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Let me then direct you to the valley of the Sweet Waters, and the village of Belgrade with its lakes and and forest. These you will find by following up the rivulet which creeps with its sluggish fellow into the head of the harbor. The Sultan has a kiosk at Kiathana, in the valley of the Sweet Waters, and Belgrade was a favorite place of summer residence, before Buyuk-dere was built. With these exceptions, the country around Constantinople to a great extent, is exceedingly uninviting. Where there is a cluster of houses, a few acres may be under tillage, but generally, the land is unenclosed, uncultivated, and without inhabitants. The surface is irregular and sometimes hilly, presenting to the eye either the naked earth, scattered grass and weeds, or evergreen shrubbery. On the opposite shores of Asia, the hills rise into mountains, but the soil is usually more fertile. After doubling the Scutari point, you pass on the coast, the village of Kaddi-kui, the representative of the ancient Chalcedon, which is truly “the blind man's city,” in comparison with Byzantium, its finely situated successor. Just beyond is the grove of Fanar-Baktchesi, the favorite resort, alike of Franks, Turks, and Rayahs. In the Marmora farther to the east, and at no great distance, lie scattered the Princes’ Islands. These are likewise pleasant summer quarters, frequented more particularly by the Greeks.
Thus much in brief for the city, and now but a word more respecting its inhabitants. I trust we shall by and by be able to determine their numbers with greater certainty, when the census which is now said to be in progress, shall be brought to a close. Till then you must be content with taking the mean of the different estimates, though I believe this is almost always too high. Including the villages of the Bosphorus, the two extremes which I have found stated, are 300,000 and 1,000,000. I cannot persuade myself that there are more than 5 or 600,000, of which more than half are probably Turks. Of the remainder, 80 or 100,000 may be assigned to the Armenians ; 60 or 80,000 to the Greeks; 40 or 50,000 to the Jews; and 6 or 8,000 to the Franks.
THE PLAGUE AND KINDRED EVILS.
Removal to the Princes' Islands-Singular precaution against the
plague-Number of its victims-History-Symptoms--Remedies—Great terror caused by the disease-Different theories respecting contagion-Preventives-Duty of the philanthropistFilth of the Levant-Vermin-Dogs-Proposed plan for their destruction—Two modes of self-preservation-Fires.
Prinkipos, April 15, 1827. I have now been a month in these islands, which I find a delightful retreat from the crowd and filth, and dogs and disease, (I wish I could add vermin,) of Constantinople. The crowd however I should have no disposition to shun, were it not for two reasons—ignorance of their languages, and exposure to the plague. Coming to the Mediterranean without the slightest knowledge of any of the spoken languages of the people, it will necessarily be some time before I can converse advantageously on the momentous truths of the gospel. As for the plague, according to the prevalent opinion of the Christian population, and particularly the Franks and Greeks, it is communicated chiefly by contact with the person and dress of the infected. Hence, it has become a habit in walking the streets, studiously to collect the skirts of one's garment, and to shun the passer-by as though death were in the touch. Sometimes, notwithstanding all the dexterity thus acquired, the robe of a careless Turk will brush against you, and cause no small misgiving at the accident. The older residents endeavor to quiet the fears of strangers, and become somewhat remiss in their precautions, not so much perhaps from a disbelief of their importance, as of their insufficiency. Do what they may, unless they wholly abstain from business, nor even then, can they be sure for an hour, of not having been exposed to the contagion. But let me reduce my remarks on this scourge of the Levant to some order. I can however add little to the statements of books, though I may give the impression more fresh from the minds of the people. The subject is also one of great practical importance to us, in our missionary capacity. Besides using proper precautions to preserve ourselves from danger, it is our duty to be doing something, if possible, to mitigate an evil that involves the comfort, the intellectual and moral improvement, and the lives of so many millions.
First then as to the numbers, which this “ besom of destruction” sweeps away. In the single street of Pera, from which I have just removed, one thousand died last year. In 1812, a year indeed which had been without a parallel since 1778, we are informed by Turner, that according to the most authentic accounts,
the whole number of deaths was three hundred and twenty thousand. Now suppose we deduct an hun. dred thousand for over estimate, and there still remains one out of every three hurried to the grave.
This it will be admitted was an uncommon degree of mortality, but in ordinary years of the plague, sixty or eighty thousand deaths occur. From 1783 to 1785, one hundred thousand children and young people died. Why then, you may ask, is not the city left a desert? It would be so, were it not that heavier oppressions compel numbers from the villages to emigrate thither. In Syria,* and the eastern part of Asia Minor, from whence we hear that this pest is now moving forward with giant strides, through city, town and village, towards the capital, many places are more than half depopulated. This too you will find from consulting books of travels, is no unfrequent occurrence. Even at Smyrna, which since that period has been almost entirely free from the disease, between November, 1813, and July, 1814, there died from thirty to sixty thousand. Little notice is taken of it here, until the daily number of deaths exceeds two hundred. When it reaches to a thousand, public prayers, on account of it, are offered up in the mosques.
Egypt, still more than Turkey, has been regarded as the home of the plague; but the annual average of deaths in Grand Cairo, is mentioned only at seven thousand, in a population half as great as that of Constantinople. The plague in London, of 1665, numbered sixty eight thousand victims. About half that number
* The American missionaries at Beyroot, were shut up some months in consequence.
died in the years 1603 and 1625, and a few hundreds or thousands annually for several preceding and subsequent years. At Marseilles and in its vicinity, two hundred thousand died in the plague of 1720. In Moscow, to which place it was introduced by the Turkish army, in 1771, seventy thousand died within a few months. At Malta, it caused much alarm, and swept off great numbers, in the year 1813. In the lonian islands, it prevailed in the years 1815 and 1816.
Out of seven hundred that were attacked with it in Corfu, only seventy recovered.*
Though the earlier medical writers are not very explicit in their descriptions, it is probable that the Mediterranean countries have been afflicted with it from time immemorial. The plague at Athens, as described by Thucydides, is thought indeed by some to have been the small pox: others have regarded it as one of the varieties of the true plague. Not a few have been of the opinion that this was the pestilence which walked in darkness as far back as the days of Moses, and the destruction that wasted at noon-day in the time of the Psalmist. It does not occur in the tropics or polar regions, nor osten beyond the countries which border on the Mediterranean and its adjacent seas. Indeed the Turkish empire only, seems to have suffered much from its visitations, for many years past.
During the past and present year, it has made its appearance in several parts both of insular and continental Greece, but was prevented from extending its ravages by shutting up the infected districts. It was troublesome to the Russian army, at Bucharest, in the last campaign, and is said to have recently broken out near Odessa. Constantinople, for the last three years, has almost whol. ly escaped its attacks.—1829.