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Full text of "Speaking of the Turks"

SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 



SPEAKING OF 
THE TURKS 



BY 



MUFTY-ZADE K. ZIA BEY 




NEW YORK 

DUFFIELD AND COMPANY 
1922 






Copyright, 1922, by 

DUFFIELD 8c COMPANY 



Printed in U. S. A. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. Homecoming . 3 

II. Summer Months 16 

III. Erenkeuy 29 

IV. Modern Turkish Women 47 

V. Life on the Bosphorus 67 

VI. Stamboul 87 

VII. Business in Constantinople . . . . . 107 

VIII. A Stamboul Night 127 

IX. A Night in Pera 145 

X. Constantinople, 1922 161 

XI. Robert College 183 

XII. Education and Art 204 

XIII. A Glimpse of Islam 224 

XIV. A Voice from Anatolia 245 



50i 



o 



SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 



Speaking of The Turks 

i 

HOMECOMING 

XXTE were arriving at Constantinople, my native 
city, from which I had been absent nearly 
ten years. I had been in America all this time. 
At first my business interests and later the gen- 
eral war had prevented my coming back to my 
own country even on a visit. I was of military 
age and Turkey was under blockade. When I 
had left Constantinople a few years after the 
Turkish revolution, the whole country was exhil- 
arated, filled with joy, with ambition and with 
hope. Freedom and emancipation from an auto- 
cratic domination had been obtained. Nothing 
was to prevent the normal advance of Turkey and 
the Turks along the road to progress. We were 
at last to obtain full recognition as a civilized 
nation. We were at last to receive equal treat- 
ment from the other European nations. 

But, alas, during the following years the gods 
decided otherwise. Long, interminable wars either 
waged or fomented by neighbouring enemies 
had hampered the progress of Turkey. First in 



I SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Tripolitania, then in Arabia and Albania, then 
again in the Balkans and finally during the gen- 
eral war the Turkish nation had been nearly bled 
to death. And now I was returning to my country, 
and my native city was groaning under a domi- 
nation a thousand times worse even than autoc- 
racy: the domination of victorious foreign coun- 
tries ! 

Yet I was elated; homecoming is always excit- 
ing and the entrance to Constantinople by boat is 
always intoxicating. Besides, I was newly mar- 
ried. My young bride — an American girl from 
New Orleans — was with me and I was anxious 
to show her my country so maligned by the inter- 
national press. 

Our boat stopped at the Point of the Seraglio 
and a tug brought the Inter-Allied control on 
board. The ship's manifesto and the passports 
of all passengers had to be examined by the rep- 
resentatives of the foreign armies of occupation. 
I was the only Turk on board and my wife and I 
travelled of course on a Turkish passport. We 
had been obliged to obtain a special permit from 
the Inter-Allied authorities before we could even 
start home. I took my turn with my wife, in the 
line of passengers. We showed our passport to 
the officer in charge: he glanced at it and seeing 
it was Turkish, asked us to wait. Our passport 
was in perfect order, but I believe that just for 
the pleasure of humiliating a Turk the officer de- 



HOMECOMING 5 

cided to examine everybody else's passport before 
mine, and kept me waiting till the last. An 
Italian friend of mine who happened to travel 
with us, stood near us to vouch for me in case 
of need. I was coming back to my own country 
and I might need the assistance of a foreigner! 
Poor Turkey, what had happened to you! Poor 
Turks, what had become of our illusions of ten 
years ago which .made us believe that being at 
last a free and democratic country we would be 
recognized as a civilized nation, and would receive 
equal treatment from the other European nations. 
Our hopes were being systematically trampled un- 
der the spurred heels of foreigners, whose one 
desire seemed to be to eradicate for ever even our 
self-respect, the better to destroy our freedom, the 
better to hamper our march toward progress, the 
better to annihilate our national independence! 

The Inter- Allied officer had humiliated me: he 
could do nothing more — my passport was in order. 
The boat proceeded into the harbour. 

The magnificent panorama of the Bosphorus 
and of the Golden Horn unfolded once more be- 
fore my eyes. I tried to forget the incident of 
the passport with all its disheartening significance. 
The view was too sublime, the moment too thrill- 
ing to attach too much importance to an occur- 
rence which had already passed. I turned my 
attention to pointing out to my wife the resplen- 
dent charm of our surroundings. We were enter- 



6 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

ing within the water gate of an Eternal City — the 
queen of two continents — the coveted prize of all 
nations — which, to make it the more desirable, 
God had endowed with the most gorgeous beauty. 

Under our eyes Asia and Europe were uniting 
in a passionate embrace. Historic monuments, 
palaces and mosques emerged under the clear 
blue sky of the Orient, curving their shining 
domes, raising their slender minarets as if point- 
ing to God, the Merciful. The City was shrouded 
in an atmosphere of peace and calm, Constanti- 
nople was reposing in her timeless dignity . . . 
but the harbour was filled with foreign warships 
in horrid contrast with the setting. Motor boats 
and chasers glided busily through a maze of 
dreadnaughts and cruisers deadly gray in a mist 
of colour ! Battleships were lying at anchor, their 
decks cleared for action, their guns turned on 
the City! My thrill changed to a shudder, I 
winced. 

"Never mind, Zia," said my wife, gently placing 
her hand on my arm, "every one has his day. A 
country cannot die, a nation cannot forever be 
enslaved. Patience and untiring work will lead 
Turkey to progress. And to-morrow the Turks 
will have their day!" 

Her understanding braced me. Progress, yes, 
progress! But had we progressed in the midst 
of ten years of fighting, could we progress during 
this interminable state of war which had not 



HOMECOMING 7 

ceased even since the armistice? Patience, yes, 
patience! But could we be patient and work un- 
tiringly under the present conditions? 

I took my wife to my father's residence. He 
lived then in Nishan Tash, in a house on a hill, 
surrounded by a garden, overlooking the Bos- 
phorus. The house was large, but our family is 
large too, especially when it comes to living to- 
gether under the same roof. My father wanted 
us to settle with him. Family bonds are very 
strong in Turkey and the Turks have retained 
to a large degree the old idea of clans. Large 
homes dating from the old days, designed to shel- 
ter all the members of one family and their chil- 
dren, are still in use in Constantinople. It is true 
that the high cost of living and the restricted 
housing facilities — caused by a series of fires, by 
the influx of war refugees and by the foreign 
invasion — have contributed to perpetuate to this 
date this system of cohabitation. It is true that 
even families not related to each other now live 
together for economy's sake. But the custom 
originated in the clan spirit and its continuation is 
principally due to the strength of the bonds attach- 
ing the members of one family to each other. 

Traditions have been most carefully respected 
in my father's famliy, as in all genuine old Turkish 
families. We have adopted or adapted as the 
case may be, any and all of the western cus- 



8 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

toms which are compatible with the Orient. But 
we still jealously preserve certain quaint customs 
characteristic of the old Turkish civilization. The 
relations between the members of our family re- 
main as in the past: most intimate and cordial, 
although outwardly somewhat ceremonious. And 
the family has stuck together as much as the cos- 
mopolitanism of its members and their frequent 
travels permitted. This blending of Eastern and 
Western customs, of Oriental and Occidental edu- 
cation and mode of living is a very natural occur- 
rence in Turkish families such as ours. Identified 
with official positions which have placed them for 
generations in continuous touch with surrounding 
European countries and with the Western world, 
they had the duty at the same time of perpetuating 
Turkish traditions and the desire of assimilating 
any part of Western customs and education they 
deemed compatible with their own. Our family's 
governmental service dated back to the fifteenth 
century when it had been appointed "mufty" of 
Western Albania. By hereditary right it had 
ever since then to personify, represent and propa- 
gate Turkish customs and education in that out- 
lying province of the Empire where it exerted a 
sort of political-religious governorship. But the 
constant relation with the Italians, Austrians, Dal- 
matians and Croatians of the neighbouring states 
gave it an opportunity to learn, appreciate and 
assimilate certain Western ideals. In recent years 



HOMECOMING 9 

this double influence of the East and the West 
became if anything more pronounced. My grand- 
father having died when my uncle and my father 
were very young, they were brought up by my 
grandmother, and the dear old lady succeeded so 
thoroughly in her task that she had the satisfac- 
tion of seeing, before she died, her two sons rep- 
resenting at the same time their country as Am- 
bassador to France and Ambassador to Italy. The 
delicate Oriental touch imparted by this lady of 
another age is still to-day very much alive in mem- 
bers of the family. Although a man of a certain 
age and having filled the highest dignities in the 
Government, my father still to-day gets up re- 
spectfully when my uncle — his elder brother — 
enters the room. Although we discuss freely 
any subject among ourselves, without distinc- 
tion of age, although the greatest cordiality and 
intimacy exists between all of us, none of the 
younger members of the family would, for in- 
stance, think of smoking before one of his seniors 
unless he had been especially invited to do so. 
Although each of us travels extensively and at 
times lives far away for years, the ties uniting us 
to each other are as strong and as "clannish" as 
they were generations ago. 

So my father wanted us to live with him. But 
it happened that most of the family were then 
gathered in Constantinople. Besides our immedi- 
ate family numbering four, my uncle, his wife, 



io SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

their daughter and a cousin were in town and 
lived with my father. And two old servants who 
had been so long with us that they were now part 
of the family also shared the same roof. Old ser- 
vants are an immovable institution in Turkey. 
After years of service they acquire a standing al- 
most equal to that of a member of the family. 
They have their own establishment, they do not do 
any work except watching over the hired men, and 
they would feel insulted if they were paid any 
salary. They ask for money when they need 
it. They are really part of the family. One of 
the old servants who was then with my father had 
been the nurse of my mother, and had married 
many years ago — at which time she had been 
given a little house comfortably furnished. At 
the death of her husband she felt so lonely — 
they had no children — that she sold her house and 
came back to us. She has lived with us ever 
since and considers us all as her adopted children ! 

So while the house in Nishan Tash was quite 
large it was nevertheless full ; and much to the 
regret of every one of us we decided that we 
would visit there only until we could find a place 
of our own. 

This was a difficult task. All the principal 
houses, all the best apartments had been requisi- 
tioned by foreign officers belonging to the Inter- 
Allied armies of occupation, by their retinues and 
by their friends. We were shown many small, 



HOMECOMING n 

dirty cubby-holes in Pera, which Greek and Ar- 
menian owners were eager to rent us at prices 
even higher than those prevailing in New York. 
In Stamboul there was no place to be had, more 
than two-thirds of the city having been destroyed 
by fire. We were just about deciding to settle 
in a hotel, when at last we had the good luck 
to fall upon a Greek couple who had suddenly de- 
cided to get a divorce. No foreign officers had 
yet heard of it. The house was situated in a 
populous Greek section but was otherwise all right 
and it had a bathroom which is more than can 
be said of the houses and apartments in Pera. 
The Greeks and Armenians evidently do not con- 
sider bathrooms as a necessity. In fact I believe 
that the bathroom in this house — although in the 
cellar — has greatly contributed to make of the 
place an American headquarters ever since we 
gave it up. 

Anyhow we took the place and we settled in 
it as best we could. Of course my father, my 
mother and my brother became our frequent visi- 
tors. My sister came to live with us so that my 
wife would not be too lonely when I was out 
during business hours. We were in a Greek sec- 
tion and not one of the best. A lady alone may 
be quite safe in Stamboul or even in a lonely house 
in the suburbs. But in Pera, in the midst of 
the riff-raff, it is not quite safe to leave her alone 
even during the day. My sister is about the same 



12 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

age as my wife and speaks fluently English, 
French, Italian, German and of course Turkish. 
This knowledge of foreign languages is not extra- 
ordinary in Turkey where everybody speaks at least 
three or four. But it made her very useful until 
my wife could pick up Turkish. It interested me 
beyond words to see how easy, after all, it is to 
establish good understanding between two people 
of a certain education, no matter how far apart 
their racial origins may be, no matter how little 
each one knows of the other's customs, breeding 
and upbringing. Language is enough to avoid 
serious misunderstanding, personal contact is 
enough to bridge any previous misconception. 
Here was my wife, born in New Orleans and bred 
in New York, who had never before been out of 
America, and my sister, born and bred in Turkey. 
The only apparent point in common between the 
two was that one had married the brother of the 
other. But between the two developed a friendship 
and devotion which can be built up only upon good 
understanding, irrespective of any legal bonds. 

We were leading a very retired life at the time 
and the two girls were thrown entirely upon their 
own resources. The prevailing political conditions 
would have made it disagreeable and at times even 
unsafe to go out extensively. The city was full 
of British and French colonial troops — mostly 
Australians and Senegalese. While outwardly 
everything seemed calm and quiet, a sense of im- 



HOMECOMING 13 

pending tragedy hung in the air. Vague rumors 
of riots and risings, reports of atrocities committed 
by colonial troops were circulating from mouth to 
mouth. Turkish newspapers appeared every morn- 
ing heavily censored : nearly one blank column out 
of every four. A general and indefinable uneasi- 
ness prevailed. Under the circumstances we did 
as other Turkish families ; we led a retired life, suffi- 
cient unto ourselves, and sought our distractions 
in small every-day happenings. 

The local colour of the street we lived in, with 
its vendors, its Greek children playing on the side- 
walks, the nearby open-air fish market, the milk 
man making his morning calls at the neighbouring 
houses and milking his goats on their doorsteps 
afforded us the greatest part of our distraction. 
We took advantage of this general lull of things 
to get our bearings and to become thoroughly 
acclimatized to our surroundings. 

Thus we were as happy as could be under the 
circumstances and perfectly contented with our 
quarters, until the beautiful summer sun started 
to shine. Then the local colour became somewhat 
more than local: it became stagnant. The noise 
of the Greek children in the street began to re- 
semble too much that of the tenement district in 
New York. The vendors and the milk men became 
commonplace. The sun became too warm for the 
fish market. The narrow streets surrounding our 
house — badly ventilated streets, without proper 



14 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

drainage, like most of the streets of Pera — de- 
veloped an odor which reminded my wife of the 
French quarters of New Orleans, increased to 
the Nth. degree! To top it all a case of bubonic 
plague broke out in a neighbouring house. Greek 
quarters, with the Armenian and Jewish quarters, 
are the centers of contagious diseases in Con- 
stantinople. 

We had already decided that we would elect for 
our permanent domicile Stamboul, as far removed 
from the Greek, Armenian, Levantine and foreign 
elements as possible. Stamboul is exclusively 
Turkish and we preferred to live in a Turkish 
milieu. We had succeeded in finding a house 
which was to be vacated in the fall It was right 
opposite the Sublime Porte, on a broad avenue, 
bordered with plane trees, typical of Stamboul. It 
was in a decent, quiet Turkish surrounding. It 
had large, airy rooms and a private Turkish bath, 
as is usual with all the old houses in Stamboul. 
True, it needed a few repairs, but we arranged 
with the landlord to have the floors recovered, to 
install electric light and telephone and to add a 
shower in the bathroom. The house would be 
ready for us in a few months. However, we de- 
cided that we could not pass the summer in Pera. 
We would go to visit my Father in Prinkipo, an 
island at commuting distance in the Sea of Mar- 
mora, where my family passed the summer and 
where many of my old friends lived. And later 



HOMECOMING 15 

we would visit my aunts, my mother's sisters, for 
a couple of weeks, at Erenkeuy and possibly a 
distant cousin of mine who lives on the Bosphorus. 
In this way we would make the round of the 
summer resorts in the neighbourhood of Constanti- 
nople. These long visits are customary in Turkey 
and the different members of the family expect 
you to make a round such as the one we consid- 
ered, especially when you return after a long ab- 
sence. Furthermore they were all anxious to 
know my wife better and we desired to tie up 
solidly the family bonds uniting us to our different 
relations before we started our new Turkish life. 
By this time my wife understood a little Turkish 
and wanted to identify herself as much as possible 
with her new relations. 



II 

SUMMER MONTHS 

pRINKIPO reminds me of Bar Harbor. It is 
the largest of a group of four islands. It 
is covered with pine trees and has large and small 
country estates and villas scattered all over its 
balmy hills. It has several hotels and two beauti- 
ful clubs and many prominent Turkish families 
have their summer residences there. In the old 
days it was the Turkish resort "par excellence" as 
opposed to Therapia on the Bosphorus where all 
the embassies and foreign missions have their 
summer headquarters. But now the Turkish fami- 
lies who can still afford to live there lead a retired 
life, depressed as they are by the general political 
situation of the country and by their own much de- 
pleted finances. Therefore the Levantines, the Ar- 
menians, and especially the Greeks have invaded 
Prinkipo and try to crowd out the Turks from 
this island as they have crowded them out from 
Pera. They are in a better material and moral sit- 
uation than the Turks for indulging in amuse- 
ments. And they have made of Prinkipo — which 
used to be in the old days a refined and dis- 
tinguished resort, like Bar Harbor — a common 
playground for holiday makers. 

16 



SUMMER MONTHS 17 

Casinos, gambling houses and even less reputa- 
ble institutions have lately flourished on the balmy 
shores of the island. On Saturdays and Sundays 
a noisy crowd invades the place, while on every 
pay-day it becomes the picnic ground of intoxi- 
cated soldiers belonging to the international navies 
guarding Constantinople! The day we arrived a 
few intoxicated British sailors were making them- 
selves generally conspicuous and disagreeable right 
on the landing pier, in front of the casinos. They 
rushed the Italian officer commanding the police 
of the island, who had tried to make them behave 
in a manner more in harmony with their supposed 
mission of maintaining order and peace in a for- 
eign country. Finally the Italian officer had to 
draw his revolver and fire a shot in the air. This 
happened in broad daylight, in a place crowded 
by the mixed Levantine elements now making up 
the showy summer colony of Prinkipo. Compo- 
sure and calm are not one of the qualities of such 
crowds. A panic started, the Levantines running 
in every direction and the general stampede was 
only quieted when Turkish policemen were called 
to the assistance of the Italian carabinieri. The 
Turkish police knows how to handle a Levantine 
crowd better than the foreign police, but now it 
can only interfere if it is especially asked to do 
so by the foreign police. 

With such conditions prevailing, aggravated by 
their own financial difficulties, it is not surprising 



18 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

that the Turkish elements have neither the heart 
nor the desire to assume again their position as 
leaders of the summer colony in Prinkipo. They 
prefer to keep quietly to themselves and they make 
it a point to avoid as much as possible any contact 
with foreigners or with the mixed crowd of Lev- 
antines. The beautiful Yacht Club, which was 
formerly an essentially Turkish institution really 
devoted to yachting, is now more of a gambling 
den than a club and only a few unprincipled Lev- 
antinized Turks still frequent it. We passed be- 
fore it on our way home, and father said smilingly 
that it was now "taboo" for us. I can well imagine 
how he felt. He had been one of the founders of 
the club. 

My father and my uncle lived together in a 
big white villa midway on the hill. The house had 
been originally built by my father as a small cot- 
tage during the first years of his marriage and 
when my uncle was away on one of his diplomatic 
missions. Then gradually as the family increased 
and as my uncle came back, additions had been 
made to the cottage. It stood now, a large twenty- 
five room house in the midst of pine trees, with 
shaded verandas running around each floor, com- 
manding a gorgeous view over the three neigh- 
bouring islands, on the one hand, and the smiling 
shores of Anatolia on the other. The background 
to this panorama is furnished by the city of Con- 
stantinople, dimly discernable at a distance, re- 



SUMMER MONTHS 19 

fleeting at night its millions of blinking lights in 
the blue waters of the Marmora. We settled into 
one of the wings of the house originally built for 
my elder brother when he married. He was now 
away with his family. 

To celebrate our arrival my father took us at 
the first opportunity to the Prinkipo Club of which 
he was still president. This club has remained 
more exclusive than the Yacht Club and has there- 
fore a larger and better Turkish attendance. It 
occupies the beautiful estate which was the Ameri- 
can summer Embassy at the time of Mr. Leish- 
man. Weekly concerts are given in its gardens 
every Friday night — the Turkish Sunday. My 
father took us to one of these concerts to make 
our "debut" into the Turkish society of Prinkipo. 
Groups of Turkish families were wandering to- 
gether in the gardens or sitting at tables, enjoying 
the beautiful starry night and listening to the 
music. The ladies were attired in summer gar- 
ments — beautiful Oriental capes of embroidered 
white silk, draping their Parisian gowns in flow- 
ing loose folds — their hair covered by a net or veil, 
but their faces uncovered. The men wore tuxedos 
or business suits and could be distinguished from 
the foreigners only by their red fezes, a most un- 
becoming and unpractical headgear which is, alas ! 
obligatory for all Turkish men in Constantinople. 

This public association of Turkish ladies and 
men was an innovation to me. It had gradually 



2o SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

come to pass during my ten years absence. Before 
my departure Turkish ladies could only be seen by 
friends of the family, and then exclusively in the 
strict privacy of their homes. They went out by 
themselves. They never mingled with men in 
public places. They did not even talk to them 
if they met casually on the streets. They would 
only bow slightly or make a discrete "temenah" 
— the graceful Turkish salutation which consists 
in lifting the hand towards the lips and to the 
forehead. Now, ten years later, Turkish men and 
women were talking and sitting together in public 
places and in clubs, freely associating with each 
other. This was surely a concrete sign of, at 
least, social progress. 

I renewed many old friendships that night at 
the club, and my wife began there many acquain- 
tances which developed later most cordially. My 
wife was surprised to meet many foreign girls 
who had, like herself, married Turks. 

When we announced our engagement several 
of her friends in America had endeavoured to 
dissuade her from marrying a Turk. Surely a 
Turk could not make a good husband, East and 
West could never mix. And anyhow why should 
she be the first foreigner to marry a Turk? She 
had of course set aside all these arguments and 
had believed me when I told her that many Turks 
had married foreigners and lived happily ever 
after. I don't think, however, that she ever con- 



SUMMER MONTHS 21 

ceived that foreign marriages had been so usual. 
That evening at the club and during our subse- 
quent stay in Constantinople, she found herself in 
a most international milieu, although associating 
exclusively with Turkish families. She met in 
Prinkipo a charming Austrian girl, who had mar- 
ried an admiral of the Turkish navy. The mother 
of one of my childhood friends is a Russian lady, 
while the wife of another is a most attractive 
Bavarian girl. Many are the Turks who studied 
in France and married French girls. But the first 
prize for international marriages goes unquestion- 
ably to the family of Reshid Pasha where four 
out of seven members married foreign girls — 
Italian, English and American. So, after all, my 
wife found out that not only she was not the first 
foreign girl, but she was not even the first Ameri- 
can girl who had married a Turk. And she hast- 
ened to write it to her friends in America and to 
tell them that from what she could see and by 
her own experience East and West could and did 
mix. The Moslem religion and the Turkish cus- 
toms allow complete latitude as far as marrying 
foreign girls is concerned and leave them of course 
absolutely free to practise their own religion. As 
for the Turks making good husbands, I believe 
of course that this is entirely dependent on the 
individual and not on the race. There are good 
and bad husbands among the Turks, just as there 
are good and bad husbands among other nations. 



22 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Our stay in Prinkipo turned out to be one of 
the most pleasant summer vacations I ever had. 
I would go to town to attend business regularly, 
but would take long week-ends off; that is, I would 
do as most business men do in summer and would 
stay home Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. We 
would then go bathing in the mornings, and play 
tennis or go out sailing in the afternoons. The 
Sea of Marmora is ideal for yachting, and numer- 
ous are the sailing yachts which use Prinkipo as 
their port. Of course the fact that we usually 
used Turkish yachts would somewhat hamper our 
movements, as boats flying the Turkish flags were 
not allowed to go anywhere near the Anatolian 
shores, the Inter- Allied authorities enforcing at 
that time a strict blockade of the Nationalists. 

Often there would be tea-parties or informal 
after-dinner gatherings in the Turkish homes. 
And while these were small, unpretentious af- 
fairs — the Turks cannot afford to entertain elab- 
orately on account of their precarious means — 
they were a most pleasant manner of passing away 
the time. There was always someone interesting 
at these gatherings. A man or a woman of 
prominence who would give to us a new point 
of view or some insight into the general sit- 
uation. Once an Egyptian princess told us of the 
difference in the progress accomplished by the 
Turks and by their cousins of Egypt in the last 
years. How, despite the fact that the Turks had 



SUMMER MONTHS 23 

been hampered by political circumstances while 
the Egyptians had had the supposed benefit of 
British help, Turkish women now enjoyed a much 
larger political and social freedom than Egyptian 
women, and public education had spread more gen- 
erally in Turkey than in Egypt. Another time 
the director of the Turkish Naval Academy in 
Halki told us how he had taken advantage of 
the temporarily complete independence of Turkey 
during the war to make of his school one of the 
most progressive and up-to-date naval academies 
in the world — how since the armistice he was meet- 
ing seemingly insurmountable difficulties in pro- 
tecting his school from the process of disintegra- 
tion systematically applied by the Allies to every- 
thing Turkish in Constantinople. Another time 
Zia Pasha, former Turkish Ambassador in Wash- 
ington, told us how for years Sultan Abdul Hamid 
succeeded in keeping his Empire intact by playing 
the greedy ambitions of one western nation against 
that of the other. Once again Reshid Pasha, the 
Turkish diplomat who negotiated all the peace 
treaties made by Turkey in recent years — up to 
but excluding the Treaty of Sevres — told us of 
his experiences at the London Peace Conference 
following the Balkan War. His position was most 
delicate as he was representing a nation which 
had been defeated on the battlefield and had to 
contend also with the inherent enmity that the 
ever-grasping imperialistic western powers have 



34 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

always felt in regard to Turkey. His was a 
pitched diplomatic battle against the Greek Veniz- 
elos. Reshid Pasha was too modest to add what 
everybody knows: that he came out the victor, 
having turned the tables on Venizelos to such a 
degree that the Greek statesman came away from 
London with his reputation as a diplomat greatly 
imperilled. 

Unfortunately, subsequent events had put back 
Venizelos to the fore, and after numerous shifts of 
policy the Greeks had succeeded before our ar- 
rival in having the great powers present to Turkey 
the terms of the Treaty of Sevres. Naturally, 
past, present and future politics were the subject 
of all conversations. Feeling was running high in 
Turkish circles. Every one was incensed both 
against the Allied powers and against the Turkish 
Government of the moment. The Grand Vezir, 
or Prime Minister, was being severely criticised 
and accused of trampling on the dignity of the 
nation by accepting the Treaty of Sevres. The 
Nationalist movement had already started and 
while the Turks remained stoically calm in Con- 
stantinople for fear of reprisals by the Inter-Allied 
fleets upon the innocent population of the city, the 
tide of despair was rising in Anatolia. The Na- 
tionalist movement was as yet not thoroughly or- 
ganized. But the set purpose of preventing the 
application of the terms of the treaty was already 
noticeable in the activities of the Turkish National- 



SUMMER MONTHS 25 

ist bands who had sworn to die rather than to lose 
their independence. They have, since then, stuck 
most efficiently to their patriotic aim. 

During those critical days following the pub- 
lication of the terms of the Treaty of Sevres, and 
during the first weeks of the conception of the 
Turkish Nationalist movement, many a time have 
we watched from Prinkipo the smoke of firearms 
indicating encounters between Turkish National- 
ist bands and British Colonial troops, on the hills 
dominating the nearby shores of Anatolia. Once 
we witnessed a big forest fire engineered for the 
purpose of destroying the hiding-places where the 
Nationalist volunteers would take refuge after 
their successful raids against the armies of occu- 
pation. These Anatolian hills lie to this day, their 
once smilingly green slopes bare — a silent exam- 
ple of the work of destruction undertaken in the 
name of civilization by the western powers who 
champion the rights of certain small nations by 
destroying the properties of others. These Ana- 
tolian hills are at this day, desolate and sad — but 
a proud monument commemorating the unsuccess- 
ful attempt of the so-called civilized governments 
to pass a death sentence upon a small nation whose 
will to live independently could not be conquered 
either by fire or by blood. The prologue of the 
greatest crime perpetrated in history since the par- 
tition of Poland was thus gradually unfolding it- 
self almost under our very eyes, while the Turkish 



26 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

circles of Prinkipo and Constantinople — prisoners 
in their own capital — had to watch, aloof. It was 
an edifying show of real Oriental restraint to see 
all these people stand stoically and without a mur- 
mur so that their brethren in Anatolia might have 
time to organize. In the face of the worst adver- 
sities and while their hearts were bleeding, they 
furnished to Anatolia the breathing-spell it re- 
quired. To the cry of "chase the Turk out of 
Europe" shouted in their very face, the Turks of 
Constantinople were opposing a passive and dig- 
nified resistance. A friend of mine summarized 
one day most clearly the motive underlying their 
passive resistance. We were on the Prinkipo boat 
going to Constantinople — the boat which in the 
old days was full of Turkish dignitaries going 
to their offices. Now only a few Turkish business 
men were distinguishable in the crowd. A few 
foreign officers were lounging comfortably on 
benches "reserved for Inter-Allied officers" — large 
enough to accommodate twenty people — while 
crowds of men and women were standing all 
around for lack of place to sit. The boat was 
filled with noisy Levantines, Armenians and 
Greeks, eating dates and pistachio nuts, throwing 
the seeds and the shells on the deck, making of the 
floor a place not fit for animals, and rendering 
themselves generally obnoxious. My friend pointed 
to them and said: "These are the people who 
want to take Constantinople away from us in the 



SUMMER MONTHS 2? 

name of civilization! But we have to overlook 
their impudence, we have to close our eyes on 
their misbehaviour, we have to stand and bear 
it all. What else can we do? If we weaken 
and join "en masse" the Nationalists in Anatolia, 
we would leave in Constantinople a majority of 
these people and the Western Powers would take 
advantage of this majority to detach the city com- 
pletely from the rest of Turkey. If we can't 
control our patience, and rise against the foreign- 
ers and the usurpers in our own city, the Western 
Powers will interfere and their battleships will 
destroy our homes. But if we stand pat and ig- 
nore them they can not do us any harm. Our duty 
is to preserve our city for Turkey. And we can 
only do it by remaining here and by opposing to 
those who plot against us a passive and silent 
resistance." 

In this atmosphere of suspense the last days of 
our stay in Prinkipo drew near. Our house in 
Stamboul would be ready now in about a month. 
I had promised my wife to take her to Erenkeuy 
and to the Bosphorus. My father wanted us to 
discharge our obligations towards the rest of the 
family. And besides he was soon going back to 
town himself. The season of Prinkipo was at its 
end. Constantinople and its surrounding are at 
their best in the early fall, but Prinkipo gets too 
cold. The bathing season was finished, the yacht- 
ing season was at its end. The hotels were clos- 



28 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

ing. One by one the villas were shutting their 
hospitable doors. The summer colony was dis- 
banding. Prinkipo was preparing for its annual 
winter sleep. 
We packed our bags and went to visit my aunts. 



Ill 

ERENKEUY 

ClNCE our arrival at Constantinople my wife 
had been complaining that I had not shown 
her a "harem." So she was very anxious to visit 
my aunts, in Erenkeuy, when I told her that it 
was there that she could see one, at least in the 
Turkish sense of the word. Harem in Turkish 
means nothing less, but nothing more, than the 
special house or the special section of a house re- 
served to the ladies of the family. In the old days 
when the ladies did not associate with men they 
used to live in the main house or in a part of 
the house, generally the best, where they had their 
own sitting-rooms, dining-rooms, boudoirs, etc., 
distinct from the sitting-room, dining-room or den 
of the men of the family. When I speak of "ladies" 
and "men" in the plural it is well to remember it 
was and still is the custom in Turkey for all the 
members of the same family to live together under 
the same roof. The Turkish family is a sort of a 
clan. So while there are always many ladies in 
a family, foreigners must not imagine that there 
are many "wives." This is a true narrative of 
Turkey and the Turks as they really are, so I 

29 



3 o SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

have to speak the truth even at the risk of shat- 
tering many legends. I am bound therefore not to 
fall in line with the traditions established by other 
writers who never fail to refer to a servant in a 
Turkish household as being a "slave/' and to the 
ladies of a Turkish family as being "wives." The 
truth is that slavery was not generally practised in 
Turkey even before the Civil War in America, and 
the "wives" referred to by most of the foreign 
writers either exist only in their imagination or 
else are the sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters or 
cousins of the head of the family which foreign 
writers innocently or purposely represent as his 
wives. Of course there might be several wives in 
the same household — but not the wives of the same 
man. For instance, when we were visiting my 
father in Prinkipo, there were four "wives" living 
together : my father's, my uncle's, my cousin's and 
my own wife. Anyhow I warned my wife that she 
would see in Erenkeuy a "harem" in the Turkish 
sense of the word and not the kind of private 
cabaret which exists only in the fertile imagination 
of scenario writers, and in the ludicrous pages of 
sensational newspapers or dime novels. 

Erenkeuy is a little village at about half an hour 
ride from Constantinople and on the Asiatic side. 
The shores of Anatolia are here covered with 
country estates uniting small villages all the way 
from Scutari to Maltepe — a distance of about fif- 
teen miles. And all except Cadikeuy and Moda 



ERENKEUY 31 

are peopled with Turks. The Turks living here 
are mostly conservatives. They are not old fash- 
ioned and narrow but they have kept to the Turk- 
ish ways of living more accurately than the Turks 
living in other sections or suburbs of Constanti- 
nople. It really cannot be explained but there is 
here an indefinable something that makes you feel 
that you are in Turkey more than you do in any 
other suburb of Constantinople. Perhaps it is only 
due to the fact that you are on the hospitable soil 
of Anatolia. 

Suburban trains running on the famous Bagdad 
railroad take you to Erenkeuy. I again had a jolt 
on these trains. In the old days the company be- 
longed to the Germans and was run by the Ger- 
mans. But it endeavoured not to arouse the sus- 
ceptibility of the Turks by flaunting in their faces 
that it was a foreign company. All the employees 
on the train wore the fez, the national Turkish 
headgear, and the greatest majority of them were 
Turks. Now the Allies have replaced the Ger- 
mans and have taken over the railroad as part of 
Germany's war indemnity towards them. The re- 
sult is that their systematic campaign of humiliat- 
ing the Turks has been practised even here. The 
new Allied administration employs mostly Greeks 
and Armenians — and all the employees of the com- 
pany now wear caps. Really the difference between 
caps or fezzes is only one of form, but it has a 
psychological effect. For instance, even in my 



3 2 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

case, although I dislike the fez as a most impracti- 
cable and unbecoming headgear, and although I 
have worn hats the greater part of my life I could 
not help resenting the change: it rubbed me the 
wrong way. It made me most vividly feel as if we 
were not the masters in our own homes — at least 
temporarily in Constantinople and its environs. 

We arrived in Erenkeuy in the afternoon on 
one of those beautifully clear days which make of 
the fall almost the most pleasant season of Con- 
stantinople. The air was mildly heated by an 
autumnal sun shining in a marvellously blue sky. 
The leaves of the plane trees surrounding the 
station had turned golden red and had become 
scarce on the branches. Even now some were vol- 
planing to the earth on the wings of a gentle 
fall breeze. The square in front of the station, 
with its clean little shops — each a diminutive ba- 
zaar of its own — opened itself smilingly to us as 
we emerged from the train with our baggage. 
In the background we could see the little mosque 
where villagers were entering for their afternoon 
prayer. 

We decided to walk to my aunt's house, which 
is not far from the station. Besides, it w T as prayer- 
time and we should avoid arriving while the whole 
household was at prayer. We heaped our luggage 
in a carriage — a typically Asiatic conveyance with 
bright coloured curtains hanging from a wooden 
canopy and with seats char-a-banc fashion. It 



ERENKEUY 33 

disappeared in a cloud of dust to the gallop of its 
sturdy little Anatolian horse. My wife was de- 
lighted, this was at last Turkey somewhat as she 
had imagined it to be. But what would happen 
to our bags if the coachman was not honest? Had 
I a receipt? Didn't the coachman give me a 
check? At least I had taken the number of the 
carriage, hadn't I? I reassured my wife: the 
coachman was not a Greek — he was not even a 
taxicab driver of one of the "civilized" western 
metropolises. He was a plain Turk, just an Ana- 
tolian peasant, and our luggage was as safe in 
his keeping as it would be in the strong box of a 
bank. 

We leisurely followed the carriage through a 
little country road bordered by garden walls on 
both sides. High stone walls, white washed, pro- 
tected the privacy of the gardens from the glances 
of passers-by. A big gate here, a half-opened 
door there would give us a glimpse of houses, 
small or large, surrounded with trees — elm trees, 
plane trees, fig trees, cedars and cypresses — whose 
dark branches enshrouded the houses in a mystery 
of falling leaves. The only house of which we 
could get a full view from the road was a little 
old house, with a slanting brick roof, an en- 
closed balcony hanging high in the air and sup- 
ported by arched pillars, a cobbled courtyard 
where a few hens were picking their feed while 
a big brown dog, a relic of the old street dogs, was 



34 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

peacefully sleeping. It was at the corner of a 
street, its gate wide opened, and there was only 
one big old tree in the garden. The others must 
have died of old age, and the owner must have 
been too poor to replace them. 

The road we followed was dusty and almost de- 
serted, with deep furrows left by chariots, carts 
and carriages since the beginning of time. In 
winter the rain and the snow turned the soft, pink- 
ish Anatolian soil into a greasy mud. And every 
winter, ever since the days of the Janissaries, 
chariots, carts and carriages had passed on these 
roads, furrowing always deeper. One felt as if the 
clock of time had stopped here years ago. An 
acute sense of the living past permeated every- 
thing. 

On our way my wife asked me to tell her some- 
thing of my aunt's family. Our surroundings re- 
minded me of old stories and I told her the story 
as told to us by my grandmother when we were 
tiny little boys. I used to love it as it opened be- 
fore my mind vast visions of heroic ages. "Cen- 
turies ago," I told my wife, "there lived a young 
man, almost a boy, in the faraway mountains of 
Anatolia, bordering the snow-covered peaks of the 
Caucasus. He was tall and handsome but did not 
marry because he had to support his old father 
and mother who were so old and so poor that 
they could only sit on their divans all day and 
pray the Almighty to call them back to him so that 



ERENKEUY 35 

their boy might be left free of worries and respon- 
sibilities. But they were good parents and the 
boy was a good son. Therefore, the Almighty 
heard their prayer and freed their son of all wor- 
ries, but not in the way the old people had prayed 
for. It so happened that the "Frank" kings of 
Hungary, Servia and Bulgaria declared war on 
our powerful Sultan and invaded his domains. 
To repulse the invaders our Sultan called all his 
brave subjects under arms. They flocked from 
all over to the standard of their emperor. The 
young boy from the Anatolian mountains near the 
Caucasus heard his sovereign's call and answered 
it immediately. But he was so far away that when 
he came to Adrianople, which was at that time 
the capital of the Sultan, he found that the armies 
had left many days before to meet the detested 
foes. He galloped post haste through the Balkans, 
days and nights without rest until he finally 
reached the plains of Kossovo. But, alas, what 
a sight met his gaze when he arrived there! The 
armies of the allied "Frank" kings had captured 
the standard of the Sultan, and the Turkish 
armies were in rout. Tooroondj — that was the 
name of our young hero — decided to recapture 
the standard of the Sultan and in the depths of 
the night when the "Frank" armies were asleep, 
he climbed the walls of their citadel, killed the 
sentry on watch, took the flag and returned to the 
Turkish camp. Next morning at dawn the Turk- 



$6 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

ish soldiers, awakening and seeing the standard 
of the Sultan waving again on the imperial tent, 
were filled with renewed courage. The Sultan 
assembled them all and before all the Turkish 
armies he called Tooroondj to him. He gave the 
imperial flag to our hero and ordered him to 
lead a final charge against the enemies. Tooroondj 
was so brave that he planted victoriously the stand- 
ard of his emperor on the citadel of the enemies. 
Thus, first through his bravery in recovering sin- 
gle-handed the standard, and second through the 
valour he showed in leading the charge Tooroondj 
won for the empire the first battle of Kossovo. 
In recognition of his services the Sultan made 
him Bey of his natal province. After the war 
Tooroondj returned to his principality and to his 
old father and mother, and took to himself a wife. 
His descendants have ruled there until feudality 
became gradually extinct. Then the main branch 
came to Constantinople where it has ever since 
served the empire in all branches of the govern- 
ment services. Now the last descendants of the 
main branch are here, in Erenkeuy, and we are en- 
tering through the gate of their house." 

A wrought-iron garden gate opened on a road 
bordered with trees. Right near the gate and on 
each side of the road were two little houses of 
seven or eight rooms each. These used to be the 
"Selamlik," or quarters where my uncle received 
his men friends in the old days, entertained them 



ERENKEUY 37 

or talked state matters with them. When business 
required it, or when the friends desired, they 
would stay a few days as his guests. The little 
houses were specially designed for this purpose, 
each of them having even its own kitchen. The 
service was made by a retinue of men servants 
alone and in the old days only men were to be 
seen in and around these two little houses, as 
around all "Selamliks." They were a sort of pri- 
vate club at the time that Turkish ladies were 
not allowed to associate with the social or business 
activities of their men. But now that the barkers 
curtailing the activities of women have been torn 
down the two little houses were rented to two 
families. Some of the tenants were sitting on the 
verandas and looked at us with the curiosity that 
all people living in a quiet country place feel 
towards strangers. 

We followed the road winding its way through 
old trees and shrubs and soon reached an inner 
wall covered with vines, separating the gardens 
of the "Harem" from those of the "Selamlik." The 
road skirted this inner wall and took us to the back 
of the main house, or "harem" proper which in 
the old days was consecrated to the living quarters 
of the ladies and the private quarters of the family. 
It is a big building with its main entrance opening 
on the outer court, but with its fagade turned 
toward the gardens of the harem, so that there is 
no communication with the old Selamlik other 



38 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

than this entrance. The door was ajar and opened 
as soon as we set foot on its steps. 

My aunt, with her two sisters, their children 
and the servants had formed a semi-circle inside 
the entrance hall and were awaiting us, outwardly 
calm but with their eyes shining with restrained 
excitement. Turkish etiquette requires composure 
no matter how excited one is. Every one has to 
wait his turn and we greeted each other accord- 
ingly, starting by the eldest and going down the 
line according to age — kissing the hands of those 
older than us and having our hands kissed by those 
younger than us. This hand-kissing is a sign of 
respect which remains supreme in Turkey ; no mat- 
ter what their respective social position, when two 
Turks greet each other the younger one always at 
least makes a motion as if to kiss the hand of his 
elder. It is a quaint, graceful acknowledgment of 
the respect and allegiance due to old age. 

With all the formality attached to it the recep- 
tion extended by my aunts at our arrival was vi- 
brating with sincerity and emotion. The dear, 
dear ladies were patting us and embracing us, 
their eyes full of tears, with little sighs of delight 
and whispered prayers of thanksgiving to the Al- 
mighty to have thus permitted our reunion under 
their roof. They took us to the sitting-room where 
we all sat in a circle, and a general conversation, 
in which my wife's Turkish had to be helped by 
my cousin or by myself, started around. My 



ERENKEUY 39 

aunts do not speak English but this handicap of 
language did not prevent the establishment of 
ties of love and devotion between them and my 
wife. These bonds in fact developed in the course 
of time to such a degree that to-day they are as 
strong as the ties of blood uniting my aunts to 
me. They took to my wife immediately and 
wanted to know how she liked Constantinople. 
Wasn't she missing her country and her sisters? 
But now she had a new set of sisters and brothers. 
Their own children would surround her with love 
and try to make her feel less the absence of her 
sisters in America. And they themselves were 
my wife's aunts. She had become one with me 
by her marriage. And how would we enjoy stay- 
ing with them in Erenkeuy? The life here was 
;very quiet, a great change for people coming from 
America. 

A few minutes later my uncle came to join the 
family circle. We all got up respectfully and 
stood until he sat in his favourite easy-chair. 
He greeted us with warm words of welcome, in 
his quiet, unostentatious way. Every one was 
conscious that the head of the family was now 
with us, although there was no strain whatsoever. 
Just a note of deference, that was all. Coffee was 
served. Then a maid brought us jam on a silver 
platter and each one took a spoonful, drinking 
some water immediately after. We exchanged 
news about the different members of the family 



40 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

and about our friends, talked of the past and of 
our future plans. At tea time we adjourned to 
the dining-room and had our tea Turkish fashion: 
weak, with lemon and plenty of sugar. No toast 
is served but instead bread and that wonderful 
white cheese which melts in the mouth. They 
explained to us that during the war they drank 
the boiled extract of roasted oats instead of tea 
or coffee. 

After the ice was completely broken I had to 
call on my uncle and my aunts to convince my 
wife that we were really in a "harem." I must 
say that they were very much amused. Of course 
this was a harem and no man except the members 
of the family had ever passed its threshold in the 
days gone by. But that did not mean that my 
uncle had ever had another wife besides my aunt. 
They always had lived together ever since the 
divorce of my second aunt, and my youngest aunt 
had also lived here always with her husband. They 
suggested showing my wife the gardens of the 
harem and we all wandered out together. 

What a great difference ten or twelve years had 
made in these gardens! The last time I had seen 
them — before my departure for America — their 
alleys were carpeted with clean small pebbles, their 
trees were trimmed, their well-kept flower beds 
and orchards were a pleasure to the eyes, while 
the hot-house at the corner was filled with rare 
tropical plants and fruit-trees. The whisper of 



ERENKEUY 41 

running water flew continuously from many foun- 
tains and in a small artificial lake a miniature 
rowboat of polished mahogany lolled lazily in the 
shade of branches hanging from the shores. It 
was a thriving garden, speaking of ease and pros- 
perity. But now! It looked as if it had been 
asleep since the last few years. Gone are the 
pebbles in the alleys. Broken are the window- 
panes of the deserted hot-house with its shelves 
covered with dust and its cracked vases with dried 
stumps which were once the trunks of tropical 
plants. Dead leaves rustle under your feet and 
hush your steps. The trees have grown in a maze 
of unruly branches. The rose beds of yesteryear 
have turned wild and now prickly bushes bearing 
anemic flowers stoop to the ground, fighting for 
supremacy in the flower garden. Shrubs of lilac, 
jasmine and honeysuckles — which blossom here in 
the early fall as well as in spring — faintly scent 
the air with their reminiscent perfume of past 
glory. The fountains are silent and the little lake 
is dry — while the sad nakedness of its gray cement 
marks the resting-place for the broken remains of 
what used to be the shining little mahogany row- 
boat. The beautiful garden is now the ghost of 
what it used to be. Its soul is alive — perhaps 
more so than before — but pensive, sad, desolate. 
The greedy monster of war must have reached 
as far as this peaceful estate in Erenkeuy, suck- 
ing its vitality in its all-devastating tentacles. 



42 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

How did it ever come about? My uncle and 
my aunt must have had some reverses unknown to 
me, they would not carelessly let their property 
deteriorate in this way if they could have helped 
it. The thought worried me and I turned to my 
aunt for an explanation. With her diminutive slip- 
pers crushing the dead leaves covering the ground, 
her jet black hair covered with a delicately em- 
broidered white veil, my aunt was slowly walking 
on my right through the desolate alleys. Her hus- 
band was next to her while my wife, with my 
cousins and my other aunts walked ahead in the 
distance, fading gradually in the subtle shadows of 
the desolate garden. My aunt explained. Her 
voice was subdued but she was dispassionate, firm 
and resigned. 

"We have tried to be too careful, my son," she 
said, "and God has taught us a lesson. Long be- 
fore the war we had deposited all our holdings 
with a British bank in London. We believed it 
would be safer there than in any other place and 
we lived contented on the income it brought us. 
It was nothing much but it represented with this 
place all our savings and it was enough to allow 
us to live happily and to take good care of our 
estate. The war came suddenly and our deposits 
in the bank were seized by England. It was fair, 
all the nations did the same and confiscated enemy 
properties within their reach. So we bowed to 
the inevitable and passed the long years of war 



ERENKEUY 43 

as best we could. Your uncle took sick. He is 
just getting over an ailment which forced him all 
this time to live in retirement. Nothing was com- 
ing in. The family is large, the children had to 
be educated. We dismissed all hired servants and 
sold our family jewels. At last the armistice came 
and we hoped to get back, what was ours. But 
years have passed and years are passing. Eng- 
land has returned the properties of Armenians, 
Greeks and Jews who are, like ourselves, Turkish 
citizens, on the grounds that they were pro-Allies 
but she still refuses to give back the private prop- 
erty of the Turks. No exception is made for those 
who, like ourselves, were not in politics during the 
war and even for those who, like your uncle, tried 
to dissuade the Government from entering the war. 
Our only crime seems to be that we did not betray 
our country during the war, that we could not be 
pro-Ally after our country had entered the war! 
Well, what can we do? We still must be grateful 
to God that we have a roof over our heads. Thou- 
sands of others are much worse off. We can't 
take care of this property, but we have mortgaged 
it and we live as best we can. God has helped 
us in the past, God will help us in the future if 
we realize that no matter how careful we are we 
can't foresee the future, we cannot avoid the de- 
crees of Destiny." I look in silence at my aunt, 
there is no bitterness in her, but her finely chiseled 
face is pensive. She is lost in retrospective 



44 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

thoughts. She is visualizing her garden as it used 
to be, while her night-dark eyes glance, unseeing, 
over her present surroundings. She walks slowly, 
her slender body wrapped in the loose, flowing 
folds of an Arabian "Meshlah" of silk, glittering 
with silver threads, which she had thrown over her 
shoulders when she came out in the garden. She 
looks typically Turkish. Her slightly aquiline 
nose gives a refined expression to her proud, clean- 
cut features. She is small and thin, but her dig- 
nified carriage gives the impression of power and 
self-confidence. 

The Pasha, walks next to her, slightly bent 
by his recent illness. However he is well on 
his way to complete recovery; his sprightly step, 
his rosy cheeks, his keen bright eyes denote vigor 
and growing strength. He caresses his small gray 
beard and smiles. He passes his hand in his wife's 
arm and cheerfully says: "Hanoum, we should 
not complain, we are better off now than we ever 
were, if our trials have made us wiser. We know 
better the real value of things than we did before. 
The Almighty has made me recover my health, 
we are all alive and well. I am not so old yet, I 
can work. I will work, and you will again help me 
as you did in the past. We will together rebuild 
our home. It is for us to deserve the help of God. 
We must work for His mercy. ,, 

In the silence that followed new hopes were born 
in me. The undaunted spirit of the Pasha faith- 



ERENKEUY 45 

fully reflects the feeling in the Turkey and the 
Turks of to-day. This is the spirit that has brought 
them through all their past trials, this is the spirit 
that has been taken for fatalism, but which is 
nothing else than an indomitable blend of resig- 
nation, confidence in one's self and confidence in 
the justice of God. It will save Turkey and the 
Turks as it has saved them in the past. They 
never have been despondent and they never will 
give up. Calmly, without any show, without any 
complaint they always step back into their normal 
lives, confident that the future will justify their 
immovable trust in the justice of God. 

We slowly return home in the silent twilight of 
the evening. It is almost dinner time. The old 
fashioned Turkish families dine always soon after 
sunset, no matter the season. Here in Erenkeuy 
the food is supplied by a community kitchen to 
which most of the neighbours are subscribers. It 
is distributed twice a day, so the food is always 
freshly cooked, clean and wholesome. It is less 
costly and less worrisome than to keep one's 
own kitchen. And my surprise is great to find 
such an efficient modern innovation in a little vil- 
lage at the outskirts of Anatolia. 

After dinner we sit around and talk some more. 
My cousin plays and sings for us some old Turkish 
songs. Then we all retire, for the night, the 
younger ones again kissing the hands of their 
elders. When we are alone in our room, my wife 



46 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

tells me how much she has liked my aunts. It 
must be mutual because there is a knock on our 
door and my aunt enters. She comes to give my 
wife a pair of small diamond earrings as a token 
of welcome under her roof. My aunt insists on 
her taking them. They have no value of their 
own she says, but they have been in the family for 
a very long time — my mother wore them when 
she was a child. 



IV 

MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 

O UR stay in Erenkeuy which had started under 
such pleasant auspices continued in perfect 
harmony and developed additional ties between my 
wife and her new Turkish relations. A most cor- 
dial friendship grew between her and my cousin, 
the daughter of my second aunt. She had been 
educated at the American College for Girls of Con- 
stantinople and her education was therefore a most 
happy blend of the Orient and the Occident. It 
opened an additional ground of common under- 
standing between the two girls who became rapidly 
inseparable friends. The following winter when 
we were all in the city my cousin, my sister and 
my wife formed a constant trio which broke up 
only when my sister left Constantinople for ex- 
tensive travel in Western Europe. 

There was another Turkish girl in Erenkeuy 
who came often to call. She was a school 
mate of my cousin and not only spoke perfect 
English but wrote it perfectly too. Her ambition 
was to make English-speaking people familiar with 
Turkish literature. This Turkish girl is very ac- 
tive in the American colony of Constantinople. 

47 



48 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

She was then hoping to induce the American Re- 
lief Association to engage in relief work for the 
needy Turks also. But I am afraid that she found 
this task somewhat difficult. I have heard it said 
that while it is comparatively easy to obtain finan- 
cial support for Armenians and Greeks, it is more 
difficult to obtain funds for the Turks. A well- 
managed campaign following an energetic propa- 
ganda by which Turks are represented as commit- 
ting wholesale massacres and atrocities against 
the Christian elements in the Near East is always 
sure to bring substantial financial assistance for 
Armenians and Greeks and incidentally to secure 
a longer lease of life to the jobs of all those em- 
ployed in Relief or Missionary work in Turkey. 
But how could money be raised for the Turks? 
To create public sympathy for them in America 
would necessitate the destruction of all the fables 
so elaborately created by years of anti-Turkish 
propaganda. It is easier to follow the lines of 
least resistance, to follow the beaten road by 
spreading news of massacres and atrocities when- 
ever funds are needed. The only requirement in 
this case is to make a propaganda whose virulence 
is in direct proportion to the reluctance of the pub- 
lic in subscribing for new funds. Whenever the 
public seems to have lost interest or seems to be 
acquiring a more accurate knowledge of the 
Greeks and Armenians — whenever either of these 
conditions coincide with the need of more funds — a 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 49 

spectacular report on new Turkish atrocities is 
staged and the flow of money is stimulated. The 
tide runs Eastward, but there it is carefully canal- 
ized into Greek and Armenian channels alone. The 
money has been collected for them and must be 
distributed exclusively to them. What difference 
does it make if hundreds of thousands of Turks, 
old men, women and children rendered homeless 
by the Greek invasion or by the repeated Armenian 
revolutions, are dying from lack of clothes, lack of 
shelter, lack of food. The Turks are human be- 
ings too, that is true, but they call God "Allah." 
And it does not sound the same! 

The Turks are thrown exclusively on their own 
meagre resources for relieving their own refu- 
gees, for helping their needy. I must say that 
despite their extremely restricted means they 
achieve this difficult task with unexpected effi- 
ciency. The work of relief is almost exclusively 
in the hands of committees of Turkish women who 
work with untiring abnegation. The president of 
one of these committees, Madame Memdouh Bey, 
a cousin of my aunts', was quite a frequent visi- 
tor at Erenkeuy and told us of how they are or- 
ganized and how they work. These committees 
are built upon such efficient business lines that I 
feel I should describe them to some extent so as to 
give an idea of the administrative and organizing 
capacities of modern Turkish women. Each re- 
lief association specializes in a given activity. One 



50 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

takes care of refugees, another of the needy or- 
phans, a third one of the Red Crescent — which is 
the Turkish Red Cross — and so forth. Each As- 
sociation is divided into Committees, every one of 
which is assigned to one district and is an auton- 
omous unit with a president and also a secretary 
managing its executive work. These committees 
are divided into sub-committees: one in charge of 
collections, one responsible for distributions and 
one to organize and conduct productive work. 
The ladies in charge of collecting continuously 
canvass their districts and classify all donations — 
be they money or wearing apparel. They organize 
tag days, garden parties, concerts, etc., to secure 
any additional supplies and funds possible. 

My wife participated in several of these tag 
days but on such occasions she had to don the 
"charshaf" so as not to be conspicuously the only 
foreigner among the Turkish ladies. On these 
days the streets of Stamboul are full of groups of 
Turkish ladies, young girls and children, a red rib- 
bon pinned on their breasts with the name of the 
Association they are collecting for written on it, 
smilingly offering their tags to the public. They 
bother the foreigners very little and solicit charity 
only from the Turks. The ladies who have shoul- 
dered the responsibility of distributing the charity 
thus collected canvass thoroughly their respective 
district, to find the refugees or the needy who de- 
serve the most urgent attention, "determine system- 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 51 

atically their needs and supply them with the help 
they require. Any funds that remain available 
to the Committee after such distribution are then 
turned over to the sub-committee in charge of or- 
ganizing and conducting productive work. Here 
all needy women and girls who can earn their liv- 
ing are brought together and given work in dress- 
making or embroidery establishments which are 
under the direct management of the ladies of this 
sub-co*mmittee. The men are similarly given work 
in furniture making or carpentry establishments. 
Men, women and children thus employed are of 
course paid for their work, their products are sold 
and the profits realized on them are again placed 
at the disposal of the Committee. 

Turkish ladies also run orphan asylums . where 
little boys and little girls who have lost both father 
and mother in the turmoil of the different wars or 
in the forced evacuation of their homesteads before 
the Greek or Armenian irredentists, are taken care 
of and educated. When the little girls have reached 
the age of fifteen they are given into families where 
they work — under the continuous supervision of 
the Committee for orphans. The ladies of this com- 
mittee keep a vigilant and motherly watch over 
the welfare of these girls. Once a month the 
girls are subjected to a medical examination to 
determine if their health is properly taken care of. 
Once a month some lady of the Committee makes 
an unexpected call in every house where any of 



5* SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

these orphan girls are working to ascertain how 
they are treated, what work they are doing, and 
if they are satisfied with their employers. She has 
also the privilege — which she often takes advan- 
tage of — using her savings as a dowry to start 
married life. 

Needless to say that the ladies engaged in this 
relief work are all volunteers. They belong mostly 
to the upper classes and devote all their time and 
energy to the charities they have undertaken. We 
have seen them at work time and again and their 
devotion and abnegation is beyond praise. I 
think that the most active of these ladies — at least 
those who are most in the public eye because of 
the executive positions they hold in the Commit- 
tees — are Madame Memdouh Bey, Madame Ismail 
Djenani Bey, Madame Edhem Bey and Madame 
Houloussi Bey. But there are hundreds and 
thousands of others whose work, while not as 
prominent, is none the less efficient, silent little 
women with hearts of gold devoting their life to 
some work of charity and mercy. 

In the shadows of the old garden at Erenkeuy, 
my aunts were incessantly engaged in bringing 
their contribution to this general work of relief. 
They would sit in, a circle under some big trees 
and be busy one day sewing garments for refugees, 
another day packing medicines for the Red Cres- 
cent, or knitting socks, sweaters or gloves for the 
soldiers of the Nationalist Armies. They would 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 53 

remain at work for hours at a time, day in and 
day out, in their quiet, unostentatious ways mak- 
ing a most touching picture: a group incessantly 
engaged in humanitarian work — the elder aunt, 
poised and refined, directing the work of all and 
participating in it with all her untiring activity — 
the second aunt, emaciated by years of domestic 
troubles caused by the kaleidoscopic political 
changes and wars of Turkey, but still cheerful and 
hopeful — the youngest aunt, as sweet as a Ma- 
donna and as resigned as one — cutting, sewing or 
packing with the help of their children. 

I confess that I was not a little surprised by this 
continuous activity in which all Turkish women, 
without distinction of class, took a feverish part. 
It is true that even before I left Constantinople 
women were already much more emancipated than 
they generally were given credit for being by for- 
eigners — it is true that I was hoping to find them 
at my return well on the road to full emancipa- 
tion. But frankly I was not prepared for the long 
stride they had made during these few years. I 
was especially not prepared to see them so com- 
petent in public organization and so businesslike 
in the conduct of actual productive work. I ex- 
pected to find them rather inefficient in the new 
fields opened to them for the first time after so 
many generations of seclusion. 

I said this frankly to my aunt, one Friday after- 
noon, on the eve of our departure from Erenkeuy. 



54 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

We were enjoying the ever attractive sunset from 
the terraces of a public garden on the shores of 
the Sea of Marmora. At a distance and blurred 
by the purple haze of the horizon, Prinkipo and 
the other islands were reflecting their dark green 
hills in the opalescent sea where glimmered the 
dancing lights of an orange-coloured sun. Gentle 
waves were breaking in cadence over the rocks 
at our feet. Around us other Turkish families 
were sitting at wooden tables in small groups. We 
had just finished sipping our coffees. The gen- 
eral relaxation preceding all oriental sunsets was 
gradually creeping over nature together with the 
lavendar shadows of the coming twilight. My 
aunts had been working hard that day, and I told 
them how much I admired them and all their 
Turkish sisters for their indefatigable activities, 
for their efficiency in works they had not par- 
ticipated in for generations. 

My aunt looked at me. Then she laughed in 
her musical and contagious manner: "You talk 
like a foreigner, my son," she said. "Whenever 
foreigners talk of the new emancipation of Turkish 
women, they express their surprise at our effici- 
ency.' ' 

I explained to my aunt what I meant — I said: 
"Our women have been kept for so many genera- 
tions out of all activities, their attention has been 
consecrated for so many centuries exclusively on 
their homes and families and they have so recently 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 55 

acquired their freedom, that I can not help being 
surprised to find them turning their freedom into 
really productive channels and to see how capable 
they are in their new pursuits." 

"Why should we be incapable or inefficient ?" 
asked my aunt, "and why should the seclusion of 
Turkish women in past generations influence or 
interfere with the organizing, administrative or 
productive capacities of the Turkish women of 
this generation? After all women do not belong 
to a different race than men, we are the daughters 
of men and inherit their qualities — or their faults 
— their capacities or their inefficiency, just as much 
as their sons do. This present generation, with- 
out distinction of sex, has inherited the accumu- 
lated qualities or faults of all past generations. It 
is not the sex which makes or mars the individual, 
which makes or mars his or her talents. Indivi- 
dual talents, qualities or faults are of course in- 
herited to a great degree, but they don't descend 
exclusively from women to women and from men 
to men. Furthermore they are especially en- 
hanced by the education, upbringing and training 
of the individual. And I consider that the Turkish 
women of this generation have had individually a 
better opportunity than their brothers — or even 
than their western sisters — to prepare, educate and 
train themselves for the work they are now doing. 
The Turkish men of this generation have had to 
struggle for life as soon as they were out of boy- 



56 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

hood and, confronted by the necessity of earning 
their immediate living, they did not have the op- 
portunity of preparing themselves for the lines 
of activity best suited to their individual talents — 
or else and still worse, they have been drafted into 
the armies and have fought consecutively for the 
last fifteen years. Thousands have perished in 
these wars, thousands and thousands have been 
maimed or otherwise incapacitated for life. As 
for western women, those of the higher classes — 
therefore those who have received a better educa- 
tion — are caught in a whirlwind of social amuse- 
ment as soon as they are little more than children 
and the greatest majority keep throughout their 
lives the earmark of the influence that society has 
impressed on them in their early youth. It is there- 
fore only western women who start life with the 
handicap of a lesser education who, through hard 
work and perseverance, are generally the women 
who accomplish things in the Western world. This 
is not the case with the Turkish women of this 
generation. They have had an opportunity to study 
and prepare thoroughly until they had reached 
maturity. They had no social life to interfere with 
their studies. It is true that they did not prepare 
to enter personally the different fields of activity 
as they did not expect that their full emanci- 
pation would come so soon. But they were con- 
scious of being the mothers ,of the coming gener- 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 57 

ation, and to prepare their sons and daughters for 
their task, they equipped themselves with all the 
knowledge they desired to impart. And they had 
plenty of leisure to do this. That is why you see 
now so many Turkish women efficient in the ac- 
tivities they have deliberately shouldered/' 

"Tell me, my aunt, how did the participation of 
Turkish women in all activities of life come to 
pass? Was it sudden or , gradual?" 

"When the war came and all the men were 
called to the front, women unostentatiously stepped 
into the employments left vacant. As is generally 
the case in all movements of emancipation for 
which people are really ready the movement start- 
ed in the lower classes. Pushed by necessity, some 
young girls dared to apply for clerical employ- 
ments in shops and offices. At the time hundreds 
of ladies of the higher classes were engaged in 
helping at home the Red Crescent and other relief 
works. They had studied nursing. Encouraged by 
the fact that their less fortunate sisters had met 
with no opposition and were working openly in 
shops and offices, they in turn offered their ser- 
vices as nurses. Much of the field work and hos- 
pital work of the Red Crescent was confided to 
fthem to liberate men for military service. This 
Is just what happened in other countries. But the 
change was greater and more permanent in Tur- 
key. The daily contact of Turkish women with 
the public during the war years resulted of course 



58 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

in tearing down the social walls which had so far 
secluded them. And once these walls were de- 
stroyed no one desired to build them up again. 
Turkish women had proved their administrative 
and organizing capacities in relief and charitable 
work during the war. There was no reason why 
they should not continue to give the country the 
benefit of their services even after the general war 
was ended. Furthermore there was still much re- 
lief and charitable work to be done and Turkey 
needed good administrators and organisers in many 
fields. So within a few years, but with gradual 
steps, the emancipation of Turkish women became 
complete, and to-day it is so thorough that any 
woman in Turkey can fill any responsible position 
as long as she has shown herself capable of it. 
In Anatolia, we have a woman, Halide Hanoum, 
who was elected Minister of Public Education by 
the National Assembly. ,, 

I wanted to know how Anatolia and the rural 
districts had reacted to this emancipation of 
women. 

"The peasant women were always more emanci- 
pated than the city women, my son. Our pea- 
sants have remained in a way much nearer to the 
original precepts of our religion and to the old 
traditions of the Turks than our city dwellers. 
We have deviated from our religion and racial 
traditions by the contact we were forced to enter 
into with the degenerate Levantine elements dwell- 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 59 

ing in the cities. Muslim laws placed women on 
equality with men long before western laws did 
so, and at the time of the Prophet women were 
allowed more freedom than they ever had before. 
The Koran is full of mentions of women who were 
participating in public life and the only restriction 
placed on women in the Holy Book — a restric- 
tion which was necessary to correct the customs of 
the Arabs living in warm climates — is that women 
should not appear in public unless they were cov- 
ered from the breasts down to the ankles. This 
is a simple rule of decency and modesty. As for 
the original Turkish customs they used to be so 
liberal that women participated in public affairs 
among the nomad Turkish tribes roaming on the 
plateau of Pamir, centuries ago. Many a Turkish 
woman was then the recognized chieftain of her 
tribe. Many a Turkish Joan of Arc has fought 
on the battlefields shoulder to shoulder with her 
warriors. It is only after the Muslims and the 
Turks came in contact with the decadent Byzantine 
Empire, it is only after the Turks conquered the 
dissolute colonies of old Rome and ancient Greece 
in Asia Minor that the Turks — especially those who 
settled in the cities — adopted certain customs of 
the conquered races. Unfortunately these cus- 
toms are identified to-day, in the eyes of the for- 
eigners, with the Turks and the Muslims as if 
they had originated with them. But that is not 
the case. While polygamy was not strictly for- 



60 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

bidden so as to prevent — as was then the case in 
Europe — the increase of bastards and illegitimate 
children, Harems in the original sense of the word 
did not exist in Muslim or Turkish countries un- 
til they assimilated byzantine customs. The seclu- 
sion of women in separate apartments where they 
were condemned to lead the life of recluses pamp- 
ered and spoiled solely for the pleasure of their 
master, can be retraced to the "Gyneceum" of 
Byzance. So can the custom of veiling the women 
when they went out, as evidenced by the pictures 
on old Grecian vases. The barbarous institu- 
tion of Eunuchs is exclusively Byzantine. All 
these were certainly not originally Turkish cus- 
toms and they have nearly never been practised by 
the peasants and country people of Turkey, except 
the custom which made it obligatory for women 
to be entirely veiled in the presence of men. Other- 
wise the rural population never restricted its 
women in any way. They always participated in 
the every-day life of their men. You should have 
been with us when I went to Eski-Shehir, in Ana- 
tolia, with your uncle during the war." Here my 
aunt drew such a picture of her arrival at Eski- 
Shehir that I will try to give an account of it, in 
her own words. 

"It was before your uncle was taken ill," she 
said, "and he was considering starting some local 
industries in Anatolia. He chose Eski-Shehir on 
account of the railroad facilities it offers and we 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 61 

went there. Only a few men who had been pre- 
vented from going to war on account of old age 
or infirmity were left in the country. But the 
people who had heard that a pasha from Constanti- 
nople was coming with his wife, sent a delegation 
to meet us at the station. They insisted on our 
being their guests and they informed us that they 
had especially prepared a house for us. To re- 
fuse would have hurt their feelings. They had 
chosen the best available house in the whole neigh- 
bourhood. It was located far in the country at 
an hour and a nalfs ride in a carriage from the 
station. We arrived in the evening and by the 
time the customary greetings had been exchanged 
with the delegation it was already dark. The 
whole delegation insisted on forming an escort of 
honour and accompanying us to our lodgings. We 
took a carriage and the ten or twelve peasants 
which formed the delegation got on their horses, 
two preceding us, the rest forming a semi-circle 
around our carriage. In the dark night we went 
through valleys and hilltops escorted by this most 
picturesque cavalcade; mostly old men with white 
beards, but sitting straight on their horses. Of 
the only two young men who were there, one 
was blind in one eye, and the other was lame. 
They all wore their country costumes: trousers 
cut as riding breeches but worn without leggings, 
wide belts of gay colour wrapped from hips to 
the middle of the breast and tight-fitting tunics 



62 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

crossed by cartridge-bearing leather thongs. With 
their turbaned heads and their rifles swinging 
from their shoulders they made a martial picture 
in contrast with their courteous demeanour, their 
subdued voices and their most peaceful eyes. I 
must say, however, that it was a reassuring escort 
to have for crossing the country at night. 

We arrived at the house, a darling little farm- 
house of one floor in the midst of tall trees which 
reflected their spectral shadows in the gurgling 
black waters of a stream. Our escort dismounted 
and entered the house with us where we were re- 
ceived by a committee of women. They had pre- 
pared supper and had made everything ready for 
us. They were dressed in long, flowing robes, 
their heads covered with a veil and they stood 
respectfully with their hands folded, watching us 
carefully so as to anticipate our smallest wishes. 
Dear, pure, honest country folk of Anatolia ! How 
much (they can teach us, how much they can 
teach the western world of hospitality, modesty 
and faithfulness! The women were veiled in the 
presence of men, but they acted their part as 
hostesses while the men talked in the same room 
with my husband. After having settled us to their 
own satisfaction they departed all together, even 
the owners of the house insisting on leaving so 
that we might be more comfortable. They left 
us their servants to take care of us. Next day 
and all the days of our stay at Eski-Shehir, 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 63 

groups of peasant girls would come to visit me, 
to enquire if I needed anything and to entertain 
me as best they could. They would shyly stand 
at the door until I forced them to come in. I 
had all the trouble in the world to break them 
of the habit of sitting on the floor out of respect 
to their guests, as they considered it ill-bred to 
sit on a level with me. They would come in the 
evenings, for during the day they would be busy 
working in their fields. Healthy and strong 
women they were, with red cheeks and bashful 
eyes. They were not the type of women living 
for the pleasure of their husbands, or of slaves 
toiling for their masters. They were wholesome 
women, good daughters, good wives, good mothers 
who had for generations been conscious of their 
duty to the community and accomplished it effi- 
ciently — helpmates freely helping their men, freely 
assisting them or willingly shouldering their hus- 
bands' responsibility in case of absence and taking 
care of the welfare of their families, their homes, 
their fields or their villages. And withal keeping 
their unassuming modesty intact — the modesty 
which is, or should be, the national characteristic 
of all Turkish women." 

My aunt was silent for a while. Her com- 
pelling personality made us fully share her love 
for her Anatolian sisters. She slowly got up 
and gave the signal for returning home. We 
walked together. It was our last day in Erenkeuy 



64 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

and I had not yet exhausted her views on the 
subject of the emancipation of Turkish women. I 
now asked her if she thought that its influence 
had been salutory upon general morality in the 
big cities. 

"It certainly has," answered my aunt. "In 
the old days we did not know the friends of our 
husbands, brothers or sons. We were excluded 
from the company of men and could not therefore 
help our own sons in selecting their friends. Much 
less of course our husbands. We always feared 
the deteriorating influence that even one bad asso- 
ciate can have on a whole crowd. The Turkish 
proverb says that one bad apple is sufficient to 
rot a whole basket full of good apples. Men left 
to their own resources are liable to seek distraction 
in drinking, in cards and other unwholesome pas- 
times. Many a Turkish man has suffered in the 
past the consequences of the exclusion of women 
from social gatherings — just as many a western 
man suffers now from the consequences of leading 
too absorbing a club life. But now that we par- 
ticipate in social reunions as well as in other 
activities we can more fully make our influence 
felt among the men. Our continuous contact 
with their friends has rendered our husbands, 
brothers and sons more careful about the char- 
acter of the men they associate with. Now that 
you are married you would not ask to your house 
a man about whose character you might have 



MODERN TURKISH WOMEN 65 

some doubts. But if your wife was not with you, 
you might not be so strict about the manners and 
the behaviour of those you associate with. 

Of course we Turkish women of this generation 
have a double duty to perform now that we have 
acquired our freedom. We must first see that this 
freedom is not turned into license as in some 
western countries, where young men and young 
girls are allowed to go out alone in couples, or — 
still worse — where husbands and wives cultivate 
different sets of friends. We must also watch 
very carefully over our modesty, and this is our 
most difficult task. Many Turkish women are 
taking advantage of their new freedom to trample 
all modesty under their feet. Alas! too many are 
already "over-westernized" and associate too 
freely with foreigners or with Levantinized Turks 
in the salons of Pera. Not that I object to the 
society of foreign men, but how are we to know 
the character and the antecedents of all those for- 
eigners who are at present in Constantinople? 
They are mostly officers in a far-away van- 
quished country or civilians desirous of staking 
their all in get-rich-quick business ventures. How 
are we to know of their education, their morals 
and their principles? We are therefore obliged 
to be especially careful with foreign men. Our 
duty now is to raise the new generation of girls 
as rationally as the well-educated western girls. 
We want our girls to preserve their modesty, no 



66 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

matter how free they are, we want them to know 
how to take good care of themselves, no matter 
whom .they associate with. We don't want them 
to abuse their freedom. We want them to be as 
rational and thoughtful as my little American 
daughter here." 

And so saying my aunt lovingly passed her arm 
on my wife's shoulders, in a graceful movement 
of all-embracing protection. They looked at each 
other with comprehending love. The girl of New 
Orleans smiled her grateful appreciation in the 
eyes of the woman of Turkey. 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 

TT was with real regrets that we left Erenkeuy. 
A visit in such a congenial atmosphere ends 
always too soon even if it has extended over two 
weeks. But I wanted my wife to know our 
cousins who lived on the Bosphorus, to whom 
we had already announced our coming, and I 
wanted her to come in close touch with the dif- 
ferent aspects of home life in Turkey, to see the 
Turks from different angles. So we had to tear 
ourselves from Erenkeuy, after exchanging re- 
peated promises of seeing each other soon and 
often in town, promises which — needless to say — 
were kept faithfully on both sides. 

In the strict sense of the word our cousins 
are not really cousins of ours and would not even 
count as relations in western countries. How- 
ever, as I said before, family bonds are so strong 
in Turkey, the clan spirit is so developed, that 
we call cousins even the nephews of our aunts 
by marriage. We consider them as such and we 
are brought up to feel toward them as such. 

Our cousins live on the European side of the 
Bosphorus, at Emirghian, about half-way between 
the Sea of Marmora and the Black Sea, in one of 

67 



68 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

those old houses built right on the edge of the 
water. Theirs is one of the few remaining typi- 
cally Turkish country houses on the Bosphorus, 
most of the others have either been destroyed by 
fire, fallen in ruins, or else been replaced by modern 
structures — villas, apartment houses, warehouses 
and depots which have, alas, contaminated with 
their ultra-modern and commercial appearance the 
otherwise smilingly passive shores of the Bos- 
phorus. Thus this waterway, unique in the world, 
this natural canal between two seas, which winds 
its way in graceful curves between the green hills 
of two continents, offers now the sad spectacle 
of charred ruins — where a few tumbling walls 
blackened by fire are all that is left of the beauti- 
ful estates which adorned it but a few years ago — 
with here and there a few pretentious buildings 
whose showy architecture is a patent proof of the 
rapidity with which their owners have accumu- 
lated wealth during the war and post-war profiteer- 
ing period. Worst of all, the lower Bosphorus 
is now bristling with quite a few high apartment 
houses peopled with chattering and noisy Levan- 
tines. Such apartment houses, with their tenants, are 
as out of place on the wonderful shores of this peer- 
less waterway as the corrugated roofs and asbestos 
walls of the coal depots and general merchandising 
warehouses, hastily erected in recent years under 
the guidance of interested — if inartistic — foreign 
business men. 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 69 

All the way to Emirghian I gave thanks to 
the Almighty for having protected at least a 
few imperial palaces and a few old estates which 
could still give an idea of what the Bosphorus 
looked like before the war. A few, low, rambling 
buildings of one or, at the most, two floors, grow- 
ing lengthwise instead of upward, without a 
thought of economizing the land, surrounded 
with parks where grow old trees, are happily still 
left as a living proof of past splendour and good 
taste, and complete disregard of business ad- 
vantages. 

Our cousin's house is one of them, possibly a lit- 
tle more dilapidated, a little less comfortable than 
most of the other surviving buildings, as it has 
been for a very long time deprived of the yearly 
repairs that so large a house always needs. But 
what do we care: within the walls of its almost 
limitless entrance hall, on the wide steps of its 
gorgeously curved classical starways, behind the 
latticed windows of its immense rooms, the hos- 
pitality we find is as sincere and as great as the 
one extended generations ago by one of the most 
brilliant Grand Vezirs of Turkey, who was then 
the head of the family, at a time when to be the 
Grand Vezir of Turkey really meant all the splen- 
dour that the world suggests. 

Our hostess is a widow who speaks French so 
fluently that she would be taken for a French 
woman if she did not have the graceful poise and 



70 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

dignity so typical of Turkish women. Her hus- 
band filled a most important position in the Im- 
perial palace in the time of the late Sultan, and 
was one of the most accomplished men I have 
ever met anywhere. Besides being a distinguished 
diplomat he was an art connoisseur and had ac- 
cumulated a priceless collection of antique pictures, 
porcelains, carpets and books. Alas, this collection 
was destroyed a few years ago when their town 
house fell the victim of one of those all-destroying 
fires characteristic of Constantinople. Only a few 
of the secondary pieces of the collection which 
were left in their country house on the Bosphorus 
can still be seen there and are an attestation of 
what the collection used to be. To cap it all, 
the collection was insured in pre-war days in 
Turkish pounds which at that time had a gold 
value, and the fire having taken place during the 
war, and insurance being paid after the armistice, 
the family could only collect Turkish paper pounds. 
Thus, besides the irreparable moral loss, they had 
to suffer a very large material loss by recovering 
only one seventh of the value the collection was 
insured originally for. This is another example 
among millions of the terrible losses suffered in 
the last years by the Turks for reasons absolutely 
outside their control. It is a wonder that, despite 
all, they keep their composure and their dignity. 
Calm before the most unimaginable trials, keeping 
a firm front through the worst calamities, never 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS ft 

complaining, never discouraged, never losing 
faith — truly the Turkish race is the most stoical 
of all. 

Our young host, the only son of the family, is 
just on a leave from Germany where he went dur- 
ing the war to finish his studies and where he 
has remained since then, having obtained a leading 
position in one of the largest electrical engineering 
enterprises in Germany. His mother is justly 
proud of the success of her son and we frankly 
rejoice with her that one of us, a pure Turk 
in all respects, has evidently acquired such a 
complete technical knowledge and has shown so 
much capacity as to be picked out to fill a respon- 
sible position in one of the leading firms of a 
country known the world over for the technical 
ability of its electrical engineers. We ask Kemal 
to tell us his experiences in Germany, but he is 
too modest to talk of himself. He prefers to tell 
us how his firm is organized. He greatly admires 
the Germans for their efficiency but is not other- 
wise very keen about living with them. He finds 
the Germans too machine made, too materialistic 
to suit a Turk. His one ambition is to perfect 
himself in his profession and then to settle in 
Turkey where he will be able to give to his 
country the benefit of the knowledge he will 
have acquired. He wants to return to Ger- 
many for this purpose, but when we press him 
to tell us if it is for this purpose alone he admits 



72 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

that he has another more personal reason: he is 
engaged to a young girl in Munich and at the 
end of his leave his mother will accompany him 
to Germany where he will get married. The poor 
boy is heart-broken that his father, Ismet Bey, 
did not live long enough to meet his wife. Kemal 
speaks English most perfectly and says that his 
future wife does so also. He is therefore looking 
forward to having her meet her new cousin, my 
wife. 

The drawing-room in which we were was a 
spacious room with many doors and windows. 
The lattices were up and the windows opened and 
the breeze from the Bosphorus is so cool at this 
season that the great open fireplace where big 
logs burned was barely enough to warm the room. 
We sat near the windows on a wide divan which 
skirted about one-fourth of the walls of the room, 
and to keep us warmer they had placed at the 
corner nearest to us, a big brazero of shining 
copper, filled with glowing charcoal. The win- 
dows were nearly over the water, so near in fact 
that the rustling of the current, which is quite 
strong on the Bosphorus, was plainly audible. It 
gave the impression of being on a ship: the blue 
waters ran southward in an endless chain of 
racing wavelets and the house seemed to be float- 
ing toward the north. But opposite us the green 
hills of Asia, with a line of houses skirting the 
shores and with big Anatolian mountains tower- 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 73 

ing the blue-gray horizon reminded us that our 
seeming flight toward the Black Sea was only an 
illusion caused by the incessant rush of the current. 
Big "mahons" or Turkish barges which have kept 
the graceful lines of the old caiks, passed before 
our eyes, gliding silently on the blue wavelets, 
their Oriental triangular sails swelled in the breeze. 
A large Italian cargo boat plowed its way toward 
some romantic port of the Black Sea: Costanza, 
where Roumanian peasant girls will purchase its 
cargo of vividly coloured textiles in exchange 
for oil, so much needed in Italy, or perhaps 
Batoum, where a cosmopolitan crowd of trad- 
ers will give flour, sugar and other food 
supplies to the starving population of Caucasia 
against non-edible jewels, furs or platinum of 
limitless value. Who knows? Perhaps it goes to 
Odessa or Novorossisk to try bartering with Tar- 
tars and Russians, Mongols and even Chinamen 
who now form the motley crowd of Bolshevik 
Southern Russia. The Bosphorus is the gate of a 
whole world — a world fraught with mysterious 
possibilities; tempting opportunities of stupendous 
gains, frightful danger of very real losses, com- 
mercial and political possibilities of such magni- 
tude that it makes you shudder to think of them. 
And here we are at the very gate of this world, 
a gate patrolled as usual by England. See that 
gray destroyer, slim as an arrow, speeding toward 
its base, the harbour of Constantinople. It flies 



74 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the British flag and is coming back from the 
Black Sea. 

I am called back from my dreams and visions 
by Madame Ismet Bey who is pointing out the 
outstanding places of the landscape to my wife. 
From where we are the Bosphorus looks like a 
lake, the sinuous curves at the two ends making 
it impossible to distinguish where Europe ends 
and Asia begins. There, on our extreme left and 
near the water, is the country estate of Khedive 
Ismail Pasha, father of the last Khedive of Egypt 
who was dethroned by England during the war 
because of his pro-Turkish sentiments. Ismail 
Pasha's estate is in Europe but the hills which 
seem next to it are on the other side, in Asia, 
and the funny looking buildings on top as well 
as the low buildings on the shore are the depots 
of the Standard Oil Company. They used to 
belong to an uncle of Madame Ismet Bey but 
now they belong to the Standard Oil. No, her 
uncle has not sold his rights : it just happened that 
the Standard Oil stepped in before he had time 
to have them renewed. His house, or what used 
to be his house is the one just opposite us. He 
used to have the most beautiful caiks in the Bos- 
phorus, ten or fifteen years ago, and his wife and 
his daughters would go every Friday to the Sweet 
Waters of Asia in those long, slim racing barks, 
with tapering ends, rowed by three or sometimes 
four boatmen with flowing sleeves, a beautiful em- 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 7$ 

broidered carpet covering the stern, its corners 
trailing in the sea. He used to have a passion 
for flowers and you can see even from here the 
roof of the hot-house where he grew the most 
exotic plants he could think of: rare varieties of 
chrysanthemums and poppies from the Far East, 
tulips from Turkestan and Persia, mogra and 
lotus trees from India. Now he has sold his 
house and has barely enough to live on. 

The Sweet Waters of Asia are nearby, just be- 
tween the ruins of the old mediaeval castle — built 
by Sultan Mahomet the Conqueror before he laid 
siege to Byzance — and the Imperial Kiosks of 
Chiok Soo, a real jewel. Further to the right — that 
low, rambling white building is the yali of the 
family of Mahmoud Pasha. They entertain a 
great deal and have asked us to tea next Sun- 
day. Now we pass again without realizing it 
to the European shores; the old castle on the hill 
is the Castle of Europe, the first stronghold of 
the Turks on this side of the Bosphorus, and the 
big building next to it is the famous Robert Col- 
lege, the American College for Boys. 

The view is so gorgeous that it cannot be 
described. I wish I had a canvas and the tech- 
nique of Courbet, the talent of Turner and the 
daring of Whistler to paint in all its splendour 
the clear sky of the Bosphorus, so clear and so 
blue that the eyes can almost see that it is endless 
— the red and gold flakes of its dark-green vegeta- 



76 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

tion, so luxuriant that it speaks of centuries of 
loving care — the peaceful atmosphere of its old 
houses, so restful that you can feel that genera- 
tions of thinkers and philosophers have meditated 
behind their walls — the harmonious outline of its 
hills, so smilingly round that only immemorial age 
can have so smoothly curved them — the mystery 
of its always running currents, running so con- 
tinuously that they should have long ago emptied 
the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. I wish I 
was endowed with enough insight to understand 
the mischievous whisper of its always dancing, al- 
ways running little waves. I believe they want to 
tell us that although the winds have pushed them 
south ever since time began and will continue to 
push them south until the end of the world, al- 
though they seem to follow the wind in an endless 
mad rush, they still are there. They mis- 
chievously laugh because they will always remain 
there, despite the wind and all its strength. I 
believe they want to give the Turks an object 
lesson as to how nothing can be swept away 
against its will. 

Our first evening in Emirghian passed very 
quietly. The Turks being very reserved by nature 
it always takes some time before the ice is broken, 
even among members of the same family. We 
passed the time sitting around and talking, giving 
a chance to our hosts and to my wife to know 
each other. 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 77 

But for every day thereafter Madame Ismet 
Bey and her son had arranged some special enter- 
tainment for us. Quietly, unostentatiously and 
with the characteristic lack of show with which 
well-bred Turks entertain their guests, they suc- 
ceeded in giving us, without our being aware that 
it had all been pre-arranged, a different distrac- 
tion every afternoon. Friends and neighbours 
would drop in for tea one evening and a little 
dance or a little bridge game would be organized 
as on the spur of the moment. Another after- 
noon they would take us in their rowboat for an 
outing on the Bosphorus and we would stop 
either to call on some friends or to walk around 
or take some refreshments in the casino of the 
park at Beikos, which at this season is quiet and 
pleasant. Once we had a small picnic at the Sweet 
Waters of Asia. We went in the rowboat up this 
little stream — a miniature Bosphorus, with old 
tumbled-down houses by the water, big trees lean- 
ing their branches covered with autumnal golden 
leaves over old walls covered with vines, here and 
there a ramshackle wooden bridge spanning the 
stream and giving it the appearance of a Turkish 
Venice, and then large meadows on both sides, 
where groups of people were, like us, taking ad- 
vantage of the last few days of summery sun- 
shine of the year. Old Turkish women in black 
dusters, their hair covered with a white veil ar- 
ranged Sphinx fashion, were sitting cross-legged 



78 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

near the water in silent and impassible contem- 
plation, while younger women — their daughters 
or granddaughters — were sitting a few steps away 
on chairs, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes 
and chattering away their time. Small boys in 
vividly coloured shirts, knickers hanging loose be- 
low their knees, wearing shapeless fezzes with a 
small blue bead — against the evil eye — would be 
running around and prancing with little girls clad 
in Kate Greenaway skirts coloured with the bright- 
est shades of the rainbow, their loosened hair 
flapping over their narrow shoulders. Simple folk 
all, neither peasants or city folk — just the families 
of small village traders — the kind of people whose 
pictures foreign newspapermen find a malign 
pleasure in publishing as representative Turks. 
They might as well publish pictures of tenement 
house dwellers of New York and London as being 
representative Americans or Britishers. Many 
gypsies were there, going from group to group 
to tell fortunes, to sing or to dance, gypsy women 
of all ages and of suspicious cleanliness, who can 
always be detected in Constantinople by the fact 
that they are the only ones to wear coloured 
bloomers, while some old Greek and Armenian 
women wear black bloomers. By the way, another 
conception of foreigners which my wife shared 
but which she lost after a short stay in Constanti- 
nople was this very one of bloomers: in all our 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 79 

stay in Turkey she did not see a single Turkish 
woman wearing them. 

A little further up on the shores of the stream 
was a group of Kurdish porters, big, athletic 
fellows, watching a bout of wrestling: two of 
their companions stripped to the waist, their legs 
and feet bare, their bodies soaked in oil, engaged 
in a k bout of cat-as-catch-can, while further up 
some Laze sailors of the Black Sea were dancing 
their slow rhythmic national dance to the sound 
of weird flutes and tambourines 

We had to go well upstream to find a place 
where we could enjoy our picnic peacefully and 
without onlookers. But I must say that we en- 
joyed it thoroughly, quite as much as the specta- 
cle we had on our way up and down the river. I 
could not help however realizing how much a few 
years had changed the general aspect of the Sweet 
Waters of Asia. Before my departure it used to 
be the smartest place to go to during the good 
season on Friday and Sunday afternoons. You 
would meet all your friends there and the place 
used to be congested with the most graceful 
"caiks" and rowboats of the Bosphorus. 

On Sunday we went to tea at the house of 
Mahmoud Pasha. It was a big affair, almost 
an official reception, as are all entertainments 
given by the family of Mahmoud Pasha. This 
family is what might be called another great and 
old Turkish clan. At present it is probably the 



80 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

most socially prominent Turkish family of Constan- 
tinople and the reason underlying its social activi- 
ties is quite well known among the other Turkish 
families who, while possibly not entirely approv- 
ing them, hold the family of Mahmoud Pasha in 
great respect for the utterly unselfish manner in 
which all its members live up to their, convictions. 
Its social activities are looked upon as having a 
political reason or significance. In the first place 
the family was one of the first and bitterest ene- 
mies of the Committee of Union and Progress 
which, after engineering most marvellously the 
Turkish Revolution, had instituted a most objec- 
tionable sort of plural dictatorship conducted by 
its own members. Mahmoud Pasha's family who, 
like all the other old Turkish families, did not 
approve of this dictatorship of the few, became 
very active in the Liberal Party organized in op- 
position to the Committee. So far, so good! But 
with the extreme enthusiasm which is a character- 
istic of all the family, it carried on its war against 
the Committee by taking a firm and active stand 
against any and all of its policies. It fought the 
Committee on every ground, not so much because 
it was opposed in principle to this or that other 
policy but just because this or that other policy 
emanated from the Committee. For this purpose 
it joined hands with every party that was formed 
against the Committee. It kept up this war for 
years and years and one of its members — a most 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 81 

brilliant specimen of young Turkish manhood — 
sacrificed his life on the altar of his convictions 
during this long-drawn feud. It was quite natural 
that when the Committee embraced a pro-German 
policy Mahmoud Pasha's family would automati- 
cally become anti-Germans. But instead of being 
satisfied with fighting this nefarious pro-German 
policy by an exclusive pro-Turkish policy — as was 
done by most of the other prominent Turkish 
families — Mahmoud Pasha's family had to go 
one better and ever since the armistice has ac- 
tively embraced a pro-British policy. Therefore, 
it feels that it can perfectly well entertain and 
lead a social life even under the present conditions 
in Constantinople. The second reason which 
moves this family to participate so actively in the 
social life of Constantinople is its belief that after 
all social life in the Turkish capital should be 
led by the Turks themselves. And rather than 
abandon the functions of society leaders to some 
foreigners, or worse still to some Greeks, Arme- 
nians or Levantines, the family makes every sacri- 
fice needed to hold and prolong its leadership. 
Therefore it gives large entertainments and weekly 
teas amounting to real functions. 

The Sunday we called on them the immense 
rooms of their magnificent house were crowded 
to full capacity. Foreign officers of high rank 
in resplendent uniforms, members of the different 
high commissions and distinguished visitors of all 



82 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

nations were elbowing each other and alas! also 
quite a few Levantine, Greek and Armenian busi- 
ness men whose standing in the business com- 
munity had forcibly made a place for them in 
this cosmopolitan clique of Constantinople. Of 
course the crowd here was not representative of 
Turkish society, but rather of the cosmopolitan 
society that one meets in every principal center of 
Europe. Only a very few Turks were present, 
mostly old friends of the family who had come 
more with a desire to show their esteem and 
respect for the charming hostesses than mixing 
with the international crowd they were sure to 
meet there. The three daughters of the family 
were doing the honours with a tact and courtesy 
only possible in scions of old families whose breed- 
ing in etiquette has extended to so many gen- 
erations that it has finally become second nature. 
They were assisted in their duties by two grand- 
daughters of Mahmoud Pasha, two young Turk- 
ish debutantes, who were so earnestly endeavour- 
ing to overcome their natural shyness and act like 
their elders that their charming awkwardness 
was really delightful to watch. It amused my 
wife greatly to make a mental comparison between 
this refreshing shyness of the Turkish debutantes 
and the self-confidence and forwardness of their 
American sisters. To this day I don't know which 
of the two schools my wife really approved of! 
Of course the brothers and husbands of our 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 83 

hostesses were also there, circulating from group 
to group and introducing the guests to each other. 
And to me the most humorous note of the whole 
afternoon was given when the husband of one 
of our hostesses — a middle-aged gentleman, very 
serious and very widely learned — confided to me 
that for him entertainments and social functions 
of this kind were terrible bores but that he had 
to go through with them just to please his wife. 
Husbands are the same all over the world! . . . 
As I did not contradict him he took me in the 
quietest corner we could find and we had a long 
and interesting talk on subjects which took us far 
away from our surroundings. 

Nevertheless I could not help but agree entirely 
with my wife when she told us, on our return to 
Emirghian, that she had found the whole thing 
"somewhat too stiff," and I believe Madame Ismet 
Bey was also of our opinion and felt that we were 
sincere when we told her that we much preferred 
her own small at-homes and the unpretentious 
little parties to which she had taken us on the 
previous days. 

I must say that we met most interesting and 
charming people at all these small parties. It is 
of course easier to get to know people when 
you meet them a few at a time than when you 
meet them in a big gathering. Madame Ismet 
Bey's friends and neighbours were exceptionally 
interesting people. During our stay in Emir- 



84 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

ghian we met for instance Ihsan Pasha, the 
Turkish general who, being taken prisoner by the 
Russians during the war, and having refused to 
give his word of honour that he would not attempt 
to escape, was exiled to the innermost part of 
Siberia. He told us in the most vivid manner 
how he ran away from his captors in the middle 
of a stormy night, disguised as a peasant; how, 
for three long months he had to walk — hunted 
and tracked by the Cossacks and travelling only 
by night — to reach the Chinese border; how he 
arrived, half-starved and completely exhausted in 
Mukden, in Mandchouria, where a community of 
rich Chinese Moslems gave him hospitality and, 
after he had recovered from his three months' 
walk across the steppes of Siberia, gave him 
money to continue his trip. He told us — but with 
much less detail — the difficulties he had had to 
elude the Allied Secret Service which were on the 
lookout for him when he crossed Japan and the 
United States, although America had not yet en- 
tered the war at that time. However, he did not 
tell us how he succeeded in crossing the Atlantic 
despite the severe surveillance of England and how 
he succeeded in running the Allied blockade of 
Turkey and popped out one day in Constantinople 
after every one had entirely given up hope of ever 
seeing him alive again. Under the most difficult 
and trying circumstances he had thus succeeded 
in getting over seemingly unsurmountable obsta- 



LIFE ON THE BOSPHORUS 85 

cles and accomplishing in war time, tracked by 
enemies on all sides, a complete loop around the 
world in less than ten months. We could not 
help thinking how terrible those long months 
must have been for his wife, a charming young 
lady, who seemed now to have forgotten all the 
horror of these interminable weeks of suspense 
and who confided to us that she had never given 
up hope as she had an entire trust in the ability 
of her husband and an immovable faith in God. 
She said that she had passed most of her time 
in prayer. 

We also met in Emirghian Captain Hassan 
Bey and his wife who lived with her family in 
a beautiful villa on the hills of Bebek, but a 
villa in the old style, in complete harmony with 
the surroundings and nestling in a park of old 
trees which did not, however shut out the gorge- 
ous view of the Bosphorus. From the top of these 
hills the Bosphorus looks more like a chain 
of small lakes than like a continuous waterway, 
the sinuous capes of both continents cutting the 
iview of the water in different places. It is like 
looking at the lakes of Switzerland from the peak 
of a mountain, only one is much nearer the water 
and the panorama has no sharp or rugged out- 
lines but presents a continuous aspect of smoothly 
rounded hills, covered with forests, with mosques 
here and there, and with little patches of blue 
water. On Fridays all the ships, barges and row- 



86 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

boats and all the houses owned by the Turks are 
adorned with Turkish flags, red with the white 
crescent and star, fluttering in the wind and it 
gives to the country a cheerful and gay aspect 
which reminds you at a distance of a gorgeous 
field of poppies. 

Living with Madame Hassan Bey was her 
young sisters, a Turkish sub-debutante, but some- 
what less shy than the granddaughters of Mah- 
moud Pasha, as she is a student of the American 
College for Girls. In the course of time it be- 
came one of our greatest pleasures to call on 
them at Bebek, where they give once in a while a 
small informal tea. They live there all the year 
round as it is at an easy distance from the city. 



VI 

STAMBOUE 

AT last we settled in Stamboul. It took us a 
long time to arrange everything as we 
wanted, as it is hard to get upholsterers, carpet 
men and all the rest to do their work properly 
and rapidly here in Constantinople. Constanti- 
nople is not much different in this than any other 
city I know. There is possibly this difference 
that it is less difficult to explain what you want 
and how you want it to decorators who, like those 
in western Europe or in America, have already 
had experience in putting up a modern home, 
than to those in Constantinople who have had none 
or very little experience in this line. But any- 
how there is always a way to get things done by 
working people, and the Turkish workingmen 
respond to good treatment in a most willing man- 
ner: they are anxious to learn and have much 
aptitude for learning. 

As we had foreseen the hard work we had ahead 
of us, we took the precaution of taking possession 
of the house only after we had secured the serv- 
ants we needed so that we might count on their 
help. As far as servants are concerned the Turks 

87 



88 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

have surely solved this problem by adapting to 
it the same kind of tradition which they maintain 
so jealously in their family relations. I mean to 
say that it is the custom for generations of serv- 
ants to serve the same family of masters, so that 
as a rule servants and masters are so attached to 
each other that they never think of parting. 
Whenever one needs or desires a servant all one 
has to do is to look up some of the old servants 
of the family who are sure to find a son, a 
daughter, a niece or a cousin of theirs who is 
only too glad to perpetuate the traditions of his 
or her family by serving the family of its old 
masters. We, therefore, did not have any diffi- 
culty in securing ours, as we took as valet a 
young man who was born in my father's house 
where his father had been employed for over 
thirty years, and our cook was the daughter of 
my mother's nurse. She also helped the maid in 
keeping the house in order. In this way we 
could at any time leave home in peace as we were 
confident that our people would look after our 
interests, even if we were absent, possibly better 
than we could ourselves. And to this day we 
have never had any occasion for regretting the 
trust we placed in them. Of course for these very 
reasons servants in Turkey have a totally different 
standing from servants in any other country. They 
always know their place, they never dare to take 
liberties or to take the slightest advantage of their 



STAMBOUL 89 

special standing: it is not in their code. But they 
consider themselves, and are considered by their 
masters, almost as members of the family — second 
class members, if that expression could be used. 
Our relations with our own people were typical of 
these principles and in order to do full justice 
to them and to give an accurate idea of what I 
mean, I am going to confess that during a period 
of our last stay in Constantinople I had to con- 
sider seriously the possibility of closing our estab- 
lishment and of living more cheaply in some other 
quarter. I therefore notified our people that they 
would have to look for other positions and that 
I could only help them until they found some 
place elsewhere. They received the news with an 
emotion which I could only hope to find in my own 
brothers or sisters, and left the room with tears 
in their eyes. Next day they asked to be heard, 
the three together, and they informed me that 
after having given due consideration to the situa- 
tion they had come to the conclusion that now 
more than ever they had the opportunity to 
show their attachment and devotion to us, that 
now more than ever we needed them; therefore 
they had decided to stay with us. Do what I 
could I could not persuade them to leave. I 
found them better paying positions with some 
friends or relatives; they refused to go. And for 
three months, until I could to some extent over- 
come the crisis in my business, they steadily re- 



po SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

fused to accept any pay on the ground that if I 
paid them we would have to leave the house, and 
if we left the house we could not find another 
place where we could all live together. Needless to 
say that such people cannot be treated as servants 
in the western sense of the word, and that they 
in turn must have no cause of complaint in regard 
to the treatment they receive from their masters. 
Of course we made good to them their sacrifices 
as soon as we could, and naturally they knew 
that we would do so, but I doubt that in any other 
place in the world such real devotion could be 
found even if those who made the sacrifice had 
every reason to be sure that they would eventu- 
ally be adequately compensated. 

Needless to say that right from the beginning 
the manner in which we treated our people was 
the friendly manner usual in Turkey. My wife 
adapted herself very quickly to this as she is from 
the South and I believe that the southern states of 
America are the only place where the relations 
between masters and servants are anything like 
those prevailing in Turkey. Our people of course 
had each his own room. The cook, who was a 
widow, had with her her little daughter, a child 
about three years old, whom we took care of 
almost like our adopted child. It happens fre- 
quently in Turkey that a child like this is taken 
with the mother into a home, the mother doing 
some housework and the child becoming what 



STAMBOUL 91 

is called in Turkish the "child of Heaven" of 
the masters of the house — that is, the masters 
of the house take care of the child, bringing 
it up and educating it just as if it were their 
own, but without, however, adopting it legally. 
In two years we hope to put our own "child of 
Heaven" into the English School for Girls which 
has the advantage of a kindergarten over the 
American School for Girls. Our people can go 
out when they want, but they never do it without 
asking us and they never come home a minute 
later than they say they will. As they are all very 
ambitious to learn and improve themselves we ask 
them into our rooms after dinner about once a 
week and we talk to them of the world in general 
and of interesting topics just as if they were 
friends. 

They were of course of great help to us when 
we were settling down in our house in Stamboul. 
Ours was a large stone house with nine good-sized 
rooms, one on the ground floor and four on each 
other floor. It had a large brick-covered entrance 
hall with two separate stairways which in the 
old days were used, one as the Harem stairway 
and the other as the Selamlik stairway, but of 
course we modernized this by using one of them 
for service. The walls and ceilings had been all 
replastered and with the exception of the entrance 
hall which was painted in Turkish blue, were all 
calsomined in gray. Of course we had electric 



92 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

light throughout and a telephone. The real inno- 
vation for Constantinople, however, was that we 
changed the kitchen from the basement, where 
it generally is located, to the first floor, near the 
dining-room where we had a regular American 
kitchenette built. Then we had a shower put in 
the spacious bathroom. So really the house is as 
comfortable as possible. As for the furniture, we 
had mostly some of the antique furniture collected 
by my father and myself in Western Europe, with 
here and there some Turkish embroideries, old 
pieces that have been in the family for many gen- 
erations, and of course Turkish and Persian 
carpets. Despite our western furniture and some 
pictures we have on the walls we endeavoured 
to keep throughout the Oriental atmosphere of 
the house — not the kind of Turkish interior one 
sees in exhibitions, adorned with a lot of bric-a- 
brac and hangings, but the simple Oriental in- 
terior. This has been rather an easy task as our 
house is typically Turkish with large rooms of 
perfect proportions and big latticed windows. 
Therefore, by just placing a very few pieces of 
furniture in each room, by having straight hang- 
ings of pale Oriental colours in the windows, and 
by placing the few really valuable Turkish antiques 
in the most prominent place in each room, we 
have tried to keep the Turkish atmosphere 
which has so much charm and without which it 
would be sacrilegious to live in Stamboul, espe- 



STAMBOUU 93 

daily in a house like the one we have. Our 
friends and our guests have told us that we have 
succeeded in our endeavours and I believe this to 
be true, as an American lady with whom we have 
grown to be very good friends since; confided us 
that the first day she called on us bringing with 
her a letter of introduction from a mutual friend 
she was struck by the severe Turkish atmosphere 
of our house and — it being her first day in Con- 
stantinople and her imagination being full of all 
the horrid things she had heard about the Turks 
in America — she was rather nervous until she 
met my wife who breezed in to greet her in a 
perfectly American way. Needless to say that a 
short while after she was laughing with us at the 
reputation of being "terrible" which the Turks 
have abroad. 

Certainly no one who has lived in Stamboul can 
even conceive where this reputation originated. 
Stamboul is the Turkish section of the city 
and is peopled exclusively by Turks. Its streets 
are so quiet, its crowds are so calm, that they 
really deserve much more the adjective of 
"peaceful" than that of "terrible." Anyone who 
has been in Constantinople prefers Stamboul to 
any other section of the city with the possible ex- 
ception of some parts of Nishantashe which are 
also exclusively inhabited by Turks and have 
therefore the same atmosphere of peace and quiet 
one finds in Stamboul. 



94 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Stamboul has the dignity of a queen. It has 
the same refinement, the same poise, the same 
nobility that a great lady always has no matter 
what her circumstances. Many of the houses are 
tumbling down. Alas ! too many of the people liv- 
ing there are shabbily dressed — nay even some of 
them are now in rags. But her smallest streets, 
her humblest shacks have an inexpressible dignity 
which is at once apparent. Stamboul is a thor- 
oughbred. Despite her misery and her intense 
sufferings, despite all her ruins and the poverty 
of her inhabitants, Stamboul is a queen. She has 
a soul of her own, very much alive and very com- 
passionate — a soul which appeals to foreigners 
and to the Turks alike — perhaps because of the 
feeling of love and compassion which emanates 
from her and wins for her the hearts of Turks 
and foreigners. She loves her children: more 
than thirty thousand families have in the last ten 
years seen their houses destroyed by fire but some- 
how or other not one member of those thirty 
thousand families has remained without shelter. 
Stamboul has provided them with a roof and there 
they are, all her children, somewhat crowded it 
is true, but all living within her hospitable walls. 
She loves the foreigners and receives them with 
the greatest hospitality, she adopts those who can 
understand her and treats them even better than 
her own children: she has named two of her 
streets after Pierre Loti and Claude Farrere, her 



STAMBOUL 95 

great French friends, so that their names will 
remain forever alive within her walls. All who 
come to her fall in love with her, and my wife and 
myself fell immediately under her spell: she is so 
good, so sad, so peaceful ! 

Our house is on one of her principal streets, 
a wide avenue which leads to the Sublime Porte 
and then on to the Mausoleum of Sultan Mahmoud. 
The avenue, like most of the principal streets of 
Stamboul, is bordered with old plane trees where 
pigeons, and nightingales, have made their home. 
From our windows we see the court of the Su- 
blime Porte, a big tumbled-down building where 
all the principal government departments are con- 
centrated. The gates of the Sublime Porte are 
night and day guarded by Turkish soldiers and 
policemen, clean-cut young Turks, tanned from 
the sun and the invigorating air of their birth- 
place in Anatolia. Every hour of the day or of 
the night two of them tramp before the gate 
opposite our house, in rain or in sunshine, in snow 
or in fog. At the corner of the court there is a 
little mosque built especially for their use so 
that they can go five times a day to prayer. Five 
times a day the "muezzin" appears atop the slen- 
der minaret and in his soulful chant calls the 
soldiers and the neighbourhood to prayer. And 
they all pray: when the sun rises and when it 
goes down, in the middle of the day, in the 
middle of the afternoon and in the middle of 



96 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the night. Five times a day they give thanks 
to the Almighty, fervently confirm their faith that 
there is no god but God, and beg Him to assist 
them in following the straight path, the path to 
salvation. Can people of this kind be as black as 
they are represented abroad? Is it not monstrous 
to accuse them of so many dark crim.es? Is it 
not criminal to even give credence — without in- 
vestigating — to all of the deeds they are repre- 
sented as doing by people who must have an ul- 
terior motive? For my part I can't believe these 
people capable of even hurting a fly or of killing 
a wolf, unless it be in self-defense. And I can 
truthfully say that my belief is not based on senti- 
mental reasons or influenced by patriotic motives. 
I know the people, I have watched them for days 
and months from our windows in Stamboul, these 
Turkish peasant soldiers of Anatolia; I have read 
in their eyes only resignation, passivity, and love. 
I have seen how they treat little children, how 
they take care of poor stray dogs. No, they can- 
not possibly harm anyone unless it be in self- 
defense. 

From the upper story of our house we can see 
the entrance of the Bosphorus, that enchanting 
piece of blue water which lures all that have seen 
it once. We see it through the branches of trees, 
between the Sublime Porte and a brick building 
on the left, the headquarters of some newspaper. 
Towering above it are the houses of Galata and 



STAMBOUL 97 

Pera forming an amphitheatre much more pleasing 
to the eye at a distance than from nearby. We 
also see the dark-green trees of the park of the Old 
Seraglio, where a few slender towers, a few 
slanting gray roofs mark the position of its im- 
perial buildings. Truly our house is situated in 
the heart of Stamboul, that is why we can feel it 
throbbing so plainly, that is why we can learn to 
know her so well. 

The famous Santa Sophia, the Mosque of Sultan 
Ahmed with its six slender minarets, the Square 
of the Hippodrome, Where the decadent emperors 
of Byzance.held horse races nearly six centuries 
ago, even the famous bazaars are all within our 
range, almost within view of our house. And 
we pass our first weeks after we have settled in 
visiting all these places, not as tourists, but for 
the purpose of knowing them, of communing with 
them so that we will feel that we have become one 
with our surroundings. We go time and again 
to the Old Seraglio, whose nooks and corners be- 
come as familiar to us as if we had lived there, 
the Old Seraglio whose every building, every 
kiosk, every room is still alive with the history of 
Turkey's past grandeur, whose garden still glows 
with the life of all the great Sultans and of their 
courtiers who lived and died there. From its outer 
court with its long alley of tall cypresses and pop- 
lars gently swaying to the breeze as if bewailing 
past splendours, from its outer Council Room 



98 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

where generations of grave Pashas robed in sable 
furs covered with silk brocades and with be- 
jeweled turbans have discussed affairs of State 
and international policies while powerful Sultans 
were listening from behind the golden lattices 
of a small balcony, from the informal audience 
room from which a Sultan chased the Am- 
bassador of Louis XIV, King of France, for hav- 
ing dared to sit in his presence, to the court where 
another Sultan was murdered by his Janissaries, 
to the Kiosk of the Lilacs to the laboratory where 
learned doctors prepared drugs for their august 
masters, to the very trunk of the old plane tree 
in the shade of which a resentful Sultan signed 
the decree condemning to death one of his gen- 
erals who had failed to capture Vienna, and to 
the marble terrace of the Badgad kiosk where 
a poet Sultan improvised his immortal verses 
to his Sultana, the place seems to be full of 
living shadows and remembrances. It seems as if 
it were only asleep and semi-consciously waiting a 
signal to people again all its buildings and its gar- 
dens with Princes and soldiers continuing their in- 
terrupted earthly existence. 

We go time and again to all the different 
mosques of the neighbourhood, places renowned the 
world over for their architecture and which are 
so impregnated by the prayers Which generations 
of faithful believers have made within their walls 
five times a day for centuries and centuries, that 



STAMBOUL 99 

they vibrate with spirituality and force you to 
meditation — not a sad meditation with visions of 
everlasting fires to expiate earthly sins, but en- 
couraging meditation which whispers into your 
ears that God who has created such beautiful sur- 
roundings for a city like Constantinople, God who 
has given the power to human beings to conceive 
and construct such cheerful and elevating temples 
of worship and prayer cannot and will not create 
another life where the miseries of this one are 
continued and multiplied eternally. A meditation 
which makes you realize that if winter comes, 
spring cannot be far behind! 

Then again we go often to the Bazaars, not 
necessarily to hunt for antiques or to purchase 
things, but to get acquainted with the little old 
shopkeepers, the second-hand booksellers with 
White beards and turbans, sitting placidly in their 
small stores surrounded by books — hand-written 
books in Turkish, Arabic or Persian, illuminated 
with delicate multi-hued designs and covered with 
priceless old leather bindings; little old shop- 
keepers who receive you as a guest and as a 
friend, offer you tea and talk with you for hours 
on such and such a book, this or the other school 
of philosophy, this or the other Arabic, Persian 
or Turkish writer — without even thinking of sell- 
ing you a book. In our visits to the Bazaars we 
carefully avoid the Jew, Armenian or Greek an- 
tique dealers hunting in the covered streets of the 



ioo SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

place for foreigners and other easy prey. After 
a visit or two we are known even by them and we 
can freely wander in the streets without being mo- 
lested by their employees who try to induce stran- 
gers to visit their shops. We make friends with two 
or three dealers in the Bedesten, the central hall 
of the Bazaars, a huge circular place covered with 
a round dome where stands are like wide shelves 
and where shopkeepers sit cross-legged sur- 
rounded by genuine works of art, jewels and 
furniture piled in a beautiful disorder one on 
top of the other. We make friends with a few of 
these vendors — old men who have kept their stands 
since their early youth, people who knew my 
father, or an uncle or a cousin of mine, who adopt 
us as if we were one of them. Thereafter we have 
no more need of worrying; if we want to pur- 
chase something we have only to tell them and 
they will get it for us if it exists in Stamboul, if 
we see something that we want in one of the an- 
tique stores and are afraid that it is not genuine 
or that the storekeeper will ask us a price above 
its real value, we just have to speak of it to one 
of our friends and he will expertise it for us and 
purchase it for us at its real value. You see we 
are related to the late Reshad Bey — may the 
Mercy of God be on his soul — and all these old 
merchants were friends of his, and he had through 
their offices and with their cooperation made the 
most precious collection of Turkish antiquities that 



STAMBOUL 101 

exists to this day in Constantinople. And for the 
peace of Reshad Bey's soul, for friendship to him, 
these good old people want to help us whenever 
they can. 

Thus we have gradually entered into the inner 
life of Stamboul and identified ourselves with it. 
And we love it the more for the way it has treated 
us. But who would not? People in Stamboul are 
so different from those in Pera. Even the ordi- 
nary storekeepers, the butcher, the grocer and the 
candlestick maker are honest and courteous here, 
whereas honesty and politeness are as rare in Pera 
as the mythical stone of the Alchemists. The 
Levantines, Greeks and Armenians of Pera think 
they have found a speedier and better way to 
change everything they touch into gold, and judg- 
ing by their prosperity their system may be ef- 
ficient in so far as it secures gains. But the 
Turks in Stamboul do not worry about material 
gains. All they want is peace and tranquillity. 
And how can you secure peace with your neigh- 
bours, how can you secure the tranquillity of your 
own mind if you are not courteous to every one 
and if you are not honest? 

So it is a real pleasure to go shopping in Stam- 
boul and we absolutely avoid Pera when we want 
or need anything. One can find everything in 
Stamboul when one knows where to look for it. 
We have found even English and American chintz 
for the curtains of our bedrooms and at half the 



102 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

price we would have to pay for them in Pera. The 
little cabinet maker around the corner has restored 
one of our Chippendale chairs, which was broken 
on its way from America, so well that the repairs 
cannot be detected even after a very close scru- 
tiny. And the funny part of it is that he never 
had seen a Chippendale chair before in his life. 
Right near our house is a shoe-store. I realized 
one Sunday morning that I had forgotten to cash 
a cheque the previous day and as the banks were 
closed and cheques are very little used in Turkey, 
my wife and I were wishing we were in America 
where we could have cashed one at a hotel, a club 
or even a store where we were known. I decided 
to take a chance and send our man with a cheque 
for ten Turkish pounds to the shoe-store to ask 
if they would cash it for me. A few minutes later 
our man came back with the cheque — and with 
the ten pounds, the storekeeper having absolutely 
refused to accept the cheque on the grounds that 
he had entire confidence in us, that he was sure we 
would pay him back next day or the day after, and 
that his retaining the cheque would be tantamount 
to mistrusting us. I could not help thinking that 
it takes an honest man to have confidence in the 
honesty of some one else. And one has all the 
time such proofs of honesty when one deals with 
the small Turkish traders. I must admit however 
that they have two standards of principles when it 
comes to naming a price for their merchandise or 



STAMBOUL 103 

for their services : the first standard which applies 
to their steady customers and to Turks exclusively 
and which is one of strict honesty satisfied with 
a very small margin of legitimate gain — the steady 
customers and the Turks know that this means 
one price only and do not begrudge them their 
small profits or try to beat them down by bar- 
gaining — the other standard is the one they apply 
in their dealings with foreigners or with a casual 
client, it consists in asking for a much larger 
profit, leaving enough margin to indulge in bar- 
gaining. I must also add in the defense of the 
small Turkish dealer that he is obliged to have 
recourse to this second standard especially in 
dealing with foreigners, purely and simply in 
self-defense. I have still to find a foreigner who 
will step into a shop in Turkey and pay without 
haggling over the price first asked by the mer- 
chant. This is always a source of wonderment 
to me as very often the foreigner who begrudges 
a paltry ten per cent profit to the Turkish mer- 
chant is the same one who pays without the slight- 
est protest twenty-five or fifty per cent profit in 
his own town to a retailer who has had the good 
sense to advertise himself as having only one 
price for his goods. 

Anyhow, in Stamboul we never have to com- 
plain of the manner in which we are treated 
by our suppliers, and when we deal with them we 
feel that we have an individuality of our own and 



104 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

are not just a name or a number which has to be 
served. We are friends who have to be pleased. 
That is one of the reasons why we love Stamboul 
so much, and why Stamboul is loved by all who 
have lived there. One becomes identified with the 
quarter one lives in, one becomes part of it, one 
gets to know and to be known at least by sight 
by every one who lives in the same quarter: the 
policemen on the beat, the night watchman, the 
storekeepers, the neighbours — all know each other 
and take a personal interest in helping each other. 
There is a spirit of friendship, an "esprit de corps" 
among all members of the same community. 

The community in which we live is possibly 
exceptional in one respect and that is that it is 
the center not only of Government circles, but also 
of publicists and doctors. Stamboul even in its 
living quarters is very markedly divided into sec- 
tions where people of a certain trade, a certain 
education or of a certain walk in life live in com- 
munities distinct from each other. Ours is an 
intellectual community, all the big doctors, physi- 
cians and surgeons and all the writers, publicists 
and newspapermen live here, while the people of 
the Government come every day to the Sublime 
Porte opposite our house. The result is that after 
a short while we have a circle of neighbours and 
friends who make it a practise to drop in in- 
formally once in a while to visit with us. There 
are no official visitors, but friends who come in to 



STAMBOUL 105 

pass away the time in case you have nothing bet- 
ter to do. And the informality is such that they 
do not feel hurt if you cannot receive them. If 
by any chance you have some formal party going 
on, they themselves do not desire to stay. So it is 
perfectly charming and agreeable. So much the 
more since these people are all interesting people: 
men and women who know things and who 
are doing things and who shun small talk or 
gossip. It is a remarkable thing how little gos- 
sip there is in these cliques of Stamboul. And 
this is a relief and a great difference from 
the cliques of Pera. True, the people here are 
not social people in the foreign sense of the word: 
they are people who do things and who desire to 
exchange ideas, constructive and profitable ideas. 
They generally come in late in the afternoon, 
when the Sublime Porte is closing. They have to 
pass before our house, and every once in a while 
some one of our friends stops in at tea time. 
After dinner we receive the visits of our immedi- 
ate neighbours, doctors and publicists, if we have 
nothing else to do or if we do not ourselves call 
on some neighbours. Of course these calls are 
not an every-day occurrence, they happen about 
two or three times a week and help to pass the 
time in a most pleasant way, as we have on our 
list of steady callers people interested in different 
lines, philosophic and religious thoughts as well 
as scientific and political thoughts. 



106 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

So we are now finally settled and are leading a 
very quiet, interesting life, right in the midst of 
our Stamboul, right among the Turks; not any 
more the Stamboul and the Turks of Pierre Loti 
or of Claude Farrere, but a Stamboul which has 
suffered and is suffering much, a Stamboul which 
is thinking and feeling deeply, and among Turks 
who are passing through a transition period of 
passive development — chrysalises of the Near East 
which may soon develop into sturdy butterflies 
with large wings and whose one ambition is to 
carry their race, their country and their associates 
as high as the ideals towards which their construc- 
tive imagination is now soaring. 



VII 
BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 

VfOW that we have a house which we can call 
our home we are able to lead an organised 
life. Our daily routine varies little but it certainly 
is a relief to settle down and take things easily 
after having lived like gypsies for so many months. 
I go to my office every morning — everybody works 
or at least tries to work now in Constantinople. 
I had good luck in finding proper quarters for 
the office at a short distance from home so that 
it does not take more than ten minutes' walk to 
go to work and I can come back every day to 
lunch. In the mornings my wife is busy with 
the thousand and one duties so easily devised by 
any woman who takes a real interest in her home 
and when I come to lunch by noon everything is 
ready for a quiet meal "en tete-a-tete," followed 
by twenty minutes or half an hour of restful con- 
versation. It is so nice to cut the day with a 
short recreation of this kind, well earned by both 
of us. It makes one more alive for the work of 
the afternoon. And for the sake of having this 
short recreation we very seldom ask any one to 
lunch. However, ours is a Turkish house and it 

always remains open to guests, and we are ready 

107 



108 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

to entertain any one who drops in to share our 
meal. This is the custom, but every one is brought 
up not to take undue advantage of the privilege, 
so friends or relations do not drop in at lunch 
time more often than once in a great while. 

When I again leave my wife for the office in the 
afternoon she generally sees some friends or goes 
out shopping, but she is always at home when I 
return in the evenings at half-past five or six. We 
work rather late in the offices here. 

Business life in Constantinople is a rather exact- 
ing thing nowadays. It is unquestionably most in- 
teresting, but there is such competition, such a 
scramble for work that one has to hustle to hold 
one's own. Unfortunately we live in a century of 
commercialism and trade, and no matter where one 
is one has to take an active part in the universal 
struggle for life. The unfortunates who have to 
earn a living are the actors in this struggle and 
have to devote their days, their years, their whole 
life to business, no matter if they are in America 
or in England, in Italy or in France, in Turkey 
or in China. In some countries many go in busi- 
ness for a pastime. But in others — as in Turkey 
— most of those who are in business have entered 
it only because they had to. They would much 
prefer, if they could afford it, to pass their time 
in the pursuit of some more elevating and morally 
profitable occupation. Dire necessity has com- 
pelled practically every one now in business in Tur- 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 109 

key to take it up, men, women and children. I do 
not think that deep in their hearts the Turks really 
relish this, but they have a sort of a feeling that as 
long as everybody else is doing it, as long as this 
is a century where only material progress counts, 
as long as there is an urgent necessity to earn 
money, well they have to try to make the best 
of it. They have come to this conclusion only in 
recent years, and I believe that this is the only 
real good that the war has done to Turkey and 
the Turks. When I left Constantinople for Amer- 
ica, ten or twelve years ago, there were very few 
Turks in business. Commerce, finance and indus- 
try was, and had been for centuries, the exclusive 
realm of the non-Turkish elements of the empire. 
Perhaps this explains the reason why Turkey and 
the Near East did not enjoy a very good busi- 
ness reputation in foreign countries — a handicap 
which it will take some time still to overcome. It 
will require years and years before foreign busi- 
ness men will realize that trustworthy and reliable 
people can be found in Turkey to deal with, now 
that the Turks are in business — just as it required 
years and years for the Chinamen to change the 
opinion of foreigners on the risks of Chinese 
business. Most traders who knew about the un- 
satisfactory results obtained in the past in Chinese 
trade were prejudiced against Chinese business 
without realizing that they had dealt through 
Japanese or half-bred Far Eastern firms. When 



no SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the Chinese entered personally into international 
business the foreigners gradually lost their preju- 
dice but it took some time. 

The fact that the Turks have not entered into 
business until comparatively recently is not at all 
due to laziness or indolence. It is rather due to 
two distinct causes which must be mentioned here 
to render full justice to the Turkish race. The 
first is a moral cause. The religion, the education 
and the Asiatic origin of the Turks have led 
them to look upon life more like a road that should 
be used to reach spiritual attainments than like 
an opportunity to obtain material gains. Spiritual 
attainments are eternal — those who accumulate 
them in this life continue their progress in the 
other with a useful capital and with assets that 
really count. Material gains are perishable and 
those who accumulate them in this life cannot 
take them into the other. Why should I therefore 
use my time and energy to accumulate things 
that will be useful to me only during this life 
which, after all, is only an infinitesimal part of 
my eternal existence. Accustomed to think and 
to reason thus the Turks have become a race 
indifferent to material gains and ambitious only for 
spiritual gains, and they have naturally enough 
disdained business. In fact, they have for cen- 
turies looked down upon commerce and finance 
and have purposely avoided competing in these 
activities with the less spiritual but far more 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE in 

materialistic non-Turkish elements of the Near 
East. 

The second cause is political or historical. At 
the time of the conquest of Constantinople nearly 
six centuries ago, and when for the first time 
Turkey acquired — to her misfortune — a large non- 
Turkish population, Sultan Mehemet IV. desired 
to give a proof of his magnanimity and, in a spirit 
of justice, not only recognised the entire freedom 
of religion of the newly subjected non-Turkish 
races, but even exempted them from all duties 
towards the state. The non-Turkish elements were 
only called upon to pay a yearly tribute to the 
Empire and outside of this were left entirely free 
to look after themselves. When it is realized that 
these religious and political privileges were gra- 
ciously granted by the Turks to conquered races 
generations before the Spanish Inquisition — when 
the Christian conquerors of Spain tried to impose 
Christianity on the conquered Arabs and Hebrews 
through hair-raising tortures — and centuries be- 
fore the religious wars of Europe — when Catholic 
and Protestant majorities tried to impose their in- 
dividual dogma upon each other through massa- 
cres and torture without considering racial or 
even family ties — the broadmindedness and justice 
of the Turkish conquerors becomes apparent. Be 
it also said incidentally that when it is realized 
that these political and religious privileges granted 
by the Turks in 1453 have survived nearly five 



ii2 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

long centuries, the stories of all these Christian per- 
secutions will be somewhat discredited and will be 
considered at least as greatly exaggerated as the 
news of the death of Mark Twain. 

Be that as it may, the fact is that the granting 
of these privileges placed on the shoulders of the 
Turks the heavy burden of all military and gov- 
ernmental duties while the non-Turkish elements 
went through centuries free from any obligation. 
Of course they were free to participate in the 
governmental civil service if they chose to do 
so, but their sense of allegiance to the country 
was not strong enough and their greediness was 
too strong to induce them to undertake duties to 
which they were not forced. Rather than to 
take care of the common wealth of the nation they 
preferred to take care of their own individual 
wealth. And as commerce, finance and industry 
developed through the centuries the non-Turkish 
elements of the country obtained a solid economic 
grip and used it in their endeavours to choke the 
Turks. 

The democratic revolution of 1908 started the 
economic awakening of the Turks. The govern- 
mental reorganisation which took place at that 
time threw on their own resources many Turkish 
families who had until then depended for their 
living on salaries earned by their members as 
government employees. To support their family 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 113 

these people had to go into business. Later the 
various wars of Turkey, involving losses of vast 
territories, necessitated further curtailment in the 
number of civilian and military employees of the 
Government. This further increased the Turkish 
participation in the business life of the country. 
Finally the general war which resulted in tre- 
mendous territorial losses for Turkey as well as in 
the complete emancipation of women brought 
about a very forceful nationalistic awakening in 
all forms of activity. The slogan "Turkey for 
the Turks" invaded general business and gave 
such a tremendous impetus to the Turks that 
it was a very great surprise to me — and a very 
gratifying one — to witness at my return the ex- 
tent to which my people have succeeded in ob- 
taining a foothold in the business life of the 
country. The great majority of the Turks are 
now in business, men and women. In all the 
shops and offices of Stamboul, in quite a few stores 
and offices of Pera and Galata you see Turkish 
girls at work behind counters or at desks, some 
working on big ledgers, others pounding on type- 
writers. All the Turkish working-girls dress very 
simply in demure little black frocks, their hair 
covered with the becoming "charshaf" with a 
thin veil rakishly thrown over it. It gives to 
their faces a soft, dark frame from under which a 
few mischievous blonde or hlack locks openly 
laugh at the old customs. 



ii4 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Of course there are many more Turkish men 
than women in business. Many Turkish trading 
firms have been formed, many Turkish factories 
are now operating and there are even quite a 
few small Turkish banks. All these firms employ 
Turks almost exclusively. Thus gradually the 
Turks are reclaiming the business of their own 
country from those who have had it for centuries 
and as the Turks are really the only stable and 
reliable element of the Near East they will surely 
obtain finally the lead in Near Eastern business 
matters. The process will be slow as the competi- 
tion the Turks have to contend with is extremely 
strong and very often not fair. But their business 
ability should not be gauged by the time they will 
require to take a preponderant position in Near 
Eastern business. They have as rivals Jews, 
Armenians and Greeks who have the benefit of 
many centuries of experience plus old established 
organizations. An old saying states that it takes 
one Jew to fool two Christians, one Armenian 
to fool two Jews and one Greek to fool two 
Armenians. The non-Turkish conception of good 
business in the Orient is principally to fool those 
one is dealing with. And Greeks, Armenians and 
Jews are now more than ever trying to "dear' 
with the Turks! 

The principal Turkish* business center is, of 
course, in Stamboul and the location of my office 
gives me the double advantage of being near my 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 115 

home and among my own people. My office is 
right at the foot of the hill of the Sublime Porte. 
It is near the station and almost on the water 
front. Big transit warehouses for merchandise 
to be transshipped to and from Black Sea ports 
are just opposite our building, but as the ware- 
houses are low they do not impair in any way the 
view I have from my windows. In fact the view is 
so gorgeous and so little inducive to work that I 
have turned my desk so that I have the window 
and the view at my back. I believe that with such 
a view as the one we have in Constantinople and 
with the climate we enjoy, business here will never 
reach the intensiveness of business in London or 
in New York, despite the fact that geographically 
speaking Constantinople commands a more im- 
portant economic position than any other city in 
the world being as it is astride two continents. 
While the atmosphere of New York is so full of 
electricity that one is forced to be on the go prac- 
tically all the time, and while the fog of London 
makes it almost a physical pleasure to remain 
at work within the four walls of a cosy office, 
the climate of Constantinople relaxes one's nerves 
and its gorgeous scenery, its beautiful Oriental 
sky have an irresistible, softening appeal, calling 
to the outdoors, to repose or to contemplation, ac- 
cording to one's individual temperament. Al- 
though it does not make people lazy, it renders 
them somewhat easy-going. They do not, they can- 



n6 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

not struggle with as much intensiveness as in New 
York or in London. 

From the windows of my office I can see part of 
the famous Galata Bridge, where more races and 
nationalities intermingle with each other than any- 
where else in the world. I dare say that there is not 
a single nationality of Europe which has not at least 
one member cross this bridge every day. Ameri- 
cans, Africans and Asiatics are also represented 
here. Since the armistice Great Britain has added 
to this collection Australians and New Zealanders. 
Hindoos in native costumes or in British uniforms, 
Cossacks, Kalmuks and Tartars of the Russian 
steppes, Arabs with long, flowing robes rub elbows 
with Turco-mans, Chinamen, Japanese and Anna- 
mites, while the local crowd of Turks, Armenians, 
Albanians, Greeks and Slavs of different nation- 
alities go their way in an incessant stream. Flocks 
of sheep and herds of cattle freshly landed from 
the Balkan countries pass over the bridge among 
electric street cars, carriages, sedan-chairs, cara- 
vans of camels and automobiles: Rolls-Royces, 
Fiats, Mercedes and Fords. Thickly veiled Arab 
women, bloomered Gypsy, Armenian and Greek 
women, fat Jewesses covered with gold pieces and 
their more modern progeny — Rebeccas with sleepy 
black eyes — critically view each other under the 
amused gaze of passing British ladies, American 
tourists, Russian princesses and gracefully slim 
Turkish ladies flaunting their emancipation to 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 117 

the astonished gaze of foreigners, while Parisian 
cocottes and a few of their less refined local col- 
leagues cross the bridge joy-riding in the military 
automobiles of their lovers who have occupied 
Constantinople "in the name of civilization." 

This continuous movement on the bridge is only 
equalled by the movement in the harbour which 
I can also see from the windows of my office. 
Small steamers serving the commuters of the Bos- 
phorus and of the Islands, large cargo boats and 
passenger steamers, schooners, yachts, warships 
and even big transatlantics seem to be moving 
perpetually in and out of this congested harbour 
bringing to it their individual load of wares, mer- 
chandise and passengers from the farthest cor- 
ners of the globe. Right in front of my windows 
the two old continents — the cradles of the most 
ancient civilizations — meet and become one under 
the clear, peaceful blue sky of the East. 

It is this very diversity of things that renders 
Constantinople and especially business in Con- 
stantinople so interesting and captivating that I 
don't know of any one who, having tasted its 
romance, does not feel tied and bound forever to 
the place. It is not only that one deals with all 
the nations of the world but — which is far more 
interesting — one is in personal and daily touch 
with all of them : a business day in Constantinople 
is really captivating and edifying. Even in such 
a comparatively small office as ours it offers a 



n8 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

degree of diversity and of unexpected happenings 
which is totally different from the usual routine 
and humdrum life of offices in other parts of 
the world. 

From nine o'clock in the morning to the closing 
of business my office is the scene of an interna- 
tional procession and of unexpected events, some 
of which are comic and others tragic; but all 
instructive. It starts with the daily interview with 
our brokers, Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Turks. 
As merchants of all these nationalities are estab- 
lished in the market one is obliged to employ an 
international crowd of brokers. They are all, 
except the Turks, cut on the same pattern. Courte- 
ous and polite — but not any longer "sleek" or 
"unctuous" like the Oriental merchants of the old 
school — they want to impress you with their good- 
heartedness and their joviality. They want you to 
believe that they have no secrets from you and 
that their motive in working for you is solely 
the academic interest they take in your success. 
They are ready to swear that they do not want to 
make any profit and that they will sacrifice their 
commission to put a deal through for you. This 
display of good will and good intentions lasts gen- 
erally up to the time that the deal is "almost" 
through; then at the psychological moment the 
broker makes a desperate attempt to obtain an addi- 
tional commission on the grounds that he has been 
obliged — in your interest — to divide his regular 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 119 

commission entirely among certain people whose 
influence alone has brought it to the point of com- 
pletion. Of course all this haggling is part of the 
game and at times it is quite amusing to see the 
extent to which a man who believes himself astute 
can make a fool of himself. However, I must 
say that when one knows them well these men can 
be handled easily and if after a few trials they 
see that they cannot fool you they respect you 
the more for it — and try again only on very rare 
occasions when they think you are off your guard. 
The Turkish brokers are of a totally different 
type. Some are well educated, refined men, 
former government officials who are newly in 
business and hope to work their way up to becom- 
ing sooner or later full-fledged merchants. They 
are learning the business while they give you 
the benefit of their often very extended connec- 
tions. But they are aware of their lack of ex- 
perience and expect you to coach them. Generally 
you have to give them accurate and detailed 
instructions which you can, as a rule, depend on 
their following conscientiously Others are — at 
least in appearance — good old peasants of Ana- 
tolia, often wearing baggy trousers and turbans. 
They do not at first impress you as able brokers 
or salesmen, but try them out and see; they 
may know how to read only just enough to 
decipher laboriously the specifications of the goods 
they sell, they may know how to write only just 



120 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

enough to sign their names, but they can and they 
do make mentally the most complicated calculation 
of discounts, percentages or commissions, they 
can and do book orders and clients. They are 
usually the most honest type of brokers in Constan- 
tinople. Many Turkish merchants also belong to 
this class and many of them who at first impressed 
me as being paupers turned out to have more 
money than any one else in the market. They are 
thrifty, active, intelligent and honest peasants. 

Of course the interviews with brokers are just 
as much part of the office routine as answering 
cables and letters and going over current busi- 
ness. I try to dispose of all these matters in the 
mornings so that when I come back after lunch, 
rested and fresh, I can devote the greater part of 
my afternoon to new propositions. And this is the 
really interesting part of the day, as propo- 
sitions of the most diversified nature abound now 
in Constantinople. One comes in touch with the 
most extraordinary, interesting and at times pa- 
thetic people with unusual business offers. Every- 
body has something to sell, everybody is in quest 
of business. Thousands and thousands of refugees 
of all kinds are here and all of them, as well as 
the usual inhabitants of Constantinople, have to 
earn their bread. 

The most unusual propositions are generally 
engineered by the Russian refugees. Many of 
these are spendthrifts who prefer to earn their 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 121 

living in an easy manner, either through gambling 
or through managing amusement places, restau- 
rants, dancing clubs, theaters, etc. A group of 
titled Russian refugees headed by a former cham- 
berlain of the late Tsar succeeded in starting a 
large establishment which provided all imaginable 
amusements, not barring roulette, and their en- 
terprise was so successful that within two or 
three months after it started they were able to 
pay back with substantial profits the money they 
had borrowed to launch it. After this they be- 
came intoxicated with their success and consider- 
ing their enterprise as a mint, proceeded to 
spend its nightly earnings as rapidly as they were 
won. They disposed of their profits at their own 
gambling tables, they lavishly entertained their 
friends and guests by consuming indiscriminately 
their own stocks of wines and food, and naturally 
within another couple of months they were obliged 
to close their doors. But many other amusement 
places flourish still in Pera under the management 
of Russians, who are most ingenious in this kind 
of enterprise. A former officer of the Russian 
army once came to us and asked us to finance a 
scheme which would have made a second Monte 
Carlo of Constantinople. As we did not care to 
enter into this kind of business we lost sight of him 
for quite a long period. He came back one day, 
however, and told us that his scheme having 
fallen through he and his family had been so 



122 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

near starvation that they had just about decided 
to commit suicide collectively when it occurred 
to him to commercialize the hobby he had in his 
days of prosperity, namely, cabinet and furniture 
making. He had offered his services for this 
purpose to a new restaurant which had immedi- 
ately commissioned him. His wife, a former lady 
in waiting of the Tzarina, had become a cook 
in this restaurant and their daughter, a child of 
about fifteen, , had had the good luck to find a 
position as lady's maid with some well-to-do for- 
eigners. Thus the family had been saved from 
starvation and the former officer is now one of the 
most successful furniture makers of Constanti- 
nople. He had heard that we were enlarging our 
offices and wanted to figure on the new furniture 
we needed. Needless to say that he got the order. 
Some Russians have, of course, regular business 
propositions like the man who undertook — and 
succeeded — in exchanging for the account of some 
friends of mine, jewels, petroleum and caviar 
from Caucasia for American flour and condensed 
milk, a transaction which brought very substantial 
profits to himself and to my friends. Others, 
however, have propositions which are businesslike 
or practicable only to their unaccustomed eyes. 
Some come just with an idea and expect you to 
jump at it and give them a substantial participa- 
tion, like an old Russian admiral who came once 
to us suggesting that we should purchase one of 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 123 

the cargo boats of the Russian Volunteer fleet 
which was to be sold at auction next week for 
the payment of debts. He believed that by making 
an offer before the public auction the boat could 
be purchased at a bargain price. The poor old 
admiral was very much disappointed when it was 
explained to him that the creditors — British and 
Greek firms — were the ones who forced the sale 
and would be satisfied only by the highest price 
obtainable as their claims exceeded by far the mar- 
ket value of the ship. He had counted on the in- 
fluence he still had with Russian circles to accom- 
plish this transaction. He had counted on this to 
keep his body and soul together. His clothes were 
shabby and his shoes were patched. 

One could not help feeling sorry for him, but the 
most pathetic of all are the women. One day an 
old Russian princess was ushered into my office. 
Her name was familiar to me as having been the 
hostess in the years gone by in her stupendous 
estate in Crimea of an uncle of mine on a special 
mission of the Sultan to the Tsar who was then 
summering at Yalta. My uncle had told us the 
lavish manner in which this princess had enter- 
tained the Turkish mission. Her residence was 
a palace filled with precious antique furniture and 
works of art. Her meals were served on solid 
gold plates incrusted with diamonds, rubies and 
other precious stones. She had thousands of 
peasants on her estate. Now she was coming to 



124 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

ask my assistance to sell her rights to some oil 
fields she had in Caucasia. She was willing to 
sell them for a song — the rights to these oil fields 
whose annual income had been in the past equal to 
a king's ransom. I had to explain to her that as 
the Bolsheviks did not recognize the rights of 
private property, especially property belonging 
to the former Russian nobility, I was afraid that 
it would be impossible to find a buyer for her. 
The poor lady was disappointed, but she confided 
to me that she had received similar answers from 
other business men. She therefore wanted to make 
me another proposition. When she had fled from 
Crimea she had hidden her most precious jewels 
in a place where she knew the Bolsheviks would 
never think to search for them. She was now 
ready to tell exactly where these jewels were and 
to divide them with anyone who would recover 
them for her. When I told her that the insur- 
mountable difficulties of getting her jewels out 
of the country while the Bolsheviks were still 
there made her proposition impracticable, the poor 
old lady, making a superhuman effort not to break 
down at this, possibly the hundredth, refusal of 
her "business" proposition, asked me if I knew 
any one who would care to take French lessons. 
Happily my wife wanted to take up French and 
I was able to help her. 

Russians are not the only ones who scramble 
for business. Hundreds of transactions are pro- 



BUSINESS IN CONSTANTINOPLE 125 

posed by and handled through people of a hun- 
dred different nationalities, and the characteristics 
of each individual nation govern the negotiations 
in each transaction. With so many diversified 
propositions and with the different style of nego- 
tiations they each require, it really is a fortunate 
thing that the religions of the different races 
of the Near East crowd the calendar with many 
diversified holidays. Otherwise few business 
men would be able to stand the strain. As 
it is, the quantity of holidays which are kept 
by the business community of Constantinople 
affords a welcome relief. First of all there are 
the weekly Sabbaths. Turkish business houses 
keep their Sabbath on Fridays which is the Sun- 
day of the Muslims. While they generally do 
not close altogether, business is always very slack 
for them on Fridays. In my office where we 
are all Turks and Muslims, and we are eight in 
all, we take our Friday turns in rotation so that 
on these days there are only two of us at the office. 
The Jews and the Christians, of course, maintain 
their Sabbath respectively on Saturdays and Sun- 
days so that business is also slack on these days. 
Other holidays occur quite often on account of the 
great diversity of religions and nationalities. All 
these compensate for the strain of normal business 
days which, while not being as intensive as in some 
of the great western business centers is neverthe- 
less very exhausting on account of the variety of 



126 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

business treated and of the complexity of the 
transactions. One has to satisfy the requirements 
of buyers and sellers who do not speak the same 
business language, whose conceptions, ideas and 
mentality are totally different and whose methods 
are diametrically opposed. One has, therefore, 
to think and engineer all kinds of combinations to 
overcome all the difficulties, and I know by experi- 
ence that it is not always an easy task. 

At the close of the business day, when I climb 
the hill leading to our house, I am generally tired 
and mentally exhausted and the prospect of a quiet 
evening at home is certainly a relief. 



VIII 
A STAMBOUL NIGHT 

GENERALLY leave my office at about five- 
thirty or six o'clock. On my way home I meet 
the crowd going to the bridge, the commuters 
who have to catch their boat as well as business 
people and government employees who live in 
Nishan-Tashe or Shishli, on the other side of the 
Golden Horn. It is the rush hour of Constanti- 
nople. Every one is going home. The small 
stores on the avenue, mostly stationery stores and 
bookstores, are pulling down corrugated iron 
shutters over their doors. Every few minutes a 
grinding metallic noise indicates that another 
storekeeper is starting home. I buy my daily pro- 
vision of cigarettes from the Persian tobacconist 
around the corner. I know he is a Persian, al- 
though he wears the Turkish fez, from his hen- 
naed beard trimmed in a semi-circle and from the 
long frock coat he wears. Little Turkish news- 
boys shout the headings of the last sensational 
news in the evening papers. I always buy one 
and if I do not have the proper change the news- 
boy digs into his fez. They carry their change 
on their heads and the much worn squares of 

127 



128 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

paper money are the more greasy for it. I cross 
the street-car tracks congested with cars wherein 
human cattle is packed as tightly as in a New 
York subway. People are streaming down the hill 
in groups of three or four, clerks from the Sub- 
lime Porte looking prosperous and smart despite 
the fact that their salary which is anyhow barely 
enough to support them, is paid to them every 
two or three months. They go hungry and live in 
the cheapest possible quarters but try to look well, 
these poor Turkish Government employees, in an 
endeavour to save appearances and to keep up 
their dignity in the eyes of the foreigners. They 
walk leisurely and stop to greet each other. They 
talk politics. I know quite a few of them and every 
once in a while we exchange "temenahs," the 
graceful Turkish salutation. Quite a few go up 
the hill; Turkish business men and working girls 
living in Stamboul like myself. 

It is twilight. Overhead little puffs of pink 
cloud reflect the last rays of the setting sun, 
while one by one lights are turned on in the win- 
dows of surrounding buildings, indicating the 
homecoming of some toiler. The crowd in the 
street is thinning. I reach our house as the auto- 
mobiles of the Ministers, who now meet in daily 
council at the Sublime Porte, pass through the 
gates of the Government Palace. They work 
late, they are the last ones to leave. 

My wife is waiting for me. Unless we have 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 129 

previously arranged to meet somewhere else, she 
is always at home to greet me at my return. It 
is not proper for ladies to be alone in the streets 
of Constantinople after sunset, and we both like 
to start the evening together. We tell each other 
what we have done in the afternoon, we read the 
evening papers and then we sit down to dinner. 
We have our evening meal early : everybody dines 
early in Stamboul. When we are alone we have 
dinner served in the drawing-room, on an old 
Italian carved wood table. It is less formal and 
cosier. When dinner is finished the servants 
clear the table. My wife sits on the couch with 
her sewing, I sit next to her in an easy chair. 
We talk. It is peaceful and quiet. We feel our 
nerves gradually relaxing from the strain of the 
day. 

It is now evening. The dusk has fallen over 
Stamboul. Above, the purple sky is getting darKer 
and one by one the stars are lighting in the firma- 
ment. Only one of our big windows is opened as 
it is quite cool outside. From behind the lattices 
we see the breeze gently swaying the branches of 
the plane trees bordering our street. Through the 
cleft of a dark, narrow street which winds its way 
to the nearby sea we can see the lights of some 
ships lying in the harbour. Just opposite us the 
rambling building of the Sublime Porte is silent 
and dark, the Government Departments are all 
closed. In the street below only a few belated 



130 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

passers-by are hurrying home. At a distance the 
Mosque of Santa Sophia raises its minarets high 
against the starlit vault of Heaven, as in prayer, 
and the park of the Old Seraglio projects the 
black silhouettes of its trees: oaks and cypresses 
which have witnessed the splendours of the reign 
of Soliman the Magnificent. In the branches of a 
nearby plane tree a flock of doves flutter and set- 
tle for the coming night. 

A calm oriental night is falling over the city. 
The darkness deepens and the quiet increases. 
I look out from the window. In the streets, a 
water seller is walking slowly, I can see dimly a 
graceful brass vessel swinging from his shoulders. 
He stops before the house, and in a plaintive vel- 
vety voice chants the merits of his cool water "as 
sweet as frozen sherbet" — then goes on his way 
and disappears in the blue night. At a distance 
we hear the watchman coming, knocking his club 
on the pavement to mark the hour "toe — toe — toe 
— toe . . ." He is coming nearer, his beat 
takes him through our street. Now he stops: the 
street is so quiet that we can hear him greeting 
someone: "Selam' u aleykum — peace be with 
you . » . " The newcomer tells him something. 
Then, in the silence, the man who watches after 
night over the safety of all raises his voice in a 
long-drawn note of warning: "YVa'an gun 
vaaar I" He has been notified that there is a fire 
and he notifies all of the danger. Most of us live 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 131 

in frame houses here in Stamboul and a fire is 
dangerous. Time and again thousands of houses 
have disappeared in a single night, thousands of 
people have remained homeless. If the fire is near 
we must all gather our belongings. My wife is 
anxious. She comes to the window: let us find 
out where the fire is, the watchman will tell us. He 
is now quite near, he beats his club almost on our 
doorstep. "Y'a'a'an gun Vaaar — Mahmoud Pash- 
ada." It is not so bad, Mahmoud Pasha is the 
name of a quarter, a wholesale business district 
where no one lives — so the losers will be the in- 
surance companies who charge such high pre- 
miums that they can afford to lose. It is quite far 
from us although from the windows at the back 
of our house we can see a red glow behind the 
mosque of Yeni Djami: it makes its cupola shine 
and its minarets throw fantastic shadows over the 
neighbouring buildings. But the conflagration is 
small and the wind is not strong to-night, so it will 
be soon under control. Let us return to the sit- 
ting-room. 

The watchman continues his round. His voice 
is now dying out in the distance. Everything is 
quiet again. The night has fallen. It is the hour 
of relaxation. We might receive the visit of some 
friends. One can better exchange ideas in the calm 
of the night, and people in Stamboul are now too 
poor to indulge in regular social life but they love 
to call on each other in after-dinner impromptu 



132 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

visits. They leave the more elaborate kind of en- 
tertainments to their more wealthy cousins living 
on the slopes of the hills above Pera, in Shishli 
or Nishantashe. Here we are satisfied with sim- 
ple, unpretentious visits; they help pass away the 
time in a far more interesting and morally pro- 
ductive manner than the dancing and exchange 
of platitude usual in large social gatherings. 

Let us light the candles and turn out the electric 
light. The soft, golden glow of candles is more 
restful, and conducive to deeper thought. It is 
in harmony with the darkness outside and will at- 
tune us to the relaxation of nature at night. I 
love semi-darkness. I will only light the silver can- 
delabra on the table and this funny old lantern 
hanging here at the corner. Its silent shadow will 
talk to us of the past, when its pale light was used 
to illumine the steps of those who ventured in the 
streets after sunset. Even I can remember the 
time when the streets of Stamboul were not 
lighted. Electricity is a very recent innovation 
and in my childhood there were so few and such 
feeble oil lamps in the streets that every one who 
went out at night was accompanied by a servant 
who carried a lantern like this, a folding lantern 
with a round chiselled silver bottom and a round 
chiselled silver top, its sides made of oiled parch- 
ment or goatskin pleated horizontally so that it 
could fold when not in use. The servant would 
walk just a few steps before you, holding the Ian- 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 133 

tern low on the ground so that its dim light 
would illumine your steps. It was an event for 
me to go out after sunset and the few occasions 
when I did have remained engraved in my mem- 
ory as great adventures, somewhat terrifying 
and most exciting. I remember how I used to 
hang on to the hand of my mother. I was 
abashed by the darkness surrounding us, by the 
mystery of the night and its solitude. I remem- 
ber how I would strain my ears to hear the famil- 
iar rustle of my mother's wide silk skirt, how I 
would ask her any question that came into my 
mind just for the sake of hearing her musical soft 
voice coming from the darkness above, in mod- 
ulated tones, I remember how fascinated I 
would be by the yellowish dancing light of the 
swinging lantern, which would project big sha- 
dows all around us. And when one of the street 
dogs, so common at that time, would wake up and 
run away from our path, I would squeeze my 
mother's hand and nestle nearer to her so that I 
could feel her silk dress against my cheek. 

And now this lantern hangs in our drawing- 
room, not any more for a useful purpose in this 
age of electricity, but as an artistic ornament, a 
symbol of the past, a symbol of the darkness of 
bygone years. Its yellowish glow illumines the 
head of my wife who sits right under it. It sur- 
rounds her hair with a halo of ancient light. The 
cycle of thoughts continues, running after the 



134 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

cycle of time in a sequence of flashes followed by 
long periods of darkness! 

We are silent. The street outside must be al- 
most deserted, I can only hear occasional steps 
every once in a while. But something now stirs 
at our front door. Someone knocks. It might be 
some friends, it might be a poor man, a widow or 
an orphan who comes to ask for some help or for 
something to eat. Ours is a Turkish home and no 
matter who comes the Turks welcome an oppor- 
tunity to be hospitable or charitable. No matter 
how hard the times, there is always something for 
the guests. 

It must be guests as they are coming up the 
stairs. The voices stop at our door. The ser- 
vant announces our neighbours, Dr. Assim Pasha 
and his wife with our mutual friend, Djevad Bey. 
They are welcome, the night is still very young 
and they are all very interesting people. Djevad 
is a newspaper man, he might have some interest- 
ing news to impart. The doctor is one of the lead- 
ing surgeons of the age known not only here but 
even in France and Germany where he completed 
his studies. He is a scientist and more: he is a 
thinker, a philosopher, a man who knows human 
beings and humanity intimately. His wife is one 
of the modern Turkish women who do real things. 
She speaks English fluently so she has grown to 
be a very good friend of my wife despite the dif- 
ference in their age. She has a daughter who is 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 135 

now studying surgery in Germany. They are all 
quiet, nice people, they exactly fit our mood to- 
night, they materialize the deep, calm atmosphere 
of a Stamboul night. We need not turn on the 
lights. 

We sit around, sip our coffee and smoke. Ma- 
dame Assim Pasha is on the sofa next to my wife. 
She tells her of her day. She is always engaged 
on some errand of mercy, helping the Turkish 
refugees. Thousands and thousands of them, es- 
caped from the horrors of the Greek invasion of 
Western Anatolia, are now in Constantinople, 
homeless, without clothes and in want. All the 
foreigners in Constantinople, all the foreign papers 
abroad think, talk and assist only Russian, Greeks, 
Armenians and others who are now crowding 
this poor city of Constantinople which the ar- 
mistice and the unnatural Treaty of Sevres have 
made the dumping-ground of all those in need, 
but no one gives a thought to the Turkish refugees 
except the Turks. They are horded in Mosques 
and in public buildings and great misery prevails 
among them. They depend entirely upon the mercy 
of the Turks of Constantinople who are themselves 
too poor to give sufficient help. But we have to 
do what we can, we have to share our all with our 
hungry brothers and sisters of Western Anatolia 
who have come to our city after the Greeks, man- 
datories of "civilized'' Europe, had burned their 
villages, ransacked their farms and killed their 



136 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

cattle. The Turks are too proud to beg for the 
assistance of foreigners, and we are all Turks. 
So we must multiply our efforts, we must do the 
impossible to feed and clothe our refugees, to take 
care of their health and to send their children to 
school even if we can count only on our own re- 
sources. Let the Russians, the Armenians and the 
Greeks cry and wail on the sympathetic shoulders 
of the foreigners. We will keep our courage up, 
and with the help of God we will see our needy 
ones through, we will overcome our present trou- 
bles as we have overcome all our past troubles! 
We do not ask help from any one, we only ask to 
be left alone. Why do not the foreigners take in 
their own homes their pet children, their cry- 
babies, and leave us alone to heal our wounds ? Are 
they afraid that the public opinion $n their coun- 
tries will — through direct contact — realize too soon 
the hypocrisy of their pets? Are they afraid that 
their own people might be contaminated with the 
political and moral ailments of these foreign refu- 
gees? And if so why should they let Constanti- 
nople and its people be contaminated by anarchical 
ideals and immoral principles? Have they not 
occupied Constantinople for the purpose of main- 
taining law and order? Is Constantinople now 
more lawful than before? Are not the foreign 
refugees responsible for the spread of immorality 
in Constantinople? And what will happen to Con- 
stantinople if all these foreigners, imported 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 137 

against their will, remain here and spread their 
propaganda of discontent, restlessness and law- 
lessness? Madame Assim Pasha talks calmly and 
in a subdued tone. She does not argue, she just 
states facts. Slowly and masterfully she depicts 
the gloomy consequences that the thoughtlessness 
of the Western Powers might bring to this city of 
misery. The present is dark enough but the fu- 
ture will be darker unless the Western Powers find 
a remedy to it. The shadows in our room seem 
to have darkened, we are silent for a few minutes, 
then Djevad Bey speaks. 

He has been recently to Anatolia and tells us 
that the situation in the regions occupied by the 
foreigners is much worse there than here. Stand- 
ing at his full height, his slim athletic figure dimly 
discernible in the darkness of the room, he quivers 
with restrained emotion and tells us of the suffer- 
ings he has seen there. He launches a diatribe 
against the foreign press which will never tell of 
the miseries and injustice suffered by the Turks, 
while it will always exaggerate the miseries and 
sufferings of all other nations — the foreign press 
which will never tell of the qualities and accom- 
plishments of the Turks while it will show through 
a magnifying glass the accomplishments of other 
nations. Will this double standard ever be changed ? 
Can the truth be forever distorted? Why this pre- 
judice against the Turks ? Will the Western world 
ever outgrow it and discard it? Will the World 



138 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

ever replace its preconceived hatred for some and 
friendship for others by a single feeling of com- 
passion for all who suffer, no matter who they may 
be, no matter what their race, and by one all-em- 
bracing feeling of love for all — will it ever adopt 
one single standard of justice for all? 

Djevad has once more voiced the inherent com- 
plaint of all the Turks who resent the malign 
treatment they are subjected to, the campaign of 
defamation which they have had to put up with 
since the last generation. Under their stoic calm- 
ness these questions loom large in the inner-con- 
sciousness of all the Turks and cast a deep shadow 
of doubt over their faith. In the peace and quiet of 
our room we feel that his questions, if unan- 
swered, will shatter our confidence in the future, 
we feel that the world might yet be plunged in a 
terror still worse than that of the years of the 
great war if it destroys the faith of the Turks 
and throws them in despair into the arms of their 
Nihilist neighbours of the North, at the head of 
millions of Central Asiatic tribes, at the head of 
millions of Muslims now groaning under the heels 
of their conquerors: a terror which might be 
darker than the blackest periods of the Darkest 
Ages. 

Instinctively we turn for an answer to the Doc- 
tor. He has been silent until now. He sits in 
a high-backed chair like a throne. The candelabra 
on the table illumines his expressive face and 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 139 

throws the outline of his powerful profile in an 
enormous shadow on the gray wall. It almost 
reaches the ceiling and dominates the darkened 
room. The doctor is calm and composed, his 
sensitive hands rest limply on the arms of the 
chair. His eyes which have studied the past, 
stare dreamily ahead in an endeavour to vis- 
ualize the future. They gleam with a spiritual 
light which pierces the penumbra surrounding him. 
He is thinking, he gazes — unseeing — at a little 
picture on the wall, a little Dutch picture on which 
the artist has, centuries ago, painted the moon 
rising from behind dark clouds to illumine with 
rays of silver a limitless ocean. He sighs, straight- 
ens up, throwing his head slightly back. Then 
his colourful, warm voice rises in the silence and 
the shadows surrounding us. 

A new world is in the making. The old world 
had been divided by men into races, religions and 
creeds. Each race had different standards, each 
race was prejudiced against all others. Each re- 
ligion and creed had, in the course of time, ac- 
comodated itself to the pettiness of humanity and 
had lost sight of its essential principles. The 
divine light which time and again God had shed 
in His mercy over humanity through one or the 
other of his prophets had been captured by nar- 
row-minded dogmatists of different races and only 
an infinitesimal spark of it had been each time im- 
prisoned in a lantern for egotistical purposes in- 



i 4 o SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

stead of being used to illumine the outer world. 
Jews, Christians and Muslims turned their own 
lanterns on themselves and each one crowded 
around it in an endeavour to see its own particular 
light. In the scramble that followed and in the 
jet black darkness which surrounded each separate 
spark, those who struggled forgot what they had 
seen in the light. Mercy, compassion and love dis- 
appeared from before their eyes. They all called 
each other renegades and apostates. The Chris- 
tian world, more materialistic than the others, ob- 
tained the upper hand and exerted its supremacy 
over the globe. But the greediness of its differ- 
ent nations, their desire for economic possession 
brought about the general war. Even in this, how- 
ever, nations were the unconscious tools of the 
Divine Power. One must tear down to build anew. 
One must punish to improve. Therefore nations 
were made to destroy their own material rich- 
nesses. And in the meanwhile, unknown to them 
the sparks in their lanterns have come ever and 
ever nearer to each other. The day is near when 
all the lanterns will be united and will illumine 
together — as God meant it — the work of recon- 
struction undertaken by a new Humanity which 
has been made to see through suffering. The 
pains of the present time are the pains of travail. 
Humanity is being reborn. A new age is in the 
making, a better world is coming. It may take 
some time to come, but when it arrives it will 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 141 

bring justice to all without distinction of class, 
colour, nationality or sex. It will usher in real 
democracy based not on equality, but on "one- 
ness." We are passing now through the period of 
preparation, the period of travail. It is painful as 
all travail preceding creation, but Humanity must 
hope, no matter how hard the present times are, 
no matter how long the hard times last. Nothing 
can alter its destiny. The millenium will come 
when Humanity becomes conscious of God, 
becomes one with Him, reflects all His attributes: 
and Mercy and Love are the principal attributes 
of God. With his eyes cast dreamily ahead, lost 
in his vision, the great surgeon who fights death 
every day tells us of immortality through love. 
Our quiet room vibrates with his subdued 
voice — the voice of those who have heard and 
understood the wails of agony. Gradually and 
with the conviction acquired by generations of 
philosophers before him, the thinker is rebuild- 
ing our faith. The faith that no true Muslim 
must ever lose. The shadows surrounding us are 
becoming translucid. We come to share his vision 
of a better world: a world based not on the equal- 
ity but on the unity of all. We come to share his 
conviction that this is the unavoidable period of 
travail with its unavoidable pains and sorrows. 
We must go through it without complaint, without 
despair, fully realizing that we must use all ob- 
stacles in the path of humanity as stepping-stones 



142 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

and not as stumbling-blocks. And God will keep 
His covenant to humanity. We are not fatalists, 
but we have faith. 

Our talk continues, inspiring and elevating. 
How far we are, here in Stamboul, from the mun- 
dane life of Pera. Yet it is only a narrow strip 
of water which divide us: a strip of water called 
by the ancients "Golden Horn," possibly because 
of their foreknowledge that it would bring to 
Stamboul the soothing treasures of faith and be- 
lief. 

But all things have an end, and it is getting 
late. We drink another cup of coffee, we smoke 
a last cigarette, and true to the Turkish custom 
we accompany our departing guests to our front 
door. 

Upstairs in our room we are getting ready for 
the night. Full of the elevating talk of the eve- 
ning, we silently prepare for sleep, the sleep which 
will lead our souls to the giddy heights of uncon- 
scious knowledge. Through our window we see 
the darkness outside. It is night. Silence reigns 
over Stamboul. Calm and composed, the eternal 
Turkish City slumbers under its dark sky where 
glow large Eastern stars, while Levantines and 
foreigners feverishly revel in unhealthy amuse- 
ments on the hills of Pera. Let them do what they 
want as long as they leave us free to use the night 
for its real purpose: meditation, rest and relaxa- 
tion ! 



A STAMBOUL NIGHT 143 

It is dark outside. There is only one light in 
the small mosque of the Sublime Porte : its tapered 
minaret points to the oriental stars above which 
silently sparkle away centuries into eternity. Then 
the little door on top of the minaret is pushed 
open and the muezzin steps out on the ring-like 
gallery. It is prayer time. The cloudless sky 
echoes the melodious voice of the muezzin. High 
above the roofs of the slumbering city he calls the 
faithful to prayer: 

"Allahi Ekber— Allahi Ekber! God is Great— 

"There is no God but God . , ." 

His voice is pure as the purest crystal. He 
chants the greatness of God and His Unity. He 
proclaims in the middle of the night that prayer is 
better than sleep and calls the faithful to salvation 
through prayer. He gives his message to the 
four winds, and retires after having again pro- 
claimed the greatness of God and having claimed 
for Mahomed only the station of Prophethood. 

One by one, silently, the soldiers on guard at 
the Sublime Porte and a few neighbours have got- 
ten up from sleep and made their way to the 
mosque. They make their ablution in the little 
courtyard: one must be clean to commune with 
God. They enter the mosque and I can see them 
through the open door. In unison and as one man 
they kneel, they prostrate themselves in adoration 
and then they rise and pray : arms extended, palms 



144 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

upwards — standing like Christ on the Mount of 
Olives. Allahi Ekber! God is Great! 

The prayer is finished. Perfect quiet again in 
Stamboul. The faithful have returned home. You 
can almost hear the world meditating. The mystic 
night unfolds its mysteries to the believers asleep. 

Complete silence, calm and relaxation. The 
Orient is dreaming. At dawn the muezzin will 
again call to prayer : "Allahi Ekber." 



IX 
A NIGHT IN PERA 

C INCE our arrival in Constantinople we had 
heard of the night life in Pera but we had not 
seen it close to. Although we lived — out of neces- 
sity — in Pera during the first months of our re- 
turn, we very seldom went out. In the Summer 
months and in the Fall we were in the country 
and since we had settled in Stamboul we loved too 
much our own quiet nights at home to seek any- 
thing else. But when my friend, Carayanni, sug- 
gested showing us Pera at night we decided that 
it was almost our duty to take advantage of 
this opportunity of seeing it with someone who 
knew the place. Since the armistice Pera is so 
full of amusement resorts of all kinds that unless 
one is guided by an "habitue" one is apt to get 
lost in more than one sense of the word. 

I think that I have already said that Pera is 
now inhabited by almost all the races of Europe 
with the exception of the Turks. The Turks have 
been forced out of this quarter and are certainly 
not keen to reenter it under its present conditions. 
Pera shelters all the foreigners in Constantinople, 
from the High Commissioners of the different na- 

145 



146 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

tions and their immediate retinues down to the 
worst kind of adventurers. And of course there 
are many more adventurers than High Commis- 
sioners. Pera shelters most of the Russian refu- 
gees, from poor helpless former nobles whose 
plight is a real disgrace to civilization down to 
the most resourcefully immoral individuals of both 
sexes whose behaviour is a real shame to human- 
ity. In addition Pera shelters all the Greeks and 
Armenians of the city and its narrow, crooked 
streets are the playground and dwelling-place 
of a nondescript people which, for lack of better 
name, people have agreed to call "Levantines/' 

The Levantine is the parasite of the Near East. 
He has no country, no scruples, no morals, no 
honesty of any sort — in business or in private 
life. He is the descendant of foreign traders who 
have settled in the Near East at some period or 
other and have intermingled — not necessarily in- 
termarried — with Greeks and Armenians or other 
non-Turkish elements of the country. His ances- 
tors might have originally come to the Near East 
either attracted by the proverbial riches of the 
Orient — at a time when the Orient was still rich — 
or as runaways from the justice of their own coun- 
try — no one knows. As foreigners always had 
certain privileges in Turkey the present-day Le- 
vantine calls himself a foreigner when he is deal- 
ing with the Turks or with Turkish authorities. 
However, when he is dealing with foreigners he 



A NIGHT IN PERA 147 

is very apt to call himself a Turk, an Armenian or 
a Greek. Anyhow he never will call himself a 
Levantine, so stigmatized is that appellation in the 
eyes of all who know the Near East. He generally 
has perfected this internationalism to such a de- 
gree that he has citizenship papers or passports of 
different countries which he uses indiscriminately 
according to his wants or the necessity of the 
moment. But despite all a Levantine is and re- 
mains a Levantine and should be shunned as 
such. Anyone who is from the Near East and 
calls himself a non-Muslim Turk is a Levantine, 
and almost any foreigner who admits that his 
family has been living in the Near East for at 
least two generations is probably also a Levan- 
tine. Anyhow Pera is the hot-bed of Levantines, 
who have lost all their original racial qualities and 
have assimilated all the racial defects of all the 
races living in the Near East — whose one purpose 
is to make and spend money and who are ready to 
sell anything for the purpose. 

My friend Carayanni is not a Levantine. He is 
an Ottoman Greek. Just as a Scotchman is a 
British subject, so Carayanni is a Greek but a 
Turkish — or Ottoman — subject, and is supposed 
to be as faithful to Turkey as the Scotchman is 
faithful to Great Britain. But in the eyes of the 
world Turkey is not Great Britain, and Carayanni 
is a Greek and everyone, except the Turks, seem 
to consider it quite natural that he should be a 



148 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Venizelist. Foreigners call him and the other 
Ottoman Greeks like him who are Venizelists 
"patriots," and blame the Turks for not loving 
them. A Venizelist is a Greek who wants the 
downfall and dismemberment of the Ottoman Em- 
pire, that is to say that an Ottoman Greek who is 
a Venizelist is de juro a rebel, a traitor, who con- 
spires for the downfall and dismemberment of the 
Government of his own country. When the Turks 
take this attitude and try to repress this intes- 
tinal strife they are accused of committing "atroci- 
ties." When Great Britain or any other Western 
Government quells with machine guns and hand- 
grenades a similar intestinal strife in their own 
country, they are said to make a legal repression 
of a rebellious or revolutionary movement. Double 
standards again. 

The Venizelists want the downfall of the Otto- 
man Empire so that Constantinople may become 
again a Greek Byzance as it was over five cen- 
turies ago. Just because a city originally founded 
by the Romans happened to be Greek thirty-nine 
years before Columbus discovered America, Cara- 
yanni and all the Greeks claim now that it should 
again be made Greek. They call themselves Ven- 
izelists because they follow the principles of 
Venizelos who, although himself an Ottoman 
Greek, turned traitor to the country of his birth 
and adoption and became the political leader of 
Greece in her anti-Turkish policy. The western 



A NIGHT IN PERA 149 

powers hailed him as the greatest statesman and 
diplomat of the century and never give a thought 
to his treason or to the weakness of his claims. 

But we do not mind the Venizelism of Cara- 
yanni. Like most of the higher-class Greeks he 
is Venizelist only in words, and he is too well 
bred to talk politics when he is with Turks. The 
higher-class Greeks are not Venizelists enough 
to don the Greek uniform. They know that if they 
did don it they might be sent to battle, and battles 
against the Turks are not very safe. Why should 
they risk their lives, why should they suffer the dis- 
comforts of following a military campaign — even 
at a safe distance from the front? They know 
that by a cunning and insidious propaganda they 
can get all the desired support from foreign na- 
tions. To obtain the sympathy and the moral 
support of certain nations which, like America, are 
imbued with the spirit of fair play, some of their 
women write sweet articles where the keynote is the 
lovableness of the Turks individually, their inno- 
cence, their dearness and their romanticism cun- 
ningly interwoven with stories — supposed to be 
personal experiences — which emphasize in descrip- 
tions if not in words, the ignorance of the Turks, 
their administrative or business incapacity, how 
they still practise slavery and polygamy, and how 
they commit political murders and atrocities. The 
broadminded but misinformed public believes in 
these camouflaged false accusations because of the 



150 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

hypocritical profession of love interwoven with 
them and gives more than ever its entire sympathy 
and moral support to the Greeks. To obtain the 
active support of less broadminded nations, to 
secure from them all the modern war parapher- 
nalia and all the money necessary to equip and 
hold under colours, against their will, the lower- 
class Greeks who are good enough for "cannon 
fodder," the Venizelists lead in some other coun- 
tries a bolder, and therefore more commendable 
propaganda. In this way they are sure to obtain 
the moral and material support they want without 
much risk. The upper-class Greeks like to play 
safe: the only battles they fight are in their 
clubs and around the green table of diplomacy, 
and the most deadly weapon they use is their 
tongue — which is a pretty deadly weapon at that! 
So they continue, day in and day out, to endeavour 
to Byzantinize Constantinople and, while happily 
they have not succeeded in the whole city, their 
efforts have been — for all practical purposes — 
crowned with success in Pera. In the old days 
Pera was more than half Turkish. To-day scarcely 
one out of every fifteen people you see in its 
streets is a real Turk. At the armistice all the 
non-Turkish elements have been given a free hand 
in this part of the city by the Inter-Allied police, 
and rather than submit to the arrogance of the 
Armenians and to the hostility of the Greek mobs, 
rather than witness the general debauche, the 



A NIGHT IN PERA 1ST 

Turks have withdrawn to Stamboul or to the 
heights of Nishantashe. A Turk does not feel 
properly protected in Pera. He feels that he 
would get little protection from an Inter-Allied 
policeman if it came to a litigation with a for- 
eigner, and only a very few Turkish policemen 
are now employed in Pera where their exclusive 
duty is to regulate traffic. 

So Pera has become, under the benevolent eye 
of its Inter-Allied police, the heaven of Greeks 
and Levantines and Carayanni, being a Greek, 
lives in Pera and knows it from A to Z. He has 
invited us to dinner, and as we know that he will 
not talk politics, as we want to see Pera at night, 
and as we could not find a better guide for the 
purpose, we have accepted his invitation. 

One dines very late in Pera and when we start 
on our trip of exploration it is already night. 
We left home well after eight/ On our way to 
meet Carayanni we had to pass through Galata, 
which shelters behind its fagade of business re- 
spectability sordid back streets patronized by 
sailors of the international merchant and military 
navies now crowding the harbour. While banks 
and office buildings in the main street are closed 
at this late hour we have glimpses of side streets 
which would make the Barbary Coast of San 
Francisco blush with envy. Intoxicated sailors 
rock from side to side and disappear in little 
streets where organs grind their nasal notes of 



152 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

antiquated French, Italian, yes, even American 
popular songs and where harsh feminine voices 
greet prospective friends in an international ver- 
nacular. A foreign sailor, more intoxicated and 
more excited than the others, jumps on the run- 
ning board of our carriage. It is a good thing 
that the top is up, as in the darkness he does not 
see that I am a Turk and when I push him and 
shout in English for him to get out he obeys with- 
out a sound, probably thinking that I am an Eng- 
lishman or an American who could get protection 
from the police. 

My wife is frightened, but the really dangerous 
part of our route is nearly over. We are leaving 
Galata behind. Our carriage climbs the hill of 
Pera and soon we pass before the Pera Palace, 
the leading hotel of Constantinople, now owned 
by a Greek, where foreign officers and business 
men are feted by unscrupulous Levantine adven- 
turers and drink and dance with fallen Russian 
princesses or with Greek and Armenian girls 
whose morals are, to say the least, as light as their 
flimsy gowns. Right next to the hotel is the 
"Petits Champs ,, Garden where soliciting by both 
male and female pleasure-seekers is now so ag- 
gressively indulged in that not even a self-respect- 
ing man dares any more to venture in the place. 

The streets are also full of pleasure-seekers, 
but at this hour they are not yet as aggressive 
as in the Garden. They walk slowly eyeing 



A NIGHT IN PERA 153 

each other with greedy or inviting glances. 
Among them hundreds of Russian refugees, dere- 
licts of modern civilization, are drifting sadly, their 
emaciated bodies clothed in rags. Maimed men in 
old uniforms — on which you can still detect the 
insignias of the high ranks they obtained on the 
battlefields when they were fighting to make the 
world safe for democracy — are now peddling 
little wooden toys or artificial flowers which 
they try to sell to passers-by. Old women — and 
also a few young ones who prefer to be 
street vendors rather than street walkers — are 
selling candies and newspapers. At one corner a 
sad young woman, who will be a mother soon, 
holds in her hand a bunch of multi-coloured toy 
balloons. She is so tired that she leans against 
the wall and can hardly move her hand to offer 
her balloons for sale. Huddled on the curb and 
in porch-ways, little children shivering from hun- 
ger and from cold, are begging or trying to snatch 
a few minutes' sleep before the Inter-Allied police 
come and tell them to move on. Fourteen or 
fifteen-year-old little girls are parading arm in 
arm and patently offering their youthfulness in 
competition with the experienced knowledge of 
their elder sisters. Prostitution, dishonesty, mis- 
ery and drunkenness are openly flaunted in this 
section of the city which revives all the vices of 
Byzance coupled with those of Sodom. 

And all this under the very eyes of the Inter- 



154 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Allied police who have occupied the city in the 
name of civilization and to enforce order and law. 
Never before were Pera and Galata as disreputa- 
ble as now, never before were they so unsafe, so 
objectionable and so badly policed; the Inter-Allied 
police professes that it does not care to mix in 
matters that have no direct bearing on politics, 
and the Turkish police has had its authority com- 
pletely taken away in this section of the city. 

At last, through this repulsive maze of vice, 
we arrive at the Russian restaurant where we are 
to meet Carayanni. Pera is now full of Russian 
restaurants, where a money-spending international 
crowd revels in so-called Bohemian life. Why 
not? The walls are artistically painted and the 
furniture queer looking enough. Of course, like 
most amateur Bohemians, the only thing which 
this international crowd has adopted from the 
Quartier Latin of Paris is free love. Anyhow, 
with the punctuality of a perfect host, Carayanni 
is waiting for us. Well groomed and prosperous- 
looking in his dapper London-made clothes, he 
is trying his best to look and act like an English- 
man. His polite nonchalance and his general ap- 
pearance are so perfect that, despite his dark com- 
plexion, it is hard for me to realize that this 
is the same man who, before I left Constantinople 
about ten years ago, was making only a very 
modest living in gambling and card games in 
which he always was an expert. He has changed 



A NIGHT IN PERA 155 

his business, however, during the war and is now 
one of the most successful food speculators in 
town. 

Carayanni has a special table prepared right 
near the center of the room and on our way to the 
table he stops to greet the waitresses and to grace- 
fully kiss their hands. Most of these girls are 
supposed to belong to the Russian nobility, so in 
Pera it has become the custom to kiss the hand 
that feeds you. We take our seats and glance 
about the room. As a whole the place is almost 
respectable. The crowd is the usual mixture seen 
now at night in Pera: mostly olive-skinned, thick- 
lipped, dissipated Armenians and Greeks who can 
afford high-priced restaurants, thanks to their 
unscrupulous war and post-war profiteering; many 
foreigners who can the better afford to spend in 
view of the low rate of exchange of the Turkish 
money; a few Americans who love to indulge in 
foreign countries in pleasures forbidden to them 
in their own either by puritanic traditions or by 
the eighteenth amendment. The food is excel- 
lent; we have a taste of "vodka," the Russian 
drink, while at other tables imported and local 
wines of rare vintage are consumed copiously. 
The professional entertainment provided consists 
of an excellent gypsy orchestra, the best I have 
heard anywhere, a few singers who sing some 
weird Russian songs and an interpretative dancer 
who interprets better than she dances. In be- 



156 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

tween the professional numbers those who desire 
to dance can do so in the middle of the room 
which remains cleared for the purpose. After 
all, it is the same kind of cabaret restaurant that 
one finds in London, Paris or New York, except 
that its performers are Russian, its waitresses are 
supposed to be princesses and its crowd is a little 
more "Bohemian." 

Of course Carayanni finds it too slow and as 
we are finishing dinner he suggests that we go 
to a show. At one theater the Greeks are giving 
a performance for the benefit of their refugees 
and at another the Turks are giving a perform- 
ance for the benefit of their refugees and as our 
party to-night is both Turkish and Greek we must 
not hurt the feelings of each other by going 
to either of these shows. Carayanni suggests 
adjourning to a certain "club" which is the rage 
pi the moment and where plays and actors are 
so — "unreserved," that the public is required 
to wear masks. Naturally I object to this sug- 
gestion: my wife and I are, so to speak, provin- 
cials from Stamboul and our blushes would glow 
even through our masks. My wife is so shocked 
that Carayanni is sorry to have ever suggested it 
and he proposes hastily to go to see Scheherazade 
which is played by some of the former actors of the 
imperial ballet corps of Petrograd. We all decide 
in favour of this and we adjourn to the theater. 

The play has already started. Here again there 



A NIGHT IN PERA 157 

are only a very few Turks in the audience and 
their presence seems to me as incongruous as 
mine must seem to them. It is queer to see the 
place crowded with foreigners when but a few 
years ago the crowds in theaters were almost 
exclusively Turkish. I remember that one of the 
last times I came to this very theater it was to 
assist at a gala performance given by the Munici- 
pality of Constantinople in honour of the Young 
Turkish leaders who had just then so success- 
fully accomplished their democratic revolution. 
The place was then covered with Turkish flags 
and humming with Turkish enthusiasm. To-day 
it is almost entirely Russian. Really, the dream 
of Peter the Great of making a Russian city of 
Constantinople has partly come true, but it has 
turned into a nightmare. I whisper this to my 
wife and, unknown to Carayanni, we both express 
the wish that any one who might nourish the 
ambition of taking Constantinople away from 
the Turks might share a plight similar to that of 
the Russians. It is not generous, I admit it, but 
if we were not Turks and formed the same wish 
for the enemies of our country, people would call 
us patriots. 

The performance is pretty good but it drags 
on. Scheherazade is a spectacular play and neither 
the theater nor its staging are adapted to such 
plays. The actors might have been in the Im- 
perial Ballet of Petrograd but they certainlv were 



i 5 8 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

not principals. So we decide to leave before the 
performance is over. This time Carayanni insists 
that we go to a regular cafe chantant. He will 
take us to the best one; it is an open-air affair 
but the weather is really not so cool to-night as to 
make it disagreeable. We have to take a carriage 
as it is at some distance, on the hills of Shishli. 
This cafe chantant is in a garden. In the center, 
where orchestra seats should be, are small tables, 
with chairs in semi-circle facing the stage. It 
is a regular theater stage and on both sides of 
the garden, boxes have been built. It is crowded. 
Every one seems to be intoxicated and the weird 
music of a regular jazz band composed of genu- 
ine American negroes fires the blood of the rollick- 
ing crowd to demonstrations unknown even to the 
Bowery in its most flourishing days before the 
Volstead Act. Much bejewelled and rouged 
"noble" waitresses sit, drink and smoke at the 
tables of their own clients. The proprietor of 
the place, an American coloured man who was 
established in Russia before the Bolshevik revolu- 
tion and who — it seems — protected and helped 
most efficiently some British and American officers 
and relief workers at the time of the Revolution, 
is watching the crowd in a rather aloof manner. 
Frankly he seems to me more human than his 
clients; at least he is sober and acts with con- 
sideration and politeness, which is not the case 
with most of the people who are here. Not one 



A NIGHT IN PERA 159 

real Turk is in sight. Many foreigners, but 
mostly Greeks, Armenians and Levantines — with 
dissipated puffed-up faces, greedy of pleasure and 
materialism. We have a liqueur. The show is 
a vaudeville which is not very interesting. Every 
minute that passes makes the crowd more and 
more demonstrative. Carayanni is enjoying it 
immensely, but I realize that our presence puts 
a damper on his good time and although he de- 
fends himself in the most exquisite manner when 
I tease him about it and accuse him of being 
evidently an "habitue" of the place, the glances 
that he exchanges surreptitiously with one of the 
waitresses — a real Russian beauty with pale skin, 
fire-red lips and languid black eyes — confirm my 
suspicions. My wife does not enjoy herself, and 
she is tired: our life in Stamboul has evidently 
made her lose her taste for late hours. Be- 
sides she has never seen this kind of night life 
anywhere and the atmosphere is getting decidedly 
too tense for us. A "parti carree" enters a box 
— and immediately pulls the curtain, thus cut- 
ting itself entirely from the view of the public. 
My wife looks at me in surprise. We really 
must go. 

It is too early for Carryanni, the night has just 
started for him and for the other regular Perotes. 
So we insist that he should not spoil his evening 
and we apologise for our departure. He is heart- 
broken to see us go but asks permission to remain, 



160 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

protesting that he has some very important busi- 
ness matters to talk over with a friend of his 
whom he has just seen in the crowd. We under- 
stand perfectly well and take our leave. 

We step out of the gay garden. At the curb 
a long line of automobiles is waiting. We take 
one as it will get us home quicker than a carriage. 
Besides, the streets of Pera, and especially of 
Galata, are not very safe at this late hour, and 
the quicker one rushes through them the better. 

Pera is tossing in her sleep, nervous and rest- 
less. A few night-owls of both sexes who evi- 
dently have not yet been able to find a branch to 
their liking are still wandering on the sidewalks. 
The porches and doorways of nearly every house 
are crowded with groups of children and refugees, 
half-naked, sleeping cuddled up together to keep 
warm. In restaurants and amusement places the 
merry-makers are continuing their revels. 

Galata again, her narrow streets still lit up and 
still resounding with sinister noises. Now the 
bridge, almost deserted, and then at last Stamboul, 
our Stamboul, the beautiful Turkish city, sleeping 
in the night the sleep of the just; poor Stamboul, 
ruined by fires and by wars, sad in her misery, 
but decent and noble ; a dethroned queen dreaming 
of her past splendour and trusting in her future. 



X 

CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 

npHE night life in Pera sketched in the past 
chapter constitutes, naturally, only one aspect 
of the present-day so-called social life of Constan- 
tinople. In full justice to the inhabitants of the 
city I must say that it is only the "Perotes," that 
is, only those who inhabit Pera — be they for- 
eigners, Greeks, Armenians or Levantines — who 
find pleasure in this kind of distraction. The 
people of Stamboul lead the quiet life which I 
have already described. And in between these two 
extremes there are, of course, quite a large num- 
ber of foreigners, of Turks and of non-Turks 
who do not participate in this kind of life but 
who nevertheless seek distraction in the society 
of each other in a more rational and decent way 
than the Perotes — if not quite as sedate as their 
friends of Stamboul. 

Pera is the theatrical and the red light district 
of the city. Stamboul is the residential district 
of the more conservative Turks, that is to say, the 
Turks who are modern enough to set aside all 

the antiquated customs of their ancestors who— 

161 



162 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

by preventing their women from participating in 
the every-day life, had handicapped the social 
progress of the race — but who are not and do 
not care to be modern to the point of adopting 
indiscriminately all the social customs, good and 
bad, of the Occident. Fortunately for Turkey, 
the Turks who belong to this group constitute 
the greatest majority. They are serious-minded 
people, progressive without exaggeration, desirous 
of adapting to their own temperament and cus- 
toms only those foreign customs which are de- 
sirable. They do not seek to imitate blindly 
western nations. They do not care to be over- 
westernized. These Turks realize that with all 
its superiority over the Oriental structure, the 
social structure of the West is far from being per- 
fect, and they do not propose to introduce and 
adopt customs which either might be incompati- 
ble with their temperaments and traditions or 
which have been and are strongly criticized by 
well-thinking people even in western countries. 

Besides Pera and Stamboul, the two opposite 
poles, there is another district of the city where 
certain foreigners live and some native non-Turks, 
and quite a few Turks who do not mind over- 
westernization. This district comprises the quar- 
ters of Taxim and Shishli and a certain portion of 
Nishantashe. It is situated on the hills north of 
Pera and is considered by some to be the modern 
residential section of the city. For those who 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 163 

really love Turkey and the Turks or even for 
those who are only interested in the Orient it has, 
however, not much charm or attraction. Modern 
apartment houses and new residences built in con- 
crete or in stone, but which have no distinctive 
character, adorn its wide avenues and its smaller 
streets. The architecture here has no individual- 
ity whatsoever, judging by the external appear- 
ances of the buildings and by the aspect of the 
avenues and streets, with electric street cars run- 
ning, with automobiles and modern garages one 
might be in any city of Europe. All speak of 
modernism and those who inhabit it worship any- 
thing that has the stamp of western civilization. 
However, if one desires to lead any kind of social 
life comparable to that of western countries one 
has to come to this district and one has to identify 
oneself with the social clique which dwells in it. 

So, as my wife and I are both human, as we 
are still young and desire once in a while some 
kind of mundane distraction, we have had to 
frequent — if not extensively at least moderately — 
this section of Constantinople. One glimpse of a 
night in Pera had been sufficient to make us 
realize the necessity of finding other playgrounds. 
We had to break, once in a while, from the quiet, 
peaceful and elevating life of Stamboul if it were 
only to make us appreciate more our normal home 
life. 

Shortly after we had settled in our house a 



164 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

cousin of mine who lives in Shishli gave an after- 
noon tea to introduce us to his set. He is a promi- 
nent business man of Constantinople, and both 
his own position as well as the prominence of his 
family have placed him and his charming wife 
among the leaders of the Turkish social set of 
Shishli. They have an attractive house on one of 
the principle avenues and entertain frequently. 
His wife, like all the Turkish ladies of her set, has 
a weekly "at home. ,, On these days one is sure 
to find a large crowd of callers in her salons. 
She is a perfectly charming woman, very young 
and beautiful. Her beauty is typically Turkish, 
tall and slender although not emaciated, languid 
black eyes with long eyelashes. She dresses 
exquisitely as she buys most of her frocks in Paris 
where she goes periodically to renew her ward- 
robe. At the time they gave the afternoon tea 
in our honour they had just refurnished their 
house with furniture purchased on their last trip 
to Italy and France. It was the first tea of 
the season and my cousin and his wife told us 
that all their friends were very anxious to meet 
us. As theirs is a dancing set the news that a 
Turk, freshly landed from America with his 
American wife, would be present at the tea 
had created quite a sensation; they were all 
keen to see the latest steps danced in the States. 
The dancing reputation of the Americans is world- 
wide and the fact that my wife was an Ameri- 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 165 

can had stirred the interest of my cousins' friends. 
As for me, they imagined that any one who had 
lived in America for such a long time must of 
necessity be a good dancer. Only a very few of the 
members of this set were known to me, and that 
very superficially, as I had met them as small chil- 
dren when I had previously been in Constanti- 
nople. Now most of them were married and had 
children of their own. So when we arrived at 
my cousin's house we had to be introduced to 
every one. My cousin, Salih Zia Bey, and his 
wife, Madame Zia Bey, did the honours in that 
most exquisite modern Turkish fashion which, 
despite all its westernization, has still kept some- 
thing of the ceremony characteristic of the old 
Turkey. 

We were ushered in by a tiny Javanese maid. 
The drawing-room was crowded. Both my wife 
and myself felt the strain of being the guests of 
honour. We were somewhat conscious that we 
had to live up to the expectation of our new 
friends and try not to disappoint them too much 
with our terpsichorean abilities. Madame Zia Bey 
received us at the tea-table, which was really a 
sort of large buffet piled with delicious pastries, 
cakes, sandwiches and biscuits of all kinds. Tea, 
coffee or a delicious punch were served according 
to the taste of the guests. It was as elaborate 
as the cold supper buffets one sees in America 
at large dances. 



166 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Madame Zia Bey, her sister-in-law and two 
other young ladies who were helping the hostess 
to serve, were the only ones who did not have the 
"charshaf" — all the other ladies wore this most 
becoming headgear which is made of the same 
material as the dress and fits tightly around the 
head, while its two flowing ends, which enclose the 
shoulders when the ladies are in the street, hang 
loosely behind them when they are in the house. 
Over the head a flimsy veil — generally some pre- 
cious lace — is thrown backwards at a rakish angle 
and frames the face, which remains entirely un- 
covered, in a softening cloud. After serving us 
with some tea and cakes, Madame Zia Bey passed 
us on to her husband who, one by one as the occa- 
sion arose, introduced us to the guests. Later 
the introductions were finished by Madame Zia 
Bey who joined us after she had served all her 
guests at the tea-table. 

We were glad to see a few of our friends from 
Prinkipo and the Bosphorus but the majority of 
the guests were, of course, new to us. There were 
two young men, two brothers, who were intro- 
duced to us as the two "tango champions" of the 
set. I must say that they are very nice young 
boys and, despite the fact that they dance most 
exquisitely, they are not at all the type of danc- 
ing men one meets elsewhere. Their sister was 
also there, with her fiance. I wished that some 
of my American friends who absolutely refused to 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 167 

believe that the custom of arranging marriages be- 
tween girls and boys who had not previously met 
was a thing of the past in Turkey could have 
seen this couple. Mademoiselle Rashid Bey and 
her fiance had known each other for some time 
and their marriage was the result of a genuine 
romance in which no outsider had interfered. 

There were only two or three foreigners among 
the guests, and the most prominent of them was 
the Japanese Ambassador, who is quite popular 
in the social circles of Constantinople. The Italian 
military attache was also present as well as a 
French officer. A Greek lady whose husband is 
one of the very few prominent Greeks who have 
remained openly faithful to the cause of Turkey 
was also there. Needless to say that she and her 
husband are very much liked by the Turks who 
recognize their real friends and show them true 
gratitude under all circumstances. The rest of 
the crowd was exclusively Turkish, all most at- 
tractive and genuinely refined people who had 
kept, despite their extreme westernization, the 
good manners and the good breeding character- 
istic of their race. 

When everybody had duly partaken of the 
delicacies and refreshments offered at the tea- 
table, we adjourned — with the slight touch of 
ceremony prevailing in all Turkish gatherings — 
to two spacious drawing-rooms on the same floor. 
And, as we expected, the informal dancing started 



i68 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

to the sound of a gramaphone of the latest model 
imported from America. It was a surprise for us 
to see how extremely up to date everybody was. 
Charming Turkish girls were dancing the newest 
steps as expertly as debutantes of New York, 
London and Paris — with a little more decorum, 
perhaps, and certainly with less "abandon," but 
that did not in any way hurt the effect. Quite on 
the contrary it gave to modern dances a degree of 
respectability which is not always found in the 
West. 

One other difference that we found was that the 
tango still reigned supreme here. It was played 
at least seven or eight times during the evening. 
But after seeing the excellence with which every- 
body danced it my wife and I were quite reluc- 
tant to give a demonstration of our own limited 
abilities. We had to immolate ourselves, how- 
ever, and although we did our best to come up to 
expectation, I am not quite certain that we entirely 
succeeded. Of course I had to explain that I 
should not be personally taken as an exponent of 
the American art as I was not and never had been 
an expert in dancing. My wife saved the day for 
America by tangoing with the real experts as per- 
fectly as only an American girl can. 

This tea-party at my cousin's was our first ex- 
perience of Turkish social life. It was to be fol- 
lowed by many others during the winter. As 
I have said before, all Turkish ladies belonging 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 169 

to this set have a day at home every week and 
if one cares to go out extensively one has some- 
where to go practically every day. While we did 
not indulge in daily social activities this gave us 
the opportunity to go out every once in a while — 
about once or twice a week — which afforded us a 
pleasant change from our more serious and much 
quieter life of Stamboul, without obliging us to 
seek distraction by frequenting even at long in- 
tervals the unhealthy amusement places of Pera. 
Thus the Turks have found a way to amuse 
themselves among their own people exclusively 
and while, of course, some foreigners are asked 
to the parties of these small Turkish sets it is 
only a very few of them — carefully selected — who 
are privileged to frequent Turkish society. I am 
ready to admit, however, that to my mind the se- 
lection of these foreigners should be done even 
more carefully as I share entirely the views of my 
aunt, explained in one of my former chapters, that 
the foreigners who are at present in Constantinople 
are not as a whole very trustworthy and that it is 
very difficult to distinguish among them those who 
can be, without any objection, taken within our 
homes. All the more because the Turks are 
racially extremely hospitable and they are there- 
fore apt to show too much confidence and to be- 
come too intimate with those they take in their 
midst. Many other races, many other civilizations 
have gone down just because of their pure and 



170 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

unsuspecting hospitality toward foreigners. The 
Turks cannot be blamed for their present attitude. 
In fact, if they are at all to blame it is that some 
of them are even too careless in their extreme 
desire to become entirely westernized and despite 
the fact that I consider myself extremely liberal in 
my ideas I entirely endorse the Turkish National 
Assembly of Angora for remonstrating periodi- 
cally with the Turkish inhabitants of Constanti- 
nople for mixing too freely with foreigners and 
for adopting too indiscriminately their customs. 
Right in the middle of the 1 921-1922 season the 
Turkish papers published broadcast such a remon- 
strance of the National Assembly and although 
many of the ill-disposed foreign newspapers took 
advantage of this to harp on the xenophoby of 
the Turks ruling in Anatolia, it really was for the 
purpose — very justifiable and commendable — of 
reminding the people of Constantinople that they 
should respect and honour any and all of their 
national traditions which did not hinder the con- 
tinued advance of the nation toward progress and 
real civilization. A reminder of this is an abso- 
lute necessity and has to be uttered periodically, 
as the people of Constantinople live at present 
right in the midst of every kind of imported vices 
and immoralities and the first duty of a nation 
for the protection of its vitality and its vigor is 
to see that the virtue of its people is not con- 
taminated. 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 171 

Naturally, in view of their environment, the 
Turks of Constantinople are in danger. The 
greatest majority of them have so far escaped 
contamination by segregating themselves in Stam- 
boul and in Nishantashe but there are some who 
need to be called to attention once in a while as 
the temptations in their path are too great. In 
justice to them I am bound to say, however, that 
judging by what I have seen they keep their mor- 
als and virtues unimpaired despite their gay and 
sometimes rather "advanced" appearances. But 
still the danger is there and a periodical warning 
is a very good measure. 

Most of the Turkish social activities and enter- 
tainments are held in the evenings, that is, from 
tea-time to about dinner-time. The Turks, even 
those who live in Shishli, have neither the means 
nor the heart to entertain elaborately, and big 
dinners or official receptions or dances are much 
too elaborate affairs for them to undertake. So 
they are satisfied with tea-parties with dancing — 
tango-teas they are called — such as the one given 
by my cousin. The evening entertaining is done 
exclusively by the foreign diplomatic missions 
and by some prominent foreign business men. I 
am, of course, talking exclusively of social enter- 
tainments which are refined enough for the Turks 
to participate in. The other evening entertain- 
ments offered by the professionals of Pera or by 
the doubtful social set of Perotes — Greeks, Ar- 



172 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

menians and Levantines — are not taken into con- 
sideration. 

The foreign diplomatic missions give once in a 
while special receptions for the Turks to which 
are also invited the officials, the representatives 
and the nationals of the countries which are, if 
not at peace at least not at open war against the 
Turks. For instance, at any of the receptions 
where Turks were invited Greek officials and Greek 
nationals would shine by their absence and, accord- 
ing to the wind which blows over Turco-British 
relations, British officials were absent or present if 
the latest declaration at the House of Commons 
was to the effect of reinforcing the English sup- 
port to Greece or else had taken the colour of a 
revival of the traditional British friendship towards 
Turkey and the Muslim world. The shifts in 
international policy make the official social life in 
Constantinople a very delicate matter indeed, and 
the host or hostess who plans to give a large recep- 
tion and is obliged to make the necessary prepa- 
rations considerably beforehand has unquestion- 
ably a very hard task, as no one can foresee, a 
few days in advance, what the prevailing inter- 
national policy will be on the day the reception 
is given. The only reception that I know of which 
was given with a total disregard of international 
relations and at which all officials and prominent 
citizens of all nations were invited was the recep- 
tion given at the Persian Embassy in honour of 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 173 

the Crown Prince of Persia. And despite all, it 
was the most successful reception of the season 
in Constantinople. 

The Crown Prince was on his way to France 
and was to stay only a few days in Constantinople 
so that the Ambassador could not possibly give 
several receptions to which he could have sepa- 
rately asked the different warring nations. To 
ask only some at the single large reception he 
was obliged to give would have alienated the 
friendship of all those who had not been invited. 
So the Persian representative bravely decided to 
ask everybody without distinction of nationality 
and without regard to the political situation, and 
let events take their course. 

Naturally, events were powerfully helped by 
the "savoir faire" and the courtesy of the Per- 
sian representative and of his wife who were so 
charming and hospitable to all their guests that 
every one enjoyed the reception most thoroughly. 
Of course we were all anticipating with much 
curiosity the experience and were anxious to see 
how it would turn out. The Persian Embassy 
is in Stamboul, only a few doors from our home, 
and the fact that the wife of the representative 
was an American and that we knew them both 
in America had established most cordial friendly 
relations between them and ourselves. So we 
were delighted to comply with the request of Her 
Excellency the Khanoum, who asked us to come 



174 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

early so as to be present when her first guests 
arrived ; and soon after dinner my wife and I made 
our way to the Embassy. 

The Persian mission is located in a big building 
which had been repainted for the occasion. It is 
in the center of a large garden and has a gor- 
geous view of the Bosphorus from over the Sub- 
lime Porte. Over the big entrance gate of the 
garden it has the Persian emblem, a lion and a 
rising sun. The garden had been decorated for 
the occasion with flags of all nations and multi- 
coloured lanterns, while on a mast in the center 
floated majestically a huge Persian standard. 
Concealed among the trees a Turkish Naval Band, 
graciously loaned by the Navy Department, was 
playing different pieces of music. Attendants in 
Persian uniforms with small black kolpaks re- 
ceived, on the marble steps of the Embassy, the 
arriving guests. We were among the first to 
come and it gave us an opportunity of admiring 
the rich antique Persian carpets with which the 
enormous entrance hall had been decorated. The 
whole place was covered with shimmering hang- 
ings, carpets and rugs and with plants and rare 
flowers. At the top of the stairs stood the Khan 
and the Khanoum with the entire staff of the 
Embassy, all in uniform and decorations. The 
Khanoum wore her beautifully embroidered Per- 
sian court gown and her diamond decorations and 
greeted us with the ineffable charm which has 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 175 

won for her the hearts of all who have met her 
in three continents. She took my wife by the hand 
and brought us into one of the principal salons 
from where we could have a view of the gardens. 
She informed us that the Crown Prince was rest- 
ing in his private apartment on the floor above, 
awaiting the arrival of the principal guests to hold 
his court. As the guests were now arriving the 
Khanoum returned to the head of the stairs to 
greet them. 

From where we were we could also see the 
central hall where a special dais had been built 
to serve as a throne for the Crown Prince. The 
guests were placed in the different drawing-rooms, 
according to their individual social or official po- 
sition, the most important ones waiting in the first 
drawing-room and the others in the drawing- 
rooms behind. Soon the Naval Band outside 
was playing the different national anthems of the 
different diplomatic representatives as they were 
coming iri. One of the first to arrive was the 
British High Commissioner and his wife who took 
their place right at the door of the drawing-room 
where we were waiting. After a few minutes 
and as the band was starting the Turkish National 
Anthem, which indicated that the personal repre- 
sentative of the Sultan and of the Crown Prince 
of Turkey had arrived, the Persian Crown Prince 
came in and took his place under the dais with his 
brother and the Khanoum on his right and the 



176 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Khan and the Turkish Grand Master of Cere- 
monies on his left. Every one stood at attention. 
The Crown Prince is a young man, dark and 
good looking with a small, closely clipped black 
mustache. He looked slim and tall in his tight- 
fitting long black court dress, and appeared that 
evening somewhat tired and nervous, which after 
all was quite natural considering that he had 
just arrived from a very long and tedious trip 
across the Persian deserts, Bolshevik Caucasia, 
and the Black Sea As soon as he had taken his 
place the Turkish Mission was ushered in and 
I am frank to admit that I was proud of the ap- 
pearance of our representatives. The Sultan was 
represented by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
General Izzet Pasha, an imposing man of about 
fifty, with gray mustaches, his fez slightly tilted 
on one side giving a martial expression to his 
distinguished and refined face. The Turkish 
Crown Prince was represented by his son, Prince 
Omer Farouk Effendi, an athletic young man in 
the uniform of a cavalry lieutenant, tall and well 
built, blond hair and blue eyes. They were both 
surrounded with young officers who clicked their 
heels martially when they were being introduced 
to the Persian Crown Prince. After the Turkish 
Mission the foreign missions were introduced one 
by one according to the seniority of their respec- 
tive heads and when the British Mission had 
closed the official train — the British High Com- 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 177 

missioner being the most recent foreign appointee 
in Constantinople — the turn came for the other 
guests. Because of our privileged position in 
the first drawing-room our turn came immedi- 
ately after the official missions and when we 
made our reverence to the Crown Prince he 
cordially shook us by the hand and addressed 
us in a few kind words in French. We then 
passed into the big ballroom where all the guests 
had gathered, and the painful ordeal of all official 
receptions, where you have to greet with stereo- 
typed words the different people you know, began. 
But it did not last long at this reception, as 
there was informal dancing and as soon as the 
music started the ice was broken and the usual 
relaxation set in. We danced a little and we 
watched the crowd which was the most interest- 
ing agglomeration of official people one could 
see anywhere. Even the Greek Mission was 
present, but its members had the good taste to 
disappear soon after the dancing had started. 
Prominent diplomats of all nations and dash- 
ing officers in resplendent uniforms were talk- 
ing and joking with each other as if the war 
had never taken place, or if peace had really 
been established. But the most stunning figure 
of all and the one which attracted the most atten- 
tion, was unquestionably that of a young Arab 
prince, cousin of Emir Feical, King of Mesopo- 
tamia, and direct descendant of the Prophet Ma- 



178 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

homed. The prince, or more correctly the "sher- 
eef," as his real title is, was clad in a flowing 
robe of silk and had the Arab headgear, a white 
silk cover tightly bound on the head by a band 
of gold threads and loosely floating on the shoul- 
ders. We were talking with some American 
friends, a dear old lady of the Middle West and 
her husband who is a teacher at the American 
Robert College, when the Shereef recognized me 
and came to speak to us. Naturally, I introduced 
him to my wife and our friends, and as he spoke 
English most fluently, as he looked most romantic 
in his robe, and his blond beard gave a Christ- 
like expression to his aristocratic features, our 
friends were visibly very much impressed by him. 
When he left us the lady of the Middle West, 
all a-flutter, asked me who he was — and could 
not conceal her terrible disappointment when I 
informed her he was a "Shereef"! The dear old 
lady confused the title with the functions of a 
sheriff charged with the keeping of the peace in 
English-speaking countries, and her disappoint- 
ment as well as the ignorance of her husband, 
who did not correct Her, amused us so that we 
did not explain, and to this day I imagine that 
they both are firmly convinced that sheriffs in 
Turkey wear too gorgeous and too impracticable 
uniforms. 

Towards midnight the doors of the dining-room 
were opened and every one went down stairs to 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 179 

Have cold supper. The crowd was such that de- 
spite the rather chilly weather of the season many 
wandered in the gardens. It is here that I was 
for the first time introduced to His Highness 
Izzet Pasha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who 
was later to show me many marks of friendship. 
He of course knew my father and my family and 
immediately put my wife and myself at our ease 
by stating that he wanted to be considered by us 
as an "Oncle." This is a mark of extreme cour- 
tesy in Turkey and we were, and have been ever 
since, duly grateful to Izzet Pasha for this and 
for his subsequent real friendship. Be it said in 
parentheses that Izzet Pasha is one of the ablest 
statesmen of Europe, broadminded, most progres- 
sive and democratic. 

As the crowd was thinning we had an oppor- 
tunity to talk some more to the Persian repre- 
sentative and to the Khanoum who were justly 
delighted with the remarkable success of their re- 
ception. They had dared to bring together all 
the representatives of different nations at war and 
of nations who had not yet concluded peace and 
they had been most successful in their endeavour. 
This was especially remarkable as it took place 
right in Constantinople which is and has been for 
many years the center of international intrigues, 
political rivalries and petty jealousies. We could 
congratulate them therefore most truthfully. They 
took us back into a small sitting-room on the first 



180 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

floor wHere we had a few minutes private audi- 
ence with the Crown Prince who courteously ex- 
pressed the hope that we had enjoyed the recep- 
tion. Upon learning that my wife was American 
he stated his admiration for the United States 
which he hopes to be able to visit some time. It 
surely would be a very good thing for the world if 
through visits of this kind the western world was 
placed in a position to know and appreciate the 
Orient. The American idea of an Oriental po- 
tentate would surely be greatly revised if Oriental 
princes such as the Persian Crown Prince and the 
Turkish Imperial Princes came to America and 
entered into personal touch with the people. 

Of course the Oriental feminine element was 
entirely absent from the reception at the Persian 
Embassy, the Persians being in this respect 
much stricter than the Turks, their women do 
not go out in society. And as Persian ladies 
were not to be present, Turkish ladies also re- 
mained away. But this is not the case at the re- 
ceptions given by the other Embassies, especially 
the American Embassy. 

The United States High Commissioner and his 
wife give every season a series of entertainments 
to which they ask in turn the different nations 
represented in Constantinople. This solves very 
diplomatically the always ticklish problem of bring- 
ing inadvertently together representatives of na- 



CONSTANTINOPLE, 1922 181 

tions who are not on good terms. The receptions 
given at the American Embassy are always most 
enjoyable and I can say without exaggeration that 
among all the foreign representatives it is the 
American High Commissioner and his wife who 
are the most liked — and liked indiscriminately by 
all — in Constantinople. Whenever they give an 
entertainment to which the Turkish society is 
invited the drawing-rooms of the Embassy are 
rilled to full capacity as all the Turks who are 
asked want to show their appreciation by coming 
to the party. The company is always the most 
representative gathering that one can see in Con- 
stantinople. At one of the "the dansants" they gave 
recently there were, besides all the Turkish Gov- 
ernment officials, not less than four Imperial 
Princes and three Princesses. It surely is a sign 
of the times and proof of the emancipation of 
Turkish women to see at a large reception a 
Turkish Princess, a niece or cousin of the reign- 
ing Calif, freely talking to strangers. 

It is always at the American Embassy that one 
sees the largest collection of Turkish ladies. 
Americans are very much liked by the Turks and 
many of the younger Turkish generation have 
been educated at Robert College or at the Con- 
stantinople College, the two American educational 
institutions of Constantinople where young men 
and young women are educated according to an 



182 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

American program. It was at one of the teas 
given at the American Embassy that we met one 
of the principals of Robert College, and he and his 
wife having asked us to tea the following week 
and having promised to take us through the college 
we were delighted to accept their invitation. 



XT 

ROBERT COLLEGE 

J^OBERT COLLEGE is situated at the most 
picturesque spot on the Bosphorus. It domi- 
nates the narrowest part of the waterway and its 
many buildings are on a hill, above the very place 
which was selected by the Turks nearly six cen- 
turies ago as the strategic spot to build their first 
fort for the conquest of Constantinople. The 
ruins of the old fort are still there. 

Although the electric cars run from the city 
almost to the very door of the college, we took 
an automobile, both because we wanted to time 
our arrival and because we did not desire to climb 
through the park of the College up the hill where 
its principal buildings are. We left Stamboul with 
some American friends who had also been asked 
and, at times skirting the quays, at times taking the 
road behind the old palaces, we followed the wind- 
ing contour of the Bosphorus. All the villages 
here constitute the real suburbs of Constantinople 
and follow each other almost uninterruptedly near- 
ly to the shores of the Black Sea. One of the 
first things that attracted our attention soon after 
we had left the city proper were the buildings of 

183 



184 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the American Naval Base where are kept all the 
stores for the United States warships. The prin- 
cipal nations keep such stores at present in Con- 
stantinople, the harbour being used as a base for 
their warships engaged in the international con- 
trol of the straits. America maintains only a few 
small craft in the Near East; therefore, its naval 
base is much smaller than those of the other na- 
tions but it is nevertheless quite an extensive or- 
ganization where are stored canned products of 
all kind, fresh food, as well as deck and engine- 
room supplies. A few squares from the American 
Naval Base is the Imperial Palace of Dolma 
Baghtshe, the official residence of the Sultan. 

It is an elaborate and large palace in stone 
and marble, within a beautiful garden surrounded 
with high walls and wrought-iron gates. I re- 
member having entered it during the reign of 
the late Sultan. I was struck by the enormous 
size of its halls and rooms, by the luxury of its 
priceless carpets, rugs and hangings, and by its 
gallery of pictures which includes the most import- 
ant collection of paintings of the famous Russian 
artist, Aivazowsky. It had been collected by Sultan 
Abdul Aziz and is now greedily coveted by many 
European museums, who will, however, have to 
be satisfied just to covet it as Turkey does not sell 
its national art possessions. Passing before the Im- 
perial Palace I could not help comparing mentally 
its present appearance to the way it looked when 



ROBERT COLLEGE 185 

I had previously visited it. At that time the place 
was full of life, the large gates were wide opened, 
and the gardens were crowded with military aides 
and chamberlains busily going and coming. Now 
the gates were closed, a lonely Turkish sentry 
was pacing up and down, guarding the empty 
palace, and through the wrought-iron bars I could 
get only glimpses of its forsaken gardens. My 
American friends asked me why the palace was 
now so tightly closed and easily understood the 
reason when I called their attention to the fact 
that most of the largest foreign warships had to 
be anchored in the Bosphorus right in front of the 
Palace as the inner harbour of Constantinople is 
too congested with trade to make it practical for 
battleships to stay there. No wonder, therefore, 
that the Sultan prefers to live temporarily in the 
summer palace of Yildiz Kiosk which is located 
outside the city, on a hill far away from the sight 
of foreign warships whose propinquity would be 
too vivid a reminder to the sovereign of the plight 
of his nation. 

A little further on we passed before the gates 
of another old palace which has now been con- 
verted into an orphan asylum, where hundreds of 
Turkish war orphans are being cared for by the 
Committee of Turkish Ladies for the Relief of 
Orphans. Poor little boys, ranging from six to 
fourteen years and uniformly dressed in khaki 
tunics and long trousers, were pitifully standing 



i86 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

and watching the passers-by. They did not even 
seem to have any desire to pass their few min- 
utes of recreation in playing and running in the 
gardens, as all other children of their age do in 
all other countries. Truly Sherman was right in 
his definition of war, and he would have even 
forged a stronger word if he had seen the conse- 
quences of war in Turkey! 

Finally we arrived at Bebek, with its pretty lit- 
tle public garden, its tiny harbour where small 
yachts and skiffs are peacefully lying covered with 
tarpaulin for their winter sleep. From here to 
the lower gate of Robert College is only a very 
short distance and within a few minutes our car 
swung through the gate and up the road winding 
its way to the top of the hill. The climb is pretty 
steep and I pity the day pupils who have to nego- 
tiate it every morning on foot. Of course the 
teachers claim that this is good exercise for the 
boys. There is a building at the foot of the hill, 
right near the entrance gate, which was originally 
meant as an abode for some of the teachers and 
principals of the college. It has perfectly splendid 
accommodations, but few of the teachers live here 
as they naturally prefer to live on top of the hill. 
Our hosts had their domicile in the hospital build- 
ing which is right below the large terrace at the 
very summit. So before we reached this terrace 
our car swerved around and stopped at the door 
of the hospital. 



ROBERT COLLEGE 187 

We were directed to an apartment on the 
ground floor where our hosts received us and, 
after the usual greetings, served us tea and some 
delicious American homemade cakes. All the 
furniture in this apartment — as throughout the 
whole college — is imported from America, even to 
the window frames. Provided one does not look 
out of the windows one could easily believe one- 
self to be in an American home of the standard- 
ized "bourgeois" type. Everything, even to the 
mahogany-finished mantelpiece and the book-cases 
to match, speaks of America, the middle class 
America cut out of immovable patterns. The 
furniture itself is also American and reminds you 
of pictures you see in the anniversary sales periodi- 
cally advertised in newspapers. The eternal 
rocking-chair is, of course there, and on the cen- 
ter-table the latest Ladies' Home Companion 
rests peacefully side by side with the latest Satur- 
day Evening Post. Truly this is a little corner of 
America, possibly not a corner of the progressive 
America which leads the world in things artistic, 
intellectual, scientific and political — possibly not a 
corner of the good old consistent America, puri- 
tan in her tastes, but which has for generations 
given to the great Western Republic millions and 
millions of hard-working farmers, traders and 
navigators, Empire builders — but a corner of the 
average America which abides faithfully to stan- 
dardized taste. ./ 



iSS SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

The general conversation started naturally by 
talking about America, the land of the free, and 
how everyone wished to be there; how much com- 
fort one had in America and how little of it one 
had in Europe, especially in Constantinople; how 
the American colony in Constantinople had in- 
creased since the war, and what a blessing it was 
to have now so many Americans whom one could 
visit and whom one could talk to; how the Amer- 
ican colony was sufficient to itself and how one 
could pleasantly and interestingly pass away the 
time by seeing only people of one's own kind with 
whom one could speak without the necessity of 
employing an interpreter or without being obliged 
to watch oneself continuously so as not to make a 
break. Of course this question of language is a 
serious consideration to the Americans; as most 
of them speak only English they have compara- 
tively few people they can talk to in foreign coun- 
tries. Our host, however, remarked that through 
the good work done by Robert College and the 
Constantinople College for Girls, who were both 
striving to spread education and the light of truth, 
the number of English-speaking "natives" had 
greatly increased. Our hostess pointed out how 
bright the young "native" children were and how 
easily they picked up language, education and re- 
ligion. They suggested showing us through the 
college grounds and buildings and so we all got 
up. 



ROBERT COLLEGE 189 

Our tour started by stepping out of the French 
windows into the little terrace, where an old fash- 
ioned New England flower garden had been trans- 
planted on these distant shores. The hedges were 
not high enough to completely mask the gorgeous 
Oriental view. Seeing we were so much interested 
in the panorama, our hosts suggested our going 
on the roof of the Hospital Building where 
we could see it without any obstruction. As we 
passed through the drawing-room our hostess 
pointed out to us the genuine Turkish and Persian 
carpets she had been lucky enough to purchase 
through the uncle of one of the pupils who had a 
shop in the Bazaar. She considered them as a 
real bargain and she proudly told us the price she 
had paid. Of course we did not say anything, but 
my conscience was only set at rest after I found, 
through skilful investigation, that the pupil whose 
uncle had a shop in the Bazaar was an Armenian 
"and one of the cleverest little fellows we have." 
Our hostess showed us also, hidden in a corner 
near the door and patiently awaiting the eventual 
return of its owners to America where it could be 
shown to friends from Michigan or Wisconsin as 
exhibit A of a quaint collection of Turkish an- 
tiques, a brass brazero, another bargain purchased 
from the Armenian uncle of the clever little pupil. 
It seemed that this man through his good ser- 
vices to our hosts had been recommended by them 
to many of their friends and had furnished to 



190 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

several of them similar bargains. No wonder that 
the family of the little boy prodigy could afford 
to send him to Robert College. 

We climbed the stairs of the building and 
stopped on our way in the hospital room, a per- 
fectly equipped place with all the comforts de- 
vised by modern science and kept immaculately 
clean. And as we climbed one more flight we 
reached the door of the roof, a spacious flat place 
with an indented parapet built according to the 
best principles of American neo-mediaeval sub- 
urban architecture. Here we had the view, and 
words fail me to depict its gorgeousness. Imagine 
if you can a limitless horizon extending far into 
the transparent azure of a limpid Eastern sky, 
deep into the snow-covered mountains of Anatolia, 
which are, however, so far away that they almost 
seem at this distance to be below your level. All 
around in the country are little bouquets of trees 
which, with each slender minaret, represent the 
location of a small village. Nearer, but still on 
the Asiatic shores, are the green hills of the Bos- 
phorus with their summer residences and their 
uninterrupted line of homes by the water, while 
below are the green hills of the European shore. 
With the blue water in between and the blue sky 
overhead, the picture is unforgettable. We admired 
it in silence while our hosts told us of their little 
country house in America, near a little pond whose 
waters are as blue as the waters of the Bosphorus. 



ROBERT COLLEGE 191 

We descend from the terrace and we are taken 
to the principal buildings of the college through 
its splendid grounds. The park is beautiful and 
well kept and is crowned with an enormous ter- 
race, facing East, from where we have another 
view totally different but fully as gorgeous as the 
one we had from the Hospital Building. That is 
the beauty of the Bosphorus: its aspect changes 
from any spot that you stand on, its every hill, 
its every house, its every nook and every corner 
has a different outlook, each one more beautiful 
than the other. It completely does away with the 
monotony that any panorama, no matter how 
beautiful, generally has. 

Right behind the terrace are the playgrounds of 
the college, large lawns with special accommo- 
dations for all kinds of games: football, tennis, 
croquet, and of course basket-ball and baseball. 
Around these grounds and facing the Bosphorus 
in a semi-circle are the principal buildings of the 
College where the class-rooms, the dormitories, 
the dining-rooms, laboratories, gymnasiums, etc. 
are located. We go through some of them. They 
are all spacious, well-ventilated and bright rooms, 
and each is equipped according to the latest dic- 
tates of hygiene and science. It really is perfect 
in every detail and no modern college in the 
United States can muster any better accommoda- 
tion 

Our host is justly proud when we compliment 



192 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

him on the College. As they are taking us back 
to our motor he wallas with me and expresses his 
personal disappointment in not having a larger 
number of Turkish pupils. 

"We have pupils from all the nations of the 
Near East," he says, "but the largest quota is 
provided by the Armenians. We have, however, 
quite a few Greeks, we have even Bulgarians and 
Roumanians who come here from their distant 
countries, we have Caucasians and Russians, but 
barely a few Turks. I do not understand why 
more Turkish families do not send their chil- 
dren to be educated and brought up by us. The 
Turks desire to acquire modern education, they 
are unquestionably good workers and progressive. 
Ours is, I believe, the best College in the Near 
East, we have excellent teachers and our courses 
are as complete as any of the American Colleges 
back home. Still the Turks don't seem to care to 
send us their children. They seem to admire the 
Americans, they desire to know us better, to make 
themselves better known to us. They seem to be 
sincere in their wish to understand us better and 
to have themselves better understood in America. 
Still only a very few of them send their sons to 
the only American College here and they prefer 
to send them to Galata Serai which is a college 
run by the French and where French education is 
imparted." 

On our way back in the car, I was thinking 



ROBERT COLLEGE 193 

over these parting remarks of our host and as 
I noticed that the American friends who accom- 
panied us had been impressed by them I decided to 
tell them of my own experience, when years ago 
I was called to choose between Robert College and 
Galata Serai as the educational institution to which 
to send my younger brother. 

To appreciate the full meaning of my action at 
that time and of the reasons that induced me to 
act that way, I must first say that as my father 
was in the diplomatic service I have grown up in 
foreign countries and have myself received a for- 
eign education. My childhood and early youth, I 
passed in Rome, where French, Italian and Eng- 
lish teachers prepared me for taking my French 
degrees. I also had a Turkish teacher who taught 
me my own language. As far as religious educa- 
tion is concerned although I studied the Koran, 
being a Muslim born, I also studied the Bible and 
other Holy Books. My religious education was 
therefore most liberal and according to the true 
Muslim principles, which as I understand them 
and as they are interpreted by all broadminded 
Muslims, are all-inclusive of all other religions. 
And recognizing the one Almighty God and all His 
prophets, I never hesitated to go into any church 
of any denomination and therein raise my thoughts 
in prayer. In fact, having passed the greater part 
of my life in foreign countries I have more often 
prayed in churches than in mosques. 



194 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Well about fifteen years ago, and after I had 
finished my studies, I was engaged in business in 
Constantinople while my father was transferred 
from Rome to Vienna. My father was obliged 
to choose between either having my younger 
brother start again his studies, with German 
this time as a basis, or else sending him somewhere 
where he could continue his studies either in 
French or in English, both of which he knew. 
Naturally my father preferred this last course and 
decided to send my younger brother to Constanti- 
nople where he could follow either the course of 
Robert College or that of Galata Serai, and he 
asked me to investigate both colleges and to make 
arrangements with the one I recommended the 
most. 

I went first to Galata Serai, the program of 
which I already knew, having myself taken the 
official French degrees. I knew that the education 
one received in French schools was somewhat too 
theoretical and I personally was not therefore in 
favour of my brother following it. But to have 
a clear conscience I visited the college and had a 
talk with the principal. Of course I found the 
class-rooms and dormitories good enough if not 
very modern, and, as I expected, I found that ath- 
letics and sports were much neglected. As for 
the program of studies I found it as cumbersome 
as the one I had taken. 

My next step was to go to Robert College where 



ROBERT COLLEGE 195 

I was received by the then Dean, who very cour- 
teously showed me all around. I was most fav- 
ourably impressed by the great attention given to 
athletics and sports as well as by the most modern 
and hygienic buildings, the working quarters and 
the living quarters. As for the program of studies 
it did not take me long to realize how much more 
practical it was than the French program, how 
boys graduated from an American College stepped 
into life better equipped to face all modern prob- 
lems than those graduated from European Col- 
leges. I therefore made up my mind and told the 
Dean that I would most forcibly advocate the 
sending of my younger brother to Robert College 
in preference to Galata Serai. As a last word, and 
so as to make everything clear, I asked the Dean 
if, seeing that there were no classes from Satur- 
day noon to Monday morning, the College would 
object to allowing my brother to visit his family 
from Saturday to Sunday evening. The Dean re- 
plied that while he had no objection to my 
brother's visiting his family on Sunday afternoons 
it would not be possible for him to go home on 
Saturdays, as one of the few unbreakable rules of 
the College was that all pupils should be present 
at Sunday service. Despite all my arguments to 
the effect that my brother was a Muslim and 
that, to be fair, he should at least not be obliged 
to attend any religious functions until he had 
reached the age of reason and could then choose 



196 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

freely the creed he wanted to follow, the Dean in- 
formed me that he was very sorry but Muslim or 
no Muslim it was an unbreakable rule that all 
pupils should go to church on Sundays and he 
could not possibly make an exception in favour 
of any Muslim pupil. 

This rule seemed to me so narrow-minded, and 
apparently such an unjustifiable attempt to try to 
force, to coerce young children into the fold of one 
church and one creed in preference to any other, 
that I was struck by its narrowness in comparison 
with the broadness of my own education. As a 
result my brother went to Galata Serai. And hun- 
dreds, possibly thousands of other Turkish boys 
are sent yearly to Galata Serai in preference to 
Robert College for this very reason. Americans 
should not take the lack of participation of the 
Turks in the educational campaign they lead in 
Turkey as a reason to doubt of the desire of the 
Turks to acquire modern education or as a proof 
that they are not sincere when they claim that they 
want to be better known by the Americans and 
want to know them better. This lack of response 
on the part of the Turks should be rather attri- 
buted to the fact that all Turks like any civilized 
nation, resent the activities of foreign missionaries 
especially when these missionaries try to impose on 
their children a religion which is not their own, 
and try to mold young minds into accepting the 
dogma of an alien church. 



ROBERT COLLEGE 197 

When I explained the foregoing to our Ameri- 
can friends they understood exactly the situation 
and they agreed with me that the greatest handi- 
cap for the spread of American interests in the 
Near East is the fact that all of the American edu- 
cational enterprises are conducted by missionaries, 
who, under the guise of offering modern educa- 
tion, endeavour to convert people to their own de- 
nominations. The Constantinople College for Girls 
is conducted on identical lines, as far as religion 
is concerned, with Robert College. And there 
is no doubt that if instead of having Colleges for 
Girls and Boys conducted by missionaries the 
Americans maintained non-sectarian schools 
where modern science was taught and education 
imparted without consideration of religion they 
would render a far greater service to humanity 
and culture. Irrespective of religion, creed or 
denomination they would help in forming in the 
Near East new generations of modern men and 
women. 

Unfortunately the Constantinople College for 
Girls has become, since the armistice, more un- 
popular among the Turks also for another reason, 
and that is that despite the fact that the United 
States was never at war with Turkey, despite the 
fact that the Turks had treated all American in- 
stitutions most correctly and in a friendly manner 
during the war, all the teachers and American em- 
ployees of the College did not hesitate to manifest 



198 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

openly their pleasure at the sight of the arrival of 
the Franco-British fleet in the harbour of Con- 
stantinople. Together with Greek and Armenian 
pupils they waved flags and handkerchiefs, they 
cheered from the windows of the College the bat- 
tleships of the then enemies of Turkey without 
consideration of the feelings of their Turkish 
pupils. To all the Turkish girls the sight of the 
entrance of the Franco-British fleet in the Bos- 
phorus meant the realization of the defeat of their 
country, and they still resent the fact that their 
teachers, whom they had until then considered as 
friendly Americans, cheered with joy in celebra- 
tion of the defeat of Turkey, the country which 
had extended them a most courteous hospitality 
during the worst years of the war. 

It is, of course, true that, fortunately for both 
countries, there are in Turkey quite a few Amer- 
icans and American institutions or enterprises 
which are moved by truly American broadminded- 
ness and are imbued with a true spirit of fair play. 
Those are the business and Governmental institu- 
tions, and it is most remarkable that all of the 
Americans who do not have to depend for their 
living on the continuance of an anti-Turkish cam- 
paign, are out and out friendly to the Turks and 
openly in their favour. The Turks see this and 
can discriminate between the two groups. They are 
duly grateful to those of their American guests 
who show rectitude and fairness in their judgment, 



ROBERT COLLEGE 199 

They are especially grateful to the American High 
Commissioner and to his assistants who are more 
liked than any other foreigner in Turkey. The 
other Americans are also very much liked, even 
the missionaries, but it would unquestionably better 
serve the interests of America in the Near East, 
and civilization as a whole, if there were less mis- 
sionary and more non-sectarian American enter- 
prises. 

I believe that the American friends who were 
with us and who had been in Constantinople on 
business for quite a while realized perfectly well 
what I meant when I said that in my opinion the 
most desirable thing in the interest of the two 
countries would be the appearance of an American 
Pierre Loti. It can be said that the indestructible 
friendship between France and Turkey, and especi- 
ally the fact that it has survived the war, has 
been cemented by the work of this great French 
writer. He has taken the trouble to study the 
Turks, he has come and lived with them — not 
in Pera, but in Stamboul, in the heart of Turkey. 
He has lived as one of them for years and has 
learned thoroughly their qualities and their faults. 
He has knocked and has been admitted, he has 
opened his heart and all hearts have opened to 
him. And after having thus equipped himself he 
has gone back to France and has endeavoured to 
impart his knowledge of the Turks to his country- 
men by writing unbiased novels and books. He 



200 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

has, as all novelists, romanticized his message. As 
the real poet that he is, he has shown Turkey and 
the Turks through the coloured glasses of poetry. 
He has perhaps added a few things here and 
erased a few other things there. But he has 
made the heart of Turkey talk to the heart of 
France and they both have come to know and love 
each other, without prejudice, without religious 
thought. 

A single American Pierre Loti, would render, 
in the long run, much greater service to the in- 
terests of his own country in the Near East and 
would more efficiently serve the cause of civiliza- 
tion than all the organizations at present en- 
gaged in trying to make converts and succeeding 
only in showing partiality in favour of the people 
of their own religion by helping and succouring 
Christians although thousands of destitute Tur- 
kish refugees might be dying at their very doors. 

After all Pierre Loti has used his exceptional 
talents as a novelist and poet to bring about a 
personal touch between the French and the Turks. 
Is there not an American novelist or poet who is 
willing to render the same service to his own 
country? And if there is anyone whose talent is 
equal to that of Pierre Loti and who has the 
courage to publish his opinion as the French nov- 
elist has done, he can thoroughly count on all the 
help, assistance and gratitude of the whole Tur- 
kish race, much maligned in American literature. 



ROBERT COLLEGE 201 

Pierre Loti Has become immortal tHrougH his 
works on Turkey. The people of Constantinople 
have built a monument, a fountain, in his honour 
and have named one of the principal streets of 
the City after him. His name is cherished by 
millions of Turks who treat him as a friend, as a 
brother, when he comes to Turkey. What is most 
needed for the American propaganda in the Near 
East is an American Pierre Loti. 

Not that the works undertaken and conducted 
by American enterprises in Turkey are not very 
laudable in themselves. But they are as insuffici- 
ent to promote a good and thorough understanding 
between the two people as the activities of the 
French missionaries were before the advent of 
Pierre Loti. The French Freres and Sisters of 
Charity had many schools, many hospitals and 
orphans asylums where they were doing very 
good work for many generations. But it took a 
Pierre Loti to establish the personal bonds of 
friendship between the two people and to promote, 
by this fact alone, all French interests in Turkey. 
He has made the masses of his countrymen at 
home know and appreciate the Turks at their true 
value. The work of an American Loti would be 
the crowning glory of all American enterprises in 
the Near East. 

I explained to our friends that this was my 
personal opinion only, and that I knew that the 



202 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Turks appreciated fully the work that American 
organizations were at present conducting in Tur- 
key, and that my desire to see an American Pierre 
Loti was exclusively due to a very legitimate wish 
of seeing my country and my people better known 
in America, known more intimately and more 
thoroughly through the eyes of an impartial writer 
rather than through the eyes of people who might 
have certain interests in keeping alive the false 
reputation of the Turks. 

Our American friends agreed implicitly with 
me and pointed out that what surprised them the 
most on their arrival in Constantinople was to 
find that all the Americans who were in business 
or in non-religious work and who had had an op- 
portunity to know the Turks had become without 
exception real friends of this maligned race. 
They said that a careful investigation would estab- 
lish the fact that all those who have written or 
spoken against the Turks had done so for an 
ulterior personal motive. And they deplored with 
me the fact that no great American novelist had 
as yet come to Turkey and popularized in his own 
country the knowledge of the Turks as they really 
are. 

Thus saying we arrived at the hotel where our 
friends were stopping and upon their expressing 
a desire to find out more about Turkish schools 
and Turkish educational institutions, I promised 



ROBERT COLLEGE 203 

to arrange for them to visit some of the exclusive- 
ly Turkish schools and colleges and to take them 
to call on people who would be able to tell them 
about modern Turkish education better than I 
could. And we parted until the following week 
when I was able to keep my promise to them. 



XII 
EDUCATION AND ART 

TT was very easy to assist my friends in the 
investigation they wanted to conduct for their 
own private information on Turkish schools and 
the educational system of Turkey. My father had 
been twice Minister of Public Education and he 
was in a position to give all the information de- 
sired. My first step was, therefore, to take our 
friends to him and have him explain the present 
educational system in our country. 

Contrary to what is generally believed in for- 
eign countries education is obligatory in Turkey 
and there are fewer illiterates among the Turks 
than, for instance, among Russians and other 
Near Eastern people. This is principally due to 
the fact that all Muslims have considered it their 
duty ever since the time of the Prophet Mahom- 
ed to learn how to read the Koran. Unfortu- 
nately, however, this religious principle was taken 
too literally by the average Muslim who, for cen- 
turies was satisfied to learn just the alphabet, as he 
imagined that as long as he could read the Holy 
Book he was accomplishing his religious duty. In 

the course of time, therefore, when other nations 

204 



EDUCATION AND ART 205 

besides the Arabs embraced the Muslim faith, the 
people who did not know Arabic were also per- 
fectly contented to be able to read the Koran even 
if they did not understand its meaning. All Mus- 
lim countries having adopted the Arabic alphabet 
this very elementary education placed even the 
greatest majority of non-Arab Muslims in a 
position to read their own language. But it was 
only a very restricted higher class which took the 
trouble of studying its grammar. Thus for cen- 
turies only a limited number of Turks — as was the 
case with the Muslims of other nations — were 
learned enough to read and write fluently their 
own languages, although the greatest majority 
knew enough of the alphabet to be able to read 
the Koran and to sign their names. 

Of course this restricted knowledge of reading 
cannot count as education, but when it is con- 
sidered that the science of reading was so ne- 
glected among the nations of the West that prac- 
tically up to the period of Louis XIV very few of 
the Western nobles knew even how to sign their 
names or to decipher the simplest document, it will 
be admitted that anyhow the rudimentary knowl- 
edge of the East was preferable to the almost total 
ignorance of the West. 

However, as in everything else, Turkey made 
very little progress in this matter of education 
during the nineteenth century with the result that 
while the percentage of people who had acquired 



206 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

a high school education had increased in a very- 
large proportion in the West, the past generation 
in Turkey had still only the same proportion of 
educated people as it had a century ago. The 
number of people who knew the elementary prin- 
cipals of the alphabet was as considerable as be- 
fore, and was proportionately much larger than 
the number of people who had this elementary 
knowledge in Western countries. But the per- 
centage of really educated people was proportion- 
ately much smaller in Turkey than in the progres- 
sive Western countries. In other words, although 
complete illiteracy was almost non-existent in Tur- 
key, education was the property of a compara- 
tively small number of people. The educational 
level of the people at large was, and still is, much 
lower than the educational level of the people of 
Western European nations. 

This explains the reason why one can see even 
to-day in the streets of Constantinople, generally 
in the courtyard of the mosques, public secretaries 
taking letters from old men and women of the 
lower classes, poor people who do not know gram- 
mar enough to write their own letters but who 
nevertheless are able to spell their names or to 
laboriously decipher a printed document. And it 
is no wonder that foreigners are generally scep- 
tical when told that the number of total illiterates 
is very small in Turkey. 

Much has been done, however, during the last 



EDUCATION AND ART 207 

generation to spread education in Turkey and a 
new system of schools has been grafted upon the 
old system which consisted almost exclusively in 
small public schools — "Mahalle Mektebi" or Dis- 
trict Schools as they are called — where small chil- 
dren are taught the rudimentary principles of the 
alphabet. 

These District Schools exist by the millions all 
over Turkey, in cities as well as in the country. 
Each mosque — and there are millions of them 
— has its own private District School where the 
imam or clergyman teaches the children of his 
district, boys and girls, how to read the Koran. 
The classes, if they might be called by that name, 
are mostly held in summer in the courtyard of the 
mosques and in winter in a room which, for lack 
of a better name, we will describe as the vestry. 
It is obligatory for every family living in the dis- 
trict and it has been obligatory for centuries, to 
send their children to these schools if they cannot 
afford to give them a private education. Needless 
to say that these schools are absolutely gratis. 

The District Schools of Turkey are a sort of 
primitive community Kindergarten from which 
games and plays are strictly banned. Their pur- 
pose is to teach children how to read the Koran, 
and reading the Koran is a very serious matter. 
So, for two hours every day except Fridays lit- 
tle boys and little girls from five to about eight 
years old go to the mosque of their district where 



208 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the classes are held. Sitting on the ground in sum- 
mer and in winter on straw mats, they form a 
circle around their teacher, the imam of the dis- 
trict, who teaches them in a monotonous chant the 
secrets of the alphabet They squat on their knees, 
these little boys and girls, and repeat the chant 
of their teacher, keeping time with their little 
bodies which they swing slowly backwards and 
forwards. And beware of a mistake! The little 
pupil who makes one, who indulges in a childish 
prank or who does not behave according to the se- 
vere discipline which must be respected by everyone 
who is learning how to read the Koran or who is 
in the exhalted presence of an imam, is reminded 
of his misdeed by the swift application of a long, 
willowy stick on his hands or on some other part 
of his anatomy. The teacher keeps this stick right 
next to him, right under his hand, and is very 
quick to use it. 

The alphabet is first memorized, each letter be- 
ing accurately described. Of course the Turkish 
alphabet is different from the Latin alphabet, but 
the system could be applied to the Latin alphabet 
more or less as follows: "A is a triangle with a 
bar in the middle" — "B is a vertical bar with two 
circles on the right" — "C is a crescent facing to 
the right." Thus the whole alphabet is described 
in a monotonous chant for days and months until 
the pupils can visualize it thoroughly. Then the 
sounds of syllables are memorized according to 



EDUCATION AND ART 209 

the same system and it is only after this has been 
done thoroughly that the children are permitted 
to apply the knowledge they have thus acquired 
by memory. They are each furnished with a 
Koran and they are taught to read it aloud. Of 
course, as the understanding of the text of the 
Koran requires a thorough knowledge of Arabic, 
they do not understand what they read and those 
who desire to acquire this knowledge have to go 
to the Medresse or theological schools, of which we 
will talk later. The purpose of the district schools 
is exclusively to teach them how to read, and when 
this is done the course of the district school is 
finished. 

In the old days obligatory education only ex- 
tended as far as the district school. This is not 
so any more. During the past twenty-five or thirty 
years the Government has created high schools 
in the principal cities and towns of the country 
where modern education is imparted as well as 
the restricted means of the impoverished nation 
allows. The courses of these high schools are 
also free and their program is meant to pre- 
pare the pupils for college studies. They are 
obligatory only for boys. The system is good 
enough, but for lack of funds and for lack of peace 
the Government has not been able to apply it 
thoroughly and to extend it as much as it was orig- 
inally expected. The study of foreign languages 
is only optional and very theoretic in these schools 



210 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

where only the elements of arithmetic, grammar, 
literature and history are taught. 

The next grade is the college which corresponds 
to the French Lycee and which is an absolute adap- 
tation to Turkey of the French program. The 
first college of this kind in Turkey was Galata 
Serai which was organized nearly half a century 
ago and has ever since kept pace with the French 
Lycees. As its diploma is recognized by the 
French Government as equivalent to that of any 
Governmental French College this institution is 
a sort of joint Tur co-French enterprise and is used 
as pattern by the other Turkish Colleges. Upon 
the invitation of the Turkish Government the 
French Ministry of Public Education organ- 
ized Galata Serai and the French cooperation in 
this non-sectarian and exclusively educational in- 
stitution has continued ever since its formation, 
regardless of wars or political entanglements. The 
French language is of course obligatory and the 
study of another foreign language is encouraged. 
The principal courses are given during the first 
three years in Turkish and during the last two 
years before graduation in French. An institu- 
tion of this kind, but with the cooperation of 
America and where American teachers and prin- 
cipals should take the place of French teachers and 
principals, would do more for the spreading of 
modern education on practical lines, for the ad- 
vancement of civilization by bringing up future 



EDUCATION AND ART 211 

Turkish generations capable of rationally adapting 
to the Near East the principles of democracy as 
conceived by the Americans than many mission- 
ary schools. 

The other Turkish Colleges are modelled after 
Galata Serai, with the difference that while French 
or one other foreign language is obligatory all 
courses are given in Turkish, and their teachers 
and principals are Turks. Although these insti- 
tutions are not free the tuition fees are so nom- 
inal that the Government is obliged to subzidize 
them. At present the fees for the yearly courses 
are equivalent to about a hundred and fifty dol- 
lars, including lodging and food, and for the pur- 
pose of making it easier to the very much im- 
poverished population the Government consents to 
a substantial discount on these fees to the chil- 
dren and relatives of Government employees. 

Here also lack of funds has greatly hampered 
the organization of these colleges throughout Tur- 
key. While it was the original program to open 
one such college in every city, the Government has 
been able to organize and maintain only about 
five of them throughout the country, and as only 
three are for boys and two for girls it can readily 
be seen that they do not suffice for the requirements 
of Turkey. 

In addition to these schools and colleges there 
are in Turkey many academies and universities 
where college graduates are able to specialize in 



212 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the different branches they have selected. Most 
of these academies and universities are in Con- 
stantinople, and while the greatest majority are 
supported by the Government some of them owe 
their existence to private endowments. 

In late years, that is up to the Armistice, the 
Government had given special attention principally 
to two institutions: the Naval Academy and the 
Medical Academy. The signing of the Armistice 
with the consequent dismantling of the Turkish 
navy brought, of course, a great setback to the 
Naval Academy which is now fighting for its 
life against tremendous odds. Naturally the navy 
of Turkey being reduced to practically nothing 
very few families desire to send their children to 
the Academy. In addition the foreigners who con- 
trol Constantinople do not look with a very favour- 
able eye upon the maintenance of this Academy 
for fear of its keeping alive a militaristic spirit. 
They do their utmost to encourage its closing. 
This is the more regrettable that in the last fifteen 
years the Academy had been reorganized so thor- 
oughly that it was in all points comparable to any 
of the best high-grade educational institutions of 
the world. As its manager told me once, the pur- 
pose of the Academy was to form real men so that 
the cadets who had graduated would be in a posi- 
tion to enter into any branch of modern activity in 
case they decided, after their graduation, to quit 
the navy. The best proof that the Academy has 



EDUCATION AND ART 213 

most efficiently lived up to this principle is that 
after the Armistice and when the fleet was dis- 
mantled all the naval officers who were obliged to 
leave the navy succeeded in making a living, and 
many of them have been most successful in 
their new activities as business men. It would 
be a shame if an institution which had so marked- 
ly succeeded in forming a generation of real men 
was obliged to close its doors. An institution for 
forming generations of real men should not be 
allowed to die just because of the dismantlement 
of the fleet. 

The Medical Academy is another institution 
which has done a most efficient work of civilization 
in Modern Turkey. It can be said that the Turk- 
ish "intelligentsia" consists mostly of doctors and 
medical students. The generation of Turkish 
physicians which the Medical Academy has formed 
has taken a lead among European medical circles 
and many are the Turkish doctors whose knowl- 
edge, activities and discoveries in medical science 
have earned them professorships in France and 
Germany. The Medical Academy, which is situ- 
ated in a large modern building near the station 
of Haidar Pasha, the headline of the Bagdad 
Railroad, is completely equipped with all the re- 
quirements of modern science. It also maintains 
special courses for nurses, which are now very 
popular among Turkish women. 

It would be tedious to talk at length of all the 



214 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

industrial schools that have been organized in the 
past ten or fifteen years in Turkey. Suffice it 
to say that quite a number of them are in existence. 
But a special mention should be made of the two 
universities of Constantinople as they are up to 
date in every respect. One of these universities 
is exclusively for women, the other is open to 
both sexes, and any one who has seen a mixed 
course where young Turkish women, in their be- 
coming tcharshaf, sit on the same benches and 
study side by side with men students can only 
wonder how the legend of the seclusion of Turkish 
women can still receive credence in foreign 
countries. 

In concluding his rapid outline of Turkish 
schools and the Turkish educational system, my 
father mentioned the different art schools which 
are now prospering in Turkey as well as the 
medresses or theological schools where the Muslim 
religion is taught. I could see that our American 
friends were especially interested in these two 
subjects and as we were leaving my father's house 
I was not surprised to have my impression con- 
firmed. They wanted to know more about Turkish 
art and they wanted to learn something about the 
Muslim religion. Of course I cannot say that this 
surprised me. 

Whenever the word "art" is pronounced in con- 
nection with Turkey, it awakens in the mind of the 
westerners, especially the Americans, only carpets, 



EDUCATION AND ART 215 

embroideries and laces, and dark-skinned, thick- 
eyebrowed Armenian merchants trying to sell at 
exorbitant prices these dainty art works of the 
Orient — purchased by them for a song generally 
from some poor women who have used their eyes, 
their health and their time for the ultimate purpose 
of bringing some soothing touch of colour into 
the modern homes of Europe and America, and 
many many dollars, pound sterlings, or napoleons, 
as the case may be, into the bank accounts of the 
dark-skinned, thick-eyebrowed merchants. Even 
to an American or a westerner who has been in 
Turkey as a tourist the word "Turkish art" does 
not convey much more. In addition to carpets, 
embroideries and laces he may visualize some 
musty copper brazero, some delicate handwritings 
with painted arabesques of flowers, some richly 
painted porcelains or embossed leather bindings. 
All things which spell old age. In modern art he 
would only visualize some Oriental jewels — made 
in Germany! Few are the foreigners who think 
of Turkish art in the light of regular paintings, 
architecture or music. And when they hear of art 
schools their curiosity is excited. 

As far as the Muslim religion is concerned 
westerners are, as a rule, even more ignorant 
on this subject than on that of art. They think 
of the Muslims as unbelievers, as pagans who 
deny God and the Christ, as fatalists who calmly 
await the fulfilment of the prophecies without 



2i6 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

having enough sense to get out of the rain 
even when it pours. The only activities they give 
the Muslims credit for are massacres and atroci- 
ties. They believe that theirs alone is a religion 
of love and mercy while that of the Muslim is one 
of fire and blood. I remember that an American 
from Pittsburg, upon hearing that I was a Muslim, 
asked me what god I adored, and absolutely re- 
fused to believe that I adored the One Almighty 
God. He had heard that we prayed to Allah. 
Say what I would I could not at first explain to 
him that "Allah" in Arabic means God in English, 
and he was only half convinced when I told him 
that at that rate the French were also unbelievers 
as they prayed to "Dieu." 

But the request of our American friends was 
not one that could be immediately satisfied as I 
had to make the necessary arrangements to visit 
the art schools and medresses and I had to await 
an opportunity to put them in contact with people 
who could tell them more of Turkish art and of 
the Muslim religion than I could. It was there- 
fore only a few days later that I could arrange to 
take them to the Academy of Art of Constantino- 
ple, the principal school of its kind in the Near 
East, where no other city — not even Athens, which 
is still considered as the cradle of art — can boast 
of as complete and progressive an art academy. 

The academy is located in the Park of the Old 
Seraglio, right next to the Imperial Museum. 



EDUCATION AND ART 217 

They are both under the same management, and 
as we arrived on the large plaza, shaded by old 
trees, we were received by the secretary of the 
manager, a cousin of mine, whom I had asked 
to show us through the place so as to give all 
available information to our friends. 

He took us through the building where different 
classes for drawing, painting and modelling were 
being held in different rooms. The class-rooms are 
large, all whitewashed and lighted by skylights 
and big windows. The whole place is kept im- 
maculately clean. The students are quite numer- 
ous and our American friends were surprised to 
see that there were as many Turkish girls studying 
art as men. "We always thought of Turkish 
women as hothouse flowers, " they said, "and we 
were very much surprised to see when we arrived 
here how many of them take an active part in busi- 
ness and in the e very-day life of the community. 
We imagined that those who were thus active 
were doing it out of necessity because they had to 
earn a living. We could not conceive that Turkish 
women would work of their own choice, and espe- 
cially would spend time in studying art which, 
after all, is a luxury." 

Kadry Bey, the secretary of the manager, smiled 
and said: "Woman is the materialization of art: 
is it surprising that, now that Turkish women have 
acquired their entire emancipation, they should 
desire to study a science the knowledge of which 



218 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

gives a better appreciation of their own attribute, 
beauty? As soon as these classes were opened to 
Turkish women only a few years ago, they 
flocked in great number to take full advantage of 
the opportunity and you can judge for yourself 
how hard they are working. Some of them have 
already acquired a certain renown, and one of 
them, a former pupil of this academy, Moukbile 
Hanoum, has just written us from Switzerland 
where she is visiting, that one of her pictures had 
been awarded a medal at an international exhibi- 
tion in Berne." 

As our guests wanted to know if there were 
no galleries or exhibitions where the work of 
Turkish artists could be seen, Kadry Bey told 
them of the bi-yearly exhibitions which are regu- 
larly held in Galata Serai under the auspices of 
the Turkish Crown Prince. "His Highness Prince 
Abdul Med j id Effendi, heir to the throne of the 
Sultans and future Calif of the Muslims, is an 
accomplished artist himself/' said Kadry. "He 
is one of our most active leaders and enjoys a 
reputation as a painter even in France. His 
pictures have been often exhibited at the Paris 
Salon and there also a Turkish artist has received 
the highest recognition for his work. Only a 
short time after the armistice one of the pictures 
of our Crown Prince received the gold medal. 
This is unquestionably a palpable proof of the 
artistic value of His Highness's work as the 



EDUCATION AND ART 219 

Committee of the Paris Salon is composed of the 
greatest living artists in the world. It is also a 
splendid illustration of the saying that art has no 
country as French artists did not hesitate to 
recognize publicly the value of this painting by 
our Crown Prince so shortly after the war. If you 
are in town when the next exhibition is held at 
Galata Serai I strongly advise you to visit it. 
You would see there pictures by our most promi- 
nent artists, as O. Hikmet, M. Refet, Tchalizade 
Ibrahim and others, whose works are as good as 
any of the modern artists. Most of them follow 
the classical school and very few indeed are the 
Turkish artists who practise post-impressionism 
and other extreme styles. You probably would 
have an opportunity of seeing at the exhibition the 
Crown Prince himself as His Highness goes 
there practically every day and you would surely 
be interested in seeing the democratic way in 
which he talks and jokes with the other artists." 
Our friends wanted to know something more 
about the Crown Prince. So my wife and I told 
them of the time we had the privilege of hearing 
a few of his compositions played by the orchestra 
of the Imperial Palace. It was at a charity con- 
cert given for the benefit of the Turkish refugees 
of Anatolia. Prince Abdul Medjid Effendi was 
there personally and although his compositions 
were not included in the program, the audience 
asked and insisted on having them, much to His 



22o SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Highness's embarrassment. As a true artist the 
Prince hates publicity and his activities as a 
painter or as a composer are not at all meant 
for public consumption — as were those of the 
Kaiser — but simply for his own satisfaction and 
for the pleasure of a few privileged friends. 

Thus talking, we were visiting the different 
class-rooms of the academy. Kadry Bey intro- 
duced us to some of the teachers and to one or 
two of the most advanced pupils and as we finished 
our visit he asked us into the reception room 
of the manager who, being absent for the day, 
had asked him to have us to tea in his place. 

As we had to cross the Museum we stopped on 
our way to admire once more the famous sarco- 
phagus of Alexander, which is said to have con- 
tained the remains of Alexander the Great of 
Macedonia and which is the pride not only of the 
Museum but also of all Turks. Hamdi Bey, the 
founder of the Museum, unearthed it himself in 
the plains of Anatolia, not far from Smyrna, and 
I remember his telling me personally that he was 
so excited and exhilarated when he discovered this 
peerless jewel of antique art that for two days and 
one night he and his assistants worked consecu- 
tively without sleep, without food. Finally the 
second night arrived and as the delicate work was 
not yet finished Hamdi Bey fell asleep from sheer 
exhaustion, but lying close to the sarcophagus, 
in the earth that had hidden it for so many cen- 



EDUCATION AND ART 221 

turies, so that he could at least feel his priceless 
find during his sleep. 

The present manager of the Imperial Museum 
is Hamdi Bey's brother and succeeded him after 
his death. I had an occasion of meeting him only 
a few days ago and the sight of the Sarcophagus 
of Alexander brings back to me the recollection 
of this meeting. I was coming out of the Sublime 
Porte with Izzet Pasha, the Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, when we met the manager of the Museum, 
Halil Bey. Izzet Pasha stopped and addressed 
him: "I have bad news to give you," said he, "a 
powerful foreign group has approached me to- 
day and has informed me that it was willing to 
pay any price the Government wanted for the 
Sarcophagus of Alexander." Halil Bey was dumb- 
founded. The prospect of losing the most cher- 
ished possession of his Museum, discovered by his 
own brother, was too momentous, too enormous a 
blow. But his fears were put at rest by Izzet 
Pasha when the Minister added with a smile. "I 
have answered them that the loss of the Sarco- 
phagus would be considered by the Imperial Gov- 
ernment as great a loss as that of the wealthiest 
province of the Empire, Mesopotamia, the historic 
City of Bagdad and its rich oil fields not excepted, 
and that therefore it could never entertain even 
the possibility of selling the sarcophagus. No 
matter how poor we might be the price to be paid 
for the possession of the sarcophagus will always 



222 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

have to be reckoned in corpses on battlefields and 
not in money on a counter" ! This little incident 
gives a graphic idea of the degree of appreciation 
in which the Turks hold their art treasures. 

As we were having tea in the reception room 
of Halil Bey we talked of his family and of how 
much the art renaissance in Turkey owed to them 
all. Besides Hamdi Bey, who has left an undying 
name in the annals of Turkish history both as the 
founder of the Imperial Museum and as the creator 
of the Art Academy, besides the fact that his 
brother, Halil Bey, has followed in his path and 
is continuing the work undertaken by him, it 
is worth mentioning that Hamdi Bey's son is a 
distinguished architect to whom is due the beauti- 
ful buildings of the Museum and of the Acad- 
emy. This distinguished family has unquestion- 
ably done more for the revival of art in Turkey 
than any one family has done .for art in any 
other country. And it was almost a pleasure 
that Halil Bey was not present as we could more 
freely talk of his services and of those of his 
family within the very walls which had been 
erected by them and filled by them with treasures 
discovered through their own initiative and work. 

Our American friends admitted that this visit 
had thrown a different light on their conception 
of art in Turkey and its appreciation by the Turks, 
but as they were not satisfied until they had 
seen some other art school I took them next day 



EDUCATION AND ART 223 

to the Darul-Elhan, the Turkish School of Music 
for Girls and we had the good fortune to assist in 
a most interesting concert. This school was 
founded and is being managed by Senator Zia 
Pasha, who was Turkish Ambassador in Wash- 
ington a few years before the war. It is lo- 
cated in an old palace in the very heart of Stam- 
boul. Our American friends were quite impressed 
by the knowledge that they were to hear and see, 
in the proper setting where their ancestors had 
been recluses, free and emancipated Turkish girls 
playing and singing for the benefit of strangers. 
To the accompaniment: of violins, lutes and long- 
stemmed "tambours" these Turkish girls with the 
full knowledge possessed only by accomplished 
artists and with the soft, velvety voices so typical 
of the Orient, sang and played a selection of the 
most complicated, classical music as well as charm- 
ing little folksongs. Zia Pasha was there himself 
and as I introduced him to our friends he ex- 
pressed the wish that more foreigners would 
make it a point, when in Constantinople, to assist 
at such concerts: "Perhaps," said he, "if for- 
eigners studied our music better its reputation 
for weirdness and montony would give place to 
one of softness and melody. Perhaps foreigners 
would even be able to detect in our music all the 
accords and measures they relish so much in mod- 
ern Russian music such as that of Rimsky Korsa- 
koff, which after all is nothing more or less than 
the orchestration of our Oriental music." 



XIII 
A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 

PHE week following our visit to the Darul- 
Elhan and the concert which was given 
there, I had an opportunity to arrange a meeting 
for our American friends .with the leader of one 
of our Muslim sects, Hassan Effendi, who had 
been described to me as one of the most advanced 
and broadminded theologians of Islam. A friend 
of mine who was a follower of Hassan Effendi 
was to take us to his house and we were to go 
there from our own home in Stamboul, as that was 
the most convenient place where we could all 
meet. 

On the appointed day and about an hour before 
the time fixed for our audience with Hassan 
Effendi our American friends arrived. My wife 
was delighted to see the genuine interest they 
were taking in the Turks and in the Muslim re- 
ligion and encouraged them in asking questions. 
She believes, and I think rightly, that the more 
intimately the Turks are known, the less credence 
foreigners can attach to all the malicious accounts 
which are being circulated by interested propa- 
gandists. She believes that the best way to 

224 



'A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 225 

find out if the Turks are really terrible is to take 
the trouble to know them, the best way to prove 
that they are not "unspeakable" is to speak about 
them. 

Our friends were especially at a loss to explain 
why, as long as there was such an active revival 
of art in Turkey, so few foreigners knew about it, 
even among those who are in Constantinople. 
My wife explained this: 

"The trouble is," she said, "that most foreigners 
who live in Constantinople band together and will 
not mix with the people of the country. They do 
not take the trouble to learn the language, they 
do not bother to make friends with the people. 
They live in small, self-sufficient groups. I am 
sure that if they only knew how much they miss by 
doing this, they would revise their mode of living, 
and they would find out that instead of its being 
a trouble or a bother to learn Turkish and to make 
friends with the Turks it is, on the contrary, a real 
pleasure. Of course the Turks are also somewhat 
to blame as they — at least those who are not over- 
westernized, and they are the best — do not make 
an effort to mix with foreigners or to Turkicize 
the foreign elements who are established in their 
country. But after all I understand their point 
of view as I know how we feel in America about 
the foreigners who come to the States and do not 
assimilate. And as for "Turkicizing" even the for- 
eign elements who are established here, we must 



226 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

not forget that in all matters the world has two 
standards, one for the western nations and the 
other for Turkey. When we, in the States, en- 
deavour to Americanize foreigners who have come 
to live with us, the world admires us and calls 
America "the melting-pot" — but if the Turks ever 
dare to try to apply the principles of equality of 
all Ottoman citizens without distinction of race 
or creed, the whole world jumps on them and 
claims that they are endeavouring to destroy the 
rights of minorities. Anyhow, the reason why the 
revival of art in Turkey is not much known by 
foreigners is because they have not, so far, in- 
vestigated with open heart and open mind the in- 
tellectual activities now under way in Turkey. As 
soon as foreigners will give up their self-suffi- 
ciency, as soon as they will mingle with the people 
and will be willing to consider themselves as 
guests in the country, they will be received 
with open arms in Turkish communities. And 
then probably someone will "discover" Turkish 
art and it will become fashionable throughout 
the West, just as some years ago Russian art was 
discovered and became fashionable in Europe and 
in America." 

Our friends wanted also to know how it was 
that, although Turkish culture did after all ante- 
date modern European culture, as it was the con- 
tinuation of the Arabic civilization of the middle 
ages, art — with the exception of applied art — was 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 227 

only of a recent origin in Turkey. I was glad 
to answer to this question, as it took us into the 
subject which we wanted to investigate to-day, 
that of religion. 

"Nearly seven hundred years before Protestant 
leaders forbade the use of pictures and sculptures 
in their Church, the Prophet Mohamed had simi- 
larly prohibited the reproduction of any human 
or animal form within the walls of mosques. Ig- 
norant people praying before the image of a saint 
or of a prophet are liable to adore the material 
picture or sculpture rather than the spirit it rep- 
resents. I believe that idolatry is a direct out- 
come of this human tendency. The worship of 
idols in antiquity and of images in certain ignorant 
modern communities is a deterioration of origi- 
nally spiritual teachings. Therefore, to prevent 
the repetition of a similar deterioration by his fol- 
lowers Mohamed ruled that they should banish all 
images from places where they prayed. But this 
restriction was originally placed on the use and 
not on the production of images: silver money 
coined at the time of Mohamed bears the effigy 
of the prophet. However, in the course of time 
his successors went so far beyond his teachings and 
his example that they altogether forbade even 
the creation of images. Thus the coins of all 
Muslim rulers were made to bear their names 
instead of their likeness, and for centuries Muslim 
artists, including the Turks, devoted their genius 



228 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

to creating exclusively decorative art representing 
writings, arabesque designs, or flowers. It was, 
therefore, only as education spread among the 
people of all classes, it was only after even the 
masses began to understand the true purpose of 
the restriction placed on the use of reproductions 
of living beings, it was only about ten or fifteen 
years ago that Turkish artists branched out into 
these heretofore forbidden fields of art. Thus the 
delay in the development of art in Turkey is due 
to religious reasons. But even at that I consider 
it salutory; after all it is much better to have in 
its infancy that branch of art which reproduces 
living beings than to have religion stained by 
idolatry — especially as the other branches of art 
were permitted to follow their natural develop- 
ment. No one can say that the Muslims, the 
Orientals, have not a keen appreciation of colour 
and design, no one can say that the restriction 
placed on art has atrophied their sense of beauty." 
As I was finishing these remarks, my friend 
Emin Bey, who was to take us to Hassan Effendi, 
arrived and we started on our way. Emin Bey 
speaks perfect French. He is one of the high 
employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 
but he does not know English and told us 
that neither Hassan Effendi nor probably any 
one that we might meet at his house would 
speak English. So we decided that I should be 
the translator and I told our American friends 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 229 

to ask without reticence any question they might 
wish. 

Hassan Effendi lives in Stamboul not far from 
the Mosque of Sultan Soliman, but on a side street. 
So when we reached the square — in the center of 
which has been built in recent years a monument 
to two "aces" of the Turkish Aerial Fleet who 
died on the battlefield — we turned to the right and 
entered a narrow street. We passed under the 
arches of the old Roman Aqueduct, at the foot 
of which were built little wooden shacks covered 
with tin plates which had been in other days 
Standard Oil cans. These shacks are the tempo- 
rary abode of many Turkish refugees in Con- 
stantinople, people who have been left homeless 
either by the war or by the numerous fires which 
have devastated the city in recent years. Soon we 
reached the barren sides of a hill covered with 
ruins, the very center of one of these fires. On the 
top of the hill and a little to the left was a small 
group of houses clustering about each other, a 
little mosque and a very old mausoleum. Here 
also was the house of Hassan Effendi, on what 
used to be the corner of a street, a tiny house 
with whitewashed bricks, an arched porch and 
a covered gallery which gave on a miniature 
garden. Through the columns of this gallery one 
could see two old trees — a fig tree and a cypress 
— two giants which, with the climbing vines on 



23d SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the old walls, gave to the whole place the aspect 
of the inner yard of a mediaeval cloister. 

The inside of the house was meticulously clean. 
All the walls are whitewashed and the floors are 
covered with white straw matting, with no rugs or 
carpets, except in the corner of the central hall, 
where was a folded prayer rug. Probably the 
master prays here when he does not go to the 
mosque. On the windows are little curtains of 
white muslin, hanging loose and straight. On the 
walls only a few framed writings beautifully 
decorated. I translated them for the benefit of our 
friends; one says: "Only God is eternal, all else 
is temporary"; the other asked for Divine guid- 
ance, a third proclaimed the Oneness of God. All 
around and against the walls are low divans, with 
pillows, covered with silks of soft hues. This is 
the only furniture, the only luxury, the only touch 
of colour in the room. 

We were announced and immediately ushered 
into Hassan Effendi's room, a room similar to the 
one we left. He advanced to greet us at the door. 
He is an old man, a patriarch with a white beard 
and blue eyes which have contemplated the infinite. 
He wore a white turban and a long flowing robe 
of black silk. He shook hands with all of us and 
as I tried to kiss his hand in sign of respect, he 
withdrew it hastily and placed it on his breast, a 
token of gratitude. He asked us to sit down and 
took himself a place in a corner, near the window 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLftM 231 

from where he could see the endless sky, the hills 
of Stamboul with all their mosques and a strip of 
blue water, the Golden Horn. Under his windows 
are the ruins of man-made buildings, ephemeral 
homes which were destroyed in one night of ter- 
ror, leaving their inhabitants without any earthly 
possessions — their whole having been devoured by 
the flames. After every one was seated the master 
saluted us with his hand, each one separately: 
"Selamu' Aleykum — Peace be with you"! 

Coffee was served and to make us feel at home 
Hassan Effendi asked us to smoke. He does not 
smoke himself. He asked how our American 
friends liked the Orient and what had interested 
them in Turkey. Upon my telling him, at their 
request, that they were mostly interested in edu- 
cation, especially religious education, and that they 
wanted to know something about our religion, he 
turned to me and said: 

"Tell them, my son, that education is one of the 
principal bases of Islam. The Holy Book makes 
it obligatory for all Muslims to know at least 
how to read and says that those who serve science, 
serve God. The early Muslims practised this 
teaching so thoroughly that only a few generations 
after the Prophet all the Arab nations of the 
world, united under Islam, became the center of 
science and civilization. Algebra, chemistry, 
astronomy and many other modern sciences still 
bear the names given to them by their Muslim 



232 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

discoverers. The schools of the Muslim world 
were so far advanced that even to-day the West 
resounds with the fame of the great teachers of 
the Universities of Bagdad, Cairo and Granada. 
The West had its dark age before it came in 
touch with the East, and the European Renais- 
sance started after the first contact Europe had 
with the Orient. Whereas the East had its dark 
age after it came into touch with the West, and 
decadence in the Orient set in after its first con- 
tact with Europe. The crusaders took away our 
knowledge together with the riches of Haroun- 
El-Rashid and of Saladin and left us discouraged, 
despondent and demoralized. That it has taken 
us such a long time to shake ourselves free from 
the evil consequences of the invasions we suffered 
is of course a little our own fault. But this is 
especially due to th$ fact that the crusades, that is, 
the rush of the West into the East, has continued 
throughout all these centuries, giving us no peace, 
no rest. Now that the Holy Lands have been 
conquered by the West, let us hope that at last we 
will have peace, let us hope that East and West 
will at last be able to work out together the mis- 
understanding they have had for hundreds of 
years and that they will be able to establish once 
for all the principles of unity: Oneness of God, 
oneness of nature, oneness of mankind — without 
which the basis of solid democracy in this world 
cannot be established. 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 233 

"But tell our friends that they must not think 
that during all these centuries the Muslim world 
has remained absolutely stationary and has com- 
pletely neglected education. The original Muslim 
educational system has continued even if the 
teachers were not as learned, even if a smaller 
proportion of people frequented the schools and 
universities. 

"The Muslim educational system is based upon 
the Medresses or theological colleges. There is 
no Muslim community in the world which has not 
its own Medresse. These institutions are sup- 
ported by perpetual endowments which have been 
made from time to time by the wealthy Muslims 
of the community, endowments representing 
mostly real estate and properties whose income is 
used to keep up the Medresses where students are 
housed and fed during all the years it takes them 
to finish their courses in theological science. The 
Medresses are absolutely free and their endow- 
ments are administered by the Evkaf which is, 
after all, nothing else than an enormous trust com- 
pany whose duty is to take care of and develop the 
properties which have been perpetually donated 
for all religious and charitable purposes. Each 
deed of trust has been made for a special purpose 
and its beneficiary is clearly mentioned. In this 
way all Medresses have their own particular source 
of income as well as all the hospitals and orphan 
asylums of the Evkaf. The system is excellent 



234 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

and could not be improved. What could and what 
should be improved is first the administration of 
the Evkaf trusts, which will thus allow the mod- 
ernization of all beneficiary institutions, and sec- 
ond after the needed funds have been made avail- 
able by such a reorganization, the educational 
program of the Medresses." 

Our friends wanted to know if it would be pos- 
sible to give the reorganization of the Evkaf to 
some American business men whose organizing 
skill had been demonstrated. 

"In principle there would be nothing against 
this," said Hassan EfTendi, "but I am afraid that 
in practise it would be impossible. Despite all 
their profession of Christian love, westerners 
have never undertaken anything in the East with- 
out its becoming soon apparent that they had an 
ulterior motive. Look at all the different foreign 
educational institutions in the Orient. Are they 
here just for the love of spreading education or 
for trying to convert our children to their own 
creed"? 

As he was asked about the program of studies 
followed in the Medresses Hassan Effendi ex- 
plained that while the principal aim was the study 
of religion Medresses were originally meant to 
teach all sciences. The Koran contains not only 
the principles on which the laws and the economic 
structure of Muslim countries have been built, 
but also the principles of astronomy — which ne- 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 235 

cessitates a deep knowledge of higher mathematics 
— of natural history leading to the research of the 
species, and of ancient history. Therefore, stu- 
dents of the Koran have also to study all these 
sciences and, as the Holy Book orders them to 
go as deeply as possible into all the subjects it 
mentions, the courses of Medresses should really 
be equivalent to those of the highest universities. 
We were all very much interested to hear that 
the Koran explicitly states that the earth is round 
and that together with other planets it revolves 
around the sun, that other solar systems are in 
existence in the universe, that life originally 
started in water. Many other theories which 
have been scientifically ascertained since the time 
of the Prophet are also stated in the Koran al- 
though the theories commonly accepted at that 
time were absolutely contrary to them. 

Our American friends took advantage of the 
turn the conversation had taken to ask a few 
questions on the Muslim religion. They wanted to 
know the difference, if any, between Mahom- 
medans and Muslims, what the Muslim creed was, 
and what the title of Calif meant. Hassan Effendi 
answered in detail all these questions and I will 
try to give below if not word for word at least the 
summary of his answers. 

'To begin with/' said he, "the appellation of 
"Mahomedan" does not exist in the East It 
is only the westerners who, having called them- 



236 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

selves Christians, or followers of Christ, have 
named Mohamedans, the followers of Mohamed. 
This, however, is as wrong and misleading as if 
the Hebrew were to be called "Moseans." The 
Hebrews do not follow only Moses, they believe 
also in all their other prophets, beginning with 
Israel. Therefore, if they were to be called Mose- 
ans it would imply that they only believed in Moses 
and would not be correct. This applies also to the 
Muslims and to call them Mahomedan is abso- 
lutely misleading. The Muslims believe in all 
prophets, including all the Israelite prophets and 
the Christ. So the term Mahomedan is wrong 
and is not used in the East. 

"We call ourselves "Muslims" which means in 
Arabic, followers of Islam or followers of the 
Road of Salvation. This is a better appellation 
and I often wish that instead of calling themselves 
by names which convey to the average people, only 
an idea of a person or of a race, the different 
churches had chosen to translate into their own 
language the exact meaning of their appellation. 
Then there would be less difference and therefore 
less antagonism between religions. Take for 
instance the Christians and the Muslims. If when 
speaking a common language they both trans- 
lated the meaning of their appellation into it in- 
stead of using words of Arabic and Greek origin, 
they would soon realize that their creed was identi- 
cal. 'Christ' means 'Saviour.' A Christian 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 237 

therefore is a 'follower of the Saviour/ Doesn't 
this term alone bring him nearer to his brother, 
the 'follower of the Road of Salvation'? 

"In the Koran there is absolutely no difference 
between all people who believe in the One Al- 
mighty God, all inclusive and powerful, no matter 
by what name they call themselves. The only 
difference that is made between human beings 
is that all those who believe in one God are placed 
in one group and all those who deny the oneness 
of God, the Pagans or Idolaters, are placed in 
another. It is said that God has sent from time 
to time prophets to bring the people into the path 
of truth, that all these prophets came with a book 
within which the immutable principles of truth 
were clearly enunciated, and that as truth can 
only be one all the books of the prophets were the 
same. Therefore, all the followers of these dif- 
ferent prophets are called "people of the Book" 
and they are all brothers to the Muslims. They 
should be treated as such and only the Pagans 
and Idolaters should be, if necessary, coerced into 
recognizing the oneness of God. That this princi- 
ple was most firmly established is evidenced by 
the early history of Islam. In the army of the 
Prophet, the army which conquered Mecca and 
destroyed the idols of the Temple, Christian and 
Hebrew soldiers were fighting side by side with 
their Muslim brothers for the purpose of having 
the oneness of God recognized by Pagans. And 



238 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

the Muslims never fought the Christians until the 
ignorant people of the mediaeval West, roused by 
lords and barons in quest of rich spoils and ad- 
venture, embarked on the Crusades for the purpose 
of 'liberating' the Holy Sepulchres from the Mus- 
lims. That might have been all right for the ig- 
norant people of the Middle Ages, but isn't it 
now time for the Christian to realize that despite 
the fact that the Holy Sepulchres have been 'lib- 
erated' only within the last few years from the 
Muslims, despite the fact that for more than a 
thousand years Jerusalem has been under the rule 
of Islam, the Holy Sepulchres have fared as well 
under the Muslims as the Cathedral of Saint Peter 
in Rome has under Christians? 

"The Muslims have always guarded the Holy 
Places in Jerusalem with as much loving care and 
veneration as they have guarded the Holy Places 
in Mecca or in Medina. Why shouldn't they? 
The Koran has taught us to venerate Jesus Christ. 
We believe in His divine mission as much as we 
believe in the divine mission of Mohamed. We 
consider Him as much our prophet as the prophet 
of the Christians. Our creed is based on this 
belief and on the recognition of all the past proph- 
ets. So there is really no difference between us 
and the Christians as far as we are concerned. The 
only differences that exist are dogmatic differences 
such as those which might exist even between 
two churches of the same religion. And in our 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 239 

eyes a Christian who follows the principles of 
Christ and who does not deny the prophethood 
of Mohamed is as much a Muslim as any one of us. 

"Of course we do not consider as Christians 
those who adore images. The Russian who ex- 
pects an icon to perform a miracle is as much an 
idolater to our eyes as any one who adores the 
stone or the paint with which the statue or the 
picture of a saint is made. There is no difference 
between them and the pagans of yore. 

"We Muslims go even farther than some 
Christians in our belief in Christ. We are taught 
that the Virgin Mary, in her religious ardor, was 
praying the Almighty to give her a son who would 
bring back into the fold his erring sheep and 
that the people upon hearing this prayer criticized 
and shamed her: a virgin praying for a child! 
'But how little they knew the ways of God/ says 
the Koran. Tn answer to the Virgin's prayer the 
Almighty sent her one of His Angels in the like- 
ness of a human and she begot the Christ/ 

"For us, God is not material. He is the All- 
inclusive Spirit which permeates all nature and the 
whole universe. He is the Supreme Conscious 
Force, endowed with all the attributes, who rules 
the universe. He is Eternal: He never begot and 
never was begotten. We believe in Him and He 
only do we adore. We believe in His Angels, 
His Holy Books, His Prophets, and in the future 
life. We believe that He ordains everything, our 



2 4 o SPEAKING 0E THE TURKS 

recompenses as well as our punishments, and tKat 
there is no God but He. And we believe that 
Mohamed is His Messenger — who revived on this 
earth, as all prophets before Him, the true religion 
as taught by Abraham, and by Moses and by 
Christ." 

The master was silent for a few minutes. His 
words which I had been translating sentence by 
sentence as he delivered them, had impressed us 
all so much that we kept quiet and awaited pa- 
tiently for more. He looked out from the window 
into the blueness of the sky. Then, turning again 
to me he said with an infinite smile : "How simple 
it all is, and how foolish humanity is not to 
understand" ! 

He passed his hand over his forehead in an 
effort to concentrate on more material subjects, 
he sighed and said: 

"These are the fundamental principles of Islam. 
It does not claim to be the religion of one prophet, 
but the Religion of God and therefore of all 
prophets. Truth can only be one, and religion 
is truth. It is the fault of men if they have divided 
it into different religions, sects and churches. It 
is the sin of men that they have, in doing so, 
turned religion from its most useful earthly pur- 
pose: that of establishing the oneness of humanity, 
the brotherhood of all believers. 

"The Muslim religion succeeded in doing this 
during the first centuries of its inception. It 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 241 

formed the first true democracy, the first republic 
of modern times: the Caliphs, the chief executives 
of the Muslim world were chosen by election. 
But it went even further: it created the first 
League of Nations in the world — all the Muslim 
states, although keeping their entire independence, 
became a federation under the administration of 
a single elected Caliph and extended their borders 
from the Himalayas to the Atlantic. And within 
their borders all those who believed in one God 
lived in peace, every one prospered, science, in- 
dustry and commerce flourished. Freedom of 
conscience, freedom of creeds, was meticulously 
observed. And Christians and Jews lived and 
prospered side by side with their Muslim brothers. 
The millenium would have truly arrived had the 
western nations only applied these same princi- 
ples within their own borders. But they were not 
yet mature, they were not yet ready for liberty, 
democracy and unity. So gradually they under- 
mined our own institutions. Through centuries of 
continuous contact and of incessant wars they 
spread discord within our own ranks. We became 
divided first into separate Caliphates, then into 
different nations and finally into different sects. 
Internal strife having set in, we were condemned to 
fall sooner or later under the conquering heel of the 
West. Decadence crept on the Muslim world slowly 
but surely until Turkey was left alone to face the 
repeated assault of the different western nations. 



242 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

And the tragedy of the long agony of Turkey 
which has lasted ever since the sixteenth century 
is too well known by all of you to make it neces- 
sary for me to repeat it. 

"This agony has culminated with the general 
war. And let us hope that now that the western 
nations have at last obtained what they wanted — 
the administration of the Holy Land by a Chris- 
tian power — they will settle down to work and find 
out if they have any real difference of principles 
with the Muslim world. Islam has passed through 
its darkest days and now it is gradually reawaken- 
ing, it is becoming again conscious of the basic 
truth it had reached during its first years. And 
sooner or later the Almighty will find humanity 
ready to reflect His own oneness. The time is near 
when all believers, irrespective of denominations, 
creeds or sects will establish throughout the 
world a real League of Nations where Christians, 
Jews and Muslims will live in peace, a real League 
of all followers of Salvation based on the only 
possible true democracy: the brotherhood, the 
unity of men." 

Hassan Effendi stopped again and looked at 
our American friends who seemed to be very much 
surprised. "How little do we of the West know 
of the religions, the ideals and the hopes of the 
East," they said; "but are we alone to blame? 
Why doesn't the East send us some of its teachers, 
some of its leaders to explain to us its creed and 
its belief ?" 



A GLIMPSE OF ISLAM 243 

Hassan EfTendi smiled: "We have sent you 
the message of our best leader, of our best teacher 
and you have had it with you for nearly two 
thousand years/' he said. "We have sent you the 
message of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the 
Apostle of Love and of Mercy, the greatest antag- 
onist of riches and of materialism. In later years 
we have sent you in person the greatest living 
messenger of the East, Abdul Baha, who warned 
the world years before the beginning of the war 
of the great cataclysm toward which humanity 
was headed and who preached unity and oneness 
as the only salvation. What good did it do? 
The West has always coveted the East for the 
possession of the Holy Land — forgetting that 
Palestine is an Eastern Land. Up to the last 
century the West has always coveted the riches 
of the East, forgetting that after all if the East 
had all these riches it was because it had worked 
for them. Since then, and taking advantage of 
the decadence into which we have fallen, the West 
has looked down upon the East for its lack of 
ambition for the possession of material things and 
has tried to prove its inferiority by claiming that 
it had not contributed to modern scientific dis- 
coveries, forgetting that while the West has dis- 
covered the telephone, the telegram, electricity and 
steam — all things which make material life worth 
living — it is the East which discovered God, His 
Prophets and His Holy Books — all things which 



244 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

make spiritual life worth expecting. And con- 
trary to the custom of the West, the East has not 
commercialized its discoveries; it has given them 
as a free gift to humanity. Christ was an East- 
erner and He gave freely His knowledge to the 
West. And now that the West has acquired our 
riches and our lands we hope that it will soon 
recognize that it has also our God. 

"This recognition, this knowledge must, how- 
ever, come to the West from within. No mat- 
ter how loud we claimed it, it would not be 
believed. Westerners will have to come to our 
country and see for themselves. They will have 
to investigate, even as you are investigating. They 
will have to convince themselves that the religion 
taught by the Prophet Mohamed is one and the 
same with the religion taught by Christ. They 
will have to realize that any one who follows 
either of them is following the Road of Salvation. 
And then, only then, will the peace of God descend 
upon a redeemed humanity. I pray the Almighty 
that this day may come soon." 

And so saying Hassan Effendi rose from his 
seat next to the window. It was the signal that 
our audience was at an end, and we all got up. We 
took leave from the master who accompanied us to 
the door where he shook hands with every one 
of us. 

And as the door was closing we could hear his 
soft voice like a blessing: "Peace be with you"! 



XIV 
A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 

^TO matter how short and succinct it is, an 
account of the Turks as they really are and 
of the Turkey of to-day would not be complete 
without a description of the Turks who are now 
so successfully engaged in fighting the supreme 
battle of their country on the plains of Anatolia. 
The foregoing pages have been devoted almost en- 
tirely to the Turks of Constantinople, to their 
mode of living, their ideals and ideas. But after 
all Constantinople is only one city of Turkey and 
Anatolia is the real backbone of the country. 

From the shores of the Black Sea down to 
Broussa and Smyrna, Anatolia is an armed camp, 
bristling with activity. That much every one 
knows. How well organized these activities are 
is evidenced by the success the Turks have se- 
cured against such great odds. But behind the 
guns and bayonets, behind the steel wall which 
has stemmed the invasion of foreigners, there 
is a whole country whose borders extend as 
far as Caucasia and whose influence extends be- 
yond, to the arid steppes of Turkestan and the 
snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan. Within 

245 



246 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

this country there are millions of Turks who, lie- 
sides their military activities, the immediate needs 
of their armies and the political requirements 
of their country are living a life throbbing with 
enthusiasm and hopes. This is the rejuvenated 
Turkey, not intent in imitating, like a monkey, 
the customs of the West or in adopting wholesale 
the now antiquated political structure of Europe. 
It is a Turkey which realizes fully the harm that 
too indiscriminating a copying of western customs 
has brought and is liable to bring to nations whose 
temperament and moral standards are different, 
a Turkey which is well aware that its past great- 
ness in history was due exclusively to its own 
unadulterated racial qualities, a Turkey which is 
convinced that by reviving its own customs and 
modernizing them to fit the requirements of the 
time it will better and more quickly revive its 
racial qualities and the grandeur of the East than 
by imitating aliens; a Turkey convinced that it 
should adapt and not adopt those of the western 
customs which make for modern progress and 
culture. 

The heart and brains of this Turkey have been 
set up in a small village on top of the fertile plains 
which dominate the rugged mountains of Anatolia. 

Thrice presumptuous enemies have tried with 
machine guns, tanks and aeroplanes, with all the 
destructive paraphernalia of modern armies, to 
seize and destroy this village in the hope that 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 247 

under its ruins would be smothered the new 
Turkey. Thrice the Turks of Anatolia have an- 
swered: 'Thou shalt not pass," and have pre- 
served intact the sanctity of their mountains, their 
plains and their country from the desecration of 
its western foes. And despite all, thousands of 
Turks, leaders of the Anatolian movement, con- 
tinue to live, hope and work in Angora, the 
village on top of the plains dominating the rugged 
mountains, the free capital of a free and inde- 
pendent new Turkey which ever since its inception 
has been progressing in leaps and bounds toward 
the leadership of the East. 

An account of modern Turkey and of the mod- 
ern Turks would not be complete without an 
account of these Turks, their mode of living, their 
ideals and ideas. And to obtain first-hand infor- 
mation on them I have written to a childhood 
friend of mine, Djemil Haidar Bey, who is now 
visiting Angora. I have received a letter from 
him and for fear of omitting the smallest detail 
or detracting from its vivid pictures vibrating with 
youthful vitality, I am giving here its textual 
translation. I have only left out those parts 
which had to do with matters of personal interest. 

"I will now endeavour to give you the descrip- 
tion you have asked of the Angora of to-day and 
of the people who are living here. I believe you 
visited Angora before the war. Anyhow you 
know that it was nothing but a village which 



248 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

could boast of no more than about fifteen thou- 
sand inhabitants living in wooden shacks and mud 
huts, good Anatolian peasants and their families, 
satisfied with leading a good, peaceful life, work- 
ing in their fields during the day and meeting in 
prayer at night. 

"The general war came and as in every other 
village of Anatolia it drained Angora of all its 
male inhabitants who could bear arms. And with 
the signing of the armistice those of the surviving 
inhabitants who were lucky enough to come back 
found nearly half of their village destroyed by fire. 
"It was written," they said with a sigh, and settled 
down to their usual life. Little did they know 
that soon the most momentous events in the Near 
East were to make of their unknown little village 
the powerful center of a whole nation in open 
rebellion against the imperialistic desires of pow- 
erful enemies. 

"But somewhere in the limitless space of the 
infinite the powers that rule the destinies of the 
world were silently acting. Events were taking 
shape. Turkish patriots, practically all members 
of the House of Representatives duly elected by 
the people, winced on reading the terms of the 
treaty of peace which the enemies of Turkey 
wanted to impose on their country. To accept them 
would have been to sign the death warrant of the 
country. But to refuse them and remain in Con- 
stantinople was not to be thought of. Several 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 249 

of their leaders who had openly given vent to 
their feelings in Constantinople had been arrested 
and exiled to a little island in the Mediterranean 
where they could leisurely think over the emptiness 
of war formulas such as the one which enunci- 
ated as inalienable the rights of small nationalities. 
To organize an open rebellion in Constantinople 
would have been impossible; the guns of the most 
powerful fleets of the world were turned on the 
city. 

"But the purpose of the Turkish patriots rep- 
resenting the will of the people was already fixed. 
One by one and unostentatiously they went as far 
away as possible from Constantinople, to Erzer- 
oum on the borders of Caucasia, and assembling 
here a National Assembly, flung to the face of the 
surprised world the slogan of the great American 
patriots of 1776: "Give us Liberty, or give us 
Death"! 

"However, events proved that the selection they 
had made for their capital was not a wise one. 
The Russian Colossus now ruled by the Bol- 
sheviki was shivering under a new fever of im- 
perialism as acute as the endemic one it had under 
the Tzars. It stretched its blood-stained claws 
to the South, and gripping the independent Turk- 
ish republic of Caucasia, implanted its Soviets 
too dangerously near Erzeroum. The Turks of 
Anatolia, the Nationalist Turks as they now called 
themselves, saw the danger and shivered in dis- 



250 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

may. Their organization was as yet nil, the Turk- 
ish armies had been disbanded, the Turkish fleet 
had been dismantled, and their capital — the brains 
of New Turkey whose double national purpose was 
naturally to protect Europe from a Southeastern 
Bolshevik invasion and the Near East from west- 
ern domination — was without guns, without can- 
nons and without bayonets, at the mercy of Russia. 
The dismay in the Turkish camp was, however, 
of short duration. From Constantinople had ar- 
rived a great man, a great leader, a great general 
whose genius had already once saved Turkey at 
the Dardanelles. Mustapha Kemal Pasha ap- 
peared in Erzeroum and the National Assembly 
unanimously elected him at once to its presidency. 
He gave immediate orders and all the members 
of the National Assembly, numbering nearly seven 
hundred, all the civilian and military chiefs accom- 
panied by their staffs, all the employees of the 
temporary Government packed up their baggage 
and trudged their weary way to the great Ana- 
tolian plateau accessible only through easily de- 
fensible mountain passes where the Sakaria river 
winds its way. 

"Here, at the head of one of the very few rail- 
road lines in Asia Minor, practically at the same 
distance from the Black Sea shores, the Russian 
Soviet's borders, Mesopotamia occupied by the 
British and Cilicia then occupied by the French — 
all places from which an attack could have been 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 251 

expected on the rear of the Nationalist armies 
fighting against the Greeks on the Smyrna and the 
Broussa front — was a small, dilapidated, half- 
burned village, Angora. But it was the natural 
center from whence the Turkish struggle for free- 
dom could be better launched and could be de- 
fended with the greatest probability of success. 

"The Turkish Nationalists wanted to build up 
their country for efficiency, not for luxury. They 
had not sought and obtained power for selfish 
reasons of comfort and enjoyment. So what did 
they care if their capital was to be a small, uncom- 
fortable village! They had left their homes, their 
property and their families in Constantinople and 
had come to Asia Minor to put into execution 
lofty ideals. Their purpose was to set up in Ana- 
tolia a new state, a new democracy, a new Gov- 
ernment of the people and for the people, free and 
independent — and they were firmly determined to 
do this against any odds. They were firmly de- 
termined not only to maintain but even to extend 
the new Turkey to its proper racial and economic 
limits so as to include, in fact as well as in name, 
all countries and cities peopled by a Turkish ma- 
jority such as Constantinople and the districts of 
Thrace and Smyrna. To attain this object they 
had already sacrificed their personal comfort and 
their wealth. They were now ready to lead a 
truly Spartan life to secure the success of their 
undertaking and they did not object to selecting 



252 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

Angora and to setting up here the headquarters 
of their fight for liberty. 

"So one fine day this half-destroyed, quiet little 
village of Angora, celebrated only for its cats 
and goats, was awakened by the influx of several 
thousands of active, energetic and progressive men 
who had decided to make of it the center of their 
activities, a place destined to pass into history as 
the capital of a nation capable of "getting the 
goat" of the most prominent statesmen of the age 
who thought — or hoped — that Turkey was dead. 
Like the Phoenix of mythology, the Turks were 
reborn from the ashes of this burnt down village. 

"The village was swamped by the newcomers 
who lodged as best they could in shacks and mud 
huts. As long as they could settle down to assist- 
ing the painful travail of the birth of a new gov- 
ernment and of a new administration conforming 
to the wishes of the people, and of an army capable 
of defending the very home and the very hearth 
of the nation, the newcomers did not mind. The 
most prominent and influential statesmen and 
military leaders were only too glad to "pile up" 
under any kind of roof which could offer them 
shelter. 

"I purposely use the expression "pile up" as it 
accurately describes what took place. As I have 
said before half of the village had been destroyed 
by fire so that there was barely enough place to 
lodge normally about two-thirds of its own inhabi- 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 253 

tants. And the newcomers numbered from six 
to eight thousand. You can well imagine the 
difficulties to contend with in order to lodge all 
these newcomers when you realize that even now 
— after nearly three years and the hasty erection 
of many temporary buildings — the place is so 
overcrowded that it is common to find four or 
five of the most prominent citizens sharing the 
same room. 

"You can easily realize that under these con- 
ditions there is very little social life. Besides, the 
work undertaken is too strenuous, the people here 
are too much occupied with their duties — and 
really in earnest about accomplishing them as well 
as they can — to indulge in social life. Further- 
more there are very few representatives of the 
fair sex in Angora, and social life without ladies 
is not possible. Most of the women here are vil- 
lagers or else nurses of the Red Crescent, Turkish 
relief workers and ladies otherwise occupied in 
assisting their husbands, fathers or brothers in 
the patriotic task they have undertaken. There 
are no women of leisure, no hostess who has 
enough time to entertain. It can be truthfully 
said that every Turkish woman now in Angora is 
a little Joan of Arc. And the quarters being 
so inadequate most of the women live together 
and sleep together just as their men are obliged 
to live and sleep together. Everyone here works 
grimly with a definite purpose and faces the 



254 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

realities confronting the cyclopean work of re- 
creating a Nation. 

"The lack of social intercourse does not how- 
ever detract from the interest of the place. The 
sight of the streets alone is most interesting and 
edifying. Everyone is so busy and there are so 
many people here that it is hardly possible to walk 
leisurely in the streets during the rush hours of the 
day. One is taken up and carried by the crowd. 
And the crowd is the most diversified and pictur- 
esque that one can see in any place, not even barring 
the proverbial bridge in Constantinople. You see, 
volunteers of all kinds have rushed here not only 
from Anatolia, but from every Turkish country, 
every Turkish village of the world and even from 
the most diversified Muslim countries of Asia and 
Africa. It is a real Babel, but of costumes not of 
languages: every one speaks Turkish. Turkish 
Anatolian peasants, with baggy trousers, wide blue 
belts and thin turbans over their fez, fraternize with 
Tartars and Kirghiz of Turkestan. Azerbeidjanian 
and Caucasian Turks, with tight-fitting black coats 
and enormous black astrakan kolpaks on their 
heads — runaways from Bolshevik Russia — are 
discussing the principles of real democracy as 
applied to Nationalist Turkey and comparing 
them with the so-called democracy of Soviet 
lands. Muslim Chinamen and Hindoos are talk- 
ing over the future of Turkey and Islam. All 
the nations of Asia intermingle here and most 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 255 

of them have official missions in Angora: Em- 
bassies from Afghanistan, Beluchistan, Bokhara, 
Khiva and from the different new Republics of 
Turkestan, duly accredited representatives from 
Persia and Azerbeidjan. The quota from Africa is 
also very large and while there are no diplomatic 
missions from African countries — for the simple 
reason that all African countries are colonies — 
many are the Fellahs from Egypt, the Algerians 
and Moroccans and even the Muslim negroes of 
North Africa who can be seen in the streets. 

"And all this crowd is active and busy. Every- 
body talks and gesticulates and rushes through the 
streets to accomplish some purpose. 

"The modern European touch is brought by 
the Turks from the big centers, Nationalist leaders 
who have come here from Constantinople and 
other large cities, clad in sack suits or in uni- 
forms cut on western patterns, but all wearing 
the black fur kolpak which has replaced through- 
out the country the red felt fez as national head- 
gear. 

"In the village proper there is not a house which 
does not shelter more people than it has rooms. 
So quite a few of the people who now live in 
Angora have been quartered in small farmhouses 
around the country and are obliged to commute 
every day to and from their business. There are 
of course no suburban trains or street cars and 
the "commuters" are obliged to use carriages as 



256 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

all the automobiles — mostly Fords — are being used 
for military purposes or for transporting travellers 
and goods from villages to villages. The carriage 
is therefore the only means of conveyance in 
Angora. "Carriage" is, of course, a rather com- 
plimentary term: true that they have four wheels 
and are drawn by horses, but they generally have 
no springs, and two boards running parallel to 
each other and facing the horse are used as seats. 
From their wooden roofs hang coloured curtains 
and the occupants are vigourously shaken over 
the uneven pavement of the streets. 

"There are only a very few shops, but no one 
has time or leisure to shop. The strict necessities 
of life can be obtained at the open counters of the 
bazaars or markets and if they are not to be 
found there one has either to do without or to 
import them from Constantinople or from some 
other city. Amusement places are absolutely non- 
existent: no theaters, not even movies. And of 
course no saloons or bars since Prohibition is 
vigourously enforced in Anatolia. There are one 
or two coffee-houses where a few old native 
peasants sit peacefully and, over a cup of coffee 
or a smoke of the 'narghile/ talk of the good old 
days. The hostelry of the place has its lounge 
turned into a dormitory. Travellers are at times 
obliged to sleep even on the steps of the stairs, so 
no space can be allotted for recreation. Besides it 
would be useless ; no one here has time for amuse- 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 257 

inent or recreation and if you ask any one how 
he passes his time he will be able to answer you 
with a single word : 'Work.' Every one is at work 
to save the life of the country, every one is 
endeavouring to improve the community, every 
one is engaged in assisting in some way or other 
the Government and the nation. 

'The offices of the Government are quartered in 
the largest buildings. An old barrack shelters 
most of them. Its enormous rooms have been 
partitioned into offices with a long corridor run- 
ning between them. Every office has a door on this 
corridor. On some of these doors there are in- 
scriptions indicating the names of the departments 
which abide therein. The Department of Foreign 
Affairs, the Department of Commerce, the Trea- 
sury Department, the Department of Agriculture 
and all other civilian departments are located in 
this building. 

"Another enormous building, a former school, 
shelters all the departments pertaining to every 
activity necessary to the national defense. Its 
offices are arranged on the same style as those for 
civilian activities. Thus the Nationalist Govern- 
ment has, fittingly, differentiated its war activities 
from its administrative activities. The depart- 
ments which are engaged in constructive work, 
whose activities will secure the nation's develop- 
ment and progress are completely separated from 
those whose duty is to secure the national defense. 



258 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

"The two most active civilian departments, or 
rather the two departments to which the National 
Government attaches the greatest importance 
among those engaged in constructive work are 
the Department of Public Education and the 
Department of Hygiene. And if — as all of us here 
are absolutely convinced — the programs of these 
two departments are strictly adhered to, Anatolia 
will be in a very few years the best educated and 
the most hygienic country in the Old World. 

"The Government conducts its business in the 
most democratic way possible. The different heads 
of departments are members of the National 
Assembly and are, therefore, all chosen directly 
by the people. They are delegated to manage the 
departments by the vote of all the members of 
the Assembly. Each head of department is in- 
dividually responsible to the Assembly for the good 
conduct and administration of his department. 
He is removable by the vote of the Assembly which 
immediately elects his successor. The heads of 
the departments have their private offices whose 
doors are always open to all. As the Government 
is of the people and for the people any citizen 
who desires to see one of his deputies' concerning a 
matter connected with his department has the 
right to come in and is received at once without 
any formalities. But he has to attend immediately 
to his business and then he has to leave. Effi- 
ciency is the slogan of the National Government 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 259 

and for this purpose all red tape has been com- 
pletely eliminated. No loitering, no 'manana' 
policy is indulged in. Things that have to be done, 
have got to be done immediately and no one has 
the right to interfere for the pleasure of following 
the dictates of a set routine. Truly this is the 
most efficient form of government that I have ever 
seen. ' 

"The National Assembly is located in the only 
really attractive and modern building of Angora. 
It has been especially erected to house the Parlia- 
ment and has a large meeting-room, a reading- 
room and private offices for the representatives 
of the people. While it is not luxurious, it is 
as comfortable and as serviceable as need be. It 
is situated on a large square not far from the 
station. 

"And now that you have an accurate idea of 
the general aspect of the capital, now that you 
know that this is no place for amusements or 
social activities, you will want to know something 
more about the people, their ideals and their aims. 

"I think that, for all these purposes, I might 
as well give you a description of the two principal 
figures who to-day stand out distinctly as the two 
leaders of the Turkish Nationalist Government; 
the two national heroes who personify better than 
any one else the spirit which animates so power- 
fully Anatolia and the whole Turkish race. One 
is a man and the other a woman. You surely 



26o SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

have already guessed: I am referring to Musta- 
pha Kemal Pasha, the undisputed leader of Turk- 
ish manhood, and to Halide Hanoum, the equally 
peerless leader of modern Turkish women. 

"As you know, Mustapha Kemal Pasha is not 
only the promoter, but the soul and the brain of 
the new Turkey. That he represents exactly all 
Turkish aspirations and embodies the ideals of 
modern Turkey is best proved by the fact that 
upon his arrival in Anatolia he was elected by the 
wish of the people to the Presidency of the Na- 
tional Assembly, the highest executive function, 
and to the Field Marshalship of the National 
Army, the highest military function. And he has 
been ever since maintained in both these most 
responsible positions by the general consensus of 
the whole nation. 

"And this has been done almost against the per- 
sonal wishes of Mustapha Kemal Pasha. He is 
neither ambitious nor desirous of holding power. 
In fact he is what might be called a self-appointed 
'power prohibitionist.' And if he remains in power 
it is exclusively because the people want him to 
and, being a convinced democrat, he bows his 
head to the wish of the people. Of course, at the 
beginning of the movement, when the national 
aspirations of the Turks sought some one to form- 
ulate them and to organize the country, Mustapha 
Kemal Pasha took the lead without shunning its 
responsibilities and without a second's hesitation 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 261 

on account of the price that he personally would 
have to pay should he fail in his undertaking. He 
set to work with the indomitable patriotic courage 
which marks national heroes. 

"His energy, his straightforwardness, his 
frankness and the rapidity with which he made 
decisions coupled to the firmness with which 
he saw that decisions, once made, were immediately 
executed became apparent even during the first 
weeks of his administration and gradually won 
him the full confidence and devotion of his people. 
This would have been his opportunity had he 
desired to establish a dictatorship, had he wanted 
to place his personal interests above the interests 
of his country, had his democratic utterances been 
of the lips and not of the heart. During the first 
months of the national movement Turkey was 
taking the chance of seeing its individual freedom 
trampled once more under the booted feet of an 
Abdul-Hamid or an Enver ... if the leader 
who was offering himself had been any one else 
than Mustapha Kemal. But the Pasha had given 
a few years before the proof of his matchless 
patriotism and abnegation by stepping back into 
an inconspicuous command after having saved 
his country by a series of victories at the Darda- 
nelles, and therefore the country felt pretty safe 
in confiding its destinies to the hands of Musta- 
pha Kemal Pasha. 

"The events have proved that this confidence 



262 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

could not have been better placed. Under the very 
guns of Turkey's enemies he organized the na- 
tional resistance and changed the prevailing state 
of nervousness and despondency into an intelligent 
state of national efficiency and enthusiasm. Start- 
ing with a handful of followers he opened new 
horizons to the Turkish people, discouraged and 
broken-hearted by their previous utter collapse. 
While the nation lay prostrated at the mercy of 
its enemies, he stepped forth and showed lo the 
Turks the silver lining behind the threatening 
clouds and demonstrated once more to the world 
that a nation which is led properly and has a will 
to live is unconquerable. 

"Mustapha Kemal Pasha had a double duty 
to perform. Turkey disarmed and bound hand 
and foot, her capital occupied by the enemy, her 
Government departments and administration com- 
pletely disorganized, had to regain her indepen- 
dence and needed therefore not only a capable 
military chief but also a capable organizer and 
statesman. Mustapha Kemal Pasha rose to the 
occasion and while he was organizing on one hand 
the military resources of his country, while he 
was arming and training thousands of recruits 
and building up factories to furnish them with 
guns and ammunition and to clothe them as best 
he could, he was on the other hand helping the 
National Assembly to formulate a new constitu- 
tion, to make a new form of government — a sort 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 263 

of republic fitted to the peculiar requirements of 
Turkey — based on the broadest and most practical 
principles of democracy. 

"And as soon as his military victories secured 
the existence of his country and permitted him 
to work on more permanent matters he turned 
completely to the National Assembly — resigning 
his commission as Commander-in-Chief — and de- 
voted his attention to the consolidation of the new 
form of Government and to the perfection of its 
administration. 

"But as the enemy, once more encouraged and 
equipped by powerful western powers, again took 
the offensive and advanced into Anatolia, burning 
villages, killing civilians and massacring old men, 
women and children, the National Assembly 
turned again to Mustapha Kemal Pasha and 
electing him once more Commander-in-Chief, asked 
him for new victories — and Turkey did not have 
to wait long to have her wishes satisfied by the 
military genius of the Pasha. 

"Ever since the definite organization of the 
National Assembly, Mustapha Kemal Pasha has 
spent all his energies in investing it with the pow- 
ers he held in his own hands. He has methodically 
and without faltering worked to transfer his own 
unlimited powers as Chief Executive and Com- 
mander to the duly elected representatives of the 
people. This process of self -restriction has gone 
so far that to-day the Turkish National Assembly 



264 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

is endowed with far greater powers and preroga- 
tives than any House of Representatives or Parlia- 
ment of any country. It has all the sovereign pre- 
rogatives including those of declaring war and 
concluding peace. It elects its own members to the 
different administrative functions of the Cabinet 
and removes them whenever it sees fit. And all 
this thanks to the restriction of his own powers 
by Mustapha Kemal Pasha. 

"In doing this the Turkish hero had a double 
purpose: he knows that the ideas and ideals he 
is fighting for are not personal to him but are 
shared by the whole nation and he wants to prove 
this to the world — on the other hand, a true demo- 
crat at heart, he wants the entire nation, through 
its duly elected representatives, to be enabled to 
handle its own destinies as it sees fit. Sure of 
final military success, he desired to increase within 
the nation the number of statesmen capable of 
perpetuating indefinitely the life of a rejuvenated 
Turkey. And through painstaking efforts, through 
sharing gradually his own responsibilities with 
members of the National Assembly he has created 
a nucleus of statesmen enjoying the national con- 
fidence and capable of commanding international 
esteem, who will be able to guide their country 
along the road of progress. 

"All the actions of Mustapha Kemal Pasha 
have been dictated by his peerless patriotism, his 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 265 

genuine spirit of abnegation and his absolute un- 
selfishness. 

"This modern Turkish Washington lives with 
his civilian and military household in a little house 
near the station and opposite the building of the 
National Assembly. This house, which is sur- 
rounded by a garden with big trees and flowers, 
was originally the house of the station master. 
It has eight or ten rooms, small and unpretentious, 
soberly furnished throughout. The only luxury in 
the house is a writing-desk almost as large as the 
room it occupies. At this table Mustapha Kemal 
Pasha spends all his time when he is not at the 
front or on military and administrative tours of 
inspection, or working at the National Assembly, 
It is in this den that the General works from 
early in the morning until late at night, without 
any distraction, continuously and painstakingly 
striving to bring about his dream — not a dream of 
personal ambition or of national conquests, but 
a dream of freedom and of independence for a 
people— his people — whose one aim is to remain 
master of its own home. 

"The leader of Turkish women, Halide Edib 
Hanoum, is in her own field as great a figure as 
Mustapha Kemal Pasha. Her talents are most 
diversified and she has, like Mustapha Kemal 
Pasha, a very strong will for putting through any- 
thing she undertakes. Although" she is still 
young she has been for many years at the head 



266 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

of the movement for the emancipation of Turk- 
ish women. You probably remember, as I do, 
that she first attracted public attention when her 
verses were published. It created quite a stir in 
Turkey as she was the first Turkish poetess, at 
least the first who came out under her own name 
and bowed to the public through her books. I 
still remember the first time I saw her, in 
the good old pre-war days in the summer of 191 3. 
I had gone with some friends to the Sweet Waters 
of Asia on the Bosphorus which were at that time 
the fashionable 'rendezvous' on Friday afternoons. 
The little stream bordered with old trees and green 
meadows was crowded with rowboats and caiks 
leisurely gliding on its transparent waters. Sud- 
denly among the boats I saw a slender skiff with 
two rowers wearing embroidered Oriental liveries. 
At the stern a young girl was sitting, her veil 
a little more transparent than it was usually worn 
at the time and her dark brown locks showing 
a little more than those of her sisters. She held 
a white embroidered parasol daintily in her hand 
to shelter her from the strong rays of the summer 
sun. Her pensive black eyes were beautiful. Her 
boat crossed ours and the vision had disappeared 
in a few seconds. I held my breath and asked my 
companions who she was, and when I heard that it 
was 'Halide Hanoum, the poetess' I was more im- 
pressed than ever, tittle did I guess that the next 
time I would see Her it would be here in Angora. 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 267 

"Of course you know her career during tliese 
pre-war days and possibly also during the war. 
She managed always to be a little ahead of her 
sisters, the other Turkish women who were clam- 
ouring for the emancipation of their sex. She 
was the first one who gradually and almost im- 
perceptibly lifted the veil of her contemporaries, 
she was the first Turkish woman who engaged in 
newspaper polemics and addressed public meetings. 
Even in those days she was a leader but she had 
not yet come into her own. It took the national 
epopee of Anatolia to bring out in Her all the 
mature attributes of a really great woman, a 
leader among leaders, a practical and rational 
woman of action even though extremely advanced. 

"She was, I think, the first woman to come to 
Angora. Communication with Constantinople be- 
ing then interrupted she had to cross in carriage, 
on foot or on horseback the mountains of Ana- 
tolia. The hardships she went through would 
make the subject of a long novel. During nearly 
four weeks — the time it took her to reach Angora 
— not once did she find a decent bed to rest in, 
and even her husband, Adnan Bey, was exhausted 
when they arrived here. But it did not take her 
long to recover and within a short time she was 
engaged body and soul in organizing educational 
campaigns throughout Anatolia and in teaching 
the peasant women all the different ways in which 
they could be useful to their country. 



268 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

"At the first vacancy in the National Assembly 
she became a candidate and went personally before 
her constituency. She was, of course, elected 
by an overwhelming majority and of course she 
distinguished herself in her parliamentary work. 
In fact she criticised so well the educational sys- 
tem then in vogue and offered such excellent con- 
structive suggestions that her colleagues of the 
National Assembly elected her Secretary of Public 
Education in the Cabinet. 

"She was successfully holding this position when 
the enemy started his spring drive and the Com- 
mander-in-Chief issued a proclamation calling un- 
der the colours all persons who could hold a gun. 
She immediately took advantage of this to establish 
once more the equal rights of women: on the plea 
that, being a huntress she not *only could hold a 
gun but also knew how to use it, she enrolled in 
the army and won the grade of non-commissioned 
officer for bravery on the field, at the battle of 
Sakaria. After the successful repulse of the enemy 
and when the armies were disbanded for the 
winter she returned to Angora where she is now 
completing and perfecting the organization of 
Turkish women for educational, racial and hy- 
gienic betterment. 

"Halide Edib Hanoum lives in a little cottage, a 
farm, situated at about one hour's ride from the 
village and which is reached through a long, dusty 
road. Nestled within a bouquet of trees and at a 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 269 

short distance from a clear little stream which 
sings its way through rocks and flowers, stands 
the rustic cottage of Halide Hanoum. It has a 
nice little orchard and, further back behind the 
trees is a pasture where she keeps a few cows. 
It is an ideal place for this loving and beloved 
woman leader, for here she can withdraw — when 
she finds time from her various occupations — and 
ride or hunt or else write, according to her whim 
of the moment. 

"The house is furnished scrupulously in Turkish 
style — the Turkish style of villages: no rich em- 
broideries and beautiful hangings, but simple 
divans lined up against the whitewashed walls, 
one or two carpets, and a copper 'brazero' in the' 
living-room. And of course books, a large collec- 
tion of books in every language — English, French 
and German which she speaks remarkably well — 
and a few hunting guns. 

"The last time I saw her she was returning 
from a ride on horseback as I entered the gate. 
And I 1 cannot say which of the two pictures is 
most striking: that of a young girl in a rowboat 
on the Sweet Waters of Asia, or that of a woman, 
slim and athletic, gracefully riding astride a 
beautiful horse, her uncovered face proudly erect 
and her features, now more mature, proclaiming 
the mind and the will of a leader! 

"She asked me to tea, and in her simple little 
drawing-room we sat with her husband and lis- 



270 SPEAKING OF THE TURKS 

tened. She talked to us of her aspirations and 
hopes — not social aspirations, to which all young 
and attractive women are entitled, but the aspira- 
tions and hopes of seeing one day soon the Turkish 
women, her sisters, recognised as the most pro- 
gressive and advanced women of the world and 
pointed out, even in foreign countries, as the 
models of true womanhood." 

Little can be added to this picture given by 
Djemil Haidar Bey on the life in the Nationalist 
capital and the organization of New Turkey. 
Since his letter was written events have proved 
that he had in no way exaggerated the efficient 
work and the patriotism of the Turks in Anatolia. 
They have succeeded in accomplishing the impos- 
sible. Their countrymen all over the Old Ottoman 
Empire as well as in "the confines of Asia share 
fully their joy as they had shared their sorrows 
and pains. We are all proud of the unequalled 
accomplishments of our people and we firmly be- 
lieve, no matter what the immediate future has 
in store for us of further struggles and further 
sufferings — no matter how vicious a propaganda 
our enemies may have recourse to so as to mini- 
mize the effect and results of our victories — that 
New Turkey, a rejuvenated nation which has 
given such patent proofs of its unconquerable 
spirit of self-sacrifice and indomitable will to live, 
a people which, despite the most insurmountable 
obstacles thrown in its way by unfair enemies, has 



A VOICE FROM ANATOLIA 271 

succeeded in emancipating itself from all political, 
economic, religious and personal prejudices — will 
shatter completely its material and moral chains 
and continue its advance — free and independent 
— on the road to culture, progress and civilization. 



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