« ForrigeFortsett »
of tLeir 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 instructions41 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. Out down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any 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 :46 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
46 The instructions, &c, of the Syrian war are described by Al Wakidi and Ockley, torn. i. p. 22—27, <fcc In the sequel it is necessary to contract, and needless to quote, their circumstantial narrative. My obligations to others shall be noticed.
46 Notwithstanding this precept, M. Pauw (Recherches sur les Egyptians, torn. 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.*
47 Even in the seventh century, the monks were generally laymen: lhey 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 rwal diadem, and every priest was a king, &c, (Thomassin, Dijcipline de l'Kglise, torn. i. p. 721—758, especially p. 737, 738.)
* Several modern travellers (Mr. Fazakerley, in Walpole's Tinvels in the last, v 1. xi. 371) give very amusing accounts of the terms on which the monks of Mount Sinai live with the neighboring Bedoweens. Such, probably, vva« their relative state iu older times, wherever the Arab retained hii Bedoween habits.—M.
tfjem no quarter till they either turn Mahometans or pay "trioute." 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 if 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 die fervor 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 was 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 Sioord of 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 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 Mussulman; 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 cultivated lands to the eastward of the Jordan, had been decorated by Roman vanity with the name of Arabia ; 48 and the first arms of the Saracens were justified by the semblance of a national right. The country was enriched by the various benefits of trade; by the vigilance of the emperors it was covered with a line of forts; and the populous cities of Gerasa, Philadelphia, and Bosra,49 were secure, at least from a surprise, by
4S Huic Arabia est conserta, ex alio latere Nabathueis contigua opima varietate commerciorum, castrisque oppleta validis et castellis ime ad repellendoa gentium vicinarum excursus, solicitudo pervigi] reirrum per opportunos saltus erexit et oautus. Ammian. Marcellin rlv. 8. Ileland, Palestin. torn. i. p. 85, 86.
M With Gerasa and Philadelphia, Atntnianus praises the fortifica lions of Bosra, firmitate cautissinias. They deserved tbe same praiM
* Compare Price, p. SO.— M.
the solid structure of their walls. The last cf these cities was the eighteenth station from Medina: the road was famil
iar to the caravans of Hejaz and Irak, who annually visited this plenteous market of the province and the desert: the perpetual jealousy of the Arabs had trained the inhabitants to arms; and twelve thousand horse could sally from the gates of Bosra, an appellation which signifies, in the Syriac language, a strong tower of defence. Encouraged by their first success against the open towns and flying parties of the holders, a detachment of four thousand Moslems presumed to summon and attack the fortress of Bosra. They were oppressed by the numbers of the Syrians; they were saved by tne 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;60 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 reechoed in the ranks of the Saracens; and the uproar of the town, the ringing of bells,51 and the exclamations of the
in the time of Abulfeda, (Tabul. Syriae, p. 99,) who describes this city, the metropolis of Hawran, (Auranitis,) four days' journey from Damascus. The Hebrew etymology I learn from Reland, Palestin. torn. ii. p. 666.
60 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 this free permission with many niceties and distinctions, (Reland de Relig. Mohammed. 1. L p. 82, 83. Charditi, Voyages en Perse, torn, iv.)
61 The bells rung I Ockley, vol. i. p. 38. Yet I much doubt whethei this expression can be justified by the text of Al Wakidi * or the practice of the times. Ad Graecos. says the learned Ducange, (GlosBar. med. et infim. Graecitat. torn. i. p. 774,) campauaruin usus serius transit et etiamnum rarissimus 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 ixti century.
* This history Is now considered not to be the genuine work of Al Willi, ii. St. Martin, vol. x. p. 213. According to Ockley's translaton of the articles of Jerusalem, the Christians " were not to ring, hnt oi.lj toil thoii Hells." Hist of the Bar. vol. i. v. 220.—M.
priests anl 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 under the wall of the city; the son of the caliph, with a hundred volunteers, were committed to the faith of this new ally, and their successful intrepidity gave an easy entrance to their companions. After Caled had imposed the terms of servitude and tribute, the apostate or convert avowed in the assembly of the people his meritorious treason: "I renounce your society," said Komanus, " both in this world and the world to come. And I deny him that was crucified, and whosoever worships him. And I choose God for my Lord, Islam for my faith, Mecca for my temple, the Moslems for my brethren, and Mahomet for my prophet; who was sent to lead us into the right way, and to exalt the true religion in spite of those who join partners with God."
The conquest of Bosra, four days' journey from Damascus," encouraged the Arabs to besiege the ancient capital of Syria." At some distance from the walls, they encamped among the groves and fountains of that delicious territory,*'
ind tho usual option of the Mahometan faith, of tribute cr rt war, was proposed to the resolute citizens, who had been latelv strengthened by a reenforcement of five thousand Greeks. In the decline, as in the infancy, of the military art, a hostile defiance was frequently offered and accepted by the generals themselves:" many a lance was shivered in the plain of Damascus, and the personal prowess of Calcd was signalized in the first sally of the besieged. After an obstinate combat, he had overthrown and made prisoner one of the Christian leaders, a stout and worthy antagonist. He instantly mounted a f-esh horse, the gift of the governor of Palmyra, and pushed forwards to the front of the battle. "Repose yourself for a moment," said his friend Derar, "and permit me to supply your »>lace: you are fatigued with fighting with this dog." "_> Derar!" replied the indefatigable Saracen, "we sr all rest n the world to come. He that labors to-day shall resi to-morrow." With the same unabated ardor, Oaled answered, encountered, and vanquished a second champion; and the heads of his two captives who refused to abandon their religi jn were indignantly hurled into the midst of the city. The event of some general and partial actions reduced the Damascenes to a closer defence: but a messenger, whom they dropped from the walls, returned with the promise of speedy and powerful succor, and their tumultuous joy conveyed the intelligence to the camp of the Arabs After some debate, it was resolved by the generals to raise, or rather to suspend, the siege of Damascus, till they had given battle to the forces of the emperor. In the retreat, Caleo would have chosen the more perilous station of the rear-guard ■ he modestly yielded to the wishes of Abu Obeidah. But ir. the hour of danger he flew to the rescue of his companion, who was rudely pressed by a sally of six thousand horse and ten thousand foot, and few among the Christians could relate at Damascus the circumstances of their defeat. Tho importance of the contest required the junction of the Saracens, who were dispersed on the frontiers of Syria and Palestine; and I shall transcribe one of the circular mandates
p3.?uliar fig grows only imp' fipTv) a city which Julian never entered <n approached?
"Voltaire, who casts a keen and lively glance over the surface of liistory, has been struck with the -eseu: VKnce of the first Moslems and the heroes of the Iliad; the sieg - >f Ti t *i ' feat »( Damascus, (Hist Uenerale. torn, i p. 348 )