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which immediately procured me an agree- | Two or three white houses with Persian able asylum in the Mahala de la Stella. blinds stand opposite the church. Every
The suburbs of Bucharest are distin- body seemed on the best terms in this guished by the name of Mahalas-a num- miniature world. Two or three times a. ber of crooked little streets, quite without week I saw from my windows one of the the noise and bustle of the city, are ter- neighboring houses brilliantly illuminated, minated by a fence, a wall, or a hedge, and servants with lanterns conducting the behind which are partially concealed rural beauties of the mahala, in their ordinary residences, charmingly situated in the sur- attire, toward its cheerfully lighted rooms. rounding trees, or overgrown with vines This kind of enlarged family life was quite and clematis. A white church, with its charming to me. After a short residence assemblage of towers terminating in Indian in my new abode, I was so fortunate as to pagodas, stands at the end of the Mahala obtain an invitation to one of these social de la Stella. It is surrounded with acacias, reunions. Several of the matrons of the while near it is the residence of the bishop. neighborhood were seated in graceful and picturesque positions upon the red divan which extended round the apartment, forming a suitable background for the tableau of girls who were present. Their animation seemed a little intimidated upon my entrance, but after a few moments their timidity vanished, and they were quite regardless of my presence. I found that dancing was the chief amusement of the evening, and it was at once proceeded with in the simple style of the country, accompanied with music on the violin and the pipes of Pan. The women of Bucharest are proverbially beautiful, and those of our quarter did not detract from the established reputation of their countrywomen. Some of the names struck me as pretty and melodious. Among them I remember Maritzá, Paraskéva, Lianka, Zinka, &c. The graceful national costume, although rapidly falling into disuse, especially with the young people, and indeed never seen in what is called society, was frequently worn on these occasions, slightly modified. On Sundays,
YOUNG GIRL OF THE MAHALA DE LA STELLA. also, I was often struck with its picturesque beauty, as I saw the | as Indians, with their large black eyes set fresh and smiling faces of those whom it in blue enamel. The national dishes of adorned, coming forth from the white preserved citron, and a delicate preparachurch in the midst of the flowering aca- tion of roses, were served in primitive and cias. I leave it for your readers to decide national style. Two vases were filled with if any fashion plate compares with this them, from which each guest helped himgraceful attire of one of our belles of the self to as much as he wished, with a spoon, Mahala de la Stella.
which was then passed to his neighbor. The apartment which had drawn me The other tray had a large glass bowl, into its magic circle was quite simply containing the pure water of the Dimhofurnished. The illumination which had witza, from which all drank as in the days struck me as so brilliant, was produced of the patriarchs. As my turn came, a by four large candlesticks reflected in four lady smilingly repeated one of the poetical mirrors of highly polished steel, with the proverbs of the country, respecting this addition of a handsome three-branched pretty and beloved river. It is very mulamp. Two young Bohemians soon en- sical in the original, but the translation tered with refreshments; they were brown must suffice : “Sweet Dimhowitza, who
drinks of thy waters shall leave thee no more iengthened account of them in a more.” It must be powerful water indeed future letter. if it stops my vagabondizings!
But I must emerge from the charming I was much struck with the grace and seclusion of the Mahala, and again “ begin beauty of many of the Bohemian or gipsy at the beginning,” like an orthodox travchildren. Two little figures whom I fre- eler, with some information respecting my quently saw filling their donitzas with present resting-place—the “ City of Joy,” water at the fountain, seemed to me to as its inhabitants like to distinguish it. possess all the quiet grace and repose of Bucharest is nearly two hundred miles the antique, as they balanced the weight from the Black Sea, a little more than of their jars with their extended hands fifty from the Danube, and three hundred clasped together. The Bohemians, or from Jassi. It lies on a vast plain, with gipsies, are scattered everywhere through a gentle inclination toward the Dimbothe Principalities. I shall give you a witza, which passes directly through the
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 citiagant 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 Unted 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 filed 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. 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 eril 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 wbiffs and then offers it to his guest. Coltza, with its ruined tower, which was built in 1715, by the soldiers of Charles XII., of Sweden. It will be remembered
" Il se defénd arec quarante domestiques contre
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 His heroic pranks while here perplexed he would cut off their beards. They retired in
them word that unless they left the mansion 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 Charles opened a door with his little force,
the janissaries penetrated its chambers, but as 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, lea; ed 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.