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ICHARD FRANCIS BURTON, explorer and Orientalist, made him
self a double reputation, first by his daring explorations of To the remotest regions of Africa, Arabia, South America, and Iceland, and again by his books of travel and his celebrated translation of the Arabian Nights." He wrote «some thirty volumes” of travels, into which as episodes he frequently interjects admirable essays on the life and habits of the peoples among whom he traveled. He was born, according to the weight of standard authority, in Hertfordshire, England, March 19th, 1821; though it is proper to mention that in “Cabinets of Irish Literature,” in which extracts from his books appear, his birthplace is given as «Tuam, County Galway.” After serving in the East Indian army, he began his career as an explorer in 1853, by making in disguise a pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca. In 1854, he made with Speke a celebrated exploration of East Africa. In his later travels he was accompanied by Lady Burton, a woman of remarkable intellect, who, after his death on October 20th, 1890, took the responsibility of burning his “Scented Garden,” a manuscript collection of Arabic stories translated literally. She also edited his «Arabian Nights, with a view to make its circulation possible in countries where Oriental standards of literature and morals are not generally accepted.
ROMANTIC LOVE AND ARAB POETRY The author of certain « Lectures on Poetry, Addressed to WorkT ing Men," asserts that passion became love under the influ
ence of Christianity, and that the idea of a virgin mother spread over the sex a sanctity unknown to the poetry or the philosophy of Greece and Rome. Passing over the objections of deified Eros and immortal Psyche and of the virgin mother,symbol of moral purity,- being common to all old and material faiths, I believe that all the noble tribes of savages display the principle. Thus we might expect to find, wherever the fancy, the imagination, and the ideality are strong, some traces of a sentiment innate in the human organization. It exists, says Mr. Catlin, amongst the North American Indians, and even the Gallas and the Somal of Africa are not wholly destitute of it. But when the barbarian becomes a semibarbarian, as are the most polished Orientals, or as were the classical authors of Greece and Rome, then women fall from their proper place in society, become mere articles of luxury, and sink into the lowest moral condition. In the next state, “civilization,” they rise again to be “highly accomplished,” and not a little frivolous.
Were it not evident that the spiritualizing of sexuality by imagination is universal amongst the highest orders of mankind, I should attribute the origin of love to the influence of the Arab's poetry and chivalry upon European ideas rather than to mediæval Christianity.
In pastoral life tribes often meet for a time, live together whilst pasturage lasts, and then separate perhaps for a generation. Under such circumstances youths, who hold with the Italian that
« Perduto e tutto il tempo
will lose heart to maidens, whom possibly, by the laws of the clan, they may not marry, and the light o' love will fy her home. The fugitives must brave every danger, for revenge, at all times the Bedouin's idol, now becomes the lodestar of his existence. But the Arab lover will dare all consequences. «Men have died and the worms have eaten them, but not for love,” may be true in the West; it is false in the East. This is attested in every tale where love, and not ambition, is the groundwork of the narrative. And nothing can be more tender, more pathetic, than the use made of these separations and the long absences by the old Arab poets. Whoever peruses the “Suspended Poem” of Lebid will find thoughts at once so plaintive and so noble that even Doctor Carlyle's learned verse cannot wholly deface their charm. The author returns from afar. He looks upon the traces of hearth and home still furrowing the desert ground. In bitterness of spirit he checks himself from calling aloud upon his lovers and his friends. He melts at the remembrance of their departure, and long indulges in the absorbing theme. Then he strengthens himself by the thought of Nawara's inconstancy, how
she left him and never thought of him again. He impatiently dwells upon the charms of the places which detain her, advocates flight from the changing lover and the false friend, and, in the exultation with which he feels his swift dromedary start under him upon her rapid course, he seems to find some consolation for woman's perfidy and forgetfulness. Yet he cannot abandon Nawara's name or memory. Again he dwells with yearning upon scenes of past felicity, and he boasts of his prowess,- a fresh reproach to her,- of his gentle birth and of his hospitality. He ends with an encomium upon his clan, to which he attributes, as a noble Arab should, all the virtues of man. This is Goldsmith's deserted village in El Hejaz. But the Arab, with equal simplicity and pathos, has a fire, a force of language, and a depth of feeling, which the Irishman, admirable as his verse is, could never rival.
As the author of the Peninsular War well remarks, women in troublesome times, throwing off their accustomed feebleness and frivolity, become helpmates meet for man. The same is true of pastoral life. Here between the extremes of fierceness and sensibility, the weaker sex, remedying its great want, power, raises itself by courage, physical as well as moral. In the early days of El Islam, if history be credible, Arabia had a race of heroines. Within the last century, Ghaliyah, the wife of a Wahhabi chief, opposed Mohammed Ali himself in many a bloody field. A few years ago, when Ibn Asm, popularly called Ibn Rumi, chief of the Zubayd clan about Rabigh, was treacherously slain by the Turkish general, Kurdi Usman, his sister, a fair young girl, determined to revenge him. She fixed upon the “Arafat-day » of pilgrimage for the accomplishment of her designs, disguised herself in male attire, drew her handkerchief in the form of “lisam” over the lower part of her face, and with lighted match awaited her enemy. The Turk, however, was not present, and the girl was arrested, to win for herself a local reputation equal to the maid of Salamanca. Thus it is that the Arab has learned to swear that great oath by the honor of my women.”
The Bedouins are not without a certain Platonic affection, which they call “Hawa (or Ishk) uzri,” — pardonable love. They draw the fine line between amant and amoreux: this is derided by the townspeople, little suspecting how much such a custom says in favor of the wild men. In the cities, however, it could not prevail. Arabs, like other Orientals, hold that in such mat