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the fetters of slavery, condemned to servitude, and have no influence in
public affairs. Their empire is confined within the walls of the Harem.
There are their graces and charms entombed. The circle of their life
extends not beyond their own family and domestic duties.
Their first care is to educate their children; and a numerous posterity
is their most fervent wish. Mothers always suckle their children. This
is expressly commanded by Mahomet:--"Let the mother suckle her child
full two years, if the child does not quit the breast; but she shall be
permitted to wean it, with the consent of her husband."
The harem is the cradle and school of infancy. The new born feeble being
is not there swaddled and filletted up in a swathe, the source of a
thousand diseases. Laid naked on a mat, exposed in a vast chamber to the
pure air, he breathes freely, and with his delicate limbs sprawls at
The daughter's education is the same. Whalebone and husks, which martyr
European girls, they know not. They are only covered with a shift until
six years old: and the dress they afterwards wear confines none of their
limbs, but suffers the body to take its true form; and nothing is more
uncommon than ricketty children, and crooked people. In Egypt, man rises
in all his majesty, and woman displays every charm of person.
The Egyptian women, once or twice a week, are permitted to go to the
bath, and visit female relations and friends. They receive each other's
visits very affectionately. When a lady enters the harem, the mistress
rises, takes her hand, presses it to her bosom, kisses, and makes her
sit down by her side; a slave hastens to take her black mantle; she is
entreated to be at ease, quits her veil, and discovers a floating robe
tied round her waist with a sash, which perfectly displays her shape.
She then receives compliments according to their manner: "Why, my
mother, or my sister, have you been so long absent? We sighed to see
you! Your presence is an honor to our house! It is the happiness of our
Slaves present coffee, sherbet, and confectionary. They laugh, talk and
play. A large dish is placed on the sofa, on which are oranges,
pomegranates, bananas, and excellent melons. Water, and rose-water
mixed, are brought in an ewer, and with them a silver bason to wash the
hands; and loud glee and merry conversation season the meal. The chamber
is perfumed by wood of aloes, in a brazier; and, the repast ended, the
slaves dance to the sound of cymbals, with whom the mistresses often
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