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THE PASHAS ON HORSEBACK.
And now our caique touches the quay, and we come back to the realities of Turkish life in 1855, not so much unlike 1453 as might be supposed. We left our caiques and walked about a mile to the open plain before the Seraglio, where the Sultan was staying, and from whence he would pass to Santa Sophia. Stamboul was all alive. Pashas with their trains were busily riding hither and thither. A large body of Turkish troops were drawn up in the square awaiting his Majesty. Visitors of all nations swelled the throng
We waited here about an hour, amusing ourselves by walking up and down and watching the evolutions of the Pashas on horseback. The enormous size of some of the Pashas made the management of their steeds a matter of difficulty. They certainly gave one the impression of a considerable falling off from the courage of their great ancestors, whose valour was such that neither Cyrus
COMMANDER OF THE FAITHFUL." 105
nor Alexander could conquer them. Judging by the streets, manufactories, and public buildings of the city the genius of their great father Turk, the son of Japhet, from whom they so proudly trace their origin, has vanished too.
Now the procession began to form. First came three or four carriages, containing the Sultanas and other ladies very gaily attired. Now the Sultan's horses were led out, their trappings of embroidered silk and jewels; then came many a Pasha with his train. At length the “Commander of the Faithful,” surrounded by his guards, and on horseback. He was dressed in uniform, over which was thrown a cloak of dark blue cloth, fastened by a buckle of brilliants; he wore the crimson fez, in which was a plume of heron's feathers, secured by a diamond clasp. The simplicity of his dress formed a striking contrast to his magnificently attired Pashas'.
Slowly the procession passed to Santa So
phia—the Turkish troops cheering the Sultan as he proceeded along the line in deep solemn tones, very unlike the hearty, joyous cheering of our own land. A dense mass of people followed. We reached the entrance of the mosque, and beheld the floor entirely covered with Turks all prostrate with their foreheads on the ground. The Imauns at the door furiously refused admittance to Franks. One naval officer had contrived to slip in, and, in answer to all their violent gesticulations, held up his shoes with an earnest look to let them see how much he had sacrificed to their prejudices, and he kept his place, for they dared not lay violent hands on an officer in uniform. No wonder they did not want any
Franks if they really followed the universal custom at Beiram, and prayed either for the rooting out of all Christian princes, or that they might quarrel among themselves. It would be curious if they prayed in 1855 for the over
A 66 PRESENCE CHAMBER.'
throw of Queen Victoria, Louis Napoleon, and Victor Emanuel; perhaps they thought, provided Alexander went too, it did not much signify if the Allies accompanied him.
Owing to our being accompanied by an officer we gained admittance to the Seraglio gardens, and saw the Sultan pass through them on his return to the palace. We waited there about an hour while he took some refreshment. A throne was now placed immediately before the palace covered with · crimson velvet; a carpet of the same material at its foot. An open space was cleared, around which were ranged troops. Opposite the throne was the royal band, and we and other strangers ranged ourselves behind the soldiers. It was a beautiful
presence chamber" — those lovely gardens, and beneath the shade of the old green trees—the cloudless summer sky for his canopy, to receive his Court in. Several ladies and numbers of French
and English officers stood around. Conspicuous amongst them was Monsieur Soyer, whose costume always marked him out.
At last the Sultan appeared; he walked up ungracefully to his throne and seated himself. We were in a position to get an excellent view of him and of the whole proceedings. He is a thin, pale, dark, weariedlooking man, giving one the impression of a person void of energy, and who would fain be rid of a heavy burden.
As soon as he was seated, the Pashas began to walk before him in processionsome kissing their sovereign's hand, others only bowing low to the ground before him ; then the Beys followed in order. The Pashas and Beys were all in European dress, with the exception of the crimson fez; but their dresses were covered with rich embroidery. Then came the Imauns, hundreds of them, of different degrees and rank. All bowed low before him, making the salaam, i.e.,