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.



Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:11