54 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS ;
the work, and the unsettled and disturbed state which followed prevented its resumption.
The <rood and enlightened patriarch and his chaplains, who had laboured to promote
the undertaking, were dead, the greater part of his clergy were in exile or in prison, while
the learned Hilarion, having escaped the first burst of persecution, was, by one of the sudden vicissitudes so common in the East, dragged from his obscurity, and elevated to the see
of Tornova, and, on the summit of the lofty Balkans, completed that sacred work which
is to enlighten the world below.
The town of Tornova, besides being the largest in the region of the Balkans, is the only
one built on the elevated central ridge from the Euxine to the Adriatic. Its site is very
singular ; it is seen from below, " hanging, like a swallow's nest," from the stupendous
craigs above. When the traveller climbs to these upper regions, he walks through streets
running on ridgy terraces, and looks down from a dizzy height on the road far beneath, which
is at length lost to his sight in a deep abyss. A singular effect is observed in these regions,
similar to that which occurs between the tropics. The setting sun is succeeded by no
crepuscular illumination, and the eye is not accustomed to the gradual decrease of light:
sunset seems to extinguish all atmospheric reflection, and darkness suddenly envelopes
the horizon long before it is expected. Thus it happens that travellers are frequently
surprised in the most dangerous and difficult part of the precipitous road, and compelled to
halt on some projecting rock, till day-dawn extricates them from the perilous position in
which night had unexpectedly overtaken them. To guard against this, paper lanterns are
sometimes provided. The paper of which they are made is compressed into a small flat circular surface, and carried easily inside the hat or turban. When used, they are drawn out
into a cylinder, and a taper placed inside, and, by the help of this faint and uncertain light,
tied to the end of a pole and hung over the edge of the precipice, the adventurous traveller cautiously creeps along, rather than remain all night exposed on a naked craig to
the inclemency of a mountain-region.—Among the phenonema of these mountains are
certain visionary figures, which have something awful and supernatural in their aspect.
Dense forms of gigantic beings, resembling those observed on the Hartz, are seen suddenly to issue out of chasms or forests, and move along like dim and undefined spectres
through inaccessible places, where no mortal or embodied existence could possibly find
a footing. These are columns of mist, sometimes so numerous and frequent as to
seem like companies of giants travelling through the mountain-passes. The janissary
or surrogee, who accompanies the traveller, is struck with awe, and exclaims " Allah
keerim," (God is merciful,) bows his head, and repeats his namaz as the spectres pass.
It not unfrequently happens that sudden bursts of wind follow these appearances,
tearing up trees, and sweeping through valleys with dangerous violence. As the misty
columns are often the precursors of these storms, they are supposed to be their cause ;
they are, therefore, ascribed to the malignity of these visionary giants, who blow them forth
over the unfortunate traveller, as the breath of their nostril.
Sometimes the traveller is surprised by sudden light gleaming from the rocks around
him, and the roar of fires bursting from caverns. These, however, arise from a more
explicable cause. The iron-ore with which the interior of the mountains abounds, is gene-