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Hoja borrows from a friend a large copper vessel, in which to do his washing. A few days afterward, the vessel is returned clean, washed and polished. Inside of it is another, but much smaller, copper vessel..
"What is this, Hoja ?” asks his friend. “I lend you one vessel and you bring me back two!”
"It is very curious," said the Hoja. “It appears that your vessel, while in my possession, must have given birth to a baby vessel. Of course both belong equally to you."
"Oh, thank you, good Hoja,” says the man, laughing, and without more parley agrees to receive back both vessels.
Some time aster this the Hoja again applies for the loan of the large vessel-—“the mother vessel,” as he described it. The demand is readily granted. Before leaving, the Hoja inquires after the health of the “baby vessel.” He expresses pleasure at hearing that it was doing extremely well.
A week, then a month elapses, but no Hoja appears to return the borrowed vessel. The proprietor, at length losing patience, goes himself to obtain it.
“Very sorry,” says Hoja, “but your copper vessel is dead."
“Dead, Hoja!” cries the other in surprise; “What do you mean?"
“Just what I say,” replies the Hoja; "your vessel is dead."
“Nonsense, Hoja!" says the man-irritated at the Hoja's quiet manner, “how can a copper vessel die?”.
“Read up your natural history, my good friend,” answers the imperturbable, puffing quietly at his long pipe, “and you will see that everything that gives birth to a child must inevitably succumb in due course to the fate of all mortals. You were willing enough to believe that your vessel had given birth to a 'baby vessel.' I do not see, therefore, why you should now doubt my word as to its being dead.”
* * One night before retiring, Hoja said to his wife: “If it rain to-morrow, I shall go to my field; if it do not rain, I shall go to my vineyard.”
“Say, if it please God, Hoja," suggested his wife.
“Whether it please God or not,” replies Hoja, “I shall go to one or the other."
“Hoja,” says his wife, “say, if it please God.”
Next day it is not raining, and Hoja starts to go to his vineyard. He has not gone far, however, when he is stopped by the king's troopers, who compel him to work all day in repairing the roads. It is quite late at night when he is set free. By the time he arrives at his house, every one is fast asleep. His wife, putting her head out of the window, asks who it is.
“Wise,” replied Hoja, “if it please God, it is I."
A friend calls on Hoja to borrow his donkey.
“Very sorry,” says Hoja, who does not want to lend the animal, “but the donkey is not here; I have hired him out for the day.”
Unfortunately, just at that moment the donkey begins to bray loudly, thus giving the direct lie to the Hoja.
"How is this, Hoja ?” says his friend, "you say the donkey is away, and here he is braying in the stable."
Hoja, nothing daunted, replies in a grave manner:
“My dear sir, please do not demean yourself so low as to believe the donkey rather than myself—a fellow man and a venerable Hoja with a long gray beard."
EDUCATION. Compulsory education is unknown in Asia Minor. The government renders no assistance to non-Mohammedan schools. Each nationality has its own schools quite as distinct as its churches. The Protestants, however, make no distiction in their schools. Of the Armenian higher institutions and colleges, we have elsewhere spoken.
Mohammedanism teaches that secular education is subordinate to and dependent on religious instruction. So it was that all the schools of early times were attached to mosques, and under the direction of the Ulema or religious teacher. Sultan Orchan was conspicuous for the founding of schools and colleges. Secular education, independent of religious instruction, began in 1846. Those who complete the course of study in the higher schools are granted a degree and given a mastership in a primary school. Several years more of training are required of those who wish to be Ulemas or religious teachers in the mosques. Those who are most proficient in their studies are trained in the legal profession, for all Turkish law is founded on the Koran. The revenue for the support of this system of education is derived from the church lands of the empire.
National schools are to be found in all the principal cities. In Constantinople, for instance, Armenians alone have over fifty schools for both sexes, but many of the small villages are deprived of this blessing. The Mohammedan boy's entrance in school, at the age of seven, is a festive occasion. The whole school goes to the home of the lad, who is placed on a richly caparisoned donkey. Formed in double-file procession, they escort the young student to the school-house, singing songs. It is certainly a beautiful custom, which tends to impress on the minds of the young the importance of this new sphere of life. These Turkish common schools present a very singular scene to a stranger. The pupils are all seated cross-legged in semi-circular clusters around the hoja or teacher, in the porch of the mosque, on bare marble pavements. The hoja, as a rule, is an old man with white whiskers. He holds in his hand an extremely long stick, which reaches to all parts of the school, from one end to the other. As the hoja is quite old and too lazy to move from his seat, in case of mischief he stretches his unmerciful stick over the unruly ones. As he is asleep nearly half of the time, on opening his eyes he finds the entire school a lusty play and fighting ground of wild disorder. His long stick is now on duty to establish peace and order. I remember many true stories of how these young students got even with their patriarchal teacher in anointing his head and whiskers with oil and wax while he was in his usual sleep in the school room, and of what a hard time he frequently had in finding his stolen stick.
The strangest aspect of these Turkish schools is the manner of studying. All read their lessons aloud in shrill and deafening voices. All recite at the same time in a loud monotone. No wonder the old schoolmaster goes to sleep ; how could he find rest otherwise? When I passed by a mosque where these Turkish schools are held, I used to cover my ears. In the absence of desks, the writing is done by holding the paper in the left hand and writing from right to left.
THE FAIR SEX.
One of the most frequent questions asked me by the young people of this country is concerning the courtship and marriage of our Eastern youth. The frequency of this question has led me to conclude that this is the favorite theme of young American hearts.
Oriental harems have been the basis of many a delusive fiction. Their secluded privacy of indoor life has thrown about them thecharm of mystery. Islamism does not allow women to appear in public save when they are closely veiled. Even at home their apartments are entirely separated from those to which male callers are admitted. For centuries the women of the harem, isolated from society, had no knowledge of the outside world, except what they saw in their limited field of observation, or heard from the men of their own household. In the mosque and in public conveyances, as at home, they are separated in special apartments. Aishe, Mohammed's wife, originated the custom of seclusion and thus the tradition and customs of centuries do not readily yield to innovation. The Arabic word “harem” is synonomous to the English “home.” “Harem” means “secret," "forbidden," and if the Turks keep all their other