Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

city in many graceful windings. It occu- from head to foot with silk and cashmere, pies sufficient space for a large number of elaborately ornamented with gold, silver, inhabitants, but the population is by no and gems. There are fashionable drives means so great as it appears, on account for the display of all this extravagance, of the gardens and public places which and they are usually thronged. Next to surround nearly every residence. Most theatrical displays and gaming, the drive of the houses have all their apartments is the most serious employment of the upon the ground floor. They are built in Bucharians. Games of chance are frethis manner because of the earthquakes quently pursued with a passion amounting which occur so frequently in these coun | to frenzy; more than one nobleman has tries. For the same reason few of them lost his entire fortune in a single evening's are elegantly constructed.

play. The streets are generally unnamed and The indolence of the Moldo-Wallachians unpaved; they are long, narrow, and is proverbial ; they prefer repose to everycrooked, and revoltingly filthy at all times. thing. Nowhere have I found such an Instead of pavements, most of them are utter aversion for the proper use of the roughly laid with planks, under which pedal extremities. But a better day is channels have been constructed to carry coming. A few of the streets are already away the water and impurities of the city ; | paved ; more examples will follow when but these wretched conduits are almost their superiority is seen. Carriages will always obstructed. You think nothing become a luxury for the vain and wealthy can exceed the disagreeable uncleanliness alone; and Bucharest, the City of Joy, of the city in winter, until you find it in receding still further from Asia in its progsummer with the additional aggravation ress, will receive a new impetus toward of whirlwinds of dust. It is not extrav- the civilization of Europe, when her citi. agant to say that it is often ankle-deep; zens can tread her streets without disfew, however, ever measure it in this grace. manner, for in Bucharest feet are luxu- A great point has already been attained ries, carriages are absolute necessities. in the destruction of the dogs with which No respectable person is ever seen in the the city was formerly infested. One of streets of the city on foot, any more than my countrymen who visited it in 1835, without clothes. The human being was stated their numbers at thirty thousand. not more inseparable from the quadruped Unfed and homeless, their battles were, in the fabulous centaur, than is respect- of course, perpetual. Woe to the unforability from an equipage in this community. | tunate whelp who secured a bone for his A moderate income is obliged to support one private repast. He was immediately the vehicle, and often two. During my stay object of attack from troops of starving here I have seen no one on foot in the curs, with inflamed eyes and foaming streets, except the beggars and gipsies ; mouths, and with whom the victory was a but you may frequently see the occupants matter of life or death. Everything fled of such houses as your day-laborers would before these tyrants of the streets. The despise, alighting from one kind of a car- authorities of the city were at last obliged riage in winter, and another in summer. I to attempt some remedy, and a few paras People are supplied with two or three were offered for every carcass. The equipages here, as among you they furnish Bohemians, to whom the calling seemed themselves with the same number of boots a natural one, armed with long sticks or shoes. They are the grand ambition pointed with iron, entered upon their duof life, and, as in countries older in civil- | ties at five o'clock in the morning, and ization, the great aim in the possession pursued them until mid-day. The carof an equipage is to eclipse some rival nage was dreadful, but it resulted in the in the display of vehicle or steed. The relief of the city from the grievous evil Albanian breed is valued most highly, under which it had so long suffered. and is only at the command of the most! As in most eastern and Russian cities, wealthy. The coachman, in his ragged each trade has a particular quarter assignand filthy garments, seems perched on his ed to it. The quarter of Leipsikani is seat purposely to display to better advan- occupied by traders whose supplies come tage the elegant form and gorgeous capari- from the annual fair of Leipsic. There sons of the horses, which are covered is also the bazaar of the bacans or gro

cers; the sarafs, or bakers; the kajokars, Besides this relic the visitor will find or fur-dealers; the abadji, or clothiers ; at Bucharest several interesting structhe zerkenkauls, or toy-shops ; the mat- tures, such as the Convent of St. George, chelars, or butchers; the kofetars, con- the Khan of Mahmouk Bey, an immense fectioners; the skaoumelé, or musicians. caravansary, of two stories, with a double Jews also have their department, called balcony in its interior ; the Museum of ovrai, which has no communication what- Antiquities and Natural History, the Colever with those of the Armenians, Ser- lege of St. Sava, &c., &c. It possesses vians, Bulgarians, German and French, also a library of some six or eight thouwho surround them.

sand volumes, and is rich in oriental manThe most obvious characteristic of Bu uscripts. charest is the inequality which marks Instead of wearying myself with the its buildings. Its elegant public edifices details of these charitable and scientific are side by side with miserable hovels. establishments, true to my instincts, I In this respect it bears no resemblance preferred making my observations in the to the European cities which it en- Mahalas, upon the habits, costumes, and deavors to imitate. The diversity of manners of the poorer classes. Their costumes is also very striking to a stran- habitual food consists of a porridge made ger, even to those who have been accus- from coarse wheat or other grain. They tomed to the various garbs of a Russian scarcely ever taste animal food of any city. Here it is not unfrequent for the kind. Notwithstanding the affectation of father to preserve the national costume, European and more particularly French while the youngsters of the family adopt manners by the wealthier classes, the the European fashions. The French lan- | character of the people is decidedly guage is generally taught, precisely as the oriental, and many of the formal manners classics are made a part of education in of the Arabian knights are still retained your schools ; it is also the general lan- | in their social intercourse. When a lady guage of polite circles ; its use and the enters a saloon she kisses the brow of the recognized forms of French society and mistress of the house ; a young girl drops French mode, are exclusively adopted by gracefully upon one knee and presses her the aristocracy. It is as yet, however, lips upon the hand of the hostess, prequite impossible to ingraft the taste and senting her cheek as she rises. Smoking cultivation of western Europe upon this is evidently the chief business of the odd melange of population, just emerging sterner sex. Upon the entrance of a from eastern barbarism and obscurity. visitor, a chiboque is brought by a slave,

Among other objects attractive to a from which the master of the house draws stranger in Bucharest is the hospital of a few whiffs and then offers it to his guest. Coltza, with its ruined tower, which was built in 1715, by the soldiers of Charles

N se defend avec quarante domestiques contre XII., of Sweden. It will be remembered

une armée,"_“He defended himself with forty that this “ Madman of the North” took domestics against an army." The Turks sent refuge, with a remnant of his troops, in a delegation of venerable janissaries to entreat Turkey, after his defeat by the Russians. | him to yield. He would not see them, but sent

them word that unless they left the mansion His heroic pranks while here perplexed

he would cut off their beards. They retired in the grave Turks with profound astonish amazement, saying, “Ah, the Head of Iron, if ment. They called him the Demirbash, | he will perish, let him perish ?” The army, or the “Iron Headed.” Tradition still with ten cannon, bore down upon the house, speaks of his whimsical but courageous

the janissaries penetrated its chambers, but as

Charles opened a door with his little force, feats, and this monument of the presence "the Turks," says Voltaire, “burdened with of his troops is regarded with special booty, were so struck at the appearance of the interest by natives as well as travelers. * strange man whom they had so much wondered

at, that they threw away their arms, leaped out

of the windows, or hid themselves in the cel * Charles, while living in Turkey, on the hos- | lars." In less than fifteen minutes the crazy pitality of the sultan, had a freakish quarrel king and his crew killed two hundred of the with the authorities, and actually defied the | Turks from his windows. They had, at last, to whole military force. His officers and minis- burn him out. He dashed in among them, ters, his chaplain bowing before him, suppli- cutting right and left. The account of the cated him not to sacrifice them by his rashness; scene in Voltaire, is exceedingly amusing. Don but he fortified his house, and, as Voltaire says: | Quixote never equaled the feat.

[graphic][merged small]

When this ceremony is finished, he claps | mammas discussed that theme of endless his hands three times, a servant appears interest—the fashions. with coffee, deubchatz and rose water. | At eight o'clock five slaves entered bear. Immediately after they separate, often ing massive silver vases, which contained without a word being spoken by either rose-water and a delicate extract of vanilla, party. You smile, incredulously, perhaps ! designed for the ablution of the hands. But “it is a fact and no mistake," as you These were followed by five others, who Yankees say.

presented each of the guests with a napkin Public and private entertainments are of the finest linen of the Crimea, elaborately conducted on a scale of great magnificence. embroidered in silk and gold. A moment I attended a soiree given by a lady of the after the doors were thrown open, revealcity, that rivaled royalty itself in splendor. ing the dining-hall illuminated with three The guests were introduced into a vast hundred wax candles, the light of which saloon, which was filled like a conservatory was dazzlingly reflected by the crystals with the rarest exotic flowers; and flower- and silver that covered the tables. Fiftying-shrubs, and even trees were waving two guests were seated at this sumptuous in the breath of an invisible ventilation. repast, which was served quite in the Intoxicating perfumes floated on the air, French style, save that the order of dishes while fluttering among the thick clusters was reversed, commencing with salad and of myrtle, cactus, honey-suckle, and jas- closing with soup. Several of the national mine, were innumerable tamed birds, of dishes were furnished on the occasion brilliant plumage, warbling their sweetest the meilsch-spisen, a pastry of the utmost melodies amid this fairy scene. Two delicacy cooked with fruit something like Albanian servants in the richest costume fritters; sarmates, balls of meat roasted opened and closed the door at each arrival. | and enveloped in young vine leaves, fresh The lordly boyards (noblemen) reposed on eggs served with wine, and mutton coverthe divans with the indispensable chiboque; ed with deulchatz. Native and foreign the young people sauntered about talking wines were abundant. The four quarters French, while the magnificently dressed of the globe contributed to furnish the

dessert with every imaginable luxury. as little prospect of a satisfactory reply, During the entire repast, numerous ser- | if this was not one of the genii of the vants busily plied large feather fans, that Thousand and One Nights. the guests might remain undisturbed by | Silam alekoum," said the strange gnats and flies, which infest these climates. figure, (which being interpreted is, I salute Such is high life in Bucharest!

| you,) bowing his odd little form to the I must not close these rambling remarks ground very good humoredly. without attempting some description of one | He now clapped his misshapen hands, of my first adventures in Bucharest, with | accompanying the motion with a chuckling a sense of gratitude that I am alive to tell sound. Two servants answered this sumthe tale. One morning I awoke after a mons; their skins were yellow and dry as night of profound sleep, and rubbing my parchment, their eyes were dull and deep eyes, bethought myself that a bath would set, they were dressed like pugilists, and not be amiss. I went forth to inquire for appeared large, strong, and young enough one. The Turkish and Wallachian baths to sustain the character. Our presence are both patronized here, and as I had was a sufficient explanation of our wishes, heard the latter highly extolled, I deter- / and without a word, one hand was laid mined to test them. They are situated in upon our neck, and in a twinkling we were a disagreeable quarter of the city called completely divested of every article of Leipsikani; the building which incloses clothing by the other. One of them then them resembles an immense bee-hive, placed wooden slippers, about six inches and I walked three times around it with in height, upon our feet, while the other out finding the entrance. A kind of trap- / wound three or four yards of gray cloth door was then discovered by the friend about our forms; turbans completed our who accompanied me, somewhat similar equipment for the bath. to those by which cellars are protected in! We were now conducted to a small country towns. Having raised it, we arched closet, the temperature of which descended eight steps, and found ourselves was a little more than tepid. The water in the center of a round hall, perhaps a flowed over the warm pavement from hundred feet in circumference. Its walls every side, and escaped by a channel in were of rose-colored marble, spotted with the wall. We remained here but about blue; its pure white pavement was also two minutes, and were then taken to an of marble; and the whole area was sur- apartment, a little larger than the first, rounded with a kind of divan, comfort-arched in the same manner, and furnished ably cushioned. The light, dimmed by the with three large scallop-shells, each supthick vapor through which it passes, is only plied with water still warmer than the admitted by a circular window, about a foot other from tubes continually overflowing in diameter, of concave and convex glass, the receptacles, and filling the space with inserted in the freestone dome. This is so condensed and penetrating an odor, that supported by eight granite pillars, each of I nearly fainted. them containing tubes through which the At the end of ten minutes, which apwater of as many different degrees of peared like so many ages, one of the heat falls into the same number of mar- servants opened the door of a third apartble vases. I also discovered more than ment, larger than either of the two pre"seven sleepers” stretched around ap- ceding ones, in the midst of which I was parently in as profound a slumber as is thrust, without the slightest explanation generally ascribed to those mythical per- | from our silent attendants; my companion sonages.

also submitted with martyr-like-composure Utter silence reigned over the luxu to the same fate. I immediately came to rious scene, and I was inquiring of my- | the conclusion that this was a furnace self if we had not wandered into the king- where people were burned alive. I made dom of the gnomes, when my companion | an effort to remonstrate, but in vain ; my clapped his hands, and immediately there voice was lost in my throat, my knees appeared before us, as if he had sprung trembled, my head swam, and I sank down out of the earth at our feet, a little figure, in utter helplessness. In a few seconds crooked as Æsop, bearded like a fawn, my chest dilated and natural respiration and covered with the most curious habili- was resumed. I opened my eyes to asments. Again I appealed to myself, with certain my true position. In the midst of

Vol. V.-38

the apartment, which was a vast amphi- reappearance of the bayaches, or servants. theater with vaulted arches so skillfully One of them bore a bowl of clay, in which cemented that they seemed cut from the he dissolved some rose perfumed soap ; solid granite, was a large circular basin the other unfolded a package of coarse which represented a wheel; the water, cloth. The latter made a sign expressive spouting from the center and divisions, of his desire for me to extend myself upon formed a fountain of distinct compart- a marble table, and I obeyed with the ments, furnished by eight brass tubes with utmost docility, for I assure you I had mouths of girasol-a gem resembling the been thoroughly subdued ; he then dipped opal. Four of these compartments were his cloth in the soapy water, and with it occupied by bathers, whose purpled vis- rubbed my face and the entire surface of ages were expressive of the most blissful my body. The second bayache now seized beatitude. Wishing to share their enjoy- | me firmly by the neck and legs in order to ment, I looked round, and finding that the prevent me from kicking, while the other attendants had disappeared, like a child in rubbed my back and breast with hair gloves; the absence of his master, I darted with then lifting me up, as if I had been a one bound into the deceitful fountain. feather, he laid me at full length in the first Fatal imprudence! I paid dearly for my compartment of the fountain. After being impatient curiosity.

thoroughly rinsed in this from the soap These compartments are heated by sub- with which I was pasted from head to terranean conduits, the temperature of the foot, I passed successively through the water varying in each. In my precipita- seven others, until I reached the one tion, ignorant that it was necessary to pass where I had been so cruelly scalded. It from one to the other of the graduated was now quite as endurable as the others, baths, I had plunged my limbs into the though its temperature remained the same. hottest basin, the temperature of which I was then again stretched on the table, was sixty-four degrees Reaumer, only six for the purpose, as it seemed to me, of less than the spring of Neidubrum, in having all the bones of my body dislowhich the villagers boil eggs.

cated. To crown the tortures to which It is useless to add that I sprang out I was doomed, one of my executioners quite as soon as I had sprang in, with an turning my face down upon the table, now exclamation that excited the hilarity of | leaped upon me, and applied his feet with my fellow-bathers, whose mirth was only vigorous kicks to my back and loins. increased by the sight of my legs, which I presume many of these details will were as red as well-boiled lobsters. seem incredible to you ; but you may be

Quite infuriated, I called my attendant; assured that I am a faithful chronicler, no sound answered my voice save a sad except that my description must fall short . and hoarse echo. I attempted to escape, of the reality. For about three minutes notwithstanding my ridiculous figure; but I was perfectly convinced that every verthe door was firmly clasped. My strength tebra in my spine was broken; my terror had returned after a few moments of faint nearly bereft me of my senses, but upon ness ; but it was now again deserting me, returning to full consciousness I found the and though I was not frightened, these other bayache vigorously rubbing the soles transitions were certainly far from agree- of my feet with pumice stone. able. Firmly persuaded that twenty-four This was the last act in the tragedy; hours of this discipline would reduce a my fate began to brighten, the woolen man to his original elements, I attentively slippers were replaced upon my feet, the examined my companions, and they seem-cloth was again wound about my form, ed to me gradually shriveling up in the and my head was recrowned with the turmisty atmosphere which enveloped them. ban. I returned through the small apartYet I could not but admit that their silence ments to the common hall, and was given appeared to proceed from their ecstatic into the hands of the bayache who has enjoyment. I came to the conclusion that special charge of that department. After the ineffable delights of this voluptuous enveloping me in a warm covering, he bath could only be enjoyed after long ex- rolled me on the divan, precisely as a perience.

baker kneads his bread, perfumed me with My meditations were, however, inter- rose water of the sweetest odor, and conrupted by the opening of the door and the templated his work in silent complacency.

« ZurückWeiter »