Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

THE NAMELESS DEAD

Why do you wail, o Wind? why do you sigh, O Sea ?
Is it remorse for the ships gone down, with this pitiless shore on
the lee?

Moan, moan, moan
In the desolate night and lone!

Ah, what is the tale

You would fain unveil In your

wild weird cries to me ?

A gleam of white on the shore !—'tis not the white of foam,
Nor wandering sea-bird's glimmering wing, for at night no sea-birds
roam.

'Tis one of the drowned—drowned
Of the hapless homeward-bound.

Last night, in the dark,

There perish'd a bark On the bar; and 'twas bound for home!

A woman's cold white corpse

a woman so young and fair ! See, the cruel storm has entwin'd with weeds the wealth of her weltering hair ;

And the little, the little hand
Lies listless and limp on the sand.

They had bound her fast

To the wreck of a mast; But the wild waves would not spare !

Look, how they bound and leap--- cast themselves far o'er the

shore, Striving to seize on their stranded prey, and carry it off once more !

Or is it remorse or dread,
Or a longing to bury its dead,

That makes the surge

On the ocean-verge
So incessantly howl and roar ?
Second SERIES, VOL. II. F.S. VOL. XII.

D

Where do they list for her step? where do they look for her face?
Where are they waiting to see her once more in the old familiar place?

Dead, dead, dead !
In vain will their tears be shed;

For not one of them all,

Alas, will fall On that bosom's marble grace!

Why do you sigh, 0 Sea ? why do you wail, O Wind ?
Why do you murmur, in mournful tone, like things with a human
mind ?

Wail, wail, wail,
Articulate ocean and gale !

For the loveliness rare,

So pallid and fair, You slew in your fury blind !

Let us bear her away to a grave in the churchyard's calm green

breast, Where the sound of the wind and waves in strife may never her peace molest.

Though we cannot carve her name,
She will slumber all the same;

And the wild-rose bloom

Shall cover her tomb, And she shall have perfect rest!

TOM HOOD.

ARAB HOSPITALITY

a

To regard the Arab with wonder has long been the proper function of all European writers, and for some thousands of years yet the untamable rover of the desert will in all probability be an interminable source of astonishment. The interest, moreover, which we bestow upon him has little chance of ever being reciprocated. Our ways are to him objects of less curiosity than the doings of orangoutangs and chimpanzees are to ourselves; and all he requires of us is, to be let alone. He knows himself he is a wonderful being—as wonderful as the Great Pyramid, and a good deal older as a race. He despises your progress, your railways, your steamships, and your electric telegraphs. His tastes and his wants remain pretty nearly the same as they were in the days of Abraham; and his ways of satisfying them are pretty nearly the same also. His costume is still the same as it was three thousand years ago, and the very fashion of his wife's jewelry is unchanged also since the days of the patriarchs. Mahomet alone, with the edge of the sabre, has been able to make some impression on his granite nature ; but even that was of a superficial character.

The French in Algeria have been trying their hands on the Arab, but not with much success.

He still remains the same indigestible element to civilisation as when they went there. “Put the tail of a greyhound into a straight tube for twenty years,' said an Arab chief to General Daumas, it will curl up again the moment you take it out. It is the same with the Arab. No art, no form of education, will change him a whit. • Take a Frenchman and an Arab,' said the same individual; 'cut them up into little bits, boil them in a caldron, and make broth of them; the broth of the Arab will no more mix with that of the Frenchman than oil and vinegar. You will find the broth of Frenchman and Arab separate.'

However, since we have no new solvent to propose on this insoluble subject, let us descend from loose generalities, and consider a little the best feature of Arab life-its hospitality, taking as our guide in the main a late book of the same General Daumas, who has passed years in studying the habits of the tribes of the Sahara, and is an intimate friend of Abd-el-Kader himself. Hospitality has always been practised lavishly among the Semitic races, and with good reason, for without it almost all travel would have been impossible in the vast solitudes which they have ever loved to inhabit.

Abraham, when he sat in the tent-door in the heat of the day in the plains of Mamre, and lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo, three

6

6

6

[ocr errors]

men stood by him, behaved towards them much as an Arab chief would at the present day. He ran to meet them from the tentdoor, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, “My lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee,

I from thy servant.' Hospitality is, as we have said, a necessity in the desert.

In the Tell and the Sahara it is, so to speak, the very tent-pole of Arab life. The religious nobility, the warrior nobility, the marabout and the djouad, the rich and the poor, the shepherd and the agriculturist, all put it equally in practice. The angels, Arabs say, do not frequent the houses of those who entertain not strangers. The best pilgrimage also, and that from which the best fruit is to be expected, consists in entertaining strangers.

Strange to us, but very monotonous, is the life of the Arab douar, to which the traveller bends his steps to pass the night. The time of its greatest movement, however, is the hour of sunrise, when the great crimson crest of the sun starts above the desert horizon; for then all the inmates of the douar awake to life. The Arab possesses no feather-beds, no spring-mattresses ; a carpet on the sand forms all his bedding. Moreover, were he a lingerer in his tent in the morning, the finger of scorn would soon be pointed at him--for prayer and ablutions, by the law of Mohammed, have to be got through at this hour; not to say that the morning air in the desert is considered the purest and healthiest of the day.

No sooner, then, has the sun just lifted the edge of his fiery disk above the horizon, and the last stars faded out of the sky, than the programme of the Arab day begins. A light mist runs curling low over the convolutions of the sand. The watch-dogs, tired-out of baying at the moon, stalk round the tents; the horses, tethered close at hand, stretch their necks around with loving expectant eye, awaiting the caresses of the women and children ; the flocks bleat, and prepare to travel to the place of pasture; and the camels bellow loudly in concert as the Arabs emerge one by one from the tents.

Each Arab casts an eye over his horses, his camels, and his sheep, to see that nothing has been stolen during the night; and then they all go, each to salute his immediate chief, his lord and master' (sidna ou moulna), who awaits his clients seated in Oriental gravity on the ground. He greets his tribesmen one by one, and then proceeds to adjudicate on all their differences, with the assistance of the kadi, learned in the quips and quibbles of Mohammedan law. Complaints, replies, oaths, and counter-oaths begin to abound.

0, my lord, the part of God!' says sometimes a young wife whom her husband has neglected. “Yes, my daughter, the religion of women is love. We will give a delay to thy husband; and if he does not conduct himself better in future, the law will grant thee a divorce.'

6

6

« PreviousContinue »