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DOLMABAGHDSHAH.

79

broken down the barrier-nothing more is needed than to go under the escort of an officer whose uniform and sword, accompanied of course with “backshish,” throw

open the doors.

We disembarked at one side entrance, the grand entrance being reserved expressly for the Sultan. We entered the grand hall in which the Sultan holds his audience. The coup d'eil was grand-rich gilding, fresco painting, and marble pillars presented a splendid scene.

But the first effect was almost all; and with a nearer view the illusion vanishes, and the true Turkish architecture is clearly to be discerned, for general effect, with total absence of good detail, is its characteristic. The marble pillars were but painted wood! while a close view into every detail

gave such an impression of rudeness and imperfection that we soon gave up the examination.

We ascended to the upper apartments, and

80

DESCRIPTION OF ITS INTERIOR.

were struck by another hall surmounted with a dome of ruby glass. The effect of this we liked exceedingly; the white marble of this hall was neither gilded nor painted, but only lit up with this deep glow. The effect was dazzling, reminding one rather of the hall in Aladdin's palace than any building belonging to this “work-a-day world.” Almost all the innumerable apartments of the Sultan, for there are hundreds of them, are ornamented with fresco paintings. The principal devices are of flowers, which gives a great sameness; the reason of this is that the Koran forbids the representation of any human or animal life, bestowing on those who disobey the curse of hereafter giving an account of the souls of those whose bodies they had thus dared to represent on earth. Another disappointment was, with the exception of the two halls, the extreme smallness of the regal apartments. Instead of constructing extensive

ones,
the
space

is broken

THE IMPERIAL HAREEM.

81

up in continuous small rooms opening into each other.

The Imperial Hareém is separated from the other part of the palace by a corridor and garden. Upon entering we were instantly struck with the extreme contrast to the splendour of the other part of the palace. With a few exceptions, the rooms were perfectly plain, and the bed-rooms resembled those of a modern London house.

The Sultana's drawing-room was, however, very prettily ornamented, and hung with innumerable glass chandeliers. We observed the introduction of a number of chairs in addition to the universal divan. One room, apparently set apart for study, was papered with deep crimson, the curtains and furniture of the same colour, chairs richly gilt; 'bureau and escritoire of polished wood were placed in different parts of the room; a pair of small globes stood on the table--all this evidently of Parisian workmanship.

VOL. II.

G

82

THE SULTAN'S BATH.

But the gem of the palace is yet to be described this was the Sultan's bath. We passed through a series of marble cooling rooms till we reached the bath. It is entirely of pale yellow alabaster, a kind rarely seen and difficult to procure. The roof was, of course, pierced to allow the vapour to escape; the sculpture is magnificent, and executed with the most delicate precision. There are several fountains, which, when the bath is heated, will pour forth rose-water.

The palace is not yet completed, though many of the rooms are completely furnished. The Sultan comes here daily at two p.m. to receive his officers of state ; after this hour, therefore, no visitors are admitted. The Turk who conducted us over the palace seemed anxious to impress upon our minds the awful consequence of incurring the displeasure of the Sultan by speaking too loud or making the slightest sound. Upon our entrance he declared we must take off our

REVERENCE FOR THE SULTAN.

83

shoes; we did not feel inclined to walk over all the marble floors without them, and resisted; and, after some discussion, additional backshish prevailed on him to waive the point as regarded the ladies, and he only insisted that the gentlemen of the party should slip huge Turkish slippers over their boots.

He walked first on tip-toe, putting his finger to his mouth, and when we talked or laughed he drew his arm across his throat, saying, “Sooltan, Sooltan,” intimating that we had better take care of our heads. He seemed much entertained, though somewhat aghast at our extreme indifference to this warning. He evidently thought our continued laughing and talking a proof of wonderful courage; in fact, it so much excited his admiration, that on parting from him at the door of the palace, he made us understand that he would have no objection to cicerone us on a future occasion.

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