« ElőzőTovább »
the princesses, and Lilla Aisher the wife of the Bey, to mourn over the body, till it is carried to the grave. It lay in state at the residence where she died. The court-yard, stairs, and galleries, were filled with such a concourse of people, that the way to the apartments was almost impassable early in the day.
“ An immense number of women were assembled to shew their loyalty by screaming for her death, and this scream was repeated at different periods through the whole of the city, with such violence as to be heard distinctly a mile distant. Every place was filled with fresh flowers and burning perfumes. The whole of the incense in the apartment where the body lay was of amber and cloves, wbich a number of black women carried about in silver censors.
“ The room was darkened and hung with very rich drapery. The body was raised on a bier, about three feet from the ground, which was covered with velvets and silks, edged with gold and silver embroidery and very deep fringes. There were several coverings over the bier: the two undermost were worked in stripes and borders representing sentences taken out of the Koran. They were put on previous to the coffin (the lid of which was raised in a triangular shape) being placed on it.
“ As pone but the royal family and the nobility use coffins of this shape, it is easy to distinguish the funerals of the great. All other cotfins are quite open at top, and the body simply guarded by a drapery of cloth or silk, according to the circumstances of the family; but over the poorest person who has lived so holy as to obtain the great title of shrief of Mecca, they put a Mecca cloth round which is a deep border of chosen sentences from the Koran, and a green turban, which a sbrief is entitled to wear, is laid on the top of the coffin. In the present case, the coffin was covered with a number of gold and silver babits belonging to the deceased. At the head was a very large bouquet of fresh and artificial flowers mixed, and richly ornamented with silver; to this bouquet they were continually adding fresh flowers. Mats and Turkey carpets were spread on the ground round the bier, at each end of which were embroidered cushions.
“ Lilla Kebeerra was sitting on one of these cushions at the head of the coffin, with her hand and arm resting upon it; she seemed much affected and spoke very little. She was richly drest, but wore no jewels nor any thing new, which denoted her being in mourning. When they came to take the body to the grave she retired, her ladies and black slaves encircling her with agonizing screams. When the coffin was carried out of the house, it was covered with a partycoloured pall of black and coloured silk, thoroughly ornamented with gold and silver: a massy gold-work, with a black silk fringe, formed a very deep border round it.
" It was met at the threshold of the door by the Mufti, or bishop, who walked close before it, preceded by the Bashaw's sons; then the chief officers of state; and next, all the people of consequence in Tripoli. Immediately after it followed a great number of black men and women, each carrying a wand in their hand, with a label at the top of it, declaring them freed from slavery by their late mistress, and by her daughter Lilla Kebeerra. All these people woré their caps turned inside out, their clothes in a neglected state, and divested of every thing like ornament, such as silver or beads.- The body was buried in a profusion of costly clothes and jewels.” (p.70.)
Not many months after the arrival of the British consul, and the writer of these letters, the plague, having first broken out at Tunis, was communicated to Tripoli, by which of the 14,000 Mahometan inhabitants, in a very short time, not less than one fourth were swept away; the Moors holding it against the tenets of their faith, to take any precautions to shun their predestinated fate. In its ravages it spared neither man nor beast, as Boccacio relates of the pest at Florence in 1348, “ di tanta efficacia fu la qualità della pestilenza narrala nello appicarsi da uno ad allro, che non solamente da huomo a huomo,” but all kinds of animals caught the infection from the garments of those who were deceased; the subsequent affecting and horrid relation is given in the course of what is said upon this fearful visitation.
“ Some most extraordinary circumstances that befel the above Moor in his last hours, under my own eyes, will serve further to delineate to you the manners of this part of the world. I am sorry they must show that the name of Barbarian is sometimes applicable to the actions of the natives. This man, who was a Hadgi, and pamed Hamet, was a Dragoman, (an officer of the guard belonging to the English consul,) and declined being in quarantine in the consulary house during the plague, on account of his fanily. He was married to a beautiful woman, named Mariuma, and had not been many days at home before he caught the fatal distemper. During the last stage of it, his disconsolate wife was sitting by his bed-side : she had been cherishing a faint hope of his recovery, and had been watching him into a soft sleep. Worn out herself with fatigue her mind soothed by the delusive prospect she had formed, of secing Hadgi Hamet awake recovered - Nariuma was sinking in repose, when she was disturbed by the hand of a man opening her baracan, and advancing a poignard to her heart, while with the other he was endeavouring to obtain some keys and papers she wore in her bosom, belonging to her husband. She eluded his grasp, and beheld, in her intended murderer, her husband's brother; whose emissaries having informed him that Hadgi Hamet had just expired, imagined that it was a fair opportunity to tavour his plot of destroying the whole fainily togetlier, while the horrors of the plague drove far from the habitation of the sick all those wlio would otherwise approach it; for Hadgi Hamet's only child, a fine girl of seven years old, had died that morning, and was yet unburied. When he entered his brother's apartment, le considered him dead; and seeing Mariuma sunk on the bed, supposed she had fainted over the body. At his rough approach, Mariuma awakened Hadgi Hamet by her screams; who, on seeing her distress, instantly sprung from his bed. The disappointed wretch, finding his brother not dead, but rising from his couch with tenfold strength for the moment, retired affrighted to the skiffer, where his mother and sister were waiting; to whom, for the sake of humanity, it is to be hoped, he had not yet imparted his worst intentions. They had accompanied the assassin to town from the countrybouse where they lived, but which belonged to Hadgi Hamet.
« The effect of this horrid event, joined to that of the plague, at once bereft Hadgi Haniet of his senses. He broke loose from them all, and rushed from his apartment into the street. The scene at that moment was truly awful. Hadgi Hamet, in his night-clothes, stood opposing himself to those around him, with all the wild fury of an enraged Moor, with his attagan, or knife, drawn, to keep those who would approach him at a distance. Prostrate at his feet was his wife, with her baracan loose, tearing off the few ornaments she had on, and wiping away her tears with her liair, whilst shie implored her husband by every soft endearinent to return to his bed, and live to protect her fron, his wretched brother. Insensible and deaf to her intreaties, he set off towards his house out of the town, from whence his mother, brother, and sister, had just arrived. His wife, shocked at any one's attempting to lay hands on him, for fear of increasing his pain, insisted that no one should touch him, but followed him, in silent anguish, with those who would accompany her. After they had walked some distance, Hadgi Hamet returned quickly with Mariuma to his house, where he died soon after; leaving his effects in the hands of the Euglish consul; by which means his unhappy widow was saved from the avarice of his brutal family." (p. 98.)
We add without comment a description of the mode in which a marriage feast is celebrated in Tripoli among the higher orders.
“ According to the custom of this country, a Moorish lady's wedding-clothes are accumulating all her life; consequently, the presents sent from her father's to the bridegroom, on the eve of her wedding, are most abundant. Among the articles in the princess's wardrobe, were two hundred pair of shoes, and one hundred pair of rich embroidered velvet boots, with baracans, trowsers, chemises, jilecks, caps, and curtains for apartments, and many other articles in the sanie proportion. Each set of things was packed separately, in square fat boxes of the sanie dimensions, altogether very numerous. These would have been taken to the Duggaveer's house, but Lilla Howisha (as the Bashaw's daughter) not quitting the castle, they
were conveyed with great pomp and ceremony in a long procession out of one gate of the castle into another, escorted by guards, attendants, and a number of singing women, hired for the purpose of singing the festive song of loo, loo, loo, which commences when the procession leaves the bride's father's house, and finishes when it enters the bridegroom's house.
“ Two separate feasts for these weddings were celebrated in the castle on the same day: that for Lilla Howisha, the Bashaw's daughter, at her apartments; and Sidy Hamet's wedding in that part of the castle where he resides. Sidy Hamet, who could not be seen at his bride's feast, received the compliments of his subjects and the foreigners of rank at court, and was superbly habited on the od casion.
" In our way to Lilla Hallumia’s apartments, the great concourse of people at the castle rendered it as usual impossible to proceed a step without being surrounded by attendants to clear the way.
« The apartments of the two brides were entirely lined with the richest silks. A seat elevated near six fect from the ground was prepared for the bride, where she sat concealed from the spectators by an embroidered silk veil thrown over her. Her most confidential friend only went up to speak to her, by ascending seven or eight steps placed on the right hand side for their approach; they then introduced themselves to her presence by cautiously lifting the veil that covered her, being very careful not to expose any part of her person to the spectators beneath : the etiquette was to speak but a few words, in order to afford time for other ladies to pay their court to her. Her eyelashes were deeply tinged with black; her face was painted red and white, but not ornamented with gold. She is one of the handsomest women in Tripoli. Her dress was the same as I have already described to you, but the gold and silver jewels with which it was almost covered, left little of its texture to be seen; her slippers were brilliant, discovering her foot and ancle, which were partially died with henna, nearly the colour of ebony; she wore on her ankles double gold bracelets. The jewels on her fingers appeared more brilliant from the dark colour underneath them, which also added much to the wbiteness of her hand and arm.
" Two slaves attended to support the two tresses of her hair behind, which were so much adorned with jewels, and gold and silver ornaments, that if she had risen from her seat she could not have supported the immense weight of them.
« Magnificent tables were prepared at each of the bride's houses, furnished with the choicest delicacies of hot viands, fresh and dry preserves, and fruits peculiar to the country. These tables were surrounded with gold and silver embroidered cushions, laid on the floor to serve as seats for the guests, who were served with the refreshments before them, by Lilla Halluma and her daughters, who were constantly moving round the tables attended by their slaves and confidential women. The black slaves were alinost covered
Crit. Rev. Vol. IV. August, 1816.
with silver, and had nearly treble the quantity of ornaments they usually wear on the head, neck, arms, and feet.
“ The account of the ceremonies observed at this feast by the ladies of Hadgi Abderrahman's family, is sufficient to make you acquainted with those performed by other ladies of rank in this place, as all act uniformly at weddings, as far as their fortunes will allow.” (p. 177.)
As a contrast to this relation, we have extracted from a subsequent part of the volume before us, a statement of the conduct of the wives, relatives, and friends of a mahometan of rank, immediately after his death.
“ A few days since, the melancholy news arrived from Morocco of the death of the ambassador Hadgi Abderrabman—sincerely lamented by all those who knew him, Christians as well as Moors. According to the etiquette of this country, every body visited immediately his disconsolate family.
" Were I not to give you a minute description of what passed during the visit we paid them, you could not imagine a scene so extraordinary and melancholy as that we witnessed on this occasion, or suppose customs so barbarous could still exist among people in any degree civilized.
ir When we entered the house, we found it filled with an immense crowd of mourners; the ambassador's sisters, and other relations, were there. His widow and daughters, besides the natural sorrow they felt for their loss, were wound up to such a height of agony and despair, that their countenances and figures were entirely changed. Abderrahman's widow was weeping over the bier raised in the middle of the court-yard, fitted up with awnings for the purpose; round it the blacks were deploring her loss. As soon as she perceived we were there, she came towards us, but immediately sunk down, and was carried senseless into the apartments. Lilla Amnani, and Abderrahman's eldest daughter, had ashes strewed upon their hair, but the youngest daughter was almost covered with them. The sufferings of this family, so aggravated by the dreadful outeries of their friends, and the strangers round them, were shocking to behold.
« To such scenes, we may suppose for our consolation, the greatest number of people here are become accustomed, and do not suffer so acutely; but there are many who, from their great affection for the departed, and their delicacy of feelings, are by no means equal to these strong emotions ; they either fall a sacrifice to them at the moment, or languish out the remainder of their days in a debilitated state.
« The lamentations of the servants, slaves, and people hired on this occasion, were horrid. With their nails they wounded the veins of their temples, and causing the blood to flow in streams, sprinkled it over the bier while they repeated the song of death, in which they