WITH THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR. 69
European pleaders, no exhibitions of forensic eloquence, none of " the law's delay."
Should it appear that any attempt was made to entangle the subject in legal quibbles, or
lengthen it unnecessarily, so that justice maybe either defeated or deferred, the parties
are liable to be bastinadoed on the spot, at the discretion of the judge.
Two witnesses are required to establish a fact, and never more. If it be a case of
debt, the simple promise of the debtor is sufficient, either written and marked with his
seal, or, if verbal, attested by witnesses. The parties generally plead their own cause ;
the judges, without reference to any code but the Koran, consider the simple facts.
Having decided, they give sentence, which is submitted to the grand vizir; and, if it
coincide with his own opinion, which is generally the case, he writes at the bottom of
the arzuhal the word Sah, " surely." If, on the contrary, he dissents, he writes his own
decree, and the parties are dismissed with a hujet, or " sentence of the grand vizir,"
which is final. It is on these occasions only, that disputation takes place in a Turkish
court of justice; for if the cadileskers are supposed capable, either through ignorance
or design, of pronouncing an unjust decree, they are degraded, and never suffered again
to hold any place of trust. They, therefore, defend their opinions with obstinacy, and
the court resounds, not with the pleadings of lawyers, but the disputation of the judges.
Proceeding thus from left to right, the cases are summarily decided till it is dark, or
they are all disposed of; and as justice may not be deferred by the intervention of any
avoidable delay, the members of the court dine where they sit. A frugal meal is brought
in at midday and despatched in a few minutes.
Such is the process when the Divan is a court of justice; but when it becomes a
Galibe Divan, or " council chamber," all the affairs of state become objects of its deliberation or discussion. This is held on Sundays and Mondays. Here the grand vizir and
cadileskers also sit, assisted by the reis effendi, or " minister for foreign affairs,"
the mufti, or "chief of ecclesiastical affairs," and the agas, "or heads of the military
departments." When the first dawn of European light opened upon Turkey, this council
of despotism made some approximation to a popular representation. In the difficulties
that surrounded the state at the commencement of the Greek revolution, the embarrassed
but enlightened Sultan invited the mutelins or " paymasters" of the different janissary
corps, and also deputies from the esnaffs or " corporations" of trades, to become members, and, as these were taken from the respectable class of citizens, they were fair
representatives of their opinions to a certain extent, and so formed the first Turkish
The Sultan introduced another innovation also into the mysterious proceedings of the
Divan. It was not usual for the sovereign to appear personally there, but whenever an
affair was discussed, the grand vizir appeared before him, with the members of the
council, in an apartment of the seraglio, and there took his directions. But, though
he was seemingly absent, it was known that he was always present on any affair of
importance. There stands at the back of the Divan, some distance above the heads of
those who sit on it, a projection like a bow-window from the wall. This is covered with
gilded lattice-work, and concealed by curtains drawn behind. It is called the Sha