Xii HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
On the northern shore of the Golden Horn rises a promontory, similar to that on
which the city is built, and called for that reason by the Greeks pera, because it stood
on the " other side," or beyond the harbour. The extreme point of this peninsula, and
just opposite the ancient Byzantium, was called Galata, for, as some say, it was the
" milk market" of the Greeks, and it was assigned to these merchants, as the most convenient site for their imports, having the Bosphorus on one side to receive them, and
the harbour on the other to distribute them through the city. In process of time their
town increased, and, in consequence of some attempt made by their rivals, the Venetians,
they were permitted by the Greek emperor, Cantacuzene, to surround the city with a
wall having turrets and battlements. It ran from sea to sea, shutting up this little
enterprising community in a secure asylum, and still continues in a very perfect state.
They were also allowed to use their own form of government, to elect their podesta, or
chief magistrate, and to practise the forms and discipline of their own worship. Thus
the mart of a few fishermen assumed the port and bearing of a considerable city.
Though their independent estate has been abolished by the absorbing despotism of the
Turks, they have left behind them another memorial of their consequence, beside the
walls of their city: they introduced the Italian language into the East, and it is that
Frank tongue that is now most universally spoken by all classes. The most respectable
portion of the present inhabitants are the descendants of those merchants, and they are
selected as dragomans, or interpreters, by the several European embassies.
But a new power was now preparing to overrun and astonish the world, not by the
sudden and transitory inroad of a barbarous multitude, carrying with it the destruction
of an inundation, and, like it, passing on, and remembered only by the ravages it left
behind; this was a permanent invasion of a stubborn and persevering race, destined
to obliterate the usages of former ancient people, and establish, in their place, its own.
On the banks of the Oxus, beyond the waters of the Caspian Sea, there dwelt a nomadic
people engaged only in the care of their flocks and herds, and for that reason called
Turks, from their rude and rustic habits. They had embraced the Islam, or true faith
of Mohammed, and changed the appellation of Turks, which was a term of reproach, to
Moslemuna, or " the resigned."# From their remote obscurity in the centre of Asia,
they issued, to carry the desolation of Islamism into the Christian world.
The first of this race who penetrated into the Greek possessions in Asia Minor was
Othman. He seized upon the passes of Mount Olympus, and instead of razing, he
strengthened all the fortified places behind him. His son Orchan conquered all the
Christian cities established there, and finally made himself master of Brusa, the capital of
Bythinia, which became the seat of the Turkish empire in Asia. The Seven Churches of
the Apocalypse shared the same fate. Those lights of the world, swarming with a Christian
people, were reduced to small villages, with a few Moslem inhabitants; even Ephesus,
the great emporium of Asia, celebrated for its noble temple, had " its candlestick so
* The word Islam is mentioned in the Koran as, " the true faith." It signifies, literally,
" resignation." A professor of it is called Moslem, and, in the plural number, Moslemuna, which
is corrupted, by us, into " Mussulman,"