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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
By Edmondo De Amicis (1846–1908)
From ‘Constantinople’

IN the first days, fresh as I was from the perusal of Oriental literature, I saw everywhere the famous personages of history and legend, and the figures that recalled them resembled sometimes so faithfully those that were fixed in my imagination, that I was constrained to stop and look at them. How many times have I seized my friend by the arm, and pointing to a person passing by, have exclaimed: “It is he, cospetto! do you not recognize him?” In the square of the Sultana Validé, I frequently saw the gigantic Turk who threw down millstones from the walls of Nicæa on the heads of the soldiers of Baglione; I saw in front of a mosque Umm Djemil, that old fury that sowed brambles and nettles before Mahomet’s house; I met in the book bazaar, with a volume under his arm, Djemaleddin, the learned man of Broussa, who knew the whole of the Arab dictionary by heart; I passed quite close to the side of Ayesha, the favorite wife of the Prophet, and she fixed upon my face her eyes, brilliant and humid, like the reflection of stars in a well; I have recognized, in the At-Meidan, the famous beauty of that poor Greek woman killed by a cannon ball at the base of the serpentine column; I have been face to face, in the Fanar, with Kara-Abderrahman, the handsome young Turk of the time of Orkhan; I have seen Coswa, the she-camel of the Prophet; I have encountered Kara-bulut, Selim’s black steed; I have met the poor poet Fignahi, condemned to go about Stamboul tied to an ass for having pierced with an insolent distich the Grand Vizier of Ibrahim; I have been in the same café with Soliman the Big, the monstrous admiral, whom four robust slaves hardly succeeded in lifting from the divan; Ali, the Grand Vizier, who could not find in all Arabia a horse that could carry him; Mahmoud Pasha, the ferocious Hercules that strangled the son of Soliman; and the stupid Ahmed Second, who continually repeated “Koso! Koso!” (Very well, very well) crouching before the door of the copyists’ bazaar, in the square of Bajazet. All the personages of the ‘Thousand and One Nights,’ the Aladdins, the Zobeides, the Sindbads, the Gulnares, the old Jewish merchants, possessors of enchanted carpets and wonderful lamps, passed before me like a procession of phantoms.  1

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