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DOMESTIC HABITS-FAMILY GOVERNMENT.
the objections on the score of delicacy, but not on that of propriety and economy.
Oriental women are never regarded or treated as equals by the men. This is seen on all occasions; and it requires some firmness to secure to our own ladies proper respect, especially from men-servants. They pronounce women to be weak and inferior in the most absolute terms, and in accordance with this idea is their deportment toward them. Even in polite company the gentlemen must be served first. So the husband and brothers sit down and eat, and the wife, mother, and sisters wait and take what is left. If the husband or the brothers accompany their female relatives any where, they walk before, and the women follow at a respectful distance. It is very common to see small boys lord it over both mother and sisters in a most insolent manner, and they are encouraged to do so by the father. The evils resulting from this are incalculable. The men, however, attempt to justify their treatment of the women by the tyrant's plea of necessity. They are obliged to govern the wives with the utmost strictness, or they would not only ruin their husbands, but themselves also. Hence they literally use the rod upon them, especially when they have, or imagine they have, cause to doubt the wife's fidelity. Instances are not rare in which the husband kills the wife outright for this cause, and no legal notice is taken of the murder; and, in general, the man relies on fear to keep the wife in subjection, and to restrain her from vice. She is confined closely, watched with jealousy, and every thing valuable is kept under lock and key; necessarily so, they say, for the wife will not hesitate to rob her husband if she gets an opportunity. There are many pleasing exceptions, especially among the younger Christian families. But, on the whole, the cases are rare where the husband has not, at some time or other, resorted to the lash to enforce obedience in his rebellious household. Most sensible men readily admit that this whole system is a miserable compensation to mitigate evils flowing from the very great crime of neglecting the education of females; and, during the last few years, a change has taken place in public sentiment on this subject among the intelligent Christians in Lebanon and the cities along the coast, and a strong desire to educate the females is fast spreading among them.
Among these minor manners and matters, we are always struck with their writing materials, and their mode of using them. They do not carry ink-horns now, as the prophets and scribes of old did, but have an apparatus consisting of a metal or ebony tube for their reed pens, with a cup or bulb of the same material, attached to the upper end, for the ink.
This they thrust through the girdle, and carry with them at all times. When they are to write a letter, for example, they open the lid of the ink-bulb, draw out a long reed pen from the tube, double over the paper, and begin from the right side of the page, holding the paper in the hand, without any other support. They have a stereotyped introduction, overloaded with flowers and compliments, and richly seasoned with love, no matter to whom they are writing, friend or enemy. After this rigmarole, which, if it have any meaning, is an egregious lie, they make a formal epitome of the letter which they are to answer, repeating it, word for word, as is so often done in the Bible. They date at the bottom, but rarely mention the place; and I have often been at a loss to discover who the writer was, and where to address my reply. Young men of business in the cities are adopting our mode of dating. Nearly every body wears a
LETTER-WRITING-SITTING AT WORK.
seal-ring on the finger, suspended from his watch-chain, or attached to his purse, having his name engraven upon it; and this he affixes to all important letters and papers-another Biblical custom preserved in all its extent. If you wish to be very respectful, you must take a large sheet, and the lines should incline upward toward the left corner of the paper. It must be folded long, like documents on file, placed within a nicely-cut envelope made for the occasion, and the address written across the letter. It must be sealed. The open letter, therefore, or paper sent by Sanballat to Nehemiah (vi. 5) was an insult. Arabic books, both manuscript and printed, begin where ours end, their first page being our last.
The females in many places wear only sandals, which they easily drop whenever they step on a mat or rug. In other places they walk on "kūbkobs,” a wooden sandal, elevated on upright bits of board, sometimes, as in Damascus, a foot high, which make a great clattering and stamping on the pavement. These are dropped at the door of the room, and the lady descends from what seems rather a perilous elevation. The Damascus kūbkobs are very prettily ornamented with mother-of-pearl, and the band which passes over the foot is often worked with pearls and other rich ornaments. Ladies standing upon them appear around the fountain in the grand saloon, or court, in the opposite engraving. The scene, with its fountain, divans, and costumes, is eminently Damascene.
The people of this country sit at all kinds of work. The carpenter saws, planes, and hews with his hand-adze sitting on the ground or upon the plank he is planing. The washerwoman sits by the tub; and, in a word, no one stands where it is possible to sit. Shopkeepers always sit; and Levi sitting at the receipt of custom is the exact way to state the case. There are no ladies' saddles in Syria, and the women ride just as do the men, which appears to us not only ungraceful, but not even modest. Though Orientals are very jealous of their privacy, yet they never knock when about
· Matt. ix. 9.