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No. 1038.-ECCLESIASTES vii. 26.
I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is
snares and nets, and her hands as bands.
The following insidious mode of robbery gives a very lively comment upon these words of Solomon. The most cunning robbers in the world are in this country. They use a certain slip with a running noose, which they cast with so much sleight about a man's neck when they are within reach of him, that they never fail, so that they strangle him in a trice. They have another curious trick also to catch travellers. They send out a handsome woman upon the road, who, with her hair dishevelled, seems to be all in tears; sighing, and complaining of some misfortune which she pretends has befallen her. Now, as she takes the same way as the traveller goes, he easily falls into conversation with her, and finding her beautiful, offers her his assistance, which she accepts: but he hath no sooner taken her up on horseback beħind him, but she throws the snare about his neck, and strangles him, or at least stuns him; until the robbers who lie hid come running in to her assistance, and complete what she hath begun.” Thevenot, part iï. p. 41.
No. 1039.—x. 1. Dead flies cause the apothecary's ointinent to stink.] “A fact well known,” says Scheuchzer, ( Phys. Sacra, in loc.) “ wherefore apothecaries take care to prevent flies coming to their syrups and other fermentable preparations. For in all insects there is an acrid volatile salt, which, mixed with sweet or even alkaline substances, excites them to a brisk intestine motion, disposes them to fermentation, and to putrescence itself; by which the more volatile principles fly off, leaving the grosser behind: at the same time the taste and odour are changed, the agreeable to fetid, the sweet to insipid.”
No. 1940.—xii. 11. As nails fastened by the masters of assemblies.] The Romans were accustomed to number their years by the clavi or nails which were fixed on the temple doors. The prætor, consul, or dictator, drove one annually into the wall of Jupiter's temple upon the ides of March. (See Horace, b. iii. Od. xxiv. 5.) May not these words of Solomon allude to a custom similar to to this?
No. 1041.-xii. 11. Masters of Assemblies.] It is most probable that the assemblies here referred to were for the purpose of pronouncing discourses of an eloquent and philosophical nature. Such assemblies have been common in those countries since the days of Solomon, and even in his time might not be unknown. Macamat signifies, according to D'Herbelot, assemblies and conversations, pieces of eloquence, or academical discourses, pronounced in assemblies of men of letters. This way of reciting compositions in prose and verse has been as frequent among the Orientals, as it was anciently among the Romans, and as it is now in our academies. The Arabians have many books containing discourses of this kind, which are looked upon by them as master-pieces of eloquence.
HARMER, vol. iv. p. 70.
No. 1042.-SOLOMON'S SONG i. 5.
I am black, but 'comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as
the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Modern tents are sometimes very beautiful. Turks spare for nothing in rendering their tents convenient and magnificent. Those belonging to the grand signor were exceeding splendid, and covered entirely with silk; and one of them lined with a rich silk stuff, the right side of which was the apartment for the eunuchs. But even this was exceeded by another, which I was informed cost twenty-five thousand piasters; it was made in Persia, and intended as a present to the grand signor; and was not finished in less than three or four years. The outside of this tent was not indeed remarkable; but it was lined with a single piece made of camels' hair, and beautifully decorated with festoons and sentences in the Turkish language.” Travels, by Van Egmont and Heyman, vol. i. p. 212.
Nadir Shah had a very superb tent, covered on the outside with scarlet broad-cloth, and lined within with violet-coloured satin, ornamented with a great variety of animals, flowers, &c. formed entirely of pearls and precious stones.
No. 1043.-i. 10. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels.] Olearius supposes the head-dress of the bride here referred to is the same with that which is now frequently used in the east. He says, (p. 818.) that all the head-dress that the Persian ladies make use of consists of two or three rows of pearls, which are not worn there about the neck, as in other places; but round the head, beginning at the forehead, and dea
scending down the cheeks and under the chin ; so that their faces seem to be set in pearls.
HARMER, on Sol. Song, p. 205.
No. 1044.--. 15. Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes.] Foxes are observed by many. authors to be fond of grapes, and to make great havoc in vineyards. Aristophanes (in his Equites ) compares soldiers to foxes, who spoil whole countries, as the others do vineyards. Galen (in his book of Aliments), tells us, that hunters. did not scruple to eat the flesh of foxes in autumn, when they were grown fat with feeding on grapes.
No. 1045.-iii. 1. Night.] In the East they now have a public festival called Zeenah, in which crowds of both sexes dress out in their best apparel, and laying aside all modesty and restraint, go in and out where they please ; at other times the women are very closely confined. (Shaw's Trav. p. 207.) Mr. Harmer (Outlines of a Commentary, p. 270.) seems to suppose the night referred to in these words was one of those festivals.
No. 1046.-iii. 3. The watchmen that go about the city found me.] In Persia the watch is kept up very strictly. In the night they suffer no person to go about the streets without a lantern. They incessantly walk about the street to prevent mischief and robberies, with vigilance and exactness, being obliged to indemnify those who are robbed. “It is reported that one night Shah Abbas, desirous to make trial of the vigilance of these people, suffered himself to be surprised by them; and had been carried to prison, had he not been known by one of the company, who discovering him to the
rest, they all cast themselves at his feet to beg his pardon.” Ambassador's Travels, p. 328. See Ezek. xxxiii. 2.
No. 1047,-iii. 11. The crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals.] Such a ceremony as this was customary among the Jews at their marriages. Maillet informs us the crowns were made of different materials. Describing the custom as practised by the members of the Greek church who now live in Egypt, he says ( Lett. X. p. 85.)
16 that the parties to be married are placed opposite to a readingdesk, upon which the book of the gospels is placed, and
upon the book two crowns, which are made of such materials as people choose, of flowers, of cloth, or of tinsel. There he (the priest) continues his benedictions and prayers, into which he introduces all the patriarchs of the Old Testament. He after that places these crowns, the one on the head of the bridegroom, the other on that of the bride, and covers them both with a veil.” After some other ceremonies the priest concludes the whole by taking off their crowns, and dismissing them with prayers.
- No. 1048.–V. 13. His cheeks are as a bed of spices.] The ancients by way of indulgence used to repose themselves, on large heaps of fragrant herbs, leaves, and flowers. Among others, we may take an instance from Anacreon, in Ode iv. b. 1. of himself, he says,
Reclin'd at ease on this soft bed,
No. 1049.-vi. 10. Fair as the moon.] This manner of describing beauty still prevails in the East. D’Here