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their subjects; and the talents which had been exer- CHAP.
cised in the school of civil discord were more usefully applied to propagate the faith and dominion of the prophet. In the sloth and vanity of the palace of Damascus, the succeeding princes of the house of Ommiyah were alike destitute of the qualifications of statesmen and of saints.' Yet the spoils of unknown nations were continually laid at the foot of their throne, and the uniform ascent of the Arabian greatness must be ascribed to the spirit of the nation rather than the abilities of their chiefs. A large deduction must be allowed for the weakness of their enemies. The birth of Mahomet was fortunately placed in the most degenerate and disorderly period of the Persians, the Romans, and the barbarians of Europe: the empires of Trajan, or even of Constantine or Charlemagne, would have repelled the assault of the naked Saracens, and the torrent of fanaticism might have been obscurely lost in the sands of Arabia.
In the victorious days of the Roman republic, it Their con
had been the aim of the senate to confine their counsels and legions to a single war, and completely to suppress a first enemy before they provoked the hostilities of a second. These timid maxims of policy were disdained by the magnanimity or enthusiasm of the Arabian caliphs. With the same vigour and success they invaded the successors of Augustus and those of Artaxerxes; and the rival monarchies at the same instant became the prey of an enemy whom they had been so long accustomed to despise. In the ten years of the administration of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand churches or temples of the unbelievers, and edified fourteen hundred
Their reigns in Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 360–395. Elmacin, p. 59–108, Abulpharagius, Dynast. ix. p. 124–139. Abulfeda, p. 111–141. D'Her
belot, Bibliothéque Orientale, p. 691. and the particular articles of the Ommiades.
chap. moschs for the exercise of the religion of Mahomet.
One hundred years after his flight from Mecca, the arms and the reign of his successors extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean, over the various and distant provinces, which may be comprised under the names of, I. Persia; II. Syria; III. Egypt; IV. Africa; and V. Spain. Under this general division Ishall proceed to unfold these memorable transactions; despatching with brevity the remote and less interesting conquests of the East, and reserving a fuller narrative for those domestic countries, which had been included within the pale of the Roman empire. Yet I must excuse my own defects by a just complaint of the blindness and insufficiency of my guides. The Greeks, so loquacious in controversy, have not been anxious to celebrate the triumphs of their enemies." After a century of ignorance, the first annals of the Musulmans were collected in a great measure from the voice of tradition." . Among the numerous productions of Arabic and Persian literature," our interpreters have selected the imper
For the viith and viiith century, we have scarcely any original evidence of the Byzantine historians, except the Chronicles of Theophanes (Theophanis Confessoris Chronographia, Gr. et Lat. cum notis Jacobi Goar. Paris, 1655, in folio), and the Abridgment of Nicephorus (Nicephori Patriarchae C. P. Breviarum Historicum, Gr. et Lat. Paris, 1648, in folio), who both lived in the beginning of the ixth century (see Hanckius de Scriptor. Byzant, p. 200–246). Their contemporary, Photius, does not seem to be more opulent. After praising the style of Nicephorus, he adds, Kai ixo; roaxovs ser, row reo avrov aroxevarrozsvos roos rms irreguz, rn ovyyeapo, and only complains of his extreme brevity (Phot. Bibliot. Cod. lxvi. p. 100). Some additions may be gleaned from the more recent histories of Cedrenus and Zonaras of the xiith century. * Tabari, or Al Tabari, a native of Taborestan, a famous Imam of Bagdad, and the Livy of the Arabians, finished his general history in the year of the Hegira 302 (A. D. 914). At the request of his friends, he reduced a work of 30,000 sheets to a more reasonable size. But his Arabic original is known only by the Persian and Turkish versions. The Saracenic history of Ebn Amid, or Elmacin, is said to be an abridgment of the great Tabari (Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii. preface, p. xxxix. and, list of authors, D'Herbelot, p. 866. 870. 1014). 1 Besides the lists of authors framed by Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 179 —189), Ockley (at the end of his second volume), and Petit de la Croix (Hist. de Gengiscan, p. 525–550), we find in the Bibliothèque Orientale Tarikh, a
fect sketches of a more recent age." The art and chAP.
genius of history have ever been unknown to the Asiatics;" they are ignorant of the laws of criticism; and our monkish chronicles of the same period may be compared to their most popular works, which are never vivified by the spirit of philosophy and freedom. The oriental library of a Frenchman" would instruct the most learned mufti of the East; and perhaps the Arabs might not find in a single historian so clear and comprehensive a narrative of their own exploits, as that which will be deduced in the ensuing sheets.
I. In the first year of the first caliph, his lieu- Invasion of tenant Caled, the Sword of God, and the scourge of o,
the infidels, advanced to the banks of the Euphrates, and reduced the cities of Anbar and Hira. West
catalogue of two or three hundred histories or chronicles of the East, of which not more than three or four are older than Tabari. A lively sketch of oriental literature is given by Reiske (in his Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifa, librum memorialem ad calcem Abulfedae Tabulae Syriae, Lipsiae, 1766); but his project and the French version of Petit de la Croix (Hist, de Timur Bec, tom. i. preface, p. xlv.) have fallen to the ground. " The particular historians and geographers will be occasionally introduced. The four following titles represent the Annals which have guided me in this general narrative. 1. Annales Eutychii, Patriarchae Alexandrini, ab Edwardo Pocockio, Oron. 1656, 2 vols. in 4to. A pompous edition of an indifferent author, translated by Pocock to gratify the presbyterian prejudices of his friend Selden. 2. Historia Saracenica Georgii Elmacini, operá et studio Thoma: Erpenii, in 4to. Lugd. Batavorum, 1625. He is said to have hastily translated a corrupt MS., and his version is often deficient in style and sense. 3. Historia compendiosa Dynastiarum a Gregorio Abulpharagio, interprete Edwardo Pocockio, in 4to. Oron. 1663. More useful for the literary than the civil history of the East. 4. Abulfedae Annales Moslemici ad Ann. Hegirae coccyi. a Jo. Jac. Reiske, in 4to. Lipsiae, 1754. The best of our chronicles, both for the original and version, yet how far below the name of Abulfeda. We know that he wrote at Hamah, in the xivth century. The three former were Christians of the xth, xiith, and xiiith centuries; the two first, natives of Egypt; a Melchite patriarch, and a Jacobite scribe. * M. de Guignes (Hist, des Huns, tom. i. pref. p. xix., xx) has characterized, with truth and knowledge, the two sorts of Arabian historians, the dry annalist, and the tumid and flowery orator. • Bibliothèque Orientale, par M. D'Herbelot, in folio, Paris, 1697. For the character of the respectable author, consult his friend Thevenot (Voyages du Levant, part i. chap. 1). His work is an agreeable miscellany, which must gratify every taste; but I never can digest the alphabetical order; and I find him more satisfactory in the Persian than in the Arabic history. The recent supplement from the papers of M. M. Visdelou and Galland (in folio, La Haye, 1779) is of a different cast, a medley of tales, proverbs, and Chincse antiquities.
ward of the ruins of Babylon, a tribe of sedentary
“ Arabs had fixed themselves on the verge of the de
sert; and Hira was the seat of a race of kings who
P Pocock will explain the chronology (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 66–74), and D'Anville the geography (1’Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 125), of the dynasty of the Almondars. The English scholar understood more Arabic than the Mufti of Aleppo (Ockley, vol. ii. p. 34); the French geographer is equally at home in every age and every climate of the world.
* Fecit et Chaled plurima in hoc anno proclia, in quibus vicerunt Muslimi, et infidelium immenså multitudine occisa spolia infinita et innumera sunt nacti (Hist. Saracenica, p. 20). The Christian annalist slides into the national and compendious term of infidels, and I often adopt (I hope without scandal) this characteristic mode of expression.
sient usurpers, who had arisen and vanished in three CHAP.
or four years, since the death of Chosroes and the
less chronology of Abulpharagius. See Ockley’s Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i.
leagues from Bagdad, and two stations from Cufa. Otter (Voyage, tom. i.
p. 163) reckons 15 leagues, and observes, that the place is supplied with dates and water.