Welcome to Henry's Travel Blog!

Although he kept detailed business papers, Missouri Botanical Garden founder Henry Shaw left little personal material for biographers to consider in analyzing his life. One of the few items which remain is a series of five journals. Following his retirement from the hardware business in 1840, Shaw traveled abroad and made notes, recollections, and even sketches in these small bound books. Join us as we chart Henry's journey to Europe and beyond.
Shaw's variable spellings, punctuation, and grammar, preserved throughout, are typical even for well-educated gentlemen in the 19th Century. Important note (4/14/09): The entries from March 11, 2009 through April 8, 2009, correspond to recently discovered text from Henry Shaw's journal. They will be posted online under the correct dates to preserve chronological accuracy.

Posted Online Saturday, May 2, 2009

July 7, 1841: St. Sophia & the Seraglio

St. Sophia & the Seraglio

Some gentlemen at another hotel and ourselves having joined, we procured a firman to visit the interior of these celebrated places - this morning to the number of twenty to 30 persons we proceeded with the turkish officer bearing the firman - first to the Seraglio - and were shown the armoury -originally the Greek church of St. Irene here is - chain armour of different kinds formerly used by the turks - fire Locks & match Locks - some of immense calibre - probably carried by animals as the weight would be too much for a man -

In a cabinet near the part of the church were formerly stood the altar were shown the keys of the different fortresses of the empire - finely set in gold and jewells - there were the keys of St. Jean d'Arc - Jerusalem Rhodes - Damascus, and soforth - the swords & (?) of various Sultans were also there kept in glass cases - and very formidable weapons - that of Mustapha was the largest and able edged the mint is the next building -

A number of men were employed - some in melting and casting copper of which the sultans coins are mostly composed - others in stamping the small paras of which ten make one cent - in one apartment they were coining gold Zecchinoes which are the best coins intrinsically worth 15 percent less than the nominal value - while the small silver are not worth a third of what they pass for - -

The council house is quite oriental- and antique - the roof in form of a turkish tent - the sultan here confers with his pashas - - in the same court is the open divan where ambassadors were formerly received -

From here we proceeded into another court thro a gate at which a number of pale faced eunuchs were stationed - most of them old men of emaciated appearance - ending their days in a service in which they had passed their emasculated youth -

Now we were shewn into flower gardens upon which opened saloons - and one in particular in which were wide spread divans - covered with gold & damasks with large base windows looking on the Bosphorous - a number of marble fountains & cascades - here everything breathes luxury and indulgence - at this kiosk the sultan comes to amuse himself with his women and mates - the marble baths are very nice and clean - they looked so inviting that I longed to take a sweat in one of them - the marble privies are also curious & places of ablution - cleanliness with these people being a religious duty and at the same time the greatest luxury - the kitchens are on a large scale, as some thousand persons have to be fed 40,000 cords of wood are annually required for the seraglio - the purveyors have to furnish daily besides a hundred beeves - 200 sheep - 100 lambs - 200 hens - 200 pr pullets 100 pr pigeons - and 50 geese - I certainly saw no preparations for cooking on such a scale, but should say that near a hundred cooks were in the kitchen - the chief Baltaghie - was a dignified old chap overlooking the others -

Among other dishes preparing were sweetmeats of which they handed us a plate - it was pastry sweetened with honey and rose water - I ate several pieces of it, but the others found it too sweet - as the constant use of such sweets must have a tendency to spoil the teeth - asked the dragoman - if bad teeth were a cause of dismissal from the harem, he replied not if the girl was young and attractive in other respects -

In the stables there were some good looking horses mostly stallions - but the best of the sultans horses are at his summer palace where he now resides -

The Seraglio is the site of the ancient Byzantium, but nothing remains of that - the walls were built by the roman Emperors - and there is a triumphal column erected in the reign of Theodosius - all the present buildings for some are of wood have been erected by the turks except the church (now the armoury) of St. Irene, and the mint - -

Leaving the seraglio by the same gate we had entered went to St. Sophia which is quite near the wall of the Seraglio - the outward appearance of this celebrated building is missive and gloomy the doom is supported by immense buttresses and has stood the lapse of 13 centuries - our firman bearer preceded us into the mosque carrying in his hand the imperial signature by which unbelievers can alone enter for untill lately it was inaccessible except to Musselmans -

In the absence of all painting or sculpture - the immense arches - large dome & celebrated marble columns are the objects of admiration - the columns are dear to the antiquary - for here are those taken from the temple of Diana at Ephesus to the number of eight - also some from the temple of the sun at Heliopolis - from the temple of Pallas at Athens of Phabus at Delos - and of Gybele at Cysicus every species of marble, granite and Porphery - Phrygian white, with rose coloured stripes, Green marble from Laconia & blue from Lybia - but time the great conqueror has given all these magnificent pillows one dark tinge - and the spectator looks in vain for the beauty that history has ascribed to them - the marble pavement is covered with a thick layer of matting -

Turks were prostrating themselves in their devotions - others were chanting in a loud voice - portions of the Koran - and some children were amusing themselves at play - the turkish mosques are treasure depots- the sides of St. Sophia are encumbered with trunks and chests - safe as in a sanctuary from the hand of the robber as from the confiscating grips of the Sultan -

We ascended the gallery - the part assigned to the greek women in christian times - they are wide & spacious - here time and the elements have done their part - earthquakes have shaken the granite columns from their perpendicular and the large marble slabs that form the pavement are cracked and broken - the arches are fissured & the great dome itself is rent and out 0f shape - but the finish of the whole denotes that it was built in the decline of the art - none of the simplicity 0f the old grecian temples - or the polish of modern architecture - it is an immensely strong - heavy & gloomy edifice -

Fatigued & weary we returned to our several lodgings to resume our rounds tomorrow -

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Posted Online Friday, May 1, 2009

July 6, 1841: On Prinkipo Island

Did not sleep all night - my bed made on the floor of the old house was covered with fleas & bugs - by the light of the lamp the old woman kept burning before the picture of the madonna - could see my tormentors creeping over me - got up - shook the sheets - but of no use, was immediately covered again - the mosquitoes also inflicted their keen bites, so that never recollect being so severly punished in this way before -

This morning my body bears marks of the severe conflict - all on keeping holiday for the feast - at Prinkipo - back of the village is a hill crowned with a grove of shady pines - ascended to the top and was richly repaid by the fine view of the islands of which four are inhabited the others are mere rocks - in the whole they number twelve - which is the number Byron gives them - whom thought was in error calling them the twelve Isles -

A mile or so across the island is the convent of Queen Irene and to where in her change of fortune she was afterwards banished - the islands are green and fertile - the scene pleasing beyond description the spires and domes of the city are visible on one side and the lofty Olympus on the shore of Asia on the other -

About one o’ clock embarked again in a two oared caique to return - a black cloud threatening ahead put our frail barque into a little port on the shore of Asia called Maltepy - a poorer village than the one we had left - the cloud clearing up put off again and in a few hours reached the city - passing close to the site of Chalcedon and the rock called the tower of Leander -

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Posted Online Thursday, April 30, 2009

July 5, 1841: Princes Islands

Tomorrow is the Greek holiday of St. John the Baptist - the Princes Islands (see Bosphorus map) in the sea of Marmora - and not far from the city are resorted to by the Greeks to keep the feast - these are the islands that Byron says "Charmed the charming Lady Montagu"

Accompanied by Ruboli and his little daughter embarked in a caique - crowded with some 20 pleasure seekers like ourselves - putting out of the habour sails were hoisted and the light boat darted thro the water at a great rate and much to our alarm owing the unsteadiness of these narrow vessels -

In a couple of hours we have passed the point of Chalcedon and reached Prinkipo - the principal of the islands - the village at which we landed was anything than inviting - no hotel - took up our quarters with a poor woman and her daughters

There are some pleasant houses on the outskirts of the town - among them the residence of the patriarch of the Greek church - in the evening the ladies promenaded along the sea side - the boys made bon fires and jump't over them to propitiate St. John - Ruboli my Greek landlord did the same - squibs and fire works closed the evening's entertainment

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Posted Online Wednesday, April 29, 2009

July 4, 1841: Pera's Burying Ground

The main street of Pera terminates at the artillery barracks - and nearby is a little spot in a neglected condition, the protestant or English burying ground - the tomb stones are good and cover the remains of english men & some Germans, did not see any dates later than two centuries back - some mentioned that the occupants had died of the plague - the profession of many were marked as levant merchants - and some had been english naval officers - the oldest was inscribed in the latin tongue - -

Near by is the grand champs des Morts of the Turks - and an Arminian burying ground nearly as large - of course could not read the Arminian epitaphs - but on many were sculptured the tools of the profession of the deceased - as shears for tailor - razor & mirror for barber - hammer and anvil for Smith and so on - flowers denoted the grave of a woman - and curious enough those that have been hung - are on the scaffold with rope to the neck - another held his head in his hand - as having suffered decapitation - but what is very pleasing as showing great humanity for the brute creation is little troughs cut in the stone to catch water for animals & birds to drink -

These grave yards are favorite lounges of the people in some places were groups of women seated very modestly to themselves while sweetmeat dealers and sherbet vendors where carrying about their wares - turks are so cleanly dressed that you feel no hesitation in partaking of these delicacies - a numerous circle of men was very attentively listening to a venerable old man who was singing - and accompanied by a small stringed instrument called a mandolin - enquiring what the subject of his song was to excite such interest, was told that it related to the military achievements of the pacha of Egypt with the french some 40 years ago - or rather when Bonaparte went to Egypt - the old man put it in form of a dialogue - making the pacha to say to the french - "I have 20,000 true and brave turks - with the flints of their firelocks well trimmed and all ready to fight you"

Leaving the cemetery noticed a woman in mourning sitting on a recently made grave - from her dress she was Arminian - and accompanied by two other females - here she had come to pass an hour near to the object once dear to her affections she lifted up her countenance suffused in tears - her sorrowful looks told that grief was her companion - she had lost the partner of the joys of her youth and was advanced to that period of life when the loss of such a companion can never be replaced - one who had paid the youthful glow of her cheeks and bright eyes with the tribute of his love and affection - tho now somewhat time worn - enough remained to indicate the former splendour of her beauty - - - -

This being the anniversary of American independence treated my companions at table to Champagne the one sitting opposite to me is a middle aged man wearing a fez and is in the employ of the sublime porte - well informed - particularly in all that relates to Turkey - an Arminian - speaks french correctly but no English - next is Pasquale a young man a clerk in a commercial house - a native of Smyrna - of course speaks the lingua franca - french and turkish - in appearance is like a Creole of Louisiana - Mr. Purdie sits next, employed in the counting house of Mr. Black - is English by birth, has lived in the U.States - speaks several languages - Doctor Glascot is a physician - lately from one of the London hospitals and last from Ezeroum - an Irishman loud and open hearted - Mr. Longworth - an intelligent well informed man - author of a "Year among the Circassians" - recently published in London and correspondent of a London Journal - has a high opinion of the turks, their religion - morals & institutions - and a great admirer of their ladies - Mr. Singnist (or Linguist) - an elderly gentleman on business from London and bound to Odessa - Ferrier & Vigus - both irishmen & fellow travellers -

We are all tolerably agreeable to each other - but the Irish rather too much predominates - the brandy bottle is somewhat admired - and the conversation not always the most edifying - those that ought to speak least generally taking the lead in conversation -

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Posted Online Tuesday, April 28, 2009

July 3, 1841: Seven Towers

Starting from Pera - a party of us proceeded to the seven Towers the point from whence commences the wall that encloses the city on the land side from the sea of Marmora to the Golden Horn - being on horseback crossed over to the city by the bridge - the city like Rome is far from being thickly inhabited in every part enclosed by the walls - for the part towards the Seven towers contains large gardens - and such is the quietness of the streets - that the clattering of our horses feet brought the bright eyed Greek women to the windows of the houses which we otherwise might have taken to be unoccupied -

Mounted one of the round towers to take a view - the lower part was formerly used as a prison - on the stones of the walls the unhappy victims have cut their names - with date and country - Italians mostly, and one or two french and english - going out of the city walls by the Golden Gate- Aurea - - and thro which the emperors made their triumphal entry into the city - the imperial eagle is sculptured over the gate - but in a style to show the decline of the art - hence there is a road under the wall the whole length, to the Golden Horn - the wall is double with square towers every hundred yards - and a wide ditch - it is by no means a ruin - but has a very venerable appearance - and considering the number of wars and sieges which the city has undergone the last 14 centuries is highly interesting - the ditch is dry and in many places turned into Gardens -

Passed the seven gates on the land side - the most noted is the Cannon Gate (Top Kapu) as it was at the siege of the city by the Turks - that here the emperor the last of the Constantines fell in defense of the walls, a worthy descendant of the Constantine that built them - here are again turkish cemeteries - indeed the outskirts of the city are one immense burying ground almost without interruption shaded by the dark foliage of the cypress

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Posted Online Monday, April 27, 2009

July 2, 1841: Casino or news room

The weather rather hot did not go out much today - by the kindness of Mr. Flori have access to the Casino or news room - all the papers are french – can’t imagine why English papers are excluded unless that the former language is the more universal -

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Posted Online Sunday, April 26, 2009

July 1, 1841: Slave market

In the old part of the city there is a small square with indifferent wooden buildings and galleries all around this is called the slave market and I should say was well supplied - but almost entirely by black women who are purchasad to wait on the turkish ladies -

When I was there today there were a number of ladies purchasing and some few men - the negresses are generally a poor weakly set and apparently little adapted for work - I understand they are the property of the ladies alone and well treated - but in this market there are rooms with latticed windows where merchandise of a very different kind are kept - Circassian women to be sold as wives to the turks - they are called slaves - but have the privilege of selecting a purchaser - on looking in at the doors of these little rooms - the man in charge several times desired us to go away & the women themselves generally retired back - refusing to be stared at by our christian eyes - however only a few of them were pretty and two or three already past the prime of life - they generally are pale faced like the turkish ladies - once they are veiled in the same way -

Looking in at our door when there were five or six - the keeper called out quite abruptly to go away - I asked the guide why, as we had paid money to go in - the only answer was that it was a harem - or as I supposed were to be disproved of altogether - only one young girl that appeared sociable - but she was somewhat marked by the small pox - am told these women have been sold to francs by getting the consent of the girl and offering a good price to the keeper - but then they can leave you when they like - the price is 200 to 1500 dollars the blacks are 50 to 100 Dollars - the term slave is improperly applied to the Circassian women -

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