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nied them through this singular place. The stalls are as. ranged round the whole circumference of the building, with a circle of them in the centre, leaving a space of some twenty feet wide for the multitude who gather there the whole day, besides which, two wide streets, crossing at right angles, divide the central mass of shops into four quarters. The immense roof is supported by the central structures.

Here, at a certain time in the day, a curious scene is exhibited ; a set of perambulating auctioneers are continually threading the crowd, with some paltry article in their hands, crying out the last bid which they have obtained (or not) from some individual; they are stopped by another, who ex. amines the article, and makes a higher bid; when the crier becomes tired of holding forth, and is satisfied with the highest price offered, he seeks out the last bidder and de. livers the goods, generally a pipestick, amber mouthpiece, an old jacket, or a pistol.

However great the quantity and variety of native and foreign merchandise in these immense bazars, yet the more rare and valuable productions of the great East are kept in places of much greater security, where there is less danger from the frequent conflagrations to which this city is unfor. tunately liable, from the combustible nature of its buildings, its narrow streets, and inefficient fire department.

The secure places I allude to are the khans, vast maga. zines built of stone, with iron windows and doors. They are built upon speculation by certain wealthy Turks, who obtain a great revenue from them. Each merchant has a small cell entirely fire-proof, and secure from any mishap which might befall his neighbour in the next-door cell. To-morrow I will give you some account of my visit to sev. eral of these emporiums of Oriental treasures. Au revoir.

THE TRAFFIC IN PEARLS.

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LETTER XLI.

The Traffic in Pearls.-Shawls of Cachmere.--An agreeable Surprise.

Curious Embroidery.-Forest of Belgrade.- Aqueducts of Constantinople.—Buyucdere.-Magnificent Prospects.—A Turkish Necropolis.-A Drama on the largest Scale.--A Glance at the Actors. The Finale.-Great Shamfight.-The Sultan's Recruits.- Innovations of Mahmoud. The Sultan's Body-guard.-Departure from Constantinople.

Constantinople, I PROMISED you some account of the great khans of Stamboul, and will now redeem my promise in as concise a manner as possible.

One of the first we visited was occupied principally by Jews, who deal exclusively in pearls. These articles are brought hither by the Bokhara caravans, and are always strung on strings, containing each a certain number, as nearly of one size as it is possible to assort them. The value of pearls is computed in two ways. First, a given number of strings are weighed by a certain standard weight (say, for instance, an ounce); then they are counted, and the smaller the number of pearls which is required to make up the weight, the more valuable they are. Then the quality is considered, which depends first on the most perfect shape (the nearer they are to a globular form the better), and lastly on their brilliancy.

The cheaper sorts are always of a very irregular shape, yet they are generally the most brilliant, and are only used for embroidering and furniture stuffs. Immense quantities are exported to all parts of Europe and the western world, to be set in fancy jewellery, for which purpose they are split in two parts, to make more superficial surface. The small. est sizes are called seed-pearls, and both these kinds are sold by weight, and not by tale, as in Europe and America. The largest and rarest kind, such as are used for necklaces, in single or double strings, by the most wealthy persons in Eu. rope, are only met with in very small quantities.

The most magnificent I ever saw were at Moscow, each pearl being as large as the largest pea, and all of one uni. form size, perfectly round, and of the finest lustre. A single string about two feet long was valued at five thousand dollars.

But the price at which the ordinary pearls of commerce can be obtained in quantities here, is inconceivably low. I have seen no such quantities of large pearls in Constanti. nople as I saw lavished on the magnificent state horse-hous. ings of the former emperors of Russia, in the regalia treas. ury at Moscow, which, you may recollect, I described to you as being two yards square, of crimson Genoa velvet, almost entirely covered with rosettes and vines composed of the most beautiful and valuable pearls.

We had previously been visiting a large Armenian khan, where this article is disposed of at wholesale, and I never before saw such masses of pearls ; they abounded in quan. tities equal to the German glass beads at the great fair of Dresden.

Old Solomon, our indefatigable Paul Pry, popped in with his “hope I don't intrude," and intimated to us that he could take us to a place where we could purchase to greater advantage, and he was right. When, however, we went to the Israelite khan, we saw nothing but empty cells; there were neither boxes, cases, nor anything else denoting a place of trade. We were about to retire, chiding old Sol for his impudence, when a Spanish Jew stepped up, and, with a Turkish salaam, informed us that he had plenty of pearls, and requested our permission to display them. We signi. fied to him that we would purchase a considerable quantity if he had them to sell cheap; he then shut the iron door of his cell, after which he handed us each a little stool to sit upon, and, looking cautiously about him and over his left

SHAWLS OF CACHMERE.

259

shoulder, to see if some suspicious eyes were not watching him, he drew forth from the ample bosom of his greasy silk robe sundry rolls of paper, which he unrolled in succession, never displaying more than one at a time. These contained the most regular pearls I had seen, and his prices were the mo reasonable. We selected several bunches, and, as is the custom here, made him an offer for them about half their value. No important trade can be made here at the first sitting, so we adjourned the discussion to another day; after three or four more visits, one of the contracting parties relaxed from his last sine qua non, which was, that the other should take twice as many as were wanted; and then a bar. gain was soon concluded, by which, if Moses made fifty per cent., I beat him, for my profits were the double of his, inasmuch as I walked away with a fine present from my

hus. band.

So much for the pearl bazars; now follow me to the next mart, where extravagance is the order of the day.

We entered a khan where the Turkish possessor of treas. ures occupied several cells, which communicated with each other. We were in search of shawls. The first room we entered was arranged with comfortable divans ; pipes and coffee were handed to us on our entrance; one pipe smoked, another quickly followed with its tiny cup of Mocha. These indispensable preliminaries settled, we went to busi.

A handsome slave brought from an adjoining apart. ment an armful of Cachmeres, which he strewed

the floor, and there tumbling them over as if they were hearth. rugs, I soon saw that they were not what I liked ; another and another armful followed, none of which I fancied. Re. enforcement after re-enforcement quickly appeared, until the floor presented a confused mass of every size, colour, and pattern of shawl, over which we all walked as if selecting carpets for our floors. I never before had seen so much treasure displayed in this article in one mass. As in the

upon

ness.

case of the pearls, this was only the first sitting. I had laidaside some two or three dozen, from which to select what I might want if any were found to suit me. These were soon transported across to Pera and deposited in my parlour, there to remain as long as I might desire to retain them for inspection.

While I was feasting my eyes at leisure on these beau. tiful fabrics of the Vale of Cachmere, Solomon popped in like a sprite. He came for backshee for services rendered in the affair of the pearls, which received, he went off with. out saying a word about shawls, whence I concluded this article was not in his line. It was not long, however, be. fore I had Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dancing attendance in my antechamber, each with a bundle of rich Cachmeres under his arm. One by one they were ushered in by Solo. mon, and, having displayed their treasures, each left with me his pack, promising to call again the next day. Suffice it to say, that for a week my levée was attended by Turk, Ar. menian, and Jew, from each of which nation I succeeded in purchasing a shawl ; yet, after examining many hundreds of all colours, I did not see one to equal those that I had purchased at home several

before. I confess that I was disappointed in the much-vaunted shawls of this great emporium ; but this disappointment was a few days after most agreeably reversed. The gentlemen gained intelligence of several splendid shawls which had been ordered to be made in Cachmere for some ladies in Moscow, and which were on their way to their destination when the war broke out between Russia and Persia, and they were made a lawful prize by the Persians, and sent to Constantinople for sale. These shawls were so infinitely superior to anything they had seen before in any country, that each of the gentlemen determined (without consulting the other) to manage a surprise for me. Accordingly, each went at different times to piping it over these shawls

years

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