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homet, dwelt under similar tents, and conducted their chAP. horses, and camels, and sheep, to the same springs —tand the same pastures. Our toil is lessened, and our wealth is increased, by our dominion over the useful animals; and the Arabian shepherd had acquired the absolute possession of a faithful friend and a laborious slave." Arabia, in the opinion of the na- The horse. turalist, is the genuine and original country of the horse; the climate most propitious, not indeed to the size, but to the spirit and swiftness, of that generous animal. The merit of the Barb, the Spanish, and the English breed, is derived from a mixture of Arabian . blood: the Bedoweens preserve, with superstitious care, the honours and the memory of the purest race: the males are sold at a high price, but the females are seldom alienated; and the birth of a noble foal was esteemed, among the tribes, as a subject of joy and mutual congratulation. These horses are educated in the tents, among the children of the Arabs, with a tender familiarity, which trains them in the habits of gentleness and attachment. They are accustomed only to walk and to gallop: their sensations are not blunted by the incessant abuse of the spur and the whip: their powers are reserved for the moments of flight and pursuit; but no sooner do they feel the touch of the hand or the stirrup, than they dart away with the swiftness of the wind; and if their friend be dismounted in the rapid career, they instantly stop till he has recovered his seat. In the sands of Africa and Arabia, the camel is a sacred The camel
(Description de l'Arabie, p. 327–344) and Volney (tom. i. p. 343–385), the
CHAP, and precious gift. That strong and patient beast of * burden can perform, without eating or drinking, a journey of several days; and a reservoir of fresh water is preserved in a large bag, a fifth stomach of the animal, whose body is imprinted with the marks of servitude: the larger breed is capable of transporting a weight of a thousand pounds; and the dromedary, of a lighter and more active frame, outstrips the fleetest courser in the race. Alive or dead, almost every part of the camel is serviceable to man: her milk is plentiful and nutritious: the young and tender flesh has the taste of veal:" a valuable salt is extracted from the urine: the dung supplies the deficiency of fuel; and the long hair, which falls each year and is renewed, is coarsely manufactured into the garments, the furniture, and the tents, of the Bedoweens. In the rainy seasons they consume the rare and insufficient herbage of the desert; during the heats of summer and the scarcity of winter, they remove their encampments to the sea-coast, the hills of Yemen, or the neighbourhood of the Euphrates, and have often extorted the dangerous licence of visiting the banks of the Nile, and the villages of Syria and Palestine. The life of a wandering Arab is a life of danger and distress; and though sometimes, by rapine or exchange, he may appropriate the fruits of industry, a private citizen in Europe is in the possession of more solid and pleasing luxury than the proudest emir, who marches in the field at the head of ten thousand horse. o Yet an essential difference may be found between the hordes of Scythia and the Arabian tribes; since many of the latter were collected into towns, and em"Qui carnibus camelorum vesci solent odii tenaces sunt, was the opinion of an Arabian physician (Pocock, Specimen, p. 88). Mahomet himself, who was fond of milk, prefers the cow, and does not even mention the camel; but the ployed in the labours of trade and agriculture. A chAP.
diet of Mecca and Medina was already more luxurious (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 404).
part of their time and industry was still devoted to the management of their cattle: they mingled, in peace and war, with their brethren of the desert; and the Bedoweens derived from their useful intercourse some supply of their wants, and some rudiments of art and knowledge. Among the forty-two cities of Arabia," enumerated by Abulfeda, the most ancient and populous were situate in the happy Yemen: the towers of Saana," and the marvellous reservoir of Merab,” were constructed by the kings of the Homerites; but their profane lustre was eclipsed by the prophetic glories of MEDINA" and MEccA," near the Red Sea, and at the distance from each
other of two hundred and seventy miles. The last Mecca;
of these holy places was known to the Greeks under the name of Macoraba; and the termination of the
* Yet Marcian of Heraclea (in Periplo, p. 16, in tom. i. Hudson, Minor. Geograph.) reckons one hundred and sixty-four towns in Arabia Foelix. The size of the towns might be small—the faith of the writer might be large. • It is compared by Abulfeda (in Hudson, tom. iii. p. 54) to Damascus, and is still the residence of the Iman of Yemen (Voyages de Niebuhr, tom. i. p. 331 –342). Saana is twenty-four parasangs from Dafar (Abulfeda, p. 51), and sixty-eight from Aden (p. 53). P Pocock, Specimen, p. 57. Geograph. Nubiensis, p. 52. Meriaba, or Merab, six miles in circumference, was destroyed by the legions of Augustus (Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 32), and had not revived in the xivth century (Abulfed. Descript. Arab. p. 58). * The name of city, Medina, was appropriated, x2+ soozny, to Yatreb (the Iatrippa of the Greeks), the seat of the prophet. The distances from Medina are reckoned by Abulfeda in stations, or days’ journey of a caravan (p. 15); to Bahrein, xvi; to Bassora, xviii; to Cufah, xx; to Damascus or Palestine, xx; to Cairo, xxv, to Mecca, x; from Mecca to Saana (p. 52) or Aden, xxx; to Cairo, xxxi days, or 412 hours (Shaw's Travels, p. 477); which, according to the estimate of D'Anville (Mesures Itineraires, p. 99), allows about twenty-five English miles for a day's journey. From the land of frankincense (Hadramaut, in Yemen, between Aden and Cape Fartasch) to Gaza, in Syria, Pliny (Hist. Nat. xii. 32) computes lxv mansions of camels. These measures may assist fancy and elucidate facts. * Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians (D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 368–371. Pocock, Specimen, p. 125–128. Abulfeda, p. 11–40). As no unbeliever is permitted to enter the city, our travellers are silent; and the short hints of Thevenot (Voyages du Levant, part i. p. 490) are taken from the suspicious mouth of an African renegado. Some Persians counted 6000 houses (Chardin, tom, iv. p. 167).
word is expressive of its greatness, which has not indeed, in the most flourishing period, exceeded the size and populousness of Marseilles. Some latent motive, perhaps of superstition, must have impelled the founders, in the choice of a most unpromising situation. They erected their habitations of mud or stone, in a plain about two miles long and one mile broad, at the foot of three barren mountains: the soil is a rock; the water even of the holy well of Zemzem is bitter or brackish; the pastures are remote from the city; and grapes are transported above seventy miles from the gardens of Tayef. The fame and spirit of the Koreishites, who reigned in Mecca, were conspicuous among the Arabian tribes; but their ungrateful soil refused the labours of agriculture, and their position was favourable to the enterprises of trade. By the sea-port of Gedda, at the distance only of forty miles, they maintained an easy correspondence with Abyssinia; and that Christian kingdom afforded the first refuge to the disciples of Mahomet. The treasures of Africa were conveyed over the peninsula to Gerrha or Katif, in the province of Bahrein, a city built, as it is said, of rock-salt, by the Chaldean exiles:” and from thence, with the native pearls of the Persian Gulf, they were floated on rafts to the mouth of the Euphrates. Mecca is placed almost at an equal distance, a month's journey, between Yemen on the right, and Syria on the left hand. The former was the winter, the latter the summer, station of her caravans; and their seasonable arrival relieved the ships of India from the tedious and troublesome navigation of the Red Sea. In the markets of Saana and Merab, in the harbours of Oman and Aden, the camels of the Koreishites were laden with a precious cargo of aromatics; a supply of corn and manufactures was purchased in the fairs of Bostra CHAP. L.
* her trade.
* Strabo, l. xvi. p. 1110. See one of these salt houses near Bassora, in D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 6.
and Damascus; the lucrative exchange diffused plenty and riches in the streets of Mecca; and the noblest of her sons united the love of arms with the profession of merchandise."
The perpetual independence of the Arabs has been National
the theme of praise among strangers and natives; and
independence of the
the arts of controversy transform this singular event Arabs.
into a prophecy and a miracle, in favour of the posterity of Ismael." Some exceptions, that can neither be dissembled nor eluded, render this mode of reasoning as indiscreet as it is superfluous: the kingdom of Yemen has been successively subdued by the Abyssinians, the Persians, the sultans of Egypt," and the Turks:" the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have repeatedly bowed under a Scythian tyrant; and the Roman province of Arabiao embraced the peculiar
* Mirum dicts, ex innumeris populis pars aqua in commerciis aut in latrociniis degit (Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 32). See Sale's Koran, Sural. cvi. p. 503. Pocock, Specimen, p. 2. D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 361. Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p. 5. Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 72. 120. 126, &c. * A nameless doctor (Universal Hist. vol. xx. octavo edition) has formally demonstrated the truth of Christianity by the independence of the Arabs. A critic, besides the exceptions of fact, might dispute the meaning of the text (Genes. xvi. 12), the extent of the application, and the foundation of the pedigree. " It was subdued, A. D. 1173, by a brother of the great Saladin, who founded a dynasty of Curds or Ayoubites (Guignes, Hist, des Huns, tom. i. p. 425. D'Herbelot, p. 477). w By the lieutenant of Soliman I. (A.D. 1538) and Selim II. (1568). See Cantemir's Hist. of the Othman Empire, p. 201, 221. The pasha, who resided at Saana, commanded twenty-one beys, but no revenue was ever remitted to the Porte (Marsigli, Stato Militare dell'Imperio Ottomanno, p. 124), and the Turks were expelled about the year 1630 (Niebuhr, p. 167, 168). * Of the Roman province, under the name of Arabia and the third Palestine, the principal cities were Bostra and Petra, which dated their aera from the year 105, when they were subdued by Palma, a lieutenant of Trajan (Dion Cassius, 1. lxviii). Petra was the capital of the Nabatha'ans; whose name is derived from the eldest of the sons of Ismael (Gen. xxv. 12, &c. with the Commentaries of Jerom, Le Clerc, and Calmet). Justinian reliquished a palm country of ten days’ journey to the south of AElah (Procop. de Bell. Persic. l. i. c. 19), and the Romans maintained a centurion and a custom-house (Arian in Periplo Maris Erythraei, p. 11, in Hudson, tom. i) at a place (xswwn zwun, Pagus Albus Hawara) in the territory of Medina (D'Anville Memoire sur l'Egypte, p. 243). These real possessions, and some naval inroads of Trajan (Peripl. p. 14, 15), are magnified by history and medals into the Roman conquest of Arabia.