網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors]

barley, and to tell him not to stir until his mare has eaten the whole.

Saluting. The Bedouins who are not accustomed to the intercourse of town and country people, seldom say Salam Aleyk, in saluting each other. They content themselves with the expression “Salam,” though this is contrary to the precepts of the Koran. Among the Arabs el Kebly, the men salute each other by one kiss on the right cheek, and two or three on the left; and if they are old acquaintances, they add one kiss more on the left shoulder. The friends of the family, on their return from a long absence, kiss likewise the women and girls on entering the tent; provided there be no great company of strangers.

The women who meet their female friends belonging to another encampment, or others returning from a long absence, make to each other such extravagant demonstrations of joy, that a bystander can hardly refrain from laugh ing. I had once the curiosity to count the number of kisses that passed between two young girls, who met each other unexpectedly, and found them to amount to twenty-seven. They were applied in such a regular, measured manner, that it appeared as if they wished themselves to count the number. The Bedouin's look upon it as very ill breeding, if a person sit down among the company without saluting all his assembled friends. But

every one retires without taking leave.

Women. The whole labour necessary to be performed in the tent, rests, as I have already said, with the women.

They pitch the tent, fetch water upon their back at two or three hours' distance, and load the camels if the encampment is to move. In fact they are indefatigable in their industry, while their husbands are basking in the sun. It is not uncommon to see their husbands treat them like slaves ; command them with the harshest expressions; and if they do not immediately obey, throw stones at them; a treatment which I frequently witnessed. The Bedouins say, that if left to their own will, or treated in a friendly manner, the women grow impertinent and get the better of them. This is true enough; for I have entered many tents where the lady commanded. I have likewise seen happy couples; but even then, the wife is not treated according to her merits. The husband never negs, but always commands; and a man would be laughed at by his companions if he was seen to behave towards his wife in a friendly and delicate manner. A boy of ten years of age already begins to raise his voice in the tent. His mother has no authority over him; and his sisters must obey his commands. If he is fifteen, even lais mother is commanded by him; he disdains to bear a hand

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

in the interior business of the tent; he will make her get up to fetch him water; he eats by himself, or with his father; the women must content themselves with what is left in the plate; he is now called a man; and his family is the first to respect him as such. I, however, repeat here, that the attachment of the Bedouins principally towards their mothers, is exemplary. But the son, although he loves and reveres bis mother, cannot help recalling constantly to mind that she has the misfortune of being born a woman; while nature created him a man, the lord of the desert.

Horses. It is a matter of courtesy among the Bedouins, to acquaint the enemy with the breed of those horses he may have robbed from the encampment. This is a general practice, and proceeds from an attachment to the horse ; for it is a pity, they say, that a maze should only be esteemed for her qualities, while her noble breed should remain unknown.

(Here follows a nomenclature of the different breeds aad subdivisions of the Bedouin horses.)

The horses of the different breeds have no peculiar characteristic mark, by which they can be distinguished from each other. I have, however, met with Bedouins, who pretend to know the mare's breed at first sight; but they are mere quacks, who impose upon their credulous neighbours, when they are consulted about a mare, taken from a distant enemy. The Sacklawry make, perhaps, an exception. Their beautiful long necks, their high haunches, and, above all, the beauty of their eyes, seem to be unequalled by any other race in the desert.

The Bedouins, in general, odd as it may appear, have very little knowledge of horses, and of what constitutes their beauty. In buying a horse, or mare, they merely consult its breed and swiftness, and call some experienced jockey of their tribe to examine the animal, as to its marks of good or bad omen. To know these marks and their signification, as for instance, two stars on the forehead, some black hairs in a white spot, &c. is the ne plus ultra of a connoisseur. But I never heard any discussion about the comparative excellencies in the make of a horse ; and the Bedouins have no standing rules to judge by on the subject. They believe that the towns-people are much better judges of the subject than themselves, because they are supposed to have read in books what relates to horses and their secret marks. I have often been called upon by Bedouins to examine their mares. They would then tell me, “My mare is an Obryan, and runs as swift as a gazelle; but I beg you to look whether she is fine in her make, and has no bad marks."

What I have already said concerning the genealogical tables of horses is correct. The Arabs of the desert know nothing of it; but the origin and breed of each horse is as well known as that of every individual. In travelling along the mountains of Sherar, south of the dead sea, alone with my guide, we were repeatedly met by horsemen. My guide always distinguished the mare from afar, before he could clearly see the rider. “ It is the grey Hadeba of such a one,

9 said he, 46 therefore do not mind the horsemen, for we are friends."

The enumeration of one mare or horse to every six or eight tents, which I was led to adopt by repeated visits in the Aeneze encampments, is likewise applicable to the Arabs el Kebly; and the latter, taken altogether, might perhaps be found to have only one horseman among ten tents:

Among different Bedouin tribes, in number from 250 to 300, who wander about in the desert,-included in the triangle, of which Syria is one side, the course of the Euphrates the second, and a line drawn from Anah on the Euphrates to the northern extremity of the Red Sea, as the basis,--there is no tribe that possesses finer horses, and in greater quantity, than the Rowalla, one of the four principal branches of the Aenezes; who pass

their winter months in the Hedjed and the mountains of Shemmar, and approach, in summer, the frontiers of Syria and Mesopotamia. Of the Bedouins nearest to Syria, the Ehhsenne, another branch of Aenezes, who live in summer to the east of Damascus, Homs and Hamah, and in the environs of Palmyra, and principally the Beni Szakher, to the east of the dead sea, excel in the noble breeds of their horses.

If any quantity of fine Arab horses were wanted to be bought up in Syria, I would recommend two places as most proper for making the purchase. Hassia, a village on the Caravan road, from Damascus to Homs, about eight hours distant from Homs; and Aera, a village of Druzes in the

Hauran, two hours north of Bosra. A Frank, of whatever na• tion he may be, with letters of recommendation from the Pa

sha of Damascus, would find himself in perfect security in these places. It is almost impossible to purchase fine horses in the Syrian towns, and that for several reasons. The Turkish

governors are generally passionately fond of horses. They - buy up, or ask in presents, or take away by force, whatever

fine horse is in the town ; and in order to get possession of a horse in the stable of a grandee, a present of double its value must be made ; for he would think it a shame to have it said he stole a horse. Besides, borses that have been only one

year in the hands of a Turkish horseman, are no more fit for any European market; because the playing of the Djerid, and the exercises of Turkish horsemanship soon spoil their legs, and throw the strongest horse upon his baunches. It is also a rule among the Bedouins, never to bring their horses to market into a town, without the certainty of selling them; for should they return without having effected a sale, a horse, whatever its breed may be, greatly diminishes in value. · The Bedouins believe it has some bad marks; and its master finds it very difficult to dispose of it afterwards. It is, therefore, necessary to be stationed at a place where the Bedouins are continually passing to and fro, and where their best horses can be daily seen. The cheapest way of getting fine horses from the Arabs, is to buy up in Syria some blood mares, which may be got from the village chiefs at from 1000 to 1500 piastres; and afterwards to exchange them for the stud horses of the Bedouins. A mare worth in town 1000 piastres, may be exchanged against a horse from the Bedouins, which will fetch, in the same town, double that price. The Syrians neglect the commerce of Bedouin horses, because they are extremely shy of having any dealing with the Bedouins, whose name alone inspires them with terror. What I have seen of Egyptian horses has convinced me that the breed of this country is infinitely below that of the desert.

Camels. The Arabs el Kebly, and all the Arabs of the Hedjar have not only noted breeds of horses, but distinguish likewise particular breeds of camels, of that species which they call Hedjeen ; by which appellation those camels are designated which are destined merely for riding, and not for carrying any burthen. I am not sure whether the Arabs of Syria make any like difference in the breed of their camels. I never heard it mentioned; and rather believe it is not the case. that the camel acquires an additional degree of swiftness and strength, the more the country in which it is bred approaches the tropical climes. The breeds of camels are traced to the remotest origin by the Arabs el Kebly, in the same manner as are those of their mares ; but neither of them are recorded by written genealogies.

(The writer here gives the names and values of the different species.)

I have heard in the desert of camels performing journeys of six, eight and ten days, in one day. Towns-people relate such stories; but the Arabs contradict them. i know instances where camels have walked for five days and as many nights running, and have thus performed a journey of from twelve to

It seems

fifteen days caravan travelling. This is the utmost which the camels in Northern Arabia can perform. Among the Howey . tat, who pride themselves upon the breed of their camels, I saw one which had gone or trotted in one day over a space of three and a half common days' journeys; and it was looked upon as an extraordinary performance. I venture to say that there is no Hedjeen in Egypt able to go from Cairo to Suez, (a distance of 28 hours march,) in ten hours; which would be at the rate of about eight miles per hour. Mohamed Aly Pasha, who is very fond of travelling on camels, and, of course, has the best of them in his possession, in his frequent excursions to Suez, has never been able to perform the journey, in less than fourteen hours. The despatches sent over land from Yembo, where the Pasha's son is at present in garrison, to Cairo, (a journey of about 30 days,) generally arrives here on the thirteenth day.

LETTER FROM A CORRESPONDENT. MR. EDITOR—An old friend, with whom I usually spend a few weeks every summer, showed me, during a visit I made him last July, a letter which he had lately received from one of his foreign correspondents--no less a personage than the celebrated Dr. KITCHINER. By his permission, I took a copy of the letter, and herewith send it to you, 66 to do with as seemeth best in your eyes." I hope the Doctor's notes will, to use his own words, “prove not unamusing."

Yours, &c.

*

*

LETTER FROM DR. KITCHINER. My Dear Friend--I am truly indebted to you for the specimens of Kous-kous, from the Columbia river, and, also, the Gombeau, from Louisiana. The first excels any caviare I have ever tasted ; but I think the latter will not, at first, suit the palates of our gourmands. The flavour of the sassafras is too piquant for an unpractised palate.

Knowing your gout for antiquarian lore, as well as for the delicacies of the gastromomic art, I am happy to send you a copy of an old ballad, which will gratify both tastes. I copied it from an ancient and time-worn Cambrian manuscript, which was lent me, during a visit to the river Taafe, which I lately made, to obtain the secret of cooking the celebrated trout of that river. The manuscript contained the original Welsh, as well as the version, but as I believe that language is, to you, 'a

« 上一頁繼續 »