« ПредишнаНапред »
gaudily bordered with red paint, a very high value was set, so that I made it my principal guide, and filled my own with characters of a similar description.
The old woman being despatched, after many kisses on the hand, for my unprecedented generosity in doing all this without reward, the other children of Affliction's family followed in their turn, and from the infant to the aged, their claims were not more rational. There was not one among them who demanded medicine, or bloodletting, remedies known and estimated among the most uncivilized ; but as I found the task grow rather tedious, my prescriptions or charms were in studied brevity toward the close of
labors. We had seen the patients all dispersed, however, with new hopes and lighter hearts, and were preparing to depart for Bubastos, having arranged to return and sleep at the village to-night, when a green-turbanned shereese came to the Sheick's, and with an air of great secrecy and importance, told me that he wished a private conversation with me on the behalf of a friend. By mounting on the flat roof of the house, to which there was a small ladder that ascended, we were completely alone, when he communicated to me that his friend labored under the greatest depression of spirits, from his having been married three years without being blessed with children; and his shame at this misfortune was the reason of his not coming to me among the crowd; but he entertained no doubt of my ability to remove this misfortune, and he would reward me with any sum I should name, and that too upon the spot, if I wished it!
I explained to him that the healing art provided no remedies for such a case as this; which, however, I could not persuade him to believe, so that he was really angry at my refusal to undertake the cure he desired; and was only kept from publicly expressing his anger, by a fear that this might give still farther publicity to his misfortune, by my communication of it to others; but these were at length removed, upon a solemn pledge, on my part, of inviolable secrecy.
It was already sun-set when we returned to the Sheiek's, whom we now found at home, and with whom we supped from a large bowl of paste, mixed with various ingredients, in company with fifteen or sixteen of his family. The supper was eaten in the open court; but after washing, we retired into a dark room, already balffilled with doura-stalks, straw, and poultry, and heated by a furnace or oven, in which cakes were baked. Bitter coffee, pounded between stones, and made almost eatable from its thickness, with pipes of bad tobacco, followed our repast. As the heads of the other families of the village had also finished their meal, they came to pay their evening visit to the learned strangers, so that in a short time our party was increased to nearly fifty persons, the women of the family occupying the upper part of the furnace, and those who could find no room with ranging themselves around the outer door. A quantity of cotton was then brought, in the pod, and set in the centre of the room, while each one of the company, resting his pipe on the ground, took a portion of the cotton to open, and this we all did, without its disturbing the enjoyment of smoking.
The old Sheick began first to amuse his auditors with the Tales her spouse;
of Haroun el Raschid, which were so well accompanied with pantomimic gesture, and so deliberately recited, that I could follow him through the whole with great ease and pleasure. To this succeeded songs, in which both myself and servant bore a share, the latter singing in Greek, and I in Italian, which they thought were the learned languages of the country from whence we came. Among the Arabs, one sang in Turkish, and the rest in Arabic. Ya Leila! Leila! tahly ya Leila!' was thrice repeated. 'O Night! Night! Hasten! O Night ! for thou art the Friend of Love! Yes ! darkness is the lover's heaven,' etc. Another, wbich I had not heard before, was rapturously applauded; it was from a newly-married virgin to
And the group of females who sat aloof upon the furnace, not daring to lift their veils, or join among the rest of the party, were yet suffered to express their shouts of approbation and of praise. Next followed a conversation by the fingers, in much the same way as I have seen it practised in England, the changes of their positions bearing a fancied resemblance to the shape of the alphabetic characters. It was exercised with great skill, and our amusement was considerably heightened by a third person's interpretation of this mystic discourse.
Under the hope that more novelties might be presented to us by the women's singing, I ventured to ask the Sheick whether such a favor might not be permitted. He expressed his surprise at the question, and added that such a proposition, coming from any other than a stranger to their customs, would be received with a very bad grace. He told us, then, a story of an intrigue being discovered, which originated in what he termed the indelicacy of a female singing, the subject of her strains having made such an impression upon a male hearer, as to inspire him with a passion for her, which ended in the discovery of their amours, and the private strangling of both.
Thus employed, dividing our time between picking the cotton, hearing tales and songs, and filling our pipes in the intervals of conversation, the midnight stole upon us unperceived, before even any of the visitors began to retire. They excused their long stay, by say. ing, that as strangers sojourned among them but seldom, it was allowable for them to make a jubilee of the occasion. On the breaking up of the assembly, therefore, which was done more suddenly than it had been formed, we began to think of arrangements for sleeping, which I should have been content to have done upon the mat on which we had passed the evening; but as the Sheick had ordered it otherwise, we were obliged to comply with his wish, and for this purpose we retired to a small room within, about ten feet by seven, having no other aperture than the door of entrance through which we were obliged to stoop almost double. The alleged reason for his preferring this for our use, was its superior warmth, from it being much smaller in size, and having a furnace yet retaining the heat of the fire by which the cakes of our evening meal were baked. I could not persuade him of the superior freshness of the outer part, and our danger of suffocation here; they knew of no distinction between a freer circulation of air and a sharper cold, any more than they could separate the idea of cold from that of extreme pain ; and as to my
sleeping on the outside alone, allowing them to follow their own choice for themselves, every one objected to this. I tried every mode of persuasion in vain, and a mat being spread out upon the furnace, we stripped to lay down, five in number, in a room ten feet by seven, lying in a row, with our heads toward the inner wall, and our feet hanging over the edge of the furnace, which was elevated nearly three feet from the ground, and had a space between it and the outer wall, of about two feet wide, for the purpose of tending the fires with fuel.
The Arabs stripped off even their shirts, and rolled themselves in their blue Melyahs, a practice i adopted also myself, having left off the use of flannel next the skin, after the bath at Balbeis; and so excessive was the heat of this literal oven, that I could have stripped my skin off too, if possible, to refresh myself. We had scarcely lain down, before three females came in, whom we could but faintly perceive, from the glimmer of the expiring lamp that was yet burning, and who, without a stretch of imagination, from their hooded dresses, veiled faces, and stolen manner of entrance, looked like the flitting beings of another world. They sank upon the ground without a whisper, and must have literally lain on one another, as they occupied only the narrow space between the furnace and the wall.
The repose of the weary is certainly enviable, and the art or faculty of enjoying that repose, in spite of every obstacle that may attend it, is a desirable qualification, which some of the party possessed a larger share of than myself; for an hour had not elapsed, before most of them were snoring, while the united torments of rats and mice, which ran across us troops, to nibble the fragments of the last baked cakes, the bugs and feas that were like crawling hosts, collected to devour our bodies, and the buzzing mosquitoes, enjoying free access to every vein, kept me not only awake, but employed too, throughout the night, which, short as it was, in the number of its hours, was to me the longest in duration, and most weary in its progress, that I ever remember to have counted.
L I F E.
Evanescent as vanishing spray;
Or a leaf from its stem fall’n away ;
What though beauty appear in its plumage of gold,
And dazzle with glittering sheen;
And the Iris no longer is seen,
To withstand the all-with’ring decay;
Then passes for ever away;
A. M. M.
On the 17th of May, 18 — , chance gave me the particulars of the following memoir, and the cognomen of the occupier of a spacious attic in Westminster, its title. EugeniUS STRUGGLE, at once the sport and child of misfortune, for twelve months on that
very day, had manfully endured the whips and scorns of time.' At an early period of his existence, he had discovered flashes of a genius in his mind, which at the age of fourteen, blazing forth in five lines, acrostically inscribed to the fair object of his ardent affection, rooted the conviction in his breast, that he was not of an age, but for all time.' Unhappily for Eugenius, neither his relations nor friends were as quick-sighted as himself; and despite his assurances, that his talents were of too high a class to be wasted on the attainment of the arts and mysteries of trade, his father, deaf to the voice of genius, and blind to its incipient sparks, apprenticed him to a cabinet-maker. Chisels are keen-edged tools, and saws have many teeth; but dull is the incision of the sharpest chisel - feeble the stroke of the longest
compared with the acute cut to the pride, and laceration of the feelings, that this step occasioned Eugenius. Nevertheless, though the spirit was any thing but willing, the flesh was by no means weak; and he whose ideas soared to the achievement of laurels that should wreath his fame, when his material and mortal parts had returned to dust, was obliged to take time by the forelock, and reverse the position of affairs, by turning his hand to work, and his mind to saw-dust. Still, where there's a will, there's away; and as Eugenius was the only child of a man who, although possessed of none of the refined genius of his son, was not without a considerable share of what is very aptly called this world's goods,
our hero resolved to keep alive the half-strangled infant of his brain, so that, when arrived at man's estate, and the end of his time, he might follow the bent of his destiny; not doubting that though it would be much against the will of his father while living, he should be independent by his will at his death, which nevertheless Eugenius was the last in the world to desire, sooner than a good old age should lead to, and for two plain reasons : in the first place, because he loved bis father as dearly as a son could, and secondly, because, after all, the property to which he was heir would at best be but a slight augmentation to the wealth of which, of course, he would have possessed himself, by his literary labors, long ere his father was gathered to his fathers.
Up at five, to breakfast at seven, to work again till dinner time at one, and from two till six, when labor ceased for half an hour, to afford time for what Eugenius, (as he wished it to be understood,) sarcastically called the common sacrifice to the Chinese nymph of tears; who, however, being originally intended to represent green tea, was not quite as aptly named as truth would have dictated, or our poet desired. However, granting that the tea was not green, for which, except by the faintness of the color of its decoction, it could never have been mistaken, it was the welcome Lethe in which he lost the fatigues of the day, and which tranquillized and prepared his mind for the wasting of the midnight oil, or rather, I should say, the nocturnal rushlight, by whose rays he prepared leaves that should one day, and thence for ever, compose a wreath that, coupled with the name of Eugenius Struggle, should hang high in the temple of the trumpet-goddess. There, in all the elysium of literary lumber, which was made to adorn his chamber by the strewing about of sonnets, odes, tragedies, comedies, tales, anecdotes, and a hundred other miscellanies, which, in whole or extracts, had drawn tears and roars of laughter from many a reader of the · Casket,' the Mirror,' and the Penny Magazine, there was his wont to sit,' to fame a martyr, to his muse a slave,' as he said of himself in the 'Sentimental Songster,' till daylight warned him that he had often not more than an hour in which to subdue by sleep the high-flown workings of his lofty mind, ere the fifth stroke of St. Giles's clock, or his master's cane, would rouse him to the labor, not that love delights in,' or 'that physics pain,' but which, notwithstanding its nauseousness, was a dose that once a day he was obliged to take, and which generally took him all day long.
But before we quit the scene of his temporary happiness for that where he and sorrow sat, that curiosity being probably felt by my readers, which in me was insatiable with less than a perusal of his lucubrations, I will transcribe for their edification some of those of his pieces which I read so much to my own.
I have already remarked, that Eugenius's first poem was inscribed to her who was for a twelve month afte the only heroine of his brain. No name but hers would rhyme in his imagination; and for the versification of his tragics, iť had indeed been blank, if Nancy' had not graced his every page. Now I trust it will not be thought that our hero was vain, because he not only professed that he could do, but actually did, what the immortal Charles Dibdin had