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he fell exhausted on the ground, and was about to breathe his last, when Providence led that way, from a neighbouring encampment, a Bisharye Bedouin, who, by throwing water upon the man's face, restored him to his senses. They then went hastily to the water, filled the skins, and returning to the caravan, had the good fortune to find the sufferers still alive. The Bisharye received a slave for his trouble. My informer, a native of Yembo in Arabia, was the man whose camel discovered the spring, and he added the remarkable circumstance, that the youngest slaves bore the thirst better than the rest, and that while the grown-up boys all died, the children reached Egypt in safety.”
“ Burckhardt travelled as a pedlar, and raised the funds requisite for his expenses, by disposing in that capacity of his little wares and merchandize. In the practice of this calling he obtained opportunities of seeing the manners of the people, to which he would not perhaps otherwise have had access.”
“ One afternoon, says he, while crying my beads for sale, I was accosted by a Faky, who asked me if could read. On answering in the affirmative, he desired me to follow him to a place where he said I might expect to get a good dinner. He then led me to a house, where I found a great number of people collected to celebrate the memory of some relative lately deceased. Several Fakys were reading the Koran in a low tone of voice. A great Faky afterwards came in, whose arrival was the signal for reciting the Khoran in loud songs, in the manner customary in the east, in which I joined them. This was continued for about half an hour, until dinner was brought in, which was very plentiful, as a cow had been killed upon the occasion. After a hearty meal,
we recommenced our reading. One of the Shiks produced a basket full of white pebbles, over which several prayers were read. These pebbles were destined to be strewed over the tomb of the deceased in the manner which I had often observed upon tombs freshly made. Upon my inquiries concerning this custom, which I confessed to have never before seen practised in any Mohammedan country, the Faky answered, that it was a mere meritorious action, that there was no absolute necessity for it, but that it was thought that the soul of the deceased, when hereafter visiting the tomb, might be glad to find these pebbles, in order to use them as beads in addressing its prayers to the Creator. When the reading was over, the women began to sing and howl. I then left the room; and on taking my departure my kind host put some bones of roasted meat in my hand to serve for my supper.”
“ The following description of Hadji Aly contains traits that, I fear, are not peculiar even to the slave-dealers of Africa.”
“ His travels, and the apparent sanctity of his conduct, had procured him great reputation, and he was well received by the meks and other chiefs, to whom he never failed to bring some small presents from Dijdda. Although almost constantly occupied (whether sitting under a temporary shed of mats, or riding upon his camel on the march) in reading the Koran, yet this man was a complete bon vivant, whose sole object was sensual enjoyment. The profits on his small capital, which were continually renewed by his travelling, were spent entirely in the gratification of his desires. He carried with him a favourite Borgho slave, as his concubine ; she had lived with him three years, and had her own camel, while his other slaves performed the whole journey on foot. His leathern sacks were filled with all the choice provisions which the Shendy market could afford, particularly with sugar and dates, and his dinners were the best in the caravan. To hear him talk of morals and religion, one might have supposed that he knew vice only by name; yet Hadji Aly, who had spent half his life in devotion, sold last year, in the slavemarket of Medinah, his own cousin, whom he had recently married at Mekka. She had gone thither on a pilgrimage from Bornou by the way of Cairo, when Aly unexpectedly meeting with her, claimed her as his cousin, and married her : at Medinah, being in want of money, he sold her to some Egyptian merchants; and as the poor woman was unable to prove her free origin, she was obliged to submit to her fate. The circumstance was well known in the caravan, but the Hadji nevertheless still continued to enjoy all his wonted reputation.”
66 ASSUREDLY the most unpromising of all topics for a poet,” said the Bachelor, laying down Wilson's pathetic City of the Plague, “is this same subject."
“ And yet,” replied Egeria, “ perhaps there are few which admit of so much affecting description ; though, with the exception of Wilson, I do think that scarcely any of the Plague Poets have touched the right key."
“ Plague Poets ! what a nickname !" exclaimed
Benedict. “I was not aware that the subject had ever been set in poetry before; for I do not consider that medical-man-like manner in which Lucretius has done the symptoms into verse deserves to be considered as poetry. As for Virgil's description of a plague among cattle, in the Georgics, and what Ovid, Statius, Silius Italicus, and Manilius, have said,-in so far as they go, there is nothing very interesting, however correct the painting may be.”
“ Indeed,” said Egeria, “ the ancients, generally speaking, were not very expert at the pathetic. They were a grave race, and appear to have but seldom either laughed or wept. Thomson and Akenside have shown, in noticing the plague, more true feeling than all the ancients you have named, with Thucydides to boot, even in the verse of Bishop Sprat, and exalted by his Lordship's additional touches; of which, as a specimen, take the Bishop's account of the disease first shewing itself in the head and eyes.”
“ Upon the head first the disease,
“ But, although Bishop Sprat's verse is in this extravagant style, there is yet one little passage that might obtain the honour of a second reading among better poetry. I allude to his description of the sleeplessness of the sufferers.”
“ No sleep, no peace, no rest,
Upon their souls and eyes
Dark pictures and resemblances
O’er their distemper'd fancies go :
“ But Wither is the true English laureate of pestilence. The following description of the consternation, packing up, and flight of the Cockneys, during the great plague of London, is equally matchless and original."
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