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APPENDIX C.—A SKETCH OF LIFE IN DAMASCUS. 51
quarters, and they would ask you whether Paris be larger than France. They read little, and know hooks and journals merely by names. Marrying very early, they are prolific in children. They are great gluttons, but not drunkards. The dominant vice is avarice. This fault can easily be accounted for, it
being very difficult in Damascus to make a fortune. Yet entertainments are given here which swallow up the income of years; for, notwithstanding all stinginess, the Damascus people are fond of praise and adulation. The rich are ostentatious, and dazzle the stranger by their brilliant soirees, but on the other hand, they withhold payment from their creditors and servants. Slow in their dealings, they postpone urgent things for the morrow, and are disheartened by the least difficulty that has to be surmounted. No bargain is concluded without long discussion and much trickery. Indolence predominates in all things, and routine goes on in its antediluvian track. The young seem to become prematurely sedate.
Mussulmans, Christians, and Jews live on a fair understanding with each other. The Mussulman does not use the word Jew as a term of contempt, and a Christian does not entertain that jealous hatred which is observable in many Turkish cities, and, unfortunately, in many parts of Europe. Outbreaks ot fanaticism in Damascus are quickly toned down by the predominant quietness of manners. This brief sketch applies to the Damascus people in general and not merely to the Jews. But the following observations have special reference to the Jews. They have not the depressed, subdued, and petty character which fierce persecution has produced in some foreign countries. Their bearing is more dignified in the presence of the rest of the population, and the heads of the Community are on good terms with the Government, In former years they exercised a great influence in the city ; but as their wealth decreases, their influence is passing away. This picture would not be complete if a few words were not added concerning Jewish women. The fair sex is favourably represented. Jewish women are renowned for their beauty, which is combined with gracefulness. In society they are pleasing, cheerful, and keep up an animated conversation. Fond of display, and of all the artifices of the toilet, they disfigure themselves by their superabundant ornamentations. The hair, which the more religious women shave away completely, is hidden under a wig. Many of them, however, are eager to get rid of the inconvenience of the wig, but the common usages do not permit this as yet. If the men be uninstructed, how much greater must be the ignorance of the women.
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