Letters from Turkey, by Mary Wortley Montagu

Table of Contents

Preface, by a Lady. Written in 1724.

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Letters . . .

  1. From Rotterdam. — Voyage to Helvoetsluys — general view of Rotterdam — remarks on the female dresses there.
  2. From the Hague. — The pleasure of travelling in Holland — the Hague — the Voorhout there.
  3. From Nimeguen. — Nimeguen compared to Nottingham — the Belvidera — the bridge — ludicrous service at the French church.
  4. From Cologn. — Journey from Nimeguen to Cologn — the Jesuits church — plate — relics — the sculls of the eleven thousand virgins.
  5. From Nuremberg. — Difference between the free towns, and those under absolute princes — the good effects of sumptuary laws — humorous remarks on relics, and the absurd representations in the churches at Nuremberg.
  6. From Ratisbon. — Ridiculous disputes concerning punctilios among the envoys at the Diet — the churches and relics — silver image of the Trinity.
  7. From Vienna. — Voyage from Ratisbon down the Danube — general description of Vienna — the houses — furniture — entertainments — the Fauxbourg — Count Schoonbourn’s villa.
  8. Vienna. — Opera in the garden of the Favorita — playhouse and representation of the story of Amphitrion.
  9. Vienna. — Dress of the ladies — Lady M’s reception at court — person of the empress — customs of the drawing-room — the emperor — empress Amelia — how seated at table — maids of honour, their office and qualifications — dressers — audience of the empress-mother — her extraordinary piety — mourning dress of the ladies at Vienna — audience of the empress Amelia — shooting-match by ladies.
  10. Vienna. — Vienna a paradise for old women — different acceptation of the word reputation at London and at Vienna — neither coquettes nor prudes at Vienna — every lady possessed both of a nominal and real husband — gallant overture to lady M. to comply with this custom.
  11. Vienna — Phlegmatic disposition of the Austrians — humorous anecdote of a contest upon a point of ceremony — widows not allowed any rank at Vienna — pride of ancestry — marriage portions limited — different treatment of ambassadors and envoys at Court.
  12. Vienna. — Dress and assemblies of the Austrian ladies — gala days — convent of St Lawrence — wooden head of our Saviour — dress of the Nuns — their amusements — particulars concerning a beautiful Nun — reflections on the monastic state, &c.
  13. Vienna. — Description of the emperor’s repository.
  14. From Prague. — General state of Bohemia — Prague described with reference to Vienna.
  15. From Leipzig. — Dangerous journey from Prague to Leipzig — character of Dresden — the Saxon and Austrian ladies compared — anecdotes of the countess of Cozelle — Leipzig and its fair described.
  16. From Brunswick. — Brunswick, for what considerable.
  17. From Hanover. — Bad regululations of the post in Germany — character of the young prince (afterwards king George II.)— short account of Hanover — view of the country in travelling through Germany, compared with England.
  18. Hanover. — Description of the women at Hanover — the traineaus or snow-sledges described — particulars of the empress of Germany.
  19. Blankenburg. — Motive of Lady M’s journey to Blankenburg — her reception by the duchess of Blankenburg — the description of Hanover continued — perfection to which fruit is brought by means of stoves at Herenhausen — recommendation of chamber-stoves.
  20. From Vienna. — Diversions of the carnival — remarks on the music and balls — the Italian comedy — the air and weather at Vienna — the markets and provisions.
  21. Vienna. — Lady M’s audience of leave — absurd taste for dwarfs at the German courts — reflections on this taste — remarks on the inhabitants of Vienna — a word or two concerning prince Eugene, and the young prince of Portugal.
  22. Vienna. — Reflections on her intended journey to Constantinople.
  23. From Peterwaradin. — Journey from Vienna hither — reception at Raab — visit from the bishop of Temeswar, with his character — description of Raab — its revolutions — remarks on the state of Hungary, with the Emperor Leopold’s persecution of his protestant Hungarian subjects — description of Buda — its revolutions — the inhabitants of Hungary — Essec described — the Hungarian ladies and their dress.
  24. From Belgrade. — Character of the Rascian soldiers — their priests — appearance of the field of Carlowitz, after the late battle between prince Eugene and the Turks — reception at, and account of Belgrade — the murder of the late Bassa — character of Achmet Beg.
  25. From Adrianople. — Description of the deserts and inhabitants of Servia — Nissa the capital — cruel treatment of the baggage-carriers by the janizaries — some account of Sophia — Philippopolis — fine country about Adrianople.
  26. Adrianople. — Entertaining account of the baths at Sophia, and Lady M’s reception at them.
  27. Adrianople. — Why our account of the Turks are so imperfect — oppressed condition of the Servians — teeth money, what — character of the Turkish effendis — farther particulars of Achmet Beg — Mahometism like Christianity, divided into many sectaries — remarks on some of their notions — religion of the Arnounts — conjectures relating to Trajan’s gate — present view of the country.
  28. From Adrianople. — Marriage of the grand signior’s eldest daughter — the nature of the Turkish government — grand signior’s procession to mosque — his person described — particulars relating to the French ambassador’s lady — character and behaviour of the janizaries — the janizaries formidable to the seraglio.
  29. Adrianople. — Lady M. describes her Turkish dress — the persons and manners of the Turklsh ladies — their dress when they go abroad — their address at intriguing — possessed of more liberty than is generally imagined — the plurality of wives allowed by the Koran seldom indulged.
  30. Adrianople. — Manner in which the Turks pass their time — the present pastoral manners of the Easterns, a confirmation of the descriptions in the Grecian poets — give great light into many scripture passages — specimen of Turkish poetry — a version given by Lady M. in the English style.
  31. Adrianople. — The plague not so terrible as represented — account of the Turkish method of inoculating the small-pox.
  32. Adrianople. — Description of the camel — their use, and method of managing them — the buffalo — the Turkish horses — their veneration for storks — the Turkish houses — why Europeans so ignorant Of the insides of the Turkish houses — their gardens — their mosques and hanns.
  33. Adrianople. — Lady M’s visit to the grand vizier’s lady — her person described, and manner of entertaining her guest — the victuals, &c. — visit to the kahya’s lady, the fair Fatima — her person, dress, and engaging behaviour — her waiting-women — the Turkish music.
  34. Adrianople. — Description of Adrianople — the exchange — the principal traders Jews — the Turkish camp — procession of the grand signior going to command his troops in person — the manner by which Turkish lovers shew their affection for their mistresses — description of sultan Selim’s mosque — the seraglio — the young princes.
  35. From Constantinople. — Journey from Adrianople — the little seraglio — the Greek church at Selivrea — singular lodging of a hogia or schoolmaster — general view of Pera — Constantinople — their burial places and tombs — manner of renewing a marriage after a divorce — unmarried women, why supposed in Turkey to die in a state of reprobation — this notion compared with the catholic veneration for celibacy — the Eastern taste for antiquities.
  36. From Belgrade Village. — Lady M’s agreeable situation there — diary of her way of spending the week, compared with the modish way of spending time.
  37. Belgrade Village. — Turkish female slaves described — voyages to the Levant filled with untruths — balm of Mecca, its extraordinary effects on the ladies faces — Turkish ladies great dealers in magic charms, to command love.
  38. From Pera of Constantinople. — Barrenness disgraceful among the Turkish ladies — often destroy themselves by quackery on this account — naturally prolific — the Turkish houses why liable to fire — mildness of the winter at Constantinople — Turkish punishment for convicted liars.
  39. Pera of Constantinople. — Lady M. brought to bed — visits the sultana Hafiten — anecdotes of that lady — her dress — entertainment — story of the sultan’s throwing a handkerchief contradicted — amusements of the seraglio — the sultana Hafiten’s gardens, bed chamber, and slaves — the Arabian tales, a true representation of Eastern manners — magnificence of the Turkish harams — visit to the fair Fatima — the characters of the sultana Hafiten and Fatima compared — story of Fatima — magnificence of her habitation.
  40. Pera. — Turkish love-letter, with a translation — the confusion of tongues spoke at Pera — Lady M. in danger of losing her English.
  41. Suburbs of Constantinople — Turkish water-man — Constantinople, why not easy to be seen by Europeans — pleasure of rowing down the Bosphorus — view of Constantinople from the water — the seraglio — Sancta Sophia — the mosque Of sultan Solyman — of sultana Valida — the atlerdan — the brazen serpentine column — the exchange — the bisisten — humanity of the Turks towards their slaves — the historical pillar fallen down — the dervises — their devotion and dancing.
  42. Mr Hill’s account of the sweating pillar, and of the Turkish ladies, contradicted — manner of living of the Turkish wives — ceremony of receiving a Turkish bride at the bagnio — no public cognizance taken of murder — generally compounded for by money — story of a Christian lady taken prisoner by a Turkish admiral, who chose to continue with and marry her ravisher — the Turks great venerators of truth — the Eastrn manner of adopting children — account of the Armenians — their strict observance of fasts — summary view of their religion — ceremonies at an Armenian marriage.
  43. From Constantinople. — Observations on the accounts given by Sir Paul Rycaut and Gemelli — the canal between Constantinople and Calcedon — the precarious nature of human grandeur in Turky — description of the house of the grand vizier who was killed at Peterwaradin — moral reflections on the difference between the taste of the Europeans and the Easterns.
  44. From Tunis. — Vovage from Constantinople — the Hellespont, and castles of Sestos and Abydos — reflections on the story of Hero and Leander — the burial-places of Hecuba and Achilles — antiquities — habits of the Greek peasants — conjectures as to the ruins of a large city — remarks on the face of the country illustrated by reference to passages from Homer — Troy, no remains of it existing — ruins of old Constantinople — Latin inscriptions, and remains of antiquity — isle of Tenedos — Mytilene — Lesbos — Scio, and its inhabitants — promontory of Lunium the present Cape Colonna — temple of Theseus, how destroyed present condition of the Morea, the ancient Peloponnesus — Candia — reflections on the contrast between ancient and modern Greece — Trinacria — Malta — arrival at Tunis — face of the country — manner of celebrating the Mahometan ramadan or Lent — the natives — ruins of the aqueduct of Carthage — description and chronological anecdotes of the city of Tunis — ruins of Carthage.
  45. From Genoa. — Description of Genoa and its inhabitants — Cizisbeis, the nature of their employment, and occasion of their institution — the government — palaces — paintings — remark on their fondness for the representation of crucifixes — church of St Lawrence, and the famous emerald plate — their churches not to be compared with the Sancta Sophia at Constantinople.
  46. From Turin. — Character of Turin, its palaces and churches — Lady M. waits on the queen — persons of the king and prince of Piedmont described.
  47. From Lyons. — Journey from Turin to Lyons — passage over mount Cenis — the frontier towns between Savoy and France.
  48. From Lyons. — Reflections on the insipidity of female visits — the inscriptions on brass tables on each side of the town-house at Lyons — remains of antiquity — cathedral of St John — critique on the statue of Louis XIV.
  49. From Paris. — Miserable condition of the French peasants — palace of Fontainbleau — fair of St Lawrence — opera house — general character of the French actors — comparison between the French and English ladies.
  50. Paris. — General remarks on the palace of Versailles — Trianon — Marli — St Cloud — paintings at the house of the Duke d’Antin — the Thuilleries — the Louvre — behaviour of Mr Law at Paris — Paris compared with London.
  51. From Dover. — Ludicrous distresses in the passage to Dover — reflections on travelling — brief comparison between England and the rest of the world in general.
  52. Dover. — Reflections on the fates of John Hughes and Sarah Drew — epitaph on them.
  53. Character of Mrs D—— and humorous representation of her intended marriage with a greasy curate — anecdotes of another couple — remarks on the abuse of the word nature; applied to the case of a husband who insisted on his wife suckling her own child — observations on the forbidding countenance of a worthy gentleman.
  54. From Vienna. — Remarks on some illustrious personages at the court of Vienna — character of the poet Rousseau — alchymy much studied at Vienna — prince Eugene’s library.
  55. Victory of prince Eugene over the Turks, and the surrender of Belgrade — the news how received at Constantinople — contrast between European and Asiatic manners — estimate of the pleasures of the seraglio — observations on Mr Addison being appointed secretary of state — Mr Addison, Mr Pope, and Mr Congreve, in what respects three happy poets — reflections on the Iliad, and Mr Pope’s translation of it.
  56. From Florence. — Remarks on the road between Bologna and Florence — visit to the monastery of La Trappe, with reflections on the monastic life — occasion of the institution of the order of La Trappe — the burning mountains near Fierenzuola — general description of Florence — the grand gallery — the statues of Antinous and Venus de Medicis — the first sketches of Raphael’s cartoons — envious behaviour of modern painters, in defacing the productions of the ancients — digressions to some reports raised by Mr P. concerning the writer.
  57. Remarks on Paris — reflections on staring and grinning — character of the French people — criticism on statues in the gardens of Versailles — the gardens compared with the royal gardens of England.
  58. Observations on the koran, and the conduct of the Greek priests with regard to it — women not excluded from Mahomet’s paradise — who among the women excluded — the exhortations of Mahomet to the women, compared with the monastic institution of popery — the sciences cultivated among the Turks by the effendis — sentiments of an intelligent one respecting abstinence from wine — strange mixture of different countries in the suburbs of Constantinople — different species of men asserted — mongrels in the human species — why the English women so fond of hoop-petticoats.

Appendices . . .

  1. Concerning Monsieur de la Rochefoucault’s Maxim —“ That marriage is sometimes convenient but never delightful. ”
  2. Verses Written in the Chiask, at Pera, overlooking Constantinople, December 26th, 1718. By Lady Mary Wortley Montague.
  3. Verses To the Lady Mary Wortley Montague, By Mr Pope.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09