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disturb not the sacred hum of Coranic lectures, and no groups of worldly mirth offend serious eyes in the market-place. But profligacy of all kinds, even such as language refuses to name, is riper here than in Damascus and Seyda themselves, and the comparative decency of most other Arab towns sets off the blackness of Riad in stronger and stranger contrast. “A government which, not content with repressing scandalous excesses, demands from its subjects fervent and austere piety, will soon discover that, while attempting to render an impossible service to the cause of virtue, it has in truth only promoted vice,” is one of the many just remarks of a well-known modern author. In fact, most of what Macaulay observes on this very topic in his “ Critical and Historical Essays," whether his theme be the Rump Parliament and Puritan austerity, or the hideous reaction of immorality under the reign of the latter Stuarts, may be almost literally applied to the present condition of the Arab kingdom of saints, while it foretells a future inevitably not remote.'— Vol. ii. pp. 24, 25.
Mr. Palgrave may have authentic information which entitles him to institute these hideous comparisons, and to decide that Riad is more infamous than even Damascus or Seyda ; but as the information on which this opinion is founded must have been derived from other persons, and as we have not learned to place implicit reliance on all that his informants have told him, or on his power to discriminate between such of their stories or statements as are true and such as are not, observing, moreover, that Mr. Palgrave hates the Wahabys and their whole system with a cordial hatred, we are not inclined to accept his decision as infallible, or his account as unquestionable. We prefer to suspend our judgment for the present, considering it not impossible, had Colonel Pelly seen as much of the people of Riad as he saw of their chief, Feysul, that his picture of the one might have been as unlike Mr. Palgrave's as his portrait of the other undoubtedly is.
The travellers were all along regarded as spies, which Mr. Palgrave seems to admit that they were ; and having offended the truculent Abd-Allah, the son of Feysul, who threatened their lives, and seemed determined to drive them from Riad, they found it prudent to decamp quietly, and proceed to Hofhoof, in the Wahaby district of Haza, to which, although they had for a time been permitted to remain at Riad, they had on their first arrival been directed to betake themselves. They performed the journey without molestation, and at Hofhoof lodged in the house of their friend Aboo Eysa, whose home and family were in that town.
As they approached the shores of the Persian Gulf, they observed a very perceptible change in the appearance, the dress, the manners, and character of the inhabitants, and even some difference in their language, when compared with that of the tribes in the interior. The people of Haza had long maintained a commercial intercourse with the other countries on the shores of the Gulf, which had in some respects modified their habits and character. Mr. Palgrave is thus led into the following singular statement :
• The European public is deluged with accounts of Arab customs, Arab ways, Arab qualities, houses, dresses, women, warriors, and what not; the most part from materials collected in Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, 'Irāk, perhaps Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco: or at the best in Djiddah and on the Red Sea coast. Sometimes a romantic spirit will furnish scenes among the hybrid Bedouins of Palmyra as portraits of Arab life ; sometimes we are invited to study Arab society in a divan at Cairo or Aleppo. Such narratives, however accurate they may be for the localities and races they describe, have not an equal claim to the title of correct delineations of Arabs and of Arab customs. The case appears to me much as if the description of a backwoodsman of Ohio should be given for a faithful portrait of a Yorkshire farmer, or the ways and doings of Connaught for a sketch of Norfolk life and manners. Syria and Egypt, Palmyra and Bagdad, even less Mosoul and Algiers, are not Arabia, nor are their inhabitants Arabs. The populations alluded to are instead a mixture of Curdes, Turcomans, Syrians, Phænicians, Armenians, Berbers, Greeks, Turks, Copts, Albanians, Chaldæans, not to mention the remnants of other and older races, with a little, a very little Arab blood, one in twenty at most, and that little rediluted by local and territorial influences. That all more or less speak Arabic is a fact which gives them no more claim to be numbered among Arabs, than speaking bad English makes an Englishman of a native of Connaught or of Texas. For the popular figure of the Bedouin, I must add, that even were he sketched, as he rarely is, from the genuine nomade of Arabia, it would be no juster to bring him forward as an example of Arab life and society, than to publish the “Pickwick Papers,” or “Nicholas Nickleby," with “ Scenes in High Life," or " Tales of the Howards," on the back. These unlucky and much-talked of Bedouins in the Syrian, also miscalled Arabian, desert, are in fact only hybrids, crosses between Turcoman and Curdish tribes, with a small and questionable infusion of Arab blood, and that too none of the best, like a wine-glass of thin claret poured into a tumbler of water. In short, among these races, town or Bedouin, we have no real authentic Arabs. Arabia and Arabs begin south of Syria and Palestine, west of Basrah and Zobeyr, east of Kerak and the Red Sea. Draw a line across from the top of the Red Sea to the top of the Persian Gulf; what is below that line is alone Arab: and even then do not reckon the pilgrim route, it is half Turkish ; nor Medinah, it is cosmopolitan; nor the sea-coast of Yemen, it is Indo-Abyssinian; least of all Mecca, the common sewer of Mahometans of all kinds, nations, and lands, and where every trace of Arab identity has long since been effaced by promiscuous immorality and the corruption of ages. Mascat and Kateef must also stand with Mokha and 'Aden on the list of exceptions.' — Vol. ii. p. 162.
The inference from all this is apparent. Having led his readers to believe that Central Arabia was an unknown country till he visited it, dr. Palgrave now wishes to persuade them that there are no genuine Arabs anywhere else; from which it follows that no one has ever seen genuine Arabs except himself. Niebuhr and Burckhardt, and others, who saw only the mongrel Arabs of Mocha, Yemen, Syria, Mesopotamia, and the Hejaz, are not to be relied on, and Mr. Palgrave alone is to be trusted.
Seriously, the assertion contained in the concluding sentences of the preceding extract is very absurd. It is the hasty utterance of a man who is ill-informed on the subject, and whose overweening confidence leads him to mistake his own fancies for facts.
There are several tribes, one part of which inhabits the country south and west of Mr. Palgrave's line, while another part inhabits, for the whole or the greater part of the year, the countries beyond it. Let us take, for example, the great tribe Shammar. They have their head-quarters, so to speak, at Djebel Shammar, or, as Mr. Palgrave has it, Djebel Shomer, but the numerical majority of the tribe spend the greater part of every year, and some clans or divisions often spend a whole year or more, beyond the limits assigned by Mr. Palgrave, pitching their tents and feeding their flocks, in Irak and in Mesopotamia ; but there is a frequent interchange of families and individuals between the nomade and the settled portions. Many of those who are in tents in Irak or Mesopotamia own lands in Djebel Shammar, and many of the families residing in the towns and villages of that district have flocks with the nomades, and some member of the family in their tents. According to Mr. Palgrave the Shammar, who are beyond his limits, cease to be Arabs, and any one who encountered them in Mesopotamia, and described them as Arabs, would be imposing on the public; but whenever they return within his limits, they become Arabs again, and he may describe them as such. What we have said of the Shammar applies equally to other tribes, who, according to Mr. Palgrave, would be genuine Arabs when within his limits, and would not be Arabs at all, but hybrids, when beyond them. This is surely very childish.
Except with regard to certain limited classes in the places which he visited, Mr. Palgrave's notions about Arabs, their actual condition and locality, seem to be unaccountably misty and imperfect. Of this, the passage we have just quoted is by no means the only indication we have found in his book. The fact is, that there are, beyond the limits specified by our author, Arabs as genuine or authentic' as any to be found within those
VOL. XLIV.—NO. LXXXVII.
limits, but who have never been to the south of his fanciful boundary. 'Ex pede Herculem,' he tells us somewhere, is an excellent adage ; but a description of the foot or the hand does not, he says, always furnish a complete idea of the body or the head. This is quite true, and he is, of course, to give us the whole; but he has simply reversed the process. His Hercules is all head, without body, arm, or foot, and without a leg to stand upon.
From Hofhoof the travellers proceeded to Kateef, in order to embark at that port for Bahrein. At Kateef they found the negro Wahaby governor occupying a building, by tradition attributed to Karmat, founder of the Karmathite sect, which, for some fifty years during the tenth century of the Christian era, was the dominant power in the peninsula of Arabia, and carried its ravages to Syria. If this tradition be well founded, it would settle a point in Arabian geography which puzzled Niebuhr, and over which the generally sure-footed D’Herbelot stumbled; but Mr. Palgrave does not care for these things. He expresses an opinion that the building is not of the tenth, but of the twelfth or thirteenth century; but the reasons he assigns are not satisfactory; and we are on the whole inclined to believe the tradition which would identify Kateef with the Hājār of the Karmathians, and the building referred to with the palace which Karmat built there, and called Mahādia. Had Mr. Palgrave been aware of the interest attaching to the question, he might perhaps have been able to decide it.
From Kateef the travellers proceeded to Bahrein, where Aboo Eysa joined them. Here they separated, Barakāt, the youth of Zahlah, proceeding with Aboo Eysa to Aboo Shahr, commonly called Bushire, while Mr. Palgrave, with a servant of Aboo Eysa's named Yoosef (Joseph) Ebn-Khamees, who was charged with presents for chiefs on the coast, and for the Imām of Muscat, took shipping for Omān, their ultimate destination being Muscat. Off the south-eastern coast of Omān their barque foundered in a gale ; most of the passengers and some of the crew perished, but our traveller, his companion Yoosef, the skipper, and some others, took to the boat and got ashore. The whole account of the gale and the shipwreck is well told, and has a strong Arab smack about it, from its family resemblance to a similar catastrophe that befell Sindbad the sailor somewhere thereabouts. But we shall not follow Mr. Palgrave into Omān. Any one who may desire accurate information regarding that part of Arabia wiil find it in Wellsted.
Before concluding, we desire to say, that had we considered Mr. Palgrave's Central Arabia an ordinary book of travels in the East, we should not have taken the trouble to examine it
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so much in detail, or to point out the errors to which we have directed attention. It is because we consider Mr. Palgrave no ordinary traveller, and no ordinary writer, that we have deemed it right to deal with him as we have done. So far as we are aware, this is his first effort; we sincerely hope it will not be his last; and that, when he next comes before the public, it will be with a full appreciation of the serious responsibility incurred by every man who undertakes to instruct his fellows. We hope that the success of his first venture will not mislead him; that he will not be content to be read and laid aside like the last new novel or romance; that by abating his confidence and recognising the necessity for careful investigation and diligent research in order to get at the truth of fact, and by not appreciating beyond its value the 'truth of imagination, he may yet give us a book of travels of the highest class. We believe he has it in him, if he can but resist the temptations which have prevented him from accomplishing that object in the attractive book which we now close.