thu East were the trusty servants of God and the people; th« mass of the public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens, and they united, by a rare felicity, the despatch and execution of despotism with the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government. The heroic courage of Ali,7 the consummate prudence of Moawiyah,* excited the emulation of their subjects; and the talents which had been exercised 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 ihe 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 had been the aim of the senate to confine their councils 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 vigor 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 thou

1 His reign in Eutychius, p. 343. Elmacin, p. 51. Abulpharagius, p 117. Abulfeck, p. 83. D'Herbelot, p. 89.

8 His reign in Eutychius, p. 344. Elmacin, p. 54 Abulpharagius, I 123. Abulfeda, p. 101. D'Herbelot, p. 586.

* Their reigns in Eutychius, torn. ii. p. 360—395. Elmacin, p. 59— 108. Abulpharagius, Dynast, ix. p. 124—139. Abulfeda, p 111—HI. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 691, and the particular article* if ths OmmJades.

sand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand churches or temples of the unbelievers, and edified fourteen hundred rnoschs fur the exercise of the religion of Mahomet. One hundred years after his flight from Mecca, the arms and tho 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; IIL Egypt; IV. Africa; and, V. Spain. Under this general division, I shall proceed to unfold these memorable transac tions; despatching with brevity the remote and less interesting conquests of the East, and reserving a fuller narrative fo/ those domestic countries which had been included within the pale of the Roman empire. Yet I must excuse my own de fects 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.1* After a century of ignorance, the first annals of the Mussulmans 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

10 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, 1665, in folio) and the Abridgment of Nicephorus, (Nicephori Patriarchae C. P. Breviarium Historicum, Gr. et Lat. Paris, 16-18, in folio,) who both lived in the beginning of the ixth century, (see Hanekius de Scriptor. Byzant. p. 200—246.) Their contemporary, Photius, does not seem to be more opulent. After praising the style of Nicephorus, he adds, Kal 5Aws traXXaet ttm To>» irpo avrov anoupvirTOjiivoq rgic rtji iaraptas Tv nvyyoatprj, and only complains of his extreme brevity, (Phot. Bibliot. Cod. lxvi. p. 100.) Some additions may bo gleaned from the more recent histories of Cedrenua and Zonaras of the xiith centi iry.

"Tabari, or Al Tabari, a rntive 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 hia 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, S70, 1014.)

"Besides the list of authors framed by Prideaux, (Life of Mahomet, p. 179—189,) Ockley, (at the end of his second volume,) and Petit de ta Croix, (Hist, de Gengiscan, p. 625—550,) we find in the Bibliotheque Oriental*; Tarikh, a catalogue uf two or three hundred histo ■ies or clirouicles of the East, of which not more than three or foul

feet sketches of a more recent age." The art and genius of history have ever been unknown to the Asiatics; they ar* ignorant of the laws of criticism; and our monkish chronick 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 lieutenant Caled, the Sword of God, and the scourge of the infidels, advanced to the banks of the Euphrates, and reduced the cities of Anbar and Hira. Westward of the ruins of Babvlon, a tribe of

are older than Tabari. A lively sketch of Oriental literature is given by Reiske, (in his Prodidagmata ad Hagji Chalifag librum memorialem ad calcem Abulfedae Tabulae Syria?, Lipsia:, 1776;) but his project and the French version of Petit de la Croix (Hist, de Timur Bee, torn. i. preface, p. xlv.) have fallen to the ground.

13 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. Annates Eutychii. Patriareha Atexandrini, ab Edwardo Pocockio, Oxon. 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, opera et studio Thomas 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 'ompendiosa Dynastiarum a Gregorio Abulpharagio, interprete Edwardo Pocockio, in 4to., Oxon. 1663. More useful for the literary than the civil history of the East. 4. Abulfedaz Annates Moslemici ad Ann Hegiras ccccvi. a Jo. Jac. Reiske, in 4to., Lipsias, 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 xivlh century. The three former were Christians of the xth, xiith, and siiith centuries; the two first, natives of Egypt; a Melchite patriarch and a Jacobite scribe.

14 M. D. Guignes (Hist, des Huns, torn. 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.

16 Bibliotheque Orientate, par M. D'Herbelot, in folio, Palis, 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 Persia* than the Arabic history. The recent supplement from the papers of MM. Visdelou, and Galland, (in folio, La Haye, 1779,) is of a differ rat cast, a medley of tales, proverbs, and Chinee antiquities.

sedentary Arabs had fixed themselves on tie verge if th« desert; and Hira was the seat of a race of kings who had embraced the Christian religion, and reigned above six hundred years under the shadow of the throne of Persia.1' Tin iast of the Mondars * was defeated and slain by Caled; his son was sent a captive to Medina; his nobles bowed before the successor of the prophet; the people was tempted by the ftxample and success of their countrymen; and the caliph accepted as the first-fruits of foreign conquest an annual tribute of seventy thousand pieces of gold. The conquerors, and even their historians, were astonished by the dawn of their future greatness: "In the same year," says Elmacin, "Caled fought many signal battles: an immense multitude of the infidels was slaughtered; and spoils infinite and innumerable were acquired by the victorious Moslems."" But the invincible Caled was soon transferred to the Syrian war: the invasion of the Persian frontier was conducted by less active or less prudent commanders: the Saracens were repulsed with loss in the passage of the Euphrates; and, though they chastised the insolent pursuit of the Magians, their remaining forces still hovered in the desert of Babylon.f

The indignation and fears of the Persians suspended for a moment their intestine divisions. By the unanimous sentence of the priests and nobles, their queen Arzema was deposed; the sixth of the transient usurpers, who had arisen and vanished in three or four years since the death of Chosroes, and the retreat of Heraclius. Her tiara was placed on the head of Yezdegerd, the grandson of Chosroes; and the same sera, which coincides with an astronomical period,18 has recorded

16 Pocock will explain the chronology, (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 66—74.) and D'Anville the geography, (l'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 ol the world.

17 Fecit et dialed plurima in hoc anno prselia, in quibus vicerunt Muslimi, et .nfidelium immensa multitudine occisa spolia infinita e1 innumera sunt nacti, (Hist. Saracenica, p. 20.) The Christian annalist slides into the national and compendious term of infidels, and I often idopt (I hope without scandal) this characteristic mode of expression.

"A cycle of 120 years, the end of which an intercalary montli oi

* Kichhorn and Sllvestre de Sacy have written on the obscure histoiy of (be Mondars.—M.

* Compare throughout Malcolm, vol. ii. p. 136.—M.

tue fall oi the Sassanian dynasty and the religion of Zoroaster." The youth and inexperience of the prince (he waa only fifteen years of age) declined a perilous encounter: the royal standard was delivered into the hands of his general Rustam; and a remnant of thirty thousand regular troops was swelled in truth, or in opinion, to one hundred and twentv thousand subjects, or allies, of the great king. The Moslems whose numbers were reenforced from twelve to thirty thou and, had pitched their camp in the plains of Cadesia:80 and their line, though it consisted of fewer men, could produce more soldiers, than the unwieldy host of the infidels. I shaH here observe, what I must often repeat, that the charge of the Arabs was not, like that of the Greeks and Romans, the effort of a firm and compact infantry: their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers; and the engagement, which was often interrupted and often renewed by single combats and flying skirmishes, might be protracted without any decisive event to the continuance of several days. The periods of the battle of Cadesia were distinguished by iheir peculiar appellations. The first, from the well-timed appearance of six thousand of the Syrian brethren, was

80 days supplied the use of our Bissextile, and restored the integrity of the solar year. In a great revolution of 1440 years this intercalation was successively removed from the first to the twelfth month ; but Hyde and Freret are involved in a profound controversy, whether the twelve, or only eight of these changes were accomplished before the sera of Yezdegerd, which is unanimously fixed to the 16th of June, A. D. 632. How laboriously does the curious spirit of Europe explore the darkest and most distant antiquities! (Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 14—18, p. 181—211. Freret in the Mem. de l'Academie deo Inscriptions, torn. xvi. p. 233—267.)

19 Nine days after the death of Mahomet (7th June, A. D. 632) we find the aera of Yezdegerd, (16th June, A. D. 632,) and his accession cannot be postponed beyond the end of the first year.* His predecessors could not therefore resist the arms of the caliph Omar; and these unquestionable dates overthrow the thoughtless chronology of Ab ;1pharagius. See Ockley's Hist, of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 130.

20 Cadesia, says the Nubian geographer, (p. 121,) is in margine soli tudinis, 61 leagues from Bagdad, and two stations from Cufa. Otter (Voj age, torn. i. p. 163) reckons 15 leagues, and observes, that the rtlace is supplied with dates and water.

* Tne Rexont UzzuflTi. (Price, p. 105) has a strange account of an era•tssy to Yezdegerd. The Oriental historians take great delight in t'xuM embassies, which give Uiem an opportunity of displaying their Asiatic elo laeooe — M.

« ForrigeFortsett »