Page images
PDF
EPUB

SCO

[ocr errors]

of Joseph in the castle of Cairo is not to be seen without leave from the Commandant; which having obtained, they, in return, presented him with a sequin. These instances are curious exemplifications of Mr. Maundrell's account of the nature of some of the Eastern presents, and ought by no means to be omitted in collections of the kind I am now making.

How much happier was the cultivation of Mr. Maundrell's genius than of St. Jerom's ! Though this father lived so many years in the East, and might have advantageously applied the remains of their ancient customs to the elucidation of Scripture, to which, if he was a stranger, he must have been an engregiously negligent observer; yet we find him, in his comment on Micah iii. 11, roundly declaring, that by a Prophet's receiving money, his prophesying became divination. And when he afterwards mentions this case of Saul's application to Samuel, as what he foresaw might be objected to him, he endeavours to avoid the difficulty, by saying. We do not find that Samuel accepted it, or that they even ventured to offer it; or if it must be supposed that he received it, that it was rather to be considered as money presented to the tabernacle, than the rewards of prophesying. How embarrassed was « Vol. ii. p.76.

e Prophetæ Hierusalem in pecunia divinabant, nescientes aliud esse prophetiam, aliud divinationem :- Videbantur

the Saint by a circumstance capable of the most clear explanation ! Fond of allegorizing, he neglected the surest methods of interpretation, for which he had peculiar advantages : how different are the rewards of divination, which were to be earned, from the unconditional presents that were made to persons of figure upon being introduced into their presence !

Before I quit this Observation, I cannot forbear remarking, that there are other things presented in the East, besides money, which appear to us extremely low and mean, unworthy the quality of those that offer them, or of those to whom they are presented ; and consequently that we must be extremely unqualified to judge of these oriental compliments. In what light might an European wit place the present of a Governor of an Egyptian village, who sent to a British Consul fifty eggs as a mark of respect, and that in a country where they are so cheap as to be sold at the rate of ten for a penny ? sibi quidem esse Prophetiæ : sed quia pecuniam accipiebant, prophetia ipsorum facta est divinatio.-Nec quenquam mo. veat illud quod in primo Regum libro legimus: Saul volentem ire ad Samuelem dixisse puero suo, &c. : non enim scriptum est, quod Samuel acceperit : aut quod illi obtulerint.Sed fac eum accepisse, stipes magis æstimandæ sunt tabernaculi, quam munera prophetiæ.

Pococke's Trav. vol. i. p. 17. & Seven or eight for a medine, or three farthings. Pococke, rol. i. p. 260.

OBSERVATION II.

Particular Kinds of Presents made to Superiors.

was

What the presents were that were made to the ancient Prophets, we are not always told; but all the particulars of that made by Jeroboam's queen to the Prophet Ahijah are given us, 1 Kings xiv. 3. I very much question, however, whether that was any part of the disguise she assumed, as an eminent prelate supposes," who imagines she presented him with such things as might make the Prophet think her to be a country-woman, rather than a courtier.

It undoubtedly was not a present that proclaimed royalty, that would have been contrary to Jeroboam's intention that she should be concealed ; but it does not appear to have been, in the estimation of the East, a present only fit for a country-woman to have made: for d'Arvieux tells us, that when he waited on an Arab emir, his mother and sister, to gratify whose curiosity that visit was made, sent him, early in the morning after his arrival in their camp, a present of pastry, honey, fresh butter, with a bason of sweet-meats of Damascus: now this present differs but little from that of Jeroboam’s wife, who carried loaves, crack" See Patrick on 1 Kings xiv. 3.

Voy. dans la Pal. par, la Roque, p. 50.

nells, (or rather cakes enriched with seeds, and a cruse of honey, and was made by princesses that avowed their quality. The present then of Jeroboam's wife did not discover her quality, but it was not so mean a present as the Bishop seems to suppose.

Sir John Chardin tells us, somewhere in his travels, of an officer whose business it was to register the presents that were made to his master, or mistras ; and I have since found the same practice obtains at the Ottoman court: for Egmont and Heyman, speaking k of the presents made there on the account of the circumcision of the Grand Signior's children, tell us that all these donations, with the time when, and on what occasion given, were carefully registered in a book for that purpose. If a collection of papers of this sort, belonging to the bashaw of Gaza, the mosolemn of Jerusalem, or the Arab emirs of the Holy Land, were put into our hands ; or if our countrymen, that reside in the Levant, were to furnish us with minute accounts of the presents made there which come to their knowledge, it would be not only an amusing curiosity, but would enable us, I make no question, to produce instances of modern gifts parallel to those that are mentioned in the Scripture history, in alınost all cases, and if not absolutely in all, I dare say similar to those that appear most odd to us, at the same time, that it would enable us to enter

were

* Vol. i. p. 214.

into the rationale of them much better than we do now.

Thus the making presents of eatables, not only to those that were upon a journey, which, in a country where they carried their own provisions with them, was perfectly natural; but to those whom they visited in their own houses, as the wife of Jeroboam did to Ahijah, and some of them persons of great distinction, as Saul would have done to Samuel, the judge of Israel as well as a Prophet, had not all his provisions been expended, in a journey which proved more tedious than he expected, appears to have been a custom perfectly conformable to what is at present practised in the East, and had a ground for it in nature, which modern travellers have explained to us.

“ This custom," (of making presents,) says Maillet,' "is principally observed in the frequent visits which they make one another through the course of the year, which are always preceded by presents of fowls, sheep, rice, coffee, and other provisions of different kinds. These visits, which relations and friends make regularly to each other, were in use among the ancient Egyptians ; and though they are often made without going out of the same city, yet they never fail of lasting three or four days, and sometimes eight. They carry all their family with them, if they have any ; and the custom is, as I have just observed, to

"Let. xi. p. 137.

« PreviousContinue »