Page images
PDF
EPUB

story: was the butter melted in the milk, and poured over this meat, likewise the sauce of Abdalmelick's lamb? or was butter set upon the table as one distinct dish, and milk as a second, to attend on the calf, the principal part of collation ?

A passage from la Roque's account of the journey of Mons. d'Arvieux to the camp of the great emir,' will shew, that Ockley's thought is not so certain as he seems to have imagined. This account of la Roque's describes first the hospitality of those Arabs that live in the camp, as Abraham did ; and then of those villages that depend upon them, and are under their direction : it appears to be much the same in both, and the only reason why I cite the account that he gives of the hospitality of the Arabs in their villages, is, because it is more large and distinct. It is as follows :

" When strangers enter a village, where they know no body, they enquire for the Menzil, k and desire to speak with the Sheikh, who is as the lord of it, or at least represents his person, and the body of the community : after saluting him, they signify their want of a dinner, or of supping and lodging in the village. The Sheikh

i Vov. dans la Pal. p. 124–129. *The Menzil signifies the place destined for the recep. tion of strangers, and often a lower apartment of the Sheikh's house.

Jjo Manzal is used both by Arabic and Persian writers to signify an inn, caravanserai, or house of public enter. tainment, and not a particular part of a rivate habitation:

e

eason

says they are welcome, and that they could not do him a greater pleasure. He then marches at the head of the strangers, and conducts them to the Menzil, where also they may alight at once if the Sheikh is not at home, and ask for every thing they want. But they seldom have occasion for all this, for as soon as the people of the village see any strangers coming, they inform the Sheikh of it, who goes to meet them, accompanied by some peasants, or by some of his domestics, and having saluted them, asks if they would dine in the village, or whether they choose to stay the whole night there : if they answer they would only eat a morsel and go forward, and that they choose to stay under some tree a little out of the village, the Sheikh goes, or sends his people into the village, to cause a collation to be brought, and in a little time they return with eggs, butter, curds, honey, olives, fruit fresh or dried, according to the season, when they have not time to cook any meat.” He afterwards tells us, that if it is evening, and the strangers would lodge in the village, that the women belonging to the Sheikh's house having observed the number of the guests, « never fail to cause fowls, sheep, lambs, or a calf to be killed, according to the quantity of meat which will be wanted for the entertainment of the guests, and of those that are to bear them company; and quickly make it into soup, roast it, and form out of it many other ragouts after their way, which they send to the Menzil by the Sheikh's servants, in wooden bowls, wbich they place on a great round straw mat, that usually serves them for a table.--These dishes being set in order, with many others in which are eggs, cheese, fruit, sallad, sour curdled milk, (i. e. leban) olives, and all that they have to treat their guests with, which they set before them at once, that every one may eat as he likes; the Sheikh begs of the strangers to sit round the mat, he himself sitting down with them, together with the other peasants of fashion belonging to the village, in order to do them honour-They make no use of knives at table, the meat being all cut into little bits.”

We see bere Abraham's hospitality and hjø manner of receiving his guests under a tree. We see too in what manner the Arabs now present butter and milk on such occasions : and if there is no alteration in their customs, Abraham presented them as distinct dishes, butter and sour curdled milk being particularly men tioned among the dishes they present alone,

Dandini assures us, that among the Maronites, if any one eats in another's house, it is the master of the house that waits, and serves every one with his glass, so that he has no manner of repose at the table, ch, xi. What Abra. ham did, Gen. xviii. 8, if our translation be just, seems more to resemble this practice of the Maronites, than the account of the Arabs; but it is not impossible, that what Dandini observes might be a compliment to him as nuncio, not the common custom ; and Abraham's attitude may bo intended to express the extreme reverence with which he , treated the angels. This conjecture, says Dr. Russell (MS. note,) is just. The Christians, in their own houses, often wait themselves on their guests of superior rank: but otherwise, they sit down and are served by their sons, or kinsmen. EDIT.

when they have no time to dress meat, and which they set upon the table as side or additional dishes, when they have. On the other hand, though butter and milk were poured over the dish that was so delicious to the palate of Abdalmelick, I do not remember to have ever read, that they pour it over those small roasted bits of meat which the Arabs present to strangers."

La Roque's account of them in a following chapter ° is, that the Arab seldom eat roasted meat ; that sometimes, at the emirs, they roasted lambs and kids whole, (not goats as the English translation renders it ;) and as for mutton or beef, they cut it into small pieces, about the bigness of a walnut, salt and pepper them, then, having put them on iron skewers of a foot long, they roast them over a small charcoal fire, and serve them up with chopped onions. Le Bruyn mentions the onion used by the Eastern people in roasting their beef, and says they cut the meat into little bits, sticking them on a little spit, with a slice of onion between each, which renders them extremely delicate. Russell speaks of the roasting meat in these little

= “ Butter,” says Dr. Russell (MS. note), 6 is seldom or ever eaten with broad as we do in England ; but it serves for the rice or for frying of eggs. It is served very expc. ditiously in platters made of cow-dung." Edit.

"They very commonly pour leban over their roast meat. I have not observed, says Dr. Russell, that butter is crer set down by itself. Leban indeed is often putover every thing, as roast lamb or kid. EDIT. • Chap. xir.

? Tom. 1. p. 127.

bits as the common way at Aleppo ; and Pococke in Egypt, where they are called kabobs, or kab-abs. .

We may perhaps have wondered how Abraham came to think of killing a calf, for the entertainment of strangers that only proposed to stop for a short refreshment; but the custom of roasting and seething meat in very small pieces, made it appear a much more practicable thing to Abraham than it may have done to us when we have read the passage.

The Arabs however do not do this in common, and often in such cases content themselves with presenting to their guests a cold collation; nor indeed do they often kill a calf in those countries, the Turks esteeming it a folly, and indeed a sin, according to Maillet,' to an animal 80 small, which may be at its full growth of such value : both circumstances concur to prove the great liberality of Abraham.

We have had occasion before to remark, that the Eastern people bake their bread as they want it: this account teaches us that they kill their cattle in like manner, just before they eat them, the strangers arriving before their creatures die that are to afford them food. That old Puritan author was very unlucky therefore,. in his declamation against the plentiful way of living of our English bishops, in citing Abimelech's being without any other bread than

9 In this case we may consider the whole family as par. taking of the feast in compliment to the strangers. Edit.

! Let.9.

« PreviousContinue »