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A Spear in the Hand or a Standard carried before a Person, are Marks of Honour."
THOUGH mean people in travelling might make use of trees for shelter from the heat, we may perhaps think it almost incredible that kings should imagine that either proper houses would be marked out for their reception; or if that could not be conveniently done in some of their routs, that at least they would have tents carried along with them, as persons of more than ordinary rank and condition are supposed by Dr. Shaw now to do. For these reasons we may possibly have been extremely surprised at that passage concerning Saul, 1 Sam. xxii. 6, Now Saul abode in Gibeah, under a tree in Ramah, or, according to the margin, under a grove in an high place, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. Yet strange as this may appear to us, it is natural enough according to the present customs of the East, where we know the solemnity and awfulness of superiority is kept up as high as ever.
Thus when Dr. Pococke was travelling in the company of the governor of Faiume, who was treated with great respect as he passed along, they passed one night, he tells us, in a Vol. 1. p. 56.
■ Pref. p. 8. VOL. II.
grove of palm-trees. The governor might, no doubt, had he pleased, have lodged in some village; but he rather chose a place which we think very odd for a person of figure. The position of Saul, which was on a high place according to the margin, reminds me of another passage of this author, where he gives us an account of the going out of the Caya, or lieutenant of the governor of Meloui, on a sort of Arab expedition, towards a place where there was an ancient temple, attended by many people with kettle-drums and other music: the Doctor visited that temple, and upon his return from it went to the Caya, he says, "whose carpet
and cushions were laid on an height, on which he sat with the standard by him, which is carried before him when he goes out in this manner. I sat down with him, and coffee was brought; the Sadar himself came after as incognito." Saul seems, by the description given, as well as by the following part of the history, to have been pursuing after David, and stopping, to have placed himself according to the present Oriental mode in the posture of chief. Whether the spear in his hand, or at his hand, (as it might be translated according to Noldius, and as appears by the use of that prefix in Ezek. x. 15,) was the same thing to Saul's people that the standard was to those of the Caya, I know not: if it was, there is a third thing in this text illustrated by the Doctor's accounts, the stopping under a tree or grove; the That is, the governor.
< P. 127.
stopping on a high place; and the sacred historian's remark, that he had his spear by him. It is certain, that when a long pike is carried before a company of Arabs, it is a mark that an Arab Shech (or prince) is there, which pike is carried before him; and when he alights, and the horses are fastened, the pike is fixed, as appears by a story in Norden.
Letters sent to Superiors are made up in a peculiar and costly Style.
NORDEN tells us, that when he and his company were at Essuaen, an express arrived there, dispatched by an Arab prince, who brought a letter directed to the Reys, (or master of their barque) enjoining him not to set out with his barque, or carry them any farther; adding, that in a day's time he should be at Essuaen, and there would give his orders relative to them "The letter, however, according to the usage of the Turks," says this author, "was open : and as the Reys was not on board, the pilot carried it to one of our fathers to read it."
Sanballat's sending his servant with an open letter, which is mentioned Neh. vi. 5, does not appear an odd thing; but if it was according to their usages, why is this circumstance complained of, as it visibly is?
f. P. 109.
• Vol. 2, p. 8. See also p. 71.
deed is it mentioned at all? Why! Because, however the sending letters open to common people may be customary in these countries, it is not according to their usages to send them so to people of distinction. So Dr. Pococke, in his account of that very country where Norden was when this letter was brought, gives us, among other things, in the 57th plate, the figure of a Turkish letter put into a satin bag, to be sent to a great man, with a paper tied to it directed and sealed, and an ivory button tied on the wax. So lady Montague says, the basha of Belgrade's answer to the English ambassador, going to Constantinople, was brought to him in a purse of scarlet satin."
The great emir indeed of the Arabs, according to d'Arvieux, was not wont to inclose his letters in these bags, any more than to have them adorned with flourishes; but that is supposed to have been owing to the unpoliteness of the Arabs; and he tells us, that when he acted as secretary to the emir, he supplied these defects, and that his doing so was highly acceptable to the emir. Had this open letter then come from Geshem, who was an Arab, it might have passed unnoticed; but as it was from Sanballat, the inclosing it in a handsome bag was a ceremony Nehemiah had reason to expect from him, since he was a person of distinction in the Persian court, and then governor of Judea; and the not doing it was the greatest insult,
Letters, vol. 1. p. 136.
• Voy. dans la Pal. p. 58.
i Neh. vi. 1.
insinuating, that though Nehemiah was according to him, preparing to assume the royal dignity, he should be so far from acknowledging him in that character, that he would not even pay him the compliment due to every person of distinction.*
If this is the true representation of the affair, commentators have given but a poor account of Sanballat sent him a message, says one of them, "pretending, it is likely, special respect and kindness unto him, in informing him what was laid to his charge."
Bracelets sometimes Ensigns of Royalty:
WE were speaking lately of Saul, and some marks of dignity by which he was distinguished in his pursuit after David, if we may put that construction upon them which modern Eastern customs leads us to; and that engages me to take notice of another circumstance of that sort which commentators have been equally silent about, and that is, his wearing a bracelet at the time of his death. This I take to have been an ensign of royalty; and in that view, I
The MS. &c. gives us a like account of the Eastern letters, adding this circumstance, that those that are uninclosed, as sent to common people, are usually rolled up; in which form their paper commonly appears." Note on Jer .xxxvi. 2. A letter in the form of a small roll of paper would appear very odd in our eyes, but it seems is common there.
I have seen several of Tippoo Saheeb's letters which were done up in this way. EDIT.