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GRAND ENTERTAINMENT BY THE VIZIR.
and dealt out his jokes and sallies of wit profusely, which of course had the effect of producing peals of laughter. At last, turning to myself, and stroking his long white beard, he asked if the people in England wore beards. I replied, only the Jews; at which he seemed as if he scarcely knew whether to smile or frown. Old Mazout in the mean time preserved the most dignified silence and demeanour, nor did his impenetrable countenance once relax into a smile*. I scarcely thought it was in the power of Bacchus himself to turn this venerable Polysperchont into such a merry rogue and very buffoon as he afterwards exhibited himself. In fact, we learned that the striking contrast between his extreme gravity when sober and his boisterous vivacity when half seas over, renders him so great a favourite with the vizir that he never goes to an entertainment without him whilst he resides in Ioannina.
After the lapse of about half an hour the lady of the house came forward with a silver pitcher and ewer, and a finely embroidered napkin thrown over her arm: having advanced to the vizir and made her obeisance she poured out warm water into the basin, with which he washed his hands, turning up his loose sleeves for this purpose, and washing half way up to the elbow:: after he had finished his ablution, the water was brought to us and the other guests: this custom certainly seems requisite in a country where the modern use of knives and forks is entirely precluded by a partiality for the fingers. The vizir now motioned us to draw round a circular tin-tray which had been scraped bright for the ceremony (Ersan agámica), and we accordingly ranged ourselves at his highness's right hand upon rich velvet cushions, several of
* His appearance might be accurately designated by the words of Lucian, who is describing a philosophic character at an entertainment. Σεμνός τις ιδειν και θεοπρεπής και πολύ το κόσμιον επιφάινων τα * poowny. Conviv. §. 7.
+ Vid. Atben. Deipn. I. iv. 155.
I Does not this tend to confirm the interpretation which some commentators give to the word tuyun in St. Mark's Gospel, c. vii. v. 3, which seems wrongly translated in our version by the expression u oft'?
which were placed one upon the other for our accommodation : on his left sat Mazout Effendi, the rest of the space being filled by the archbishop and the primates. Rich scarfs were now thrown over our shoulders, and napkins placed before us, so embroidered with gold as to serve for no earthly purpose but that of decoration: a fine silken shawl being laid upon the vizir's knees, he courteously spread it out and extended it to Mr. Parker and myself.
Before dinner a dessert, or anteconium, was placed upon the table, consisting of apples, dried fruits, and sweetmeats. After some of the party had nibbled an almond or swallowed a raisin, this quickly disappeared, and a tureen of thick soup was placed by the mistress of the family before the guests ; into this the vizir first dipped his wooden spoon, and was followed by the rest of the company: next came a roasted lamb, brought in by a servant, to which all fingers round the table were immediately applied, stripping the meat from off one side till the ribs were fairly exposed to view: I ought to observe that in deference to our customs knives and forks were placed before the Englishmen, which however they thought proper to dispense with as much as possible: the lamb was followed by a brace of partridges, which the vizir took up in both his hands and placed one upon Mr. Parker's plate and the other upon my own, as a token of extreme condescension : scaroely however had they lain there a moment when they suddenly disappeared like Sancho Panza's delicacies, being snatched up by the dirty fingers of the bare-legged Albanian guards who stood around us: this however was done merely to relieve us from the trouble of carving, for when they had pulled them limb from limb, they very carefully and respectfully replaced them upon our plates ; and in this manner was every fowl, or duck, or any other species of poultry served which the courtesy of the vizir and of the other guests induced them to offer us : and indeed these marks of civility were showered down so thick upon us that I was quite surprised how we survived this day's cramming, especially when it is considered that we
GRAND ENTERTAINMENT BY THE VIZIR.
had eaten our regular dinner before we came to the feast, and that etiquette in this country demands that the guests should at least taste all the dishes set before them.
No liquor, was drank at this entertainment but wine, which several beautiful youths from the vizir’s seraglio stood to pour out from pitchers into glass goblets. Two pages would scarcely be sufficient to describe the different viands which were placed upon the table singly and separately, and upon which the first-rate culinary science in Turkey seemed to have been lavished; some of the ragouts and piquant sauces would not have disgraced the civic table of a lord-mayor: the most insipid article was the pastry, which was nothing more than cakes of meal, honey, and pistachio nuts. We had to run the gauntlet for about two hours through eighty-six dishes, all placed singly before the guests in a varied succession of roast and boiled meats, fish, stews, pastry, game, and wild-fowl, &c. until the dessert again appeared. In the mean time the Ganymedes had not been idle with their pitchers and goblets, and Signore Alessio, the úvówins of the feast, supplied them with his best quadrimum. Old Mazout had once or twice during dinner shewn symptoms of the Bacchic fury rising within him, by throwing open a sash window behind the divan, and joining in chorus with the Albanian band that was playing and singing in the anteroom. The vizir however now ordered him to be plied with larger and more frequent goblets; and, as he is very
upon these occasions of seeing every one around him inebriated, he commanded the crowd of Greeks to advance from the lower end of the room and to drink like fishes. As for himself he took only a moderate portion of wine, and very considerately requested Mr. Parker and myself to follow his example.
The fumes of the wine began at length to operate so strongly upon old Mazout that his tongue seemed resolved to make amends for the silence to which it had previously been doomed : he sang droll songs in the Turkish language, exerted his lungs in the most violent shouts,
GRAND ENTERTAINMENT BY THE VIZIR.
rolled about upon the divan, and throwing off his turban exhibited his bare head to view, whilst the spectators, and especially the vizir, were convulsed with laughter. Soon afterwards he called the dancing boys into the room, and snatching a tambourine from the hands of their leader, jumped and capered about, beating the instrument like an ancient Silenus: he then endeavoured to catch the boy, who eluded his grasp
with the pliability of an eel, whilst the old fellow, failing in many of his attempts, fell flat upon the ground to the no small merriment of the by-standers. In the midst of this interlude however Mazout several times ran up to Ali, caught him with his arms round the neck, and almost suffocated him with embraces, kissing him on the forehead and bosom, and addressing him with expressions of the most fond attachment: from the vizir he ran off again to the dancing boys, and at last seizing their coryphæus, he nearly stifled him with caresses; then dragging him up to the divan, he coaxed Ali to give him a handful of small gold coins, which he wetted with his spittle and stuck like spangles over the boy's face, who struggled very hard to get free, that he might pocket the affront.
When the dancers had quitted the room the toasts began to circulate with great rapidity, all of which were drank in full bumpers. Ali
gave the health of the Prince Regent, and the Royal Family of Great Britain; in return for which we drank to the prosperity of his house and dynasty, and to the immortal memory of Pyrrhus, his heroic ancestor. At length I proposed a toast by way of experiment, to see the effect which it would produce: this was—health and prosperity to Salee Bey—the vizir's youngest and favourite son, who, as it is strongly conjectured, is designed for his successor. This proposal was received with evident satisfaction by the vizir, and by the most rapturous applause from all the company; Ali took a full bumper, old Mazout three, and the archbishop, who had for some time fought shy, demanded two; Psalida reiterated his shouts with Stentorian lungs; Signore Alessio ordered a fresh barrel to be tapped, that all
GRAND ENTERTAINMENT BY THE VIZIR.
might do justice to the toast, and the Greeks encircling the vizir and kissing the hem of his robes, tossed off glass after glass till he desired them to forbear. This toast, by-the-bye, was proposed and drank twice again during the evening, but no one thought of giving the health; either of Mouchtar or Vely Pasha. Soon after this ebullition, the archbishop prudently decamped, and Psalida, who had for some time been guilty of clipping the vizir’s Greek, being led off the field hors de combat, our host Nicolo occupied his place as interpreter of tongues.
During a short interval of quiet, I took the opportunity of asking Ali whether there was any truth in the report that he intended Salee Bey to enjoy the advantages of foreign travel by visiting the different European courts : to this he answered, that the plan had been strongly recommended to him, and that he had taken it into serious consideration, but it was so contrary to the custom of his countrymen that he felt obliged to decline it. He asked how we liked Ioannina, and whether our host conducted himself well towards us : upon our answering that he was a good fellow (wanès árbpwros), he shook his head and said " His father was.” He then desired us, in his usual hyperbolical style, to consider all his possessions as our own, and commanding silence in the room, he declared in a loud tone, that he should consider no man bis friend who did not shew us civility and attention. Some time before this speech was ended old Mazout began to be very impatient, and at length commenced a humorous song, which alas! he was unable to finish, for unfortunately overbalancing himself in one of his outrageous attitudes, he fell off the sofa and rolled under the table: whilst he lay there, the Greeks seeing how the vizir was inclined, seemed to forget that awe which the presence of an autocrat, upon whose breath their very lives depended, might inspire, and began to play all sorts of practical jokes upon each other, tripping up heels, knocking off calpacs, and exploding detonating balls close to the ear: the noise and confusion thus occasioned roused old Mazout Effendi from his trance; for, starting up in a species of delirium, he thrust his hand and arm through the sash win