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a bowl, to the depth of about thirty feet from the level of the plain. They serve as receptacles for the little rain that can fall upon a country where no exhalations can take place; and are thinly overspread with weeds, dwarf thorn-bushes, and one or two other vegetables. Of the weeds we have no particular description in the Narrative; though the author has told ourselves that they are three or four feet high-full of prickles-and a considerable luxury to the camels. The thorn-bush is from two to five feet high-with a spear shaped-leaf, of an inch thick-one and a half broad--from two to two and a half long--and so strongly impregnated with salt, that though the author and his companions were almost dead with hunger and thirst, they could not bring themselves to eat a mouthful of it. In some parts of the Desert, the camels can hardly get along for a curious sort of plant, which grows up about six inches, in a trunk as large as a man's leg; and then ramifies on all sides into fluted and jointed branches, which ascend to the height of two feet; terminate very abruptly, and are armed all over with sharp thorns, about two and a half inches long. Their general circum ference is about three inches; and on the top of each there is a single rose-coloured flower of three leaves; which are about an inch in length, and though erect in the morning, are prostrate at night. Our readers will form an idea of the whole plant, by comparing it to a chandelier, when the wicks are on fire. It yields a juice which is almost as biting as aquafortis; and the camels seldom nipit off, except when they can find nothing else. These vallies afford one more small plant, which, our author says, resembles what is familiarly called shepherds’ sprouts. It is a tender vegetable, which grows up rapidly after a rain, and is as rapidly devoured by the first company that encounters it. The dwarf thorn-bush sometimes has a few snails on its branches:--And this completes the catalogue of what vegetable and animal productions are found in those paradisiacal oases, to which allusion is so frequently made.
We must now crowd into a few words some account of the manner in which the Arabians live, or rather wander; and then take up again the thread of Captain Riley's Narrative. The great families which compose an Arabian tribe, are generally in the habit of travelling by themselves:--and considering the inclemency of the climate and the want of subsistence, we should be inclined to discredit the tale of there being from two hundred and fifty to three hundred in every such family, if we were not told at the same time, upon what we think is, to say the least, very plausible evidence, that the forefather of all is some. times known to be as many as three hundred years old! There were three people belonging to the tribe in which Captain Riley
was a slave two old men and one old woman--who had lost all the hair from their heads, chins, and other parts of their bodies. Their flesh had entirely wasted away: their skin appeared to be dried, and drawn tight over their bones and sinews; their eyes were extinct; and they had apparently lost the use of every limb, and of every sense. After his redemption at Mogadore, our author asked Sidi Hamet how old he supposed these venerable gentlemen to be. He answered, about eight zille, or Arabic centuries; which consist of forty lunar years, reckoning twelve moons to the year--He added also, that it was very common to find Arabs on the different parts of the Great Desert five zille old, retaining all their faculties, and that he had seen a great many of the ages of from seven to eight zille.' When the captain returned, that in other parts of the world very few people ever live over two zille and a half, and that it would be impossible to make his countrymen believe that any other people would live seven or eight, Sidi talked very ra. tionally on the subject, (p. 375) and, in our opinion, made out his case pretty well. When we reflect, indeed, that an Arab leads a regular life from his birth to his death; that he eats very little besides milk--the purest, most nutritive, and most digestible of all food; that his mode of life, while it does not subject him to hard labour, yet compels him to work enough for exercise; that the climate he lives in, though hot, is perfectly dry; and that, last but not least of all, he drinks nothing like ardent spirits--we confess we are inclined to think with Captain Riley, that his quondam master's account is by no means destitute of reason.
These ancestors, we may almost call them, are treated with the greatest tenderness. The whole family rise at day-light; and while the men are milking the old camels, suckling the young ones, performing their ablutions with sand, looking towards Mecca, and repeating the Koran,—the women are engaged in striking the tent, packing up the household furniture, and making a general clearing-out of the fileet. The parent of the family is lifted into a sort of basket on the camel's back; where he seems to sit and hold on, (says our author) more from long habit than from choice. Some of the children are placed by his side; and, after communicating to the rest the route he intends to take, he starts off with his gun in his hand; urging his camel by a lively tune, if he wishes it to trot, and by a solemn one, when he wants it to walk only. Although the Desert is not, as we said above, a vast ocean of sand, it has, nevertheless, a great many more analogies to the sea than would be manifest at first sight. The motion of camels resembles, our author tells us, the heavy rolling of a ship at. sea; their long necks answer all the purposes of top-masts, so that when they fall among the abovementioned chandelier plants--they are enabled to pick out a channel, and to sail among them like a vessel among rocks; and if they are to ascend any eminence whatever, they work their way by zigzag navigation, like a ship beating against the wind. It is the general rule to start at day-light, and to halt again about four o'clock in the afternoon. As soon as the old man finds a good encamping ground, the information is communicated to his wife; who unloads and dismisses the camels; clears away the small stones and pitches the tent; spreads her mat; arranges the furniture, and hangs up the water-skins. The camels are brought up and moored with their sterns towards the tent; and the whole family then betake themselves promiscuously to the mat, which forms the floor of the tent; the children filling up the chinks and interstices between the old folks. At midnight the whole are awoke; the camels milked; the milk distributed from the patriarchal bowl; and preparation set on foot for a decampment. These are the general outlines of Arabian life. For a detail of its particulars, we must refer our readers to the XXV Ith Chapter of the Narrative before us; from which, however, we cannot omit to extract the following account of a Lancasterian system of education among the natives, and of the clumsy manner in which they perform their smith-work.
• They all learn to read and write: in every family or division of a tribe, they have one man who acts as teacher to the chil. dren: they have boards of from one foot square to two feet long, and about an inch thick, by eighteen inches wide: on these boards the children learn to write with a piece of pointed reed; they have the secret of making ink, and that of a very black dye: when a family of wandering Arabs pitch their tents, they set apart a place for a school: this they surround with broken shrubs in the desert to keep off the wind-here all the boys who have been circumcised, of from eight to eighteen or twenty years old, attend, and are taught to read and to write yerses from the Koran, which is kept in manuscript by every family on skins: they write their characters from right to left--are very particular in the formation of them, and make their lines very straight: all the children attend from choice or for amusement. The teacher, I was told, never punishes a child, but explains the meaning of things, and amuses him by telling tales that are both entertaining and instructive; he reads or rehearses chapters from the Koran, or some other book, for they have a great many poems, &c. written also on skins: when the board is full of writing, they rub it off with sand, and begin again: they enumerate with the nine figures now in use among all European nations, and in America, and were extremely astonished to find that I could make them, and understand their meaning, saying one to another, This man must have been a slave before to some Arabian merchant, who has taught him the manner of using the Arabic figures, and contrary to his law, unless indeed he is a good man and a believer' The boards on which they wrote seemned to have lasted for ages-they had been split in many places, and were kept together by small iron plates on each side, fixed by iron rivets: these plates, as well as their rude axes, of which each family has one, are made of tempered iron, by the smiths, which belong to and journey with the tribe. I saw several of them at work. They burn small wood into charcoal, and carry it with them on camels: their anvil is made of a piece of iron a foot long, and pointed at the end--this they drive into the ground to work on-the head of the anvil is about six inches over: they make their fire in a small hole, dag in the ground for that purpose, and blow it up by means of two skins curiously fixed; so that while one is filling with air, they blow with the other, standing between them with a hand placed on each, they raise and depress them at pleasure. By means of a clumsy hammer, an anvil, and hot irons to bore with, they manage to fix the saddles for themselves to ride on, and to make knives, and a kind of needles, and small rough bladed axes. This forge is carried about without the smallest inconvenience, so that the Arabs even of the desert are better provided in this respect than the Israelites were in the days of Saul their king, Samuel, chap. XIII. verses 19 to 23-~ Now there was no smith in all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears.'-Pp. 371, 2, 3.
The company in which Captain Riley and his crew were, slaves, took an eastern* course, from the borders of the Desert, where we left them, and journeyed, upon an average, about 30 miles a day. Our captives were sometimes put upon a camel's back; but the great motion of the beast, together with the rooflike sharpness and declivity of his rump, rendered such a mode conveyance' worse than even walking over ragged stones with bare feet; and, though their masters strictly enjoined them to stick on, they frequently took occasion to slide off and follow on foot. At night, when the camels were milked, the Arabs left for their prisoners just enough of the milk to keep them from absolute starvation. One or two of the men who were about 150 in all-had a little compassion on their sufferings; but the remainder of them, and every one of the women without exception, were outrageous in their treatment of such Christian dogs. An old villain, by the name of Hamet, saluted the captain one evening by his title in Arabic--Rais; and, after he found the
* It is put down S. E. in the book; but the author tells ourselves that it must have been nearly due east.
boy was called Horace, he was every instant yelling out Hoh Rais for something or other. On the 18th the last drop of water was consumed; and it was resolved by a council held during the night, that the caravan should tread back their steps and supply themselves again at the wells, whence they started on the 11th. By this time the riding, and walking, and beating, and starving which our captives underwent, had reduced them almost to skeletons; and taken off the skin of what little flesh there was remaining. The captain conjectures that they had travelled about 300 miles; and all that weary way was now to be trod over again. On the 19th they began the journey; travelled with much speed on the 20th; but did not go forward at all on the 21st; about the middle of which day the company were joined by two strangers, each armed with a bright doublebarrelled musket, and seated on camels loaded with goods. They were two brothers, Seid and Sidi Hamet,-- ArabicoMoorish merchants, who had blankets and blue cloth to sell.' The latter had himself been once led captive, and knew how to pity the wretches whom he saw in the same predicament. Cap. tain Riley had already learned enough of Arabic to converse intelligibly: Sidi Hamet got him to tell over his story; and though he thought it a shame that men who had beards like him'should weep at any thing, he could not, with all his philosophy, refrain from shedding tears. The captain told him that he had a friend in the Sultan of Morocco's dominions, who would be willing to redeem himself and his companions at any reasonable price: and the Mussulman was so touched with sympathy, mixed too perhaps with some little hope of gain, that by the 26th of the month he had bought up the whole tive of the sufferers.
On the 28th Seid, Sidi Hamet, a young Arab by the name of Abdallah, and our five slaves set off on two old camels, for the great town of Swearah; which turned out to be Mogadore. They took a N.N.E.* direction; and after having proceeded all day with the 'long trot,' they stopped at night in a little valley of thorn bushes. The same thing was repeated on the 29th; during which day the author computes the distance gune over at about 105 miles. On the 30th they came to the forsaken bed of a deep river --where they found a cool spring of water, which greatly refreshed the whole cavalcade. Here Sidi Hamet took occasion to interrogate the captain re
* It is said E. S. E. in the Narrative; which is manifestly erroneous. Our captives were, as near as we can ascertain, about 250 miles from the ocean when they set out with Sidi Hamet; and as they struck the sea in a pretty direct line after travelling 700 miles, their course, as may be easily calculated, could only have been something like what we have stated in the text.