The Arabic Readings.
The "Assemblies" of Al Hariri, selections from which were read last night by Mr. Jewett, although one of the greatest works of Arabic literature, are almost completely unknown to the western world. They are written in the most elegant Arabic and are often learnt by heart. The plot is simple throughout, as there are only two characters, a narrator and a clever adventurer, who passes his time in duping kindhearted people by pious speeches. The assemblies are so called because the events related took place before a number of people gathered together. The ninth one describes how the adventurer was brought before a judge by his wife, on the charge of having married her under false pretences. He had given out that he was master of the trade of stringing pearls, but, when called upon to earn his living, said that the pearls he meant were the pearls of speech. The judge was pleased with the fellow's ingenuity, and, after urging the woman to submit to the will of her lord, dismissed the man with a present of money. In the eleventh the narrator sees the same rascal making a pious speech at a funeral, by which he manages to collect a considerable sum from the sorrowing relatives. In the last one of the series the fellow repents and becomes a noted saint, carrying with him into his new pursuit the same eloquence which had served him so well in his former life. Mr. Jewett explained carefully the many allusions to Arabic poetry and traditions, and illustrated the incidents by his own knowledge of the customs of the East.