« ForrigeFortsett »
renominated the day of succor. The day of concussion might express the disorder of one, or perhaps of both, of tho contending armies. The third, a nocturnal tumult, received the whimsical name of the night of barkinj, from the discordant clamors, which were compared to the inarticulate sounds of the fiercest animals. The morning of the succeeding day* determined the fate of Persia; and a seasonable whirlwind diove a cloud of dust against the faces of the unbelievers. The clangor of arms was reechoed to the tent of Rustam, who, far unlike the ancient hero of his name, was gently rec.ining in a cool and tranquil shade, amidst the baggage of his camp, and the train of mules that were laden with gold and silver. On the sound of danger he started from his couch; but his flight was overtaken by a valiant Arab, who caught him by the foot, struck off his head, hoisted it on a lance, and instantly returning to the field of battle, carried slaughter and dismay among the thickest ranks of the Persians. The Saracens confess a loss of seven thousand five hundred men ;f and the battle of Cadesia is justly described by the epithets of obstinate and atrocious.81 The standard of the monarchy was overthrown and captured in the field—a leathern apron of a blacksmith, who in ancient times had arisen the deliverer of Persia; but this badge of heroic poverty was disguised, and almost concealed, by a profusion of precious gems.TM After this victory, the wealthy province of Irak, or Assyria, submitted to the caliph, and his conquests were firmly established by the speedy foundation of Bassora," a place which ever commands the trade and
31 Atrox, cimtunnix, plus semel renovatum, are the well-chosen ex pressions of the translator of Abulfeda, (Reiske, p. 69.)
33 D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientate, p. 297, 348.
38 The reader may satisfy himself on the subject of Bassora by con suiting the following writers: G-eograph, Nubietw. p. 121. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientate, p. 192. D'Anville, l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 130, 133, 145. Raynal, Hist. Philosophique des deux Indes, torn, it
B92—100. Voyages di Pietro della Valle, torn. iv. p. 370 -391. e Tavernier, torn. i. p. 240—247. De Thevenot, torn. ii. p. 546—584. D Ottei, torn. ii. p. 45—78. De Niebuhr, torn. ii. p. 172—199.
* the daj of cormorants, or according to another reading the day of reia
iircements. It was the Diglit which was called the night of snarling
Price, p. 114.—M.
t According to Malcolm's authorities, only three thousand , but he adds
This is the report of Mahomedan historians, who have a great disjosilios
o the wonderful, in relating the first actions of the faithful" V«|- i ■>
»<» — M
navigation of the Persians. A, the distance of fourscore miles from the Gulf, the Euphrates and Tigris unite in a broad and direct current, which is aptly styled the river of the Arabs. In the midway, between the junction and the mouth of these famous streams, the new settlement was planted on the western bank: the first colony was composed of eight hundred Moslems; but the influence of the situation soon reared a flourishing and populous capital. The air, though excessively hot, is pure and healthy: the meadows are filled with palm-trees and cattle; and one of the adjacent valleys has been celebrated among the four paradises or gardens of Asia. Under the first caliphs the jurisdiction of this Arabian colony extended over the southern provinces of Persia: the city has been sanctified by the tombs of the companions and martyrs ; and the vessels of Europe still frequent the port of Bassora, as a convenient station and passage of the Indian trade.
After the defeat of Cadesia, a country intersected by rivers and canals might have opposed an insuperable barrier to the victorious cavalry; and the walls of Ctesiphon or Madayn, which had resisted the battering-rams of the Romans, would not have yielded to the darts of the Saracens. But the flying Persians were overcome by the belief, that the last day of their religion and empire was at hand; the strongest posts were abandoned by treachery or cowardice; and the king, with a part of his family and treasures, escaped to Hoi wan at the foot of the Median hills. In the third month after the battle, Said, the lieutenant of Omar, passed the Tigris without opposition; the capital was taken by assault; and the disorderly resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the sabres of the Moslems, who shouted with religious transport, "This is the white palace of Chosroes; this is the promise of the apostle of God!" The naked robbers of the desert were suddenly enriched beyond the measure of their hope or knowledge. Each chamber revealed a new treasure secreted witn art, or ostentatiously displayed; the gold and silver, the various wardrobes and precious furniture, surpassed (says Abulfeda) the estimate of fancy or numbers; and another historiar defines the untold and almost infinite mass, by the fabulous oomputation of three thousands of thousands of thousands of pieces of gold.*' Some minute though curious facts represent
"* Monte fix potest numerove compreheaui Quanta spolia
the contrast of riches and ignorance. From the rem>te islands of the Indian Ocean a large provision of camphire" had been imported, which is employed with a mixture of wax to illuminate the palaces of the East. Strangers to the name and properties of that odoriferous gum, the Saracens, mistaking it for salt, mingled the camphire in their bread, and were Hstonished at the bitterness of the taste. One of the apart fluents of the palace was decorated with a carpet of silk, sixty cubits in length, and as many in breadth: a paradise or garden was depictured on the ground: the flowers, fruits, and shrubs, were imitated by the figures of the gold embroidery, and the colors of the precious stones; and the ample square was encircled by a variegated and verdant border.f The Arabian general persuaded his soldiers to relinquish their claim, in the reasonable hope that the eyes of the caliph would be delighted with the splendid workmanship of nature and industry. Regardless of the merit of art, and the pomp of royalty, the rigid Omar divided the prize among his brethren of Medina: the picture was destroyed; but such was the intrinsic value of the materials, that the share of AH alone was sold for twenty thousand drams. A mule that carried away the tiara and cuirass, the belt and bracelets of Chosroes, was overtaken by the pursuers; the gorgeous trophy was presented to the commander of the faithful; and the gravest of the companions condescended to smile when they beheld the white beard, the hairy arms, and uncouth figure of the veteran,
nostris cesserint. Abulfeda, p. 69. Yet I still suspect, that the extravagant numbers of Elmacin may be the error, not of the text, but of the version. The best translators from the Greek, for instance, I find to be very poor arithmeticians.*
26 The camphire-tree grows in China and Japan; but many hundred weight of those meaner sorts are exchanged for a single pound of the more precious gum of Borneo and Sumatra, (Raynal, Hist. Pliilosoph. torn. i. p. 862—365. Dictionnaire d'Hist. Naturelle par Bomare Miller's Gardener's Dictionary.) These may be the islands of the first climate from whence the Arabians imported their camphire (Gcograph. Nub. p. 34, 35. D'Herbelot, p. 232.)
# Ockley (Hist, of Saracens, vol. i. p. 230) translates in the same man »«»r three thousand million of ducats. See Former's Mahometanism Va »ei!ed, vol. ii. p. 462; who makes jhis innocent «Vabt of Gihbon, in which, £« to the amount of the plunler, I venture to CDncur, a gra\c charge of a* curacy and disrespect to the memory of Erpeuius
The Persian authorities of Price (p. 122i niaKe the booty worth *.lio» Hundred and thirty millions sterling !—M
1 Compare Price, p 122.—M.
who was in.ested with the spoils of the Gieat King." Th« lack of Ctesiphon was fallowed by its desertion and gradual decay. The Saracens disliked the air and situation of the place, and Omar was advised by his general to remove the seat of government to the western side of the Euphrates, in every age, the foundation and ruin of the Assyrian cities has been easy and rapid: the country is destitute of stone and timber; and the most solid structures'" are composed of bri iks baked in the sun, and joined by a cement of the native bit amen. The name of Oufa" describes a habitation of reeds and earth; but the importance of the new capital was supported by the numbers, wealth, and spirit, of a colouy of veterans; and their licentiousness was indulged by the wisest caliphs, who were apprehensive of provoking the revolt of a hundred thousand swords: "Ye men of Cufa," said AH, who solicited their aid, "you have been always conspicuous by your valor. You conquered the Persian king, and scattered his forces, till you had taken possession of his inheritance." This mighty conquest was achieved by the battles of Jalnla and Nehavend. After the loss of, the former, Yezdegerd fled from Holwan, and concealed his shame and despair in the mountains of Farsistan, from whence Cyrus had descended with his equal and valiant companions. The courage of the nation survived that of the monarch: among the hills to the south of Ecbatana or Hamadan, one hundred and fifty thousand Persians made a third and final stand for their religion and country; and the decisive battle of Nehavend was styled' by ithe Arabs the victory of victories. If it be true that the flying general of the Persians was stopped and overtaken in a crowd of mules and camels laden with honey, the incident.
98 See Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, torn. i. p. 376, 377. I may credit Hie fact, without believing the prophecy.
11 The most considerable ruins of Assyria are the tower of Belus, »t Babylon, and the hall of Chosroes, at Ctesiphon: they have been visited bj that vain and curious traveller Pietro delta Yalle, (torn. i. p 713—718, 731—735.)*
** Consult the article of Con/ah in the Bibliotheque of D'Herbelot (p. 1,17, 278.) and the second volume of Ockley's History, paiticularly p. 40 aid 153.
* The best modern account is that of Claudius Rich, Esq Two Memoin Ml Babylon. London, 1818.—M
however slight and singular, will denote the luxurious imped: ments of an Oriental army."
The geography of Persia is darkly delineated by the Grc ka and Latins; but the most illustrious of her cities appeal tf. b€ more ancient than the invasion of the Arabs. By the reduction of Ham ad an and Ispahan, of Caswin, Tauris, and Rei, they gradually approached the shores of the Caspian Sea: and the orators of Mecca might applaud the success and spirit of the faithful, who had already lost sight of the northern bear, and had almost transcended the bounds of the habitable world.30 Again, turning towards the West and the Roman empire, they repassed the Tigris over the bridge of Mosul, and, in the captive provinces of Armenia and Mesopotamia, embraced their victorious brethren of the Syrian army. From the palace of Madayn their Eastern progress was not less rapid or extensive. They advanced along the Tigris and the Gulf; penetrated through the passes of the mountains into the valley of Estachar or Persepolis, and profaned the last sanctuary of the Magian empire. The grandson of Chosroes was nearly surprised among the falling columns and mutilated figures; a sad emblem of the past and present fortune of Persia:31 he fled with accelerated haste over the desert of Kirman, implored the aid of the warlike Segestans, and sought an humble refuge on the verge of the Turkish and Chinese power. But a victorious army is insensible of fatigue: the Arabs divided their forces in the pursuit of a timorous enemy; and the caliph Othman promised the government of Chorasan
"See the article of Nehavend, in D'Herbelot, p. 667, 668; and Voyages en Turquie et en Perse, par Otter, torn. i. 191.*
90 It is in such a style of ignorance and wonder that the Athenia b.'ator describes the Arctic conquests of Alexander, who never ad vanced beyond the shores of the Caspian. 'A\>Zav6pr>s ifa rrn Hoktov Kal Ttjs oiKtivn'iviis, o\iyuv SeTv, Trains ^E0tioTij>>ri. iEschines contra Ctesphontem, torn. iii. p. 554, edit. Grsec. Orator Reiske. This memorable ;ause was pleaded at Athens, Olymp. cxii. 8, (before Christ 380,) in the wtumn, (Taylor, prsefat. p. 370, ifec.,) about a year after the battle of Arbela; and Alexander, in the pursuit of Darius, was matching towards Hyrcania and Bactriana.
81 We are indebted for this curious particular to the Dynasties of AJbulpharagius, p. 116; but it is needless to prove the identity of Estachar and Persepolis, (D'Herbelot, p. 327 ;) and still more needles* to copy the drawings and descriptions of Sir John Chardin, or CorneiU* »c Tlruy n
* Malcolm vol. i. p. 141.- It.