+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

At length he stopped, panting.

"A friend of mine, Missirie," repeated Sir
Colin. "He will take his breakfast with
me, and will most probably dine with me
also." Then, drawing his guest nearer to
the public room, the general cast back one
look towards the discomfited, appalled, almost
petrified proprietor. "You see, Missirie,"
he explained; " Dimitri is the other bed!"

It is hardly necessary to explain at length
that Dimitri received compensation in lieu of
breakfast, that Sir Colin slept, that night,
in a single-bedded room. Pera rang with
the adventure, but Missirie's power was
scarcely shaken. Every one felt that his
defeat was an achievement of individual
genius, not to be imitated or repeated; and
few travellers were disposed to enter the
lists against a man of such determination
and resource. Afterwards, I am inclined to
think, he even increased the stringency of
his rule over the polloi; and there were
some officers, known commonly as the
contingent remainders, who seemed to be, in an
especial manner, the victims of his tyranny.
I heard one of them say that he'd be dashed
if he'd stand it; but the spirit excited no
answering enthusiasm among those whom he
addressed. It was not followed by action,
save on the part of Missirie himself, who, it
was whispered the next morning, committed
the speaker to a double-bedded room.

To a peaceable and quietly-disposed person,
like the writer of this article, the Hotel d'
Angleterre was a very pleasant place,
illustrating all the advantages that Dr. Johnson
or any one else could seek for as the peculiar
traits of an absolute government. There
were many such advantages. Every ukase
issued by Missirie, even if dictated by too
great lust of power, was directed towards
the comfort and welfare of his subjects. His
separatist policy, in particular, broke up all
those little knots and cliques in which
Englishmen so much delight, and rendered table
conversation less noisy and more general. It
also tended indirectly to prevent excessive
drinking, of which the autocrat, not without
reason, had great fear and abhorrence. Tipsy
men are often quarrelsome, and Missirie's is
a quiet and orderly house. Once, it is said,
a traveller who was primed with champagne,
and whose candour was greater than his
discretion, directed the attention of the company
to two general officers who were seated
opposite him, and publicly intimated that one of
them was a blundering old humbug, and the
other a Judas Iscariot. People were beginning
to lose their awe of general officers in
those days, but still this speech produced a
scene, and had the effect of hastening coffee
for the future. It was not without its
influence, perhaps, in developing the tone of
authority which Missirie found it expedient
to assume in order to keep within bounds the
heterogeneous gathering of guests in his house
and at his table. Round that table might be
seen men of all classesgenerals and
subalterns, middies and post captains, tourists,
speculators, authors. There might be seen
men whose chances of action had been suffered
to evaporate; and men whose deeds had
become an imperishable part of their country's
glory. Conspicuous among the habitu├ęs, I
remember the calm features and thoughtful
brow of Colonel Ballard, the defender of
Silistria, the brave and sagacious soldier,
I'homme sans peur et sans reproche, whose
share in one of the most glorious struggles
of the war is scarcely known, because of that
struggle he was himself the chronicler. Afterwards,
in the campaign under the Caucasus,
by his watchful care over the comfort and
well-being of his men, he contributed, more
than any one else has ever done, to impress
the common Turks with respect and affection
for an Englishman.

Thanks, probably, to the despotic government,
there was no lack of ladies at
Missirie's. There was one, of ample person and
stately presence, who deserves especial
mention. She would be content with no less
homage than that every gentleman should
daily rise from his seat in her sole and
individual honour. To this end, she would calmly
witness the collective departure of all rival
or companion deities; and then, when the
last rustle of a silk dress had ceased in the
outer room, and when the lords of creation,
were again cosily settled in their chairs,
she would make a solemn noise in her throat,
would look around her, would slowly lift
herself to a height of nearly six feet, and would
commence her progress to the door. Somebody
her son, or brother, or husbandused
to follow her as far as the hall, and then
return to his wine. Of course we all stood
up to witness the ceremonial. The chief
performer reminded me of my sister's governess,
who was pronounced, long years ago, by
a gipsy fortune-teller, to be a comfortable
lady, with grand thoughts.

The Hotel d' Angleterre must be a dull
place now, affording shelter only to a few
tourists, or to stranded commissioners, sick
of inaction and longing for home. Probably
single-bedded rooms may be obtained, even,
by those who are not highly-favoured guests;
probably the once rigorous discipline is in
many points relaxed. But the proprietor
has shown powers of governing which
discourage the belief that he will acquiesce
tamely in the changethat he will fold his
hands and say " Ichabod " with resignation.
A troubled future is impending over Turkey,
and a time may come when the vigour and
astuteness of Missirie Pasha shall determine
the current of her destiny.


IN the lives of journals and magazines, as
in those of more important entities, it is well
to look back occasionally, and see what has