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Upon the bramble's snowy flower,
On the dog-wood fair :
Rain is every where.
Like diamonds now,
The rain-drops hide,
Or merrily ride.
Grass banks empearling,
The rain goes whirling.
Like sparks of light,
Are the diamonds bright.
Lying on the weeds,
Heavily ’mong the woods 't is pattering,
Dismal looks are seen,
Wind and rain, around them coursing,
Running to and fro,
Hastily they go.
They will seek in vain
Mid that forest lane. VOL. XXXVIII.
Gloomily o'er the sweet wild flowers,
Of the beautiful rain,
But balmily now the south winds pass,
While fleetly fall
And breaking up are the rain-clouds now;
So (to end my strain)
Fell the beautiful rain. Mamaroneck, (N. Y.,) March, 1851.
THE SU BLI ME P O R T E.
BY JOEN P. BROWN.
In offering a few remarks upon the government of Turkey, which, by common accord, is known in Europe and the United States as “The Sublime Porte, it is not intended to quote history, but rather to speak of it only in reference to the present period. It is nevertheless necessary to state that the Turks themselves call the Turkish Empire Mémâliki-Othmanieh, or the Ottoman States, (kingdoms,) in consequence of their having been founded by Othman, the great ancestor of the present reigning sovereign, Abd-ul-Mejid. They are no better pleased with the name of Turk than the people of the United States are, generally, with that of Yankee : it bears with it a meaning signifying a gross and rude man — something indeed very much like our own definition of it, when we say any one is ‘no better than a Turk;' and they greatly prefer being known as Ottomans. They call their language the Ottoman tongue' - Othmanli dilee — though some do speak of it as the Turkish.
As regards the title, “The Sublime Porte,' this has a different origin. In the earlier days of Ottoman rule, the reigning sovereign, as is still the case in some parts of the east, held courts of justice and levees at the entrance of his residence. The palace of the Sultan is always surrounded by a high wall, and not unfrequently defended by lofty towers and bastions. The chief entrance is an elevated portal, with some pretensions to magnificence and showy architecture. It is guarded by soldiers or door-keepers well armed; it may also contain some apartments for certain officers, or even for the Sultan himself; its covering or roof, projecting beyond the walls, offers an agreeable shade, and in its external alcoves are sofas more or less rich or gaudy. Numerous loiterers are usually found lingering about the portal, applicants for justice; and there, in former times, when the Ottomans were indeed Turks, scenes of injustice and cruelty were not unfrequently witnessed by the passer-by.
This lofty portal generally bears a distinct title. At Constantinople it has even grown into one which has given a name to the whole government of the Sultan. I am not aware, however, that the custom here alluded to was ever in force in that capital, though it certainly was in other parts of the empire of Othman. It is not improbable that it was usual with all the Sultans, who, at the head of their armies, seldom had any permanent fixed residence, worthy of the name of palace. Mahomet the Second, who conquered Constantinople from the degenerate Greeks, may, for soine time after his entrance into the city of Constantine — still called in all the official documents, such as · Firmans,' or 'Royal Orders,' Kostantinieh — have held his courts of justice and transacted business at the elevated portal of his temporary residence. The term *Sublime Porte,' in Turkish, is Deri Alieh, or the elevated and lofty door; the Saxon word door being derived from the Persian Der, or Dor, in common use in the Ottoman language, which is a strange mixture of Tartar, Persian, and Arabic. The French, or rather the Franks, in their earlier intercourse with Turkey, translated the title literally · La Sublime Porte,' and this in English has been called, with similar inaccuracy, “The Sublime Porte.
Long since, the Ottoman Sultans have ceased administering justice before their palaces, or indeed any where else in person. The office is delegated to a deputy, who presides over the whole Ottoman government, with the title of Grand Vezir, or in Turkish, Véziri Azam, the Chief Vezir, whose official residence or place of business, once no doubt at the portal of his sovereign, is now in a splendid edifice in the midst of the capital. At Constantinople the Ottoman government is also called the • Sublime Government,' Devleti Alich, a word closely bordering on that of superiority and preëminence claimed by the 'Heavenly Government of the empire of China. The Sultan, in speaking of his government, calls it My Sublime Porte.' The Grand Vezir being an officer of the highest rank in the empire — a Pacha, of course, infine, the Pacha — his official residence is known in Constantinople as that of the Pacha, Pacha Kapousee, i. e., the Gate of the Pacha. The chief entrance to the
seraglio of the former Sultans, erected on the tongue of land where once stood the republican city of Byzantium, called the 'Imperial Gate,' or the Babi Humayoon, is supposed by some to have given rise to the title of The Sublime Porte,' but this is not correct. It may have once been used as a court of justice, certainly as a place where justice was wont to be executed, for not unfrequently criminals were decapitated there; and among others, the head of the brave but unfortunate Aâli Pacha, of Yanina in Albania, the friend of Lord Byron, was exposed there for some days previous to its interment beyond the walls of the city.
The title of porte, or door, is used in Constantinople to designate other departments of the government. The bureau of the Minister of War is called the Seraskier Kapousee, or the Gate of the Serasker, (head of
the army,) and those of the Ministers of Commerce and Police are called, the one Tijaret Kapousee, and the other Zabtieh Kapousee. These, however, are sufficient, without mentioning any other facts, to explain the origin and nature of the title of the Ottoman government, known as “The Sublime Porte.'
The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire is known by his subjects under the title of Sultân, which word signifies a ruler; and generally as Shevketlu Padischah Effendimiz, "His Majesty the Emperor our Lord ;' and all foreign governments now recognize him as an Emperor, and call him by the title of Imperial Majesty. The definition of the word Padischah is supposed to be · Father of Kings,' and originally was Peder Schah, the first part of it (Peder) being the origin of our Saxon word Fåder, or father. In his own tongue he is called Khân, in Persian Shah, and in Arabic Sultan, all meaning, in extensu, the same, viz.: King, Sovereign, or Prince. He reigns over one of the most extensive empires of the world, all possessed or acquired by inheritance from his ancestors, who obtained it by conquest.
Until the reign of the late Sultan, Mahmoud the Second, the Ottoman sovereigns had their residence in the “Seraglio' before alluded to, in the city of Constantinople. Its high walls were not, however, sufficiently strong to protect them against the violence of the Janissaries, and after their destruction the remembrance of the scenes of their cruelty induced the late and present Sultan to forsake it for the safer and more agreeable banks of the Bosphorus. The extensive and very picturesque buildings of the Seraglio are now left to decay; they offer only the spectacle of the dark ages' of Turkey, gloomy in their aspect, as in their history, and yet occupying one of the most favored spots in the world, on which the eyes of the traveller are fixed as by a charm in approaching the great capital of the east, and on which they dwell with a parting feeling of regret as he bids the magnificent • City of the Sultan ’ farewell.
On the Bosphorus are two splendid palaces, one on the Asiatic and the other on the European shore. The first is called Beylerbey, ‘Prince of Princes, the latter Teherûgiân, The Lights.' Both are beautiful edifices, in excellent taste; and, as architecture has done in all ages, they serve to show the advance of the people who erected them in the noblest of the arts.
The Turkish Sultan, in theory, is a despotic sovereign, while in practice he is a very paternal one. As the supreme head of the government, he may exercise unlimited power: few checks exist to preserve the lives and property of his subjects against an influence which he might exercise over them. IIis ancestors conquered the country, and subjugated its inhabitants to his rule with his troops, consequently it all belonged to him, and could only be possessed by his gift : thus, in fact, the empire is his, and the concessions made by him to his subjects are free-will offerings, which are not drawn from him by compulsion on their part, but are grants on his, in behalf of reform and civilization. The feudal system of land-tenure was abolished by his father, and there is now scarcely a feature of it remaining. It is several years since the present Sultan spontaneously removed all the arbitrary power hitherto possessed and frequently exercised by his predecessors; at the same time he granted all his subjects a “Charter of Rights,' called the Hatti Sherif of Gulkhaneh, or imperial sacred rescript of Gulkhaneh, named after a summer-house or Kiosckk within the precincts of the Seraglio, where it was read before him by the present Grand Vezir, Rechid Pacha, in the presence of the whole diplomatic corps, and all the ministers and other high officers of the Ottoman government. In this charter the Sultan conceded all the rights and privileges which could be expected from a sovereign prince not reigning with a constitutional form of government. He has never withdrawn any of these privileges, or resumed the power which he then renounced. Moreover, this charter limited the power of all his officers. The only punishments which they can now exercise are fines and imprisonments of limited extent. None can any longer inflict the "bastinado,' nor capital punishment for crimes of a graver nature; these are reserved for the Councils or Boards at the capital, and the chief towns of each province. The sentences of the latter are, in all cases, subject to the confirmation of the former, and the decrees of the Council of State, held at the Sublime Porte, are laid before the Sultan previous to their adoption as laws. The following extract, translated from a small work in the Turkish language, published by the order of the government in 1848, will serve to show the spirit of the reforms made by the late and present Sultans :
Fifty years ago, certain Governors-General of the provinces of the empire, aided by individuals known as Déré Beys, (petty princes, who had usurped and maintained arbitrary power in the interior of the country,) exercised despotic power over the persons and properties of the subjects of His Majesty. The Sultan, having observed this abuse of authority, ardently desired to suppress so serious an evil; but at that period the Janissaries, the only coërcive force of the empire, formed a powerful body of rebels, which disregarded the rights of the people and aided the plans of the factious. The Sultan endeavored for some time to draw these rebellious forces to a wiser and more salutary course, and even acted with indulgence toward the more criminal, and in this way deferred the accomplishment of his reforms until a favorable moment. The late illustrious Sultan, Mahmoud II., a prince possessing a character full of benevolence and justice, yet of uncommon determination and courage, finding the Janissaries unable to curb their own vicious inclinations, found it imperiously necessary to suppress the entire order, and to create a regular army in their stead, on which reliance could be placed to sustain the authority of their sovereign. In fine, the Sultan, seeing that all his generous motives were unappreciated, and hoping by their disbandment to secure the peace and tranquillity of his subjects, found himself compelled to suppress the order by violent means. It need not be here related that the sudden destruction of the armed force of an empire, before another has been properly created to supplant it, will expose it to the evil designs of its enemies. In this position Sultan Mahmoud found his empire situated some twenty years ago. In the midst of his important reforms he was called upon to protect his empire against the attacks of Russia, to suppress a revolt in Albania, the Morea, and later to carry on an internal warfare with the ambitious Pacha of Egypt. His young army, but half organized, was poorly qualified to take the field against troops which had enjoyed the advantage of instruction under officers of