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splendour, vying with or surpassing all others of ancient or modern times, never enumerated among their sources of enjoyment the imitation of the scenes of many-coloured life by the combined efforts of several individuals. Yet in Greece and Italy on the one side, in Hindostan and China on the other, the theatre arose in every city and town of eminence. Even the simple islanders of the South Sea had a rude pantomimic mode of representing the events and the business of actual life.

It would be perhaps idle to seek to point out any general cause of this fact; for what argument would apply to the state of society in ancient or modern Persia, or Egypt, that would not be of equal force in the case of India or China? But as, under every form of society, man seeks to be entertained and interested, we may justly inquire what has, with these nations, supplied the place of the drama and we at once find our reply-the story-teller.

Rude nations, such as were our Gothic sires, the Huns of Attila, and the old Romans, according to Niebuhr, used to divert their leisure, after the feast, by listening to the deeds of their fathers sung in measured language to the accompaniment of the harp or pipe, by the poet or minstrel. Fictitious heroes and fictitious events, where magic lent its aid to increase the interest, were also sung; and gradually these essays ripened into the drama. But in the east, by the skill of the narrators, the art of story-telling was brought to a high degree of perfection; and this perhaps it may have been that prevent ed the growth of the scene and thea


The story-teller, in fact, is what Matthews is, compared to the regular companies of Drury Lane and Covent Garden. In his own person he combines the talents of many; and his power of interesting and detaining an audience is fully equal to theirs. Accordingly, throughout the Mahommedan East, the story-tellers are everywhere to be met; and in the

numerous as to

cities, they are so form, like the trades, a corporation, under a particular head called the Sheikhul-Meddah, or Sheikh of the coffee-house narrators. In all places, and at all hours, they are ready to produce their wares; and everywhere they are sure to find an eager and attentive audience. "Sail," says Mr. Von Hammer, "down the Tigris, or up the Nile; travel through the deserts of Irak, or the delicious plains of Syria; seek the valleys of the Hejaz, or the delightful solitudes of Yemen; every where you will meet professional story-tellers, in listening to whose tales the people find their greatest amusement. They are to be seen in the tent of the Bedoween and the hut of the Fellah; in the village coffee-houses, as well as in those of Damascus, Cairo, and Bagdad."

But the art is not confined to the story-teller by profession. Private individuals, particularly in the camps of the Arabian deserts, often excel in this talent; and when the cool of evening approaches, the Bedoweens crowd around a member of their society who is so gifted, to drink in with eager ears the tales of romance and wonder that flow from his eloquent lips. The celebrated orientalist just quoted gives, on another occasion,an animated and picturesque description-and highly valuable as taken immediately from nature-of a Bedoween audience and narrator; of which description we shall attempt to convey some notion.

To form an accurate idea of the magic power which tales of spirits and enchantment exert over the burning imagination and stormy feelings of the Arab, one must have heard them delivered by the lips of an expert narrator to a circle of Bedoweens, a race who, as their prophet describes them, delight in bearing, seeing, and acting. One must have seen these collected and closely crowded circles, not only in the midst of cities and in the coffeehouses, where idle auditors, effeminately reclined on sofas and pillows,

slowly sipping the juice of the berry
of Mocha and the smoke of tobacco,
resign themselves to the impressions
with which the eloquence of the nar-
rator soothes the ear by well-round-
ed periods, and by the magic of neatly
cadenced prose, richly interspersed
with verse. One must also have seen
circles of Bedoweens crowd with
close shoulders around the narrator
of the desert, when the burning sun
has sunk behind the sandhills, and
the thirsty ground sips up the cooling
dew. No less eagerly do they devour
the tales and fables which they have
already perhaps heard a hundred
times, but which, nevertheless, thanks
to the mobility of their imagination
and the skill and talent of the narra-
tor, still operate upon them with all
the strength of novelty. One must
have seen these children of the des-
ert; how they move and act; how
they melt away in tender feelings, and
kindle up in rage; how they pant in
anxiety and again recover their
breath; how they laugh and weep;
how they participate with the narra-
tor and the hero of the tale in the
magic of the descriptions and the
madness of passions.
It is a real
drama, but one in which the specta-
tors also are actors. Is the hero of
the tale threatened with imminent
danger?-they all shudder and cry
aloud, La, la, la, Istaghfer Allah.
No! no! no! God prevent it! Is
he in the thick of the battle, mowing
down, with his sword, the troops of
the enemy they grasp theirs, and
spring up as if they would fly to his
aid. Is he betrayed into the snares
of treachery and faithlessness?-their
forehead contracts in wrinkles of an-
gry displeasure; they cry out, The
curse of God upon the traitors!
Falls he at length beneath the supe-
rior numbers of his foes?-then their
bosom heaves forth a long and
glowing Ah-accompanied by the
usual blessing of the dead, God's
mercy be upon

he comes back victorious and crown-
ed with glory, from the conflict,-
loud cries of Praise God, the Lord
of Hosts! rend the air. Descrip-
tions of the beauties of nature, and
especially of the spring are received
with a many times repeated Tab!
taib! Well! well! And nothing
can equal the pleasure that sparkles
in their eyes when the narrator le-
surely and con amore draws a full
length portrait of female beauty,—
They listen with silent and breathless
attention, and when at length the
story-teller concludes his description
with the exclamation, Praised be
God, who has created beautiful
man! they all cry out in full chores,
with the inspiration of wonder and
gratitude, Praised be God who has
created beautiful woman! Forms
like this, frequently interspersed in
the course of the discourse, and
lengthened out with well-known pro
verbs and periphrases, answer merely
for resting-places to the narrator, of
by means of them
spin on the
thread of his narrative quietly and
composedly, without any new exper
diture of memory or imagination
Where the narrator in a European
circle would merely say, And
they continued their journey,
Arabian orator says,
And now they
went over hills and dales, through
woods and fields, over meads a
deserts, over plains and tracklew
paths, up hill, down dale, from
dawn of morning till the evening
came. During modes of speech of
this kind which flow from his lips
consciously, he collects his attentiss
and sets forward, the stuff of his nat
rative till the sinking night or his er
hausted lungs compel him to break
off his tale, which would never come
to an end if he were to comply with
the wishes of his auditors. A ster
teller, moreover, never ends his r
with the evening, but breaks off in
one of the most interesting parts

him! may he rest in it ;* promising to give the continua peace! When, on the other hand, tion or couclusion of it the nextere




* This will illustrate the division of the Thousand and One Nights, and the artifice of the

ingenious sultaness to obtain the respite of another day.

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beginning of the next evening, he immediately commences another, of which the continuation is again put off till the following evening, and thus evening and evening are woven together by a series of stories.

ning; and if it really ends in the Art of Poetry hold good for the Arabian narrators only in a contrary sense; and diametrically opposed to the entire spirit and character of an Arabian tale is his precept to the poetic narrator.

These social rings closed around the story-teller, in which the Bedoween, either listening to, or himself relating, tales, passes half the night, and enjoys, after the burning heat of the day, the refreshing coolness, are called, by a peculiar name, Musamerit, that is, Discourse in bright moon, or starlight nights; and Essemir is the appellation of him who semir is the appellation of him who delights or takes a lead in these nocturnal discourses, in which, when the narrative is finished, and not till then, the company converse of it, and its wonderful events. The more wonderful a story is, the surer it is of producing its effects upon the auditors; and the wonderful, be it ever so incredible, or ever so worn out, always finds a welcome reception.

quodcunque volet, poscat sibi fabula crediand the narrator never runs any danger of any of the auditors checking him with a

Quodcunque ostendis mihi, sic incredulus odi in the sense of Horace. In general, several of the precepts in Horace's

Semper ad eventum festinal; et in medias res
Non secus ac notas, auditorem rapit ;-

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THE HE variety of styles employed by the several writers of the Old Testament Scriptures, renders biblical learning one of the most extensive and difficult studies in which a scholar can be engaged. In the review of particular portions, especially, we meet with all those difficulties which attend the examination of writings, referring to scenes and times whose character is altogether different from those with which we we have not only to search for the are acquainted. These difficulties, frequently hidden and peculiar mean

moreover, are increased by the nature of the narrative or subject in which they occur. The ancient records of religion have frequently a meaning and reference which belong to some peculiarity in the system they were written to develope, and it is these points which are often illustrated by the allusions to objects and circumstances present to the Thus writers of the several books.

* Scripture Natural History, or an account of the Zoology, Botany, and Geology of the Bible, by William Carpenter. 8vo. pp. 608. Wightman and Cramp. London, 1828.

ing of Scripture phraseology, but to examine with the most careful attention the sources themselves from which its metaphors and illustrations have been drawn.

terials for illustrations of Scripture:
but these are not always within the
reach of a retired theological stu
dent; and when they are, they are
not fit for immediate reference. Of
the works which have been profess
edly written on the natural history
of Scripture, the greatest and the
best is too voluminous and expensive
for the ordinary purposes of study.
We mean the "Physica Sacra" of
Scheuchzer, of which there is
French and a German translation.
The "Hicrobotanicon" of Celsius is
also extremely valuable; but, in it
original form, not likely to be of
general use. The same may be said
of the scientific remains of Forska
the Swedish naturalist, who travelled
into the East with the celebrated
Niebuhr, and died on his journey
Bochart, Professor Paxton, and oth
ers, night also be named, as having
written on the subject of Scriptur
від во
Natural History, but their works ar
very little known to the generality
of English readers, or even, we bel
lieve, to many professional ones
The "Natural History of the Bible,"
by Doctor Harris, comes under the
same observation, and is, in fact,
adapted for general circulation.


To whatever causes, however,
attribute the want of that species
knowledge which is required to t
perfect understanding of scriptur
phraseology, the low state of biblics
learning, in this respect, deserves
serious consideration. The whe
force and beauty, and, very
the most important meaning, of c
tain passages, can only be perceived
by a perfect knowledge of the thing
to which the writers allude; and t
circumstances and peculiar chart
ter of different objects which
mentioned in Scripture,
frequently those not likely to str
a careless or unskilful observer.
should also be remembered, that the


There are, in the sacred writings, difficulties of two kinds; the one purely of a doctrinal character, the other common to the Scriptures with all other ancient compositions. A good biblical scholar therefore must be versed in the works of the great and laborious men who have devoted themselves to the elucidation of both these departments of theological learning. But the assistance which a student possesses in the former object of his pursuit, is incomparably greater than what he can obtain in the latter. Commentary upon commentary meets his attention at every step, and the extensive and valuable collections which are published of the old theological critics, furnish him with all the aids which human learning can afford him. The consequence of this, accordingly, is the readiness with which we find the doctrinal parts of the Scriptures explained by those who pay any attention to the subject, and the extreme want of skill manifested by them in unfolding and displaying the beauties of their peculiar phraseology, or in explaining passages in which the meaning depends on local allusions.

In one respect, we are afraid, this want of skill, in a very important branch of biblical learning, results from an inadequate idea of its consequence. That which can be at once worked up into a sermon or lecture, is duly valued, because it is of more immediate and practical application; but a knowledge, which is principal ly of importance to the student himself, or which can only be incidentally displayed, is not likely to be sought for, but by the most diligent and acute inquirers after scriptural truth. It must, however, be confess- language itself, in which the ancie ed, that this, in a great measure, re- records of our religion are writes sults from a want of works of gene is of a nature which almost utter ral reference on these points. The forbids its being well understood publications of many intelligent East- without the knowledge of which ern travellers, afford invaluable maare speaking. Simple, and coufied


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in its vocabulary, its very idiom is metaphorical, and there is scarcely a sentence composed in it, without some allusion being made to the objects of external nature, their peculiar habits or qualities.

the female; and had a bar or streak
crossing at his shoulders, as well as
the streak which runs along the back,
and which is common to both sexes.
On her legs, the female stood higher
than the common ass; they were
also more slender and elegant in
Notwithstanding the state of
exhaustion in which she was at this
time, the Professor states that she
carried her head higher than the ass,
her ears well elevated, and showed a
vivacity in all her motions. The
colour of the hair on the greater part
of the body, and the end of the nose,
was silvery white; the upper part of
the head, the sides of the neck, and
the body, were flaxen-coloured. The
mane was deep brown; commencing
between the ears, and reaching the
shoulders. The coat in general, es-
pecially in winter, was more silky
and softer than that of horses, and
resembled that of a camel. The co-
lour of the onager, however, appears
to vary, since Sir Robert Ker Porter
describes one which he met with
during his travels in Persia, the coat
of which was of a bright bay colour.

"The onager is an animal adapted for running, and of such swiftness that the best horses cannot equal it. From this quality it is that it derives its Hebrew name; and, as it prefers the most craggy mountains, it runs with ease on the most difficult ground. All the ancient writers who mention the animal notice his fleetness, especially Xenophon, who says that he has long legs; is very rapid in running; swift as a whirlwind, having strong and stout hoofs.

Convinced, therefore, as we are, that an essential good will be effected by any aid given to the wider diffusion of knowledge on these points, we have taken up Mr. Carpenter's book with considerable pleasure, and we are happy in finding that he has performed his task with much learning and judgment. We give the following specimen of his manner of using the materials be has collect ed, taken from the zoological part of the volume:

'Who from the forest ass his collar broke,
And manumised his shoulders to the yoke?
Wild tenant of the waste, I sent him there
Among the shrubs to breathe in freedom's air.
Swift as an arrow in his speed he flies;
Sees from afar the smoky city rise;
Scorns the throng'd street, where slavery drags

his load,

The loud-voiced driver, and his urging goad!
Where'er the mountain waves its lofty wood,
A boundless range, he seeks his verdant food.'


"This animal, which the Hebrews called PARA, and the Greeks ONAGER, is a much handsomer and more dignified animal than the common or domestic ass. Oppian describes it as handsome, large, vigorous, of stately gait, and his coat of a silvery colour; having a black band along the spine of his back; and on his flanks, patches as white as snow.' But it is to Professor Gmelin, who brought a female and a colt from Tartary to St. Petersburgh, that we are chiefly indebted for our knowledge of the onager, or wild ass. The length of the male, which was something larger than the female, the Professor states to have been, from the nape of the neck to the origin of the tail, five feet; his height in front, four feet four inches; behind, four feet seven inches; his head, two feet in length; his ears, one foot; his tail, including the tuft at the end, two feet three inches. He was less docile and more robust than 43 ATHENEUM, VOL. 9, 2d series.

"To give the reader a correct idea of this animal in his natural state, which is essential to appreciate the fidelity with which the writer of the book of Job delineates his character, we cannot do better than transcribe Sir R. K, Porter's account of the one to which he gave chase.

"The sun was just rising over the summits of the Eastern mountains, when my greyhound Cooley suddenly darted off in pursuit of an animal, which, my Persians said, from the glimpse they had of it, was

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