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great difficulty occurred in giving an idea of the kind of narrative current among the fallâhs. We will extract three out of the only four which our traveller has found fit to record. The reader will possibly think that they are quite as much characterised by fallâh stupidity as by fallâh simplicity.
There was once a man who became the terror of his village by the loudness of his talk and the fierceness of his gestures. He used to carry a naboot a cubit taller than himself; and if anybody attempted to oppose his will, would snort and puff out his cheeks, and bellow like a buffalo. He had a wife, young and beautiful, with gazelle eyes and pomegranate bosom; and altogether, said the poetical narrator (a stolid-looking fellâh), a moony face and a palm stature ; but still he ill-treated her until she came to hate him. So she chose a lover from among the young men of the village, and revealed to him the secret that her husband was really a coward ; and they agreed together how they should compel him to a divorce. The braggart started on a journey with his wife, who rode upon a donkey. They proceeded together until they came to a melon-field in a lonely place, when the woman said,
“O my eye, I feel a longing for a melon ; but there is no one here who has the courage to steal one.”
“ Look round," quoth the man, “lest there be somebody coming. I am not afraid, but this is an improper action.”
“ There is not a goat in sight,” replied she.
So he went into the field, carefully peeping to the right and left, and cut the best melon. At that moment the lover appeared with a gun, and exclaimed,
“ O thief!”
“None,” was the reply, “unless thou causest the melon which thou hast cut to grow again.”
" That is impossible ; but I will ransom myself.”.
The young man declined to accept anything but the wife; and accordingly the braggart, having pronounced the triple sentence of divorce, went away saying,
"If that be all, take her ; but hadst thou asked to pull my beard, I would have become fierce and killed thee !"
An Arnaout soldier entered a coffee-house drunk, with his sword drawn; and seeing an old woman, toothless, half-blind, and with a tuft of beard on her chin, exclaimed,
“Let this beautiful damsel sing, or I will slay her.”
“ I am the mother of four men, who are the fathers of fifteen children,” replied the frightened dame.
“ My eyes! my heart !" quoth the Arnaout, in bad Arabic, “it is necessary that thou charm me with thy beautiful voice. Sing . Doos, doos,' or I will make kababs of thee.”
The frightened dame accordingly began to yell out the required stanza, whilst the fellâh customers giggled with delight.
“Ah!" said the Arnaout, sagaciously shaking his head, “what a wonderful thing is drunkenness! This charming voice seems to me no better than the creaking of a sakia !”
III. A fellâh went to Cairo to make some purchases ; but fell in with thieves who robbed him of all he possessed. He passed the night sleeping in a ruined bouse, and next day debated whether he should return empty-handed or supply the place of money with cunning. A bright idea struck him.
“I will go to a shop,” thought he, “ make selection of the best merchandise, and pretend to be a stranger not understanding a word of the language of the country. Perhaps Allah will in this way enable me to escape the obligation of payment.”
In this pious and dishonest state of mind our clown repaired to the Goreeyeh, sat down opposite a merchant, took his pipe, and pointed out some silks and shawls.
“ Probably your honour is dumb," quoth the Taggar. “Shurdum Burdum," replied the fellâh.
These words, not being understood, overawed the trader, who forthwith spread out his best merchandise. After a reasonable repetition of the magical words " shurdum burdum,” a selection was made and payment expected. But the roguish customer, quietly taking up the parcel, walked off, and escaped amidst the crowd.
A little while afterwards, a man somewhat resembling the thief passed, and was seized by the enraged merchant. The fellâh protested his innocence; but the other insisted and handed him over to the police, who carried him to prison. Four or five witnesses were brought, according to this satirical narrative, to swear that they had seen him carry away the goods ; and he was condemned to the galleys.
Meanwhile the unlucky man's mother-in-law, who happened to be in Cairo, heard of his mischance, and devised how to liberate him. She took a dead child, wrapped it up carefully in her mantle, and went to purchase at the shop of the merchant. After a little bargaining she suddenly exclaimed,
“O lewd fellow! O shame to the merchants ! Dost thou take liberties with me?"
“Silence, woman!” said the Taggar, quite frightened for his reputation. “ What have I done? Hold thy peace !"
But she only cried the louder; whereupon he laid hands on her, and she, dexterously dropping the little corpse concealed in the corner of her mantle, began yelling,
Aie! Aie! he has killed my child !” A crowd at once collected ; and the neighbour merchants interfered, saying,
« This is a scandalous story, and must be lushed up."
The supposed culprit professed innocence, and referred to the woman's age and ugliness ; but, for the sake of peace, at length agreed to give a large sum. The offer was accepted ; a portion of the money served as a bribe for the liberation of the innocent man; and mother and son returned to their village quite satisfied with the adventure.
These extracts will, we hope, suffice to show that Mr. Bayle St. John, if a great sceptic in Egyptian archæological inquiry, has at least the merit of having placed the living Egyptian, and the long valley that he dwells in, in a new and interesting light. Generally speaking, as he himself says, travellers have looked upon Egypt as a museum. “I look upon it as one of the compartments of this present world, in which a not unamiable family of my fellow-creatures fight the eternal fight of life and joy against suffering and death."
LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC NOTES. NEVER was the “ Coming Man” so pleasantly nor so cleverly depicted as he is by Mr. M. W. Savage, under the pseudonyme of “Reuben Medlicott.”* Reuben is a perfect picture of a not uncommon personage, who is always coming, but never arrives. Who has not met in some social circle that he has frequented one who is going to do everything, and does nothing? Who has not seen the novel-reader who, every new work he gets, could do better, if he chose to write ? Unluckily, he never does. Reuben has high qualities, much knowledge, much talent, much ambition, nay, even a good deal of activity, but there is no singleness of aim, no steadiness of purpose ; and without such, these qualities are but as chaff before the wind ; and the life of Reuben is like that of all similar, unstable beings, “a broken promise, and a perpetual disappointment." In working out a character like this, the author has enjoyed and has freely used a free licence to carry his creation into every possible position most likely to bring his good qualities and his deficiencies into strong contrast.
Thus it is we have failure at school-failure at college--failure in parliament-failure at the bar—failure in platform-oratory—failure even in the Quaker's aceticism, through which Reuben passes as one phase of his many changes—and, lastly, we have failure in life. When narrating the boy-life and school-days which fill up the first volume, the author places in admirable contrast the two extremes of the liberal and classic systems, as personified by Dean Wyndham, the most amusing and best drawn character in the novel, the vicar parent, and the vicar's wife—Mrs. Medlicott.
Happy it unquestionably would have been for the vicar's son had some hard-headed man like Doctor Wyndham been the director of his studies and the moulder of his character. For the early education of our hero was a curious hash of all conceivable methods, systems, theories, and régimes. In short, there was no system in it at all, or it had the defects and inconveniences of all systems. This misfortune would probably not have befallen him had either the vicar or his wife ruled the roast, for then the ideas of one or the other would have prevailed, and something like a system, right or wrong, would have been the result; but the energies of this respectable couple were so nearly balanced that neither had the ascendancy for any considerable length of time; now the father was supreme, now the mother had her way ; in fact, the scale of authority and influence went up and down like a game of see-saw played by two urchins in a saw-pit. When Mr. Medlicott was up, Latin and Greek went up with him, grammar and prosody, Alexander, Scipio, Scylla, and Charybdis. When the mother's end of the beam was aloft, came the turn of modern languages and what she called the arts and sciences; a splash of French, an occasional twist at German, sometimes even a bout of geology and astronomy, and every now and then a great hullabulloo for a few days about arithmetic. Mrs. Medlicott had a crotchet in her head (which she got from the phrenologists, who were great oracles with her) that as the organs or the faculties were many in number, the provisions or exercises for them ought to be equally numerous ; in fact, that the best system of instruction was the most diffused and multifarious. Mr. Medlicott, on the other hand, was all for concentration; and each had a copious collection of anthorities and dogmas, “ wise saws and modern instances,” in support of the doctrine that each held. Thus the boy was in fact pulled backwards and forwards, from one parent to the other, the lessons of neither making an impression of much value or permanence ; except that between them both he early laid in a wonderful stock of words and phrases, the foundation of the character he subsequently acquired as a talker of the first magnitude.
* Reuben Medlicott ; or, the Coming Man. By M. W. Savage, Esq., author of “The Bachelor of the Albany," " The Falcon Family," " My Uncle the Curate," &c. 3 vols. Chapman and Hall.
Again, also, when Reuben goes to school, the rival systems are brought into further contrast. Reuben had among his works one on geology, the purport and meaning of which science he endeavoured to explain to his companion Winning.
“ It seems much the same as geography, by your account of it,” said Winning. “ We do not neglect that at Finchley; but, of course, we have nothing to do with anything but the ancient world-Attica, Asia Minor, the Islands in the Ægean Sea ;. we learn all about them of course."
" And nothing about America,” cried Reuben, with subdued amazement, “ or the British dominions in India ?”.
“ This is not a mercantile school, Medlicott; it's a classical school. We have nothing to do with America or India. I suppose they read about India in the East India College.”
“That's very odd,” said Reuben. “I thought every part of the world was equally deserving of study.”
The fact is, that in the present age of railroads and steam-boats, of international communication and remote colonisation, of the boundless spread of the Anglo-Saxon race, carrying its sway over living races of men speaking living languages, and professing to be the handmaiden of civilisation and the teacher of the Gospel, the classic system is as much suited to the wants and purports of the rising generation as would be the monasteries or feudal castles of old.
The same vein of caustic, vigorous satire runs through the various phases of Reuben's career, following him in his harangues at Protestant demonstrations and Polish sympathy meetings ; abiding with him as a popular M.P. for Chichester, till he dwindles down to a joint of O'Connell's tail as member for Blarney ; becoming luxuriant as the growth of a well-manured soil in the morbid sentimentalism of Quakery, and still holding by him, like some Mephistophelian compact signed in his very blood, when he becomes, ultimately, a useless hanger-on of society, and ends his days in obscurity and poverty. Reuben is manifestly a prose epic, written on Jacob's death-bed prophecy, “ Unstable as water thou shalt not excel.” Medlicott is either in ridicule of, or a pander to, the existing love of antithesis; and the “Coming Man,” as illustrated in the representative of both names, is a very fair embodiment of the false philosophy of the day.
It would be a pleasant thing to read an Irish novel descriptive of social life in its better phases, either in the lower, middle, or higher classes, which should do justice to the generous impulses, the high moral and intellectal qualities, and the passionate energy of the Irish, without allusion to the national bugbears of politics and religion. But, alas ! you might as well seek for the ass's patience without its stupidity, or the lion's magnanimity without its appetite. Politics and polemics are so inseparably interwoven into the Irish constitution, that no effort made from without or within can eradicate the evil. From the time of the intestine wars of the Danaans, the Belgæ, and the Milesians to the present day, from the time when the idol Cromcruach was first set up to that of vituperative Romanists, this fine but unfortunate country has been ever devastated by grievances of its own creation. The fiery spirit of the Irishman cannot live in peaceful industry. He delights in love and war; he revels in the poetry, the oratory, and the rhetoric of political and polemical antagonism. These are to him at once his food and his fuel ; he cares not to live without them; and if it were in his power, so excited does he get by controversy, he would call steam to his aid to annihilate the English ; he would burn every Protestant in the realm, and he would wield supernatural agencies to the glorious extirpation of his imaginary enemies of all except himself—if he had the power! To speak of Ireland, one of the most extraordinary psychological phenomena on the face of the globe, inevitably carries us astray. We have before us a pretty little picture of Irish life, called “Cathal More,”* full of beautiful scenes and delightful characters-a story which depicts the Irish under their more pleasing aspect of a high intellectual and social refinement; but even this agreeable and well-written work is defaced from the onset by the perpetual intrusion of Ireland's wrongs and Ireland's greatness, and of religious discussions, which ends in its hero, Cathal More, erecting a stone cross, upon which was inscribed, “In this place I, Cathal More, of Cappagh, built a Unitarian chapel. This cross witnesses my repentance. July, A.D. 1851.” We must wait, we suppose, till charity, goodness, and forbearance contest the land with envy, bigotry, and intolerance, for a spotless Irish novel.
Mr. Nicholas Michell is decidedly one of the most popular poets of the day. His themes are peculiar to himself. They are of a character demanding high intellectual attainments for their successful treatment: true poetic feeling, a comprehensive soul, a cosmopolitan spirit, and great learning and research. Mr. Michell first gave evidence of these combined powers and resources in his “Ruins of Many Lands,” a splendid poetic edifice, part of the materials of which were culled from the rich mine of the New Monthly. He has followed up this first work by an historical poem in three books, called the “Spirits of the Past,” of and which treats of Scripture characters, military heroes, and celebrated women. The field thus embraced declares its own deep interest-its boundless poetic resources. Mr. Michell has endowed his various " spirits” with a vitality that almost brings the one into rivalry with the other. We do not know whether we are happier revelling in the exploits of an Alexander or a Wellington ; sorrowing, yet in admiration, with a Lucretia or a Laura ; or reposing in calm and holy love with the minstrel of Salem. The progress of a poet who chooses such themes to popularity and renown has ever been slow; but Mr. Michell seems to be climbing the steep ascent with steady and sure step, and lustrous as those of Brahma, Buddha, or Muhammad, are the traces of the footsteps that he leaves behind him.
* Cathal More; or, Self-Love and Self-Control. By Arami. 2 vols. W. Shoberl.
+ Spirits of the Past. An Historical Poem in Three Books. By Nicholas Michell, author of “Ruins of Many Lands,” &c. Tegg ánd Co.