Well, the next morning we crossed by the ruins of old Greek Phanar across the triple Stamboul-wall, which still showed its deep-ivied portal, and made our way, not without climbing, along the Golden Horn to the foot of the Old Seraglio, where I soon found signs of the railway.
Ashes now are they all, and dry yellow bone; but in the houses of Phanar and noisy old Galata, and in the Jew quarter of Pri-pacha, the black shoe and head-dress of the Greek is still distinguishable from the Hebrew blue. It was a mixed ritual of colours here in boot and hat: yellow for Mussulman, red boots, black calpac for Armenian, for the Effendi a white turban, for the Greek a black.
I have gone out to those plains beyond the walls with their view of rather barren mountain-peaks, the city looking nothing but minarets shooting through black cypress-tops, and I seemed to see the wild muezzin at some summit, crying the midday prayer: 'Mohammed Resoul Allah! the wild man; and from that great avenue of cypresses which traverses the cemetery of Scutari, the walled city of Stamboul lay spread entire up to Phanar and Eyoub in their cypress-woods before me, the whole embowered now in trees, all that complexity of ways and dark alleys with overhanging balconies of old Byzantine houses, beneath which a rider had to stoop the head, where old Turks would lose their way in mazes of the picturesque; and on the shaded Bosphorus coast, to Foundoucli and beyond, some peeping yali, snow-white palace, or old Armenian cot; and the Seraglio by the sea, a town within a town; and southward the Sea of Marmora, blue-and-white, and vast, and fresh as a sea just born, rejoicing at its birth and at the jovial sun, all brisk, alert, to the shadowy islands afar: and as I looked, I suddenly said aloud a wild, mad thing, my God, a wild and maniac thing, a shrieking maniac thing for Hell to laugh at: for something said with my tongue: 'This city is not quite dead.
Four days were employed in the Ottoman camp making all the arrangements necessary for a simultaneous attack by land and sea along the whole line of the fortifications, from the modern quarter of Phanar to the Golden Gate. The Greeks and Latins within the walls were not less active in their exertions to meet the crisis.
I then walked on past the arch, on which a green oblong, once inscribed, as usual, with some text in gilt hieroglyphs, is still discernible; and, emerging, saw the great panorama of destruction, a few vast standing walls, with hollow Oriental windows framing deep sky beyond, and here and there a pillar, or half-minaret, and down within the walls of the old Seraglio still some leafless, branchless trunks, and in Eyoub and Phanar leafless forests, and on the northern horizon Pera with the steep upper-half of the Iani-Chircha street still there, and on the height the European houses, and all between blackness, stones, a rolling landscape of ravine, like the hilly pack-ice of the North if its snow were ink, and to the right Scutari, black, laid low, with its vast region of tombs, and rare stumps of its forests, and the blithe blue sea, with the widening semicircle of floating débris, looking like brown foul scum at some points, congested before the bridgeless Golden Horn: for I stood pretty high in the centre of Stamboul somewhere in the region of the Suleimanieh, or of Sultan-Selim, as I judged, with immense purviews into abstract distances and mirage.
Well, returning from a walk beyond the Phanar walls in the afternoon, I heard the same air coming out from the house, for she was repeating it pretty faultlessly by ear. Also, during the forenoon of the previous day, I came upon her for footsteps make no sound in this house in the pacha's visitors'-hall: and what was she doing? copying the poses of three dancing-girls frescoed there!
Grandly did old Stamboul, Galata, Tophana, Kassim, right out beyond the walls to Phanar and Eyoub, blaze and burn. The whole place, except one little region of Galata, was like so much tinder, and in the five hours between 8 P.M. and 1 A.M. all was over.