21 January 2009

2707) Turkish Memories By Sidney Whitman London William Heinemann 1914

Turkish Memories By Sidney Whitman, Author Of “German Memories” Etc.
New York: Chas. Scribner’s Sons

Inscribed To The Memory Of Ahmed Midhat Effendi,
Late Vice-President Of The Imperial Ottoman Board Of Public Health In Constantinople . .


PREFACE
Our aim should be neither to mock, to bewail, nor to denounce men’s actions, but to understand them.

SPINOZA
The following pages are the outcome of several prolonged visits to Constantinople, Macedonia, and Asiatic Turkey, covering a period of twelve years, from 1896 to 1908. Several of these were made under exceptional circumstances and embody experiences such as do not often fall to the lot of a traveller, some of which, I venture to think, are of lasting public interest. Anyone who has had personal relations with an autocrat—in this case the spiritual head of a faith in which in the course of centuries thousands of millions of human beings have lived and died—ought to have much to tell worth recounting. There were also the surroundings of the Monarch to be observed.

Many a trait of deep human interest presented itself to him who was a privileged visitor: for instance, the ups and downs of fortune as they affected the allpowerful favourite whose good offices-as in the time of a Madame de Pompadour—powerful Sovereigns did not think it beneath their dignity to strive and compete for. Such a man I have seen in disgrace, shunned by those who had hitherto prostrated themselves before him. Finally, I have met him in the streets of London, living under an assumed name in fear of assassination.

At one time it has been my lot to sleep on couches covered with the costliest products of the Turkish loom; at another on the bare floor in a dirty wayside han (camel shed), with camels and oxen as bedfellows, typhus and small-pox hovering around us. Hospitality has been extended to me in the underground mud-hut of the fierce, though hospitable, Kurdish chieftain, armed to the teeth, and next morning I have beheld the snow-capped summit of Mount Ararat, peering seventeen thousand feet high through the clouds. I have seen the streets of Constantinople bathed in the sunshine of summer, and a few hours later besmeared with blood. The life of the people has presented itself to me in the workshop of the artisan, with the boatman on the Bosphorus, with the soldier on the march, and I have felt at home in such company. To all this may be added many opportunities of entering into the spirit and thought of a people usually so exclusive that Europeans may live for years in Turkey without ever having an opportunity of gaining the confidence of a single Mohammedan in any walk of life.

Our quick-living age is so full of transient impressions that “to-day” has become the avowed enemy of “yesterday.” Men who but recently played a prominent part in the world are forgotten; they are obliged to die in order to reveal the fact that they were until just now still living. If the material of my book is partly concerned with the things of yesterday, the incidents and characters which it displays may at least claim to illustrate a series of abiding human truths. If it is only now, after a lapse of years, that I have decided to issue these fragments of my memories, that delay is due to the fact that as long as the ex-Sultan was on the throne my personal relations with him and with those around him formed an obstacle which seemed to check my pen. My narrative might perhaps have been discounted under the suspicion that it was influenced by undue partiality or tainted by motives of self-interest. Now that things have so completely changed there can be but little danger of such an interpretation of my motives.

In describing certain traits of Turkish character I have intentionally dwelt by preference on those which are brightest, because prejudice and detraction have created an impression which calls for a correction of values. My book, therefore, does not lay claim to judicial impartiality. My aim has been to show by a recital of actual experiences that the Mohammedan Turk, whose religion is that of sixty millions of British subjects, is far better than his repute. I have written in frank sympathy with his sterling human qualities, and with a keen sense of the injustice he has long suffered from Christian opinion in Europe.

The Governor of Constantinople one day in 1896 said to me: “England was for us once a garden full of roses, a subject of pleasant thought, sight, and memory. Now, alas! a serpent has entered and brought discord between us.” In the course of my work a trifling incident led me into a correspondence with the late Professor Arminius Vambéry, whose letters, full of insight into Turkish affairs and goodwill towards England, will be found reprinted in the Appendix. I am also indebted to my friend Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. Picot, who was H.B.M.’s Military Attaché in Teheran from 1893-1900, for a short contribution which will likewise be found in the Appendix.

From many mementoes in my possession I have chosen the autographed portrait of Ghazi Osman Pasha for reproduction as being that of the hero of a people whose fine qualities no one who is acquainted with them can fail to admire.

S.W.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER PAGE

PART I
I. INTRODUCTORY 1
II. THE ARMENIAN OUTBREAK IN CONSTANTINOPLE, 1896 10
III. THE GRÆCO-TURKISH WAR, 1897 36
IV. JOURNEY THROUGH ASIATIC TURKEY: I 57
V. JOURNEY THROUGH ASIATIC TURKEY: II 82
VI. JOURNEY THROUGH ASIATIC TURKEY: III 101
VII. JOURNEY THROUGH ASIATIC TURKEY: IV 118

PART II
VIII. YILDIZ PALACE 137
IX. SULTAN ABDUL HAMID 159
X. A CITY OF DIPLOMATISTS 183
XI. THE LEVANTINE 199
XII. THE TURK AND HIS CREED 210
XIII. TURKISH TRAITS: I 233
XIV.

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