64 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS ;
temperate air, sees spring and summer blooming around him; the fields are green, the
hills are gay, and the romantic woods and copses which clothe them, retain not only their
leaves but their flowers also.
But in the midst of these beauties of nature he observes that everything is solitary and
deserted. He passes a day's journey through them, and meets nothing that has life from
mornino- till evening. He sees on the distant horizon something that has the semblance of an
inhabited place; he finds, when he approaches, that it is only a cemetery, which indicates
that human life had once been there, but has now long since departed. Not a trace of the
villages to which they once belonged remains behind, to mark where social man had once
existed. Some of these solitary cemeteries are very extensive, and seem to mark the
vicinity of a large town and numerous inhabitants; but so completely and so long ago
have they been obliterated, that their very names have perished. It is natural for an
inquisitive traveller, when he sees a large grave-yard, to ask his Tartar, or surrogee, the
name of the city to which it belongs—but the Turk who daily travels by it, shakes his
head at the hopeless question, and replies " Allah bilir,'' God only knows.
What adds to the singularity and solitude of these plains, is the multitude of conical
mounds which are everywhere scattered over them. These are lofty, and evidently
artificial heaps, thrown up at some remote period by human labour, and to answer some
purpose. They exactly resemble those mounds on the opposite coast of Asia, on the
plains of Troy, which are supposed to be the tombs of heroes who fell during the siege,
and the monuments erected over them, to mark the spot where their bodies are deposited.
They are both equally called tepe in Asia and Europe, which is supposed to be a
corruption of the Greek word racpog, by which the tombs of heroes were designated, and
this coincidence renders it probable they both had the same origin. They are sometimes
so numerous, that eight or ten appear at once, and the traveller passes close to them
in succession, while whole ranges of them are seen marking the outline of the distant
horizon. The supposition that they are tombs, adds considerably to the sense of
solitude in these lonely regions. The traveller supposes himself passing through a
vast grave-yard of several hundred miles in extent, the receptacle of human bodies,
where, from the earliest ages, the kings, and heroes, and great ones of their nation are
reposing in solitary magnificence.
While the fields are abandoned and agriculture is neglected, there is no art substituted or manufacture pursued, to engage the corresponding scanty population. The
gold mines of Thrace were formerly so rich as to yield Philip of Macedon the value of
£200,000 annually; an immense sum in those days, which enabled him to corrupt the
patriot orators of Athens, and to boast that no city could resist him, that had a breach
wide enough to admit an ass laden with the produce of these mines. They are unproductive to the Turks; and while they might raise a richer harvest of golden grain on
those plains close to their capital, they are indebted to Odessa, and the permission of
their enemies, the Russians, for the daily bread of Constantinople.