THE DEVIL IN TURKEY. * STEFANOS %ENOS has written, or intends
to write, three romanoes in modern Greek, to be translated into English, in order to present us with a true idea of Turkish and Grecian character and life. The first series of the trilogy is The Devil in Turkey, in which the bad qualities of the Turks are represented with no unsp measure ; the second series of "Scenes in Constantinople " exhibit the Turk in a better point of view ; in the third, "The Heroine of the Greek Revolution," the author designs to "deli- neate the Greek of the present day." If carried out according to the scale of the present work, the three series, of nine volumes,
• The Deli! in Turkey; or Scenes in Constantinople. By Stefanos Xenos. Trans- lated from the Author's unpublished Greek Manuscript, by Henry Corpc, Member of the College of Preceptors. In three volumes. Published by Effingham Wilson.
will extend to between four and five thousand pretty closely printed pam:.
- The reason which induces Stefanos Xenos to inflict this dead weight upon the much-enduring public is, that English travellers
have not had the means of describing the life of the Greeks though some profess to describe it. There is truth in the objection to Feglisli travellers, though not to the full extent. In all external
things which present themselves to the eye, and only occupy- the
eye,—such as those wearisome descriptions with which Stefanos Xenos interlards his novel,— a stranger can succeed as well as a native ; possibly better, for if some of the details escape him, he takes in the broad picture with a mind unpalled by usage. In de- scribing mere manners, the stranger is as likely to be effective as the native : when he errs, the source of his error will lie in his overlooking the reason or object of particular customs, or in his drawing general conclusions from particularoceasions--fromimagin-
ing, for example, that the set dinner-party of an English family is a
practice of their daily life. To paint the character of a people and to exhibit it in action, together with their manners and domestic usages, requires more knowledge than a passing stranger is likely
to attain, especially if the customs of the country are opposed to free intercourse with foreigners. At the same time something more than knowledge is required to embody national hie in fiction. The eye can only see what it brings the faculty of seeing"; op- portunities are thrown away for those who cannot use them. A
man may live all his days among a people, be actively engaged in affairs, and encounter them daily in matters which come home to their business and bosoms, and yet really be as incapable of under- standing them for purposes of art as when he was first thrown among them : the dramatic mind will almost intuitively pene- trate the characteristics, possess himself of the spirit of the manners, and from tradition, story, and observation, form a truer
idea of the general course of the events of life, than a prosaic Ill-qualified person, -who has lived with them all his days. The greater includes the less. The man who by study and travel
s made himself acquainted with various nations, will see what the native if narrowminded will miss altogether; and though, let the foreigner be as catholic as he may, he cannot perhaps avoid considering everything through national spectacles, yet the native will do the same and to a greater degree. Above all things, the well-trained foreigner will bring to his task a mind familiar with the best models, an elevation of thought, and a taste in selection, which will enable him to reject that which may be natural but which is unfit for art and sometimes at variance with decorum.
The moral of all which is, that it requires some other qualifica- tion than that of being a Greek to write a novel about the Greeks; and if any doubt were entertained upon the theory, the fact of
Stefanos Xenos and his Devil in Turkey would be quite conclusive upon the matter. This book, we should imagine, gives about as good an idea of the upper elssses of the Greeks and Turks, as if
a Grub Street scribe of the age of Charles the Second or Queen Anne should have undertaken to give an amount of the Court and the Ministry and the intrigues of high life. The time of the
Devil in Turkey is during that of the late Sultan Mahomet ; the leading persons in the piece are the Grand Vizier and a Greek
family. The head of this family was the means by which the Vizier rose to his rank ; in requital of which benefit, the wicked official ruined the father, after having carried on an amorous in- trigue with the mother and one of the daughters.
These things have occurred before the opening of the piece. The action consists in the efforts of the -Vizier to get rid of the
mother, the two elder daughters, and the son Leonidas who has taken employment under the Vizier's rival the Muth, and to take possession of Malamatenia, the youngest daughter, for his harem. The object of the widow, Sphyrla, and the daughters is to get money by any means, not even stopping at murder ; indeed, the murder of a certain Lady Gordon is one cause of the catas-
trophe. The regard of Sphyrla for her daughter Malamatenia and her son Leonidas is the only redeeming trait in a tissue of low sensual -vice and villany, such as we must believe to be rare in Turkey, and which has long since been banished from English fiction.
or is there any life or likelihood to relieve the dull and coarse farrago of improbable scenes and disgusting characters. We know from travellers and from novelists that the tyrannies and vices of the East do not look in the reality so brutal as in the abstract: the people are used to them, like eels to being flayed;
and there seems to be a sort of humour, so to speak, even in and amid the tyranny. In eases of extreme and deadly passion, the Turk is indeed a terrible animal ; but that passion is beyond the power of most writers, certainly of Stefanos Xenos.
The family scenes with Sphyrla and her daughters, coarse and offensive in point of taste as they are, are the best in the book, as
approaching the nearest to nature,—the only nature which this writer seems to have any knowledrxil, the quarrels of low women.
Tatavla is the quarter in which people live, and this is the description of it.
"This extensive quarter, comprising one of the principal districts of modern Constantinople, consists tor the most part of a number of narrow zigzag passages, filthy lanes, acclivities and declivities exceedingly steep and dangerous. The houses are constructed of wood, and seem suspended in the air, having no foundation, but meting on massive piles, driven upright into the ground at right angles. The windows are without shutters, and the joints where the panes of gloss lap over each other are pasted with paper to keep out the cold and wind. And as these frail tenements are built of such combustible materials, they are liable to take fire from the smallest spark, as well as to be thrown d.own by the slightest shock of an earthquake. They contain two or three stories, and have as many architects as they have own- ;S a, no two being alike. The spaces between them—the fronts, projerting ' chimnit, stairs, colours, doors, windows, lintels—are such and as many as the whim or convenience of the builder suggested at the time. And as there are no police regulations to maintain uniformity, a street is not to be found, however short, where the houses are built in a strait line. Some of the fronts that face the thoroughfares consist of nothing but the bare boards, without any plaster or covering of any kind ; so that every plank may be reckoned. Others are painted with all wanner of colours, white, red, green, yellow, or any other that.you will, repretia g Rowers, fishes, hieroglyphics, and landscapes ; with sculptures, carvings, and columns, the order of which it would puzzle an European to describe. " The whole of this district, which is in the form of an amphitheatre, PC. cupies the entire slope of a hill, the other side of which is bounded by the Sweet Waters of Europe. The ,priacipal streetwlct leads to it is broad and paved, and so steep, that in vanter, wheririt is Mewl f!'t rain or snow, it becomes so dangerous that a passenger chaneing to, atom e May roll to the bottom like a stone, without being able to seize' upon pnthing to stop his progress. At the lower part of this hill are numerous ditches filled with impurities, the black waters of which are still further polluted with the refuse of the houses above ; these ditches are all exposed, and consequently during the summer months the stench is overpowering. The place also swarms with rata, and is of course the resort of cats that have no home, dogs, pipit and other domestic animals. Small dirty-looking coffeeshops, known by he name of Kooltoulda, am to be found in every street, crowded with idle and dissolute characters, whose time is occupied in smoking their pipes and relating the gossip they have heard."
The following scene exhibits the mother, the two elder daugh- ters, and an urchin of a son, in one of their quarrels. Tissiphone, the eldest daughter, has been provoked out of all patience by the mockery of her brother.
"Tissiphone turned as pale as a fury : she made no reply, but pretending to continue her work, she stooped down, and, unperceived, taking off one of her slippers, flung it at Psophios, with so much force and so good an aim that she hit him, before he was aware, a severe blow upon the bare
" Virlieugh! ! wait a moment : rn show you, you b—!' cried he,
bellowing with passion; and, picking up the shoe with the intention of re- turning it with interest, he was about to hurl it, when he was stayed by his mother; who in a tone of expostulation exclaimed, What! would you strike your eldest sister, child ? are you not ashamed of yourself? Be quiet, Psophios.'
"'From the example set by such a mother, what else eau you expect ?' cried Tissiphone. What a pity !' added she, with a provoking. sneer, what pity it is you don't act up to the advice you are so ready to give. Here's a Minerva for you • she's the very personification of wisdom ! '
"'Have I offended you, daughter, because rye prevented your brother from striking you? What have I done, that you should insult me so ?'
"'Strike me ! he strike me ! I should like to catch the little blackguard trying it on. rd show him who he has to deal with; I'd skin the young vagabond alive, as I would an eel You encourage him in his impudence, you do—there's a mother—there's a bit of preciousness ! And I suppose that is the reason why you gave your daughter such a precious name—Mala- matenia, indeed ! and a beauty she'll be, if she grows up like her mother.' "Ay, the flower of beauty !' chimed in Sco, 1. who till now had held her tongue, impatiently waiting for an opportunity to put in a word. A curse, I say, upon the hour when she came into the world.'
" ' You'll skin me--you'll skin me alive !' bawled out Psophios : 'let's see you do it ! '—and he made a movement, as though he was about to get up.
"Lie down and be quiet ! ' cried the old woman sternly, at the same time grasping him still more tightly by the arm; then turning towards her daughters, she whined in an hypocritical and sanctified tone, May the holy and immaculate 'Virgin grant -that my Malamatenia may never, never re- semble me; no, nor any of us.' " ' Hearken to the old bawd !' exclaimed Scoulika, frantic with passion ; she has face enough to call upon the 'Virgin. It is only two days since she poisoned the Armenian and stole her jewels ; and now, forsooth, she calls upon the holy and immaculate Virgin to grant that Malamatenia may not resemble any of us. This is Friday ; prithee, now, do tell us whether you have failed in taking your halva and olives, Sphyrla dear, by way of prepa- ration for tomorrow ; for if you have not, poor wretch, hell is your doom— that's certain, ha ! ha!' "The mother threw a withering glance upon them, and tried to smother the ebullition of her wrath. She paused a moment, and, in a voice of apparent serenity, exclaimed, Deliver me, 0 Lord, from profane lips, and from a deceitful heart Then turning towards her daughters she added, May the just God pour his blessings upon yon, my children, for the unjust accusations which y011 are trying to fasten on me—as though I was an entire stranger. May the holy God recompense you for the scandalous imputations that you throw against me, in the presence of this innocent child, whose young head has no reason to believe you have any foundation for saying such things against me.'
"What's the matter with my head, that you don't like it, mother ? Now I think it a much better one than what that there stupid jackass has got' ; and as he spoke he pointed with his finger at Tissiphone.
"'You pray to God, you hypocrite,' sneeringly observed Tissiphone, as though God dri'lat know you. You'd like to be hid from yourself if you could.' Then, turning to Psophios, and foaming with passion, to find be would not discontinue his insolence, 'You Devil's imp, she said, do you mean to hold your tongue and be quiet ? rn put up with your insolence no longer, so take care.'
"Why a'nt you at school today ?' asked Scoulika. Come—be off with you and may the Devil take you and your master too. Let a flea only skip and he gives a holyday directly ; and then there is no getting rid of you.'
"Come get up, my child, and go down stain and play with Malamatenia —leave them to themselves, they are raving mad,' whispered the mother in the ears of the boy. " won't go down stairs ; I can't stop a minute with such a stupid. She has always a book or a needle in her hand ; she'll neither play at nuts nor help me to whip my top : it's more comfortable being hem close to the stove —it is warm.'
" You ask him to go down stairs ? why don't you take him by the nape of the neck and throw him from top to bottom ?' said Scoulika, without, however, once raising her eyes to see what was going on.
"But don't you know,' added Tissiphone' she's afraid of disturbing the neighbourhood—she is afraid of their finding. her out.' "God knows, there is nothing for them to find out. Nothing that I care about except the lies you utter to ruin my character ; may you never have cause to repent. But this is your gratitude for suckling you at my breast, and bringing you up in the midst of hardships and privations.'
" Tis false ! We never condescended to take your breast ; we were put out to nurse—it was your pet Malamatenia, the odious hussey, that you suckled,' spitefully answered Tissiphone ; you know that very well.' "