« AnteriorContinuar »
whole harem under reftraint, and
The grandees, if fightly indif-
Medical people, whether Europeans or natives, have accefs to the harem at all times when their attendance is requifite. The phyfician, after being announced, is obliged to wait at the door till the way is cleared; that is, till his patient, when a female, her company and attendants, and others who might happen to be in the courts through which he met país, have either veiled or retired out of fight. He is then conducted to the chamber of the fick lady by a flave, who continues in a loud voice to give warning of his approach, dirb, dirb, al hakeem gia-y, way, way, the doctor is coming: a precaution which does not always prevent the unveiled ladies, who have not been apprized, from accidentally crolling the court,
When it is known that the phyfitian is about to enter, the flave who undertakes to clear the way, gives notice by calling Amel Dirb! Ame! Dirb! Make way, make way, and eturning after fame time, fays Fi dirb! the way is clear. VǝL. XXVI.
in which cafe, it becomes the wellbred phyfician to turn his eyes another way.
finds his patient covered with a Upon entering the chamber, he loote veil; and it being a vulgar notion that the malady may be difcovered from the pulfe t, he is no fooner feated than the naked wrist is prefented for his examination 1. She then defcribes her complaints, and if it be neceflary to look at the tongue, the veil is for that purpose removed, while the affiftants keep the rest of the face, and especially the crown of the head, carefully covered. The women do not hesitate the ftomach, when the cafe requires to expofe the neck, the bofom, or thofe parts to be infpected; but never without extreme reluctance confent to uncover the head. Ladies whom I had known very young, and who, from long acquaintance, were careless in concealing their faces from without a handkerchief, or fome me, never appeared other flight covering thrown over the head. So far as I could judge from general practice, it feemed to be confidered, in point of decorum, of more confequence to veil the head than the face.
The phyfician is ufually entertained with tobacco and coffee, which, being intended as a mark of refpect, cannot in civility be declined, though the compliance leads to an intemperate ufe of both. After
fanction to this foolish notion. I folThe native practitioners give z lowed in that refpect the example of my brother, who, except in fevers, always infifted on the fick giving an account of their complaints, before he would feel
1 I have been offered fometimes the wrift covered with thin muflin, but the punctilio, and I always refufed comAleppo ladies, in general, ridicule that pliance with a piece of prudery not fanctioned by cullom.
he has examined, and given directions concerning his patient, he requefis leave to retire, but is feldom allowed to escape without hearing the incurable complaints of as many valetudinary vifitants as happen to be prefent, who either fit ready veiled, or talk from behind a curtain occafionally fufpended in the chamber. Thefe ladies always confider themfelves entitled to verbal advice, or at leaft to an opinion of fuch remedies, as have been recommended by others; and a principal part of the medical art, among the native practitioners, corfifts in being able to acquit themselves dexterously in fuch incidental confultations.
In families which the European phyfician has been accustomed to attend, and when his patient is on the recovery, he is fometimes induced to protract the vifit, and to gratify the curiofity of the ladies, who afk numberlefs queftions concerning his country. They are particularly inquifitive about the Frank women, their drefs, employments, marriages, treatment of children, and amusements. In return, they are ingenuously communicative, and difplay talents, which being little indebted to artificial cultivation, appear, as it were, to expand naturally under a clear sky, and the influence of a delicious climate. Their queftions are generally pertinent, and the remarks they occafionally make on manners differing fo widely from their own, are often fprightly and judicious.
When the vifit is at length concluded, notice being given to clear the way, the physician fets out, preceded as before by the flave. But it rarely happens that he is not more than once flopped, to give advice to fome of the demetlics, who wait his return; for however flightly they may be indifpofed, the temptation of telling theircomplaints to a, doctor is irrefiftible. Thefe damfels feldum have any other veil
than a handkerchief thrown over the head, one corner of which is held in the mouth; but in order to avoid even that trouble, they frequently place themfelves behind a door, or a window-fhutter half open, in which fituation thrusting out one arm, they in fift on having the pulfe examined. It fometimes happens, in the great harems, that another obacle must be encountered before regaining the gate. This arifes from fome of the younger ladies, or flaves, who are at work in the court, refufing peremptorily either to veil or retire; which is done merely in sport, to vex the conductrefs, who is obliged of courfe to make a halt. In vain fhe bawls dirb! and makes ufe by turns of entreaty, threat, and reproach; till finding all in vain, the gives fair warning, and has recourse to a never-failing ftratagem. She marches on, and bids the doctor.-A complete rcut enfues; the damfels fcamper different ways, catch hold of whatever offers firit, by way of veil, or attempt to conceal themselves behind one another. It is only when none of the men are in the harem, that this fcene of romping can take place. When the phyfician is conducted by the aga himself, every thing paffes in orderly filence, and, in the chamber of the fick, none befide the elderly or married relations offer to join in the converfation: but it is feldom that the aga himself takes the trouble, after the few firft vifits, except the doctor be a stranger to the family.
Women of diftinction pafs much of their time at home. They have a bath for ordinary occafions, within the harem; the purchase of household neceffaries does not lie within their province and mercery, drapery, and trinkets are either feat from the shops to be chofen, or are brought in by the female pedlars formerly mentioned. They are not however idle within doors; the fLperia
perintendance of domeftic affairs, the care of their children, with their needle and embroidery, furnifh ample employment.
They are taught when young, to read, and fometimes to write the Arabic, but are very apt, when taken from school, to neglect both; fo that reading ought not to be reckoned a common female amusement, and is never a ftudy. I have known however fome exceptions to this. A daughter of the late grand vizir, Razab Bafhaw, had made (as he affured me) a furprising progrefs in Arabic literature, and he fhewed me a manufcript very beautifully written with her own hand. Devotion does not appear to take up much of their time; they never go to mofque; and, except the elderly ladies, and those who have, they are not fo punctual in their prayers at home as the men.
innumerable errors and mifreprefentations relating to them, which are to be found in the works of travellers in other refpects of good
Their ufual games are mankala, tabuduk, draughts, and fometimes chefs; but, as was before remarked of the men, they play merely for amufement. In the winter evenings, while the men are engaged in the outer apartment, the ladies often pafs the time in attending to Arabian tales, which are recited, but more commonly read, by a perfon who has a clear, diftinct voice, and occafionally fings the flanzas inter woven with the ftory.-It has been already mentioned, that the Arabian Nights Entertainments, known in England, were hardly to be found in Aleppo. A manufcript containing two hundred and eight nights, was the only one I met with, and, as a particular favour, procured liber. ty to have a copy taken from it. This copy was circulated fuccessful, ly to more than a fcore of harems ; and I was affured by fome of the ullama, whom the women had fometimes induced to be of the audience, that till then they were ignorant that fuch a book existed.
This is afferted only as it appeared to me. On the public days, the women may often be feen praying in the gardens, but it is only a fmall number out of a crowd. In the harem, there is not the fame oppertunity of feeing them at prayer as there is in refpećt to the men. My opinion was formed from being fo feldom obliged, on vifiting at noon, or fun-fer, to wait till prayers were over; and, on going into the harem immediately before the times of prayer, from finding fo few prepared by ablution; for when they have once performed the wodou (a
The toilet confits of a divan cufhion reversed, upon which a small mirror is placed. They do not em. ploy much time at it; for the attire of the head inay be taken off, and preferved entire, and the braiding of the hair, which is rather a tedious
kind of ablution) they cannot per-operation, is always performed in the hummam. They drefs neatly for the day, early in the morning, except on days when they go abroad on ceremony, or bath, and then the alteration made to the public in dress does not require much time.
mit a chriftian to touch their pulfe, without being obliged to wash over again. Indeed allowance fhould be made for a circumftance peculiar to the fex, which difqualifies them periodically from acts of devotion. Sun-fet feemed to be the time when the women chicfly prayed.
They are fond of flowers and odoriferous plants, which are sometimes cultivated under their own care, but for the most part purchafed of thofe who raise them for fal:. They prefeive them in chiD 2
It does not feem neceffary to enter upon the argument concerning the exclufion of the Mohammedan women from paradife, with other
prefenting it, as if the rejected
Lady Mary Wortley Montague, in
The ladies at Aleppo are not fuch proficients as her fadyhip defcribes thofe at Conftantinople; but the verfes and allufions are much the fame, expreffed only in the Arabic instead of the Turkish language. The colour of the filk thread denotes
na or glafs flower-pots arranged on |
The young ladies amufe them-
fear, doubt, jealoufy, impatience,
Amid domeftic occupations, ferious or amusing, the ladies find themfelves fully employed, and feldom complain of time hanging heavy. But various occafions call them abroad. They vifit near relations feveral times in the year, as alfo when in childbed or in fickness; they affift at nuptial and funeral ceremonies; and, at eftablished hours, go to confult their phyfician at his houfe, when the cafe does not rehis attendance at the harem, Thus women above a certain rank are, in proportion to the extent of their connections, more or less engaged, while thofe of the lower clafs are often obliged to go out to market, and conftantly to the bagnio: the laft indeed, brings all the women abroad; for even those who have baths at home, are, in cafes of ceremonial invitation, obliged to repair to the public baths.
Mondays and Thurfdays are the women's licenfed days, for visiting the tombs, and, with their children and flaves, for taking the air in the fields or gardens. The flaves carry carpets, pipes, coffee equipage, and provifions: the garden lupplies lettuces, cucumbers, or fuch fruits
as are in feafon. Some take poffeffon of the garden or fummer-houses, others place themselves under the hade of trees, and all pafs the day in high fellivity. In the fpring faloa, the gardens in the neighbourhood are crowded with women, and, towards evening, the feveral avenues of the town are filled with mom, returning home. Some parties of the better clafs are preceded by a band of finging women, the laes themfelves walking behind with a flow and fiately ftep; but the lower people are lefs formal; they advance in groups, finging as they walk along, and with the tympanum, and the ziraleet make the air refound en all hands. Ladies of diftinction on thefe occafions drefs in the plainet manner, and wear the ordinary
return at fun-fet. A numerous train of flaves or fervants avail themfelves of the opportunity to make merry, and the day is confidered as one of licenfed frolic. Muficians, dancers, and buffoons, are among the feinale attendants, and their mufic and ziraleet may be heard at the dilance of a mile. The gardener, in the mean while, has little reafon to with for parties of this kind, being by no means adequately recompenfed for the mifchief done his fruit-trees, the branches in bloffom being broken without mercy, and the fruit gathered before it is half ripe.
From what has been faid, it would appear that the Turkish ladies aro not in fact fo rigorously confined as is generally imagined; it may be ftriped veil instead of the white fur-added, that habit, and the idea of ragi; but most of the others drefs decorum annexed to their refraints, in their gayeft apparel, and when at render them lefs irkfome. Their a little distance from town, being ignorance of the female privileges more careless of the veil, they give enjoyed in many parts of Europe, accidental opportunity of feeing precludes any mortifying comparimore of their faces, than at any fon, and when told of thofe priviother time. leges, they do not appear very defirous of a liberty which in many inftances they regard as inconfiftent with their notion of female honour and delicacy.
As men on these public days are not excluded from the gardens, numbers are of course found ftrolling in the walks, which obliges the women to be more on their guard, and to remain muffled up. But there are felect parties, on other days, exempt from that difagreeable reftraint, and in all refpects more
THOUGHTS on Dogs,
elegant. Thefe are compofed of (By the late Governor Livingston, of
the ladies belonging to two or three harems, who hire the garden for the day. The divans in the fummerhoufes of the gardens are furnished from the city; cooks are fent to prepare the entertainment; the harea-Kehia, with fome pages, attend at the gate, to prevent the intrafion of ftrangers, and, the gardeners being obliged to keep out of the way, the ladies are obliged to walk about more negligently veiled. The company fet out from town by dawn of day, and
Impafta fugiftis aves rabidamque canum vim,"
HAVE, I muft own, no fmall veneration for the memory of Argus, a favourite deg of Ulyffes, that, upon the teftimony of Homer, recognifed his matter after twenty ears abfence-an affectionate dog, who by wagging his tail, and giving every other token of joy that a dog can give, welcomed that celebrated