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NEHEMIAH.

Chap. II. verse 2. Why is thy countenance

sad ?When friends, servants, or acquaintances have a request to make, or a secret to disclose, they walk about with a gloomy countenance, and never speak but when spoken to. Their object is, to induce you to ask what is the matter, because they think you will be then disposed to listen to their complaint.

7. — “ Moreover I said unto the king, if it please the

king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till

I come into Judah." No person of consequence travels in the East without a letter or kattali, i.e. a command from the Rasa, the governor, the collector or officer in authority, to the different chiefs of the districts through which he may have to travel. Were it not for this, there would often be a difficulty in getting supplies, and there would generally be a great delay; the officers would be insolent and overbearing, and the purveyors would demand thrice the sum the articles were worth. The letters in question are generally in duplicate, so that one precedes the traveller, and the other is in his possession. Thus, when he arrives at the choultry or rest-house, there will always be people to receive him, who are ready to furnish him with supplies, and coolies to help him on his journey. Sometimes they declare they are in the greatest want; they cannot get rice, they have neither fish nor fowls, and are brought to the lowest ebb of misery.

IV. 3.-"Even that which they build, if a fox go up,

he shall even break down their stone wall.” When men deride the workmanship of a mason, they say, Che! why, if a dog or a jackal run against that wall, it will fall.” “A wall ! why, it will not keep out the jackals.”

21. — “ From the rising of the morning till the stars

appeared." Thus did the people labour from the earliest dawn till the latest glimpse of evening light.“ Well, Tamby, have you found your cattle? ” — “ Found them ? no ! and I wandered from the rising east, till the stars appeared.” “At what time do you intend to leave the temple ?” – “Not till the stars

“ When do you expect the guests?” — “Immediately when the stars appear.”

appear."

66 What! can you

V. 13. — “I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out

every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise; even thus be he shaken

out, and emptied.” When men or women curse each other, they shake the lap, i.e. their cloth, or robe, and say, “ It shall be so with thee." Does a man begin to shake his sali, or waistcloth, in the presence of another, the other will

say,
“ Why do you

shake your cloth here? go to some other place.” shake your lap here? do it not, do it not.” “ Yes, yes; it is all true enough; this misery has come upon me through that wretched man shaking his cloth in my presence.”

The natives always carry a pouch, made of the leaf of the cocoa, or other trees, in their lap; in one part of which they keep their money, and in another their areca-nut, betel leaf, and tobacco. It is amusing to see how careful they are, never to have that pouch EMPTY; for they have an idea, that so long as a single coin shall be found in it (or any of the other articles alluded to), the ATTRACTION will be so great, that the contents of the pouch will not be long without companions. See the Englishman who wants any thing out of a pouch or bag; if he cannot soon find the article he requires, he shakes out the whole : not so the Hindoo; he will fumble and grope for an hour, rather than shake out the whole.“ Do that! why, who knows how long the pouch would remain empty?" It is therefore evident, that to shake the lap conveyed with it the idea of a curse.

14.-“I and my brethren have not eaten the bread of

the governor." Nehemiah did not eat that bread which properly belonged to him as the governor. When the Orientals say they eat the rice of a person, it denotes they are under obligations to him. People who have formerly been employed by you often come and say, “Ah, my lord, how long it is since I had the pleasure of eating your rice." Those who are in the service of the government, are said to eat the rice of the king. A servant who is requested to injure his master, says, “ No, no; have I not eaten his rice for many days?” of a person who has been faithful to a superior it is said, “ Yes, yes; he has eaten his rice, or he would not have been so true to him.”

IX. 37.-" Whom thou hast set over us, because of our

sins." These people attribute all their losses and afflictions to their sins. Has a man lost his wife or child, he

says,

6 Enpāvatin-nemityam, for the sake of my sins, this evil has come upon me.” “Why, friend, do you live in this strange land ?” “ Because of

my

sins.” No people can refer more to sin as the source of their misery, and yet none appear more anxious to commit it. “ The sins of my ancestors, the sins of my ancestors, are in this habitation,” says the old sinner, who wishes to escape the sight of his own.

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ESTHER

CHAP. I. verse 9.-—“ Vashti the queen made a feast for

the women.” Females, in the East, never have their feasts in the same room as the men, because it would be highly indecorous towards their LORDS, and they would not be able to go to those lengths of merriment as when alone. On meeting, they embrace, and SMELL each other; and after they are seated, comes the betel leaf, the chunam, and the areca-nuts. Have their LORDS given them any new jewels or robes; they are soon mentioned, as a proof of the favour they are in; and after they have finished their food, shroots * and scandal become the order of the day.

12.-" Therefore was the king very wroth, and his

anger burned in him.” Gen. xliv. 18. When a person is speaking to you, on almost any subject, he keeps saying every moment, “ Be not angry, my lord;" or, “Let not your anger burn.” Judah said to Joseph, “ Let not thine anger burn.” “Go not near that man; his anger is on fire.” “Well, well, what is the matter with that fellow?"

.“ Not much; some one has put the torch to his anger." “Go, throw some water on that fire, or it will not soon be out.”

V. 9. — “ Then went Haman forth that day joyful,

and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against

Mordecai.” This is, indeed, a graphic sketch of Eastern manners. The colours are so lively and so fresh, that they might have been but the work of yesterday. See the native gentleman at the

* Nearly all the females smoke tobacco.

head of his courtly train : he moves along in pompous guise, and all who see him arise from their seats, take off their sandals, and humbly move in reverence to him. To some he gives a graceful wave of the hand; to others not a word nor a look. Should there be one who neither stands

up nor moves to him, his name and place of abode will be enquired after, and the first opportunity eagerly embraced to glut his revenge.

The case of Muttoo-Chadde-Appa, Modeliar of the Dutch Governor Van de Graaff's gate, is illustrative of this disposition. A Moorman of high bearing and great riches had purchased the rent of the pearl fishery of the bay of Ondāchy, and, in consequence, was a person of great influence amongst the people. The proud Modeliar was one day passing along the road, where was seated on his carpet the renter of the pearl fishery. He arose not, moved not to him, when passing by, and the Modeliar's soul was fired with indignation. He forthwith resolved upon his ruin, and, by deeply-formed intrigues, too well succeeded. The rent was taken from the Moorman;

the
money

he had advanced to the headmen, the officers, the boatmen, the divers * and others, was lost; his estates were sold; and, to make up the deficiency, he himself was disposed of by auction for four hundred and twenty-five rixdollars, and the Modeliar became the purchaser.

IX. 19.—“Sending portions one to another." On the first of the Hindoo month of July, also on the first day of the new moon of their October, the people send portions of cakes, preserves, fruits, oil, and clothes one to another.

* Men have to dive for the oysters which contain the pearls.

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