|2 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS.
Euxine to the Propontis; and in one line of coast there is a continuity of houses for six
miles. From the centre of each village an enormous platan us generally rears its lofty
head, and expands its wide extent of foliage: round its gigantic stem the houses are
clustered, over which it forms a vast canopy, so that large villages are often covered with
the shade of a single tree.
THE GREAT CEMETERY OF SCUTARI.
Among the first objects that present themselves to a stranger entering Turkey, are
the groves of cypress extending in dark masses along the shores. These are the last
resting-places of the Turks; and their sad and solemn shade, far more gloomy than any
which Christian usage has adopted, informs the traveller that he is now among a grave
and serious people. The Turks enjoin the Jews, Armenians, Greeks, and Franks to plant
their cemeteries with other trees, but reserve the cypress exclusively to themselves.
The cypress has, from early ages, been a funereal tree; the ancient Greeks and
Romans so considered it; and the Turks, when they entered Europe, adopted it Its
solemn shade casting a " dim religious light" over the tombs it covers—its aromatic resin
exuding from the bark, and correcting by its powerful odour the cadaverous smell exhaled
from dissolving mortality—and, above all, its evergreen and undying foliage, exhibiting
an emblem of the immortal part, when the body below has mouldered into dust and
perished,—have all recommended it to the Mussulman, and made it the object of his
It is an Oriental practice, to plant a tree at the birth, and another at the death,
of any member of a family. When one, therefore, is deposited in the earth, the surviving relatives place a cypress at the foot, while a stone marks the head of the grave;
and the pious son, whose birth his father had commemorated by a platanus, is now seen
carefully watering the young tree which is to preserve the undying recollection of his
parent. Thus it is that the cemetery extends by constant renovation. Whether it is
that the soil is naturally congenial to these trees, or that it is enriched by the use to
which it is applied, it is certain the cypress attains to a majesty and beauty in these
cemeteries, which are seen nowhere else; their stems measuring an immense circumference, and their pointed summits seeming to pierce the clouds, exhibit them as
magnificent specimens of vegetable life. Sometimes they assume a different form, and
the branches, shooting out horizontally, extend a lateral shade. These varieties have
been by travellers mistaken for pines, which the Turks never admit into their cemeteries.
Hut of all " the cities of the dead' in the Turkish empire, that of Scutari in Asia,
at the mouth of the Bosphorus, is perhaps the most striking and extensive. It
stretches up an inclined plain, clothing it with its dark foliage, like a vast pall thrown
over the departed. It extends for more than three miles, and, like a large forest, is