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of the victorious Arabs. To their industry, the prosperity of the province, the Sogdiana of the ancients, may in a great measure be ascribed; but the advantages of the soil and climate had been understood and cultivated since the reign of the Macedonian kings. Before the invasion of the Saracens, Carizme, Bochara, and Samarcand, were rich and populous under the yoke of the shepherds of the north. These cities were surrounded with a double wall; and the exterior fortification, of a larger circumference, inclosed the fields and gardens of the adjacent district. The mutual wants of India and Europe were supplied by the diligence of the Sogdian merchants; and the inestimable art of transforming linen into paper has been diffused from the manufacture of Samarcand over the western world." II. No sooner had Abubeker restored the unity of faith and government, than he despatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes. “In the name of the most merciful God, to the rest of the true believers. Health and happiness, and the mercy and blessing of God be upon you. I praise the most high God, and I pray for his prophet Mahomet. This is to acquaint you, that I intend to send the true believers into Syria" to take it out of the hands of the infidels. And I would have you know, that the chAP.
* A curious description of Samarcand is inserted in the Bibliotheca ArabicoHispana, tom. i. p. 208, &c. The librarian Casiri (tom. ii. 9) relates, from credible testimony, that paper was first imported from China to Samarcand, A. H. 30, and invented, or rather introduced, at Mecca, A. H. 88. The Escurial library contains paper MSS. as old as the ivth or vth century of the Hegira.
* A separate history of the conquest of Syria has been composed by Al Wakidi, cadi of Bagdad, who was born A. D. 748, and died A. D. 822: he likewise wrote the conquest of Egypt, of Diarbekir, &c. Above the meagre and recent chronicles of the Arabians, Al Wakidi has the double merit of antiquity and copiousness. His tales and traditions afford an artless picture of the men and the times. Yet his narrative is too often defective, trifling, and improbable. Till something better shall be found, his learned and spirited interpreter (Ockley, in his history of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 21–342) will not deserve the petulant animadversion of Reiske (Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifae Tabulas, p. 236). I am sorry to think that the labours of Ockley were consummated in a jail (see his two prefaces to the 1st vol. A. D. 1708, to the 2d, 1718, with the list of authors at the end).
fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God.” His messengers returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardour which they had kindled in every province; and the camp of Medina was successively filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action, complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions, and accused with impatient murmurs the delays of the caliph. As soon as their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking. In person, and on foot, he accompanied the first day's march; and when the blushing leaders attempted to dismount, the caliph removed their scruples by a declaration, that those who rode, and those who walked, in the service of religion, were equally meritorious. His instructions" to the chiefs of the Syrian army were inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects to despise, the objects of earthly ambition. “Remember,” said the successor of the prophet, “that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women or children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any
• The instructions, &c. of the Syrian war, are described by Al Wakidi and Ockley, tom. i. p. 22–27, &c. In the sequel it is necessary to contract, and needless to quote, their circumstantial narrative. My obligations to others shall be noticed.
CHAP. covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your
word. As you go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries:" And you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns;" be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute.” All profane or frivolous conversation, all dangerous recollection of ancient quarrels, was severely prohibited among the Arabs: in the tumult of a camp, the exercises of religion were assiduously practised; and the intervals of action were employed in prayer, meditation, and the study of the Koran. The abuse, or even the use, of wine was chastised by fourscore strokes on the soles of the feet, and in the fervour of their primitive zeal many secret sinners revealed their fault, and solicited their punishment. After some hesitation, the command of the Syrian army was delegated to Abu Obeidah, one of the fugitives of Mecca and companions of Mahomet; whose zeal and devotion were assuaged, without being abated, by the singular mildness and benevolence of his temper. But in all the emergencies of war, the soldiers demanded the superior genius of Caled; and whoever might be the choice of the prince, the sword Qf God was both in fact and fame the foremost leader of the Saracens. He obeyed without reluctance; he was consulted without jealousy; and such was the CHAP.
* Notwithstanding this precept, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les Egyptiens, tom. ii. p. 192. edit. Lausanne) represents the Bedoweens as the implacable enemies of the Christian monks. For my own part I am more inclined to suspect the avarice of the Arabian robbers, and the prejudices of the German philosopher.
* Even in the seventh century, the monks were generally laymen: they wore their hair long and dishevelled, and shaved their heads when they were ordained priests. The circular tonsure was sacred and mysterious: it was the crown of thorns; but it was likewise a royal diadem, and every priest was a king, &c. (Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 721–758, especially p. 737, 738). v Huic Arabia est conserta, ex alio latere Nabathaois contigua; opima varietate commerciorum, castrisque oppleta validis et castellis, quae ad repellendos gentium vicinarum excursus, solicitudo pervigil veterum per opportunos saltos erexit et cautos. Ammian. Marcellin. xiv. 3. Reland. Palestin. tom. i. p. 85, 86.
spirit of the man, or rather of the times, that Caled professed his readiness to serve under the banner of the faith, though it were in the hands of a child or an enemy. Glory, and riches, and dominion, were indeed promised to the victorious Musulman; but he was carefully instructed, that if the goods of this life were his only incitement, they likewise would be his only reward.
One of the fifteen provinces of Syria, the cul-Siege of
tivated lands to the eastward of the Jordan, had B
w With Gerasa and Philadelphia, Ammianus praises the fortifications of Bosra, firmitate cautissimas. They deserved the same praise in the time of Abulfeda (Tabul. Syria, p. 99), who describes this city, the metropolis of Hawran (Auranitis), four days’ journey from Damascus. The Hebrew etymology I learn from Reland, Palestin, tom. ii. p. 666,
CHAP. attack the fortress of Bosra. They were oppressed * by the numbers of the Syrians; they were saved by
the presence of Caled, with fifteen hundred horse: he blamed the enterprise, restored the battle, and rescued his friend, the venerable Serjabil, who had vainly invoked the unity of God and the promises of the apostle. After a short repose, the Moslems performed their ablutions with sand instead of water;" and the morning prayer was recited by Caled before they mounted on horseback. Confident in their strength, the people of Bosra threw open their gates, drew their forces into the plain, and swore to die in the defence of their religion. But a religion of peace was incapable of withstanding the fanatic cry of “Fight, fight! Paradise, paradise!” that re-echoed in the ranks of the Saracens; and the uproar of the town, the ringing of bells,” and the exclamations of the priests and monks, increased the dismay and disorder of the Christians. With the loss of two hundred and thirty men, the Arabs remained masters of the field; and the ramparts of Bosra, in expectation of human or divine aid, were crowded with holy crosses and consecrated banners. The governor Romanus had recommended an early submission: despised by the people, and degraded from his office, he still retained the desire and opportunity of revenge. In a nocturnal interview, he informed the enemy of a subterraneous passage from his house
* The apostle of a desert, and an army, was obliged to allow this ready succedaneum for water (Koran, c. iii. p. 66. c. v. p. 83); but the Arabian and Persian casuists have embarrassed his free permission with many niceties and distinctions (Reland de Relig. Mohammed, l. i. p. 82, 83. Chardin, Voyages en Perse, tom. iv).
* The bells rung! Ockley, vol. i. p. 38. Yet I much doubt whether this expression can be justified by the text of Al Wakidi, or the practice of the times. Ad Graecos, says the learned Ducange (Glossar. med. et infim. Graecitat. tom. i. p. 774), campamarum usus serius transit et etiamnumrarissimus est. The oldest example which he can find in the Byzantine writers is of the year 1040; but the Venetians pretend, that they introduced bells at Constantinople in the ixth century.