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Other curious Methods of doing Persons Honour.
BUT besides these methods of doing honour to persons which have formed a sort of regular series, there are some others which are not to be forgotten, and which I shall give an account of in a more miscellaneous way.
When, for instance, I read Pitts' account of a cavalcade at Algiers, upon a person's turning Mohammedan, and which is apparently designed to do him, as well as their law, honour, I cannot forbear thinking of the manner in which Haman proposed to do a person honour, and which Mordecai actually received. I will not repeat that passage of the book of Esther, as the following extract from Pitts will bring it sufficiently to mind:
The apostate is to get on horseback, on a stately steed, with a rich saddle and fine trappings: he is also richly habited, and has a turban on his head. . . . . but nothing of this is to be called his own; only there is given about him two or three yards of broad cloth, which is laid before him on the saddle. The horse, with him on his back, is led all round the city .. which he is several hours in doing. The apostate is attended with drums, and other music, and twenty or thirty vekil harges, or stewards, who, as I told you, are under the
• Ch. vi.7–9.
otho-bashees, or serjeants. These march in order of each side of the horse, with naked swords in their hands. . . . . . The cryer goes before, with a loud voice giving thanks to GoD for the proselyte that is made," &c.P
Strange as the method may appear to us of honouring a person by putting vestments on him above his degree, and which it is not designed he should keep, together with the carrying him thus equipped about a large town on horseback, attended by a cryer: yet Africans, we find, concur with Asiatics in it. It is no wonder then to find Haman proposed a thing of this sort, and that Ahasuerus easily assented to it.
Riding on Horseback, the Privilege only of highlyprivileged Persons.
THE riding at all on a horse seems to be an honourable thing in the East, since Europeans are not in common permitted to do it; the consuls of France, according to Maillet,' being the only Frenchmen in Egypt who are allowed it, the rest being obliged to ride on asses or mules. Dr. Pococke, in like manner, describes the English consul as making his entry into Cairo on horseback, his friends and attendants on asses; no Christian, excepting consuls, 4 Let. 1, p. 7, 8.
? P. 118, 199
being permitted to ride on horseback in the city.'
This is not peculiar to Egypt: Maundrell complains of his being obliged, with his company, to submit to this affront at Damascus. Not that the asses of these countries are not proper enough to ride on, for they have nothing of that indolence and heaviness, Maillet says, which are natural to our's, and will hold their briskness through the longest journies, so that ladies ride nothing else, and the men choose them, rather than horses, when their circumstances will permit; but because they are by no means so proper as a horse for times of solemnity and state, or at any time for such persons as would appear with dignity.
Accordingly, horses are used to no other motions in the East than that of walking in state, and running in full career." And for this reason, Pococke tells us, the chous of the Janizaries (at Cairo) always goes on an ass for greater speed; those creatures pacing along very fast; whereas it is contrary to the Turkish dignity to go, on a horse, faster than a footpace in the streets. Riding on horseback is, in the Levant, accounted an honourable thing, and they ride them accordingly in a very stately
And indeed, this has so struck some of our Western travellers, Dr. Russell in particular,'
that they have frankly confessed, that a great man of the East riding on horseback, and attended by his servants, has appeared much more stately and dignified to them, than one of ours does in his coach loaded with footmen. And, in truth, the people of these countries must be allowed to be most requisite connoiseurs, as to every attitude and every circumstance that serves to ennoble the appearance of a person, and render it stately and majestic.
The Prophet Zechariah seems accordingly to have supposed this sort of sensibility, when he describes the coming of the Messiah to Zion as meck and lowly, because he was to make his entry on an ass.
For this attaching of stateliness and dignity to the riding on a horse, obtained in Judea before the times of Zechariah, though it had not been always so in that country, the greatest personages and on the most solemn occasions too, riding there in more ancient times on asses and mules. It seems to have begun in the reign of Solomon, in whose days we are told many horses were brought out of Egypt, and who apparently touches upon the pomp, supposed to be in riding on horses, in his writings, Eccles. x. 7. I have already taken some notice of this passage; but Russell's account of persons of condition riding on horseback, with a number of servants walking before them, is a
See Judges x. 4, 2 Sam. xviii. 9. 1 Kings i. 33. * 1 Kings x. 28, before which time there were few or no horses in Judea.
much more perfect illustration of a passage which speaks of those that ride as riding on horses. "I have seen servants riding in state," was the thought of the wise-man, while persons of great birth, in countries where dignity is kept up with the nicest care, he had seen walking like servants before those that rode.
To the splendor also of this attendance, he refers without doubt in part, in those words, I got me servants, Eccles. ii. 7.
Honours conferred on those who have got the Koran by Heart.
We are told in a book, which gives an account of the sufferings of the crew of an English privateer, shipwrecked on the African coast in 1745-6,' and which occasionally mentions the education of their children, and their getting the Koran by heart, that "when they have gone through, their relations borrow a fine horse and furniture, and carry them about the town in procession, with the book in their hands, the rest of their companions following, and all sorts of the music of the country going before."
Dr. Shaw mentions the same custom, adding the acclamation of the school-boys, but taking no notice of the music. We have no reason,
• P. 195.
Barbarian Cruelty, Apendix. p. 52.