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CHAP. I.

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a nook of the wall, are placed the Sultan's slippers, of
common yellow morocco, and coarse workmanship. Having
entered the marble chamber immediately below the kiosk,
a marble bason presents itself, with a fountain in the centre,
containing water to the depth of about three inches, and a
few

very small fishes. Answering to the platform mentioned
in the description of the kiosk, is another, exactly of a similar
nature, closely latticed, where the ladies sit during the season
of their residence in this place. I was pleased with observing
a few things they had carelessly left upon the sofas, and
which characterized their mode of life. Among these
was an English writing-box, of black varnished wood, with
a sliding cover, and drawers; the drawers containing coloured
writing-paper, reed pens, perfumed wax, and little bags made
of embroidered satin, in which their billets-doux are sent,
by negro slaves, who are both mutes and eunuchs. That
liqueurs are drunk in these secluded chambers is evident;
for we found labels for bottles, neatly cut out with scissars,
bearing Turkish inscriptions, with the words, “ Rosoglio,"
Golden Water,” and Water of Life.Having now
seen every part of this building, we returned to the garden,
by the entrance which admitted us to the kiosk.

Our next and principal object was the examination of the
CHAREM; and, as the undertaking was attended with danger,
we first took care to see that the garden was cleared of
Bostanghies, and other attendants; as our curiosity, if
detected, would, beyond all doubt, have cost us our lives
upon

the
spot.

A catastrophe of this nature has been already
related by Le Bruyn.

Having

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CHAREM, or Apartments of the Women.

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CHAP. I.

Having inspected every alley and corner of the garden, we advanced, half-breathless, and on tip-toe, to the great wooden door of the passage which leads to the inner court of this mysterious edifice. We succeeded in forcing this open; but the noise of its grating hinges, amidst the

profound silence of the place, went to our very hearts. We then entered a small quadrangle, exactly resembling that of Queer's College, Cambridge, filled with weeds. It was divided into two parts, one raised above the other; the principal side of the court containing an open cloister, supported by small white marble columns. Every thing appeared in a neglected state. The women only reside here during summer. Their winter apartments may be compared to the late Bastile of France; and the decoration of these apartments is even inferior to that which I shall presently describe. From this court, forcing open a small window near the ground, we climbed into the building, and alighted upon a long range of wooden beds, or couches, covered by mats, prepared for the reception of a hundred slaves: these reached the whole extent of a very long corridor. From hence, passing some narrow passages, the floors of which were also matted, we came to a staircase leading to the upper apartments. Of such irregular and confused architecture, it is difficult to give any adequate description. We passed from the lower dormitory of the slaves to another above: this was divided into two tiers; so that one half of the numerous attendants it was designed to accommodate, slept over the other, upon a sort of shelf or scaffold near the ceiling. From this second corridor we

entered

entered into a third, a long matted passage : on the left of this were small apartments for slaves of higher rank; and upon the right, a series of rooms looking towards the sea. By continuing along this corridor, we at last entered the great Chamber of Audience, in which the Sultan Mother receives visits of ceremony, from the Sultanas, and other distinguished ladies of the Charem. Nothing can be imagined better suited to theatrical representation than this chamber; and I regret the loss of the very accurate drawing which I caused Monsieur Preaux to complete upon the spot. It is exactly such an apartment as the best painters of scenic decoration would have selected, to afford a striking idea of the pomp, the seclusion, and the magnificence, of the Ottoman court. The stage is best suited for its representation; and therefore the Reader is requested to have the stage in his imagination while it is described. It was surrounded with enormous mirrors, the costly donations of Infidel Kings, as they are styled by the present possessors. These mirrors the women of the Seraglio sometimes break in their frolics'. At the upper end is the throne, a sort of cage, in which the Sultana sits, surrounded by latticed blinds; for even here her person is held too sacred to be exposed to the common

CHAP. I.

Chamber of
Audience.

27

ite

obser

(1) The mischief done in this way, by the Grand Signior's women, is so great, that some of the most costly articles of furniture are removed, when they come from their winter apartments to this palace. Among the number, was the large coloured lustre given by the Earl of Elgin : this was only suspended during their absence ; and even then by a common rope. We saw it in this state. The offending ladies, when detected, are whipped by the black eunuchs, whom it is their chief amusement to elude and to ridicule.

CHAP. I.

observation of slaves and females of the Charem. A lofty flight of broad steps, covered with crimson cloth, leads to this cage, as to a throne. Immediately in front of it are two burnished chairs of state, covered with crimson velvet and gold, one on each side the entrance. To the right and the left of the throne, and upon a level with it, are the sleeping apartments of the Sultan Mother, and her principal females in waiting. The external windows of the throne are all latticed: on one side they look towards the sea, and on the other into the quadrangle of the Charem; the chamber itself occupying the whole breadth of the building, on the side of the quadrangle into which it looks. The area below the latticed throne, or the front of the stage (to follow the idea before proposed), is set apart for attendants, for the dancers, for actors, music, refreshments, and whatsoever is brought into the Charem for the amusement of the court. This place is covered with Persian mats; but these are removed when the Sultana is here, and the richest carpets substituted in their place.

Beyond the great Chamber of Audience is the Assembly Assembly Room of the Sultan, when he is in the Charem. Here we observed the magnificent lustre before mentioned. The Sultan sometimes visits this chamber during the winter, to hear music, and to amuse himself with his favourites. It is surrounded by mirrors. The other ornaments display that strange mixture of magnificence and wretchedness, which characterize all the state-chambers of Turkish grandees. Leaving the Assembly Room by the same door through which we entered, and continuing along the passage, as before, which runs

parallel

Room.

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CHAP. I.

Baths.

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At the upper

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Chamber of
Repose.

parallel to the sea-shore, we at length reached, what might
be termed the Sanctum Sanctorum of this Paphian temple, the
Baths of the Sultan Mother and the four principal Sultanas.
These are small, but very elegant, constructed of white
marble, and lighted by ground glass above. At the
end is a raised sudatory and bath for the Sultan Mother,
concealed by lattice-work from the rest of the apartment.
Fountains play constantly into the floor of this bath, from all
its sides; and every degree of refined luxury has been added
to the work, which a people, of all others best versed in the
ceremonies of the bath, have been capable of inventing or
requiring

Leaving the bath, and returning along the passage by
which we came, we entered what is called the Chamber of
Repose. Nothing need be said of it, except that it com-
mands the finest view anywhere afforded from this point of
the Seraglio. It forms a part of the building well known to
strangers, from the circumstance of its being supported,
towards the sea, by twelve columns of that beautiful and rare
breccia, the viride Lacedæmonium of Pliny', called by Italians
Il verde antico. These columns are of the finest quality ever
seen; and each of them consists of one entire stone. The
two interior pillars are of green Egyptian breccia, more
beautiful than any specimen of the kind existing.

We now proceeded to that part of the Charem which looks into the Seraglio garden, and entered a large apartment,

called

(1) “ Pretiosissimi quidem generis, cunctisque hilarius." Nat. Hist. lib. xxxvi. c. 7

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