredible fortitude, the conviction of their own eyes, whenever they have invented lies to the dishonour of their enemies. Were you to believe them, there is nothing worth seeing in Constantinople, but Sancta Sophia, though there are several large, and, in my opinion, more beautiful mosques in that city. That of sultan Achmet has this particularity, that its gates are of brass. In all these mosques there are little chapels, where are the tombs of the founders and their families, with wax candles burning before them.
[41.7] The Exchanges are all noble buildings, full of fine alleys, the greatest part supported with pillars, and kept wonderfully neat. Every trade has its distinct alley, where the merchandize is disposed in the same order as in the New Exchange at London. The besisten, or jeweller's quarter, shews so much riches, such a vast quantity of diamonds, and all kinds of precious stones, that they dazzle the sight. The embroiderer's is also very glittering, and people walk here as much for diversion as business. The markets are most of them handsome squares, and admirably well provided, perhaps better than in any other part of the world.
[41.8] I know, you'll expect I should say something particular of the slaves; and you will imagine me half a Turk, when I don't speak of it with the same horror other Christians have done before me. But I cannot forbear applauding the humanity of the Turks to these creatures; they are never ill used, and their slavery is, in my opinion, no worse than servitude all over the world. 'Tis true, they have no wages; but they give them yearly clothes to a higher value than our salaries to our ordinary servants. But you'll object, that men buy women with an eye to evil. In my opinion, they are bought and sold as publicly, and as infamously, in all our Christian great cities.
[41.9] I must add to the description of Constantinople, that the historical pillar is no more. It dropped down about two years before I came to this part of the world. I have seen no other footsteps of antiquity, except the aqueducts, which are so vast, that I am apt to believe they are yet more ancient than the Greek empire. The Turks indeed have clapped in some stones with Turkish inscriptions, to give their natives the honour of so great a work; but the deceit is easily discovered. —— The other public buildings are the hanns and monasteries; the first are very large and numerous; the second few in number, and not at all magnificent. I had the curiosity to visit one of them, and to observe the devotions of the dervises, which are as whimsical as any at Rome. These fellows have permission to marry, but are confined to an odd habit, which is only a piece of coarse white cloth, wrapped about them, with their legs and arms naked. Their order has few other rules, except that of performing their fantastic rites, every Tuesday and Friday, which is done in this manner: They meet together in a large hall, where they all stand with their eyes fixed on the ground, and their arms across, while the imaum or preacher reads part of the alcoran from a pulpit placed in the midst; and when he has done, eight or ten of them make a melancholy concert with their pipes, which are no unmusical instruments. Then he reads again, and makes a short exposition on what he has read; after which they sing and play, 'till their superior (the only one of them dressed in green) rises and begins a sort of solemn dance. They all stand about him in a regular figure; and while some play, the others tie their robe (which is very wide) fast round their waist, and begin to turn round with an amazing swiftness, and yet with great regard to the music, moving slower or faster as the tune is played. This lasts above an hour, without any of them shewing the least appearance of giddiness, which is not to be wondered at, when it is considered they are all used to it from their infancy; most of them being devoted to this way of life from their birth. There turned amongst them some little dervises, of six or seven years old, who seemed no more disordered by that exercise than the others. At the end of the ceremony, they shout out, There is no other god, but God, and Mahomet his prophet; after which, they kiss the superior's hand, and retire. The whole is performed with the most solemn gravity. Nothing can be more austere than the form of these people; they never raise their eyes, and seem devoted to contemplation. And as ridiculous as this is in description, there is something touching in the air of submission and mortification they assume. — This letter is of a horrible length; but you may burn it when you have read enough, &c. &c.
[42.1] I am now preparing to leave Constantinople, and perhaps you will accuse me of hypocrisy, when I tell you 'tis with regret, but as I am used to the air, and have learnt the language, I am easy here; and as much as I love travelling, I tremble at the inconveniencies attending so great a journey, with a numerous family, and a little infant hanging at the breast. However, I endeavour, upon this occasion, to do, as I have hitherto done in all the odd turns of my life; turn them, if I can, to my diversion. In order to this, I ramble every day, wrapped up in my serigee and asmack, about Constantinople, and amuse myself with seeing all that is curious in it. I know you will expect that this declaration should be followed with some account of what I have seen. But I am in no humour to copy what has been writ so often over. To what purpose should I tell you, that Constantinople is the ancient Byzantium? that 'tis at present the conquest of a race of people, supposed Scythians? that there are five or six thousand mosques in it? that Sancta Sophia was founded by Justinian? &c. I'll assure you, 'tis not for want of learning, that I forbear writing all these bright things. I could also, with very little trouble, turn over Knolles and Sir Paul Rycaut, to give you a list of Turkish emperors; but I will not tell you what you may find in every author that has writ of this country. I am more inclined, out of a true female spirit of contradiction, to tell you the falsehood of a great part of what you find in authors; as, for instance, in the admirable Mr Hill, who so gravely asserts, that he saw, in Sancta Sophia, a sweating pillar, very balsamic for disordered heads. There is not the least tradition of any such matter; and I suppose it was revealed to him in vision, during his wonderful stay in the Egyptian catacombs; for I am sure he never heard of any such miracle here. 'Tis also very pleasant to observe how tenderly he and all his brethren voyage-writers lament the miserable confinement of the Turkish ladies, who are perhaps more free than any ladies in the universe, and are the only women in the world that lead a life of uninterrupted pleasure, exempt from cares; their whole time being spent in visiting, bathing, or the agreeable amusement of spending money, and inventing new fashions. A husband would be thought mad, that exacted any degree of economy from his wife, whose expences are no way limited but by her own fancy. 'Tis his business to get money, and hers to spend it: and this noble prerogative extends itself to the very meanest of the sex. Here is a fellow that carries embroidered handkerchiefs upon his back to sell. And as miserable a figure as you may suppose such a mean dealer, yet, I'll assure you, his wife scorns to wear any thing less than cloth of gold; has her ermine furs, and a very handsome set of jewels for her head. 'Tis true, they have no places but the bagnios, and these can only be seen by their own sex; however, that is a diversion they take great pleasure in.
[42.2] I was, three days ago, at one of the finest in the town, and had the opportunity of seeing a Turkish bride received there, and all the ceremony used on that occasion, which made me recollect the epithalamium of Helen, by Theocritus; and it seems to me, that the same customs have continued ever since. All the she-friends, relations and acquaintance of the two families, newly allied, meet at the bagnio; several others go, out of curiosity, and I believe there were that day two hundred women. Those that were, or had been married, placed themselves round the rooms, on the marble sofas; but the virgins very hastily threw off their clothes, and appeared without other ornament or covering, than their own long hair braided with pearl or ribbon. Two of them met the bride at the door, conducted by her mother and another grave relation. She was a beautiful maid of about seventeen, very richly dressed, and shining with jewels, but was presently reduced to the state of nature. Two others filled silver gilt pots with perfume, and began the procession, the rest following in pairs, to the number of thirty. The leaders sung an epithalamium, answered by the others in chorus, and the two last led the fair bride, her eyes fixed on the ground, with a charming affectation of modesty. In this order they marched round the three largest rooms of the bagnio. 'Tis not easy to represent to you the beauty of this sight, most of them being well proportioned and white skinned; all of them perfectly smooth and polished by the frequent use of bathing. After having made their tour, the bride was again led to every matron round the rooms, who saluted her with a compliment and a present, some of jewels, others of pieces of stuff, handkerchiefs or little gallantries of that nature, which she thanked them for, by kissing their hands. I was very well pleased with having seen this ceremony; and you may believe me, the Turkish ladies have, at least, as much wit and civility, nay liberty, as among us. 'Tis true, the same customs that give them so many opportunities of gratifying their evil inclinations (if they have any), also put it very fully in the power of their husbands to revenge themselves, if they are discovered; and I do not doubt, but they suffer sometimes for their indiscretions in a very severe manner. About two months ago, there was found at day break, not very far from my house, the bleeding body of a young woman, naked, only wrapped in a course sheet, with two wounds of a knife, one in her side, and another in her breast. She was not quite cold, and was so surprisingly beautiful, that there were very few men in Pera, that did not go to look upon her; but it was not possible for any body to know her, no woman's face being known. She was supposed to have been brought, in the dead of the night, from the Constantinople side, and laid there. Very little inquiry was made about the murderer, and the corpse was privately buried without noise. Murder is never pursued by the king's officers, as with us. 'Tis the business of the next relations to revenge the dead person; and if they like better to compound the matter for money (as they generally do) there is no more said of it. One would imagine this defect in their government should make such tragedies very frequent, yet they are extremely rare; which is enough to prove the people are not naturally cruel. Neither do I think, in many other particulars, they deserve the barbarous character we give them. I am well acquainted with a Christian woman of quality, who made it her choice to live with a Turkish husband, and is a very agreeable sensible lady. Her story is so extraordinary, I cannot forbear relating it; but I promise you, it shall be in as few words as I can possibly express it.
[42.3] She is a Spaniard, and was at Naples with her family, When that kingdom was part of the Spanish dominion. Coming from thence in a felucca, accompanied by her brother, they were attacked by the Turkish admiral, boarded and taken. —— And now how shall I modestly tell you the rest of her adventure? The same accident happened to her, that happened to the fair Lucretia so many years before her. But she was too good a Christian to kill herself, as that heathenish Roman did. The admiral was so much charmed with the beauty and long-suffering of the fair captive, that, as his first compliment, he gave immediate liberty to her brother and attendants, who made haste to Spain, and, in a few months, sent the sum of four thousand pounds sterling, as a ransom for his sister. The Turk took the money, which he presented to her, and told her she was at liberty. But the lady very discreetly weighed the different treatment she was likely to find in her native country. Her relations (as the kindest thing they could do for her in her present circumstances) would certainly confine her to a nunnery for the rest of her days. — Her infidel lover was very handsome, very tender, very fond of her, and lavished at her feet all the Turkish magnificence. She answered him very resolutely, that her liberty was not so precious to her as her honour; that he could no way restore that, but by marrying her; and she therefore desired him to accept the ransom as her portion, and give her the satisfaction of knowing, that no man could boast of her favours, without being her husband. The admiral was transported at this kind offer, and sent back the money to her relations, saying, he was too happy in her possession. He married her, and never took any other wife, and (as she says herself) she never had reason to repent the choice she made. He left her, some years after, one of the richest widows in Constantinople. But there is no remaining honourably a single woman, and that consideration has obliged her to marry the present captain bassa (i.e. admiral) his successor. — I am afraid that you will think my friend fell in love with her ravisher; but I am willing to take her word for it, that she acted wholly on principles of honour, though I think she might be reasonably touched at his generosity, which is often found amongst the Turks of rank.
[42.4] 'Tis a degree of generosity to tell the truth, and 'tis very rare that any Turk will assert a solemn falsehood. I don't speak of the lowest sort; for as there is a great deal of ignorance, there is very little virtue amongst them; and false witnesses are much cheaper than in Christendom; those wretches not being punished (even when they are publicly detected) with the rigour they ought to be.
[42.5] Now I am speaking of their law, I don't know whether I have ever mentioned to you one custom peculiar to their country, I mean adoption, very common amongst the Turks, and yet more amongst the Greeks and Armenians. Not having it in their power to give their estates to a friend or distant relation; to avoid its falling into the grand signior's treasury, when they are not likely to have any children of their own, they chuse some pretty child of either sex, amongst the meanest people, and carry the child and its parents before the cadi, and there declare they receive it for their heir. The parents, at the same time, renounce all future claim to it; a writing is drawn and witnessed, and a child thus adopted, cannot be disinherited. Yet I have seen some common beggars, that have refused to part with their children in this manner, to some of the richest among the Greeks; (so powerful is the instinctive affection that is natural to parents!) though the adopting fathers are generally very tender to these children of their souls, as they call them. I own this custom pleases me much better than our absurd one of following our name. Methinks, 'tis much more reasonable to make happy and rich an infant whom I educate after my own manner, brought up (in the Turkish phrase) upon my knees, and who has learned to look upon me with a filial respect, than to give an estate to a creature, without other merit or relation to me, than that of a few letters. Yet this is an absurdity we see frequently practised. —— Now I have mentioned the Armenians, perhaps it will be agreeable to tell you something of that nation, with which I am sure you are utterly unacquainted. I will not trouble you with the geographical account of the situation of their country, which you may see in the maps; or a relation of their ancient greatness, which you may read in the Roman history. They are now subject to the Turks; and, being very industrious in trade, and increasing and multiplying, are dispersed in great numbers through all the Turkish dominions. They were, as they say, converted to the Christian religion by St Gregory, and are perhaps the devoutest, Christians in the whole world. The chief precepts of their priests enjoin the strict keeping of their lents, which are, at least seven months in every year, and are not to be dispensed with on the most emergent necessity; no occasion whatever can excuse them, if they touch any thing more than mere herbs or roots (without oil) and plain dry bread. That is their constant diet. —— Mr W——y has one of his interpreters of this nation, and the poor fellow was brought so low, by the severity of his fasts, that his life was despaired of. Yet neither his master's commands, nor the doctor's entreaties (who declared nothing else could save his life) were powerful enough to prevail with him to take two or three spoonfuls of broth. Excepting this, which may rather be called a custom than an article of faith, I see very little in their religion different from ours. 'Tis true, they seem to incline very much to Mr Whiston's doctrine; neither do I think the Greek church very distant from it, since 'tis certain, the holy Spirit's proceeding only from the Father, is making a plain subordination in the Son. —— But the Armenians have no notion of transubstantiation, whatever account Sir Paul Rycaut gives of them, (which account, I am apt to believe, was designed to compliment our Court in 1679;) and they have a great horror for those amongst them, that change to the Roman religion. What is most extraordinary in their customs, is their matrimony; a ceremony, I believe, unparallell'd all over the world. They are always promised very young; but the espoused never see one another, till three days after their marriage. The bride is carried to church, with a cap on her head, in the fashion of a large trencher, and over it a red silken veil, which covers her all over to her feet. The priest asks the bridegroom, Whether he is contented to marry that woman, be she deaf, be she blind? These are the literal words: to which having answered, yes, she is led home to his house, accompanied with all the friends and relations on both sides, singing and dancing, and is placed on a cushion in the corner of the sofa; but her veil is never lifted up, not even by her husband. There is something so odd and monstrous in these ways, that I could not believe them, till I had inquired of several Armenians myself, who all assured me of the truth of them, particularly one young fellow, who wept when he spoke of it, being promised by his mother to a girl that he must marry in this manner, though he protested to me, he had rather die than submit to this slavery, having already figured his bride to himself with all the deformities of nature. —— I fancy I see you bless yourself at this terrible relation. I cannot conclude my letter with a more surprising story; yet 'tis as seriously true, as that I am,
Dear sister, yours, &c. &c.
Dover, Oct. 31. O. S. 1718.
[51.1] I am willing to take your word for it, that I shall really oblige you, by letting you know, as soon as possible, my safe passage over the water. I arrived this morning at Dover, after being tossed a whole night in the packet-boat, in so violent a manner, that the master, considering the weakness of his vessel, thought it proper to remove the mail, and give us notice of the danger. We called a little fishing boat, which could hardly make up to us; while all the people on board us were crying to Heaven. 'Tis hard to imagine one's self in a scene of greater horror than on such an occasion: and yet, shall I own it to you? though I was not at all willingly to be drowned, I could not forbear being entertained at the double distress of a fellow-passenger. She was an English lady that I had met at Calais, who desired me to let her go over with me in my cabin. She had bought a fine point-head, which she was contriving to conceal from the custom-house officers. When the wind grew high, and our little vessel cracked, she fell very heartily to her prayers, and thought wholly of her soul. When it seemed to abate, she returned to the worldly care of her head-dress, and addressed herself to me —— "Dear madam, will you take care of this point? if it should be lost! —— Ah, Lord, we shall all be lost! —— Lord have mercy on my soul! —— Pray, madam, take care of this head-dress." This easy transition from her soul to her head-dress, and the alternate agonies that both gave her, made it hard to determine which she thought of greatest value. But, however, the scene was not so diverting, but I was glad to get rid of it, and be thrown into the little boat, though with some hazard of breaking my neck. It brought me safe hither; and I cannot help looking with partial eyes on my native land. That partiality was certainly given us by nature, to prevent rambling, the effect of an ambitious thirst after knowledge, which we are not formed to enjoy. All we get by it, is a fruitless desire of mixing the different pleasures and conveniencies which are given to the different parts of the world, and cannot meet in any one of them. After having read all that is to be found in the languages I am mistress of, and having decayed my sight by midnight studies, I envy the easy peace of mind of a ruddy milk-maid, who, undisturbed by doubt, hears the sermon, with humility, every Sunday, not having confounded the sentiments of natural duty in her head by the vain-inquiries of the schools, who may be more learned, yet, after all, must remain as ignorant. And, after having seen part of Asia and Africa, and almost made the tour of Europe, I think the honest English squire more happy, who verily believes the Greek wines less delicious than March beer; that the African fruits have not so fine a flavour as golden pippins; that the Beca figuas of Italy are not so well tasted as a rump of beef; and that, in short, there is no perfect enjoyment of this life out of Old England. I pray God I may think so for the rest of my life; and, since I must be contented with our scanty allowance of day-light, that I may forget the enlivening sun of Constantinople.
I am, &c. &c.
January 13. 1715–16.
* This and the following letters are now first published.
[53.1] I find, after all, by your letter of yesterday, that Mrs D—— is resolved to marry the old greasy curate. She was always high-church in an excessive degree; and, you know, she used to speak of Sacheveral as an apostolic saint, who was worthy to sit in the same place with St Paul, if not a step above him. It is a matter, however, very doubtful to me, whether it is not still more the man than the apostle that Mrs D—— looks to in the present alliance. Though at the age of forty, she is, I assure you, very far from being cold and insensible; her fire may be covered with ashes, but it is not extinguished. —— Don't be deceived, my dear, by that prudish and sanctified air. —— Warm devotions is no equivocal mark of warm passions; besides, I know it is a fact, (of which I have proofs in hand, which I will tell you by word of mouth) that our learned and holy prude is exceedingly disposed to use the means, supposed in the primitive command, let what will come of the end. The curate indeed is very filthy. —— Such a red, spungy, warty nose! Such a squint! — In short, he is ugly beyond expression; and, what ought naturally to render him peculiarly displeasing to one of Mrs D—— 's constitution and propensities, he is stricken in years. Nor do I really know how they will live. He has but forty-five pounds a-year —— she but a trifling sum; so that they are likely to feast upon love and ecclesiastical history which will be very empty food, without a proper mixture of beef and pudding. I have however, engaged our friend, who is the curate's landlord, to give them a good lease; and if Mrs D——, instead of spending whole days in reading Collier, Hicks, and vile translations of Plato and Epictetus; will but form the resolution of taking care of her house, and minding her dairy, things may go tolerably. It is not likely that their tender loves will give them many sweet babes to provide for.
[53.2] I met the lover yesterday, going to the ale-house in his dirty nightgown, with a book under his arm, to entertain the club; and, as Mrs D—— was with me at the time, I pointed out to her the charming creature: she blushed, and looked prim; but quoted a passage out of Herodotus, in which it is said that the Persians wore long night-gowns. There is really no more accounting for the taste in marriage of many of our sex, than there is for the appetite of your Miss S—— y, who makes such waste of chalk and charcoal, when they fall in her way.
[53.3] As marriage produces children, so children produce care and disputes; and wrangling, as is said (at least by old batchelors and old maids) is one of the sweets of the conjugal state. You tell me that our friend Mrs —— is, at length, blessed with a son, and that her husband, who is a great philosopher, (if his own testimony is to be depended upon) insists on her suckling it herself. You ask my advice on this matter; and, to give it you frankly, I really think that Mr ——'s demand is unreasonable, as his wife's constitution is tender, and her temper fretful. A true philosopher would consider these circumstances; but a pedant is always throwing his system in your face, and applies it equally to all things, times and places, just like a taylor who would make a coat out of his own head, without any regard to the bulk or figure of the person that must wear it. All those fine-spun arguments that he has drawn from nature, to stop your mouths, weigh, I must own to you, but very little with me. This same Nature is, indeed, a specious word, nay there is a great deal in it, if it is properly understood and applied; but I cannot bear to hear people using it, to justify what common sense must disavow. Is not nature modified by art in many things? Was it not designed to be so? And is it not happy for human society, that it is so? Would you like to see your husband let his beard grow, until he would be obliged to put the end of it in his pocket, because this beard is the gift of nature? The instincts of nature point out neither taylors, nor weavers, nor mantua-makers, nor sempsters, nor milliners; and yet I am very glad that we do not run naked like the Hottentots. But not to wander from the subject — I grant, that nature has furnished the mother with milk to nourish her child; but I maintain, at the same time, that if she can find better milk elsewhere, she ought to prefer it without hesitation. I don't see why she should have more scruple to do this, than her husband has to leave the clear fountain which nature gave him, to quench his thirst, for stout october, port, or claret. Indeed, if Mrs —— was a buxom, sturdy woman, who lived on plain food, took regular exercise, enjoyed proper returns of rest, and was free from violent passions (which you and I know is not the case) she might be a good nurse for her child; but, as matters stand, I do verily think, that the milk of a good comely cow, who feeds quietly in her meadow, never devours ragouts, nor drinks ratifia, nor frets at quadrille, nor sits up till three in the morning, elated with gain, or dejected with loss; I do think, that the milk of such a cow, or of a nurse that came as near it as possible, would be likely to nourish the young squire much better than hers. If it be true that the child sucks in the mother's passions with her milk, this is a strong argument in favour of the cow, unless you may be afraid that the young squire may become a calf; but how many calves are there both in state and church, who have been brought up with their mother's milk.
[53.4] I promise faithfully, to communicate to no mortal the letter you wrote me last. —— What you say of two of the rebel lords, I believe to be true; but I can do nothing in the matter. —— If my projects don't fail in the execution, I shall see you before a month passes. Give my service to Dr Blackbeard. —— He is a good man, but I never saw in my life, such a persecuting face cover a humane and tender heart. I imagine (within myself) that the Smithfield priests, who burned the protestants in the time of Queen Mary, had just such faces as the doctor's. If we were papists, I should like him very much for my confessor; his seeming austerity would give you and I a great reputation for sanctity; and his good, indulgent heart, would be the very thing that would suit us, in the affair of penance and ghostly direction.
Farewell, my dear lady, &c. &c.
Vienna, Jan. 2. O. S. 1717.
[54.1] I am really almost tired with the life of Vienna. I am not, indeed, an enemy to dissipation and hurry, much less to amusement and pleasure; but I cannot endure, long, even pleasure, when it is fettered with formality, and assumes the air of system. 'Tis true I have had here some very agreeable connections; and what will perhaps surprise you, I have particular pleasure in my Spanish acquaintances, count Oropesa and general Puebla. These two noblemen are much in the good graces of the emperor, and yet they seem to be brewing mischief. The court of Madrid cannot reflect, without pain, upon the territories that were cut off from the Spanish monarchy by the peace of Utrecht, and it seems to be looking wishfully out, for an opportunity of getting them back again. That is a matter about which I trouble myself very little; let the Court be in the right or in the wrong, I like mightily the two counts its ministers. I dined with them both some days ago at count Wurmbrand's, an aulic counsellor, and a man of letters, who is universally esteemed here. But the first man at this court, in point of knowledge and abilities, is certainly count Schlick, high chancellor of Bohemia, whose immense reading is accompanied with a fine taste and a solid judgment; he is a declared enemy to prince Eugene, and a warm friend to the honest hot-headed marshal Staremberg. One of the most accomplished men I have seen at Vienna, is the young count Terracco, who accompanies the amiable prince of Portugal. I am almost in love with them both, and wonder to see such elegant manners, and such free and generous sentiments in two young men that have hitherto seen nothing but their own country. The count is just such a Roman-catholic as you; he succeeds greatly with the devout beauties here; his first overtures in gallantry are disguised under the luscious strains of spiritual love, that were sung formerly by the sublimely voluptuous Fenelon, and the tender madam Guion, who turned the fire of carnal love to divine objects: thus the count begins with the spirit, and ends generally with the flesh, when he makes his addresses to holy virgins.
[54.2] I made acquaintance yesterday with the famous poet Rousseau, who lives here under the peculiar protection of prince Eugene, by whose liberality he subsists. He passes here for a free-thinker, and, what is still worse in my esteem, for a man whose heart does not feel the encomiums he gives to virtue and honour in his poems. I like his odes mightily; they are much superior to the lyric productions of our English poets, few of whom have made any figure in that kind of poetry. I don't find that learned men abound here; there is, indeed, a prodigious number of alchymists at Vienna; the philosopher's stone is the great object of zeal and science; and those who have more reading and capacity than the vulgar, have transported their superstition (shall I call it?) or fanaticism, from religion to chymistry; and they believe in a new kind of transubstantiation, which is designed to make the laity as rich as the other kind has made the priesthood. This pestilential passion has already ruined several great houses. There is scarcely a man of opulence or fashion, that has not an alchymist in his service; and even the emperor is supposed to be no enemy to this folly, in secret, though he has pretended to discourage it in public.
[54.3] Prince Eugene was so polite as to shew me his library yesterday; we found him attended by Rousseau, and his favourite count Bonneval, who is a man of wit, and is here thought to be a very bold and enterprizing, spirit. The library, though not very ample, is well chosen; but as the prince will admit into it no editions but what are beautiful and pleasing to the eye, and there are, nevertheless, numbers of excellent books that are but indifferently printed, this finikin and foppish taste makes many disagreeable chasms in this collection. The books are pompously bound in Turkey leather; and two of the most famous book-binders of Paris were expressly sent for to do this work. Bonneval pleasantly told me, that there were several quartos, on the art of war, that were bound with the skins of spahis and janizaries: and this jest, which was indeed elegant, raised a smile of pleasure on the grave countenance of the famous warrior. The prince, who is a connoisseur in the fine arts, shewed me, with particular pleasure, the famous collection of portraits that formerly belonged to Fouquet, and which he purchased at an excessive price. He has augmented it with a considerable number of new acquisitions; so that he has now in his possession such a collection in that kind, as you will scarcely find in any ten cabinets in Europe. If I told you the number, you will say that I make an indiscreet use of the permission to lie, which is more or less given to travellers, by the indulgence of the candid.
[54.4] Count Tarracco is just come in. — He is the only person I have accepted, this morning, in my general order to receive no company. — I think I see you smile; — but I am not so far gone as to stand in need of absolution; though as the human heart is deceitful, and the count very agreeable, you may think, that even though I should not want an absolution, I would, nevertheless, be glad to have an indulgence. — No such thing. — However, as I am a heretic, and you no confessor, I shall make no declarations on this head. — The design of the count's visit is a ball; — more pleasure. — I shall be surfeited.
Saturday — Florence.
* As this letter is the supplement to a preceding one, which is not come to the hands of the editor, it was probably, on that account, sent without a date. It seems evidently to have been written after Lady M. W. M. had fixed her residence in Italy.
[56.1] I set out from Bologne the moment I had finished the letter I wrote you on Monday last, and shall now continue to inform you of the things that have struck me most in this excursion. Sad roads — hilly and rocky — between Bologna and Fierenzuola. Between this latter place and Florence, I went out of my road to visit the monastery of La Trappe, which is of French origin, and one of the most austere and self-denying orders I have met with. In this gloomy retreat, it gave me pain to observe the infatuation of men, who have devoutly reduced themselves to a much worse condition than that of the beasts. Folly, you see, is the lot of humanity, whether it arises in the flowery paths of pleasure, or the thorny ones of an ill-judged devotion. But of the two sorts of fools, I shall always think that the merry one has the most eligible fate; and I cannot well form a notion of that spiritual and ecstatic joy, that is mixed with sighs, groans, hunger and thirst, and the other complicated miseries of monastic discipline. It is a strange way of going to work for happiness, to excite an enmity between soul and body, which nature and providence have designed to live together in an union and friendship, and which we cannot separate like man and wife, when they happen to disagree. The profound silence that is enjoined upon the monks of La Trappe, is a singular circumstance of their unsociable and unnatural discipline; and were this injunction never to be dispensed with, it would be needless to visit them in any other character than as a collection of statues; but the superior of the convent suspended, in our favour, that rigorous law, and allowed one of the mutes to converse with me, and answer a few discreet questions. He told me, that the monks of this order in France are still more austere than those of Italy, as they never taste wine, flesh, fish, or eggs; but live entirely upon vegetables. The story that is told of the institution of this order is remarkable, and is well attested, if my information be good. Its founder was a French nobleman, whose name was Bouthillier da Rance, a man of pleasure and gallantry, which were converted into the deepest gloom of devotion, by the following incident. His affairs obliged him to absent himself for some time, from a lady with whom he had lived in the most intimate and tender connections of successful love. At his return to Paris, he proposed to surprise her agreeably; and, at the same time, to satisfy his own impatient desire of seeing her, by going directly, and without ceremony, to her apartment by a back stair, which he was well acquainted with. —— But think of the spectacle that presented itself to him at his entrance into the chamber that had so often been the scene of love's highest raptures! His mistress dead — dead of the small-pox — disfigured beyond expression —— a loathsome mass of putrified matter —— and the surgeon separating the head from the body, because the coffin had been made too short! He stood for a moment motionless in amazement, and filled with horror —— and then retired from the world, shut himself up in the convent of La Trappe, where he passed the remainder of his days in the most cruel and disconsolate devotion. —— Let us quit this sad subject.
[56.2] I must not forget to tell you, that before I came to this monastery, I went to see the burning mountains near Fierenzuola, of which the naturalists speak as a great curiosity. The flame it sends forth is without smoke, and resembles brandy set on fire. The ground about it is well cultivated, and the fire appears only in one spot where there is a cavity, whose circumference is small, but in it are several crevices whose depths are unknown. It is remarkable, that when a piece of wood is thrown into this cavity, though it cannot pass through the crevices, yet it is consumed in a moment; and that though the ground about it be perfectly cold, yet if a stick be rubbed with any force against it, it emits a flame, which, however, is neither hot nor durable like that of the volcano. If you desire a more circumstantial account of this phenomenon, and have made a sufficient progress in Italian, to read father Carazzi's description of it, you need not be at a loss, for I have sent this description to Mr F——, and you have only to ask it of him. After observing the volcano, I Scrambled up all the neighbouring hills, partly on horse-back, partly on foot, but could find no vestige of fire in any of them; though common report would make one believe that they all contain volcanos.
[56.3] I hope you have not taken it in your head to expect from me a description of the famous gallery, here, where I arrived on Thursday at noon; this would be requiring a volume instead of a letter; besides I have as yet seen but a part of this immense treasure, and I propose employing some weeks more to survey the whole. You cannot imagine any situation more agreeable than Florence. It lies in a fertile and smiling valley watered by the Arno, which runs through the city; and nothing can surpass the beauty and magnificence of its public buildings, particularly the cathedral, whose grandeur filled me with astonishment. The palaces, squares, fountains, statues, bridges, do not only carry an aspect full of elegance and greatness, but discover a taste quite different, in kind, from that which reigns in the public edifices in other countries. The more I see of Italy, the more I am persuaded that the Italians have a style (if I may use that expression) in every thing, which distinguishes them almost essentially from all other Europeans. Where they have got it, —— whether from natural genius or ancient imitation and inheritance, I shall not examine; but the fact is certain. I have been but one day in the gallery, that amazing repository of the most precious remains of antiquity, and which alone is sufficient to immortalize the illustrious house of Medicis, by whom it was built, and enriched as we now see it. I was so impatient to see the famous Venus of Medicis, that I went hastily through six apartments, in order to get a sight of this divine figure; purposing, when I had satisfied this ardent curiosity, to return and view the rest at my leisure. As I, indeed, passed through the great room which contains the ancient statues, I was stopped short at viewing the Antinous, which they have placed near that of Adrian, to revive the remembrance of their preposterous loves; which, I suppose, the Florentines rather look upon as an object of envy, than of horror and disgust. This statue, like that of the Venus de Medicis, spurns description: such figures my eyes never beheld. —— I can now understand that Ovid's comparing a fine woman to a statue, which I formerly thought a very disobliging similitude, was the nicest and highest piece of flattery. The Antinous is entirely naked, all its parts are bigger than nature; but the whole, taken together, and the fine attitude of the figure, carry such an expression of ease, elegance and grace, as no words can describe. When I saw the Venus I was rapt in wonder, — and I could not help casting a thought back upon Antinous. They ought to be placed together; they are worthy of each other. —— If marble could see and feel, the separation might be prudent, — if it could only see, it would certainly lose its coldness, and learn to feel; and, in such a case, the charms of these two figures would produce an effect quite opposite to that of the Gorgon's head, which turned flesh into stone. Did I pretend to describe to you the Venus, it would only set your imagination at work to form ideas of her figure; and your ideas would no more resemble that figure, than the Portuguese face of Miss ——, who has enchanted our knights, resembles the sweet and graceful countenance of lady ——, his former flame. The description of a face or figure, is a needless thing, as it never conveys a true idea; it only gratifies the imagination with a fantastic one, until the real one is seen. So, my dear, if you have a mind to form a true notion of the divine forms and features of the Venus and Antinous, come to Florence.
[56.4] I would be glad to oblige you and your friend Vertue, by executing your commission with respect to the sketches of Raphael's cartoons at Hampton-court; but I cannot do it to my satisfaction. I have, indeed, seen, in the grand duke's collection, four pieces, in which that wonderful artist had thrown freely from his pencil the first thoughts and rude lines of some of these compositions; and as the first thoughts of a great genius are precious, these pieces attracted my curiosity in a particular manner; but when I went to examine them closely, I found them so damaged and effaced, that they did not at all answer my expectation. Whether this be owing to negligence or envy, I cannot say; I mention the latter, because it is notorious, that many of the modern painters have discovered ignoble marks of envy at a view of the inimitable productions Of the ancients. Instead of employing their art to preserve the master-pieces of antiquity, they have endeavoured to destroy and efface many of them. I have seen with my own eyes an evident proof of this at Bologna, where the greatest part of the paintings in fresco on the walls of the convent of St Michael in Bosco, done by the Carracci, and Guido Rheni, have been ruined by the painters, who, after having copied some of the finest heads, scraped them almost entirely out with nails. Thus, you see, nothing is exempt from human malignity.
[56.5] The word malignity, and a passage in your letter, call to my mind the wicked wasp of Twickenham; his lies affect me now no more; they will be all as much despised as the story of the seraglio and the handkerchief, of which I am persuaded he was the only inventor. That man has a malignant and ungenerous heart; and he is base enough to assume the mark of a moralist in order to decry human nature, and to give a decent vent to his hatred to man and woman kind. —— But I must quit this contemptible subject, on which a just indignation would render my pen so fertile, that, after having fatigued you with a long letter, I would surfeit you with a supplement twice as long. Besides, a violent head-ach advertises me that it is time to lay down my pen and get me to bed. I shall say some things to you in my next, that I would have you to impart to the strange man, as from yourself. My mind is at present tolerably quiet; if it were as dead to sin, as it is to certain connections, I should be a great saint. Adieu, my dear madam.
Yours very affectionately, &c.
[58.1] I am charmed, Sir, with your obliging letter; and you may perceive, by the largeness of my paper, that I intend to give punctual answers to all your questions, at least if my French will permit me; for, as it is a language I do not understand to perfection, so I much fear, that, for want of expressions, I shall be quickly obliged to finish. Keep in mind, therefore, that I am writing in a foreign language, and be sure to attribute all the impertinencies and triflings dropping from my pen, to the want of proper words for declaring my thoughts, but by no means to dulness, or natural levity.
[58.2] These conditions being thus agreed and settled, I begin with telling you, that you have a true notion of the alcoran, concerning which the Greek priests (who are the greatest scoundrels in the universe) have invented, out of their own heads, a thousand ridiculous stories, in order to decry the law of Mahomet; to run it down, I say, without any examination, or so much as letting the people read it; being afraid, that if once they began to sift the defects of the alcoran, they might not stop there, but proceed to make use of their judgment about their own legends and fictions. In effect, there is nothing so like as the fables of the Greeks and of the Mahometans; and the last have multitudes of saints, at whose tombs miracles are by them said to be daily performed; nor are the accounts of the lives of those blessed musselmans much less stuffed with extravagancies, than the spiritual romances of the Greek papas.
[58.3] As to your next inquiry, I assure you, 'tis certainly false, though commonly believed in our parts of the world, that Mahomet excludes women from any share in a future happy state. He was too much a gentleman, and loved the fair sex too well, to use them so barbarously. On the contrary, he promises a very fine paradise to the Turkish women. He says, indeed, that this paradise will be a separate place from that of their husbands; but I fancy the most part of them won't like it the worse for that; and that the regret of this separation will not render their paradise the less agreeable. It remains to tell you, that the virtues which Mahomet requires of the women, to merit the enjoyment of future happiness, are, not to live in such a manner as to become useless to the world, but to employ themselves, as much as possible, in making little musselmans. The virgins, who die virgins, and the widows who marry not again, dying in mortal sin, are excluded out of paradise: For women, says he, not being capable to manage the affairs of state, nor to support the fatigues of war, God has not ordered them to govern or reform the world; but he has entrusted them with an office which is not less honourable; even that of multiplying the human race: and such as, out of malice or laziness, do not make it their business to bear or to breed children, fulfil not the duty of their vocation, and rebel against the commands of God. Here are maxims for you, prodigiously contrary to those of your convents. What will become of your St Catharines, your St Theresas, your St Claras, and the whole bead-roll of your holy virgins and widows; who, if they are to be judged by this system of virtue, will be found to have been infamous creatures, that passed their whole lives in most abominable libertinism.
[58.4] I know not what your thoughts may be, concerning a doctrine so extraordinary with respect to us; but I can truly inform you, Sir, that the Turks are not so ignorant as we fancy them to be in matters of politics, or philosophy, or even of gallantry. 'Tis true, that military discipline, such as now practised in Christendom, does not mightily suit them. A long peace has plunged them into an universal sloth. Content with their condition, and accustomed to boundless luxury, they are become great enemies to all manner of fatigues. But, to make amends, the sciences flourish among them. The effendis (that is to say, the learned) do very well deserve this name: They have no more faith in the in inspiration of Mahomet, than in the infallibility of the Pope. They make a frank profession of Deism among themselves, or to those they can trust; and never speak of their law but as of a politic institution, fit now to be observed by wise men, however at first introduced by politicians and enthusiasts.
[58.5] If I remember right, I think I have told you, in some former letter, that, at Belgrade, we lodged with a great and rich effendi, a man of wit and learning, and of a very agreeable humour. We were in his house about a month, and he did constantly eat with us, drinking wine without any scruple. As I rallied him a little on this subject, he answered me, smiling, that all creatures in the world were made for the pleasure of man; and that God would not have let the vine grow, were it a sin to taste of its juice; but that, nevertheless, the law, which forbids the use of it to the vulgar, was very wise, because such sort of folks have not sense enough to take it with moderation. This effendi appeared no stranger to the parties that prevail among us: Nay, he seemed to have some knowledge of our religious disputes, and even of our writers; and I was surprised to hear him ask, among other things, how Mr Toland did.
[58.6] My paper, large as it is, draws towards an end. That I may not go beyond its limits, I must leap from religions to tulips, concerning which you ask me news. Their mixture produces surprising effects. But, what is to be observed most surprising, are the experiments of which you speak concerning animals, and which are tried here every day. The suburbs of Pera, Jophana, and Galata, are collections of strangers from all countries of the universe. They have so often intermarried, that this forms several races of people, the oddest imaginable. There is not one single family of natives that can value itself on being unmixed. You frequently see a person, whose father was born a Grecian, the mother an Italian, the grandfather a Frenchman, the grandmother an Armenian, and their ancestors English, Muscovites, Asiatics, &c.
[58.7] This mixture produces creatures more extraordinary than you can imagine; nor could I ever doubt, but there were several different species of men; since the whites, the woolly and the long-haired blacks, the small-eyed Tartars and Chinese, the beardless Brasilians, and (to name no more) the oily-skinned yellow Nova Zemblians, have as specific differences, under the same general kind, as grey-hounds, mastiffs, spaniels, bull-dogs, or the race of my little Diana, if nobody is offended at the comparison. Now, as the various intermixing of these latter animals causes mongrels, so mankind have their mongrels too, divided and subdivided into endless sorts. We have daily proofs of it here, as I told you before. In the same animal is not seldom remarked the Greek perfidiousness, the Italian diffidence, the Spanish arrogance, the French loquacity; and, all of a sudden, he is seized with a fit of English thoughtfulness, bordering a little upon dulness, which many of us have inherited from the stupidity of our Saxon progenitors. But the family which charms me most, is that which proceeds from the fantastical conjunction of a Dutch male with a Greek female. As these are natures opposite in extremes, 'tis a pleasure to observe how the differing atoms are perpetually jarring together in the children, even so as to produce effects visible in their external form. They have the large black eyes of the country, with the fat, white, fishy flesh of Holland, and a lively air streaked with dulness. At one and the same time, they shew that love of expensiveness, so universal among the Greeks, and an inclination to the Dutch frugality. To give an example of this; young women ruin themselves, to purchase jewels for adorning their heads, while they have not the heart to buy new shoes, or rather slippers for their feet, which are commonly in a tattered condition; a thing so contrary to the taste of our English women, that it is for shewing how neatly their feet are dressed, and for shewing this only, they are so passionately enamoured with their hoop petticoats. I have abundance of other singularities to communicate to you; but I am at the end, both of my French and my paper.