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journeys of several months into Italy, Greece, and Egypt, that they may have an opportunity of writing a book " for the gratification of their friends ;” and that it is necessary to contradict, or alter a little, the descriptions of their predecessors, in order to find a sale, or to ensure a modicum of popularity. There may be something like scandal in these observations; but I am quite sure they are not without force in reference to some who have favoured the world with their sketches of the East. To say there are many serpents whose bite is not fatal, is correct; but to assert that there are many whose bite is not poisonous, is nonsense. Perhaps the most harmless of all the tribe is the rat-snake; but its bite always produces giddiness in the head, and a great degree of deadness in the part where the wound has been inflicted.
Apologising for this digression, I observe, that when a man is enraged with another, and yet dare not make a personal attack upon him, he says, “ The viper shall bite thee.” " “ From whom art thou ? the race of vipers ? ” “ Yes, yes; the poison of the puddeyan-pāmbo, i. e. the beaver-serpent, is in thy mouth.” * What! serpent, art thou going to bite me? Chee, Chee! I will break thy teeth.”
17. — “ The rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and
butter.” Is a man about to leave his native place to reside in another country, in hope of becoming rich ; people say to him, “ We suppose there are rivers of ghee, and honey, and milk, in the town where you are going to live !"
23. “ About to fill his belly.” A man here does not, as in England, say he has eaten plentifully, or he has not taken any thing to eat; but he has well filled his belly, or “to his belly there is nothing.” Thus, the beggar at your door stoops a little, then puts his hands on the abdomen, and exclaims, “ My lord, for my belly nothing, for my belly nothing !”
XXI. 15.—“What profit should we have if we pray
unto him ? " The heathen sometimes ask us, “Why should we pray to your God? is there any thing to be gained by it? When we go to our own temples, we have often fruit given to us; but when we come to yours, nothing is offered: give us something, and we will pray to him.” On one of these occasions, a bystander repeated a favourite proverb, “Do you ask for pay when requested to eat sugar-cane?” which silenced the jester.
24.-" His breasts are full of milk.” The margin has,
for breasts, “milk-pails.” Of a man who is very rich, it is common to say, “ His chattees (vessels) are full of milk.” But of a good king or governor it is said, “He nourishes like the king whose breasts are full of milk.” “Yes; he so rules, that the breasts of the goddess of the earth are full of milk."
XXII. 6. — “Stripped the naked of their clothing.” This proverbial form of speech is used when a man drags from another that which is his last resource. “Why do you take this tax from the naked ?" “ What ! take a cloth from the naked ? Is there no shame?” How often, also, do we see a man seize another by the cloth on the public road, and swear, if he will not instantly pay his debt, he shall be left naked.
7.- “Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink.” It is one of the thirty-two charities of the Hindoos, “ to have water ready for the traveller to drink.” Hence, on the public roads, in front of the houses of charitable people, may be seen vessels filled with water, for the use of all who pass that way. But respectable men do not drink there: they go inside, and say, “ Conjum-taneer," a little water; and it is
given to them.
XXIII. 11.-—“My foot hath held his steps : his way
have I kept." When a man follows another in a path so closely as almost to touch the feet of him who goes before, it is said, “ His feet hath laid hold of his steps,” intimating that the men are so near to each other, that the feet of him who follows, like unto the fingers of a man's hands, seize the feet of him who goes before. Thus, the devoted disciple of a gooroo, or the man who closely pursues another, is said to take hold of the steps of him who goes before.
Perhaps the figure may be taken from the great adroitness that the natives of the East have in seizing hold of any thing with their toes! See a man walking along the road: he sees something on the ground which he wishes to pick up; but he does not stoop, as an Englishman. No! he takes it up between his first and second toes. Look at tailors, shoemakers, or sailors: when they want to twist a cord, they do not tie it to a nail, or ask another person to take hold. No; they make one end fast to the great toe, and perform the other operation with the hands.
But the most remarkable illustration of this practice was in the case of Alypulle, the Kandian chief, who was beheaded near Kandy. When he arrived at the place where he was to be executed, he looked around for some time for a small shrub; and, on seeing one, he seized it with his toes, in order to be firm while the executioner did his office.
XXIV. 9. — “ They pluck the fatherless from the
breast." It used to be said of the cruel king of Kandy, that he would not allow the infant to suck its mother's breast. Of a wicked woman it is said, “ She will not allow her own child to suck her.” “O the savage husband ! he snatches the child from his wife's breast."
16.—“In the dark they dig through houses.” Nearly all the houses in the East are made of unburnt bricks, so that there is very little difficulty in making a hole sufficiently large to admit the human body. No wonder, then, that this is the general way of robbing houses. Thus, in the morning, when the inmates awake, they see daylight through a hole in the wall, and immediately know what has been done.
21.- 6 He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not.” It is considered to be very disgraceful for a married woman not to have children ; and the evil treatment they receive from their own husbands and others is most shameful. Nothing can be more common than for a poor woman of that description, when she has given offence to another, to be addressed by the term malady, i. e. barren. “ Go, barren one, get out of my sight.” “ Chee! she cannot have a child.”
24. — “ They are exalted for a little while, but are gone
and brought low; they are taken out of the way, as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of
corn.” Wicked men and tyrants may be prosperous for a season, but they will eventually be like the long stubble, having had the ears lopped off. This alludes to the custom, in the East, of taking off the ears of the corn, and leaving the straw, as before, standing on the ground. The grain called kurrakan is gathered by simply taking off the ears; and rice, where the water still remains in the fields, is gathered in the same way. The proud oppressor, then, in the end, shall be like the long straw standing in its place, having “ the ears” cut off, and
XXVIII. Some believe this chapter refers to mining; others to navigation ; but I think it will appear to allude to IRRIGATION, and to those stupendous works formed by man for the accomplishment of that noble object. The aim of Job is to show the infinite superiority of the wisdom and power of God, as displayed in His works, to that of the utmost stretch of man, as seen in the noblest productions of his genius and power.
The Artificial lake Mæris in Egypt is amongst the best and the greatest trophies of human art: unlike those magnificent monuments on the plains of Giza, which speak only to the reckless and profligate application of IMMENSE resources to works of no utility ; for Mæris, “ THE SEA WHICH MAN HATH MADE,” was a boon of astonishing magnitude, and would have continued to be so, had not the barbarians of after ages suffered some of its minor works to go to decay.
Herodotus, the father of historians, who lived 484 years before Christ, in speaking of the labyrinth, says, “ 66 Wonderful as this is, the lake Mæris, near which it stands, is still more extraordinary ; the circumference of this is three thousand six hundred stadia, which is the length of Egypt about the coast. This lake stretches itself from North to South, and in its deepest parts is two hundred cubits : it is ENTIRELY THE PRODUCE OF HUMAN INDUSTRY; which, indeed, the work itself testifies; for in its centre may be seen two pyramids, each of which is two hundred cubits above, and as many beneath the water; upon the summit of each is a colossal statue of marble in a sitting attitude. The waters of the lake are not supplied by springs; the ground which it occupies is, of itself, remarkably dry, but it communicates by a SECRET CHANNEL with the Nile: for six months the lake empties itself into the Nile, and the remaining six the Nile supplies the lake."
Here, then, we have an artificial lake, which, in the time of Herodotus, measured four hundred and fifty miles in circumference, and, in some places, three hundred feet deep, made for the purpose of preventing the inundations of the Nile, and also to be applied to agricultural purposes when the waters of the river were below the level of the adjacent lands.
See Euterpe, 149.