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artistic and romantic themes, and a husband immersed only most energetic administration; and the difficulty will, under in political journalism of the hardest, most logical, and least a weak or negligent rule, amount to absolute impossibility. genial kind. It can be no other than he who acted as critic Thus, for example's sake, the open spaces of the lonely of “ Balzac's Walking-stick," while he ought to have been Campagna, the wild glens of Albanian or Koordistan, the especially merciful, seeing that the book was written soon parched sierras of Central Spain, and the defiles of Southafter he had lost much money in speculation. His wife's ern Greece, have long been, and, bating external influhumorous complaint runs as follows:
ences, may long remain, under the feebleness of decrepit “Once upon a time there might have been found in this or malformed governments, Papal or Turkish, Spanish or romance
Hellene, the dread of the wayfaring merchant and the de« But it is not a romance."
fenceless tourist. In lands like these the town gates are “ In this work ”
often the ultimate limits of security. Indeed, it is not, as “ But it is not a work."
we all know, many centuries since, that scantiness of in" In this book"
habitants, combined with a defective because an incipient “ Still less should it bear the title of a book.”
organization, rendered large tracts of France, of Germany, “ In these pages, in fine, once upon a time, there was a and of England itself, dangerous travelling for the unarmed somewhat piquant chapter entitled, • The Council of Min- and unescorted. isters.' But somebody said to the author, •Be careful, But nowhere perhaps, in the Old World at least, does this is personality - these personages will be recognized ; there exist an equal extent of land in which all the sinister do not publish the chapter. And the obedient author can- conditions that favor brigandage are so perplexingly comcelled the chapter accordingly. There was another chap- bined and aggravated as in Arabia Proper. There, for ter, entitled, "A Dream of Love.' It was a rather tender distances measured not by miles but by degrees, vast exlove-scene, as a picture of passion ought to be in a romance. panses of stony, irreclaimable desert, of pathless sands and But somebody said to the author, . It is not proper, on your
labyrinthine rocks, place utterly disproportionate intervals part, to bring out a book of which passion occupies so great of enforced solitude between the watered valleys and a portion. This chapter is unnecessary; strike it out.' So green slopes, where alone any thing like settled life and the frightened author suppressed this chapter also. Once social union can make good its footing. A week of suns upon a time, too, in these pages were two morsels of verse. may not seldom rise, and set on the slow-moving caravan
The one was a satire, the other an elegy. But somebody without bringing into view a single roof; indeed, the known decreed that the satire was too pungent, and the elegy too life-sparing clemency of the Arab robber is chiefly due, melancholy. So the author gave them up; but this convic- not to any favorable speciality of character, but to this tion she keeps, that a woman who sees the world ought to very circumstance of solitude; in other words, to the brirefrain from writing, since she may bring to the light noth- gand's certainty that long before his plundered victims can ing but what is perfectly insignificant.”
reach help, or even give tidings, he himself and his booty Poor Delphine Gay!' We know not whether “to love, will be far beyond pursuit. “Desert means license,” says honor, and obey” formed one of the promises of her mar- the Arab proverb; the wild lands breed wild men; and riage ceremony; the fulfilling it, however, seems to have thus it is that centuries of comparative law and order, the been somewhat hard for her. Yet when her ungrateful organizing vigor of Mahomet and his first successors, the husband was in prison, on account of his political views, she sceptre of the Caliphs, and the military discipline of the underwent all sorts of dangers for him. “This sentimental Turks, have each, in their turn, failed to render the sandpoetess and lively novelist was certainly not a bad specimen waves of the “Nefood” and the gullies of “Toweyk” of a woman.
wholly safe ventures for the traveller; while even the
rigor, amounting almost to tyranny, of the more recent TA'ABBET-SHURRAN AND HIS COMPANIONS.
Wahhabee rulers, who avowedly tolerate no spoilers besides themselves, cannot render permanantly secure the intercourse and traffic of one Arab province - oasis, I
might better say — with another. A Few months' experience of Arabia Proper suffices to But during the latter years of the præ-Islamitic period, teach the traveller of our day that the terms “ Arab” and when the entire centre of the peninsula, and no small por“ Bedouin,” though not unfrequently used as if convertible, tion of its circumference, that is, whatever was not are by no means such in reality. It may further teach him, immediately subject to the rule of the Yemenite kings, and if he knew it not before, that " Bedouin” and “ robber” are of their or the Persian viceroys,— resembled best of all a also not necessarily synonymous; that the latter designation seething caldron, where the overboiling energies of countless is no less ill-sounding to the ordinary Arab ear than it clans, and divisions of clans, dashed and clashed in neverwould be to the European; and that the class which it resting eddies; when no fixed organization or political inrepresents is amenable to whatever penalties Arab law and stitution, beyond that of the tribe at most, had even a chance society can inflict, much as it would be in more civilized of permanence in the giddy whirl, - open robbers were, as lands of juries and police-force. Nor is this, so far as might have naturally been expected, both numerous and Arabia itself is concerned, a recently-introduced order of daring; nor can we wonder if, when every man did more or things, due to comparatively modern influences, social or less what was right in his own eyes, the list of the colorpolitical; on the contrary, a retrospective view of the blind to the moral tints of “mine” and “thine” should national annals, even when carried back to the first day- have been a long one, and have included many names of dawn of præ-Islamitic history, presents no other aspect; great, though not good renown. Indeed, it might almost and full five centuries before the appearance of the Meccan have been anticipated that the entire nation would have lawgiver, we find the thief, the robber, and the brigand been numbered in the ill-famed category, till the univeralready paled off from, and at war with, established order sality of fact absorbed the distinction of name; and none and right; already marked with the outlaw's brand, and would have been called robbers, because all were so. subject to all its sternest consequences. And yet, in spite Fortunately, the clan principle interfered; and, by traof these facts, it cannot be denied, that, in these same earli- cing certain though inadequate limits of social right and est times, the great peninsula bore, as it still, and to a cer- wrong, rendered transgression alike possible and exceptain extent not undeservedly, bears, an evil name for the tional. He who, led astray by private and personal greed, number and the audacity of its robbers. The cause is inhe- plundered, not on his own clan's account, but on his own; ent, and not far to seek.
who, without discrimination of peace-time or war, of alliA population much too scanty in proportion to the ance or hostility, attacked the friends no less than the foes geographical extent of the land it occupies, as also, though of his tribesmen,
- was, from the earliest times, accounted from different reasons, one notably overcrowded, must criminal; while he who, in concert with his kin, assailed always render the efficacious protection of individual life and spoiled a common and acknowledged enemy, was held and property a difficult task, even for the strongest and to have performed an honorable duty. After this fashion
BY W. GIFFORD PALGRAVE.
the Arabs learned to draw the line — in no age or country vantages of strength, fleetness, quickness of eye, and dexa very broad one- - between war and brigandage ; and, by terity of hand, — all objects of deliberate and systematic vehement reprobation of the latter, stood self-excused for culture in Pagan Arabia, no less than in Pagan Greece, – their excessive proneness to the former.
they added many of the moral qualities then held in the From such a state of things, where geographical con- highest esteem by their countrymen, patient endurance, figuration and political confusion conspired to encourage forethought, courage, daring, and even generosity; while what nascent organization and primal morality agreed to some of them, in addition, attained lasting fame for excelcondemn, arose the præ-Islamitic brigand class. This, lence in poetry, then, as now, the proudest boast of the although recruited in the main, after the fashion of other Arab. Thus it was that although rapine, bloodshed, and lands, by idleness, want, and the half-idiocy that has much, not rarely treachery, might dim, they could not wholly if physiology tell true, to do with habitual vice, yet com- eclipse the splendor of their better qualities and worthier prised also men, who, under more propitious circumstances, deeds. might have led a different and an honorable career. These Such was the classical præ-Islamitic brigand, as porwere they who — having, in consequence of some special trayed to us in the pages of the Hamasah, of Aboo-l. deed of blood, sudden mishap, or occasionally sheer innate Faraj, Meydanee, and others; not indeed the full image, fierceness of temperament, become nearly or quite detached but the skeleton and ground-plan of his race: a type in from their own particular clan and its alliances — led, which the Arab character, not of those ages only, but of all henceforth at large, a life of " sturt and strife,” of indis- succeeding generations, is correctly though roughly given; criminate plunder and rapine ; disavowed by all
, hostile to untamable, self-reliant, defiant, full of hard good sense and all, yet holding their own; and that, strange though it may deep passion, a vivid though a narrow imagination, and a seem, not by physical force merely, but also by intellectual perfect command of the most expressive of all spoken lanpre-eminence. They stand before us in the national records, guages; while at the same time these very men, by their apart from the great chiefs and leaders of their age, apart isolation, their inaptitude for organized combination, their from the recognized heroes, the 'Antarahs and Barakats of contempt for all excellence or development save that of the epic war, wild, half-naked, savage, inured to hardships, individual, their aversion to any restraint however wholedanger, and blood; yet looked upon by their countrymen some, and above all their restless inconstancy of temper, with a respect amounting almost to awe; and crowned with give the measure of Arab national weakness, and too cleara halo of fame visible even through the mist of centuries, ly illustrate that incoherent individualism which ruined and under the altered lights of Islam : men to be admired, the empires of Damascus, Bagdad, and Cordova, and though not imitated; to be honored while condemned: a blighted even in its flower the fairest promise of the Arab moral paradox, explained partly by the character of the mind. times they lived in, partly by their own personal qualities. Their muster-roll is a long one; but at its bead stand
When a nation is either wholly barbarous or wholly civil- eminent three names of renown, illustrated by records of ized, the records of its “criminal classes” are of little in- | exceptional completeness. These are Ta'abbet-Sburran, terest, and of less utility. In the former case, they form, Shanfara', and Soleyk, men eacb of whom deserves special indeed, the bulk of the local chronicle; but the tale they mention, because each represents in himself a peculiar subtell of utter and bestial savagery, the mere repetition of division of the great brigand class. brute force, cunning, and cruelty, is alike purportless, “ Ta'abbet-Shurran,” or, “ He has taken an evil thing tedious, and disgusting. On the other hand, among nations under his arm,” is the composite appellation by which well advanced in civilization, the ban laid on exceptional Arab story recognizes its robber-hero of predilection. rebels against the reign of law is so withering, and the His real name was Thabit, the son Jabir; the clan of Fahm, severance between them and the better life of the land so to which he belonged, formed part of the great Keys-'Eglan entire, that nothing remains to a Jack Sheppard or a Bill family, the progeny of Modar; and accordingly of “ MostSykes but stupid, hateful, unmeaning vice, unfit either to 'areb (that is " adscititious Arab," or, in mythical point the moral of the novelist or to adorn the tale of the phrase), of Ismaelitic, not of “ 'Aarab,” “ pure Arab,” or of historian.
Southern and Kahtanee origin. The Fahm Arabs, nomad But between the two extremes of barbarism and of culture, once, but tamed down by the process of the suns into semithe records of most nations exhibit a middle or transition agriculturists, still, as in the century the fifth of our era, period, when the bonds of society, though formed, are still when Ta'abbet-Shurran lent his sinister lustre to their elastic; while public morality is already sufficiently ad- name, frequent the wild and secluded, but well-watered vanced to disallow much that public order is as yet too fee- gorges that lie immediately behind the mountains of Ta'if ble to repress. In such a period the highway robber is and Aseer, south-east of Mecca, somewhat apart from the apt to be regarded with a sort of half-toleration, as a relic main lines of Arab land communication; and while they of the “good old times ;” and even becomes, in the estima- have secured a practical independence by nominal acquition of many, a sort of conservative proiest against the sup- escence in the political or religious phases of their more posed degeneracies and real artificialities of progress; a powerful neighbors, scarcely bear themselves a trace of the semi-hero, to be, metaphorically at least, if not in fact, many influences that have again and again remodelled the hung in a silken halter, and cut down to the tune of a pan- not distant capital of the peninsula. A few earth villages, egyric.
On these frontier lines between order and anarchy, with low, yellowish walls, a somewhat larger number of in this twilight between license and law, flourish Robin black tent-groups; here and there a scraggy enclosure of Hoods, Helmbrechts, Kalewi-Poegs, and their like; equivo- palms, melons, and vetches, or a thinly-verdant patch of cal celebrities, brigands by land and corsairs at sea ; feared, pasture; a fair allowance of goats and camels, of rock and respected, and hated by their injured contemporaries; sand between; lean, dusky men in long shirts and tattered more honored by later and securer generations, and ulti- cloaks, striped or black; near the houses some muffled mately placed on pedestals of fame side by side with their women in dark-blue cloth and glass arm-rings; some very betters in the national Valhalla. And what tủe era of King brown and naked children, seemingly belonging to no one John was to England, the “ Interregnum " to Germany, in particular, such is the land and tribe of Fahm, rich in the days of Sueno and his peers to Scandinavia, that were blood and genealogies, miserably poor in all besides, and a to Arabia the two centuries that preceded the appearance fit nursing-stock for robbers, even now. of Mahomet; but chiefly the former. Heroes had ceased to be robbers, but robbers had not wholly ceased to be heroes. nominative sentence which has almost superseded his origi
A more special reason for the peculiar and prominent nal name in his country's literature, is variously related. rank held in præ-Islamitic Arab story by these wild rovers According to one account, he had gone out, while yet a of the desert is to be sought in the intense vigor and ac- mere boy, on some lonely errand, probably to look after tivity of the prevailing national spirit, of which these very some stray camel, and had advanced far into the desert, men were an ill-regulated and exaggerated, yet by no when suddenly he saw what seemed a large goat perched means an unfaithful representation. To the physical ad- upon a rock before him. At his approach the thing darted
** How the Fahmite Thabit
, son of Jabir, came by the de
away; the lad followed, and, being fleet and sure of foot, Arab opinion, whether Pagan or Mahometan; nor would soon overtook and captured it. But to bring it home was the merry wife of Bath have needed much argument to make no easy matter; for the brute, not content with kicking and good her case, had her pilgrimage been to 'Okad or Mecca, struggling, took to becoming heavier and heavier every instead of Canterbury. The only inconveniences a buxom minute, till Thabit, whose strength had only just sufficed and well-to-do Arab wilow needed, or, for the matter of to carry it up to the limits of the encampment, was forced that, still needs carefully to avoid, were family jealousies to let it drop. But hardly had it touched the ground than, and clannish dissensions: the relict of Jabir ran her matriin full view of all the horrified bystanders, it assumed its monial ship in its second voyage on both these rocks. proper form, that of a ghoul, or demon, and vanished. Hodeyl, though a neighboring, was not a kindred clan to * Ta'abbet-Shurran” (“ He has brought a mischief under Fahm; and Ta’abbet-Shurran, or, to give him his domeshis arm”), said the clansmen one to another; and this tic name, Thabit, who was the eldest and fiercest among henceforth was Thabit's name. In this story is adumbrated his brothers, soon learned to look on his stepfather as an what the Greeks, like the Arabs, would have called the intruder, and on his position in the household as an abiding “ dæmon” character of the man himself. Another and a insult. When 'Amir (so continues the narrative) saw the more prosaic version substitutes for the goat-ghoul, Thabit's lad beside him growing up with evident signs in his face of own sword, which he was in the habit of thus carrying, no a hatred which he took no pains to conceal, he said one less persistently than Louis Philippe his umbrella, and day to his wife, “By heaven, this youngster's manner which certainly wrought mischief enough, as we shall soon causes me real uneasiness: our marriage is the cause; had
we not better separate at once before worse happens ? DiOn details like these, historical criticism would be a vorce is a less evil than bloodshed.” But the woman, who mere waste of learning and ingenuity : the general truth- seems to have liked the company of her new husband better fulness of a portrait is more to our present purpose than than the children of her old one, answered, “ First try if the minute precision of a photograph. All annalists agree you cannot clear the fellow out of the way by some stratain representing Ta'abbet-Shurran as an essentially “ wild gem.” 'Amir accordingly waited his opportunity, till, when man,' clever, talented even, but irreclaimable ; 'a born à convenient time came, he said to the lad, “ Are you disrebel to all social law and custom; one of the feræ naturâ posed to accompany me on a raid ?” “ With all my heart,” whom the literature of modern times is wont to paint in was the ready answer. “Come along, then," said 'Amir. somewhat rounded contours and prismatic colors, but whose So they set out both of them together; but ’Amir purposely real lineaments stand out harsh and vigorous in one of the omitted to take any provisions with them for the road. son of Jabir's authentic poems, where his own ultimate They journeyed on all that night and the next day, without hero-ideal is thus portrayed :
once halting, till the second evening closed in, by which
time 'Amir made certain that the lad must be well-nigh "Nor exults he, nor complains hc; silent bears whate'er befalls famished for want of food. Thus thinking, he led the way him,
in a direction where enemies were likely to be, till, at last, Much desiring, much attempting; far the wanderings of his
there appeared the gleam of a fire burning at some distance
in front. 'Amir then stopped, and said to his stepson, In one desert noon beholds him; evening finds him in another; As the wild ass, lone he crosses o'er the jagged and headlong
“ Halloa, boy! we are short of food, and must get someridges.
thing to eat; go over to where you see that fire, and ask Swifter than the wind unpausing, onward yet, nor rest nor
the folk who are cooking by it to give us a share of their slackness,
meal.” Thabit answered, “What, man! is this a time for While the howling gusts, outspeeded, in the distance moan
“ Time or not, I am hungry," 'Amir rejoined; and falter.
so off with you, and bring me some supper.” Thabit Light the slumber on his eyelids, yet too heavy all he deems it; made no further answer, but went. As he neared the fire, Ever watchful for the moment when to draw the bitter he saw two of the most notorious ruffians in the whole land
falchion; When to plunge it in the heart-blood of the many-mustered
sitting by it: they were, in fact, the very men into whose
hands his stepfather had designed that he should fall. foemen, While the Fates, bystanding, idly grin to see their work
When the reflection of the fire fell on the lad, the ruffians saw accomplished.
him and sprang up to seize him : he turned and ran ; they Loneliness his choice companion; and the guide-marks of his
followed ; but he was lighter of foot than they, and kept roaming
ahead, till, looking over his shoulder, he observed that one Tell me, whither guide the mazes of the streaky, spangled of his pursuers had outstripped the other; then, suddenly heavens?"
turping on the nearer of the two, he closed with him, and
laid him dead at a blow. This done, without a moment's “ As the dawn, so the day,” says an Arab proverb; and pause he rushed on the other, who stood bewildered, and the circumstances under which Ta'abbet-Shurran quitted disposed of him in the same manner. He then walked his family and tribe, while yet a mere boy, give a tolerable leisurely to the fire which they had lighted, and there insight into what his character even then was, and what found some unleavened bread baking under the cinders : an after career might be augured for him. The “ frightful, this he took, and brought it, without tasting it, to his stepdesperate, wild, and furious” of Shakspeare's young Rich- father, saying, “ Eat — may it choke you ! Biit he himard is no less applicable to the former stage of Ta'abbet's self refused to touch a morsel. 'Amir said, “ Tell me all life, than “daring, bold, and venturous to the latter. about it, and how you came by it." The lad answered, To Western ears, the tale may sound a strange one; but to “ What is that to you? eat, and ask no questions.” So those who have pissed a day among the tents of Wadee-l- 'Amir ate, but more from compulsion than appetite, while Kora, or a night on the gravel-strewn plains of 'Aared, it his fear of the young devil increased every instant, till, has little startling, and nothing incredible.
unable to contain his curiosity, he again begged the boy, The mother of Ta'abbet-Shurran, left a widow by the adjuring him by all the rights of companionship, to tell him death of her first husband Jabir, while our hero and his the whole adventure. Thabit did so; and the result was four brave but less celebrated brothers were yet mere chil- that 'Amir now feared him worse then ever. After some dren, had married again; and this time her choice had fallen hours' rest, they again went on, and soon reached the pason a man named 'Amir, of the tribe of Hodeyl, a clan ture-grounds of the hostile tribe, whence they succeeded in famous alike for warriors and poets, the latter of whom driving off some camels, and then turned homewards with have bequeathed to posterity an entire volume, or Divan, their booty, taking, however, a distant and circuitous way of verses, oftener studied than understood, even by Arah to avoid pursuit. For three successive nights on the road, commentators and critics. 'Amir himself was a poet; and 'Amir said to his stepson, “ Make choice which half of the some by no means contemptible performances of his in this night you would best like to keep watch over the camels : line have come down to us. Second, or even third and as for me, I will take charge of them for the other half, fourth marriages, have never involved any discredit in while you sleep.” But Thabit as regularly answered,
that ? »
“ Make your choice yourself: it is all one to me.” Free three great provinces of Western and Central Arabia, – to thus to arrange matters according to his own liking, 'Amir Hejaz, that is, Nejd, or Yemen, - yet forms a kind of used to sleep during the first half of the night, while his junction-tract between them, and is in consequence trav. stepson sat up and kept guard ; at midnight, 'Amir rose ersed by most of the great Arab routes that lead from all and relieved the lad, who then went and lay down for a directions to the old centre of commercial and social activfew hours; but when Thabit seemed once to be fast asleep, ity, the territory of Mecca. From the earliest times down 'Amir took the opportunity to lie down and go to sleep to our own, this borderland has been a favorite resort of also; so that in fact, he never kept watch at all. Thus highwaymen; partly on account of the frequent opportupassed three nights. On the fourth and last — for they nities of plunder afforded by passing travellers and carawere now nearing their own land — ’Amir thought that the vans, partly from its own topographical peculiarities, which lad must certainly be overcome with fatigue and drowsi- seem to mark it out as a fitting repair for brigands and out
So he lay down as usual, and took his fill of sleep, laws. It is an intricate labyrinth of valleys, narrow and while Thabit remained keeping good watch till midnight winding where they first descend from the rugged ranges came, when it was 'Amir's turn to rise and guard. This of Jebel Aseer on the west, but widening out as they aphe did, till, after a while, he saw the lad to all appearance proach the low level of the great desert or “ Dahna', and sound asleep, when he said within himself, “Surely, the assuming the form of long shallow gullies where they rise fellow must now be tired out, and hard of waking; now or again towards the table-land of Nejd. Westward the hills never is the time to get rid of him altogether." Not are frequently wooded with “ Ithel,” the Arabian tamarisk, feeling, however, quite sure whether his stepson's slumbers with “ Rind," or wild laurel, with “ Sidr," a pretty dwarf were in reality as deep as they seemed, he thought it best acacia, besides the spreading “ Markh," and other large to try an experiment first; so, taking up a pebble from the semi-tropical trees; while under the shade of these coverts ground beside him, he flung it to some distance, when lo! numerous wild animals make their lair: wolves, foxes, hardly had the stone touched the sand, than the lad started jackals, hyænas, and especially the small but ferocious up bolt upright, with, “What noise was that?” 'Amir, Arabian panther, black-spotted on a light yellow ground, feigning surprise, answered, “ On my life, I do not know; the terror of the herded gazelles, and sometimes of the but it seemed to me to come from the direction where the hunter also. In other places the rocks are precipitous, camels are.
I heard it, but could not make it out clearly." bare, and inaccessible to all but the wild goats that browse Hereon Thabit went and prowled about, searching on all on the occasional tufts of thin grass or dwarf shrubs sides in the darkness, till, having discovered nothing, he springing from their clefts. The valleys, where narrow, returned and lay down. A second time the stepfather form water-courses in the rainy season; and even in the waited, long enough as he thought; then took a little peb- heats of mid-summer, not unfrequently shelter deep pools, ble smaller than the first, and jerked it away.
It fell a
protected from sun and wind by some overhanging rock; long way off ; but no sooner had it struck the plain, than little patches too of cultivation occur here and there, the boy was on his feet again, exclaiming,
" What was
marking the permanent establishment of a few families, or Really, I cannot say," was the answer: “this is a moderate stretch of green justifies the presence of some the second time I have heard it; perhaps one of the camels herdsmen's tents. But nowhere do the conditions of the has got loose.” Instantly Thabit began prowling hither land allow of any thing like real populousness; and the and thither in the dark night, but of course could find abruptness of the local barriers tends to divide the scanty nothing on which to fix his suspicions; so he returned to his inhabitants into small, almost isolated clusters, while by place and laid him down once more. A third time 'Amir the same fact it detains them in a state of semi-barbarism, waited till a full hour had passed, and then took up the scarcely, if at all, affected by centuries of comparative very smallest pebble he could find, and flung it away with civilization around. all his force as far as possible. But the result was all one: Farther on, however, where these valleys enter the up leaped the lad, fresh as at first, only that this time he “Dahna'," the prospect is dreary indeed : rock and sand, asked no questions, but, setting off without a word, searched the latter light and ever shifting, the former abrupt and thoroughly on all sides around; then returned, and coming rugged, or spreading into miles of continuous stone-sheet; close up to his stepfather, said, “ Fellow, I do not like these the whole appearing much as the bottom of the ocean doings of yours; so I give you now fair warning, the next might possibly do were it upheaved, and left exposed to the time I hear any thing more of this kind, by God you are a sun; an imagination not far removed, it may be, in this dead man.” With this he went a little apart, and settled case, from the geological reality of things. But jotted as himself again to sleep; while 'Amir, as he himself after- at random through the waste, where least expected amid wards told the story, passed the remaining hours of dark- the utter seeming drought, and discoverable only by long ness wide awake, and in mortal fear, lest by some accident practice and that intimacy with the desert which few but any one of the camels should really stir, and the lad jump outlaws are likely to acquire, lie small, pale-green spots, up and kill him. Next day they reached the tents of marked out by the wild palm, the feathery “ithel," and Fahm; but Thabit, who guessed rightly enough that a plot the tangled “semr” thorn. Here water is to be found had been laid against him, and that his mother had been when dug for at the depth of a few feet under earth; here privy to it, would not remain any longer in the family, but also is wood enough for the modest requirements of Arab took to the desert. 'Amir also shortly after found his posi- cookery; here the traveller may occasionally halt at midtion in the tribe, who had got an inkling of the matter, an day or nightfall; and here the robber, flying or pursuing, unpleasant one; so he divided his goods with his wife, may take a few hours' stolen repose. and, divorcing himself from her, returned to the pastures This is the land now known as El-Kora, Soleyyel, Bisna', of Hodeyl.
and Aftaj; a land long unchanged, and likely long to reHowever, Thabit, or Ta'abbet-Shurran, as, in compliance main so, both in itself and in its inhabitants. with his Arab chroniclers, I shall henceforth call him, On its outskirts, west and north, spread the pastures of became subsequently reconciled with his mother; and Hodeyl, a tribe once numerous and powerful, and even often when weary, or hard-pressed by pursuers, availed now not only independent of, but actively hostile to, the himself of the temporary repose and shelter of her tent. powers that be; to the south are the small but many vilWith his own tribe, too, the men of Fahm, he always lages of Bajeelah, a Yemenite or “'Arab "tribe, who, with remained on friendly terms, though he took no part hence- others of their kindred, extend down to the frontiers of forth in their public affairs; nor was he regarded by them rich and populous Nejran; to the cast stretched, in Ta’as entitled to their protection, much less assistance. But abbet-Shurran's time, the vast encampments of Temeen for all others whatever, he was simply an outlaw and a and 'Aamir, the chief of all the central Most'areb," or robber; while the clan of Hodeyl, which he had early “ adscitious” clans; but these last are now crystallized learned to hate on his stepfather's account, was, his whole into Wahhabee provinces. life through, the special object of his depredations.
On all of these, now one, now the other, Ta'abbetThere is a region which, while it belongs to none of the Shurran made his predatory attacks, disregardful alike of
od metaphysical sense of the word, seems
, like that of the Jews
national alliance or enmity; sometimes alone, more often Yet a third is mine, ye know not: reason scarce admits the in company with other outlaws, to whom he acted as a
venture; temporary leader.
Many of these raids have been re- Daring prompts it; and the peril bids me test it to the utmost.' corded at great length by Arab chroniclers, who have
Iron-hard the rocks, and 'neath them Death securely waits his besides preserved to us the verses in which the robber-hero,
victim. not more modest in self-praise than the generality of poets,
Harder than the rocks my breast; and Death askance beholds celebrated his own prowess. A few of these anecdotes,
my safety.” rendered as literally as may be, consistently with transferring, or at least attempting to transfer, the vividness of The image of Death enraged at his escape, like that of the original Arab picture to the dissimilar canvas of the
the Fates idly grinning, their occupation gone, over the eneEuropean mind, - no easy task, — will best illustrate the mies he had slaughtered without biding their permission, man, and those amongst whom he lived.
was, it would seem, in Ta'abbet-Shurran's wild fancy, more Once on a time he had led a band of fellow-brigands on
than a mere poetical figure of speech. For him an expedition directed against the herds and havings of
Arab narrative, half credulous, half sceptic, records - - the the Benoo Hodeyl, not far from Ta'if. On their way the
desert was peopled with weird phantom shapes, all horrible, party passed beneath a precipice of great height; its face
and befitting the guilty imaginings or companionship of a showed far up the entrance of a cavern, above which Ta'.
man of blood. abbet-Shurran's practised eyes could detect a swarm of bees
Foremost among these was the “Ghoul," a monster half hovering. Now, wild honey — for art-made hives and tame flesh, half spirit; tangible, yet ever changing its form; enbees were yet unknown was the only substitute possessed
dowed with speech and reason, but for evil only; hating by Arabs of those days for sugar, and ranked accordingly as man, and ever seeking his harm. It may not be amiss here a choice, almost indeed a necessary dainty. Ta'abbet and
in and his crew at once postponed their original design on sheep and camels in favor of this rarer booty; and by long to have been nearly if not quite exhausted by the sole conand circuitous paths clambered up the mountain till they ception of a Supreme Ruler; all else, whatever is known stood on its brow, right above the caverned cliff. Next, among other races as soul, ghost, spectre, angel, demon, Ta'abbet tied a camel-rope round his waist, while his com- fairy, sprite, goblin, and so forth, was for them corporeal, or at rades made fast the other end to the stump of a tree; and, best quasi-corporeal, and subject, though with certain aptaking with him a couple of empty skins, allowed himself to propriate modifications, to the principal conditions of anibe lowered against the mountain face, till he dangled oppo
mated matter, such as we experimentally reckon them. Nor site to the mouth of the cave, into which he then contrived
was Mahomet himself, the Koran to witness, much ahead to swing himself; much like Shakspeare's samphire-gather
of his ancestors in this respect. It is not till a later date, er, or a Norwegian in quest of sea-fowl. As he had con
when Persian, Greek, and Tartar ideas had infiltrated the najectured, a large store of excellent honey had collected tional mind, that any thing like the Teuton, Celtic, or even within the cavern, and he proceeded at his leisure to fill the
Norse spirit appears among the phantasmagoria of Arab skins he had brought with the desired prize, unsuspicious
literature. As for the “ghoul,” that most popular of preof any danger from without. But while he thus busied him- Islamitic superstitions, and the nearest approach to a genuine self, some men of Hodeyl, who, hidden in the brushwood on Arab“ devil,” it was, to complete its corporeality, male and fethe upper slope, had watched all these doings, suddenly male, and though remarkably tenacious of life, mortal; but rushed out on the associates of the Fahm brigand, and drove
when it happened at last to be killed, its carcass had the them off from their post. The Hodeylees now masters of faculty an annoying one for curious investigators — of the position, began twitching the upper end of the rope that
disappearing altogether, or of presenting at most the appeargirdled Ta'abbet's waist, and thus apprised him of an un
ance of a small piece of burned leather, or some equally unfriendly presence. Without hesitation he cut the cord with instructive substance. Masa'oodee, the author whose dishis dagger, and then advancing to the mouth of the cave
cursive work, the “Golden Meadows,” has procured him the
overflattering title of the “ Arab Herodotus,” speculates not · Caught," exclaimed his enemies.
quite unreasonably on the matter, and inclines to the opinCaught, indeed!”sneeringly repeated Ta’abbet : “ that ion that the “ghoul" of old times was nothing else than we have yet to see.
Do you mean to take ransom, and let some ferocious and ill-favored wild beast, probably of the me go unharmed ?"
ape genus, rarely met with, and exaggerated by excited im*No conditions with such as you,” they answered from aginations into a demon. Thus much is certain, that in -above.
proortion as Arab records approach an era of increased popu“ Ahal that is your game ?” rejoined the robber: "you
lation and of freer intercourse between province and provthink that you have already caught me, and killed me, and ince, the “ghoul” becomes less frequent, and ultimately diseaten my honey too, which I have been at such pains to get. appears altogether; while more spiritual conceptions, such as No, by God! that shall never be.” Thus saying, he brought
“Jinn,” “ Hatif” or Banshee, “'Àyid” or “haunting-ghost," the skins to the mouth of the hole, and poured out all the
and the like, take its place. However, even at the present boney, so that it went trickling down the face of the preci- day, the inhabitants of Beja' on the Nubian frontier, and pice in their sight; next he took the empty skins, honey- the negroes of Kordofan and Darfoor, have the good forsmeared as they were, and tied them tight against his breast
tune to retain their “ghouls" -“ Kotrobs” they call them and body; and then, while the men of Hodeyl stood look
- of the genuine Arab kind, perhaps their gorillas. ing on in stupid amazement, let himself slip feet foremost But in °Ta’abbet's epoch the "ghoul,” whether demon, down the crag, with such dexterity that in a few minutes he ape, or fancy, was no rarity; and a night-long duel between Was safe at the bottom, some hundreds of yards below; and
the great robber and one of these unamiable beings in the long before his intended captors, descending by the ordinary dreary valley of Roba-Batan, near Kalaat-Bisha', a few path, had circled the mountain and reached the other side, days' journey to the south-east of Mecca, may at least claim was far away beyond all chance of pursuit.
what authenticity Ta'abbet-Shurran's own verses can give So brilliant an escape deserved to be commemorated by it. The curiosity of the record, almost unique of its kind in its hero in a spirited poem, from which I will quote a few its completeness, may serve to excuse the childishness of the
subject. This my answer to the foemen, when alone I stood defenceless, “Oh ! bear ye the tidings to all of my clan, Closed the paths behind, before me, in the hour of doubt and The wondrous encounter in Roha's lone dell, danger.
The fiend-guarded land where the ghoul of the waste 'Is it thus the choice ye give me ? ransomed life, and scornful In horror and blackness contested my path mercy?
I said, “We are kinsmates; our fortunes are one, These, or death ? - not two the offers: one alone befits the free- Thou and I: why assail me? in peace get thee gone.'
It spoke not, but darted to rend me. I turned,