Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

thing from the bridegroom by way of price. The bride carries water every morning to wash the hands of her guests, as long as the feasting lasts; and every one throws a small piece of money into the bason after washing. The brides are also permitted to raise other little contributions among the svati, by hiding their shoes, caps, knives, or some other necessary part of their equipage, which they are obliged to ransom by a piece of money, according as the company rates it. And, besides all these voluntary and extorted contributions, each guest must give some present to the new-married wife at taking leave the last day of the sdravize, and then she also distributes some trifles in return, such as shirts, caps, handkerchiefs, and the like. The nuptials are almost precisely the same throughout all the vast country inhabited by the Morlacchi; and those in use among the peasants of Dalmatia, Istria, and the islands, differ but little from them.

Yet among these particular varieties, there is one, of the island Zarine, near Sebenico, remarkable enough ; for there the starisvat, whether drunk or sober, must, with his naked broad-sword, strike the bride's crown of flowers off her head, when she is ready to go to bed. And in the land of Pago, in the village of Novoglia, there is a custom more comical, and less dangerous, but equally savage. After the marriage contract is settled, and the bridegroom comes to conduct his bride to church, her father or mother, in delivering her over to bin, makes an exaggeration of her ill qualities : “Know, since thou wilt have her, that she is good for nothing, ill-natured, obstinate, &c.”

On which the bridegroom, affecting an angry look, turns to the young woman, exclaiming, "Ah! since it is so, I will teach you to behave better;" and at the same time regales her with a blow or a kick, or some similar piece of gallantry, which is by no means figurative. And it seems in general, that the Morlach women, the inhabitants of the cities excepted, do not much dislike a beating either from their husbands or lovers.

Our author gives a most disgusting picture of the nastiness of the Morlacchi women after marriage; and says, that the mortifying manner in which they are treated by their husbands, is both the cause and effect of this neglect of their persons. He often lodged in Morlach houses, but observed that the female sex is universally treated with coatempt. The pregnancy and births of those women would be thought very extraordinary among us, where the ladies suffer so much, notwithstanding all the care and circumspection used before and after labour. But a Morlach woman neither changes her food nor interrupts her daily fatigue on account of her pregnancy; and is often delivered in the fields, or on the road, by herself'; and takes the infant, washes it in the first water she finds, carries it home, and returns the day after to her usual labour, or to feed her fock. The infants, thus carelessly treated in their tenderest moments, are afterwards wrapped in miserable rags, where they remain three or four months under the same ungentle management; after which they are set at liberty, and left to crawl about the cottage till they are able to walk upright by themselves; and at the same time acquire that singular degree of strength and health, with which the Morlacchi are PARIAS, OR PERREAS.

43 eodowed; when, without the least inconvenience, they can expose their naked breasts to the severest frosts and snow. The infants are allowed to suck their mother's milk till she is with child again; though that should not happen for four, five, or six years. The length of the breasts of the Morlacchi women is extraordinary; for it is certain, that they can give the teat to their children over their shoulders, or ueder their arms. They let the boys run about, without breeches, in a shirt which reaches only to the knee, till the age of thirteen or fourteen; following the custom of Bossina, subject to the Porte, where no capitation tax is paid for boys till they wear breeches, they being considered till then as children, not capable of earning their bread.

On the occasion of birth, and especially of the first, all the relations and friends send presents of meat to the woman in child bed, or rather to the woman delivered ; and the family makes a supper of all those presents together. The women do not enter the church till forty days after the child birth. The Morlacchi pass their youth in the woods, attending their Bocks and herds; and in that life of quiet and leisure, they often become dexterous in carving with a simple knife : they make wooden cups, and whistles adorned with fanciful bas reliefs, which are not void of merit, and shew the genius of the people.

PARIAS, or PerrEAS. This is a tribe of Hindoos, so peculiarly degraded beyond all others, that they live by themselves in the outskirts of towns; and, in the country, build their houses apart from the villages, or rather have villages of their own, furnished with wells ; for they dare not fetch water from those which other families make use of; and, lest these latter should inadvertently go to one of theirs, they are obliged to scatter the bones of dead cattle about their wells, that they may be known. They dare not in cities pass through the streets where the Bramins live ; nor set foot in their villages where they dwell ; Dor enter a temple, either of their god Wissnow or Eswara ; because they are beld impure. They get their bread by sowing, digging, and building the walls of mud houses; most of those inhabited by the common people being raised by these Parias; who do all such kinds of dirty work, as other people will not meddle with. Nor is their diet much more cleanly; for they eat cows, horses, fowls, or other carrion, which die of themselves.

One would scarce imagine that contention for precedency should ever occur among a people who have renounced all cleanliness, and like swine, wallow in filth, and who are held in such an utter contempt by the rest of the Hindoos; yet pride has divided the Parias into two classes : the first are simply called Parias, the other Seriperes. The employment of these last, is to go abroad selling leather, which they dress; also to make bridles; and some of them serve for soldiers. The Parias, who reckon theniselves the better fainily, will not eat in the houses of the Seriperes ; who must pay them respect, by lifting their hands aloft, and standing upright before them. The Seriperes,

when they marry, cannot set up a panaal, a kind of garland, before their doors, made with more than three stakes or trees; else the whole city would be in motion. They are, in fact, slaves ; for when any person of authority dies, in the families of Komittis, Sittis, Palis, farriers or goldsmiths, and the relations incline to give some clothes to the Seriperes, their beards must be shaven ; and when the corpse is carried out of town to be burned or interred, they must do that office; for which each receives a picce of silver worth three and a half sous. These Seriperes are called, at Surat, Kalalchors; that is, in the Persian language, eat-alls, or eaters at large. Nothing can offend an Hindoo more than to be called an Halalchor ; yet these poor people submit to all this drudgery and contempt without repining

They are very stupid and ignorant, and even vicious, from their wretched

way of life; the Bramins and nobility shun them as if they had the plague, looking on the nieeting of a Paria as the greatest misfortune. To come near oue of them is a sin,--to touch them a sacrilege. If a Paria were dying, it is infamy to visit him, or to give him the least assistance, even in the utmost distress. A Bramin, who touches a Paria, immediately washes himself from the impurity. Even their shadow and breath being reckoned contagious, they are obliged to live on the east side of their towns, that the westerly winds which reign in their country may keep back their breath. And a Bramin may kill one of these unhappy creatures, if he does not avoid it by getting out of his way. In short, they think them reprobated by God, and believe the souls of the damned enter into the Parias, to be punished for their crimes. Yet the mission have found among these dregs of the people very active and zealous catechists, who by their labours have very much contributed to the conversion of their countrymen, particularly one Rajanaitzen, a Paria soldier, who, of all the inferior missionaries, has distinguished himself most by bis labours and sufferings.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

DESCRIPTION OF ATHENIAN GIRLS.

From Hughes's Travels in Greece. “OUR hostess, Signora Vitali, introduced us to our next door neighbours, who consisted of her own sister, with three fair danghters, considered at this time the belles of Athens. They are known by the title of Consuline, their father having held the post of British vice-consul. One of these young ladies was supposed to be that • Maid of Athens' who is celebrated in some beautiful verses annexed to Childe Harolde: her countenance was extremely interesting, and her eye maintained much of its wonted brilliancy; but the roses had already deserted her cheek, and we observed the remains only of that loveliness which elicited such strains from an impassioned poet. So fading a flower is beauty in these climates, that a very few years see it rise to sparkle like a meteor and to vanish. A Grecian damsel of sixteen is frequently angelical; at twenty she becomes plain ; and, in five years more, frightfully ugly. There is no transition, as with

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ALGERINES.

45 us, from the light beauty of the girl to the mature graces of the Batron, and the venerable dignity of advanced age: the face of a sylph becomes almost at once transformed into a gorgon's head. Ta discussing this subject with Signor Lusieri, he assured me, that the fault day not so much in the climate, as in the destructive habits of the Grecian females, more especially in the abuse of the bath, which they attend almost daily, remaining in its hot sudatories several hours at a time, where they discuss more scandal than circulates at an English tea-lable in as many weeks: bence their colour vanishes, and their fibres are relaxed ; bence they become languid, and unable to take wholesome exercise ; soon after the age of twenty, wrinkles begin to appear, and they suffer all the inconveniences of premature debility. Though the Grecian females are not accomplished, yet they possess a considerable degree of elegance in their address and manners: their salutation is particularly graceful, consisting of a gentle inclination of the body, whilst the right hand is brought in contact with the waist: they are generally found by visitors reclining indolently on the sofas of the apartment, their silken robes bound round with a silver-clasped zone, their hair partly wreathed with howers or adorned with pearls, and partly flowing in curls over their shoulders ; their eye-brows carefully arranged, and tinged with surme, a powder of the blackest dye; their nails stained with henna, and their complexion too often aided by artificial lustre; exhibiting melancholy examples of the neglect of nature's choicest gifts, the substantial graces of the mind.

ALGERINES. The inhabitants of Algiers, a nation of pirates, who, in aefiance of all the powers of Europe, have robbed and plundered the ships, and enslaved and murdered the subjects, of every Cbristian state in Europe and America, and for two centuries past, excepting only those of such as condescended to purchase their friendship or forbearance by presents. These pirates, all along the sea coasts, are a mixture of different natiobs; but chiefly Moors and Moriscoes, driven out of Catalonia, Arragon, and other parts of Spain. There are also great numbers of Turks among them, who come from the Levant to seek their fortunes, as well as multitudes of Jews and Christians taken at sea, and brought hither to be sold for slaves.

The inland inhabitants of Algiers, distinguished by the name of Berebers, are some of the most ancient inhabitants of the country; and are supposed to be descended from the ancient Sabians, that nation of robbers, who plundered the patriarch Job, and who are said to have come to Algiers from Arabia Felix, under the conduct of one of their princes. Others believe them to be descended from the Canaanites, who were driven out of Palestine by Joshua. They are dispersed all over Barbary, and divided into a multitude of tribes under their respective chiefs : most of them inhabit the moun us parts ; some range from place to place, and live in tents, or portable huts ; others in scattered villages, in which situation they have generally kept from intermixing with other nations.

[ocr errors]

The Berebers are reckoned the richest of all the Algerines, go better clothed, and carry on a much larger traffic of cattle, hides, wax, honey, iron, and other commodities. They have also some artificers in iron, and some manufacturers in the weaving branch.—The vame Bereber, is supposed to have been originally given them on account of their being first settled in some desart place. Upon their increasing in process of time, they divided themselves into five tribes, probably on account of religious differences, called the Zinhagiuns, Mascamedins, Zeneti, Hoares, and Gornere ; and these having produced 600 families, subdivided themselves into a great number of petty tribes. To these we may add the Zwowahs, by European authors called Azuagues, or Assuagues, who are likewise dispersed over most parts of Barbary and Numidia. Great numbers of these inhabit the mountainous parts of Cuco, Labez, &c. leading a wandering pastoral life. But the most numerous inbabitants are the Moors and Arabians. The former are very stout and warlike, and skilful horsemen ; but so addicted to robbing, that one cannot safely travel along the country at a distance from the towns without a guard, or at least a marabout, or saint, for a safeguard. For as they look upon themselves to be the original proprietors of the country, and not only as dispossessed by the rest of the inhabitants, but reduced by them to the lowest state of poverty, they make no scruple to plunder all they can meet with, by way of reprisal.

The inhabitants in general have a pretty fair complexion, they are robust and well-proportioned. People of distinction wear their beards; they have rich clothes made of silk, embroidered with flowers of gold, and turbans enriched with jewels. The Turks, who compose the military force, have great privileges, pay no taxes, are never publicly punished, and rarely in private. The lowest soldier domineers over the most distinguished Moors at pleasure. If he finds them better mounted than himself, he exchanges horses without ceremony: The Turks alone have the privilege of carrying fire-arms. Some good qualities, however, distinguish them, in spite of this excess of despotism. They never game for money, nor even for trifles ; and they never profane the name of the Deity. They soon forget their private quarrels ; and after the first paroxysm of resentment is over, it is infamy for a Turk to keep in remembrance the injuries he has received. In this respect, certainly, they are less barbarous than other nations that boast of their civilization.

[ocr errors]

PUNISHMENTS IN ALGIERS. In this country it is not to be expected that justice will be administered with any degree of impartiality. The Mahometan soldiery, in particular, are so much favoured, that they are seldom put to death for any crime except rebellion; in which cases they are either strangled with a bow-string, or hanged to an iron hook; in lesser offences they are fined, or their pay stopped, and if officers, they are reduced to the station of common soldiers, from whence they may gradually raise themselves to their former dignity. Women guilty of adultery have a halter tied about their necks, with the other end fastened to

« ZurückWeiter »