Sivut kuvina

ments? Almost all the travellers who preceded us in this country, arrived from the shores, and seldom penetrated more than twenty or thirty leagues into the interior. We attempted to render their labours more complete by proceeding from the interior, and reaching the points where they had stopped. Our first excursion was from Smyrna to Constantinople, passing through Sardis. This town, the most interesting on the whole road, is built upon an elevation which commands the plain of Shermus: the ruins of its walls are prolonged on both sides of the Pactolus, a small stream which, even in the time of Strabo, no longer contained in its bed grains of gold. Two Ionic columns, sustaining an entablature, are the only remains of the temple of Cybele. Nothing exceeds the elegance of their capitals, the volutes of which are ornamented with palmleaves. The columns are broken across; but by their diameter it may be calculated that they were fifty feet high. Upon the declivity of the hill, on the other side, is a theatre and a stadium. No inhabitants are to be met with in this celebrated town. A few tents only of Urucks, a wandering tribe, are to be seen on the banks of the Pactolus; and from the top of the citadel of Croesus you perceive, scattered over the plains, the tombs of the kings of Lydia. They are large mounds (tumuli), about sixty in number, among which one distinguishes the tomb of Alyattes, the father of Croesus, of which Herodotus speaks as the most extensive monument he had seen, excepting the Pyramids, and which indeed resembles a natural mountain. As the historian adds, that this tomb was constructed at the expense of the courtesans of Sardis, we may infer, from its magnitude, that the morals of the people of this town were not remarkably austere.

Leaving Sardis, you cross the Hermus, the plain of Hircania, and enter the chain of mountains known by the name of SoassoufDagh, which extends from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, and forms the separation of the waters of the sea of Marmora from those of the Archipelago.

At certain distances, the whole length of this road, are to be seen fountains erected by beneficent persons, whose names are engraved upon the stone, and generally a verse from the Koran. We saw upon one of them this passage: The best man is he who is the most useful to his brethren.'

[ocr errors]

I will not speak to you about Constantinople: every one has heard of the beauty of its situation, and how few splendid edifices are to be met with. We witnessed in this city three events which particularly characterised our séjour,-a revolution, the plague, and a conflagration. After spending six weeks in the house of the Countess Guilleminot, who evinced much interest towards us, we determined to proceed to Cairo through the interior of Asia. The success of this journey depended upon the manner in which we should undertake it, and we therefore avoided the plan followed by

[ocr errors]

the travellers, Seetzen, and Colonel Boutin, who fell victims in the journey. We determined upon purchasing horses and arms at Constantinople, to put on the Turkish costume, procure a very explicit firman, which the French ambassador obtained for us, and take with us, besides, a Tartar of the Porte, and a Dragoman, with a certain number of experienced servants. In this manner we composed a troop of twelve men on horseback, having each a doublebarrelled gun, and stronger, as to fire-arms, than the inhabitants of almost all the places where we stopped. A few paras, distributed in a proper manner, added kindness to respect; and, in the same places where, had we been alone, it would have been difficult to take a few notes, we quietly established ourselves, measuring and drawing the monuments without troubling the inhabitants, or meeting, on their part, with any interference. The low price of provisions in the Levant, renders this mode of travelling but little expensive; and in this way we passed through the interior of Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. As it is impossible to give you a full account of the whole of our journey, and the observations to which it has led, I will only indicate to you the principal discoveries and researches that we have been able to make. On leaving the towns of Nicomedia and of Niceas, where considerable ruins are still to be seen, we proceeded towards the west, and to the banks of Sangarius; and scarcely had we arrived near the Lake Sabanja, the ancient Sophon, when we discovered a Roman monument of the largest size: it is a bridge composed of six arches, at the beginning of which is a triumphal arch, and at the extremity a sort of repetition of the arch built against the mountain, and open on both sides for the passage of a Roman road. Ten leagues south-west from Cutahia, the extreme point of this part of Asia, we arrived at a Roman town which no traveller had visited, and which ancient itineraries do not even notice. Its principal edifices consist of a large theatre, a stadium, several porticos in a high state of preservation, and, upon the summit of a small hill, an Ionic temple of the most elegant architecture; the columns are of a single block of marble, thirty feet high; they are fluted, and sustain an elegantly ornamented entablature of the most tasteful chasteness. From the fragments of an inscription which belonged to the pediment, it is seen that this temple was repaired in the time of Adrian, and consecrated to Apollo. This place is called by the Turks, Chapder, and is watered by a stream, which is passed over a Roman bridge of five arches, in as good a state of preservation as the Roman arch which it joins. From Chapder we proceeded to the Phrygian monument described by Colonel Leake: we had the satisfaction of discovering, in the same valley, another similar monument, and, six leagues further, a third much more considerable, bearing an inscription in the same characters. But what afforded us the greatest interest, and occupied two months of our time, was the country comprised between Affrom Karahissar, Denislu, and Isparta, which we visited to de

termine the sources and the course of the Meander, of the Lycus, and the Marsyas; the sites of a great number of ancient cities that were built upon their banks, principally those of Hieropolis and Aphrodisias; (the first celebrated in all times for its mineral waters, still contains the Mephitic cavern of which Strabo speaks, in which birds, suffocated by the fumes, often fell ;) the ruins of a temple of Apollo, and a vast number of magnificent tombs. In the midst of Aphrodisias, now called Guera, is to be seen the Temple of Venus, of the Ionic order, and in great part preserved. On the left are the stadium and the theatre. There extends from one gate to the other an Ionic portico of the greatest elegance. Aphrodisias is truly the town of Venus: Cupids support the garlands upon the entablature of the portico, and are hunting all kinds of animals that are represented on the interior of the temple, of which several fragments are still well preserved: a hundred Greek inscriptions scattered among the ruins add to the interest of this place. Proceeding from Guera to Coule, passing through Isparta, you cross a mountainous country intersected by large lakes. This is the Switzerland of Asia Minor. Eyerdir resembles the Isola Bella of Lago Maggiore. This chain of mountains contains several ancient cities which had not yet been discovered, and whose situation we were enabled to fix, such as Sagalassus, Antioch of Pisidia, Cremna, and Selge. But, more than any other place, Conie, the ancient Iconium, deserves the attention of every traveller: this town contains curious remains of every age, and particularly Arabian monuments of the Seldjiacides, Sultans, which are not even surpassed in elegance and perfection by the Moorish edifices in Spain.

At the distance of twelve leagues, in the midst of the plain of Conie, is an isolated mountain, Kara-dagh, or Black Mountain, of which many marvellous tales are related, and where no one had yet penetrated. There, said the Turks, are to be seen a thousand and one churches in a ruined state, which contain treasures; but the edifices fall down upon those who dare venture within them. The stones of these monasteries, the Greeks and Armenians assured us, walk about in procession during the night, and spread terror on all sides; and, indeed, Olivier and Kinnier found no one who would consent to conduct them to this place. The truth is, that this deserted spot has always been the haunt of brigands. Ali, the Pasha of Conie, gave us a guard to accompany us, and we went over the mountain in every direction, hoping that we should find the ruins of some ancient cities. But, to our great regret, we only discovered the thousand and one churches, of which the Turks had spoken, that is to say, monasteries and tombs of the 5th and 6th centuries, presenting, however, the remarkable singularity of all the arches being in the shape of horse-shoes, which evidently proves that this kind of construction, employed in the most ancient Arabian monuments, is not an invention of this people, but belongs, as

every thing which concerns the arts in Asia and in Europe, to the Byzantine Empire; for the Greeks never lost the sceptre of taste, even in the time of their fall.

From Conie we proceeded towards Mount Taurus and Caramania. To reach the most elevated part of this mountain, only seven hours are necessary; but three days are required to descend to the sea, which shows how elevated the plain is above its level. I wish it were in my power to describe to you the interesting sites of Taurus, and the monuments spread all over the coast of Selefke to Tarsus,-the ruins of Corysus, Eleusa, and the forest of columns of Pompeiopolis,-Tarsus, in fine, where Alexander the Great ran so much danger by bathing in the cold waters of the Cydnus, and where the apostle St. Paul was born. Passing near the spot where the house of this father of the church stood, we recalled to our minds those beautiful words, addressed to a female who threw herself at his feet: 'What art thou doing? I am only a man of Tarsus.' His successors have not always shown the same modesty.

We hastened to leave this place, where the plague was causing great ravages, with the intention of going up the Pyramus, and exploring the ruins of Anazarba, the ancient Anazarbus: six leagues further on, that of Boudrour, which contains, according to the Arabian account, more than two hundred columns that are yet standing. But Nourid, the Pasha of Adana, to whom we communicated our wish, dissuaded us on account of the ravages of the plague among the Turcomans, who inhabit this valley, and the state of rebellion in which they were against his authority. We were surprised to hear this Pasha making inquiries about General Sebastiani and Prince Talleyrand: he had been acquainted with the former while he was a Vizier at Constantinople, and with the latter, during his mission to France, which preceded that of Haleb Effendi. His conversation was extremely animated, and more instructive than that of the other Pashas or Muselims we had visited he invited us to assist at a kind of divan, which was held every day in the court of his palace, and whither all his household repair. The Delhi Bashis, Tartars, Chaoushes, Cavases, &c., formed a circle, and the people were placed behind them: the band, composed of wind-instruments and drums, ranged themselves near the place. Five Chaoushes placed themselves in the centre, who, at different intervals, threw into the air, and then caught, their long sticks, ornamented with silver-chains, which produced the effect of censers; they, at the same time, recited prayers for the preservation of the Grand Signor and of the Pasha. When these had

ceased, one of the Chaoushes advanced a few steps, and demanded three times, in a loud voice, if any person had experienced an injustice and had any complaint to make; and in that case the petition would have been read in the midst of the circle and presented

to the Pasha. This ceremony pleased us extremely, and we expressed our satisfaction; when a man who had been standing in advance before the band during the whole time, his right hand leaning upon his sword, also advanced three steps, looking at the Pasha, as if waiting for orders. We thought he was the officer of the guard the answer given to us was, He is the executioner.' This made us shudder: the whole East seemed to reappear at this word.

[ocr errors]

The road from Adana to Aleppo is that which Alexander followed when he went to meet Darius by the maritime pass. The field of battle of Issus is exactly as historians describe it,-a plain, having a mountain on one side, and the sea on the other, which perfectly suited the Macedonian phalanx, where valour supplied the place of numbers. Antioch and its imposing ruins, the groves of Daphne, and the banks of the Orontes, detained us a few days; but the ravages of the plague destroyed all our plans. In traversing the village church-yards, we observed, with terror, the multitude of new graves, and the still fresh flowers which the Turks place upon the tombs. It was in this disposition of mind that we arrived at Aleppo. At a league from this town, the French Consul, M. Lesseps, who was informed of our arrival, came on horseback with the principal French merchants to meet us, but dared not approach us, as it had been decided that we were to perform ten days quarantine. When M. Lesseps arrived at our dwelling, getting off his horse, he exclaimed, 'I can resist no longer, happen what may,' and threw himself into my arms; the other Frenchmen did the same towards my travelling companions, and there was no more question about quarantine. There are so few Frenchmen who travel in the Levant, that the arrival of some of them is a day of rejoicing for our poor countrymen. Alas! two months afterwards, the plague carried off a part of those whom an earthquake had spared.

We departed from Aleppo for Palmyra: this excursion is an isolated episode in a journey of the Levant, as the town itself is in the Desert. It is generally from Homs, or Hama, that people set out. In these two towns, inhabitants are found who are connected with the Arabian chiefs, and negociate with them to serve as guides to travellers; they are in some degree brokers of the Desert. The most considerable, the Sheik Thala, who escorts the caravan of Mecca from Hama to Damascus, immediately despatched an express to a chief, who, at this period, was much respected-for power is moveable in the Desert; it passes from one tribe to another according to the increase which takes place among them, and the number of new tribes that arrive every year from the Euphrates and the Tigris. After four days, the man arrived who was to conduct us; he was called the Sheik Nahar, of the tribe of the Lions, belonging to the great family of the Anesees. He commanded about 10,000 men, living in 6,000 tents, scattered over a territory of thirty or forty

« EdellinenJatka »