Page:Lands of the Saracen 1859.djvu/37

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ORIENTAL EXAGGERATION. 2T " The speronara's sail of snowy hue W hiteuing and brightening on that field of blue," aDd have none of that unrest which the sight of a vessel in motion suggests. To-day my friend from Timbuctoo came up to have another talk. He was curious to know the object of my travels, and as he would not have comprehended the exact truth, I was obliged to convey it to him through the medium of fiction. I informed him that I had been dispatched by the Sultan of my country to obtain information of the countries of Africa; that I wrote in a book accounts of everything I saw, and on my return, would present this book to the Sultan, who would re- ward me with a high rank — perhaps even that of Grand Vizier. The Orientals deal largely in hyperbole, and scatter numbers and values with the most reckless profusion. The Arabic, like th-e Hebrew, its sister tongue, and other old original tongues of Man, is a language of roots, and abounds with the boldest metaphors. Now, exaggeration is but the imperfect form of metaphor. The expression is always a splendid amplification of the simple fact. Like skilful archers, in order to hit the mark they aim above it. When you have once learned his standard of truth, you can readily gauge an Arab's expressions, and regulate your own accordingly. But whenever I have attempted to strike the key-note myself, I generally found that it was below, rather than above, the Oriental pitch. The Shekh had already informed me that the King of Ashan- tee, whom he had visited, possessed twenty-four houses full of gold, and that the Sultan of Houssa had seventy thousand horses always standing saddled before his palace, in order that be might take his choice, when he wished to ride out. By this