HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE. XXV
at the time of their father's death in 1789. His anxious wish was to correct the prejudices, and enlighten the ignorance of his 'subjects, by gradually introducing European
usages among them. His first improvements were military: a corps was formed,
adopting the European discipline, and called the nizam dgeddit, or "new regulation."
Against this innovation the Janissaries revolted: they spurned with indignation all
customs but their own; they thought their institutions the perfection of human nature,
and that any change must be a degradation. They therefore deposed Selim in 1807, and
called to the throne his cousin, Mustapha IV., the son of Abdul Hamet Khan, who had
now arrived at adult years. Selim, however, by his many good and amiable qualities,
had secured the affections of a large body of his subjects, who, though they did not accede
to his military plans, were strongly attached to his person: and among these was
This man was a rough soldier, of large stature, and immense bodily strength, fierce in
disposition, and coarse in manners, but susceptible of the most affectionate attachment.
He was called Bairactar because he had been originally a standard-bearer, and, though
now raised to the command of a large army, with the usual pride of a Turk, still retained
the original name of the humble rank from which he had raised himself. When he
heard that the master he loved was deposed and a prisoner, he hastened with his army
to the seraglio, and demanded admission at the great gate of the Babi Hummayoun.
Mustapha, who was of a light and frivolous, though cruel character, was in the habit of
amusing himself daily on the Bosphorus; and when he heard of this insurrection in favour
of his deposed cousin, he hastened to land at the sea-gate of the seraglio. He here
motioned to his attendant eunuch, who ran to obey his orders. Selim was found in his
private apartment, engaged in the performance of the namaz, at the hour of prayer, which
he never omitted. In this position he was seized by the eunuch, who attempted to strangle
him. He started up, however, and made a vigorous resistance; but his murderer,
twining round his legs, seized him in such a way as gave him exquisite pain: he fainted,
and in this senseless state was strangled. Meantime, the Bairactar thundered at the
great gate, and threatened to batter it down, if the deposed sultan was not produced.
He was answered, that his wish should be immediately complied with. The gate was
thrown open, and the lifeless Selim cast before him: the rough soldier threw himself
upon the body of his gentle master, and wept bitterly.
Another revolution immediately ensued — the cruel and frivolous Mustapha was
deposed, and the soldiers searched for his brother Mahmoud, who was known to be in
the seraglio, but was no where to be found. It was at length discovered, that a slave
attached to his person had immediately seized him when the disturbance began, and
hurried him to an oven, where she shut him in, and kept him concealed. From thence
he was taken, and placed on the throne. His first act of Turkish policy, immutable
in ferocity and disregard of human life, was to cause his brother Mustapha to be
strangled; and his next, to cast into the sea all the females of his brother's harem,
lest any of their children, even then unborn, should cause a disputed succession.
The present sultan, Mahmoud II., was born in the year 1788; he was the second