« ForrigeFortsett »
from the benefit of the treaty; consented, with reluctance, that each of the fugitives should arm himself with a sword, or a lance, or a bow; and sternly declared, that, after a respite of three days, they might be pursued and treated as the enemies of the Moslems.
The passion of a Syrian youth completed the ruin Pursuit of of the exiles of Damascus. A nobleman of the city, of the name of Jonas, was betrothed to a wealthy maiden; but her parents delayed the consummation of his nuptials, and their daughter was persuaded to escape with the man whom she had chosen. They corrupted the nightly watchmen of the gate Keisan: the lover, who led the way, was encompassed by a squadron of Arabs; but his exclamation in the Greek tongue, “the bird is taken,” admonished his mistress to hasten her return. In the presence of Caled, and of death, the unfortunate Jonas professed his belief in one God and his apostle Mahomet; and continued, till the season of his martyrdom, to discharge the duties of a brave and sincere Musulman. When the city was taken, he flew to the monastery, where Eudocia had taken refuge; but the lover was forgotten; the apostate was scorned; she preferred her religion to her country; and the justice of Caled, though deaf to mercy, refused to detain by force a male or female inhabitant of Damascus. Four days was the general confined to the city by the obligation of the treaty, and the urgent cares of his new conquest.
i On the fate of these lovers, whom he names Phocyas and Eudocia, Mr. Hughes has built the Siege of Damascus, one of our most popular tragedies, and which possesses the rare merit of blending nature and history, the manners of the times and the feelings of the heart. The foolish delicacy of the players compelled him to soften the guilt of the hero and the despair of the heroine. Instead of a base renegado, Phocyas serves the Arabs as an honourable ally ; instead of prompting their pursuit, he flies to the succour of his countrymen, and after killing Caled and Derar, is himself mortally wounded, and expires in the presence of Eudocia, who professes her resolution to take the veil at Constan tinople. A frigid catastrophe ! VOL. VI.
CHAP. His appetite for blood and rapine would have been
extinguished by the hopeless computation of time
k The towns of Gabala and Laodicea, which the Arabs passed, still exist in a state of decay (Maundrell, p. 11, 12. Pocock, vol. ii. p. 13). Had not the Christians been overtaken, they must have crossed the Orontes on some bridge in the sixteen miles between Antioch and the sea, and might have rejoined the high road of Constantinople at Alexandria. The Itineraries will represent the directions and distances (p. 146. 148. 581, 582. edit. Wesseling).
mascus. After a short interval of
prayer, CHAP. Caled divided his cavalry into four squadrons, com
LI. mitting the first to his faithful Derar, and reserving the last for himself. They successively rushed on the promiscuous multitude, insufficiently provided with arms, and already vanquished by sorrow and fatigue. Except a captive who was pardoned and dismissed, the Arabs enjoyed the satisfaction of believing that not a Christian of either sex escaped the edge of their scimitars. The gold and silver of Damascus was scattered over the camp, and a royal wardrobe of three hundred load of silk might clothe an army
of naked barbarians. In the tumult of the battle, Jonas sought and found the object of his
purbut her resentment was inflamed by the last act of his perfidy; and as Eudocia struggled in his hateful embraces, she struck a dagger to her heart. Another female, the widow of Thomas, and the real or supposed daughter of Heraclius, was spared and released without a ransom: but the generosity of Caled was the effect of his contempt; and the haughty Saracen insulted, by a message of defiance, the throne of the Cæsars. Caled had penetrated above a hundred and fifty miles into the heart of the Roman province: he returned to Damascus with the same secrecy and speed. On the accession of Omar, the Sword of God was removed from the command; but the caliph, who blamed the rashness, was compelled to applaud the vigour and conduct, of the enterprise.
Another expedition of the conquerors of Damascus Fair of will equally display their avidity and their contempt Abyla. for the riches of the present world. They were informed that the produce and manufactures of the country were annually collected in the fair of Abyla,
1 Dair Abil Kodos. After retrenching the last word, the epithet, holy, I discover the Abila of Lysanias between Damascus and Heliopolis: the name (Abil signifies a vineyard) concurs with the situation to justify my conjecture (Reland, Palestin. tom. i., p. 317. tom. ii. p. 525. 527).
CHAP. about thirty miles from the city; that the cell of a
devout hermit was visited at the same time by a multitude of pilgrims; and that the festival of trade and superstition would be ennobled by the nuptials of the daughter of the governor of Tripoli. Abdallah, the son of Jaafar, a glorious and holy martyr, undertook, with a banner of five hundred horse, the pious and profitable commission of despoiling the infidels. As he approached the fair of Abyla, he was astonished by the report of the mighty concourse of Jews and Christians, Greeks and Armenians, of natives of Syria and of strangers of Egypt, to the number of ten thousand, besides a guard of five thousand horse that attended the person of the bride. The Saracens paused: “For my own part,” said Abdallah, “I dare not go back: our foes are many, our danger is great, but our reward is splendid and secure, either in this life or in the life to come. Let every man, according to his inclination, advance or retire.” Not a Musulman deserted his standard. “Lead the way," said Abdallah to his Christian guide, “and you
shall see what the companions of the prophet can perform.” They charged in five squadrons; but after the first advantage of the surprise they were encompassed and almost overwhelmed by the multitude of their enemies; and their valiant band is fancifully compared to a white spot in the skin of a black camel.m About the hour of sunset, when their weapons dropped from their hands, when they panted on the verge of eternity, they discovered an approaching cloud of dust, they heard the welcome sound of the tecbir,"
m I am bolder than Mr. Ockley (vol. i. p. 164), who dares not insert this figurative expression in the text, though he observes in a marginal note, that the Arabians often borrow their similes from that useful and familiar animal. The rein-deer may be equally famous in the songs of the Laplanders.
We heard the tecbir; so the Arabs call
They challenge heaven, as if demanding conquest.
and they soon perceived the standard of Caled, who CHAP. flew to their relief with the utmost speed of his cavalry. The Christians were broken by his attack, and slaughtered in their flight, as far as the river of
Tripoli. They left behind them the various riches of the fair; the merchandises that were exposed for sale, the money that was brought for purchase, the gay decorations of the nuptials, and the governor's daughter, with forty of her female attendants. The fruits, provisions, and furniture, the money, plate, and jewels, were diligently laden on the backs of horses, asses, and mules; and the holy robbers returned in triumph to Damascus. The hermit, after a short and angry controversy with Caled, declined the crown of martyrdom, and was left alive in the solitary scene of blood and devastation.
Syria,' one of the countries that have been im-Sieges of proved by the most early cultivation, is not unworthy and Emesa, of the preference.” The heat of the climate is tem- A. D. 635. pered by the vicinity of the sea and mountains, by the plenty of wood and water; and the produce of a fertile soil affords the subsistence, and encourages the propagation, of men and animals. From the age
index) of the second conjugation, from Kabbara, which signifies saying Alta Acbar, God is most mighty!
• In the geography of Abulfeda, the description of Syria, his native country, is the most interesting and authentic portion. It was published in Arabic and Latin, Lipsiæ, 1766, in quarto, with the learned notes of Kochler and Reiske, and some extracts of geography and natural history from Ibn Ol Wardii. Among the modern travels, Pocock’s Description of the East (of Syria and Mesopotamia, vol. ii. p. 88–209) is a work of superior learning and dignity: but the author too often confounds what he had seen and what he had read.
Ρ The praises of Dionysius are just and lively. Και την μεν (Syris) πολλοι Tt xas o2 6101 avèges exovory (in Periegesi, v. 902. in tom. iv. Geograph. Minor. Hudson.) In another place he styles the country FouTTOÀN asar (v. 898). He proceeds to say,
Πασα δε τοι λιπαρη τε και ευβοτος επλετο χωρη
Μηλα τε φερθεμεναι και δενδρεσι καρπον αεξειν. ν. 921, 922. This poetical geographer lived in the age of Augustus, and his description of the world is illustrated by the Greek commentary of Eustathius, who paid the same compliment to Homer and Dionysius (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. l. iv. c. 2. tom. iii. p. 21, &c.)