good qualities (hospitality and generosity). But their open-handedness often springs more
from the childish levity of the savage than from true and praiseworthy liberality of character.
Like an infant that stretches out its small hands and opens its little mouth for whatever
comes within its reach, be it a guinea or a cherry, and with almost equal readiness lets its new
acquisition drop no sooner than grasped, the Bedawy is at once rapacious and profuse, coveting
all he sees, without much distinction of its worth, and lightly parting with what he has already
appropriated from very incapacity to estimate or appreciate its value. To give, to beg, or to
plunder are for him correlative acts, all arising, in the main, from the same immense ignorance
of what property really is and what its importance ! . . . . Besides, he has in general
but little to offer, and for that very little he not unfrequently promises himself an ample
retribution by plundering his last night's guest when a few hours' distant on his morning
journey. Still a certain kindness of feeling towards strangers—the same which forms a very
prominent feature in the Arab family likeness— is not wholly extinct in the breast of this half-
savage ; and what he offers in the way of hospitality is accompanied by a heartiness of welcome
and an uncouth attempt to please which certainly has its merit, and often obtains encomiums
very agreeable to Bedawin ears. But he is at best an ill-educated child, whose natural good
qualities have remained undeveloped or half stifled by bad treatment and extreme neglect."
There will be differences of opinion as to the moral qualities of the Arabs, just as there
will be much disagreement about a proper definition of their country. The Arab will tell you
that that is his country wherever Arabic is spoken. This gives a wide expanse of dominion.
Your donkey-boy at Cairo, for instance, will be indignant if you call him an Egyptian,* and
will say at once, " Me, Arab !" At Damascus the bazaars and squares will be full of Arabs,
come in probably from the Hauran ; then away to Palmyra and on to the Great River you
will scarce hear of any other people. Not only the country which we usually term Arabia
Proper, but the northern parts of Africa, between the Sahara and the littoral of the
Mediterranean, seem to be given up to them. The truth is, we mix together all the nomades
of this part of the world, and, losing sight of their differing tribal characteristics and habits,
believe that the vast territory (larger than all France and Spain together) lying between the
Red Sea and the Persian Gulf must, as the cradle of the race, be inhabited by a like people.
Hardly do we care to realise what a difference exists between the sheikh of some district in
Central Arabia and the Bedawin chief of a desert tribe, who exhibits nature almost at its
lowest stage. The accounts of savages in other parts of the world certainly throw out in
strong relief the Bedawy, and make him appear almost a civilised being, but reflecting that he
has always lived on the fringe of Western civilisation, one wonders how his education has never
made progress, while further observation soon does away with any admiration which may have
been excited by him.
Possibly the romance and poetry which surrounds our idea of the Arab has something to
* The country people in Egypt are El-Fellahin, a term which Turks and townspeople often use in the abusive sense-^as " the boors," " the
clowns," " the country louts," although there are many pure Arab settlers in the country, while town Arabs are really a somewhat mixed race.