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estates and farms, has established a regular gradadation from the nobleman, through the class of gentry, small landed proprietors, and substantial farmers, down to the labouring peasantry; and while it has thus banded the extremes of society together, has infused into each intermediate rank a spirit of independence. This, it must be confessed, is not so universally the case at present as it was formerly; the larger estates having, in late years of distress, absorbed the smaller, and in some parts of the country, almost annihilated the sturdy race of small farmers. These, however, I believe, are but casual breaks in the general system I have mentioned.
In rural occupation there is nothing mean and debasing. It leads a man forth among scenes of natural grandeur and beauty; it leaves him to the workings of his own mind, operated upon by the purest and most elevating of external influences. Such a man may be simple and rough, but he cannot be vulgar. The man of refinement, therefore, finds nothing revolting in an intercourse with the lower orders of rural life, as he does when he casually mingles with the lower of cities. He lays aside his distance and reserve, and is glad to waive the distinctions of rank, and to enter into the honest, heartfelt enjoyments of common life. Indeed the very amusements of the country, bring men more and more together; and the sound of hound and horn blend all feelings into harmony. I believe this is one great reason why the nobility and gentry are more popular among the inferior orders in England than they are in any other country; and why the latter have endured so many excessive pressures and extremities, without repining more generally at the unequal distribution of fortune and privilege.
To this mingling of cultivated and rustic society may also be attributed the rural feeling that runs through British literature; the frequent use of illustrations from rural life; those incomparable descriptions of nature that abound in the British poets—that have continued down from “the flower and the leaf” of Chaucer, and have brought into our closets all the freshness and fragrance of the dewy landscape. The pastoral writers of other countries appear as if they had paid nature an occasional visit, and become ac. quainted with her general charms: but the British póets have lived and revelled with her; they have wooed her in her most secret haunts; they have watched her minutest caprices. A spray could not tremble in the breeze-a leaf could not rustle to the ground—a diamond drop could not patterin the stream-a fragrance could not exhale from the humble violet, nor a daisy unfold its crimson tints to the morning; but it has been noticed by these impassioned and delicate observers, and wrought up into some beautiful morality.
FROM MUSTAPHA RUB-A-DUB KELI-KHAN,
To Muley Helim al Raggi, surnamed the agreeable Ragamuffin, chief mountebank and buffo-dancer to his Highness.
The numerous letters which I have written to our friend the slave-driver, as well as those to thy kinsman the snorer, and which doubtless were read to thee, honest Muley, have, in all probability, awakened thy curiosity to know farther particulars concerning the manners of the barbarians, who hold me in such ignominious captivity. I was lately at one of their public ceremonies, which, at first, perplexed me exceedingly, as to its object; but as the explanations of a friend have let me somewhat into the secret, and as it seems to bear no small analogy to thy profession, a description of it may contribute to thy amusement, if not to thy instruction.
A few days since, just as I had finished my coffee,
and was perfuming my whiskers preparatory to a morning walk, I was waited upon by an inhabitant of this place, a gay young infidel, who has of late cultivated my acquaintance. He presented me with a square bit of painted pasteboard, which he informed me, would entitle me to admittance to the city assembly. Curious to know the meaning of a phrase which was entirely new to me, I requested an explanation; when my friend informed me that the assembly was a numerous concourse of young people of both sexes, who,on certain occasions, gathered together to dance about a large room with violent gesticulation, and try to out-dress each other. “In short,” said he, - if you wish to see the natives in all their glory, there's no place like the city assembly; so you must go there, and sport your whiskers.” Though the matter of sporting my whiskers was considerably beyond my apprehension, yet I now began, as I thought, to understand him. I had heard of the war dances of the natives, which are a kind of religious institution, and had little doubt but that this must be a solemnity of the kind-upon a prodigious great scale. Anxious as I am to contemplate these strange people in every situation, I willingly acceded to his proposal, and, to be more at ease, I determined to lay aside my Turkish dress, and appear in plain garments of the fashion of this country, as is my custom whenever I wish to mingle in a crowd, without exciting the attention of the gaping multitude,
It was long after the shades of night had fallen, before my friend appeared to conduct me to the assembly." These infidels,” thought I,"shroud themselves in mystery, and seek the aid of gloom and darkness, to heighten the solemnity of their pious orgies.” Resolving to conduct myself with that decent respect, which every stranger owes to the customs of the land in which he sojourns, I chastised my features into an expression of sober reverence, and stretched my face into a degree of longitude suitable to the ceremony I was about to witness. Spite of myself, I felt an emotion of awe stealing over my senses as I approached the majestic pile. My imagination pictured something similar to a descent into the cave of Dom-Daniel, where the necromancers of the East are taught their infernal arts. I entered with the same gravity of demeanour that I would have approached the holy temple of Mecca, and bowed my head three times as I passed the threshold. “ Head of the mighty Amrou !” thought I, on being ushered into a splendid saloon," what a display is here! surely I am transported to the mansions of the Houris, the Elysium of the faithful!" How tame appeared all the descriptions of enchanted palaces in our Arabian poetry! Wherever I turned my eyes, the quick glances of beauty dazzled my vision and ravished my heart: lovely virgins fluttered by me, darting imperial looks of conquest, or beaming such smiles of invitation, as did Gabriel when he beckoned our holy prophet to heaven. Shall I own the weakness of thy friend, good Muley ?-while thus gazing on the enchanting scene before me, I for a moment forgot my country, and even the memory of my threeand-twenty wives faded from my heart; my thoughts were bewildered and led astray, by the charms of these bewitching savages, and I sunk, for awhile, into that delicious state of mind where the senses, all enchanted and all striving for mastery, produce an endless variety of tumultuous, yet pleasing emotions. Oh, Muley, never shall I again wonder that an infidel should prove a recreant to the single solitary wife allotted him, when even thy friend, armed with all the precepts of Mahomet, can so easily prove faithless to three-and-twenty!
“Whither have you led me ?" said I, at length, to my companion, “and to whom do these beautiful creatures belong? certainly this must be the seraglio of the grand bashaw of the city, and a most happy bashaw must he be, to possess treasures which even his highness of Tripoli cannot parallel,” “Have a care," cried my companion, “ how you talk of sera. glios, or you will have all these gentle nymphs about your ears; for seraglio is a word which, beyond all others, they abhor :-most of them,” continued he, “ have no lord and master, but come here to catch one-they're in the market, as we term it.” “Ah, ha !” said I, exultingly, “ then you really have a fair, or a slave market such as we have in the East, where the faithful are provided with the choicest virgins of Georgia and Circassia ?-by our glorious sun of Afric, but I should like to select some ten or a dozen wives from so lovely an assemblage! pray what would you suppose they might be bought for ?"
Before I could receive an answer, my attention was attracted by two or three good-looking middlesized men, who being dressed in black, a colour universally worn in this country by the muftis and dervises, I immediately concluded to be high priests, and was confirmed in my original opinion that this was a religious ceremony. These reverend personages are entitled managers, and enjoy unlimited authority in the assemblies, being armed with swords, with which, I am told, they would infallibly put any lady to death who infringed the laws of the temple. They walked round the room with great solemnity, and, with an air of profound importance and mystery, put a little piece of folded paper in each fair hand, which I concluded were religious talismans. One of them dropped on the floor, whereupon I slyly put my foot on it, and, watching an opportunity, picked it up unobserved, and found it to contain some unintelligible words and the mystic number 9. What were its virtues I know not; except that I put it in my pocket, and have hitherto been preserved from my fit of the lumbago, which I generally have about this season of the year ever since I tumbled into the well of Zim-zim on my pilgrimage to Mecca. I enclose it to thee in this letter, presuming it to be particluarly serviceable against the dangers of thy profession.
Shortly after the distribution of these talismans, one of the high priests stalked into the middle of the