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cluding Babylonia and Chaldea, is now, as it always has been, principally peopled by Arabs, who, however, are not confined to those limits, but form no minute part of the population of Assyria, and are found in greater or smaller numbers even in the most northern parts.

Of the religion of these Arabs nothing more need be said than that they are Mohammedans of the Sonnee sect. In character, habits, and customs they resemble, in general, their brethren of the adjacent peninsula-from whence, at one period or other, they all originally came-although modified greatly by circumstances. They all lay claim to the qualities of hospitality, generosity, justice, incorruptible integrity, and fidelity to their promise, courage, love of independence, as much as they did in the days of Hatim Taee; yet they acknowledge themselves to be robbers and plunderers, attaching obviously no discredit to the act of seizing the property of strangers who may not have bargained with them for immunity as to person and goods. But, whatever may have been the case in former times, the Arabs of the present day, in the countries which we are describing, appear to have retained only the vices, while they have lost the virtues, of their forefathers; for, so little regard do they now pay to their oaths or to the true rights of a guest, that, though a traveller may be safe while in the tent of a Bedouin, the latter thinks it no breach of honour or humanity to send some one to attack him after he has quitted his roof, or even to stain his own hands with violence.

Fortunately, the Arab is not prone to bloodshed, nor fond of exposing his life to great hazard; so that, in cases of attack where the odds are not very great, a little firmness will bring him to reason. But, on the other hand, a useless opposition to a force who know their power, if pushed to extremities, is apt to lead to fatal consequences; for, when their blood has been rashly shed, they give no quarter. Their battles among themselves are seldom attended with serious casualties, victories being not unfrequently gained without the loss of a man. But this results as much from a reluctance to incur the consequences of a blood-feud as to expose their own persons.

These blood-feuds, as among all other semi-barbarous nations, are pregnant with horrible atrocities. Among those which are recorded of more remote times, there is

none more disastrous and melancholy than that which once distracted the great tribe of Montefic, consisting chiefly of two principal clans, the Malik and the Ajwad. The quar rel arose out of a question as to right of pasturage on certain tracts; and the former at length prevailed by exterminating their rival brethren. Excited to desperation by the songs and remonstrances of the women, every male of the Ajwad armed himself for battle, and fell in defence of the spot where his fathers had fed their flocks. But even this sanguinary triumph was insufficient to satisfy the jealous temper of Solyman, the leader of the victorious clan. Dreading future retribution, should even a single individual of the conquered tribe survive, he adopted the atrocious expedient of putting every female to death, and securing the destruction of progeny by the most appalling means. One alone, who had thrown herself at the feet of a Malik chief, was saved by his compassion at the imminent risk of his own life; for he was wounded and nearly cut in pieces while defending her. Of this young woman, who was pregnant at the time, was born Abdoollah, afterward the founder of a family, which, from the peculiar origin of its chief, received the appellation of the "Orphan's Tribe." The place of slaughter was one of those pleasant glens which, even in the steril and rocky soil of Arabia, are found among the mountains, where water may be everywhere obtained near the surface, and which in spring and early summer are covered with a rich verdure. That which was the scene of this disaster is to be seen about fifteen miles to the south of modern Bussora, and is still known as the Wadi ul Nissa, or the "Vale of Women," the name which it received upon that fatal occasion. A catastrophe of a like nature, though confined to the fate of an individual, was witnessed not many years ago by an English traveller, who had chanced to become a guest in the tent of a sheik of the Beni Lam Arabs, as he was journeying through Kuzistan. In the absence of the chief, the honours were done to him by his daughter, a young woman, the only resident in the tent. Towards morning the stranger was roused from his sleep by shrieks, and soon distinguished the voice of his young hostess exclaiming that she was murdered. All rushed to the spot, where they found the unfortunate girl in the agonies of death, her breast pierced in three places with a dagger.


While gazing on the sight, and offering vain assistance, a voice was heard from a height close by, exclaiming, "Yes! it is I. I have done it. Praise be to God, I have murdered her." All eyes turned to the spot, where there was perceived an old woman gesticulating with the utmost vehemence. A rush was made towards her; and she either ran or was borne back to the brink of the river, on which the tents were pitched, and, falling from the high bank, was

seen no more.

On inquiry, it appeared that this stern female was mother of a pehlewan or prize-fighter of another tribe, who, not long before, had killed a son of this sheik, an event which had excited the half-dormant feud in all its bitterness. A stranger soon afterward entering the camp, was received with the usual frankness, and hospitably entertained. Unfortunately, he was recognised by some one as the very pehlewan who had slain their patriarch's son; but he was now their guest, and, by the inviolable custom of the Arabs, could not be touched. The chief himself was absent; and the feelings of good faith and humanity were preponderating, when this young woman, sister of the deceased, entered the assembly, and upbraided the men with cowardice. "Shall the murderer of your sheik's son be here, and escape?" said she, vehemently. "Never let it be told; put him instantly to death." But still a reluctance to infringe the sacred principle in so glaring a manner restrained their hands, when the young girl herself, maddened with rage, seized a sword and smote the unfortunate man. The sight of blood was irresistible. In a moment every weapon was sheathed in his body, and he was literally cut in pieces. The head of the tribe returning, was horrified at the event, which he would fain have recalled or repaired. But the mother of the dead would accept no atonement; she followed the camp for years, thirsting for revenge, and she found her opportunity that night when the English traveller happened to be the guest of her victim.

Another English traveller,* now dead, gives the follow*Mr. Elliot, to whose manuscript papers the author was kindly permitted access by Colonel Taylor, the British resident at Bagdad. The gentleman here mentioned was a person of great enterprise and high acquirements; and, as he possessed the means of obtaining information which fall to the lot of few, the Notes which he left are of uncommon value, more especially as they respect the manners and domestic habits of the people.


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