« AnteriorContinuar »
EASTERN DEFINITION OF DISTANCE.
I do not know-hours; but it is as far from here to Sheik Mattie as from Nimroud to Mosul.” Here was the truth and a good definition. In the East it is impossible to form any idea of distance; for, as each man judges by a standard hour of his own, what must be the result ? It is very well to say “an hour is what a good walker would do in an hour ;" this all must acknowledge ; but who will determine among a people, who never even saw a watch, what an hour is ? Nor in the village have they the calls from the mosques to define space or time, and they differ much even with regard to such palpable facts as sunset and sunrise.
I was in quarantine during the fast, the Ramazan, and two Persians and a Turk lodged at the door of my room on a terrace. The Turk made it sunset, ate and smoked; the Persians cursed him as a greedy brute who would not wait for God, and for whom hereafter God would not wait. At dawn the Persian ate on, rigidly shutting his eyes to the light ; the Turk cursed his beard and his eyes, as those of one who preferred his belly to the commands of the Prophet ; for each made it sunset and sunrise, according to his own idea. But to return. From the earliest time this definition of an hour or a day has puzzled geographers and
DISTANCE DEFINED BY THE PIPE.
cast a shade over history, confused accounts, and set at nought enquiry. Herodotus and Xenophon
. both differed in their definitions. Herodotus himself differs in various places. The Arab defines every distance as an hour (saaha): with the Greeks it was ευζωνω ανδρι. Horace has it
“ Hoc iter ignavi divisimus altius ac nos
I never but once heard a distance defined as a pipe;" though travellers say it is a common standard for calculating distances in the East. It was from an old Ansayrii I heard it, and it was used as a negative ; for he said, “Ya Beg, it is so far I cannot pipe the distance;” meaning he could not smoke the whole way. Maundrell, (p. 64) mentions that the place tradition fixes as the day's journey of Joseph and Mary, before they returned and sought the child Jesus, is Beer—about ten miles from Jerusalem. How strikingly this proves the unchangeableness of all things in the East. It is the invariable custom to go but two or three hours the first day, both on account of the difficulty of starting the first time early, as also, if anything is missing or wanting, to be at convenient distance to send back for it.
Reach Bartella-Kindness of the Priest there-Persecution of the Christians-Want of Privacy in the East-Incessant Visits from staring Strangers-How a Traveller should comport himself in the East-Fall from my horse-Take Refuge in a Convent-Its Renovation by the Bishop-Accommodation there-Kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Badger-What a Traveller in the East has to expect in the matter of eating and drinking-Food of the Natives, rich and poor-View from the Convent-Plain repeopled-Past Ages called up-Destruction of the Convents by Tamerlane-Strike, amongst the Workmen-Peculiar Exhortations of the Bishop-Marriage Tests of the Chaldean Girls-Journey pursued-Two of the Party fall Sick-Cool Retreat-Complaining Visitors-The Jews and the young Jewess.
WE reached Bartella; a servant had been sent on to see for lodgings. About a mile from the village, I was met by a large body of people, who bore me along at the entrance of the village, I was lifted off my horse, nor did my feet again touch the ground until I was deposited on the coolest corner of the priest's divan. No, good man, I will not call you priest-clergyman rather-that name endeared to English ears, as belonging to the good man at home, the friend of the village, our own mentor in youth, the friend and councillor of man
THE PEOPLE OF BARTELLA.
hood. Nothing could equal the kindness displayed to us; the women exhausted their culinary arts to produce a breakfast, and one lively maid brought a present of bread which it needed not her soft smile and innocent words of welcome to make palatable.
I was much touched by these poor people : persecution, hardship, injustice, are things so constant, they were part of their existence, and they complained not of them. But lately they had been attacked, with more than Moslem fury, by the Papists: every means had been exhausted to drag them into the papal fold. Like gold tried in the fire, they seemed the better for the trial; and during the day and night I spent there, not one uttered a word I could wish unsaid. They imprecated no curses on their enemies, they regretted with kind words of compassion those of their brethren who had fallen away ; but they clung to England with a fond and deep-rooted hope that she, the generous, the honourable, the great, the pious, would help her brother in distress. They spoke of Mr. Badger with grateful remembrance.
In the evening, we repaired to the terrace and there the whole who were met, put up a prayer to God for comfort and for strength. I could not
WANT OF PRIVACY IN THE EAST.
of course understand the words of the prayer ; but the intonation, the slow clear tones and audible delivery, struck me much, accustomed as I had become to the hand-gallop style of Eastern sects in general.
On awaking the following morning, I found myself a leaping-bar for young kids, who, driven into another terrace, had broken over to where we lay, and used me as I described. The whole of the terraces on the roofs were one large bedroom ; and as they all joined, except a small parapet for a division, we had, as it were, all slept together. They got up and looked at us as we arose and washed.
At first, one of the greatest privations I experienced in Eastern travel, and one that half did away with the pleasure derived from it, was the want of privacy ; and one can fully understand (as probably centuries have produced but little change in their habits,) the expression in the Bible, of our Saviour retiring apart to pray ; for, in the East, privacy is a word unknown. Families live in one room ; men, women, sons, daughters, sons' wives, &c., and may be said never to be alone. This at first annoyed me, but habit is second nature. As