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experience. He even, near the close of his eventful reign, had the sorrow to know that his fleet had proved unfaithful, and gone over to his rebel Governor. An untimely death put an end to the reign of this illustrious and talented, though unfortunate prince; and in the midst of disordered finances, a defeated army, and a misguided marine, the present Sultan, Abd-ul Mejid Khan, succeeded, at an early age, to the throne of his ancestors.
• Endowed with a character eminently distinguished for its sentiments of justice, clemency, and the most unbounded benevolence, his present Imperial Majesty, on ascending the throne, formed the design of allaying all the troubles and dissensions which were preparing the ruin of his country, and destroying the confidence of his subjects in the stability of his government. Measures were at once adopted to reorganize the army and improve the education of its officers; the Egyptian question, one of great gravity for the welfare of the empire, was, by judicious management, settled in a manner satisfactory to the sovereign and his Governor-General, and the imperial fleet returned to its natural obedience. By reforms in the administration of the government, the tranquillity of his Majesty's subjects was secured against molestation on the part of their authorities; and the acts of tyranny, become so common from the governors of the more distant parts of the empire, were suppressed. Thus, in a short time, the Sultan was enabled to render his accession illustrious by acts which secured to every individual his life, fortune, honor, and the faculty of pursuing his affairs free from all apprehension.
The prosperity of his country and the happiness of his people having thus been secured, His Majesty was left to effect the most sincere wish of his heart by carrying out the task which he had assumed, of instituting salutary reforms in all the branches of his government, based upon principles of strict justice and equity. Actuated by sentiments of generosity and clemency, he desired also that the expenses of the government should be diminished; and the results of his paternal administration, by a gradual increase of his revenues, enabled him to do so without any loss or detriment to the public service.
• The military force of the empire, which at the commencement of his reign was only 50,000 troops, without scarcely any organization, by care, at the present moment amounts to 150,000 regular troops, and 150,000 more as national militia, all provided with arms, and exercised; thus offering a force of some 300,000, which may at any time be called into active service. In the marine of the Sultan there are now 15,000 seamen, all under strict organization and regular instruction.
It has been the constant desire of His Imperial Majesty to maintain and strengthen with all friendly powers relations of peace and sincere amity; relations which, as much as any other, promote the prosperity and well-being of the empire and the welfare of his subjects.
* Beside the naval, military, and medical academies established at the capital, many young men have been sent to be educated in London, Paris, and Vienna, in all the branches of knowledge, the arts and sciences. Instructors and architects have also been engaged from Europe and America, for employment in the marine and army of the Sultan, and the great benefits arising from their labors are daily extending.
"It may also be added, with the assurance of its being regarded as a strong evidence of the salutary administration of the government of the Sublime Porte, that the many families which forsook their native soil to seek a shelter and a home in foreign lands, where for some twenty-five years they remained exiles from their own country, have, by the wise measures of the Sultan, and the justice which actuates all his acts, happy to return to their homes, solicited permission to do so. This act on their part has not been in any measure promoted by the government, but has taken place wholly from a conviction that the dominions of the Sultan offer them more safety and happiness than those of any other sovereign.
The preceding will serve to show the unprejudiced mind of the reader that the heavy clouds which obscured the reign of the present Sultan, at the commencement of his career, have disappeared ; that the past seven years offer a convincing evidence of the generous intentions of His Majesty, and of the salutary nature of the reforms which he designs effecting. What may not be expected from the sway of so enlightened and clement a prince? We submit this question to the minds of all just and impartial men, and devoutly offer the prayer that the life of a sovereign so precious to his empire and people may be prolonged. He is doubtless an agent in the hands of the All-WISE, to regenerate the vast country placed by Him under his charge.
The present Sultan, Abd-ul-Mejid, which name is Arabic, and signifies "Servant of the Glorious,' (God) is now in his twenty-ninth year: he succeeded his late illustrious father, Mahmoud II., in 1839, when he was but seventeen years of age. His father had inspired him with the desire to improve his empire and promote the welfare of his people by salutary reforms, and frequently carried him with him to observe the result of the new system which he had introduced into the different branches of the public service. Previous to his accession to the throne, but little is known of his life, or the way in which he was brought up. It may be supposed to have been much like that of all oriental princes. Except when he attended his parent, he seldom left the palace. He had several sisters and one brother, all by other mothers than his own. The former have, since his accession, died, with the exception of one, the wife of the present Minister of War. His brother still lives, and resides with the Suitan in his palace. The mother of the Sultan, who was a Circassian slave of his father, is said to be a woman of a strong mind and an excellent judgment. She exercised much influence over her son when he ascended the throne, and her counsels were greatly to his benefit. He entertains for her feelings of the deepest respect, and has always evinced the warmest concern for her health and happiness. She is a large, portly lady, yet in the prime of life, and although she possesses a fine palace of her own, near to that of her son, she mostly resides with him. Her revenues are derived from the islands of Chio and Samos.
In person, the Sultan is of middle stature, slender, and of a delicate frame. In his youth he suffered from illness, and it was thought that his constitution had been severely affected by it. His features are slightly marked with the small-pox. His countenance denotes great benevolence and goodness of heart, and the frankness and earnestness of character which are its chief traits. He does not possess the dignified and commanding figure which eminently characterized his father, and in conduct is simple and diffident. His address, when unrestrained by official forms and ceremony, is gentle and kind in the extreme — more affable and engaging than that of his Pachas; and no one can approach him without being won by the goodness of heart which his demeanor indicates. He has never been known to commit an act of severity or injustice; his purse and his hand have always been open for the indigent and the unfortunate, and he takes a peculiar pride in bestowing his honors upon men of science and talent. Among his own subjects he is very popular and much beloved; they perceive and acknowledge the benefit of the reforms which he has instituted, and he no longer need apprehend any opposition on their part. In some of the more distant portions of his empire, such as Albania, where perhaps foreign influence is exerted to thwart his plans, his new system of military rule has not yet been carried out; but it evidently soon will be, especially when its advantage over the old is felt by the inhabitants.
The palaces of the Sultan, on both banks of the Bosphorus, though externally showy, are very plain and simple in their interior arrrangement. They are surrounded by high walls, and guarded by soldiery.
The first block of buildings which the traveller approaches on visiting them, up the Bosphorus, are the apartments of the eunuchs; the second his harem, or female apartments; and the third those of the Sultan. Beyond this are the offices of his secretaries, guard, and band of music, all beyond the walls of the palace. The number of eunuchs is some sixty or eighty, and the females in the harem about three hundred to four hundred. The Sultan never marries; all the occupants of his harem are slaves, and he generally selects from four to six ladies as his favorites, who bear children to him, and who succeed to his throne. The remainder of the females are employed as maids of honor, who attend upon his mother, his favorites, his brother's mother, favorite if he has one, and upon his children. Many hold offices in the palace, and are charged with the maintenance of good order and regularity. Many of them are aged females, who have been servants to his father, his mother, and sisters and brother, and have thus claims upon his kindness and protection. The only males who have the right of entrance to the imperial harem are the eunuchs, all of whom are black, and come mutilated from Egypt. The chief of their corps is an aged .gentleman of color,' possessing the Sultan's confidence in an eminent degree, and in official rank is higher than any other individual connected with the imperial palace. The eunuchs are assigned to the service of the different ladies of the harem, do their shopping in the bazaars, carry their messages, and accompany them on their visits. Indeed, their duties are much like those of wellbred gallants in our country, without any of the ambitious feelings which animate the latter, and certainly they never aspire to the possession of their affections. Some of them grow wealthy, possess much property, and slaves of both sexes, but as they can have no families the Sultan is their legal heir. Eunuchs are possessed by many of the pachas and other officers of rank, for the purpose of serving their wives, sisters, and daughters: they cost four or five times as much as an ordinary black slave, and the highest officers seldom possess more than ten of them at once. From them much interesting information can at times be procured relative to the most sacred and least known of the Mussulman family system. They are generally of mild disposition, gentle and amiable; though this is not always the case, for they sometimes are petulant, cross, and confoundedly non-communicative.
The Sultan's palace is peculiarly his private home, and no officers of high rank occupy it with him. He has four private secretaries, and as many chamberlains. He has also two aids-de-camp, who are generally in command of the body-guard, which has its quarters in the vicinity of the palace. He seldom, however, commands their attendance : their duties are to keep watch at the principal entrances, and to salute him or any of his higher officers who may arrive at or leave the royal residence. The secretaries write out his orders, and the chief of their number receives all foreign functionaries or Turkish dignitaries who visit the palace on business. One of them is the Sultan's interpreter, and translates articles for his perusal from the many foreign papers received from Europe and America by the Sultan. All official documents are sent to the chief secretary by the different ministers of the Sublime Porte, and those received from the foreign embassies and legations are translated there, previous to being transmitted to the Sultan. No foreign legation ever transacts any official business directly with the Sultan, or through the chief (private) secretary; but the latter may be visited on matters relating to the sovereign personally. Documents from the Sublime Porte are always communicated through the Grand Vezir, who has a number of port-folios in which these are placed, and he sends them to the palace by certain functionaries charged especially with their conveyance. Of these the Vezir possesses one key, and the Sultan, or his chief secretary, another. The Sultan passes several hours of the day, from eleven to three, in perusing these papers, and in hearing their perusal by the private secretary before him; and his imperial commands are traced on their broad margin, either by his own hand in red ink, (as is customary in China,) or he directs his secretary to do it for him. So very sacred are all manuscripts coming from his pen, that these papers seldom ever leave the bureaux to which they belong, except after his decease. It is only on such documents that the autograph of the Sultan is ever seen.
At about three o'clock the Sultan generally leaves the palace, in a caïque or barge, which, being smaller than that used for official purposes, is called the incognito, (tebdil,) and visits the edifices which he may be erecting, calls upon his sisters, or spends the remainder of the day at one of the many delightful nooks on the Bosphorus or Golden Horn, where he possesses kiosks, or summer-houses. Sometimes he takes with him his brother or his sons; and he is strongly attached to them. It is said that he is having the latter instructed in the French language, in geography and mathematics. The elder is some ten years of age, but will not succeed his father to the throne until after the death of his uncle, who, by Mussulman law, is next in right to the reigning Sultan. Inheritance, in Islam lands, runs through all the brothers before it reverts to the children of the eldest son. Females cannot succeed to the throne, and the house of Othman would consequently become extinct with its last male representative.