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Pera had recently suffered in consequence of a conflagration which had nearly consumed every house in the place. There was reason to believe some improvement would take place during its restoration; but we found it rising from its ashes like a new phænix, without the slightest deviation from the form and appearance of its parent. The exception only of one or two houses formerly of wood and rebuilt with stone might be noticed; but all the rest were as ugly, inconvenient, and liable to 'danger as before; and were it not for a few workmen employed in fronting the houses of the merchants, no stranger could discover that any accident had taken place.
Considering the surprising extent of the city and suburbs of Constantinople, the notions entertained of its commerce, and the figure it has long made in bistory; all the conveniences, if not the luxuries, of life might be there expected. Previous to an arrival, if any inquiry is made of merchants, and other persons who have visited the place, as to the commodities of its markets, the answer is almost always characterised by exaggeration. They will affirm that every thing a stranger can require may be purchased in Constantinople as in London, Paris, or Vienna; whereas, if truth be told, hardly any one article good in its kind can be procured. Let a foreigner visit the bazars*, properly so called, he will see nothing but slippers, clumsy boots of bad leather, coarse muslins, pipes, tobacco, coffee, cooks' shops, drugs, flower-roots, second-hand pistols, poniards, and the worst manufactured wares in the world. In Pera, where Greeks and Italians are supposed to supply all the necessities of the Franks, a few pitiful stalls are seen, in which every thing is dear and bad. Suppose a stranger to arrive from a long journey, in want of clothes for his body; furniture for his lodgings; books or maps for his instruction and amusement; paper, pens, ink, cutlery, shoes, hats; in short, those articles which are
* Bazar is the Turkish word for Market.
found in almost every city of the world; he will find few or none of them in Constantinople, except of a quality so inferior as to render them incapable of answering any purpose for which they were intended. The few commodities exposed for sale are either exports from England, unfit for any other market, or which is worse, German and Dutch imitations of English manufacture. The woollen cloths are hardly suited to cover the floor of their own counting-houses; every article of cutlery and hardware is detestable; the leather used for shoes and boots so bad that it can scarcely be wrought; hats, hosiery, linen, buttons, buckles, are all of the same character; of the worst quality, and yet of the highest price.
But there are other articles of merchandize, to which we have been accustomed to annex the very name of Turkey, as if they were the peculiar produce of that country; and these at least a foreigner expects to find; but not one of them can be had. Ask for a Turkish carpet, you are told you must send for it to Smyrna; for Greek wines to the Archipelago; for a Turkish sabre 10 Damascus; for the sort of stone expressly denominated turquoise, they know not what you mean; for red leather--they import it themselves from Russia or from Africa; still you are said to be in the centre of the commerce of the world : and this may be true enough with reference to the freight of vessels passing the straits which is never landed. View the exterior of Constantinople, and it seems the most opulent and flourishing city in Europe; examine its interior, and its miseries and deficiencies are so striking, that it must be considered the meanest and poorest metropolis of the world. The ships which crowd its ports have no connexion with its welfare: they are for the most part French, Venetian, Ragusan, Sclavonian, and Grecian vessels, to or from the Mediterranean, exchanging the produce of their own countries for the rich harvests of Poland; and the salt, honey, and butter of the Ukraine; the hides, tallow, hemp, furs, and metals of Russia and Siberia; the whole of which exchange is transacted in other ports, without any interference on the part of
Turkey. Never was there a people in possession of such advantages, who either knew or cared so little for their enjoyment. Under a wise government, the inhabitants of Constantinople might obtain the riches of all the empires of the earth. Situated as they are, it cannot be long before other nations, depriving them of such important sources of wealth, will convert to better purpose the advantages they have so long neglected.
MODERN LEARNING EXEMPLIFIED. This witty jeu d'esprit was written by the late celebrated Greek scholar, Professor Porson, to ridicule the system of education which was pursued at Oxford, prior to the reformation since effected at that university.
Professor. What is a salt-box?
S. A salt-box may be where there is no salt, but salt is absolutely necessary to the existence of a box of salt.
P. Are not salt-boxes otherwise divided ?
P. To be sure: to separate the fine from the coarse. But are not salt-boxes otherwise distinguished ?
S. Yes; into possible, probable, and positive.
S. A possible salt-box is a salt-box yet unsold in the joiner's hands.
P. Why so?
S. Because it hath not yet become a salt-box, having never had any salt in it, and it may possibly be applied to some other use.
P. Very true; for a salt-box which never had, hath not now, and perhaps never may have, any salt in it, can only be termed a possible salt-box. What is a probable salt-box?
S. It is a salt-box in the hand of one going to a shop to buy salt, and who hath sixpence in his pocket to pay the shopkeeper. And a positive salt-box is one which hath actually and bona fide got salt in it.
P. Very good: What other divisions of salt-boxes do you recollect?
S. They are divided into substantive and pendent. A substantive salt-bos is that which stands by itself on the table or dresser, and the pendent is that which hangs by a nail against the wall.
P. What is the idea of a salt-box?
S. It is that image which the mind conceives of a salt-box when no salt is present.
P. What is the abstract idea of a salt-box?
S. It is the idea of a salt-box abstracted from the idea of a box, or of salt, or of a salt-box, or of a box of salt.
P. Very right: by this means you acquire a most perfect knowledge of a salt-box: but tell me, is the idea of a salt-box a salt idea?
S. Not unless the ideal box hath the idea of salt contained in it.
P. True; and therefore an abstract idea cannot be either salt or fresh, round or square, long or short; and this shows the difference between a salt idea and an idea of salt. Is an aptitude to hold salt an essential or an accidental property of a salt-box?
S. It is essential: but if there should be a crack in the bottom of the box, the aptitude to spill salt would be termed an accidental property of that salt-box.
P. Very well, very well indeed: what is the salt called with respect to the box?
S. It is called its contents.
S. Because the cook is content, quoad hoc, to find plenty of salt in the box.
P. You are very right. Let us now proceed to
P. How many modes are there in a salt-box?
S. Four: the formal, the substantial, the accidental, and the topsy-turvy.
P. Define these several modes.
S. The formal respects the figure or shape of the box, such as round, square, oblong, &c. &c. The substantial respects the work of the joiner; and the accidental depends upon the string by which the box is hung against the wall.
P. Very well: what are the consequences of the accidental mode?
S. If the string should break, the box would fall, the salt be spilt, the salt-box be broken, and the cook in a passion; and this is the accidental mode, with its consequences.
P. How do you distinguish between the top and bottom of a salt-box?
S. The top of a box is that part which is uppermost, and the bottom that which is lowest in all positions.
P. You should rather say, the uppermost part is the top, and the lowest part the bottom. How is it then if the bottom should be the uppermost?
S. The top would then be lowermost, so that the bottom would become the top, and the top would become the bottom; and this is called the topsy-turvy mode, which is nearly allied to the accidental, and frequently arises from it.
P. Very good: But are not salt-boxes sometimes single, and sometimes double?
P. Well then, mention the several combinations of salt-boxes, with respect to their having salt or not.
S. They are divided into single salt-boxes, having salt; single salt-boxes, having no salt; double saltboxes, having no salt; double salt-boxes, having salt; and single double salt-boxes, having salt and no salt.