44 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS ;
couch and seat before it could be occupied; the kiosk has, therefore, been abandoned to
decay. Though serpents seem now less numerous than formerly in this place, the deleterious character of it is not lessened. The mal-aria generated, spreads a venomous effluvia, as fatal as that of vipers; this is evinced on the residents. The barrack of the
" kombaragees," or bombardiers, who rendered such signal service to the sultan in extirpating the Janissaries, is not far from it, and their sallow and sickly aspect exhibits
proof that health is assailed by an effluvia as mortal as the serpent's breath.
Next in succession is the " Guiumuch Hane," or Silver Foundery, from whence the prepared metalis brought to theTarap Hane in the outer court of the seraglio to be stamped.
There is no copper coin in circulation in Turkey; but silver is debased so as to become a
more worthless metal. The coins of this imitation formerly were the asper, parasi, beslik, and
olik; they have become extinct except the parasi, and another, formerly unknown, introduced the piaster and its several denominations. The parasi is a minute coin, so very small
and light, that it can only be taken up by the tip of a wet finger. Every shopkeeper has a
board secured by a ledge and running to a point, on which the paras are reckoned, and then
spouted into a canvass bag. At the present rate of exchange, this apparently silver coin is
less than one third of a farthing, and. as all money is reckoned by it, a stranger is startled
to see his baccul's or huckster's bills amount to 10,000 paras. Turkish coins contain no
representation of the head of the sovereign, but give his name and title, the place where
they were struck, the date and year of the sovereign's reign ; the inscription on the present,
coin is—" Sultan Mahmoud ibn Sultan Abdul Hamed el Sultan ibn el Sultan," that is,
Sultan Mahmoud, the son of Sultan Abdul Hamed Khan, himself a sultan, and son of a
sultan;" on the reverse is—" Sultan alberim vehaka nul bahrim sarb fi Constantam!,"
that is, " Sultan, conqueror of the world, sovereign of men, struck at Constantinople." All
this is generally expressed by a convoluted cipher, called nizam. Three cities in the
empire are allowed to coin, beside the capital; Adrianople, Smyrna, and Cairo.
This part of the harbour opens into a deep valley, ascending up to the high grounds on
which stands the elevated village, called by the Turks Tatavola, and by the Greeks, Aya
Demetri. Small streams, running down the sides of the hills, carry with them all kinds
of offal, and the deposit below is sometimes so enormous that the whole surface becomes
a most foul and putrid mass, the fomes of contagion, from whence it periodically
expands itself over the city. So tremendous was the miasma generated on one
occasion, that 1000 persons were brought out to be buried every day through the Top-
Kapousi gate. It is in such places that the plague is never extinguished, but remains
always slumbering, till some circumstance calls it into activity. But a still more dreadful
calamity issued from this valley. It is supposed to be the avenue through which the
Turkish fleet was conveyed into the harbour. Ascending from the Bosphorus by
a corresponding valley on the other side, and climbing on machines the eminence between,
the Greeks, secure as they thought themselves by closing the mouth of the harbour, were
astonished to see the enemy's fleet issue from the side of the hill, and ride directly under
their walls. This decided the fate of the city—paralyzed by terror and despair, they
made from that moment a feeble resistance.