Page images

moss which covers old walls in damp places, is the hyssop of Solomon. This I doubt. The other kind also springs out of walls, those of the gardens especially, and was much more likely to attract the attention of the royal student.

I begin to understand your "reunions," and have been highly entertained by them. I am amused with that ceremonious politeness kept up between these intimate friends. When one enters the room, all rise to their feet, and stand steadfast and straight as a palm-tree to receive



him. The formal salam is given and taken all round the room, with the dignity of a prince and the gravity of a court; and when the new-comer reaches his seat, the ceremony is repeated in precisely the same words. In one of your full divans, therefore, a man gives and receives about fifty salams before he is fairly settled and at his ease. Then comes the solemnity of coffee and smoking, with a great variety of apparatus. Some use the extemporaneous cigarette, obviously a modern innovation. Others have pipes with long stems of cherry or other wood, ornamented with amber mouth-pieces. The argeleh, however, with its flexible tube of various-colored leather, seems to be the greatest favorite. Some of these are very elegant. The tube of the one brought to me the other evening was at least sixteen feet long, of bright green leather, corded with silver wire; the bottle, or kuzzazeh, as you call it, was very large, of thick cut glass, inlaid with gold, really rich and beautiful. I, however, could produce no effect upon the water in the bottle. One needs a chest deep as a whale, and powers of suction like another maelstrom,

[graphic][merged small]

to entice the smoke down the tube, through the water, and along the coiled sinuosities of the snake, or nabridj; and yet I saw a lady make the kuzzazeh bubble like a boiling caldron without any apparent effort. The black coffee, in tiny cups, set in holders of china, brass, or silver filigree, I like well enough, but not this dreadful fumigation. A cloud soon fills the room so dense that we can scarcely see each


to me,

other, and I am driven to the open court to escape

suffocation. Another thing which surprises me is the vehemence of the speakers. When fairly roused, all talk together at the top of their voices, and a great way above any thing of the kind I have ever heard. Noticing my surprise, one said

“You Americans talk as if you were afraid to be heard, and we as if we feared we should not be.” Indeed, it is an incessant tempest of grating gutturals, which sets one's teeth on edge; and, in addition, head and shoulders, hands and feet, the whole body, in fact, is wrought up into violent action to enforce the orator's meaning. I wonder how you comprehend a single sentence.

We are used to it; and, unless a stranger calls attention to that which has confounded you, we never notice it. I wish you could have understood the discussions, for they embraced some of those grand and solemn themes which can and ought to stir the deepest fountains of feeling in the human breast. The Arabs delight in such questions.

My two young friends, who speak English, kept me aware of the leading topics as they came up; but it was a great annoyance not to be able to appreciate the remarks which so interested the company. We finally took a corner to




ourselves, and fell into an extended comparison between Oriental and Western manners and customs. They maintained that we had invented and shaped ours on purpose to contradict theirs—theirs, the original; ours, copies reversed or caricatured. Of course, the weighty questions about beards, and mustaches, and shaved heads were duly discussed with respect to beauty, convenience, cleanliness, and health. Escaping from this tangle of the beard, we fell into another about long garments, and short, tight, and loose ; and here they were confident of victory. Our clothes seem to them uncomfortable and immodest; and this is about the truth, If we must sit “asquat” on our heels, as the Orientals do; but with chairs and sofas, their objection has but little force, while for active life our fashion is far the best. Long, loose clothes are ever in the way, working, walking, or riding; and I suspect that they aid materially in producing that comparative inactivity which distinguishes Orientals from Occidentals. As to the mere matter of comeliness, we may admit their claim to some apparent superiority. The lords of the easel and the chisel, with the sons of song in every age and country, have so decreed, and it is vain to resist.

These matters of dress and costume have a certain Biblical interest, and therefore form a necessary part of our study. The first garments were manufactured by God himself, and, in addition to their primary intention, had, as I believe, a typical significance. The skins with which the two first sinners, penitent and reconciled, were clothed, were those of the lambs offered in sacrifice, and not obscurely symbolized the robes of righteousness purchased for penitent believers by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on Calvary. And in many subsequent incidents and institutions, garments are invested with a religious and typical signification. Such facts elevate the subject far above the category of mere trivialities. But, indeed, that can not be a matter of indifference to the Christian student and philosopher in which all men, all women, all children, of every age and country, have, do, and will, to the end of time, feel a deep solicitude, and upon which is expended an infinite amount of time, money, and labor. It would be a curious exercise of ingenuity to trace out the very gradual development of human costume, from the first fig-leaves and coats of skins, to the complicated toilets of a highly-civilized society. We, however, must restrict ourselves to the Bible.

The list is not extensive until the times of the later proph

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »