Trebizond is an ancient seaport of great commercial importance, due chiefly to the fact that it controls the point where the principal trade route from Persia and central Asia to Europe, over Armenia and by way of Bayezid and Erzerum, descends to the sea. It has been the dream of Russia for centuries to put her hands forever upon this important "window on the Black Sea."
Here, as at Houssenbeg-khan, there is a splendid, large caravanserai; here it is built chiefly of hewn stone, and almost massive enough for a fortress; this is a mountainous, elevated region, where the winters are stormy and severe, and these commodious and substantial retreats are absolutely necessary for the safety of Erzingan and Trebizond caravans during the winter.
Above all, his old friend Thomas of Sarzana had been made Pope, and had lent a mighty impulse to letters; had accumulated 5000 MSS. in the library of the Vatican, and had set Poggio to translate Diodorus Siculus and Xenophon's Cyropaedia, Laurentius Valla to translate Herodotus and Thucydides, Theodore Gaza, Theophrastus; George of Trebizond, Eusebius, and certain treatises of Plato, etc. etc.
From this city of Trebizond, where the body of St Athanasius is preserved over one of the gates, I journeyed into the Greater Armenia, to a city named Azaron, which was rich and flourishing in former times, but the Tartars have nearly laid it entirely waste; yet it still has abundance of bread and flesh, and victuals of all sorts, excepting wine and fruits.
The Erzingan caravanserai and all these caravanserais are essentially similar is a square court-yard surrounded by the four sides of a two-storied brick building; the ground- floor is occupied by the offices of the importers of foreign goods and the customhouse authorities; the upper floor is divided into small rooms for the accommodation of travellers and caravan men arriving with goods from Trebizond.
We shipped in her for a voyage to Constantinople and Trebizond, which occupied us for eight months, and when we returned to London, on the termination of this voyage, we found the Water Lily completed, with the exception of a few finishing touches, which the workmen were then giving her.
Laden with spoil, and careless of discipline, they were separately surprised and defeated by the Greeks: the activity of the emperor seemed to multiply his presence: and while they heard of his expedition to Antioch, the enemy felt his sword on the hills of Trebizond.
Already the poor man saw himself crowned, by the might of his arm, Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so, led away by the intense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he set himself forthwith to put his scheme into execution.
Even when prohibited, however, the traffic was carried on by means of small craft which under protection of Russian papers obtained at Trebizond under pretence of going to Kertsch for grain, braved the dangers of the winter voyage when from the inclemency of the weather the Russian cruisers had been withdrawn from the coast of Circassia, and taking in their precious cargo of souls landed it at Sinope or Samsoun.
Hence the Turks will have to rely for the transport of troops and supplies upon railways which at the nearest point are more than 300 miles from the front at Trebizond.