Imagini ale paginilor

not to disturb the joyful serenity with which his followers look forward to their promised heaven, has not given to woman any fixed position there, and the pious Mussulman, although blessed with the lawful complement of four wives, is not bound to see among his seventy-two blackeyed houries the faces of his companions upon earth; but the women are not utterly cast out; they are deemed to have souls, and entitled to a heaven of their own; and it may be, too, that their visions of futurity are not less bright, for that there is a mystery to be unravelled beyond the grave, and they are not doomed to eternal companionship with their earthly lords. In the wildest, rudest scene where woman appears at all, there is a sweet and undefinable charm; and their appearance among the pilgrims, the care with which they shrouded themselves from every eye, their long thick veils, and their tents of four-post beds with curtains of red silk, fastened down all around, and secured on the high backs of camels, were the most striking objects in the caravan. Next to them in interest were the miserable figures of the marabouts, santons, or Arab saints, having only a scanty covering of rags over their shoulders, and the rest of their bodies completely naked, yet strutting about as if clothed in purple and fine linen; and setting off utterly destitute of every thing, for a journey of months across the Desert, safely trusting to that openhanded charity which forms so conspicuous an item in the list of Mussulman virtues. But the object of universal interest was the great box containing the presents and decorations for the tomb of the prophet. The camel which bears this sacred burden is adorned with banners and rich housings, is watched and tended with pious care, and when his journey is ended, no meaner load can touch his back; he has filled the measure of a camel's glory, and lives and dies respected by all good Mussulmans." Vol. I. pp. 14-16.

He again speaks of it after arriving at the Red Sea :

"The scene itself did not sustain the high and holy character of a pilgrimage. As I said before, all were abominably filthy; some were sitting around a great dish of pilau, thrusting their hands in it up to the knuckles, squeezing the boiled rice, and throwing back their heads as they crammed the huge morsel down their throats; others packing up their merchandise, or carrying water-skins, or whetting their sabres; others wrangling for a few paras; and in one place was an Arab butcher, bare-legged and naked from the waist upward, with his hands, breast, and face smeared with blood, leaning over the body of a slaughtered camel, brandishing an axe, and chopping off huge pieces of meat for the surrounding pilgrims. A little off from the shore a large party were embarking on board a small boat, to go down to their vessel, which was lying at the mouth of the harbour; they were wading up to their middle, every one with something on his shoulders or above his head. Thirty or forty had already got on board, and as many more were trying to do the same; but the boat was already full. A loud wrangling commenced, succeeded by clinching, throttling, splashing in the water, and running to the shore. I saw bright swords gleaming in the air, heard the ominous click of a pistol, and in one moment more, blood would have been shed, but for a Turkish aga, who had been watching the scene from the governor's balcony, and now dashing in among them with a huge silver-headed mace, and laying about him right and left, brought the turbulent pilgrims to a condition more suited to their sacred character." Vol. I. pp. 238, 239.

Before starting from Cairo it was necessary to see the

governor to procure a letter to the Governor of Akaba, and his visit for that purpose subjected him to a sight of the horrible punishment of the bastinado. The description is painfully


"I accordingly sent Paul with my little caravan to wait for me at the tombs of the califs, and, attended by the consul's janizary, rode up to the citadel, and stopped at the door of the governor's palace. The reader may remember that on my first visit to his excellency I saw a man whipped-this time I saw one bastinadoed. I had heard much of this, a punishment existing, I believe, only in the East, but I had never seen it inflicted before, and hope I never shall see it again. As on the former occasion, I found the little governor standing at one end of the large hall of entrance, munching, and trying causes. A crowd was gathered around, and before him was a poor Arab, pleading and beseeching most piteously, while the big tears were rolling down his cheeks; near him was a man whose resolute and somewhat angry expression marked him as the accuser, seeking vengeance rather than justice. Suddenly the governor made a gentle movement with his hand; all noise ceased; all stretched their necks and turned their eager eyes towards him; the accused cut short his crying, and stood with his mouth wide open, and his eyes fixed upon the governor. The latter spoke a few words in a very low voice, to me of course unintelligible, and, indeed, scarcely audible, but they seemed to fall upon the quick ears of the culprit like bolts of thunder; the agony of suspense was over, and without a word or a look he laid himself down on his face at the feet of the governor. A space was immediately cleared; a man on each side took him by the hand, and stretching out his arms, kneeled upon and held them down, while another seated himself across his neck and shoulders Thus nailed to the ground, the poor fellow, knowing that there was no chance of escape, threw up his feet from the knee joint, so as to present the sole in a horizontal position. Two men came forward with a pair of long stout bars of wood, attached together by a cord, between which they placed the feet, drawing them together with the cord so as to fix them in a horizontal position, and leave the whole flat surface exposed to the full force of the blow. In the mean time two strong Turks were standing ready, one at each side, armed with long whips much resembling our common cowskin, but longer and thicker, and made of the tough hide of the hippopotamus. While the occupation of the judge was suspended by these preparations, the janizary had presented the consul's letter. My sensibilities are not particularly acute, but they yielded in this instance. I had watched all the preliminary arrangements, nerving himself for what was to come, but when I heard the scourge whizzing through the air, and, when the first blow fell upon the naked feet, saw the convulsive movements of the body, and heard the first loud, piercing shriek, I could stand it no longer; I broke through the crowd, forgetting the governor and every thing else, except the agonizing sounds from which I was escaping; but the janizary followed close at my heels, and, laying his hand upon my arm, hauled me back to the governor. If I had consulted merely the impulse of feeling, I should have consigned him and the governor and the whole nation of Turks to the lower regions; but it was all-important not to offend this summary dispenser of justice, and I never made a greater sacrifice of feeling to expediency, than when I re-entered his presence. The shrieks of the unhappy criminal were ringing through the chamber, but the governor received me with as calm a smile as if he had been sitting on 57

VOL. XXI.-NO. 42.

his own divan, listening only to the strains of some pleasant music, while I stood with my teeth clenched, and felt the hot breath of the victim, and heard the whizzing of the accursed whip, as it fell again and again upon his bleeding feet. I have heard men cry out in agony when the sea was raging, and the drowning man, rising for the last time upon the mountain waves, turned his imploring arms towards us, and with his dying breath called in vain for help; but I never heard such heartrending sounds as those from the poor bastinadoed wretch before me. I thought the governor would never make an end of reading the letter, when the scribe handed it to him for his signature, although it contained but half a dozen lines; he fumbled in his pocket for his seal, and dipped it in the ink; the impression did not suit him, and he made another, and after a delay that seemed to me eternal, employed in folding it, handed it to me with a most gracious smile. I am sure I grinned horribly in return, and almost snatching the letter, just as the last blow fell, I turned to hasten from the scene. The poor scourged wretch was silent; and had found relief in happy insensibility; I cast one look upon the senseless body, and saw the feet laid open in gashes, and the blood streaming down the legs. At that moment the bars were taken away, and the mangled feet fell like lead upon the floor. I had to work my way through the crowd, and before I could escape I saw the poor fellow revive, and by the first natural impulse rise upon his feet, but fall again as if he had stepped upon red-hot irons. He crawled upon his hands and knees to the door of the hall, and here I rejoiced to see that, miserable and poor and degraded as he was, he yet had friends whose hearts yearned towards him; they took him in their arms and carried him away." Vol. I. pp. 219-22.

The point where the regular road to Mecca, which has been adopted for years by the pilgrims, reaches the Red Sea is, according to the best authority, the very spot where the children of Israel crossed, when pursued by Pharaoh.

The allusion to this topic by the author is very happy; but we have not space for its insertion.

Mount Sinai has been often described--and the account given by our author falls nothing short of any we have ever seen. He well remarks, that however the identity of other spots celebrated in holy writ may be disputed, of Sinai there can be no doubt. One look is sufficient to satisfy the skeptic.

His reception and treatment by the monks were grateful to him personally, and particularly so as their kindness was partly induced by the fact of his being an American.

On his passage through the Desert with his own caravan, after leaving the large body which pursued its course to Mecca, our traveller and his party, bending their way towards the mountains of Edom, came in sight of a woman whom, as the only agreeable looking person they had seen for some time, they followed with the intention of overtaking her. It brought them in contact with a specimen of the old patriarchal race which recalled the days of the father of the faithful::

"The woman whom he had pursued belonged to the tent of a Bedouin not far from our road, but completely hidden from our view; and when

overtaken by Toualeb, she recognised in him a friend of her tribe, and in the same spirit, and almost in the same words which would have been used by her ancestors four thousand years ago, she asked us to her tent, and promised us a lamb or a kid for supper. Her husband was stretched on the ground in front of his tent, and welcomed us with an air and manner that belonged to the desert, but which a king on his throne could not have excelled. He was the imbodied personification of all my conceptions of a patriarch. A large loose frock, a striped handkerchief on his head, bare legs, sandals on his feet, and a long white beard, formed the outward man. Álmost immediately after we were seated, he took his shepherd's crook, and, assisted by his son, selected a lamb from the flock for the evening meal: and now I would fain prolong the illusion of this pastoral scene; to stop at the door of an Arab's tent, and partake with him of a lamb or kid prepared by his hospitable hands, all sitting together on the ground, and provided with no other implements than those which nature gave us, is a picture of primitive and captivating simplicity; but the details were such as to destroy for ever all its poetry, and take away all relish for patriarchal feasts. While we were taking coffee the lamb lay bleating in our ears, as if conscious of its coming fate, and this was not particularly gratifying. The coffee drunk and the pipe smoked, our host arose and laid his hand upon the victim; the long sword which he wore over his shoulder was quickly drawn; one man held the head and another the hind legs; and, with a rapidity almost inconceivable, it was killed and dressed, and its smoking entrails, yet curling with life, were broiling on the fire.

"I was the guest of the evening, and had no reason to complain of the civility of my entertainer; for, with the air of a well-bred host, and an epicure to boot, he drew from the burning coals one of the daintiest pieces, about a yard and a half in length, and rolling one end between the palms of his hands to a tapering point, broke off about a foot and handed it to me. Now I was by no means dainty. I could live upon the coarsest fare, and all the little luxuries of tables, knives and forks, were of very little moment in my estimation. I was prepared to go full length in this patriarchal feast. But my indifference was not proof against the convivial elegancies of my Bedouin companions; and as I saw yard after yard disappear, like long strings of macaroni, down their capacious throats, I was cured of all poetical associations and my appetite together.

"In the tent of the Arabian patriarch, woman, the pride, the ornament, and the charm of domestic life, is the mere household drudge. In vain may one listen for her light footsteps, or look to find her by the side of her natural lord, giving a richer ch rm to the hospitality he is extending to a stranger. It would repay one for much of the toil and monotony of a journey in the desert, if, when by chance he found himself at a Bedouin tent, he could be greeted by her sunny smile. Dark and swarthy as she is, and poor and ignorant, it would pay the traveller for many a weary hour, to receive his welcome from the lips of an Arabian girl. But this the customs of the tribes forbid. When the stranger approaches, the woman retires; and so completely is she accustomed to this seclusion, that, however closely he may watch, he can never catch her even peeping at him from behind a screen, or partition of the tent; curiosity, which in civilized life is so universally imputed to the daughters of Eve, seems entirely unknown to the sex in this wild region. Nor is this the worst of her lot. Even when alone the wife of the Bedouin is not regarded as his equal; the holy companionship of wedded life has between them no existence. Even when no guest is present, she never eats with him.

I have seen the father and sons sit down together, and when they had withdrawn from the tent, the mother and daughters came in to what was left. Away, then, with all dreams of superior happiness in this more primitive condition of society. Captivating as is the wild idea of roving abroad at will, unfettered by the restraints of law, or of conventional observances, the meanest tenant of a log hut in our western prairies has sources of happiness which the wandering Arab can never know. A spirit of perfect weariness and dissatisfaction with the world might drive a man to the desert, and after having fallen into the indolent and mere animal habits of savage life, he might find it difficult to return to the wholesome restraints and duties of society; but I am satisfied that it is sheer affectation or ignorance, in which a member of the civilized family sighs, or pretends to sigh, for the imagined delights of an untried freedom. For my own part, I had long been satisfied of this truth, and did not need the cumulative evidence of my visit to the Bedouin's tent. He would have had me sleep under its shelter; but I knew that in all the Bedouin tents there were multitudes of enemies to rest-creatures that murder sleep-and I preferred the solitude of my own.

"One word as to the hospitality of the Arabs. I had read beautiful descriptions of its manifestation, and in some way or other had gathered up the notion that the Bedouin would be offended by an offer to reward his hospitality with a price; but, feeling naturally anxious not to make a blunder on either side of a question so delicate, I applied to my guide Toualeb for information on the subject. His answer was brief and explicit. He said there was no obligation to give or pay, it being the custom of the Bedouin (among friendly tribes) to ask the wayfaring man into his tent, give him food and shelter, and send him on his way in the morning; that I could give or not, as I pleased; but that if I had not, the hospitable host would wish his lamb alive again; and from the exceeding satisfaction with which that estimable person received my parting gift, I am sure that in this instance, at least, I did better in taking Toualeb's knowledge of his people for my guide, than I should have done by acting upon what I had read in books. It may be that if I had gone among them poor and friendless, I should have been received in the same manner, and nothing would have been expected or received from me; but I am inclined to think, from what I saw afterwards, that in such case the lamb would have been spared for a longer term of existence, and the hospitality confined to a dip into the dish and a mat at the door of the tent." Vol II. pp. 16-21.

The entrance into the borders of Edom might well excite the interest of the traveller. A cursory examination of some of the prophecies would suggest a fear that the very attempt to pass through the country was braving the prohibition, and inviting the vengeance of the Deity. No such feeling indeed influenced our countryman, and an attentive consideration of the prophetic writings prompted no such strict construction. He therefore prepared to pass through the land :

"I had now crossed the borders of Edom. Standing near the shore of the Elanitic branch of the Red Sea, the doomed and accursed land lay stretched out before me, the theatre of awful prophecies and their more awful fulfilment; given to Esau as being of the fatness of the earth, but now a barren waste, a picture of death, an eternal monument of the wrath of an offended God, and a fearful witness to the truth of the

« ÎnapoiContinuă »