Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

The Old Anglo-Scottish Dialect.

469

With bitter bale I have thee bought,

To make thee free;
Into this dungeon deep I sought

[And all] for love of thee.
Sen I for love, man, bought thee dear,
As thou thyself the sooth sees here,
I pray thee heartly, with good cheer,

Love me again;
That it liked me that I for thee

Tholed all this pain.
If thou thy life in sin have led,
Mercy to ask be not adread,
The least drop I for thee bled

Might cleanse thee soon;
All the sin the warld within

If thou had done.” We have thus travelled over, in rather a desultory manner, the interesting ground that is presented to us in the Anglian dialects, as used on the south of the Tweed, and we shall here pause for the present. We think it cannot fail to have been seen how important a form of old English is thus presented to us, and how closely it is identified with our Scottish tongue. We do not say that the more southerly idioms of old English are not also to be studied as illustrations on this subject; for in all the varieties of English speech there is much that is common and universal. There can be no better proof of this fact than the excellent annotations of Mr. Albert Way on the Promptorium Parvulorum, a book written in the language of Norfolk, but which has received in those Notes a copious elucidation from all the forms of Old English. It is obvious, however, that the dialects which prevailed from East Anglia to the Forth, and latterly even to the Moray Firth, are those which are most nearly allied together, and that the study of these in their whole extent is the best and only true way of understanding any one of them. Without seeking to draw invidious comparisons, we cannot help remembering how much these eastern districts have in every way contributed to the prosperity of England, and the formation of the English character. Their inhabitants have, from the earliest times, been remarkable for untiring energy and industry, as well as for practical prudence and good sense. They have carried out, in the highest perfection, on their own ground, the two concurring, and yet contrasted pursuits of agriculture and seamanship, which are the main supports of England's greatness; their genius and taste pre-eminently appeared in their early architecture and poetry; and their language, though it could not supersede, has insensibly modified the forms of the southern and

midland dialects, and has communicated much of that force, compactness, and precision, for which classical English is now remarkable.

Dr. Guest observes, that" as the northern dialect was retreating northwards, two vigorous efforts were made to fix it as a literary language; the first, in the thirteenth century, by the men of Lincolnshire-—the same whose taste and genius yet live in their glorious churches; and a second in the fifteenth century by the men of Lothian.” We find here indicated the history and progress of the Anglian speech. Reduced gradually in England to the position of a provincial dialect, it had still a refuge in the Scottish Lowlands, and flourished for the space of more than two hundred years as the language of the Court and clergy, as well as of a large portion of the common people, of an important and independent kingdom. The Scottish is thus the Anglian tongue, not neglected and left to run wild, like flowers in a deserted garden, but enclosed, cultivated, and watered by courtly favour and the care of learned men. This Scottish dialect, however, received its death-blow at the Reformation. The circulation of the English Scriptures undermined its ascendency, and no Scottish Bible was ever authorized. Knox and his followers were accused of Anglicizing in their language as well as in their politics; and Ninian Winzet, the Popish antagonist of Knox, was among the last who wrote the ancient Scottish in its primitive purity. The union of the Crowns in the beginning of the following century, placed Scotland, in a great measure, in the condition of a province; but left it, at the same time, in possession of a noble literature, the product of the two centuries that had intervened from Barbour to James the Sixth, the last of our purely Scottish kings, and who may be called also the last of our Scottish poets perhaps in more senses than one. The body of poetry which had thus arisen, together with the admirable compositions of Ramsay and Burns, which have since been produced, ought to be regarded, not as the exclusive property of Scottish men, but as belonging also to all their countrymen of England, among whom the Anglian dialect ever prevailed. Its foundations were laid, and the first cultivation of the language was carried on to the south of the Tweed, and the peculiarities of phraseology, and perhaps of thought and feeling, which distinguish Scottish poetry, are common and congenial to the whole Anglian race.

Rambles in the Deserts of Syria.

471

ART. VIII.-Rambles in the Deserts of Syria, and among the

Turkomans and Bedaweens. London, John Murray, 1864.

THE title of this book gives promise of something pleasant, and the words Rambles in the Deserts of Syria hardly prepare us for a journey which leads from Beles, Hierapolis, Batnæ, and Aleppo, and thence by Marash and the Cilician Gates to Antioch, Tripoli, Dama, and Chalcis, and so back to Bercea, and anon by Aishah and Damascus to Jerusalem and Beirut, and once more back to Aleppo, Andrene, Seleucia, and Marash. Such a list recalls the Mirrors of Aleppo, in the pleasant story of Sadi and the Merchant of the Isle of Kish, where the latter says: “O Sadi ! I have one more trip before me. I shall take Persian sulphur to China, for I have heard that it brings a prodigious price there; and thence I shall take China-ware to Greece, and Grecian brocade to India, and Indian steel to Aleppo, and mirrors of Aleppo to Yaman, and striped cloth of Yaman to Persia, and, after that, I shall give up trading, and sit at home in my shop.”

Sooth to say, men do not ramble in the Syrian Desert. If they be Europeans they travel principally with a set purpose, and to see a certain locality. If Arabs, they wander, because it is their life to do so, the condition of their existence, as the river flows in omne ævum. Thus the tribe of the Anezi circle perpetually " in a great migratory orbit, which takes them to Aleppo in summer, towards Urfa, Diarbekir, Môsul, and Baghdad in winter, and leads them round by the southern regions of the Desert, passing near Damascus, Homs, and Hama, back to Aleppo.' Or, be they European or native, Syrian wayfarers stray rather than ramble from the right direction, like the caravan of three thousand camels, with six hundred men, which perished in 1858, near Hara Iji Sheham. " It was bound from Damascus to Baghdad, and lost the way. No Bedaween happened to be within reach, and a tribe came upon their remains long after their death!”

Least of all do men ramble voluntarily among the Turkomans and Bedaweens. It is with bated breath and anxious eye that the traveller presses on through the mountains of the Ansairi, or the great pine forests of the Ghiaoor Dagh, where with opportunity every man is a robber; and the rider who spurs into the illimitable desert of the Bedaweens will do wisely to watch well his mare, and see she misses not the track, as knowing his life depends upon her powers. To one who has had experience of the measure Turkomans mete out to their neighbours, to speak of rambling among them sounds like junketing among cannibals or picnics among pirates. The love of wild adventure, the grim necessity of travel, or serious and responsible duties may and do lead Europeans into the haunts of the robbers of the Desert, but the careless spirit of the rambler should seek more peaceful districts. No doubt there is a Syrian Handbook, and there are certain frequented routes along which Cockneydom, ignorant of the languages and heedless of the customs of the people, may travel securely; but to penetrate into less known parts and return safely demands qualifications only attained after a long residence in the country, and not often then, but which the author of these pages abundantly possesses. Without such gifts, indeed, his rambles would soon have been unceremoniously abridged. Imagine, for example, an ordinary traveller in the situation of the author, about to enter the wild istrict of Chikoor Ova at the foot of the Ghiaoor Dagh, when the chief of the Turkoman escort “suddenly pulled up, called in his men and took leave,” abandoning him to find his way through mountain fastnesses peopled with robbers, into the Cilician plain, and then to trust himself to the tender mercies of the Tajerli. A stranger to the country would be fortunate in such a case to escape with the loss only of property. Or how would such a ride as is described in letter xü. of the volume before us suit the mere tourist ? Starting from Aleppo in the fierce heat of August, the author of these pages rode fifteen miles south to the village of Sfiri, and cantered thence to Irjil, the ancient Regillum, which he reached at night-fall. Not finding there an Arab camp, the object of his search, he rode on till midnight and drew rein at Hara Iji Sheham. There he slept on the bare ground without food, and started next day when the sun was hot, with a draught of muddy water as his sole refreshment. Riding on the whole day, at night-fall he obtained from three Bedaween boys a little milk and a crust of hard bread, and again slept on the plain. After riding the whole of the third day he arrived at the ruins of a fine old castle on a hill, called by the Bedaweens Shuemis, not far from the site of the ancient Irenopolis, now Selamieh, half-way between Hama and Palmyra. Thence he rode on all night, “sometimes at a good gallop," and as the fourth day dawned reached the hospitable tents of the Mowali. For such rides the best blood of Arabia is required in the steed, and much of the Arab power of abstinence in the rider.

But with every protection that knowledge of the languages and the tribes, consummate address and presence of mind, and even recognised rank can give, the Desert of the Bedaween is not always to be traversed with impunity. An example of this will be found in the eighteenth letter of this series, where the author's errand of mercy in quest of the unhappy Christian Perils of Rambling in the Desert.

473

women carried off from Damascus, not only was not “twice blessed," but doubly failed, first, as regards the captives, who were never recovered ; and, secondly, with reference to himself

, in that his own life was nearly sacrificed. The incident is one so stirring that it deserves to be extracted :

“Knowing the way perfectly, we left Aisheh without an escort, and having with us only a servant, a groom, and a lad. For several hours we rode safely under the thickly-falling snow, unable to see fifty yards around us, and consequently unseen from any greater distance. In the afternoon, the weather unfortunately cleared, and we came in sight of some horsemen towards the north, belonging to the Shammar Sheikh, Abd-ul-Kerim, with a few of the worst characters among the Ghess and other low tribes, which had taken the field for Deham, in all about sixty. Being only five, we could not think of simple resistance, but both F. and I were well mounted, and we could try to avoid close quarters. The party opened as soon as they saw us, and we were soon nearly surrounded. Flight in a straight line was impossible. We had plenty of room, however, as our enemy seemed to have recognised us, and evidently feared that we might have fire-arms. I told F- on no account to use his revolver, as we must be finally overpowered, and by drawing blood we should only seal our own fate. After ineffectual attempts to force our way through their line, in one of which I got a spear-thrust through my Arab cloak, but without wounding me, we kept wheeling and dodging the attacks made on us within a circle of a few hundred yards. Our three men having inferior horses were soon taken, unhorsed, and stripped. Their cries seem to have been heard by another body of horsemen, which soon appeared rapidly approaching us from the south. Encouraged by the hope that they were friends, we continued galloping about with a decided advantage in the speed and condition of our horses; if they were enemies, we could only give ourselves up. Fstruggling gallantly, striking out with his fists, like a schoolboy as he is, at four or five Arabs, who were trying to jostle him. At last they got him down, and then others tried to close on me. The shock of several horsemen who ran up against me at full speed without pointing their lances, brought my horse to the ground,

and rough hands dragged me from the saddle before he could rise. I contrived to shake them off, and, giving up my horse, ran towards the other party of Bedaween who were coming on at their best pace. The first man who reached me was Khalifeh-el-Kir, of the Roos tribe of Anezi. He was a brother, and he shouted to those behind him who I was.

I sent Khalifeh to F-, who was still stoutly sparring at bay, his horse having been carried off. Not knowing Khalifeh, he thought him a new assailant, and struck out at him too. Khalifeh quickly scattered with his lance the Shammar on foot around F- unwound the aghal from his head, threw it over F- to secure him, then

was

gave horse to ride, taken from one of his men. The next who came up to me was Ahmed-Bey-Mowali, who at once charged those near me, and

him a

« PoprzedniaDalej »