My first class of the new academic year will look at the European presence in the Middle East during the 19th century.
Straight from the Victorian’s mouth, if you will.
And it is how I stumbled across the following observational quip on polygamy in Egypt circa 1848, by the British social theorist Harriet Martineau, in her travel tome Eastern Life: Present and Past (1848):
I declare that if we are to look for a hell upon earth, it is where polygamy exists: and that, as polygamy runs riot in Egypt, Egypt is the lowest depth of this hell. I always before believed that every arrangement and prevalent practice had some one fair side, – some one redeeming quality: and diligently did I look for this fair side in regard to polygamy: but there is none. The longer one studies the subject, and the deeper one penetrates into it, the more is one’s mind confounded with the intricacy of its iniquity, and the more does one’s heart feel as if it would break.
Almost makes me wish I could be a historian all the time.