6 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS.
empire, embroidered on it; but within the disc was worked a cross; and the pious
Moslems saw, with fear and astonishment, their sultan sail under this Christian emblem.
He had just before shown such indulgence and good-will to the rayas of that faith, that
his enemies every where gave out, that, among his innovations, he was disposed to adopt
it himself, and the present flag was a public display of it. It appeared, afterwards, that
the unconscious sultan knew nothing of the emblem over his head. The sanguine
Greeks of the arsenal had that morning inserted it in the midst of the sun; and so
had exhibited it as another cross of Constantine, converting an infidel sovereign to
Entering the harbour are always seen large rafts of timber, cut in the woods of the
Black Sea, and conveyed down the Bosphorus. These floating islands are of considerable size, and navigated by companies of boatmen. They supply not only the
wood for the arsenals, but the firing for the city. Some years ago, a coal-mine was
discovered at Domosdere, not far from the mouth of the strait, and several tons of coal
were bought and used by the Franks of Constantinople. But the Turks conceived a
prejudice against its smoke, and refused to introduce any more; so it fell into disuse.
The present sultan will not suffer this important acquisition to his steam-boats to be
lost, and, it is said, he is about to avail himself of its advantages.
From this ever-moving surface of the " Golden Horn," the city of Constantinople
rises with singular beauty and majesty. The view of the city displays a mountain of
houses, as far as the eye can reach : the seven hills form an undulating line along
the horizon, crowned with imperial mosques, among which the grand Solemanie is the
most conspicuous. These edifices are extraordinary structures, and, from their magnitude and position, give to Constantinople its most characteristic aspect. They consist
of large square buildings, swelling in the centre into vast hemispherical domes, and
crowned at the angles with four slender lofty minarets. The domes are covered with
metal, and the spires cased in gilding, so that the one seems a canopy of glittering silver,
and the other a shaft of burnished gold. Their magnitude is so comparatively great,
and they cover such a space of ground, that they seem altogether disproportioned to
every thing about them, and the contrast gives them an apparent siz£ almost as great
as the hills on which they stand.
Among the conspicuous objects arising above the rest, and mingling with the minarets of the mosques, are two tall towers, one on each side the harbour, called the
" Janissaries' Tower," and the " Tower of Galata." They command an extensive view
over both peninsulas," and are intended for the purpose of watching fires, to which the
city is constantly subject. Instead of a bell, a large drum is kept in a chamber on the
summit, and when the watchman observes a fire, for which he is always looking out, he
strikes the great drum with a mallet; and this kind of tolling produces a deep sound,
which comes on the ear, particularly at night, with a tone singularly solemn and
The valleys between the hills are crossed by the ancient aqueduct of Valens, which
conveys the water brought from the mountains of the Black Sea to the several cisterns