« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
times upset, and the house set on fire; and, if a high wind be blowing at the time, it will spread very rapidly."
"I am sure I should not like to live there," said Richard; "for I like to have a good blazing fire to warm myself by. There seems no comfort in the way the Turks warm their rooms."
"In no country," observed their uncle, "are there so many comforts as are enjoyed in our native land; and we should be thankful for them to the Giver of every good gift. But we must peep at the sultan's palace. It is quite a city in itself, and is said to contain more than 6000 inhabitants. The walls enclose a space of about nine miles, and include a cluster of houses, mosques, baths, fountains, palaces, and gardens. In the middle of the palace is the hall of the divan, or court of justice, where the grand vizier, or governor of Constantinople, sits as a judge, assisted by his counsellors, seated on a beautiful carpet. There is, likewise, the hall where the throne stands; and no one is allowed to go into the presence-chamber who has not been invited by the sultan. In the outer court are the arsenal, mint, and palace of the grand vizier."
"Does it not cost a great deal," inquired Richard, "to keep all the people that live here ?"
"The expenses are very great; and I am told that besides a very large number of oxen yearly, the person who buys its provisions has to procure daily 200 sheep, 100 lambs or goats, according to the season, 10 calves, 200 hens, 200 pairs of pullets, 100 pairs of pigeons, and 50 green geese; and the fuel burned every year is said to be 40,000 cartloads, each cart-load being as much as two buffaloes can draw.
"The appearance of the palace from the sea is very beautiful. The walls have, at intervals, watch-towers, and several gates opening towards the sea, or towards the city. The chief entrance is called the Sublime Porte, and is guarded by about fifty of the sultan's body guard. This name is the common title of the Turkish court; but is now frequently used to denote the whole empire.
"A new palace has been built for the sultan lately; painted brown outside, ornamented with white and gilding. I am told that it contains mirrors, carpets, hangings, and all that is rich and rare from east and west."
"Uncle, will you tell us about the mosques ?"
66 Cheerfully; and since the mosque of St. Sophia is so celebrated, we will take a peep into that. It is a very finelooking building. It was built by the Christian emperor
Justinian, in the sixth century, who was so highly pleased with it when finished, that he exclaimed: 'O Solomón! I have outdone thee!' His vanity, however, would be a little humbled, could he now see the alterations made, and the use to which it is put. The walls, pillars, arches, and floor, are lined with porphyry and precious marbles. There are upwards of a hundred columns, of different marbles, in the mosque. During their Ramazan, or fasting month, which is held at Christmas, these are hung with thousands of coloured lamps, together with flowers, coloured ostrich eggs and ostrich feathers, and the floor is covered with the richest carpet. The sultan's pew is surrounded by gilt railings, and beautifully carpeted; while on the spot where the altar stood when this mosque was a Christian church, is a niche ornamented with gold, and a large chandelier on each side, called the Mihrabe, or repository of the Koran." "What is the Koran?" inquired Mary.
"A book which contains the laws of the Mohammedan religion, and which those who profess this religion value as much as we do our Bible,-though it is not to be compared with it. The Bible is God's book: the Koran is a false book." "The sultan," continued their uncle, “ goes to mosque every Friday, which is the Mohammedan Sabbath. Sometimes he goes by water, at others by land. When he goes by water, there are two boats neatly covered outside with rich gilding, and having golden figures of eagles sitting on their bows. Each is rowed by a large number of men, neatly dressed in white silk shirts, who ply their oars so quickly and altogether that it is quite a pleasure to see them. At the stern, or back, of one of the boats is the sultan. His seat is very handsome. It consists of cushions covered with damask, and ornamented with gold trimmings and precious stones. Over his head is a scarlet canopy, supported by gilded pillars, and covered with gold ornaments, the largest of which, in the middle of the canopy, represents the sun, with golden beams shooting out in every direction, proclaiming the glory of the sultan. When he lands, a horse is waiting to carry him to the mosque. It has a saddle-cloth of rich velvet, a gold bit, a bridle set with pearls, and stirrups of solid gold. The sultan's turban is adorned with diamonds, his collar with flowers composed of rubies, emeralds, &c.; and his robes are of velvet and satin."
"But, uncle, may we not see the shops? Mary, smiling, "that we are in Constantinople, we ought to go shopping."
"We will go; but you must make up your mind to have a little difficulty in passing through the crowd, especially of ladies, which you will find at the bazaars. All the life and activity of the city seems to be centered here. The covered bazaars look more like a row of booths in a fair than a street of shops. One alley glitters on each side of you for a hundred yards with yellow morocco; you turn into another fringed with Indian shawls; or you cast your eyes down a long vista lined with muslin draperies, or robes of ermine and fur. Not only these bazaars, but those which resemble open streets, are allotted to different trades. Here we have jewellers' shops, there we have goldsmiths; here we have curriers and leather-workers as well as horsedealers, and there is a long line of drug repositories; here Mocha coffee is all ground by hand, and there we have sellers of papers, and copiers of manuscripts.
"But evening draws on, and the numerous coffee-houses are thronged by Turks, Armenians, Greeks, and Jews, all smoking, and indulging in tiny cups of coffee, which the poorer classes generally drink without milk or sugar.
"I should like to have shewn you the imperial cistern of Constantine, called the Palace of the Thousand-and-one Pillars, but now converted into a subterranean silk-twist manufactory; another large cistern, which forms an underground lake, and extends under several streets; besides the Valley of Sweet Waters, a pleasant summer retreat; and to have taken a walk into some of the cemeteries: but it is getting late, and, as we have no lantern with us, we will return home. So I bid you all a very good night."-The Child's Companion.
BLESSED ARE YE THAT SOW BESIDE ALL WATERS." ISAIAH XXXii. 20.
In the year 18- there was an opportunity offered for visiting the fine, the bold, the beautiful scenery of Scotland. Many hundreds went by the cheap trains to visit old friends, or to ramble amongst the lofty mountains and fair lochs of the Highland scenery. Amongst the many was a fine, well-buiit youth, who was returning homewards to see his parents, who were poor farmers, on the romantic island of Iona, on the west coast of Scotland. He had formerly been hurried off by a person, who was only a visitor; but was so struck with him that he offered to take him to Manchester, and provide for him, if he would follow him. There was no time given him to consult his parents, as the steamer,
which had only touched for a very short time, was about' to leave almost instantly. He had only time to mention his intentions to an uncle, who advised his leaving. During our journey together, day after day, we had several conversations; and I found that the person whom he served at Manchester was a Swedenborgian. He was, nevertheless, a guileless youth, though he had long dwelt in a large city, and in the midst of much evil. Being thus cast with him, I warned him against this sad heresy. He listened attentively, and determined to leave his employer on his return. I gave him a Gaelic Bible ere we parted, receiving a promise that a portion of it should be read daily.
After some time a letter reached me, stating the deep interest he took in his Bible. He never now went abroad on his errands without this treasure, which he read by the way, or wherever he might be delayed. God's grace was largely granted him. The Holy Spirit had taken of the things of Jesus, and shewed them unto him. His whole soul seemed to glow with love to that precious Saviour, Jesus, who had bought him with His blood. His earnest, heartfelt desire was now to tell others of the "Pearl of Great Price," which he had found. His ardent wish was to go out as a missionary. He felt much was needed ere he would be fitted to be sent forth; and therefore spared no labours to prepare himself for it. He was busy by day, and therefore the only time was when the toils of the long day was ended. These labours over, he continued with his books till sometimes one or two, sometimes three o'clock in the morning. He toiled thus at books bought from his scanty earnings. Though warned that no constitution could stand against such fatigues, yet he had to learn it by experience. His health failed, and he had to return to his native isle and home amid the rough northern seas once more. God smiled upon him once more here, and gave him renewed health. He had suffered for a time in Manchester, having given up his former master and home; but he soon found another. On his return to Manchester, he became a Sunday-school teacher. He was so anxious, however, to go abroad to tell of Jesus' love to souls, that he was examined by the committee of the Church Missionary Society; but not thought, at that time, forward enough. He was tossed for some time upon a sea of trouble, how he should carry out his fixed purpose; but I believe he felt and followed out the advice to work, and to pray for the Lord to guide and order all for him, and to wait with patience. Some time had elapsed when he again came
before the committee. This time he was sent for a season to the Institution at Islington, where missionaries are trained ere they are sent forth on their most noble and most blessed errand of preaching amongst the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. After a time he was found worthy of that high post. He is now soon to go forth in that path of love he has so long and so constantly desired.
And now, reader, when you think of his struggles and his difficulties in choosing that path, let me ask you what hinders you from taking the same blessed step? Are there any difficulties in your way greater than in his? He was untrained and ignorant; he was without the means of fitting himself for this work; yet his trust was in the Lord, who helped him. Oh! if you should feel a desire also to go forth, cherish it. Let it not slip from your heart, bring it, in prayer, unto your Heavenly Father. Commit it unto the Lord! and if it is His will, all will be brought to pass in His time.
Never, never in the history of the Church of Christ was there, a time when more labourers were wanted. Multitudes are needed alone for the vast empire of China. India's sons, who long have been lulled to sleep in the dark night of Satan's darkness, are awakening beneath the rising beams of the Sun of Righteousness, rising with healing in His beams. They see the blessed, blessed light; they long to sun themselves in His blessed, peaceful, bright rays; but none come forth to lead them thither by the hand to the land of the heavenly Canaan. Africa's sons stretch out their hands, and a cry-a loud and wailing cry-comes from her sable sons: "Come over and help us!" But these sounds fall, alas! on ears all cold, all deaf; on hearts in which the full, deep love of Jesus beats too faintly. O England's sons! who bask in His full, full light, shall this foul blot for ever rest upon us? May Jesus, who gave the command in former days, "Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest," again, in mercy, fill us with that same earnest desire, and pour out upon us a spirit of prayer; and soon the answer shall surely follow,-a good and faithful band shall go forth from the shore of our loved land to preach to Jew and Gentile, of Jesus who has bought them, and whom they love!
Many men are wanted, both for the missions to the Jew and for the heathen, who have been quickened by the Spirit, and glow with His holy fire.-The Friendly Visitor.