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been sufficient to introduce them to the young child; but mean as his appearance was, they treated him as a royal child, and even after they found the poverty of his parents, presented him with presents of the richest kind, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, such as the queen of Sheba presented to Solomon in his glory. But here doubtless we are to rest, and content ourselves with this simple explanation: to go on, and suppose the frankincense was designed by them, or intended by Providence itself, to intimate his Deity; the myrth his being a mortal; and the gold his being a king; is a refinement, that is certainly unnatural, and absolutely in the monkish taste.
Presents, unless of considerable Value, are some
Bur though things of very little value are sometimes offered as presents, those to whom presents are made do not think themselves always obliged graciously to accept every thing that is brought, or even to dissemble their dislike; they frequently reject the present, and refuse the favour sought,
The behaviour of an Aga in Egypt to Dr. Pococke, demonstrates this; as does also this passage of Capt. Norden : “ The Cashef of Esna was encamped in this place. He made us
come ashore. I waited immediately upon him, with some small presents. He received me very civilly, and ordered coffee to be served me. But he refused absolutely what I offered him as a present, and let me know by the interpreter, that, in the places from whence we were come, we had given things of greater value, and that we ought not to shew less respect to him.” Something of the like natüre appears in many other passages in travels.
If a present was not somewhat proportionate to the quality of the person applied to, the circumstances of him that offered it, and the value of the favour asked, it was rejected.
Lambs and sheep were often given as presents. So the Cashef I have been speaking of, made Norden and his company a present the next day of two very fat sheep, together with a great basket of bread. The reys, or boatman, that had carried them up the Nile, we are told in like manner, came to see them three days before, and made them a present of an excellent sheep, together with a basket of Easter bread.'
Perhaps we may be ready to imagine, presents of this kind were only made to travellers, that wanted provisions; but this would be à mistake. Sir John Chardin, in his MS. expressly tells us, “it is the custom of the East for poor people, and especially those that i Vol. ii. p. 183.
* P.18 4. ! P. 189.
live in the country, to make presents to their lords of lambs and sheep, as an offering, tribute, or succession. Presents to men, like offerings to God, expiate offences.”
So D'Arvieux mentions lambs, among the things offered to him as presents, when he officiated as secretary to the Great emir of the Arabs. (Voy. dans la Pal. p..62..)
The Jewish people were in a low state in the time of Malachi, and almost entirely engaged in country business,
How energetic, if we assemble these circumstances together, is the expostulation of the Prophet! If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil ? And if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Mal. i. 8.
When they made presents of lambs or sheep, they brought those that were very fat: would a Jewish governor have accepted one that was blind, and consequently half-starved ? or pining with lameness or sickness ?
Coutume de l'Orient que les pauvres gens, sur tout des Champs, donnent à leur Seigneurs des agneaux & mou. tons, en presens, en signe d'offrande, tribut, succession. Presents aux hommes, comme les offrandes a Dieu expient les Pechez. By the term succession I presume is meant a present made to a great man to obtain his favour, in case of disa pute, about succeeding to an inheritance, or part of it No, it means the presents made to a great man on his succeed. ing to an office or employment. Sce the followiug Obserration. Edit.
Horses commonly presented to Grandees.
The common present that is now made to the great in these countries is a horse; there is reason to think an ass might formerly answer the same purpose.
“If it is a visit of ceremony from a bashaw," says Dr. Russell, “ or other person in power, a fine horse, sometimes with furniture, or some such valuable present, is made to him at his departure.” Dr. Perry' has given us many instances of horses being presented : among others he tells us when a person has the dignity of a Bey conferred on him, the new-made Bey presents that officer from whom he receives the ensign, that is sent on the part of the sultan, with a horse, a fur of marte zebeline, and twenty thousand aspers.° In another place he tells us the new Bashaw of Egypt, soon after his arrival, had three exceeding fine horses sent him as a present from some one of the Beys; and the next day a string of twenty-four was presented to him on the part of all the Beys that were present.
As asses were used in the more remote ages of antiquity, and were esteemed no dishonourable
" P. 81. •P.:50. P. 208.
beasts for the saddle, Sir J. Chardin, in his MS. supposes that when Samuel disclaimed having taken the ass of any one, when he denied his having defrauded any, oppressed any, or taken any bribe, 1 Sam. xii. 3, he is to be understood of not having taken any ass for his riding. In the same light he considers the similar declaration of Moses, Numb. xvi. 15. His account is, asses being then esteemed very honourable creatures for riding on, as they are at this very time in Persia, being rode with saddles, though not like those for horses, yet such as are commodious, the Lawyers make great use of them. Consult Numb. xvi. 15, for Moses is there to be understood as saying, that no beast for the saddle, such as were wont to be presented to grandees and emperors, had been accepted by him. The words of Samuel are to be considered after the same manner.
And this, I make no doubt, is one thought involved in this exculpation of themselves, though perhaps it does not contain the whole of what they meant.'
9 Sec Numbers xxii. 21, 30. Judges v. 10. 2 Samuel xvi. 2.
• More seems to be meant, i Sam. viii. 16.